EP 01 // Akua's Story

Ep 01

Welcome to the Open Door Conversations Podcast! Akua is so excited to start this podcast that is sure to be full of open and honest conversations. Since leaving her job 3 years ago as a startup leader, Akua has worked for herself as a successful leadership coach focusing on skills that help leaders to love themselves, love their work, and love their life. The goal of this podcast is to share useful leadership information, different perspectives on life, and ways to know and love yourself even more.

Frustrated, a little lost, and burnt out, Akua decided to leave her company and begin doing something she never expected. She launched her leadership consulting company and started working for herself. Although it was (and is) challenging, she has found that knowing herself and finding strength in those that supported her ultimately leads to the ability to work how she wants to. Today, Akua shares some major lessons she has learned while working virtually with clients to strengthen their leadership skills. Akua emphasizes that getting clear on your values is important and even talks about her main values.

 Listen, Follow, Review, and Rate the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Apple Podcasts | Stitcher | Audible | Amazon Music | Spotify

What's Covered in this Episode About Starting a Coaching and Consulting Practice

  • Going from working for others to launching her business

  • Lessons learned from the past 3 years owning her business

  • The importance of main values

  • Her main values in personal and professional life

Let’s keep the conversation going; tell me about YOUR story! Use #askakua on your social media story to get a special gift.

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • “The most profitable thing that you can do, the most productive thing you can do, is take the time to reflect on how you think you're showing up.” - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • “Life is really all about experiments... it's really up to us to try to experiment and see what feels good.” - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • “Commitment is showing up for yourself fully, taking action, and being at choice.” - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • “If you don't feel good about yourself if you aren't taking care of yourself, it's really hard for you to do that for others.” - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • “It's important that you are aware enough that maybe something isn't working or something isn't going right and that you want to do something different about it.” - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Resources Mentioned

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

Playlists-Wide Rectangle Ad

Here’s the transcript for episode 001 about lessons Akua has learned over the last three years

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:00 Hello, and welcome to the open door conversations podcast, I am super excited to have the opportunity to share a bit more about my story today. I am not 100% sure where this conversation is going to go. But I have tonnes of notes. And I've actually tried to record this, this is my third time trying to do this. So I'm really excited to see where this goes. And hopefully you get something from this. Within this first episode, what I wanted to do was share a bit about my story, then I wanted to share some of the main lessons that I've taken from this business that I have built over the last three years. And finally, I'm going to share some of my main values that really reflect how I try to show up in my business and also how I try to show up in my life. And for me, this is really key because with all the clients that I work with one on one, the first thing that we really do is we start to think about what are some of the ways in which we decide how to move forward? What is guiding our behaviour? What are some of the things that are impacting our decisions, whether we are conscious of them or unconsciously doing it. And I think it's super important to take the time to reflect on this because these decisions no matter how small, will have an impact on our ultimate results. So let's get started with my story. I started my business, I registered my business about three years ago. And it simply came from frustration. I was not happy with where I was working. And I didn't feel like I could find an opportunity that resonated with me. So I decided to launch a coaching and consulting practice. And for me, I really wanted to focus on leadership because I felt like when I first started, and when I started, I was working within a high growth startup. I felt like I didn't have the support, I needed to be successful. I felt like I was being asked to do things in a way that didn't resonate. I was constantly being asked to change the way I looked the way I sounded, I was being forced to justify and explain myself constantly. And that's not to say that that doesn't happen. Now, it definitely still happens now. But I just felt like I wasn't willing to compromise anymore in terms of the work that I was doing. So I started my coaching consulting practice. And of course, I couldn't come up with a good name. So I just named the practice after me. So it's literally registered. It's just my name, my company is registered in the US, I also have it registered Nigeria. But yeah, that's that's pretty much how it started, I just decided that I no longer wanted to work with other people or for other people full time, I really wanted to see what it would take to build a coaching consulting practice, I had already invested a lot of time, and also financial resources into my coaching. And though initially, I felt like I would use those coaching tools and techniques within a structured company, I felt like maybe it was time to try to build something on my own. And I never thought I could I remember always telling my team telling places I worked at that I could never work for myself, it wasn't something that I saw myself doing. I didn't think I was capable of doing it. And I would always say I like other people's money. So it's been really, very, a really interesting journey the last three years to try and figure out where I wanted to focus and how I really wanted to show up. But ultimately, I just knew that I preferred working for myself and that I really wanted to support leaders both one on one, and then also in group settings or with speaking. And I have learned so much about myself. And I've also learned so much about you know, doing business online as a service provider. And you know how to really put yourself out there. So all of my content, all of my work is really for me, it's what I needed when I first started off, and it's also really what my clients need as well. So a lot of the things that I'm developing, I'm developing them with my one on one clients and my workshop clients in mind, which I think is really cool that I could create the space to do that and constantly be putting things together that can support people, I think in a really unique way. As I mentioned before, a lot of my interest in working for myself was to be able to have a bit more control To a certain extent over the people that I was engaging with and supporting. And a lot of this comes from feeling like I wasn't enough or feeling like I was too much. So one of the things I love to think about, and I love to actually work with my clients on was thinking about some of those preconceived notions and perspectives we have of people, when they show up, I'm sure those of you who've had the opportunity to take a look at my cover art or see a picture of me, I'm sure there's some conclusions you've jumped to about who I am, what I'm capable of, and what I can do, all of us do this as human beings, right, all of us jumped to conclusions about whether or not we think we can trust somebody, whether or not we can invest in someone, and the value we think that person can bring. And one of the things that I got really upset at, and I still get upset at this to a certain extent, but now I can quickly manoeuvre and I can shift and I can pivot a lot faster, because I don't have an entire organisation that I need to think about. I'm just really thinking about myself, and some of the service providers that I work with, and I invest in. And, and so, you know, I very much wanted to be in a position where I didn't feel like I had to deal with these sort of preconceived notions or perspectives. And I still deal with them, as I mentioned before, but I have the time and space once again, to be able to work through that in a very different way. So always feeling like I'm too much, or I'm not enough, you know, wanting to fit in or being told I need to be fit in being told that I'm too different. Or that I need to wait my turn. And it's been, I think, a very interesting experience in what I like to describe of, I don't know what I'm not sure where I'm going with this. But I think we can cut here. And I will sort of start again. So when I'm thinking about my work, and I'm thinking about the things that I'm doing, especially in relation to my story, I do think a huge part of it is sort of trying to raise awareness around how as human beings we jump to conclusions. We have these perspectives that sometimes don't serve us. We have these preconceived notions that actually really do stop us from being successful. And I see this and I had this and I still of course have these because I am a human being and by being a human being, I am naturally biassed I am naturally discriminatory. I naturally do things, just because that's how I was socialised. Or I was conditioned. And I think it's really important for all of us as human beings to take the time to learn about how we might show up in some of these ways. And for me, that constant voice in my head, that constant record that was playing when I was working full time for other organisations. And this sometimes happens, even though I'm working for myself, primarily is that I am too much or that I am not enough. I was constantly being told, and I'm still sometimes told this that, you know, I'm too aggressive. I'm not this, I'm not that, you know, how can I work for myself? I don't sound like everyone else. How did I get this accent? You know, how dare I ask for this much money. What I'm doing is not normal. I'm too old, too young. I'm trying to be too different. I should just go back to work, I need to first get a PhD. I don't look like someone who could support leaders. I'm not wearing the right clothing. In order to support leaders, I need to change my accent. I need to be more respectful and have more humility. You know, how dare you not offer me a discount. I can go on and on about some of the things I've been told over the last three years of starting this business. And one of the things I think that has given me the strength has given me the push to continue to move forward, I would definitely say are the people that are in my personal life and also the people that believe in me and are open to investing in me. And it hasn't been easy. And it's still not easy. But I think that also because of how I've decided to show up and because of how I decide to define success for myself. I have, I think a unique, resilient way of thinking about how I want to do business and how I want to share go up. And I no longer want to allow people to decide how I need to look how I need to sound, what my services need to look like, what the investment level is to work with me, even though I still get that pushback every single day. And when I am thinking about how far I've come over the last three years, I think it's really important, also to talk about some of the main lessons that I've learned. And what I've done. I didn't do this on purpose. But looking back, I think, is really interesting. When I look back on what I've decided to sort of make my primary framework for the work that I do with leaders, I feel like those are also the main lessons that I've learned as well. And I think that those main lessons that I've learned, also are very closely related to my main values, and the way in which I try to show up in my business, and I also try to show up in my life. So when I am thinking about sort of the main lessons that I've learned, and I didn't learn all of these lessons easily, I definitely think it took being pushed down a few stairs kicked on, you know, maybe spit on a bit of quartz like this, I'm being a bit you know, I'm I'm sort of taking this to the extreme here, and I'm sort of just adding a bit of flavour, a colour, sort of a bit of a metaphor, I guess you can say, some imagery here to this, but really just recognising that there are three basic things that I think I've learned over the last three years. And these are also the three things that I try and teach the leaders that I work with one on one, and it's also the framework that I try and keep in mind when I am presenting information, sharing my perspective, supporting people. And so the first is really around building my own awareness. And I truly believe that the most profitable thing that you can do, the most productive thing you can do is take the time to reflect on how you think you're showing up. And then also try and get feedback from others on how they potentially perceive you. And I'm not saying that you need to take on the feedback, right, because everyone will have a different idea of how you show up and you will impact every single person differently. And a lot of times our intention doesn't always come through and how we show up. But I do think it's important to some extent to try and get an understanding of how people might see you. And if there's certain things that you're trying to get done in your life or in your business or within the career that you're trying to build, it might be helpful to get a sense of how other people see you. But it's also incredibly important that you take the time to build your awareness of ground yourself. And I think that one of the key things that we all need to build our awareness around is how we show up in our relationship with time. So a lot of my work does tend to be productivity related simply because we tend to tell ourselves, we don't have time to do a lot of the things that are important to us, we don't have time to do a lot of the things that are going to allow us to build that resilience, we don't have time to take the rest, that we need to be able to build better relationships and make better decisions. And it's really through building my own awareness where I started to make some decisions and build boundaries around what I was going to allow to happen in my life, and my business. And the things I didn't want to have happen anymore. So for those of you listening to this, you probably already know this, but I have a virtual business. And that is by design. I did not want to be in traffic anymore. There was a point in time where I truly thought that I was going to be living in Lagos for much longer than I ended up being there. And I knew that I wanted to be there and that if I was going to stay sane, that I did not want to be in traffic. And I did not want to build a business that would force me to have to go out and engage physically with people. And I think that just by cutting off traffic makes me just a happier person. And mind you I do not drive. But I just knew that. And I remembered that every time I was forced to be in traffic. And once again, I was not driving, how bad my attitude would be and how disinterested I was in doing work. By the time I got to the office or by the time I got to wherever I needed to go to do the work that I was doing. And so it was through recognising that I didn't want to be in traffic. I didn't physically want to be anywhere. I wanted to be able to decide where I was what I was doing. With my time that I thought that building out a virtual business made the most sense. And so I'm currently in Accra, Ghana. And I also think that Accra also has terrible traffic, I think most mega cities in Africa have terrible traffic. And for me, even though I am location independent, I literally could go anywhere and take my business with me, I'm super excited, I don't have to be in traffic in order to be successful in my business. And I think that's a key learning and a key thing that I am excited to be able to build boundaries around, and that I can build boundaries around. And I think that also goes to this concept of building my awareness in this lesson of the importance of building my awareness in the fact that I will evolve. And the things that are important to me will change also impacts how I set up my day and how I am, you know, set up my week, and I'm happy to talk more about that if people are interested in it. But I'm just constantly tweaking and thinking about how does this make me feel? How does this work? Does this allow me to move forward? Is this an important thing to invest in. And I think that because I've created space in my schedule, to take this time to reflect, I feel better. And a huge part of me, being successful is around me feeling good, and me feeling happy and nice. having time to do the things that I enjoy doing. And not being in traffic is a big one. Like I said, I'm happy to go into more of this, if people want me to talk a little bit more about it. But to me, I think talking just a bit about why a virtual business and why it's so important to me, to be able to have a virtual business is super key. And I think it's it's also been key to me, being able to show up for myself, right. And that's to me being productive. And me being able to make money in a way that really resonates with me and makes the most sense to me as well. The second lesson that I've learned over the last three years. And the second thing that I also teach is around experimenting and being open to engaging. And that's engaging with yourself and also engaging with others. I think so many of us, me included, will read something we'll take advice from others will not question certain things. And that works to some extent. But what I have found is, the more open I am to trying new things, the more open I am to approaching things in a different way and experimenting and being really reflective around how I want to engage and how I want to show up once again, the better I feel. And so what this means is with how I think about my business, with how even when I was working full time, you know, how I started is completely different from where I am now. And that's okay, I think a lot of us beat ourselves up, me included for things turning out differently. And I think I've had to get better at giving myself that space, that grace, having self compassion, some might even say forgiving myself for thinking that things might go a certain way. But then recognising that it's okay that things didn't turn out the way I wanted them to. And I can point to many examples within my business, many things I thought I would be doing that I am not doing many things that I tested, I tried, I experimented with that I'm not doing now. And that also goes with or goes yeah, goes to engaging with others as well. I try to encourage my clients to get really reflective, and think about what are some of the different ways in which they can show up as a leader and support others, as well. So really just recognising that we can't be successful in a vacuum, we do need others in order to be successful. And giving yourself that space, that grace to try on different approaches. And that's why I love really coaching and why I love being able to create that safe space. So people can try on different hats. And think through, you know, scenario one, scenario two, scenario three, having Plan A having Plan B, and just really recognising that life is really all about experiments. And it's really up to us to try to experiment and see what feels good, right? So we're open to experimenting, and then we'd go back to building our awareness and really reflecting on whether or not it's something that resonates. All right, once again, happy to speak a little bit more about that and, you know, in in some next episodes as well what that can really look like. And then last but not least, and I think that this one is super key once again, is this lesson of being open to rethinking. And then also actually setting expectations, I think is super key. I think so Many of us in both our personal and professional life, just expect things to happen. But there's a lot of interesting research about this, I don't want to go on and on about research, you know, I'm happy to put some links there if people are interested in it, but at the end of the day, you can only really move forward, if you've taken the time to think about what is possible, and set some potential expectations for yourself on how you might want things to look, I'm not saying that it has to look exactly like how you envisioned it. But I do think that's a really good starting point to get you motivated and to get you moving forward. And then right, of course, once you've set that expectation, you go back to engaging and experimenting, and then ultimately, right, you go back to continuing to build your awareness to see whether or not that fits. And if it doesn't fit, how do you want to experiment? How do you want to engage, and then reset that expectation, right. So it's this constant circle of trying to do different things, trying to show up in different ways, and really allowing yourself to to evolve, right? Because every single time you do one iteration of that you are evolving, you're trying something different. You're giving yourself the space and grace to try on different hats and make mistakes and push past your failures. And so for me, I would say those are really the three lessons that I've learned over the last three years and that I've tried to also teach and try to incorporate into my content as well, really being open to building my awareness and recognising that what I like and what I dislike will evolve. That second piece is really around experimenting and figuring out how do I want to engage with myself and others, and really just making that choice to being open to engaging with myself and others. And last, but not least, being open to not just setting expectations, but being open to rethinking those expectations, or resetting those expectations. If I've recognised through building my awareness and cultivating my awareness that those expectations no longer resonate with me, that version of success no longer resonates with me, or maybe no longer works for the timeline that I'm looking to work on. So I hope that makes sense in terms of some of the main lessons that I've learned over the last three years. And I think that this is a really good segue to talk about some of the main values that really show up, I think, in both my personal and my professional life. And when you are thinking about values, right? It's really what helps us guide our behaviours, and then ultimately, our results. And I think that once again, so many of us sort of outsource these values, we talk about these different identities that we have, I'm of this, I'm a that like, you know, we can even just use that identity of being a leader. And we make this assumption that just because we call ourselves these things, that, that there are these obvious values, right? There are these obvious things that that our behaviours will show, or that our results will come to because we call ourselves these things or because we identify as these things. And I don't think that's true, every single one of us needs to take the time and space to cultivate our awareness around what our values are. And when our values change, we also need to reflect on what's happening, right? If there are certain things that aren't going our way, if there are certain things we're trying to achieve, and we're not able to achieve them, we need to reflect on what is it that's really driving our behaviour? What are those thoughts and feelings that we're having? What are those things that we really value if these are the results that we're getting? And that's why I think spending time on, you know, reflecting on your values every so often is super important. And for me, I've noticed that I think that there's three main values that have really come through the work that I've done, and how I've tried to lead my personal life. Once again, I'm not a robot, none of us are robots. But it's really important that you're able to sort of sit back and reflect on what your values are, and even come up with examples of how you exhibited those, you know, those values, you can even ask people within your personal your professional life, you know, what values do you think I exhibit? How do I exhibit those values and sort of see if there's a disconnect, or if that's something that others can see within you, once again, if they don't see them within you, I'm not saying that you have to take it on or there's anything you need to shift or change about yourself. But I do think that's an interesting data point that you can play with and that you can reflect on. So what are my three main values and I think once again, you'll see those three main values are very much reflective, or reflected in the lessons that I shared previously. So the first value I have here is intentionality. So intentionality is knowing yourself and understanding your direction. A key piece of intentionality though isn't that you know exactly where you're going. You don't have to have all the pieces of the puzzle, but that you are willing to think about what's possible and that you're willing to think about what is maybe that next one step, that next thing that you can do to get closer to that, of course, write your course, to use the same word again, of course, your course, might shift or change. But just the fact that you are thinking about what's possible, maybe what's next, or what success looks like, can be incredibly motivating and very helpful, at least, it's very motivating and helpful for me. And once again, that's why I think it's so important that you take the time to cultivate your awareness around how you show up, and what works for you, and what are the spaces and environments that you thrive in. The second one I have here is growth. And growth isn't like that you are constantly outgrowing people are outgrowing what you're doing. But it just means that you have a focus on evolving and expanding opportunities. And so really just recognising that things like skills, right are pretty much like muscles, and that you have to work them work on them, work them out. And really just recognising that, you know, there are going to be times when you are uncomfortable, and you're going to have to be out, you know, pushed outside of your comfort zone, like having this conversation, recording, this conversation is pushing, pushing me outside my comfort zone. And you can probably tell that I'm trying really hard to correct everything also that I'm saying, right, because, you know, I have all these thoughts in my head, and I want to make sure that I'm perceived in a certain way. And so it's definitely having an impact on how I'm talking and how I'm showing up, it's typically a lot easier for me to have a conversation or do an interview because I then sort of outside my head when I'm doing that. So you know, just really recognising that just even having this conversation recording this putting together this podcast is forcing me to expand is causing me to evolve and grow in a way that I think is in line with where I want to go and how I define success. Right. So those are those are, this is how I really leveraged my values. And I leverage the lessons I think I've learned over the last three years. The last value I have here is commitment. And for me commitment is showing up for yourself fully taking action and being at choice. Some people might potentially hear this and think, oh my gosh, that's super selfish. But I think at the end of the day, if many of us are at least the people who tend to be attracted to my work, and the types of people I tend to work with, if all of us were a little bit more selfish, it actually would be a lot easier for us to show up for others create that space, that environment for others to succeed, and then ultimately, for all of us to grow. I think that we must help ourselves before trying to help others. I'm just gonna repeat that really quickly. I think that we must help ourselves before trying to help others. And I think you know, when I'm thinking about the work that I do now, as a coach, one of the key things I tell everyone is that I don't share tools, activities, things with my clients that I haven't done myself that I haven't tried myself that I haven't gone through, potentially myself. And when I do share things I haven't gone through or tried myself, I will let them know like, Hey, yo, I haven't done that. But I've heard other people have done this. And it's worked for them XY and Z and I'm happy to share other resources or other people you could maybe speak to, to decide whether or not this was a good way forward for you. So just really recognising that if you don't feel good about yourself, if you aren't taking care of yourself, it's really hard for you to do that for others. And that's why once again, for me, it's so important to go back to cultivating your awareness and really just trying to recognise for yourself whether or not you're enjoying what you're doing. Once again, you're not gonna enjoy every part of your job, you're not going to enjoy every part of your business, you're not going to enjoy every part of your career, or every part of your relationships. But it's important that you are aware enough that maybe something isn't working or something isn't going right and that you want to do something different about it. And if you don't do something different about it, that's where we get into sort of tapping into some of your reserves, right and not feeling motivated and not being excited and not feeling productive. And not being able to make decisions that allow you to be successful in your personal and your professional life. And ultimately, that can lead to burnout, right? When you don't have that drive you no longer like what you're doing. It no longer resonates with you. It's going to be really hard for you to show up for yourself and also show up for others. All right, so that's all I think I want to share with you in this first episode. I'd really love to hear your feedback to hear your thoughts around what I've shared today. Let me know a bit about your story. Right. This is actually what I do with my clients. The first session we have I learn a little bit more about their story. I hear about some of the main lessons that they've learned at As leaders, and we also talk about some of their values and how they use those values, and whether or not those values are getting them closer to how they define success. All right, so, thank you so much for taking the time to listen. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and I really would appreciate also your feedback. What do you want to hear more of what do you want to hear less of? Do you like the solo episodes? Would you prefer just having interviews? Please do let me know


There are no comments yet. Be the first one to leave a comment!

Leave a comment


 Untitled design (7)  Untitled design (8)  Untitled design (1)



               CASE STUDIES

               PEOPLE ROUNDTABLE


Leaders aren't born; they're made.

This 5-minute assessment will help you understand what leadership stage you're currently in so you can determine your next steps.


© Copyright 2023, Akua Nyame-Mensah | Terms & Conditions  | Website by Rachelle Deem