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Out with the old, in with the new!

16th Jan 2015 As we have just said goodbye to 2014 and welcomed 2015, I’m sure as we do year in and year out, some of us have made New Year Resolutions. I’m not going to discourage you from taking on New Year resolutions neither should you feel condemned if you have already fallen off track with the resolution. Truth is, we all have areas in our lives that need improvement so instead of giving yourself the added pressure of “I’m going to stop doing this thing this year” or “I’m going to start doing that thing this year” why not explore the idea of becoming a better and stronger person in general?

Let me break it down, making New Year resolutions means you pick one area of your life or one habit (most likely negative) that you want to kick out the pan. But making such promises or resolutions can put added pressure on oneself, furthermore if you were to break that resolution, let’s face it most people would say “I’ve broken the resolution, I might as well quit now” and that’s a very normal way to react. But if we turn it on its head, choosing to become a “better me” has no expiration date, it’s an ongoing process. Prodding further, it covers every area of your life. If you fall off the wagon, you can get back on it.

So, how do I become a “better me?” I hear you ask, well here are a few pointers from the top of my head.

The first one is obvious, eat healthier. When we fuel our bodies with good food filled with nutrients, it is the beginning of self love. This is the body you’re going to be lugging around for the rest of your life, so you may as well love it and be good to it, right? Eating healthier not only makes you feel great, it reduces the chances of developing numerous diseases.

Simplify your life. Every so often you need to re-evaluate your situation. Don’t forget you’re constantly evolving and changing. There are some people who you may not need in your life anymore and are currently holding you back; someone who was there for a season and that season has gone. Cut them off. Let me illustrate further…just like a baby’s umbilical cord is cut at birth for him or her to be free from their mother, so you must metaphorically do the same. I once heard this striking phrase “Evaluate the people in your life, then promote, demote or terminate. You are the CEO of your life!”

Spend more time with loved ones. It’s easy to get tied up with the hustle and bustle of life that we tend to get side tracked and forget to spend time with our loved ones. Make it a practice to visit family and friends at least once a month (especially older relatives, remember nobody lives forever and you don’t want to regret anything).

Show gratitude. A report once revealed that those who show gratitude regularly have higher levels of positive emotions including life satisfaction, vitality and optimism. Here’s a scientific fact for you: Materialistic people have all the “tangible” things but they’re low in well-being…the reason? They lack gratitude.

There are many more but I’ll end with this one…leave your comfort zone and challenge yourself! No one ever became great without breaking down the invisible walls they formed around themselves. Try new things, fail a few times. Take up a new hobby or travel the world. Whatever it is, just do something.

So like I said, forget the New Year resolutions and begin creating a “better me”. Not only will you feel the difference; people around you will be impacted positively.

 

Africa's Most Successful Women: Mo Abudu

Africa’s Most Successful Women introduces you to the most outstanding African women who are making giant strides in business, politics, technology, entrepreneurship and leadership on the continent and elsewhere around the world.

Mo Abudu, a 50 year-old Nigerian media entrepreneur and talk show host, is the founder of Ebony Life TV, a fast-growing black African multi-broadcast entertainment network, which showcases informative and entertaining programmes that portray Africa at its best. Abudu, who has been described by international news outlets as ‘Africa’s Africa’, is keen in her resolve to rewrite Africa’s story. And it’s time you took notice. In a recent email interview, she recounts her entrepreneurial journey and reflects on the lessons she has learned along the way.

You are the host of ‘Moments with Mo’, one of the most successful syndicated talk shows on African regional television. And now you run an African television network. Walk me through your journey as a media entrepreneur

My passion to help change the narrative about Africa began to grow as far back as when I was a teenager living in the UK, schooling in Tunbridge Wells in Kent, a town that had just a few blacks at the time. As I have said many times in the past, here, I had to learn to stand up for myself, to defend my identity and my race in an environment where you continually got asked the most ridiculous and mind-boggling questions like “Do you guys live in trees and holes in Africa?” “Do you guys dance around fires?” “What do you eat for breakfast?” Very ignorant questions. Those sort of questions could either make or break your spirit but I was very determined that I was going to stay strong. This kind of afro-pessimism simply fuelled a burning, deep-seated desire in my subconscious to one day help to rewrite the African story; to get people to talk about the issues that affect our society and to tell the African narrative in a contemporary and interesting way; to change the perception the world had of us; to let the world know that in spite of our challenges as a developing continent, Africans are not a bunch of savages but mostly a breed of gifted and remarkable people. So, after my education and a flourishing modelling career in the UK, I returned to Nigeria in my late twenties. My children had reached their teens; I had begun enjoying a successful career as Head of Human Resources and Administration for oil giant, Esso Exploration and Production Nigeria Limited (ExxonMobil). I always say that this experience at ExxonMobil was the best thing that happened to me at that time because the job gave me an invaluable understanding of corporate structure and business discipline, which would eventually prove very useful in my future business endeavours, to include the Protea Hotel Oakwood Park, of which I remain a shareholder and director; Vic Lawrence & Associates, now one of Nigeria’s leading outsourcing firms, where I also remain founder, and so on. However, as successful as all these business ventures have thankfully been, nothing perhaps has given me the most fulfilment as the prospect of exploiting the media as a tool to affect global perceptions about Africa. So, with no TV experience whatsoever, I had approached DStv back then with the Moments with Mo proposal which I had hoped would persuade them to see that it was time Africans had a talk show that projected all that was positive, progressive and celebratory about the continent. I had seen a gap in the market for talk shows that were quintessentially African on the DStv bouquet. I had observed that there were talk shows on NTA, and other Nigerian channels but there wasn’t a single Pan-African talk show at the time. I did not get a positive response from DStv as I was told they were not looking for a Pan-African talk show on the platform at the time. But interestingly, in response to the need for local content on the platform, the window of opportunity soon opened for us and that was how, in 2006, Moments with Mo was born out of the vision to build and project a new, stronger, more independent and more confident Africa; an Africa that speaks for itself; that celebrates its people and achievements and solves its own problems. I had taken about 5 pilots of my talk show to them back then but they were all rejected and eventually, one was accepted. And even at that point, I was told they were not going to commission, that they were only going to license, which means they would buy the content from you at an agreed price. So I was told to go and look for sponsors, which I did, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Why did you choose to then start EbonyLife TV, Africa’s first global black entertainment network, and describe the transition from talk show host to head of a television company, navigating a teething media business sector with no prior experience?

The irony was that as far back as 2006 when I first approached DStv with the proposition that Africa was ripe for its own Oprah Winfrey or Ellen DeGeneres show, I was at the same time already requesting for a global TV channel opportunity. At the same time I was exploring channel possibilities with SKY in the UK. I have always reckoned that the vision to project Africa in a different, more positive light, needed a big platform and this was what spurred me to start thinking of establishing EbonyLifeTV. Looking back now and considering how ambitious the dream was and all we had to surmount to arrive at where we are now, one has to admit that God’s appointed time is always the best. I think, for the media however, the sector may have been run by people who are very passionate about the sector rather than people who are business managers, suffice to say it is crucially important to understand the business of the media. You have to be very passionate about what you do and at the same time, be a business manager, which includes having a solid business plan. I don’t think the financial sector in Nigeria understands our sector, I can tell you this because we spent a long time at strategy sessions with expatriate financial consultants who really understood media business to help identify what the revenue streams in TV are because in every business, there has to be a way to make money. It’s not just about the passion to sell Africa’s story, if you want it to generate money, there’s got to be something bankable in it. Sometimes, you may not have all the expertise required to make what you dream of in terms of profitability, you then have to find someone that is business savvy enough to show you how this business works. He will also tell you how long it is going to take for you to break even, especially if the business is media. Media is one of those businesses that take off very slowly, so you know that borrowing money at a high interest rate to run the media business is not the way to go. Gaining this understanding was key in getting EbonyLife TV off the ground and running till today.

How would you describe EbonyLife TV and the kind of programming it provides?

EbonyLife TV creates content that speaks to the continent’s most important demographic, the custodians of the present and of the future, the youth aged 18 to 34. We believe no one is speaking to this key demographic of the continent the way we do. This is a demographic that is extremely passionate and confident; tremendously creative and global-minded. It is one that craves a platform for self-definition and self-expression; one that sees a different Africa, an Africa that tells its own story through the showcasing of the continent’s best talents, from lifestyle and entertainment to fashion and music, education, information, love and relationships. So, with the mantra “Live the EbonyLife”, our channel is proud to be broadcasting premium, original and exclusively African programming which is both inspirational and aspirational, celebrating style and success while motivating the audience to dream and dream big. Our programming is one that leaves the viewer with a cool, glossy, polished and sophisticated experience, from reality to talk; drama to entertainment and comedy. Through our programming, we also avail companies amazing brand integration and placement opportunities like never before. We believe it is very vital to give African brands, big and small, the opportunity to be seen on a global scale, showing the world that African brands can compete with the world’s best.

What lessons have you learned in business?

I have learned that information is power. The media business in Nigeria and indeed, Africa is grossly underestimated and the windows of opportunity need to be further explored. A lot of people do not understand the power of the information. One needs to be armed with information in order to successfully navigate any venture. Information is your compass. If you know better, you will do better. Before deciding to enter into any venture, one must, to the best of their ability have explored possibilities for growth, foreseen challenges, made projections, thought exhaustively through every inch and breadth of the venture and researched what other people have done to succeed and where they failed.

What advice do you have for those who desire to follow your entrepreneurial footsteps?

Anyone who wishes to be an entrepreneur must know that bright ideas are great, however, they are not even half of the work; execution is everything. Yes, as the saying goes, ‘there is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come’, but when that time comes, you must be prepared to bleed sweat, tears and blood to bring your ideas to life. For women, never ever see your gender as a handicap. Never think yourself inferior. Be ready to do twice the work for half the usual reward. When the door isn’t opened, kick down the door. Take the regular harassment and other obstacles women face in stride. In fact, be prepared for them. Be prepared to be told off, to be told you are not good enough, to go unrewarded for even doing the same work your male counterpart has done. Work with your passion, let it consume and drive you. Do not be distracted. On down days, it will keep you going. Also, surround yourself with like minds. In fact, you should exhaustively curate those who will go along with you on your journey. I can’t say that enough.

Article written by Forbes contributor Mfonbong Nsehe

 

Christmas Does Not Come From A Store, Maybe Christmas Means A Little Bit More

What does Christmas mean to you? To some it means family time, to some it means presents and to others it means a few days off work to relax and recuperate. For Christians however, it is a time in which they reflect on the birth of their Saviour, Jesus Christ. Whatever the meaning for you, you should take some time to appreciate the gift of life and thank your lucky stars that you’re alive to see Christmas 2014.

If I was to ask you, how do you bring Christmas home (to Africa)? What would you say? Can you imagine a Christmas without the tree, decorations, bright lights and Christmas music? Oh, and not to forget “Santa Claus” (did you know that the red and white theme was actually initially used to promote Coca Cola?) Think about it, until you see and hear these things, no matter how hard you try, it would never feel like Christmas. I guess it adheres to the “seeing is believing” adage, (even in Nigeria). Regardless of where you are in the world, one would always know when it is the festive season. At the build up to Christmas, there is always crazy traffic (more than usual) and don’t get me started on the unbearable long queues in supermarkets, shopping malls, (and just about everywhere). I’d say that the long and short of it is that no matter where you are in the world, the fundamental elements that exemplify Christmas are there… on different scales of course, but they are there nevertheless. One could argue that these are the ways in which we “bring Christmas home” wherever we are.

My most memorable Christmases as a child were those where I was surrounded by family and loved ones, music and mum’s food…memories that linger for years. I would encourage us all to create loving memories this Christmas, make it the best one yet…instead of focusing on the negative things that have occurred in the last 365 days, concentrate on the positive.

Christmas is most known to be the season of love, kindness and gratitude. If you’re not feeling in the festive mood yet, put some music on… a good old sing song of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas Is You” will soon put you in the festive frame of mind, or if you’re more of the traditional type, a nice song of “O’ Holy Night” will surely do the trick.

We asked some of our ELTV fans what Christmas means to them and what they’re most grateful for, here are some of their replies:

“Christmas means showing love and being compassionate to one another”, Queensley Okoye

“A time to show more love and share happiness”, Olaniyi Oluwatosin

 “I’m most grateful for life and good health”, Ganiyu Olaide Williams

 “I’m grateful for good health & God’s blessings in my family. For my friends & relatives. For promotion & a new job. For love.”, Ugonna Lancaster Okoro

A very Merry Christmas to all our sponsors, partners, clients, staff and of course our fans! Wishing you all the blessings this season has to offer and see you in the New Year…!