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When you think about the influential women in Nigeria, Mrs. Ibukun Awosika would definitely be top of mind. For those who are not aware of the *magic* that is Mrs. Awosika, let me explain:

Mrs. Ibukun Awosika is an entrepreneur, motivational speaker, philanthropist, and author. She is the (first female) Chairman of the board of directors of First Bank of Nigeria Ltd. She sits on the board of notable organizations including Cadbury Nigeria Plc., Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, and House of Tara International. She is the CEO and Founder of The Chair Centre Group, a business that she established and has run since she was 26 years old. She is also a community leader and is the cofounder of Women in Business, Management and Public Service (WIMBIZ).

In summary, she is a total badass and an inspiration to us at Shecluded. We have highlighted five key lessons we have learned from attending her speaking events, reading her books and watching her Youtube videos.

  1. Be Self Aware:

“To make the best decisions for your life, it’s (necessary) that you first know and recognize who you are.”

In order to make the best decisions for yourself, you must be self aware and take the time to find out who you really are. You must know what your values are, what inspires or drives you, your life’s purpose, what you’re good at, what you are not so great at and what you love to do.

Self-aware people are cognizant of how people perceive them, both in their personal and professional lives. They find flaws in themselves quicker, and are able to address or fix them in order to achieve success.

Being self-aware will allow you to determine the appropriate path to follow in your personal life (for example, when choosing a future spouse) or in your professional life (for example, when choosing a career). The good news is that self-awareness is a skill that gets easier the more you practice. You can improve self-awareness through regular introspection, meditation, and by obtaining feedback regularly.

Discovery = taking responsibilities + taking on challenges

2. Delay Gratification:

The ability to delay gratification is one of the key determinants of success. You may have come across the famous Stanford “Marshmallow Experiment” published in 1972 that highlights the power of delayed gratification. In the experiment, hundreds of children aged 4–5 years old were tested. Each child was given a marshmallow, and the researcher told the children that he would step out, and if they did not eat the marshmallow in the researcher’s absence, they will be given another treat. The choice in plain terms was one marshmallow now, or two later. Some of the children waited and received two treats, while others gave into temptation.

These children were followed for 40 years, and it was found that the children who were willing to delay gratification and waited to receive a second marshmallow were more likely to be successful in almost all aspects of life.

You should train yourself to choose the pain of discipline over the ease of distraction. If you look around, you would find that this applies to all aspects of your life. In your finances this could mean buying luxuries (distraction), instead of sticking to a budget so you can build your wealth.

In Mrs. Awosika’s words:

“Don’t be in a rush to have it all, to buy luxuries because your mates are buying them. Be more focused on buying assets that will eventually pay for all the luxuries.”

If you have any issues budgeting and managing your personal or business finances, please reach out to Shecluded, to book a chat with a financial advisor or business advisor who can assist you in reaching your financial goals.

3. Be a person of integrity:

“The essence of your business is communicated by the integrity of your brand.”

Your integrity as a woman matters, even in an environment that is rife with corruption, people are always watching. Mrs. Awosika, is known for her integrity. She commonly says, two things she knew she could never do in business are: sleep with a man for money and collect or give a bribe. She stuck with these principles, even when adherence to them cost her several business deals. However, because of her integrity (amongst many other values), she was selected by Cadbury to sit on their board of directors.

From her life story, we have learned that you should determine what your values are and what you would (or would not) do even before you start your business. You should be deliberate about how you project yourself and have the courage to do the right thing, not only because it is the right thing to do but also because, “You are on a stage and the world is constantly watching to see what you do.”

4. Don’t marry a fool:

“Your choice of spouse can make or break you, destroy you or build you. It is not (only) an emotional decision.”

One of the most important decisions (if not THE most important one) you will make in life is who you choose to marry.

When searching for a life partner you must first have a sense of who you are and your purpose, in order to determine the right partner for yourself.

Many women seem to focus on the wrong qualities: his current financial status (or the financial status of his family), his height, his family’s social class, how full his beard is (this is a thing!), etc. Those things are arguably important, but they are not the most important factors to consider. Mrs. Awosika shared the values she searched for when assessing suitors: work ethic, faith and belief in God, wisdom, kindness, and a supportive person. Most importantly, she searched for someone who had the character and willingness to support her in her pursuit to become who she was destined to be.

Who you choose to marry should be based on objectivity not only fleeting emotions. Don’t marry a fool.

5. Step forward for opportunities even when you don’t have it all figured out.

Believing in yourself and having confidence in your own capabilities will set you on the path to success.

Although she started her company at a young age, Mrs. Awosika trained herself to be confident in her abilities. She shared her experience about how the Italian company that was the major supplier for her business became bankrupt. This was a big deal as it meant that she would no longer be able to fulfil her maintenance contracts with existing clients. She had to think fast! She did not have a lot of money, but she had her conviction. She did the unthinkable: she offered to buy the Italian company!

Instead of letting the challenge of not having enough money to buy the company dissuade her from keeping her commitment. She dug deep and found a creative solution to her problem. Instead of buying the whole company and absolving the company’s debt, she decided to buy parts of the business. She ended up purchasing the rights to the technology and bringing in experts from Italy to set up the factory here in Nigeria.

Today, it seems like a small feat, but back then it was unheard of for a medium-sized Nigerian company like hers to be buying an Italian juggernaut which was best in class in the industry. As a woman, you can achieve anything you set your mind to, but you must first believe in yourself!

Tell us, what lesson(s) resonated with you? What will you do more of going forward?

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