Victoria and Elizabeth Lawal are identical twin sisters from London who have creative backgrounds working within the Film & Television industry. Both are ambassadors for the Prince’s Trust and are currently working on their start-up shoe business for tall women.
Shine Co-Founder Caroline Whaley is currently coaching them, and Victoria and Elizabeth recently took 5 minutes out to speak to us about their experience as rising stars, the struggles they’ve faced this year and the work they have done with Shine to build their confidence and influence.
What do you believe is the biggest struggle for young professionals today?
E – Honestly for me, no specific answer comes to mind. I think it varies depending on the group they find themselves in as the struggles as a young professional living in London faces is different to another who is a woman, or from another ethnic group or part of the world. One thing I think most can identify with is the level of competition which often feels high. We’re an ambitious generation and there are many sorts of pressures to be ‘successful’ now. I think a key struggle is staying focused and not allowing external expectations of society’s opinion to influence your sense of focus and progress.
We’re seeing that there are major issues with confidence when it comes to young women, both personally and professionally, what are the ways in which you believe this can be tackled?
E – I think a huge part of this comes to identity and knowing yourself. This is foundational for everything as that’s where everything else stems from. If this isn’t correctly established, it naturally affects the confidence a person has to navigate in all aspects. I think a key way in tackling this is spending time with yourself, knowing your likes, dislikes, what you stand for and what your values are and capabilities. Recognising and establishing these make it much easier to go forward on both a personal and professional level.
V – They should take time to work on themselves and think about the kind of person they desire to be, taking those necessary steps to improve where necessary.
All of the above I believe is underpinned by not comparing themselves. Comparison is often described as being ‘the thief of joy’, and rightly so. If you’re always comparing, you’ll always come up short. We’re all so uniquely made, and have something special to offer. I believe being intentional about getting to know and enjoy yourself are great first steps to tackling confidence issues.
What is the importance of mentorship when it comes to both personal and professional development?
V – I believe Mentorship is incredibly important and can play such a big role both personally and professionally. In fact, there’s an old Bible Proverb that I love which states: ‘Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counsellors they are established’. Mentorship offers space for advice guidance and accountability, but a mentor can also act as a confidant. I myself am aware of some personal shortcomings I have, so I intentionally put myself in situations where I have to be accountable to others and have seen the benefits of that.
E – It’s invaluable to have the input of trusted people who’ve walked the path you are trying to or have achieved what you’re aiming for as it helps sharpen your lens for navigation. Mentors impart wisdom, knowledge and skill that saves you from having to make avoidable mistakes and reflect on how you can do and be better. I see it as ‘renting’ someone’s years or experience which you’re able to capitalise on in your own life and I think is essential to a person’s full growth.
How has your work with our Co-Founder Cal impacted your journeys and what have you gained?
V – Caroline has been amazing on many levels. She’s been a real encouragement and champion, not only of us but what we’re doing. We feel like she’s really helped clarify what it is that we stand for and has helped us with going back to basics which in turn is helping us to build our vision on the right foundations. Working with someone like Caroline who is committed to seeing people like us be and do our best because she believes in our potential is super encouraging and makes us want to do even better. Even from our first conversation, we felt such a relief that we were able to dump all that was in our heads and she was able to make sense of it and give clarity and structure to our vision.
E The work we did with Caroline was invaluable and it came at such a timely point! She did work to help us identify our core values and ways we could build on them to be effective both personally and professionally. That’s just a small nutshell as she did so much as Vicky said. Ultimately, I feel she really helped me to equip and strengthen the foundation needed to embark successfully on my journey which I’ll forever be thankful for.
We know that a lot of young people have been hit hard by this global pandemic, whether it be it during their studying or as young people starting out in their career. What would be your best advice to them?
V – It has been a testing year, especially for young people, and those who are trying to establish themselves. My advice would be to not be discouraged, it’s in times of great adversity that character is built – and you can’t buy character. No matter how bad your situation, it could always, always be worse, so maintain a heart of gratitude. No matter how much you feel you’ve been set back, start from where you are and use what you have (even if you feel like you don’t have much), make the best of your situation, it will be well.
E – There are many examples throughout history where great things are birthed through times of pressure and hardship. It’s been a tough time, but I’d first say not to be discouraged nor to give up! Although it may not be apparent, strong muscles are being built up in areas of character and endurance for things that you’ll see down the line if only you stay the course. Now is a great time to really assess what your overall desires are. Think about what it is you are looking to achieve or be and work towards that – being purpose driven rather than pushed by circumstances. Celebrating small successes is also a useful thing to do whilst maintaining an attitude of gratitude for everything, as there’s always someone who’d rather have your problems, no matter how bad they may seem.
What is one thing you learnt over the lockdown period, and how are you adjusting to this new normal?
V – One moment we were in a four-month lockdown, and it felt like I had all the time in the world to catch up on tasks, but before I knew it everything opened back up again and I hadn’t completed those tasks. So, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learnt is to make the most of every opportunity, because time is fleeting. As a freelancer, I’m fortunate, in that the ‘lockdown lifestyle’ hasn’t been too much of an adjustment to make. However, the change of wearing masks, queuing and how the pandemic has affected things socially, has taken time to get used to. Although, I always believe it could be so much worse, so I just try and stay grateful and keep it moving.
E -Time is such an invaluable commodity, a currency that that once spent you can’t get back so it’s best to use wisely whilst you have it. Whilst I’ve always been mindful of this, I haven’t always been the best at putting it into practice consistently. Naturally, it’s easy to undermine until an event or change happens for us to then realise, we’re no longer afforded the same opportunity to do the things we once could. Corona is an example of that. Like many, this time has been a (rightfully) reflective period and the key thing I have learnt is how to be more disciplined with my use of time. Although not perfect, I’ve definitely been more intentional about establishing a kind of focus that steers me in the direction of my overall goals in my day to day habits and being more sensitive to the things that don’t. Having more of this perspective and focus I think has helped me to adjust and adapt to the new changes around me rather than be thrown by them.