Friday, July 11, 2014

[RML Women] Udo Okonjo of WOW DIVAS and Fine and Country Real Estate

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Udo Okonjo is the C.E.O of Fine and Country West Africa, a renowned real estate company, and also the founder of W.O.W. D.I.V.A.S Network, an NGO that works to motivate women. Udo says empowering women is one of the most rewarding things in her life.

There is nothing more empowering than empowering than the thought that in sharing my own experience, solutions would be triggered in those that will be reading this. It is a joy to empower, strengthen and change someone’s previously disempowering perspective or lack of enlightenment about a situation.

Being diagnosed with cancer some 8 years ago  and ending up a few years later with the healthiest, cutest, most heartbreakingly handsome second son is something for which I am thankful to God.
Read the rest of our exclusive interview with Udo Okonjo below...

Tell us about your WOW DIVAS. What are the big issues?
WOW D.I.V.A.S means Women of Worth, Divinely Inspired Victoriously Anointed Sisters. It was inspired by my desire to never let another woman think that she is alone in her valley, that she has no one to cry and celebrate with or support her through life’s lows and highs.

There is this myth that women are their own worst enemies, I decided to challenge this myth head on and so I invited a group of women (initially my friends and friends of friends) who could use some cheering, laughter, support, encouragement and empowerment to go through the seasons of their lives.

I wanted them to know that they are not alone and i believed that by being in the midst of other women who had triumphed over adversity, they too would become empowered to rise to their full height and confront whatever was facing them.

From a modest first hangout on the 29th October 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa with 26 women from different countries, WOW DIVAS was born. It has mutated to a global network of over 150 purposeful women driven by the desire to inspire, encourage, celebrate and empower one another.

Why should women want to join or attend the workshops?
At our WOW DIVAs meetings, there is a lot of encouragement, prayer, affirmations, food and drinks. It is a time to practice what I call the RRR – Retreat, Revive and Refresh. It is essential to a woman giving her ultimate best. When a woman is not balanced emotionally, physically and spiritually, she is unable to function as the phenomenal woman God created her to be. We believe that impossible is nothing, that is why we walk on water daily. WOW- women of worth; walking on water.

What made you passionate about women? How did you become involved in the cause/issues?
I have witnessed a few friends go through difficult seasons in their lives. One of the biggest challenges facing women is having the power to stay focused and positive in the face of difficulties. There are so many challenges from distress at home, to not being appreciated or having societal demands from family members, in-laws and work place pressures that make many women want to throw in the towel and live depressed or attempt suicides as a way out.

The inability of women to stand up for what they truly believe and the insight to recognize how truly valuable they are and how worthy they are to receive the best in life and live joyfully is causing havoc in a lot of homes. A lot of love and support is necessary to restore self worth. I believe that it is up to women to build up other women however they can.

There is something divinely beautiful about lifting another woman up, irrespective of how close you are. You never know whose life you may save by being positive, embracing and affirming.

How has the Internet and having a website impacted your cause?
My blog and my social media are the platform through which I do what I can to make a difference in my world. I believe that 100% dedication, hard work and an uncompromising commitment to excellence are key factors to success.

One of the business secrets I have discovered are to discover your passion and make someone pay you for it. Be bold, be passionate about your teams and customers and loads more. These principles work for my business and my blog and social media platforms are the ways in which I share what I know with other growing entrepreneurs.

My social media platforms are also used to create awareness of the WOW DIVAS and what it entails. I have a closed group on Facebook where we gather daily to share the books we are reading, love, care and loads of affirmation to motivate you to take the actions that would help you fulfil your life’s purpose after you have discovered it.

How has your career impacted on where you are now?
I was a lawyer for over twenty years before I became keen on real estate as a vehicle for creating wealth. I sought a way to do real estate professionally and elevate the service standards and so I sought out an international firm to ally with.

I learned pretty quickly that the opportunities were in advising and partnering with major developers and clients who would benefit from creative marketing, excellent client service management, and a high level of professional management of their sales and leasing transactions. In 2007, the West African license was signed by me and a few partners.

God has been faithful in bringing me to this point. My core values are passion, leadership, professionalism, integrity and creativity.

What were some of your most challenging moments?
Going through diagnosis, treatment and recovery were some of my most difficult moments. What got me through is a strong sense of belief in God. I don’t have any clue how I would have survived without the solid foundation of unwavering faith in God. I am so thankful to God for my blessed and honourable husband, my children, parents and siblings, spiritual parents and friends were my strong support system.

I was practically carried on angel’s wings throughout the diagnosis, treatment and recovery period. It helped that I was not ever actually ill (apart from the discomfort of the treatment itself which is enough to kill you) since I discovered it early enough to take a radical preventive approach.

All through I was fully engaged, working from home and filled with a firm resolve to focus on helping others. I believe that all this helped me get through and an unwavering sense of belief that I still had work to do on planet earth.

Ultimately, I believe that doing of all these alone without grace are no guarantee, so surrendering the final outcome to God during the initial stages was one of my major turning points.

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