Boss Ladies: Who are you?
Finales are usually big and the fourth and last boss lady packs a punch that will blow your mind. When the phrase 'never a dull moment' comes to mind you may think drama, but in this instance if you want to see life through shiny new lenses or dishwasher finished glasses that dazzle and shine, then this is the woman for you. Onyx Yayas proudly presents the The Sparkle Navigator, Carole.
OY: Welcome Carole, [smiles all round] on this occasion we decided to tag team our boss lady allowing us to get your interview from two different perspectives. Carole: "That's fine".
OY: We are so blessed to have you join the OY party, for us you are renowned for your servings of inspiration and double portions of empowerment, but why don't you tell our sistahood who you are and why!
Carole: Firstly, one of the interesting things about me is as a result of stroke number two, I've got a form of retrograde amnesia and so essentially I have no major memories pre-February 2019. But, I do have both a degree and masters in Marketing and communication as you can see I like Marketing and Communications [giggles all around]. Throughout my life I have had a strong background in events, across the public, private and voluntary sectors and thinking back to it, all of it was about people.
Flashback moment: When I was child, about 14 years old I decided I wanted to be a civil rights leader. I thought if Black people knew who they were they would be less swayed by the things that were happening. They would be able to stand in their power and their truth. Then I realised the best civil rights leaders were dead or in prison and it seemed like that wouldn't be a great ambition. But, one of the things I've realised is my whole thing was about freedom, about being free to be the best version of myself. Since the strokes, this concept has been illuminated.
OY: Carole, what a start, tell us a bit about your background.
Prior to the stroke I was doing a lot around marketing strategy and every time I was delivering a workshop to business owners I would meet the team, and begin by saying:
‘Who are you?’, this is so important because if you aren't comfortable with you, if don’t think you have something to bring to the table, then when you are having a conversation with other people, how are they going to buy from you, if you don’t believe in yourself?
Nowadays, I focus more heavily on ‘who are you?’ at the centre of the workshop is you, you are the brand, everyone has a brand, whether they invest in it or not
#thesparklenavigator: Your personal brand is “The story you tell, the moment you show up, before you have even said anything, and that story begins with what you tell yourself!
OY: Right! [so much nodding in agreeance, but also personal reflection on such a profound statement]. We are all ears, tell us more!
Carole: If you don’t believe that you are a WINNER, if you don’t believe you are VALUABLE, then you show up in the marketplace, wanting to connect with other people but you cannot. You cannot sell them something that you are not. If you do not believe in yourself then how can they. The truth is people buy from people, so even if you are a large company, you will take on human characteristics and so despite the building or framework, you still need to connect with the people.
I am a firm believer that the foundation of success is who you think you are! The moment you think yes, I can climb that mountain the moment you think yes, it is possible, you show up in a different way for yourself and for the people that you are here to serve.
So, I now refer to myself as the Sparkle Navigator because I discovered years ago when I met Nelson Mandela [dropping name bombs up in here, yessss...giggles of excitement and awe], that he was the first person that I had ever met, who had presence. It wasn’t what he said, or did, it wasn’t even the knowledge he had from what he had overcome that had the greatest impact, he just exuded something, and I just found that immensely powerful and I am now calling that thing, sparkle!
Sparkle equation = knowing who you are + the value you bring = showing up unapologetically you, on purpose.
Let me just say, I am a full-blown, born-again Christian, and I believe I received a word from God that let me know Jesus had sparkle.
STORY: In the bible there is a passage that talks about a group of fishermen doing their job, a job that their ancestors did, so they know fish. Jesus walks along and says, ‘follow me and I will make you fishers of men’. They threw down their nets and followed him. Now think about that for a minute, ...that don’t make no sense! Why would I leave my well-paying job, which I enjoy, to follow a stranger that tells me he wants me to do something I have never done nor thought about doing and maybe don’t even understand the job spec, but I am still going to say yeah, let's do this. Nah, that doesn’t make sense in English, Hebrew, Japanese or any other language.
So, it wasn’t what he said or what he did because he didn’t do anything, it must have been how he showed up that connected with them, that made them think 'you know what, I have no idea what he said but I'm going to follow him anyway' [lots of ok's and Amen]. I believe we all have that, so please, go ahead and use the sparkle equation. Just know, there are some people that are not going to like you and that’s their business. Grandma’s voice: Don’t mind other peoples business lol!
OY: We are like yesss... we are doing equations up in here to grow our psychological assets. Carole you are gifting us with every word. One of the things that speak about and in a way amplifies your uniqueness is the strokes. Would you say that those massive health factors have enhanced your ability to enlighten others.
Carole: Well, it's funny you should say that, because I speak, and people say I am so uplifting and inspirational and insightful and I get really excited about that but, if I talk with my friends or those that have known me a long time, pre stroke, they would tell me, but Carole you have always been that way you have always made people feel that way so lol! [laughter all round, to her friends, motivating others, is a given, for Carole].It might sound weird but i honestly didn’t know I was me and then I had a whole realisation, that so many of us feel like that, we are just being who we have settled for.
Story: I was on BBC London, and I said during the interview, you may not remember anything I've said, you may not even remember my name, but you will never forget me, and Eddie Nestor said, you have always had an aura about you! I was like oh, I thought this was a major revelation but apparently that’s just me.
" I can bet you have never met a stroke survivor like me, and that’s because we all have choices, we are just not exercising them!"
OY: Feeling totally empowered and inspired, whilst taking personal notes [the smiles across the screens are notable]. What made you decide to start your own business, Carole?
Carole: Historically, I had a desire to go my own way, do something for myself. I did my degree as a mature student and always wanted to help people. So, giving up a job to purse a passion of mine felt right. I wanted to make a difference and I want to do that my way! Then, post stroke it was “you really need to share this brand of awesome with the world to encourage people to share their brand of awesome”. I am on a mission to make the world a brighter place by making women leaders, entrepreneurs and business owners discover and leverage the power of their sparkle, so that they stand out, are seen, heard and become unforgettable.
OY: Yessss and wow, we did say a few other things but there was an impromptu moment of silence that when it broke out, we all had to take stock, pause and pay homage. Wow Carole we are mind blown lol. Can everything really be that positive? Tell us, was your industry welcoming?
Carole: I don’t have major memories, so can't go back years ago, but what I believe is, the moment you know who you are, and you show up on purpose and you're not making any apologies for it, people open doors for you.
Story: For my first booking in 2019, I was in pyjamas, in a wheelchair on a stroke ward and the woman who booked me was a white woman and her audience were white middle-class men and so there was nothing about that scenario that said yeah, you would be great. It was the connection we had, and what was even more interesting was that she was fascinated by me, and she didn’t even know if I could speak in front of an audience, but hey, neither did I! It was our connection that made that happen, I wasn’t trying to be something, I was being me and that’s when I thought, oh my gosh, this sparkle thing is real.
This woman now counts me as a friend and has introduced me to many other bookings which at the end of one in particular, a 90-year-old man said he was going to take on some of the things I had said and change his life. I wondered, like what exactly could i have said? [ an accomplished laughter breaks out].
OY: We are being empowered as we listen to you, so we get the 90 year-old mans perspective [smiles]. Carole, everyone has woes, and you are not an exception to that, so what tools do you use when things get tough?
Carole: I have had to literally find my way because in addition to memory loss since my strokes, I also have facial blindness, and apparently, I, me, [she calls her name as if to speak in the third person] know a lot of people. Lots of people know me, that I can say (following my strokes) I have never met in my life. Now me being a full-blown Christian and when I say that I am just being me, (not trying to convert anybody, just expressing this is who I am), i cant go about ignoring people so i have to pull on my besties.
My three besties JC (Jesus Christ), H (Holy Spirit) and Papa G (God) and they quite literally have kept me going especially in complete isolation during the pandemic. So, when things get tough, I turn to my faith. My death certificate could have already been written and the fact that it was not means I am still alive for a reason, I still had things to do.
My reason: To shine a light in the dark for others so they can see their way. So, I get up every day believing I am going to say, do, or be something, for someone else.
I also do not process things in a linear way and so I have adopted mind mapping to support my thinking. I have found mind mapping so useful, I developed two versions of my own.
The first is called WIN MAP (Winning Inspirational Narrative). The idea is that a big win is made up of a series of small wins, but we don’t acknowledge the small wins, because we are waiting for the big win. But if we acknowledge the small wins, we are taking ourselves closer to the big win because we have the motivation to keep going. The method is to write down all the things that you have achieved during each month, and at the end of 12 months you will have the map of the year. You will know all the places that you won and even if you didn’t get that big thing, you can see your successes and celebrate them.
The second one is called the FOG MAP (Finger of God), the F also stands for favour, so these are for looking at your life and seeing where the finger of God has been on your life and shown you favour.
STORY: I went swimming and forgot my googles, I wanted to swim underwater so they would have been beneficial. As I stood there pondering the guy in the next lane said hello and so I said hello back and he said there is a pregnant woman in the pool who is swimming faster than me, and I said, well I will be swimming slower than you because I forgot my googles at home. He then said ‘oh I have a spare pair in my locker and proceeded to go and get the spare pair. He then gave me the googles and said I could keep them until I see him again, a man I had never seen before. I swam until my heart was content knowing I felt the finger of God and had found favour.
OY: That is a good story, something that could have changed your plan was just taken care of by FOG! With all this favour you must have some good ones, what’s the best thing about owning your own business?
Carole: Still trying to work this out [we all laugh not quite the magnificent nuggets we were expecting].
Ok, the freedom to chart your course and determine your destiny obviously there are lots of challenges, but you are not waiting for anyone to tell you what to do.
OY: What 3 things have you learnt that you wish you knew earlier?
1. That I was me – that I was so much deeper than I had known or experienced before.
2. That all the challenges I have gone through, there was so much richness and value in them.
3. Value what is already in your own hands.
Story: I created something in 2011, that was called Shine and Grow Rich. Now I love acronyms and so shine means –
Shape your thinking
Heal your heart
Inspire your actions
Nourish your dreams and
I found this in 2020, listened to it thinking I would need to amend it and there was nothing to change. I thought, hold a minute, I have had this all this time and did nothing with it.
So, know what you have in your hands, and do something with it.
OY: This is so true, so many ideas go un-executed but with someone like you around I am sure everyone would feel inspired. So, who if anyone has inspired you, mentored you or have you aspired to be like?
Carole: Nah, I don’t want to be like anyone, I only want to be me. It’s funny because just the other day I was thinking to myself, oh my gosh I love my life. And bearing in mind, I was in hospital in August, hospital in September, I’ve had laryngitis, there’s lots of reason why this is s**te. However, I feel likes it’s a Charles Dickens Tale of Two Cities life, which actually we’re all living. It’s the worst of times and it’s the best of times. It’s that whole concept of is the glass half full or half empty. You know what, I am grateful I’ve got a glass. I wake up in the morning smiling, I’m weirdly wired because I smile all the time but it’s that whole thing of everything is still possible because I’m still breathing. I may not be able to do it in a particular way or how I used to do it or even how I want to do it, but it doesn’t mean that I can’t do it. I’m just inspired by life and I love seeing people be the best versions of themselves.
For instance you get scenarios where people have got no limbs and people say aren’t they really great because they’ve got no limbs.
Whilst I’m thinking aren’t they really great because they’re embracing who they are.
Actually this is who I am, I don’t have to like it and this is a problem, we believe we have to like everything, and then something happens that we don’t like and we get caught up on that. I have challenges, I’ve got invisible disabilities and I’m living in a world that I don’t understand and people don’t understand me and there are so many things going on but it is what it is. I can’t control that, but I can control how I play the game. We can’t control the hand that we are dealt but we have 100% opportunity to control how we play that hand. So I can sit here and say, how hard life is, but that doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t make me feel good, it doesn’t help me, so what’s the point.
But I can also say, what can I do? What are the possibilities from this place and I think that 2020 really taught me this. I didn’t leave the house, I sat in this chair for 10-12 hours a day and during that time I did speaking events globally, because I sought opportunities. Even in the middle of a crisis you can find the opportunities. I don’t try to be, I’m just me.
OY: What advice would you give our sistas wanting to start a business?
Carole: First thing is to sit down and do a strength and skills audit. Identify who you are and what you bring to the table. Too often we look outside of ourselves for the answers and I’m believing that actually if we start with the core of what we’ve got then the stuff outside should enrich and enhance what we have, not replace it. Otherwise, we’re always looking outside, always trying to be something, always trying to align ourselves with someone else’s perspective on something. Whereas, if we start with, this is who I am, this is what I have in my hand, then yo will decide, right I need to polish this. After that when you look at it again, you will see it differently and then you will use it in a differently, and that’s really important.
The other thing is vision. Vision is the most powerful tool that we have, because if you don’t have a vision that’s beyond this moment then where are you going. How do you set goals without a vision. Doing that, setting a goal just for goal’s sake as opposed to it helping you navigate your way towards something is ludicrous.
So the two things are vision and understanding that you have more to you than you have settled for and you need to unpack what that is. Start with looking at what is missing or what needs to be polished and only then should you look outside for the answers.
OY: Wow probably most of us seek outside sources first.
Carole: Yes but often times when God gives you a vision He has given it to you based on the person He knows you to be or wants you to become. And when you share that vision outside that’s when people are like, no that’s not a good idea, don’t you remember when you tried something new last time and it didn’t work out. But it's your vision, don't ever let someone else tell you it's not going to work, the only way you're going to know if it's going to work is you gotta do it. And even if it doesn't turn out in the way you wanted it too, you will have grown and learnt. There's always something to glean from it. We just need to be bold and courageous.
OY: What will you be doing next?
Carole: One, I need to do something specific just for women. And two, my Sparkle message is global so I need to get it onto a wider global platform.
OY: Where can we find you? Socials websites etc.
Carole: Wordsthatdeliver.com Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn
Inspiring, awesome, quality, high energy person. Carole says "action is the key to success" and we agree. If ever there was someone who could get you up and going, Carole is it. We fully expect her Sparkle to go global.
#bosslady #blackfemaleentrepreneurs #thesparklenavigator #onyxyayas