(This is the latest newsletter the Founder sent to the SmarTRIBE™ community last week. The feedback was extremely good; we had to share it here)
"Story time. I am an alum of 6 prestigious fellowship programs (spanning Africa, Europe and North America); I have met president Obama and the controversial Boris Johnson, hang out with the (current) Ethiopian president H.E Ms. Zewde, been invited to a private round table dinner by the Deputy UK High Commissioner (and other events at the ambassadorial residences of the US, UK, Turkey, Canada and Australia); I am running my own company and (just recently), got to collaborate with some top notch brands in the International Development space. In a lot of ways, I am living the career of my dreams for where I am at (mid-twenties).
I would love to share with you snippets of my journey that has led me here.
However, I want you to know this is NOT about me. It's about you and some of the things you could do right now that could move you towards your dream career.
Like many impressionable girls, I wanted to make my parents proud. The plan was to appear on TV just like the prominent Kenyan lawyer, Kethi Kilonzo and end up at the Chief Justice's office. So I hit the ground running when I joined 1st year Law School. I joined moot-court competitions that I was somehow always not-enough for (at least they liked my voice and my smile) and I got to win once before I gave up altogether. I now had to find a new life goal or purpose. I started modelling; I was even worse at it (hint: my talent is NOT in singing) and cat-walking on a glass platform erected over a swimming pool is quite literally a self-esteem scam. Then I started engaging in clubs, particularly the Model UN. I thrived in it; but when they denied me a position I was sure I was the right pick for, I went home crying to my dad and he gave me the single most important advice I have had to date:
"Cindy, why do you have to wait for people to choose you for things? Why can't you create your own thing and be the one choosing people?"
I could feel the tears getting sucked right back into my ducts. Because, that was #word. And it started my journey.
And that's a long story to be completed next week. But, here are some of the specific things YOU can apply now to get you moving forward towards 'creating your own thing'... it doesn't have to be a business; think of it like chiseling yourself into a walking CV; an Opportunity Magnet of some sort:
1. Find out what you really want to get from your career. Be specific. What industry? How much would be enough to pay for the lifestyle you want to have? What are you really good at and passionate about?
2. Very few people are born knowing the point above; it's likely neither of us were that lucky. So try a lot of different things. If something mildly interests you, follow it until you decide its not for you any more and then give yourself permission to change your mind. Don't optimize too soon. Allow your mind to play.
3. If you find what it is, offer it for free (that is what creating your own thing really is about). Gain experience in it that way. Want to be a content creator? Create content. Social Media Marketer, offer to take a small local business online. Anytime someone wants to work with me, I want to see what they've worked on first. Many times they don't text me again. I don't ask for CVs I ask for a portfolio of past work done. You've got to get some skin in the game. YouTube University is free and Google is your friend; there's NO reason why you shouldn't be building a portfolio right now. Volunteer your services to different people and get good at it; then charge a premium. You've earned it. Everyone is willing to pay for value.
4. Research all you can about your specific area of interest. Subscribe to newletters, watch YouTube; be able to speak in the lingo the industry uses. And then keep sharing your opinions about it as though you're an expert. On LinkedIn and Facebook. You CAN do it. But educate yourself first. People who need you WILL gravitate towards you. You won't have to apply for opportunities, opportunities will come looking for you.
Village2Nation gets into high-value partnerships because of all the 'free' work I did in college, the zero-revenue-generating work we do from time-to-time, and all the strategic conversations I start or participate in on LinkedIn. And guess what? Most of the time, we don't go actively looking for these incredible partnerships, they somehow find their way to us. THAT is something I wish we could all get to experience.
Next week; I will finish my story about the "how I got here". Hint: You don't have to be too smart, you just have to be a little charming and present yourself well. I'll share how these soft-skills have helped me grow my career and connect with the most breath-taking people ever. Maybe we'll even host a free class on soft-skills. We'll see.
Keep Being Awesome.