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Bliss Unlimited (continued)

Arriving at this business and this philosophy has involved journeys for both Fagbayis.
Mutiu, 43, was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and in 1973 came to Ohio to study chemical engineering at the University of Dayton. A native of the Bahamas, Pat, now 40, enrolled at Dayton a few months later in the same program.
They started dating soon after. In 1977, they married and moved to Rochester, where Pat had landed a job at Xerox Corp., while Mutiu completed his M.S. in chemical engineering at Pennsylvania State University. In 1982, Pat earned an M.S. in chemical engineering at the University of Rochester.
After five years at Xerox, Pat moved to Kodak, and has held such positions as product development engineer, process engineer, quality consultant/trainer, and supervisor of technicians and line personnel. She left Kodak in 1993 to form her own firm, the Russell Group, which became Bliss Unlimited in 1995. Her alliance with a Salt Lake City training firm, Innovations International Inc., ensures full-service support to her clients.
Pat is president of the Rochester Association for the United Nations, and an active member of the Rochester Women’s Network and the BBA. As a Kodak employee, she helped found Network North Star Inc. In 1994, she was nominated for the Rochester Athena Award, which recognizes outstanding professional women.
Mutiu joined Kodak in 1978 as a research scientist and in 1985 became a senior business research analyst in the Consumer Imaging Division. He also served as director of business research for photographic equipment.
Both were active in the local and national chapters of the Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, which included Xerox employees as well. In 1984, the group started a program to teach elementary students science and computer literacy, which later won a Presidential Citation from George Bush. The Fagbayis and the Adopt-a- School program was featured in a 1987 Kodak ad titled “If you dream it, live it” that the company used for recruitment.
In 1988, then-CEO Kay Whitmore commissioned a task force to develop Kodak strategy for improving public education at plant sites in Rochester, Tennessee, Texas and Colorado. From that, Kodak developed the Learning Challenge, which Mutiu managed. What began as an avocation, Mutiu says, became a full-time job.
In 1992, Mutiu left Kodak to become COO at NCEE. He is a member of the Oxford International Roundtable on Education Policy, the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, and a board member of the Montessori School of Rochester.
The Fagbayis have two daughters, Jumoke, 17, and Yinka, 12; a friend, Sady Fischer, 17, has been living with them for a year. Among their family activities are foreign travel; their recent trip to Egypt “exceeded even my wildest imaginings,” Mutiu says.
The Fagbayis also have traveled to Europe, Africa, Mexico and South America, and they have set their sights on Indonesia and Australia.
Other hobbies include reading, meditation, writing in their journals and having “empowering conversations.”
Pat and their daughters are undergoing final testing to become black belts, and have received awards at martial-arts competitions. Pat also is an instructor. “All three ladies protect me,” Mutiu quips.
Creating a work life that allows integration of family, leisure and volunteer activities is vital to both Fagbayis. Many consultants, they note, leave the corporate culture to create the life they want, only to keep dancing to the same drummer.
“One consultant told us that, when he was in the corporate world, he used to tend his garden,” Mutiu says. “When he was on his own and didn’t have a boss every day, his garden died. It’s a powerful metaphor. You can leave the corporate world, make wonderful contributions to society, do well financially, do everything that you want to do, as long as you see what you do as an extension of who you are and the kinds of contributions you want to make.”
Indeed, to an observer, their life appears at once harmonious and chaotic. In the midst of an interview at their home office, they take turns getting dressed, responding to questions, answering the phone, looking up data and printing documents–all the while finishing each other’s sentences and teasing each other cheerfully.
“I have always believed there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do,” Pat says. “But the way in which I (used to do) it was more ego-based, versus … wanting to be peaceful with my interactions and not wanting to damage the self-esteem of others. When I took control of those (ego) beliefs, things changed.”
Many people, they say, lack strong beliefs in their own aspirations, or wait for some outside force to make them come true. What people yearn for often are experiences rather than specific circumstances.
“In organizations,” Pat says, “people set professional goals, for example, to be the director of marketing. But if you ask them, “What experiences do you think (having that position) will bring you?’ you might find that you can have those same experiences in the financial area, or in human resources.”
Mutiu adds: “(By) being so insistent about what you want looks like, we believe you limit the possibilities. If you focus on the experience you want, you can allow the infinite organizing power of the universe to provide the experience for you. (Perhaps you can) craft other opportunities that … would give you what you really want.”
Again, everything comes down to faith in and clarity about one’s purposes.
“If all we do are the how-tos without believing totally in (our objectives), we won’t consistently get the kind of results that we want,” Mutiu says. “Invariably, in all of our seminars, we take people home to what they really believe, what they’re really about, what really drives them.”
(Rose Ericson is a Rochester-area free-lance writer.)

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