Saturday, 9 January 2016

40 in 40: The 40 people in My 40 years

It is customary to receive goodwill messages on such august occasions as one's birthday and this is great. But as I clock 40 today, I really want to say thank you to my wonderful family and friends who have been part of my journey over the years. They are so many that I cannot actually name name them all here. That notwithstanding, I want to celebrate some 40 people who have touched my lives positively in the last 40 years in many ways that I cannot forget. 

Life they say is tough but these 40 people have made it a lot easier for me. We have disagreed, fought and cried together but so also have we laughed, had fun, and progress together. They've rocked my world these 40 years. And this is my own little way of saying I cannot forget them. 

Listed in alphabetical order (with the exception of my parents and wife), please celebrate with me:

1. Chief Anthony Adebamowo 
My late dad also of blessed memory. He died in 2004 aged 69. Dad created an enabling environment that made my childhood to flourish and to be full of happy memories. He nurtured and celebrated my academic potential ensuring I studied at the best schools around. Dad went as far as taking up an educational assurance policy to insure my education up to university level when I was only aged 9. In his words, he did that to ensure my study would not be disrupted in the event of his untimely death, what a father!

2. Mrs Oyindamola Patience Adebamowo
My sweet mum of blessed memory. She died only last year aged 72. My memory of her is captured in this tribute I wrote at her funeral. My mum was a true definition of a mother.  She did ALL she knew to do as a mother for me and my siblings and that to the BEST of her ability.
It is in her memory that I am establishing an NGO (Oyindamola Adebamowo Memorial Foundation) which will be launched in the next few weeks. The Foundation is for the economic empowerment of the less privileged in Nigeria and is being set up with a modest cash gift of £6,000 (N2,000,000). Please watch this space.

3. Folasade Adebamowo
My wonderful wife of 10 years and still counting. Sade and I met while we were students at Nigeria's Obafemi Awolowo Univetsity Ile-Ife and started going out shortly before we graduated in our early twenties. My wife has been a blessing to me and our 2 adorable kids - Adeola (6) & Tola (4).
My One & Only, Sade has succeeded in cultivating an environment at home where everyone in the family blossoms effortlessly. Ever happy and smiling regardless of whatever life throws at her, my wife has has an incredible level of emotional strength that I always find amazing. With her by my side, I enjoy unparalleled rest of mind and peace at home because I know she's got my back.

4. Mr Akinbola Olamilokun
Husband to my sister Ronke, uncle Bola as we often call him has stepped in at multitude fora to act a fatherly role including at my wedding and during the funeral of my both parents. Over the years, he has challenged me with his insights, grasp of current realities, and thought-provoking questions. It was from him I learnt the difference between 'academic brilliance' and 'applied sense'. He taught the importance of 'seeking the kingdom of economy'. He introduced me to Geographical Information System (GIS) effectively influencing my career transition from Biological Sciences to IT. He sought to know why in my twenties I was traveling to the UK just to be sure I had a tangible purpose for migrating. On the eve of my departure, he set me a target of saving £10,000 upon arrival over a short timeframe, a target which I not only met but helped me in actualising my educational pursuit.
5. Anike Olasogba
Anike and I were classmates in primary school and we grew up in the same street. She was my closest childhood friend and my puppy love making our folks to label us husband and wife.  In our schooling days she was a high achieving girl with whom I constantly encountered stiff competion for the topmost position in class. Friendship with Anike brought me nothing but pleasant memories. We continued to exchange valuable ideas as well as advising and challenging each other uptil I finished from uni until the vicissitudes of life in its characteristic manner meant that phase of life had to come to an end.

6. Prince Aromolaran
Prince Aromolaran of Ilesa was a father figure I first met at Lagos airport when I was travelling to UK for the first time in my twenties. He introduced himself, struck up a conversation with me and asked to know why I was going to live in UK. I found his supportive words very welcoming. I remained in touch with for several months after my arrival. Till date some of the words of encouragement he shared with me on that day continued to reverberate in my mind. He advised me thus; "Ayo when you get to England, people will tell you lots of negative things about the country but don't ever listen to them. I'm telling you as a matter of fact that there is good in the land and if you work hard, the land will yield its good to you." When I look back to that encounter and the series of subsequent discussions we have had , I'm always grateful for the privilege of meeting with wonderful man.

7. Bayo Adeola
Smart, intelligent and jovial, Bayo was my course in uni through which we became friends. Not only was Bayo a bundle of fun to be with, he was the kind of guy you could open up freely to. He encouraged me in my academic pursuits and friendship with him made studying a lot less stressful in Great Ife than it would have been without it. Friendship with him indeed was fun, spontaneous, real and refreshing.

8. Bode Akinduro
Bode's dad & mine were friends during our days in secondary school. Confident, intelligent, focussed, and friendly, Bode to me is a very dependable friend. After leaving secondary school in 1992, our paths crossed again in UK in 2004 and we've remained friends since then. I recall an occurrence at the early stage of my postgraduate studies when without me asking, Bode read the financial challenge I was experiencing and surprised with a completely unexpected monetary gift. Bode is one of the few friends I feel free and confident to turn to rub minds with.

9. Bola Adebamowo
My kid brother and last-born of the family. Popularly called Otunba, I share many pleasant memories with Bola as we grew up and studied in the same primary school. He has done so much to help make the journey a lot easier for me, going on my behalf to places I couldn't go and putting structures in place for me.

10. Brian Biggs
I first met Brian while we were living in the same neighbourhood (Boxmoor in Hemel Hempstead). He pastors a white majority church South Hill Centre which my wife and I attended in our early days in Hertfordshire. Our little girl Adeola began her nursery education at the church owned Young Discoverers Pre School. Brian and his wife are a wonderful couple whom we both related with freely. They offered us advice and support and in various ways. They generously made available the church facilities to enable me host my book launch and seminar in 2013, a kind deed I will always be grateful for.   

11. Caroline Ogunmakin
In my childhood I remember her being called Opeke. Aunty Carol and I are cousins. She is a woman very much like a man in the way she handles responsibilities - very enterprising and industrious. She really is an action-lady. I lived with her for a couple of months in my early days in the UK. A very generous woman, I never knew a £50 note existed until aunty Carol gifted me with one following the death of my dad in early 2004. She went out all the way to help me look for job when I started job hunting eventually helping me find one of my first roles ever with John Lewis in Bluewater shopping complex. She offered me lots of advice and pointed me in the right direction.

12. Deji Yusuf
Deji has come to be identified in UK's motivational circle with his now popular mantra: "I see a winner in you." With a personal goal to write 40 books by his 40th birthday, it was our mutual love for motivating people to excellence that first brought us together. I first met Deji at his book launch in London in 2012. We have since become friends and have done many wonderful things together including jointly anchoring the first edition of Motivational Night. He was also a guest speaker at the inauguration of my Maximising the Journey seminar in 2013. Deji's remarkable story about how he overcame low self esteem, severe skin burns, fall from multi-story building and involvement with gang life to eventually bag a first class degree and make something useful out of his life has been truly inspiring.   

13. Dotun Ogunnoiki
Nicknamed Bshallom by her brother, Dotun and I became friends in 1999 during our mandatory one-year NYSC program at the Institute of Agricultural Research & Training in Ibadan. Dotun is one of the very few people who know me deeply enough to be able to offer precise and targeted advice. She has offered me practical support in virtually all aspects of life. A drama queen per excellence, I know Dotun to be very dynamic, colourful, industrious and fun to be with. Together with her husband Lanre and their two children, they have become more like a second family to us over the years.

14. Doyin Fasan
My beautiful sister with an ever smiling face, my sister Doyin was the big sister I had during my secondary school days. Popularly known to her friends and colleagues as Anne, she is such a passionate Christian who almost cannot converse without talking about the things of God. Born in Britain herself, she facilitated my emigration from Nigeria to UK providing me in particular with information, encouragement, money and accommodation to help me settle down in what was then a completely strange land to me.

15. Gbenga Awosika
Gbenga is a definition of a true friend. Our other friends and former classmates could readily testify of this about Gbenga. Being a staff of Chevron, I often call him Gbenga Chevron to help me distinguish him from other Gbengas I'm friends with. Selfless, loving and intelligent, our friendship started from our first year in primary school and has continued till then. Admittedly I could be poor in picking my phone to call friends and loved ones but not so with Gbenga. No matter how busy he is, he would find always find time to call and enquire after my wellbeing and my family's from his base in Nigeria. Gbenga would always make every effort to seek out friends and former classmates to find out how they are doing and would become genuinely concerned about those who are more or less struggling economically.

16. Jane Jack
I first met Jane at work in Kent from where we became good friends. She was the birth partner to my wife standing literarily by her side all through labour and the birth of our first child Adeola. With family being far away in Nigeria at the time of the birth, Jane alongside her husband Dr Sam and  their two little kids - Boma and Daniel were literally the family we had. Jane is one of the most hardworking women I've ever met. A great home builder, she juggles career and the homefront so efforylessly.

17. Joseph Akindipe
Joseph and I lived in the same neighbourhood as well as attended the same parish of the Catholic Church while growing up. We also went to the same university - Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Whenever I think of Joseph, I see the picture of a man who is an embodiment of humility and focus. I have never failed to be inspired by how he's risen from life's setbacks to make a success of his life. Over the years we've rubbed minds together and opened up to each other.

18. Katy Tizzard
It is no exaggeration if I describe Katy as one of the most selfless persons I've ever met in all my 40 years. My kind-hearted Caucasian friend, Katy and I became friends when we were both working in Hertfordshire. Katy went a long way to make life comfortable for me and my family while we were both living in Hemel Hempstead. If I had problems with my car or with driving, Katy was one of the few I could rely on to bail me out - and she did that times and times again. Even when I hadn't expressed a need, Katy would sense it and would volunteer to help. She's one of those few friends who made working more fun for me.

19. Kayode Idowu
Kayode aka Sparkling Kayus was my closest friend in the six years we spent together as boarding house students in secondary school. So close were we that it sounded like a tale by moonlight to many of our mutual friends when rumour once went round that we were no longer in speaking terms on account of a sharp disagreement we had then. It simply sounded unbelievable to them.

20. Kehinde Akinjagunla
My right hand man for several years, Kenny is like an adopted younger brother. Kenny has been a blessing to me in my ways. He has supported me in numerous ventures. Through our relationship I have seen some aspects of life I wasn’t previously acquainted to. He is a young man I am ever proud of as I have seen him rise above the vicissitudes of life to achieve great success in his endeavour.

21. Mrs Mary Ojo
Mum to my wife Sade, I have often joked that in European parlance she is my mother-in-law but in African parlance she is my mother. A devoted and generous woman, my mother-in-law has been a blessing to my family in different ways not the least in raising up and gifting me with her beautiful daughter as wife. She has played critical roles in taking care of our children while they were babies.  Mother to my other lovely brother-in-laws and sister-in-laws: Dele (D Leo), Olaitan (Lepa), Sunmbo (Oyinbo), Abiola (Abeli) and Opeyemi (Opions), Iya Ojo's prayers and counsel are always inspiring.

22. Morinsola Eluyefa
Sister Morin as she's known to many of us is a senior friend whom I first met in our days in uni. Being from the same Ondo town and being members of the same Christian campus fellowship (ECU) in particular drew us together. Her constant encouragement during the period following my graduation from uni when I was literally at a crossroad was most uplifting. Not only would she constantly encourage me, she once suprised me with a gift of 500 Naira to support me in my hunt for job.

23. Richard Shamtally
Richard was line my manager at work for several years. Richard was not just a boss, he was a senior friend to me. He made both working and living in Hertfordshire easy for me. He was committed to helping me advance in my career. In actual sense he practically launched me into the world of cancer health informatics in the NHS. He helped me in numerous ways both in and out of work. Richard has been such a blessing to my family over the years.

24. Ronke Olamilokun
Fondly called 'Egungun' (Bone) by our dad for her slender frame in her younger days, my big sister and firstborn of the family is an embodiment of her name "Ronke" which means "the one who is cherished." Hardly do people know her and they won't fall in love with her. Whenever I think of my sister Ronke I think of an excellent woman. At 50 she remains as beautiful, smart, caring, large-hearted, jovial, and pleasant to be with as I've ever known her growing up. She has always been there for me and my own family through thick and thin, fighting my battles with me and making me joys become a reality. A giver to the core, I cannot think of anyone who has blessed me with more material gifts both seemingly little and great in my 40 years than my sister Ronke.
25. Bishop Rowland Peters
Bishop Rowland and his wife Dr Mrs Hannah were pastors of the church (Royal Christian Chapel, Ile-Ife) through which I gave my life to Christ in the early 90s. I also had the opportunity of meeting them again after a 6-year break during my mandatory one-year NYSC in Ibadan in 1999 where they freely opened up their home to me enabling me to live with them for a couple of months. I know Bishop Rowland to be a man of great faith and deep insights into the Word of God. From him I learnt I learnt not just the theories but the practical things of life, finances, faith and marriage. Together with his wife, Mrs Hannah they helped in no small measure to set me on the right path. They have offered me shoulder to lean on at some of my darkest hours.

26. Rev Sam Olatunji
When I became a committed Christian as a teenager, Rev Sam was the pastor of the church I began to attend. He gave his best to nurture me spiritually until I left the early part of my days in uni. His prayers, counsel and teachings went a long way in helping to solidify my faith in God and commitment to the work of the ministry.

27. Segun Bajulaye
Dr Baju as he is popularly called was a senior colleague while I was in the Ondo State Civil Service. In those years he was a mentor to me. He had fascinating perspectives that were a rarity among most of the people around us then. Dr Baju encouraged, challenged and inspired me to aim for nothing but the best in life. He would question me on my vision and plan for life. He encouraged my potential as an author to blossom. As a matter of fact, he reviewed the first 2 books I wrote: Success Power and A Life of Impact. I equally cherished the fun times we had together when we would go out to unwind after work at our favourite joint with hot suya and chilled drink. Over the years we've remained in touch as I continue to draw from his fountain of wisdom.

28. Seun Adewuyi aka Primate
There's no way my roll call will be complete without a reference to Seun's invaluable input in my life. We first met at Winners Chapel Akure where we were both members before I left for UK. Since then Seun has been practically a part of all the key events in my life - the good, the bad and the ugly – sometimes at his personal inconvenience. At the funerals of both my dad and mum, he was there helping to ensure things work out well. He was the best man at my wedding. He helped us found Iya Eji, the woman who turned out not only to be my mum's best carer ever but also her live-in companion in her last few years on earth. When there was a serious health challenge in the family in 2006, he was literally by my side running around and travelling to different places with me. If I needed anything to be done for me in Nigeria, all it would take is a phone call to Seun. Highly resourceful, street smart and enterprising, he is simply a bundle of great potential. If as the Yoruba people say, "Igba iponju la n m'ore (It is in adversity we know our friends), then Seun is qualified to be called a friend.  

29. Sola Imoleolu
Sola is married to my cousin who is also Sola by name. I first met him while they were both preparing for their wedding. I know Sola to be highly resourceful and with a good heart. He is committed to his calling as a youth worker and missionary. Over the years we've rubbed minds together and I have drawn lots of nuggets from my interactions with him.

30. Sola Omolosho
At the early start of my living in the UK and now away from my sisters in London, I found out that life in the UK could be notoriously lonely and boring. However I found friendship with Sola aka Mydoh Father very comforting in that critical period. As it's typical of many Nigerian immigrants to the UK, I met Sola a graduate of Geology while he was working as a cleaner in an hospital. Attracted by our mutual aspiration to work our way to the top, we have remained friends even after he returned to Nigeria to start a family.

31. Tayo Ojo
Popularly called brother Tayo, he was the closest I had to a blood brother shortly after my arrival in UK. Over the years he has offered me immense support and valuable advice. I hold lots of pleasant memories I shared together with him in rubbing minds, travelling extensively, shopping, socialising and worshipping at RCCG's Place of Restoration under the pastorate of Dr Abiodun Obisesan in Highbury, North London. He and his wife Abigail opened their house to me freely and theirs was like a second family to mine. In the months leading to my wedding, he offered vital counsels and financial support. He has been a great support encouraging and helping me actualise my dreams at different points in time. In my days as a single young man his wife would regularly pack foodstuff for me whenever I was heading back to my base outside London.

32. Titi Akomolafe
Titi was my right hand person for several years. We became close friends while we were both working in the Ondo State Civil Service in the earlier 2000s. That role being my first permanent job after graduation, her friendship greatly helped me in managing that transition from studentship to working life. She was my counsellor and confidant. She assisted me in no small way including in finding a place to live and furnishing it. She supported me in no small way during my late dad's funeral and at my wedding. For years after leaving the job, friendship with Titi continued to be refreshing to me.

33. Tokunbo Adebamowo
My big brother and first son of the family, my life story would never be complete without acknowledging his leadership influence and adventurous spirit in my life in our growing up years. Popularly known as Anthony to his friends, I strongly suspect his cool headedness rubbed off on me. I have happy memories of growing up with him. His advice and guidance has been of great benefit to me. He taught me lots of those skills that you get to acquire as a boy growing up. Cool headed he has a genuinely good heart.

34. Pastor Tunde Balogun
The senior pastor at Kingsborough Family Church in Uxbridge, Middlesex, I first met pastor Tunde while a member of the church in 2006. He's been a mentor and very supportive to my wife and I in the early years of our marriage. A senior alumnus of my university (Great Ife), he is one of the few great people I refer to as my mentor. Confident, visionary and programmatic, he is adept at moulding people’s destiny and bringing out the best in people. I have always said without hesitation that he is one of the best pastors I have been under. With a genuine interest in people, he is graced in spotting and nurturing potentials in people.   

35. Mrs Victoria Hotonu
Now in her eighties but still fit and travelling the world, my aunt, mummy Hotonu as we call her was the closest relation of my mum that I knew as a child. A woman with a large heart, she is the founder of Igbehin Adun Nursery School for the Deaf Children in Lagos. I continue to hold fond memories of the time I spent in her place during my school holidays as a child. The first three-piece suit I ever own as a child was from her! Kind hearted and selfless, she has been a supportive pillar to our family. Even in her advanced age, she continued to act as the big sister to my late mum – looking out for her when her health began to deteriorate.

36. Mrs Victoria Oloro
My siblings and I often call her sister Vic. She is a sister to us in practically every way except for the fact she is not our biological sister. I have always thought if only we can have a few more people like sister Vic, the world would be a much better place to live in. While my siblings and I lived mostly far away from home, sister Vic was the big sister we had to help in coordinating mum's welfare and healthcare provision in her last few years. To a very large extent, she helped put our mind to rest. To get anything done for mum, a phone call to this wonderful woman was all it would usually take us. She made mum's place her second home coming in virtually every day to check on her and spend time with her. With sis Vic in charge, our mind was at rest. Very jovial, selfless, large hearted, devoted and prudent she practically epitomized Jesus's commendation when he said, "I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came unto me."

37. Yejide Oloruntola
Yejide and I became friends in the cause of our postgraduate studies at the university of Greenwich studying for a Master's degree. Yejide is someone I can rightly describe as a dependable - the kind of friend you can call upon for help readily and confidently and who will not let you down. She's been around literally at all the key moments of my life in the UK. Even at my mum's funeral, she ensured she was represented by three people her mum inclusive.

38. Yele Akinbohun
Intelligent and street smart, Yele has been more than a cousin to me; he is to me a reliable friend and one of the most reliable people I can count on. He has stood by my side through thick and thin. He was there when things were rosy and when things were rough. He would look after my interests without any pecuniary motive. He would advise me again and again including on making strategic financial investments. He would always encourage me to do things he himself would have loved to do if he had the wherewithal.

39. Yomi Bello
I first met Yomi early 1993 at a tutorial college in Ile-Ife where we were both studying to gain admission to university. Our path would later cross again when we eventually became students at Obafemi Awolowo University. So close were we in uni that our roommates in Room 116 Awo Hall actually thought we were blood brothers. Yomi greatly helped make the period of my academic sojourn at uni less difficult. He exerted a very positive influence on my faith and character. His elder brother Sola was also a source of immense blessing to me in the period following my NYSC.

40. My NCC Family
My first contact with New Covenant Church (NCC) was through my wife who was then a member in Ibadan. Over the years we have come to take NCC as our family church. In that period we have met lots of wonderful people who have become to us family members and not strangers. I cannot but be grateful for a wonderful child of God Peter Oni an associate pastor at NCC Dunstable. Brother Peter as we call him and his wonderful wife sister Dorcas are selfless, hospitable and would go to any extent to demonstrate the love of Christ in practical terms. He has come to my rescue on several occasions when I was stranded. I celebrate a darling daughter of Zion always bubbling with life my dear Mrs Dupe Afuye. Her feedback and words of encouragement to me are infinitely uplifting. I celebrate the wonderful pastors I have been opportune to have and their spouses – Pastor Femi Mafoh (NCC Luton), Pastor Sunday Olatunji (NCC Dunstable) and Pastor Sam Ajetunmobi (NCC Chafford Hundred). My very wonderful sister Hannah is a precious daughter of Zion with a pure heart of gold. I have benefitted in practical ways from her friendship, her ever smiling face and her world class cuisine skills.  

Monday, 3 August 2015

A Tribute to My Late Mum from the Depth of my Heart

Mum's Obituary
My mum, Oyindamola, my first teacher, my first confidant, my first guide, my first priest. To the world, you might have been one person but to me you were the world.

 Mummy, you did not build houses, factories or palaces but you built ME and my siblings – Ronke, Doyin, Tokunbo and Bola. Mummy, you did not leave millions behind in your bank account but you left behind enduring legacies worth much more than millions.

Who could dispute that you were a virtuous wife and mother? Who does not know of your famed patience and enduring spirit? You were a godly mother. You not only taught me the way of the Lord, you also led me in the way by your examples. You taught me to love the Lord, pray, study the Bible, and be committed to fellowship. What more could I have asked for?

You and dad were never slack in constantly praising me publicly. You were forever teaching us through your numerous proverbs in English and Yoruba languages. In my childhood you rammed into my little head that “A stich in time saves nine”. You often said, “As you lay your bed, so you lie on it”. I learnt from you “To make hay while the sun shines”. Mum, you helped nurtured my potentials immensely.

Early in life, you helped develop in me a love for reading and passion for academic excellence. At the start of my primary education at St Mary Catholic School, Ondo, when you saw how poorly I was performing academically, you knew it was because I was just too playful. You therefore did the seemingly unthinkable! You walked to my classroom unannounced one day and with my teacher’s permission, stood in front of the entire class and told all my classmates to reduce their playful interactions with me because I wasn’t serious enough.

And that action you took worked. Within a term, I moved from my perennial 36th position in class to 3rd position and then to 1st position the following year, a position I maintained throughout the rest of my primary education. With your support I skipped primary 6 having passed the common entrance exam to Ondo State Unity Sec. School Ikere-Ekiti at the age of 10.

Throughout my secondary education and subsequent university education at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife you were a pillar to me. You supported me in every way you could.

After my graduation, concerned about the delay I had in finding a job, I recall how one day while you were effecting a transaction at the bank, you were compelled to mention to the bank clerk attending to you that you had a graduate son looking for job! The clerk advised you to tell me to bring my CV to the bank manager straight away. Although I didn’t get the bank job but that action you took was typical of your willingness to secure a better future for me and my siblings.

Mum & I in the '70s
Even though I had to leave you and dad 11 years ago as a young man in search of the proverbial greener pasture, coincidentally in the same United Kingdom where you both had begun your own family life, mummy you were literally on my mind day and night. As much as I could, I endeavoured to travel down to Nigeria almost every year to visit you and check on your well-being.

Your health, happiness and well-being were uppermost in my heart all the time. Although you were out of sight most of the year, not for once were you out of my mind. As my level of income increased, I ensured it reflected accordingly in the provision I made for your welfare. As recent as mid last year, even when you did not complain of any new health issue, from my base abroad I still arranged for you to be taken to Ondo Specialist Hospital by our dear aunty Victoria Oloro and your carer – Iya Eji. It was meant to enable you undergo general medical check-up, an intervention which did not pick any new health challenge at the time.

Concerned about the sudden news that you had developed a fresh health challenge earlier this year (2015), I decided to travel down with my wife Sade, and your grandchildren – Adeola and Tola primarily to spend time with you, lift your spirit up and increase the quality of healthcare you were receiving. Merely hearing the news of our impending arrival brought you so much happiness. Together with my siblings, we secured additional healthcare interventions for you and were delighted to witness immediate improvements in your health until…………….........

Until that fateful Saturday afternoon on June 6, 2015 when you could fight no more and had to succumb to the cold hands of death. You died just a week after I had left you to return to UK.

Mummy, I will forever cherish those last moments my wife, children and I spent with you in May 2015. Yes, mummy, those last moments when on every single night after everyone had gone to bed, I would come back to your room to pray affectionately for you. I would thereafter sit down for prolonged period sometimes till midnight and beyond simply watching over you with deep affection as you sleep sweetly in your special water-bed. In those moments, I saw an aura of indescribable peace and happiness around your person.
Mum's Burial on 3rd July,2015

But while I have been mourning your departure with uncontrollable tears, I am much more comforted by the good news that you are now resting with your Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ the King whose vicarious death has secured eternal life for all who believe in Him.

For the umpteenth time, I wonder to myself again, “So it is true!” With sorrow in my heart but gratitude to God for a life well spent, I say adieu mummy. Goodnight mummy. O daaro mummy. Au revoir mummy. Bye mummy. I loved you till death mummy and heaven knows I did and still do and will forever do. Your son and fourth child, Ayodeji Ambrose Adetula n se daro re. O digba.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

How I Increased My Earning By Ten Times: Tips for Career Advancement

In 2005, I got a job in the English town of Colchester. It was with nostalgic feeling that I returned to the same town some years later having secured a new full-time job but this time around paying me ten times my previous earning in the town.How did that happen?

Let me share a few lessons I have learnt and applied that enabled me experience the transition, not necessarily because I regard the transition as some spectacular achievement in itself but in the hope that one or two of my readers will benefit from the tips as well.

Have a vision for your career
I wouldn't say I arrived at my latter destination by accident or mere luck. Long before I secured the job, I had conceived the dream of drawing remuneration in that pay range and had been working consciously towards attaining it. I not only knew with clarity what exactly I wanted and what I needed to do to get there, I was equally able to articulate in clear terms the specific career objectives I aimed for, right before they were actualized. Invariably, many of the decisions I took or didn't take were guided by the desire to actualise my career vision.

Learn from failures
For nearly two years after obtaining my first degree, I struggled hard to find a job. I submitted numerous applications without being shortlisted for interviews and where I was shortlisted, I was unable to prevail against the competition.

I eventually secured a graduate entry level job in the Civil Service but prior to that, I had learnt a number of vital lessons which I would later apply in life in my quest to multiply my income.What were those lessons

During the period that I struggled to get a job, I observed there were graduates like me who were actually getting good jobs, changing jobs at will or even creating jobs, the tough competition around notwithstanding. As a result, rather than blame myself or the environment I operated in or give in to learned helplessness, I undertook an objective assessment of the situation through which I identified a number of factors that hindered me in my quest to secure a job.

Summarily, I realized that my undergraduate experience did not prepare me adequately for the marketplace. In other words, I learnt in a hard way that I needed more than a ‘paper qualification’ to get a good job or advance in a career. To start with I realized I lacked clear career objectives. I wasn't sure of what I wanted or even what I should want.

I never knew how to write a good CV. I didn't know what it means to market myself or how to go about it. I wasn't sufficiently knowledgeable about graduate opportunities, where, how and what it takes to locate them. I didn't know about interview tests or how to prepare for them. I didn't know the importance of networking with colleagues, senior friends and influencers in the labour market. I never knew the importance of developing soft skills. I did not understand the power of excellent results as a tool for gaining competitive advantage. 

In essence, I realized I wasn't sufficiently equipped to compete in the marketplace. Having learnt from those mistakes, I took deliberate steps later in life to ensure I did not repeat them in my quest for career advancement.

Invest in personal development
It is often said that the best form of education is self education. I believe this whole-heartedly and it’s one of my guiding philosophies. I once made a resolution to be buying (not just reading or borrowing) at least two new books on personal development every month - books that will enrich my knowledge on what to do to enhance the quality of my life. In the course of time I built a library of books written by the likes of Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Kenneth Hagin, John Mason, Ben Franklin, Norman Vincent Peale, and John Maxwell among many others. 

I read virtually any material that could add value to my career and my life as a whole. I paid to attend seminars, spent countless hours listening to inspirational messages and browsing the internet for career-enriching information. I also gained considerable insights through my interactions with people who were ahead of me - at work and outside work.

Invest in increasing your earning potential
I learnt early that employers are willing to pay in proportion to the value they perceive an employee will bring to their ventures. To increase my value-perception to prospective employers therefore, I learnt I had to demonstrate I would be relevant to their needs, that I had what it takes to solve problems for them, and that my contributions will be such that they will not be able to replace me easily. I had to do this by developing knowledge, skill, attributes, qualifications and experience relevant to the needs in the marketplace and that will command a high price.

In the interval between my first and second Colchester jobs, I did menial jobs and sacrificially saved about £10,000 over a space of six months with which I financed my Master’s degree studies. The competencies acquired in the process enabled me implement a career transition from Biological Sciences to Health Informatics. Even after securing a job at the completion of my postgraduate studies, I continued to buy professional books, enrol for professional courses and spend considerable time after work developing my IT skills.

In the interval between the two jobs under reference, I experienced the direct impact of investing in enhancing my earning power a number of times. For instance, I once moved overnight from a Level 1 position in an organisation to a Level 6 position in the same organisation, instantly doubling my earning as a result simply on account of gaining higher qualifications.

I was once approached by headhunters offering me a deal to have my annual pay in a permanent role increased from £29,000 to £40,000.

I have had an occasion when the Deputy Chief Executive of a large organisation I once worked for was literarily looking for me all over the place to help on a project that had a huge impact on the organisation. That of course boosted my profile tremendously.

Be Current
One of the things I did frequently was to study high paying job vacancies in my field in order to identify what positions I could realistically aspire to and the competencies required to secure them. Even when I wasn't looking for work, I constantly checked online job sites, analysed job alerts and perused career articles in newspapers to identify employers preferences.

Whenever I met high flyers, I would research their background to see if there are secrets I could learn from them and to gain inspiration from their stories.

I constantly sought advice from friends who had secured better paying jobs than me. From them, I learnt the most effective ways to write a good CV, how to make them findable by employers and the best websites to find job vacancies in my field. From them I learnt what worked and what didn't work.

Network with others
In between transiting multiplying my income by ten times, I had done several jobs that ultimately aided me in making the transition. In the majority of cases, it was through my network: friends, friends of friends, colleagues and relations- that I got to know about the vacancies directly or indirectly.

Information on the first job opportunity I secured at the completion of my postgraduate studies for instance came through a friend working in that company. Even suggestions on the postgrad course I eventually pursued came from a friend and my brother-in-law. Much of the information I applied in making career transition and identifying training needs came from friends and senior colleagues. As much as I could, I endeavoured to build and maintain relationships with others.

Hard work pays
To experience that progression, I had to make sacrifices. Acquiring the knowledge, skills, qualifications, experience required to compete in the marketplace was hard work. Coming out from my comfort zone to pursue my career aspiration was hard work. 

One factor that ultimately proved valuable to me in the long run was the choice I made to break away from the 9-5 mentality. That entailed operating with the understanding that while my official working hours a day might be from 9am to 5pm, there are lots of valuable things I could do outside of that timeframe that will have a direct impact on the quality of results I delivered during my contractual hours. In essence, it demanded going the extra length to do whatever is necessary to deliver excellent results regardless of whether or not I eventually got recognition for it.

I found out that the extra efforts I put in ultimately turned out to be my to my own advantage because any extra competencies acquired by so doing remained with me afterwards, giving me competitive advantage in the push for better deals.

I enjoyed help!
I encountered numerous obstacles and temporary setbacks for which I received help to overcome. I had moments when I didn't know what best to do for which I received guidance from others. I had moments of discouragements and de-motivations from work and outside work. In those moments I drew strength from my faith in God. I also enjoyed the goodwill, advice, encouragement and support of my loving wife, my friends, my mentors, my managers, my siblings and loved ones. 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

How I Became a Director Within 4.5 Years of Graduation

I first met Lorraine Wright at a Book Launch in London in 2012 where she was one of the keynote speakers on the night. I found her recent story of how she became a Director at UBS less than 5 years after graduation from London's Brunel University highly inspirational and subsequently asked her to permit me reproduce it for the benefit of my readers. Please read, be inspired and informed!

Lorraine Wright, Director at UBS and Founder, University Gospel Choir of the Year (UGCY)
Lorraine Wright, a Director at UBS investment bank, co-founder of the Young professionals powerlist Network (YPP), and founder of the multi award winning University Gospel Choir of the Year (UGCY), has not only rapidly climbed the career ladder at such a young age, but has established a UK wide competition celebrating the talents of university students across the country. 

Having grown up in South West London, Brixton, Lorraine splits her time between Zurich and London working full time for UBS in Switzerland whilst fulfilling her passion in running the University Gospel Choir of the Year organisation.

Having attained straight A’s at A level, Lorraine went onto study Information Systems with a sandwich year at Brunel University, with dreams of becoming an IT consultant, business leader and project manager.

Whilst her peers searched for roles for their year in industry via the internal careers service, Lorraine thought outside the box. By searching independently she managed to land herself an internship in project management with the Volkswagen head office. 

As her first taste of professional experience Lorraine fully immersed herself in the world of work soaking up all she could, (as well as making mistakes along the way!) Not satisfied with 12 months in industry with just two months left to spare before her return to university, Lorraine was one of the lucky few who secured a summer internship with a top management consultancy firm – Accenture, who subsequently offered her a graduate position.

Graduating in 2009 with a 1st class, Lorraine was eager to begin work at Accenture. Unfortunately, due to the recession, things took a different course and she was unable to start her role for another year. Lorraine took the opportunity to work as an IT project administrator/manager at a small technology company in London and obtained her PRINCE2 project management qualification. Unsatisfied with working in the UK, Lorraine landed a role working as an IT project manager for a distribution company in Chicago USA.

Upon returning to the UK, Lorraine took up her graduate position with Accenture where she was rapidly promoted to a consultant within a year.  In her client-facing role, she was subsequently headhunted by her client UBS, and joined them as a permanent employee in 2011. 

In March 2014, Lorraine was promoted to Director, and is currently on a secondment in Switzerland, leading one of the bank’s strategic group wide IT programs with a 50m CHF budget.

Alongside her day job Lorraine runs University Gospel Choir of the Year (UGCY), together with a team of 12, they seek to provide an unprecedented platform for UK university gospel choirs to showcase their talents on a national scale. Since its creation UGCY has held three annual competitions celebrating the talents of 1000+ individuals from various universities across the UK. UGCY works with ITV’s the X-Factor as the exclusive supplier for backing choirs and has done so for the past three years. They have provided opportunities for gospel choirs at corporate events (e.g. Deloitte), on radio (e.g. BBC London), National TV (e.g. ITV News), as well as features in ITV’s “Your Face Sounds Familiar”,  and in July 2013 featured in the first ever BBC Gospel Proms, broadcasted live on BBC Radio 3.

Alongside all this, Lorraine is a devoted Christian actively engaged in her church in Zurich and London, is studying German, and currently exploring business and investment opportunities.

Lorraine’s 5 tips for getting promoted fast within a company
1. Be Patient.
When I first entered Volkswagen I wanted to run before I could walk simple because I had three A’s at A Level. I remember one of my first “telling off’s” by my manager. He sat me down and said, “You need to learn to walk before you can run…you are in a safe environment, take your time and make mistakes”. At the time I thought he wanted to suppress my desire to do other things in my role, but that conversation taught me my place in the pecking order, and that good things come to those who wait. Six months later I was given my first project to run.

When I first entered Accenture I wanted to run before I could walk simply because I had a first at University. I learnt that there are always people with more fire, desire and intelligence than you. The only way to succeed in that environment is to take a step back and observe their successful traits; with time you begin to emulate them naturally.

When I first entered UBS, I wanted to run before I could walk, just because… well… just because I thought I could! On each occasion I failed to realise that even though it was my nature to want more I needed to prove myself to peers and management alike. This is something I had to come to terms with. They did not know me nor did they know what I was capable of. I would encourage everyone to take the time, be patient, learn the business you are operating in, learn the traits of the people around you and then subsequently, learn to carve out your own niche.

2. Stay close to decision makers
Cast your mind back to school when a kid would give a teacher an apple (and others would laugh). Although they “claim” there is no favoritism in school I believe when there is a personal connection it is human nature to judge with subjectivity, and so it’s more likely those kids would get the better marks.  I’m not saying the apple outweighed their work, completely the contrary, it simply “enhanced it” – the foundation was there already. 

The same is true (in my opinion) in the working world. On each occasion I was promoted I had worked to remain close to people who had the power to make that decision.
You may not see them on a daily, weekly or for that matter monthly basis. I would tend to go out of my way to have 1 on 1 meetings with them; being transparent about what I had achieved and offering my support for things that could help them. At times I would send Christmas greetings to remain on their mind, or would take arising opportunities to socialise with them.

Do not underestimate the power of socialising with your superiors!

3. Become a shareholder (where possible)
Becoming a shareholder not only allows you to earn dividends but forces mindset change. A shareholder means you legally own a share in the company, and you are therefore internally motivated to do all you can to be successful. 

Before I became a shareholder I heard colleagues say, “As a shareholder, I would not like to see that happen”. At the time I thought “really?” What difference would that make to your pocket, and then I became a shareholder and things changed. When you are doing well and those around you are too, the company does well (and you see the dividends).

It is that mindset that helps you in your daily job. You will start to question your decisions asking will this benefit my company. When the answer is yes you inevitably do the right things and the right things get noticed.

4. Take yourself out of your comfort zone
UBS’ head office is in Switzerland and the decision makers reside there. For some time I was asked to relocate to Switzerland and turned it down for fear of not being able to closely manage my social enterprise, for fear of not finding somewhere to get my hair done, for fear of loosing my friends in London, and for fears that I would not make new ones.

I compromised with my boss saying I would go for two months; 14 months later I am still here. Quite frankly staying on was the best decision I have made. I got to understand how the business operates, grow my network, be close to the big bosses, develop my cultural awareness, and to add to that it has been financially beneficial. I believe if I had not made the move I would not have been promoted in such a short time frame.

5. Get involved
Try to get involved in activities outside of your normal day job. At Accenture my accelerated promotion was not only down to my work but the countless extracurricular activities I was involved in: Including the African Caribbean network, supporting with resource management for the capital markets business line, as well as supporting with orientation for new joiners. The more you do, the more people see you, and the more likely they are to remember you when it comes to promotion decisions.

Me being me I cannot end  with just five tips so here are, in short, some other tips: make your boss look good, find someone who you aspire to be like and emulate their habits, grab opportunities as they come, and lastly HAVE FAITH!

Written by @LorraineHWright. Article originally appeared on @TheNetLocation

Sunday, 8 September 2013

It is Unto You According to Your Goals

We make progress by pursuing and actualising a vision - a dream, a desire, an aspiration or a goal. We make progress in proportion to the size of our vision. We don't achieve the same levels of success in life because among other reasons, we don’t have the same size of vision nor are we equally committed to the pursuit of our individual vision.
The progress you’ve made till date is based on a number of important goals you have accomplished till date. The goals you’ve accomplished are in turn directly related to those you’ve pursued
To ascertain your level of progress say in the last five years, all you need to do is cast your mind back on the key aspirations you aimed to accomplish in that period and a correlation will emerge.
When you secured a better paying job, won an award, secured a promotion, shed excess weight, quit smoking, reconciled with an estranged spouse, overcame a destructive habit, bought your own house, started a new business, bagged a higher qualification, won a sporting event or published your book, you’ve simply achieved a progress that began as an aspiration.
It is highly unlikely you achieved any of these results by accident or by doing nothing. It wasn’t like you slept only to wake up to find these successes had become a reality in your life. Rather, you had them as goals and backed them up with appropriate actions. Now if you didn't wake up to find that these successes have become your realities, why would you think that your future successes will happen by a different approach?
In the same vein, you can predict your future progress now through the goals you are currently taking actions on. If you don't currently have any specific and important goals that you are pursuing or can confidently point to, it is highly unlikely that you will have any tangible identifiable progress in the near future. The progress you will make six months, two years or five years from now in any area of your life will be determined primarily not by luck, fate or mere wishes but by the specific goals you have set for yourself and that you’re daily acting upon.
The goals you set and act upon are the best predictors of your progress. I cannot emphasise this enough: your level of progress in life or any specific venture is directly tied to the type of goals you set, pursue, and accomplish.

Where people don't have any meaningful aspirations they are pursuing, they hardly achieve any tangible progress. You determine your own progress the moment you begin to set and pursue worthwhile goals. You determine your goals and your goals in turn determine your progress. It is unto you according your goals.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Tomorrow is Decided Today

Part of living is making preparations for the future. This is important for the simple fact that tomorrow will be different from today; we know this because today is different from yesterday.

One of the most important action plans you can take from now is to begin to think about the kind of future you want and to work towards creating it. Not many people do this, rather what the majority do is to leave their future to chances effectively leaving themselves with no choice than to accept whatever life eventually throws their way.

The successful, however, think and act differently. Most of the key decisions that successful people take are driven by considerations for their future. They therefore take the kind of actions aimed at creating the kind of future they want, rather than leave their future to chances.

How the future will turn out for you will largely be determined by what you do or don’t do today. Whether you will retire as broke or financially independent, whether you will be divorced or remain married some years from now, whether you will still be doing the same kind of job you are doing now or remain at the same financial level in 5 or 10 years' time will largely be determined by the very actions you are taking now.

How the future will turn out for you will not be decided entirely by future events, but by the decisions you are currently taking in response to the opportunities available to you today. Today is given as an opportunity to shape tomorrow. In actual sense, what is called today is nothing more than the tomorrow of yesterday. Everything you are doing now will have an impact on your future, positively or negatively. The greatest use to which you can put today is to use it to shape the future positively. 

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Succeeding By Chance or By Design?

The kind of success most people expect and experience in their endeavours is oftentimes nothing more than incidental success. It is the kind of success obtained by chance, casually and not necessarily requiring strategic actions to make happen.

The problem with incidental success is that it has very low probability of accomplishment - it may or may not be achieved. Not only that, the quality of results obtained is often average, less than satisfactory and unsustainable.

When you formulate aspirations with no action plans, entertain hope with no strategy or keep dreaming without doing, you are invariably setting up yourself for incidental success. By relying on winning a lottery or acquiring an inheritance as a strategy for becoming rich; by hoping for luck, waiting for things to improve or hoping for manna to drop from the sky, you are programming yourself for incidental success.

On the other hand, when you set definite goals, back them up with credible action plans and are committed to their pursuit, you will set up yourself to succeed by design.

Succeeding by design is a lot like the United States landing the first man on the moon in 1969 - it didn’t happen by accident. It happened because the country made it a goal to be accomplished. Eight years before, the then US President, John F. Kennedy had made a mission statement to the American Congress saying, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Of course, your personal goals may not be as audacious as going to the moon, nonetheless, they must be high enough to inspire you to live like the star you were born to be. As Clement W. Stone succinctly put it, “Aim for the moon, even if you miss it, you will land among the stars.”

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Comfort Zone: The Cemetery of Dreams

Not many succeed because among other reasons, not many are prepared to come out of their comfort zone to take risks. 

A point in time came in the life of Jeff Beezo, the Founder and CEO of when he had to make a choice between remaining in his comfort zone - a well paying job in the corporate world of finance and pursuing a dream of seizing the opportunities presented by the internet gold rush of the 1990s.

Although advised by a respected colleague against leaving his secured job, he decided to apply what he called a "regret minimisation framework” in which he imagined whether if he were to look back at the age of 80 he would regret the decision not to venture out on his own. He concluded then that he would regret not stepping out. He thereafter made that life changing decision, encouraged by his wife, to forego security for opportunity. He began a venture in his garage in 1994 that has now become a global brand,, the world's largest online retailer worth more than $70bn as of 2011.

In life, invariably, it is those who take the risks that also take the prize. What is called comfort zone would really have been comforting except for the fact that it is the arena where that dreams are killed, aspirations are buried, talents are wasted and destinies are demoted.

By remaining in your comfort zone, your chances for advancement in life are curtailed, invariably forcing you to accept whatever life eventually throws at you rather than experiencing what you are truly capable of. Life is so designed that it is those who dare that get their share. Knowing what to do is not the only requirement for taking action, having the courage to do it is also crucial. 

Saturday, 13 October 2012

The Missing Link

Action is the missing link in most peoples quest for success in their endeavours. They desire success, they dream and talk about it; they wish, hope, and pray for it but they never take action. They even read books on it, attend seminars, solicit advice, make resolutions, strategize, generate potentially life transforming ideas and yet never take action or persist for as long as its necessary.
They keep learning many valuable things but fail to apply what they learn. As Tony Robbins, America's foremost motivational guru rightly said, In life, lots of people know what to do, but few people actually do what they know. Knowing is not enough! You must take action. They forget that it's what they do with what they know that really counts.
They intend to act but keep procrastinating and by postponing the action required, they inevitably postpone their own success. The tragedy of life really is that the man who plans to act on an opportunity at the twelfth hour has the opportunity withdrawn at the eleventh hour.
Some refuse to take action because of the risks involved, as a result while they dont 'fail', they don't succeed either. Some others take actions but the actions they take negate the essential requirements of the very success they aspire for.
The successful succeed not necessarily because they are more talented, smarter or luckier than others; they succeed primarily because they take actions that others dont take. They persist where others relent. They keep at it for as long as its necessary. As Zig Ziglar said, "Just any dummy can succeed if he cares to know what it takes." The action that the successful take that others dont take is the singular most important factor that sets them apart from the crowd.
Success in any area of life- marriage, parenting, career, leadership, business, politics, relationships, personal finances, management, ministry, sports or any other demands that you take required actions and it is only by taking those actions will you experience desired result.
Much of success anchors not so much on doing the spectacular as performing the seemingly small, inconsequential, gradual and consistent actions taken on a daily basis. As a consequence, the difference between you who act consistently and others who do it casually may not be noticeable at all at the onset. But over time - in the course of weeks, months or even years, the difference will eventually become not only noticeable but equally profound. 

Sunday, 10 June 2012

We Work For Things To Work

Leonardo da Vinci, the great Italian Polymath once exclaimed, “Oh God you sell us everything for the price of an effort!” Labour: the exertion of the faculties of the body or mind is the platform through which results required to maximize life are delivered. It is by doing that we accomplish, acquire, become and attain. Potentials no matter how great, visions no matter how potent and knowledge no matter how inspirational, will not translate into great destinies without appropriate actions. In the words of Arthur Brisbane, “The commonest form, one of the most neglected, and the safest opportunity for the average man to seize is hardwork.” 
Through labour, potentials are turned into success, dreams are fulfilled, needs are met and goals become accomplished. Without working, dreams remain what they are, just dreams. Thomas Huxleny captured this essence when he said, “Some men dream of great accomplishments while others stay awake and do them.” 
There are things you must necessarily do and be doing in order to actualize the purposes congruent to making the most of life. For a starter, people don’t win battles they don’t fight; they don’t pass exams they don’t sit for or triumph in competitions they do not participate in. You conquer only the problems you confront. You actualize only the dreams you pursue. In life, nothing ventured, nothing gained. You work in other for things to work. 
You won’t get the result you want by wishing for it, you would get it by working for it. You may work and not get desired results but never would you get desired results without you working. You don’t walk to the top you work to the top. You won’t get what you want unless you give it what it takes. And if there is anything it takes, it takes hardwork. “He who labours diligently need never despair; for all things are accomplished by diligence and labour.” (Menander of Athens)

Thanks for reading! Did you find any part of this article helpful? Have you got any tips you will like to share with other readers? Please feel free to share your knowledge below.