Netflix’s latest limited series Self Made: Inspired by the life of Madam C.J Walker is based on the book ‘On her own Ground’ written by Madam C.J Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Leila Bundles.
I enjoyed watching the mini-series and picked up some things from it. As someone who works in marketing, it was fascinating to see how she grew her business literally from the ground up and there are things I could write about that but this is not that post. Also, this is not a review, I definitely have opinions about the series, but it would make this far longer than it should be. I will only focus on some lessons I learned.
Vision is everything
Madam C.J Walker had a vision no doubt. She saw where her business could go and there was nothing that could stop her. I applaud her for her tenacity in the midst of so many naysayers and during a time that her accomplishment was almost impossible to achieve not only as a woman but a black woman.
As a Christian, I am always told the significance of vision in anything you are doing, especially the importance of writing the vision down, mentioned in Habakkuk 2:2. When you want to do something, it can be through inspiration, a dream or an idea. You need the vision to carry through, and it is not just seeing it in your head, but write it down so that way you do not forget why you started because of where you saw something going. Vision is very powerful, that’s why every new year you see millions of people talking about vision boards and how impactful it is for them. Visualising helps to keep us in check and remember what we want to accomplish. It pushes people to keep going. Madam Walker wanted to be a millionaire and she saw the opportunities around her to do so.
My questions are what vision do you have for your life or what has God told you? What are you doing to see that vision become a reality. Age was never a factor for Madam Walker and we are shown this time and time again.
Storytelling is very impactful
This is a marketing lesson, sorry I could not help it. The first episode showed how she started. In the market place, she stands trying to sell but no one was buying. She switched tactic and decided to tell her story of how the product worked and changed her life, this was what got the curiosity of people around and got them to purchase. Her personal story is what got people to start buying and using the Magical Hair Grower. Nothing beats personal stories, and there’s truth in the saying you can not sell something you do not believe in, people can see through you. We like people telling us personal stories about their experiences with a product that’s why there are so many ‘influencers’ today. That is also why so many companies focus on storytelling when you look at adverts by Nike, John Lewis etc. We buy into brands that make us feel something, either that we are aspiring to what they are showing us or we want to feel as great as the people in the adverts. If you are looking for a way to sell your product or service, come at it from a personal level and be relatable. What value are you adding. Obviously depends on what you are selling.
Collaboration over Competition
The rivalry between Madam Walker and Addie Munroe (Annie Malone) could have never been if Addie believed in Sarah, even after selling 20 Magical Hair Grower. It would have been great to see what the two women could have accomplished in a partnership. Both of them did great individually. The rivalry was not needed, as both flourished in their own lanes eventually. Be aware but do not focus so much on what your competition is doing, find what is unique to you and build on that. If there is an opportunity to collaborate with each other and it makes sense to do so, then do it. There is enough for everyone. Even in friendships, collaborate and extend your skills to each other, and help each other thrive. Everyone is winning together.
Don’t get me wrong competition is good as it keeps companies on their toes and keeps innovations coming, but do not be an enemy or shoot someone else down because they are doing better than you. Learn to be appreciative and celebrate others.
Men and women need to work together
It was interesting to see the different ways men and women were portrayed which is how people are – we have the good and the bad. My focus is on how men and women need to work together and not against each other. One of the men in Madam Walker’s life Ransom, her lawyer believed in her so much he was the first man to invest in the company and that was great to see. You need that in your life, people who believe in you unequivocally and help carry you through the vision you have. You can not build your vision by yourself. No man is an island. He didn’t think of her as inferior to him but helped her in building a successful business. To be honest I was rooting for her husband but he messed up. He was so supportive and had his contributions to the business through his advertising skill, however, things went south. Some men need to do better, even if a woman is doing better than you, it is a good thing and life is not a competition. We should all be uplifting each other, and this is not just for women to women, but men and women should be working together more. Imagine how much better this world will be. We are getting there as a people but the journey is still far in some countries. Apart from biological differences, we are equal. Men should speak up and support women in whatever capacity they can. Just because something doesn’t make sense to a man because it is not related to them doesn’t mean it can’t be done. We need each other end of story.
Women CAN do anything
As it was International Women’s Day, a couple of weeks ago, women were being celebrated all over the world for their contribution to the world and their amazing achievements this month. This reminded me of another mini-series She did that I watched on Netflix. It is a reminder of how wonderful we are as women and we can do anything we put our minds to. There should be no limitations for us. Women have had to overcome so many obstacles and challenges, especially black women. However time and time again we prove we are magic and we scale through whatever seems to be in our way. We are constantly being told that this is a man’s world. But women are taking it back and taking a stand to have a seat at the table, if not we are building our own tables. In the case of Madam Walker, the women rallied together to invest in the factory. Women supporting women is something i will always applause and celebrate. There is nothing a woman cannot do and no one should tell you any differently. As women the world is our oyster. I believe true feminism is being able to have a choice to do whatever we want, have equal opportunities as men, because we are equal. So women go out there and be the amazing human you were created to be.
There were more lessons to pick out but these were the ones that stood out to me. Do comment what you thought about the series and any lessons you learnt.
Stay well and stay safe xx