11 Things Yves Saint Laurent Taught Me

Sunday, June 30, 2019
Virgin Atlantic Flight 21K

IMG_8440Yesterday was a special day. After an amazing “destiny helping” 2-day summit in Marrakech, a few of us got to spend some quality time together. We toured the Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) Museum, Majorelle Garden and wrapped up the day with lunch at the most breath-taking residence! By the time we finished at the YSL museum, the writer in me could no longer stay focused. So, while other members of our small party toured the garden, I found a nice shaded spot to “insure” my reflections by writing them down.

IMG_8437Now, as the aircraft soars many thousand feet above the Atlantic, I thought to read and reflect on my notes, enrich them with my current thoughts, and also share them with you. I hope they stir up something in your soul as well. So, here are the lessons I learnt:

  1. You were born with your dreams, and they will show up as you journey through life, but you have got to pay attention, or else you will miss the signs. YSL began dreaming of “couture” at the young age of 13. However, if he didn’t tend to and nurture that dream, he would never have created a timeless empire.
  2. A dream will remain an unrealistic fantasy if you don’t make a deliberate and conscious decision to nurture it. YSL joined Christian Dior at the age of 18 (in 1954.) No, he didn’t defer his dream to study engineering, accounting or medicine for his parents first. But beyond being an apprentice with Dior. Nurturing a dream also requires following the clues and leads life gives us even when we don’t have all the answers yet. It requires sowing and tilling with hope and faith, otherwise there can be no bountiful harvest.
  3. You have got to step away from the market place. Perhaps YSL f51c1630-635e-4fa6-ad0c-7b04292322f0wouldn’t have been so creative and successful if he didn’t move from France to Morocco, just as I had to step away from the tour of the garden to journal my thoughts. Could I have done it later at night? Perhaps, but it wouldn’t have been as effective and potent. It may be hard, but you have to learn to step away from the “action” to properly protect, visualize and actualize your dreams.
  4. Don’t be afraid to shine your light. That’s the only way your destiny helper will find you. Dior passed away suddenly just 2 years after YSL joined him, but he (Dior) named YSL as the one to continue the artistic direction of the House of Dior. Had YSL been afraid to shine his light, Dior wouldn’t have recognized the “successor” he had in his team.
  5. Don’t be afraid to “move along.” Especially when you are having a good time and living a “comfortable” successful life. I doubt if YSL would have been as successful if he had stayed trapped in the familiarity of France or House of Dior.
  6. Yves Saint Laurent said: “Style is important, not fashion. Fashion with its madness fades, but style remains.” This quote hit me like a ton of bricks! And I “heard” them in every piece on display as we toured the room where some of his amazing designs were showcased. I mean, those amazing pieces he created years and decades ago would still stop shows today.
  7. Don’t be afraid to be the first. From being the first to launch a ready to wear label in 1966 to unveiling his Chinese collection in 1977, YSL was never afraid to be the first even if the move was greeted by criticisms. He led with boldness and conviction.
  8. b8525e57-5239-4a99-950e-ad36dfc50afaHonor your “tribe.” In one of his speeches, he thanked all the women who had worn his clothes, specifically thanking both the ones who were famous and those who weren’t. He recognized the fact that regardless of how much fame they had, any woman who wore something he created was a member of his tribe that was worthy of the same respect. It was this particular lesson that gave me the strength to leave the private luncheon I had felt so honored to be invited to, barely an hour into it yesterday. I mean, I was having important conversations with everyone I had wanted to speak with one-on-one during the conference, and my flight wasn’t until 10 p.m. at night, so why the hurry? I mean, the fact that Hafsat was happily recounting the stories I had told her about SD a couple of months ago, that a country’s serving ambassador was telling me she wanted me to meet her daughter, or that I was having an amazing conversation with one of the democratic women I have admired for a long time, were enough reasons to stay. But I didn’t. I had promised a young member of my tribe serving in the Peace Corp in Morocco that we would meet, and was more important than any conversation I was having.
  1. Comfort is the enemy of success. But even the best of us get distracted and complacent. Had YSL not been fired from the House of Dior at 30, he may never have created his empire. While waiting to board this flight at Heathrow, I called my older sister whose advice means a lot to me. I told her that I intend to quit one of my “constant” revenue streams to put more time into expanding She-EO. Her response, as expected, a fear laced “why?” sent shivers down my spine for a brief moment. But thankfully I “met” YSL yesterday, and his life reinforced my belief that “I can’t taste mind blowing success unless I am ready to fail woefully.”
  2. Beware of the endless applauses and the boos. Just when I thought I was in my zone writing my thoughts, a strange man walked up to hold my hand blurting out something in native Moroccan language. I am not sure what he said, but he was certainly applauding something I was doing or wearing. His compliments and adoration got lost in the language barrier between us, and then made me lose my train of thoughts. The brief distraction reminded me about “real life.” How often does this happen in our lives? We step away to work on something important, but somehow the noise finds us and derails us. It blocks our signal and connection with our GPS, so we end up getting lost. However, it isn’t just the applauses that can distract, the endless criticisms from the “well-meaning critics” will slow you down faster than the stationary -trucks on “Lagos bridges.”
  3. Yes, leave it all on the field, but don’t wait until the “fat lady sings” before exiting the stage. YSL quit the fashion stage when the ovation was still so loud in 2002. You also have to know when the music has stopped playing or when the tune changes to slow jams, so you can change your steps.

I hope you found at least one of these 11 lessons as useful as I did.

IMG_8447A big thank you to the Founder of Women in Africa – Aude, and her husband who both opened up their home and hearts to us, President Hafsat Abiola (I think MKO would have been super proud of you this week as always,) to JC, who not only led our delegation but took it upon himself to make sure we were deriving maximum benefit from the conference, my roommates – Lydia and Funlayo, Ngozi, who introduced me to Women in Africa, and to every woman and man who transformed lives at the summit this week. Thank you all for staying true to your “why.” May the impact you continue to make never be erased for generations and in eternity.

You Can’t Grow …….

IMG_1549Every time I feel like House of Ganiyah isn’t meeting its “financial obligations” to me, I attempt to go back to accounting/finance. Why? It’s a “route” I know and navigated profitably for 2 decades. So earlier this year, I decided to attend a financial counseling conference that would help me better explore the route I “already” knew. The 1st day was okay, but the 2nd day was painful. The sessions were “interesting” but I kept scanning the room thinking “who are these people? These things they are teaching to do aren’t the things my tribe need to learn. Yes there are folks who need this, but they are not my tribe.”
On the morning of day 3, the final day, which I skipped completely I started having an internal struggle. The thought of going back home that day to find “financial counseling” work kept sinking my heart no matter how hard I tried to lift it up, then I dared to think about scaling #RELEASE, doing an inspiring #MoneyMagic conference, making #SheEO bigger and better, re-launching Impact Africa to fund and build up micro social change makers in Africa, and my heart began beating fast and furiously. I began to visualize people coming in and out of the events feeling able and inspired, then my chest literally began to ache with fear, that fear your heart feels when you get on a high way in a busy fast paced city that isn’t home. So I decided to do it! What’s the worst that will happen? Failure. But if I am not ready to lose it all, then I am not ready for prime time.
We can’t grow when we stay on familiar lanes. It is only when we challenge own inner “status quo” that success happens. Until we decide to go big or go home, we will always be stuck as spectators of success. So if you are ready to stop being a spectator in your own life, then sign up to join me on my #RELEASE#NG tour in #Abuja on 25.11.17, #Lagos on 2.12.17 or #Ibadan on 9.12.17 #ISA#BGG. These are going to be small group sessions to ensure maximum benefits to my tribe, so you must be registered to attend. All registration details are at: ganiyah.com/events.
PS: These aren’t magic pill events, or motivational feel good talk-shops, these are inspiring and empowering “encounters” that will give you the clarity and strength you need to “do it.” Are you ready?

Love in Cancun & Release Euro Tour

Hello Tribe Members,

When I made the tough decision to suspend my Love in Cancun tour to lend my hands and heart to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign  in August 2016, a part of me feared that I may never get back on the tour bus again. I thought interrupting the flow and momentum at the time was a risky venture that may not pay off. But I knew that working on the campaign was a unique opportunity that I could not pass off, so I decided to fly with my fear. And even though she didn’t win the presidency, I learnt so much and met so many amazing people whose stories I will carry with me for the rest of my life, in short the experience was worth its weight in gold. And just when I thought it couldn’t get better, I was given the unique opportunity to deliver the field pitch at her second to the last rally a day before the election. What an unforgettable experience! You can watch my speech here.

But guess what? Not only am I excited to be back on the tour bus, I am so blessed that its going to be bigger and even better than I could have dreamed about last year. So my people, in addition to interesting Love in Cancun gists and stories, I am also coming to Europe with the full RELEASE formula by the special grace of God, to inspire and empower you (and myself too!) to find, fund and fully unleash our purpose driven lives! If you thought the photos and videos from Maryland, Lagos and Abuja were nice, well get ready because we are kicking things up a million notches in Europe!  If you are as ready as I am, please take action to reserve your seats now because capacity is limited. Here are the stops the tour bus will be making:

Tour Stop #1 – The Hague, Netherlands
Date: Saturday, February 18th, 2017
Admission: This is a private event hosted by the Nigerian Shell Community in Holland, and attendance is by invitation. Please send an email to tope@ganiyah.com for more information.
Agenda: Lecture, Love in Cancun sales and signing.

Tour Stop #2 – London, England
londonDate:  Sunday, February 19th, 2017
Time: 3 pm – 6 pm
Venue: Discover, 387 High Street, Stratford, London E15 4QZ
Agenda: Release 1.0 Mini Course – GPS & Stakeholder modules, Love in Cancun book Discussion, Behind the scenes gists, sales and signing.
Admission: £10. Limited capacity, please reserve on Eventbrite.

Tour Stop #3 – Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
Date:  Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017
Time: 7pm
Venue: Culturando, 15 Avenue de la Faiencerie, 1511 Luxembourg
Agenda: Love in Cancun book discussion, sales and signing.
Admission: Free

Tour Stop #4 – Brussels, Belgium
Friday, February 24th, 2017
10am – 12
American Women’s Club of Belgium. Avenue des Erables, 1
1640 Rhode St Genese
Love in Cancun book discussion, sales and signing.

Tour Stop #5 – Dublin, Ireland
DublinDate:  Saturday, February 25th, 2017
Time: 10 am
VenueIslamic Cultural Center of Ireland, 19 Roebuck Road, Clonskeagh, Dublin 14, Ireland
Agenda: Love in Cancun book discussion, sales and signing.
Admission20 (Single) 25 (Mother & Daughter)
Each ticket covers admission and 1 copy of Love in Cancun
Ticket Contact:  0892231037

Here are 3 reasons to attend at least one of the events:

  • All events will be amazing opportunities to learn and be inspired to unleash your purpose driven life,
  • You will meet and network with awesome people like you,
  • It took me a whole day to create this post and the flyer, so seeing you will make it worth it, laughs!

See you soon by the grace of God!

Michigan Women Vote: Tope, four times a minority

See the original publication on Medium.com.
medium-hrc-photoWhen I quit my full time job as a CPA in August 2015 to give more time to the United for Kids Foundation, an organization I co-founded in 2002 and that I manage pro bono, I knew 2016 was going to be a busy year. However, no crystal ball could have predicted I would take time off that and my exciting book tour to take up a hectic job as an organizer with the Hillary Clinton campaign in Michigan, almost 700 miles away from home. I have been with the most amazing organizing team in Grand Rapids since September 3, and most of the time I still cannot believe how quickly and easily I made the decision to be here.

Although I had been dreaming about “President Hillary Clinton” even before she officially got into the 2016 race, I really didn’t plan to do more than I did for President Obama in Ohio in 2012: volunteer my time for a couple of days before the election. However, my plans changed on July 21 when I attended President Obama’s Eid ul Fitr celebration at the White House. I still can’t find the words to describe the joy and honor I felt when I shook the President’s hands that day, but let’s just say I was very happy. As I drove to my home in Columbia, Maryland, after the party, I got quite anxious. I could feel the sweat in my palms on my steering wheel as my four times minority status being a Black, Muslim, Immigrant Woman began to dawn on me. If I wanted to continue feeling at home in the United States of America, if I wanted me or anyone who looks like me to feel like they deserve this type of honor in the future, I had to get in the in the ring.

I knew that simply volunteering to help get out the votes a couple of days before the election wasn’t going to be sufficient. I knew it was time to suspend the book tour, pack up, and go join the fight wherever it was. I got home, switched on my computer, and submitted my application to be a campaign organizer. I was clear in my application — I wanted to organize Muslims, Africans (both immigrants and U.S. born), and women. I wanted to organize people like me; I wanted to tell them what we had to lose if we refuse to show up for the fight.

I have now spent three hectic and exhausting weeks in Grand Rapids, and I am glad I am in the ring with Secretary Clinton because I know that when she gets to the White House, she will fight for me everyday.

Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi is the author of Love in Cancun, an amazon.com best seller. She is a Muslim Nigerian-American woman passionate about building social and economic bridges between the United States of America and African nations. In addition to managing United for Kids Foundation, Tope hosts the Impact Africa podcast.

Act Like The Sun!

When you don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning,
Act like the sun when it shows up for its life’s work everyday no matter what.

When you feel unappreciated and ignored,
Act like the sun when it comes out and works full time, even on the coldest winter days when no one notices.

When the waves and storms of life threaten to drown out your efforts,
Act like the sun when it struggles and successfully overtakes even the darkest clouds every morning.

When the devil tries to sow the seed of pride and arrogance in your heart, telling you such and such are beneath you,
Act like the sun, which ignores class and wealth, and shines it’s light equally on all.

When you know it’s time to walk away but the cheers and fears keep holding you back,
Act like the sun when it sets every day no matter whose watching.

May God help you to act like the sun, to release your purpose and show up for your life’s work no matter what!

-Tope Fajingbesi-Balogun
July 31, 2016

Met President Obama At Last

Love In cancun Now in Nigeria!

My Amazon.com best seller – Love in Cancun is now on sale in Nigeria, the USA and beyond! Kindly see a list of places where the book can be purchased at the retail price of N1,500 below. More outlets will be announced here, so please bookmark this post!

Within Lagos

  • Patabah Book Store, Shop B18, Adeniran Ogunsanya Shopping Mall, Adeniran Ogunsanya Street, Surulere, Lagos
  • Baytuzzeenah outlets in TBS, Ikeja and Lekki – Suite 19, East Pavilion, Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS) Complex, Opposite The High Court. OR  A2, 2nd Floor, Alausa Shopping Mall by (LSPC), Obafemi Awolowo Way, Ikeja. Opposite Zenith Bank on Oregun Junction/Obafemi Awolowo Way, Radio Bus stop, Ikeja. OR 7A Wole Ariyo Street, Off Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase I.


Outside Lagos:

  • Abuja: Achisco Arcade, Suite B6, Sharrif plaza (ground floor) 
    Aminu Kano Crescent, Wuse 2
  • Port HarcourtBookville World, Port Harcourt: 2 Ezimgbu Link Road, Off Stadium Road
  • Order Online: Amab Book Store, Suite C4, Shamaras Plaza, Minna, Niger State (Email: amabbooks@gmail.com. Tel:+2348129333031)
  • Download an electronic copy of the book at Be Better Books

Outside Nigeria, especially in countries with amazon international sites: you may buy Love in Cancun on amazon.

What is so special about Love in cancun? Why should you buy/read it? In addition to the 5-star reviews on amazon.com, Here are some of the reasons the book is so refreshing and appealing:

  • It is a clear and empowering proof that dreams come true, self love is possible and a catalyst for success and a chance for you to go on holiday right there in the comfort of your room!
  • One third of the gross profits from each book will be donated to United for Kids Foundation and other genuine causes set up to alleviate the pain and suffering of children from low income families and displaced children in Nigeria and beyond.

Visit the Love in Cancun Page for reviews updates and news about the next chapter! I truly hope this book inspires you to love yourself, find moments of stillness to connect with and hear from your maker, dream big, ask boldly and understand life’s pauses.



You Are Invited – Love In Cancun Book Launch

Launch FlyerRSVP for the April 17 Launch Event

About Love In Cancun
How does one deal with the passing of the most important person in their life, and then deal with the loss of a six-figure job? Nurah hit the pause button on her hectic life and went to Cancun, Mexico, leaving everything she owned behind outside of a change of clothes, to reconnect with herself on a spiritual journey with unknowns around every corner helping guide her back on the path she was meant to be on from the start. Love in Cancun, a heartfelt documentation from a middle aged, single woman’s perspective reveals the challenges of having to face the constant emotional struggles that one who feels as if life had passed her by had felt. She deals with them in a way that few outside of her shoes could understand, and finds herself in an entirely new setting than she had expected.

CancunAbout the Author
Ganiyah Tope Fajingbesi is the host of Impact Africa and Coordinating Trustee of United for Kids Foundation. She is the noted author of What Color Is Your Money? Your Personalized Road Map to Business Success, which was published in April 2013. Love in Cancun is loosely based on her six-day holiday in Cancun, Mexico in August 2015

Why Should You Attend The Launch?

  • You will get the real scoop behind my Cancun love story,
  • You will be inspired to ask big and speak boldly for your success,
  • You will be making a big dent in the fight to end illiteracy and poverty in children from low income families. One third of the proceeds from this book will be donated directly to organizations such as United for Kids Foundation.
  • I am ready to be inspired and to change the world in the process too. Will you join me? RSVP for the April 17 Launch Event.