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Real World

WOMEN

Personality profiling for branding

& broader business purposes.

Written as part of a series to profile women of the 21st century, this profile was used to market my book 'Come Back Abayomi'. It's about an authentic African woman, the balsy-type who challenges traditional male dominance in and out of the office. It's a good example of profiling for broader business purposes. This article also did pretty well on social media sites.
Ridwana Jooma on the cover of Finweek.

When I caught up with Ridwana Jooma this week I watched her send her boy Aidan off to soccer by packing his kit, getting him a snack and making sure he came back for a kiss before navigating effortlessly back into our meeting. Geez, I thought, here I am struggling to get up in the morning!

Now this is a woman who’s graced the cover of FinWeek with a teddy bear so you can imagine, let alone brave, how structured her day is to juggle her many lives as super-consultant, mother and wife. I developed an appreciation for those choices when the roles that modern women play became a raging debate while researching my book “Come Back Abayomi” and its fiercely independent female lead.

Being a man who moonlights as a support to such superwomen I thought it was valuable to understand what they chose and why.

“I would be teaching my child to be unhappy” Ridwana began, explaining that finding time for herself as a person amidst the expectations of the roles she played was the greatest challenge.

For her it was important to live from her own truth. To value herself as a person was as much a choice as being a wife or mother. It was personal for Ridwana, and what shaped her choices made for a valuable insight I thought to share with you, men and women alike, because it’s less about gender as it is about some good ‘ol honest-to-God peace.

It happened while in Iraq during one of the most devastating wars of our time.

Ridwana and fellow human right activists descended upon an oil refinery enjoined in what could be the craziest way to save lives. They acted as human shields you see between the locals and soldiers trying to attack them. And to avoid an international incident the soldiers replaced live ammunition with rubber bullets.

Now just imagine if you were taking a hit for the justice you were fighting for. That’s a choice to sacrifice for the needs of others, a sort of unspoken requirement that comes from traditional roles imposed on women.

Then from nowhere a jet flew over them and moments later the world flashed white, rescinding into a blank much like the ‘tooo’ you hear when a telephone call is cut.

The bomb exploded a good 500 metres away but all of them were literally scattered about the place. Disorientated from the blast, Ridwana picked herself up with a common sense that we rarely experience in regular life: this is the way the world is!

Yes, war isn’t fair. And yes, tolerating genocide allows a part our own humanity to die. But this is still what the world is. It takes maturity to admit that don’t you think?

Juggling career and family roles was just that, a set of circumstances that could more easily be navigated by seeing it for what it is rather than fighting it. Ridwana acknowledges that she chose it so the responsibility was hers alone.

And with new-found clarity, Ridwana gained the freedom to respond to challenges in her life rather than reacting to gender wars in the workplace or at home.

'Sometimes asserting yourself as a woman is also seeking validation,' she says emphasizing that the drama is unnecessary.

Instead Ridwana got cracking establishing ‘Honeycomb Transformation’, and today she leads women in business and personally through her “Being a Woman” workshops. That’s a far cry from her activist days and what she’s really alluding to as the silent power fueling clarity amidst the cloud of expectations social roles create is simply surrender.

“The minute I push myself I know I’m being inauthentic.”

Not discounting the effort it takes to grow, Ridwana embraces her roles only as far as they fit practically into her daily structure. Beyond that, surrender was the ability to both accept her circumstances and laugh at herself. It takes courage even for a man to do that.

I think it’s worth mentioning that appreciating either gender as a person rather than a set of roles, ambitions and sensitivities takes a human being.

Like Superwoman ironing Superman’s tights to keep him focused on saving the world is a good example of teamwork, if not a good woman behind a successful man!

“Do something without attaching yourself to the outcome” she says, offering a way to jump beyond roles imposed on both men and women.

Maybe cultural roles did serve their purpose but time marches on. Today has given birth to the modern woman and perhaps in future we will need something else. What I can surmise with clarity is that if you want peace despite your daily grind you must be willing to set aside the war.

On that score, why not, surrender is freely available to us all.

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