You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Cathy Phiri’ tag.

So this has been long coming!  Each year I try to sum up my year with some reflections, and thoughts for the new year.  This year I thought I’d do that while I was laying on the beach in Koh Samet, Thailand, sipping on a cocktail, counting my blessings.  Alas I was busy still doing work – but on the beach in Koh Samet, so I can’t be too mad!

img_20170105_162435

2016 was an interesting year for me – perhaps a year I entered into a different cycle of my life.  I ended the year completely burnt out but definitely worth it.  While 2016 was a ‘surviving’ year for most, it was a challenging year for me.

At the beginning of 2016, if you recall I blogged about this, I decided it was time to believe in myself more and push myself to do things that scared me.  At that point I had already been toying with the idea of launching a female led talkshow.   I wanted to give women a voice, I wanted to actively engage in dialogue that contributed to the development of the country and our lives, and I wanted to show that women can and do support each other.

There were many times in that process of developing the show that I wanted to quit – it was scary, not easy, not to mention costly.  But I told people about it, knowing they would hold me accountable to ensure it happened.  And it did!

The show was quoted in the Daily Mail, and now it’s airing on Zambezi Magic – across the region.  My heart literally stopped as I thought about that – people outside of Zambia are seeing my face and listening to what I have to say… it is surreal.

img-20161226-wa0007

But that was just the beginning of the year!

Loads of work in the middle of the year, and then my most challenging work fell squarely on my lap – Our Perfect Wedding Zambia.  The project that gave me sleepless nights and exhausted me (and had me looking like a homeless person).  Adapt the hugely popular South African show, how hard could it be?!

Hmmm.  Let me back track a bit.  The set-up of our company is usually myself and Mary write the proposal, secure the deals and client manage.  Tasha does the research and insights.  Freddy is the creative lead – he directs and produces.  We still work on the creative side inputting in character development, script, wardrobe, art direction etc.  But in a very basic way that’s the make-up.

So after writing the proposal, doing the pitch, we win the bid!  Great.  Just one small problem; Freddy is unable to direct or produce the show.  Probably the obvious decision would have been to hire someone to direct.

I like to think of myself as a business person, I looked at the numbers and realized it would be pointless for us to do this show if we hire a director.  I’d just produced and semi-directed (ha!) a talk show, how hard could a 4-day reality shoot be?

Famous last words.

img-20161207-wa0002

I like to surround myself with people who are good at what they do but also people I can work with.  There were a lot of people in the industry who I thought had bad attitudes and who I just couldn’t imagine doing a 52-day shoot with.  So I chose a crew I thought I could work with, mainly young up-and coming and hungry.

No one had shot a reality show before, or one of this nature.  In fact client expectations were to exceed even what the South Africa’s were doing, the pressure was immense.

I’m pretty sure I spent a lot of time crying and wishing I could quit!  But quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit.

When I wasn’t shooting, I was in editing mode.  It was non-stop.  And pleasing the client was even harder.  Some of our seasoned editors were also suffering, getting the format right was hard on everyone.

The season is coming to an end and while I can definitely agree there were some bad episodes, there were also some amazing stories and great couples – it almost made me believe in love again! LOL.

I did learn though that maybe hunger wasn’t enough, on certain projects you have no choice but to put personal differences aside and bring in the best people for the job, at least close enough to the best (though not sure they would have done it for the budget).   However, because of the attitude of some of the crew, I know I will be working with them for time to come, because at the end of the day, attitude is so important in getting ahead and moving past mediocrity.  The ones who chose to be unprofessional, well those are their career choices.

I was then fortunate to get away for 10 days to experience the sights and sounds of Thailand.  It was exactly what I needed.  I didn’t get to consciously do the reflections I needed but I think the downtime, the rest and recovery allowed my mind to settle, clear out the noise and focus.

There were things I wanted to do last year that I never got to do, my experience last year proved that anything is possible, so this year I plan on soaring, trusting in myself – in God – and taking that next step to greatness.  We can all achieve it if we believe!

Have a great 2017!  (I won’t even promise to blog more because… well life gets in the way, and I’m busy on my grind and living my life!)

img_20170114_221225_948_resized

 

 

So I’ve never thought of myself as a social marketing anything, let alone a guru (but I like the sound of guru, might throw the term around a bit to see if it sticks 🙂 ), but the lovely lady from Diasporan Darlings decided that that was a deserving title for me in a new interview they did. I’ve posted the first few questions, but to read the full interview do go here

Ex-diasporan, Catherine Ndashe Phiri is part of an emerging group of creative Zambians who have returned home to change the Zambian creative industry. It’s often an industry that is undervalued and highly criticized in most African countries, yet it’s an industry that exudes hope; requires hard work and the ability to ignore scathing (warranted and unwarranted) critique.

For someone who was the former Vice President of MTV International’s Social Responsibility, Cathy’s decision to resign from MTV and return to Zambia to focus on the company she started with her siblings (Media 365 Zambia), was a little startling. She spoke to Diasporan Darlings about her reasons for leaving and whether she has had any regrets.

————————————————————

DD: You have a blog at http://www.cathyphiri.com which we have unashamedly read from beginning to end. It’s a very honest journal about your journey from London (quitting MTV) to arriving in Lusaka and the various issues you have had to deal with. What have been the benefits of having that blog?

CP: I love to write first and foremost. I started that blog when I was making the decision to leave MTV, not really sure what to do next. The blog was inspired by Paulo Coelho’s book, “The Alchemist”. You know how it is, you read a book at a particular phase in your life and it just makes sense, this is how I felt about The Alchemist, I was looking for my personal legend. Once I got back to Zambia, I carried on blogging as it was a good outlet for me to deal with the challenges of relocating to a country I hadn’t lived in for eight years.

I try not to look at the numbers, I don’t write for my ego, so it’s always great when someone comments on the blog, especially when I’ve posted some of my low points and get an encouraging word from someone. A blog is also great for your brand. I try not to go too personal, but use it as a platform to share insights from my experience here to inspire change and also provoke some issues from our industry.

DD: You attribute your move home to wanting more of a work-life balance (particularly wanting to spend more time with your family). How is it for you now to work, play and live with your family? What aspects would you change ?

CP: I absolutely love my work-life balance! I do love every minute of it, but being an entrepreneur is not easy. When I had a job, I didn’t really have much to worry about knowing I’d get paid at the end of the month. But as an entrepreneur, running your own business with staff, every day you have to think about how am I going to pay my staff, my overheads etc. If I could change anything I might have saved a lot more before my move to ensure I didn’t have any financial stress for at least a couple of years. But other than that, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Oh well maybe I would have bought a house here before I moved back, I love my parents, but being a 30-something year old who still has her parents give her outfit a disapproving glance can be irritating! Sometimes I wear outfits ridiculously short just to annoy them. But really I love my family and parents so just happy to be around them.

DD: We love the strength and honesty that comes from you through your blog and tweets. Especially when talking about being a businesswoman in Lusaka, in the creative industry. What challenges as an ex-diasporan do you deal with on a daily basis that you didn’t deal with as a corporate Exec in London?

—————————————

To find out what I said to this question – and for the rest of the article, go to Diasporan Darlings to read the full interview.

Once again, thanks for the support!

Demarco’s song I Love My Life is definitely my new theme song. And it’s fitting that I’m listening to it right now, on Zambia’s 47th Independence Day.

The last few months have been full of learnings, both good and bad, but on this day, I feel like I have a lot to appreciate, I’ve learnt a lot and I still have so much to look forward to.

Today, we had some family friends over to visit my dad, and I was so happy when I heard him tell them that he had accepted that he has cancer.

I think the cancer diagnosis was hard on all of us, but even though it’s still early days as he still does more and more tests to figure out the best treatment options for him, I’m happy that he isn’t letting him get down.

At his age (70 something), he has lost a good number of his friends and he says he is grateful to have lived as long as he has. Which is such a great and positive attitude to have, but I hope it doesn’t meant that he won’t fight his disease anyway. As annoying as he sometimes can be, I’m definitely grateful to spend these days with him, especially now as he opens up to his life during Kaunda days and before independence – he actually is enjoying having a captive audience these days. Though sometimes I worry about him giving his opinion willy nilly. Right now the country seems to be split – you’re either PF or you’re not. The point of an opposition hasn’t fully sunk in to everyone – but that’s a side bar.

I digress. My father’s illness has been one challenge. The other challenge has been running our business Media 365. I don’t think there is anything more rewarding than owning your own business, especially if it’s something you are passionate about (though can be equally rewarding to work for a company that is unlike anything else 😉 ). But it is no easy feat! It comes with all sorts of challenges and sometimes I feel like I’m out of my depth – my almost complete MBA did not prepare me for this! Just when you think you can’t swim any longer and it might be time to sink, something comes up that makes it all worth it.

I’m so excited about the new opportunities that have come our way and that in the next few months will really test us but will be the beginning of a very exciting path for us. The thing that stands out to me about our business is that we don’t just care about the money (though we do want to make it) but we truly love what we do. We have been blessed with the ability to follow our dreams, and now it’s just about putting in the hard work to make it reality. And boy is it hardwork!

I’m also learning to put myself first now, for real, I know I say it all the time, but I do think I’m getting there. Slowly but I’m definitely getting there. It’s about learning to prioritise your needs and getting people to work around that – no more guilt trips for me! The reality is that I’ve been able to work this hard and get to where I am in just over eight years, then why haven’t you? We all have the same opportunities – in different forms, but opportunities nonetheless – so what have you done with them? We’re all born with some talent or another, how have you used them to your advantage? Only you can determine how you shape your life, don’t think the world owes you anything, because it doesn’t. And frankly, neither do I. I just made the decision that other people’s problems are not my priorities, as adults you make the decisions in your life and you must live with the consequences of those decisions.

I’ve also learnt when it comes to family that perhaps not everyone’s priorities are the same, and I can’t blame people for doing their own thing, but I’m also not going to be the glue to hold it together. You either want to do it, or you don’t. That’s just how I see it. Anyone with a (large) family will know what I’m talking about, whether it’s emotional support, financial support, or just communicating with your family.

I’ve also learnt to let go and just relax, not always analysis everything or need a definitive plan for where my life and areas in my life are going. This is really working well with Mr Mature, 4 months strong and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a huge learning curve, but like he says, we’re both learning, so we take each day as it comes and just see where it leads. I can honestly say, I’ve never been in a relationship like this before and that’s a good thing. For now, I’m just going with the flow.

On this independence day I also vowed to myself that I will get my financial goals in check and really begin to work on them. Paying off my debt and building my house will be my biggest priorities. I’ve already got some plans in mind for my house – it’s not going to be my dream house just yet – maybe if I ever get married that will be my project with my man – but for now, it will be something that I can call my own – and that Mr Mature can spend the night at, because sneaking him into my parents house would not be cool! My worry is that the rainy season is coming soon, so I have to work fast – at least get the foundation done. So fingers crossed I get all my cash in hand in the next few weeks (hope springs eternal!).

Right now, I feel like I’m in a good place. I might not be in the best place financially but emotionally, I think I am. And sooner or later, the finances will come together too! For now, I’m enjoying the moment and living in the present – it is the gift of today!

Have a great week ahead and don’t feel bad to put yourself first. You do matter!

I’m one of those people who likes clothes on other people, but terrible at putting on a half-way decent outfit myself. Ok, not that bad, but enough for me to think, what am i wearing? (Half the time) So with my up-coming move to Zambia, I decided that my current wardrobe is not going to cut it.

This is partly because at MTV I can get away with wearing thigh high boots and a mini dress (not that I do wear that), whereas in Zambia, I have to be a little bit more conservative at work, especially with the clients I’ll be working with. I may have the shoes to make any outfit fly, but I still needed some key pieces.

Lucky for me, Manenga, a friend of mine is considering launching a career as a stylist – so I willing volunteered to be her guinea pig. She looks fly all the time, so was an easy decision for me. I think you need to sell yourself with yourself. I don’t want you to be my stylist if you look a hot mess, or be my hairdresser if your hair isn’t on point. Of course there was still the risk that just because she can put herself together, didn’t necessarily mean she could style me.

I was willing to take the chance anyway, especially when I realised the best part of it was that I didn’t have to do any shopping – you can, but as I hate shopping for anything other than shoes, I thought I’d rather pass. The style transformation began by talking through the look I wanted, colours I liked, all over a glass (or two) of bubbly, I gave her money and off she went shopping. Within a few days she brought me three outfits, none of which I would have bought myself, but every single one looked great on me.

I never thought I worried about getting older, but after looking at her pieces I realised I have been worried about getting older and that’s probably why I’ve still been rocking curve hugging outfits. But the outfits she brought me, still flattered my body and made me look classy, professional and trendy and cool at the same time.

I’m now excited about getting the remaining pieces from her, and rocking a whole new look, that really will take my image to a whole new level. Something that I’ll need as I move to the next chapter of my life. It’s like a mini re-invention of myself.

And yes, when her business is up and running, I’ll share her site so everyone can look fabulous!

My fasting and prayer worked well. I’m feeling truly blessed and even had some positive things come my way. I also feel better, probably helped to cleanse myself of all the junk that I put in me.

It had me thinking about my life – I spent a lot of time to talking to God – so led me to some self-reflection. Like holding up a mirror to myself. I felt like there was a disconnect.

People have one view of me and I have another one. They don’t really align. But the problem is that I’ve spent too much time believing or at least portraying the one others believe to be the true. And actually it’s exhausting living up to something you’re not.

For too long, I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror (not the superficial asthetics – nothing wrong there 🙂 ), but what I carried in me, or what people thought I was, yet I perpetuated it. I allowed people to judge the book by its cover. Not even letting them read the foreward.

So now that I’m a week away from my 3… birthday, Paulo Coelho‘s words can’t ring truer: ‘You may not know your path, but you must know what you don’t want in life’. I don’t want to pretend anymore. I want to be true to who I am. You may not like me, but you don’t have to. (How exactly is this my problem?)

Another thing I’m going to stop doing is explaining myself, I am who I am. We spend way too much time trying to please people, people that don’t really matter either. As we get older, we get more comfortable in our skins and less concerned with what others think.

This is another step in achieving my personal legend; re-inventing myself, or more appropriately giving everyone the real Cathy.

Yesterday I felt hurt. It’s not something that I often feel, or at least admit to feeling (must be a combination of hormones and lack of sleep). In the last seven, almost eight years, I’ve lived in London, I have felt prejudice and minor racial insults. You know the usual, ‘I didn’t recognize you because you’ve changed your hair’ kind of stuff – despite the fact that I am the only black girl in the team. I guess white people look the same when they change their hair, yet black people look completely different. Or is that just code for ‘all black people look the same’?

I’ve always brushed it off and not taken it too seriously, though I did make a mental note to ignore the person the next time if they insisted they hadn’t met me before. I was then accused of being aloof. Go figure right.

So anyway, yesterday, this woman who I’ve known for pretty much the entire almost 8 years I’ve been here, comes to the office bearing gifts for the whole team for a project we’d pulled off successful but guess who didn’t get a present? Yep, somehow I was forgotten. Not my team mates who only joined 18 months ago, but me. Ok, I suppose on top of being black, I am kind of aloof after all, so I guess you could be forgiven for not noticing me in the corner…

Still it hurt my feelings, it’s not nice not to be noticed. Little, brown girl in the corner.

I try not to let external validation affect me. My purpose in life is not to have other people tell me I’m great, I need to know and believe that myself. If we look for external validation we might never be happy. It also makes us forever unsure about our skills and accomplishments, leaving you feeling insecure and over critical or unappreciative of your successes.

But as I firmly believe, the universe provides your signs to show you your purpose and even validate your feelings, if you will. Recently I was feeling down. No matter how many wins I’d achieved, I didn’t feel it was enough, still felt not completely sure that I was good at what I was doing, or making any difference. Because I was looking for that external validation.

Then something happened. I opened up my facebook page for pretty much anyone to find me. I had a whole bunch of people I didn’t know requesting me as a friend, I thought most of them were requesting me because of my MTV affiliation. Imagine my surprise when a good number of them sent me a message saying how much they admired my sisters and I, how we really changed their life with Trendsetters.

My sister

I was honestly overwhelmed. We hadn’t published Trendsetters in a good three or four years, yet people still remembered it and regarded it highly. It was Zambia’s first publication for young people and unlike some of the stuff out there today, we weren’t trying to tear anyone down but uplift a generation of young people. We profiled positive young role models and provided inspiration to young people to encourage them to aspire for greatness and to protect themselves by not contracting HIV. The magazine was informative, yet educational.

I couldn’t believe after all these years and my many years at MTV, people still valued the work I did when I was 18!

This wasn’t the main decision that made me look deeper to find my personal legend, but it did help me stop and take stock.

I’d spent many years looking for this external validation, when it was in me all along. I knew I could be successful at anything I put my mind too. But I also knew that my family and helping people be better were the things I cared about the most. I could achieve part of this at MTV, but to do both, would require some changes. So, the first part of my journey was to make the conscious, yet painful decision, to leave MTV. Having handed in my resignation, makes the unknown both scary and exciting.

I’m happy to be on this journey though, as deep down, I know it’s time I put me first and find my way, with my family around me.

I’d like to say that I have been super busy on my route to discovering my personal legend, sadly that wouldn’t be true. I have been dreaming about my personal legend more than actually trying to walk the route to it. I guess this is what so many people do, why so few people truly find success, spending more time day dreaming than doing.

My personal life is run very differently from my professional life. But since I am somewhat successful in my professional life I have decided to apply some techniques that have made me successful. The most obvious one being planning. Ok, I’m not so great with planning, but I’m getting there. I figured now, more than ever I need a plan, at least a short term one.

To add to my organisation, or to take that first step in my planning, I signed up for the project management software tool, Huddle, managing your life is like managing a project after all. If you know what the goal is, you can figure out the steps to get there. SImple right?

If only. But I believe a step, any step, is better than none. So I’ve created a spreadsheet, I’ve done a document with comparisons and a checklist. It’s not all that I need, but it’s a start. And that’s the important thing to remember. There will be detours. The sofa will feel better than going out in the cold, the TV show will be more inviting than reading that book that will guide you. The detours aren’t going anywhere, we’ll have to try to resist them, but when we don’t, we can’t beat ourself up about it. At least you made a start. Of course the more detours you take, the longer it’ll take to reach your goal, your personal legend.

Tomorrow is a new day and a step in the direction of this personal legend of mine. I can’t wait.

Merry Christmas! Hope you got to spend time with your loved ones and appreciate the true meaning of christmas – giving thanks and for those of us who are somewhat religious, celebrating the birth of JC.
I’ve had time to take time out with my family here in cold London and really think about what is important to me. So I thought I’d give you a heads up that in 2011, this blog will be changing. Will reveal all in early 2011 – can’t promise it will be the 1st of January 🙂
Enjoy the rest of your holiday season and have a very prosperous New Year

With less than two months to go until World AIDS Day, the department has been focussing all our efforts on what is going to be one of our biggest collaborative effort between online and linear TV. It’s always great to have the entire team working towards one goal and getting everyone engaged and on message.

This year is going to be interesting as there’s a lot we haven’t done before, including the TV show, which has taken on a reality style look to it – so it’s going to be exciting.

But I can’t get into it, don’t want to give anything away just yet. Watch this space and I’ll keep you updated.

Oh and I’m no longer on twitter – seems twitter brings way more drama than I ever thought possible 🙂 Oh well, guess you’ll just have to keep up with what’s going on with me here!

I’ll try and not leave it too long for my next post – though I have recurring pharyngitis so have to get lots of rest. I’ll be back real soon though. Until next time – take care of you

Stuck at home, terrible cough (ok and I’m broke – since it’s started pouring down with rain, I’m definitely happy to be home). But this is a good thing because it’s been awhile since I just chilled – on my own. And I can catch up on my university reading – management by Boddy.

It’s been an interesting week, two of my friends have had great successes with their entrepreneurial skills; Octavia’s blog, the TwentyTenClub has been shortlisted in the Best Business blog for the 2010 Black Weblog Awards. And my other girl, Susan has had her independent production commissioned (can’t say more than that because it’s top secret), and this happened after she’s got back from a freelance gig in Nigeria with MTV base. (Slight digression: can’t believe MTV base is geo-blocked!). So good look for both of them and I’m very proud of their achievements.

Today, my former driving instructor came over to collect his last cheque. After being let go by his company for some silliness, he’s literally started his own company doing confidential courier services. He didn’t sit around wondering what to do, he just go on with it. So impressive.

I’m sitting here, thinking about reading my book and bearing in mind that I also have the Gates report to do (yikes!), and people are getting the best out of their lives. I just feel demotivated because I’ve been doing what I do well for so long, that I no longer know what I want to do with my life.

I’m obviously very passionate about what I do, a cause I believe strongly in, but is there not more to my life? How do we find the challenge in our lives?

Aaah then I also have my girlfriends giving me dating advice. Why do people put so much pressure on you to figure out what you’re doing? I’m quite content with where I am right now – or I’m too busy thinking about my career and my dissertation. I just don’t need the additional pressure to think about whether or not I’m in a relationship – is it really important?

So here I am, on a saturday afternoon, having that eternal debate with myself; what is the purpose of my life?

And also feeling sorry for myself every time I go onto twitter and see I still only have 25 followers – boohoo. Though I am enjoying it. I’d spent so long slagging off the people in the office for being on twitter – ‘isn’t it just for narcissistic people?’ – but I’m loving it. And following the right people, I’m actually learning a lot.

I think my tweets will get so much more interesting once we go into production. I could tweet about this year’s World AIDS Day programme because I’m actually quite excited, yet anxious about it. Done right, it’s going to be great.

Well I think I might take a nap, or maybe mediate for a bit – need to clear my mind – though if I meditate, I’m more likely to fall asleep!

Oh but before I forget, have to congratulate Media 365 for having Club Risky Business shortlisted for an AfriComNet Award for Strategic Communication in Health for Africa. Gutted that we nominated Shuga in the same category but weren’t shortlisted, I’m still very proud of my siblings. Please check out the newly launched site too: http://www.media365.co.zm