By Evan J. Cutts
Bisila Bokoko, Founder and CEO Bisila Bokoko Embassy International, is a self-described “cultural hybrid” with a love for making people’s dreams come true. A Valencia, Spain native with family roots in the Bubi Tribe of Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, and American citizenship, Bokoko champions internationality, diversity, and pride in everything she does. She’s earned two master’s degrees in Business Administration/Economics and International Relations from San Pablo University in Madrid and City University of New York, respectively. Not to mention, she holds a certificate of British Law from the University of Manchester. And as of last year, she became a certified Naam Yoga teacher. In other words, she is a contemporary renaissance woman.
As an internationally sought out keynote speaker and international relations advisor, Bokoko leverages her unique skill set to prepare individuals and organizations for success on a global scale. Color Magazine is very fortunate to share her insights and expertise with our readership. Enjoy!
EJC: What is your role as founder and CEO of BBES?
BB: My role is to help companies or individuals around the world to become cosmopolitan. I open the doors to foreign markets to make companies or individuals that want to go from local to global in the industries of fashion, arts and culture, and gastronomy mainly. We work in personal and corporate branding.
EJC: You’ve had tremendous success in your career scaling businesses from local markets into global ones, can you share with us a few pitfalls for businesses to avoid on their path to growth?
BB: There two major pitfalls to avoid when making the decision to go international.
The first pitfall is going abroad for the wrong reasons. Sometimes businesses look the lack of growth in the domestic market and, frustrated, set their sights on the global market. Although the promise of emerging markets is appealing, understand that global expansion is a long-term investment, not a get rich quick scheme. It takes between three to five years to really penetrate in a foreign market.
The second pitfall is insufficient preparation. Succeeding in your domestic market it is not a guarantee of success when you are going global. It is important to do your homework and align yourself with professionals who can provide the right guidance.
EJC: You’re a busy woman, there’s no doubt about it. How do you maintain work-life balance? or as some like to practice: work-life integration?
BB: I let go of the ‘superwoman complex.’ Years ago, I was so stressed out trying to wear so many hats and trying to be perfect with all of them. I came to the realization that I just need to do my best and be present and fully committed to the moment.
If I am spending time with my kids, I am totally focused on them. If I am in yoga class, I am really there, not making a shopping list in my head. By becoming more mindful and conscious, I feel I have lots of time for what I want to do.
EJC: How do you define Empowerment? How do you empower yourself and others daily?
BB: Empowerment is a process that fosters power over your own life. Of course, life is multi-faceted. There could be many areas of your life that you want to improve or feel more control over – for example, your finances or career, your health, and maybe even your love life.
Personally, empowerment means having the independence to make my own decisions each day!
I empower myself by creating daily rituals that bring me closer to my goals and dreams. I trust in the process and enjoy the journey as much as I enjoy arriving at the destination.
I empower others daily by smiling (a smile is my daily uniform), remaining positive, sharing ideas, teaching and mentoring others, encouraging them to live outside of the comfort zone.
Being an agent of positive change for those around you is a responsibility and we all can do it!
EJC: In your opinion, what characteristics make for a successful leader?
BB: A leader is not only someone who has authority or manages. I have seen leaders mopping floors. Leadership skills enable you to be a role model in any environment. Great leaders come in all shapes and sizes: in the home, at school, as entrepreneurs, or at the workplace. I believe the main characteristics that make a successful leader are:
- Empathy: A leader must be willing to listen and understand others.
- Positivity: A positive attitude is contagious. If your team is led and surrounded by happy and positive people, they will work harder and be happier themselves.
- Consistency and Honesty: Being a consistent and honest leader will gain you respect and credibility.
- Passion and Commitment: Enthusiasm for your mission or project will get others excited because they can see and feel your dedication. Commitment is also required because passion alone is not enough to get the job done.
- Direction: Having a vision is important; being able to communicate [and actualize] it is essential.
- Being Inspirational and Growth-oriented: A leader grows other leaders. Great leaders share their knowledge with the team and give them the opportunity to achieve. This is how leaders gain their respect and loyalty.
EJC: In your opinion, what does it mean to be a woman of color in 2018?
BB: What a better time than this to be a woman of color? I am super excited!
Right now, women of color as a whole are being represented like never before — as beautiful, inspiring, powerful and brilliant queens. It is a time to be expressive about our self-love.
If we focus too much energy on the negative interactions or ruminate over what in some cases is bad, we will never be able to get ahead. Now, that doesn’t mean that certain systems aren’t in need of change, it’s just that in spite of the negative experiences, we ascend to top ranks and get our voices heard.
We have to be willing to be proud of who we are and what we are right now. Us being proud of who we are is to not only to combat the negativity out there but to prove that we can’t be broken.
For the sake of the future generations, we have a responsibility to carry ourselves with dignity, pride, enthusiasm, and courage.