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AN AFRICAN DECADE | Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia

AN AFRICAN DECADE | Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia

This weekend we’ve been working on a private event celebrating a Ghanaian entrepreneur I truly admire: Elikem Nutifafa Kuenyehia of Oxford & Beaumont Solicitors. | When we first met Elikem two years ago, it was to help him launch his book “Kuenyehia On Entrepreneurship” – a fantastic companion for anyone looking for specific insight into entrepreneurship in Ghana. Needless to say, we connected really well, and forged a working relationship I’m happy to see grow. Working on ‘An African Decade’ was particularly exciting for me, because it was not only to commemorate Elikem’s decade in Ghana as a repat, but also to encourage, and throw a challenge to other Africans – particularly in the Diaspora.

Ten years ago, inspired by Bunmi Oni, then Managing Director of Cadbury Schweppes West Africa, Elikem moved back home to Ghana. From 2004 to date, starting with his work at United Bank For Africa, through to the Ghana Institute Of Management & Public Administration, to Oxford & Beaumont Solicitors, Elikem, in his own words, has been privileged to have been accorded a ringside seat at Ghana’s own part in the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative. Elikem’s story, which he shared with all of us last night, resonates deeply with me. My own move back to Ghana years ago, akin to that of most returnee experiences, was a gamble that was filled with trepidation; likewise the decision to jump start our start-up idea a year later. But, like Elikem reiterated last night, the pursuit of excellence is rarely a risk-averse one. We are allowed to harbour big dreams only if we’re willing to dare to live out these dreams. I have another few years to go on my own ‘African Decade’ journey, and determined to do whatever is possible to make it one that changes perspectives, and increases opportunities for others.

In planning and producing Elikem’s event this weekend, we were keen to make a statement – not only for Elikem’s benefit per se, but also to remind ourselves of what is possible even when surrounded by difficulties. ‘The event is the brand’ remains one of our mantras, and every new event is an opportunity to reinforce our brand promise and reignite creative thinking. For us, it’s never just another event – it’s a global audience, a brand story, an opportunity to show the world why we do what we do: to step outside the proverbial box – and encourage others to do same.

How’s YOUR African Decade looking like so far? How are you contributing to Ghana’s part of the ‘Africa Rising’ narrative? As we push for a perfect picture for Ghana, must we not forget that it is only through our collective effort, that our motherland will rise again. So here - your canvas, your paintbrush - paint!

Your Event Planning BFF,

G. xo

[Designspiration: Elikem’s event was also to showcase and celebrate African art, and officially launch ‘The Kuenyehia Prize For Contemporary Ghanaian Art’ which will recognise and reward Ghana’s most outstanding artists under 40. For event design and production, it was important to maintain his personal style – casual sophistication – while projecting the overall theme: indigenous African culture with a contemporary spin. Follow @PlanItGhana on Instagram for more photos from this event.]

GE | Delivering Results In An Uncertain World

GE | Delivering Results In An Uncertain World

It’s twenty minutes to midnight. My legs are stretched out on the new carpet we’ve just installed in the event space on the 3rd floor of Stanbic Heights. I’m leaning back against a pillar and gazing out the polished glass windows at the faint silhouettes of Accra’s rising skylines.

In the last 72 hours, I have placed approximately 30 direct phone calls to vendors, had barely three hours of continuous sleep, hired and fired three contract staff and calmly unfriended five people on Facebook. There’s a triumphant smile plastered on my face. My feathers are unruffled, and I feel amazing. No, seriously. Everything finally seems to be taking shape ahead of our client’s two day event, and I’m thrilled to bits.

Staging a successful event requires synchronising a myriad of details and managing what can sometimes feel like an entire village. To even the most experienced event planning professionals, this can be daunting. After working in the industry for years, this is what I’ve learned: stress is a beautiful thing – it matures you, and helps you evolve into a real cool cat. 🙂 God knows I live for the daily challenge of working towards seemingly impossible deadlines. As an entrepreneur, solving problems [and promptly] is a prerequisite for any successful business venture. One without which you’re most likely to fail.

My team and I have recently been privileged to work with some of the world’s leading multi-national brands, including Sandvik Global, Sysmex Europe GmBH, RTT Trans Africa, Vodafone, Access Bank, Zenith Bank, Universal Merchant Bank, World Vision International. And based on client feedback, what has continually made us stand out has been our ability to produce unforgettable events with fairly short prior notice.

Everyone wants to be remembered as part of a successful event. Therefore our focus has always been to create a brand experience for our clients’ stakeholders that is punctuated with emotional highlights of what their brand represents – a celebration of their identity. This week’s event is no exception. We’ve been working with the GE Africa team to host Jeff Immelt, Chairman and CEO of GE, and Jay Ireland, President and CEO of GE Africa. They’re in Ghana as part of a regional visit to finalise plans towards The Ghana 1,000 Power Project and strengthen ties with key stakeholders.

Ghana is currently facing an energy crisis that is posing immense challenges to growth for many businesses including ours. I am delighted, therefore, to be working with a company that is not only committed to helping develop sustainable energy solutions in Africa, but also keen on building well rounded local talent fit to compete on any global platform. While working with world class organisations like these, it has become evident that talent alone does not quite cut it. Increasingly, I have seen attitude thrive over aptitude; and a track record of consistently ensuring total customer delight [under whatever circumstances] is what a globally competitive workforce is made of.

That is why when our client announces that we have to redesign the entire layout, 24 hours before project kick-off, it is important that we remain as focused and enthusiastic about finding solutions as we have from day one. Every morning, throughout our time here at Stanbic Heights, I have looked through the glass windows at Accra’s rising skylines and been inspired by the steady growth of the global brands surrounding us, many of which started off like ours – ideas incubated and nourished with relentless effort.

A week later, as we pack up logistics and exit the building, I am further convinced that the possibilities are only just beginning. Ghana’s next growth chapter is in the mirror – yours and mine. Are you playing to win?

Your Event Planning BFF,

G. xo

Follow @PlanItGhana on Instagram for photos from this event.

MUSINGS OVER COFFEE | You Are Enough

MUSINGS OVER COFFEE | You Are Enough

It took me a long time to get comfortable with telling people I am an Event Planner. The title always made me feel inadequate. Because in our part of the world, we’re quick to brand event professionals less intelligent and less achieved.

“Oh, I’m Creative Director of …!”, I’d say with great panache, when asked what I did for a living. And when the conversation moved to education, I’d elaborately spell out all my UK qualifications. Surely, that would make others respect and admire me, wouldn’t it?

My entire worth was built around work titles, accolades and certifications. I wanted so desperately to belong – to show everyone that, I too, had made it. The more I sought validation in others, the more I poured myself into my work, the more competitive I became, and the farther away from self fulfilment I seemed. Because the problem with more, is that there’s never enough.

As I went past my early thirties, my definition of success changed entirely. It was no longer about recognition from people [who truthfully didn’t give a rat’s ass anyway], but more about how much better off others were – because I had been encouraging, considerate, kind, present.

Who would have thought the day would come when I would so easily pass over new [otherwise exciting] opportunities for a sit-down session with one of my mentees, for example, or popcorn and animated movies with my son. How I craved other people’s acceptance of me. Not anymore. The only person I want to impress now, is myself. And these days, that may just mean successfully changing a light bulb in my house, or calling my mother.

Insecurity is messy. It shows up on your doorstep unannounced and nestles in all your favourite places. If you’re starting theis month doubting yourself and your worth, please know that I’m praying for you. You’re enough. You’re so enough, you have no idea how enough you are.

Happy new month friends! Keep it real.

Your Event Planning BFF,

G. xo

MUSINGS OVER COFFEE | 2017 Lessons - 2018 Goals

MUSINGS OVER COFFEE | 2017 Lessons - 2018 Goals

Gaaah!! New beginnings are so magical! New opportunities to reignite our dreams, refuel our hopes, grow, love, unlearn and rediscover. 2017 has been a year of intense growth, and we're here for it. ALL. OF. IT.

Below are 15 Lessons we’re taking with us into 2018. Read on. You’re sure to find one you’ll want to jot down for the coming year too friends. 

1. Find your tribe. Love them hard.

2. Give the gift of your attention to the people who deserve it, and make more room in your life for the people who matter.

3. Kill the unbridled desire to belong – anywhere, to anything, anyone. Your journey is yours alone.

4. Purge yourself of the need to please everyone.

5. You’re enough. I promise. 🎈

6. Type out a list of all the people you want to be kinder to in 2018; and put your name first.

7. Believe in your dreams – as much as you believe in others’.

8. When negativity comes knocking on your door, pour a bucket of kindness all over her. Choose peace, always.

9. Be kind to yourself. Protect your magic. Do more of the things that make you happy.

10. Give yourself permission to remain curious and playful. Laugh more. The world is grim enough.

11. Stop berating yourself for past shortcomings and simply start again. No one is perfect. Forgive yourself. Forgive others.

12. Perfection stifles creativity. Allow yourself the freedom to explore new possibilities.

13. If it keeps you up at night, it’s probably worth pursuing.

14. Life is too short to spend time doubting your greatness. Feel the fear, and do it anyway.

15. If you’re still reading this, you probably spend too much time staring at your screen all day. In 2018, look up more. Have richer conversations. Get some more sunshine in your life, friends! 😃

Happy New Year, everyone!! Dream more. Win more. Love more. Play more. Laugh more. The possibilities are only just beginning. Here’s to you!

Your Event Planning BFF,

G. xo

ADVENTURE JUNKIE | Love From Akosombo

ADVENTURE JUNKIE | Love From Akosombo

It’s 9am on a Tuesday morn and I’m on my way to Akosombo with co-conspirator Steven Adusei; hurtling down the highway at top speed with perfect sunshine streaming in through his sunroof and Jonathan Butler’s ‘Worship Project’ on replay. It’s such a beautiful day and there’s every reason to be happy and thankful.

I have just returned from a ‘jetpacking’ trip through New York and London by kind invitation of the Kellogg School Of Management – speaking about PlanIt Ghana and entrepreneurship in Africa; and of course also taking the opportunity to meet new industry suppliers, and procuring event logistics and little treasures I know my clients will love. Exactly a year ago today, I was sitting on a wall on Jumeirah Beach in Dubai on a rare working holiday, reviewing invoices from business purchases earlier, looking up periodically at the clear blue sky and thinking how ideal a quick dip in the gorgeous deep blue sea would be. I need to learn to properly swim, damn it! And I will, as soon as my life gets a bit more predictable.

This is my new roller coaster life as an Event Planner and a ‘Boeing Cattle Class’ suitcase entrepreneur. The view from our office window keeps changing; and I absolutely LOVE IT! I enjoy meeting new people everyday, seeing our creative ideas come to life, discovering new places, savouring new tastes and flavours, and my team of mavericks at PlanIt Ghana ensure there’s never a dull moment. Though work can get overwhelmingly tough sometimes, as status quo slayers and adventure junkies, we’d rather have it no other way. Finding solutions to the challenges we encounter each day is our yang.

This week we’re at the Royal Senchi in Akosombo for a pre event recce for an upcoming destination wedding. Steve is a great travel partner. It’s cool to hang out with people who can get silly and back to serious in one heartbeat. On arrival, I see what all the fuss you’ve been making is about. It’s a beautiful venue – impressive architecture, stunning landscape, brilliant client service. I can’t stop taking photos to show our bride. Everything about the hotel and its environs inspire me to create create create! I certainly look forward to finally meeting her and her fiancé when they arrive in Ghana; and to producing their wedding day!

Follow @PlanItGhana on Instagram for photos from their big day and welcome to our new blog! I intend to update it as often as I can with all the ‘juice’ from behind-the-scenes!

Your Event Planning BFF,

G. xo

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Today’s Unrestricted Quote: “I drive too fast to worry about cholesterol.”

– Steven Adusei, Associate Photographer, PlanIt Ghana.

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