Happy new year! Would you believe it’s 2018 and we are already midway through January! This year feels like one of those where you blink and it’s June and you blink again and you are counting down to 2019 (haha!) I hope you've had a fantastic start to the year, and I wish you nothing but a brilliant year ahead.
I hope you enjoyed the Top 40 under 40 women series from last year. I will be completing this series by interviewing a few more women this January.
After this, I have a really exciting interview series I want to begin..
The 2017 Top 40 under 40 men!
The list of the 2017 Top 40 under 40 men came out in late December 2017, and the list is nothing short of exceptional. I am very excited about this and I look forward to rolling out interview after interview with Kenya’s men to watch J
Kicking off my first interview for 2018 is a fabulous lady who has worn several hats in her lifetime. She was once a tea girl with absolutely no money and no connections. Today her life is reading from a different script. She is under 30, as business savvy as they come and an all round go getter! Every year she hosts Kenya’s most chic of picnic parties called Diner en Blanc that attracts people from all over the country and has been a phenomenon in other locations globally.
Introducing LeAnne Peris, owner of Diner en Blanc Nairobi.
L: What do you consider as your greatest achievement to date?
C: Interestingly, I do not feel like an accomplished individual. I have moments in my life where I look at things I am doing in comparison to my peers and I think, “Wow! That’s a lot!”. However even in those moments, I am unable to look at them as achievements per se. Possibly because my vision is so great that I feel I have barely touched the surface of what I need to do to get there. There are moments which I can say were great and that I was proud of and these were:
1. Taking KShs1,000 on two occasions and turning it into a 7 figure income in less than a year at age 24. 2. Building an award winning entertainment brand Diner en Blanc Nairobi in 2 years from nothing! 3. Being nominated for the African Youth of the Year Female award in 2016. 4. Being listed one of the winners in the Business Daily Top 40 under 40 women 2017 awards. 5. Consulting for some of Kenya’s biggest brands and companies 6. Running a successful concierge high end wedding planning service. I do not think these are achievements, I like to call them blessings..I am blessed!
L: What has your career path been like as you have navigated through your chosen field leading up to your current role/position?
C: My journey has not only been long, it has been arduous. I decided not to be choosy as most people my age are. As a result I have done it all. I started working right after high school. My first job was as a secretary/admin at a photocopy and documentation centre. I was fired after 3 months. I then worked as a sales girl in a movie shop for 1.5 years as I waited to join university.
Whilst in campus I worked as an untrained high school teacher in a school in my home area in Kiambu. I have also worked as a tea girl/receptionist during one of the lowest moments of my life. Prior to which I was head of business development for a multinational company based in Washington DC.
Eventually, I decided to start a business. I started with HR consultancy, and management consultancy, before venturing into events and weddings. Currently I have invested in about 4 start-ups and I am trying to cement my place as a billionaire serial entrepreneur over the next half decade. The sky is not the limit! I think I can actually do it all.
L: What advice would you offer to young people on figuring out the balance between work, family life and social life?
C: I would say this is something I am yet to figure out; I am definitely a work in progress. I find myself getting carried away by work. I definitely do not have much of a social life. But then again, I am an introvert, so this is by default.
My advice is to try and figure out what is really important at the end of the day. For example, my policy is to not take or make personal calls in the middle of my working day unless it is from my husband. I also try to go out for lunch with one friend each month, but if that is not possible I try to keep in touch through WhatsApp.
I believe no single template works for everyone. One has to make a deliberate effort to build and maintain relationships with the people who are closest to you, and one must hold in the same regard, their work.
L: What is your greatest piece of advice to the young upwardly mobile individual?
C: The two most important things in your life are time and your self-worth. These are the two things that one has utter and complete control over. If you manage your time properly and efficiently and avoid wasting it, you will find that you have full productive days and it will be very easy for you to achieve your goals. If you respect your time, it will respect you. Avoid wasting time on activities that do not add value to your life. Be productive all the time, and this will be the difference between success and failure.
The second thing is to know your self-worth; defining honestly what you are capable of and being confident in your strengths. When you know your self-worth then you never wait for people to validate you and your dreams. You go for them, with every bit of energy that you have. Be confident. No one can execute your dreams better than you can. Always believe that, and the world will fall at your feet.
L: What is the greatest lesson/ nugget that you have picked up in life?
C: Be your damn self! Stop looking and listening to what other people think you should be. Set your own standards based on actual role models and not your peers. Most people like to pretend they have a bird’s eye view of what you should be doing in your life, but they are projecting their own insecurities to you. So set your own goals and standards and then live up to them to the best of your ability.
‘You’ve got a new story to write, and it looks nothing like your past’ Anonymous