New Exclusive Interview With me on NotJustOk TV

Lioness Oyinbo NEA Winner Exclusive InterviewI’m so excited to present a brand New exclusive interview With me on the Nigerian Music blog NotJustOk. The interview was recorded in Dallas Texas and I talk about my love for Afrobeat, Challenges in the Music industry and my perspectives as a disabled artist. I also sing the Nigerian National anthem.

 

You can find notjustok at http://www.notjustok.com

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Self-improvement lesson 1: Clear Your head, start a journal

This is the start of a series of post I’m going to do on rebuilding yourself to improve your brand. You might not even be a creative with a brand. But some of these lessons I have learned can be beneficial whoever you are and whatever you do.

 

The first thing you need to do before you start rebuilding, is to work on your mental health. I don’t know about you, but I am completely unable to create anything good when I have a lot of thoughts spinning around in my head. Especially if I’ve been knocked down by somebody or had my mood killed because I came in the way of someone else’s bad mood. And you do not need lengthy therapy sessions to clear the clutter from your mind. Obviously, there is a place for that too, but you might not be in that place.

 

The tool I’ve started using is journaling. And even after a few days of this new practice, I could start to feel the benefits. The beauty of your own journal is that you can randomly write about whatever, whenever. The writing doesn’t need to be structured at all. You don’t have to write the next Princess diaries or Bridget Jones.

 

I find that when I want to sit down and work and I have a lot going on in my head, I write down all the thoughts that enter my head. After only a few minutes of thought diarrhea, I feel calm enough to start thinking about lyrics, melodies, messages and storylines.

 

I also use the journal to rant about people and situations in my life that I don’t like or want to improve. It’s ok to discuss these things with friends. But I find that getting the worst of my anger out to myself makes for more constructive and less negative conversations with friends at a later point.

 

The scariest part for me about starting a journal is all the self-examination that automatically starts to happen. I write my journal like how I think, so I literally write each thought as it enters my head. And you know that when you think, one thought leads to another and then another. So you end up thinking about something completely different to what you started thinking about. Through the process, I’ve learned and I’m still learning about sides to myself that has held me back from being my best me and it’s not always pleasant. Because it’s hard to fool yourself in that process. But the pain of discovering these things is necessary in order to make lasting changes.

 

I used to think keeping a journal was a lot of work and would take up lots of time, but that’s really not the case. When I feel pressed to write something, or want to pick up the phone to have an unconstructive rant, I open the journal and write for as long as it takes for me to feel lighter and better. Often, I only write for a few minutes at the time. But because I don’t think about structure, or making it readable to other people, I manage to sometimes write a lot in those minutes. I definitely recommend you try it. Nobody needs to know about it. And remember, there are no rules for how it needs to be. If you want to be Bridget Jones, you can.

 

If keeping a journal doesn’t work for you, regular prayer or meditation can also be helpful and they can be combined With the journal. Whatever Works best for you. And I also find that exercising Works well for me. But I think some form of stopping all activities to really examine Your mind is vital towards an improved you. So exercising should ideally be an addition to one of the other options.

You are Your best help

Gosh! I haven’t written on here for such a loooong time! My excuse, life happens and now more than ever, I’ve come to realize life has so many different seasons and I have reached a season of rebuilding myself and my brand.

 

Before I reached this stage however, I’d like to be honest and say I was in a season that wasn’t so progressive. I had released a song yes, and it has received close to 90 000 views on YouTube. While I realized that’s not much compared to the world famous music legends, it’s definitely a new height for Lioness Oyinbo. For personal reasons I was unable to travel to do any more work and being in Norway was really killing my creativity. Even my Nigerian Entertainment Awards nomination for diaspora artist wasn’t really cheering me up. Not until I went to New York. And that’s when I realized I needed to pull myself together. Winning the award was the kick up the butt I needed. Ironically though, I didn’t win what I was nominated for, but I won something called The Trail blazer award. This is awarded creatives in the Nigerian industry who has taken new directions and done great things. I got it because I had broken so successfully into the Nigerian music industry.

 

I was very emotional receiving the award and singing in front of a screaming audience and doing my thank you speech felt really amazing. Being in the music industry can at times be very lonely and unforgiving and knowing that the audience love your voice and appreciate you, really is just what you need. I’m still up and coming and though I have faithful fans, I don’t receive tons of adoring public tweets every day. But that means the cheers and the applauses means so much more. As do the heartfelt messages I’ve received on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

 

I realize that winning this award means I have a lot of work to do if I’m gonna keep deserving it. So I started working on myself from the inside and my brand from the outside. In New York I’ve shot an amazing music video to a new song that’s dropping soon. I also had the privilege to fly to Dallas to do an Interview with Not Just Ok TV which I have been told will come out soon.

 

The outside work has been great and I realized that to continue doing great things and to be in a better environment, I’m going to have to do another international move which I am so excited about. But I’ll do another update on that soon.

 

What’s been even more exciting for me though, is the work on me. As I was travelling, first to New York and then to Kenya, I realized that there are many areas of my thinking and personality that I need to work on. Not only will it improve my mental state, but an improved mental state also means an improved brand. And because I’m not where I want to be yet in terms of my career and because I won’t reach it by not undergoing some personal improvements, this is extremely necessary. I have already learned lots of lessons and truths that are really mind-blowing and I want to share some of my new insights on here in the months to come. What I want to say for now is though, if you need your brand to excel, it’s great to have the contacts; it’s great to have the support. But if you don’t tidy your head, you’ll not really get anywhere. Many people can believe in you, but it doesn’t work unless you help yourself.

At the end of the day, I’m applying for personal freedom

I have decided to take the big step and get a personal assistant. If you know me in person you’re either thanking God or the universe, or you’re wondering if I hit my head on something and turned crazy.

 

This wasn’t an easy decision to make. I previously frowned upon blind people who chose to have a personal assistant and wrote them off as lazy and stupid enough to not be independent. I prided myself in not having to rely on assistance for doing anything. But what was starting to bug me more and more was the fact that although I definitely am very independent, and not just in a blindness sense, I do sometimes need help to do things and relying on friends just became less and less of a good solution. Sure friends help each other out, but how much and how often should you expect a friend to take his or her time to help with bits and pieces you can’t do yourself, such as filling out inaccessible forms, take you places you don’t memorize the routes too because you go there once every blue moon and help clean up after a party? Seeing as everyone has different opinions on how far the call of friendship goes there’s not a standard answer to this.

 

There’s also another reason I don’t want to rely on neither friends nor family for more than casual help that won’t require them to take too much time out of their schedule. It’s the issue of gratitude. Now, being grateful and thanking someone is not something I have a problem with. But I have ended up in situations where I’ve been perceived as ungrateful, as being too grateful or even thanking people in the wrong way.

With an assistant, those burdens are taken away from me. I employ someone who gets paid by the wonderful well fare state to do stuff with and for me and I don’t have to worry if I thanked them in the right way. And they are there to help me do things when I need them done. Not when it suits my friends.

 

Before I would have seen this as being less independent, but now I will argue that it increases my independence on many levels, because I wouldn’t have to rely on my loved ones to get things I find hard to do myself. And if that’s not freedom, I don’t know what is. Besides, shouldn’t every pop diva out there have a Personal assistant? 😉

Why I left Forever Living

I’m not afraid to change my mind and admit when I’ve made a mistake.

 

Six months ago, I started my side business as a distributor of Forever Living Products (FLP). I had several reasons for doing so. One of them was to try and make some extra cash on the side. Another was because whatever I did to try and get a job on the side to finance my music I just couldn’t get anywhere. So although I’ve said previously that it was the ethics of the company and the products, it was just because I felt I was hitting my head against a brick wall. However, I did really believe that then.

 

Before I go on, everything I said about my C9 experience on my blog is true. It was positive and I learned some new good habits. I also don’t hate the products, or my uplines. I left because of a few things.

 

Firstly, I felt increasingly unwilling to put in any work. I didn’t like seeing everybody as either potential customers or recruiters. So I wasn’t talking to people enough that my business had the potential to expand.

 

Secondly, I felt the stress of having to buy in some stock every month to stay active. I never bought more than I could use or sell to my few customers, but this also meant my monthly bonuses were too small to make a difference.

 

Thirdly, it was the products. They are not bad and I’ve had some good results with many of them, but, remember the post I wrote about L’Occitane? I’d rather spend money on a company that make their products accessible to me by Brailling them and who does so many things I stand for, like the projects in Africa and perfume school for blind teenagers. I know it’s kind of ridiculous to be so in love with a skin care company, but apart from producing excellent good smelling products, the accessibility factor means so much to me. Ok, I can never really make money out of using L’Occitane products, but my money goes to a worthy cause.

 

Finally, and this is the most important reason of them all, I am getting some new opportunities with both my music and my writing. I won’t say too much before I have some big news, but I have good things in the works. And those things take up enough time that I don’t feel like making time for selling products where the tubes look all the same, not so easy when you can’t see, to people who’re not really interested. Also, the projects I’m working on will bring a more regular monthly income which is what I need.

 

I’m glad I tried being an FLP distributor though, because every life experience teaches you somethings about yourself that you can bring forward. I’ve had some great sales experiences and met some lovely people and those are positive things. I’ll probably stay away from network marketing for the rest of my life. Not just because it’s not my preferred way of working, but because of the cult like vibes to those companies and I’m not big on cults.

I love you Facebook! Thanks for including me by adding image recognition software!

Today I’m so excited it’s ridiculous. Because today, I am one big step closer to being fully included in the full Facebook experience.

 

I loved Facebook in its infancy. All statuses were chronological and even though there were photos, they didn’t clog up my newsfeed to the point where I felt more frustrated than informed. Then, things started changing. And by 2011, I was seriously sick of Facebook because I could no longer choose not to get photos in my newsfeed on a permanent basis. I don’t know if people also started to post more photos, but to me they seemed to increase.

 

Eventually, I learned to live with it. I’m a minority group and accept that most people cherish photos. It’s not that I don’t, but I much prefer a video with good audio or just audio because it’s the best way for me to relive saved memories.

 

But captions on photos help a lot. They don’t have to be longwinded, but something like “My cat fell asleep on my newly ironed work suit” is enough for me to understand and click like.

 

But not everyone writes good captions all the time. Even I am guilty of this. See, I’m conforming to the majority, so I was excited when I heard that soon, Facebook would have recognition software that could describe photos for blind people.

 

And today, it has finally happened. I was browsing through my newsfeed as usual when I heard Voiceover on my iPhone read out a description of a photo someone had published. I couldn’t believe it at first, so I kept scrolling. And sure enough, there were more image descriptions.

 

The biggest smile you can imagine crossed my face and I did a little dance, in my feverish flue state.

 

The image recognition today is very basic and will only describe in general terms. “This image may contain one person and tree outdoors.” An Interview with the blind engineer, I think his name is Matt King, who is the main man behind this great development said that it could potentially recognize a lot more, but that it would take some more testing and developing before it’s possible to get more detailed descriptions. He added that some are raising concerns about data protection safety. But as he pointed out, we only want the data that’s already there.

 

I hope that soon I’ll be able to hear descriptions like “Jane and John at outside table drinking coke,” but for now I am happy. Because this is an extremely important step towards including blind people into the vast visual world of social media. I already feel more included and I can’t wait till this feature also comes to Instagram. And perhaps Twitter soon will see the sense to not just to rely on users writing good captions for their images. Captions are not dead though. Because even though it’s possible to see an image, or hear it, a caption can still tell a good story.

 

Well, that’s me off to look at some more Facebook photos. Laters! Xx

So, are you born blind? When to pop the question and when to shut up.

Because as with everything else, there is a right and a wrong time.

 

Not so long ago I made a post on facebook that said how annoying I thought it was when strangers asked me out of the blue, such as on bus stops, whether I’m born blind. Most of the commenters sympathized with me, but I got into a discussion with one of my blind Facebook friends who didn’t really understand my problem. Wasn’t it just positive that strangers tried to learn about disabilities?

 

Yes. It’s very positive when strangers are trying to learn. And I don’t mind questions. But as I pointed out to him, no constructive conversation about disability starts with that question. I would forgive a young child for asking questions out of the blue. After all, I’d rather provide them with proper answers than having them ask their parents who will most likely just guess. And then how will the kids learn? But grown-ups really need to know better.

 

So when is the right time?

 

Really, just use common sense. Are you born blind? Is a personal question and without any talking beforehand, it’s really invasive. It’s not quite as personal as “So what are your sexual fantasies?” But if you’ve literally not said a single word to the person you’re asking, it kind of is just as invasive. And do you really expect someone’s first words to you to be that personal?

 

Now, if we’re going to have any sort of regular contact, you can ask me once you know me. Whether you ask the first time we meet, or a year into the friendship totally depends on the situation. But I’d like you to know the important stuff about me first. For example what food I like what bands I’m into and my favourite travel destination. Then, if the curiosity gets the better of you, ask by all means. You may even have things I wanna ask about after I’ve gotten to know your important stuff.

 

As for strangers, I sometimes have very good conversations with people I’ve never met and will never meet. Sometimes during those conversations the question may come up, but never ever has it started a fruitful exchange. And it probably never will in my case. Some blind people don’t mind you asking straight away. We’re all different, but assume they won’t like it and avoid it until you feel it’s safe to try.

 

And one last thing. Regardless of whether the blind person is born blind or have become blind, don’t say anything along the lines of “Well, then you don’t know what the world looks like”, or “So then you know both worlds.” There is only one world and though I have never been blessed with eye sight, I know what the world looks like. My perception will be different to someone who has been able to see, but it’s no less accurate. And besides, sighted people even perceive the world differently to each other.

A rant about landing a mediajob

I’ve talked a lot about work, my work, other people’s work, the importance of work and difficulties of getting work on this blog. And in fear of both repeating myself and sounding very frustrated, which I am to be quite honest, I’m going to talk about challenges of getting media work when you’re blind.

 

First things first. Getting a media job is hard for anybody. The competition is fierce wherever you are in the world and even in supposedly uncorrupt Norway, nepotism rules in the media industry. So it’s not what you know, it’s who you know that is the key to land that lucrative job.

 

I have been trying for quite a while to both work freelance and get a media job here in Norway so that I can make money tow work more freely with my music, although my situation on that front is slowly but surely improving. Working freelance has its own challenges and I’m not going to discuss them in this post, but applying for media jobs is a bit like hitting my head against a brick wall.

Today a journalist is supposed to be able to do everything from writing and sub editing to photographing and creating video content. This is good in one way I guess. Media houses everywhere are cutting costs and thus jobs and it makes sense for them to employ multi-talented people. But the truth is that leaves out some good talent. And not just blind media professionals who are talented on the writing and the audio side of journalism. I have come to understand that just because your eyes work, it’s not synonymous with being good at creating visual content.

 

Ironically, I am quite good when it comes to visual content, because I have an intuitive understanding of what illustration work with what story. And I’m not the only blind media professional who have these skills. However, looking at most media jobs and seeing “Good eyes for pictures” or “Video editing skills” as a description of most of them, I feel like the world is trying to mock me and I take it personal. Most of my sighted journalist friends have to work with visuals in their jobs, even for radio. So the visuals seem unescapable.

 

The really sad thing is that instead of looking at my talent and ask me how to get around the visual challenges; I am just told that I don’t meet all the qualifications. And in some cases, I’ve been told right out that I’d not be able to do the job because of the visual skills required.

 

In Norway there is absolutely no reason not to employ someone on those grounds. Government funded assistance and secretary funds make it possible for a blind person with the appropriate skills to operate efficiently within any media organization. And in England there is Access to work which helps with similar things.

 

I wouldn’t apply for a job as a photo journalist. But I could instruct a work assistant or secretary to film certain things for a documentary or news report and they tell them how to edit it. I would still be the one creating the content. They would just press the buttons of the most likely, inaccessible software for me. Because that’s another thing. only the BBC in my experience have software I can use for audio editing. However, with today’s technology it’s possible to make audio editing programmes screen reader friendly. And in case of getting a job, it could be fixed. At least with some software.

 

My journalist friends in the UK often ask me why I’m not doing more journalism work, since I’m a good a journalist. My only answer is that I haven’t been able to show my talent to someone who matters and that I don’t know the right people. I have made full length radio documentaries, presented live current affairs shows and worked for one of the world’s best mediahouses, so I’ve got to know journalism, a little, right? But these days I’m wondering whether I’m kidding myself that I have journalism talent at all.

 

Again, it boils down to one thing. Attitude. There isn’t something wrong with me, but with the society who produce employers who don’t want to give chances to people who have to work a little bit differently, but who can work just as good and efficient as any of their other employees. I’ve talked about me, myself and I in this post. But I dedicate this rant equally to any visually impaired media professionals who are facing similar challenges. And wonder sometimes whether they do have talents. I don’t blame you if you’ve lost sight of it during your jobsearch. And if you’ve been lucky enough to land the dream job and keep it. Cudos to you and your hopefully liberal thinking employers.

the Blindtrap

I don’t think I know a single blind person who has escaped the “blindtrap”. Not entirely anyway. What is the blindtrap? It is variations on thinking that you’re somehow inferior because you’re blind. This feeling of inferiority can be manifested in many ways and some of them are extremely subtle. It can be obvious things from passing comments such as “You’d be so much more attractive if you could make eye-contact” and not getting jobs because of employers attitudes, to sighted people excluding you from helping out on communal cooking and decorating because they may think it’s difficult for you to join and being more efficient at many practical things because they can see.

 

I am sad, but not ashamed to say that I too am caught in this trap more often than I like at times. And I have to remind myself that sighted people are not better, sexier, more intelligent, and more capable than me just because they’re sighted.

 

I remember having a conversation with a good friend of mine whom I also used to work with. I couldn’t work out what I’d done for my team leader to dislike me so much. I felt like an annoying insect she wanted to smash against the window every time I had to speak to her.

“I think she sees you as competition. She’s pretty and blond like you, but you’re twenty years younger and fit. So maybe you remind her of what she used to be,” my friend said.

I was astonished to hear this. How could anyone see me, a blind girl as competition? “Don’t be ridiculous,” my friend said when I pointed out that since she was sighted, she’d always be a lot more attractive than me anyway.

 

I’ve talked with this particular friend a lot about my inferiority issuex. And he has made me understand that I am just as sexy, intelligent, capable and resourceful as someone who can see. I’ve

even had men, both sighted and blind, asking if I’d have their kids because they’d want to make sure their kids got well brought up by a capable woman with strong ethical principles. And that’s a huge compliment.

There are many small and easy steps sighted people can take to avoid giving their blind friends or family members feelings of inferiority .

  • Involve them in communal activities. Not sure of their abilities? Ask. “Can you cut these onions?” If the answer is no, suggest something else, or let the blind person tell you what he/she can do
  • Expect them to pull their weight. If you’re having a party where everybody is bringing stuff, make sure everybody is bringing stuff. Last time I checked, blindness doesn’t interfere with ones abilities to bake a cake or buy a bottle of wine. This is also important for parents who have both blind and sighted kids. I was expected to do housework just like my brother was. Different chores yes. But I had no excuse not to do them.
  • Unless asked for, don’t take over a blind person’s chore because you can do it quicker. If you do something regularly, be it house work, cooking or gardening, you’ll get good at it no matter how well you see.
  • Don’t pick up objects to be helpful. My friends often pick up my handbag or cane when we’re leaving a restaurant without telling me, only for me to spend ages feeling for it on the floor. It makes me feel a little stupid. I know it comes from a good place, but….. Just leave it for me to pick up.

This list could include more points, but I can’t think of any right now. But as long as you use your common sense and ask questions you should be cool.

What blind people can do? Soul searching, living and learn to recognize that it is possible for a sighted person to sometimes feel inferior to you because of who you are or what you can do. I still fall into the blindtrap, but not as frequently as when I was younger, or for different reasons. I probably always will in some cases. But having sighted people around me who just treat me like a normal person and don’t act like my blindness is an inconvenience for them or a reason to exempt me from daily life, does a lot to make me feel as valuable as them.

 

Corporate brand ambassadour deals should be more available to street artists

When I read that David Adeleke, AKA Davido had signed a deal with Pepsi, to be one of its ambassadours, I was not really surprised. After all, he’s a popular artist. But it got me thinking, what about the street artists? Why don’t Pepsi and other brands sign more deals with them?

 

It makes sense why different brands choose somebody who has an established brand to represent them, because of sales numbers etc. And sometimes artists who are not born from money get signed which is good. But I wish there was more of that. One thing I have learned in the music industry, and not just the Nigerian one, is that you really need money to make money. Not that you always have to pay extortionate promo costs, but photo shoots, studio time, video making will cost something. It may not completely burst your budget, but you have to invest if you don’t have someone to invest in you. And there are popular street artists out there who could benefit a lot more than those wealthy born ones from a Pepsi deal. Pepsi could also benefit. Many artists are popular, but not visible in the media because they lack money. But any corporate  brand ambassadour deal could change that.

 

So if I ruled the world, or at least the music industry, I would make such deals more easily available to artists who need more exposure and economic help. It would be a step to make a fairer industry.