I will do this Ultrapreneur Interview series all over again to meet people like Blossom Ozurumba! Blossom is one of the earliest adopters of new media as an instrument for social change. This is one phenomenal woman!
I present to you Blossom Ozurumba…..**drum roll please**!
Good Evening Blossom. Please introduce yourself, and tell us what you do. Everything you do.
My name is Blossom Ozurumba. I am a public servant. I’ve been working with the Government since 2007. On a personal level, I’m an event compère, I’m also a writer. The writing has been expressed in various forms – I’ve dabbled into consistent blogging (breaking news and entertainment), which I started in 2008, and stopped about 2 years later because of a personal experience. Now, I just share my experiences and opinions on various topics, infrequently on my blog. Along the line I got an offer to write for Punch Newspaper (iPunch) on New Media focused articles. I have also contributed to BellaNaija at a time. I also contribute select photo documentary pieces to Applause Nigeria. I recently started writing for The Cable Newspaper, in a weekly series called Blooming Blossom. The essence of the Blooming Blossom series is to encourage single parents. I’m a single parent too, I have two children. So, I try to write about our experiences as a family in a way that we don’t put ourselves too much out there, but still uses our stories to encourage others.
How do you feel about writing about that aspect of your life? Don’t you feel like you might be judged?
Well, 5 years ago, I would have said yes. But, we all have a growing up phase that eventually happens to all of us; and when that happens, we learn to care a bit less about what people may say. The truth is that the people that would talk are not my primary audience. The people I believe I am writing for are not the ones that would judge me. The ones that would judge me are not my primary audience, so I don’t think I’m supposed to worry about what these set of people may think or say.
How long have you been doing all these?
My side hustles if I can call it that started in 2008. Though, I have had to stay conscious of the fact that I am employed in what you’d call a 9 – 5. But actually it’s not 9 – 5 in Nigeria.
Lol! It’s more like a 5 a.m to 8 p.m for most people
Yes, you may have to get up early and commute and all that. From the beginning, I had to figure out a way to make sure that what I was doing on a personal level didn’t compete with my job. I’m a stickler for leaving home early, so I get out as early as possible to catch up on personal stuff before work starts, and also leverage after work hours and weekends. Although, I don’t have that much leeway anymore, my work got a bit more challenging and demanding which is good, so I have to be creative to keep my personal pursuits alive too. This has seen me making my weekends really productive, as this is when I have to do all my catching up. If you ask me, my weekends have gotten so much longer than my weekdays.
What gave you the push to start the side interests?
The blogging was inspired by Linda Ikeji; she is phenomenal in that regard. I read a story about her journey to blogging, and that inspired me to start blogging as well. I was inspired about her holding her own and not looking for handouts and all that. And because I had always loved to write, I saw it as an opportunity to sharpen my writing skills. As a compère, that was like a challenge that I gave to myself. When I was in secondary school, I was shortlisted as one of the candidates to be the head girl in my school, and I had to go for an interview. Apart from having straight A’s, which back then was the major criteria, we also had to do an interview. I went for that interview and I was literally just shaking. I guess I was terrified of the fact that if I became a senior prefect, I was going to have to stand in the assembly and address everyone. So I flunked that interview, and never became head girl. Several years down the line, I somehow became the one who was selected to make announcements in Church, and it was like my past came back to haunt me. And I just took it as a challenge. So, I started watching and listening to amazing public speakers while trying out the garnered skills in front of my mirror. I even went further to join the Toastmasters Club.
I think I’m beginning to sound like all these musicians. When you ask them how did you start and they say I started in church…**laughs**
Of course! Lol…But your story is your story…
To cut the long story short, I started with weddings, corporate events and the likes. Another important aspect of my story that I never fail to mention is my meeting with Dayo Benjamin-Laniyi, who has over time become my big sister, my friend, and my mentor. She is a formidable Compère and I figured that if I wanted to do this I had to learn from the best. So, I had to deliberately seek her out and ask to understudy her. I used to go with her to events and act as her PA and I still do this depending on my schedule. She is a major influence in my life. She helped me shape that particular aspect of my journey and even more.
So, can you describe a typical day or week for me. I’m trying to understand how you really get to combine everything. Do you get to plan ahead, and so on…?
Oh yes, it’s about time management and prioritizing. You have your weekends, public holidays and annual leave. These are all options you can leverage upon to create time to grow your personal interests. For example, sometime in 2012, I was to go for this US Government sponsored fellowship, it was for six weeks. I knew several months ahead that I had to go, so the commonsensical thing I did was to use my annual leave.
Do you have any personal hack for staying productive?
Well, my greatest recommendation has always been to maximize little fragments of time here and there, to get some valuable work done. For example, commuting time, especially if you are not the one driving; waiting time – waiting to meet someone, waiting for something, and so on. These are all fragments of time you can put to use. Instead of just sitting there and getting angry that people are wasting your time, or that traffic is so bad, you can use that time judiciously.
Although, not everyone has a driver, or can use commuting time. I don’t have a driver for example, because I prefer to use that commuting time as a bonding opportunity for me and my children, especially in the mornings. It’s an opportunity to talk about things we are passionate about; just the three of us. So, what I do instead is to have my phone handy all the time. So, even if it’s just 30 minutes of down time I have, I try to put it to good use. Technology also plays a huge role in my time management strategy. The Pomodoro and Trello applications are some of my favorites and I greatly recommend them.
Also, I have learnt to trust people to help me get some of the work done. I don’t know if I mentioned that I also have an NGO.
No, you didn’t. What’s the NGO about?
I co-founded an NGO sometime in 2014. It’s called the Digital Media Development Initiative. With the NGO, I just had to trust someone else to run with the vision and the ideas. If you are lucky to find someone with similar passions as yourself, you could find a way to translate your ideas to that person, and trust that the person is able to run with it. And this is what I had to do with the NGO. And I’m amazed at the kind of Projects that the NGO has been able to complete. Otherwise, if you want to do every single thing yourself, you’d wear yourself thin.
I also believe that success is not so much about what you achieve when you are there. Success is a bit more of what you can also achieve even when you are not there, through collaborations, and partnerships and the likes.
Did you have any fears in the beginning?
Not at all! Maybe because I had a day job. But, I think it’s also because I was fortunate to know God early. So, that conversation of faith versus fear has long been settled in my life. In a lot of things I do, I deliberately put God first, and so fear doesn’t come in.
What’s your inspiration? What keeps you going?
It’s my relationship with God. I try to make sure that in my daily walk/work and my relationship with people, I try to put my best foot forward and just trust that God will do what only God can do.
Can you tell us two to three things you’ve learnt on your journey so far to encourage people who may also want to walk that route. Who have a passion, but don’t know how to go about it because they are also employed.
1. Don’t just quit because you got a fancy idea. There are situations that may require you to just quit without having a plan, though. This has happened to me before. But barring this kind of circumstance, or an express leading by God, don’t just quit. You should plan ahead.
2. It’s okay to trust people. Find someone with similar passions, and allow them run with the vision on your behalf.
The bit about trusting someone may be the tougher one. I find that a lot of people would rather not trust anyone. How do you choose who to trust?
There are a couple of checks:
1. Don’t work with someone that has nothing to lose.
2. Don’t work with someone who has no one they’re accountable to.
3. Check your peace of mind. If you don’t have peace of mind about a decision, do not embrace it.
Is there any exciting thing you’re working on at the moment that you will like to tell us about?
Well, two things. I started a new job role at work towards the latter part of 2015 that finally converged with my passion. I currently work as the Technical Assistant on New Media to the Honorable Minister of State, Petroleum Resources.
And the second thing is that I started playing golf again!
Wow! Congratulations on the new role, and thank you so much for speaking with us!
Whew! So many take aways for me yet again. I like the part of her day job finally converging with her passion project on new media. And I’ve heard this happen to a number of people. God has a way of bringing it all together to make one coherent, inspiring story eventually. Don’t give up on your passions because you have a day job, it eventually converges some day. Either in an employment role that allows you contribute with that passion, or a business that you create yourself. It eventually converges if you keep at it. I also like the part about deliberately seeking out a mentor. This can be the single most important thing you do for yourself and your career.
What’s your biggest take away? You can share with us in the comments below!
You can connect with Blossom on Twitter and Instagram: @blossomozurumba
And don’t forget to share! Sharing makes the world go round…..