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Tinu Abayomi-Paul: business leader showcase

By getting to know how business leaders tick, we may groom our own leadership paths. Today, we chat with Tinu Abayomi-Paul who has owned a successful web visibility company for over 14 years.

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Tinu Abayomi-Paul

Tinu Abayomi-Paul

Business leader showcase

This East Coast gal is stuck on West Coast time, and once dreamed of being called the Honorable Abayomi-Paul. Tinu Abayomi-Paul is the Owner of Leveraged Promotions, established in 1998, and today spends time telling AG readers what her days look like, what keeps her up at night, and things that only people very close to her would know.

We often revere leaders, but often for their current work, without knowing where they came from, but by knowing what makes people tick, we can not only better connect with one another, but we stand to gain by being able to identify with traits shared with various leaders as a means of inspiring our own leadership paths.

Below is an unedited interview with Abayomi-Paul, in her own words:

Tell us about yourself and your work.

There arel all kinds of fancy words and phrases used to describe what I do but it boils down to this: I help businesses get more customers via the web, which includes mobile.

I’ve been doing this since 1998, at first working just with friends’ sites or organizations that weren’t pursuing a profit. At one point I owned the third most popular poetry site in the world, after poetry.com and Def Poetry Jam. It was called Fireseek, then later Urban Poetic. We had a partnership with About.com which included advertising. At the time I had a full time job, and that advertising got me the equivalent of an extra paycheck after I shared it with my partner.

Due to some health concerns and losing my job, I started thinking about how great it would be to help other people do what I did with the poetry site. At first it started out as helping other people get an extra paycheck a month. Then in 2004, I made more in one day than I did in a month at my temp job. The place I was working for went back on a promise to give me time off for my sister’s wedding. I quit and never looked back. I taught myself everything I could about promoting a business via the web – while promoting my business via the web. I tested things, then sold the knowledge or did the same for other companies.

Walk us through a typical day in your life.

My days living in Las Vegas, where I started my business, have spoiled me – my body won’t switch back from West coast time no matter what I do. I typically get up around 9 am East coast time unless I have something pressing to do. I start the day with research – what has happened with Google, social media, marketing, or PR since I went to bed? Have my colleagues written anything that would inspire me to debate or creation?

Then I share what I’ve discovered, do some commenting. Then I write. Articles, blog posts, work on books I’m writing, ghostwriting sometimes. About once a week I incorporate the creation of audio and video content – new habit I’m forming. By this time it’s midday.

At this point I check in with all my teams to make sure all the client projects are going well. Then I double-check my email, text, social media and phone messages to make sure I haven’t missed any fires that need to be put out.

After lunch is when I have the majority of my meetings. I find myself mentally sharper as the day goes on, even though I tend to get physically tired faster if I don’t pace myself.

I try to wrap it up by 6 pm, but I fail about 40% of the time, so my day often ends around 8, much as it pains me to admit.

What did you do before your current career?

I was in IT, mostly Help Desk. My last long-term job was with the MGM Mirage. They have this cool command center wall – you know how in the movies, NASA has this wall full of screens with lots of different information? It was like that. Before I moved to Vegas, I worked on the Help Desk at the IMF. I was working the swing shift with the Mission Travelers. People would go to remote areas where sometimes there was only dial-up access, so we couldn’t connect to a person’s computer like we could if they were in the building. Nor could we have come drop off their computers. So we would have to visualize the problem and give them oral instructions for how to fix things.

It was ideal for me because I have a kind of photographic memory. It’s not like on TV – it’s more like if I’ve seen something recently and enough times, I can remember something I’ve seen like I’m still looking at it. Like I can be in the supermarket, and look at the last time I saw the refrigerator to know if we have something.

What is something unique that you do to balance work and life?

I meditate and read affirmations. It reduces stress and helps me focus. I used to do it daily, and that what when I was most successful with the least effort. Working my way back to that.

What keeps you up at night?

I don’t have payroll, because I hire other companies instead of other people. It’s cleaner until I need permanent people. But making sure I have enough work to keep working with the same teams keeps me up at night. I am also almost at the point where I need a permanent assistant. So I worry about finding room for that in the budget on a consistent basis, someone trainable but who already has the basic skills I need. I was burned once by someone who was a sharp self-starter, but turned out to be untrustworthy.

If you could spend one day in the life of another industry leader, who would it be?

Toni Morrison. She was an editor for a long time, then started writing at 45. She later won a Pulitzer Price and a Nobel Peace Price. At heart, I’m a writer, I think what we read fuels who we are. So I’d love to see how her mind works from the inside.

What tools can you not live without?

I’d throw my phone in a lake if I could. I hate texting, and I want my phone to do less, not more. answer calls consistently and stfu. But my work and my life need to be mobile. Not to mention the fact that I’m addicted to mobile apps.

So I’d have to say my iPad. A very close second would be Jungle Disk – a product by Rackspace that, in conjunction with Amazon s3, gives my company network drives. I also adore LastPass. I kill PC laptops in six months on average, so instead of constantly losing everything, I just save it all to the cloud. I back stuff up to a brick too but with a network drive you don’t have to go through the restore process.

If you could start your current career over, what would you do differently?

I would have skipped directly to owning a company that builds useful or fun software, and focused on creating content for the people who liked the software my company built. I thought I had to be able to code and all that. And I had a serious problem, which I’m currently still getting over, with thinking I had to do everything 1- myself and 2- perfectly. Now i know it’s more important to be timely, and that I can correct as I go. The grammar police and the haters will find something wrong with what you’re doing no matter what.

I’d be making mobile apps and web apps for business now. I still will but it would have been nice to have been doing this from the beginning.

At age 15, what did you want to be when you grew up?

As my mother constantly reminds me, I wanted to get a PhD like my father, and also be a judge. I fantasized about being called the Honorable Dr. Abayomi-Paul. I will likely still get a doctorate, but I eventually realized that my dream was to go to law school, not to be a lawyer. And I decided I’d wait until I could afford to go without getting deeper into school loan debt, and if I still wanted to do it, I would.

Tell us something about you that people wouldn’t believe unless they knew you.

I’m much quieter in person than my long, rambly writing would have you believe. MUCH.

What inspirational quote has stuck with you the longest?

I’m paraphrasing what I was told is Emerson, but I can’t remember what essay this quote is in, nor have I had much luck Googling it.

“Your attitude towards a given situation is more important than the facts that actually prevail.”

I’ve found that to be universally true. Most of think our thoughts and emotions are just electrical impulses that happen to us, that we’re enslaved to them. In life I’ve learned that your thoughts are a choice that you can make conscious, and that we can control a great deal of our emotions. Some of my early close friends think it odd the way I often deal with conflict, because they grew up with me being confrontational, even when the situation didn’t necessarily call for it.

But around college, I began to realize that if my TRUE goal is to resolve a conflict, and not just to win an argument or stress myself, then what’s the point of arguing over stupid things? It’s not like your anger can Do anything. It’s not like worry makes things better. It’s not as if your tears have curative powers. I’m not dead inside or anything – I still have so-called negative emotions. But now, instead of something bothering me for weeks or months, I have learned to shift my focus so it only affects me for minutes or hours.

Most incredibly, it’s what frees up my energy for achieving what I want to in life. Drop as much of your baggage as you can – no one helps you carry it.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius and has been named in the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders several times, co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Tinu

    June 28, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    @shashib Thanks Shashi. 🙂

  2. AmyVernon

    June 28, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    I haven’t known Tinu that long, so it was really great to learn more about her background. That said, I’m not the slightest bit surprised at all the awesomeness she’s done. I’m so glad you profiled her – she’s someone who really gets “it,” whatever “it” that may be at the time. She’s also the hardest working woman in show business, someone I truly look up to and admire.

    • Tinu

      June 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

       @AmyVernon Thank you so much Amy. I’ve been in meetings for the past few hours but I tell you, I’ve been on a (natural!) high all day at being featured in AG Beat. Really, since I was asked. It’s so humbling, and such an honor. Looking forward to getting to know you better, FW. 😉

  3. Tinu

    June 28, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    @kamichat Thank you, Kami and of course @AGBeat. Wonderful day because of this.

    • AGBeat

      June 28, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      @Tinu @kamichat #lovingit

  4. Tinu

    June 28, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    @AnneWeiskopf Thanks Anne. 🙂 Miss you.

    • AnneWeiskopf

      June 28, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      @tinu Miss you too. Hope to be up for air soon. xoxo

  5. Tinu

    June 28, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    @dyhatchett Glad you liked it, Danielle. Thanks for spreading the word.

  6. Tinu

    June 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    @AmyVernon Thanks wifey. 🙂 You’re the best.

  7. maddiegrant

    June 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    What an awesome interview!  Tinu you are an inspiring woman!

    • Tinu

      June 28, 2012 at 4:56 pm

       @maddiegrant Thanks Maddie. Means a lot coming from you. 

  8. ginidietrich

    June 28, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    It’s so funny how we attract friends who are so much like ourselves. I had no idea about some of these things about Tinu, but now it makes perfect sense I love her as much as I do. I have the same sort of photographic memory she describes (drives my friends and family nuts), I also wanted to go to law school, but not be a lawyer, and I’m an introvert.
     
    This is a really, really good interview, Lani. I learned so much about my friend!

    • Tinu

      June 28, 2012 at 4:58 pm

       @ginidietrich NO WAY. Well. I knew about the introvert part but… NO WAY! Wow, this is incredible. You know, I didn’t Used to attract friends like myself. I used to attract people who needed to be taken care of in some way. Don’t know if I had some kind of martyr complex or what. But that’s besides the point – the point is, I made and am making a conscious decision to move more towards successful people I admire like you and the other ladies in this thread. It blows my mind to find that I’m on the right path. Can’t wait to talk more about our similarities!

      • ginidietrich

        June 28, 2012 at 6:19 pm

         @Tinu You’re TOTALLY on the right path. And we have an awesome photo together – one of my favorites, by far.

        • Tinu

          June 28, 2012 at 6:45 pm

           @ginidietrich I freaking love that picture. 🙂 We look happy and amazing.

  9. jasonkonopinski

    June 28, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    Hey! I know her. 🙂
     
    Fantastic interview indeed. 

    • Tinu

      June 28, 2012 at 5:00 pm

       @jasonkonopinski Jason! Hey. Thanks for reading this. Wasn’t sure how folks would take this, as it petrifies me to open up, truth be told. Your supportive comment is more helpful than you know.

  10. OSoyombo

    June 28, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    @ginidietrich she’s Nigerian too !

  11. Tinu

    June 28, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    @PivotPointCom Thank you ladies. 🙂

  12. Tinu

    June 28, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    @ginidietrich Now that’s high praise coming from you. Thank you SO much. 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      June 28, 2012 at 5:09 pm

      @Tinu LOVED that interview!

  13. Shonali

    June 28, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    I consider you a good friend, @Tinu , but I learned so much about you from this that I didn’t know before…! So cool. And I can absolutely vouch for you being much quieter in person. On the other hand, it’s not that much different, because if people read below (ot between) the lines of what you write, they are able to see the deep thought… and that’s what I see when I see you IRL. Which is why I SO much love spending time with you IRL (never enough).
    I wanted to be a lawyer too, at one point… did I ever tell you that? I still think I’d make a terrific lawyer (and, perhaps, why I make a good PR person – at the risk of sounding arrogant – because I weigh all sides of a situation).
    This was just a terrific interview, Lani!

    • Tinu

      June 29, 2012 at 12:28 am

       @Shonali Wow. I can’t wait until next week. 😉 It’s absolutely wonderful to know you in life. No, I didn’t know you wanted to be a lawyer. And the best thing about this interview is what I’m learning about the people all around me. 🙂 

  14. Tinu

    June 29, 2012 at 12:33 am

     @laniar This comment is addressed directly to you, Lani. Thank you so much for the opportunity to be showcased. I can’t tell you how much I swelled up with pride and then blushed with humility and then rose with pride again, over and over today. You know, I’m one of those people who will look at several thousand positive experiences and focus on the one bad thing that happened, if left to my own devices. And today was one of those days where I felt like I disappointed someone who I was trying to help. Tried to make it better, but they were pretty much done with me. (And I later realized – the crazy thing is that they were mad at me for doing as they asked!  So the real issue was the consequences of making bad decisions. anyway…)So I was feeling inadequate and then pissed at myself for not knowing that I should have walked away from that situation a lot earlier than I did. Normally, like I said in the article, I would let something like that go rather quickly. But this was one of those cases where the incident dragged out over the entire day.  So every time I got over it, there it was again. However, I had this to focus on. I don’t do what I do for recognition or even acknowledgement… but when it comes it sure does my heart good. Thank you so much. 

    • laniar

      June 29, 2012 at 12:41 am

       @Tinu I typically reserve my highest regards for people like you that are so hard on themselves, wear their heart on their sleeve, and lose sleep over things never being good enough. It’s tough, but it’s that drive that separates people like you, and you are so very highly admired for your endlessly positive traits. This was a fun interview!!

      • Tinu

        June 29, 2012 at 12:53 am

         @laniar Thank you. That really means a lot. 🙂

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Business Entrepreneur

Amy’s Ice Cream – a front for spawning entrepreneurs?

(ENTREPRENEUR NEWS) Why would an ice cream shop bother with “30 hours of non-ice cream training” in personal finance and give teens and young adults access to a 401k program?

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amy's ice cream

Scooping ice cream is a classic summer job for the cash-strapped teenager, but for employees of Austin-area favorite Amy’s Ice Cream, it could lead to a lifetime of financial literacy, or even eventual entrepreneurship.

Founder Amy Simmons half-jokingly describes her namesake dessert franchise as “a front for educating primarily young people in business, and finance, and decision making, and problem solving so they can go out in the world and be really successful themselves.” Amy’s employees receive “30 hours of non-ice cream training” in personal finance, and even have access to a remarkably popular 401k program.

Simmons credits her business philosophy to a book by one Jack Stack of Missouri, entitled The Great Game of Business. Its tagline reads, “Teaching employees to think and act like owners,” and the ice cream entrepreneur is now extending the practice of “open book management” to companies across the country through Amy’s EDU, a consulting company cofounded by Simmons, Aaron Clay, and Mark Banks.

Open book management “empowers all employees to know, understand, and ultimately run the business.”Click To Tweet

“It’s a path and it’s a way of looking at your company so that you really engage your customers as partners… your stake holders as partners,” says Simmons.

Amy’s EDU also offers courses and seminars in customer service, leadership, public speaking, and company culture, but the primary objective of each track is the same: get employees and customers involved in the business, excited about what they’re doing, and educated enough to contribute something new.

Take note, CEOs and leaders: Amy’s Ice Cream is a highly successful company with impressive longevity – it was founded in 1984, and now boasts 14 locations, including 12 in Austin.

What Amy’s advocates for, others should imitate.Click To Tweet

And imitation does not necessarily mean adopting every single tenet of the Amy’s EDU syllabus, imitation means embracing the ethos of educating your employees on the company they’re devoting time and energy to.

It means giving your employees knowledge, and then giving them some freedom to use that knowledge for the benefit of your company.

It means recognizing that employee success and company success go together like hot fudge and vanilla ice cream, and that the teenager serving your sundae could, and maybe should, one day be founding an enterprise of their own.

This story was first published in February 2017.

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Business Entrepreneur

Business advice from Babe Ruth that all leaders should mind

(OPINION) Leadership comes from years of refining your practice, and great leadership comes dedication and focus, but Babe Ruth would add more to that…

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All good leaders pull from a variety of inspirational sources to create their formula for success, even from unlikely sources like an overweight baseball legend. Babe Ruth was a winner in his day without steroids and without the paparazzi and while he wasn’t a business leader, he hustled every day to be the best.

Today, we share with you a quote from Babe Ruth that all leaders should mind when operating business because this simple concept is one of the hardest to remember. “Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games,” Babe Ruth said. Let that settle in. Are you resting your laurels on yesterday’s home runs?

Are you puffing your chest because last year’s sales were high or because your net worth was higher in 2008 than anyone else’s in your circle or because you won a prestigious award in 2007?

It’s very common to consider past accomplishments as part of your identity, there’s nothing wrong with that, but sometimes relying on yesterday’s home runs stunts a leader’s intellectual growth – once you think you’re at the top of your game, sure you keep working, but are you really focused on today’s game?

The cliche of keep your eye on the ball would also be relevant here, because if you’re in the outfield dreaming about last week’s home run, you’re not in the game today with everyone else.

What steps are you taking to focus on today’s game? Maybe the image below should be your desktop or smartphone wallpaper as a reminder to focus?

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Business Entrepreneur

Transitioning from corporate life to freelance life

(ENTREPRENEUR) A look at what it takes to pivot your career from corporate cubicles to your couch at home.

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legal help for startups

Freelancing is rad. I’ve gone into some depth on why I think that’s the case and even provided some thoughts and resources for my rush hour and necktie-averse kin.

Freelancing is also challenging, in many ways more so than office work. I’ve transitioned between the two, both ways, and while I’ve landed on the liberating, self-motivated (but insecure, complicated and confusing) freelance side rather than the dull, workaday cube farm side (with it benefits, job security and human interaction) I can obviously see arguments for both.

Here’s what I wish I’d known before I set out to navigate the minefield between corporate and freelance work. With any luck, it should help you do the same without hearing a click and having to offer a sad and final “oops.”

Have a plan.

This is where going corporate to freelance starts to differ from vice versa. Choosing a new corporate employer takes hard goals, but also flexibility: an ex-freelancer has to learn to accommodate other people’s plans, on account of, you know, working with other people now.

Entering the freelance world requires the opposite.

You don’t just need goals. You need a schedule.

You need deliverables, you need a budget, you need Plans B-Z inclusive for when you come in over or under, because you will.

In short, you need a boss in your head.

It is the best boss you’ll ever have: that cat (feel free to imagine it as an actual cat in a business suit; I certainly do) doesn’t care if you party til 2am on a Wednesday, or skive off for three hours in the middle of the day to catch “Fate of the Furious” at matinee prices. All your new boss cares about is hitting the numbers.

Have numbers. Hit them.

Go slowly.

This is the one that everyone screws up, by which I mean that I did. It is so tempting to stick your boss’ tie in the shredder, shot put your least favorite appliance out the window and burn a sweet donut in the parking lot before you drive off to your freelancer future. Every office drone’s dream, right?

Don’t do it. Do not.

On my last day before I went freelance, I wore a Metallica tee and sweats to my shirt-and-tie day job. Joked with my cube buddy, what were they gonna do, fire me?

Thing is? That was the first time I went freelance.

As you’ll recall from the intro, I’ve done that twice. Thankfully, when I did have to return to the realm of gridlock and beige, I was in a different time zone. But the whole reason I had to return to the corporate world in the first place was summed up in that I didn’t prepare. I did the dream, cut loose, and burned the bridges behind me. Unwise.

It’s standard wisdom that you should build up savings before starting a business. Real talk: for an awful lot of people, that’s fantasy. Even in my coziest corporate days, north of the 50th percentile, between rent and urban cost of living my only shot at meaningful savings was retailing organs.

Keep your kidneys. Instead, bank your time.

I’m a writer. You may have noticed. Most of my day jobs involved that skill. If you think every character I typed into Word in my cube days was corporate-approved, as opposed to projects or practice for my freelance adventures, there’s this great bridge I’d like to sell you.

So for the first few months, keep your day job and build your skills.

Take small projects on your own time, buoyed with that glorious cushion of salary.

Train your brains out. You may even be able to do that at work: plenty of employers, especially in fields like tech and medicine that a) value certification b) translate nicely to freelancing, will shell out to train you up. Wade into the shallow end while you’ve still got a roof and a health plan. It’s vital experience, but more importantly, it’s how you figure out freelance IT or consulting or Etsying artisanal dog sweaters is actually how you want to spend 80 hours a week.

Keep a schedule.

Wait. 80 hours? Fraid so, at least early on. It will take serious legwork to get those artisanal dog sweaters off the ground. No client list means permanent hustle. No infrastructure means weeks on end of pure trial and error, figuring out what works. No employees means every last bit of it is on you.

That’s not what I mean by scheduling. You have a job, and, being an American Genius reader, are by definition intelligent and insightful, not to mention good-looking and possessed of impeccable taste. We don’t let just anybody around here. You know you’ll need that stuff.

When you freelance, you need to schedule life.

That boss in your head? Still your boss, which is to say a sociopath who can and will take every minute you’re willing to offer. For better or worse, an office job does work-life balance for you: come in then, leave now, this is due whenever. The nastiest trap in entering freelance work, the last, biggest boom in the minefield, is that it can swallow you whole. If you let it, it will take over your life, and it’s better at that than the cube, because it’s something you want to do.

Integrate both ways.

So, not every day but now and again, put down your dog sweaters and catch Vin Diesel. See a concert on a weekday. Spend a whole evening playing with your kid.

Whatever you like, with a single rule: no work allowed.

Freelancing means your job is much more thoroughly integrated into your life.Click To Tweet

Make sure your life is integrated into your job.

And that, my friend, is how you transition from drone life to freelance life.

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