The Decision

A few years ago I read that one of the quickest ways to build a successful business is to take a product that has been successful in a country to another country that either doesn’t have that product or isn’t saturated with it.

This made (and still makes) perfect sense to me.  So with this in my mind I decided to take my business services to Nigeria.  This process was a long time in the making mainly because I left Nigeria as a child in 1993 and only started visiting in 2012 after I set up my business in UK.

When I started my business in London I was working as a contractor and on my business; I was doing 16-hour days at a minimum, which was tough.

Frankly, I had to make it work because I was using my contract job to self-finance my business and my life.  Once I decided to take my business to Nigeria (and the rest of Africa), I knew that I would have to leave the contract job to focus on my business.

The period between deciding to take my business to Nigeria, have an office in Nigeria and physically having an office took about 4 years.  4 YEARS!!  4 freaking years!  People have been married, had children and gotten divorced in less time!  Do you know why it took so long?  A combination of fear of the unknown and luxuriating in my comfort zone.

The thing is my comfort zone wasn’t a ride in the park.  I was bored to tears in my ‘very well paid’ contract job, yes, I needed it to self-finance but the only things that kept me going were working on my business and travelling to Nigeria twice a year to get the lay of the land, network and build contacts.

I could have done all of that in half the time if I had sat down, put a proper workable plan in place and stuck to it.  Hindsight is a superpower, I wish I had!!!  It would have been very useful!   Especially in avoiding con artists clothed in respectability.

I digress, once I decided I had a service that would work in Nigeria, and after painful lessons, I realised that to build a successful business in Nigeria I needed to stay in Nigeria for a lot longer than a few weeks.  So with my mind made up and a plan in place (lessons learned), I chose a date and bought my ticket to Abuja.

There’s nothing that motivates me more than lack of change.  To not have made any progress in a year?  That was enough to get my ass moving pdq!!

My family were surprised by my decision when I told them I was staying for 3 weeks on my first visit; most of them didn’t think I would last that long.  They said I’m ‘too English’ (whatever that means), I’ve lived in London for too long, I’m an ajebutter (damn spellcheck), NEPA (power cut) would drive me crazy, it would be too rough for me, Nigerians are too blunt, too impatient, the airport is a nightmare.  There’s some truth to that.  However, my desire to succeed trumps (damn the man!) every negative.

‘Too English’/Ajebutter – yes but when it comes to my business or what I want I’m a rottweiler; definitely an ajegpaki.

NEPA – I’m used to it; I’m more bothered by the afternoon sun.

Bluntness – I’m now an expert in counting from 1 to 1000 under my breath whilst giving a very sweet smile.

Airport – I’ve never had any problems in Abuja airport; infact a customs officer once gave me some money to hire a luggage trolley to use when he saw me struggling with 3 big cases.  Yep, a customs officer 🙂

So summer of 2016 with the blueprint of my Plan A in my hand and the burnt bridges of Plans C to Z behind me, I hopped on a British Airways flight to Abuja for three months.

……..The Adventure Begins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let It Go – A Tribute

Last year was a year filled with lots of highs and lows, happiness, fun, laughter, sadness, frustration and pain.
I lost my mum at the end of the year, following ill-health. She was a humongous influence in my life. Even times when I thought I could do certain things better (oh the folly of teenage years), she was the catalyst to think and do the opposite.

Now that she’s passed I as if there wasn’t enough time, I didn’t articulate to her exactly how I felt about so many things. Did she really know how much of an influence she was in my life? Yes, in my adulthood I did tell her I loved her and thanked her for the sacrifices she made for my siblings and I. But did she really know the intensity of the love, that gratitude?

There were also times when I didn’t agree with all her opinions, her beliefs…times as a child growing up that I was hurt by her rules and when I still think of it, I still feel the hurt of those adolescent years and I would have loved to have talked it over with her; to ask her why she did or said certain things. But I never did, even as an adult when mum and I grew close, I didn’t want to bring up that hurt. Now I wish I did.

But now that she has passed, I’ve come to accept certain things. Like who she was, what she sacrificed for us to have the best education she could provide, the private tutors, etc. She wanted to do and did the very best, bringing us up in the best way she could. Did she make mistakes? Of course. Could she have done things better? Possibly. Only if she knew it was a better way. But she gave her children a solid foundation to build the rest of our lives on. She was very strict in our upbringing, she set a high standard and as an adult living in a very competitive world, I finally understand why she did certain things and I appreciate and love her more for having the foresight to do it.

So I’m letting go of all the negative feelings, the hurt of the adolescent years. Because she did more good than bad, she made me the woman I am and it’s a damn good thing as I know I’m fabulous 
And compared to others I had a great and privileged childhood, which I am forever grateful to God and my mum for.

If you have any hurt or negative feelings caused by family and friends, if you can resolve it with them then please do. If you can’t because they’re no longer here, or they won’t acknowledge it or it would make things worse, then you must resolve to let it go. Let the negative feelings go, yes they hurt you, they could have done better, it didn’t have to be like that. Yes to it all, but you must let it go so that it doesn’t damage who you are and affect other areas of your life. Just let it go. It doesn’t matter how you want to do it, whether it’s through screaming, howling, praying…whatever method works for you as long as don’t cause harm to yourself or anyone. Whilst you’re letting go, you might want to sing the song…go on… you know the one I’m talking about.

 

Let it go

Sow those Wild Oats

A friend of mine, a lover of chick flicks, Mills & Boons, finding ‘The One’ and ‘happily ever afters’, is getting married.  I am thrilled for her, will obviously be attending the wedding and I’m looking forward to my trip to Selfridges Shoe Hall and wearing my slinky Herve Leger bandage dress. 

She has already been hinting about my current marital status or should I say the lack of it and how she ‘so wants me to find ‘The One’ just like she has done’….I held back my reflex action, which was to spit out my recently sipped scrumptious red wine. 

Could have been me!
Could have been me!

Oh hell, the torturous matchmaking has already started!  Please God, let her not put me on the singles corner table on the day!

I used to think my friend was sensible and she normally is on other things; however, when it comes to romance she lives by chick flicks and romance novels.  I use to love chick flicks like ‘Dirty Dancing’ ‘Love Actually’, and ‘Pretty Woman – a movie I’m convinced made prostitutes work that much harder.   I just believe that real life is nothing like chick flicks. 

Personally, I think chick flicks are made to deceive us, they make us think that being in a relationship, any relationship is easy and better than being single…news flash, it isn’t!  They convey the message that your life is empty and lonely until you get the guy or girl, and then once you get ‘The One’ all your problems cease to exist….it doesn’t. 

Real life isn’t that straightforward and I can happily tell you that being single is an absolute blast and your life is as empty and lonely as you choose it to be.  Come on people, we live in one of the greatest and most vibrant cities in the world! 

Single and fabulous!
Single and fabulous!

If you’re miserable as a single person, you will be miserable as a ‘coupled’ person, even worse you’ll likely make someone as miserable as you are 🙂

I can’t tell you the amount of parties, events and functions that I’ve been to, jokingly flirted my way round people I’ve come in contact with, stayed up partying all night, and travelled – admittedly not as extensively as I would like.  I may not have been able to do all of these things… and more 🙂, if I was coupled up.

Cocktails, anyone?
Cocktails, anyone?

I have childhood friends who got married very early and who admit that they’re not the same person they were when they got married.  They read romance novels, watched chick flicks, dreamt of happily ever after but were not prepared for the reality of being married. 

I’m not saying having someone is bad or boring; I’m just saying being single is not a bad thing and can be great, especially if the alternative is settling for second best.

Personally I think everyone should figure out who they are and what they want as individuals before getting seriously coupled up.  I believe that the ‘single’ period is when all ‘wild oats’ should be sown, get it out of your system, unless you both believe in Polygamy – well that’s a whole other blog 🙂.

Sometimes You Just Need to Relax

Holiday in the Sun

I’ve just come back from Turkey, I spent a long weekend in Kusadasi Golf & Spa Resort.

I’d like to say something along the lines of how exotic this town is on Turkey’s Aegean coast which also has a lot of art and culture; how similar they look to some southern towns in West Africa with the houses built so close together and the orangey feel about the town.

I’d also like to say that I visited Kaleiçi Camii – the mosque built in 1618 for Grand Vizier “Öküz” Mehmed Pasha, Kirazli Village – a traditional Turkish village, Yılancı Burnu – a possible location of the original settlement of Neopolis or even Kadıkalesi – a Venetian/Byzantine castle.

I really would like to say I visited all of these places or that I went out to funky places in the town and met some lovely Turkish men, alas I didn’t.  Between working long hours in the business and the journey from our lovely London, all I wanted to do on arrival was sleep.

You couldn’t have paid me to get out of the resort.  I spent the whole weekend lounging on our balcony or by the pool.  The weather was beautiful, sunny with the right amount of breeze that makes it feel sooooo good; it was glorious.  All requests to join friends for morning gym sessions were met with an astonished gaze that translated to ‘what the hell?’ , ‘I’m on holiday!’  I must confess that I did think about work and sent a few BB and WhatAspp messages; but it didn’t feel like work because I wasn’t in London….I’m taking baby steps here :-).

It felt good to just chill with friends, drink wine and gossip the day away with a spot or three of shopping (in the resort). Times like these you are reminded that life should be more than just work.

Mid-year resolution….schedule in some more time for friends, wine and se…. 🙂

Wimps Need Not Apply

Amazon Woman Warrior

Success is challenging; success is bloody, bloody, effing challenging!

I could fill a book with expletives of how challenging the road to success can be.  It takes a lot of guts, blood, sweat and tears.  No amount of wishing, of praying, and of visualising can take away the fact that to be successful you have to put in the work and it’s a bloody bed of roses with thorns for good measure….see how many times I’ve said the word ‘bloody’?  Multiply it by a bloody million!

FYI – my definition of business/career success is lasting financial independence, which for me is multi-millions…but then that’s just me ;-).

To be successful you must make sacrifices of your time, your family, and your friends. Social life?  What social life?!  Time for serious dating?  In your dreams, mate!  For those who are partnered up and working towards a successful business/career, my sympathies to your partner; I’d like to say ‘give them a real big hug from me’ but you probably don’t see them long or often enough to give them proper quality hugs, do you?

This is why there are many, more unsuccessful people then successful because it’s not a walk in the park!  Oh, I’m sure it’s easy enough to start a new business or a career, believing that it’ll make you rich.  Most of the time people start businesses/careers for this reason and not because they are really passionate about it.  They believe the business or career will be the vehicle that will bring them wealth, what they don’t realise is how challenging the road to success, real success – with lasting financial freedom – can be.  People don’t realise how much you have to sacrifice, be it your time and/or your sleep.  The mistakes you’ll make, the rejections along the way, the loneliness and, sometimes, the mockery you encounter. 

This is why, I believe, you have to absolutely love what you’ve chosen to do.  It’s the love and passion of the business/career that will keep you going when you encounter rejection and failure along the way (because you definitely will!); when you have to stay up late working, no matter how tired you are from lack of sleep.  And when your friends/family are complaining that you don’t spend as much time with them; it’s the love that makes you keep saying ‘it’s not long now, I’ll get there’.

I can remember days of getting up at 4.30am in the morning to get ready for work and being up until 12am the next morning still working away, and then going to bed at 1am only to wake up a few hours later at 4.30am!  Days like these that all I just wanted to do was cry like a baby from sheer exhaustion and the only thing I looked forward to was the weekend…..just to sleep!  And the rejections?  Don’t even get me started on those!

I’ve cancelled dates, pleaded sickness to friends so that I can work…or even sleep!

But yet, I have continued and still continue to work on my business because I can’t imagine doing anything else.  I love what I do, the business I’ve started.  My eyes light up when I talk about the business, the services we provide, the clients, when I talk about where I want the business to be in 3, 5 and even 10 years time. 

Success is challenging but not impossible. 

The success potential of my business is mind-blowing, it’s adrenaline-filling.  The input required is fit only for Gladiators as indicated by Will Smith in the quote below:

The only thing I see that is distinctly different about me is that I’m not afraid to DIE on a treadmill.  You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, but if we get on a treadmill together there are two things that will happen…

  1. You’re getting off first,

OR

  1.  I’m gonna DIE.

It’s really that simple.’

Oh yes, the road to success is definitely not for wimps.

Gladiators

G.O.Y.A* and Just Do it!

Be Your Own Hero

*Get Off Your Arse.

I remember years ago daydreaming about winning the lottery.  I would dream about what I would do with the money – pay off debts, my mortgage, give some money to my immediate family…not friends (yes, I said it); go on holiday; invest some of it, etc.  I would spend hours daydreaming, how even £50k would change my life substantially….and then forget to buy a lottery ticket! 

I remember wanting so much to lose weight; saying things like I was big-boned was wearing very thin 🙂 (pun intended) and then in the next breath I would be stuffing my face with milk chocolate hobnobs (heaven!).  Or sending an email to work colleagues complaining about my ‘shitty, shitty, absolutely crap’ salary and not doing anything about it. 

A lot of us spend most of our lives daydreaming, wishing, wanting, needing.  Few take the necessary steps that are needed to make our daydreams, wishes and wants come true. 

We all want to be successful, in our careers, businesses, and relationships; and we look on in envious admiration of people who are achieving their dreams.  We tell ourselves that they have an advantage because…….they’re charming, more beautiful, they have contacts, etc.

We say all these things to ourselves and don’t do take any action for ourselves.  Sometimes we do try but it becomes too difficult or we come across an obstacle or two so we give up.  Months or even years pass by and the people who have taken action become more successful while we remain the same.   

I’ve learnt over the years that once you know what you want, if you then don’t get off your arse and just go for it, no one else will do it for you.  No matter how much you wish it, dream about it, talk about it; if you don’t make the decision to do it, then get up and just do it, the ‘it’ will never be done, no matter what.

I use to be afraid of failure and so I didn’t really like making decisions. I later realised that not making a decision meant that I didn’t take any action which ultimately meant that I will surely fail. 

Indecision leads to inaction.  And inaction means you’ll remain in the same position next month, next year, in years to come and this doesn’t make one a success.  The act of not making a decision means that you have CHOSEN, deliberately or otherwise, not to succeed. 

There’s nothing more irritating than an adult who doesn’t seem to be able to make a decision.  Have you ever been on a date with someone who seems wonderful but can’t seem to decide on the choice of food or wine?  Who spends about five minutes urmming and ahhing as to what food and drink they should get.  The waiter then comes back the third time to ask if your date has chosen something yet, after what seems like forever your date asks the waiter…’what do you recommend’?  At this point if you still want to date them then you’re a much better person than I am.

You want to succeed?  Decide what you want and then get up and take action.

Everyone who has achieved any kind of success continually makes decisions about their lives, their goals, their relationships, etc.   They take action, some are big, some small, some will be wrong, some will be right; some will fail, some will succeed.  Sometimes it’s not even the decisions that they make, it’s the fact that they’ve made a decision and from that they’ve taken an action.  If it’s a wrong decision, then they’ve learnt from it and as a result, they’ve moved further than they were before they made the decision and probably learnt more.

Perfect examples of people who ‘Got off their Arses and Just Did it’

Oprah Winfrey – Media Mogul – was fired from her TV reporting job because they told her she wasn’t fit to be on screen.  Now owns….seriously, is there any point in finishing the sentence?!

Donald Trump – Entrepreneur – was bankrupt numerous times but yet has come back wealthier than before.  He made decisions that made him lose money but then he turned things around, learnt from his mistakes and made other decisions that made him gain more money than before.

Shonda Rhimes – Screenwriter, Director, and Producer – after graduation from university she found herself an unemployed scriptwriter in Hollywood and worked at a various day jobs.  She eventually worked on a variety of TV shows and movies, some were a success, some were not.  Now she is the creator of very successful TV shows: Grey’s anatomy, Private Practice and Scandal (btw I LOVE Scandal!).

Sir James Dyson – Innovator – while developing his vacuum, Sir James Dyson went through 5,126 failed prototypes and his savings over 15 years.  But the 5,127th prototype worked and now the Dyson brand is one of the best-selling vacuum cleaners in the world.

J.K. Rowling – Author – was unemployed, divorced and raising a daughter on benefits while writing the first Harry Potter novel.  She is now an international renowned author and the first person to become a BILLIONAIRE from writing.

So how do you make a decision?  By making a decision :-); seriously, it’s not rocket science sometimes you have to be your own hero ;-).

Action is the foundational key to all success…..So here’s to our success!

Naomi Campbell – Role Model

Naomi-Campbell-on-The-Face-2

Drive

Discipline and a

Thick skin…..

I never thought I would ever, in a million years mention Naomi Campbell, role model and me in the same sentence but please hear me out.

I recently watched a couple of episodes of a reality model show called ‘The Face’ which features our very own Naomi Campbell as one of the coaches/mentors.  The concept of the show is that out of twenty-something wannabe models and a series of tests, three supermodels – Naomi Campbell, Karolina Kurkova and Coco Rocha – each select four girls who they want to mentor, making a total of 12 girls.  So each supermodel is a coach/mentor to her group of girls and each week all the models go through various tests as a group to get to the winning team.

First of all, it goes without saying that Naomi Campbell at 42 looks great.  Yes she has money and good genes; however, I suspect that she works hard to look that good so note to self.

What is striking about Naomi in this show is that she doesn’t apologise for who she is.  She plainly says that she is very competitive and wants her team to win.  She mentions characteristics that she is looking for in her girls – Drive, Discipline and a Thick skin.  She acknowledges that the fashion industry is ruthless and competitive and in order to survive it you have to suck it up and keep going irrespective of how you’re feeling.

In one of the tests, the girls were required to choose a complete outfit and strike a pose. One of the girls chose a shoe that was too small and was a bit teary about it, even I could feel her pain through the television!  Miss Campbell asked her ‘what’s wrong with you?  Are those tears I see?’  After denying it a bit the girl finally owns up that her shoes are too small.  What did Naomi say?  Something along the lines of ‘You can’t go in front of a client and complain about what you’re given, you have to wear it, pose and suck it up!’  Bloody hell I thought!  That’s tough love right there. 

As harsh as that may sound, ‘suck it up and get on with it’ is true, it’s life!  Life isn’t always easy, things don’t always go the way you want it, when you want it; you just have to keep moving forward.  Don’t stop and turn back just because the only pair of shoes available is a size or more too small.  On runway shows the models aren’t always given the right size shoes, with the heels that they’re comfortable with. 

And that’s the same thing in life, in the real world.  In order to succeed you have to keep going no matter what.  Drive, Discipline and a Thick skin.

Drive – to keep going no matter what, irrespective of the setbacks, the knockbacks and the rejections; believe me, you will encounter a lot of those on the road to success.

Discipline – to ignore every unnecessary distraction that will keep you from doing the things that you need to do to achieve your goals.  Isn’t it funny how when you need to study, do research or make an important phone call, all of a sudden tidying up, doing the laundry or doing the dishes become all important? 

Thick skin – oh yes, in order to succeed your skin has to be thicker than that of an elephant and a rhinoceros combined (if that were possible!).  This is because you will experience some level of failure and rejection; people will say negative things about you, about your goals.  Colleagues, friends and even family members will try and knock you down but you have to be strong enough for those things not to set you back; for them to be like water off a duck’s back.

Naomi Campbell is a perfect example of having these qualities; please don’t get me wrong she isn’t an angel, far from it but then who is?  I love the fact that she’s been through what she’s been through, fought her personal demons, and paid her dues.  From the show it seems that she now knows who she is and she doesn’t apologise for it.  She acknowledges that she’s competitive and wants to win; you can take it or leave it.  Of course such an attitude comes with age and experience, knowing and accepting who you are.

When you’re young irrespective of the facade you try and project, you want people to like and accept you.  When you’re older and you’ve gone through all sorts of experiences, you don’t care whether anyone, with the exception of close family and friends, likes you.  When you’re older you know who you are, what you want, what you like, and the things you won’t compromise on.

So you go Naomi, you’ve come a long way from the crazy temper tantrums, the phone throwing, the drugs, etc.  You’re showing yourself to be a competitive, driven and disciplined woman with a thick skin (with all those tabloid reports you have to have one!) who knows what she wants, sucks it up, goes for it and will not stop until the goal is reached.

You have officially joined my list of role models which include, my mum, Oprah Winfrey, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, women who are strong, driven, flawed, imperfect, disciplined and ambitious; and I salute you.

Yes, Naomi Campbell, I salute you!

Overnight success…yeah right!

Olympics 2012 is in town and has been around for about eleven days.  Actually if you live in London it has been in town for a lot longer.  We’ve been part of or have been forced to be part of the Olympics preparation for a long time now.  The athletes have finally arrived; the awesome Opening Ceremony – well done, Danny Boyle and the volunteers – and the events are taking place.

For the none-sporty types a few of the athletes seemed to have come out of nowhere, for others in the know, these athletes have been around for years; toiling away, practising their craft.  I remember watching the 100m men’s athletics in Beijing 2008 and watching Usain Bolt dazzle everyone.  I, like everyone else, was gobsmacked and I remember thinking ‘where the hell did he come from?’  ‘How is that I’ve never heard of this athlete?’  I remember watching all the races that Bolt was in and being amazed by his athleticism.  But after doing a bit of research on him (yes, I was that fascinated) I realised that just because I hadn’t heard of him didn’t mean that he just appeared out of nowhere.  Just because I was completely oblivious to his existence before Beijing 2008 didn’t mean that years prior to the Olympics he hadn’t been toiling away at various training camps, training more hours than I sleep, sacrificing so much on a daily basis to achieve his Olympic dream and ultimately doing just that.

The determination, the tenacity and the literal ‘blood, sweat and tears’ that it takes to be an Olympian irrespective of the medals is incredibly vast and I’m sure it has to be an insult to these athletes to say ‘they just appeared out of nowhere’.

I suppose to a certain extent it’s the same thing with entrepreneurs, actors/actresses, artists, etc.  The public only notices the ‘event’ – when their business/career/movie/song becomes big in the public domain. And most of us think that they came out of nowhere, some of us may even become envious.  We fail to acknowledge the process that they went through to get to the event.  The process of working stupid hours, through the night, knocking on countless doors, the rejections, the sneers; the process of wearing so many hats – director, errand person, telephonist, PR person, cheerleader and so much more to keep the dream alive.

The public thinks that the event just happened…overnight.  Lasting success NEVER happens overnight.  The process, the preparation makes the event, without the process there is no event.  So I respect every athlete, every entrepreneur, career climber, artist and everyone who is working at improving themselves and their craft, whether or not you are in the public eye.  If your event has happened, I respect the process that you went through to make your event happen.  And if it hasn’t, don’t worry it will happen as long as you don’t give up…