What inspired you to start your career in leverage and personal branding?
UO: “In my various past leadership roles, I was always informally mentoring some of my peers and junior colleagues. Many of the women in my circle, including myself, had always wanted to do more with our careers. We had attained all the degrees, reached various career goals, but we still wanted to keep climbing. Some of us wanted promotions at work, some wanted to find more fulfilling work elsewhere, and others wanted to start businesses. I’ve always wanted to start a business and had been toying around with numerous ideas for years. However, I never got the courage to just go for it. After reading a few books on starting side hustles and small businesses, I felt motivated and encouraged to finally begin making major moves in my career. Next, I hired a coach who helped me narrow down my ideas and bring my dreams to life. That’s when She Leads Beautifully was born!”
At what point in your life did you know you wanted to help others land their dream job?
It wasn’t until I hired a business coach that I was able to really see that career advancement support was something that I could offer to professional women who were stuck in stalled careers. My coach truly helped me uncover my gifts and strengths. I did not realize it before, but I was already doing the work through my everyday interactions with colleagues and friends. My coach showed me how I could turn my gifts into a formal service through which I can now impact so many more women.
What’s the most important lessons you’ve learned about life & business altogether?
UO: “This is going to sound so cliche’, but like Nike, just do it! I had to remember that we only have this one life to live, so if I’m not happy in my life or career, I needed to do something about it. It did me no good to just vent about my stress all day, everyday, with my colleagues. The most important lesson is to just make a change. Then, once you begin to make the change, keep going. The momentum will take off, your consistent action towards your goals will compound, and you will finally begin to see a major shift in the direction your career and life takes. “
What is success to you? Has a mistake ever led you to success?
“Success to me is being able to accomplish the goals that I set for myself, no matter how big or small. I also find joy in the process. A goal can take me years to achieve, however the small milestone wins along the way are key indicators of my success.
One mistake that I made was back in graduate school when I accidentally enrolled in two courses that I should not have been allowed to register for! I was in one master’s degree program, but was looking to explore the Higher Education and Student Affairs master’s program. On the first day of one of the classes, the professor (and also program chair) questioned me about how I got into her section. Unbeknownst to me, I should not have been able to enroll unless I was previously admitted into the program! It turned out that it was an error from the registration system. The program chair eventually permitted me the opportunity to properly submit my application materials for the program. I did and got accepted into the next cohort! This mistake led me into a fulfilling career as a student affairs professional.”
What five major gems for the art of networking and working with other brands?
UO: “I am not a place in my business where I do a lot of collaborations with other brands. Hopefully, in the future, that will be something that I can do more regularly. However, the art of networking can be applied to so many other scenarios. The five areas that I encourage my clients to focus on are: 1) Have an end goal in mind. What is the purpose behind your networking efforts? Who do you want to meet and why? 2) Be clear on who you are and what value you bring to the table. You have to fully understand your gifts and how they can benefit others. 3) Package your expertise and your knowledge by developing a personal brand. What makes you different from someone else who does similar work as you? 4) Use Linkedin to showcase your personal brand. Reconnect with former colleagues and make new connections. Use the platform to share with these people what you’re up to and provide value to their lives as well. 5) Place your focus on nurturing relationships on a consistent basis. Do not simply reach out to your connections only when you need something. As the old proverb says: “Dig the well before you’re thirsty.”
What’s the best advice you have for someone who hasn’t discovered their purpose yet?
UO: “I recommend getting out of a place of complacency and just start moving. Each month, try something new related to your career interests. These could be simple and free things like signing up for a free webinar, joining a facebook group and actually engaging with members of the community, reading a new book, attending a local event, etc. The more you place yourself into new situations and try new things, the more you will begin gaining clarity on your next career move. Clarity can only come with taking action.”
As a boss woman, what are some traits that you’re proud of?
UO: “I am most proud of my courage. Recently in my career, I have done a lot of things that have terrified me! Though many people see me “winning” on social media, my wins have not come without a tremendous amount of fear and self-doubt. The impostor syndrome creeps up on me all the time, but I just push past it and go after new challenges anyway. I have grown so much in the last couple of years because I have had the courage to face my fears.”
What’s your biggest goal this year?
UO: “My biggest goal of 2019 was to win an award. In September, I became the Up and Coming Woman in Education for the Influential Women of Northwest Indiana Awards! Though there was obviously no way that I could guarantee becoming a finalist and winning, there were a number of things that I did the previous year to set me up for success. Some of these included building my personal brand, getting involved in my local community, and networking. Whether I would have won the award or not, it was still important for me to be engaging in these activities for the benefit of my overall professional growth.”
What sacrifices and challenges made you appreciate your brand even more?
UO: “My biggest sacrifice was voluntarily taking a hiatus from full-time work at the beginning of 2019. I had some personal obligations that I needed to prioritize. Making the jump was scary and something I never thought I’d do at this stage in my career, but it was just what I needed. Not having my “9-to-5” job essentially forced me to remember that I am more than my job title. By focusing on my value and expertise, I am able to still do fulfilling work in so many other ways while leaving a lasting impact on those who I serve.”
What’s your personal motto or a quote that you live by?
UO: “For me it’s this simple: If you change nothing, nothing will change.”
About Uzoma Obidike