About two weeks ago, I stumbled on a flyer on the Inspired Women of Worth (IWOW) Instagram page. The flyer was for the Cocktail and Connect Event. Immediately, I knew I had to attend. I tried to brush it off by scrolling past; after all, it really wasn’t my kind of event but the nudging won’t just leave! So I sent a DM and I later called to get the full registration details. I registered and I began to look forward to the event mainly because one of the things God told me about 2018 was the need to build new relationships and circles of influence.
After two days of terrible stomach ache, Sunday came and I found my way to Clear Essence California Spa and Wellness Resort feeling very excited. The first thing that struck me when I got the venue was the ambiance! I’m definitely doing another post about Clear Essence spa. And the smell…I really can’t find the right words to describe the great smell. Ok, that’s not why were here!
As the name of the event indicates, the evening began with a cocktail and networking session where I got to talk to a lot of lovely women including Mrs Udo Okonjo, Mrs Chinyere Okonkwo, Tewa Onasanya, Dr Ola Brown and many others. Honestly, it felt like we were just catching up on conversations we had previously. There were no airs at all. All the ladies were warm and welcoming. That was something that really stayed with me throughout the evening.
From the cocktail session, we moved into the talk session from three awesome guest speakers. This was the game-changer for me. Have you attended conferences where the speakers will be talking above your head or they’ll talk about things from an impersonal point on view? This was not the case at the IWOW event. Remember I told you how real the women had been just from the beginning of the event? Well, the speakers were just as real.
Here are the key things I learnt from each speaker.
Mrs Juliet Anammah, MD/ CEO Jumia Nigeria
Can I just say that I absolutely fell in love with Mrs Anammah? She was open, direct and honest about her journey to the top. She spoke about the need to have laser focus in the pursuit of your dreams and to do this, you need to know when to say no to opportunities that look good. I asked a question about this – finding that balance between good and great especially when the financial implication looks like something you can’t walk away from. This was something I struggled with in 2017. I knew where I was going but opportunities came that were financially lucrative and I went for them just because of that. Those opportunities didn’t work out well.
In answering my question, Mrs Anammah said that it is important for you to be clear on what you want to achieve in specific terms. You know how we can set ambiguous goals that are not measurable. That can’t work in 2018. Be specific. I like the illustration she gave. If you’re focused on heading to New York and someone offers you a flight to Las Vegas, even though you may have been dreaming of going to Las Vegas in the past, it is not your current focus. Your goal is to get to New York and a trip to Las Vegas is a detour that will take you further away from your goal.
Another key thing I picked up from her talk is to find your own path and objective and then, create a plan to achieve it. You must be daring and willing to explore paths that others have not yet explored. Mrs Anammah left her 20-year consulting experience and a lucrative job in the field to go into the new terrain of e-Commerce in Nigeria because she knew she could make an impact there. Was she scared? Yes. Did she have all the answers? No. But she fearlessly pursued her vision with laser focus!
Ok, let me move on to the next speaker.
Dr Ola Brown, CEO Flying Doctors
I met Dr Ola some years ago when I worked with YNaija. I believe my last encounter with her was at a Future Awards Symposium that took place in Ekiti. Despite having few interactions with her and being addicted to her articles on Medium, nothing prepared me for the depth of wisdom she shared in her session.
Dr Ola talked about how to create influence that leads to profit. Networking and meeting new people is not just for the sake of it. You need to know how to nurture those relationships, build your influence and master how to convert that into profit. A lot of times when we meet some of these successful people, we only think about what we can get from them or what they can do for us. Very few people ever think of the value they can give and this is important if you want to build social capital.
As women, Dr Ola emphasized that we need to do three things;
- Master the ability to build alliances. Sometimes these alliances will be outside your circle of friends. When it comes to building relationships, don’t limit yourself to certain circles. Cast your net wide.
- Look the part. Where are you going and how do you want to be addressed? You must always look the part. It’s often a key to access and getting your voice heard.
- Be intentional. Relationships don’t happen by chance. Be intentional about meeting people and creating bonds. Plan the kind of people that you want around you. You don’t need everybody; just those that can support you and play in part in getting you into the room.
Dr Ola also talked about the need for women to be comfortable with talking about money. If you see the way she was calling millions of dollars every now and then ehn! And it was quite obvious that she knows her onions, especially when it comes to business and finance and she is a Doctor! This is something she also talked about. You must be focused on self-improvement. Yes, gender bias exists and more often that not, women have to work twice as hard to get a seat at the table but make sure you know your stuff and you are dedicated to improving yourself. That way, when you do get a seat at the table you will be even more qualified than the men present.
The last speaker was Kechi Okwuchi, America’s Got Talent Finalist.
Kechi’s session was the icing on the cake of the entire evening. She spoke openly about her journey, what she’s been through and the doubts that she has to deal with sometimes. There’s such a beauty in vulnerability. We all have scars; some on the outside while others are on the inside. A key step to the healing process is to accept that those scars exist. The experience you had was valid but you can make up your mind not to let a negative experience affect your future and destiny. That’s exactly what Kechi did. She found purpose within pain and today, she is an inspiration to many all over the world.
I also learnt the importance of having the right kind of support around you. Kechi’s family stood by her throughout her recovery journey. Her father bought her a karaoke machine that allowed her to sing and express herself as much as she wanted to. Her friend applied for America’s Got Talent on her behalf, without informing her simply because she felt Kechi couldn’t just ‘waste’ her singing talent. How supportive are the people around you? You need people who will push you and nudge you on the path of greatness.
This has been a long read simply because there was a lot to learn from the IWOW event. This is just a summary really. Yes, it is! I’ll wrap this post up with the closing remarks from Mrs Udo Okonjo. In 2018, you need this five Cs;
- Clarity of purpose and vision
- Competence in the area of your skill
- Confidence in your ability
- Courage to pursue your dreams
- Community of people who will hold you accountable
I do hope you were able to take a thing or two away from this post!