After interviewing thousands of people all over the world, award-winning journalist, Adaora Udoji recognizes the power of other people’s stories to help transform lives.
From her experience as a legal correspondent with ABC News and CNN, covering the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, 2004 Presidential Election, and Hurricane Katrina, Udoji has had her share of game changing leadership roles and has no intention on slowing down.
“I am insanely curious. Since I was 5 years old and now at 45, I still love talking, a good story and explaining things,” Udoji says. Udoji has lived on three continents—Africa, Europe, and North America—and holds dual American and Irish citizenship. Having spent the majority of her career as a global nomad, in 2007 she was an honoree for the World Diversity Leadership Conference at the United Nations. And in 2009, Essence Magazine named her one of the 25 Most Influential African Americans.
Udoji, a 2013 Pipeline Fund Fellow, also serves on the board of the Montclair Film Festival, as a member of the advisory board for Women at NBC Universal, and as a mentor for Women Innovate Mobile, a startup accelerator designed to help women entrepreneurs and women in technology.
To top it all off, this wife, mother, and breast cancer survivor is now the interim president of News Deeply, an award-winning impact media startup focused on complex global issues, and she’s also founder and managing director of The Boshia Group, a network of strategists, advisors, content creators, and developers.
Black Enterprise caught up with the master of reinvention to talk about changing the direction of one’s career and lessons learned in business.
What is the first piece of advice you would give to a person looking to reinvent their career?
Get your story straight. Reinvention is all about the story you tell. From that point,
- Take inventory of your core skills: “What do you do every day?” A tried and true method of reinvention boils down to your core (internal) self versus your external self. If you take a look at what you really like to do and what you’re good at, you’ll find that there are some core skills that has continually reoccurred throughout your lifetime. Pair it down to those simple skills that can be applicable to anything.
- Figure out what steps you need to take or skills you need to develop to make the transition: Look at job descriptions that interest you. Focus on the job descriptions/skills rather than job titles.
- Articulate your skills clearly: Create a package of your skills and experiences (e.g., résumé, cover letter, etc.) to pitch your story. If you have a product or service, what problem does it solve? What you are offering? Does your story convey transferrable skills?
What lessons in business have helped shape your successful career?
- Embrace mistakes – I hate making mistakes but I am never afraid of failing. It’s painful and it hurts, but you’ll survive. To get good at anything, you have to stop thinking so much and just do it.
- Create a personal board of directors – A combination of colleagues, friends, aspirational mentors or sponsors. According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett, president and CEO of the Center for Talent, mentors advise; sponsors act. Sponsors are in the room when decisions are being made. Mentors can give you a direction and guidance.
- Keep your contacts up to date – Stay in touch with your network. Building a relationship is about give and take. Even if you are a freshman in college you can add value. Nurture the relationships with people and be authentic.
- Make room for humility – There could be six billion on the planet but my parents made sure that I knew I was one of them and I was no better or worse than anyone else. Speak your truth with confidence and humility. Be willing to say I don’t know.
Kandia Johnson (@kandiajohnson) is a communications strategist, writer, and world traveler. She is dedicated to empowering audiences to tap into their hidden potential to achieve success. Driven by a passion to help people and organizations turn vision into reality, Kandia creates content that educates, engages and inspires.