Ep 33 // My Windy Journey: Career Transitions

Ep 33

Storytime! Last weekend Akua had someone approach her and ask if she supported career transitions. And first and foremost – yes! She loves supporting leaders by creating a safe space to reflect on where they are and where they want to go. 

In today's episode on the Open Door Conversations podcast, Akua shares her windy journey – her career transitions and what she kept in mind about why she made the decisions she did. Akua is chatting about her experience working in the corporate world. She shares her time as an entrepreneur and how she eventually found her way into coaching. Akua gets real on the fears and doubts she faced in each of these transitions and how she used them as fuel to keep going.

So if you're thinking about making a career change, or if you're just curious about what's possible, this episode is for you!

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What's Covered in this Episode About Personal Development

  • How to gain insight into your current career and whether its the right fit for you
  • Akua shares her top tips for making a career transition – including getting clear on your values and what's important to you, doing your research, and staying open to possibilities.
  • The important questions you need to ask yourself include self-love and self-care check-ins to make sure you're on the right path.
  • The importance of putting yourself out there and connecting with others during your journey to make new connections and find opportunities
  • Keeping in mind that everyone's journey is different and there is no one right path to follow
  • Why challenges can be a sign that you're on the right track (and how to work with them when they come up)
  • Comparing yourself to others is unproductive – focus on your unique journey and what's important to you.
  • Finding an inspiring quote or mantra to keep you going during difficult times

Special Announcement: Want to start taking action and leverage your career journey or story that you have and show up beyond your business, office, team, or department? Join the waitlist to be part of the next cohort in her program, Uplevel for Thought Leaders, where Akua teaches you how to leverage LinkedIn.

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "I really would recommend that you find a quote, or a saying that you feel can be used to help you orient yourself and how you show up in the world and make decisions." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "We just are so busy doing things and trying to get things done that sometimes we don't take a second to pause and really reflect or even practice gratitude." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "I've had such a random windy path to get to where I am now. And you know, one day I may decide to do something different." - Akua Nyame-Mensah
  • "I think it's really important that when you're making decisions that you're trying to do it from the best mental, physical and emotional space as possible." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in My Windy Journey: Career Transitions

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.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 33 about My Windy Journey Career Transitions

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 00:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah Chaos respond to Aqua. And yeah, I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognised facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant buyer fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I've worked with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time, and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive, and allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that, think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to lead yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this episode of the open door conversations podcast. And today, I'm really excited, I'm doing something a little bit different. And what I'm going to be sharing today is my windy journey. So I'm gonna be talking about my career transitions and some of the things that I kept in mind about why I decided to do certain things, why I left certain opportunities. And this really comes from this weekend. So this weekend, I had someone approached me to ask if I support with career transitions. And I was like, first and foremost, yes, of course, coaching is all about supporting people with changes, whether that's changes within themselves are changes that they want to be able to create, and other parts of their life and other parts of their business and other parts of their career. And so first and foremost, I was like yes, of course, I love supporting leaders by creating that safe space for them to reflect on where they are and where they want to go. And that is what a career transition is pretty much right. So I thought it'd be really interesting to do just a little storytime. Like I said, I've not done this before, I'll try and see how this feels. You can also let me know after you have a chance to listen to this podcast episode, whether or not you want me to create more content around these sorts of approaches, you can let me know if you'd like me to create more content in line with this approach of communicating, you can let me know if I should create more content along the lines of telling a story and sharing a little bit more about my background, and how I show up. So let's get started, I thought that we would actually start by just giving you a little bit of context. So if you are anything like me, you probably enjoy working hard, you probably enjoy getting things done, you've probably figured out to a certain extent, what you're good at and what you're not. But you don't always necessarily create an honour the time to see whether or not you're going in the right direction and are enjoying what you are doing. And suddenly break that down a little bit more. What that simply means is that you may not have the time and space or may not be creating the time and space to really reflect on what's going on. And so if you heard me start off this conversation about career transitions, and it feels a bit overwhelming. You might want to start by checking in to see if you can insert more rest and learn more about the impact of burnout before listening to this episode. And also before looking for another opportunity. If you're listening to this to get some insight into whether or not you should look for something else. Okay, so what I will do is add some episodes in the show notes that might be a helpful starting point. Because just jumping to another opportunity or even just taking a break will not solve anything. If you don't address right if you don't reflect on why you find yourself overwhelmed why you find yourself overworking or why you find yourself unhappy. Alright, so once again, if you've listened, or you've clicked on this episode, because you want some some direction or some thoughts on how to do this, but you feel like first and foremost, you're overwhelmed, overworking or unhappy. Please check out some of the other episodes in the show notes before listening to this episode because I think it's really important that when you're making decisions that you're trying to do it from the best mental, physical and emotional space as possible, right. It's not always possible necessarily, but I think it's a really good start. Any point to check in, because sometimes if you're burnt out or not getting enough rest, you might not enjoy the work that you're doing. So it takes actually creating space for being a human being and being able to show up as a human being for you to like the work that you're doing. Okay, I feel like I'm going down a little bit of a rabbit hole. So let's get into this episode. And what I actually wanted to focus a little bit more on. So in this episode, I wanted to reflect on my journey. So far, I've been working for about 10 years or so now. And I want to just walk through a bit of what has happened, and I'm not going to focus on everything, you can check out my LinkedIn profile, if you want all the itty bitty opportunities I've had. And I will tell you, I've done a lot of fun things. If there's something that you will hear in terms of a theme throughout my content throughout how I show up, even my speaking and workshops, you will see that I talk a lot about the process of how things are being done. And I talk about how things are fun, and that I'm learning. And that's actually a key sort of metric that I use to decide whether or not I should be doing something, pursuing something, or sticking with something. And I'll talk a little bit more about some of the metrics that I keep in mind as well. But I've had such a random windy path to get to where I am now. And you know, one day I may decide to do something different. And so what I really hold as a starting point, right, the main sort of metric that I'm looking at, and I actually use this in my my work in my copy, when I am talking about what I do and why I do it. But I really hold this as the starting point do I love myself, do I love what I'm doing? Do I love my life. And I like to use the word love because love assumes that not everything will be perfect, but that there is sort of a higher purpose to periods that may not be things that I enjoy totally right. But it's so important that I'm checking in to say, hey, like, I really love the process of what I'm doing. And ultimately, this means I have time and space for things in my life as well. Right. So I'm making money, because we do live in a world where you do need those resources, right? I love how I'm doing it. So I like myself or I love myself. And ultimately, I have time and space for the other things that I enjoy that allow me to show up in my work and that allow me to love myself. I hope that makes sense. Another way to look at this is one of my favourite quotes by Maya Angelou. And this quote, once again, is sort of the metric that I use, right. And I really would recommend that you find a quote, or a saying that you feel can be used to help you orient yourself and how you show up in the world and make decisions. And so the quote that I try to use for the opportunities that are helping me to generate the financial resources I need to live in this world is success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it. Okay, and every one can define success in different ways. But for me, that is what success is. And so my version of that is love yourself, love your work and love your life. And I am such a process focused person. And so for me, it is the how I'm doing it right. And I feel like what I've shared here really probably ties into that the how I'm doing it is so very important. And so once again, just want to recommend that you find a quote or saying or come up with something that you can use to help orient yourself once again, and orient how you make decisions around the opportunities and maybe even the people that you want in your life. Okay, so let's get into it. Right. And one of the things I also just wanted to share, I love doing this with my clients as well to help them reframe their experiences, right. This is something that I even do within my LinkedIn programme to help people think about what they should put in their about sections and what they should put within their experiences. Because all of these different opportunities I'm going to share with you are really distinct and very different. But the reality is that all of them have come together to help me get me right to help get me to where I am now. Alright, so the first full time ish opportunity I actually wanted to share was what I got right after graduate school. And so right after I graduated, it was really difficult actually to find full time opportunities. So I had graduated with a master's in city planning from the University of Pennsylvania. I was looking for my first full time job, I couldn't find anything. So I ended up working as an AmeriCorps volunteer. I was doing environmental education, and I absolutely loved it. Absolutely loved it. I loved how I did the work. I loved how I showed up. I loved how I felt about myself. But at the end of the day, I really wanted to make my way back to a warm continent. I really wanted to get back to the continent where I felt like I could provide a lot of value. And so I was able Well to find an opportunity as an intern within a USA project, thanks to my brother, actually. So he reached out to somebody that we had all gone to school with. And they were able to give me an opportunity that actually paid for me to come back and even paid for my housing when I first got back. And that's actually how I made my way back to Accra, Ghana. So that's really when I first lived in Ghana full time, as an adult, was working for this USAID project spin off. And it was incredibly interesting, I learned a lot about myself, I learned a lot about the development sector, and how different it was from what I thought it would be. And, you know, through that, I very quickly decided that, you know, this is really interesting, this could be great money, but I don't necessarily really like myself or like what I am doing overall. And so when the opportunity came up to find something else, I quickly went in that something else direction and actually was pushed, because at that time, USA projects weren't really being picked back up. And if you know anything about how USAID projects work, you know, they are funded by the US government. And at that point, the US government wasn't funding anything. So projects weren't able to be picked back up because the project had just ended. So at the end of the day, that meant I could no longer work for that project. And so I started working on a few other random things, I did a lot of work and events. So I have a lot of experience doing events, doing conferences, I even did a wedding for one of my friends, before I randomly met a recruiter for Jumia. But at the time, they called it pretty much Rocket Internet and eventually became Africa in it holdings. And then I think it had another name, and then it became Jumia. And that was actually my first real job without an expiry date. And whenever I look back at that opportunity, I always laugh because I remember thinking to myself, I would never do this, this is a bad idea. No one can do this, right. And so what I was looking at was an opportunity to launch their real estate classifieds platform. And because of my background, in city planning, I had a bit of an idea of what the real estate industry in Ghana had looked like, because my undergraduate thesis was actually on this. And so I was like, there is no way I want to be involved in a business that has to do anything with land, anything with real estate in Accra, Ghana, but I took the job. And the reason why I took the job was one, it was an opportunity that I felt, I would be able to make something in return for what I was doing. So it was an opportunity where I thought financially, it was a pretty good match. And then I love a challenge. So when it comes to thinking about my work, and what I enjoy about my work, it's actually that piece of being able to learn and being able to challenge myself. And I knew it was going to be a challenge. And I thought to myself, the amount I'm being paid, I'm willing to be challenged, worse comes to worse, I just leave what is wrong with that. And so that's what really sort of started my journey within that, you know, high growth startup Jumia. And what ultimately led me to go to Nigeria. And so once again, you know, when I reflect on this career that I have, and all these crazy things that I've done, from my perspective, right, from somebody else's perspective, it might not be crazy. But from my perspective, looking back, I'm like, That was crazy. If I hadn't made that decision, I wouldn't have ended up in this startup space, I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing right now. And I also wouldn't have an idea of what I like and what I dislike. Right. And that's, I think, something that's so important to reflect on when you are thinking about opportunity sometimes, especially when you're starting off. If I think to myself, would I take an opportunity right now within a certain type of high growth startup, the response would probably be like, No, I don't think I'm willing to put up with certain things. But you could say the work that I do now working for myself, right? That is very much an uncertain thing, right in terms of how I get my work. And in terms of how I implement it, it is not necessarily incredibly stable, or always sustainable, necessarily. So really reflecting that that is partially something that I like to do. And because I like to do it, I love showing up for work. I liked myself and ultimately, I also liked my life because work is such a big part of our life. And I don't think that there's anything wrong with recognising and reflecting on that to really see where those pieces are, and the things that you could potentially shift and change to feel better about some of those other pieces. So working for Jumia was my first full time ish opportunity, right, that first real job without an expiry date. And I learned so very, very much. And I think the biggest thing that I learned was the importance of being able to connect with people outside of your organisation because so much of my work was Business Development was connecting with clients was really thinking about how to monetize this platform. And so in order to do that, effectively, it was so important for me to put myself out there. And that was so incredibly difficult because I am not naturally the most outgoing and network oriented human being right, that's very much something that I've had to learn. And I've had to think about how can I sort of hack and I don't like to use the word hack. But that's the best thing that comes to mind right now, how can I hack this, to make it work for how I show up and to make it work for some of the stories I was telling myself at that point. But it has been such an interesting ride, even after leaving Jumia I don't think it's so important to talk about the opportunities I had in between Jumia and sort of how I ended up working for myself. But I do think that one of the biggest questions that I get about my career when people learn about what I do, and what I've done previously is how did I end up working for myself? Right? What was it? What was that tipping point, and I promise you, there was a tipping point, because I never thought I would ever work for myself, I always told myself, I'm not the type of person that has good ideas, no one's going to invest or pay me for anything that I can do. Even though a lot of the people around me were saying, Hey, you should consider working for yourself, or you should build your own startup, or you should do this, or you should do that. And I've always wanted to work for other people, because I like other people's money. Now I still like other people's money. And I don't think there's once again, anything wrong with saying that we live in a world where we do need financial resources in order to show up and get things done, right. That's just the reality. And so I always thought it'd be easier to get other people's money, right. And what happened is that I sort of hit a wall and felt so out of integrity, didn't enjoy the how of what I was doing. wasn't feeling like myself. And I could tell this because I was sleeping a lot. I wasn't following through on the things that I was supposed to follow through on, I sort of had a lot of those symptoms that you could potentially relate to being burnt out. But I shouldn't have been burned out, right. And so I wanted to shift and the shift came with me reflecting and saying, Well, I don't have anything lined up. But what would happen if I decided to leave and try to work for myself, right. And that really felt like the best option at that point, because I had actually done a lot of interviews had tried to find all sorts of different places to see if those were places I wanted to be in none of them. Right, the one I had taken felt like it was the best. And ultimately, I felt like I was out of integrity, right didn't enjoy the how wasn't showing up wasn't doing the work. And so I was like, well, maybe I should try to work for myself. And that really seemed like the best option. And that's really what I've been doing now for the last three, almost four years. And it's quite interesting, because I remember what I decided to work for myself. And I started telling people that I wanted to work for myself, I got a lot of interesting reactions, I will say most of them were negative, there were a lot more negative than positive reactions. And you know, when I look back, what I think to myself is, wow, I think a lot of people were projecting their fear on me and rightfully so, it hasn't been easy. And I don't think working for yourself as everyone just like I don't think working for a startup is for everyone, just like I think not working for a massive Corporation is for everyone. So really just making sure that you're taking the time and just checking in to see hey, like, do I like myself, right? Do I like what I'm doing? And do I like how I'm doing it can really, really get you far and really helped to make sure that once again, you're orienting yourself or pivoting yourself in the right way. So here's some questions that can help you get started on reflecting on where like on where you are, right where you want to go and whether or not you're happy where you are. And honestly, these are some of the questions that I asked myself as well. And some of the questions that I asked my clients when we're having one on one conversations. So first and foremost, I think this is such an important question to ask yourself, and I don't think many people ask themselves this, but do I like myself? Do I like how I'm showing up? Do I like what I'm doing and you can put a percentage here I put 70% of the time in my notes, right, you can put whatever percentage you want. But I do think it's really important to recognise that you are not going to like yourself 100% of the time, and you're not going to like what you're doing 100% of the time. But I do think it's important to reflect on what are those things that I like, what are those things I dislike where do I dislike myself, right? Where do I feel like I am out of alignment not being authentic, right? Where are those places? If it's at work, then something might need to shift or change. For me a key value is learning and growth. So I'll ask myself, Am I learning? Am I being challenged? Right? Am I doing new things? And if those are important things to you, those are quite says that you can ask yourself to really check in to see if you're on the right path. Right. Another really great question, would I do this? If right and sort of asking yourself a question from different perspectives? Would I do this? If I was a man? Would I do this? If I wasn't black or African? Would I do this, if you know, it wasn't socially acceptable, right? So really just recognising that sometimes our perspective can change when we try and put ourselves in other people's shoes, right? Try on other identities, and really start to reflect on whether or not we're doing something because we think we should, or because we really want to, and it's out of alignment with ourselves. And then last but not least, and I think this is an important thing. And I just want to put this in here. Because as open minded as I am as excited as I am about people finding what they're passionate about and what they do, I'm also incredibly realistic. And I think I've mentioned several times, several times, sorry, in this episode already, that it's also important to recognise that we live within a world we live within a system where you do need access to financial resources. So one of the questions that you might want to ask yourself, and you're welcome to come up with some version of this is, does this cover the cost of how I want to live my life or the lifestyle I want to have, right and recognising that it doesn't need to be one thing, right. So for example, I would say that I have a project sort of based business where I do one on one work, I do some group work, and then I do some other things. And really recognising that it doesn't necessarily all have to come from one revenue stream, right? It doesn't all have to come from one place. But really just recognising that a huge part of you also, sometimes feeling good about yourself, is being able to afford right what you've decided. And once again, there may be a place for you to work on the stories that you've told yourself that you deserve, or that you need in order to be happy or successful, or feel good about yourself. But that still is an important consideration for you to have. So the key thing here, right, me sharing this, please don't compare yourself to me, like you know, and that's another thing to keep in mind when you are sharing your career journey or trying to get a perspective from somebody else, or really reflecting on this, especially if you're bringing in a thought partner, no two people will have the same career path. And personally, I love hearing about other people's stories, and how they're showing up. But I really would love for you to reflect on when was the last time that you thought about your journey of how you got to where you are now, right? What have you learned? What do you want to take forward with you. And just taking a few minutes to do this every so often, right? Just taking a few minutes to pause. And check in can not only help you make better decisions, but also help you feel better about yourself. Because we just are so busy doing things and trying to get things done that sometimes we don't take a second to pause and really reflect or even practice gratitude, or share our wins of what we've been able to contribute and what we've been able to do, right. And that's why this is actually one of once again, one of my favourite things to do with my clients. So if you want to share, you can feel free to reach out, I would love to hear some of your career lessons from your journey so far. And I'd love to hear what you've learned. And maybe even what you wish you knew about whatever you're doing right now and what you maybe even see as your next steps, right? I know for my next steps, it's constantly just checking in to see where I am, where I want to go. And if I'm still enjoying what I'm doing right. I was talking to somebody the other day, and I was telling them like, well, you know, I've been doing this now for about three years. Now. I know how much money I can make by doing X amount of work. And it's just a question of do I want to put in that extra work that extra investment to get to that next level based on how I most importantly, have a define that next level? All right. So I'd love to hear from you. If that's something you want to share with me, let me know, I've put all my social media accounts in the show notes. All right. And then the last thing I just wanted to say this is just a small reminder, it's launch season for me. So if you've ever wanted to work with me, and you want to start to take action and really leverage this career journey or story that you have, and really start to show up beyond your business, your office, your team or your department, please make sure that you join my wait list to be part of the next cohort of my programme up level for thought leaders, right, where I teach you how to leverage LinkedIn, to share your story to really make the most of your journey and really start to think about how you want to show up beyond once again, your business office team or department really learn what you want to share and how you want to share it with others in a way that's sustainable and make sense for you. Alright, so as always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, stay safe and stay sane. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials. So that is LinkedIn Instagram and On Twitter, you can find them in the show notes. If you tagged me in a story and include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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