Inspirational Stories

personal development (4)

For this blog interview, I got to interview one of my very best friends who’s been a constant source of inspiration and support to me. We  met back in 2011 and immediately we knew we just had to be friends. More importantly, we knew that we just had to make a positive impact on the world together, and so I am also blessed to call her my business partner. Mmabatho Mokiti is an impact entrepreneur specifically focused in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM field). Thanks B, for sharing your story……

EOB: Please can you share with our readers a little bit of your personal background and  story. Where did you come from and what inspired you to be the person you are today?MM: My grandparents have had a huge influence on the person I am today. I was born in Diepkloof, Soweto (South Africa) and spent the first 9 years living with my grandparents. I lost my father when I was 5, so my grandfather was my first father figure and is the main reason I am an entrepreneur today, he was my first business mentor; even thought I didn’t know what that was at that time. He made me believe that it was possible and he never let me forget how smart I was and that it was something to be celebrated.

My grandfather was the only one of his siblings who moved from rural Mpumalanga and made a decision to educate all 8 of his children, which ensured that their children would then also get educated. My grandmother on the other hand did not get a chance to go to school and yet placed great importance and value on education. My grandparents have been a true testament to what education can do for a family and the life long wealth it creates. My mom is also a great inspiration in my life, she too did not get to finish high school, but she made sure that we went to the best schools and I’ll always be grateful to her for that. Growing up my mom never let me forget how great I can be and that anything that I put my mind to in life I could achieve, all my mom’s ever wanted for myself and my big brother was to get an education, be independent and live out our dreams. 

EOB: How and when did you discover your purpose?

MM: That was really God just leading me in the right direction. When I was 18 I got a part time job whilst at university as a Mathematics tutor at a tutoring company and I just fell in love with teaching. I loved interacting with teenagers and seeing their reactions after they started doing well and how they gained confidence. I knew right then and there that I wanted to give the gift of education to someone.  I started looking into ways in which I could live out my purpose as a teacher, whilst still getting into business. Finding your purpose is truly God given because once it reveals itself to you, God will do all in His power to reveal some snippets to you, until one day you look back and think, that was God revealing my purpose to me. I firmly believe that my purpose was revealed to me way earlier then I can remember , but I just didn’t know it until I started tutoring, as a child I was always the teacher teaching my cousins when we played school, I remember even helping my little cousins out with their homework when we were younger. 

EOB: What is your purpose and key passions in life?

MM: I’m a teacher to the core of my being, I love education and empowering others through education. I will grab onto any opportunity to teach someone and leave them feeling like a better version of themselves. 

EOB: How does one start embracing a life that is more intentional and driven from the inside out?

MM: I only started living an intentional life in my late twenties. When I was 26 I went through a life changing breakup and this forced me to take a step back at my life and re-evaluate everything; from the friends I had, to my career, my goals, the kind of relationships I wanted to engage in,  the space I wanted to create and the places I wanted to go to. I would say before one can start embracing a life that is more intentional they firstly need to come to terms with the fact that things are going to change in their lives and they are going to loose some people who don’t believe in this “new person”, but it will all be for a good reason.  Living an intentional life also means that you have to fall in love with your life, loving yourself is very important, fall in love with yourself, every bit of your life and the bits that you don’t love is an indication of what you need to change. Be aware of the people you let into your life, the energy they bring in cause when you love yourself, you don’t allow anyone to mess with your energy and space.

EOB: What past experiences and people have helped shape who you are today?

MM: As mentioned above my break up in my twenties was the wake up call I needed to start living my life wholeheartedly for myself and with no regards to others opinions. My friends and the people I’ve let into my life have also played a big role, I intentionally allow people in my life who share similar values to me and are invested in their personal growth, as much as I am invested in mine. It’s through my friends that a lot of my growing has happened and they have allowed me and sometimes pushed me to dig deep into the person I really am. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of seeing two life coaches in my life and they have helped to face my deepest and darkest side in order to become  a better person.

EOB: What are your top three habits that contribute to your success?

MM: Prayer, tithing and always believing and knowing that I deserve the best because I’m the best. 

EOB: Have you ever felt down and out in life and how did you get back up and get your inspiration and motivation back?

MM: Yes, of course. At the very beginning of my business career there was a point where I was making no money at all and it’s times like that that I kept my eye on my vision and why I wanted to go into business in the first place. I’ve always been a great believer in writing out my goals and putting them up, so every time I was down and out, I would look at my goals on my wall and it would be a great reminder that my current situation was only temporary and that greater things awaited me. My favourite Bible scripture that has also gotten me through some tough times. Matthew 19:26; “With God all things are possible”. This always reassures me that God did not create me to fail, but to be great and extraordinary in His own way. Now I know and understand that every hurdle I go through is a lesson that life and the universe is trying to teach me, so I need to just pause and ask myself “what is this suppose to teach me?'

EOB: Please can you recommend three books or podcast episodes that was a gamechanger for you?

  1. Return to Love - Marianne Williamson
  2. Purpose Driven Life - Rick Warren
  3. A New Earth - Eckart Tolle
  4. All the podcast where Oprah is in conversation with Iyanla Vanzant

EOB: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would that be?

MM: God-driven 

EOB: What’s your one piece of wisdom that you would like to share with the world?

MM: Never dim your light for anyone, God did not create us to be mediocre  or ordinary, He created us to be extraordinary, unique and shine brighter each day like a flame that never goes out, but only gets brighter. My second favourite verse Matthew 5:15-16 says; “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lamp stand and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven”.  I once heard a saying that has stuck with me for many years, it said; “ A candle doesn’t loose it’s shine by lighting another candle”, which in essence is as we shine, let us help others shine and help them to find their purpose and live a purpose driven life. 

~ Ezlyn Olivia Barends ~

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LeAnne Dlamini is a singer, speaker, entrepreneur AND influencer all whilst being a wife and mother of two BEAUTIFUL daughters. I've had the pleasure of working and collaborating with LeAnne and have been drawn to her driven, humble heart and so I've been compelled to tap more into her journey and life experiences that shaped her to becoming the powerful role model that she is today. Thank you LeAnne.
 
EOB: Please share a little bit of your personal background and story. Where did you come from and what inspired you to be the person you are today?
LD: I was born and raised in Eldorado Park, Johannesburg where I spent the earlier part of my childhood until my parents moved us to Randburg shortly after I started high school. I've always been a very creative person and studied music at The National School Of The Arts before I started doing music professionally as a backing vocalist.
 
My parents raised my brother and I in a very loving, hardworking home where God was our foundation and I know that that's what influenced my faith. My dad was an entrepreneur who ran his own office furniture removals and installation company and I think seeing him is what inspired me to become an entrepreneur too. Both my parents were very instrumental in the development of LeAnne.
 
EOB: How and when did you discover your purpose?
LD: I think I've been really blessed. I knew very early on in my childhood that I was given a gift to sing so I did that since I was a child, but my love and heart for women and children led me to my passion project which I now fully see as my purpose, End Girl Hate (EGH). EGH was born almost 4 years ago.
 
EOB: What is your purpose and key passions in life?
LD: My purpose is to use the platform which I've been given through music and social media to inspire and empower women and girls. What started on social media simply grew into a movement where I host events, masterclasses and talks that help women grow and network. EGH has evolved into a movement that really pushes self development and empowerment. My passion is to unite women and see them grow. Seeing a woman live the life she was meant to live inspires and drives me.
 
EOB: How does one start embracing a life that is more intentional and driven from the inside out?
LD: It all starts in the mind. Firstly you need to want to change and mentally shift your thinking to being intentional. Knowing what you want is very instrumental. The day I decided how I wanted to live my life and outlined the things I wanted to do, I actively started working towards it. Knowing my purpose is what drives me.
 
EOB: What past experiences and people have helped shape who you are today?
LD: My parents have been very instrumental in shaping who LeAnne is. My mom from a strength and spiritual side and my dad from a business side. Watching them daily molded me. My husband has also been very instrumental in shaping the woman I am today. His work ethic is insane. The hardest working man I know for sure and living with someone like that, has definitely influenced my life, but I think more than that, just the way he believes in me, blows me away. Often more than I believe in myself. My daughters have also definitely influenced my life. They've made me a more patient and tolerable woman and my drive to be successful definitely comes from my daughters. I want them to look at me one day and say, " If mommy can do it, I can do it! "
EOB: What are your top three habits that contribute to your success?
LD:
- Resilience
- Fearlessness
- Drive
 
These 3 habits get me through everyday. There are days when I just feel like giving up, but these 3 things have helped me push on.
 
EOB: Have you ever felt down and out in life and how did you get back up and get your inspiration and motivation back?
LD: Absolutely! And it happens more often than people think. I think the game changer for me was understanding that my purpose was bigger than me, I was no longer just living for myself. There are hundreds and now thousands of women who look to me and EGH for inspiration and knowing that I could make a difference in just 1 girl or 1 woman's life is what's helped me to keep going. Life for me is about serving others.
 
EOB: Please can you recommend three books or podcast episodes that were gamechangers for you?
LD:
Soar by TD Jakes
Becoming by Michelle Obama
Everyday A Friday by Joel Osteen
 
EOB: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would that be?
LD: Brave. And Blessed :)
Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I'd be living this life , running a movement so amazing, but because I was brave enough to step out of my comfort zone and be obedient to the voice of God I'm now able to do what I do.
 
EOB: What’s your one piece of wisdom that you would like to share with the world?
LD: If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion.
For your passion will lead you right to your purpose.
 
~ By Ezlyn Olivia Barends ~
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I recently had the honour of tapping into my very good friend and business partner's head, heart and mind as she shared her journey to living a purpose-filled life. Marise Mackay is a Group Product Manager at L'Oreal Paris South Africa as well as a fellow founding director of the DreamGirls Academy AND certified yoga teacher :). Marise is pure Peace, Love & Fire. Here's what she had to share;
 
EOB: Please can you share with our readers a little bit of your personal background and story. Where did you come from and what inspired you to be the person you are today?
MM: Born into a rather large and close-knit family as the youngest of 7, I grew up in the predominantly Coloured community of Eldorado Park, south of Johannesburg. I attended ‘Our Lady of Mercy’ Primary School, also known as Mayfair Convent, followed by 5 years of schooling in the north of Johannesburg where I attended Parktown High School for Girls’. When my dad passed away in my final year of high school, my mum and I agreed that I should take a gap year to work abroad after Matric, granted financial constraints of studying further. After spending 2 years in the United States in the state of New Jersey as an au pair, I returned to South Africa to pursue my tertiary education. I attended the AAA School of Advertising, with much thanks to bursary funding, and after graduating cum laude, I took on the role of Junior Strategic Planner at a global advertising agency, Publicis. Inspired by a desire to build “love” brands with purpose and support women in their journey toward self-love, I entered the Beauty Industry as a “pepiniere” for leading global beauty brand, L’Oreal. Prior to my current role as Marketing Manager on L’Oreal Paris, I worked on various brands and categories across the L’Oreal organisation in South Africa.
 
 
EOB: How and when did you discover your purpose?
MM: It was through my exposure to two completely different worlds; that being the township community of Eldorado Park, and its contrast to the northern suburbs of Parktown, that the seeds of purpose began to bud. As soon as I returned back from the United States, I became involved in youth leadership in Eldorado Park. Often challenged by insults as having a “silver-spoon upbringing”, my desire to expose teenage girls from my community to life beyond the township was far greater than the challenges that came with it. I was conflicted by the number of girls who felt trapped by their circumstances, and even more so, by the number of girls settling for mediocrity from disillusionment, fear and insecurity. During my time at Publicis, I met a free-spirited, polished and ambitious Ezlyn Barends who came to know about my involvement in youth leadership and my desire to bring about change in the lives of girls from my community. When Ezlyn invited me to start DreamGirls Academy with herself and other like-minded women, almost 8 years ago, I initially saw it as an opportunity to “pay it forward”. It has since become my second home; the greatest synchronicity to my purpose.
 
 
EOB: What is your purpose and key passions in life?
MM: First and foremost, I believe that my purpose is to be a source of love and motivation in every area of my life; as a yoga teacher who holds space for others to feel safe in their practice; as a colleague; a manager; as a sister; a friend; a lover…as a mentor; whatever hat I’m wearing. I believe that love is the driving force behind purpose. Until you believe you’re capable of achieving greatness and being a light for others; which for many is unfathomable, your purpose will remain out of reach. This belief stems from a confidence rooted in self-love and self-awareness. It’s this love that fuels my need to make others aware of their authentic power to thrive, not merely survive. Not enough people believe in their own power. It is my purpose to leave people better than I found them, and aware of their contribution to the world. The Nigerian proverb, “One cannot sit down alone to plan for prosperity”, feeds in me a sense of commitment to support others in pursuit of their dreams. Whether their dream is to be promoted within the context of L’Oreal; to get an A+ for Mathematics; to master a pose in yoga; or to embark on a journey of Entrepreneurship.
 
EOB: How does one start embracing a life that is more intentional and driven from the inside out?
MM: I think it starts with having a vision. Many people don’t believe in the power of vision; but I think vision coupled with character is a recipe for success. It’s often vision that forces our character to catch up with our heart’s desire. Once the vision has been identified, the answer lies mostly in self-mastery. There’s power in your daily routine.
Intentionality can be further supported by someone with a vested interest in your success, who holds you accountable to your aspirations. More often than not, this person is a mentor.
And finally, I believe that intentionality becomes a default setting when you’ve identified your purpose, your reason for being. Synchronicity will find you when you’re living out your purpose; and you will find it. You will know what it feels like. You can’t be intentional when you don’t have a vision…a place you’re trying to get to.
 
EOB: What past experiences and people have helped shape who you are today?
MM: Becoming acquainted with the experience of making mistakes and failing has been my personal source of resilience, grace and gratitude. It’s really what feeds my humility and reminds me to show up in excellence and love. Women in the workplace who I have previously been led by from a place of fear, not only revealed the type of manager that I absolutely did not want to be, but also, strangely enough, shone a light on qualities that I was oblivious to as my strengths, and in turn that was viewed as a threat. I am a rare case I believe, of someone so supported by the most incredible network of people who have, and continue to see greatness in me beyond my own imagination. Synchronicity to my purpose is reinforced through my every encounter.
I come from a family that keeps me grounded; a family of workers, visionaries and self-starters. This type of exposure alone keeps me out of trouble and committed to my life’s purpose. When my dad was boarded from work after his first stroke, I remember him making our lunches every morning and preparing dinner every night while my mom worked as a designer and dressmaker. It was sitting crossed-legged on my mum’s industrial sewing machine watching her work through the night on a wedding dress or a banquet dress that I was first exposed to discipline and passion.
I’ve always been exposed to informal mentoring; but it was my first structured form of mentorship that introduced commitment, intentionality and accountability into my vision for success. My mentor Lillian and the inspiring women who serve alongside me as Founding Directors of DreamGirls Academy are the warrior women I believe who have an unspoken commitment to see me live out my purpose. It really is what I describe as an unapologetically fierce sisterhood.
 
EOB: What are your top three habits that contribute to your success?
MM: Waking up at 5am; sometimes 4:30am.
Prayer and silent meditation.
A disciplined yoga practice.
 
EOB: Have you ever felt down and out in life and how did you get back up and get your inspiration and motivation back?
MM: Absolutely! Generally if I feel I’m slipping into a slump, it’s because I haven’t remained committed to the habits mentioned above. The last time that I was however faced with a real overwhelming case of ‘down-and-out’, I met with a life coach who I continue to see on a regular basis, or as the need arises when I encounter major milestones along my journey, professionally or personally.
 
EOB: Please can you recommend three books or podcast episodes that were gamechanges for you?
MM: It’s very difficult to mention just 3;
 
Books:
· Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott
· The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma
· The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
· The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle
 
Podcasts:
· The GaryVee Audio Experience: “Put In The WORK!” and “The Human Pursuit of Happiness”
· Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations: “A New Earth”
 
EOB: If you could describe yourself in one word, what would that be?
MM: Layered
 
EOB: What’s your one piece of wisdom that you would like to share with the world?
MM: Know Thyself. Self- mastery is only possible with self-awareness. By having a clear understanding of yourself (and this is a lifelong journey in itself), your purpose becomes more apparent. The things that move you makes more sense; how you respond to life makes more sense; how you plan and show up makes more sense; your worth makes more sense.
 
~ By Ezlyn Olivia Barends ~
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