My name is Orifunke Lawal and this is my Toptal scholarship entry. Toptal is undergoing a scholarship process for women this season. This scholarship includes being awarded funds to be able to fulfil your plans to change the world as well as a mentorship scheme to help guide you. I am entering for this scholarship because I want to be empowered to change the world; to change my world. To enter for the scholarship programme, click HERE
When I was a kid, my dad made me believe that I could change the world. He imbibed in me the belief that I could be as big as other “big” people on TV. I am an ambitious and driven individual and I would attribute that to his influence over my life while growing up. My dad’s desire for me to be an influential woman was so strong that despite the inadequacies of growing up in harsh conditions of lack and poverty, he was very particular about my getting good education and he ensured that happened. The idea was simple – all the “big” men and women he saw on TV were educated, so I also had to be soundly educated. If I was going to get to where they were, then I needed to be educated. Hence, today, education is one of the things I do not joke with. And, this also informs my firm belief that education is a priority and must-have for every child, regardless of prevalent social or economic conditions.
My dad taught me that I could change the world. The most important discovery I have made while growing up, however, is that to change the world, I have to first and foremost change my world. In essence, I really can only begin to change the world by starting with my immediate environment and community. I may not be able to travel all around the world yet because I presently do not have the means, but I can change the lives that I can afford to change from where I am at present; my immediate community.
I am a big dreamer, and as a personal life ethos I know I have enough dreams to last me a lifetime. I am passionate about young women being able to live the best versions of themselves. Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria opened my eyes to the dangers that uneducated, dependent and unempowered women face. I, therefore, continue to remain invested and active participator activities, causes and social ventures that engage in enabling women to become independent financially, mentally, psychologically and emotionally.
My vision to change the world
This year, 2018, I launched a community for young Nigerian women, I aptly called it “Lady with Balls”.
“Lady with Balls” is an online community that aims to inspire, impact and empower ladies t through vital resources, classes and a support system that actually works. At the moment, I run regular online classes for members of the community to teach them basic things that help them to be better for themselves, for their families and for their communities.
It is being a dream come true for me as I had been thinking about it for more than a couple of years. My drive is to build a community, a network of women, who are knowledgeable, confident and independent, having all the resources that they need to live the best versions of themselves. I am a huge believer in the fact that women who must change the world must first be educated, empowered and independent. So these past few weeks have witnessed me thinking and planning out ways by which I can get the lives of these women to be better.
My vision for the world is to change the lives of women by providing them with resources and opportunities to be empowered. It is not enough to tell these women to be strong, learn a skill or be educated without providing the opportunities to be. And while there sure seem to be chances like that, there is still a lot of work to be done, especially with regard to young ladies who have no access to education.
In order to this, I plan to organize events, workshops, online trainings and classes and provide them with as many structured resources as we can lay our hands on.
How I believe I can accomplish my goals
Here are three ways I plan to accomplish my goals:
1. By building sub-communities online under “Lady with Balls”, of women who will not only be taught but will also build one another. Truth be told, there is really nothing as much as being able to connect with other people who share the same passion and values with you. To accomplish my goal of helping women become educated, independent and empowered, I plan to build sub-communities. These sub-communities will cut across different ranges of sectors and they will include communities for:
-Female entrepreneurs (i.e those who have businesses and/or intend to build one);
-Young professional women (those who are employed or are seeking employment);
-For freelancers (otherwise referred to as creatives) and
The idea of these communities is to have young women of like minds come together, learn from a higher authority as often as is needed and learn from one another as well.
2. By organizing events, trainings, workshops and courses which will all be tailored to the needs and specifications of each member of the community. A popular mistake that a lot make is thinking that one size fits all when it comes to empowering people. Well, that’s not true. People have different thought patterns, backgrounds, interests and skills. Exposing and introducing them to the right kind of knowledge is crucial to be able to see results.
3. By having a regular (monthly or quarterly) outdoor outreach where I and hopefully a team of passionate minds like myself can keep reaching out to women and educating them enough to be empowered and independent.
4. By building a business around these goals (without bothering the beneficiaries) so that come what may, the dream is well-funded to continue.
Why I Need a Toptal Support
Changing the world like I want to would be difficult without the right kind of funds. With the 10,000-dollar scholarship from Toptal, I will be able to:
-Establish these young-women communities (as explained above)
-Organize regular life-changing and impactful professional events and workshops for young women.
-Organize trainings, classes and courses (both online and offline) that would facilitate the development of important skills that women need to have them empowered.
-Create a structure that not only allows me to bring that much-needed change to my community and in extension the world but also allows other people do their bit like I am/will continue to in changing their world and in extension the world.
Why I Need a Toptal Mentor
I believe the pace of life’s solutions is faster when taken on the heels of people that are already ahead. Mentorship will, therefore, afford me the requisite knowledge and learnings to do much more. In my research of the stories and impact of past winners of the Toptal Scholarship and I solidly believe that Toptal gives the right leverage I and a teeming population of individuals world over need to make those dreams a real and positive reality in the lives of other individuals like ourselves. Having a Toptal mentor will:
1. Allow me a better understanding of how to achieve my dreams; the aims and objectives of the goals I highlighted above.
2. Prevent me from making avoidable mistakes in the course of execution.
3. Help me learn all there is to learn about leading people and managing projects successfully.
Having well-articulated my vision, I strongly believe that I really can change the world with a Toptal Scholarship. Thank you, Toptal, for this opportunity!
For a while now, I’ve been considering a lot of my plans, commitments, goals and ideas. And I must confess that, usually, I am awed by how gigantic my dreams are. Let me tell you something about me: I am one person who dreams a lot. I sit down or walk the road daily thinking about the big dreams I have. Trust me, I have massive ideas almost all the time. Only thing, though, is you’d rarely get to hear me talk about them. I personally prefer to do first before talking about it.
Sometimes, I talk to myself, consider the goals I have had and why they didn’t materialize. I do like to be open and sincere with myself even though it’s easier to shy away from the thoughts of pain that accompany every failed step I have taken.
Since I really am free to sharing my mistakes with you, I am writing this. Hopefully, you can read through and relate well and yes, also be inspired.
So here are some of the biggest mistakes I have ever made:
1. Being afraid of failing.
In the past, I did have a fear of failing. I basically had to always ask myself “What if it doesn’t come through as planned? What would people say? What would I look like?” and all other questions like that. Somehow, being in that comfort zone of not having to bother about failing feels good. Looking back now, I wish I had taken many steps I desired in the past without a fear of failing. I have come to realize that those who are scared of failing really do not go far in life. This is because being scared of failing means being scared of following your dreams and goals and ideas.
2. Not acting upon my ideas
Until much recently, I was more of a dreamer than a doer. I would sit and dream and plan and never really get around to doing. This would happen until I eventually forgot about the goal or till I got demotivated and had to move over to something else. However, I had to consciously make myself understand that if I had a plan or an idea, I had to actively work on it. In 2015, I had this idea of doing an improvement challenge for twenty-one days and involve other people as well. I sat and planned and at the point I discovered I was doing much planning than doing, I instantly set out to start. The project came out great and the number of people who joined in amazed me. The same thing happened a few months back when I had the idea of a ladies’ spiritual meeting back in the university. I have quite recovered from this mistake and still recovering too. Learn not to only dream but to also act on your dreams.
3. Waiting to have everything perfect and in place before starting out.
This has to be the biggest hindrance to me doing most of the things I really have wanted to do. I like things being all in place before launching out on anything. I’ve learnt, though, that to achieve results, you must drop that feeling of wanting to have everything in place and all perfect. Everything won’t be perfect at any point anyway so why not do what you want to do?
4. Thinking too much about what others would think or say or feel. Yes, I’m one of those people who care about opinions. And I do regret how much achievement this has caused me in the past. I have learnt that people really don’t care about what you achieve and if they do, you can do without their opinions. Too many people hold back on a big deal they should be doing or landing because they’re pretty much bothered about what other people will say. I guess this is due to the fear of disapproval. Well, I’ve learnt it’s my life and nobody’s opinion should rank better than mine.
I’m grateful for the mistakes I’ve made because they’ve taught me how better things could be done. And well, I really am still learning from a host of other mistakes. What are the biggest mistakes you have made? Can you share them with me?
Everyday, I observe business people and deeply appreciate the fact that people engage in a legitimate means of survival. I am usually fascinated by how far people can go to ensure they earn a living. At times, I come across people who sell stuff that I most likely would never have anything to do with. And I find myself wondering why exactly these people have chosen to sell these things. Is it that they just love the items they’re selling? Or is it that they don’t want to enter a competitive market by selling what everyone else is? Or is it that the desire to make money just exceeds the need to consider the market well? I just may never know.
I believe everybody who wants to start up a business or who is looking at providing services should ask themselves vital questions like:
-Who will buy what I want to sell? Business isn’t just about selling what you like to sell or selling what you think will sell. It is selling what people will buy. And I know you’ve heard that you shouldn’t go into business for the money but trust me, nobody wants to be in a business that’s gulping down all their costs and giving them close to nothing in return, unless it’s a charity organization.
-Where are the people who want to buy what I want to sell? If you’ve sat down and considered the above, then you should make the effort to know where your buyers are. Are they on a street? Are they in a big market? Oh, are they online? Find these out. This would help you in getting to know how to get your market to your consumers. It is also vital to know that something that sells well in Abuja may not sell in Lagos.
-How do I get my market to people who will buy it? Now that you know who will buy your products and where they can be found, how can I get it to them? If they’re online, you definitely would have to invest your resources into social media marketing. If they’re offline, you should develop a plan to either be located close to them or make arrangements to make it available to them if you can’t be physically close to them.
Of course, building and establishing a business definitely requires more than this on a larger scale but for starters, I believe this would help.
What other questions should every business person ask before launching out? Please comment below.
With the little time I have spent on the social media, one of the vital things I’ve had to relate to, learn and use are hashtags. Hashtags have basically been a part of my journey on social media and I would attribute my job as a social media manager to that. What I have observed over the years, though, is that hashtags are relatively becoming more popular than they were on social media a few years ago, especially on Facebook which was initially not designed to accommodate hashtags.
I love to use hashtags for whatever project I am embarking on because asides the fact that hashtags are cool, they very much pass your message across without you having to talk much. However, it is highly repulsive when I see someone use an hashtag in the wrong way. So, since I am tired of seeing such on my timelines, I have written this for the common social media user. Of course, they should help you if you’re looking at using hashtags for an upcoming event or for your business but this is basically for everyday use.
Hashtags are words following an Hash (#) character and are directed at passing a message across concerning a situation, an event, a business and whatever have you at first sight. In other words, when I see an hashtag, I should have a basic knowledge of what message you are trying to pass across. So an hashtag is meant to give an idea of what you’re trying to tell us- succinct and interesting.
What To Know Generally About Hashtags:
1. Hashtags are not meant to replace your long sentences (although this can be permitted on Instagram) but on Facebook and Twitter, please stick to short phrases. Don’t go writing something like, “#Ilovemymummysomuchicoulddieforher” or something like that. That is a very wrong way to use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook. Let your hashtags be short, straight-to-the-point and yes, relatable.
In the same way, you do not have to start all the words of your sentences with an hashtag. Writing something like, ” #Courage #is #needed #to #succeed” is totally off. Please be warned.
2. When using an hashtag, know that the word(s) you are meant to use should be directly behind the hash character. Don’t write something like, ” # Success” else you’ll be having an hash and a tag and not an hashtag. Okay?
3. When using hashtags, don’t use any punctuation marks in between (commas, fullstops, colon, hyphen etc). Punctuation marks will break your hashtag. Underscores (_), however, are allowed.
4. If you do not need to use an hashtag, really do not. I get displeased when I see people using hashtags that have no use in the first place. If all you need is a sentence, write your sentence. If all you need to write is an ordinary word, write it. Like I mentioned earlier, hashtags are meant to be phrases which can convey information on first sight, or at least, make people want to find out what the hashtag is about.
5. For business owners and organizations, be creative in your use of hashtags. You want hashtags that people could, over time, attach to your brand so use hashtags that are unique to your brand, specific, catchy and ones that can stick to the heads of your customers. So, as a personal advice, stick to one or two official hashtags for your brand. I could help out with this if you need help. I have a history of creating good hashtags ?
6. Asides Instagram, one or two hashtags are quite enough for every tweet or post of yours. You do not need to design your tweets and posts on Facebook with hashtags. Instagram allows this though.
I hope this helped. If you have any questions, I’ll be glad to answer.
You could connect with me on these platforms:
Facebook: Orifunke Lawal
E-mail: [email protected]