Yewande Faloyin, Founder and CEO of OTITỌ Executive Leadership Coaching, is dedicated to empowering entrepreneurial leaders to accelerate to their next level of success.
After experiencing burnout in the corporate world, Yewande left her job unsure of where she would head next. During this reflective phase, she took time exploring her interests and discovered the world of coaching—seeing it as her “ikigai”—a Japanese concept referring to one’s “reason for being.” Now, Yewande is a coach for high-achieving leaders. She helps her clients identify their uniqueness and step into their greatness.
We asked Yewande about the founding story behind OTITỌ, the most unexpected moment of her entrepreneurial journey, and how she’s grown as a leader since starting her business.
Q: Tell us the story behind your company’s founding. How and why did you start working on OTITỌ Executive Leadership Coaching?
A: The journey that led to me founding my executive coaching business was totally unexpected and, at the same time, 100 percent obvious. In February 2018, after experiencing my second bout of burnout, I walked away from my job as a McKinsey consultant having no idea what I wanted to do, but assuming I’d find a job working at another company. Whether it was the burnout, my inner voice talking, or a combination of both, I made the strange decision to forgo my usual methodical planning in favor of taking a more organic route to my next job. So I did two things—I booked a yoga teacher training course and I decided that I wanted every action I took to be an expression of who I was. My only requirement was to explore, experience, try, and say yes to anything or anyone that piqued my interest. This led me down a path that led to an acquaintance who told me they thought I’d be a great coach. I replied, “That’s great, but I need a real job.” However, it wasn’t long before I discovered that coaching was my “ikigai.” Before I knew it, I had pilot clients and I’d incorporated my business.
Q: What are some of the most meaningful impacts your business has had so far?
A: I feel grateful to say that my business allows me to have the type of impact that I want. Our mission is to help everyone we partner with unlock their limitless leadership potential, from clients and colleagues to peers and followers. One of my most meaningful client interactions was helping a client on her journey from being a burnt-out, overworked, and disconnected consultant to a self-assured, energized, purpose-driven business owner who now produces films. Another was supporting a client to shift his anger and frustration at not being rewarded by his boss into a more constructive place that allows him to better communicate his value, build a more collaborative relationship with his boss, and enjoy his work again. I also work with businesses. Last year I helped a £2 billion hedge fund that had increased its staff by 50 percent in the middle of the pandemic create a clear vision of their purpose and culture, and improve how they work together as a team during a difficult period.
Q: In what ways has your upbringing or past experiences contributed to how you operate as an entrepreneur?
A: I actively and consciously embrace my upbringing and past experiences in how I lead and run my business. Having worked in leading consulting, banking, and tech organizations for over a decade, I’ve had the privilege of seeing what helps businesses create long-term success. I combine my know-how in strategy, finance, operations, systems, and processes with the nimbleness of being a relatively small entrepreneurial business to create an efficient yet highly adaptive business with strong foundations. I have also had the privilege of growing up in eight cities in four countries on three continents. I attended nine different schools before the age of 17. As you can imagine, I am pretty adaptive and able to communicate with and quickly connect with people of all backgrounds. While many people find change challenging, I am more likely to embrace it, which is a critical attribute for both entrepreneurship and leadership.
Q: What’s been the most unexpected part of your entrepreneurial journey?
A: The most unexpected part of my entrepreneurial journey so far is how effortless it has been. Don’t get me wrong; there have been and will be challenging situations. If there weren’t, I’d probably be bored. However, the journey has just clicked. I believe this is because I took that first step from a place of true connection to my “ikigai”—my strengths, passions, and values—and with an approach that integrated my business with my life in a way I’d never done before. Prior to my business, the rest of my life had always revolved around my professional career. I intentionally created my business to complement the life that I want. I feared my ambition and success would suffer. Instead, they have only grown, as has my creativity, focus, enjoyment, impact, fulfillment, and satisfaction.
Q: Have you struggled with self doubt as an entrepreneur? How do you navigate this?
A: 100 percent. I don’t know a single entrepreneur who does not experience self-doubt at some point—and I’ve worked with hundreds of extremely successful professionals, leaders, and business owners. My self-doubt was less about whether I could create a successful business or not, and was more about whether I could create the type of business that would enable me to have the impact that I want in a way that integrated with the life that I wanted. I navigated this simply by investing in coaching for myself pretty much continuously for the first three years of my business. I still do that now. Instead of trying to wish or force my self-doubt away, my coaches helped me get to the root of my self-doubt and use techniques to not only suppress them but properly resolve them.
Q: We dare you to brag. What achievements are you most proud of?
A: I am most proud of creating a financially-successful and profitable business that enables me to create the type of impact that I want to have, all while living the life that I want. I work four days a week, take multiple two- and three-week holidays a year, while working from anywhere in the world—all while remaining ambitious, hungry, and excited for the future.
Some additional brags I’m proud of include being the only other speaker at an event, alongside Lord Seb Coe, inspiring professionals around the world to reach their potential, interviewing Dame Sally Davies, the former chief medical officer for England, and, most importantly, quitting my highly-sought after, secure job to bet on myself and choose what I needed at that moment.
Q: How have you grown as a leader since starting your company? What experiences have contributed to this growth?
A: As a leader, the most significant area of growth that I’ve seen in myself is in my leadership mindset. Yes, I’ve grown across areas that you would naturally expect from a business leader—decision-making, executive presence, focus, confidence, strategy, execution, people leadership, and thought leadership. However, I could not have imagined when I started my company how much stronger my mindset would become and how that would accelerate my success, satisfaction, and fulfillment levels across all areas of my life.
However, that mindset growth wasn’t inevitable. I see many entrepreneurs and business owners struggle. I was fortunate to have received advice from fantastic mentors who shared what propelled them forward, which is also what propelled me forward: choosing to invest in myself. As scary as it was to invest a substantial amount of time, energy, and money on a coach when I’d barely made any revenue, that experience taught me the power of betting on myself. Because that is what investing is; betting on yourself. Even the investments that didn’t yield the exact results I wanted still created breakthroughs that propelled me forward. It’s continuously worked for me, so I keep doing it.
Q: What have you learned about building a team and a support network around yourself?
A: My team and my support network not only help me accelerate my success; they make this journey of business ownership and entrepreneurship that much more enjoyable. I have been extremely fortunate in finding and connecting with my tribe along the way. I have also been intentional. I believe that everybody is a leader and I adopt that belief with my team, whether it’s my experienced marketing lead who I’ve worked with for two years or an intern on day one. This helps me get the most out of them. By knowing my strengths, passions, and values and understanding other people’s, I intentionally bring people into my tribe with similar values and find opportunities to create magic within our complementary strengths and passions.
Q: How would you describe the journey you’ve had in a few sentences? Would you do it all over again?
A: My journey so far has been an absolute blessing. It has been enlightening, fun, challenging, self-affirming, unexpected, effortless, and so much more. I would 100 percent do it all over again and wouldn’t change a single thing.
Q: What’s next for you and OTITỌ Executive Leadership Coaching?
A: Lean scale. I am so proud of what we’ve done so far and now it’s about scaling exponentially to help more people unlock their limited leadership potential. We are currently scaling private coaching for leaders, as well as our Limitless Leaders Programme to help professionals who feel frustrated and exhausted by unrewarded efforts learn how to communicate their value for greater impact and reward. All mixed in with fun, enjoyment, good health, and great relationships.
Yewande is a member of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies the entrepreneurial pursuits of extraordinary women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection, and access. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.