Life Image coach and relationship coach talks recently about her just concluded Recall conference for Men.
Why did you organise a conference for men and not women?
I believe that all of my life has prepared me for where I am now. I have always been the one to do things differently and push for more. I know that women are the more disadvantaged ones and the interventions for them can never be enough. However, I am not a person that goes in that direction. I am the person that looks at the other side in concern for those who may be neglected. Being a mother of three (two boys and a girl), I know how I struggle to pay attention to my boys instead of the girl. The girl is the first and she is more responsible, which is natural. Even society doesn’t allow you to pay attention to boys the way you would want to. They say things like, ‘boys don’t cry’, among other things. There is so much domestic violence going on and this can be traced to these issues. That’s primarily the reason the Recall Conference was for men and not women.
What inspired the theme The Hustle is Real?
What is general to the African man today is his hustle. From a young age, a man is conditioned to be the head of the home even without knowing what that means; he just knows that he has to take care of everybody else. Society puts a lot of pressure on the man and that is how we arrived at the theme.
How did you select the facilitators and speakers for the conference?
Firstly, I did a research to know what men really want and the things that are important to them. I came up with the curriculum for the conference simply by talking to men. The major things the men wanted to talk about centred on industry/wealth, fatherhood/relationships, among other things. Once I found what the topics were, I decided to find men that people can relate with and I took it from there. I am really grateful to the speakers because they were very excited about it.
How did the participants relate to you, a woman, organising a conference for men?
Surprisingly, I didn’t get any funny reaction. Everyone was supportive and that reinforced my belief that it was time for such a programme.
Do you believe in the saying ‘it’s a man’s world’?
No, I don’t. It is really a woman who determines whose world it is at the end of the day. Even the men don’t believe that saying. Every man has a woman he defers to – either his mother or his wife.
In what ways are you training your sons, which breaks from the norm?
Primarily, it is about values. It shouldn’t be about gender. Raise all your children with strong values such as integrity and faithfulness. It is difficult really and that is why I say that the Recall conference is really an African intervention. The African culture doesn’t help with bringing up male children. We need to be closer to our children and let them be themselves. If they are going through a certain phase, leave them and let them learn the lessons of that stage. It’s not compulsory for all boys to play football. If he wants to stay indoors and read, it’s okay and it doesn’t make him a sissy.
What’s the primary difference in the way men are raised in Africa and in other parts of the world, especially in the Western countries?
Generally, it is believed that a man is not supposed to do certain things or he would be perceived as a sissy, and that’s not limited to Africa. However, the world is evolving. I particularly like the fact that in western countries, everyone is responsible. Here, men are almost groomed to be lazy in the sense that they think once they get married, their wives are supposed to cook for them, wash their clothes and take care of their needs. However, in those other countries, it is a joint responsibility.
What are your long-term plans for the Recall conference?
It is going to be an annual event. Beyond the conference, Recall is a resource centre for men and it has different parts such as community and master classes (which would run throughout the year). Usually, men don’t like to talk about these things but since it done online, it makes them more comfortable.
Were you able to achieve your aim with the conference?
I was completely blown away by the support. People had told me that men wouldn’t come but we had about a thousand people in attendance. Even though I was expecting it to be a success, I wasn’t expecting so many people. The feedback has been amazing. We also got a message on family from Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.
Your husband was one of the speakers at the conference. Did you organise the event together?
He is my major inspiration for the theme of the conference. He is a major hustler and he doesn’t take no for an answer. We met in the university years ago and he was just a regular guy; but he went after his dreams and I am amazed at how far he has come with his ideas and career. Right now, he is the President of the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies. Taking a master class on travels and tours was just necessary for him.
As a relationship, style and image coach, what exactly do you do?
I am an identity coach, which means that I work with people on their fears, anxieties and doubts about self. I created an identity coaching tool which has a workbook and journals. I have worked with people to build their personal brands and I have seen them grow. However, by the nature of my job, I cannot reveal the identities of my clients. I also run an online travel agency because I believe that you should be able to express your gifts no matter how many they are.
Do Nigerians place importance on personal branding?
I would say that Nigerians are open to many things. Nigerians are adventurous and knowledge-seekers; they are the first set of people you can test anything on. The average Nigerian wants to look good and feel good about himself or herself.
What kind of people patronise you most?
Youths between the age of 25 and 35. My first few clients were older business owners but now, it is more of young people who have ideas and are looking for how to properly project it to the world.
How did you start your career?
I started in public relations and marketing communications about 18 years ago and I worked in different capacities. I have worked with companies such as TPT International and EXP and we organised different events for some of the biggest brands in the country. That prepared me for all the things I’m doing now. However, at a point, I felt that wasn’t enough and I got tired of doing the same things over and again. I wanted to work more with people and I found myself evolving over the years.
What are some of the challenges that you have grappled with in your career?
When you are a perfectionist, you have high expectations and you get discouraged when things don’t work. However, I am thankful that I have a great support system in my husband. He is my biggest supporter. I also have relationships that work and that helps me. Challenges only last for a season and I move on.
When do you regard as your breakthrough moment?
I used to run a company called PGL Image Consulting. We used to organise training primarily for corporate organisations. Afterwards, I shut down for two years and I would say that was my breakthrough moment because that was when I created Recall. I was pregnant at that time and so many other factors also came into play. I call it my reinvention period.
Which schools did you attend?
For my elementary education, I attended Corona Primary School in Victoria Island, Lagos. I went to Federal Government Girls College, Sagamu, Ogun State, for my post-elementary education. I then studied Insurance at the University of Lagos. My dad wanted me to study Law but I ended up studying Insurance even though it wasn’t something I was interested in.
How would you describe your childhood?
My childhood was amazing. I was the last of five kids. I call myself an elders’ child because my parents were quite advanced in age when they had me. My immediate elder brother was 11 years older than me; so, I grew up a lot by myself but I had a lot of attention. My parents gave me the best. My father was the principal of Methodist Boys High School, Victoria Island, Lagos. He was also the Vice-Principal of CMS Grammar School at some point. My mum was also a vice-principal. I grew up around a lot of literature such as the complete works of Williams Shakespeare. The things I was exposed to have helped the way I think and view issues. Even though I went to Corona School, I wasn’t the type that travelled every summer like most of my mates did then. We were taught to be content with whatever we have. I am grateful to my parents because it wasn’t as if they had much but they made sure that we attended the best schools.
What are the major lessons you have learnt over the years?
The biggest thing I have learnt is that people are different and you have to give them a chance even if you differ. We don’t have to agree but respect differences.
What are some of the personal qualities that have helped you to get to this point?
One of the biggest lesson that has helped me is spirituality. There are sometimes that I may be frustrated but spirituality helps me to remember that everything I have was given to me; it keeps me in check. Some of my friends say that I am carefree but I call it freedom. Freedom, in this context, means being comfortable in your own skin and being able to express yourself and that is life’s greatest gift.
How do you create balance between your career and family?
Honestly, it is not easy. I always went off work every time I had my babies. Your children are very important because they are your legacy and you have to groom them properly. Nothing really should be more important than your family.
How do you relax?
Some people call me the minister of enjoyment. I love to travel and take care of myself. I believe in relationships and I like spending time with friends and family. I used to love to read a lot and I’m trying to get back there.
How would you describe your style?
My style is very individual. I’m not that person that wears what is in vogue. I dress to suit myself.