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.
15 tips to spot a toxic work environment when interviewing
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Interviewing can be tricky, but this new infographic will help you look for signs of toxicity before, during, and after the interview.
When we’re in the process of job hunting, we’re typically looking because we need a change, for multiple reasons. Any interview sparks hope. Because we’re sometimes so willing to make that change, we often put our blinders on in the hopes that whatever comes is the perfect opportunity for us.
With those blinders, however, it can be common to miss some red flags that tell you what you really need to know about the job you may be applying or interviewing for. Luckily, Resume.io is here to help.
They have developed 15 warning signs in their infographic: How to Spot a Toxic Work Environment Before You Take the Job. Let’s dive in and take a look at these.
First, the preparation before the interview. Red flags can shop up from the get-go. Here’s what to look out for before you even meet face-to-face (or over the phone/Zoom).
- Vague job description: If there is nothing substantial about the description of the job itself and only buzzwords like “team player,” be on alert.
- Negative Glassdoor reviews: These reviews on company culture are worth taking into account. If multiple people have a recurring issue, it’s something to be aware of.
- Arranging an interview is taking forever: If they keep you waiting, it’s typically a sign of disorganization. This may not always be the case, but pay attention to how they’re respecting you and your time.
- Your arrival comes as a surprise to them: Again, disorganization. This is also displaying a lack of communication in the company.
- The interview starts late: See the last sentence of #3. Not only are they disrespecting your time, but they’re displaying a lack of time management.
Now, for the high-pressure situation: During the interview. Here’s what you need to be keeping an eye on (while simultaneously listing your strengths and weaknesses, of course)
- Unpreparedness: If the interviewer is scattered and not prepared for your conversation, this may be a sign that they don’t fully understand the tasks and expectations for the job.
- Doesn’t get into your skill set: If they don’t ask about your skills, how can they know what you’re bringing to the table?
- Rudeness: If the interviewer is rude throughout the interview or is authoritative (either to you or to a panel who may be present,) be on alert. This is just a sign of what’s to come.
- Uncommunicative about company values: If it’s different from what’s on their website or they seem spacey about company values, this is a red flag.
- Your questions aren’t being answered: If they’re avoiding answering your questions, they may be hiding an aspect of the job – or the company – that they don’t want to reveal.
Finally, the waiting game. Once the interview is complete, here are some less-than-good things to be on the lookout for. Keep in mind that some of these may be hard to gauge seeing that we’re in the middle of a pandemic and many companies haven’t returned to their offices yet:
- Brief interview: If the interview was too short, they are either desperate or have already filled the position. Either way, bad.
- Quiet workplace: This may be a sign of a lack of teamwork or a tense environment.
- No tour: If you don’t get to see the office, again, they may be hiding something.
- Offer on the day of interview: Not giving you time to think may be a sign of desperation.
- Leaving you waiting: Again, if they leave you waiting on an answer like they did with scheduling, it’s a sign of disorganization and disrespect.
While one of these 15 things happening doesn’t necessarily mean the job is a bust, a few of these things happening may be an indicator to look elsewhere.
This startup makes managing remote internships easier for all
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) Internships during COVID are tough to manage for many employers, but Symba aims to present a unique solution.
Internships are among the innumerable practices disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some might argue that the loss of the corporate version of hazing that defines many internships is not something to be mourned. But the fact remains that internships are crucial for both employers and employees. Fortunately, a company called Symba might have a solution: Remote internships.
It’s a simple, intuitive solution for the times. That’s why big-name industries like Robinhood and Genentech are turning to Symba for help in constructing their own digital internship platforms.
Symba is, in and of itself, akin to any employee management system. Prospective employees sign into their Symba account via the landing page of the company for whom they are interning, after which point they are able to review their workload for the day. They can also see communications, feedback, other profiles, group projects, and more; they can even access onboarding resources and tutorials for the company in case they get lost along the way.
The key difference between Symba and other management tools—such as Slack—is that Symba was built from the ground up to facilitate actionable experience for interns at little to no detriment to the company in question. This means that interns have a consistent onboarding, collaborative, and working experience across the board—regardless of which company they’re representing at the time.
Symba even has a five-star ranking system that allows employers to create and quantify areas of proficiency at their discretion. For example, if an intern’s roles include following up with clients via email or scheduling meetings, an employer could quickly create categories for these tasks and rate the intern’s work on the aforementioned scale. Interns are also able to ask for feedback if they aren’t receiving it.
While Symba doesn’t facilitate communications between interns, it does include Slack integration for the purposes of collaboration and correspondence as needed.
On the managerial side, employers can do everything from the previously mentioned rating to delegating tasks and reviewing reports. All data is saved in Symba’s interface so that employers have equal access to information that might inspire a hiring.
While it’s possible that Symba will struggle to maintain relevance during non-internship months, the fact remains that it is an exceptionally viable solution to an otherwise finicky problem during these trying times—and some employers may even find it viable enough to continue using it post-pandemic.
Zen, please: Demand for mental health services surges during pandemic
(BUSINESS ENTREPRENEUR) 2020 has been an exceptionally hard year for many on a mental front. How has COVID-19 changed the mental health landscape?
As the pandemic stretches on, it continues to affect everything from jobs to plastic bags, but one major shift has come with mental health. According to the National Council for Mental Health, while demand for mental health services is up 52%, the capacity of mental health organizations have actually diminished. So…what does this mean?
Mental health startups get a boost
From tele-health to mindfulness apps, venture capital investments for mental health startups have already surpassed what was earned in 2019. And it makes sense; as more people are isolated for long stretches of time, there has become a greater demand for digital mental wellness services.
With COVID-19 predicted to spike again in the coming months, combined with shorter spans of daylight and less welcoming weather, the desire for these sorts of businesses isn’t likely to fade. If you have an idea for a neat app or website to help with mental well-being in some way, now is prime time to release it.
Companies increase mental health options
As the pandemic rages on, many companies have started to partner with mental health solutions for their employees. For instance, Starbucks has started offering free therapy sessions to employees through the mental wellness provider Lyra, and Zoom began to offer mental health seminars.
Of course, while smaller companies might not have the means to provide specific therapy, many companies have gotten creative with how they’re looking out for employees’ mental and emotional well-being. From providing virtual meditation sessions, to increasing self-managed leave, to connecting employees through book clubs or happy hours, there are a variety of ways that any company can help employees manage their psyche during these difficult times.
Resources are more accessible
Although therapy and similar apps do cost money (many apps include a monthly fee for the services provided), there are plenty of low cost alternatives available for those having a hard time. For example, many sites are offering free trials to services. There are also plenty of free or low-cost apps available to help you do anything from track your moods to manage your breathing. Or check out YouTube for videos to help with yoga or meditation.
While these resources are not a replacement for medication or talk therapy, they can help mediate some of the increased strain on our mental state that many of us are feeling right now.
In case of an emergency, there is also the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which is available by phone call or chat 24 hours a day. If you or someone you know is struggling, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
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