Jokotade and I met last month in Houston and within seconds got talking and just couldn’t stop, she is beautiful, brilliant and amazing and I just thought it was important for BIE readers to learn from her inspiring story. Enjoy.
Vivian “Jokotade” Adeniyi popularly known as “Jokotade” is a Nigerian-American author, speaker, and thought leader on topics relating to women, business and leadership. She is the founder of The Jokotade Network where she hosts a group of talk shows with audiences in over 100 countries. Along with serving a large audience, she is a wife, mother and an entrepreneur running in her own lane. Her life as a serial entrepreneur began at the age of six when she started assisting her mother with her retail goods business in Tejuosho. She has since launched a growing list of businesses including one of Houston’s full-service design and print firms – a company she started with less than $100 over 12 years ago. Jokotade was born in Lagos and moved to the United States of America with her Parents in 1997 after completing her secondary school in Federal Government College Lagos, Ijanikin.
Upon arrival in the United States, Jokotade got to work beginning her American life as a hair braider. This was her only choice at the time as she had to wait a full year to begin her university education. She finally received an admission into the University of Houston where she majored in Computer Information Systems (CIS) with special interests in marketing and communications. During her time at the University of Houston, Jokotade recalls an experience that became one defining moment in her life. After completing her enrollment process, Jokotade began working as a student librarian and heard of a scholarship opportunity. She researched the scholarship requirements and applied. Recipients were selected on the basis of their academic achievements, leadership ability, and their potential for contributing to the future of Houston.
Jokotade recalls several students discussing how difficult it was to receive the scholarship – a scholarship that was granted to no more than 25 to 30 students each academic year. “I remember thinking to myself – the only leadership experience I have is from Nigeria – will they accept my international experience? I also thought to myself – how can I differentiate my application from all of the other students. I realized that though I had a good grade point average (GPA), I was still competing with other students with perfect 4.0 GPAs. I decided to put my home grown “above and beyond aka effico aka teacher’s pet skills to work”.
I pulled out my extra sheets of paper. I organized my application responses. I provided practical and relevant proof of my leadership experiences from Nigeria including my Head Girl Leadership certificates from FGCL, Ijanikin along with my Man ‘O’ War leadership certificates. I stayed true to who I am first “A Nigerian” and through my writing and story telling, I made a choice to bring my application reviewer into “my world” as a young Nigerian student. I did not let the negative and impossible talks I heard from other students limit me. I focused on my story, my experiences and quietly submitted my application with all of the faith I had.”
Jokotade not only received the scholarship once but went on to receive the scholarship three times – the maximum number of times any student could be awarded the scholarship in the school – all without a perfect GPA. Jokotade recalls that her scholarship experience taught her to always be simple, authentic, diligent and focused on her life goals. In 2002, she graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. Eager to start her new life as a working woman, Jokotade faced another challenge when the company she worked at in her final year of university laid her off an internship a few months following her university graduation.
This job layoff occurred after a major fall with one of the world’s leading energy companies located in Houston, Texas. Thousands of people all over the world especially Houston lost their jobs, life savings, and health care. When this global company filed for bankruptcy, it affected the economy, taking down the revenue of smaller companies like the one she worked for. Remembering her experiences in the university, Jokotade applied the same principles that led her to success. While in school, she ran a part-time business selling fashion accessories to students in other universities – this business thrived because university students in neighboring cities had limited access to fashion accessories at affordable prices.
Jokotade recalls “This was a major problem I was solving at the time and I am glad I did. All I did was pay attention to what other students in neighboring schools needed and I supplied the fashion goods to them. When I lost my internship and an opportunity for a full-time job combined, I got a temporary job as a sales associate for an advertising company and on the side, I simply began to research the problems I could help others solve just like I did in school. I found that I could become a professional concierge to a discerning group of busy and working high-achievers who needed help in getting more done. These customers were willing to pay for my time and I was willing to serve them.” That business idea Jokotade conceived eventually grew from a full-service concierge company into a full-service wedding and event design and print company – a company that is now one of Houston’s top three in the industry.
Jokotade continues to pursue her dreams. She has since started her own network of shows including The Jokotade Show, The Before I Do Show and The Idea to Influence Show helping her audiences win in life, love and business. Her shows are available on her mobile APP “Jokotade” available for free on the PLAY store and on iTunes. In April 2016, she authored and published her first book “Fresh Start” recounting her struggles and the insight she has gained over the years. Using these experiences and her story, Jokotade is on a mission to help others not quit but keep reaching for their dreams. In her words, “My passion is first for the next-generation woman and I am on a mission to raise and develop visionary women in every nation of the world – starting with the woman of African descent.” For more of her inspiring story, wisdom and practical insight find Jokotade’s breakout book “Fresh Start” available at Amazon.com or visit her home online at Jokotade.com. Be sure to also follow her on social media @jokotadeshow.
Hope you have been inspired.