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Six Female Professionals Share the Advice that Shaped Them #IWD

8 Mar

To paraphrase one of the greats – Poet Laureate Maya Angelou – ‘women are phenomenal’, and on this International Women’s Day I want to radiate positivity and lift anyone up who needs it right now.

I’m lucky to have a broad network of women that I tap in to for a number of things: career advice, emotional support, proof-reading, drinks, yoga-ing, holidaying and everything in-between. They cover all manner of industries, roles and even countries. So I thought I’d do you a solid this IWD and pass on the gift of advice and support that they’ve shared with me.

Here’s what six of the women from my knowledge network had to say when I asked them what advice has helped to shape who they are today.


Photo: Paul Proshin

The Poet

“Hard work beats talent”

For a long time I thought of things as good or bad: ‘Is this poem good enough? Was that set amazing? Did I kill it with the audience?’ A lecturer once told me about a band that cut their record deal and instead built a subscription with their fan base (made up of around 2K followers). The fan base would pay an annual fee and as a result get an album from the band. The band could create what they wanted, and the fans got the music they wanted. How powerful is that? All they needed were 2K people in THE WORLD who liked what they did in order to create something meaningful.

There are plenty of people who watch movies I think are awful, dance to music I don’t understand, or like YouTube videos I find offensive, for me to know art is subjective. We all have different tastes so it’s not about questioning ‘is this good enough?’ It’s about gaining integrity being the kind of artist I want to be. Curating the audience I want to gather, collaborating with the people I want to work with and grafting hard to get them on board.

“Growth is struggle”

There’s something called the ‘conscious competence matrix’. The concept states that in order to learn and grow we need to have experienced struggle and ignorance. This really helped me see moments where I fail, struggle or feel crap rather as moments of revelation and epiphany, and that these moments are as essential and important as smashing it/winning/succeeding.

“Train Physically”

Yoga, swim, skate, dance. Connecting with your body enables you to be present, neurologically speaking, and when you’re present it’s impossible to feel things like anxiety (I learnt this from Ruby Wax’s talks on mindfulness). I’ve also found the journey of building physical strength and flexibility a parallel metaphor for me as an artist. To build strength you need to make small breaks in the muscle for it to grow back stronger, but not reach for a weight so heavy you rip the muscle. You also need to breathe and stretch to maintain flexibility in that muscle. As with my art, it hurts to push myself further to write about my trauma, to integrate dance with poetry, to write grime lyrics. But every break, every pain, every deep breath represents progress.

The Brand Strategy Consultant

“A life isn’t measured by what you have, but by what you give”

This is a quote I remember my mum saying, but I’m sure she must heard it from someone. It literally sums up my mum and I will always associate this with her. Her whole life she has been about providing for people, contributing to society, creating things. She is the most generous person I’ve ever come across.

“Done is better than perfect”

Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook’s COO) said this, and it took me so long to truly learn its meaning. For me it’s about letting go of pride, and understanding that sometimes perfectionism can often hold you back. I repeat this to myself about five times a day!

“Always be a little kinder than necessary”

I saw this in an Instagram post from a friend and it’s so true. Especially in these troubled times, the world needs more kindness.

“The early bird catches the worm”

I love this one. So often in life you’re winning, if you only get there early and think ahead!

The Teacher

“Unconditional love means accepting someone for who they are now, not who you hope they will be one day”

I came across this in a book I read called ‘The Wait’, it’s stuck with me because I’ve spent so much time trying to change someone Continue reading


7 Smart People Share The Best Advice They Ever Received

27 Dec

As humans we’re always craving for something or someone else to take over the decisional power when things get tough. We’re always seeking ‘signs’ to show us whether we’re about to make the right or wrong decision.

However, what I’ve come to find is that instead of looking outwardly, we should look inwardly at honing our own decision-making abilities. That’s what transforms us in to resilient and wiser beings (as my mum says: “Getting older is mostly making less of the same mistakes and Googling shit”).


Pic: Anna Dziubinska

We all need a little guidance along the path though right? So in the fashion of The Little Pocket Book of Wisdom, I’ve curated bite sized advice from some smart humans I interviewed over the last few months. They’re all still figuring out the answers too, but here’s the input that’s helped them thus far:

1. The PR

“Treat your enemies as teachers, be grateful you have them in your life.” 

This is from one of the ultimate teachers, the Dalai Lama. I read this at the time I needed to hear it. The ‘being grateful’ part has to do with considering the alternative, just imagine how vulnerable and sensitive we would all be if we were never tested. It’s the mantra that’s helped me flip my thought process when confronted with unkind people.

“No one’s going to love you exactly like you imagined.”

Advice from a good friend who’s also a life coach. The message being, love yourself enough so that any other love just adds more candles to the cake you’ve already iced.

“There’s no secret ingredient, it’s just you.”

Perhaps the scariest thought of all, but also freeing once you take charge and realise that when you work hard, you get to where you want to be. I see this quote every week on the wall at my yoga class. It’s actually from the character Po in Kung Fu Panda!

2. The BuzzFeed Writer

“It’s never going to be the perfect time. Just do it and see what happens, you will spend your whole life waiting for the perfect time.”

Not sure exactly who said this, but it’s always stuck with me.

“Not all fingers are equal.”

From my mum. It’s African as fuck, but it basically means don’t compare yourself to others, like people are not equal, so don’t spend your time checking for what other people are doing. Continue reading

Life in E2 taught me I’m enough, and to keep icing the cake

10 Aug
The cake being my catalogue of reasons for self-love and the additional icing being love I allow in from others.
Shoreditch has been home for the last 18+ months, London’s hub of culture, art, fashion and food. You can buy errrrythang from fresh fruit and flowers to furniture, pastries and antique collectibles. Sometimes known to others as that filthy Eastend patch full of top-knot adorned dickheads…
For me, my experience of living here gave me three awesome things: 1. Lots of incredible nights I can’t remember, 2. Immunity to bullshit (although this may have been innate), and 3. A rebuilt sense of self-worth at a time when it was a little shaky – otherwise known as ‘early twenty-dom’.

Moving time shoreditch view from my room

Thought patterns I used to have before moving here:
  • What makes me happy?
  • Am I enough?
  • Am I desirable?
  • Is this as good as things are going to get?
  • I’m unhappy in my job
Thought patterns I had after having lived in Shoreditch for some time:
  • I like the way I dress
  • I’ve met and welcomed some incredible strangers in to my life, now my friends
  • I’m fun
  • I’m attractive
  • I have great friends
  • I work damn hard
Some questions I’m still figuring out the answers to:

Continue reading

Five inspiring quotes from people I admire

23 Nov

Now I may not entirely align myself politically or culturally with all these folks, but that’s besides the point. Sometimes in life inspiration and stimulus can come from the most unexpected of places. These are simply some key moments and thoughts that have stuck with me.

famous quotes, inspirational quotes,

“I’m very clear that women in politics, in business, in whatever field they are in, should be able to do the jobs as themselves and not feel they’ve got to walk like a man.”

Theresa May – British home secretary

“…marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?”

Chimamanda Nqozi Adichie – author and feminist

“It’s the very struggle of life that makes us who we are. And it is our enemies that test us, provide us with the resistance necessary for growth…cherish your enemies, your difficult tasks, and anything that pushes you out of your comfort zone”

Dalai Lama – philosopher, writer

“Poverty isn’t just having no heating, or not quite enough food, or unplugging your fridge and turning your hot water off. It’s not a tourism trade, it’s not cool, and it’s not something that MPs on a salary of £65k a year plus expenses can understand, let alone our PM who states that we’re all in this together. Poverty is the sinking feeling when your small boy finishes his one Weetabix and says ‘more mummy, bread and jam please mummy’ as you’re wondering whether to take the TV or the guitar to the pawn shop first, and how to tell him that there is no bread or jam.”

Jack Monroe – food blogger, author, political activist

“I don’t believe that if you do good, good things will happen. Everything is completely accidental and random. Sometimes bad things happen to very good people and sometimes good things happen to bad people. But at least if you try to do good things, then you’re spending your time doing something worthwhile”.

Dame Helen Mirren – actress

What famous or not so famous words have struck a chord with you?