Women @ Work: Anuli Akanegbu of The Intersection
You ever meet a friend who feels like a soul mate? That’s exactly how I felt when I met Anuli Akanegbu a little over five years ago on Twitter. As it turned out, we’d both recently moved to Chicago from Maryland and the rest, as they say, is history.
Since that first tweet, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Anuli’s personality and career truly blossom. She’s like my creative soul sister, which is why I’m so happy to feature her as the first interview in this new monthly series.
Sit back, grab a cup of cocoa and get to know my girl, Anuli.
Name: Anuli Akanegbu
Where You Know Her From: The Intersection
I think yours was the first personal newsletter I subscribed to. What inspired you to create The Intersection?
I wanted a new creative outlet for myself. After moving to New York from Chicago, changing jobs, and dropping my freelance writing gig, I decided it was time to write in my own true voice again. Plus, folks are always asking me for recommendations of things to read, watch, and more, so I thought compiling things into a weekly newsletter would be an efficient way to field those queries. I like the idea of a newsletter because it forces me to be more consistent in writing than I was when I had a personal blog. Inboxes keep us accountable in that way, I think.
Absolutely! What do you know now that you wish you’d known back then?
Drafting a newsletter takes more time than I thought. People think it's a small lift, but between researching, drafting content, marketing, responding to subscribers and other administrative tasks, I easily spend 10 hours a week on average on the newsletter. I've been at it since 2015.
What’s the best advice you ever received and who gave it to you?
I'm a super type-A perfectionist kind of chick. A therapist once put things into perspective for me when she essentially told me to chill tf out. The way she put it was that my 70-percent effort may be someone else's 100-percent effort. I don't have to go hard on everything because my scale is different. It's not meant to be permission to slack. It's more so meant to be permission to give yourself some grace and not be so tough on yourself by giving yourself these extreme expectations to meet. That perspective has really helped me. TLDR: Chill, sis.
Yes! I remembered when you shared that with me and I was like that’s so me. We are the same. What is your personal mantra or favorite quote and why?
"You got this, sis" - Black Women. This is the standard cheerleading cry black women say to pump each other up. It's a classic that I use to pump myself up. I don't know who said it first, but everyone says it and I love it. It's simple and to the point. You. Got. This. We always think that everything is in shambles, but, we tend to downplay our ability to handle things. You can do it. You got this, sis.
What are some obstacles you faced in your career and how did you overcome them?
The biggest obstacles I've faced were in my own mind. I know you talk about this a lot, but I agree: impostor syndrome is a real thing and it can mess you up. I moved to New York partly driven by impostor syndrome.
I didn't think I had what it took to continue in a big corporate setting. I wasn't sure if I was actually good at the job I had in Chicago because the role still felt foreign to me. So, I dipped, and tried something new in a new-to-me city. All that moving only to end up working for the same company in a different city, but now in the same department I had left behind in Chicago years ago.
Now I know that if I ever stopped doing this work it won't be due to impostor syndrome because I don't feel like an impostor anymore. I thought my differences in background, thought, and perspective made me an impostor, but they are actually the things that make me stand out in the best way. People seek my counsel now because of my differences. My differences are dope. They are my magic.
I know that’s right! Trust your dopeness, always. Tell us about a time you failed or something didn’t go according to plan, what did you learn from that experience?
Whew. I don't even know where to start. I talked about a major obstacle in Vol. 142 of my newsletter. That's as good as an answer as any. I learned to never give up on myself.
One of my favorite issues to date. I really appreciate your courageous vulnerability! What keeps you going when you feel like giving up?
I think a lot about my little sister. She's turning 14 this year and I know she watches me. If I give up on myself then it's like giving her permission to give up on herself and I just can't do that. I have to continue to shine my light so girls like her can see it, so girls like my 14-year-old self can see it.
I love that! Big sisters for the win. What are you most proud of in your career or personal life thus far?
The fact that I am where I am in this very moment. Living life as a pretty free black woman. I have the freedom to choose what I want to do, when I want to do it, and how. Sure, I work a corporate job and have bills to pay, but this job affords me the freedom to do things like travel, eat what I want, and live in my own apartment. I used to think of this life as a box, but it was my mind that was in a box. I'm choosing to reframe things. I'm truly blessed to be living in this moment. My 14-year-old self would be happy. I know my sister is happy for me.
And I’m beyond happy for you, too! What do you like to do when you’re not working?
My newsletter is fun to me. It's in no way my full-time gig, so it's something I choose to do when I'm not working. I do a lot of things for fun outside of that. Some of the quirkier things include my weird obsession with watching and reading content about scammers.
I don't know what it is, but I was totally intrigued by the Anna Delvy story as well as the whole Frye Festival debacle. They are wild to me! Life is stranger than fiction. On that note, I also enjoy reading autobiographies. I recommend reading Rita Moreno's as well as Pam Grier's and Eartha Kitt's (fun fact: my cat is named Eartha). I'm currently listening to the audiobook of Becoming and also own the hard copy.
Me, too! I didn’t want it to end, especially the audiobook. It was like story time with Michelle. Last, but not least, what advice would you give your 25-year-old self?
I moved to New York when I was 25-years-old, so, wow. I would tell her to stop running and face herself. Think about what it is that she wants and to work on re-framing how she sees things. I would tell her to take more time to pause and chill. I would tell her that even though you feel out of sorts about multiple things that you will work it all out because "you got this, sis."