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Business & Grief: Lessons From Working While Mourning The Recent Loss Of My Mother – Maxwell Ampong Writes

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Death is a punitive reminder of our mortality, a rude expression of the old adage that one day we will all perish just like those that have gone and left us behind. Once you remain alive and breathing, you’re bound to experience grief.

My mother passed away a week ago and it has been as daunting as it has been revealing. The moment my sister set eyes on me that late evening, she fell on her knees, arms to the skies and let out a long, loud, hair-raising roar of despair.

She has a business and has been struggling to keep herself together since. She will overcome this in time. I have a business and still feel like I got hit by a train that day. So how does one grieve and work?

GRIEF IS AS A BUSINESS RISK
When Mr Asare called, he was the first to mention that my being at work would be moot because of the way that grief is. Not that I can’t work now. He’s technically saying that my grief is bound to have an effect on my work. Ergo, my being at work is a risk to the company.

And he’s absolutely right.

When my wife’s boss heard the news, she almost instantly told her to take as much time as she needed off from work. These people understand that for the business, a literally malfunctioning employee should be sent for repairs.

The delight and curse of running your own business is that the buck stops with you. As an entrepreneur, your main product, which simultaneously is your prized intellectual property, is your brain. Grief messes with that.

Delegation is never easy with business owners, at least not for those that don’t own mega corporations.

DEFINITELY TAKE SOME TIME OFF.

Grief is more than just sadness. That much is true. However, I am seeing that it can manifest itself in many different ways. Common traits of grief include depression, anger, denial, shock, confusion, disbelief, despair and many others.

Any version of any of these is not the ideal state to be in at the workplace. You’ll probably end up doing more harm than good. Also, it would be wrong to put your colleagues and customers through that.

It should be expected for you to feel that you can do more for your business as you grieve. Do what you must and try to find actions that don’t get you engaging so much with the outside world. That’s how you take some time off. Limit activity. You have to admit to yourself that you need to grieve and allow yourself to go through it.

GRIEF IS A TIME FOR REFLECTION
While taking time to reflect on life, your loved one and what’s lost and gone, utilise your reflective tendencies by assessing your business, how it’s run and where it’s headed. A lot of things will reveal itself as you have been forced to take a couple steps back.

Maybe things run just as smooth and you realise that you have more room for growth than you think. Maybe you realise the strengths and weaknesses of your staff. Or maybe you see that the ground on which your company is standing is shaky.

Whatever it is, the reflection will be useful. Most businesses are jolted into growth out of necessity. At the point of grief, you will realise the utility of an improved business offering. You will definitely realise the need to create additional revenue streams, borne out of your appreciation for the line “anything can happen”.

As businessowners, life is often fast paced. I have to follow in Alan’s footsteps and learn to pause. Every now and then, he goes to a remote place like the mountains to meditate. Currently, my head feels denser. My thoughts feel intertwined. I really would like some meditation about now.

IT’S TIME TO THINK SMALL
That doesn’t sound right, but it is. As entrepreneurs and businessowners, business development takes the bulk of our time and effort. It looks, sounds and feels just right to go after that next big client. That’s not wrong. But it’s not the right primary strategy either.

Alan has also mentioned some time back that I should concentrate a little less effort on trying to get the next big client and more on smaller gigs, and then build from there. I now see how that is good advice.

Smaller gigs are the foundation for non-mega corporations. Any project I have with smaller companies is much more secured in my absence than bigger ones. The breeds stability. It breeds steady growth. And most importantly it breeds predictability. During grief, when you realise that no one knows tomorrow, predictability, if you have any, would be your best friend if you had many small gigs like a couple of big ones.

THINK “COMMUNITY”.
The human being stands alone as one unit. The next unit of which you are a subset is the family. A group of families form a community… a group of communities form a society… and so on and so forth. That’s the basic concept.

We are social creatures. This is never as evident as when “abusua” sits to talk. That’s when you realise there has always been a roll call and once you’re alive, you are marked as present whether you knew about it or not.

My abusua is around and is talking. Seeing them, I am reminded that just like ants, I am part of a bigger structure with characteristic and unifying culture that makes us all “one”. If I need a business connect, I attend conferences. When in grief and need comfort, think community. Fall on your family, nuclear and extended, to be there for you. Many of them are grieving just like you.

In my personal opinion, the labelling of “family”, “community” or “society” is really dependent on the level of interaction. A family need not be a small number of human beings. Likewise can a society be as big as the whole world. “The Ghanaian Community”. “The American Society”. All these labels are because of the context of the interactions happening at that level.

If you look online, you will find grieving communities you can be a part of. The closest one to you is your relatives. But there are also online communities you can be a part of and they can get really specific. What’s good about finding empathy is that it’s proof you’re not alone. That can facilitate healing, even growth.

TRAUMATIC GRIEF vs ANTICIPATORY GRIEF
When painful things happen, a little understanding of what is happening to you takes away some of the hold it has on you. Reading on grief and asking questions help me understand and react better to what is arguably the most painful thing that has happened to me so far.

There are two types of grief: Traumatic Grief and Anticipatory Grief.

Traumatic Grief often occurs when the loss of a loved one is sudden, violent and/or unexpected. Trauma combined with grief can literally change your whole world. This type of grief is hard to resolve for it leaves you with little or no time to get used to the idea of losing a loved one before they go.

It’s extremely difficult dealing with traumatic grief. The mind tries to hold on to the loved on in any way that it can. Pain is also triggered by the least of things in this case. That’s why the bereaved try to hold on to any physical artefact that is in any way connected to the loved one. Many times, even a sheer memory can trigger despair.

About 10% of people experience unusually prolonged, complicated and intense grief. It’s complicated because that is when medical help is recommended. Some people within this 10% even require help from mental health professions. Psychotherapy or Talk Therapy is still is the most common go-to.

Anticipatory Grief on the other hand occurs before the loved one dies.

Maybe, you one day get news that a loved one has a terminal illness, or that they have a short time to live. That gives you some time, no matter how little, to prepare for their devastating but inevitable exit from this earth.

That time spent being aware of the loss cushions you somewhat emotionally and mentally. It allows you to say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done. Many times do we hear people say “I wish I could say one last thing before he/she died”.

With anticipatory grief, you can say that one last thing so it’s understandable if this isn’t as harsh as traumatic grief. Still, grief in any shape or form is harsh. Many people with this type of grief will get ridden with depression and despair and often require grief counselling.

WE ALL GRIEVE DIFFERENT.
I’m still not sure which of the stages of grief I am currently in. I mean, I let go once a while and cry my eyes out but you should see what’s happening with the scores of people pouring into the house in tears. It is something.

The death of a loved one is like the flick of a switch, a nasty reminder that some important things will never be the same. Let that change be for the better. Think bigger picture, Take better care of yourself. Find an outlet and don’t let it all get bottled up. Pray. Write if it helps. This writing helped. Exercise. Reflect. Find solace in community. And understand that the inevitable has occurred. You owe it to them to live as well as you can.

‘Entrepreneur In You’ Podcast – where you’ll find real value all year round.

This year, my outlet of choice will be the ‘Entrepreneur In You’ column and podcast – audio and video. I will be sharing articles, funding offers, job opportunities, trade deals, mentorship programs, while also having conversations with famous and successful people we all know and read about. We will discuss their journey, how they got their spark, what drives their inner entrepreneur, and how they’ve been ‘creating or extracting value’ in many ways than we know. All these are in an effort to share ideas, offer real help and demonstrate life hacks that equip our audience with the proper tools needed to bring out the Entrepreneur In You.

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New GHAMRO Board To Take Shape After Upcoming Elections

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The Ghana Music Rights Organisation (GHAMRO) has revealed its 12 members that have submitted their nomination forms for consideration in the upcoming elections. This election which is to be held in March is to select a new board of directors.

The candidates include incumbent chairperson  Rex Omar, whose four-year tenure will end this year, Kwesi Ernest Annin, Elizabeth Tagoe, Benjamin Mensah, Kwame Adinkra, Yaw Agyeman Badu and Francis Boahene. Other candidates who submitted forms comprise Oheneba Kissi, Kwabena Kwakye Kabobo, Ruth Benny Wood, John Mensah Sarpong, and Diana Hopeson.

The recent GHAMRO constitution allows a maximum of seven members to be elected onto the board with the chairperson being a composer and the vice-chairperson a performer or publisher. The new board will then vote for a new chairperson in line with the body’s code.

GHAMRO election committee secretary Gloria Dzifa Ashinyo told Music In Africa that the arrangements have been concluded for the election, adding that the process will be supervised by the Electoral Commission (EC) of Ghana with the support of the GHAMRO’s electoral committee.

Ashinyo also said that the vetting of the nominees, which was initially slated for 15 to 19 February, will now be conducted on 26 February and 4 March in Accra and Kumasi, respectively. Additionally, the elections have been rescheduled and will now take place on 18 March, if approved by the EC.

According to the Constitution, the election committee, which was elected in October, is given 90 days, from the time it assumes office, to conduct elections for the new board. GHAMRO says it is on course to deliver its mandate despite the changes in the schedule.

GHAMRO was established under Section 49 of the Copyright Law of 2005 and is regulated by the Ministry of Justice. The body is mandated with the collection and distribution of royalties on behalf of authors, composers, and other rightsholders. 

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TuneCore Expands Into Africa With New Hires In Nigeria And South Africa

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Onuchukwu will be based in Nigeria and oversee countries in West Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia

TuneCore, one of the leading digital music distribution and publishing administration company for independent artists, has launched operations in Africa.

Jade Leaf has been hired as head of TuneCore for Southern Africa and will share responsibility for key countries in East Africa with Chioma Onuchukwu, who has been hired as head of TuneCore for West Africa. Both Leaf and Onuchukwu will be reporting to Faryal Khan-Thompson, vice president international of TuneCore.

Onuchukwu will be based in Nigeria and oversee countries in West Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. Additionally, she will look after Tanzania and Ethiopia in East Africa. Leaf’s territory encompasses Southern Africa, including South Africa — where she will be based. She will also cover Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Lesotho. Leaf will also manage TuneCore operations in East African countries Kenya and Uganda.

“I am elated to be joining a renowned, independent music distribution powerhouse, especially in an incredible era for music creators in Africa at a time when we are gaining global recognition and increasing momentum,” says Chioma Onuchukwu. “I look forward to collaborating with and supporting local artists.”

Prior to joining TuneCore, Onuchukwu was marketing manager at uduX Music, a music streaming platform in Nigeria. There, she worked directly with popular African artists such as Davido, Yemi Alade, Patoranking, Kizz Daniel and more.

Jade Leaf says: “I am incredibly excited to join the team in a time where the global conversation is around independence and ownership. TuneCore opens up a world of potential for independent artists at every level of their careers. Africa is home to a diverse range of artists who are seeking a reliable distribution service who understands their local needs and can ultimately give them the opportunity to turn their art into commercial success.”

Jade Leaf has been hired as head of TuneCore for Southern Africa

Previously, Leaf worked at Africa’s largest pay TV operator, Multichoice, as the marketing manager for youth and music channels. She led brand re-imaging and marketing efforts for Channel O. Before that, she worked at Sony Music Entertainment Africa, focusing on African artists and content, as well as numerous marketing campaigns and projects for local and international artists.

There has been a rise in the uptake of streaming services in Africa. The growth has been attributed to several factors such as an increase in internet penetration via smartphones, the entrance of international and local streaming platforms in key territories and, its youth population — more than 60% of African’s are under the age of 25.

In 2020, TuneCore saw an increase in music releases globally, with more African artists opting to use the DIY distributor. These artists include Kofi Mole from Ghana, Small Doctor in Nigeria, Spoegwolf in South Africa, Mpho Sebina in Botswana and Fena Gitu in Kenya.

TuneCore, owned by Paris-based Believe, has been expanding its international operations. The distributor increased from serving 5 countries in 2020, to 8 countries and 3 major regions in 2021 — India, Russia and Brazil were added last year and this year LATAM, Southeast Asia and Africa are 3 major regions. The company’s website is localised for each of the 8 countries and translated into 13 languages.

Khan-Thompson, VP of TuneCore, says: “Africa is an extremely exciting music market with a lot of potential for growth. By hiring Jade and Chioma to lead our efforts, TuneCore is well positioned to maximize opportunities for independent artists across the continent. Both Chioma and Jade bring a wealth of experience and genuine interest in helping artists make their dreams come true. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have two incredible women representing the TuneCore brand in the continent”

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Jay Z Sells 50 Per Cent Of His ‘Ace Of Spades’ Champagne Company To LVMH

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Jay-Z and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE are joining forces in the Champagne business, further cementing the alliance between the world of hip-hop and luxury as the Covid-19 pandemic saps sales of the festive wine world-wide.

LVMH, the world’s biggest producer of Champagne, has taken a 50% stake in Armand de Brignac, the high-end Champagne brand owned by Jay-Z, the rapper and mogul. The brand, one of the youngest in the famed sparkling-wine region, is known for its metallic bottles that cost hundreds of dollars each.

The investment, LVMH and Jay-Z said, is aimed at growing Armand de Brignac through LVMH’s global distribution networks while drawing upon the conglomerate’s resources within Champagne wine country. It comes at a difficult moment for Champagne: The pandemic caused the cancellation of weddings, soirees and other occasions to pop corks, cutting sales of the wine by about 20% last year. The two sides didn’t disclose the value of the transaction.

“We were working really hard to maintain a brand that was growing faster than the staff we had and bigger than some of the expertise we had,” Jay-Z, born Shawn Carter, said in an interview. “We’d been in this 15 years, not a hundred.”

The partnership shows how European luxury brands are now embracing Black recording artists and hip-hop culture to appeal to a younger, more diverse clientele. Rihanna and LVMH launched a cosmetics line, Fenty Beauty. The rapper Gucci Mane and his namesake brand, the Italian fashion house Gucci, have collaborated on a collection. Dior, an LVMH brand, has used the rapper A$AP Rocky as a featured model in several menswear collections. Streetwear has become a staple of luxury fashion.

Read full article on The Wall Street Journal.

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Apple Launches Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers

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As part of Apple’s ongoing commitment to empower the Black community and dismantle barriers to opportunity, today the company is welcoming leaders and their teams from 13 app companies as the inaugural cohort of Entrepreneur Camp for Black Founders and Developers.

In 2019, Apple held its first-ever Entrepreneur Camp, an immersive tech lab for app-driven companies founded and led by developers from underrepresented backgrounds, with a class of women founders and developers. Program participants have gone on to secure major funding rounds, garner numerous awards and accolades, and significantly expand both their teams and app users worldwide.

The program is designed to give developers the opportunity to take their existing app experience to the next level by mastering new technical skills, applying a critical lens to the user experience, and more through hands-on technology labs, one-on-one code-level guidance from Apple experts and engineers, and mentorship, inspiration, and insights from top Apple leaders.

“These incredible app creators and business leaders embody the entrepreneurial spirit that runs so deep in the Black community.”

Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives

In addition, Apple is partnering with Harlem Capital, an early-stage venture capital firm based in New York that invests in diverse founders, to offer guidance and mentorship to the participants. This new partnership is part of Apple’s $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI), which builds on the company’s work to advance racial equity in education, the economy, and the criminal justice system. These commitments aim to expand opportunities for communities of colour across the country and to help build the next generation of diverse leaders.

“These incredible app creators and business leaders embody the entrepreneurial spirit that runs so deep in the Black community,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, who leads REJI. “Their work already demonstrates the power of coding to build a better world, and we’re honoured to support them as they blaze a trail we know so many more will follow.”

Meet the CURATORS on APPLE MUSIC.

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