We had the pleasure of meeting Harriet Tinka a few years ago. From the moment we met her, we could feel her warm, confident, and inspiring nature. Harriet is an accomplished model, survivor, entrepreneur, author, speaker, and is dedicated to helping and inspiring the lives of others. Today, on International Women’s Day, we are excited to share more about her and her organization, EmpoweredMe.
Digital Link (DL): Please tell us about yourself.
Harriet Tinka (HT): I was born to Alice and James Tinka in the small, isolated town of Hoima, Uganda. My parents stressed the importance of a good education. Although they had financial success in Uganda to provide us with education, safety and increased opportunity, my parents left behind a relatively comfortable life. They moved all seven of us children to Canada.
In winter, with only four suitcases, we arrived in Edmonton to start our new life. This bold move resulted in me pursuing multiple successful career paths. In between these, I faced significant challenges which changed me forever.
As a teenager, I followed my passion of becoming a professional model. While still an international model, I followed through on a commitment to my parents and began my formal education at the University of Calgary. My world then revolved around photoshoots and walking the runways of New York during the summers and school the rest of the year.
But my world changed. I was savagely kidnapped, stabbed and left for dead by a male classmate at the University. I was initially embittered during my healing, but I chose hope, not hate, and learned to forgive.
Today, I use my years of experience in international and local modelling to improve lives. I began teaching extensively in modelling schools to help models boost their self-esteem, overcome negative self-talk, and love themselves unconditionally.
Determined to have a constructive influence on the lives of others, I left the agency. I became intentional and developed a Signature Program™ called “The Power of Twelve.” Today, I have touched thousands of lives and made a difference. I am a certified Life Coach, Founder of Empowered Me Inc and Chartered Professional Accountant.
I am also a football official. I run timed ultramarathons (161 km races) and am involved in several military challenges every year. Additionally, I am a four times Bestselling author, Philanthropist, recipient of the Woman of Distinction award, Global Women of Vision, Afro Canadian Community Woman of the Year, Rotary Integrity Award Recipient, and a Toastmaster Divisional Champion.
I describe my life as coming from tragic to magic.-Harriet Tinka
DL: Tell us about EmpoweredMe, and why you started it.
HT: EmpoweredMe is a social enterprise company designed to teach young girls and women resiliency and emotional intelligence. I developed a Signature Program™ called “The Power of Twelve.” It transforms peoples’ lives and liberates them personally and professionally. The program reveals how to speak, act, and show up for yourself and others. I started the company because my vision is to generate a world where every person feels valued, self-assured, empowered, and never faces isolation, negativity, fear, or dis-empowerment.
DL: What has been the most significant barrier in your career?
HT: My biggest challenge was getting funding for my business. I had the mindset of a new entrepreneur who uses money as an excuse not to get started. New entrepreneurs often say, “I don’t have money to get my business going.” I kept using that as an excuse.
It was later that I realized that funding wasn’t the issue. It was my mindset. To get started as an entrepreneur, you don’t need funding. You need a customer. Once you find someone who buys your product, for instance, at $10, do it ten times and find ten more customers and repeat. Now you have $100 repeat, now you have $1,000 and on and on. This principle is the principle all successful companies use. I have grown my company exponentially using this.
DL: What advice would you give your younger self?
HT: I would say to her: “Learn to have conversations with yourself and ask yourself every day; how can I be an instrument of love and kindness? Also, ask a lot of questions and listen to the responses.”
DL: Who is your mentor?
HT: Finding the right mentor is essential. I don’t have a mentor per se. I continue to learn from many thought leaders past and present such as Simon Sinek, Elon Musk, Wayne Dyer, Vusi Thembekwayo and Lisa Nichols, to name a few. Their stories are relatable, and they have all failed forward.
DL: Have you ever been discouraged that you thought about quitting, and what encouraged you not to give up?
HT: Yes, there were times I wanted to throw in the towel. It was a month of not getting clients. I wasn’t making the calls, but expected to get the work. I know with everything I do, I have to be consistent. I went back to my intention and asked myself how I could serve my customers better. I made the calls and was intentional.
My clients started coming in. I encourage anyone who has self-doubt regarding starting their business just to get started. The worst regret to have later in life is to wish you had tried. I encourage anyone who has a goal to attempt it even if they fail.
If you want to start a business, ask, “what problem am I solving?”-Harriet Tinka
DL: What projects are you currently working on?
HT: I believe in empowering women. For it to be a complete equation, we need to understand men. For that reason, I will be launching a Men’s Podcast this month called: The Stigmas Series: “I Am Still a Champion.” The focus is on Men’s Mental Health.
I also have another podcast focusing on youth: The Authenticity Series: The Dandy Lion Perspective.
Additionally, the Signature Program for pre-teens and youth is offered monthly. The program’s primary focus is to improve self-esteem and self-leadership.
We want to thank Harriet for sharing her wisdom and experiences with us. Today, and everyday, we celebrate the incredible women of our community, and wish you a Happy International Women’s Day!
Do you know of a talented, skilled, and inspiring person in our community? Reach out to us on social media if you would like to recommend for a future feature!