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How did Taraji Henson Get to Where She is Today?

This month we have been talking about visionary leaders who broke the rules, and consequently broke the record. Martin Luther King Jr, Tyra Banks, and here is Taraji P. Henson. Whoopi Goldberg says, “Now, everybody knows (Taraji Henson’s) name.”

Taraji Henson could have dropped out of college when she had a son. She was also at crossroads in her life, when she wanted to reach for her dreams in California. Meaning she’d have to move across cities with just a passion, 700 dollars, and her son.

Flash back to 21 years later and Taraji P Henson says “I am 46, and I am only just scratching the surface” How did she get here?

Taraji Put dreams to Action

[Tweet “My father said you are going to be a great actress – @therealTaraji”]

“I remember the first time I was in kindergarten and I was in front of an audience

And I remember going to the mic and doing something really corky, and the audience laughing, and I was like ‘I like this’… ‘I like this attention’.

And my father saw this at a very young age. He recognized it at a very young age and he said ‘you are going to be a great actress, that’s what you are going to do…’”. – Taraji Henson

Fast forward to 2018, like Whoopi Goldberg said, everybody now knows Taraji Henson. She is the cookie on our TV screens, and has bagged award after award.

Many years ago, Taraji took a dream ride from DC to LA after college. To have a professional acting career she had to be at the hub of acting, LA, so she moved across cities. This was taking actions to necessitate her dreams.

Coach Chantelle Anderson notes that, “when we are specific about how we want our dreams to come true, then we start a journey to creating them in reality.”

“It starts with two simple words: goal clarity. Entrepreneur, Jeff Shore explains. “See it clearly, believe it passionately, and pursue it aggressively”.

The courage to Pursue Dreams

[Tweet “If you lack the courage to chase your dreams, they might as well be dreams.”]

“…My dad was like ‘how do you expect to catch fish on dry land’, and I was like ‘what?’ And he said how are you going to get acting jobs when there are not here. You need to go to LA; that’s where the acting jobs are. So, my family threw a party, we were broke, they raised 700 dollars and I moved to LA. I had a passion, I had a dream, and I dived in. I went for my dream and here I am.” – Taraji Henson

If you lack the courage to chase your dreams, they might as well be dreams.

Author; Lewis Hose on ‘The Importance of Having Courage’, says “You’ve got to be willing to risk the chance of looking like a failure. The world needs you to share your gifts and go for your dreams. There aren’t enough people who have the courage to go for it.”

Dump Comfort Zones

[Tweet “”Living too comfortably can cause you to settle for a life that’s less than what you’re capable of”]

“I graduated from college, and I had this degree… and my dad saw me coming and going to work every day, and he said ‘what are you doing?’ and I said, making a living… I was in a transitional phase. I had this degree and ‘I was just living’…” -Taraji P. Henson

It is true, and I tend to agree with Inc. columnist Sonia Thompson, “Living too comfortably can cause you to settle for a life that’s less than what you’re capable of”. It’s like waking up every day, yet the things you seem to make happen are only the things that life make happen to you.

Mel Robbins popular inventor of the 5 second rule says, “if you’re sitting around waiting for motivation… it’s not coming. If you don’t start doing the things you don’t feel like doing, you will wake up one year from today and be in exactly the same place.

According to Whoopi Goldberg a lot of people may not know what Taraji Henson did to get to where she is today. she said “YOU TOOK A BIG RISK first of all by moving to LA, and making a decision and saying ‘I am going for it’”. This is dumping the comfort zone.


Will Women’s March 2018 decide the Polls in America?

In time past, reforms and breakthroughs in national policies have been preceded by activism marches. It looks like the days of Montgomery Bus Boycott may be returning with women at the center of a national protest, as Women’s March 2018 is creating so much momentum and sister marches are joining in commemoration from Africa, Asia, and Europe.

Women’s March is a movement that started in 2017 following the election of President Donald Trump. It was characterized by “Women-led protests against Trump, that U.S. policy would be based on the principle of “America first,” and were also staged as sister marches in Sydney, London, Tokyo and other cities across Europe and Asia.” As stated in this report by reuters. These “U.S. marches and sympathy rallies around the world… drew nearly 5 million protesters in all.” they said.

According to the organizers, the mission of ‘Women’s March’ is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Right now, they are counting their wins as a result of the inclusion of more marginalized people in leadership. To these women, the fight is not just about them, is about inclusiveness.

This year took it to the next level with the numbers of participants escalating and giving the march a theme. They are practically turning the movement into an actual strategy, calling this year’s theme ‘Power to the Polls’.

“The national voter registration tour will target swing states to register new voters, engage impacted communities, harness our collective energy to advocate for policies and candidates that reflect our values, and collaborate with our partners to elect more women and progressive candidates to office.”, Women’s March shared on their website.

Some of the popular words on the placards held by the women during the march read: ‘Me too’ ‘Time’s up’ ‘Welcome Refugees’ ‘The future is female’.

Industry Leaders were represented in this year Women’s March held on the 20th and 21st January. Academy Award winner Viola Davis’ speech has been trending from the march in DC. See her speech below

‘Good Governance’ is what Jewel Taylor is showing in how she marks her Birthday

Africa is yet to recover from the win of Liberia’s first female Vice President-elect; Jewel Taylor. Here is a perfect scenario of beside every successful man is a woman, some people are even calling her the jewel on Weah’s crown.

In this season, It looks like Jewel Taylor has a lot going great for her. Asides from counting down to taking the oath of office on 22nd January, she turned 55 on 17th January.

What we are proud of most, was how she chose to spend this perfect day with those who really matter; the people of her community.

This should be a sign that good governance is about to sweep us off our feet in this regime. Skip back to the US-Africa Leaders’ Summit 2016 in Africa, when Barrack Obama was making a case for good governance in Africa. “Good Governance means that everybody has a Voice”, he emphasized.

Governance is truly about leaders making themselves accessible to the people, to resonate with them. This will be crucial in making decisions that add value.

Senator Taylor was also in the company of the President-elect, George Weah. Amidst spending quality time, the duo served good food to the people. We could recall that Weah spoke of identifying with the needs of the poor during campaigns when he said “Like many of you, I have been a victim of poverty”.


Senator Jewel Taylor truly means well for the Citizens of Liberia. And her partnership with Weah should see to the fruition of her good intentions. “Giving to the less fortunate People” she says was the goal of her birthday.

The words “We rise by lifting others up” by Robert Ingersoll have never had truer meaning than now. Here is to congratulating our Board Member; Senator Jewel Taylor on her new age and blazing a trail as the first female Vice President of Liberia.

AWLO Awards AIT for Media Partnership Excellence

[Tweet “I presented an Award of Excellence to AIT – @elishaattai”]

Today I had the opportunity to personally present an Award of Excellence to our media Partner African Independent Television, AIT on behalf of African Women in Leadership Organisation.

AIT has added incredible value to AWLO over the years as media partner. The MD of AIT, Mrs. Oluwatosin Dokpesi was present at the headquarters in Abuja to receive the award on behalf of the organisation. With her also was the GM, Namure Edoimioya.


AWLO is delighted to present the award, because we gained substantial coverage in Africa as a result of their media support. It is also well deserved since they’ve been pushing the frontiers of women inclusion through great contents.

AIT is on ground again to kick-start media plans for AWLO’s 10th anniversary international conference in July. Welldone AIT, we appreciate the good work.

Turn your ‘Nos’ into a Visionary’s Journey Like Tyra Banks

Tyra Banks could have been devastated the day her modelling agency broke the news that she couldn’t be hired anymore. No, she was actually devastated, but she made a game changing decision that turned the odds in her favor.

Tyra Banks is a Business Mogul cum Super Model cum Body Activist cum Media Personality, but most importantly a Leader.

Her Journey To Being A Self-starter

Tyra Banks and her T-Zone kids back in the day

Tyra Banks went through an odd phase she terms ‘the ugly duckling phase’, where she was bullied and teased in high school for her looks. Even though this is now a thing of the past, it has shaped her in the way she has risen above body-shaming and now revamped the modelling industry standards.

She coined the term flawsome; meaning ‘having flaws, but staying awesome despite it’. She refers to her prominent ‘forehead’ feature as a ‘five head’. “I don’t have a four head, I have a Five head…more like six. Whatever number you wanna count to I totally accept that.”

“When I think about models, I think about features that are corky and interesting to them. I break down a feature like; look at those chick bones or she has a million freckles and they are amazing.” Tyra told Pretty Unfiltered.

[Tweet “@tyrabanks was initially considered unfit for modelling because she no more had a certain look”]

Tyra recalls being told that she wasn’t fit for the modelling industry because she no more had a certain look. “I started crying, I said Momma I don’t know what to do, what should I do? Should I exercise every day? Should I diet? And she said let’s figure out how to work with what you have to get what you want”

Truly Leading

[Tweet ““I like to do things differently” -@tyrabanks”]

“I like to do things first, think out of the box, and do things differently” she told essence that the one word that would describe her “that would be ‘Visionary’”.

Since breaking out of the mold Tyra has raised the bar. She was a break out model in her time and has gracefully bowed out to build multiple empires.

Her courageous attempt to lead the bandwagon has led to the creation of brands such as The Tyra Banks Show, America’s Next Top Model, T Zone, Flawless Ball,, Tyra Beauty, The Fablife.

Filling a Gap

Tyra Banks hosting her Top Model TV Show

In many ways she seeks to make people discover their beauty. Her personal mantra is “Seeing a Model in everyone.” Tyra knows better than to try to put everyone in a mold, she is the queen of “everyone standing out”

Through her works, she has discovered exceptional talents such as Winnie Harlow – a model with a prominent skin condition called vitiligo. She has given thousands of women a voice, thought them to embrace their beauty and rise above limitations.

Tyra Banks was termed unfit for modelling because she wasn’t the stereotype model, but she took this supposed flaw and turned it into a niche for herself, and paved a way for more generations coming after her.

AWLO Theme 2018: Creating Transgenerational Impact through Innovative Leadership

This year AWLO will be focused on sustainability and leadership performance. In 2017, we registered significant success in enabling many women recognize their potential. AWLO Theme for 2017 was inspiring greatness, and unleashing the power, and thousands of African Women poured in testimonials. It was also further proof that, self-belief is a significant step in attaining one’s potential.Read More

Out, Through and In – A 2018 New Year Message from the Founder/President

It is a New Year!
We have been led OUT!
We have passed THROUGH!!
We have been brought IN!!!

As adults, we often reminisce about the idyllic days of our youth. Those days where we did not have a care in the world; a time when responsibilities hadn’t begun to take up permanent residence on our shoulders. In hindsight, our youth seem to be synonymous with a carefree time of our lives. But you’ll think otherwise when you take off the rose-tinted glasses.

When we think of the unfolding journey of our lives, how life has shaped us individually and collectively as an organization, we focus on how we have passed through the process of personal growth. This changing and evolving process, clearly, has involved us getting firmly established in our identities; and the three words we need to know are: OUT, THROUGH, and IN. This is exactly what God did for the Nation of Israel in Biblical times. And is a picture of what He continuously does for us in modern times.

[Tweet “It is a New Year! We have been led OUT! We have passed THROUGH!! We have been brought IN!!!”]

Daily, we observe from hindsight the path of our past, meandering through different situations and circumstances of life, maturing in our ideals and expectations. Today, we find ourselves, through no power or abilities of our own, witnessing and welcoming the dawn of another brand new year. Undoubtedly, God has led us into this new year for a greater purpose and manifestation of the plans laid out for the good of humanity. Just as it was symbolical in Egypt, calling out the Isreaelites, because He had a better future for them.

Today, African Women in Leadership Organization (AWLO) welcomes you to a fortuitous brand new year with enthusiasm, energy, and readiness to move mountains. I believe God has called us OUT of the past year 2017, THROUGH our myriad ups and downs, our backs and forths’, our highs and lows, our rise and falls, and our kicks and starts; to begin an IN journey towards the future.

[Tweet “Today, African Women in Leadership Organization (AWLO) welcomes you to a fortuitous brand new year.”]

Thus in recognizing the message of the year, we begin unraveling a series of IN’s in our daily striving. Let’s have an In-depth knowledge of our purpose, an Insight into our dreams, for an Influx of ideas, with an Intense debate of issues, leading to an Infuse of awareness to our Input and Interest.

[Tweet “Let’s have an In-depth knowledge of our purpose, an Insight into our dreams.”]

We shall not be held back by Invalid attempts to Interrupt our Interplay as we move towards the milestone of our 10th Anniversary!! There, I said it! African Women in Leadership Organization AWLO has come a full cycle! A Decade! A decade of Innovative leadership, a decade of Interesting accomplishments, and a flourishing decade of outstanding Ingenuity as we Increasingly Inspire and Inform! AWLO has impacted positively on the world, through our most valuable assets; The Great African Women of Worth!

[Tweet “African Women in Leadership Organization AWLO has come a full cycle! A Decade!”]

Let’s have the resolve that our expectations, our loyalty, our dreams will not fizzle out quickly in premature display of doubts. Let’s see 2018 for what it is. An unblemished chapter in the  annals of unfolding seasons: awaiting the imprints of our stories, thirsty for the Inflow of our energies, and hungry for the enduring dreams of our heart. Together, with our partners worldwide, we move forward in singleminded pursuit of our dreams and vision.

[Tweet “Together, with our partners worldwide, we move forward in singleminded pursuit of our dreams.”]

Let’s be totally honest with the year.  Let’s not burden it with the failings of our past, and not endanger it, with the frustrations of our doubts. Let us bestow upon the year, the status it merits and deserves; a newness of hope, the freshness of dreams, the absoluteness of faith, the auspiciousness of a new beginning and the decisiveness of time and seasons.

[Tweet “Let’s be totally honest with the year. Let’s not burden it with the failings of our past.”]

It is in this display of exuberant gratitude and joyous thankfulness that I, on behalf of all the Chapters, Regions, Members and Staff of AWLO; bid you all a very prosperous and Happy New Year! I believe that God is going to continue to show His greatness to us all in new ways in 2018.

[Tweet “Let us create transgenerational impact through innovative leadership.”]

Let us create transgenerational impact through innovative leadership.


Dr. Elisha Attai
President/Founder – AWLO

Catch up with Senator Jewel Taylor the First Female Vice President of Liberia

For the first time, Liberia now has a female Vice President; Senator Jewel Taylor. Senator Jewel Taylor remains a voice for the people of Liberia, with more than 18 years dedication to both the private and public sector leadership.

[Tweet “For the first time, Liberia now has a female Vice President; Senator Jewel Taylor.”]

Taylor says she is given to waking up daily with a renewed determination to serve. “As a politician, service to country and people has a transformational impact on those we serve. So, working with and for our people, transforming lives, lending a helping hand… are those things that make me wake up each morning with a renewed determination to stay on course.”

After serving a second nine-year term as a Senator, she has emerged the first female Vice President to Senator-Ambassador George Manneh Weah, under the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) Party, an assignment she believes has broken another glass ceiling in political history.

Senator Jewel Taylor grew up with her loving parents who died in service to the people of the Bong County, and their visible influence can be seen in Taylor’s dedication to serving her people. Becoming the First Lady of Liberia when her husband Charles Ghankay Taylor became president was a chance to become involved in the leadership of Liberia.

“During the time, I succeeded in the creation and successful implementation of the National Emergency Task Force which provided medical and humanitarian support to displaced citizens across the Country, especially women and girls; and also organized a Foundation for Girls education which catered to under privileged destitute girls. I was also involved in many other educational and health care projects across the Nation.”

After Contesting in the post conflict elections and was overwhelmingly elected as Senior Senator of Bong County, Liberia’s second most populated county, she began pushing for women empowerment. “I have served as Chairperson of the Women Legislative Caucus of Liberia. In this capacity, I have been a staunch advocate of women’s empowerment and have proffered for passage into Law several pieces of Legislation in support of women empowerment including an Affirmative Action Act for fair participation in politics and National Governance and the Domestic Violence Act.”

[Tweet “Jewel Taylor has continued to distinguish herself and the people of Liberia have given her a chance for the umpteenth time”]

As a Senator, Jewel Taylor has continued to distinguish herself in leadership, and the people of Liberia have believed in her to give her A chance for the umpteenth time to serve them. “I feel blessed that I have distinguished myself in my service to community, church and country… I’m a vessel for positive change in my society.”

She shared about her compelling leadership attributes. “Charisma; that compelling charm which inspires devotion in others – that force of personality and strength of character which is an undying source of inspiration to many others, as well as the gift of perseverance, that endurance to carry on in the midst of life’s vicissitudes and challenges; that indefatigable spirit, diligence and commitment.”

She is a visible believer in women’s equity. This is her message to women “We must continue the struggle for women’s political and economic empowerment, until no one is left behind. And until women’s participation becomes common place in the governance structure of all Nations. This is still our task. Let us continue the forward march, for we still have many more miles to cover before we can rest.”

Senator Jewel Taylor’s commitment to Women development is being recognized by International Communities such as ECOWAS. She also currently sits on the board of African Women in Leadership Organisation (AWLO).

She has been conferred on Liberia’s highest honor as Knight Great Dame, Order of the Most Venerable Order of the Pioneers in 2005; granted to her by Former President Charles G. Taylor for her service to the Nation as the 21st First Lady of Liberia.

She is the First Female to be given the Distinguished Traditional Title of Venerable Chief in the National Traditional Council of Liberia in 2011,  a Chieftain title conferred on her by Traditional Chiefs and Elders of Bong County for her role in sponsoring the a bill which created the National Traditional Council of Liberia; and in full recognition of her exemplary Services to the people of Bong, yea Liberia.

Takeaways: The Power of Purpose Driven Leadership with Dr. Arene

Dr. Violet Arene is a bundle of Leadership Experience. Having successfully pioneered the Total Quality Management unit for Managers at NNPC, Arene now runs her personal consultancy, and has gone on to replicate such quality management trainings in other organizations such as Industrial and General Insurance (IGI), RCCG, and others.

At this Leaders hangout, in (events of ) AWLO Induction 2017, Dr. Violet Arene shares on the Power of Purpose Driven Leadership. These are some of the Takeaways from her session:

[Tweet “A woman in Leadership is still a woman. Retain your elegance and feminine charm.”]


Self-Leadership is the prerequisite for leadership because the first person you lead is you. You are the first person who will throw yourself down, and the first person to take you to the mountain top.


[Tweet “My value as a woman is not measured by the size of my waist, nor the number of men who like me.”]


My value as a woman is not measured by the size of my waist, nor the number of men who like me. It is measured by a Higher Purpose… it is something more sublime than just looking good for men.


[Tweet “A good heart and a good head are a perfect combination for leadership, and women have both.”]


Greatness is when you are about the greatness of other people. You do not become great by taking but by giving.


Character is the perfect criteria for Leadership. Africa is noted for irrelevant criteria such as Quota.


[Tweet “Team Leadership means ‘Win-Win’.”]


If you want to check the quality of Leadership in a place, check the quality of those being led.


But if you say politics is dirty, it is dirty Politics that produce the leaders that lead you. We cannot term Leadership as dirty.







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