Lee Kasumba is undoubtedly career goals – don’t let her humble character and understated nature fool you, in her late 20s she had already made a major footprint in the creation of what is now Africa’s “mega” music industry. Having started her career as a radio DJ and producer, Leslie quickly progressed to heading up Africa’s pioneer music TV station Channel O. From sitting on panels alongside Quincy Jones and interviewing the likes of Snoop Dogg and Missy Elliot, Lee also had a hand in the discovery of stars like Nigeria’s Denrele Edun and enhancing the early careers of artists such as Dbanj, Banky W and Wizkid through the Channel O platform. Her legacy resides among legends, from her origin of Uganda, to Nigeria and down to South Africa.
LAW 1: PURPOSE IS A PROCESS OF PASSION
TheVimbaiCorrespondent: First of all – where do I even begin? I am passionate about so many things and they seem to change as often as I do – I want to be fruitful but it almost seems like the directions are endless (welp! I hope my deodorant holds up because I’m breaking into a sweat just thinking about this)
LK: As we grow and change in life our passions tend to change, no matter how small that change might be. In that sense find the common thread, and tie this in with the one thing you would do even if you weren’t getting paid for it. The one thing that when you do it – you feel a sense of Gods presence in a way that you can’t imagine, almost as though the heavens open. That’s how you discover your passion – your purpose, because in my life passion has always been aligned with purpose.
LAW 2: FOLLOW THE PEACE
TVC: When I think about people who have maneuvered their way to the top, they seem to always walk through open doors that lead to more open doors. What’s the secret?
LK: One, I pray about it and follow the peace. Secondly, I ask myself a series of 5 questions, that have a yes or no answer. If the majority of answers are a yes – then I go ahead with it. If the majority are no, then I pass. If I have made a mistake, which happens because we are human, I remind myself that if my intentions were pure and right – it somehow by Grace will still work out for my good.
LAW 3: MODEL YOUR WORTH
TVC: What about when you feel like you’re surrounded by people who are committed to oppressing you? Patriarchy is real, and sometimes folks just don’t want a young woman to shine! Then what?
LK: I don’t address my tasks or life from the perspective of my race or gender, I was raised by a father who reminded me and my sisters daily that we were equal in all things. But in instances where I did feel that my race and my gender were an issue, I made sure that I was very clear about my worth. I would speak out and ensure that I had my facts and would model the way in which I wanted to be treated. In instances where people still decided to undervalue me – it was hard and still is, but I just remind myself that it is really on them. As long as I worked with integrity, that’s what mattered.
LAW 4: A GOOD OFFER MAY NOT BE A GOOD OFFER FOR YOU
TVC: Offers are coming, I’m busy - but I don’t feel as though my choices are putting me in a place where I am getting closer to living my best life. How do you open yourself up for the kind of career and life you want?
LK: Hmm, well I think it’s through the choices I make when it comes to opportunities. No matter how amazing an opportunity is, if it doesn’t fall in line with where I am going and will take me back, I say no and focus on accepting opportunities that are in line with where I want to be. In this instant I am very intentional about career opportunities that include travel and a broader audience mainly pan African and hopefully global.
LAW 5: PROFESSIONALISM OVER POPULARITY
TVC: Everyone expects help – family, friends, neighbors – you name it. If I can help, why shouldn’t I? Where do we draw the line between getting our tribe in the door and down right nepotism? After all, everyone is always preaching “networking and build relationships” – what’s the point if not so we can help one another?
LK: In my mind I consider myself fair, or at the very least I do try. My friends do tend to have it the hardest to be honest, not the other way around because I am aware what perceptions would be. But in general those that are truly my friends – not associates- know that I always make a decision that is best and based on credentials and potential. I also would have a team working with me and everyone’s name would go through the same debate discussion and in instances where I do have a close friendship I would voice it and recuse myself for the final outcome or decision - If I am in that level of position of power.
LAW 6: BRAND YOURSELF TO AVOID BEING BRANDED
TVC: You are a Pan African boss lady. Where do I even start to build a brand that powerful for myself?
LK: As weird as it sounds I have always had a hard time defining myself or thinking of myself as a brand… It’s only recently that I have discovered that either you are in control of your brand narrative or people will still determine it based on what you do. So I am hiring people to do this! Just to add that I also try to ensure that I always present myself in the way I want to be seen through social media, or in interviews. I am overly intentional at times I think.
Down to Earth and real! Perhaps the greatest lesson from Lee is her self awareness, and a commitment to enjoying her peace of mind. With so many voices telling women they have to slay, and fake it until they make it to get to the top, it is incredibly refreshing to tap into someone who's belief in purpose and intuition are a priority above all other things. This has been a breath of fresh air (and a real anxiety cure!).