RACHEL ONAMUSI, the founder and chief executive officer of London-based VN Sync, a full-service marketing agency and OMAWUMI OGBE, the managing partner at Lagos-based GLG Communications, a leading PR & Communications agency, in this interview with BUNMI BAILEY shared the story of how they came up with the first edition of the 10X Thrive Conference and how the world’s most successful companies and businesses have come on board to share valuable practical tips on thriving in the next normal.

Omawumi, can you please share the story of how the conference was born?

Omawumi: Rachel and I are both in communications. We’ve worked together with clients, and, during the covid-19 pandemic, we spent a lot of time facilitating and attending webinars.

In a meeting one day, Rachel said, “We can actually do this. Why don’t we organise something that we do for people that brings people together?” That was how it started.

We set up a meeting and during our brainstorming session, I mentioned ‘10XThrive’. Rachel loved the name and we adopted it. Then, we simply created a document on goals, strategies, our strengths and possible gaps, and it just blew up to what it is today.

We simply wanted something that we could give to people to fill the gaps that we noticed in some of the conferences today.

Rachel, going by the turnout at the conference, you were able to attract tremendous attention with this idea. Did you expect, based on your experience as communications experts, this level of attention?

Rachel: In a word, no. I’m not going to say we had low expectations, but we knew this would be the first edition of the conference and tried to be realistic. As a result, we were very measured in our expectations. I said, “Omawumi, let’s put this on. Let’s give it three years and do this consistently.”

The pandemic has shown us again that you have to anticipate change and constantly pivot. You have to be flexible. Flexibility and dynamism will help you succeed in life.

We kept going till we got to the point where turning back was impossible even if we wanted to. It was made easier by my knowledge of Omawumi’s work ethic and personality. I’ve had the opportunity to work with her on multiple projects, and I know she is formidable when she gets going. So, I knew we could do this and that’s really what we did. The response to this has however surpassed our hopes for the first outing. It’s been phenomenal.

Thank you, Rachel, Omawumi, what were some of the goals that you aimed to achieve as you were planning this event, and would you say you’ve achieved them?

Omawumi: I’d say yes, we have achieved our goals. Our goal was to host a conference that helps people access the information and strategies that take them from where they are to where they want to be in their personal and professional lives.

We have achieved that because we’ve had amazing thought leaders from various industries reaching out to 10X Thrive asking for an opportunity to speak at the conference.

These inquiries assured us that people saw value in what we were building and wanted to be a part of it. The feedback has also been amazing, and if that’s anything to go by, then we expect to keep seeing the impact of the values shared at the conference for years to come. So, I’d say we did achieve our goals.

Rachel, when I first talked to you about the event, one of the things that I loved was the theme. Where did this come from? What does Action to Thrive mean to you?

Rachel: The theme was borne out of our frustration with faux positivity and nice sounding epithets. Thriving takes action and hard work. It is growth, it is painful, and it takes time. Today, our event was a real example of action to thrive because we had a stumbling block earlier today.

For 45 minutes, we couldn’t go live. We could have despaired. Instead, Omawumi and I had a quick side session to discuss continuity and alternatives. Growth hurts and it can sometimes be embarrassing.

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But we kept going and eventually resolved the problem. We were able to double up some of the sessions because our speakers, gracious as they are, were still waiting in the green room. We had people whose sessions had ended an hour prior saying to us, “If you’ll still have us, we will speak.”

Action takes work. It’s not a meme. It’s not a nicely worded phrase. It’s going to the gym when you don’t want to. It’s working on a certificate or a PhD on a Saturday when your friends are out having fun. But it’s worth it.

Let me ask you, Omawumi, what are the biggest lessons you’ve learned from putting this conference together?

Omawumi: You can’t be over prepared. You need to know your stuff. During the course of the conference, I had to fill in for a moderator and I didn’t have questions prepared for the speaker. I had to come up with questions on the fly.

You have to be able to take action because like Rachel said, things won’t always be butterflies. If plan A doesn’t work, you’re going to need plan B. Find a way. The pandemic has shown us again that you have to anticipate change and constantly pivot. You have to be flexible.

Flexibility and dynamism will help you succeed in life. The goal was to have a dynamic conference, so if one path doesn’t work, we find another way. At the end, we’ll get to our goal.

Another thing I’ve learned is to just start. You don’t have to wait for everything to be perfect. Put it out there. I say perfectionism is really just procrastination in nice clothes. Most people say, ‘let me wait till it’s great.’ No, you’re just hiding.

Finally, be good to people. Because when you’re good to people, they’ll show up for you. All those media houses, all those people who posted about our event probably wouldn’t have if we had not been good to them as well.

Rachel, you said earlier that you didn’t pay for a lot of the publicity that you got. But I would argue that in a way you did but it was the time and effort that you paid to those relationships. That is how you paid for that attention.

Rachel: You are a prime example of a watered relationship. Our advisors insisted we be on the programme for a session. So, I contacted you and you said, “Tell me what you need, tell me what time you need me, and I will be there.”

That is an example of a relationship that keeps giving back. Amazing people like you and all our speakers and moderators just jumped on the bus to wherever we were taking it to, and it’s been an amazing experience.

Omawumi, in managing your goals and expectations, what tools did you use to determine what was most important? How did you figure out what your goals and expectations were going to be for this conference?

Omawumi: I’m a certified coach, so I’d answer this from a coaching perspective. You must follow the process. What are your goals? Identify them by putting the SMART principles to work.

Secondly, focus on your preferred outcomes. Don’t say, “I don’t want only 500 people to come to my event.” focus on what you want to achieve and say “I want 10,000 people to attend my event”.

Last night into this morning, Rachel and I worked till the early hours. When we were going off, I said, “10X Thrive was a success.” I spoke in past tense. This reinforces the popular saying: “As a person thinks, so she is.”

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Finally, write things down. We have a master document where we go to write everything. Science shows that when you write things down, you’re more likely to achieve them.

Rachel, do you want to add to that?

Rachel: I’d add deadlines. Omawumi and I had a specific time-frame dedicated to blue sky thinking. Then we moved swiftly onto the next stage: “What can we realistically achieve? What are the processes involved? Who do we know? When do we cut the dream and what is the exit strategy?”

The other thing is we leveraged technology substantially: Asana, Trello, Google docs, virtual meetings, three way calls on WhatsApp. Technology has made this conference possible. I continuously set reminders and utilize to-do lists.

Focus on time management. Cut out your time in blocs, detailing what you hope to achieve in those blocs and be ruthless about it. Then move on to the next task. Continue Reading…

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