Early Days

I became conscious of my existence in September 1974. Happenings before then are a lot indistinct. The September date has been ingrained in my mind, I believe, because of the unique event that took place then. I had accompanied one of my aunties to St. Agnes’s (Roman Catholic Mission) Primary School in Ondo,Ondo State,Nigeria. She was in her third year in the school at the time. The first thing I noticed was that the pupils queued up at a particular location after the bell rang. I also joined the queue. Before the bell went off, I was with my auntie in her classroom. Some elderly people, who I later got to know as teachers, told us some things I didn't understand. After the assembly, I was taken to a class separate from my auntie's. This didn’t go down well with me, so I kicked against it. Whilst the class teacher was doing her best to get us settled in our new environment, I walked out and ran to my auntie’s class. To my surprise, my auntie held my hand and brought me back to my classroom. By this time, I was weeping profusely. I didn’t understand why someone I had run to for refuge would bring me back to the place I ran from. Of course I left my classroom and went back to hers. I guessed she was embarrassed because she shouted at me whilst taking me back to my classroom the second time. This scenario must have been repeated four or five times before I finally settled in my classroom. That was my first lesson in learning to be independent. My mum told me years later that the plan wasn’t that I should start school the day I went with my auntie because I was not yet five years of age. She said the only reason she allowed me to continue was because of my outstanding performance in the class exercises and, invariably, the terminal examinations. With my elementary school experience, I can say I became aware of the goings-on in my environment. I started taking in information from the environment and processing them to the best of my ability. A lot of things happened that have had significant impact on me from that first day in school. For instance, I remembered a girl (can you imagine?) who was always bullying me! In retrospect, I think she was too old for the class (primary one). She must have attained puberty then judging by her physical appearance. She sat right behind me and made me open my class exercises while she copied them. I knew it wasn't right but I dared not complain for fear of being beaten. The other bully was a boy by the name Jompo. He used to snatch my writing chalk and made me carry his wooden slate (writing board) on our way home. I saw Jompo when I was in secondary school and I noticed that I had grown much taller than him. I thought, “Why did I allow this short boy to bully me back then?” Though my perception of the outside world at such an early stage in life bordered more on the hostile side, nevertheless I got a good balance from the love and care showed me by my nuclear and extended family. At the centre of the love and care I got was my mum. From her I learned about unconditional love, hard work, diligence, right- and long-term thinking, taking responsibility, proper communication, focus, etiquette, parenting, and much more.

 Her marriage to my father ended not long after it was consummated. It lasted for less than 4 years. In all of this, my mum never for one day spoke evil of my dad. She always said he was a good man who had home troubles that overwhelmed him. She used to say: “Your dad trained his siblings. He would have done much more for you if situations hadn’t turned adverse for him.” By virtue of my mum’s second marriage, I grew up in a polygamous setting. My step-father (a Muslim) tried his best to be a father figure to me and my kid brother but the intrigues implicit in such environment were more prevalent. However, I am grateful for the experience I garnered. I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for the experiences I had. The environment also brought my mum’s ingenuity to the fore. Her enviable qualities were evident in the heat of the regular challenges she faced whilst raising her children. My mum single-handedly raised her five children with proceeds from the sale of ladies articles (shoes, bags, jewelry, etc). She took responsibility for her life and that of her children, though she only had modern school education (nine years of formal education) because of paucity of funds; her human management skill no doubt is exemplary. She made sure my brother and I attended church regularly. She even got us to do our baptism and confirmation in the Anglican Church. This is no mean feat for someone married to a Muslim and has three other children who are Muslims by birth. She provided for our physical, material and spiritual needs. Through her efforts, I appreciate the fact that nothing good comes easy. Without mincing words, she paid the price for the successes my siblings and I have recorded so far. As I write this piece, she is recuperating from recent surgeries she underwent to alleviate the pains of cervical and lumbar spondylosis - a medical condition that has left her bedridden for one year. I attribute the medical condition to her circa 30 years of strenuous activities whilst prosecuting her trading business. She travelled several thousands of kilometres using less than humane public transportation system. Since this is not a treatise about my mum, I will stop here and continue about myself and my experience. On my part, I considered excelling in my studies the minimum I should do for a woman who gave her all. I gained admission into the Universityof Ibadanto study Agricultural Economics at the age of 16 graduating on top of my class five years later. Immediately after National Youth Service, I went back to the same University for a Masters degree in Economics. Even though I qualified to proceed with a doctorate degree programme, I thought it would be cruel to continue to drain my mum’s resources. So I opted to go look for a job after graduating in November 1992. I came to Lagosin January 1993 in search of a job. My mum came with me having previously negotiated with her first cousin to allow me stay in his Ikeja residence. In April 1993, I got a job with the then Investment Banking & Trust Company Limited (IBTC) as a banking officer. That was the beginning of a banking career that spanned 171/2 years. I worked in two other banks after I left IBTC in December 1999. They are NBM Bank Limited (January 2000 – December 2007), which later merged with four other banks to become Sterling Bank Plc and United Bank for Africa Plc (December 2007 – October 2010).

Personal Development Experience

I was never in doubt that a man has to take responsibility for his life. My mum taught me that through her exemplary life. However, my unique experience with personal development started sometime in 2002. A colleague sent me a free electronic personal development newsletter (E-Zine) via email. In it I saw success tips from the likes of Jim Rohn, Denis Waitley and Chris Widener, amongst many others. I immediately subscribed to the newsletter and I got stuck with it. I read and kept copies of the newsletters. I also invested reasonable amount of foreign currency (US Dollars) in audio CDs and books on personal development. Above all, I started applying the principles. Issues came to a head in 2004 with the announcement of banking consolidation by the Central Bank ofNigeria. The prospect of job losses loomed large. I had no choice but to take responsibility for my life and family (I had married with three children then). I intensified my application of the principles I learned from the materials I read / listened to and I also deepened my faith in God. Even though I ended up not losing my job during the consolidation exercise, the lessons I learned at the time were not lost on me. 2004 turned out to be the year my life changed significantly in all ramifications.

My Faith

I am a man of faith. I believe in the Trinity: God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. I believe the physical world we live in is too organized and structured to be a product of an explosion. Being a person of faith reinforces what I do. I use the skills, abilities and resources God has given me to improve the lives of people around me. This, I believe, is the true meaning of the great commandment – “Love your neighbour as yourself.” However, I didn’t come to the conclusion that faith is important out of the blues. It came, in part, from the little I know about my dad. If I can remember, I must have seen my dad about 5 or 6 times before he died in 1995. My recollection about him was that he was a very brilliant man. As a testament of his brilliance, he graduated top of his class of 21 students in Ondo Boys’ High School in 1961. He joined Barclays Bank immediately he finished his secondary school education. I met one of his seniors in school sometime in 2011 and he told me how my father and two others were the only people recruited straight from high school by Barclays Bank. When I consider the bright prospects my dad had when he started out and where he ended, the critical factor that was missing was the God-factor. He later came to the knowledge of the truth by accepting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour but he couldn’t make much change before he died. With all the above information about my dad, it’s imperative that I am careful about the way I live. Achieving the things my dad had accomplished long before I was born (coming tops in my graduating class, working in the bank, etc) didn’t get into my head to make me proud. One area I’ve had to live differently is with respect to my faith in God. Needless to say, I’ve had unique experiences in my walk with God. Some of the experiences are contained in my book ‘LIVE THE SIGNIFICANT LIFE’. I encourage you to get a copy and you will be richly blessed by it.

My Strength

I feel strong when I contribute to make people's lives better. By reason of my faith, I love people. I hate to see people in lack. To this end, I try in whatever way I can to be a blessing to people around me. To date (April 2012), I have used eight (8) cars since I bought my first car in 1994. Out of the eight, I gave out three (3) to friends, gratis. I sold the fourth one to raise the capital with which I started building my mother's house in 2004. She had bought circa 11/2 plot of land in 1978 but suspended the construction after the foundation stage so that she could send us to school. I thought the best thing to do for her was to complete the house she stopped building for our sake. When I told one of my friends (an inner circle member) about my impending resignation from the bank, he said: "Wale, I trust that you will succeed in whatever you lay your hands to do. One thing you did that has made a deep impression on me was giving out your car over 10 years ago when some of us were still trying to gather assets." He then prayed with me.

My Vocation

Now what I do is to assist others to succeed. You ask, “…assist others to succeed?” Yes, that’s what I do. However, that does not make me an altruist. I do what I do for two reasons: It makes me happy. Two, the more I help others succeed, the more successful I become. I see these two reasons as sufficient motivations for me to do what I do. I've realized that giving things (assets and the like) to people is tantamount to giving fish without necessarily teaching them how to fish. Whilst still giving fish, I now focus more on teaching people how to fish. Incidentally, I've met three people in the last 3 months who have reminded me things I told them several years ago that have literally altered the courses of their lives for better. My response to each of them was: "I just can't remember saying that." It sure makes me feel good that people's lives are being positively affected by things I say and do. In specific terms, I coach, mentor and teach people how to achieve harmonious success in career, business and life in general. If you are not satisfied with the results you're showing in these areas, I may be able to assist you to do better. In addition, if you are an employer of people and you would like to increase the productivity of your human capital on a sustainable basis, you would find my services useful. Do make use of the Contact page on this web site to initiate a discussion that I believe will be mutually beneficial to both of us. Thank you and God bless you.