Allure Cover: NAOMI OSEMEDUA – On mission to ‘die empty’
By Josephine Agbonkhese
Her stock in trade is storytelling. A renowned global storyteller, Naomi Osemedua is Founder, The Women With Stories, and CEO/Creative Director, Sparkle With Naomi.
She was a two-time TEDx speaker and in one of those times, she was the only black chosen from the African continent to inspire hundreds of Americans who gathered at Rhodes Island, USA, and millions from other continents who watched Live.
Over a decade ago, Osemedua in her 20s, was a domestically abused and shattered mother of two with no identity whatsoever.
Years later, she found her voice through live streaming, became a global phenomenon and by 2016, had been globally labelled Africa’s Queen of Live streaming. Today, she is a highly sought-after Online Visibility Strategist.
The alumna of Ambrose Ali University, Dale Carnegie Institute, University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business and Dr Myles Munroe Global Leadership Mentoring Programme, here, opens up about her life, exploits and mission.
Did you foresee the future when you opted for a virtual line of career?
This is such an interesting question and I guess this is how people get named “The Futurist’. When I started, live streaming definitely wasn’t popular and there was no Facebook Live or Instagram Live. The platform was called Periscope, and there was a World Map that allowed people to see who was Live around the world. I had so many instances when people would come into my broadcast and tell me that I am the only one Live on the entire African continent at that moment. There were other Africans when I started: but, we were a handful and I was quite consistent with showing up twice daily. So, chances were high to find me Live alone. Who would have imagined a time when we would be forced to do business online? One thing is certain: I am thankful I stayed on even when it didn’t make sense to many.
Everyone is already streaming live these days, do you still consider your title as Africa’s Queen of Live streaming relevant?
I remain the undisputed Queen (Laughs). That title came after my channel on Periscope.tv trended on April 11, 2016, making me the first African woman to trend on the platform. The world has come to embrace the various livestreaming platforms; but once a Queen, always a Queen!
What personal characteristics made livestreaming a walkover for you?
My curiosity got me started, my courage kept me on even when it wasn’t popular, my love for adventure kept me intrigued and desiring more, and my life mission to ‘die empty’, keeps me moving and growing stronger.
Your story of running away from home, eloping and surviving domestic abuse brought you to the spotlight. What issues form the centre of your discussions these days?
My story has been a gift I continue to inspire the world with as I discovered my cure. All I want to do is give people hope that their mistakes and pasts do not have to define their future. Today, I am passionate about disrupting the mindset that keeps people locked in boxes and refusing to be seen. I have met so many great people who are not known, and are not being seen and heard; which means all they have to make this world a better place may never be felt.
I want Africans to let go of the ‘dark continent narrative’; trash the labels and step from the backstage to center stage. The spotlight does not forbid you!
I observed your title has changed from Queen of Live streaming to Online Visibility Strategist. Why the change?
My brand continues to evolve, and I still focus on the power of Live Videos but the work is deeper now. I wanted a more encompassing word that describes my work. As an Online Visibility Strategist, I work with my clients in the area of mindset, gaining mastery of their ‘big ideas’, their brand message and of course, using the tool of livestreaming. I discovered that when the foundation is not right, people can’t show up confidently and they wonder why it’s not working for them. I went from being a stay-at-home mum, to becoming a two-time TEDx Speaker and a Global Brand Ambassador. In the last three years, I have spoken on four continents while predominantly operating from my home office. So, clearly, the principles work when applied the right way. I have mastered it and now, I am on a mission to help others too.
As more brands move their services online, what must be borne in mind in the quest for visibility?
I love this question; it’s one that I have had to answer in this season of uncertainty almost daily.
First, start with Why! Why do you want to leverage online platforms? Apart from the obvious, what’s your mission and vision for your business?
The next thing I want to share is also very critical. Stop trying to speak to everybody! You end up speaking to nobody. Instead, understand what we call the 3P’s. The Person- Who are you here to serve? The Pain- What are their Pain Points? The Pleasure- Your unique way of serving your clients through your programs, services, etc.
What circumstances led you to Periscope and made you maximise it?
I would say it was time and chance at the beginning. I remember the first time I heard about the platform through a Global Business Coach I was learning from on Facebook. She mentioned it as a new platform that she wanted to use to build her business and I simply went to check it out. At first, I was afraid because I wasn’t even social media savvy, but I was intrigued at how with the touch of a button, I could have the world come to me.
Could you recount your experience for those reading about you for the first time?
November 10, 2000, is a day I will never forget even though this is the 20th year. I ran away from home and eloped against my family’s wish. I was 22-year-old, still in the university and with no guarantee of what was ahead.
My parents took a tough decision and made it clear that since I chose my path, I had to live with it. I can’t even begin to share what my family went through in that season just because of that singular decision.
In 2009, I made a bold decision to walk away from the union. By age 31, I was divorced with two sons and wondering what to do with my life. It was a truly dark season and I slowly had to pick-up the pieces of my life.
So, what has happened since then?
So much has happened in the 11 years since I walked away. I got reunited with my family and my dad, mum and siblings continue to be my greatest pillar of strength. I am so grateful to them for the gift of forgiveness I received, knowing how deep the wounds I cut were. We share such a special bond today that an outsider would never imagine a time when things fell apart.
In 2013, I found love again. Today, I am happily married to my husband Richard, a soon-to-be world renowned Chef, and we have been blessed with two more children.
From your experience, what do you think of the role of parental consent in marriage; in choosing a partner so to speak?
This is not a one size fits all response so no one misses my point.
Personally, I made a terrible mistake not listening to my parents and I know many might consider this old school but being a parent today, I understand the importance of honour.
It’s possible that there are extreme cases where the parents may really not mean well but I believe in the multitude of Counselors there is safety.
Wisdom is profitable for direction and when push comes to shove- find the voice of reasoning. There may be people who can listen and share a different perspective with your parents. At the end of the day, choosing a partner is your decision but getting to honor your parents is also crucial in the process.
Let us talk about growing; what was it like and what part of it forms your most cherished moment?
Growing up is filled with so many beautiful memories that I cherish to this day. I was born in Zaria, then my parents moved to Warri before I turned one. I am the first girl among six children. I like to think of myself as “Daddy’s Girl’ although my sisters and I are all Daddy’s Girls. My father never treated us any less because he had all five of us and just one son. My only brother remains a strong support for all his little sisters and I am truly thankful. My mum was a professional teacher and a disciplinarian too.
In 1989, my father was transferred to work in Brunei Darussalam and I spent the most part of my teenage years there. One of my most cherished moments growing up would have to be my 12th birthday. My school had organised a mountain hiking exhibition to Malaysia and my father gladly supported that trip. Unknown to us, the tour company had carried a birthday cake up the mountain and as we got to the rest house at 11,000ft above sea level, they woke us up for a celebration. It was my 12th birthday and right there on Mt. Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia, I celebrated my special day. I am still trying to beat that record. I am open to any ideas for my 42nd as it will be 30 years this August.
When you’re not working, what do you like to do?
I love to spend time with my family and friends that I call Soul Sisters. They are in different parts of the world; but, every moment spent together is treasured. I love to read books that inspire me. I am a book addict. Don’t ever take me shopping and start from a bookstore; be rest assured that will be the only store we would step into until it’s time to go home.
Your favourite travel destination?
I’m torn between New York and Dubai simply because they are cities that inspire me. I draw a lot of inspiration from my surroundings and you just can’t see enough in these two cities.
What’s your most priced and cherished fashion item?
Is it okay to say I don’t own any that I will term most priced and cherished? I love to look good and everything I own that helps me achieve that is on the list.
What won’t Naomi ever be caught wearing?
A bright yellow dress…for now.