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An entrepreneur, according to Dictionary.com, is defined as “a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk.”  Forbes goes a step further to state that ‘entrepreneurs find a need – any need – and they fill it’.

An entrepreneur is said to be a money multiplier – they invest to gain rewards, but at the end of the day, they run businesses.  What is the point of a business if it’s not going to make a profit?  In that case it’s not a business, it’s a charity, or a non profit organisation or maybe even a non-governmental organisation.

The reason I’m banging on about this is because I’m not sure if the point of being an entrepreneur is really understood in Zambia.  Some of my clients think I should lower my prices or discount everything for them because they work in developmental work and so I’ll be aiding in national development if I do this work for free!  Erm, no, I’ll be aiding national development if I am successful enough to provide jobs for other citizens of this country and pay taxes (more than I pay now due to more revenue :)).

Or the other day I was told about a three day event from a foreign government to learn about how entrepreneurs can aid in sustainable development.  I was baffled.  I costed out the potential lose of business to the company – as in my line of work, everyone’s time is charged out – and the outcome of this venture was for the business to understand its role in sustainable development?  Not the potential to win a really large contract?  Not an opportunity to pitch a sale?  Not an opportunity to showcase our work (so that we can attract new clients)? Potentially an opportunity to network (which is never a bad idea, but can be done in one day).

 It got me thinking – is it that we have a different role as entrepreneurs in Zambia?  Is entrepreneurs seen as the new darlings of development, the NGOs and non-for profit have had their day so now it’s all about the cute, fuzzy entrepreneurs cropping up around Africa trying to make it on their own?  

 Ok perhaps I’m being a bit harsh, I’m sure the thinking behind these entrepreneur workshops are well intentioned, and maybe if the workshop was specific to my industry, or just a bit more clearer on its objectives as a whole I won’t think of it as so ‘insulting’ to my entrepreneurial spirit!  

 I guess it came at a time where I was just angry, angry at how difficult the path is for an entrepreneur with challenges that can’t solely be solved by workshops (though you can make great connections).  Unless the workshops are targeted at real business challenges that all SMEs face, about operational cash flow, about access to finance (and not the BS ones the bank tries to sell you), on management, on product development, processes and whatever else entrepreneurs get caught up on, it’s just time away from growing my business. 

 The entrepreneur in Zambia is not applauded, despite the fact that in our economic climate, it might be the only way to go, it’s certainly not easy to get a job!

 Though with some of the young people out there, who think it is easy to get a job, maybe this is why being an entrepreneur is not such a big deal.  I have had two young people work with us recently, who frustrated me no end – it’s amazing how kids today can say they want to be the best of the best and then not actually do the work or learning to make them the best of the best.  Anyway, there was a real disconnect, as if they were doing us a favour by working here!  In fact one who left recently was totally chuffed that they were going to work as a PA for a start up they know nothing about!  It was like being here was a holiday, and now they suddenly have a real job.  I shrugged my shoulders, thinking was I really than vacuous at 21?

 Don’t get me wrong, by no means do I believe that we’re the best of the best (yet), or the number one choice place to work (yet), or the super successful, trail blazing business (yet), but hey, I do know potential when I see it!  And I think for some businesses maybe those type of workshops are necessary and important for them, they’re just not for the type of business I want to be.

 Ok perhaps if they asked me to speak at the event I would have gone 🙂  Seriously though, I think when you set out to run your own business, you have to know what you’re in it for, and there are lots of reasons to run your own business that aren’t based on profits alone, but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself, if your business isn’t making a profit, and it can’t sustain your needs, then why have the business?

Entrepreneurship is not for everyone.  It’s hard, it’s long hours, it’s emotionally draining and there is so much failure involved.  But it’s also fun, rewarding, and life affirming!  I just wish that people in Zambia would regard it as a serious endeavor instead of some new craze.

 Oh dear, am I beginning to sound just a little bit too angry?!

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The Heroes and Unity Day holidays should have been a great way to relax – we just wrapped a seven week shoot for Love Games season 2, already fully packaged and edited the first six episodes, so it’s been intense.

But the long weekend became an opportunity for reflection. It started good, had a double baptism for my friend’s kids, as well as a panel on Lusaka Social Media Day. Both were great events. The baptism was great for family and friends to get together and just chill, no drama, no stress, and I got to cook for people who love my food (I only made salads and desserts, but still :)). Then I had to run across town (changed from 6 inch Calvin Klien heels, to even more comfy 6 inch H&M wedges!) to attend my panel at the Lusaka Social Media Day organized by C1rca 1964 and Bongo Hive. That was really exciting too. I got to talk about my social media experience, especially on how I use twitter as me, as my own brand, and my company, as that brand. I wish I’d been able to stay longer as it really looked like a great opportunity to share experiences and learn a lot. I know I’ve definitely learnt a lot on using twitter from my former colleagues Julia and Ben, so would have enjoyed learning more. I look forward to the next LskSMDay! Or more events from Bongo Hive and C1rca 1964. It did get me thinking about some of our own events that we’ll be doing soon – starting with our Love Games special screening for press in a week or so ahead of the TV premiere of season two.

Unfortunately on Monday – Heroes Day, while working on my fro, I got some sad news – Dominic Mulaisho had passed away in the early hours of the morning. Our families have had a long history together – four sets of siblings are all friends – with the youngest child Francesca, being one of my close friends, we even used to stay together in London. He was also a close close friend of my father, only the night before he’d called my father to check in on him, a call he made at least every two weeks, helping to keep my father in good spirits during his own illness.

Dominic Mulaisho is a great part of Zambia’s history, in both the political and the arts fields. He was the economic advisor to our first president Dr Kenneth Kaunda, and former Bank of Zambia governor. He also authored a few books, notably The Tongue of the Dumb, probably one of the first post colonial books to get international attention.

tongue of the dumb

So, as sad as it is that he has passed on, it also felt appropriate that he passed on Heroes Day, as he should be remembered as a hero.

Whenever someone in my life passes away, I am reminded that life is really short. We always think that we have time to do everything we want and we prioritize things that might not mean that much in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, I love my work, I love the grind, and I don’t regret any of my career choices. But sometimes I remember that I forget to stop and smell the flowers.

Even yesterday, I sat at home thinking that four years ago today, I buried my brother. Four years. It’s still a painful memory, yet, I was so wrapped up in my own issues that I completely forgot. It’s bad enough that I don’t remember the exact day he died (I was on the other side of the world, taking two days to get back for the funeral), that I only remember the day we buried him – I think it’s a mental block for me.

Time is something we can’t get back, and it’s something we really don’t have a lot of. How we use it defines what we is important to us. It’s not that you can’t do it all, or have it all, it’s just about ensuring that your soul is happy, so that when it’s all said and done you can say, I lived a life I enjoyed.
We’ve entered the second half of the year, and it’s time to reflect on what you want in life, to have a fulfilled life. What changes and decisions you need to make to include more positivity in your life and rid yourself of toxins. Don’t be afraid to be selfish and put yourself first. The reality is that if you don’t put yourself first, don’t expect others too. Being selfish doesn’t mean treating others badly or unfairly, but just ensuring that you are being good to yourself and your spirit first.

This week will be a tough week, hard for my dad, hard for my friends, but we have to be strong, remember those we’ve lost for the positive influence they’ve had on us, and use their legacy to shape our future – to live life to the fullest and impact and touch the lives of the people around us.

Have a good week and go out and make yourself happy!

I’m always excited when it comes to the new year, it’s a new opportunity to grow and renew and more importantly learn from the past. Like the dawn of a new day, we use the new year as a starting point for greater things to come.

This year however, I’ve not felt that renewed energy so much, probably because I’ve taken so much from 2012 into this new year. Not all by choice, some is work related. But it has made me think, if I don’t feel that sense of renewal, excitement and to some extent accomplishment then something is wrong, and it’s something I have to address, and hopefully rectify.

2012 was a hard year for me, mentally, physically, professionally and financially. In short 2012 kicked my ass. My focus over the last few days has been to figure out how to make 2013 work for me. One of the things I know I need to do this year is appreciate myself and the team more. Though clients don’t usually say thank you, good work, or anything else to show they value your work, I need to lay down my driving ambitious way to smell the roses – in this case the good work we produce (if you don’t toot your horn, who will?). And while I’d like to stop rolling my eyes when I see the comments from clients when they watch an offline, I know that will still try my patience. I understand their concerns but I wish sometimes people would trust the consultant – why hire us if you don’t think we can do it?

But I’m going to try not to let that raise my blood pressure this year. Instead I’m going to look at other avenues to do what I love, but I also have to be a bit more ruthless, I’m trying to run a business!

Some of the things that do motivate me are my friends. It’s definitely true what they say about surrounding yourself with people that inspire you, and lift you up. I feel so blessed to have met the women in my life who continue to inspire me and act as mentor and friend when needed.

Having those positive influences in your life are important as we battle through life trying to fulfill our purpose, our destiny even. When the stormy weather comes, as it invariably will, it’s good to have your anchors. I’ve learnt those anchors come in different forms, from family, to friends, to colleagues, to mentors, to that special person in your life. When they believe in you, you know you can achieve anything, and ride out that storm.

So while I haven’t come into the new year with the excitement of the promise for a new, successful year, I know that my storm will pass and that light and sunshine that comes after the rain is guaranteed.

So yeah, bring on 2013!

Last week we buried my uncle (for the purpose of our Zambian tradition where everyone is an uncle, I mean my mother’s brother). At the same time, my sister buried her husband’s sister. Yesterday, we found out a close family friend’s brother had died.

Death, they say, is a natural progression of life. But we like to think that death comes at the end, when you’ve lived your life, when you’ve enjoyed your life. Looking at the people I know who have died in the last week, that isn’t always the case.

When people die, we feel sad, we mourn their life, we ask God why He had to take them away, we try to accept that it was their time and we need to move on with our lives. We feel for those who have lost a life partner – a husband or a wife, those who have lost a child, a parent, a sibling, shake our head, say a prayer, and move on with our life. Unless it’s an immediate loved one, we easily move on with our lives, and hope for the best for those who have been left behind.

From my experience, those who have been left behind, focus on the death, sometimes unable to move on, hoping to find an answer as to why the person died. In my own life, I’ve lost (why do we say that, like they’ve been misplaced?) two brothers, now two uncles, a nephew, a best friend, and numerous aquaintance. My reaction to their deaths is based on my relationship with them. One brother, I felt like I lost a part of me, but I was also riddled with guilt – had I done enough for him while he was alive, sadly I always knew the answer was no. And even in his death, I’m failing to honor his memory properly – but that’s another blog.

Now, as I’m older, I look at death in a different way, a reminder to live life – every day. With my uncle’s passing, which was truly tragic, because it didn’t have to be, he died alone – none of us as his family there, all getting on with our lives, always thinking there was tomorrow to see him, tomorrow to check on him, tomorrow to pay him attention, tomorrow for anything he might need. Yet we all forgot the fundamental words – that the present, is a gift.

We do this all the time, take the present for granted. Always thinking about tomorrow. There are definitely times when you need to think about tomorrow, if it’s about finances, or education, or a career, but when it comes to relationships, tomorrow is definitely not something we should worry about. Relationships are very much in the present, and that’s all relationships you value be it a boyfriend or girlfriend, husband or wife, parent, or child, or sibling. Those you can’t get back tomorrow.

Even as I write this, I struggle questioning my own relationship, looking at the flaws and wondering if I can deal with them, as opposed to looking at the positives and recognising the fact that this might not be the ideal relationship I always dreamt of, but that it is the perfect relationship I’ve been in my whole life. Should I keep looking at tomorrow for the answer or enjoy the present I have in my life today?

We always question the meaning of life, asking what our purpose on life is, but we can go through all of life only to die without knowing our purpose. Perhaps our purpose is in death, to remind those who live to truly live life and know what we value in life before we die and are returned to the earth.

I was watching an edition of Extreme Make Over: Home Edition where this kid said that after being diagnosed with Leukemia and discovering his blood type was B+ he decided to make that his life motto. In my mind I thought he was talking about the average grade you can get, and didn’t really understand it – is it my over-achieving mind that led me to that? Of course he meant your attitude in life should be positive.

I’m always inspired by people who don’t seem to let anything affect them. They always see the glass as half full and nothing else. Truth be told I pretend those people irritate me, but I guess I kind of envy them. I don’t think I’m a negative person per se but I’m definitely not one of those eternally optimistic people either. Partly, I think it’s my disposition, I’m a problem solver and very driven, I don’t see challenges as an exciting hurdle to cross but yet another problem I need to solve. I guess I drain my own personal resource by doing this and frequently feel down.

My boyfriend is one of those people that never seems to let things get him down – he says that it is what it is so there’s no point getting down about it, it resolves itself always. And I can see why he’s right. Even in our relationship he says I need to focus on the positive and not think about the small negatives (which the positives far outweigh).

Running your own business it is hard to take the negatives (or challenges) and just roll with them, because there are a lot of them that can impact the success of your business. But at the same time, constantly worrying about them doesn’t help either. Every once in awhile you need to check out of whatever you’re doing and take a step back to look at the bigger picture – so that you can remember to stay positive!

Last week I did just that by going to Livingstone with some girlfriends. I didn’t take my laptop – which was a big deal for me – and I pretty much turned off my cell phone – even scarier than not having my laptop!

The next couple of days were spent exploring the mighty victoria falls – what an amazing natural beauty and so powerful. We jumped off a gorge, a 58km drop in 3 seconds – crazy, and then did a sunset cruise to observe the wildlife along the banks of the Zambezi river while enjoying a cold beverage. It was bliss. I may have been a little too social for my own good coming back exhausted but far less stressed than when I left.

Where you drop into the gorge!

Back in Lusaka and back in the office, it occurred to me how much the energy of the management team affects the rest of the team. My positive, more relaxed demeanor also allowed the team to be more relaxed and excited about the weeks ahead, and looking at our task list, it’s important to keep this attitude up as there are long days and hard weeks on the horizon.

My boyfriend and I got to a hurdle in our relationship, one that we (ok me) discussed for hours, but also kept me awake as I thought about what to do. In the end, I decided to trust him and myself and to not make the issue bigger than it was, I decided to be positive and have a little bit of faith. Was it the right decision? Only time will tell but at least I’m feeling happy and that’s what counts.

I’m still going to join the gym though – it requires a lot of energy and will power to have a positive attitude!

I have been quite surprised with myself lately. After I found out that the process to get my car from the UK to Lusaka had gone terrible wrong and was going to cost me at least £2000 over my initial budget, I didn’t have my usual tantrum and crying session. I simply shrugged my shoulders and parted with the cash I didn’t actually have.

When I saw all the work that a family friend had commissioned to someone else when my company could easily have done it, I shrugged my shoulders, ok maybe had a bitch fest about the errors of the finished product and then moved on.

When the man I’m going on dates with cancelled on me at the last minute with hardly an explanation or an apology, I shrugged my shoulders, headed home to a glass of wine and an episode of Law and Order SVU.

When my co-directors showed up to work three hours late, I shrugged and made a cup of tea.

None of it seemed worth getting my knickers in a twist, after all, as I told myself, ‘what can I do?’

At first I thought I had grown by taking this mature attitude of taking getting upset – trying not to sweat the little things – and was ok with that. But after about a week of this attitude I actually begin questioning it and realised that actually I was upset, I was just so upset that I didn’t even know how to be angry.

I remembered a therapist once said that depression was latent anger, or unresolved anger. I’m not saying that I’m depressed but I am saying that my anger is manifesting in different ways, for example, picking a fight on Facebook for no apparent reason, the snide remarks that are unnecessary, and of course my meltdown at Nandos! lol.

So while I’m trying to let go and not let all these things upset me – because really, on the grand scale of things, is it really that big a deal? – but it is hard, as I’m used to the tightly-wound lifestyle of London, as opposed to this whole, ‘let it go, it’s ok ba sister, it will be done tomorrow’ attitude in zambia.

The wine helps deal with it all, but as my mum has now decided that I have a drinking problem (because I have about 2 glasses a day), I’ll have to cut back on that to give her some peace! Guess it’s back to the gym then – not bad after my over-indulgence in food that tastes like food.

I realised that acknowledging that I’m angry is better than pretending that all is ok. I do want to have the attitude of not sweating the small stuff, but I also have to be true to myself and maybe get back in touch with who I am as a person and be ok with that. Or I could just need a break, working two high pressured jobs can be exhausting and easily make you feel like giving up the fight!

I think i need to do something that makes me happy – I’m going to take a gander on the Jimmy Choo site…

I remember as a child my mum would always tell me that my pretty dress or the expensive biscuits were for a special occasion. Even now I hear her telling her grandchildren the same thing, in fact even my sister tells her kids that certain outfits are for a special day!

By the time I was in my early 20s I still believed in special occasions, looking at my pretty dresses or fabulous shoes, eagerly awaiting that big day. By the time I was in my late 20s, I was thoroughly confused by what constituted a special day or occasion. Was it my best friend’s wedding? But then I had to wear her choice of bridesmaid dress and shoes), a date with the one who could possibly be the one? But how would I know on the first date, and wouldn’t that just be a waste of the outfit if he wasn’t ‘the one’? For a job interview? But then fabulous shoes might not send out the appropriate message? A night out with my inner circle after months of not seeing each other? But would that really necessitate my favourite and very expensive clutch, after all, they’ve just my bffs?

Determining a special occasion was a lot harder than I thought, and rather than ask my mum what she meant by this mythical occasion, I realised that this is something we do with life. We’ve always waiting for something. Waiting to do what we really want to do until it’s the right moment, or with the right person, or have the right outfit, or whatever. We put our lives on hold until we think the right time has come.

But when you have lost as many people as I have lost, you realise that the right time and that special occasion is now. Every day we wake up alive is a special occasion, and an opportunity to be fabulous and do what makes us happy. As Nicki Minaj/Drake said, everybody dies but not everybody lives.

So I’ve certainly stopped holding my breathe waiting for the right time, I’m exhaling right now and stepping out in the fabulous shoes – even if I’m only going round the corner to the shops, because life is too short to wait for that special occasion!

I was excited about coming back to work with my siblings, but who knew it would be so challenging! After spending the last eight years seeing my family maybe once a year for no more than a couple of weeks, I made the very conscious decision to move back to Zambia so I could spend more time with my family.

That decision also meant working with my family to develop our family businesses. As I’ve mentioned before I am from a family of over-achievers, they are extremely intelligent and talented in many different ways. You can see where my problems might be…

My other decision was to really start focusing on my future, done with paying rent, so saving to build a house means that I’m staying at my parents home – out in the farm. Seems most of my siblings had this plan too. If you hadn’t seen where I was going before, you must definitely do now.

In short, I work and live with my siblings. I see them day in and day out. Having spent eight years abroad, I don’t particularly have many friends, so pretty much my whole life revolves around my family. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder – which is probably why I wanted to move home. And now of course I tend to think more about familiarity breeding contempt. Ok maybe not that extreme. I still love my family. But I guess we need to figure out how to not spend so much time together. But in the meantime we need to learn to stop bickering.

Everyone who meets us or works with us thinks we’re a great team to work with, so we can be great as soon as we learn to enjoy working and living together. Or the other siblings move out of the farm, because I ain’t going now (though lack of dedicated space for my shoes is very tempting for me to move out…)

I’m always telling people that they should live life with no regrets. Life is about living and enjoying the moments in them. Yet, I seem continously haunted by my past. Maybe I’m too harsh on myself, and too unforgiving, because no one is perfect, we’ve all done stuff in our life that we’re not proud of or wish we hadn’t done. But the real problem comes when we let it consume who we are as a person today. Or if we don’t learn and repeat the same mistakes.

People always say that I have EI, because I’m reflective and empathetic. Kind of true I guess, and the empathy goes against the Type A personality other people say that I am (therefore I’m going to say that maybe I’m not Type A – oh well). But I read somewhere that to encourage our more emotional side – the healthy side that keeps us optimistic and positive – we need to change the way we think about situations. Rather than get down about an event or a situation, we should flip it to something more positive and that will change how we view and feel about the situation and keep us happy.

There is some truth in that. Think about it, when you have negative thoughts about a situation, it just makes the situation worse. But it is easier said than done. I also think this is why it’s so important to surround yourself with friends and family who uplift you. People you can trust to have your best interest at heart. So when you’re feeling like beating yourself up, there’s someone to remind you about the positive things in life, and your own best attributes. Call them your cheerleaders if you will. I think we all need them.

The last 10 odd days in Kenya and Ghana have been exhausting. But good. Africa is definitely an exciting place to be right now, so I’m no really excited about the prospect of returning.

I’ve met some really great people, inspiring people. We had conversations that got me thinking, provoked debate and made me think about things from a different angle. But the conversation that really stood out for me was the one I had with this older (clearly wiser) man in Ghana.

We were talking about what women, or specifically me, want in a man and in a relationship. And he was saying, the same thing I’ve heard before, don’t have to narrow a focus on men, but then he added, you have to know what you want out of a relationship.

And it got me thinking, us women are quick to identify what we want in a man, but not so quick to define what we want in a relationship. It’s interesting because that’s something my therapist once asked me, ‘why do you want to be married?’ and I couldn’t answer it.

I think too often in everything that we do, we don’t look at the big picture and focus on what or where we want to be at the end of it all. We get too bogged down in the details instead of taking the bird’s eye view. Our thoughts can also be influenced by media and society telling us what we should want or should be doing.

I spend a lot of time over-analysing things, but I think I need to start analysing the big plan and really spending quiet time reminding myself what is important to me, re-evaluating my values and really following through on what is important to me. To start looking at the forest instead of the wood. Maybe once I do this, I’ll even have better luck in my relationships.

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