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Spotlight: Meet Tiwalola Ogunlesi

1. Tell us a bit about your background

I was born in Lagos, Nigeria and lived there until I was 14. A fun fact about me is that I am three quarters Nigerian and one quarter Scottish. My grandma was a Scottish woman and married a Nigerian man in the sixties and lived in Nigeria her whole life. She was very adventurous, free spirited and lived life on her own terms. If anyone wonders where I got my confidence and killing it energy from, I got it from her. It’s in the family DNA. I came to school in England and went to UCL and studied Spanish and Management.

2. You are passionate about helping women to be more confident and live the life they truly desire. What is the motivation behind this?

When I was younger, I did not fully love myself. I had a negative mindset and really low self-esteem. I didn’t think I was smart or talented enough. I thought this because I grew up in a creative family with my brother being a producer, my sister a designer and both parents in the creative industry. I would think to myself “what is Tiwa good at?”, I felt like I was the boring child. Navigating this in my teens and my early 20s, I began my self-love journey at 21 whilst studying abroad in Madrid. I started reading books and watching videos on youtube to reeducate myself and update my belief system.

Following graduation, I started working in an engineering company which I hated. I thought there had to be more than being stuck in a job I hate. I started volunteering with my local church in Oxford as a youth leader with 16/17-year-old girls. I once asked the group to write down what they wanted out of life on a piece of paper; the messages read “I wish I was more confident”, “I wished I loved myself more”, “I want to learn to unleash my inner Beyonce”….. this was heartbreaking and got me thinking about how many generations of teenage girls were struggling with confidence and self-love. If you look at the messaging directed to women from a young age regarding beauty and looks, the media has made it normal to always critique one’s self. This experience inspired me to record a video on Instagram to address the importance of self-love and believing in yourself. My first video got great feedback, and motivated me to say, “enough is enough” and I committed myself to helping women change this narrative.

3. Tell us about Confident and Killing it?

It started from my need to be confident in myself and share the knowledge I was learning on my journey. I saw the freedom that came with loving and believing in myself, being able to program myself to support instead of sabotage myself. So many young people are living on autopilot thinking their mind is their mind and their belief is their belief, but actually we all have the choice to do something about it. My main mission is to wake women up to their worth.

After my first Instagram video, I started posting videos monthly. I spoke to my mom about having a physical event with about 30 people and she encouraged me to dream big and aim for 50. Within two days of announcing the event, I had received 200 emails from young women. Before I knew it, I was doing events all over the world: London, Lagos, New York, Kigali to Johannesburg. My first event was called “Confident and Killing it: self-love 101”. After the event, everywhere I went people started calling me “Confident and Killing it”, so I decided to register the business and got the website and domain name — that’s how it was born.

4. You have recently also launched a podcast to amplify your message?

Funny enough this was birthed out of a frustration with Instagram, I would make five-minute videos on practical life tips and when I looked at the analytics, I’d see that the average view time was 1 minute. I thought to myself, how am I going to drop all these gems in a video and people were only watching for 1 minute. I then knew that one minute videos worked the best for my target audience but then I wanted to do so much more. I created the podcast because I realised that people enjoyed listening rather than watching a video. I thought to share all my Instagram videos through the podcast episodes and take my time to break things down. I looked at the analytics and people are listening to the full 20 minutes! The podcast is the same message, practical tools for confidence. I talk about challenges and losses but I also celebrate myself by talking about the wins and my dreams and ambitions. It’s not just about motivation, it is authentic and has vulnerability.

5. What top tips would you give to young women struggling with imposter syndrome and confidence?

  1. Confidence is a practice: It’s not something you’re born with. It’s like a fitness journey. If you go to the gym consistently, you get results, if you don’t, you don’t see anything. Confidence is the same. You need to ask yourself what you are proactively doing to work on your confidence. You need to be intentional about your personal journey. You have to be intentional with everything.

  2. Know your strengths: People are quick to identify their weaknesses but they hardly know what their strengths are. One of my favorite quotes is “She knew the power of her mind so she programmed it for success”, you have to program your mind to know what your strengths are so when the insecurity comes, you know what to say back to it. So many people let negative thoughts come into their minds and are comfortable with it, but you have to challenge them. Knowing your strengths will help in this battle.

  3. Challenge the negative thoughts: Use your strengths to challenge the fear and insecurity so you start programming your mind to empower rather than sabotage.

What is the connection between personal wellbeing and financial wellbeing for millennials?

I think a growth mindset is the foundation to financial wellbeing. Before you become “good” at money, you need to be at a good place mentally. A lot of the things that hold people back are the stories they tell themselves about money, people think they don’t deserve to be rich or that money is hard to get. If you believe these things, they become your reality. The first thing is to tell yourself empowering stories about money. My mom for example says to herself “money comes to me consistently in abundant quantities and it works for her. Everyone is worthy of wealth and it’s what you decide to do with wealth that’s important. Having a positive mindset helps you think better about money.

What is your attitude to savings and investing?

I must admit I wasn’t really good with savings, I thought I needed to make more money. I used to put a lot of money into a savings pot and then end up bringing all of it out cause I didn’t budget properly. Now I follow the 70, 20, 10 rule and allocate my money in this way. 70 percent towards necessities, 20 percent towards savings and 10 percent towards investments. I realised you have to start with what you have now. Being disciplined with my different pots of money has helped me a lot.

Who did you admire most growing up?

My mom and my grandma. I’ve watched my mom take her business from a small shop to a huge operation. I admire her work ethic, passion, commitment to family and the belief in herself. When she started off, so many people did not believe in her decision to sell children’s clothes. Seeing her dedication despite the critics inspired me when I was younger. She inspired my idea of being a “boss babe” and building an empire is something that has always been in my mind from a young age.

What are your interests outside of work?

I really love dancing, exercising, swimming and yoga. Physical wellbeing is something I enjoy to prioritise. I also love travelling, it’s one of my favorite things to do. I love being able to switch off and be immersed in a new culture.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I try not to think of ten-year plans and focus on being content in the moment. Obviously, I have big plans and I want to keep waking women up all over the world, but I haven’t articulated that down to the exact detail because if you do and it doesn’t happen, it would be disappointing. I plan on showing up every day and doing what I love and being open to whatever opportunities come my way. This year has taught us that planning can be pointless because you never know what’s coming.

For more inspiration and practical tips on building confidence follow Tiwa and Confident and killing it.


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