Welcome to episode 8 of The Upgrading Women Newsletter 🔥
I’m your editor, Rebecca Leppard, a feminist and communications nerd who doesn’t understand why people in the West stop working in the summer.
(I also do not get calling Wednesday a hump day 😙)
Maybe it’s the tropical girl in me that doesn’t appreciate how precious the summer months are. BUT the alpha female in me is saying: girl, there’s no room for slacking here: you gotta get it by hook or by crook, rain or shine! ☀️
You know, it could also be one of the reasons why immigrant founders are statistically more successful. 💪🏾 We are hungry and grateful so we just keep grinding and hustling.
Either way, I love that you are still opening this newsletter.
Enjoy the episode, ladies 🎉
What happened last week: The first UK hijaber King’s Counsel launched a human rights non-profit 🧕🏾
Sultana Tafadar breaks barriers for breakfast! Last year, she became the first hijab-wearing criminal barrister to have the title KC (King’s Counsel). This summer, she and her 11-year-old daughter Safiya launched Girls’ Human Rights Hub. This is where girls can educate themselves about their rights to education to menstrual equity. Gosh, I wish I had this growing up!
News from around the world: A food issue is a women’s issue!
UNWomen said that food insecurity isn’t just about going hungry. For women and girls, it can lead to:
💔 Sexual exploitation, abuse and trafficking when searching for food
💔 Transactional sex for food or money to buy food
💔 Forced marriage and more
Two women, Nkanyiso Ngubane and Ntokozo Biyela, are solving food-system problems in South Africa. They founded Dukathole Farm at Albert Falls in KwaZulu-Natal. It’s an impactful and life-changing project that is bringing hope and nourishment to neighbouring communities. Using cutting-edge hydroponic tunnels, the pair are revolutionising the country’s agriculture sector, one cherry tomato at a time. Read the full story on AfricaBusiness.
Photo is used for illustration purposes/Canva
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A message from a communications nerd:
Your current customers are the best focus group!
I was talking to a fellow marketing veteran about how frustrating it was being a communicator before the Web 2 era. We never knew what worked and what didn’t, especially when you worked on luxury or high-ticket brands where you can’t “spray and pray” a promo code to measure effectiveness.
So here’s a tip for you who have even a handful of customers or beta testers: host a focus group or a one-on-one interview and just ask them about their own buyer’s journey. Here are some of the questions to ask:
🧜🏻♀️ Before you'd ever even heard of us, what were you using?
🧜🏻♀️ Were you using anything else or were you doing nothing?
🧜🏻♀️ What happened that made you realise that whatever you were using wasn't working anymore?
🧜🏻♀️ Was this service/product a new need?
🧜🏻♀️ How, then, did you search for it?
🧜🏻♀️ What keyword did you use on a search engine?
🧜🏻♀️ And did you use Google or a social media platform for your search?
🧜🏻♀️ Which review sites did you use before deciding, or did you ask people who used our product/service before?
🧜🏻♀️ What is the deal breaker from others, or what’s so special about us that led you to choose us?
I promise you that these conversations will be the most valuable insights for your marketing strategy. BTW if you want help in executing it, feel free to book a call with me.
Featured Female Founder
Diana Nyamekye Wilson, 26, is an activist and a global speaker who has recently been honoured by the Princess of Dubai as the CEO of The Most Impactful Initiative Worldwide. Nyamekye is the product of a diligent single mother, prayers and a constructive community in Newark, New Jersey. She is the founder and CEO of Black Sisters in STEM: a talent marketplace of Black women for live projects, mentorship, and learning communities. She built this after breaking free from the “golden handcuffs” of working for Google. I gained so much insight after interviewing her!
That’s what SHE said:
Rebecca: There’s a lot of sisters out there that need to understand that you don't have to stick it out for the sake of, “Oh, I already got the scholarship or all it's already been paid. If I don't finish what I started, I'm going to embarrass my family and so on and so forth.” So you told me that you were depressed at that time, but what was the breakthrough in your mindset?
Nyamekye: Yeah, my breakthrough was actually in my, I believe it was my third or fourth year. Yes. I went on a study abroad to Ghana and Morocco. And I am actually Ghanaian, so I'm Ghanaian-American. But I hadn't been back in a while. I hadn't been back since my childhood, and I really didn't have an understanding of what Ghana looked like. I had no understanding, no context. I didn't have any clear memories of Ghana because I was so young when I went there.
So going back to Ghana was really a coming-of-age moment for me because I had a beautiful kind of utopian view of how Ghana would be. And I was very, very, very surprised when I got there. And in that, you know, the newness of my understanding of my homeland and my country, I was going through a lot of different emotions, but the climax of all of those emotions was when we went to visit the Cape Coast Castle. The Cape Coast Castle, as you may know, is the largest slave castle in all of Africa, I believe, but definitely West Africa.
And it was there, after going through the door of no return, that we were able to go up to the balcony area. Our tour guide, being such a great storyteller, asked us to all look towards the sea. And so we did. And he said, "Look how beautiful it is on this beautiful day, but now take the time to imagine ships coming. Ships coming not only to take away people but to take away legacies, to take away innovations, to take away dreams."
And as a very visual person, it was as if the sky went black to me and I saw the ships coming in. I really took that moment seriously. And all I heard in my spirit is a proverb that my mum always shared with us, which is, "What is lost to the sea, the waves will return."
And I knew then and there that my life must be a wave. And I was created with the purpose to bring back something to Africa, to Ghana, to black women across the diaspora that was lost. And that is innovation. That is legacy. Those are dreams. And to do it in a way that connects the diaspora, in a way that the diaspora was actually broken and disconnected and disjointed. So that was really my breakthrough moment of knowing that this is my purpose. When it's your purpose, it's not something that you would just live for, but it's something that you would also be willing to die for.
And I think that once you have a passion for something and understand what you would actually be willing to die for on this earth, then you understand where to prioritise your time and where to prioritise your talent.
And so, though I was going to Google and I was at Google for three years, I always knew Google wasn't my final destination because it wasn't my purpose and it wasn't my vision. It was someone else's. Thank God for the opportunity to serve and learn at Google. But I always knew that that wasn't the end story for me.
🤓 More on Upgrading Women or the Career Sisterhood podcast.
LinkedIn content creation overwhelms you?
I have been to networking events and found so many women doing cool sh*t in finance, law and business. Yet they fail to consistently publish their fabulosity online.
❤️🩹 They scroll more than they post
❤️🩹 They have perfectionism paralysis
❤️🩹 They are crippled by the thought of an algorithm
It’s always been my dream to create a global digital co-working space. So when our Head of Growth, Emily, started talking about building a club, I said let’s do it.
Girl Brand is a content club under construction. The plan is we can all learn and hype each other up. You’ll also get access to:
💜 Tool tutorials
💜 Daily post inspo
💜 Best-practice insights from our agency
💜 Regular live, global co-working sessions (remote working can be lonely!)
📣 Founding Members pay once for a lifetime subscription, while club members pay monthly fees. So best join the waitlist for a Founding Membership today, ladies!
What to enjoy next week!
📕 Fair Play by Eve Rodsky
I read this when, for the first time ever, I lived without hired help. The feeling of shouldering the household management despite having a very hands-on husband still crippled me. I recommend every coupled-up person to read and use the accompanying cards and worksheets together. It will solve cohabitation problems faster than therapy!
🎙Hidden Brain with Shankar Vedantam
This is the most enjoyable of the nerdiest podcast ever. Originally it was published by NPR, so you can imagine the depths of insight it will give you into human behaviour. I love listening to it because it gives me so many ways to understand the market or at least your in-laws. 😬
📺 I Care a Lot by J Blakeson
I have a crush on Rosamund Pike and this film delivered! It’s hard to tell you why this movie is brilliant without spoiling the twist. But it reminded me that money can really bend your morals.
That’s it. Thanks for reading.
Did you know that forwarding this newsletter to someone in your network to subscribe will add to your good Karma abundantly? 🤍
See you next Thursday. LOL!