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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 - she has 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

How to effectively share negative thoughts with your business partner

(BUSINESS) You and your business partner(s) are in a close relationship, and just like a marriage, negative emotions may play a role in the relationship.

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You and your business partner are in a relationship. Your business was born when you shared a common vision of the future and became giddy from the prospect of all you could do together that you couldn’t do alone. Now, you spend much of the day doing things together in collaboration. The stakes are high; there are obstacles to overcome, decisions to make together, deadlines to meet, and all the stresses of running a business.

It’s no wonder a business partnership can often be just as complicated and emotional as a romantic relationship. If you are struggling with your business partner, you might find helpful advice in resources originally targeted towards troubled couples.

Relationship expert Dr. Jeffrey Bernstein has explored how to share “toxic thoughts” with your partner. In a linked article, Bernstein describes toxic thoughts as distortions of the truth that cause us to overemphasize the negative attributes of our partner.

Some examples of toxic thoughts include blaming your partner for larger problems that aren’t really their fault, inaccurately assuming your partners intentions, or resenting your partner for not intuiting your needs, even if you haven’t expressed them. The defining characteristic of these toxic thoughts is that, although they may be based in the truth, they are generally exaggerations of reality, reflecting our own stresses and insecurities.

Just as much as in a love relationship, these toxic thoughts could easily strain a business partnership. If you find yourself having toxic thoughts about your business partner, you will need to decide whether to hold your tongue, or have a potentially difficult conversation. Even when we remain quiet about our frustrations, they are easily felt in the awkward atmosphere of interpersonal tension and passive aggressive slights that results.

Dr. Bernstein points out that being honest about your toxic thoughts with your partner can help increase understanding and intimacy. It also gives your partner a chance to share their toxic thoughts with you, so you’d better be ready to take what you dish out. It might be hard to talk about our frustrations with each other so candidly, but it might also be the most straightforward way to resolve them.

Then again, Bernstein points out, some people prefer to work through their toxic thoughts alone. By his own definition, toxic thoughts are unfair exaggerations of and assumptions about our partner’s behavior. If you find yourself jumping to conclusions, assuming the worst, or blaming your partner for imagined catastrophes, perhaps you’d better take a few minutes to calm down and consider whether or not it’s worth picking a fight about. Then again, if you’re self-aware enough to realize that you are exaggerating the truth, you can probably also tease out the real roots of any tension you’ve been experiencing with your business partner.

If you are going to get personal, shoulder your own emotional baggage and try to approach your partner with equal parts honesty and diplomacy. Avoid insults, stay optimistic, and focus on solutions. State your own feelings and ask questions, rather than airing your assumptions about their intentions or behaviors. Keep your toxic thoughts to yourself, and work towards adjusting the behaviors that are making you feel negatively towards each other. Your business might depend on it.

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Business Entrepreneur

How to know when it’s time to go freelance full time

(ENTREPRENEUR) There may come a point when traditional work becomes burdensome. Know how to spot when it is time to go full freelance.

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freelance productivity

Freelancing is often thought of as a mythical concept, something that is almost too good to be true. While it isn’t all about hanging out at home in your pajamas all day, being a freelance is something that is completely possible to be successful – assuming you do your homework.

Recently, a friend of mine who is a licensed esthetician was no longer happy with her position at the salon and spa she worked for. The set hours were becoming a burden, as was having to divvy up appointments between another esthetician within the salon.

She noticed an increasing number of people asking her if she could perform services (eyebrow and lip waxing) from her home, as they preferred not to go into the hectic salon. My friend also found an increase in requests for her to travel to bridal parties for their makeup, rather than the parties coming into the salon.

It was around this time that my friend began to seriously consider becoming a freelance esthetician, rather than a salon employee. After about six months of research and consideration, she decided that this was the best route for her.

Below are the reasons she felt ready to pursue this option, and if they resonate with you, you may be ready for a full time freelance career.

1. She had a number of built-in clients and a list of people she could contact to announce her at-home services. Doing this at the start of one’s career would be very difficult without a contact list and word-of-mouth references, so it’s important to have…

2. …experience! My friend had worked for a number of salons over the years, and had the experience of working with all different types of clients. She also learned what she liked and didn’t like about each salon, which were pieces that factored into her own work-from-home space.

3. Since she had years of experience and had done all of the necessary aforementioned research, she knew what was expected of her and knew that getting a freelance career off the ground wouldn’t be a walk in the park. Operating a freelance career is completely on you, so you have to be 100 percent dedicated to making it work – it won’t just happen for you.

4. Once she began thinking about this idea nonstop and became more excited, she knew it was time to move forward. At first, the “what ifs” were daunting, but became more positive as time went on. If the idea of being a freelancer elicits more smiles than frowns, definitely take the time to consider this option.

5. In addition to the clients she already had, she also had an amazing support system who helped her develop her freelance brand and get her at-home business up and running. Having a solid group of people in your life that will help you is crucial, and any offer for help should be appreciated.

Other things to consider are: do you have enough money saved in case the freelance venture takes longer than planned to take off? If not, maybe stick with the day job until you feel more financially secure.

Jumping into something too quickly can cause you to become overwhelmed and drown in the stress. Make sure you’ve covered every single base before making this leap. Good luck, freelancers!

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Business Entrepreneur

Startup helps freelancers find trusted partners for overflow work

(BUSINESS NEWS) Covailnt is a service for freelancers that takes the mystery out of collaborating, helping us all to focus on what’s in front of us.

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covailnt freelancers overflow

Trying to balance work and networking can be a huge pain even as a traditional worker; for freelancers, maintaining both categories is often downright impossible. If you’re struggling to make meaningful partnerships in the freelancing world, Covailnt may have a solution for you.

Covailnt takes the mystery out of freelancing, which—unlike romance—could do with a bit less guesswork. The service is best described as a combination of a workflow app and a social network, but its core function is to serve as a database of freelancers. Each person who signs up for Covailnt fills out a profile which includes skills, availability, location, and a portfolio; as a Covailnt user, you can use this information to determine whether you want to work with the person.

The ability to review a freelancer’s highlight reel without having to initiate a conversation is sure to be a time-saver, and you get to avoid the awkward follow-up conversation to boot.

Time efficiency is clearly a strong influence on Covailnt’s platform: each freelancer’s surface-level profile prioritizes the preview window to display their level of business, using metrics from “Not Working” all the way through “Slammed”. Having this information front-and-center makes it easy to differentiate between who in your network might be available for overflow work and who you shouldn’t contact for the time being.

Covailnt also makes it easy to find compatible people with whom to collaborate. In what always seems to be the case when a group project emerges, your go-to collaborator might be too busy to handle a joint effort, and not everyone has the time to troll through the classifieds in search of a temporary partner. Searching for a like-minded, similarly skilled freelancer via Covailnt can significantly cut down on the time you spend looking and help you prioritize the work itself.

Beyond its site-level features, the coolest part of this service is that it allows you to build a network of talented people with whom you share interests, goals, and workstyles. Once you’ve established such a network, you may find your work queue filling up with things you actually care about, enabling you to push some of your less enjoyable work to someone in your network who will give it the care it deserves.

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