We’re back with the third installment of our Origin™ Sneak Peek, and this week I’m highlighting one of our Origin™ Empresses through a beautiful Q&A. The women from our community are amazing, and they are the embodiment of what Origin™ is and stands for. I’m in awe of all they’re doing, and I’m so honored to be able to highlight the work that one of our incredible Empresses, Titilayo Tinubu Ali, is doing in the world.
Titilayo is a mom to 2-year-old twin boys, and she’s built a full-time career as an attorney, writer, researcher, and philanthropic adviser in the field of education.
The way she’s honoring her lineage and holding the door open for others, specifically women of color, absolutely blows me away and inspires me to think even bigger about the kind of impact that we all can have. I’m also humbled by the way she’s incorporating the teachings of Origin™ in her life and business to thrive.
Read Titilayo’s incredible story below.
1. What’s your business?
There are two strands of my work. I’m an independent consultant to nonprofits, philanthropists, and governments on education-related issues. I conduct research studies, author and co-author books and articles, and advise people on how to create and support education policies and practices—from inside the home to Capitol Hill—that serve the best interests of kids. I’ve long dreamt about scaling this work up to making it a firm (and even started down that road last year), but I’ve decided to simplify and just keep it small, solo, and mighty for right now.
I’m also founder of Own Your Expertise where I teach women of color business skills so that they can rise into greater leadership on their jobs and transition into entrepreneurship whenever they want to or need to. My flagship offering is a group coaching program that takes you through the habit changes and practical how-tos of transitioning from a 9-to-5 into working for yourself, so you can monetize your skills and gain the freedom to work on your own terms.
2. What’s your website?
I’m happy to say I don’t have a website for my consulting work and run it in a very “do less” way.
You can learn more about Own Your Expertise at ownyourexpertise.co.
3. What is your mission and why? (If it’s helpful for you to share your full story, feel free to write as much as you’d like!)
My father immigrated to the U.S from Nigeria to pursue his goal of becoming an engineer, and my mother, the daughter of a farmer and a maid, was born on a former plantation in South Carolina. My grandparents were determined to give my mom the education they didn’t have, and my mom went on to become the first in her family to go to college. This was the first of many firsts—my mom was the first African-American woman to earn a master’s degree in agricultural economics from Clemson University and later the first African-American, male or female, to receive a Ph.D. in applied economics from Clemson. She is also the first African-American woman in South Carolina to win her party’s nomination for Congress. My dad fulfilled his vision and has become a sought-after engineer who has, among other things, managed the redesign of the Toronto Transit Commission which was voted the best transit project in North America under his leadership.
Personally and professionally, my parents’ stories have driven me to pursue excellence in my own education—both as a way to honor my lineage and to hold the door open for others. I graduated from Spelman College with honors and then earned my master’s in education policy from Columbia University and my law degree from UC Berkeley.
With my upbringing also came a deep conviction that helping others access the same opportunities we had, and even more and better opportunities, was just part of the deal. My parents have always been very involved in civics and community development. My mom was involved in state and local politics and worked to set up affordable housing so homeless people wouldn’t be displaced when the Olympics came to Atlanta. My parents let students who couldn’t afford college room and board stay in our guest room. Our whole family spent Saturday mornings knocking on doors campaigning for political candidates and drove people to the polls on Election Day. These were all just things we did.
So, education and creating opportunities for others was the center of our household, and I saw with my own eyes how both could change the trajectory of a whole generation. Now, I see kid versions of my mom and dad in all of the work I do, and I just have this deep belief that a person can be one interaction, opportunity, or educational experience away from opening up a world of possibilities that were otherwise unimaginable for themselves and future generations.
For sure, education isn’t all that needs to be done. Our criminal justice system needs fixing. The vestiges of slavery and institutional racism persist. Communities are still recovering from generations of illiteracy that resulted from school houses throughout the South chaining their doors in protest against Brown v. Board of Education and refusing to educate black children while opening exclusive schools for white children.
So, the education piece is just one part of the puzzle. But I’m clear that this is my part, and I plan to spend my life advancing access to education from as many angles as I can. I even see my work at Own Your Expertise as expanding access to business education so that women of color can exercise more agency over their lives.
4. How long have you been in business?
I’ve been a consultant for the past 15 years, and I launched Own Your Expertise in February 2017.
5. How many kids do you have and what are their ages?
I have two-year-old twin boys who are the best education I’ve ever had.
6. What were you struggling with in mothering and business before you heard about Origin™?
I’ve inhabited predominantly male spaces in my career, and I grew up as the only daughter in a predominantly male household with three brothers. To my mom and dad’s credit, I never once thought that I couldn’t do or be anything because I was a woman—they made sure of that. But at the same time, I didn’t grow up seeing womanhood as an asset but rather something to be toned down, covered up, or managed.
It really wasn’t until I got pregnant with my boys and realized just how much I didn’t know about birth and womanhood that I began to put myself through a self-education to understand all that it meant to be a woman bringing two lives into this world. To be honest, I was pissed that in all of the education I had received, no one had shared any of this information with me before. I stumbled upon a podcast interview with Alisa Vitti which led me down a path of immersing myself in the work of Dr. Christiane Northrup, Toni Weschler, and others.
So I was just coming to the knowledge of the power of womanhood, and struggling with first seeing my cycle, hormonal makeup, and feminine energy at all, and then seeing it as an asset in my work.
7. What had you say yes to joining Origin™?
During Kate’s launch content (I think it was the first video), she talked about the innate reasons why mothers make the best business owners, and a light bulb went off. For the first time, I didn’t feel like I was striving to be something I wasn’t or that someone was pushing me to adopt a framework that wasn’t aligned with the life I want to lead. I felt “held,” as Kate would say, and for once felt like there was someone who got me, someone I could trust to share guidance, resources, and wisdom to support me in creating the life I desire.
8. What have been the most helpful parts of Origin™ so far? (Please be as specific as possible.)
The Maven Masterclasses are golden. The depth and honesty of each guest and Kate’s masterful interviewing skills are so helpful in drawing out the specifics of how women are navigating and re-imagining motherhood and business ownership. All of the Origin™ content strikes this beautiful balance between inspiration and pragmatism.
The community is overflowing with wisdom, and the boundaries Kate and her team set in the Facebook guidelines have really made it a place where it’s OK to be whoever you are, wherever you are. I especially love the guideline of not giving advice unless someone specifically asks for it, and the accompanying guideline of being crystal clear when you’re seeking advice. As mothers, we are so often at the receiving end of unsolicited advice, and sometimes we just want and need to be seen and heard. I think the group is a beautiful container for safe sharing and the exchange of deep wisdom. Thanks for that.
9. Where are you in your business and mothering as a result of being part of Origin™? (Please be as specific as possible.)
As a mother of two growing boys, a wife and business partner to my awesome husband, and a working professional nurturing two businesses, I have to be a fierce protector of my time and energy. It’s essential that I have resources that nourish me and that I have the efficiency of knowing there’s a wise, trusted place I can turn to when I have questions. Being apart of Origin™ has given me the speed and efficiency of accessing wisdom on motherhood and business, along with the discernment to know what’s right for me given the season I’m in. The Origin™ framework helps me turn down the noise so that I can filter through what fits with where I am in my personal cycle and where my life and business are in their own cycles.
I’m also getting better at accepting help now that I realize that I am enough and I don’t have to be and do all of the things. It was inspiring to listen to Briana Borten’s masterclass and see an example of a woman building a multifaceted empire with grace, joy, and ease. Hearing some of the nuggets she shared has helped as I’m currently in the process of refining my systems for both of my businesses. From the gate, I’m approaching my business from the perspective of hiring a team, which will allow me to operate in my zone of genius and expand the reach of both businesses to serve more people.
I’m also getting better at accepting help on a personal level. We relocated from DC to Denver and then to Atlanta to be closer to family and be in community. Instead of feeling like we have to do and be everything ourselves, I (and my husband without really calling it that) have been practicing “egg wisdom” and allowing ourselves to receive the help from family members who offer to care for the boys and are showing up for us in all kinds of sweet ways to help us get settled into our new home.
10. Where would you be if you hadn’t joined this membership?
I’d probably be a hot mess on Google, searching for resources that align with my vision for my family, my business, and the world, yet coming up short. At Origin™, I know that alignment is there and I don’t have to filter through advice and tactics that aren’t right for me.
11. What are you excited for other women to experience as a part of Origin™?
I’m excited for other women to uncover their power and see the magic in not just what they’ve done, but in who they are. I’m thrilled for them to realize that nothing is wrong with them and they are exactly where they should be.
12. Anything else you’d like to share?
Particularly during these gnarly political times, Kate’s leadership in creating space for conversation, pulling back the curtain on her own growth, and not shying away from voicing the deep wounds that need to be healed in our society has made Origin™ feel like a safe space to sit in the discomfort of it all. So, thank you, Kate.
OVER TO YOU:
What did Titilayo’s story unearth in you? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!