Thursday, May 15, 2014

5 Life Lessons I Learned Living Outside the U.S.

Well, folks, today the 15th of May, marks exactly three years in Ghana for me. I don't really know where the time has gone and I can't believe that it has passed so quickly. If it wasn't for my lack of knowledge on current pop culture, I would swear I just left yesterday. However, let me clear. Solange's arsenal assault did make it to the other side of the world within six hours. (you know Jay is my future baby daddy, and after this weeks events its obvious he may be in the market for a second wife soon and mama is ready!!)

But seriously, typically every year, at this time I like to do some reflections of my life and what living in Ghana has taught me. Because whether you know it or not, living outside of your home country really can be an eyeopening and jaw dropping experience.

So here are some of the top lessons I learned living outside of the United States in the past three years.

1) There is a Better Way of Life- Americans are often caught up on thinking that we come from the best country in the world, which is just not true. Being an American indeed has a lot of benefits, but no American should ever believe the American way of life is where its at. In fact, according to a 2011 study France and US have the highest depression rates in the world. Only last year, did America move  to the number 2 spot for being the fattest country in the world. And guess what....Americans are below average intelligence.....thank God for Italy and Spain. So what does all of this tell us? Perhaps the American way of life isn't the best. Something in our way of life stops most of us from actualizing our true potential. I can say that living outside of the U.S. I view things completely different. I don't have many of the societal pressures my friends experience, and as a result, I am a better, more fulfilled human being.

2) Don't Focus on Results- Now this actually ties into number one and is probably why so many people are unhappy. In America life is about results; never the process that brings you to the results. Americans are taught to be "goal" oriented, focus on the prize. But the bottom line is, is that the results aren't nearly as important as the process. A person who is able to perfect a process will undoubtedly reach their goals time and time again. However, if you don't know the process you will find that you never get the results you want.  Plus, being process oriented takes off a lot of stress off;  because as well all know you never see the results immediately. And living in Ghana has taught me to never see by sight.

3)You Gotta Have Faith- In this life, I think its important to believe in something. It doesn't make a difference to me what you believe in, but I believe that humans should acknowledge there is a higher force at work in all of our lives. How do I know this you ask? Because I am a living testimony that all things work together for your good. You will find that when you have faith in something larger than yourself you will enjoy each experience in life more, you won't take things so personally and you are confident that the actions you make. Plus, you just can't live in Ghana without faith. This is a place where strange things still happen and life gets tougher by the day. If you don't have faith you will loose hope and undoubtedly go packing. The devil's number one weapon is feat and uncertainty.

4)Partners Are Important- Americans are loners whether we know it or not. Success is a personal thing, not a team effort. However, since moving to Ghana I have learned  that partners are important for both business and love. You see in America we know partnerships are important in business, but most of us don't think of love as a partnership. Since moving to Ghana I have realized that who you choose as a life partner and the qualities that surround them are just as important for who you choose as a business partner. A great business partner will take you to the top; the same is true for finding the perfect life partner...and the ugly truth is, you never marry for love alone. Most of us have been in love more than once, so no one should ever doubt they will fall in love again. Living in Ghana has taught me the practical side of love and has moved me far from the world of fairy tale.  Partners you choose in both business and love should be those that you are fairly certain will help you meet your goals, and not just financial.

5) What Makes Me Happy- The great thing about living in Ghana is that I am no longer part of the rat race. Things undoubtedly move at a slower pace; therefore I have learned what happiness means to me. Taking a cue from Pharrel and the world, I have learned that happy for me is being able to wake up when I want to, go to the beach and play a guitar. I am happy when I am inspiring others and creating and executing events that some might have thought impossible. Oh and happiness is having my two Club beers (at any time I designate) with my two Kingsize cigarettes, if that's what I choose to do. Bottom line, I have never been this happy before in my life, and I hope you join one day too because I am never coming back.

So that's all people. I hope you enjoyed and I hope you share with a friend. Onto year four and may it be the best year of them all.

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Social Selection: Survival of the Fittest

There are two things about me that most people would probably never assume: 1) I am inherently shy and it actually takes effort for me to socialize and 2) Although I appear highly sociable, I really don't mess with most people. I wouldn't call myself a misanthrope, but I would call myself socially selective.

You see, I , unlike most people have never felt the need to be part of the crowd. I don't feel the need to do or say things that are socially acceptable, as most of my friends will attest, and I don't really care to participate in trivial conversation for the sake of diplomacy. In fact, I would bet this is why I never built a successful career in politics. But it is who I am.

Part of this is because I know humans are just unreliable individuals. I can count on my hand the number of times where people have truly provided the assistance they promised, pushed me to get ahead or really opened some major opportunity. Couple that with the belief that no man has a part in my destiny and now you have me, a socially selective individual.

Now being socially selective has its benefits. First, I get to limit the factual information about me distributed to the public, which I adore. Hey, it never hurts to have a few rumors swirling about you. After all, well behaved women rarely make history and, secondly, it guarantees that when I do spend time with people I really enjoy it.

So when a trusted mentor told me that I wasn't socializing enough with key people I told him I wasn't really interested in them. Because let's be honest, most of them I have met have been pompous assholes. I then explained my social selectiveness to him. He simply chuckled and said, " You don't have enough money to be socially selective."

And he is right. I will admit that I probably could have had a lot more opportunities had I been willing to be less socially selective. If I had been more willing to tolerate slick comments (Sidenote: Isn't it ironic that I hate slick mouths when I have one?), or unnecessary arrogance, or just general disinterest in people I probably would be a lot further. But there is no harm in making a mistake. So from this day forward, I pledge to be more interactive with people, with business sense in mind, not a personal one. Because after all you don't need to be friends to do business, you just need to have a mutual respect.

So rest assured that until I make my first few million I will be more proactive in nurturing my relationships, regardless of how much I enjoy them or not. But don't be surprised if some of you are cut off immediately after mama makes it to mogul status. Just joking..... hopefully ;)

Until Next Time. Smooches.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Flee Ghana

Following your dreams is never an easy feat. Now mind you, its not that everyone is not capable of following their hearts desires, its just that not everyone will have the courage- the gusto to stand out from the crowd and do what no one is doing.

So when I moved to Accra, Ghana, three years ago, I was excited to see the large number of pioneers like myself, who believed not only in the future of Ghana, but the future of Africa as well. It was even more exciting to see the number of Diaspora descendants who were making the concious choice to move back and make the sacrifices needed to move Ghana forward. We came mostly from the UK and the US, but there were others from Holland, Denmark, France and other European countries. We came in droves and we were excited about what the future held.

It's why three years later, I am disappointed by the number of people who have left or who are deciding that the terrain is just too tough for them to cut it. Now, its not like I don't understand. Not only is living in Accra, just as expensive as living in any other busy metropolis in the world, but it is also just as dog eat dog. Living in a place where many are left to their own devices can be overwhelming. In fact, it is overwhelming. Especially when you add cultural difference and language barriers on top of it all.

It also doesn't help that gas has gone up four times in one year, inflation in March was 14.1% and the cedi is free falling against foreign currency like a kamikaze. Who wouldn't want to flee for the promise of a secure pay check in dollars and pounds?

Me and a handful of others, who have refused to be moved regardless of the circumstances. Perhaps some of us thought life in Ghana would be easy and low cost. Perhaps we forgot that we can't afford to eat at the best restaurants every night and that having the newest car isn't as important as making sure you have working capital for your business; especially in a place where access to capital is almost non-existent..Maybe the sacrifice and the craziness of Ghana is just too much for some. After all, living in a place where lights and water are irregular will be enough to drive any Westerner insane. But it is said entrepreneurship is about living a few years like most people won't to spend the majority of years living like most people can't. And I for one am still up to the challenge.

So as the exodus prepares to depart Ghana, I wish everyone good luck on their new journey. I hope that everyone makes it back, not only for visits, but to stay. And may we all live our own destiny and dreams according to the visions in our hearts.

Until Next Time. Smooches.