HOW TO MANAGE DIFFICULT CLIENTS IN 2020.

With the decade is almost over, it’s the perfect time to check the relationships that are important to us.

Whether you are an entrepreneur, side hustler or corporate climber, maintaining a good relationship with your clients is an important part of your success. Unfortunately, not all clients make it easy to build a positive relationship.

How do you get that schmoney and manage difficult clients without losing your mind?

Apply some Emotional Intelligence!

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the ability to understand other people’s emotions, empathize with them and respond to them appropriately.

Here are 3 tips to help you manage tough clients using Emotional Intelligence:


1. Be self-aware

The first step to empathizing with your difficult clients is evaluating yourself.

Think about how you communicate with your clients – are you showing them that you care? If you are a manager or business owner, is your company encouraging a culture of empathy for clients?

2. Listen Intelligently

Just like your personal relationships, listening is an important part of maintaining positive client relationships.

Sometimes, clients are difficult because they don’t feel heard. Consider what your clients might want from you, even if they haven’t expressed it. Listen actively by noting pain points, asking follow up questions and keeping the lines of communication open.

3. Understand your clients’ personalities

Clients are people too. When you manage people, it’s important to understand their temperaments.

Cholerics tend to be logical and use focus on facts. Stay proactive and result-oriented with choleric clients. Melancholics pay attention close to details. You must your processes for efficiency with them.

Phlegmatics can be indecisive. Be patient and helping them understand the information they need to make a decision. Sanguines tend to be carefree and impulsive, so you might consider keeping communication informal to keep their attention.

Understand your clients, their personalities and deal with them appropriately.

Which of these tips will you use to manage your difficult clients in 2020?


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Jane Karuku: A lot of change is happening in Kenyan Boardrooms

When we talk about Motherland Moguls and #BossGoals, Mrs Jane Karuku is the perfect definition of just that.

Currently sitting at the top of the corporate ladder as the Managing Director of Kenya Breweries Limited (KBL), Non-executive director of East African Breweries Limited (EABL) and Barclays Bank Kenya, and a member of prestigious boards such as the Global Sustainability Index board among others.

Mrs Jane Karuku has over 20 years of expert experience in the consumer-goods industry and is not looking to slow down anytime soon. Her passion and energy for great leadership tells an enticing story of grit, consistency and sheer hard work.

SLA contributor Diana Odero had a quick sit-down with Mrs Karuku to learn about her current role now and what keeps her going in the cut throat business world.


As an African woman with over two decades in corporate leadership, what does leadership mean to you?

Leadership is getting people to do what’s good for an organization and more importantly what’s good for them. Leadership is unleashing the potential of people.

Therefore you need to have great influencing skills for moving anything or anyone from point A to point B.

What is the biggest misconception people have about your job?

I don’t think there’s much of a misconception. For me, I have never seen myself as just a woman, I just see myself as a leader.

Once you see yourself as a leader, you get what you give. Within my job, my career, I consider myself a leader – I see myself as a woman in different places outside the professional aspect.

I always tell my fellow women – don’t look for favors because you are a woman and expect diversity to help you. Just turn up and do your job as a human being and you have a better chance to succeed.

Jane Karuku from @Diageo_News talks about leadership, her experience in the business world, and manufacturing in #EastAfrica Click To Tweet

Following the production of fake alcoholic products in the Kenyan market, how do you ensure that these illegitimate products do not get into the market especially working with a brand as big as EABL?

We try to work with government agencies, there’s no knowledge management because people don’t know. Also, we work very closely with Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and with enforcement agencies just to educate them about our products and the systems we’ve put in place to make sure that these are legitimate products.

We also work with IT solutions, which are mobile based so you can check every brand online and see its legitimacy.

Our borders are very porous but in Kenya we have different classes. You can have a class of genuine products that come in with no duty paid, and that’s the bigger problem with our brands more than the fakes because we have very serious security features.

With lots of surveillance placed around, we can spot something that’s fake and sort it out before it gets to consumers.

The only challenge we’ve had so far is the imported products which belong to Diageo and are under-called in duty value therefore underpriced and not able to compete in the market and this in turn loses revenue so it’s quite a big challenge.

I always tell my fellow women – don’t look for favors because you are a woman and expect diversity to help you - Jane Karuku Click To Tweet

What do you think are Kenyan’s attitudes towards alcohol and alcohol production? How can we make these attitudes more positive?

Kenya is quite interesting in that we have a big population of religious people, both Muslim and Christians so there’s a lot of people who do not take alcohol based on their beliefs. There’s also a big proportion of women who just do not want to drink.

I would say that Kenyans are not the biggest consumers of alcohol per capita, we are actually behind other East African countries such Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi. But in terms of responsible drinking, we do a lot of work on that.

One challenge we have is the presence of so much bad alcohol all over the place, therefore people consume or overuse alcohol which demonizes it.

We spend a lot of time on alcohol education, we call it drink IQ – how you should behave and drink responsibly, we press in our campaigns the importance of eating and then drinking, drinking a lot of water after indulging in some alcohol and drinking alcohol within the recommended portions.

We don’t advocate for binge drinking but we do advocate for responsible drinking.

What are some of your favorite products that you manufacture/market and why?

Tusker Cider would be on the top of my list, I think it’s a very good drink and in the spirits section – the Ron Zacapa Rum, it’s a very gentle nice rum.

What trends do you see within the East African region that you find interesting? 

Some new trends would be the places that people drink at first of all. There’s a lot of innovation around bars, a lot of work is going into how bars look – we are starting to get very sophisticated for consumers.

Food and alcohol pairing is becoming a very big deal, it’s an enjoyable and social experience. This is mostly throughout Kenya, wherever you go you can find a nice location where you have a good meal and a drink with ease.

Another trend I have taken note of is the cocktail culture – it’s interesting to see the many new ways of taking alcohol. It’s exciting and different.

This is already a big global phenomenon, East Africa is quickly catching up on that trend. There’s also a lot of innovation in alcohol production with a lot of new alcohol products coming in, we are becoming very globalized which is good progress.

What do you think has been most difficult for you to deal with as a woman rising in a predominantly male industry such as manufacturing?

I wouldn’t say I’ve found much difficulty as a woman, I would say as a leader that any business is difficult. If you are working in the alcohol industry, it’s regulated and our biggest challenge is what the regulations will be tomorrow or the next day because it will hamper the business.

If you’re in a macro-economic environment, like any business, you are prone to changing that environment. For example, Kenya had a very tough year last year. There were too many elections, too many presidents, and we had a drought and flooding in the same year.  That can be quite problematic for a business.

Competition of course is another challenge leaders have to deal with as well as choosing the right talent to bring in and retain to help you grow the business.

I’ve managed to overcome some of these challenges by first having the right people in place because they are the ones who will help you survive through the environment you may be in.

The people you hire are the ones who will help you get innovative and fight the competition, help in smooth distribution of products to the consumers in the most innovative way, they will drive sales for you and will help build relationships with all the stakeholders involved in your business.

The people you hire are the ones who will help you get innovative, fight the competition, help in smooth distribution of products to the consumers in the most innovative way - Jane Karuku Click To Tweet

The percentage of women working in the manufacturing industry is quite small, some companies having less than 10% women employed there. What can be done to counteract this ratio?

In corporate businesses, in middle management to be exact – women are really starting to be significant. I think the challenge comes with breaking in to the next level. Looking at boardrooms in Kenya, there’s a lot of change starting to happen.

People are driving diversity and companies are finally realizing that they have to have diversity in their businesses because diversity is strength.

Here at EABL we have a target of being 50% women and we are just shy of 30%, so we are working very hard to get to that halfway point. At Diageo globally, the target is 50% as well and at our board level we are doing much better than our local business.

For us as women, we have to define our own path. Not everybody wants to be a leader and you have to be true to yourself.

Once you decide you want to be in the corporate world then you need to map out your end game and once you have that, start working backwards to achieve what you want to achieve.

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Where do you want to work?
  • What skills do you need to have?
  • Do you need a mentor/coach which is quite important?
  • Do you have belief in yourself ?

Because at the end of the day you can have the best mentor, all the skills but if your own belief and your own energy doesn’t match up, you won’t get anywhere.

When people are interviewing the low level positions, they look at three things:

  • Does the person have the fabric, is that the right fabric for what you want?
  • Do you have high energy, do you have the drive needed?
  • Do you have good judgement and are you able to influence?

This is what I call the basic fabric and this then changes as you grow within the company.

Who are your role models?

One of my main role models is Nelson Mandela. He was such a big influencer and still is influencing a lot today after his passing.

His influence was on leadership. He influenced in prison, he influenced out of prison, he has even influenced upon death. That kind of power can influence anything.

Mandela has leadership qualities, compassion and was a mentor to many, all three things of which I embody today – he basically taught us how using your own skills to impart on other people so they can achieve better for themselves is important.

I do look up to him and the reason I want to work with people is because I want to be that voice that influences a huge population to move from one point to another even when I’m no longer here.

What values do you have that have contributed to your career and personal growth?

The first would be hard work. Nothing comes for free and nobody gives it to you on a platter. You have to be committed.

You also have to have belief and confidence because you don’t have to be the best person for the job but you can the person that has the highest hunger for it, don’t wait to be the perfect candidate for a job because your drive can help learn and grow along the way.

A good way to help with your confidence and self –esteem would be getting a good mentor and/or life coach, a mentor doesn’t need to be someone senior than you, sometimes I get brave from my own kids and the same young women you are writing for.

You can also have a multitude of mentors, it doesn’t have to be one person. Remember to read a lot. In reading you get the how-to in many things and unfortunately women don’t read a lot. I always tell women to read a lot, even the newspapers, read hard-core material that is good for your growth.

Read broadly because if you are sitting in a conversation and you are too narrow focused, you won’t be able to influence.

A good way to help with your confidence and self –esteem would be getting a good mentor and/or life coach. - Jane Karuku Click To Tweet

What is your vision for EABL in the next 5yrs?

We still aim to be the best consumer goods company in Africa. We have a big vision and we are hoping to be very significant in people’s lives.

What is your mantra in life?

I have been working on my purpose for the past few years and I want to work with energy and passion through people, I want to make sure that people are growing.

So I think I would say that my mantra is live a purpose driven life, to grow people through energy and the passion I have for business.


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How to avoid The Masquerade of Multitasking

In today's world, multitasking has become a necessary evil Click To Tweet

The last time I wrote about our natural abilities to want to achieve more by doing more or taking more jobs, I had a number of people drop their comments. One particular one stood out. It read,  “I can relate to this Sewa. I have so many of them around me, especially at work, and I thought how is it that a number of us do the work of a computer and expect to achieve more”.

If there’s anything I know, it is that you can’t achieve more by doing more at the same time. Well, except you are prime in delegating duties accordingly. Before you misjudge me, you should know that I’m a fan of getting things done on time, however way I can.

Multitasking has saved me many times whether it is about a task or an appointment.

At least that’s about the most possible way to go around getting things done, especially if you live in a city like mine, where everything seems to be a competition. It just is not efficient.

So, for my business people, this is something we brag about, “I’m multitasking”.  It’s like a hard working to do. Cambridge Dictionary says this means “Multitasking is a person’s ability to do more than one thing at a time” but Merriam Webster captures my thought more by referring to it as “the concurrent performance of several jobs by a computer”.

Without seeming too stiff-necked about this, I’ll explain a personal situation. Although it delivers, my computer slows down each time I put it to do multiple things at the same time. Which tells me, that, it’s ability to multitask does not validate its ability to deliver at an expected prompt time.

This technically means also, that, even if you can take on so many things at the same time, you can be guaranteed that some other necessities are paying dearly for it.

In today’s world, however, multitasking is almost a necessary evil, and if you’re like me, you’ll almost beat yourself each time you realize one thing is stalling the other. So, here are two things I recommend you do when there’s so much to do at a given time:

Delegate

Please don’t argue, just delegate. The major problem we have as humans are, we think nobody can do it like we can (especially detail-oriented people like me). We keep taking on more duties until we break down.

How about you pick one person at a time. Take them through your way of getting things done. Let them have access to you through questions. This way, you can breathe when you need to. There’s a reason the word TEAM exists. Someone says it means ‘Together Everyone Achieves More’.

Arianna Huffington of Huffington Post liked to do more work, but until her health was at stake, she didn’t realize her need to breathe or at least take a rest. I also watched some CEOs interviewed very recently.

One of them was asked what part of his job makes him lose his sleep, his answer was none.
The truth is, work has always existed and it would continue to exist with or without you. You gotta do it right – for yourself.

Prioritize

Even though some things need to be done at the same time, not everything needs your attention urgently. The difference between what’s urgent and what’s important is that one needs immediate attention while the other necessarily doesn’t.

According to The Eisenhower Decision Matrix, there are better ways to have a progressive life than feeling sapped and strained all the time. Hence the theory of the 4 Quadrants of productivity. He says, People who spend most of their time working on Urgent but Not Important tasks often suffer from the “Mr. Nice Guy Syndrome,” and want to constantly please others at the expense of their own happiness.

We all work at organizations and may be able to relate to this. The idea is to know what’s yours to do and do it right. Your ability to prioritize right would lead you to know what’s up for possible delegation and what truly needs your attention.

My question is this, would you continue to allow the masquerade of multitasking hunt you? Will you continue to live through the façade of doing different things at the same time when it really is not efficient?

Would you get out of the cloak of inefficient hard work to be more, by embracing efficient smart work?
Here’s hoping you’ll make one of your best decisions in 2018 to make working more fulfilling.


Ciao!


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Twitter Chat with Shade Ladipo: How consistent career development helped me become a better leader (Aug. 9)

In case you missed this Twitter chat, see the oh- so-good moments below!

Have you ever thought of starting a management company and growing it into a profitable business? Or becoming that Motherland Mogul in management with a six digit salary?

If you think it, act on it!

As young African women, you need to equip yourselves, plan for your future, and prepare to scale up that ladder of success, even when you’re starting from the bottom.

Join us on Wednesday, Aug. 9th for a Twitter chat with travel/media entrepreneur & the country director for WEConnect International  – Shade Ladipo, as she enlightens young African women interested in management, on how consistent career development has helped her grow and become a better leader.

Shade who founded a destination management company from nothing at age 25, believes that education and career development is the most important driving force for every aspiring Motherland Mogul.

Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats to ask your questions and participate in the discussion.

Topics that we’ll cover:

  • Why women in management need education and career development
  • Gender bias, feminism and gender roles in today’s society
  • 5 reasons why consistent career development is critical to leadership

Twitter chat details

  • Date:  Wednesday 9th August
  • Time: 12 pm NYC // 5 pm Lagos // 6 pm Joburg
  • Location: Follow She Leads Africa on twitter and use the hashtag #SLAChats

Here are some moments from the chat:

 

About Shade

Shade Ladipo is the Executive Director of WEConnect International  , a travel and media entrepreneur and a social activist.

At the age of 25, Shade founded Avienti Limited – a Destination Management company with three offices in Nigeria. She has also worked with the United Nations Volunteers Nigeria and several advertising agencies where she specialized in event management, account management, and client services and strategy.

Shade has been recognized by several platforms for her work as a change agent and businesswoman. She has been nominated for the Future Awards Africa Awards, chosen as 101 Young Achievers at the African Business Forum in Accra Ghana in 2008, and selected as a Goldman Sachs fellow.

Shade regularly appears on radio programs and at live events to talk about everything she is passionate about, including leading a successful business in Nigeria.

10 priceless ways to motivate your team

If you’re in charge of a team or a boss to your employees, keeping your team motivated is definitely one of your major concerns. We know this already. Add to the fact that as a young African woman, chances are your team may not view you as experienced because of your age and gender. In such situations you may need to come up with new tricks to let your team know who’s boss while keeping them motivated.

1. Know your team personally

If you don’t know your team one-on-one, you need to get on it. Talk to each member of your team personally, find out what they need from you as a boss. Ask them genuine questions to know if they are happy with work and listen to what they have to say. This makes your team feel like you really care and that is hugely motivational.

It is also a great way to form an interpersonal relationship with your team and encourages trust.

2. Ditch the need to micromanage

Micromanagement is the root of all evil. Seriously, a true leader knows when to step back and trusts her team members enough to deliver. If you’re sure you’ve made the right hiring choices, there’s no need to hover over your staff for fear that they make huge mistakes. Micromanaging is the easiest way to frustrate and alienate your team.

3. Encourage transparency

There is nothing that makes your team feel more shut out of the organisation than, “You don’t need to know about this”. Don’t be afraid to show your team who you are, as a manager and as an organisation. Transparency builds trust between you and your team. It also creates a sense of belonging by letting your team know that you are not hiding anything from them.

4. Be agreeable

Another way to motivate your team is to be the agreeable manager. Let your team know they can come up to discuss problems with you. If you don’t have the answer at hand, let them know. Don’t be the boss that has everyone quaking in their shoes when she walks into the office. The scary boss that uses fear to drive results is last year. Be as courteous as needed while maintaining your professionalism.

5. Encourage your team’s growth

Pay attention to the personal growth and development of each member of your team. You will need to encourage your team, offer advice when asked and allow opportunities for them to develop their skill set. Understand that if your team grows, you will get to reap the benefits as well.

6. Say yes to flexibility

Flexibility here means understanding that your team is comprised of different people with different personalities. Approaching the team as a whole in rigid manner may lead to your team feeling overlooked. To encourage motivation, you will need to lead each individual member of your team according to their personalities. Know when to hold hands and when to let go.

7. Show appreciation

Your team desperately wants to be appreciated. Some consider appreciation to be a greater reward than money. So, let your team know that you appreciate the work they are doing. Show gratitude, celebrate their curiosity and successes more than you berate their failures.

8. Be supportive

This is an easy one. A great way to motivate your team is to be a motivator yourself. You need to be right there with your team, encouraging them and mentoring them personally along the way. If your team looks up to you for guidance, it shows you are working towards creating a motivated team along the way.

9. Ensure a healthy workplace

A healthy working environment is of utmost importance. Your team spends most of their week in the office, they should enjoy the time spent. When your team enjoys being at work, you won’t have to force them to do more.

10. Respect your team

As a leader, you expect your team to respect you but respect should be reciprocal. When your team knows that their leader respects and values them, they can be more productive.

Follow these steps and you may be surprised by the kind of passion that grows within your team.

In what ways do you motivate your team? Let us know them by leaving a comment below.

10 things nobody tells you when you’re a new manager

I thought I was ready when I took on my first ‘official’ management role as a performance manager. I had technical ability (I’d undertaken a good deal of additional, unpaid supervisory work, under the guise of ‘development opportunities’ prior to that) and I had a professional attitude so I thought I was good to go.

Ha! Boy, did I get that wrong. The main difficulty was that I didn’t know the difference between leadership and management.

If you’re a new manager, some of the lessons that I and countless other leaders have learnt (and I’ll be learning as long as I’m still here) will, hopefully, help you to transition into a management and leadership role in a more authentic way.

Prioritise being the leader your team needs, rather than doing everything perfectly

Chances are you’re a conscientious woman with high standards so you don’t need to stress about being seen to be doing a good job; that’s a given. It’s better to work out what your team needs from you than to focus on ticking every box.

Spend time with your new colleagues, get to know them and find out what they need most from you, whilst you learn more about the role.

If change is needed, find a way of working that works for you and your team

You’ll need to develop the confidence to challenge the status quo, which takes guts, especially if you’re managing a group of people you only just met, or you’re new to the organisation.

Overstand your values

Yes, I said overstand. It’s one thing to be aware of your own values; it’s quite another to understand how your values serve you and influence the way in which you lead. The best leaders have a high level of self-awareness.

Check out this article for more on understanding your values. If you’re not already, spend time getting get clear on your values.

Start reflecting

There will be days when you feel more like an infant school teacher than a manager and there’ll be days when you feel on top of the world because things are going so well. Spend time reflecting on your day or week and ask yourself what you did that was good and should be repeated and what wasn’t so good.

How can you do things differently next time? Reflecting like this helps to improve your practice as a leader and is a pretty good de-stresser, too!

Don’t try to switch up your persona

Pretending to be someone you’re not is hard work and tiring. If you’re not a suit kinda person, don’t go for a power suit, just because you’re now in a leadership role.

If you’re a soft-natured person, don’t try to come across as hard-nosed. People will see straight through you and inconsistencies in the way you treat and lead will cause others to doubt your credibility. Do you, boo.

Don’t be afraid to be a bit vulnerable

Exercise wisdom, of course (this ain’t therapy!) but being honest about things you’re not sure of can help your new team to connect with you as another human being and see you as more than just ‘the new boss.’

If they can see that you’re ok with your imperfections and limitations, they can relate to you and come alongside you far quicker. It’s also freeing for you to release the pressure that striving for perfection creates.

Just because you’re the manager, doesn’t mean that you should, or will have, all the answers

It’s not your job to know everything, it’s your job to facilitate your team in coming up with solutions and support staff so that they can do their job.

You will make mistakes

Get comfortable with the fact that things won’t always go to plan and that’s ok. You’ll learn for the next time.

Being liked as a manager is underrated

Yes, it’s true that staff need to respect you but being respected and being liked don’t have to be mutually exclusive. It’s a lot easier and more enjoyable for everyone when you’re likeable.

Boy, is leadership great for your growth!

Try not to compartmentalise your learning. Growth is growth so be intentional in transferring the development in your professional life to your personal development.

A year from now, you’ll have grown immensely through your experiences so soak it up, my dear!

What’s your experience been? What do you wish you’d been told earlier on? Let me know in the comments below.

The one basic lesson to teach your kids about financial responsibility

shehive accra financial responsiblity she leads africa

Don’t you just wish you had been taught about financial responsibility when you were much younger? In our rapidly changing world, it has never become more imperative to teach our children the need for handling money well.

In fact, it’s such an important skill that it will guide their decisions well into adulthood. If you’re able to do a good job with the lessons now, your children will look back and be grateful to you as a parent. And in getting this done, there’s no better time to start than now —your child is never too young to begin.

It’s important for kids to get savvy about spending wisely, saving and the value of giving to others.

Delayed gratification —an important lesson

When I mention that there’s one basic lesson to teach your kids about financial responsibility, I mean that at the heart of every financial decision you’re getting your child ready to handle in their future is one basic fundamental lesson, which is ‘delayed gratification’.

Delayed gratification is learnt from deciding to do a chore now and watching TV later. It is about eating up two candy bars now or keeping one till tomorrow.

You see, for the most part, the concept of saving money and spending wisely is more about learning to wait for something versus getting it now. Financial discipline is first of all the ability to spend less than you earn (which requires proper budgeting and sticking to it) and secondly, being able to put that excess in the budget away over a period of time (savings).

How do you help your child to be financially disciplined with the concept of delayed gratification?

blackish-money-gif

Start early

Children form their habits based on what we expose them to. They are influenced by their environment and learn from the things they see on a regular basis. If you let your children understand that it may not always be the best thing to get something now, they grow with that lesson and it becomes easier as time goes on.

For instance, I hear a lot of parents say they don’t like to go to the supermarket with their kids because they are afraid of the demands to buy something that’s not on the budget.

If you train your kids that we do not always get what we want when we want them, they learn to respect those boundaries you’ve put in place.

Teach by example

Children learn by example. They’ll do whatever they see you do. There’s a need to model this concept for the children in everyday living. Use regular situations of life to let your children understand the need to wait for things. They can either decide to get something now or get it later.

Showing them the benefits of waiting can aid them in their decision to wait for something they love. Let them see that waiting is better. The way you conduct yourself on decisions that have to do with spending and savings will impact on your kids.

Don’t shy away from discussing money matters with them.

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Encourage savings

Let your kids learn to save every part of any amount that comes through their hands, no matter how small. Teaching your kids to save is an integral part of helping them to understand the concept of delayed gratification. They can save towards the future or simply towards a desired gift or toy.

Teaching your kids to understand delayed gratification is a gradual process and they will learn as long as you remain consistent in your teaching.

Self-control is a gradual process for your kids and they will get there. Just be firm and compassionate about it. They’ll thank you later.

Kalinè: You don’t need the ideal situation before you do something with your talent

Kaline Official - 1

Singer, pianist, composer and producer – Kalinè is an artist of many talents. The Berklee College of Music graduate inspires her fans through her genuine and unique lyrical style while navigating the Nigerian musical industry as an independent artist. After getting her start in the industry ten years ago, she has remained a self-managed artist who believes that the beauty of not being on a label or represented has given her the power to make decisions about her musical career—what she wants to do and how she wants to do it—all of which have molded her as the artist that she is today.

She Leads Africa spoke with Kalinè about her journey as an artist and entrepreneur and why honesty is her favorite form of inspiration.


You published a piece on your blog Self-Managed- 9 Reasons why you should be your biggest cheerleader. Why did you decide to self-manage as opposed to hiring someone to do it for you?

The ideal situation would be to have a support system in a formal way, or to have a team. However, I got to a point where I was looking for people, as opposed to being found. It is a lot better to be found by a manager as opposed to looking for one or paying for one. This is because they are coming on board knowing exactly what you want to do and they have a passion for what you are doing.

I’ve learned to be discerning about who I want on my team as well. I have come into my own, and embraced the challenge that a self managed artist has and I try to use that to encourage others by saying, you don’t have to have the ideal situation before you do something with your career or talent. That is how the self-mantra was formed; by embracing it and seeing the beauty in it—until the right person approaches me.

We all know that building a brand is filled with everyday challenges, some big and some small and aggravating. What’s your favorite challenge that you have tackled and what did you learn from this experience?

Patience is the biggest thing for me. In this industry it used to be so difficult for me to see other people making a success of their talents and passions. I’ve learned that patience is the most important thing.

Everyone has their own journey, their own timelines and trajectories. There is no use being anxious or worried about what is going to happen. I strongly believe that I will get to where I want to go. I must be patient about with the recourses I do have.

Since you self-manage, this must also mean that you manage your own social media sites? If so, how have you built an online community around your brand? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs around building passionate fans and active online communities?

Be true to yourself. Be authentic and genuine, whether on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or Soundcloud. I try to give valuable advice or useful and relevant information to my followers and supporters, while constantly remembering to be myself as I do so.

It is also good to have goals for each platform. Your Instagram followers are very different from your Facebook followers, likewise your LinkedIn followers. Figure out, what exactly do followers want to gain from the different platforms? It is a learning process, and a trial and error.

From your social media pages, I can see that you’re inspiring your followers in everything that you do—whether it’s singing or blogging. How do other activities that you partake in, inspire your work?

Photography, reading, social messages, conversations, and social issues inspire my blogging and songwriting. At Berklee School of Music I studied film and music scoring.

I’ve written music for commercials, and teach piano to little kids. Being an artist is a full time job. Everyday there is something to do—from social media, to practicing for a show, to styling, and to rehearsing.

What female artists do you gain inspiration and or empowerment from?

Adele, her honesty inspires me. Lianne Lahava, Laura Mvula—to name a few—teach me to stay true to myself and to write from an honest place.

How do you define yourself and your music, in terms of today’s climate?

If you come to one of my shows, you will hear reggae, highlife, pop, R&B and classical elements. The common thread that runs through all of my songs are honesty and elements of truth and authenticity through my repertoire. I am influenced by too many things to really put myself in the box.

I think that is where the world is headed—no longer really saying. Everyone is going into various genres; as the Internet and social media become more accessible around the world, we are all going to make music that we love and we know we will communicate to our followers and our fans.

What tips do you have on negotiating how much you get paid, how do you determine doing a free show or not?

It all depends on the type of gig, and how many minutes they want you to perform; how many songs they want and the number of instruments needed. All are determining factors and more—styling, makeup, and hair—help me to determine how much to charge.

However, creativity is relative. Some people have a budget. When you get to a point where you are trying to negotiate then other things come in, such as whether it is for a good cause or if it will be really good exposure for you or performing in front of an audience that you do not get to perform in front to often; or even someone saying, I will cover your costs but not pay your labor fees.

There’s also the situation where you have the opportunity to leverage off the people who ask you to perform—if they can open some doors for you, or introduce you to certain people and not pay you as much as you would like, that is a good reason to do a free or low fee gig.

How do you determine a good opportunity?

A good opportunity is one that won’t ever come around again and that you can be proud of. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

For example, when I performed the national anthem at the President of Nigeria’s first official visit to America in Washington, D.C. An opportunity like that may not ever come around again. Another example is of the time that I opened up for Chaka Khan and Angelique Kidjo; it was something I knew I had to do.

Kaline Official - 2A good opportunity can also be for charity, a good cause, to leverage off some contacts, to experiment, or even to rehearse. Open Mic Night, no one pays you for that, but that is in itself a gig; use it as an opportunity to try out a new song or play in front of an audience that you’ve never played in front of.

What do you see yourself achieving as a musician and as a representation of African women, whether in the near future or the far future? What advice would you have for women trying to navigate the industry?

There is so much importance in understanding that we all need to be true to ourselves in order to reach our fullest potential. Patience is key for achieving your goals. Patience does not mean sitting around and waiting for something to happen. It means going out and doing what you can with the resources—limited or not—and pushing ahead with clear goals.

I want to be well represented and seen as someone who stuck to this idea of authenticity and genuity. I want to encourage people to do the same; to be as unique as possible.

[Quiz] How much of a pushover are you at work?

see your life meme

There are levels to this being a pushover thing. Perhaps you are not ripe banana soft but are you rock solid?

Are you doing all of the work in the office? Feel the need to respond to every demand you client makes? Are you speaking up only in 1-on-1s?

Saying, ‘yes, ma’ to everything.

Take our quiz to find out.