Have you ever wondered how you can own and love your own story? In this episode, Camille welcomes Erica Akingboye, a best-selling author, author coach, strategist, and podcast host of What’s Her Story.
Erica shares her journey of finding the power of the story through her own experience as well as her experience teaching refugees. She goes through the process of how to own your own story by aligning with your values, refining your core message, and getting curious.
If you’re interested in finding and establishing your own unique story or you’re looking to find ways to publish, tune into this episode to hear Erica’s advice on how you too can use your story to help other people and become a catalyst for change.
Connect with Erica:
Follow Erica on Instagram: www.instagram.com/erica.akingboye
Connect with Camille Walker:
Follow Camille on Instagram: www.instagram.com/CamilleWalker.co
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Looking for one on one coaching to grow your team, reach your goals, and find the right life balance. Grab a free discovery call with Camille.
ERICA AKINGBOYE [00:00]
Every one of us has a growth mindset. We're like, "This is who I am right now. And I'm excited to evolve into who I'm becoming."
CAMILLE WALKER [00:16]
So, you want to make an impact. You're thinking about starting a business sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family, and still chase after those dreams? We'll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.
Welcome back everyone to Call Me CEO. This is Camille Walker, your host. And if this is your first time here, thanks for being here. This is a channel and a podcast all about celebrating women doing amazing things and figuring out what that balance looks like. You're a CEO of your life, your family, your business. And we get to share and listen to stories of amazing women doing things all over the world.
And today is no exception to that. We have Erica Akingboye. And she is a best-selling author, content strategist, author, coach, and podcast host of What's Her Story. So, what's really fun is I was actually on an episode with her on her podcast. And now, we're here talking to you about how to love and own your story.
So, what's really cool is she'll help you break that down and for some people, actually help them to write a book, which talking to many of you through DMS or questions that I've had, that can be a pretty common bookend goal or even a midgoal where you're in the middle of your life. And you say, I think I'd really like to write a book. So, I can't wait to get into all of this. Erica, it's so good to have you. Thank you for being on the show today.
Thank you so much. I've been looking forward to this. I loved our episode on What's Your Story. And so, this is just going to be a continuation.
Yeah. It's really fun when we get to interview each other as podcast hosts because I feel like you become friends. It's just not like a one-time thing and you get to know each other a little bit better. And so, that is I think for both of us, we found a lot of common interest about selling other people and their stories and helping them to have a voice for who they are.
So, what is that specifically for you? Tell us the behind the scenes. How did it start up, cook up for you? Tell us about your family. And then, we'll get into having others own and love their stories, too.
Yeah, such a juicy question. What is my life in two sentences or two minutes? My background's in education. So, I was an English teacher. I love the classroom. I always loved teaching adults. I did a lot of professional development.
And one thing I really was grounded in as a teacher is the stories of my students. So, my students were refugees from all over the world, coming with a lot of backgrounds, a lot of trauma, a lot of experiences that none of us could even fathom or imagine. And hearing their stories and their parents, because I taught a lot their parents as well, is their resilience came through. I learned more from them than I think that they learned from me in those years.
And so really, that was the start of my obsession with the power of our story and that our lives are an accumulation of a lot of things. And sometimes they're really hard things. Sometimes they're challenging. A lot of times they're change that chose us. We can choose change. We can move across the country or choose to get married or have kids.
And then, there's other change that chooses us. And we get an opportunity to say, okay, this is part of my story. I can heal through this, reconcile it, learn to love, and then leverage my story to really give hope and just this glimpse of, I see you, knowing that you're not alone. Story really helps us do that. So that's the seed of the story.
I'm married. I have two kids. They just turned 11 and 13, which is mindblowing to me. And another pivotal part was when I left the classroom and I found myself the same ambitious, driven, impact-driven woman, I'll stay stuck at home. I know that was a choice, but I felt very stuck in mommyhood. It was very messy.
I'm not a messy person. So, it was like a whole new level of, okay, who is Erica in this stage, in this season? How can I honor my family and my values and my kids, my husband, and honor the ambition that was still in me? And so, these past 10 years has really been me stepping into all of my skills and gifts as a teacher and my past life of all these things, bringing it with me, and helping women create their brand story, write their book, launch their thing, their course, their coaching, and letting story be the anchor so that they can really step into who they are, and evolve, just like I have done multiple times and I continue to do. And I think any one of us has a growth mindset. Yeah, of growth mindset. We're like, "This is who I am right now and I'm excited to evolve into who I'm becoming."
Yeah. I think it's really interesting and I talk about this or think about this a lot is that the person that you are today is not the person you were a week ago. It's not going to be the person you'll be next year. And so. it's fascinating to me to consider the concept of that, of how do you create a self knowing enough that you can reflect and also to be flexible enough with life changes and choices?
And I love how you said choices that choose you. Because then when you introduce children into the equation and a spouse, they're evolving and changing and going through those movements of life. And I feel like that's something that if we can't be flexible in those moments, that rigidity will pull us under, where it's like we have to learn how to find that flow and how to define where we fit in those changes.
And I love how you said that you needed to honor the ambition because I think that's so relatable to so many of us, whether you're male or female, but especially for moms where you find yourself in this caregiving role, which is beautiful and divine and incredible, it's something I always wanted to be, but I very much identified in that space of, okay, but I don't quite feel my entire self, if I lose myself completely into this space. Not saying that I didn't want that, but then also honoring that other space of me that would really allow me to show up as my happiest self in the role of motherhood if I allowed myself to be that perpetual learner and growth finder.
And I think I relate with that with you too because I am a certified teacher as well. And I'm learning if you've ever done one of those I think it's your core values that you go through and you circle like, identify the top 10. And now, the top three. And what's your top one? And you go through and play a game of what do you value the most? And being a lifelong learner is top three for me. It's like God, family, and I want to be learning.
See? I told you. We are on the same vein. And so, that's something that I know to honor myself, I need to continually be learning. And also, a piece of that, like you said, is learning through teaching because it's learning from other people, right? So, I think that that's just beautiful that you've found this niche of helping people identify their story because there's so much power and identity, discovery in that growth of our lives if we can do that reflection.
Yes. Yes, it really is this beautiful journey of lifelong learning. I usually pair that with curiosity because it is wonderful to say who I am last year is not who I am today and who I am next year is not who I am today. And it can also be frustrating because it's easy to look back and say, oh my gosh, why did I do that or how did I not know that?
And instead of saying, I've really learned this. I have grown and I appreciate who I was last year, last season, last whenever, that version of Erica was willing to courageously be curious and continue to grow instead of putting her down.
And so, that's why I include curiosity because it's much more gracious than like, oh my gosh, I should have known better. Yeah. 20-year-old me should have known a lot of things. But that's not how our age and learning evolves. We get to become new people. So, approaching it with curiosity is just a lot nicer.
Yeah, and more freeing because I think it's like having gratitude for that past you who got you where you are today. And if you can come from a place of curiosity and gratitude, that opens up more possibility and potential and feelings of purpose than looking back and saying, I screwed up. I'm whatever, fill in the blank, whatever the thing is you want to say.
So, let's talk about your process. Let's pretend that I'm coming to you for the first time. I want to identify my story. And could you walk us through maybe what the process of that looks like? Maybe identifying questions or how we even get to a place of knowing?
Because I heard someone say recently, we're either winning or we're learning. And I said that to a group of kids I was teaching on Sunday in a Sunday school class. And one of the kids said, "Even when you're winning, you're learning." And I said, "That's true. That is true." And so, I think that our mindset on that of what we've learned in the past and what we're learning going forward, it's a very powerful thing.
And I want to say one more thing before that because I feel like a lot of women that I've talked to will say, "Who am I and who cares about my story? Or there's nothing really significant about me." So, let's start with the doubt piece first because I feel like that's very relatable and very tangible and something I want to work through, and then we'll go to the next spot.
I love that you backed it up because anyone who I'm talking with or working with, in different capacities, whether it's through a writer's workshop or through working with me one-on-one or in my group coaching program, we want to jump to the end of holding the book that we wrote or having the website and our whole brand story up there. Let's skip to the good part.
And really, we need to slow down the beginning process, so that we are in alignment. So, my Aligned & Abundant Author program walks through the aligned author process. And this is the same at any stage that you would come to me for. We start with align because that's really our opportunity to get grounded and aligned with our values and who we are and all those big questions that feel like pie in the sky. Who am I? Why am I here?
But really, if we just look at it in a little bit more of a seasonal window and say, I give myself permission to change my mind, I'm just going to explore who I am right now, what breadcrumbs in my life have led me to where I am right now, it honors that we can change our mind because I think sometimes we have a hard time choosing our values or who we are because we think we're going to change and we are.
So anyways, we just get to honor our values and align with those. So, the same exercise that you mentioned of, let's bring down the values that already show up in your life a lot. Narrow it down. And when someone gets stuck on one in all the same things, I have eight values. One really great question to ask is, what is that gift that I get from fill in the blank?
So, if your word is quality time, while it can feel generic, maybe you've just heard that or it's like one of the love languages, what do you get from quality time with people? Oh, I get authentic connections. I have meaningful conversation. I feel like I'm having contribution.
We get to boil down some of those big words that umbrella our life and find the juiciest, most potent parts that resonate with us that compel us forward. And when we can start with our values, we can start seeing parts of our story that those values have shone through. We've been able to get deeper in that.
Okay, yes, lifelong learning is one of my values, I see it in becoming a teacher, being a voracious reader, taking all of the personality quizzes. All of these things are part of our story starts to resonate with those values and vice versa. When we can create our story from those values, it's much more aligned. You won't show up one day being like, I created this business that's making money but feels like it's burning me out. It's draining me. It's not really what I wanted. There's usually an alignment issue. And we can get back into those aligned values that we chose. They weren't just chosen for us. We weren't just given them growing up and told, "This is what good people do. This is what a good mom does. This is what a good business owner does."
We don't have to carry things just because we were told we should. We get to step into alignment with what truly is important to us because that will get us so much farther with ease and abundance and grace. That's the first foundational step.
Okay, so identifying our values. And I agree with you completely. In fact, when people take my course and we're building a business or helping them through business, we'll talk a lot about values. And I think that what you're saying is, and one quote that I love, that was actually something that someone shared with me when I first started this podcast a couple of years ago, was the time that people feel shame or guilt is when their time doesn't equal their values, when they're not investing that time that really matches up with who they are on the inside.
And listen, that can be easy to do. Life comes at you. And sometimes work is more demanding or family's more demanding or our self-care goes out the window for a period of time. But I think what's important with that is realizing that's okay. It doesn't have to always be in a perfect alignment. However, it's really good to know what those core values are, so that you can keep coming back to them and doing a reality check of, okay, this is what this week looks like. And it was crazy. But we can get back on track and communicating with people around you, whether that's your family, your partner, your employees, whatever it looks like.
Because I think that as women, we try to take care of all the people and do all the things. And that's where shame and guilt can line up is if we're not truly aware of what those boundaries and values are, so that we can honor them. So, I think that that's a fantastic first step.
And I love that you brought up shame and guilt because those are so much fun. A lot of times we want to avoid them even more, when instead we could approach them with curiosity saying, okay, I keep on feeling this resentment. And it feels like a fire inside. I look calm and collected on the outside. Nobody would know, but I keep on feeling this. Let me approach it with curiosity. What part is out of balance? What am I saying yes to that I really need to be saying no to and opening that up?
And being able to get curious about that is really where so much gold is. When I wrote my book UnPerfect: A Busy Mom's Guide to Seeking Purpose Over Perfection, that purpose was like, okay, this is a really big core value. It had a lot of meaning to me. Everything I did, I wanted it to be intentional, not feel like I'm just filling time.
And that thorn in my side was perfectionism because it was keeping me from doing a lot of the big purposeful work because I was letting procrastination and fear sneak in, letting what I thought a good attentive mom would do would just be throw everything into them instead of also giving myself those pockets of time to read or connect with other people.
So, writing that book was part of this process, aligning with my values, getting curious about those parts of my story that, I don't know, I never want to say like, oh, I'm a perfectionist. That's not how you introduce yourself.
Recovering perfectionist. So, writing that book, it was really part of reconciling my story and then leveraging it to create change in other women's lives, reaching back and helping the mom with toddlers and just in the middle of it and say, "You can find purpose in those little messy moments too and just release that perfectionism to find the grace in the moment, the gratitude."
And now, paying that forward with helping women write their book, find their voice, use their story as a catalyst for change. It is so rewarding for me and transformational for them. So, it does start with that align.
The second part in our process is refine. So, refine is about really refining our core message and our core reader. And I'm sure you do a lot of these things too in your business coaching because if we talked to everyone, we talked to nobody. Same with your book, same with your story, finding those gems that get really crystal clear of what is it you really want to say? What is it that your big mission is, just from our few conversations? This work-life balance, having a business and babies and really honoring the season that we're in, that's a core message.
People can know you by the message that you say over and over. And so, helping women find their core message, I'm like a word nerd. So, this is one of my favorite parts where we just really get into refining, refining. And that's a process as well.
I would imagine you're really good at that because you have an English background. So, it's words and stories and the way you deliver it is huge because the definition and I want to say a different word, but I'm afraid, etymology of words.
How words are created, yeah.
I think that there's a lot of power in that. And what's really neat is that depending on who you are and what your story is, or I imagine if you're listening to this, there is a message that you have. There is a message you want to convey or a story you're wanting to tell.
And I think it is so helpful to get someone involved that can help you mince the words or just play with the power of the word or how it's delivered. And so, I'm curious for someone who gets stuck, let's say that you're figuring out that key messaging or let's say if you've been paid for ads, that's where it gets tricky, maybe let's say you've come up with a message and you're like, this really hits. And then, you put it out there and it feels like it's flopping. Have you worked with people who have been in that place?
Absolutely. So, I've been a copywriter for amazing entrepreneurs. So, it really does come down to a lot of messaging. I've written a million email sequences, written ads. I'm very visual, too. So, a lot of times what we want to deliver is not what our ideal reader or client thinks that they need or want. And so, our words are what bridges that gap between what the client is feeling or wanting and what we know that they really need. So, that vehicle, what can we put on the outside of the cab? Do people use cabs anymore?
Signpost. I've heard people say that was the signpost in front of your house or something.
Yes. Something that draws their attention because they're like, "Oh my gosh, burnout, I'm all there. And do you know that what you offer, your message, your coaching and services, whatever that thing is, is the answer to burnout." They think it's burnout, but it's really unhealed trauma or a cycle of wanting people's approval and overachieving for the wrong reasons.
So, they're looking at burnout. And you're like, "Oh, I don't want to talk about burnout." But you're like, "That's how I find my person," like me using perfectionism in my title was part of that linking what my burnt-out busy mom was feeling, just need a quick guide, I want to live more purposeful instead of perfection.
So, yeah, the words really are powerful, connecting the dots and leading someone who's stuck in where they are to your solution. And that's the same with if you're there and you're trying to or you're listening and you're trying to figure out what is your message and it doesn't quite land. Having another perspective helps, getting a lot of feedback from who you would love to work with, your ideal client, your ideal reader, getting that feedback and just being open to the process, curious about it, and approach it without feeling like you need to have it all together. It's really helpful for bouncing ideas off.
So, clarity calls and book chats are one of my favorite ways to hear where you are right now, what you're getting stuck on, what's kept you from taking action, or finishing action. A lot of people are quick action takers, and then they just don't know where to go from there. You're feeling stuck. This is a great place to start just no judgment, let's find the clarity to take the next confident action.
Yeah, I love that. I was actually just listening to a podcast that I have recently discovered, I love it so much. I'm going to look up the name, so I don't mess it up. It's called Hidden Brain.
And the episode that I looked at recently was that perspective of what to do when you get stuck. What are those momentum pieces where a lot of times we start out with a lot of gusto, we're excited, we have this idea, we want to do this thing. And it's very natural for the middle to have a slump or a lot of slumps, let's be honest. And then towards the end, you get a boost again of like, oh my gosh, I'm almost there. I can see the finish line. Let's go.
But what was really interesting in this was that it's very important that you create goal points through the day that you have control over rather than looking at the goal of success being an outcome that you don't necessarily have control over. So, that could be the effort that you put into learning or the time that you put into writing or the amount of time that you use following up with someone if you had a coach for that accountability piece.
And I think that that's why it can be so important to have someone to be your soundboard and also to keep you accountable because that middle slump is normal. And it's very real. And I have coaches that coach me and I coach other people. And I think it's really nice to have people in your corner that are helping you to achieve your goals.
Yes, I love that about my Aligned & Abundant Author program is that it holds the space. It's four months because writing is the big part. And it's a lot. There's a lot of it. And there is potentially unlimited time, but that's also the problem. So, how can we have accountability?
Splice it up.
Yes. This week, the third week of every month, we have momentum month or momentum week where we have co-writing. We have a lot of accountability where we show up and get things done because that's part of having me as a coach is actually making progress. We're not just showing up talking about it. How are we getting it done? And enjoying the process, savoring it, saying, well this is the best part. Yeah, having the book at the end is great, but right now, this is where it's at. How can I infuse it with pleasure and purpose and joy, so that the momentum keeps going and not just fizzles out?
Let's talk a little bit about the logistics of getting the book done, editing and printing. Of course, you can self-publish now with Amazon. A lot of people are choosing to do that. What are your best bits of advice for those pieces of it?
Yeah. So, I think not enough is thought about that end part. We talked a lot about the writing, but having a support system to help with the editing. You can do self-editing too, having a cover, people do judge a book by its cover.
Oh, absolutely. Yes, you can A/B test that, too.
Yeah. So, having a book cover that really embodies what your vision is and resonates with your reader. That part of the author process is I call revise. And we are making the manuscript into a book. So, I have connections with people who are fantastic, cover art designers, the formatting of it. And I do copy editing. I also have connections with other copy editors. That process, it does take some time.
And so, I always am upfront with my clients of like, "When you write your book, there's still another part that you don't want to just rush through." So, we also do launch strategy. Because again, you don't want to push publish on Amazon or whatever and be like, "Come find my book," or "Hey, Mom, you can order it now." No, how are we making an abundant impact?
So, part of what I love helping, whether you're going through my whole program or you already have a book and you want to launch it better, is having a launch strategy, building your launch squad, creating your list and an audience that's already ready to buy.
So, allowing yourself the time and space to create that foundation. So, your book can literally launch off and not just fizzle out like, okay, it's out there. So, I think without getting into all the nitty gritty of it because there are different pieces, just not rushing the process so much that you don't give the launch process and strategy the time and space it needs.
What are you going to do to celebrate? Are you going to have a launch party? Are you going to be on all the podcasts you can be on? Do you have an email list? Do you have some fun, special bonuses? It's very similar to if you've launched a program. How can you hype it up and have people in along the process, so it's not a surprise? What? You wrote a book? No, you've been bringing them all along and get that momentum going.
That's how I was an Amazon number one bestseller, too. When it released, it just spread. People were just sharing it and sharing it and sharing it. It was just such a beautiful experience. All these people coming into our book club. We had a 21-day book club. All these beautiful faces that I hadn't personally invited, it wasn't my neighbor, it wasn't my best friend. These were women who would just share it and share it. And that's the kind of impact I love for you to experience when you've written your book. I have goosebumps right now just thinking about that kind of impact.
Yeah, that's magical. That's great that you can help walk people through that because it can be overwhelming. There are so many pieces of launching the book and then figuring out how to say it best and the art and all the things. So, yeah, it sounds like you have a lot to offer in that space. And that's wonderful. For those people who are listening right now and are a bit curious about it and not quite sure where to start, where can they find you to connect with you and find what you have going on?
Yes, you can find me on Instagram. It's @erica.akingboye, A-K-I-N-G-B-O-Y-E. I'm sure you can link that in show notes as well. But the link in my bio, you can schedule a free book chat, the 20-minute call, share what's on your mind, on your heart. I'd love to hear where you're at, what's getting you stuck, and then help you get the next best confident action step, getting you moving and unstuck. So, that would be a great place. And just connect with me on Instagram. I live over there. So, I would love to hear your story and where you are right now in your life and business.
Yeah, awesome. Thank you so much for being on the show. It's been such a pleasure to hear your story and how you're helping everyone else. It's so powerful.
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate the time. I really do love helping women use their story as a catalyst for change. It's just so powerful when women believe in themselves and in their story. They're better equipped to help others transform. And so, it's great work to really love and leverage your story.
It is. If anyone's listening now and thinking that they want to get a little more personal about their story, dig in a little bit more, do it. No one has your unique story. Only you do. And that's the power of being you. I know that that can come across sometimes as being cheesy or whatever, but I think that that's the uniqueness of who you are is your superpower. And everyone's story has unique, incredible, beautiful moments. I wish I could interview every single one of you because I truly believe that everyone has something beautiful to share.
So, if you found this helpful, please like this episode. You can do that with Spotify or on iTunes. And then, if you are listening and could leave a review, we'd appreciate it or share it on your social. Every single share helps this podcast to grow and reach more women to achieve their dreams. I hope you have a great day. And I'll see you next week.
Hey, CEOs. Thank you so much for spending your time with me. If you found this episode inspiring or helpful, please let me know in a comment in a 5-star review. You could have the chance of being a featured review on an upcoming episode. Continue the conversation on Instagram @callmeceopodcast. And remember, you are the boss!
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