Ever wondered what it’s like to run a multi-million dollar network? The sacrifices one has to make? The hours and energy that gets sucked up in order to succeed?
Think no further, here to tell us what it’s essentially like is the woman herself, Mo Abudu, CEO of EbonyLife TV who is also the talk show host for “Moments with Mo”, a TV producer, media personality as well as an entrepreneur (just to name a few). Mo Abudu received an honorary award of Doctor of Humane Letters (Honoris Causa) by the Babcock University Administration of Nigeria earlier in the year and also recently turned 50.
Q. We’d like to congratulate you on the award you received recently which is assumedly a major accolade in your life, what does this award mean to you?
A. Thank you very much. I was and still am very touched by the gesture; it truly is an honour for me to have received the award. It means that I am doing something right, not just as an African but as an African woman inclusive. It makes me proud of who I am and where I come from. So many men and women are deserving of this award and I am grateful to Babcock University for finding me worthy.
Q. On receiving your award you made a very touching speech that shared your feelings on education, women’s rights, and dreaming big. What do you think it will take to make a “better Africa?”
A. It will take individuals who have the same goals and visions for Africa who are not scared to go where no one has been before. Africa has so much potential and if people only put things into action instead of just dreaming, we’d be half way there. I have always said, and will continue to say that Africa is the brand of opportunity, but right now we are far behind from where we should currently be. We need bold, aggressive go-getters who aren’t afraid of set-backs. We also need a society and government who care for human life, at the end of the day it all starts with us.
Q. You are very passionate about empowering women and bettering the image of Africa, what else drives you?
A. I am driven to be a better person as a whole. God has instilled so much potential inside of all of us, and it is up to us as to how much we are willing to discover and unleash. I refuse to leave this Earth not having discovered everything or not having given everything I was meant to give.
Q. You’re a mother of two, a talk show host, a TV producer, media personality, HR management consultant, as well as an entrepreneur. How has this affected your family life? Can the hand that rocks the cradle, rock the boardroom?
A. (Laughs) I’ve been asked this question numerous times. I am first and foremost a mother. My kids have and will always come first and this is something they have always known. I thank God everyday for having children who are tolerant of a workaholic mother.
Q. In your speech you also mentioned that it requires a solid team to materialise a dream…EbonyLife TV is a huge endeavour…what was involved in realising the dream and who was instrumental along the way?
A. I would say that the dream was birthed when in 2006, after a successful career working as a HR executive at ExxonMobil for close to a decade, I decided I wanted to have my own Talk Show. I had no TV or media experience whatsoever, but it was the adventurous soul in me that kept me going. It was also a dream that had been deeply rooted, waiting to come out of confinement because media has always been my passion. Who was instrumental? Absolutely everyone, friends, family and associates who stood by me and supported me, those who I would call at 12 am because I had just had an epiphany, absolutely every one.
Q. As a business woman and media mogul, what’s the secret of your success?
A. My secret to success is the grace of God, there is no other way to put it. I have always put Him first and the bible says “seek first the Kingdom of God and everything else shall be added unto you”. Everything I have and everything I am, I owe it to God.
Q. Reflecting on your life, what has been your personal career highlight?
A. I couldn’t possibly pinpoint one in particular, each career choice brought out different qualities that God has bequeathed me, which has made me the woman I am today.
Q. What sacrifices have you made to get to where you are?
A. Sleep is definitely one. Someone like me who doesn’t stop till they reach their desired goal will definitely suffer from sleep deprivation at numerous occasions. Another is relationships, I’ve had to be willing to step on a few toes and get on the wrong side of people. People will always have their own ideas about certain things and if they are not in line with your own vision, you have to politely let them go.
Q. What have been some of your failures and what did you learn from them?
A. I don’t see anything as having failed; I like to call them lessons. Anything that I have embarked on that has not ultimately evolved into anything substantial has taught me what not to do in some way or another. Practice they say makes perfect, I’m not afraid of setbacks as it only means God is getting me ready to be catapulted into greater things.
Q. You recently turned 50, what does reaching this great milestone mean to you? How did you celebrate?
A. I am so grateful to God for how far He has brought me, I’m excited about where He is still taking me and I thank Him for life itself. Reaching 50 was not by my might but by the grace of God. I celebrated this blessed milestone by the way of a party with close friends, family and associates. I also took the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate the exceptional contributions of unsung professionals by presenting them with awards. It was my way of saying, “I’m right behind you, we’re in this together”.
Q. Let’s get to know Doctor Mo Abudu, the lady. If you could talk to one person in history, who would it be and why?
A. I’m going to be cheeky and say two. Globally, it would definitely be Maya Angelou. She has been an inspiration to many and though she is no longer with us, her legacy will undoubtedly live on. Historical African figure I would have to say Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti for the fact that she was feisty and wasn’t afraid to act. We’d have a lot to talk about [laughs]
Q. What is your favourite book?
A. (After the Bible) To Kill a Mockingbird.
Q. What is your favourite time of year?
A. I’d say summer because that’s when I go away with my children and have some quality family time.
Q. Spontaneous soul or meticulous planner?
A. Meticulous planner
Q. Ultimate vacation experience?
A. Anywhere I can get some rest, relaxation and regroup.
Q. Any guilty pleasures?
A. Every woman loves a bit of chocolate every now and then.
Q. What do you spend your “me” time doing?
A. I spend time with family, especially my children and friends; I love watching nice, romantic movies or thrillers. I love reading too
Q. Life in Nigeria is….(please complete sentence)
Q. My life would be so much better if….(please complete sentence)
A. Nothing. I am grateful for all that I am and all that I have.
Q. As time goes by I realise….(please complete sentence)
A. If you can think it, you can do it!
Q. My vision for Africa is…(please complete sentence)
A. To be at the forefront for business opportunities and to be known for positive change.
Thank you for letting us into the life and times of Doctor Mo Abudu. We have enjoyed chatting with you. We’re sure someone reading this will be inspired and put some things into action.
Stay tuned for the next EbonyLife and Times edition where a good time is had by all! And remember, life is short and time is swift so don’t dull, make a difference.