Last week, we featured Lara Oseni who recently launched her blog on the #startfirst series. Today, we are featuring Tola Okodugha. Tolla is a very young, beautiful and driven lady who also recently started her talk show ‘Talk with Tolla’ where she basically interviews budding entrepreneurs and then shares their lessons and stories with the rest of us.
Our interview was very interesting, even though circumstances at the time didn’t make it look like it. Let me quickly give you the gist. You see, I had planned to call via whatsapp video but the network was so crappy. It kept disconnecting us – so often that we both had it up to here and Tola had to place a call through to me normally, so we could chat in peace. She didn’t even mind that I was the one interviewing her and well, ‘whose fault was it that I didn’t have credit?’ I guess this is just one of the things that makes Tola amazing, but enough of the gist. Let’s get right into the interview.
Hi Tola. We know you recently launched your talk show, can you tell a bit about it?
Talk with Tolla is a show that focuses mainly on three things – entrepreneurship, inspiration and trends. I’ve always loved to interview people and that’s what we do across these three categories. We started first with face to face interviews, after which we would then transcribe it into a blog post, but with time, we’ll be moving into full-on video interviews for YouTube.
Ooh, that’s great. When exactly did you conceive the idea to start?
June 2015. Like I said, I’ve always loved interviewing people. I actually wanted to start by working with some campus organizations such as Neonater and Oyamag. In December of that same year however, after speaking with a close friend and mentor Ore Ajewole, who also hosts her own show (The OreAjewole Show), the idea to run a personal enterprise was conceived. Ore Ajewole gave me assignments to read about so and so person and I did. There is however a limit to how far people can push you, so I had to start and as time went on, the idea started expanding.
For one, I wanted to name the show ‘Up Close and Personal with Tola Okodugha’. Lol. Too serious, yeah?
*Giggling. Yeah. So when exactly did you open and launch the show?
December 2016. It literally took me more than a whole year.
Wow. What do you think held you back? Why did it take you so long?
Hmmn, first there was fear. I was afraid of how people would accept it or if nobody would accept it.
I was also always waiting for the perfect time to start. I mean I’m not a perfectionist but I wanted to have the best ground to come out and I only ended up wasting time. For instance, when I got the placards idea, I didn’t act on it until 2 months just before start-up. If there is one regret I have, it is not starting when I should have. If I had, the talk show would have gone way past the stage it is today.
Hmmn, that was what held you back. Okay. So what now pushed you into starting, despite all of these things?
For one, there were my friends. There was Moradeun Balogun, Toyin Morenike and some other people that told me, ‘Babe, it doesn’t matter if it turns how out bad or not, the most important thing is that Tola did this.’
All of that helped to boost my esteem and all but like I said, there really is a limit to what people can do to push you. Once they’ve told you their bit, they can just stop and leave you to take action, which was what I did.
So if there was one thing you think anyone who is presently stalling on something they should be doing should have, what would that be?
Relationships. I think every entrepreneur needs to maximize this. For instance, with me, there are a lot of things that have cost me less, such as publicity, simply because of people who help to repost and all.
Okay. Now that you’ve started, any lesson you’ve learnt which you’d like to share with us?
Yes. A lot of lessons actually.
First, don’t be afraid to talk about your vision. At the same time, be very careful who you choose to talk to. I remember the first person I told about the idea. He literally discouraged me. He was very blunt about how it was just interviews and how there were many people already doing the same thing. This really affected my self-esteem but thank God we started.
Also, keep at being consistent, even though that’s something that I’m still managing considering the fact that there are a lot of things I’m handling. But really, consistency is just it. I’m not sure if you know a certain @styledbydolapo on Instagram. I admire that lady for her consistency. If you are consistent, I think it will make people recognize you faster.
So, what do you have to say to people who want to start something but re waiting for money? You’ve mentioned relationship and all but what if what I really need is money. I know money must have been involved in you starting your talk show as well, so what would you say to us?
Well, I wrote something that for every vision God has called you, there is always provision. Forget the money. I once met a guy in part one who wanted to have a million naira before he started his business. LOL. I mean, a million naira? You’d just keep wasting time if you keep waiting for it to come. Just start first.
Don’t worry, if God’s got you, He will back you up with provision. Remember there is a reason you got the idea and different lives might be placed on that idea, so just dare to start first.
Okay, but what if my own is not even money. I’m just afraid to start because the vision is not clear?
Ooh, that’s easy. Just start anyway. As you go, the vision ultimately becomes clearer.
There is this analogy I like to give, of a certain place in my school called road 1. The road links the school gate to the student union building (SUB). Now, if you take a bus from SUB, for a long time you won’t even see the school gate you are headed towards. As you draw closer however, you begin to see it and finally you get there. But none of that would have happened if you never got moving in the first place.
Hmmn, thank you Tola. Finally it’s true that we are living in a social media world, where people are so quick to commend you if you are doing something great. What do you have to say about human validation to people who are afraid they might not be commended or praised for their work?
Human validation, hmmn. Funniest thing is on Instagram, I get more likes on a random, personal picture than on the ones I use to promote my talk show.
I remember talking to the popular comedian, Woli Arole one time and he told him of how he hardly got anyone to like his comedy when he first started. But he kept at it and look at where he is today. Everybody wants to famz him and even me gan, I’m proud to say I know him.
So personally, I don’t think human validation matter, as long as you know what you are doing and follow the plans of God for your life. People will follow you, but drive yourself even if no one commends you.
Wow. Thank you so so much Tola.
You are welcome, Seun. Thanks for having me.
There again you have it guys.
From these stories we can learn that it wasn’t always smooth and easy from the beginning. Sometimes, even these entrepreneurs we admire have their fears, but we can only talk about them now because they started anyway.
So what’s that thing you should have started? What’s holding you back? Care to share? You know I’m all ears.