Christabel Ikpen is a Nigerian entrepreneur, International Speaker, Life Coach, Influencer and Mental Health advocate. She is the Founder and CEO of Christabel Ikpen Consulting, a company that provides management services to help both individuals and organizations improve their performance and efficiency.
In our interview with Christabel we discussed her entrepreneurial journey and work as a mental health advocate.
Hello Christabel, and thank you for participating in this Q&A session. We would like to start this interview by exploring your origin story. Please give us an overview of your background and career journey to date?
Christabel: Thank you for having me. My name is Christabel Ikpen and I run a management consultancy that provides management services to help both individuals and organizations improve their performance and efficiency.
I am also a certified Life-coach, Brand expert, LinkedIn influencer, Global Speaker, Mental Health Advocate, and Author of a self-help book on Mental health awareness titled “FREEDOM”, which addresses possible ways of dealing with depression based on my experiences.
I’ve collaborated with Vijona Africa, YMCA - Nigeria chapter, NGO – We Listen (India) to mention a few, and have been blessed to grace a lot of corporate stages. I have a knack for Personal Development that’s why I decided to be a Personal development coach.
I’ve been featured by StratoCure India, Leading Ladies Africa, and Africa Fortune Magazine, where I talked about my struggles with depression, managing my business, and also breaking barriers. I’m value-oriented because I believe by so doing a lot of lives could be transformed. I’d love to see myself as a source of inspiration to many people and I genuinely feel blessed and grateful for the opportunity to do what I enjoy doing best - impacting lives. I’m also an advocate for reading, education, women's rights and I enjoy traveling the world – seeing new places, experiencing different cultures.
Has your career journey been influenced by any past or present business leaders?
Christabel: Absolutely! I've been fascinated with P.T Barnum and Walt Disney. I mean, these were people that showed great courage even in the face of adversity. Take for example P.T Barnum, he was a genius. I know a lot of people might not agree because over the years he has been called a con man. However, you can't dispute his creativity. He is known as the Shakespeare of advertising. Reading about him and of course, watching the greatest showman movie, just showed a man who was willing to make things happen, and not only that, he knew how to get his desired audience's attention! That's world-class if you'd ask me.
The other business leader that continues to have a great influence on me, especially as an entrepreneur, is Walt Disney. I am a storyteller, so it's easy to see why I admire him. His work has shown the value of heart and creativity in business. These are the two people that continue to have a great influence on me as a business owner myself.
Why did you become an Influencer?
Christabel: To make money!! haha! Okay, apart from making money, the joy that comes with being part of something great, being the brand that pushes out exciting business ideas or openings, is just amazing! Most importantly, it's the ability to use your influence for the greater good that is most rewarding.
The fact that you inspire people that you probably haven't met, is a good feeling. That to me is the best part of influencing, using your space or name for something good!
Why did you choose LinkedIn as your preferred platform for content creation?
Christabel: Choosing LinkedIn as my preferred platform was a no-brainer. For one, the algorithm-reach of content is better than other social media platforms. Secondly, that's where my target audiences are. I am a personal development coach, Speaker, and Trainer. LinkedIn is the best platform for me to reach out to my target audience.
As a content creator, please tell us what process you go through to ensure the content you post online is ethical and doesn’t cause harm?
Christabel: This is a very valid question because if you aren't careful as a content creator, your articles could be misinterpreted, and that can be disastrous to you and your brand.
There are several rules I follow when creating content, these are:
1. I avoid controversial issues like politics, religion, etc.
2. I try not to impose my ideas on people. So, you can't read an article or content from me urging you to do a particular thing. I leave the decision-making to the audience.
3. I am an empathetic writer. I choose my words carefully and I write or create my content with almost everyone in mind. I'm not self-absorbed.
4. I also tell a joke or two. This helps to make the readers feel at ease.
5. I write more uplifting content or share life hack secrets. People want to be encouraged. Life can be hard, so I prefer to uplift with my content and not make people feel miserable.
What’s the story behind your passion for Mental Health advocacy?
Christabel: I struggled with depression for a very long time. I even got suicidal at a point, and as I always say, that was the darkest phase of my life. The most difficult part for me during this ordeal was not having people to confide in. Almost everyone I met dismissed me, I don't blame them.
In Nigeria, mental health issues aren't taken seriously and I think that is a cultural thing. It's good to know that we have a lot of people advocating for mental health now. I knew that I had to share my experience with people, especially those that are confused and feel alone. It prompted me to write my book - Freedom, which was just like a handbook for overcoming depression based on my battle with mental health illness.
Mental health is still a taboo topic in most parts of Africa, what can be done to change this?
Christabel: According to the Vanguard (2019), Nigeria ranked 15th in the world for suicide and it's projected to rise.
This is very alarming! I believe what can be done to change this narrative especially in Africa is for people to be properly educated on what mental health illnesses are.
In some parts of Africa, they consider people with mental health challenges as being demonic. Some cultures go as far as stigmatizing people with mental health challenges.
When I was writing my book on depression, a friend of mine asked me if I wanted to talk about my struggles with depression. He was scared that I won't get married. He felt that I would be stigmatized for sharing my story. Now, can you imagine how many people are keeping quiet about their struggles because of the fear of being stigmatized? We need to get to that point as a continent where people won't be judged for feeling a certain way, and that can only happen if we truly understand what mental health illnesses are.
Being depressed doesn't mean a person is condemned or damned. With the proper support and care, they will be fine. In a nutshell, we all have a part to play. Let's have more of these conversations, teach them in schools, stop stigmatization, Invest in mental health awareness programs or workshops, let's be our neighbor's keeper, let's be empathetic and kind.
Please tell us what your book ‘Freedom’ is about, and who the target audience is?
Christabel: “Freedom- My Journey on Overcoming Depression” is based on my journey on overcoming depression and the practical steps I took that helped me get past that terrible phase of my life. It's packed with powerful insights, real stories that would speak to the reader and cause a positive shift in their thinking.
The book will help readers:
Understand what depression is;
Prepare them on the journey and give insights on what to expect;
It identifies the possible causes of depression;
It suggests practical ways of dealing with depression.
The book is for everyone. Be you an adolescent, teenager, or an adult.
We have come to the end of the interview, and would like to thank you for participating in this Q&A session.
Christabel: Thank you
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