First Steps to Success

First Steps to Success

“sharing success with tomorrow’s leaders”

…and that is the official motto for the Powerlist Foundation.

I figured that many of you would not have heard of this programme before, however, some of you may have. Whether or not you have, I’m going to tell you about it. From the 12th – 14th July I was selected as one of the 60 young Afro-Caribbean students in the UK to take part in the Powerlist Foundation & Deloitte leadership Programme (PFDLP for short). The 2 and a half day programme consisted of workshops, mentoring and networking opportunities designed to shape young people into the successful leaders of tomorrow. I am extremely grateful for my selection onto such a prestigious programme. I have become more knowledgeable and was introduced to lifelong friends and potential business partners. I can proudly say the programme changed my life – not an exaggeration! As someone who has always let fear control the journey towards achieving their aspirations, the programme has opened my eyes to see the potential I’ve been blessed with and enabled me to understand there is no time to waste it.

Truly inspired by everything I’ve learnt, it was only right to share some success with you:

1. Beating the Stereotype.

For many years now, society has portrayed its own image of the black community. There are myths that have continued year after year. The most common one is ‘all black people are thugs/from the hood’. Many of you have probably come across ‘all black people are lazy’ or ‘all black people can run fast’. Another false one is ‘all black people can sing’ (I definitely disagree with this one as I cannot sing to save my life). There are some that you may not consider too bad but the portrayal of the black community is a lot more negative than positive in retrospect.  It’s unfortunate because there are some black people who have let society define them. Some believe ‘if this is what society thinks of me, why should I even bother to change it?’ and I believe this stops our community from thriving.

On the first day of PFDLP, we had a welcoming speech by Ken Olisa OBE. He made a very valid statement that has stuck in my head till this day. He said that we should not conform to the societal stereotypes given to us. Today’s events do not define us. We are not who they portray us to be. It is our decision to decide who we choose to be.

And this is true. If we continue to live by society’s myths, we will never succeed.

2. Understanding your self worth.

This is very simple.
If you don’t believe in yourself, who’s going to believe in you.
A number of us do not realise our value or how much potential we have, and I am definitely guilty of this. I tend to doubt myself a lot and this has stopped me from doing a lot of the things I am passionate about. But I soon came to the realisation that if I continue with this attitude, I will never achieve anything.

For example, Imagine I am 40 years old and I decide it’s time to start living my dream. First of all, it is good that I have started believing in my talents however there are some cons. I will regret not using my gifts earlier in life. Regret is not a nice feeling at all. I believe that age should never stop you from reaching your goals, but I do understand that age acts as a hindrance. At 40, I may not have access to the resources I had when I was younger. In some situations, people may not be interested in what I have to say because I am older.

I know I definitely do not want that and I know you guys don’t either.
Start believing in yourself now. It will go a long way.

3. Overcoming your fears.

Fear is the biggest enemy to success.
This is very similar to self-doubt. We let ourselves be overcome by fear because we do not believe in ourselves.

Don’t be afraid to start your idea.
Don’t be afraid of failing. – “Failure makes you the person you are, Success is the conclusion of who you are.” – said by my mentor, Daniel Taylor.
Don’t be afraid of people judging your idea. – you’re not doing it for them, you’re doing it for yourself.
Don’t be afraid of your idea being similar to others- only you can make your idea great.
Just, don’t be afraid.

Fear leads to unfulfilled goals, which leads to that horrible feeling of regret. If you know you are someone who has let fear overcome their thoughts, Change now. Find a way to say ‘no, it’s time to reach my goals’. Prayer helps but not everyone is religious. Talk to someone about what you want to do. Watch videos that can educate you further and encourage you.
You won’t regret it. Start fixing the pieces to your puzzle now.

4. Staying Motivated.

For any goal, motivation is key. You have to keep yourself motivated throughout all the steps. You are bound to face obstacles, and you may even fail a couple of times, but it is important to remember that you must reach the end goal. Our mentors on the PFDLP (Anne-Marie Headley, Charles Sekwalor, Benjamin Ackim, Tunde Bello, Dr Yvonne Thompson CBE and Daniel Taylor) definitely faced some challenges on their path to success but look at them now. They are all well-accomplished leaders.

I do understand how easy it is to lose motivation, but achieving your goals is all about perseverance. Personally, to keep myself motivated I pray and mentally tell myself that I can do anything I put my mind to. It is extremely important to carry a positive mindset. Another way to stay motivated is remembering why you started in the first place. Was it to make a difference? Was it to pay your parents back for the sacrifices they made for you? Was it even just to be rich? Think deeply and always remember that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

5.Becoming a future leader.

This was the fundamental part of the programme. Becoming one of the next influential leaders in the UK (and possibly even the world).  Claud Williams said to me “the education system creates followers, not leaders.” And this is very true. We are taught to work for others but never work for ourselves. The system doesn’t really promote entrepreneurship – we are encouraged to be the best candidates for big companies to hire us, rather than being led to starting our own. Our education system lacks in the areas of practical application. Instead, we spend numerous years studying for exams in subjects that hold no benefit to our futures. Some say that survival in the real world is emphasised in university, but in my opinion, this is too late. So it is up to us as individuals to develop our own skills and use them purposefully.

We need to understand that a leader is not just someone who is able to tell people what to do and manage daily operations. A true leader can see the difference between right and wrong. A true leader uses their skills accordingly to benefit, assist and inspire others. A true leader is someone who believes in what they do, believes in the work of others, and is ready to take the necessary steps to ensure the goal is attained. We are all capable of being future leaders.

Everything sunk in for me officially on the final day of the programme. This was during a Q&A with the 2011 Alumni (Claud Williams, Rachael Owhin, Adelani Adesida and Jasmine Ennis) as they all spoke about their journeys to where they are today and gave us advice. Then it hit me. Why do I let fear stop me? What do I actually have to lose? I am capable of anything as long as I have the correct mindset. I am aware of how much I hate regret, so why am I putting myself in such a position? This is why the Powerlist Foundation changed my life. I’ve discovered this new found bravery to do things and stay motivated. There are a lot of things I want to achieve in the future and I am determined to fulfil them.

I would encourage everyone to apply for this programme next year because I know it can have the same positive impact on you as it did on me.

God bless.





  1. Sharon Odubade July 24, 2016 / 8:37 pm

    This really really encouraged me and I hope you enjoyed writing it because I can’t wait to read many more of your blogs in the future!

    • Noelle Donkor July 24, 2016 / 9:06 pm

      Thank you so much Sharon! I did enjoy writing it and I’m happy that it has encouraged you

  2. Karimah Ayinde July 24, 2016 / 10:03 pm

    Great stuff Noelle – very insightful!

    Much Love ❤️

  3. Steph July 24, 2016 / 10:18 pm

    Proud of you Noelle 😭 Keep going ✨

  4. Ethan D July 24, 2016 / 10:41 pm

    This is very inspiring Noelle very proud of my big sis :)

  5. Matilda Derby July 24, 2016 / 10:59 pm

    Lovely pièce- soo inspiring and full of positive energy!!! i Love This Nel !! Keep IT up

  6. Efua D July 24, 2016 / 11:11 pm

    Great piece Noelle !!!!!

  7. Tanya July 25, 2016 / 12:13 am

    So interesting to read into your world! Can’t wait for more 😘

    • Noelle Donkor July 25, 2016 / 12:21 am

      Thank you Tanya! I’m glad you liked it ❤️❤️❤️

  8. Shaquille Gilpin July 25, 2016 / 3:28 am

    Noelle, this is brilliant! Agreed with every word

    • Noelle Donkor July 25, 2016 / 8:11 am

      Thank you Shaquille, I’m glad you did ❤️

  9. Lia July 25, 2016 / 8:42 am

    Truly inspiring that someone so young can be so wise. Well done on your blog – had to read several times as it had a lot of interesting perceptions.

  10. kavs July 25, 2016 / 4:13 pm

    ahh really loved this, really needed to read something like this today so thank you, very inspiring b, so so proud of you, honestly can’t wait to read more xxx

    • Noelle Donkor July 25, 2016 / 9:30 pm

      Kavs😭❤️ I’m so happy you liked it ✨

  11. Richard Adetunji July 25, 2016 / 7:01 pm

    Fantastic piece of work Noelle, really glad you were able to put this out. Literally what the Powerlist Foundation is all about – #SharingSuccess. Proud of you love, onwards and upwards.

    • Noelle Donkor July 25, 2016 / 9:31 pm

      Thank you Richard! Very happy you liked it❤️❤️

  12. Tamara Panton July 25, 2016 / 8:30 pm

    This is great noelle hope you keep writing inspiring pieces like this 🙆🏾😘

  13. Felix August 5, 2016 / 1:29 am

    Great piece!
    Truly inspiring, keep up the excellent work!

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