Ngozi Princewill Utchay is a speaker, an author, image advisor and trainer with a keen desire to help executives, rising professionals, women and entrepreneurs optimise their image and presence through etiquette, image consulting and personal branding. She is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Artelier Lifestyle Consultants. An African art collector, award-winning amateur artist and avid reader, Ngozi is widely travelled and speaks six languages, with plans to learn Mandarin. She has also served as the Executive Director of the Prime Group (which includes the Prime Chinese Restaurant) for the past seventeen years.
Childhood and influence till date
My childhood was fun, as I grew up in a fairly large family, and we always had relatives who lived with us so there was never a dull moment. It was also a very cosmopolitan upbringing. From an early age, I was exposed to different cultures which influenced my world view significantly. My family background definitely exposed me to the ideals that I now teach. For instance, even though it was a very privileged upbringing, we were taught the importance of treating everyone we meet with respect and dignity, be they household staff or royalty. My vocation is helping people optimise their social image and impressions through Etiquette, Image and Personal Branding. Perception still defines reality for many people, and you do not get a second chance to make a first impression. However, we all have the ability to influence perceptions in our favour and this is what I teach. The response to my business has been very positive and it delights me to see the growing demand for my services, particularly Personal Branding. I am excited about that.
How do you help people optimise their image?
Image Optimisation™ is a method I developed for the objective of helping people polish and project their individual or corporate image. It is a holistic approach to building authenticity, confidence and excellence for more successful perceptions and interactions, either through business or social etiquette, dining skills tutorials, style and dress sense, public speaking coaching, personal branding and more.
Personal branding and perception
Personal branding is not just about fame or becoming a celebrity, it is a systematic process by which you communicate your unique qualities and abilities to your target audience. It helps you differentiate your skills and giftings from others such that no one doubts the value that you add. In a saturated marketplace I consider it very important. Everyone can benefit from Personal branding coaching whether they are entrepreneurs, employees, women, public figures, etc. It guarantees increased appreciation for the unique value that you add.
Experience as a facilitator for LBS
The Lagos Business School is a world class institution by all standards and it is always a pleasure and privilege to work with the diverse range of people I meet there. It is an enriching experience; the commitment to excellence is remarkable.
Experience as ED of Prime Group
It has been very instructive; learning the importance of persistence in an environment which is not necessarily the easiest in which to conduct business; or seeing a business grow from a tiny kitchen in the back of a house to a household name etc. I consider the Prime Group my unofficial business school! Client fulfilment is always top of agenda.
When and why did you set up Artelier Lifestyle Consultants and what are your core values?
Artelier Lifestyle Consultants was formally set up five years ago even though I have informally been sharing etiquette and image advice for as long as I can remember. Our mission is to help corporate and individual clients polish, project and optimise their image. Image comprises of how you look, everything you do (or do not do) as well as your brand reputation. Artelier core values are authenticity, excellence and leadership.
“How you dress determines how you will be addressed” please elaborate
The visual sense is judged the strongest in humans, and people make judgments based on what they see all the time – in split seconds literally. How they perceive you will determine how they relate to you, if they like you or feel you are credible, if they can trust you or not etc. In this case, their perception is their reality. Dressing properly is a form of etiquette and it helps you create the right first impression, which can go a long way in helping you accomplish your set goals.
How can you define Nigeria as a brand and if asked to do a rebranding, what will you propose?
The Nigerian brand is a grossly misrepresented one. It is not just Nigeria but Africa as a whole. Nigeria’s greatest strength lies in her people – diverse, hospitable, resilient and resourceful. Her greatest weakness in terms of reputation is also her people; albeit a very small percentage whose misdemeanours have caused a lot of damage to her image. There are myriads of Nigerians both at home and abroad who represent the quintessential qualities I mention above and more, and who are doing amazing things. These people should be celebrated as true representatives of the Nigerian spirit and brand for starters. Everything we do well should be front page news. This would serve to inspire others also. There are several other ways to embark upon a rebranding. But generally, enough good stories must be showcased consistently to at least begin to balance out or even erase the mostly negative perception.
The youth and etiquette
A little child of two can start being taught – of course in a way that they can understand and replicate – how to get along with other people, demonstrating kindness and consideration. Ignorance is not at all blissful as a lack of the proper etiquette is costing our youth a lot in the workplace, job interviews, in business and so on. Etiquette and good manners do not cost a thing to implement but we all know, and studies corroborate, that they really help make a difference.
It is believed in most places in Africa that women must by tradition be courteous to men…is it a one way thing?
Respect should be mutual and reciprocal for best outcomes.
The more civil we are towards each other as a society, the more successful our interactions and cohesion will be. Society needs rules to function at its best and these rules must be taught. Mutual respect and acceptance of our differences is crucial.