Our one and only Ruth Agbaji, Founder & CEO of Code Wiz, was just featured in Franchise Update Media’s Q1 Magazine! Female Leaders Raising up the Next Generation is extremely descriptive of Ruth’s cause at Code Wiz, helping our next generation unlock their inner genius.
Here’s an excerpt from her interview:
What do you wish you had known before taking your first management role? Strong, clear communication when laying out the
vision and the plan goes a long way in getting everyone aligned and moving faster toward the goal without needing major course
corrections that might arise because of miscommunication. As an entrepreneur, my thoughts are typically all over the place, and I
recognized after a few missteps that my team needs me to distill those thoughts into a coherent plan they can take and run with.
Which leadership skills were most difficult to develop? Having difficult conversations face to face. With a personality that wants peace and harmony all the time, this was one of the more challenging skills I needed to develop. Once I realized how much of a positive impact constructive, but direct conversations can have on the team and the business, it got easier and easier to have such difficult conversations.
Who helped you on the way to the top? A number of mentors. You learn a little from everyone, but if I have to name one, Angela Coté
has made the biggest impact on my leadership journey.
What was the best advice you ever got? Be your true authentic self. Being anything other than yourself is extremely draining and
unfulfilling. Being your true self also helps you attract the people you need to take you to where you want to go.
Is that different than the advice you give? No. I have found this to be true over and over. I tell everyone the same thing: Be your
true self, your authentic self, and watch magic happen.
How do you mentor, and what advice do you give those you mentor? I have found social media to be a great platform for sharing my
leadership lessons. I try to be vulnerable and share my triumphs as well as my failures. I encourage people to try and never give up no matter what. Everything is “figureoutable” and we shouldn’t count ourselves out of an opportunity because we can’t figure it out right now. Say yes and figure it out later.
What skill sets do you think are imperative for young women leaders? 1) Confidence: Believe in yourself. 2) Let your voice be heard: Don’t let people shut you down. Loud doesn’t always mean smart. Loud isn’t always right. Trust yourself and what you know.
What are your leadership do’s and don’ts? Always lead by example. Treat your team like family and they will do the same for you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t take personal credit for the team’s successes.
How did you learn to embrace risk-taking? Risk-taking comes naturally to me. I’ve always been drawn to anything that pushes the envelope. Seeing the massive rewards that come from taking massive risks has encouraged me to do more!
How should aspiring female leaders build allies? Find people who believe in you, people you can be vulnerable with, people who have
similar backgrounds and stories, and people who lead the way you’d like to. Put yourself out there. When people know you are open to
mentoring and learning, they are more than willing to teach you what they know and root for you.
What roles do education and experience play in leadership development? You can never stop learning. From generation to generation, some principles never change. Execution of said principles might be different, but the underlying idea is the same. There is an African proverb that says, “While sitting down, elders see what a child who is standing up cannot see.” I believe it is critical to be open to learning and mentoring from those who have gone before you. It shortens the path to success.
What about attitude and mindset? Mindset is everything. The battle is won or lost in the mind. If you see yourself achieving despite all obstacles, and you go for it, nothing can stop you.
Was there a time when things didn’t turn out as planned? How did you bounce back? I got into franchising because things didn’t turn out as planned! When I started Code Wiz, my goal was to have 5 locations across Massachusetts. Life happened and my son was diagnosed with life-altering disorders that forced me to abandon that plan. Not wanting to give up on the dream of expansion, I decided to look into franchising as an expansion vehicle. Today, we have doubled the number of locations in my original dream, and the dream is much bigger than it was initially.
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned, and how has it proven invaluable? Know your leadership style and improve on your areas of weakness while staying true to yourself.
Why is it so important to give back to the next generation of leaders? I have been inspired to reach for the stars because of many women leaders who have gone before, people I can look up to. It is important to keep that cycle of inspiration going. We need more women in leadership positions, and that happens when we can provide inspiration, support, and guidance to those coming behind.
Every year, the Franchise Journal honors International Women’s Day by dedicating its March issue to spotlighting women in franchising that are lighting the way for others to enter and grow within the franchise industry.
We’re excited to have six members of the WSI network featured in the Franchise Journal’s Women in Franchising Issue.
Our WSI spotlights are featured below:
1. VALERIE BROWN-DUFOUR, WSI President
Valerie joined WSI back in 1999 when the Internet was still in its infancy. Since then, she has taken the helm as WSI’s President and has helped build a franchise network that celebrates diversity in all its forms. Through her leadership and vision, she has helped WSI become a thriving business opportunity for female entrepreneurs, many of which grace WSI’s top 25 franchise list each month. Summed up, Valerie’s role is to communicate, support, listen, innovate, and make sure that as an organization, WSI is helping franchisees fulfill their lifelong dreams and goals.
2. KELLY BIGGS, WSI Consultant
Kelly is a powerhouse in the WSI franchise network. She is actively involved in CEO Netweavers – an organization whose foundational pillar is servant leadership. As a member, she serves as a mentor to second-year Executive MBA students to answer their questions about their journey into Executive leadership. In addition, she works with mentees to provide long-term career perspectives on various career topics. She also volunteers as an adjunct professor of Social Media Management at Morris Brown College. Representation matters to Kelly. Having her students see her as a professor, AND business owner shows them what is possible with hard work and dedication.
3. MELANIE GARD, WSI Consultant
Mel is a WSI franchisee based in South Africa. She is the past Chairperson of KZN Women in Business and a Committee Member of the Durban Branch of Business Women’s Association (BWA). She conceptualized, designed and continues to run the KZN Women in Business mentoring program, aiming to pair members in need with an appropriate business mentor. Her franchise business is heavily involved within their local community. Some of the organizations they have volunteered at include The Robinhood Foundation, Hearts in Hands Food Bank, and CROW Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre.
4. NICKY MCKENNA, WSI Consultant
Nicky joined WSI in January 2021 and has quickly become one of our top up-and-comers. She is an avid local networker and actively seeks out other franchisees who could be “power partners.” Being on the radar of Business Coaches, Virtual Assistants, and HR Providers is particularly fulfilling as networking brings her into contact with startups or micro-businesses who inspire her and that she can make a difference with. She’ll often offer these companies some insights into what they can action internally to get their businesses found online. For Nicky, it’s all about adding value every step of the way.
5. HEIDI SCHWENDE, WSI Consultant
Heidi is an esteemed member of the WSI franchise network. As a WSI franchisee, she has contributed to many WSI internal training initiatives geared at helping other franchisees grow and excel in their business. Heidi is also highly involved in educating the business community on the benefits of digital marketing. Over her 8+ years with WSI, she has helped educate thousands of businesses and provided them with free audits to show them how to get more from their online marketing efforts.
6. DAPHNE ANDERSON, WSI Consultant
Daphne recently became a WSI franchisee, joining our network in early 2021. Through her local BNI chapter, she has raised awareness and knowledge of digital marketing solutions to help businesses grow and achieve their goals, many of which are other franchises. Through her innovative ideas and advice, she helps companies uncover growth opportunities that they would not have thought of on their own and, in turn, is making a difference to the businesses in her local community.
WSI digital marketing franchisee, Taylor Russell, was recently interviewed for the Canadian Franchise Association’s podcast show, Franchise Canada Chats. In the episode, Taylor sat down with guest host Angela Coté (CFE), the CEO and “Boss Lady” of Angela Coté Inc. to discuss how franchisees can search for franchise opportunities that offer them the flexibility to create a healthy work-life balance as a business.
ICYMI, click here to listen to the full podcast interview.
Even before COVID-19 and owning her WSI digital marketing agency, Taylor worked remotely, so she knows what it takes to ensure she is maintaining a work-life balance as a franchisee. Some of the key things she spoke about were:
Time block by allocating different days of the week to different aspects of your business (finance, sales, marketing, clients). This guarantees that work is done regularly on all elements of your business.
Outsourcing the things you hate doing frees you up to focus on what you are good at and love for exponential gain! Next, eliminate, simplify, standardize, and automate what your time is being focused on.
For more information about the work-life balance enjoyed by franchisees of WSI – the digital marketing franchise that works with businesses across all industries to help them connect with their customers online – get in touch with us today.