Interview with Abadesi Osunsade

Aislinn MahonHead of BrandHuckletree10/4/2023

This month, our Head of Brand, Aislinn Mahon sat down with the incredible Abadesi Osunsade, Founder and CEO at Hustle Crew, for a conversation around her mindset, beliefs and work that is important to her. Abadesi is an award-winning corporate leader, social entrepreneur, VC scout, startup mentor, author, podcast host and public speaker. She is also a Huckletree ambassador. You can catch her live in person on Tuesday, October 24th in Huckletree Shoreditch from 8-10am for a breakfast talk focused on Black Excellence. Tickets are going fast so grab yours now!

Hello Abadesi! You’ve had an incredibly successful career to date and have worked with some big brand names and had impressive roles. We are curious to know what does the word “success” mean to you?

This is an interesting question and one that I have been thinking a lot about lately. As I move through my career, my definition of success is evolving. I view my life in seasons. When I was starting out in my 20s, I felt a need to prove myself in the workplace, and then to prove myself as an entrepreneur. What I viewed as success then ultimately led to burnout and the need to establish boundaries. Today in my 30s I view success differently. It is linked to what brings me joy rather than success in traditional capitalist terms. I don’t let capitalism win anymore!

What are your strengths that help you succeed?

I recently took The VIA Character Strengths Survey which helped me to better understand my strengths and put words around them. The big area that stood out was my capacity to be grateful, aware and thankful for the good things that happen everyday. I can see the beauty in almost everything. I can also maintain a sense of perspective and provide wise counsel. More and more I see my ability to maintain boundaries as a key strength. A woman’s no is different to a man’s no; it doesn’t resonate in the same way and is often not accepted. This is why it’s even more important for women to establish healthy boundaries.

What does Black Excellence mean to you?

Black Excellence means being audacious and surreal in what you can achieve. This relates to so many marginalised groups. It means saying “I’m going to shine anyway. Whether you shine a spotlight on me or not I’ll be there!

Love that! How do you motivate yourself? For example, do you have a favourite mantra?

Yes! I really believe in the power of positive words. I have the app “I Am” on my phone which sends daily affirmations to help rewire our brains, build self esteem and change negative thought patterns. When I feel the need to distract myself I open the app and read a couple of powerful affirmations. A few favourites include “Done is better than perfect” - “I am in control” - “A choice is a privilege”.

Tell us more about what Hustle Crew is working on at the moment.

We are working with our clients on increasing the percentage of diverse people they hire in their businesses and we are also contributing to their DEI education through regular workshops and coaching. Before we work with a new client, we conduct a 10 point survey which helps them to assess where they stand when it comes to the DEI maturity stage of their organisation e.g. how far along they are as a team in recognising what needs to be done. This information helps us create a roadmap and realistic targets for our clients. We work with our clients on a long term basis, diversity is not a fast problem to solve. We’ve seen incredible results, for instance we have been able to help one of our clients increase their diverse hires by 800% year on year.

Finally, what change would you most like to see in the world?

I wish people were more truthful and honest with each other, instead of trying to maintain the status quo by parroting problematic narratives. And that we listened to different perspectives. At Hustle Crew, we work with people to help them understand their privileges and the power that comes with that. Many people still believe that privilege is solely linked to financial wealth. Dominant groups in society like cis gender folks and able bodied folks have more power regardless of financial status. For example, most people don’t have to explain their pronouns, or think about whether a venue is accessible to them. Everyone’s lived experience is different. I am proud to be a changemaker, and will continue to rally for change for many decades to come.

Aislinn Mahon

Aislinn is a mother, business leader and yoga teacher. As Head of Brand at Huckletree, she is a natural storyteller and loves shining a light on all of the great people and businesses working across our hubs. Aislinn is a champion of women in business, and is proud to work for a company that celebrates and promotes diversity and inclusion. She launched Huckletree in Ireland back in 2017 and is a familiar face in the Dublin tech community. Superpower: Building inner confidence and calm.