Jambo! What Young African Leaders Taught Me

Mandela Washington Fellowship Leaders in Maine, USA transforming into networking ninjas!

OMG – last year the USA was ……..#awesome!

After speaking at the fab Women in FX event in New York, I flew to Portland, Maine (darling, how glam) to speak to the energetic Young African Leaders from the Mandela Washington Fellowship.

 I. loved. it.

Meeting them was one of best moments of my career. The atmosphere, warmth and charm of this group was off the scale.

Amara brought me a gift, a necklace and bracelet from Sierra Leone. It still brings tears to my eyes.

Amara from Sierra Leone                                  #eyesandteeth!

Amara from Sierra Leone                                  #eyesandteeth!


They loved the practical masterclasses on networking – how to work a room, break in and break out of conversations – and how to dump with dignity.  All 30 of them laughed, told jokes and spoke clearly with the microphone without any inhibitions. 

They put their new- found confidence to the test at a posh bbq at the law firm Verrill Dana Llp that night – see that beautiful pic in the garden?

It was brilliant to witness them effortlessly wafting from conversation to conversation, laughing and joking with their hosts (using all my tips – gosh they work).  They learnt how to be confident networking ninjas.

So, what was the magic formula? Why were they so intoxicating?

The one thing great leaders have is the ability to light up a room.

When this lot were together – the room was filled with joy, laughter, charisma and warmth.  It literally lit up!

They learnt a lot – I certainly put them through their paces. But I learnt from them too.

What Did These Wonderful Young African Leaders Teach Me?

There was something magical about this group and it was a trait they all had in common.

 What was it?

 The key to great leadership is this… Generosity of spirit.

They were all generous, and they made you feel special.  They cared about others, they cared about their countries and their communities, not just themselves. 

A big tip for you ….be generous, show interest in others rather than yourself.  Remember “Love your audience a little bit more than yourself” and you will take people with you.

The fellows needed a little reassurance to give their inner confidence a boost.  I taught them to be themselves and celebrate their best assets. Once they realized they could do this they were flying high! 

 “I loved your sessions Esther..the best lectures we have ever had ….I am more confident…..I know other people have similar issues to me…..I am better at networking….I will use these tips when I present….thank you Madame Esther”

 Mandela Washington Fellows in Maine

If you’d like to create confident leaders and add a bit of oomph to your leadership programme like the Mandela Washington Fellows - I promise to turn up and turbo charge your sessions with impact & oomph.

Get in touch so we can set up a free chat – email esther@estherstanhope.com.



patrick Volavka