Our LagosMums mum of the month is Tolu Michaels, an entrepreneur, a Personal Branding Strategist, wife and mum and we enjoyed talking with her. Read more about this amazing mum as she shares her passion to profit experience and her journey so far as a first-time mum.
Please tell us about yourself?
My name is Tolu Michaels, I’m a Personal Branding Strategist. I like to refer to myself as a disciple of Jesus Christ, an entrepreneur, and an educator. I’m a wife and mother.
Tell us one unexpected thing about you?
I am an introvert. Most people don’t know this particularly because I know how to talk. However, I don’t like to do it often. I hardly go out and even when I go to large gatherings or conferences, I usually need a lot of time to recoup my energy. But it’s hard to tell at first glance because I smile a lot and laugh often. Also, because of the nature of my job, I’m always teaching through my programs or through my writing so people just expect me to be an extrovert because of my communication skills.
Can you share all the hats that Tolu Michaels wears?
Besides being a wife and a mom, I’m the founder of the Tolu Michaels company, and we have a staff strength of three employees. I’m the Ministry Director at Godlovers Fellowship — where I also sit on the board of the ministry. Also, I am a daughter, granddaughter, big sister, cousin, aunt, mentee, mentor. So I’m a leader to the people I employ and a mentor to my wonderful mentees. I am a friend and sounding board to my friends. The list goes on. I guess as women we always wear so many hats both at home and at work.
Tell us about your beautiful family?
I’m married to my favourite human being on the planet, Michael, and I have a daughter whose name is Ozichi. We’re a growing family, we got married in December 2016. We are really close-knit since we’re only three anyway.
My husband and I met in school, so we sort of have the same friends and know the same people. We’re remarkably different, but we have a lot in common so, there’s usually a lot to talk about. I remember that I had to relocate right after we got married. So sometimes, when I got upset and promised not to talk to him, I always forgot myself especially when there was a hot gist because I had nobody else to talk to (lol).
What has surprised you the most about motherhood?
I did not know that I have so much capacity to care for another human being. I like to think of myself as caring, but I’d usually do my best to help and that’s it. However, when it comes to my daughter, my best is not enough. I often need to remind myself that I’m not God! My heart has expanded beyond imagination.
Another thing that has really surprised me is my ability to retain information. I’m used to forgetting things easily and I literally have to set a reminder for everything. But with my daughter, my brain has become super-powered. I remember everything; medications, doctor’s appointments, party invites, etc.
People say “When a child is born, a parent is born”. I think I was reborn when I became a mother.
What has motherhood taught you about yourself?
Motherhood has taught me that I have an endless capacity to do everything that I’m supposed to do in each season of my life. I used to worry a lot about what kind of mum I would be. However, becoming a mum taught me that God has given grace for every season. So, there is no need to worry ahead because, in the season of being a mum, there is enough grace and capacity for it to happen. I’m still figuring it out every day but I don’t worry about tomorrow because I know that there is enough grace for that already.
Motherhood has also helped me realize how limited I am and that taught me time management. I used to have this big sister syndrome where I felt I could be responsible for so many people. However, motherhood has shown me my limits, it has taught me to play to my strengths and focus on my core. Before, when people bring their issues to me, I used to feel like it was my responsibility to fix it but motherhood helped me see where my priorities lie. Also, my respect for other women has gone through the roof! I salute every woman.
Can you tell us some of the funniest things your child has said or done?
At the moment, she’s eighteen months so almost everything she does is funny. I remember one time when she said “mama, sit down”. Then she brought out my lipstick and powder brush and started applying makeup on me. The serious look on her face was hilarious, and I was astonished that she actually knew what to do with those things even before she knows what their names are.
There was also one time she was trying to bathe me, fully dressed. She wanted me to get into the bath, so she could pour water on me; I thought that was hilarious.
Share your professional journey.
I studied mechanical engineering because I love cars. However, after interning at a Toyota after-sales franchise for a while, I decided that I didn’t want to deal with the smell of petrol and engine oil every day. I enjoyed the ruggedness of the work and believe it’s a noble profession but I’m really sensitive to smell and just couldn’t handle it. So, I decided to move away from the practical aspect into designing but quickly discovered that I was also not interested in that.
As I rounded up the National Youth Service (NYSC), I got a job offer from someone who believed in me and loved my creative writing skills. Even though my job description was Digital Content Coordinator, I had multiple roles and performed almost every task you can think of. Stressful as that might sound, it prepared me for my own business and gave me the confidence that I could get paid for my skills, regardless of what I studied in school.
On figuring out your passion
I wanted to understand the capital markets so bad and was particularly fascinated by infrastructure financing, so I pursued investment banking opportunities and one of the good things I got out of it was my Line manager who took interest in me and became my mentor. She helped me and showed me that I could really do anything. She also maximized my strength by letting me take the lead on projects relating to data analytics, financial modelling, and management reporting.
Along the line, there was a shocking interruption and I became jobless within 26 days. This was tough but thankfully, I had been at level zero many times and I’m never really scared of it. While I searched for a job I like, I decided to package my copywriting skills, improve my marketability and find clients.
Over time, I decided to get a Digital Marketing certification and took other courses about Business Strategy and Digital footprints. All of that experience accumulated into what I currently do today which is “Personal Branding Strategy for Entrepreneurs”.
Tell us about turning your Passion into Profit.
Ah, Passion! One thing that really bothered me was the fact that whenever I tried to research people — especially Africans who fascinated me, I found nothing about them on the Internet. It happened a lot. I’ll read magazines about men and women doing good work, then I’ll research them and find nothing.
I kept thinking that there is more to us in Africa than pictures of starving children and refuse dumps but the world doesn’t see this because we’re not documenting our stories. It was no longer enough to have a compelling cause or a brilliant product; people need to also be able to find you and know about your work. This was my heart cry.
Developing the Tolu Michaels Brand
However, beyond being passionate, I continued to develop the skills to help people improve their online presence. I took courses to get better at it and started to offer my knowledge and skills as a service: From personal brand consulting to building their personal websites and creating compelling content.
As I helped more people with this, I realized that I could solve a problem I recognized and create wealth in the process. I could do something that I love and still get paid while being me. So, I doubled down on my business. I started hosting virtual training to help people build profitable and purposeful personal brands. Today more than a thousand people have attended my training from several parts of the world.
Armed with feedback from these people, I created my signature program “Build and Launch” — a 60-Day program to build your personal website and launch your personal brand at the same time. It launched mid-2019 and it’s been such a joy to see clients of the program turn their skills into profitable businesses and launch their personal brands.
How do you use Digital media to grow your business?
My business is a digital business and I’m a digital entrepreneur. I use digital media to meet new people. I communicate with my subscribers and clients through digital media. Also, I use digital media to deliver all my workshops and trainings including my Build & Launch program.
Because of digital media, I’ve been able to attract students and clients from different countries and even places I’ve never been to.
Can you give your top 3 tips to be successful online?
Tip 1: Be easy to find.
It’s one thing to be visible and it’s another thing to be easy to find! What that means is for you to go to where your people are. Note that this doesn’t mean you have to be active everywhere you just have to be present everywhere. For example, have an Instagram account, LinkedIn account and a personal website to look credible. Be active on at least one or two social media platforms where your clients are. It’s not sustainable for you to be the one to keep discovering new clients. Make it easy for people to find you on their own. Start by making sure your brand name is easy to type and spell.
Tip 2: Be remarkable so that you can be heard in spite of the noise online.
Remarkable means something that is worth talking about. Seth Godin always uses the metaphor of the purple cow to describe remarkable work and I like that because we see cows often. But if I saw a purple cow, I would stop to look at that and even do a video recording to show it to you.
It’s not hard to stand out because most people are doing the same thing. Most people are not thinking about what the client wants and most people are not thinking global. Go the extra mile, do what others are not willing to do. Be yourself as much as you can. Authenticity is very attractive and makes it easy for people to remember you and choose you.
Tip 3: Build a good reputation.
I think that what you do is not as important as how you do it. Personal branding is not only about packaging. It’s also about credibility. As your business grows and changes, one thing that you can carry along with you is your credibility. When people know you’re credible they will tell others about you and those referrals are a solid source of growth.
Work-Life Balance or Work-Life Integration?
I think these words are confused some times but I’m all about priorities.
Does Work-Life Balance Exist?
I doubt it. Balance is the sense of 50/50, where its 50% work and 50% life. I don’t think that exists. However, you can choose to prioritize what’s important today, this week, this month, etc.
How important is a support system for a mum?
VERY Important. Any mum thriving without a support system is not really thriving, she’s lying to us. You can’t do it alone.
Who is in your Tribe/Support System?
For me, my support system is my husband first. He’s a really hands-on dad, and we basically do house chores together. My friends also — support, encourage, pray, and share their lives with me. All of my adopted big sisters who give me pointers for adulting, My mum — I can pick up the phone anytime to run something by her, and my mother-in-law who is a pharmacist and helps me make sense of prescriptions. Finally, my housekeeper and people at my daughter’s nursery who take care of her during work hours; are all part of my support system.
What advice will you give a Mum who is trying to balance motherhood and business?
Be kind to yourself! Get help as much as you can. Take help when you are offered it, and realize that you can’t do everything. You already have everything God needs to bless you so quit trying to look outside yourself or compare yourself to others.
Even though the world is always telling us to go harder, understand the season that you’re in and enjoy it. For example, if you can’t honor speaking engagements because you’re heavily pregnant or you have a young child, don’t beat yourself up about that. Be honest with yourself about how many clients you can take given your current responsibilities, and work within what you have. Enjoy every season that you are in.
Use one word to describe one thing that should not be missing from every home?
Love! Love for God and love for one another.
Share one self-care tip.
Self-care for me is really spending time alone and digging deep. I journal, I write every day. I ask myself at the end of every day what I’m grateful for, what I love about myself, and what I need to improve on. Journaling helps me to see how far I’ve come and what God has done for me.
How do you relax and spend time on yourself?
Pretty much being by myself. Any opportunity I get to be by myself! Considering that I have a young daughter, that doesn’t happen often. So any opportunity to be by myself is a treasure. So I relax by spending extra time in the bathroom because that currently seems like the only time I’m just alone with nobody else there.
Then when I can, I go on dates with myself. Once in a while, I go out by myself to eat somewhere, observe people, and think. Another thing I do is take pictures of the sky. I really love sunsets, sunrises, and the clouds, so I take lots of pictures of the sky and I enjoy doing that.
As a Yummy Mummy — can you tell us how you stay stylish and your beauty routine.
In terms of style, I don’t make much style decisions, I try to preserve my mental power for other things. So, I’m very minimalist with style items. I only have a few basic items per time and if I like something, I buy multiples, so I don’t have to choose.
Hmm, beauty routine! Does washing my face count? I wash my face a lot and that’s about the one thing I do that is good for my skin.
What are the top three survival skills LagosMums need?
Being able to think for yourself is key, especially as a woman. Everybody is trying to tell you what they think you should do and how they think you should live your life, how they think you should space your kids, who they think you should follow and listen to. So I think it’s a very important gift to be able to think for yourself. As I often say, freedom is first established in the mind.
The second thing is self-awareness. If you don’t know yourself, you won’t be able to think and make your own decisions. So take the time to learn more about you.
The third thing is knowing when to let go. You are not responsible for the world. Know where your part stops and where God takes over. Being able to say “God help me” and letting go is required for survival.
What do you love about LagosMums?
I like the fact that you are unpredictable and I can’t really expect your content. One moment, you’re telling us something really technical like how to raise children in a digital-savvy world. Then another moment you’re sharing something hilarious which would be just the thing I needed for the day. I really love how Mrs Yetty Williams features a diverse group of women that we can learn from in different areas of life. It reinforces that there is no one particular way to be a woman and I love that.
N1million or more sleep?
- More sleep, please!
Go on a shopping spree or all expenses paid trip to your top destination?
- I’ll take the trip any day, anytime. In fact, I need more trips.
Homeschooling or traditional school?
- Traditional school
A spa day or Eat out?
- Spa day!!
Visit LagosMums Mum of the Month category to read from other mums who share their motherhood journey.