My life as a Middle man

My-Life-As-A-MiddlemanStrangely, I have always found myself in positions where I mediate between two parties. Let me just say that it is not always an exciting experience.

When I was younger, I was the middleman between my parents, bearing the brunt of the anger on behalf of the receiving party. I was also the middleman between my sister and her boyfriend, transporting sweet and bitter messages for the lovers when needed, and now that I’m all grown up, I get paid to be the middleman. Officially, it’s called being a Client Service Manager.

To use a village scenario to describe my job, the clients can be likened to “gods” of the land, the “dibia” is myself (ordained to talk to the gods and also act as the eyes of the gods) and the “villagers” are my team members, who exist to do the will of the gods, but would never want to talk to the gods directly.

If the villagers do not deliver what the gods’ expect, the gods summon the dibia and unleash their anger on him. The gods then give new, and sometimes ridiculous, instructions to the villagers. The dibia takes “the divine message” back to the villagers and the villagers in return vent on the dibia, who happens to be the bearer of bad news.

That’s the summary of my job.

There was a particular day I had a “divine meeting” with the client – the gods.  The client wanted us to do the undoable with his brand. He wanted us to smash old records and break new grounds, putting no limitation whatsoever on our creativity. This was totally strange to me; the gods are never this free with their instructions. So I asked further, “O wise one, are you sure this is what you want? I think we need to draw a limit to what can be done.”

“No! Don’t put yourself in a box! Be free, speak the language of the customers,” he responded.

I got back to the village and summoned the villagers, “Be free! Be creative! Jump into trendy conversations! Be yuppie! Be you!” I exclaimed, “These are the words of the gods”.

There was a moment of silence.

“Are you sure?” they asked, and I assured them that this was the will of the gods.

From then onward, the villagers went all out. They crossed the seven forbidden oceans, broke all ancestral customs and introduced the white man’s technics to their work. They were truly free, indeed.

The gods noticed these things and realized that they were not, in reality, ready for the changes. And so, they called for an emergency meeting with the dibia.

“Stop! No more! Delete! You misunderstood,” they screamed.

Guess who had to break the news to the excited villagers.

 

 

My Dad happened to Me

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At the age of 13, my dream was to become a medical doctor.

Today, I work in an advertising agency.

I didn’t see it coming. As a teenager, I had my life figured out. I wrote my plans down just as I was taught to at church. I was going to be a doctor, just like the one in my birth story, which my mum told me over a million times.

“When you were born,” she would say, “I carried you and pointed at the young doctor who helped in your delivery and said, one day, you’ll be just like her.” Every time she got to that part of the story something in me always leapt; Yes! I was born for this.

With this in mind, I struggled to make it into science class, as it was the key to my medical dream. I studied for my junior WAEC like my life depended on it, to ensure that my dream of becoming a doctor was actualized. I still remembered the day my results came out…

As I got to the school gate, Ugochi, my favourite friend screamed, “Eka Eka Eka! It’s out!”

She pulled me in anxiety and I was forced to run at her pace. We stopped at the board where the results were displayed. I scanned through the results on the board and, yes, my name was on the science list! I was super excited and did the famous Michael Jackson moonwalk as I celebrated my victory.

I got home in high spirits and shared this great news with my family. They all congratulated me.

And then, right after the celebration, my dad said, “Eh…Eka, you should be a lawyer, you know, you talk really well, and we need a Lawyer in the family.”

I laughed as he said it because I thought he was just joking. For five weeks I continued in my science class happily, until one Tuesday morning as Mr Agu, the chemistry teacher, taught, my dad walked into the classroom with another teacher. I was shocked to see him. The teachers whispered between themselves and one of them called my name.

“Eka Victor!”

I stood up, and the teacher said, “Please take your bag and follow me.”

I grabbed my bag, wondering what was going on. I followed my dad and the new teacher. My dad said nothing to me as we walked through the corridor until we got to the front of the ART class. Then he turned and said, “So now, you are in the art class, I have settled everything.” I looked at him in amazement, words failed me as I walked into the classroom and sat in my new seat.

My life changed in that very moment, and now I’m here. I don’t know why it happened but I am determined to make the best of where I am now. What I have learnt so far is that in Life, anything can change, even our dreams. But through it all, we must never give up on ourselves.

And, slowly, I have fallen in love with the path that chose me – Advertising.

Oh, and, Daddy, I am still not a Lawyer. *Tongue Out*

At this point, creativity eludes me

 

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When you work in the advertising industry, you’re allowed to be anything but uncreative. There are no boxes to consider when thinking; the more disruptive, the more pats on the back you get.

Ever have one of those days where you wake up in the morning brimming with ideas? You spend 25 minutes in the shower just because you’re thinking of several angles you can use to tackle a problem, another 45 minutes to get ready for work – most of that time spent tying up the loose ends of your shower-inspired plans. You swear you’re only gonna need 2 hours to clear out your desk, but the moment you step into your office…

All that creativity suddenly flatlines. You can almost hear the ‘beeeeeeeeep’ from your mental ER team trying to resuscitate your creativity, to no avail.

When that happens, you know it’s gonna be a LONG day at work. You take 30 minutes to set up your work desk. That’s when you start twiddling with your pen, checking your social media feeds twice a minute, playing Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony on repeat, all in the search of something, ANYTHING, that can provide that inspiration you so desperately crave.

See, the thing about creativity is that sometimes when you’re actively searching really hard for it, that’s when it goes AWOL. All those times you were sharing a drink or three with your buddies while bouncing ideas off each other, your creative juices were flowing non-stop like wine from Dionysus’ chalice. Now that your current employment status sorely depends on farting out an execution plan for a client in the next 3 hours, inspiration is using you to play hide and seek.

So you watch the day slowly drag by while you try to remember your thoughts in the shower. Was it a 2- or 3-staged campaign? Was the campaign supposed to start on Facebook or SnapChat? How many influencers did you intend to use? So many questions, so little answers!

Finally, it’s 5pm. You’ve managed to cook up a half-done, watery ‘pot of beans’ for your boss’ evaluation.

“I know you can do better than this. There’s so much missing from this presentation,” she says.

Sigh. What a day. You’re the first to shut down and slam your pc shut. You race to your car because you can’t wait to get the hell out of here.

And what happens the moment you start your car and slowly start moving? It all starts coming back. The platforms, the phases, the whole plan, everything! Do you risk going back to the office and starting your presentation all over again?

I would suggest doing what I did and using this new-found creative spark to write about the ordeal you had to endure all day.

My Boss Happened To Me

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I started out with lots of energy and enthusiasm. As boring as the JD (Job Description) sounded on paper – Admin/PA – the job was challenging and filled with opportunities to grow beyond the current role into a career path I truly wanted – Marketing Communications. My colleagues were bright and dynamic young people with tons of ideas and we could discuss anything and see it come alive. It felt like an enchanting fairytale that held new and exciting surprises for me. I looked forward to our Monday meetings, as they were always fun and engaging.

For someone who had never worked as a PA, with very little administrative skills, I was doing amazingly well (Google was, and still is, my best friend). My boss was a public figure, so my work extended beyond the office. She was involved in speaking engagements, radio and TV shows, and I loved the fact that I could move around. She was hardworking, passionate about her career, could juggle a million things at once (ok, that’s exaggerating it) and I really admired her work ethic. She always said that a woman’s life was all about balance and being able to connect her world in a way that allowed her to find both peace and sanity in it.

Soon, I began to have more responsibilities and I took each one head-on, loving the challenges buried in each of them and being able to find solutions. With each new challenge, my boss would say, “There’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind into it.” I became a Project Manager overseeing a new office site, a part-time accountant and then moved to my favourite area, Content.

Fast-forward a couple of months later, the marketing team seemed to have hit a roadblock as to how to carry out a certain campaign. My boss wanted fresh perspectives and asked if I wanted to assist the marketing team. We all sat, brainstormed ideas and found new ways to tackle the plan. It felt exciting, fulfilling. The brainstorming sessions made me feel alive. Something in me was awakened; even my colleagues seemed to notice too.  Over time, I started getting more involved in regular brainstorming sessions and client meetings. My interest was piqued as I reviewed content and actively participated in strategy sessions. Soon, I approached the company to review my JD to marketing. Sadly, I couldn’t at the time because there was no vacancy in the marketing department, but I was given liberty to stay involved with them.

One fateful day, one of my colleagues, Tunde, approached me and asked if I had ever considered a career in marketing communications. Of course!  I had always wanted to but didn’t know where to begin. He told me about Orange Academy and I got very interested.

I signed up for Orange Academy and discovered a world of possibilities, and I was introduced to the world of digital marketing. Digital marketing gave me an entirely different perspective in the world of communications and its ability to reach millions with a few words or images. Armed with this insight, I made a decision to pursue it head on.  I spoke with my boss and told her of my plans. She had mixed feelings but was happy I had found something I was truly passionate about, based on our frequent discussions.  I resigned from that job and began my journey into Digital marketing.

Even though I started my career in a field I knew very little about, working with her helped me discover and focus on what I truly love to do. I had thought I had my entire life figured out, but when my employer happened to me and challenged my abilities, it changed me forever.

If you’re stuck in a role that seems completely unrelated to your passion or talent, don’t be discouraged! Just stay focused and keep working hard; you never know what life-changing opportunities may come your way. *wink!

What Lies Beneath

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Finally, the days of spending long hours in a room filled with frustrated women discussing their miserable lives and backbiting about friends…

Of smiling and nodding like I really cared about their conversations…

Of hairdressers speaking – no, more like shouting – over my head…

 …Those days are long gone!

I have found a new way to look good with less stress!

This newfound love does not demand 100% of my attention. It is ready-to-wear and easy to take off – for a scratch, every now and then, or to get cool air onto my head on those very hot days! My newfound love is not clingy, has no separation anxiety and can stand alone.

It requires very little care or time and does not mind having a few other siblings to take on its role if the need arises. It is not reliant on a needle, thread or gum…

Y’all know what I’m talking about: Wigs! Wigs are it!

Wigs give you the flexibility to spice up your accessories or try on different hairstyles without damaging or stressing your actual hair. I’m sure a lot of women can relate to this type of loving relationship.

Wigs have also caused a bit of laziness in women. We tend to neglect our own hair since it’s always covered up. Wigs also tend to slip off unexpectedly, leaving many a woman exposed and embarrassed in public. Many men have also been led astray by the “W” until the women take off their wigs and reveal the mess of hair – or no hair at all – that lies beneath.

Awkward.

So, to avoid scarring the Bae when it’s time for the W to come off, here are a few tips for taking care of our hair underneath our wigs:

  1. Ensure you shampoo, deep-condition and keep your hair moisturized.
  2. If you’re a not a Naturalista (how many of us are?), try to prolong the periods between the times you relax your hair, say 4 times a year. You can choose what is most comfortable for your hair type.
  3. Opt for wigs with netted caps as opposed to cotton or nylon caps. Cotton and nylon caps absorb all the moisture in your hair, leading to dry or damaged hair.
  4. Wear neat braids to keep your hair in place – this prevents your hair from becoming a tangled mess.
  5. Make sure your wigs are comfortable, and not too tight. You can use hair clips to keep your wig in place if need be.
  6. Above all, try not to sleep with the wig so you can allow your hair to breathe.

I wish you a happy wig experience!

Sidebar: we left you with the cool girl slang for wigs. W. Yes W 🙂

Hunger: The Birth of Creativity

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If there is anything I have learned in life, it’s that hunger is a real G. Most of the success stories I have heard and read were birthed by hunger: either the fear of it or the reality of it.

When I just moved to Lagos, I had paid my rent and fees for a certification class, but I had also been scammed and money was scarce. I thought my job would be enough but it wasn’t, the salary just couldn’t keep calm and wait till the next salary arrives before finishing!

But guess what, I was comforted by my hunger and my empty pocket because it quickly gave birth to the side hustle.

I learned to do other things. I took on clients, wrote business plans, proposals, CVs and more, for people. I had to do some things for free in order to get them to trust me with their money, but I eventually built their trust.

The process taught me that life is too short to be broke. Life is too short to be unable to provide for your kids and look into their eyes and say NO because of poverty.

Life is too short to live an unaccomplished life.

The moral of the story is this: if you’re going to be hungry, be hungry early, be hungry fast. And when you’re hungry, figure out a way to quench your hunger, because poverty is not pretty.

Sometimes, it’s alright to be motivated by the fear of poverty.

What motivates you?

 

Imo Happened To Me

 

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If you’re a nine-to-fiver, you know that salary is never enough.

To effectively make the best of your salary – and still get the things you need, and still afford the things you want – is almost impossible. I learned this the hard way.

I was posted to Imo state for my youth service, despite plans to stay in Abuja – where I would have had maximum comfort, right down to having a driver take me wherever I needed to go. However, knowing that the comfort zone does not breed success, I was determined to make it work: I moved to Imo and embraced the challenge.

It took me ages to find a house; the agents seemed determined to drain the life out of me. With N2,500 per agent to look at one or two houses only, and with all the agents showing me the same houses over and over again, the costs quickly piled up. It didn’t seem like much at first until I’d paid like 10 agents! But I finally found a house.

I had roommates, learned how to live with people and learned tolerance. I saw suffering in the rural areas, away from my “perfect Abuja”. I saw people struggle to live from hand to mouth. I got better at standing up for myself, and my empathy threshold increased. Life is not perfect; people enjoy, people suffer, but we all find ways to make our situations work.

Imo was a real learning experience: I learned to survive with N19,800 only. Because of my time there, I’m better at planning my expenses, living alone, standing up for myself, relating with colleagues and more. Imo prepared me for a 9-5, and for the constant struggle of never having enough money. It taught me that things won’t always be perfect and situations may not be ideal, but we can rise above it, learn and evolve into better people.

Thank you Imo.