Lebo Lion: “The most important validation that you will ever need in this life, is the validation that you give to yourself.”

Lebo Lion describes herself as an African disruptor who has always been a big dreamer & risk-taker. A South African queen driven by the possibility of “What if?”… What if what I dream, imagine, or ideate could actually become a reality?

Lebo believes that the small chance that the world will become a better or more exciting place simply because of her existence, or because someone else will have the courage to make their dreams a reality as a result of having encountered her or her work, is enough magic to keep her excited about waking up every day and coloring outside the lines without fear.

Lebo grew up in an entrepreneurial family where she was encouraged to ask questions, read, and be creative. Seeing women like her aunt create internationally renowned businesses demonstrated to her the power of believing in oneself, as well as the truth that as women, we can do whatever we set our minds to, even in environments where no one believes women have anything valuable to offer because the world will learn to adjust when we offer value that is difficult to ignore.

Lebo Lion is an African entrepreneur who founded her first tech company at the age of 24 and has since consulted for and worked with global behemoths such as Facebook. Lebo Lion SA is the founder of her personal brand, The Lebo Lion Show, the host of iTunes’ top 100 chart-topping podcast, the author of Audacity: A Life Guide for the Modern Woman, and an award-winning entrepreneur of a marketing agency, BEOPLE SA.

Read and be inspired by our Q&A with Her!

What are three words that best describe you?
Strategic
Disruptor
Creative

Walk us through the birth of the Lebo Lion Brand.
The Lebo Lion Brand was born from a space of discomfort. As an avid reader & energetic entrepreneur, my dream was to change the world by building competitive African brands. In my journey to attempting to achieve this mammoth task, I encountered different stakeholders in the marketing, entrepreneurship, & corporate worlds who revealed to me how the African marketing industry was being perceived on a global scale & how lowly it was being valued in the commercial value chain in Africa. In learning this, I realised that if I wanted to help people build successful African brands, I would have to teach them how to value marketing first. And so The Lebo Lion brand was born, out of a desire to change the perspective and appetite for great marketing on the continent while amplifying those who are doing it well. Choosing the online route felt like the only option for me because I wanted to make sure that I could reach as many people as possible with the knowledge I wanted to share. Democratizing access to knowledge resources for African entrepreneurs is at the core of what I would call impactful digital citizenship.

They say “great” ideas spread” so I decided to share my perspectives of the marketing landscape through my podcast The Lebo Lion Show which rose to the iTunes top 100 charts within 2 months of its inception.

One of my life mantras is a quote by Maya Angelou that reads “I come as one but I stand as 10,000”. I love this quote because it’s based on the premise that you represent an entire community of people when you walk into a room, stand on a stage, and/or use your voice. I feel that even though the world has a long way to go in terms of making commercial spaces safe & fair for women and people of colour, I was in awe of how much I was able to achieve and have access to simply because someone who came before me had the courage to stand for something and work toward change. I vowed to myself that I would also use my talents and voice to not only afford myself career opportunities but to pave the way for other marketers and women. The aim of the Lebo Lion Brand is to inspire & encourage people to use their voices to carve out opportunities, fight injustice, and make room for innovation & change.

Do you have mentors and how have they impacted your journey?
As an evangelist of digital citizenship, I am a firm believer that the biggest & richest database of mentors exists online. You have access to anyone you want to learn from, no matter where they might be located in the world. I have 1-hour mentorship sessions 4 times a week where I will watch youtube content, listen to an audiobook or watch a Ted talk by someone who is well versed in a field that I want to gain more knowledge or skill in. This is something I have been doing for the past 6 years and it has impacted how I navigate through life and engage with others. My online mentors have also extended my knowledge base and exposure to different cultures and global practices, which has enriched my ability to work with and offer services to clients from different parts of the world.

What changes do you hope to see in the future as concerns the growth of entrepreneurs, globally?
Entrepreneurship is a vital part of a thriving society. What I would like to see is more meaningful support from large corporations and meaningful collaborations that help the entrepreneurial ecosystem grow in a manner that’s globally competitive and locally progressive. I find that often small businesses and large corporations work in silos only meeting when there is a KPI that needs to be fulfilled by a corporation or if there’s funding that business owners want to access. I believe that the relationship needs to be more consistent, more mutually beneficial, & more meaningful than it has been in the past. I would like to see corporations having a bigger appetite for risk and collaboration, working outside of the relationships that they already have. Working with entrepreneurs who weren’t previous employees in their organizations. From an African entrepreneurship perspective, it would be a true game-changer to see a global economy that perceives African entrepreneurs and African businesses as investable entities instead of high-risk, low-value players. We have always had incredible talent and entrepreneurs on the African continent. We do not lack creativity, work ethic, and sound business knowledge. What we need as African entrepreneurs is a system that believes in us and supports us.

As a woman who has had the audacity to use her own voice, make her own way in male-dominated industries, and find power in being myself, I wanted to share those lessons and tools with other women who want to do the same and with those women who didn’t know that they have the power to change their live

What changes do you hope to see in the future as concerns the growth of entrepreneurs, globally?
Entrepreneurship is a vital part of a thriving society. What I would like to see is more meaningful support from large corporations and meaningful collaborations that help the entrepreneurial ecosystem grow in a manner that’s globally competitive and locally progressive. I find that often small businesses and large corporations work in silos only meeting when there is a KPI that needs to be fulfilled by a corporation or if there’s funding that business owners want to access. I believe that the relationship needs to be more consistent, more mutually beneficial, & more meaningful than it has been in the past. I would like to see corporations having a bigger appetite for risk and collaboration, working outside of the relationships that they already have. Working with entrepreneurs who weren’t previous employees in their organizations. From an African entrepreneurship perspective, it would be a true game-changer to see a global economy that perceives African entrepreneurs and African businesses as investable entities instead of high-risk, low-value players. We have always had incredible talent and entrepreneurs on the African continent. We do not lack creativity, work ethic, and sound business knowledge. What we need as African entrepreneurs is a system that believes in
us and supports us.

What inspired you to write a book?
Audacity is a life guide for the modern woman. It was created as a call to action to all women to have the courage to become who they want to be and build the life of their dreams. We live in a society that often tries to silence women and control how women think and exist. As a woman who has had the audacity to use her own voice, make her own way in male-dominated industries, and find power in being myself, I wanted to share those lessons and tools with other women who want to do the same and with those women who didn’t know that they have the power to change their lives. Audacity is inspired by society, the relationships that women have with each other, the effects of patriarchy on our self-worth as women, and the dynamics of socialization online. Audacity is your mentor, your voice of reason, your friend, and your companion. Designed for the woman with many responsibilities, one of Audacity’s greatest selling points is that it only takes 7 seconds to read each page of the book.

If you could go back in time, what piece of advice would you offer your younger self?
Your voice matters and you matter just because you are a living breathing human being. Don’t let the world silence you, don’t silence yourself because you will only leave an impact on this world if you have the courage to speak up & do what most people will have the courage to do. That inner drive that you have? Lean into it. Believe your instincts when they tell you no and when they tell you yes, and lastly, the most important validation that you will ever need in this life, is the validation that you give to yourself, so be mindful of how you think of yourself and what you say to yourself.

What are the top 3 impactful things you have done/achieved in the past year as
concerns uplifting women?

  1. I have written Audacity which is a game-changer in the evolution of women
    empowerment. We need tools that teach women how to be unapologetic in their
    pursuit of self and their pursuit of success. Our 2000-plus audacity squad is
    growing by the day and changing how women participate and impact the
    communities that they lead.
  2. I have helped 30 female-owned businesses grow their client base, sales, and
    access opportunities, in free & private grow coaching sessions that I offered to female-owned businesses that had potential but could not afford my marketing
    services.
  3. I am currently working on an investment fund whose sole purpose is to fund women-owned businesses in different industries.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you so far?
Nothing is permanent, not success or failure. You can be relevant today and irrelevant tomorrow. So you have to work hard to stay at the top but also realize that no amount of hard work can out maneuver the season that your life is meant to be in. Sometimes it is your season to learn and restrategize, sometimes it’s your season to sow & work hard, sometimes it’s your season to reap & everything you do just works in your favour. You need to have the humility and grace to move with the seasons instead of against them. This is how you will have peace and happiness in your endeavors.

What is one bad habit you are committed to changing?
My time management. I have been actively learning to create boundaries and say no when it’s necessary so that I can show up in the rooms that God has opened for me.

Time Travel or Teleportation?
Time Travel. I would love to get the opportunity to observe myself, assess certain situations and see if I could take those lessons into the future with me. Perhaps it could help me do better and move without more self-knowledge.

What would you like to be remembered for?
I would like to be remembered for giving other people the courage to use their own voices to change the world, by being a woman who used her voice for good until her last day on earth.

Connect with Lebo Lion Here.

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