Inside Digital: Lola Bakare – How This Social Media Strategist Launched Her Own Company

Lola Bakare_Inside Digital via CailaKSpeaks

Lola Bakare

Lead Marketing Strategist – LOLA Consulting

How did you get your start in brand and content marketing?

It’s been as simple as following my passions. As an undergrad at Penn, I couldn’t have told you what marketing was (English major here!), but I now realize that it had always been a passion of mine. While literary analysis is about compelling a change in how people think, marketing is about compelling a change in how people behave. When it came time to look for jobs senior year in college, my dear friend Alpha Mengistu encouraged me to look into consulting and brand management roles. PepsiCo took a chance on me, and from there my love affair with marketing began.

What made you decide to get your MBA and how has it propelled your career?

I was trained at PepsiCo with a group of some of the most intelligent people I’ve worked with. I quickly learned that in order to complement my soft skills with a more refined analytical mindset, an MBA was essential for me; however, deciding to pursue my MBA was only the beginning. Pepsi encourages employees to attend conferences like National Black MBA and Consortium and there I got a sense of what school would be the perfect fit for me, and there was never a doubt in my mind that it was NYU Stern. At Stern, I stumbled into an entrepreneurship course with Professor Ari Ginsberg, which played a huge role in leading me to my current path. I’ll never forget his question: “Do you want to be rich or do you want to be king?” Money is great, but control of your life and passion for what you do, literally the freedom to build your own kingdom, is much more inspiring to me than anything else.

Lola Bakare and NYU Dean Henry

Everyone nowadays claims to be a social media strategist. How do you legitimately hone your expertise?

Stay ahead of the trends and know how to do the lonely work! I spend a ton of time reading industry news and spend at least 20% of most days engaged in the study of how to best empower my clients to use social media tactics to achieve their business goals. 

Tell us about your decision to found Lola Consulting and what is a typical day like?

You know, it just kind of happened. Working at The Daily DotI learned to connect stories with business growth and learned the basics of social media marketing and analysis. However, I found it challenging to work in an environment lacking in diversity, and saw some of my confidence seep away. When I began looking for an exit, the opportunity to work with multiple clients presented itself and I went with it.

On a typical day, I manage and implement paid social media spend, work with clients on branding documents, work with designers, write website copy, work with my team of writers on blogging projects, meet with clients to go over results and devise next steps, and spend time drafting recommendations and timelines for approval before diving into implementation mode. 

What’s been the lowest moment in your career thus far and how did you persevere?

My summer internship during business school. It’s a great company with great people, but from being the only black intern placed on an African American focused marketing project to struggling with a culture that was much different from the openness of Pepsi and Stern, I simply did not feel like myself and my performance reflected that. I made some great friends and learned a lot about the professional culture that works for me. I also learned that it is very important to be honest with yourself. I took a “sexy” job that was pretty much still in the CPG space, when I knew that wasn’t what I wanted. I took the easy way out, and I paid for it.

What are the biggest career tips you would offer a young Lola?

1. Break a sweat, everyday, in the beginning of the day.

2. Follow Julia Cameron’s advice and write those morning pages! (Google the Artist’s Way if you aren’t familiar. It’s everything.)

3. Forgive yourself for mistakes quickly, and move on.

4. Get rid of the word should. I wish I had trained myself earlier on to decide what I will and won’t do, and stick with the consequences of those decisions!

5. Never love anything, or anyone more than yourself. Self love is the key to leading a healthy life. 

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