Temitope Olukanmi is one amazing personality who inspires positive change in a skilful way. By the time you’re done reading excerpts of our conversation, you will agree with me that she is God’s baby girl as indicated on her Instagram Bio.
What’s your personal story?
I love solving complex problems and adding value to peoples lives. I take an empathic approach to work and you’d probably find me volunteering or curating impactful projects with my non-profit –Cedar Tribe Foundation when I’m not in a 9- 5. So in summary, I’m a value-adding personality saved by grace
What drives you as a thought leader?
I believe people drive me. When you are dealing and living in a world filled with diverse people, there is always a new story, needs to be met, problems be solved, challenges to overcome and contingencies to prepare for.
When working with people you are spurred to be dynamic as you get to see through their lenses. This is very vital to me as it enhances my creativity, inspires me to solve problems and structure new ideologies to the way we work, live and relate with each other.
So it’s a never-ending cycle and since we humans are proved to be complex I believe we’re in for an interesting journey.
What and Who inspires you to be creative?
Well, I wouldn’t say anyone or anything inspires me- I believe it comes naturally to me. I’m just really passionate about adding value to peoples’ lives and I express my imaginations through media uniquely -so it’s like the perfect combo for me.
Does spirituality and culture play a role in your creativity?
I believe spirituality and culture are essential ingredients in a creative process.
God is the master creative –I mean he made the heavens and the earth and once you allow the holy spirit guide you, he’d carry you through life and inspire your creative process.
Culture is the sense of people’s way of life and I believe you need to know your culture and be in tune with your surrounding. You need to be present to know your problems and how you can creatively solve your problems. Even if God is showing you things if you don’t relate speak that environmental language you’re in for a serious hassle.
I remember the scripture that was talking about when the Israelites were about to take Canaan and Moses sent 12 spies to study the land for 40 days. If the spies didn’t study the land they won’t have been able to take Canaan as their future home.
So take advantage of our resident culture strategically: those are the resources God has put on earth to help you achieve your goals and your plans. If you are not in tune with your culture/surroundings, you are limiting your imaginations to just remain ideas. In the same vein, also block out the negative voices or confinements of your environment when you’re in your creative process-Interruptions de-motivate and jeopardize great ideas.
How do you measure Impact?
Well, the impact is quite difficult to measure as many variables cannot be measured quantitatively especially when you’re in a country with little or no data. But I will say one effective measure that I have used is doing thorough research, getting feedback, knowing how much of resources I have put in it, knowing how much I can get out of it and tracking my investment. If I am investing in education, I always track it – What is their score in school like? Has their intellectual capacity improved? Character? Diction? Mentality? Skills? etc.
So basically that’s how I measure my impact. You just have to do your part diligently, trust God and you’d be fine
How and when did you know what you wanted out of life?
I think I was in SS2 when I bumped into the music room where my music teacher was talking to a student who was flunking his tests. I just started advising the young lad and once I started talking everywhere went quiet and people were just listening.
Long story short, he improved academically and I felt really good knowing I had made an impact on someone’s life.
Most times people just need someone to believe, inspire and support them; that experience alongside the activities I was involved in during that period made me more empathic to life and committed to seeing that people, cultures, processes and ultimately countries become better.
There’s more to life than riches and Ralph Waldo Emersons quote on success summarizes what I want out of life.
What is the Straight Outta Love Story?
SOL is an initiative under the Cedar Tribe Foundation that was founded in 2016. It consists of a group of youths who are passionate about implementing positive change initiatives and empowering lives through love across communities annually
I’ve found out that most times, all we need to spur change in life is love. Love is an unlimited resource which spurs selfless actions and we use this to garner support in ways that cannot be quantified in our projects. I’m even more ecstatic now as more corporations and countries are implementing love-driven decisions now and talking more about the circular and kindness economy- So you can see we’re ahead of the curve *laughs*
We have great volunteers and stakeholders that are committed to seeing the world a better place and in the little ways they can, they lend their resources from intellect to materials to money to ensure the goal of each project is achieved.
I’m very grateful for all that we’ve been able to achieve in our three years of existence and it’s even going to be bigger and better as we relaunch later this year. You can find out more about what we do on our Instagram page: straightouttalove.ng.
Does your work convey a specific emotion or message?
Ultimately, we hope that we inspire others to go beyond their individualistic mindsets to think of others. Straight Outta Love and Cedar Tribe Foundation convey an empathic emotion and altruism as the new way of life.
It seeks to break down the rent-seeking behaviour of individuals, companies and societies to make sustainable changes in vulnerable and developing communities.
We are currently curating platforms that render resources available to particular social groups and you’d see more of that in coming months. This is an exciting project for me and I can’t wait to share it with the rest of the world in due time.
How would you describe your style?
I would say it’s simple and classy. I’m a minimalist and as far as it is comfortable and unique, I’m fine with it.
What part of you do you share in your creative endeavors?
Well, I believe I share my more of spirit man and visual sense in creative endeavours. I think and imagine a lot; also during the week, I have times to commune with the holy spirit and amazing ideas stem from that.
What’s your advice to someone who’s confused about what to do with life?
This is a very interesting and relative question because I believe that if you are confused about what to do in life, you should go back to your maker, go back to God. I’m a Christian, so I will give you what has worked for me. Find out what you like to do. You can sit down with God the master planner, creator of you and find out what your purpose is really. It might come in a dream and then sometimes because of our environment if God knows people are just talking too much, He might tell you in a dream, or if God knows that if He tells you in a certain way you might be distorted or embarrassed, He would use the things that you are usually are savvy with or the things that you used too to speak to you. It’s also a time to be very sensitive.
Also remember when you were small, what were the things that got you excited? What were the things you thrived naturally in ? was it drawing, was it talking to people, was it reading? Just find out what excited you, or what made you happy. I know some of my friends they might necessarily have talent but they love reading and you should be fine if people call you a nerd or whatever, that’s your nature, so how could you help others and make yourself happy by doing that?
Eg: You can be a project support staff /tutor: teach people, help other people write projects, plans a research work. So, there are different things you can do with your talent, it doesn’t have to conform with the world, just make sure you’re comfortable and confident about it.
Take chances, be bold, try new things. Sometimes we might not actually know what we like to do because we haven’t tried anything before, so you should be open, and when you are open just give it your all, just make sure that whatever you are doing, you’re doing it diligently.
Your Take on Social Media Pressure and Mental Health
I believe that this is a very underrated topic in our world today. Social media pressure is real and mental health is a topic that should be spoken about more frequently. It’s so funny how even the slightest thing or repeating of clothes on Instagram is a silent taboo. There so much criticism on social media and sometimes we may forget that we are living our lives for ourselves and not for other people.
At the end of the day, I believe we should not make a substance or an entity to have so much power over us and degrade our mental health. Social media is not just a technology, it’s a very powerful tool to convey messages, emotions etc. so we should all be intentional of the influence we carry on our platforms.
If you have social media plans, try to create a routine or schedule posts using apps. If you notice that some posts trigger your insecurities and don’t edify you might: want to mute, block or take a break from social media for weeks or go off social media-protect your mental health.
On social media when you see other people, yes, you can aspire to be like them, but there is a very thin line between aspiration and envy; jealousy and depression. It’s a very silent and creeping feeling, and we have to be careful what we are depositing in our subconscious so that when we are vulnerable or when things are not going as planned, we don’t exhibit negative traits and believe the world is against us.
Yes, social media pressure is real, mental health is real, we have to guard our heart because out of it flows the issues of life. Most times the need to be validated could lead to depression; we all need to practice self-love and be conscious of mental state and be true to you in all circumstances- this breaks down the mental wall of comparison and builds a wall of gratitude.
How do you prepare for the future you seek?
Once you have a vision of your future, you have to start dressing, speaking about and behaving like it. When you embody it, it’s only a matter of time before it actualizes.
I always write the visions of my future and bucket lists down, I always put it out for the universe to return it to me. Grace and favor will always be better than hard work, but God will always need something to bless – so always prepare for any opportunity cause most times its drops on our laps unexpectedly. I have two major principles in life.
The first one is : do unto others, as you would like for others to do unto you and the second one is whatever you sow, you would reap. Eg: If you want to be wealthy, you have to sow a wealth of knowledge, skills, relationships and words in your life.
God needs something to bless so get busy and put yourself out there.