I literally have the chills all over from watching Oprah’s speech at the golden globes…
As a mum to a young daughter I was deeply saddened, by the “story women became” all over world in 2017. The gender gap widened, inequality at work remains a massive issue, especially for women of colour like myself, and the viral #Metoo movement highlighted the frightening scale of the oppression of women literally all over the world…
Despite much to celebrate in my blessed life and career last year, I couldn’t help but feel heartbroken, angry, and worst of all, hopeless as I reflected on 2017.
Exhausted and frustrated, I prayed for guidance, when it hit me!
YOU too are the solution, not just ME!
Then I watched Oprah so beautifully put it like this;
“A new day is on the horizon, and when that new day finally dawns it will be because of a lot of magnificent women, and some pretty phenomenal men fighting hard to make sure that girls become leaders who take us to the time when no one ever has to say “Me too’ again.”
Such powerful truth! Magnificent women and phenomenal men are exactly who God used to take me from where I was at one time, a homeless and seemingly hopeless dropout, on the path of self destruction to the successful wife, mother, and leader I am today, who is fiercely passionate about helping women all over the world reach their full potential both professionally and personally.
These everyday men and women, made the choice to see me, and encourage me to each new level of success by saying “you too”, can do this.
For many, their part was simple for them, perhaps easily forgotten, but for me, and those that I now impact all over the world, it was destiny altering.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, if you are reading this, chances are, you have the power to positively impact the life of at least 1 girl or woman you know. To be that amazing person that makes ALL the difference in her life.
These stories highlight just some of the many magnificent women and phenomenal men who have impacted my life, my hope is that in them you will see how you can help a girl or woman you know thrive by showing her “you too” can do, be, or have whatever you desire in 2018.
One of my professors at the University of Wales in Bangor learnt of a fantastic internship opportunity for a finance student during the Easter break of 2002. Being the busy man he was, it would have been easy to just advertise, and do little else with the job posting. Instead, he took the time to think through the current list of students for a good fit, which he determined I was, and made the effort to track me down on the phone where I was (approximately 300 miles away in London), to encourage me to apply, because he believed I would be phenomenal at the role. If he had not made that call, I may never have seen that opening, or even if I had, believed I was good enough to apply. Thanks to him, I went on to not only get that internship, but also secured full time employment following a successful internship during which I was awarded the Company’s prestigious Above and Beyond award.
Then, just over a decade ago, I met a brilliant young woman originally from Nigeria just like me. So much about her impressed me, especially the fact that she was a recent graduate of Harvard University where she got her MBA. I was in awe. When I mentioned this to her, without hesitation she said, “if you want to go to a school like this, you can too, and I can help you”. She proceeded to mentor me through the difficult process of applying for my MBA, resulting in me gaining admission to Cambridge University. I was blessed to learn with some of the most incredible minds on this planet there, and had an incredible year which helped catapult my career. Had this magnificent woman not helped “normalise” her success, and show me the “how”, it would have remained out of reach for me.
During my time at Cambridge, I had the great privilege of working with an incredible careers team, including one amazing career coach. She took great care in getting to know my dreams, hopes, and aspirations. When a top company was seeking high potential candidates for their leadership development program, she encouraged me to apply, and from my perspective, it seemed I sailed through the various recruitment stages to receive employment into the amazing company I would go on to build a successful and fulfilling international career in.
What I came to realise years later from the hiring Manager, an incredible leader in the business that later became my mentor, was that I initially didn’t even make the first round. After the company selected the candidates that they wanted to interview and my Cambridge careers coach noticed my name was not on the list, she contacted him and said “there’s something about her, she has great potential, please interview her”. He took a chance, and has since proved her right. I have gone on to have and create tremendous success within the company which would never have happened had she not picked up the phone.
I could literally go on with story after story of how amazing people in a moment literally changed the course of my life. There are too many to list here.
Almost every step I have taken from my seemingly hopeless start, to who I am blessed to be today, has happened because of moments someone made the choice to help me get the message that “you too” can have, be, or do something.
Your life is full of these opportunities to change lives, and alter destinies.
You are that powerful.
This and every year, you will have the choice to go with the flow and accept the status quo, or to be a shining light in all the darkness in the world, by really seeing the women in your sphere of influence, and telling them “you too”.
We will get to a time when no one ever has to say Me too again, by all of us deliberately looking for opportunities to say “you too” to the women in our lives.”
Who can you say “You too” to today?