MONEY

Travel Chronicles | Eiffel Tower Part 1

by ThinkFeminist on September 6, 2013

26 days in three continents, four countries, numerous cities, countless airports and gazillion number of people and friends. They say travel change you, and I  100% agree with that statement. We travel “not merely to lie on a beach somewhere, but to discover something new about ourselves, and about the world. This quote by Dani Shapiro sums it all up.

It wasn’t about getting away or merely taking a vacation, it was more than that for me. It was to discover, explore and learn more about myself, my new venture and what is left in the world for me to change. A whole new thirst for change brewed in me as I walked on the shores of Essouria, to the red city of Marrakesh, Morocco and the piles of dirt along the coastlines of Lagos, Nigeria. I was blown away by problems that deep down I knew existed but somehow thought had vanished or had been solved by someone else. I also witnessed amazing beauty for the very first time. It is true what they say of the Eiffel Tower, it’s an astounding beauty, and my goodness, Lagos boast of amazing skyscrapers, beautiful restaurant, beaches and hotel. I was completely swoon.

I will break this whole trip down by days/events/or special locations, and hopefully I remember as much of this as possible. Here is a little snapshot of our first few hours in Paris.

You can’t possibly visit Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower right? So, as soon as we got off the airplane, had a good shower and changed some clothes, we went straight to the city with a view. It was beautiful.

IMG_4681Camille on our first flight – Pittsburgh to Paris. Watching ‘Sofia The 1st” on the TV screen

DSC_0247_2Greeting Aunt Rachel with a kiss after a month-long separation

DSC_0280_2Beautiful Walk at La Defense, and far away, there is the Grand Arch, a beautiful sight.

DSC_0392_2Camille, Enjoying a beautiful afternoon on the stairs overlooking the Eiffel Tower. 

IMG_4860Rachel and I take a picture at the Starbucks in La Defense

IMG_4758Camille takes a walk in the garden overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

IMG_4851Me and the jet-lagged Camille at the Eiffel Tower

IMG_4857The sleepy + jet-lagged Camille in a bicycle ride across the Eiffel Tower to the train station

IMG_4859At La Defense Starbucks, we share a beautiful drink and took this gorgeous picture.

IMG_4847Slept through the train ride and all the way home.

****To Be Continued.

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Summer Reading List for Aspiring Female Entrepreneurs

by ThinkFeminist on June 26, 2013

I am an avid reader. While growing up in Nigeria, I read mostly science and engineering related books mostly because parents wanted their kids focused on a particular than being jack of all trades. Upon attending college in America, I realized that being well-rounded was nothing to be ashamed of, and it was somehow wired into my DNA. I decided to read more marketing/entrepreneurial books and even picked up some photography along the way.

Here are some books I am reading right now.

Advocacy: Championing Ideas and Influencing Others

by John A. Daly

I bought the audio version of this book for my commute to and from work, which isn’t long but at least, I get to  have an inspiring drive.

When a group of people gather together to generate ideas for solving a problem or achieving a goal, sometimes the best ideas are passed over. Worse, a problematic suggestion with far less likelihood of success may be selected instead. Why would a group dismiss an option that would be more effective? Leadership and communications expert John Daly has a straightforward answer: it wasn’t sold to them as well. If the best idea is yours, how can you increase the chances that it gains the support of the group? In “Advocacy: Championing Ideas and Influencing Others”, Daly explains in full detail how to transform ideas into practice. To be successful, leaders in every type of organization must find practical and action-oriented ways to market their ideas and achieve buy-in from the members of the group. Daly offers a comprehensive action guide that explains how to shape opinion, inspire action, and achieve results. Drawing on current research in the fields of persuasion, power relations, and behaviour change, he discusses the complex factors involved in selling an idea – the context of the communication, the type of message being promoted, the nature and interests of the audience, the emotional tenor of the issues at stake, and much more. For the businessperson, politician, or any other member of a group who seeks the satisfaction of having his or her own idea take shape and become reality, this book is an essential guide.

Rippling: How Social Entrepreneurs Spread Innovation Throughout the World

by Beverly Schwartz

I also got this in an audio version and I am listening to it for the second time at work. It is a very captivating book if you are in the social entrepreneurial route. The examples detailed in this book will compel you to think differently and inspire you to pay attention to the world’s suffering, and hopefully you will choose to make a difference.

Drawing on the knowledge and experience of working with hundreds the world’s top social change leaders in all fields, Beverly Schwartz presents a model for change based on five proven principles that any individual leader or organization can apply to bring about deep, lasting and systematic change.Rippling shows how to activate the type of change that is needed to address the critical challenges that threaten to destroy the foundations of our society and planet in these increasingly turbulent times.

Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead

by Sheryl Sandberg

I wrote about Lean In the week it was released. I was very vocal about it, so go ahead and read my review here. I highly recommend it, if you are one those people who need a little help in strengthening your confidence muscle. You can’t get ahead in this mean crazy world without some backbone, ruthlessness and determination to go after what you want. You also have to learn to compromise when it comes to family, love and relationships. Sheryl talks about everything in this book that holds women back from the lives they were born to live.

Thirty years after women became 50 percent of the college graduates in the United States, men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in government and industry. This means that women’s voices are still not heard equally in the decisions that most affect our lives. In Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.

Sandberg is the chief operating officer of Facebook and is ranked on Fortune’s list of the 50 Most Powerful Women in Business and as one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. In 2010, she gave an electrifying TEDTalk in which she described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers. Her talk, which became a phenomenon and has been viewed more than two million times, encouraged women to “sit at the table,” seek challenges, take risks, and pursue their goals with gusto.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

by Susan Cain

This is a book that is not on my own shelf because anyone who knows me personally can attest to my animated + extrovert nature. I am not an introvert, however, what most people don’t know is that this is a facade. I am actually an introvert when I am all alone, and I relish being by myself to ask myself questions, focus on details and zoom in on reality. I also tend to be an introvert when I first meet people (especially men, they get this impression that I am quiet). Give me a day with them, and by the end of the evening, I am rattling my tongue off. So, in some way, this book is for me as well, to digest the world of introverts and see if in some way, I can learn to make the most of those quiet moments.

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

In Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

Start: Punch Fear in the Face, Escape Average and Do Work that Matters

by Jon Acuff

I missed Blissdom this year because I was in San Francisco, partying it up with some entrepreneurs. Jon Acuff attended and gave everyone his book. Jon, I am eyeing you! Anyways, I missed my opportunity, but I have to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed Jon’s book Quitter, which I got from Blissdom 2012, and I was absolutely looking forward to this book as well. I am yet to place an order, but it is on my list this summer. Because, I love sentences that includes punch and escaping the 9 to 5. Yep!

Over the last 100 years, the road to success for most everyone has been divided into predictable stages. But three things have changed the path to success:

Boomers are realizing that a lot of the things they were promised aren’t going to materialize, and they have started second and third careers.

Technology has given access to an unprecedented number of people who are building online empires and changing their lives in ways that would have been impossible years ago.

The days of “success first, significance later,” have ended.

While none of the stages can be skipped, they can be shortened and accelerated. There are only two paths in life: average and awesome. The average path is easy because all you have to do is nothing. The awesome path is more challenging, because things like fear only bother you when you do work that matters. The good news is Start gives readers practical, actionable insights to be more awesome.

Also on my reading list is Marrakesh by Design.

I am headed to Morocco the first week of August, just towards the end of Ramadan. This book by Maryam Montague of MyMarrakesh is a must read if you love colorful decor with bits of cultural influences and traditional elements. You can definitely mix with modern flavor to create a more contemporary feel. I am in love with this book!

photo (1)What do you have on your list for summer?

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Working Full-time and Launching a StartUp

by ThinkFeminist on May 9, 2013

iStock_000015529331Medium

Ever since I caught the entrepreneurial bug, I have being obsessed with everything start-up. I read everything I can lay my hands on – from the Lean Start-Up to stalking Gotham Gal, AVCs blog, Paul Graham Essays and of course my beloved Women2.0. I also end up speaking to tons of web designers, developers and potential advisors and mentors for my start-up. These coupled with a full-time job, training and running  half-marathons, raising a 4 year-old and living a healthy lifestyle (everyone knows it’s a lot of hard work to green juice, cook your own food every single day, no?). I digress, although I have to say that staying in top shape and living intentionally benefits your start-up in every way. You tend to have better mental clarity, rigor and ability to focus on difficult tasks.

Now moving on. I have since been thinking about what it truly means to be an employee and at the same time a potential CEO/Co-Founder. This big leap is not for the faint at heart and I recognize that. Not to toot my own horn, but I am very comfortable with stress and I thrive on working under pressure. It’s the only way I can get anything done 110% but there is a part of me that wonders what life is like to just focus on my start-up without the 50+ hours full-time job. I know what many of you are thinking – why not quit your job and focus on it? Well, the short story is that I can’t.  I need the money, and until I get around to seeking funding, I plan on keeping my job.

There are so many companies that have started as a side project and became real companies eventually. Craigslist was Craig Newmark’s side project started in 1995 and only turned into a real company in 1999. So many people think they cannot start working on a start-up unless they are out of a job. By focusing 100% on a startup, you most likely get things going faster, and you hustle like crazy, I get it. However, one of the advantages of working on my startup on the side is that it gives me the luxury to test my hypotheses even more so with co-workers, friends, and families. I also have the money to travel to conferences and events without worrying about diminishing funds. These small but crucial activities, add value in a way that going full throttle, burning through cash and possibly crashing afterwards does not. The reality is that 9 out of 10 startups fail. And as an engineer, I thrive on data. I believe so much in doing my homework, getting voice of customers, acquiring customers, and launching a minimum viable product before going exiting corporate life.

This said, my entire basis for doing this is around financial security. Trust me, I have thought about quitting my job, moving myself and my 4 year-old to New York (luckily, my Mom is coming to stay with me full-time to help out), however, I know that I have to be sensible. I have to approach this like  a CEO, do you stop making Product A because you are getting ready to launch an improved Product B? No. You ensure that Product B is going into the right market and has gained traction before pulling the rugs from underneath Product A. And I know that there are recent college graduates my age who are leaving it all behind and following their dreams. At the young age of 26, I have learned very quickly that you can only go as far as your bank account and networks will get you, and what I want to focus on while working my full-time job is to grow my network, launch my MVP and watch the gods of startups unfold naturally.

I plan on documenting my journey on my blog as well as on Women2.0. Wish me luck :)

Anyone working full-time and on a side project to launch a startup? I will love to hear from you! Please feel free to email me at blessing@thinkfeminist.com if you have any resources or networks that can be helpful to me.

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542114_315530335229630_1549859072_n“Each of us feels some aspect of the world’s suffering acutely. And we must pay attention. We must act. This little corner of the world is ours to transform. This little corner of the world is ours to save.” – Stephen Cope, The Great Work of Your Life.

In my freshman year of college, I founded a non-profit to revolutionize science and technology participation among youths in Africa. I was young and I wanted to change the world. My parents begged of me to face my education and I slowly parked that dream for sometime in my future. Since then I have worked for various Fortune 100 companies, and currently climbing the corporate ladder but when I look back at my younger self 7 years ago, I know that I truly come alive when I know that I am working for a greater purpose. I know that my calling is to be a social entrepreneur and so I have decided to do something about it. I have this crazy idea in my head that I can change the world of women and work.

My focus in the last five years as a blogger has being solely on enabling and empowering the next generation of women to become active economic agents. In the next decade, about one billion women are poised to enter the global economy. 97% of these women are in developing and emerging economies. The impact of women in the global economy – as producers, entrepreneurs, employees and consumers – will be at least as significant as that of China’s and India’s respective one-billion-plus populations. Tapping into women’s economic potential would be equivalent to having an additional one billion individuals contributing to the global economy and stimulating growth. These phenomenon was detailed in studies conducted by Ernst & Young, Booz & Co, and McKinsey & Company, and it is appropriately named the “Third Billion Effect”.   Research shows that economically empowering women is not only good for the women; it is also good for the societies they live in, as well as the next generation. It’s a multiplier effect for their family and society. Women are more likely to save money for the children’s college, a strategy that also increases literacy and strengthens their local economies.

Becoming a social entrepreneur is different from your typical entrepreneur. For us, purpose is greater than profit and we are in it to discover, disrupt, and drive innovation. The positive impact is how we measure success and profit generally flows in because we get people to join us on this crazy journey of changing the world. In today’s world, generosity is the next frontier – people will pay more to make real impact. As a result, social entrepreneurs are more interested in understanding the social, economic, political, and cultural context of the problems they are trying to solve than traditional entrepreneurs are. We care about making money, but we focus equally on solving the problem. And that is what makes us very successful, because we are analytical enough to create a business model based on research, evidence and data yet we are idealist enough to think we can change the world. If you lack these characteristics, you are not changing the world.

And then there is perspective. Some of us have experienced these problems first hand, hence the passion and resilience is there to give ourselves to the service of others even when it hurts. At the age of seventeen, I left the shores of West Africa to study in the United States. I did that because I wanted to escape patriarchy, the agony of being a female, and the painful evenings spent in the kitchen. I knew that wasn’t the life I wanted and I worked hard to get myself out of the ‘dungeon’ like me and my siblings now joke about. In so many ways, my journey to become a social entrepreneur comes from my leadership abilities and confidence combined with my background as a woman who grew up in a developing nation. This culminated into a lofty dream of empowering women to boldly follow their dreams, achieve financial freedom and consequently strengthen their local economies.

Want to be a social entrepreneur? Find something you believe in. Choose your little corner of the world that is worth saving. 

 

 

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I personally have never had an experience of unequal pay. As a female in a male dominated field, I knew exactly the salary range my guy-friends were getting and I quickly tossed aside salary ranges that were not in that bracket. I once got an offer that was 25% less than the regular salary for a Chemical Engineer in the oil sector, a huge red flag. I emailed the company that I wouldn’t be accepting the offer and I was sure to mention other Fortune 100 Companies that are willing to pay me over 40% of what their offer was. They countered back, but I rejected them outrightly. I have no patience for games.

So in honor or Equal Pay Day. I want to acknowledge women everywhere who have to go through the pay gap. Although, some say it does not exist anymore, I say bullshit! It does not exist in some industries, yes, but in service jobs where women are the pre-dominant employees, unequal pay is rampant and needs to be addressed. The pay gap hurts everyone and it makes economic sense to address this parasitic problem.

BrainTrack.com put a nice info graphic together that breaks everything down. It says that women pay almost $1million dollars in penalty for carrying the XX Chromosome.

The $849,000 Disadvantage for Being Female

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Blueprint and Strategies to Landing a New Job

by ThinkFeminist on February 7, 2013

DSC_1359I have a wonderful career and although I love what I do, I know what I want to do next, and I am working vicariously everyday to build myself up to that level of knowledge and experience needed for where I want to go in the next five to ten years. If you see someone that has a career that you want, they definitely spent the most of their college years and career lives defining themselves and differentiating themselves from others. As a college student I knew I was an ENTJ and I was much better at leading people, so I worked hard not to get straight A’s, because well, that’s boring, but spent some portion of my time garnering leadership and social skills. So, it was no surprise that my first job out of college involved managing a multi-million dollar budget, multiple businesses and over thirty people. It started with my first start-up my sophomore year of college, a my nonprofit. I also served on the national board of several student organizations and interned every summer with a fortune 100 company. I picked up blogging, social media, networking by attending various leadership conferences across the country. I took special classes online to help hone various skills I was lacking.

The bottom line is, to have the career you want, you must clearly define who you are. You must find out what your strengths and weaknesses are and focus on your strengths. Research says to forget about the weaknesses, it’s like mammal trying to fly, it will lead no where. So you may ask, how do I define and differentiate myself from everybody else out there?

1. Plan It, From the Heart! 

This is always my first punch line because most people venture out without planning and later appear stupid and ludicrous. You don’t want to be that person. Document in a journal or on your blog what you want to accomplish in the year 2013 and beyond. Some people put this in a bucket-list format. I just write it down somewhere that is easily accessible to me. What brings you alive? What makes you tick? When do you want to accomplish these things? Put a date on it. Don’t try to be smart about it, it doesn’t have to sound like a business plan. Make it fun and playful. There is no value in making it any harder for you to read later. It must smell, look and sound like you. If you are out of work, tell your out-of-work story.

2. Find a New Way to Meet People/Employers 

I love to meet people, it’s in my DNA. Meeting people brings me alive and it allows me to connect, engage and empower them and myself in return. It gives me joy. And this is so important because companies don’t usually care about your GPA, how smart you are, how smart you talk, or how friendly you look. What they care about is your social and communication skills. They care about emotional intelligence, because it matters these days more than your IQ. Emotional intelligence tells people how well we handle ourselves and each other. Daniel Goleman, the man who wrote the groundbreaking book ‘Emotional Intelligence‘ redefined what it means to be smart. He talks about the roots of empathy, managing with heart, the cost of emotional illiteracy, emotional hijacking and how to school our emotions. If you haven’t read this book, do so immediately, it will save your life especially if your career involves dealing with people.

3. Show Your Goods, Develop a Social Mindset 

What do you have to offer? What are you good at? How do people know what you are good at? The beauty of Gen Y is that we are extroverts, social, writers, philanthropist and everything combined. We are versatile and generous and sometimes that can be confusing for people to know what your area of specialty really is. So, pick two or three things you are good at and think of ways to showcase them. There are various social media outlet these days ranging from twitter, facebook, foursquare, tumblr, wordpress, to blogger and of course many more. Start a blog, tweet every other hour, say something that tells people what you are about. Be consistent. There are so many fashion bloggers that have started their own clothing line just by blogging about their outfit, what they wear and who they hang  out with. That is just an example, if you are more of a science, law kind of person, well that is all rolled into social media these days, so develop a social mindset ASAP.

4. It’s Who Knows You – Network all the way baby!

Remember we talked about meeting people earlier? Well getting a job is about who you know, always. You think there aren’t well qualified people than you in every facet of this planet? Don’t think you are some hot cake sweetheart, there are millions of people out there who hold multiple degrees and are still working minimum wage. The key to landing a job is who you know, period! I never interviewed for any of my internships in college. I got multiple offers based on connections I make every day with Alumni’s, employers, working class members of student organization’s I work with. I flew to different parts of the country to check out various companies, and only to turn down their offers, that was how much multiple offers I got. The point I am trying to make it, go out and network. Don’t sit behind your computer and network all day via social media. Social Mindset is a combination of social media, and social activities. Both must go hand in hand.

5. Give Back, Find Your Purpose, Discover U

This sounds funny right? But do it. Our generation is one generation that is breaking records on social good. We are not afraid to give, we are not afraid to see and trust the ingenuity and talent of people. We invest our time to volunteer, to raise funds (see Kickstarter and Indiegogo) and it’s in these kinds of way that we make lifelong friends, that we find our purpose, that we truly discover what we are made of. This ties back to the intro of this article, defining who you are.

When you try these five steps effectively, you would be long gone in your journey in your career, new venture and remember to help others along the way too. It’s the only way to leave your mark.

What other strategies have helped you in landing a career/job you’ve always wanted? 

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One Resolution to Be Happy

December 28, 2012

“If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.” ~Jack Dixon What I had planned out to do heading into the new year was a ‘vision board’. I was going to head to home depot and get myself a matte whiteboard, some magazines from a bookstore, […]

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