Hustle, routines & the in-betweens w/ Ronke Lawal
God, in his infinite wisdom, so intentionally articulated the beauty of life, through the arc of full circle moments that knock us into alignment with his divine will, these moments are typically unpredictable but always welcome.
Such has been my process of getting back into this blog series. A story that will hopefully make for inspired reading one day, soon.
In this edition of Hustle, Routines & The In-Between's, I am blessed to collaborate with Ariatu PR Founder, Ronke Lawal. Ronke is an award-winning Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, Public Relations Specialist, a Wife, Mother and visionary who uses her craft to help others find, understand, and effectively use their voice in achieving their goals.
MS: Whenever I’ve had the pleasure (and it always has been a pleasure, even when it’s been business) to speak with you, you’ve always been so full of life and enthusiasm.
In this day and age of frantic hustle, how do you guard your mood & keep your spirit high?
RL: I have known what it's like to be surrounded by chaos and whilst it means I have many stories to tell, it's also made me conscious of what chaos can do, what challenges and hardships can do to the spirit of a person.
I lean on God rather than human understanding to centre me and to find peace because in the midst of all the chaos and challenges of life, God has been consistent and has shown me that light always comes so I trust in that knowledge. I am a positive pragmatist, I understand the reality of life - perhaps that comes from being a Yoruba-Hackneyrian (LOL) but when you have to survive life on a council estate in Hackney you know that whilst positivity is important reality is undeniable, so I just use the lessons I have learnt to keep me grounded.
I protect my peace and stay away from stress - which sometimes means staying away from people who'll stress me but it works. Also, a good sense of humour helps too because honestly if you do not laugh in this life you'll spend a lot of time in tears, (which are useful when the time is right) but laughter at least helps to shift my energy when I need to reflect on things and keep my spirit high.
MS: It’s so encouraging to see that you’re equally as intentional about your purpose as you are about your brand!
What has been the driving force behind this perspective, & how important is it to you that you champion & maintain that ideology?
RL: When you are raised in a country that calls you its citizen and yet treats so many of the people who look like you with such disdain, you have to stay true to your purpose otherwise you will get lost in the sauce of this nation. What I mean by that is that although my individual success is important and wonderful, I cannot lose sight of the fact that my people (Black Communities) are still disenfranchised economically and marginalised so I have made it my purpose to use my business to empower Black businesses in order to maintain their rightful place in society.
The way I see it, our ancestors lost a lot, had a lot taken from them for this nation to be built and yet it feels often like we're still having to build - I want us to build and grow and thrive, and my business is indicative of this in it's own small (micro) way.
MS: Let’s talk balance. How do you find balance in your personal and professional life; in parenthood, marriage & business?
I can’t imagine it’s been a straightforward path to navigate, with each element possessing a strong directional pull; of course it’s always work in progress, but I’d love to hear about the systems and routines you’ve successfully implemented to achieve balance.
RL: This is such a great question - it is so important to find balance and one of the times that I was really forced to look at this balance was during the pandemic lockdowns and that time of enforced pause really made me look at life in a new way.
My husband and I enjoyed our time in lockdown so much so, that we still work from home for the most part and that has helped to maintain our bond as a couple and as a family. Upon returning from maternity leave I also implemented a no work on Friday policy (or at least no work that requires my active presence) to ensure that I could spend as much time with my daughter as possible. I also don't work past 6pm and absolutely do not work on weekends (you would be surprised how many people think they're entitled to your time just because they're paying for it).
Another key is no notifications on my phone - so I'm not getting alerts to emails or DMs, I have to physically log into my laptop or open the app on my phone to see messages and that helps me to unplug so when it's family time, it really is family time. I really believe that whilst ambition is important, time with loved ones; friends and family is even more important because when times get tough those are the people who you can lean on.
MS: Following on from that question, why did you start Ariatu PR? Was this something you always knew you wanted to do and what challenges did you face in getting to where you are now?
What advice would you give to the version of you that was about to embark on the same journey?
RL: I started because I wanted to create a career for myself that would make the most of who I really am and I wasn't finding that I would get that type of career in the normal working world. The most obvious (challenge) would be the financial challenge of starting a business but when I look back at my own professional and business career, I would have to say that I have often been my own biggest career obstacle or more accurately my lack of self-belief has been a burden.
I had to constantly coach myself to believe in myself and in all honesty I think that there have been stages in my business life that I have actually sabotaged my own success. I got in my own way because I felt like a fraud when I started to become successful in business.
Perhaps other women can relate to that feeling of constant self-doubt and uncertainty. It can be the most detrimental of all obstacles, everything else can be overcome through practice but it takes a lot to silence that voice that tries to convince you that you're a fraud with your own success and that you don’t deserve great things. It may not always be silent but I recognise it now and know what to say when it starts up again...."I am worthy".
If I could speak to younger Ronke I would tell her to go even harder, not to worry about what other people thought and to really know that I am worthy...oh and to charge more money!!!!
MS: You’re clearly skilled with words, and one glance at your socials shows how much you read.
Can I ask if you have any book recommendations & quotes for aspiring entrepreneurs or budding professionals who need help with direction?
RL: There are too many books to even remember but here's a quote which I absolutely love: "Being smart and working hard isn't enough" - Carla Harris.
I will never forget when I heard this from her and I wish I had heard it sooner, I mean I knew it in essence as I networked a lot but that working hard part had me in a tailspin because I thought hard work would be enough, but it really is relationships - the core principle of PR - which makes the difference.
Build relationships and success will come!