‘My goal is to trigger a hunger for finding purpose, possibilities today rather than waiting till you grow older or retire’
Mofoluwaso Ilevbare is a bestselling author, speaker, confidence and peak performance coach. Fondly called ‘Fofo’, she works with corporate women, entrepreneurs and business leaders who want to be unstoppable at work and life without sabotaging faith, family, and self-care. She holds a bachelor of Pharmacy degree, an MBA in Management, a global Human Resources Leader (SHRM Senior Certified Professional, HRCI certified at the GPHR level) with over 15 years of experience working with diverse people and cultures across Africa, Europe, Middle East, the U.S., and India. Fofo is also the President/Visioner of two not-for-profit organizations, Women Connected by Purpose (WCBP) and A Thousand Smiles Initiative where she impacts women, young girls and disadvantaged children in the community. She speaks to IJEOMA THOMAS-ODIA on her passion to see the womenfolk excel and her newest book, Girl Courageous. Excerpts:
Venturing into public speaking, coaching corporate women, entrepreneurs and business leaders
I started informal mentoring at a very early age also. I remember gathering children for my mom’s Bible Club, counselling my colleagues and juniors in school and helping others with their studies. By the time I got to the university, I had a set of younger ones I tutored after classes. I even started a blackberry group called SALT and it was majorly for penultimate and final year students in the University of Ibadan, helping them to finish strong with a first class/2.1. I’m glad to say 90 per cent of those 30 students finished top of their graduating class. When I got to the workplace, I did the same by initiating the first women’s network and replicated this in a few organisations. It’s what also led me to the Cherie Blair Women Foundation and John Maxwell Team.
About the book, Girl Courageous
Girl Courageous, a young girl’s guide to finding purpose and possibilities, is my tenth book and the first in its series where I blend stories from my life as a young girl with success principles, quotes, action triggers, and colourful pictures that would appeal to a girl aged 8 to 19. My goal is to trigger a hunger for finding purpose and possibilities today rather than waiting till you grow older or retire. No baby is born with the name “change agent” written on their forehead. Instead, they become one. I want every girl who picks up this book to become better today than the girl she was yesterday, to live her dream, to spread her wings despite her past. In the process of writing the book, I thought we could share the moment with schoolgirls from public and private schools in Oyo State and celebrate courageous girls who are already making a difference in academics, arts, science, leadership and community development. I was born and raised in Ibadan so I decided to start my search from there.
I discussed this project with my fabulous team at Women Connected By Purpose and together we pulled it off as our mentoring project for 2017. The nominations kicked off the week of International Day of The Girl Child and ran for two weeks. Overall, we received 29 nominations and finally six were selected and recognised on December 2, 2017. One of the girls wore her first book at eight and started a book club teaching kids about honesty. Another campaigned to have her school include females in football. Another is the only trumpeter in her university and is on a course to develop her gift of music. It was refreshing to see young girls already advocating for change such as getting their school to include females in the football team. My goal is to search for more courageous girls in Nigeria and have a bigger event in Lagos in 2018, God willing.
The place of the girl child and women in the society
The place of every human being in the society is critical and no one should be denied this fundamental human right. Many of the limitations and challenges women and girls face in our society are man-made, be it in form of culture, religious practices, ancestral habits, societal expectations, upbringing and all. To create a better world, we must be the change. We all have a part to play, both men and women, in re-shaping our way of life so every human being has equal opportunities to thrive in whatever way they choose. As parents, we are also raising our boys the same way – treat every human being with respect and better than you treat yourself.
Fitting into all these caps as well as managing home-front
Women get asked much more than men when in fact both genders are responsible for the home front. In any case, in our part of the world, the woman is expected to manage her roles as well as the home-front. My greatest supporter is my husband who together we share and do everything that needs to be done on the home front. Our mindset is, if we want to truly believe in gender equality, it must begin from home. I encourage more men to get involved in the conversation and create; support, and lead change wherever they are. I also believe that it takes a village to train a child. It also takes a village to build a career. So, I’m not shy to ask for help from family (my mum comes to the rescue many times), friends and family, nannies etc, as well as practical tips from my mentors. I then teach these strategies to help busy leaders like myself achieve professional and personal success in whatever season of life you find yourself. It starts with a makeup mind and then good company.
I love to sleep and I strive for six to eight hours daily to refresh and regain lost energy and when I run short due to heavy travel or workload, I make a note to rebalance. Spending time with my kids, cracking silly jokes or playing indoor games is fun. Also, spending time in prayer, worship and a monthly visit to the spa.
Life should be enjoyed not fast-forwarded. Having had three near-death experiences in my life, everyday I wake up I whisper, “I am a miracle” because I know I am living a borrowed life. We must learn to be “present” not just “be around”, enjoy the quality moments you’ve been given. With all the chaos and unpredictable events happening in our world today, who knows how much time we really have left? So, live well, love well, and make a difference right where you are.