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Recently I was asked to share my experience of TEDxEuston, it wasn’t hard to do.  It was a great experience.  Nonetheless, here is my testimonial of #myTEDxEustonStory (think you can find other stories with that hashtag on FB and Twitter).

cathytedx

I share my experiences, my lessons learnt, from rising up the corporate ranks to trying to grow a business in Africa because I believe we all find lessons in everyone’s experiences. But when TEDxEuston asked me to speak on their stage, I was beyond ecstatic, if not a little afraid.

TEDxEuston is all about Africa. The Africa we wish the world would see. The Africa that isn’t about the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative, because we know that narrative is yet again a single narrative, but about the many facets of Africa, good and bad. But discussed among like-minded people who share a passion for the continent makes it more of a conversation than a single truth to be believed, no questions asked.

I was humbled. I didn’t know anyone was watching the work I was doing, the work we were doing here in little old Zambia. When you’re trying to be a game-changer, you get lost in the trenches working your butt off that you don’t know that other people have noticed your efforts.

I hope to do work that not only contributes to growing the creative industry in Zambia, but to help make us a better people to develop our country, to lift our people out of poverty. Ultimately, we are the ones who will drive our countries forward, not the government, as we have seen already.

Being able to not only speak to, but engage with, people who share a similar passion and desire for Africa was one of the best experiences of my life. I knew I was not wrong in my thinking, if other people felt the same, understood my truths, then I had to be on the right path.

Having that experience not only encourages you, but gives you the necessary motivation to keep striving to achieve your goals, sometimes pursuing something bigger than yourself is hard, and can be demotivating. The energy in that room, on that one day, is electrifying. It’s a room where different stories, different narratives, many untold, are being shared by us, for us.

Before speaking at TEDxEuston I was inspired by many TED talks (still am), I thought about how many exceptional people there are in the world (still do). I also never realized or thought, how difficult it is to step on that stage and share one thought and explain it in 18 minutes!

While I still feel that I didn’t quite get my point across, I still have people, years later, who have seen the video say it made sense to them and they shared my opinion. That still encourages me.  (The truth of the matter even in conversation I can’t stick to one thought – it evolves!  Sometimes I even forget what my point was…)

The fact that those ideas can happen on one stage and then be shared across the globe through online spaces, that is extremely powerful. It creates discussion, understanding and shared values and beliefs about the potential of Africa – an Africa that can truly rise. TEDxEuston does this in a way that hasn’t been done before – as far as I know. The focus on Africa only is the power of TEDxEuston. Who else has that singular focus and discipline? What else can be more special and important. Yes, that wasn’t a question.

My journey to my goals hasn’t ended, far from it, but speaking at TEDxEuston was a phenomenal step in cementing my future dreams and ambitions. And I met some great people that I still keep in touch with!

In fact the way the TEDxEuston was organized and the way the team connected with me, and mentored me through the process of getting ready to step on the stage, helped me when it came to me helping to organize a business conference here in Lusaka.

So the lessons from TEDxEuston were not just about sharing and connecting my vision with others, but were also so many lessons I learnt, from the other speakers (many of who I continue to follow their work online), to the organisation, to the people in the audience who I had the pleasure to speak to and learn about the great stuff they were doing too. TEDxEuston was so much more than just being a platform for the speakers, but the connections you make as an attendee too!

This is #myTEDxEustonstory.

Watch my TEDxEuston talk below:

 

 

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Life throws us lemons, we’ve all had that moment where the lemons came at a time you least expected it. Maybe there was more going on than you could handle. They say when life throws you lemons you should make lemonade (or margaritas as I prefer), but sometimes you can’t figure out how to make the lemonade… or quite frankly, you don’t want to.

Sometimes it’s easier to just wallow in the misery, but the reality is that it doesn’t really help. Sure it’s nice in the moment, you feel sorry for yourself, lie under the duvet watching bad day time TV and adding lemon concentrate to your vodka and tonic, or whatever your poison might be. But nothing good can come from this.

And then you look around you, who is there to support you when the lemons are coming at you? The people who surround you should be your cheerleaders and lift you up. If the people around you don’t have your best interest, they won’t be here for you now and you need to know it’s ok to cut them off. Ok maybe it’s not that simple. When I say cut them off, I mean just know what they’re there for – they don’t have your back, and they don’t need to. And that’s ok. You came into the world alone. It’s not nice to be alone, it’s lonely. It’s scary, and it’s kinda depressing. But it makes you have to trust yourself and rely on your self. Nothing makes you stronger than realising you have to go through the good and the bad by yourself. It’s obviously better when you have someone you can trust and share your fears with, but not everyone is blessed with that. And focusing on that can be just as upsetting as the lemons you’re already dealing with.

So back to the option of a duvet day. It’s not a great idea. But don’t be so hard on yourself. Take each day as it comes. Day one can be a duvet, wallow in my own misery day. Day two, you get up, get dressed, and show up. When we start looking at things differently we start seeing options. And that’s really what makes lemons into lemonades, seeing the options that you have.

Once you realise you have options, you realise it’s not that bad after all. In those dark hours, it really does seem hopeless and that there is no way out, but after the rain the sun does come out, you just have to weather it out.

I also find that at these times exercise and focusing on something completely different will help your mood.

(I do write these blogs based on my own experiences and what I go through, so that my experiences and the lessons I learn will help others, and I think voicing out what I feel, helps me reflective, learn, and move on).

I was thinking about hate and this pull him down syndrome we have in Zambia. When I refer to hate I generally mean the act of being jealous of someone’s talent or success.

Now that I’ve cleared that up let me get back to my thoughts on this. I understand hate. Today was a real eye opener for me, after I got so upset about someone who I’ve known for a really long time, tell me that our show Love Games isn’t having an impact because no one is talking about it or watching it. I was really hurt because I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the best product, but it’s definitely a lot better than what is currently on TV. Now that isn’t a reason for us to rest on our laurels, as I’ve said time and time again, we must always be doing better than our last work, so that’s why I appreciate the feedback good and bad. But sometimes the bad is just hater speech.

Our deepest fear

Anyway, back to my point. After I calmed down I thought about this some more and I thought abut the people I surround myself with and the people I’ve come up with. Imagine you all start out together. But a few years later, someone in your group – maybe more than one – is much more successful than you – maybe not financially, maybe through reputation, or education attainment, or happy family, whatever it might be that you find lacking in your own life. You can either be happy for their success or be bitter with hate.

Too often people choose bitter with hate. And when you explore the reasons it is because of something they are lacking in their own life. I’ve been there so I understand. I have these great friends, who are really successful in their lives, one recently was in Forbes Most Powerful African Women under 40 – I mean, what an achievement! Another started a new website that has made waves and headlines – another trendsetter to watch! And here I am in my lil corner in small Zambia. It would be easy for me to hate on their success – maybe they know a writer at Forbes, or she’s not that clever she ripped an idea or she slept with someone, or whatever other lame excuse haters find to bring someone down. But instead, these women inspire me. They inspire me to keep on doing what I do because we all have to start somewhere (and I have a few more years in me before I hit the big Four O).

But more importantly I’m proud of my achievements – they might not mean anything to anyone else, or deserve recognition from the public and the media – but I worked really hard, and still see the distance I still have to go to achieve the success that I want. And even more so I’m proud of these amazing friends of mine, who I surround myself with, who are doing incredible things in their lives, paving the way for other little brown girls to say, I can do it too! Why would I want to hate on that?

After having this thought on haters, I decided that I’m no longer going to give any thought or mind to them – I mean I rarely did but occasionally one managed to break into my thoughts – like today. The more we focus or even pay mind to them the more it perpetuates the cycle. If each one of us would focus on the positive, surely we could end this talk of haters – we’re just giving life to them. So that’s my conscious decision is to focus on the positive, surround myself with my supporters, and cheerleaders (they really help), and keep doing me. I hope you choose to do the same today, because it’s time to let our light shine.

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!