The last two weeks of September were really mind changing for me. I travelled to Lagos for a program organized by She Leads Africa (SLA), a social enterprise that is committed to supporting female entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses.
I was part of their She Hive Lagos Pre-Accelerator program and also took part in other programs for the whole week of the event. I got the opportunity of meeting like minds, listening and learning from amazing entrepreneurs and investors and generally just opened up my mind to embrace the goodness in the entire environment and experience.
We had several classes and panel sessions including lectures on:
-Website design for start-ups
-Perfecting Your Pitch (with Andrea Barrica from 500 Startups)
-Maximizing the GTBank MarketHub
-Data and Analytic in Your Start-up with Co-Founders of Seedstars
-How to Run the World with Top Employees (with Chika Uwazie, founder of Talentbase)
-Getting Your Message to Your Customers (with Etisalat)
-Thinking Long Term About Your Money (with PAL Pensions)
-Investor Readiness Day (Where we got to pitch our businesses to investors and other entrepreneurs)
-And many more amazing open and closed mentorship sessions.
Overall, I had a great experience learning and networking with women who are transforming their worlds in different industries. There’s literally no limit to what we can all achieve. Our greatest limit is in our minds and only you can stop yourself from achieving your goals.
I decided to share 10 key lessons I learned from my SLA experience. Of course there are still more lessons, but I had to narrow them down. If any of these lessons resonate with you, please share your experience. Also, if you attended the event and you read this, let’s get talking about your personal experience. I will be sharing some more specific lessons I learned throughout the month of October, including some highlights from the Spirit-Life Conference organized by House on the Rock church. I had an eventFULL end of September.
Lesson 1: Networking is Everything
You’ve probably heard that your network is your net worth, but allow me to reiterate that point to you again. Do you know that you know someone that knows someone that knows President Obama? It’s not enough to sit at home and fantasize about your big dreams. In order for your dreams to be manifested, you’ll need the right network to help you give birth to your greatness. Loneliness during your journey in life and business can lead to barrenness. Your ability to leave your comfort zone and build a network of authentic personal and professional relationships and partnerships, will determine how far you go in life. Remember that networking is made easier and more effective when you know yourself, and what you stand for. This helps you to seek out the right people based on your values, similar interests and goals, in order to avoid getting lost in the crowd. Understanding this alone will help you connect with the right network which will ultimately determine the portfolio of your ‘net worth’.
Lesson 2: Don’t Keep Your Ideas to Yourself
A problem half shared, is half solved right? If you deeply desire to make an impact in the world, you’ll get to the point when you understand that your dreams cannot be achieved by just keeping them to yourself. Participating in the SheHiveLagos Program made me to apply this lesson. Ideas have a short lifespan and the earlier you start sharing them with the right people, the faster you’re able to manifest and give life to those ideas. When you share your ideas, you give room for better clarity and more knowledge.
Lesson 3: Chase After Your Dreams and Stop Waiting for Permission
At some point, your fears don’t matter anymore. You can hear all the advice and lectures in this world, but ALL that matters is applying them and truly chasing after your dreams and goals. You can have a session with Oprah Winfrey, but finally, you are responsible for making them work. Your dreams are valid and it’s time to start chasing after them and make them a reality.
Stop holding your light from the world and stop waiting for permission to act on your dreams. You have a responsibility right now to get your life into gear and move your life forward. It doesn’t matter what your past or current situation is, what matters is what you do with what God has given you. What’s in your hand right now? What are you going to do with it?
Lesson 4: Get Great Mentors and Listen to Experienced People
I’m a big supporter of having mentors and learning from more experienced people. I understand that sometimes as human beings we feel like we know everything. But in order to truly learn and achieve our goals, we must be humble enough to listen to people that have more experience in the industry we are interested in, and in life. They say experience is the best teacher, but for me, learning from other people’s experiences, is the best teacher.
Through the SLA SheHiveLagos event, we had the opportunity to listen to great minds from various industries including Mr Hakeem Belo-Osagie of Etisalat Nigeria, Mrs. Ndidi Nwuneli, Founder of Leap Africa and ACCE Foods, Andrea Barrica, Venture Partner at 500 Startups/Founder of InDinero and so many other amazing entrepreneurs and investors.
By listening more, we allow our minds to process the right information which we apply towards achieving our goals and also help others in return. In addition, having the right mentors will determine how “impactFULL” your life will be. Someone once told me she didn’t need a mentor (lol). Please never have this kind of mentality; if it’s been your lifestyle, change it. I keep referring back to the story of Elijah and Elisha in the Bible and how Elisha’s life was a clear reflection of his walk under the ministry of Elijah- now that’s the power of mentorship.
Lesson 5: Start Small, Go BIG
Sometimes we all want the BIG stuff and we want it right now. Well, even big companies like Coca-Cola and Apple computers started small. Andrea Barrica (lady standing in the picture above) is the Founder of InDeniro and also part of the 500 Startups team in San Francisco. She spoke to us about perfecting our pitch and delivering them effectively. She’s all about following the Lean Startup Method, a startup methodology developed by Eric Ries. Read more HERE.
Whatever dreams or goals you have, you can start small. Set realistic milestones towards achieving your targets and focus your mind and resources on meeting them; then grow from there. It’s not about how big you start, but how impactful your ideas are to people and if they trust you enough to pay for it. You can only know this when you START. Don’t let perfectionism dull your sparkle, but work together with excellence- even if you start in a garage.
Lesson 6: Your Circle of Influence Makes You
Be very intentional about the people you walk and work with. It takes seconds to be influenced by the opinions and thoughts of other people, whether negative or positive. In order to achieve your dreams, goals and purpose on earth, you must be courageous enough to walk away from people that no longer add value to your life.
The way you speak, talk and relate with people is a reflection of the kind of people you’ve been interacting with.
Surround yourself with people that challenge you and support you towards your goals. From your inner circle, your support team and even acquaintances; create a strong circle that continuously helps you towards your vision and strengthens your core values. Don’t forget to keep reinventing yourself and also add value to your circle.
Lesson 7: You’re Not Alone in the ‘Jungle’- Support Others
Sometimes we feel all alone while working towards our dreams, but remember that other people have their own stories too. I shared my story few months ago and most people connected with it because we are indeed family connected by our different experiences. In life, everyone has a unique story or a situation they are battling with. Our ability to understand this truth and also connect/support other people towards their own dreams, despite their circumstances, will help us grow even stronger.
Most entrepreneurs feel depressed during their journey, some leave their jobs to follow their passion, and others are constantly criticized for not going on the traditional career paths, and so on. You are not alone on this journey! Connect with like minds, never feel like you’re the only one going through ‘stuff’ but let your current situation inspire you to PUSH harder towards your dreams and goals. It’s never over until you WIN!
Lesson 8: Authenticity Matters
It’s very easy to get lost in the numerous distractions the world feeds us. Being true to yourself and your values will help you standout in the midst of the crowd. This applies to life, business, family and generally. I’ve learned the importance of authenticity which is deeply rooted in our true values, intentions, uniqueness, attributes and also being genuine and in tune with your truth and purpose.
Lesson 9: You Can’t ‘Think Alone’- Get the Right Team and Accountability Partners on Board
The African Proverb Ubuntu says it all- “I am what I am because of who we all are.” (From a definition offered by Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee.)
A person with Ubuntu is open and available to others, affirming of others, does not feel threatened that others are able and good, based from a proper self-assurance that comes from knowing that he or she belongs in a greater whole and is diminished when others are humiliated or diminished, when others are tortured or oppressed. (Via Wikipedia)
Working together with my team member Nancy (holding the selfie stick) was a great learning experience for me. When you have the right people around and embrace their opinions while staying focused on your vision, you’ll go far. Nancy came from Abuja to Lagos for this event and she was 100% supportive. Her determination, core values, focus and ability to understand ideas and help transform them into workable goals, was very phenomenal. She’s the kind of person you’ll want to work with over and over again. God just knew the right person to send at that point and I thank God for her.
(I just realized that this entire post has a key message- Your Network. It matters who’s on your SHIP. Just make sure they are all part of your process and have capabilities; when you row your boat, they need to be also helping/supporting you, if not, they are termintes)
Lesson 10: Please Have Fun During Your Journey and [Relax, Take Selfies, Eat Cupcakes, ReelFruits and Drink Wilsons’ LOL]!
It’s very easy to get lost in the entrepreneurial ‘ship’, to the extent that we forget to enjoy those little fun moments along the way. Take out time to have fun and just breathe, because you’re human and you weren’t made to just work work work.
We ate loads of cupcakes, yummy Reel Fruits snacks and almost got drunk on Wilson’s lemonade- some pictures below. We also had a fun painting session organized by PTN Africa, where we had to paint the map of Africa, but in a really unique manner.
I also got to hangout with some amazing people from our 30 Day Challenge Group for a quick lunch. Next time, we’ll definitely reach out to everyone for a grand meetup.
She Leads Africa also had their Pitch Competition in September and they had thousands of applications for the competition. I’m definitely applying next year. Three female entrepreneurs with great ideas were finally chosen and they won some cash prizes for their businesses. The winner of the pitch competition was Kasope Ladipo-Ajayi, founder and CEO of OmoAlata Foods. OmoAlata makes parboiled stew and pepper mixes that help busy men and women cut down the time it takes to cook delicious Nigerian meals. She won $10,000 for her business, while others Kambili Ofili Okonkwo CEO of Kamokini and Ngozi Okpara CEO of Heat Free hair, won the other prizes (picture below)
To see more pictures from my SLA experience, follow my instagram journey @laizaking
Which of the above lessons do you resonate with?
For more about She Leads Africa, visit: http://www.sheleadsafrica.org/
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