Wise Words: Business-Building Advice From Joy Ofodu [Biz Buzz]


Chloe Sun

Happy spring! A few weekends ago I had the privilege of attending the two-day virtual Women of Color Conference hosted by Afropuff Chronicles, Dear Asian Youth, Zenerations and Diversify Our Narrative, which featured panels with professionals in STEM, Performing Arts, Film, Activism, Media, Politics and Business. Among the super inspiring and empowering speakers on the Business Panel was Joy Ofodu, a woman who simply exudes positivity and encouragement. She has an extensive resume—her mission in life is to empower on/offline communities, so she currently helps young professionals build their careers through her class Find Joy in Your Journey, but besides that she (I’m quoting from her LinkedIn):

  • Is a Top 2% LinkedIn Publisher in Marketing & Advertising Industry (SSI)
  • Leads global integrated marketing campaigns at Instagram
  • Is a Trustee Renaissance Scholar at USC, and researched consumer behavior and culture theory, gave tours and shot red carpets
  • Has spoken through many brands, including Facebook, Star Wars, thredUP and NAACP Image Awards. My work has been featured in Los Angeles Times, LA Weekly, Refinery 29, Afropunk, People, AdWeek, Blavity, and more

Especially after the devastating Asian-targeted shooting in Atlanta, Georgia the week prior, as an Asian American, being surrounded by thousands of supportive fellow girls of color around the US and worldwide that weekend was incredibly comforting. The entire conference was so uplifting, so now I’d like to share some of it with you.

Enjoy some of the fascinating insight Ofodu shared on her experience in business as a woman of color. – Chloe

“I took that motivation (to increase representation for girls of color in media) and baked it into my marketing. Do purpose-driven work. Ever since I realized why I wake up and get out of bed, that is what has helped me really shine and rise in my career.” – Joy Ofodu

  1. Prioritize your health. “In order to operate in this space, to run the largest social media companies in the world, to manage creators, to publish a cookbook, you need, you need to prioritize yourself and your health. (You have) to sleep, to meditate, to get rest, to evaluate your own mental health.”
  2. Connect your work to a purpose. “There’s a lot of opportunity in tech and it’s marketed as ‘business, billions of dollars, STEM’—okay, gross. The reason we do something shouldn’t be just financial. It should go beyond what our parents were able to provide for us. When you tie it to a community you can help or a problem you can solve in the world it’s just going to be a lot more meaningful.”
  3. Portfolio-building is crucial. “Create a website, establish social channels. Every interview I’ve ever done, from Facebook to Lucasfilm to NAACP to the LA Times, all those (times) I was able to either point to my phone or my website and say, ‘Look, I’m already doing this, I can do it for you.’ That made a huge difference.”
  4. Have a unique selling point. “Stand out from the noise. There are a lot of photographers, there are a lot of authors, there are a lot of digital creators. Be able to tie your (work to your) purpose and clearly articulate in one line, ‘This is what I do and this is how it’s different.’ Just get really specific and that will help people understand who you are.”
  5. Learn all the skills you need. “I taught myself how to be a red carpet photographer by researching photography and editing and photoshop on YouTube. I’ve never been to a formal class for these things. It wasn’t my college major. Voice acting is not anything my Nigerian parents would have ever endorsed me to study, but I just went online and I learned, (and) I think that you have incredible resources at your disposal to be able to do this. I wish you luck with these things.”

“If you took nothing from what I said, please prioritize your health. Please sleep, fight the burnout by resting.”

(Top row left to right) Panelists Jen Ortiz from Cosmopolitan, educator Joy Ofodu, Refinery29 Global Editor-In-Chief, Simone Oliver, (bottom row left to right) founder of Diversify Our Narrative and panel interviewer, Jasmine Nguyen, Renée K. Samms, who works for 501CTHREE and has also worked with Lionsgate, Amazon and Disney in the past, and chef Jocelyn Ramirez discuss being women of color in business. Over 4,000 people attended the conference.

Check out more of Ofodu’s work here at her website or visit her Instagram. I also highly encourage you to check out the organizers of the Women of Color Conference (all of their Instagrams are linked above in the introduction) —they’re doing incredible work.