Smashing into a brand new season of the Northern Power Women podcast with her Life Lessons is Ngunan Adamu, producer, presenter, international multi-media trainer and award winning entrepreneur for her social enterprise iWoman Academy CIC. Ngunan is well known for travelling across Africa and Asia training BBC World Service staff and new recruits as part of the W2020 editorial training team. She is a member of the prestigious British American Project, The International Association of Women in Radio and Television and Women In News Gathering. And when she’s not busy planning world domination or presenting her radio show Upfront on BBC Radio Merseyside, she’s spending time with her beautiful son. We caught up with Ngunan to chat to her about her life lessons, having the right mindset for success, and viewing failure as a positive learning experience.
When speaking to Ngunan, it is clear that she is immensely proud of where her career is today, and she spoke of how the journey to entrepreneurial success isn’t a straight line from A to B. “It is hard setting up your own company, but if you are consistent and persistent you will gain more than anything else”. It is this success that helps Ngunan silence the imposter syndrome voice that often presents itself when we come across success or new opportunities. “I still get imposter syndrome 20% of the time, but a good solid 80-90% of the time I am confident in terms of who I am, because I see the progress and I see the opportunities that me just being me has actually given me”. Her emphasis on individuality is what drives Ngunan’s passion for what she does, and is something she encourages in others who are considering becoming an entrepreneur. “If you’re passionate about something, look at how you can package it, what’s the purpose, and then turn it into profit […] If you write down all your skills, you can turn that into a business”. While she acknowledges that no idea is going to be entirely original, she believes that this individuality comes from its creator. “Your idea is not unique, what does make it unique is that it’s you that’s selling it and delivering it”.
Ngunan also spoke of how as a society, we need to address how we look at failure. Rather than seeing it as a crushing defeat which marks the end of a journey, Ngunan sees failure as an essential element of your progression to success. “If you haven’t reached frustration, you’re not there yet. You’ve got to hit that brick wall to get through it, and that’s where success is”. Speaking from her own experiences of professional failures, Ngunan is able to look back on these positively, understanding that if it weren’t for these mistakes, she wouldn’t be where she is today: “if I hadn’t learnt that lesson I wouldn’t have iWoman now […] Sometimes you need negativity to push you to do certain things […] I’m okay with no, and I’m okay with failure”.
Ngunan is a firm believer that “you can’t be an entrepreneur and have shame, what makes you a strong entrepreneur is that you’re not afraid of failure, of people saying no. You have to pick yourself up and keep it moving”. Ngunan’s positive outlook on failure and mistakes factors into her wider perspective on success, and the mindset you need to achieve. The crux of her outlook comes down to trust and individuality, knowing that belief in yourself and what you offer will overcome any negativity or adversity that presents itself. “What makes you stand out is what makes you successful”, she said. Ngunan spoke of her personal experiences of this negativity, as people told her to change parts of her identity in order to succeed: “there were people who said I couldn’t be a presenter because I had a strong scouse accent […] There were so many people telling me what I should look like and how I should behave, and I just thought, no”. Instead, Ngunan is fully attuned with exactly who she is, and is able to brush off these negative comments and attitudes as she powers on towards success: “I don’t take anything personally now, as long as I understand where it’s coming from […] When you get fully attuned with who you are and what your purpose is and where you fit into society, there’s no other kind of power than that”.
Ngunan has also recently been appointed as an ambassador for Northern Power Women’s brand new BeHeard platform. The platform aims to create wider and more equal representation in the media, by creating a database of speakers and experts for journalists or speaker agencies to use in order to better represent different voices. As a broadcaster herself, Ngunan is thrilled to be promoting a much needed service in the UK media. She said, “BeHeard is saying, regardless of your profession, we hear what you’re saying and we stand with you”. Ngunan reflected on why the BeHeard platform has been released at such a crucial time, after a year where the pandemic has outlined the key issues around diversity, inclusion, and authentic representation in the media. As these issues have been outlined, audiences and media consumers have been forced to sit up, and pay closer attention to what is going on around them in the media. As Ngunan summarised, “this has launched at such an important time[…] Especially after the pandemic, we’ve got an active audience and people are willing to listen, whereas before we didn’t”.
“For a long time, society has forced women to be softly spoken, to not talk unless you’ve been spoken to, to know your place, so I think the environment is not built on allowing women to have a voice. With BeHeard, it doesn’t matter who you are, how much money you’ve got, what car you drive, what qualifications you’ve got, your voice matters”.