As I embark on my entrepreneurial journey, I look back on a great leader I had the privilege to work under for four years – Mrs Irabor. I hope I can achieve as much as her for myself. To be an inspiring, effective and well- respected leader is no easy feat. We call someone a leader because they choose to go FIRST, they make the sacrifices necessary. Your employees will be able to give their blood, sweat and tears for your vision to come to light, because they are assured you would do the same for them.
Here are some nuggets I picked up along the way.
1. Be authentic
Never compare yourself to anyone or their journey, comparison is the thief of joy.
2. Take risks
Things do not grow in your comfort zone. Push yourself.
3. Face your fears
Mrs Irabor encapsulated this when I read her morning Dew “Do it afraid”
4. Just do it
The world is full of great ideas, but it is taking action that is the most important step. A dream is just that – a dream. You need to feed it for it to grow. You cannot quit at every opportunity.
5. Whenever you wake up is your morning
Mrs Irabor started Genevieve at 45 years old. She will be 60 years old in March 2017. She laboured and toiled to get things started and fulfill her dreams. She paid little attention to the fact many around her may have felt she was too old to be venturing into a such a difficult business terrain – one which was known to have many risks and in which very few females had, had much success. You’re never too young or too old to start anything afresh; don’t listen to naysayers. Your morning begins when you start your day.
6. Build a great team around you
Mrs Irabor is so proud of “The G.Team” as she so fondly calls them. We would have meetings which started off with prayer sessions; shout out out Mr Owen the Prayer Warrior, and Vivian the Praise and Worship leader”. When I joined Genevieve in 2012 it was truly a family-like environment and I’m striving to build that as I build my own team now. I also noticed over time, that she wasn’t so focused on skills when hiring (She wouldn’t have hired me otherwise). She hired on character or at least what was presented to her. You can train someone a skill, but you can’t make someone’s values fit into your vision for your brand and business.
7. Mistakes are ok
I remember so many sessions where Mrs Irabor will talk about her mistakes with the magazine, and what she’s learnt from them. Over time I realised that mistakes are ok. It is all part of life – as long as you’re learning from them. There will be tears; oh yes there will be, but you have to develop a thick skin and a winner’s attitude. She was also big on customer satisfaction, and would do her best to instil in every single employee, the value of dealing with any complaints promptly; she put her readers first.
8. Invest in yourself
Mrs Irabor was constantly reading business and self developing books, and she would pass it on to us. She encouraged us to network, and to constantly learn. Education is an on-going process, so invest in yourself.
9. Reputation is everything
We must strive to guard it. A good reputation is the most tangible and marketable asset; you cannot buy it. It must be earned. We are humans, and you cannot please the world. There are bound to be people who you offend or who just don’t like you. However, you earn a good reputation by honouring your promises, and by consistency in what you offer. People you work with have to trust you – as without trust, you cannot have a good reputation.
10. Be accessible
I think one of the attributes of Mrs Irabor’s success is her accessibility. (Although I’m always telling her she is almost too accessible). She makes if easy for people to connect with her, which in turn makes it easy for people to do business with her.