Act as if it is Impossible to Fail, Stand on the Shoulders of Giants and Lift as Your Rise!
I heard about the Top 100 Most Powerful Women award three years ago. That year, women like Julia Deans, Rhiannon Trail and Jodi Kovitz whom I consider absolute bosses were recognized. The following year, another incredible group of women in my network were recognized. In 2019, my mentor and sponsor, Natasha Walji, a past top 100 award winner, ensured that I applied for the award.
To say that seeing my own name on the list was a dream come true would be an understatement. I read the email from Sherri Stevens Owner and CEO of WXN|CBDC congratulating me on being named one of WXN Most Powerful Women, Top 100 in utter disbelief:
“ …We are honoured that you are a part of our influential community that now numbers over 1,100 remarkable women. You do not walk alone….
A few months later, my mom flew all the way from Nigeria to accompany me to the Top 100 Gala. The event was a much-needed reminder that dedication pays off.
My journey in Canada began 14 years ago when I moved by myself, to Baden Ontario, from Nigeria as a 17-year-old international student. I was completely unprepared for the fact that this very great country is also a very cold country. As I navigated my way through culture shock, I came up with a few mantras to guide me in my transition:
- To always show up with excellence and intention
- To dance through any situation, learn from my mistakes and stay grounded
- To be a blessing to others
My journey has been filled with many lessons and blessings. I joined the corporate world after completing my undergrad and then went on to successfully pursue my CPA designation. In December of 2016, I left a secure full-time job to become an entrepreneur and pursue my passion of connecting people with resources, tools and practical strategies to innovate, lead and show up as the best versions of themselves every day.
Launching my business, I was thrown into highly stressful situations like planning a conference for black youth that required thousands of dollars to execute while having only $20 in my personal bank account. I also experienced many wonderful highs, like closing the Toronto Stock exchange in the early days of my startup and standing in rooms with CEOs, Presidents of Countries and the former First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama.
These three principles have provided light to my path
- You must act as if it is impossible to fail – Ashanti Proverb
“I am invincible, unbreakable
They knock me down, I get up again
I am the champion”
The WXN Theme song by Carrie Underwood and Ludacris really rings true for me.
I learnt a long time ago that I can convince my mind to believe anything. The one person we spend the most time with is ourselves. The most important conversations we will ever have will be held in our minds. How often are we telling ourselves to play small so we can fit comfortably into the boxes that society has created for us?
Every time I am about to try something new that scares me, I remind myself about the wise Ashanti Proverb – “You must act as if it is impossible to fail” and then I #DOITAFRAID.
Saying these simple words to myself and convincing my brain that I can do anything has led to securing over 30 partnerships with major organizations including CIBC, speaking on international stages, getting featured in major publications and meeting incredible people whom I would only have admired from afar in the past.
There is a ripple effect of doing it afraid.
The next time you don’t feel motivated to do something because it scares you remind yourself – You must act as if it is impossible to fail
- “I come as one, I stand as ten thousand”- Maya Angelou
My journey has been guided by a village. This village is made up of people who were once complete strangers who have become my champions. My village includes over 100 people.
Women often ask me “How do I find a mentor or a sponsor?” My response is “You show up and offer value.”
Too many people are focused on what they can get from relationships. When you focus on what you can give you will be pleasantly surprised by the number of doors that will open for you.
Over the years, I have learnt that a good name is more valuable than money. A good name will get you into rooms that money cannot. Protect your good name, show up as a value provider and invest the time to cultivate your village.
- “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together” – African Proverb
Let your light shine and lift as you rise!
When I coach professional women on building their leadership and personal brands, I am surprised at the number of talented women including executives who are willing to downplay what they bring to the table to be seen as humble. Every time you downplay how awesome you are, you miss a chance to serve in a greater capacity, make a difference in someone’s life and inspire the generation coming after you who look like you.
Your journey is not just about you. Do not be afraid to let your light shine! You are a vessel through which others will build the inspiration to step out of their comfort zone.
“It is authentic
It is joyful
It is giving
It is not greedy,
It is helping others
It is giving your time, knowledge and skillset to other women and men to help them along their journey
It is brave and it is strong in the face of adversity
It empowers others to be their best…”
Sherri’s definition of power at the Top 100 Summit and Gala really struck a chord with me. The world is going through a series of changes. We need women who are bold enough to step into their greatness and fix some things around here because “a strong woman stands up for herself, but a powerful woman stands up for us all.”
This is your canvas. Here is your paintbrush. PAINT!
There will be good days and there will be hard days. I have learnt to be grateful every day.
My journey to greatness has just begun and I know yours has too.
So STEP INTO YOUR POWER and let the painting begin!
Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro, award winning speaker and strategy consultant, is a Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner in the Champions category for 2019. She has made describable difference to the advancement of women in the workplace.
2020 Top 100 Nominations are now open. Click here to learn more about Top 100 and nominate a powerful female or even yourself!
Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro CPA, CMA, is an award-winning speaker and strategy consultant.
2019 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winner
Chioma Ifeanyi-Okoro CPA, CMA (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an award-winning speaker and strategy consultant focused on delivering leadership, strategy and personal brand building workshops to executives, professionals, women entrepreneurs, large enterprises and professional associations across the world.
She is also the founder of My African Corner, a platform dedicated to advancing its community of 3000+ black professionals and entrepreneurs spread across Canada, United States and Europe through providing access to education, networks and resources in partnership with global brands.
She has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by WXN, one of 80 Women in Canadian Tech worth following by BetaKit, A Dial Mover by Move the Dial and TD Canada, a Leader in the Canadian Innovation Ecosystem by Elevate Tech Fest, been nominated for a Toronto Region Board of Trade Business Excellence Award for Young Professional of the Year, received the University of Toronto African Alumni Association African Scholars Social Innovation Award, and the Points International Ltd Points for Good award for outstanding commitment to community.
Her work has been featured in Globe and Mail, What’s Your Tech, GlobalLive Media, Now Magazine, PayPal Blog and more.
She currently sits on the CPA Emerging Leaders Advisory Board, Civic Action’s Future of Work Champions Council and was a founding executive of Black Professionals in Technology Network.
Twitter – @Chiomaio
Website – Chiomaio.com