You know how we often wish we could get paid to eat good food, visit cool places and have a glam squad to look all fleek? Well, Nicole sort of has that job! She once wrote in my high school yearbook that I could win a Pulitzer prize for writing.
I must have laughed when I read that because she was the writer! She was the one who, with her instantly recognizable handwriting filled notebooks from cover to cover with short stories and almost full-blown novels with intricate plots. I wasn’t quite sure how she could be so creative. She may have introduced me to John Grisham – and we’d generally have a good time talking about his legal thrillers. At that point, we’d also thought we’d be lawyers.
Interestingly, we got called to the Nigerian bar on the same day – but law wasn’t just it for Nicole – the sober profession couldn’t contain her creativity.
In the past few years, I’ve proudly followed her career story and I’m super excited that you get a glimpse into her work life. Some days she’s writing, some days she’s speaking and other days she’s behind the camera!
She shares why it isn’t all glam, how she got the dream job, what’s she’d do if she never had to work and so much more!
Fun fact: She loves reciting movie scenes and can do entire monologues of her fave movies (I’ve seen some, shes’s good!). She used to be a die-hard fan of Made in Chelsea and genuinely enjoys American reality TV. Her dad’s nickname for her is OTB meaning ‘Only The Best’ and she has this tattooed on her left wrist!
Now to her work life. Enjoy!
At 6am on Mondays and 6.30am on every other day of the week. I usually wake up about 5 minutes before my alarm, but it’s that sweet in between place where you’re mind isn’t fully awake but you’re aware of your surroundings. I’m a snooze button kind of girl and even if I’m semi awake; I enjoy the extra 15 minutes of complete laziness. I take a shower, brush and all that jazz and then I sit at my desk and put my face on. I usually wear a full face of makeup every day and it takes me about 30 minutes when I’m rushing and 45 minutes when I’m watching the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Don’t judge. Once my face is beat, I pick out my clothes, my wig (it’s a whole look), say a prayer and leave the house.
Car. I had to get a driver a few months ago because I had some issues with my back. My back is fine now but let me tell you something – once you enjoy the perks of being driven around in this crazy Lagos, you can never go back. I use the time to read my novel or just sit and think… I love it.
Well, according to my official job description, I am the Lead Editor of the Ndani Lifestyle blog and a Content Producer at Ndani TV. So, I basically run the blog – create and manage our content calendar, source contributors, edit and proof read articles etc.
I also produce some shows on Ndani TV like Real Talk Season 2 and a really fun show called TGIF. Over time, my role has expanded to a lot of Guaranty Trust Bank special projects (the bank owns Ndani TV). I am responsible for a lot of the content creation for GTBank Fashion Weekend and GTBank Food and Drink.
This keeps me really busy and sometimes I’m not quite sure what my job description is but I go with the flow and try to enjoy it.
I couldn’t quite articulate but always knew I wanted. I studied Law at University and I think I knew it wasn’t for me during my first Land Law lecture. I was genuinely paying attention but I couldn’t keep up with what the lecturer was talking about. I found all the terminologies exhausting and boring and I instantly wanted to change my course to something else. I was really good at English and Literature and History in my secondary school and A Levels but Law just felt really… bland.
After University, I knew I wanted to be a writer but I didn’t know where to start. So, I went for a course at London School of Journalism. However, that too didn’t feel like the right fit because it was very much about serious journalism and investigative reporting. I tried to like it but it didn’t do it for me. I came back to Nigeria and worked as a news writer at Channels Television for a year. It was an interesting experience but again in terms of my writing, I felt very limited. When you are writing about the news you can’t say ‘An eerie silence swept the room as the President addressed the crowd’. You have to say ‘The President addressed the crowd’. Done. No drama, no fun, no me.
And then, I watched Mad Men. And I saw that people created ads for a living and I thought ‘Oh my God, I can do that – that’s what I want to do’. My sister found out the agency that Mad Men was based off – DDB – had an office in Lagos. And the rest was history. After three years of copy writing at DDB, I had started blogging on the side. Being exposed to art directors, graphic designers and photographers really lit up a creative flare in me and I started creating cool content. I would send emails to magazines like Guardian Life and just give them content which they always happily published.
Then one day, my former boss at DDB told me Ndani TV was looking to start a lifestyle blog and asked me if I would like to interview for the role. My first interview was with the Head of Production and Creative Director of Ndani TV. The second and scarier interview was with the then Head of Corporate Affairs at GTBank and after a few days, I got a call, that I got the job.
It was really life changing for me because it was a management role (a major step up from my DDB days) and it was everything I felt like I was interested in on the side, but now I was getting paid to do it for real.
I don’t think I have a typical day. It really depends on the project I’m working on. If I am shooting or sourcing content, I probably won’t be in the office for longer than an hour. The projects I’m working on really dictate how my day goes. When I am focused on Ndani Lifestyle, my day consists of checking the content calendar for the day, meeting with my very small team about new content ideas and updates on whatever articles are pending. I check the traffic of the previous day and keep notes of what content did better. After that, I start creating.
But if I’m working on an Ndani TV project, my day can just literally be reading or editing scripts the entire day.
I also spend quite a lot of my time at the bank. They have several projects I find myself involved in, so I could be just listening in at a meeting and offering creative business solutions for them or coming up with a PR or content plan for an event. It really varies.
Most people assume that my job isn’t 9-5 because I’m posting coffee or lunch on Instagram at odd hours. But, my job is actually an 8 – 6 (we’re owned by a bank, remember). However, because of the nature of my role – I have to go to these ‘lifestyle’ places in order to get great content. It is nice though, I can’t even lie – sometimes, I’m reviewing a restaurant (eating to my heart’s content) and I think to myself “How is this your job?”.
Seeing my name on a storefront at GTBank Fashion Weekend. Some members of the PR team were rewarded with their names on the façade of the event and it was just really cool to be acknowledged. Sometimes, I suffer from the ‘imposter syndrome’ and I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. So, seeing my name in bold for the world to see made me really feel like an integral part of a team.
I think the fact I have no say on what kinds of projects I work on. So, I could be writing about food today and then tomorrow, I find myself editing a corporate profile or the bank’s website content. However, at the same time it makes me a stronger writer because I’m not just doing one thing. It definitely feels like the worst part but I know in the long run, it will actually be the best part.
I get a lot invites to events and get to discover new places all the time. I was on holiday recently and my friend sent me a messaging saying “Please use your Ndani magic and get me tickets to Davido’s concert”. Lol. I wasn’t able to get her tickets – I guess my magic doesn’t work for Davido!
It’s laid back, glamorous and all I do is sit in coffee shops and write a little bit while I sip a latte and eat a croissant.
Create. The only way to show you are creative is by creating. You can start a blog in seconds. You can come up with an idea for a photo-shoot and beg a photographer to shoot it for you. You can go to a restaurant and write a review. Create, create, create. Then identify a platform that you like or admire and send them an email with a link to all your awesome creations. Somebody will see that email one day and call you. Facts.
It depends. If it’s a particularly stressful day, I’ll go have a drink somewhere with friends. But, I do that less and less now. I think I enjoy getting home early enough and just spending time alone. I de-stress by watching mindless American reality television and I try to do no work. I always shower before bed (it makes the sleep 5x sweeter) and then I read a novel until I fall asleep. I do sometimes have side projects, so after work, I tend to focus on those – but that’s not all the time.
The purpose I feel every day. It helps me get up easier knowing that I am required to be somewhere. It disciplines me in away I definitely need. If I worked for myself, I doubt I would ever set an alarm at 6am. For what? Snoooooze.
To be a full time writer. I have always wondered how it would feel to just wake up… go to my home office and… write. Write a screen play, write a novel, a collection of short stories… anything. In my perfect world, I am a writer who actually writes.
Acting. I love films and actors and I’m always so moved by strong performances. I would love to be a Viola Davies type of actress you know – intense, unapologetic, strong. Yeah, in my next life, I would be an actress.
I had a huge laugh when she explained why news writing was pretty boring! Can’t spice it up much can we? I enjoyed this so much and really like the fact that although she couldn’t articulate her dream job – just doing what she loved got her that dream job. Sometimes it’s hard to put on paper what exactly we want and how we want it. But if we pursue our passions + hard work, it’s bound to come!
What do you think?
pS: At the time of publishing this, Nicole had just moved on from this role to StoryTeller (yes that’s the actual job title) at Expo 20202 Dubai – but I thought it was too good to let it go!