Name: Sam Edem
Title: Creative Lead
Organisation: Copy House International
My name is Sam Edem, I am Nigerian by citizenship but have spent about a decade outside the country and mostly in Ghana. I wear a few caps including that of a business development expert - worked and still working as a corporate advisor for various businesses and non-profit organizations, a strategic communications expert - basically on the background helping top management or leaders create or tell their corporate stories both as staff as well as an independent contractor and more importantly, I am an entrepreneur - currently leading two innovative start-up teams in the copywriting and disruptive HR space respectively. I hold a bachelor's degree in Human Resource Management and currently studying for a Master's degree in International Relations at the Accra Business School.
Thank you to the 2,000 leaders who’ve generously done the 7 Questions on Leadership!
I hope Sam's answers will encourage you in your leadership journey. Enjoy!
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
The necessity to keep those working with you in sync with the ideas or developments on your mind about a shared vision. I mean, it's often practically impossible to say all that is on your mind especially when you're still articulating the thought but sometimes too, you do so at the speed of light and you make instant decisions. That doesn't always go well with partners or senior management who always feel the need to be kept in the loop every step of the WAY.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
After sitting behind the computer as a business analyst at Prime News Ghana - a start-intern role that required that I stay on the leads for various developments in Ghana, West Africa, Africa, and the global business environment and present a perspective-based analysis of them to my business readers; I became increasingly burdened by the knowledge gathered and the fact that at least 7 out of 10 CEOs of the brands I analyzed were either in their 30s or early 40s. By the close of 2017, I had seen enough and was ready to begin some form of adventure with entrepreneurship ahead of the possibility of the earliest graduation by the summer of 2018. By the dawn of the new year, I would pilot what I considered my entrepreneurship incubator project with all the elements of vagueness but with a lot of passion that often define a first enterprise adventure and yes, I went about hyping it to a few of my Professors or faculties who would soon enough offer me all manner of trial jobs from presentations to small business proposals. That for me was the the starting point. It's been 5 years now since that decision, aside from currently pioneering a third brand, I have already made some naive mistakes that many would make in their 10th or 20th year in business; from running down on communication, making poor judgments on ownership structure that would eventually cost me a halt on a two years project with my first partners and the critical need to have a clear articulation of what problem you want to solve as a entrepreneur and taking the pains to build a team that shares not just your obsession but the how. Most importantly, my role as advisor to growing other businesses or corporate organizations has already helped save jobs for client enterprises that were on a sure road of decline. Yeah, that's for me in a nutshell to this point. Still very much an evolving story; one I guess you can consider for a Times cover one of these days (hahaha).
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Except for Sundays, every day is practically a work day for me; I hope you don't find that weird if you're married and under 'strict family time rules'. Lol. On a lighter note; my day begins with a fellowship time that involves, praying, studying the scriptures, and a few of what I would call, 'mental creation'.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
People arrive at work each day with a natural anxiety about how they will retain it. Your job is to reduce that anxiety as much as possible and in the process, promote a work environment where creativity and innovation thrives.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
Giants of Enterprise by Richard Tedlow. A catalog of some of America's greatest entrepreneurs; getting to read it at one of my lowest points as an entrepreneur early in 2022, the stories of mistakes, lessons, and pick-ups to global success encapsulated by each of the men profiled by Tedlow in the volume has been a game changer or at least a consolidation of my perspective of possibilities on the long-run.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
The crowd is always talking; criticizing, mocking, praising, what have you? Only leaders muster the courage to dream, start and follow it through; don't be afraid to join this elite class of 'doers' and 'winners'.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
It's reassuring for me; the opportunities people find from what I do or have tried to do to become a better and more actualized version of themselves - professionally and otherwise.