Find the person who ENJOYS taking on the tasks you hate. This is a CRUCIAL and often overlooked aspect. Having someone there to “help you out” in the interim does not suffice and could potentially hurt you in the long run especially when just beginning your venture.
As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Martina Inumidun Iwala.
Entering the world via route of emergency landing, Martina is no stranger to life’s unexpected twists and turns. Ever inspired by her Cameroonian father & Nigerian mother, who left their families behind in the only countries they’d ever known in order for their children to have better opportunities, Martina strongly believes in advocating for those less fortunate. Her innate sense of self-awareness, coupled with the charm and curiosity she displays in all aspects of her being, affirms Martina’s progressive experience from FinCorp to the entertainment industry to media production to youth activism.
The previous moments in time when leaving the high school and/or college comfort zones proved challenging enough BC (Before Covid); now with an endless array of opportunities available at their fingertips, young people are like, “Okay… What the hell do we do now?!” Covid-19 proved to be a serious wake up call for everyone which is why Operation: Adulting is here: to help budding adults realize that their futures are incredibly customizable when coupled with the knowledge of and confidence in their abilities. When they truly grasp that, they’re unstoppable.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit about how you grew up?
I moved around A LOT, twice a year at times; it was mostly due to the nature of my father’s work plus my mother’s “may as well have the kids see the world while they’re young” attitude. Some can fathom moving around loads can be troublesome but one thing that still truly boggles my mind is how different the curriculums are within the United States. To give a brief example: a curriculum in state N would have students learning algebra & biology in grade 6 where students in schools in state L would be taking those courses their freshman years of high school.
You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are changing in our world today?
It still takes a village to raise a child however, the modern village is simply digital. Emergent technologies have undoubtedly transformed the lives of billions of people around the globe with platforms being developed to help millennials, gen-zers & beyond shape their futures. Unfortunately, many initiatives aren’t particularly comprehensive or inclusive enough to allow for the contribution of disadvantaged youth, especially considering their impact in the coming digital era.
Most of our digital time is spent liking & sharing IG posts, “debating” an opposing Twitter user or gushing over our loved ones; most would sacrifice their beloved limited edition Jordan collection over publicly sharing any mistakes they’ve made. It’s sad because there are so many people out there who’d benefit from those experiences. That’s where Operation: Adulting™ comes in. We’re on a mission to assist high school & college seniors with this very uncertain time in their lives; think about when you filled out your first W2? How many of us were too nervous to ask our new boss for help??
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
A contestant on a show I was working on said to me “Martina, can’t I ever just talk to you about something without you trying to fix it?” My response was “Oh, so you just wanna complain?” There’s been this innate desire to actively find solutions over simply pointing out issues since I could remember. My father would drive the family around every Sunday after church and, at times, I’d notice people begging for change, food or clothing. I’d mentioned that with all the land covering the planet, there’s no reason there aren’t enough homes for the people out begging in the heat/cold? So of course I swore to my parents that I would be so successful in whatever I set my mind to in order to get homes for all the homeless people in the world.
It wasn’t until father’s day 2021 where I discovered a four page speech my father gave at his graduation writing: “Today, I want to talk to men and women of my age group. We have been accustomed to taking from (this community) and not giving back. This trend is so pathetic that I feel something ought to be done to (salvage the coming generation from) prevent our junior ones from duplicating our bad behaviours.” It makes me feel that I’m finishing something he wasn’t able to start.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest them. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
The moment that triggered Operation: Adulting was being surrounded by those who kept saying they “weren’t concerned with what was going to happen to they’re children because they were going to pass away soon. First thought: how grim. But then I was saddened by how many young people are out there that are simply looking for SOME sort of guidance. The final trigger was overhearing a kid make fun of another kid because he was reading. -_-. It vividly reminded me of the movie based in the year 2117 or something with everyone eating out of slime filled buckets. It hit me that the people left paying for the wreck that was the covid pandemic, will be future generations of young people. So we’re here to give the students with less access some sort of fighting chance”
Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
Ha, I wouldn’t say I knew the steps to start an organisation but that’s how you make the most of technology my friend. Luckily I had access to incredibly helpful individuals who are just as passionate about bettering the world around them! So shout out to two Facebook groups: Nonprofits for Newbies!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
I had two weeks to find an apartment, interview potential roommates, deal with a stalker & an illegal squatter, begin an investigation into police officers & sergeants who attempted to illegally violate my civil rights & liberties, interview & onboard volunteers, begin the casting process for new series, locate & compile lost data due to a failed workspace merger (thanks Zoho Suites), schedule upcoming events for the organisation all while attempting to learn to effectively run this organisation! Sitting on my couch, during a rainy late afternoon, I suddenly became irrevocably overwhelmed which led to a short anxiety attack. We’ve all been at a place in life that we simply want to give up & quit everything and sadly, this was one of those moments for me. Don’t fret, I went from crying to checking myself real quick because with everything going on in the world, lives & lights lost, it was quite selfish of me to be unproductive when there are young people that would do anything to have the opportunities a lot of us take for granted.
It’s SOO easy to fantasize about throwing last minute paperwork- your boss held onto for ages- up in the air as you walk out of your cubicle in slo-mo placing your sunnies on with a heavy metal soundtrack blaring while you cheese right out the front door; yeah you have a few credit cards bills due along with rent in two weeks, forgot to cancel those free trials and are beginning to regret that spontaneous trip you took to Tulum about a month ago but nothing beats the feeling you get when you tell your friends how you beat the “man” the fourth time in a row…
Imagine if the head honcho of your place of work decided to simply walk out one day? During a meeting, they simply stand up and say “You know what, I’m out” and shuts their laptops because you know, this would take place over Zoom. There’d be a lot of stains on the ceiling. I mean, depending on the size of the institution, there may be someone able to absorb those duties, sure but what about when there isn’t anyone readily available?
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
Joining my first Zoom-based pandemic interview while changing into my Zoom shirt. Definitely taught me to change all of my web-meeting settings to Camera OFF upon joining a call. I don’t think I’ll ever get over that!
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
The only ones who helped me succeed are the people who weren’t able or willing to help me along the way. Hear me out, when one puts themselves in the position to assist others, most tend to have some or at the very least begin to develop a sort of support system or group. But upon starting the organisation, I truly didn’t have that and mostly because I wasn’t sharing my plans too broadly.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
We have a participant based in the Philippines who is incredibly new to the STEM field. He wasn’t sure exactly what he wanted to do and wasn’t even sure where to begin! Due to the lack of bandwidth in his home country, he would attend our live sessions but wouldn’t be able to view it live due to the poor connection. O: A™ didn’t have any donations at that point but this student was really great with checking in with me every day to send me questions he had about school & life in general. So I helped him out with a laptop and cell phone so he could check into our courses. Just last week he sent me a facebook message thanking our programme and that he’s successfully enrolled in a Polytechnic University in the Philippines”
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Three things our community can do to solve the issues
Thing #1: be open about your experience. A personal goal is to swap the word mistake for experience or an interesting plot twist
Thing #2: be ACTiVE in the community you’re attempting to represent. There are too many people entering district races they know absolutely nothing about
Things #3: Actively engage in group economics: stop going for the highest bidder and put your faith in people willing to go hungry or embarrass themselves in order to defend protect the community you claim to do the same for.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Would’ve been nice to know #1: Find the person who ENJOYS taking on the tasks you hate. This is a CRUCIAL and often overlooked aspect. Having someone there to “help you out” in the interim does not suffice and could potentially hurt you in the long run especially when just beginning your venture.
Would’ve been nice to know #2: Be transparent with your community. With the good AND the unknown. There were months that went by when I wouldn’t send a lick of an update to the board & council members of the organisation. From dealing with an abusive squatter in my apartment, to finally understanding that most law enforcement officers don’t understand the law they’re allegedly enforcing; for some reason I thought that I didn’t want to inundate them with my personal issues.
#3: When you request assistance, be very VERY specific about what you need help with. Slide into my DMs if you can answer this one but where did this fear of asking for exactly what we need come from? As children we were all so inquisitive about the world around us but the inclination to ask questions simply decreased over time. This is a pretty fantastic rule-of-thumb in general.
#4: I’ll have to get back to you on this one…..
#5: Check your audio & mic settings when signing into a Zoom call
Heh, this one is pretty self explanatory.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
I suggest making a pen pal at a retirement home. Each and every one of us are FULL of mistakes & memories made and stories to tell, why not listen to someone who’s lived a glorious life with the energy to tell it? Volunteering since the age of 13, I would visit homes over the summer to chat with some of the older ladies that didn’t have frequent visitors. Trust, there were stories I definitely was NOT supposed to hear but the general consensus was: live your life to the fullest while you have the ability to.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Zendaya, Rihanna or Kris Jenner. Boy oh boy do these women have an incredible knack of RESPONDING versus REACTING! This is one of the things we help our students be mindful of in our ID2021 course.
How can our readers follow you online?
Check us out on IG, Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn at Operation: Adulting or check us out at www.Operation-Adulting.org
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!