Inspiration can come from many places. But how you see yourself and your surroundings can turn that inspiration into a strategic advantage.
Gbenga Ogunjimi shows how to develop that advantage with his book, Borderless Voice: The Power of Telling Your Story and Defining Your Identity. It is a very small book that conveys how believing in your dreams connects to your objectives.
Ogunjimi offers a background in social entrepreneurship, using identity strategy and storytelling to empower immigrant and minority leaders.
What Is Borderless Voice About?
Ogunjimi believes that people can rise beyond their background to achieve their goals when they imagine the right narrative. Ogunjimi defines a framework for that narrative, called Borderless Voice. That voice leads to better entrepreneurial options and leadership choices.
Ogunjimi deftly explains how as he teaches what people should look for. When he explains the importance of storytelling, he highlights why it is an asset for a career.
“Storytelling is your strongest asset … Starting with your story is an incredible way to connect with a potential employer, venture capitalist, or potential partners because, while it is unique, it is likely to touch upon meaningful, universal themes. Such moments often resonate with others, helping you to connect.”
This approach encourages entrepreneurs to explore how to sell themselves through sharing their stories.
The book speaks from the perspective of immigrants and minorities seeking a positive self-narrative. This approach is particularly valuable for those who are transitioning from an employment to entrepreneurial environment, all while being a newcomer to a city or country. Peppered with Ogumjimi’s own experiences, the book advocates auditing how one’s self-narrative by identifying one’s psychological borders and self paradigms about the world.
What I Liked about Borderless Voice
I liked that Ogunjimi sought to step beyond a number of coaching books with pragmatic advice. I liked the phrase he used in a later chapter on monetization strategies — serve with your skills. Here’s an example, a call for consultants to produce rather than just take on ad-hoc projects.
“It is my experience in working with skilled and talented professionals that they struggle to distill their vast experience and know-how into products and services that can be monetized. As an excuse for this, they would rather remain pro bono consultants rather than give themselves permission to create and test out their products in the marketplace. This is what I tell them….you will have to trust in the generosity of the marketplace — it will tell you what your are doing that is right and what you can improve upon.”
That perspective makes his advice actionable and can be a good primer for an action plan.
I also liked that Ogunjimi describes his experiences entering the United States, while developing his points so that any stranger in a strange land can adapt to his or her environment.
What could have Worked Better
Some of the chapter brevity can limit the information conveyed. That brevity often shortchanges the reader by not allowing the full expression of an author’s ideas. In Borderless Voice, for example, comments from others are cited as support for Ogunjimi’s points, but these comments lave little room for the author to develop his own argument fully. Take the chapter on changing one’s narrative which was dominated by the personal experiences of just two people (called Jane D. and Mike K.) Here the experiences of more people with different countries of origin would have made Ogunjimi’s point better.
Why Borderless Voice?
This is a brief book, with a structure similar to personal development books like Felicia Shakespeare’s You Are Your Brand, or the excellent Adrienne Graham book on business self-affirmation, No, You Can’t Pick My Brain: It Costs Too Much. But Ogunjimi successfully forges his own path by helping readers find their own voices regardless of background by dissecting their environments and barriers.