Interrogating Ehimuan’s 30 Days of Excellence
Juliet Ehimuan is a technology expert and entrepreneur who currently serves as Google’s Country Manager in Nigeria. In August 2011, she was listed in Forbes ‘ 20 Youngest Power Women In Africa. Ehimuan completed her B.Eng. degree in Computer Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, with a first-class honours’ degree. She proceeded to obtain a postgraduate degree in Computer Science from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom before she went on to complete her MBA programme from London Business School. In this interview with The Guardian, she speaks more on her book, 30 Days of Excellence.
Could you tell us a little bit about the book?
THE 30 Days of Excellence companion set is a guide I created to provide the support needed to navigate life and work using the tools and techniques that enable success: self-discovery, visioning, attitude, time and priority management, recognising the opportunities that align with our core values and then acting on those opportunities with discipline and integrity.
Each day comes with a key message and action point that I have developed to help the user focus on the efforts required for making the most out of any situation and taking control of their own life. The guide included two materials. The spiral-bound desktop guide is ideal for daily reflection, offering the opportunity to return to the beginning and gain fresh insights at the end of each month, while the luxurious hardcover book is interactive with lined pages for the user to write down their thoughts and chart their own journey for success.
What are you hoping to achieve with the book?
I wrote this book because, for as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be the best version of myself and reach my full potential. I am able to constantly work on my growth and success by applying the strategies laid out in this book, and I am hoping to enable and support others to do the same through this book. The instructions inside it are ideal for start-ups and emerging leaders, more experienced entrepreneurs, and C-Suite professionals. No matter where you are in life, there are irrefutable principles that can help you be better, do more, grow, and help you live a life beyond perceived limits.
One of the things you talk about in Day 3 is how people can identify their Purpose. Can you speak to that?
Yes, this was a major point worth mentioning because it is something I get asked over and over again. Many people struggle with identifying what their purpose is. This is especially true of people who have more than one talent and are torn between following a skill that can be a legitimate income earner and following their heart or passion that may not immediately offer a clear path to being financially independent. My advice is to identify their purpose by answering these three questions: firstly, what are you passionate about? What drives and energises you? What are those things that you would do even if you’re not getting paid? The second question is what problem do you want to solve? Where do you see a need? The final question is: what are your strengths and what are you good at? The intersection of these three things speaks to your purpose.
Why should people get this book? What makes the 30 Days of Excellence unique?
People should get this book because the key points within are laid out in a simple and concise way that makes them easy to digest but highly effective when put into practice and worked on. Results are visible when you carry out the action points and are consistent with them. There’s a lot of material on excellence. My interest is in providing these simple but deeply insightful guides that provide critical nuggets for everyone – from corporate executives leading million-dollar organisations, to those just starting out in business, to career professionals. In today’s world, there are many things competing for people’s time. It is important to cut to the heart of the matter, to the cogent points that create maximum impact. That’s what the book does that is unique.
What is one question you get asked time and again about structuring oneself for success?
There are many questions that surface repeatedly, but one of the most frequently answered questions is around time management: having the time to fit it all in. We all lead such busy lives, that sometimes, finding the time to be intentional about one’s goals and purpose can be very challenging. I get to talk to people whose vision does not necessarily align with their day jobs. Time management is really about priority management and that’s why it is important as a starting point to be clear about what you want to achieve in life. That helps to define your priorities and can help you, marshall, your time and other limited resources in the right direction. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. No one can change that. What you have control over is what you do at that time. Prioritise tasks and tackle them based on priority, while minimising distractions. In the book, I do provide some thoughts on approaches to maximising one’s time. I also cover this extensively in the leadership masterclasses run as part of the Beyond Limits initiative.
2020 has been truly unique thus far, and it’s fair to say we are not totally out of the woods yet. What do you think young professionals can do to shore up resilience as we go into 2021 and beyond?
This is an important question and it is one of the concepts I teach in my book. Society and external events certainly play a big part in the way we experience life, but when you fully engage with the tips in this book, it becomes clear that these events do not have to have the final say in the outcome of our lives or who we see ourselves to be. The events of 2020 affected the entire world, but for many individuals and businesses, the difference between sinking and thriving has been the response to the challenges. Companies that responded swiftly, showed empathy and leadership, crafted out solutions, and leveraged technology to connect staff and reach customers; found themselves in better positions than others that did not. Individuals, who accepted that the world has changed and started adjusting to the New Normal, also found themselves mentally better off in the long run. We may not be able to control the world around us, but we can affect the way we respond to it.
You just completed your Beyond Limits Transformation Series a couple of months ago. Were there any standout moments or experiences on that course?
For me, the standout experience was the sheer amount of impact the series had. We had participants from three continents and countless cities around the world, more than 16,000 followers on social media interacting with the content and giving us feedback, requesting advice, and sharing their testimonials. As a coach, you are concerned with impacting others and checking to see if your message resonates. The feedback from young people just starting out on their career paths and more seasoned executives was phenomenal, and proof positive that this training is needed.
As part of that, I was also pleased to kick off the first, Beyond Limits Think Tank, which involved group mentoring sessions with 12 selected participants and 9 mentors – leaders in their fields. The participants were a combination of entrepreneurs and professionals in the corporate world, and they all reported positive feedback on impact. Of the 12, three were awarded financial grants to support their businesses and aspirations.
If you could pick one lesson you would like people to take away from this book, what would it be?
I would pick a lesson from day 30 of the book — Be the captain of the ship that is called “your life”. Your life is 100 per cent your responsibility. Imagine your life is a ship. You are the captain and the driver. A ship will not move unless directed by the captain. You decide where and how you want to steer the ship. You define the best route and what is needed for the journey. This requires self-direction — clarity of vision and purpose, self-awareness – understanding your patterns and your impact on others, and self-discipline — rigour and diligence in getting things done. I would advise users to work through this book as a cohesive manual. Each principle stands on its own but is also linked to the others. They are all important cogs for the wheel to work.
We’re about to start a new year and we’ve seen lots of posts about new year resolutions. But most people fail to keep their new year’s resolutions. What’s your take on that?
One of the main reasons New Year resolutions fail is because many people activate motivation without working on the most necessary element, which is commitment. I always say that motivation gets you started, but commitment keeps you going. Commitment is what you turn to on the days when your goals seem hard or almost unreachable. Commitment will keep you going when the numbers don’t stack up or the journey is more difficult than you thought it would be. Motivation is simply the initial burst of passion. It takes a lot more than that to truly change any habit. You need to organise your internal and external world for success and create structures to support you and hold you accountable.
Do you have anything special that you’ll be focusing on in the New Year?
The focus at the moment is spreading the word with a goal to get the books in the hands of tens of thousands of people in the New Year. We welcome leaders to obtain copies for their staff, mentees and even sponsor copies for other groups as an empowerment tool for transitioning into the new year. People can also get copies for friends and family as a great Christmas/end of year gift. This companion set complements the leadership and coaching work of Beyond Limits; and there will be additional webinars in 2021, which will be announced in due course. People can stay informed by connecting with me on social media – @jehimuan on Instagram and Twitter, and juliet.ehimuan on LinkedIn and Facebook. My website — www.julietehimuan.com.