By Dr. Orji Kalu
Founder, Slok Group
I find it really interesting whenever I encounter young bright minds who always seem to be inquisitive of business and entrepreneurial growth process. They tend to be highly aggressive towards acquiring knowledge necessary for success with the youthful energy they possess. Such bright minds will most likely have a whole lot of questions for God on the last day. Questions concerning his mystery and things that have baffled the human mind, and even confused science.
However, I recently encountered one of such who continuously flooded my email with questions that would require several pages for a satisfactory response, and which I consider worthy of sharing. Actually, this is not the first time I am getting various questions through mail, ranging from the secret of the success of my business empire, to my advice, and requests for business tips for a successful and exceptional business growth. The numerous questions have prompted me to dedicate some columns in my weekly leadership series to business and entrepreneurship affairs.
This particular mail from one Mr Johnson Chukwu reads: “Good day Your Excellency, I am your fan and admire you mostly for your business acumen. I learnt that you started business at a very young age and that in 1979, you were the only Nigerian who had same car with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Can you tell me your motivation and secret of successful business? Which year did you exactly build your conglomerate? And what was your earlier drive? How did you make it happen and is such obtainable now considering the current economic situation of our country? I want to be an entrepreneur and I want to know if there is any hope for us, the youths. Do you think that you could have made such youthful wave in this current dispensation in Nigeria? When establishing your company, did you truly envisage it will turn to a conglomerate years later. Do you think…?
The questions were actually very much, but through it, I saw the sincerity of purpose in it. I saw his genuine desire to learn, one I would give full attention to, and satisfy his inquisition. In the past, I have always tried to respond to all such questions mailed to me, especially that which concerns the youths. The youths are the future of our great nation and teaching them the right attitudes, skills and proper orientation is an investment into the future that can never be too expensive to make.
This singular question reminds me of my days as a young entrepreneur: I was highly inspired and determined to succeed. Hence, I have taken upon myself the responsibility to direct many Nigerian youths in particular, as well as African and global young enterprising minds in general.
Prior to my gaining international recognition as a businessman, I had this uncommon curiosity towards knowledge and business growth. In the cause of my career pursuit, I had been friends with many global reputable figures and was privileged to romance ideas with them. George W. Bush (Sr) remains a towering figure in the US and was among the nearest person I had in those days to someone you would call a mentor today. He was a successful businessman who joined politics to become the 41st US President. He invested in the oil business and was a dollar millionaire by the age of 40.
He would often say to me, “Emulate the Eagle. Live to add value to humanity because it is the primary objective of man.”
I recall how deeply those words moved me, especially for its vast and rich content.
I kept on pondering why I should emulate the Eagle?
Can I really add value to humanity with nothing?
I also recall his kind responses to issues which were always measured and significant.
Today, the eagle he said I should emulate is the same eagle I urge Johnson and all youths to emulate.
An understanding of the eagle’s lifestyle and attitude will help one to survive in every situation, be it business, one’s career, or any other area of personal endeavour.
The Eagle is a visionary bird, it connotes strength. Little wonder it’s on the coat of arms of many countries. An Eagle’s vision is said to be eight times stronger than the human vision, as an eagle is able to sight its prey from more than one mile away. It is able to see very far ahead to be able to take the appropriate sites on objects that lie ahead.
The growth of an eagle is quite interesting as every eagle begins its journey as an eaglet. The father eagle goes to hunt for food, while the mother eagle stays in the nest to watch over the eaglets. When food is brought, mother eagle tears up the food for the eaglets to eat, and this practice continues only for three weeks. After the third week, the eaglet is expected to tear up the food by itself when it is brought in. Also, within the first three months of an eaglet’s life, it undertakes the first flight and is expected within six months to be able to go out by itself and hunt for its own food.
In the Eagles growth cycle, no matter the condition or environment, it has to meet up with the expectations of its growth stages if it hopes to survive in the wild.
Therefore, your primary goal should always be to conquer any environment you find yourself.
The eagle’s lifestyle holds that change is constant . As an individual and youth, you need establish yourself gradually such that, on each stage, you are already equipped , even if not financially, but with creative ideas that will change your life and hopefully change your earlier situation, and also extend it to the world.
Achievers relish economic challenges and use them profitably. The society is increasingly becoming knowledge –driven and does not have room anymore for the person who cannot think or be innovative or master the odds. And make no mistakes about it, the odds will always be there.
Again, in order to remain air-worthy, each year, an eagle’s strength must be charged and renewed in order to maintain its colour and glory. It must subscribe to the demands of an annual renewal of strength by shedding off its old feathers and growing new ones, ready to fly better and higher in the successive year. Likewise, in order to successfully pursue your vision, you too must occasionally need to shed off old habits and items that burden you without adding to your life. And come out with new ideas, perceptions and practices.Perception and creativity is a common denominator in the pursuit of vision.
The wind and storm that is capable of destruction gives the eagle a colourful flight. The eagle is capable of soaring to unbelievable heights and it does not hide from the storm. It struggles against the storm while riding on it, and takes advantage of the storm for a sweatless flight.
I had a vision to contribute to humanity and be an employer of labour, and that was why I formally built the Slok Group in 1987. Today the testimony of that vision has become global. You must have vision and remain focused no matter what the obstacle is. If you maintain that, you are on your way to success.
The vision must be big and focused. A big, focused vision will produce big result.
To be continued…