Category Archives: Gender and Diversity

The “New Normal”

As the most sophisticated mammal living on planet Earth, humans need a strong sense of belonging to thrive. Social isolation for the past few months has taken a toll on the human psyche. Positive thoughts are known to have a profound effect on our behaviour and genes as long as they are in harmony with our subconscious programming. Similarly, negative thoughts have an equally powerful effect.

Humans are creatures of habit as our subconscious mind is fundamentally habitual.  The function of the mind is to create coherence between our beliefs and the reality we experience. In short, the compulsory confinement, that we have all experienced, have significantly altered our perception of life.  The “new normal” is not only about learning to live with the Covid 19 virus but mainly adjusting our beliefs to be able to pursue our journey towards our goals.

Jean Baptiste Lamarck, a scientist living in the eighteenth century, has promoted the theory that living beings acquire and pass on to the next generations, traits that are essential for their survival. For instance, mice have tails because they need them to survive. Their tails will disappear the day they no longer need them. The same goes for humans. We are, to a large extent, influenced by the environment that we live in. We unconsciously learn from observing and listening to other people unless we make the conscious effort of selectively choosing what we wish to learn.

The same principle applies when it comes to interacting with people who are different from us.  We are unfortunately not taught how to relate to people from other backgrounds and we are unable to have an open dialogue about our differences. We are so afraid to be misunderstood that we avoid the topic altogether and stifle any natural curiosity we feel towards one another. Navigating through cultural and gender differences requires more than positive intent.

All great relationships are built on the essential principles of trust and respect. But people build trust in different ways and conflicts arise when people expect others to behave the same way they do or they rely on stereotypes to understand each other. For instance, men tend to think that women get emotional when they are under pressure. The most common mistake that both men and women make is assuming that they will automatically understand each other because they share common interests or goals. Men and women are wired differently. Both have to educate each other and leverage their differences between genders to work together.

During the past few decades, we have witnessed the increasing participation of women in most economic sectors.  Women now have tremendous purchasing power and can provide different perspectives to leadership decisions. With the current socio economic conditions, businesses are in dire need of finding innovative options to reinvent themselves and continue to participate in the economic development of their countries. To build a profitable and sustainable business in this new global landscape, business leaders cannot afford to exclude the talent, resources, and perspectives that differ from the dominant environment.

Regulations ensuring equal pay and representation as well as protection against discrimination are necessary but not adequate to make space for those who don’t fit the “mainstream”. It is easy to get cynical about managing gender differences when you don’t see positive examples to emulate.  It does take a lot of courage and a strong sense of initiative to value differences. If we, as the human community, are unable to get the small things right, we shall not be making the most of our resources and fully realize the potential that we are capable of.

Diversity – A Hype Or A Reality?

We have all experienced changes in our identity over time as we become parents, uncles, aunties, grandparents or even great grand parents. Change becomes a constant factor as our professional standing develops and sometimes as we migrate to other countries. Change/mixture/diversity, as such, has always been part of our lives, probably taken for granted. It can sometimes bring confusion. For example, in cases where we are born in a culture different from that of our parents. Growing up in that foreign culture for most of your life, fully embracing it and speaking fluently the language and then being told by your parents that you are from a different culture….so confusing….. It is true that we live in our own representation of reality.

Forty years ago, one’s cultural identity was like that of a baobab, having its roots deeply and solely in one geographical space. Today, for many people, their personal identity is no longer set in stone. Sharing a common ethnic heritage with little or no shared cultural references or experiences such as Japanese and people of Japanese ancestry is a very flimsy foundation for long term, successful and fulfilling relationships. People in similar life situations would have much more in common than any differences in their gender, racial and linguistic backgrounds might initially suggest.

Cultural identities are now a dynamic part of people’s personal identities. They are in constant flux as people strategically select and combine features by which to differentiate themselves. Their continuous interactions with others and how they perceive these experiences would regularly change the boundaries of their cultural identities.

In the age of Facebook, Snapchat, WeChat, Instagram, people are constantly being exposed to multiple cultures. Diversity can no longer be overlooked! It is people’s ability to engage constructively with each other that will allow their own cultural identities to evolve and become a personal and professional asset. In some cases, people feel frustrated with ambiguity as they are unable to navigate in between two or more cultural worlds with whom they resonate strongly with. Trying to accommodate the requirements of each of those cultures would not allow someone to be your true authentic self.

Cultures are now inevitably dynamic. As a result, some people tend to view globalization as an unwanted intrusion. They are unable to protect their cultural heritage and what used to be their comfort zone feels like uncharted territory. Cultural shock sometimes leads to alienation as one feels “visible and out of place”. One’s inability to adapt is sometimes wrongly interpreted as a refusal to embrace change. It is useful to bear in mind that people tend to classify things in categories such as family, mother, student, British, and so on. Anything or anyone that can’t be categorised automatically brings confusion, stress, fears – all the negative feelings that can lead to disagreements, conflicts and sometimes, social exclusion.

As a matter of fact, every intercultural experience needs to be contextualized as it represents a snapshot which does not necessarily represent the whole picture. Interpreting this incident as a general rule of thumb would not allow anyone to fully benefit from any new experiences and therefore, to new knowledge. Personal growth is inhibited whenever “you need to run from a mountain lion”. You cannot protect yourself if you need to expend energy on growth. Protection requires you to shut down so as to avoid any intrusion. A sustained protection mode would not allow anyone to fully enjoy life. Only a fulfilling life can stimulate personal growth.

It has also been proven that stresses in our bodies, if not released, can damage the visceral organs from doing their work of digestion, absorption, excretion – fundamental to the good health of a human physical body.  Chronic stress can, in addition, interfere with your sense of good judgement and lead to reduced intelligence.

A critical incident has always the power to make a person stop and think. It raises questions with respect to one’s beliefs, values, attitude or behaviour. How one respond to it becomes a turning point for one’s personal development and growth.  Consider the people who walk across coals without getting burned. If they allow their fears to override their mind, they end up with burned feet. A person’s beliefs act like filters on a camera, changing how she/he sees the world. And one’s behaviour adapts to those beliefs.

Every person has, at least once or if not many times, come across people who have misperceived her/his identity. They have defined your identity as something that may have deeply conflicted with your self image. If those misperceptions are allowed to override one’s sense of self, realizing your potential is sabotaged.  When individuals raise their levels of optimism and deepen their social connection, they not only raise their level of happiness, but also dramatically improve every single business and educational outcome tested for. The opposite is also true.

Success becomes within reach when you leave the old wounds behind in the past and focus on building your vision of the future, with your “two feet solidly rooted in the present”. When you have one foot in a boat towards the future and another one anchored in a boat facing your past – moving beyond your wounds is impossible. Old grudges become the very weight that stops you from achieving your potential.

When crisis hits, ripping down your old identity and rebuilding it makes you become a model of change OR scrambling to defend your existing identity makes you a symbol of status quo. Which one are you aiming at?

Swapping Identities As You Journey Through Life.

Each person has multiple identities: as a sister/brother, daughter/son, colleague/boss, neighbour, alumni/teacher, friend. With globalization, the flow of people crossing borders is increasing and our interactions are not only an emotional experience. It is also about having new cultural experience shaping our view of the world. As a result, most people have “fluid” identities – moulded by life experiences, interactions with a variety of people, overseas travelling, job changes, amongst others. You also would tend to tweak your “personal brand” to fit your new personal and professional goals as you go into a new phase of your life.

Every industry or workplace or country has its own norms and values which must be understood and embraced if you hope to be considered as being “one of them”. It does not necessarily mean that you have to be a completely new person.  Remaining true to your core values and at the same time being open to new possibilities is a century old challenge to anyone who embraces change.

In integrating a new environment, you will probably choose those elements that enable you to “fit in” and that are, at the same time, aligned with your core “self”. Keeping your own sense of “balance” requires a constant management of uncomfortable emotions coming from a sense of confusion, being misunderstood, harbouring contradictory beliefs and a feeling of being “out of place”. In those times, it is important to have access to some kind of social support where you can voice out your anxieties and feel heard. This is also where your problem solving skills can help you to directly address the sources of your discomfort. Remaining open to suggestions made by people who have been in your shoes is another means to successfully achieve this transition.

As you constantly renegotiate your identity over time, your relationships tend to change as well. Most people would use their own personal experiences to make assumptions and behave accordingly. As a result, you will sometimes be perceived differently from your own self image. It is important to bear in mind that no matter how much efforts you put into setting things right, the outcome is largely to the discretion of the other person.

Using an approach characterized by dialogue can sometimes dissolve the misunderstandings. Dialogue is not about having a number of conversations. It is about being fully conscious of your own personal bias and having an understanding of what it is like to be in the other person’s shoes at the same time. It is creating the necessary space so that the parties involved can freely express themselves and be “seen” in their own personalities. Such engagement would become possible when the parties involved perceive that “the stakes are high”. Engaging into this “dance” to reach common ground requires personal commitment and a level of self confidence. Only then, the relationship can continue to flourish and evolve in a way that is both mutually beneficial to both parties.

There is always an element of risk when you go into a new career/country/workplace.  You can actually end up valuing more what you have lost. However, being curious about other people’s views and experiences can only broaden your vision and improve your interactive skills. Going out of your comfort zone is actually healthy because it is good to know what lies beyond and to test your own sense of self. No matter the age gap or difference in cultural background and/or in their career path, people, having experienced similar life situations, have much more in common. You will eventually make new friends and widen your network.

It is important to bear in mind that each encounter in your new environment is only a snapshot. People make up the very fabric of any environment and because people’s identities evolve,  making hasty conclusions can only validate your self doubts, strengthen your resistance to change and lead to self marginalization.

In the end, navigating through the twists and turns of your journey can only provide you with opportunities for personal growth and can help you develop a stronger sense of self.

Gender Diversity – No Hard And Fast Rules.

Gender Diversity has been a hot topic for decades and being a woman, I must admit that I have not given much thought to it until recently. Gender biases have existed for centuries when it comes to involving more women in the workplace, in politics, in leadership roles, etc. Over the past few decades, gender diversity has taken on a new meaning. LGBTQ community, an acronym for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer are now voicing out their concerns of being not properly integrated into our society.

The reason why I have not often considered the issues surrounding gender diversity is because I think there needs to be a profound change in societal norms – something that can only be dealt with by making important changes in the school curriculum and more importantly changes in how we raise our kids.

Issuing and endorsing gender diversity policies at work or enacting laws that promotes gender diversity is rarely going to be enough for attitudes to change at work and for society at large to transform itself so that everybody feels a sense of belonging. There is also the fact that each individual has her/his own life experiences influencing personal life choices. Individual A can feel that he is respectful towards others whist Individual B believes that A does not have the right attitude. In other words, getting the right balance is complex. Bearing in mind that our laws and national policies tend to lag behind societal changes, there will always be room for improvement.

I believe that any changes start with our own personal journey. Teaching the next generation at home to be respectful of others is my personal contribution to the gender diversity agenda. The formation of the beliefs and values of an adult starts early. It has been proven that “a child’s perception of the world is directly downloaded into the subconscious during the first six years of life. The fundamental behaviours, beliefs, attitudes we observe in our parents, teachers: people in our immediate surroundings becomes hardwired as synaptic pathways in our subconscious minds.”(c.f The Biology of Belief : Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles by Bruce H Lipton). The subconscious mind always operates in the “now” whilst the conscious mind can travel in time: past, present and future.

In other words, the subconscious mind is the one who is in control. Positive affirmation can influence our behaviour and genes but only when they are in harmony with our subconscious programming. To change someone’s attitudes, there needs to be a reprogramming of the unconscious. According to Bruce Lipton, thoughts consume energy as surely as does marathon running. Rewriting programs in the subconscious mind can be achieved through the help of a number of modalities known as “energy psychology”. Some well-known modalities are hypnotherapy and body centered therapies.

However, whenever there is an opportunity to bring my personal contribution to promoting gender diversity, I would not hesitate to do so. The thing is that no matter how many policies are endorsed, it all starts with us making a conscious effort to change our own mindset. Our social culture is dynamic with people continuously making their own contributions. If we want to give a gift to our daughters or sons for Christmas 2017, we may want to give them something that will encourage less gender biases. Giving a boy something that will raise his awareness that “nurture” is as important as “winning” can make a difference in how he views the world in the next 10 – 20 years. Allowing a girl to choose her own career gives her the self worth she needs to succeed later in life.

There are no hard and fast rules as to how we can ensure that no matter who we are, we all feel that we belong to this current world. Inclusion and belonging is important for better social cohesion as past research have proven that they are critical for a human being to function optimally in terms of health, adjustment and well being. Improved social cohesion also implies less costs to society in terms of health care and social welfare benefits.

How Does My Dual Cultural Heritage Influence Business Practices?

How Does My Dual Cultural Heritage Influence Business Practices?

There are a number of us living at the cross roads of 2 or 3 cultures. We may have parents of 2 different nationalities and have grown up in a third culture. The most typical example would be that the parents or grand parents migrated to another country and have brought with them their ancestral heritage. Their children or grandchildren grow up with a mixed cultural heritage. Growing up as adults sometimes brings up a few soul searching questions as to who we truly are.

When Eny Osung and I met, our discussions inevitably led to Africa, a passionate subject for both of us as the continent brings up memories that have largely influenced our lives. I have spent a number of years travelling to various parts of Africa for work and Eny was brought up in Nigeria.

I have invited Eny to share with us how his cultural heritage has shaped his life.

How Does My Dual Cultural Heritage Influence Business Practices?

The Oxford Dictionary defines cultures as ‘The ideas, customs, and social behaviour of Ia particular people or society’. Coggins goes further in stating that ‘Culture is the values, attitudes, and ways of doing things that a person brings with them from the particular place where they were brought up as a child. By definition, culturally, I am a confused nomad as I have been brought up in two distinctly different cultures, United Kingdom and Nigeria. Perhaps you may conclude by the end of this post that I am better categorised as ‘culturally schizophrenic’ in my outlook and behaviours.

If asked, I would instinctively answer that I am more a man of rational decision-making based on the situation rather than conforming to any particular pattern of beliefs and behaviours. However, writing this post has been a journey of self-discovery, moving from assumptions through the process of analysing and documenting my ideas, approaches and practices in my life today as the owner and managing director of Small Business eMarketing Ltd, a growing digital marketing consultancy that I founded two years ago. I want to know am I quintessentially British or Nigerian in my outlook and behaviours? Am I the product of one dominant cultural influence or perhaps a mixed hybrid version of common beliefs and approaches of the two?

Answers to these questions matter in the context of Investopedia‘s assertion that “Corporate culture refers to the beliefs and behaviours that determine how a company’s employees and management interact and handle outside business transactions.

So within the context of being a business owner, the big question is whether the corporate culture I have developed, the way I treat people and run my company, is determined by the British or Nigerian culture? As with any journey of self-discovery, it is impossible to know exactly where I will end up. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the conclusion is that I am more of a freak than I care to believe.

Let’s start with a brief background of my childhood and how I came to be a British child raised in Nigeria and then living and growing old as a British adult into my now middle age. I will then examine the parts of my life where the evidence of cultural influences is clearly evident before concluding with insight into the effect of my cultural experiences on my business approaches and practices.


That’s me in the middle with sister (front) and uncle (right)


My story begins at birth to a pair of academically successful parents (Dad a doctor and mum a professor in a multinational food manufacturer) who moved to the UK in the late 1960s. Their busy work schedule and burning ambition saw my sister and I taken to Nigeria at the age of two and one respectively, to live with our maternal grandparents.

Mum and Dad soon divorced. Mum re-married a British man and started a new family. Inexplicably, she promptly forgot about us two children that were in Nigeria, apparently because we were safe and happy with our Grandparents. We had the good life in Nigeria, living as the privileged first grandchildren to a world-renowned Doctor and village royalty – Granddad owned several hospitals with orphanages for children whose parents were not able to care for them and was also a village Chief with large expansive compounds to boot. We spent our childhood befriending and playing with the children in the orphanages and the servants’ children.

After years of our father begging annually to be given custody of his children to bring back to the UK  we eventually left village life in Nigeria aged 11 (me) and 12 (my sister)  to live in Tooting, South London. Granddad would go on to be Nigeria’s Secretary of State for Health soon after we left the country. To our dismay, coming back to the UK soon saw the three of us living in one room in a Bed & Breakfast Hotel in posh Wimbledon Village. Spending the remainder of our childhood in state care as ‘looked-after’ children cemented this period as the most traumatic we had experienced up to then. My sister and I survived children’s homes and then foster care, before both moving into our accommodation (bedsits) on our 16th birthdays. So ours was a childhood of neglect as babies, followed by living in luxury with a sense of superiority over less-privileged children in Nigeria, to teenage years in the UK living a similar existence to the orphaned children we grew up with in Nigeria. At least we were somewhat prepared for the lifestyle reversal!

A degree and Masters later I have since married a British wife with whom I have three dual heritage children, Crystal, Perry and Kobias.


I am certainly thankful that my sister and I came back to the UK when we did as I fear the outcome of staying in Nigeria for even one more year and the difficulty that would have presented in my efforts to re-integrate into British society.

Looking back, I always identified myself as British even when I was a child because I was born in Woolwich, East London and always dreamed of coming back to the UK. In my mind, Nigeria was always going to be a stop-gap in my upbringing. I can admit that in my youth, I used my Britishness to justify my privileged status and lifestyle in my mind. I have often described myself as more British than most other British people because of my good spoken and written English as well as my enjoyment of British foods, values and general way of life.

Cultural influences

Now 30 years on it feels like the right time to reflect with eyes wide-open. Am I am more British or Nigerian in my outlook, beliefs and business practices?

Without a doubt, my childhood in Nigeria plays a large part in many things I enjoy and who I am. However, as I intimated earlier, I would like to think that my life experiences both in the UK and Nigeria define me in equal measure for reasons that I will outline in the remainder of this post. Let’s look at the evidence

Personal life

On a personal level, my upbringing in both Benin City and London has affected these areas of my life:


The Benz

Any Nigerian worth their salt is judged on one fact only: owning a Mercedes – it doesn’t matter how old or the condition of one’s Merc as long as you drive the car with that star on the bonnet. To paint a picture, Granddad only ever drove or travelled in his Mercedes. Furthermore, one of my uncles, Vasco was a very wealthy man who owned every Mercedes model from the two-door to the jeep, all gold-coloured, obviously. Yes, he had them all parked in his heavily protected garages every evening.

I can safely say that I achieved this Nigerian goal in my late 30s when I bought my Mercedes E240 Avantgarde. Now my quest for driving heaven has been satisfied, although admittedly, I break out in a cold sweat at the thought of what my next car should be – I cannot contemplate driving any other vehicle to make until my dying days.



I grew up with nine uncles and aunts in Nigeria – four doctors, two accountants, one architect and two lawyers. So education was always going to be a priority for the family and I. Learning and getting qualifications was even more of priority given the fact that Nigeria does not have free education at any level, so Granddad had to pay our fees. Furthermore, schooling is Nigeria is essentially a process of learning to pass exams as failure resulted in physical punishment, disapproval of the fee-payer and subsequently staying a year behind your age cohort, which could go on indefinitely. There was a 16-year-old man with disabilities, Elise, the Head servant’s son, who failed the end of year exams so many times and repeated year after year until I caught up with him when I was ten years old, for example.

I have approached and been relatively successful academically in the UK because I brought ambition to succeed academically as well as the skills to pass exams, thankfully. I lived for test and exam days at high school and university, with a little inherent interest in attending classes or the learning process itself. I was even awarded a Professional Doctorate at 21 years of age!



While I enjoy tasty fish and chips, Sunday roast, bangers and mash as much as any other British person, I have to admit that I would climb mountains for good old jollof rice and meat stew! Give me a plateful of incredibly slimy okra soup and pounded yam and I will be your friend for life! In fact, I am a sucker for anything with chicken and gizzard stew and rice or yam with cow foot stew (See pictures).

My passion for spicy Nigerian food is so strong that I keep healthy relationships with some Nigerian people for no reasons other than the fact that they are willing to cook my favourite dishes every so often.



Distrust of government

You’d have to be living in a very deep cave not to have heard about the plague of corruption that is virulent in Nigeria. In fact, David Cameron was recently caught discussing this with the queen. My experience of living in Nigeria is that corruption has and continues to cripple the country. It is endemic at all levels of Nigerian society from the average member of the public right up to government levels. Put simply; you have to pay someone a back-hander to get anything done.

Consider an entrepreneur who wants to open a new petrol station in the oil-rich country, which sounds straightforward, but is nothing of the sort! He would first have to buy the land for the petrol station, which cannot happen until he pays a bribe to the local chief to stave off unwanted attention from the authorities and criminal gangs. A bribe also has to cover the local Police for them to guarantee the safety of the enterprise. The risk includes staff, facilities, products, deliveries and operation. The State Governor obviously has to be paid off to give permission to the business, as does the relevant Secretary of State. Depending on how far the materials have to travel, it is likely that other chiefs, state police and regional officials also want their cut too.

Indeed it is hardly surprising that few people start innovative businesses in Nigeria.

The putrid corruption machine in Nigeria led me to have a deep distrust of government and authority as a child. For better or worse, this distrust is now part of who I am today. The effect is that I can’t bring myself to vote for any government that I believe is not on the side of the average man on the street -not the squeezed middle class but staunchly socialist and firmly on the side of ‘benefit man, wife and children’, even if that bankrupts the country.



My youngest son can’t help but accept his is partly Nigerian as he has a Nigerian middle name that he happily recites to my delight when asked his name. I have done my best to drum being the Nigerian into my children, spectacularly unsuccessfully in the case of my older twenty-something offspring.

I have deliberately stayed off the over-controlling practices that many Nigerian parents typically exhibit behind closed doors. They include routinely physically chastising children, believing that children should be seen and not heard, and assuming that they know best what is right for their children. The over-zealous parenting does not stop there. Add the dreadful insistence that the children must go to fee-paying private schools in Britain and a ridiculous demand that religious belief must be part of children’s control mechanism and you get the picture of ‘healthy’ love for children in Nigerian culture!

You will see the most Nigerian part of my parenting  in two areas:


  1. Good manners

My kids also know that I am a fanatic for manners – that the quickest way to cause a meltdown in the home is to forget to be courteous to anyone older than them. However, a simple ‘hello’ ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’ virtually gives them a free pass to have a joyous day.


  1. Ambition and academic effort

Another essential part of my Nigerian identity that my children cannot ignore is my focus on academic effort. Again while I accept individual differences, they know that I will not accept anything less than them trying hard to do well in any academic task. Admittedly this has been a challenge for my two older children. Initially, I sought to make them adopt my values but quickly realised that doing so would require me to be everything I hated about the adults in my life when I was growing up – over-dominant and resorting to corporal punishment at the drop of a hat when they didn’t do things my way. However, it quickly became evident that taking a harsh stance with them was placing an enormous strain on our relationship so for better or worse, I chose to back off and used a light touch parenting technique instead.



One part of my Nigerian heritage that I have sought to leave behind is the irrational religious belief that appears to afflict Nigerians. As a child, I dressed up in my best clothes and went to church with the family every Sunday. I have to admit there was a sense of status turning up in our Mercedes and sitting in our allocated seats; such was my granddad’s influence and status in the community. I also admit that I regularly failed to put all of the money that grandad gave me into the collection bucket. Instead, I would sneak out to the shop to buy sweets/snacks.

My reasoning was simply that the church did not need the money given that the priest had his own Mercedes, a lovely big house and dressed far too smartly for a poor man. As I grew up, I began to see the church as a corrupt organisation that was part of the oppression of the people rather than a force for help and good. Materials I read about things like the slave trade and colonisation of the third world when I got back to England reinforced this belief. The incredible sight I witnessed when I went back to Nigeria as an adult in my early 20 further reinforced my doubts about the church. I saw the entire village trooping off to church several times a day with all of their worldly goods, including food, to give as offerings in exchange for Holy Communion.

The following poster beautifully captures my distrust of the church.

This distrust has fuelled my passionate belief in taking action to achieve anything in life or business. Never will anyone hear me pray to a divine being for anything, much less when things do not go as planned. My belief in taking action is one of the most important things I have actively encouraged in my children. We live by the mantra of self-sufficiency and taking personal responsibility for everything that happens; we never resort to praying or hope for divine intervention. I believe this has a massive impact on our outlook on life in that every day; we strive to be better and achieve more each day.


Impact of cultural heritage on business

Picking out discernible cultural-specific business practices is difficult. However, I will highlight three here that are important to me: Business with a conscience, customer service and management.

From as long as I can remember I have always had an entrepreneurial streak in me. My uncles and aunties reminded me that as a little boy, I started a business reselling sweats and food to other children with a huge markup, naturally. My struggle to understand why I am so determined to succeed as a business-owner in my current business was the hardest part of writing this post.

I eventually found the answer many months after I started writing in an article by Bisila Bokoko. It is that “African entrepreneurship is unique and laudable in the fact that at its core, profitability and gain are not bigger than the will to substantially improve living conditions of local communities… providing the impetus for economic growth and social equality.

Here’s how this entrepreneurial mindset plays out in my my digital marketing business.


Business with a conscience

Having spent most of my childhood playing with children in the orphanage in Nigeria, it was a stunner to find myself living on the other side as a child in care in the UK. I am enormously grateful to Social Services for actually raising me, regardless of the challenging experiences that go with the care system.  Both of these experiences have resulted in me having deep empathy with people, especially children, who are less fortunate. I turned my back on the typical Nigerian parent’s ambition for their child to be a doctor, accountant or lawyer, much to my father’s annoyance – determined to put right the wrongs of my childhood for children in care and disabled children. In fact, I spent 15 years (most of my adult life) managing Advocacy Services and doing business development roles for the charity until I set up my digital marketing consultancy.

My digital marketing company is motivated in large part by this empathy for those less empowered small businesses and start-ups who are handicapped my market forces in the digital marketplace. Put simply; most consumers are online these days, and if a business is not online, they are as good as finished. However, most local small business owners do not have the expertise to make the Internet work for them. Neither can they afford the exorbitant prices that many professional marketing agencies charge. As a consequence, local small business’ Do-It-Yourself (DIY) marketing typically leads to wasting ridiculous amount of time to stand still or worse still, lose money and sink. The alternative option is no more palatable because it involves spending a king’s ransom that they cannot afford with digital marketing agencies that do the bare minimum and more often than not, does not bring a Return on Investment.

You have to know Rachael’s story to understand what fuels my perspective.

Rachael’s story in brief

  • Child in care
  • Became her advocate at 13 years of age to secure funding for university course in contemporary dance
  • Advocated successfully on her behalf of financing for books, materials, course trips, accommodation on school holidays, etc.
  • Paid Rachael’s’ tuition fees for Masters course
  • Rachael starts company making handmade Union Jack brogues
  • Rachael can’t get buyers despite having a website, mentor and bank loans

The reality is Rachael is not the only entrepreneur with a brilliant idea and products for whom the Internet seems rigged against getting customers online, making a profit and growing their business. The plumber and electrician you know, and the local shop near your home, have the same problem as Rachael. The Digital economy is passing them by while the big businesses with large marketing budgets and teams dominate every sector – do a quick Google search for any area you like and you will see that only large companies appear in the top results!

I am driven to change the equation by providing professional results-driven digital marketing that will enable local small businesses to compete with the market leaders!  The challenge is finding the digital marketing formula that gets sales online consistently and replicating that cost-effectively to clients. My mission is to give 500 businesses the knowledge and services to reach their ideal customers online and get sales by 2020.

The following graphic illustrates the current situation of the company at the time of writing this post, two full years into my mission. 

This graphic is significant in highlighting the reality that the road to achieving our mission is a journey that involves continuous improvement and frequent changes of strategy based on applying the best knowledge and expertise that we have at any particular moment in time.


Customer Service

I am a staunch believer in exceeding customer’s needs and expectations. I exist to delight my clients and leave every one with better systems and processes to benefit in the digital marketplace. To that end, I am probably more American than either British or Nigerian in that sense as I feel both are lacking when it comes to delivering exceptional customer service as a norm.

My customer service ethos comes from some Harvard Business Review articles I came across in my early days in management consulting. We reflect this in our firm by the enormous sense of failure that we feel when a client leaves because we have not delivered to their expectations.

A forensic examination of what went wrong and ways to improve for the future typically follow these experiences. To be honest, it is usually one of many reasons that are not always down to our poor performance. The issues include not being clear about what we can deliver, and not explaining the complexity of achieving the client’s goals. On the other hand, the issue could be not being forceful in getting the client to do their side of the commitments to make marketing work, etc.

As you will see in the following section, we actively take steps to address the issues that arise in the business.



I have been to the proverbial entrepreneurial well and drank from it! I have lived the startup life in which every day was a challenge full of ups and downs, feast and famine, etc. To be honest, I quickly realised that trying to do everything myself was getting me nowhere except exhaustion and burnout. Something simply had to change!

That change came from talking to other business owners in the digital marketing sector and beyond. Perhaps business coaching has had the biggest influence on the way I run my business today. One of the first and best pieces of advice I got was to read books. Michael Gerber’s E-Myth was a massive eye-opener that gave me understanding of my journey up to that point and how to move forward.

I have since read many books and attended many coaching sessions that have emphasised being deliberate, structured and consistent in behaviours and actions being the foundations for growing a business. Implementing the strategies have involved getting rid of my lax approach to time that results in being late to every appointment which I blamed on African time.

Another essential part of managing my business is empowering my team by using participative management style. Other effective business practices I adhere to include documenting/testing/refining systems and adding more structure to everything I do by working to a set weekly diary, building a team, delegating tasks and working on my business.

I feel it is important to emphasise my dislike of paying tax –in fact any mention of the word or indeed HMRC brings me out in a terrible rash. That is not to say that I avoid paying the tax I have to pay. However, like most small business owners, I am happy to take advantage of any opportunity to delay and reduce my tax bill by any legal means necessary!



This post has been a therapeutic self-reflection in which I hope you agree have kept my promise not to be my judge and instead leave it to you to decide if my Nigerian or British upbringing primarily dictates my outlook and behaviours. Maybe you can see a mixture of both cultures or perhaps neither. I totally accept that I addressed this topic (cultural influences) based on personal and therefore anecdotal evidence. Doing so runs the risk of irking British and Nigerian people who may feel that my representation of the culture does not do justice to them. Rest assured, my aim is to inform, educate and entertain in equal measure.

Am I a cultural schizophrenic? It is over to you!



Eny Osung is Founder and Managing Director of Small Business eMarketing Ltd (, a Croydon-based digital marketing consultancy that provides email, social media, search optimisation, Pay-Per-Click, Video, and Mobile App marketing as well as coaching for small businesses to reach more people on the Internet.

He is passionate about helping business owners get essential services, knowledge and skills – which he satisfies through his marketing business, business networking group (South Croydon Omni Local Business network) and his podcast show: Eny’s Happy Hour that goes out on at 12 pm every Wednesday





Mixed Marriages/Interracial Relationships Are About Being With Each Other.

I would like to thank all those who participated in the survey. Your feedback is very useful and I am grateful that you have been willing to share something of your personal lives. A big THANK YOU!

50% of the respondents have been together with their partners or spouses for more than 15 years. One third of the respondents have been in a relationship for less than a year. There have been more women taking part in the survey than men.

Interracial marriages require a lot of personal commitment from each partner or spouse. Based on the responses received, some couples have overcome challenges to be together. They have had to face family dissent in some cases and have remained firm in regards to their personal engagement towards their partner/spouse. It shows that mixed marriages/relationships are more about breaking down the barriers of cultural ignorance and learning to be with someone, more for the person as he or she truly is.

Two thirds of the respondents chose “shared core values” as one of the foundations of their relationships. Common interests seems to be the second most important factor in building strong bonding between the two partners or spouse. “Love, adoration and respect” has been the basis of the strong bonding according to another respondent. In this case, mixed marriages/relationships do not seem to be any different from any other relationship that someone builds over time. Friendships, family bondings, business partnerships also require some of those ingredients for them to last over time.

Listening to each other and continuous communication have been chosen as the means to resolve conflicts between the partners/spouse. Over 80% chose to resolve their disagreements internally. Very few have chosen to use an external party to help them and in a few cases, time heals the rifts between the partners/spouse.

For those who have children, raising their children is about teaching them their shared core values. Some couples have chosen to give their children the freedom to choose their own religious faith. None of the respondents choose to educate their children in both religious faiths, indicating that religious education is not a priority. It is difficult to imply anything as I have not made any survey for marriages/relationships of the same race.  However, it is true that most parents educate their children those core values that they believe their children need to endorse.

The main advice that the respondents give, based on their own experiences, is to focus on building the bonding between the two partners/spouses. What others think is less important. It is also important to be aware that a mixed union comes with different challenges and be prepared for them. Being curious about each other’s cultural background helps to nurture mutual respect for each other.

My biggest take away from the various responses received – interracial marriages or relationships are about being with each other as they truly are… it is not about the partner’s social status or what he or she represents but more for the person as he/she is at the time of the relationship. Because of the additional complexity of the challenges, it is difficult to be in a relationship if the motivation is anything other than strong feelings of love and respect. I hope that the results of the mini survey is useful to the readers and gives you some useful insights as well.

Mixed Marriages/Partnerships/Relationships – the Reunion of Two Worlds

Mixed Marriages/Partnerships/Relationships – the Reunion of Two Worlds

Mixed marriages or interracial marriages have been the subject of a number of political and social debates. In United States, interracial marriage became legally possible in June 1967 when Richard and Mildred Loving won their legal battle. The Supreme Court ruled that laws prohibiting interracial marriage were unconstitutional. Alabama was the last state to repeal the law prohibiting interracial marriage in 2000.

In real life, mixed marriages have been the subject of much controversy because a lot of attention is focused on the cultural gap to be filled in between the two spouses or partners. The preservation of one’s cultural identity, religious faith becomes at the forefront for the families of each spouse. More practical issues such as what food to cook at home, how to raise the children are some of the challenges facing couples with different cultural and religious background.

As major capital cities such as London, New York becomes more culturally diverse, mixed marriages gradually become less of an exception. At the end of the day, any married couple is made up of two people sharing common interests and similar core values, coming from similar socio economic background and having similar hobbies. Bonding takes place easier when more attention is given to similarities than to differences.

As a cross cultural coach, I believe that mixed marriages have a lot to teach in terms of cultural intelligence, religious tolerance and social harmony. I am fascinated to learn more about what makes the key ingredient of a great interracial marriage. Is it truly the dynamics of two people in love with each other or is it the ability to flex one’s behaviour for the sake of the other or is it the creation of a unified identity rather than a melting pot of diversity?

I have prepared a small survey of 10 questions for those who are or have been in mixed marriages or relationships and who would like to share their feedback on an anonymous basis. The website link – please click here

The survey will be available over next week for those who want to participate. Please share it with your friends, colleagues and family members. The more people responding to the survey the greater the collective wisdom!!   The results of the survey will be shared shortly after in another blog to be posted in the week of 25th July 2016.

Cultural Etiquette – An Important Ingredient In A Multi-Cultural Environment.

In today’s world, there are more and more people looking to relocate for a better future. London is a good example of a diverse cultural workforce. You have people with Jamaican, Nigerian, Spanish, French cultural background working and living in London. Their kids will be of a hybrid cultural background. Over time, more and more of the younger generations will be of mixed cultures. London is not the only place where there is a melting pot of cultures. Some countries such as Singapore, Mauritius were populated by migrants from various parts of the world. People born and raised there, had to create a new cultural identity over time as they found themselves different from their culture of origin.

Social cohesion is sometimes not only a result of economic prosperity or the fact that most of us are all law abiding citizens. Cultural etiquette is also important when we live in a multi-cultural environment. There are boundaries to be respected and an awareness that our behaviour can offend without us knowing why. Learning about other cultures can sometimes be difficult because of the tendency to stereotype. Sometimes, people are not so willing to share their cultural heritage because of a lack of trust. So, here are a few tips to bear in mind

1. Time and Space
People’s relationship with time varies. Punctuality is not always upheld as some people are more focused on leaving the meeting on a good note. As long as they feel that they have not yet built the rapport they need, they may prolong the meeting. In their views, relationships are what matters most.

Personal space is not always easy to respect especially at peak times in public transport. When it comes to making friends or reaching out to people, it is useful to know that some people do not like any friendly pats on the back or being physically close. Hugging is also very uncomfortable unless you have known each other for a while. People may see that more as a violation of their personal space. Though they may not say anything, it may send the wrong message.

2. Clothing
We all have different tastes in clothes, some more obvious than others. Respecting people’s choices is important though their choices may seem alien to us. I was agreeably surprised when I went to New York for the first time. It was amazing to see such a diversity of clothing style. This would not be case in some other parts of the world where people tend to conform to certain implicit norms. No matter how people look different from each other, they all seek the same thing: happiness. They are all trying their very best to achieve their goals. This is what is most important to bear in mind when it comes to meeting people with a different dress code.

3. Language
We all speak English and yet we don’t always understand each other. Speaking English with an accent or using slang or professional jargon can make communication more difficult. Using simple language and speaking slower build better rapport with others. Getting used to different accents are also useful as what matters is the strength of the rapport that you build with the other person. Do not allow an accent or a wrong pronunciation mislead you.  That same person may become a great friend over time or it may be one of your best clients ever.

20 years ago, it was a novelty to find so many different languages spoken in one location. Today, we have a number of cities, across the world, where you can listen to French, German, Japanese, and many other languages being spoken all in the same place. Learning to be “politically correct” is essential if you want to raise your profile in a culturally diverse environment.

Finetuning Your Mindset To Be Successful In The Global Arena

The world has shrunk thanks to social media (Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest) and to the emergence of cloud computing. Today, your team members, located in various countries, can work on the same documents online and you can all converse via Skype, Webex. The work place can now be a virtual office. Your website is a showcase to the whole world as e commerce is becoming a way of life for busy people or for people looking to buy goods and services not available in their home country.

Your next client is not necessarily living in the same country as you. Speaking the same language does not imply that there will be no misunderstandings.

To reap the rewards of working in a multinational team or to capitalise on your online commercial presence is about adopting a mindset that improves your cultural intelligence. Your cultural sensitivity starts with a genuine respect for other cultures, no matter what their outward appearances, their accents or way of life are. Withholding judgement and having great active listening skills are necessary for the right connections to be made.  Many cultures favour an indirect style of communication where body language gives you important cues about what is truly being said.

The quality of relationships is also considered as an asset by many business communities across the world. It is not about how many people you know but how truly you know your business acquaintances. The strength of the rapport determines whether they will do business with you or not. Because English is spoken widely, people tend to assume that there is no need to know about the customs and traditions of their counterpart.  This is totally wrong. Getting to know their social values and customs helps to understand their viewpoints and helps you to create win win outcomes for all parties involved. It actually reduces the complexity of doing business outside your local borders.

Working in a multinational environment requires a high tolerance for ambiguity and an ability to maintain performance during periods of uncertainty. There will be times when you will be spending a huge amount of time in meeting and discussing and yet no outcome has been reached. Your ability to influence will be tested in these situations and losing your cool can be seen as disrespectful and immature. Diversifying your range of negotiation skills will allow you to be more versatile and makes it easier to achieve your goals.

Building your psychological fortitude helps to manage the unexpected. Going into uncharted territories rarely goes as planned. Being humble allows you to accept that mistakes are inevitable and are opportunities to acquire new knowledge and skills.

Finetuning your mindset is all about acquiring soft skills, reviewing your beliefs and making regular self assessment of where you are in your journey to position yourself in the global arena.  Using personal development tools such as The International Profiler helps as it is an objective benchmark and comes with the professional support of a cross cultural coach to whom you can be accountable.

In today’s world, the past is no longer a prediction of the present or the future. Your approach to building your business or career will need to evolve at the same pace as society is evolving and that includes the whole world.



Cross Cultural Intelligence – CQ

Psychometric testing has long been used to determine your strengths and weaknesses, your behavioural attitudes and based on the results, how well you fit with the job you are currently doing and more importantly, whether you are a good fit with the corporate culture of your employer. In the international arena, a number of aptitude tests exist to determine which areas you have focused upon and how strong are you in those areas. As there is always an opportunity cost to any choice you make, there will also be areas where you have not paid any attention to because they are not relevant to the jobs you were given or they are areas where you don’t feel particularly comfortable.

Over time, as your career develops, you will be asked to diversify your skillset depending on the type of responsibilities you have in your job. In the case where you are working in a team of multiple nationalities, or you are dealing with international clients, there are certain skills set that are critical if you want to pursue an international career. Some examples are Openness, Flexibility, Listenning Skills and Cultural Knowledge. These skills are also relevant in your local market. However, they become essential when you deal with people coming from different cultural background, behaving in ways that are “normal” to them but not so much to you.

The world is now becoming a small village with the possibility of interacting with people of different nationalities in the same country.  A number of people think that “I have travelled to a number of countries so I should be ok”. Travelling to countries as a tourist and working in those same countries is not the same thing. Speaking the same language does not necessarily guarantee that there won’t be any misunderstandings in your business dealings with third parties. Cross cultural intelligence is important if you want to be better prepared to manage the hurdles of working in a multinational team or working as an expat in a foreign country.

Cross cultural intelligence (CQ) is the natural evolution from Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ). CQ covers aspects that Emotional Intelligence does not take into account. Assessing where you are in terms of cross cultural intelligence is possible by going through one of the aptitude tests. There are a number of them available: Argonaut, The International Profiler (TIP) etc. I have been trained on using the TIP to help my clients make their own self-assessment. The TIP covers a variety of skills as well as emotional strength which is about the ability to cope with the unexpected and managing your personal stress.

These tools are best used with the help of a cross cultural coach to whom you can be accountable to in the event you want to work on strengthening existing skills to include them in your strength areas or you are looking to build new skills.