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Thursday, June 01, 2017


Continued from part 3.....

JULIET: Another thing I think that is really good for entrepreneurship is finding Right Talents. Where do you source talents and what are the things you look out for? Because when I think about Ebony life TV, and everything you do, actually you have a great team.

MO: Yah, we have a fantastic team

JULIET: How do you find them?

MO:  umm, again I feel it boils down to contracting the right people. But I think maybe being an HR person, I think also has helped a great deal in understanding what the processes are that you need to go through to find the right talent.

I can’t work with someone on my team that is not ready to prepare a …. at 3 o’clock in the morning. I don’t know i sound strange, but you must be able to work hard. You’ve got to be able to identify where they’re coming from, the things they’ve done.

There’s someone here with me today – Eunice is here with me today. Eunice was based in America and I had to plead with her to come back to Nigeria to work with us. Because even before she joined us as a member of our team, as a strategist, we had already started to work together on little, little things. Not officially.

Like if I was gonna go to the states, she would even proactively volunteer, to proactively do things without me even asking. This is the sort of person you want on your team to be there for you in your own corner. So, eventually I pleaded saying, “please come back.”

And she packed up her bag and she’s come back to Nigeria. For me it’s really about putting your fingers out there. And you need to have that faint sight. You need to be able to say to yourself, “is this person going to be a part of my team?”

And you could pretty much source out people that work hard, people that are just ‘bear same’,. I’m sorry to say that. A lot of people just talk, they’re not gonna do the work, and I can’t deal with that.

So, immediately…… at times I’m gonna meet recruitment firms. I know you do, but thank you very much, it’s not gonna work out, bye bye, And we move on to the next person. And that’s pretty much how I built the team. I think it’s really just about finding people that could plug in. I mean a lot of them.

Monica here joined us 3-4 years ago. It’s incredible how she has grown into her job. It’s really just about finding the right team of people and then sharing the Dream, and them being conscious about the things they need to do and you not having to say it a million times before they do it.

I micro manage them. For them to proactively say, “ok what about this, what about that?” We’re all learning together. I have to have lots of people around me that even know more than me about certain things, because you don’t know it all.

I don’t know it all.  My daughter is working with Ebony Life TV; she’s got some crazy ideas. She’s like, “Mum we need to do this.” I’m like, “we are targeting your age, ok, I will listen to you."

For me it’s about making sure we have an inclusive team that can tell us about those things that will work for the channel, whether its business or whatever it is, and we would just fly with those ideas. Yah, yah.

Because we are small, for us we are able to get things done very quickly. We don’t have to get 10 levels of approval before we do them. Maybe like you guys, there’s going to be such structure, because you’re such a massive organization. 

With us, we can pretty much say, Ok we’re gonna run with this. So, we can execute things really quickly as a small organization.

JULIET: We are opening up questions, very shortly, from the audience I’ll ask one more question before I do that. What gives you inner joy and fulfillment from all your endeavor?

MO: For me, the highlights of my existence….. probably not with my children. I think that they are the most important thing in my life. If I have to give up everything for my kids, I’ll do so tomorrow, really. And I say that a hundred percent.

My mum, she’s my everything. My sisters.  I put God before everything I absolutely do. I just think it’s so important for me to have that sense of direction. And what I find interesting is that, people don’t often know your relationship with God.

And they make assumptions about how you achieve certain things. They don’t even know how you’ve achieved them.

And what I find interesting is that, that is my secret – I share it a lot. But I think sometimes they’re not listening to the fact that if you put Him first, if you listen to Him truly, it doesn’t matter whether I’ve got this 6 inches on, my lashes or whatever.

In my moments when I’m on my knees there praying to him, it is between Him and I having that conversation. And He saying, “Mo, do this, this is the most important thing for you to do.

He guides my every, every move that I do, and this just gives me the confidence to go out and say, “there is nothing that is really too much that we can’t achieve. Because with Him you know that all things are truly possible. That’s what I continue to believe on.

JULIET: So, I’m gonna pause with my questions and see if there are any questions from our very lovely team.

Question 1: What skills did you have to work on?

MO: The skills that I struggle with most are my people’s skill, because I’m so impatient to get things done at times. I’m sure am driving everybody around me crazy. I can kind of like, want it to happen now.

At times I’m like, “I’ll do it myself. If you can’t do it give it to me now. I’m that kind of person.  As we grow, skills are something that as you age, you get better, you get better at them.

Because I know I’m a much better person now, than I was 10 or 20 years ago. So, I think it’s gradual. And I think it’s also important to keep learning about the skills that you need and to practice. I find and practice the skills that I need.

 Even public speaking, at times I practice, because I’m not the best public speaker I want to be. I’m  constantly challenged by the fact that I’m not gonna say no to going out to speak in public.

But, I’m going to learn how to be a better speaker in public. So, it’s really about teaching yourself those things that you need. 

And I think, skills come with habits – once you practice it enough times, it then becomes a reality for you. So, whatever skills you feel you’re lacking, just work at them. If it’s you’re not smiling, you know what? Keep smiling!

 If you smile enough times, you’ll just find yourself just smiling without even thinking about it. Because your mind is a very funny thing, it sort of takes over and does things you’re not even thinking about.

Question 2: As a business, how did you deal with funding?

MO: To my own personal experience, it’s pretty much about the fact that, we need to share the Dream. If you have a big Dream, you can’t do the dream by yourself. You gonna have to look for other people that you can invite in to make the Dream a reality.

When I started Vic Lawrence, I didn’t need support because I started very small, but when I moved on to do the Protea Hotels & Oakwood Park, it was a $10m thing. I don’t have $10m. I had to now go out there, and do a proper placement Info Memo and get people to buy into the project and it takes time.

You’re not gonna say, “come and invest $3m and they are just gonna sign a cheque tomorrow, No! Some will say yes, some will say no. So, there was a process of engagement. Pretty much the same thing happened with Moments with Mo.

I had to go out there and engage and get people to buy into the Dream. Ebony Life TV was the same thing.

I told you I wasn’t having the required capital to set up a TV channel, so I had to find a partner. So those Dreams can sometimes take time to become a reality. Because as it is, and you need the cash. But you just have to stay focused.

Once you stay focused that you need to achieve this Dream, those things would come into play. With Moments with Mo, I started with one season. Initially the plan I had, I was looking for money to get me comfortable for a year.

When I couldn’t get money for a year, I decided to take Mark’s advice and just did one season. So, if you can find ways to start small, then you start small. And once people can see success…….. Like now, everybody in Nigeria wants to do a film, after the success of 'The Wedding Party.'

They’re like, can we come and partner with you? Do you want money? People are offering us money to partner.

 So, success has its own successes. That goes to people to come and say we want to be a part of your own success. So, once you can achieve some level of success, then you just have to invite people. Never be afraid to invite people in, to share in your Dream.

 I mean, you’ve got be careful, do your due diligence and all of that. All things being equal, I don’t think there’s anyone that owns anything 100% in the world. It doesn’t happen.

Question 3: How did you balance work and family?

MO: That is a tough one. Because there are some women that decide that when it’s time to raise the kids, I’m out - I’m just gonna focus on raising my children. And there are some people who are a little bit not selfish, like me, who believe that, they can have everything.

So, you need to be single minded about the fact that, I love my children, but at the same time I have this Dream.

So, how am I going to juggle all of those things? You need to have a great support system around you. You need to spend quality time with your children. Because I find a lot of housewives that call themselves housewives, they’re not even at home half the time.

They’re probably out having lunch or doing their nails or somewhere. But, they have deceived themselves that they are there.

So, in that regard, you that is working, you have to make it became part of your day, saying, “I gonna spend XYZ amount of time with my children” We’re gonna go out on this day. We gonna take this holiday, we gonna do those things. And when it’s really time for me to take myself out of work 100%....

Like when my son was to go do his A-levels and my daughter, I had to physically take the time off and said, “ I’m not working for a month. I’m gonna go search for where he’ll do his A-levels, and that was it.

And you close down shop until you come back to do those things. So, it’s really about prioritizing. I think what happens with working mothers is that your kids become strong – I hope so; mine have.

They become strong, knowing that my mum is working. You’re also a role model to your daughter, that she’s going to know that her Mum has worth. To your son, my Mum has worked hard, when he marries his wife, he’s not gonna say, “sit at home, because he’s seen his mother that’s working.

So, we’re also preparing our kinds for the fact that……. ….it’s ok to have your Dreams. Your Dreams are valid. You can take that on to know that you can go out there to achieve your Dreams the same way…….. Your husband is achieving his Dreams, right?
So, why can’t you achieve yours? So, I think it’s just about finding the fact that you need to find the happy medium, the happy balance and have a good support system and let the kids know you really love them when you’re there.

That’s what has worked for me and I can’t say that same recipe would work for everyone, because everyone is different, we are not all the same. My DNA is different from the next person’s DNA. That is pretty much what I have done.

JULIET: That’s interesting as well, you touched on something. Do you believe that it’s possible to have enough?

MO: hmmm. Not all the time. I think something will give. You can’t have it all, all the time- you cannot. It’s not possible. So, you have to decide on what is important to you. It’s like the woman that decides to stay at home with her kids. That wanted her career but couldn’t have it. She’s got to give certain things up.

So, I don’t think anyone can have it all. I think we just have to try and do the best that we can. Just try and be as good as we can, really. And be honest with ourselves about the capabilities and capacities that we have. Because we cannot do everything, there are only certain things that we could do.

I think we just have to look at ourselves and say, “This is who I am.” When I am in this mood of work, I can’t be obsessive. My friends could think I’m selfish, cos I don’t wanna see anybody.

If that’s what gets me to get the result that I need, then I’m going to do those things and when I’m done, I would find a way to go back and get back to the swing of thing, then… yah, yah.

Question 4: What is your take on the level of talent in the media industry?

MO: I think we have a lot of talents in Nigeria. And if I look at the success of Ebony Life Television, it has been based on the fact that……. one of my biggest concerns at the time when we actually started the channel was, “where am I gonna find the talent?”

 Because I looked at the TV landscape and I was pretty much dissatisfied by the talents that I saw.I don’t understand the hiring decisions or how people decided to put people…… and I’m like, “why is this person on TV? What skills do they have? Why did they look this way?

For me it was really important we understand the loop and fill that we’re after, and then find the right people that we could put into that loop and fill, even if they didn’t have the necessary experience.

Wumi is here today, she does a lot of work –she’s one of our presenters on the channel. She’s tenacious. I remember how she handed me down at the time, saying, “I want to be a presenter on your channel.

 I said, “We don’t have any spaces.” And she keeps sending me emails. And I said, “Ok send me your CV.” And one day we needed a presenter for a show. That’s how she became one of our best presenters.

She’s so off the mark in just getting things done. The point is that she had no experience. Everybody knows who she is today, 2 or 3 years later. So the same applies to our channel, even Ebuka that is doing the Big Brother in South Africa, has been with us for many, many years.

We have a lot of talents in Nigeria. I think the reason Big Brother is being shot there is for business reasons. We are also shooting in South Africa right now. It is for business reasons. Also, the world is a global village. We can’t keep limiting ourselves, “oh I’m fighting this course that everything must be done in Nigeria” No.

I want to do programs in America; I want to do programs in the UK that I can sell to a broadcaster. Why should my limit just be just a Nigerian market?, especially with the naira doing what it’s doing now.

So, my guys and I are actually off to England to go and shoot some pilots to some of our very good shows with a British cast and they will be in America to do the same with American cast; we need to widen the net.

Shondomine is a black woman just like I am. She’s written race anatomy. I don’t think anybody that race anatomy is black, right? She’s just a very talented person that is doing great work in the big wide world of media.

We have to learn to take that on as well, and to understand that we could go anywhere in the world and make content to make programming. That’s what I think we need to do. We need to just open the blinkers and just see the world widely.

That’s what it’s truly is and that’s what I want to do, now that the naira has crashed and maybe you should do the same.

                                     Click below to watch video on youtube:

What an Information and Education! Very inspiring! There are many parts to this interview. I pray you pick at least one part and use it for your Business and Career transformation. or what do you think?

1 comment:

  1. What an inspiration!
    There are women and there are women. Mo Abudu is far beyond the "other room" level. She is a Boardroom commander. I really like her courage.
    She's a true inspiration to the African woman.
    We are proud of you, ride on!