Every year, for the past 2 years, I have written a comprehensive review of my year (2014
). It serves the dual purpose of inspiring someone out there to change lives (and smash records) while highlighting my thoughts and contributions to nation building and entrepreneurship. This year has been absolutely phenomenal for us as a nation and for me as an individual. From the emergence of Buhari as Nigeria’s president to being honored by the Nigerian government under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, here is how my 2015 erupted into a sea of glad things.
ON MY NYSC EXPERIENCE
On the 7thof July 2015, out of 2540 corps members in Kogi state, I was honored as 1 of 10 outstanding National Youth Service corps member by Governor Idris Wada, for my contributions towards improving the standard of education in Kogi state.
Kogi is one of Nigeria’s educationally less developed states. Through my projects, I inspired 2,000+ students to think big & stay in school (via academic excellence speeches). I organized inter-school debates/quizzes which promoted reading culture, organized skill-acquisition for 400+ students. I distributed 110 scientific charts and this helped student’s better understand basic principles (like titration in chemistry). I initiated a scholarship scheme for 13 brilliant students who couldn’t afford fees/books, facilitated a computer training for 50 students (organized by Preye Jude) and renovated/donated books to Ife community school library which had been moribund and turned into a mini-refuse dump for several years.
THE ORIGINS OF CHANGE
When I first got to my place of primary assignment (Ife community secondary school,) things were so bad that my SS3 students didn’t know the formula for perimeter of a rectangle, my JSS3 students needed a calculator to solve 5 X 5. So, when people ask me how I won NYSC Merit Award, I just tell them that sitting down and doing nothing was simply not an option for me, I had to rescue my students from mathematical illiteracy, I had to make a difference.
One of the first things I did after resuming at Omala was to visit the school library and what I saw shocked me. Refuse everywhere, broken shelves, outdated books on the floor, graffiti on the walls, logs of firewood everywhere.
I took notes, brainstormed to see what could be done, and I settled on donating books, beautiful wall banners, elimination of graffiti and repair of all broken furniture. Opeyemi Fayomi suggested I design a donation card and She was one of the biggest donors to my personal CDS projects. Thank you.
My Local Government Inspector, Mr Musa Mohammed made terrific recommendations concerning my personal CDS report. Thank you sir.
Sometime in March, lots of students were sent home for a N1,500 school fee. First, I was shocked that so many students could be sent home for such a small fee, next I got concerned about the classes they would miss, the value they would lose, got angry within me and I was inspired to set up a scholarship scheme to keep brilliant students in school while encouraging the unserious ones to pick up their books. An Inter-school quiz and debate competition was organized to challenge the students and reward the spectacular ones.
I also organized skill acquisition to help over 400 industrious students acquire skills, unleash their potentials and make some money to support their education. All this was made possible with the help of my fellow corps members and a few concerned friends.
Let’s rewind a bit.
Upon resumption at Omala-LG, I observed low morale & lack of employability skills among several corps-members. To fix this, I proposed ‘SCINTILLATION’ a monthly seminar where corps-members would learn leadership and entrepreneurship from professionals. My vision: re-energize community service and prepare corps-members for life after NYSC.
To convince our Local Government Inspector to adopt SCINTILLATION (never been done before), I drafted & pitched the blueprint. In just 4 months, 100 corps-members imparted over 1,000 students directly. Books were donated, libraries renovated, chairs/tables donated, 3 corps members (myself inclusive) won NYSC awards.
My final week in Omala was spent conducting yet another ICT training for some youths.
My exploits in kogi state would not have been possible without the following persons:
Eneghan Preye was a very passionate corps member who assisted me in executing many of my projects.
Mr Arume was a neighbor with a difference. He was very kind and helpful all through. He supplied me power via his generator (Omala had no pwer supply all through my service year) till He moved.
Mr & Mrs Clinton donated their generator, connected their house to my crib, donated their fan and many more acts….their kindness blew me away.
John Ilom was not just a neighbor’s son. He was my personal assistant. With Johns help, we transformed the look of my room. John sometimes helped me with domestic chores, always took the gen to the repairer, John filmed me over 50 times until I got what I wanted (during the 1st& 2nd stages of The Orators). John would help me warm my stew anytime I travel for the weekend on one of my numerous speaking engagements. I tried my very best to pour myself into him. I remember one day when I shared on the four pillars of greatness…Reading, Thinking, Planning, Doing, He just kept jotting and asking questions. John, I love you very much. Thank you for your flawless service.
There is no success without a successful successor, so my Nigeria Christian Corpers’ Fellowship (NCCF) story would have been incomplete if I had not handed over well. From discussing his shoe business to spiritual matters, I found Corper Joel to be exceptionally gifted, a lover of God. In less than 3 weeks of his arrival, He took over from me as zonal cordinator.
NCCF Omala executives were very supportive. Victor James (Secretary) was rock solid, Corper Nicholas (Transport and organizing Secretary) always had my back. We affected lives and broke new grounds together. By God’s grace, we were able to start Stay Alive (a non-denominational fitness exercise program for all corps members every Saturday morning), open a facebook page regularly updated with pictures, move to a new venue (for easy access, nearness, tranquility), buy 2 konga drums, and not only did we get generous donations of Tambourines (to spice up our praise & worship) and rug, we re-strategized our evangelism, launched our flex Banner, laid beacons on our land and much more. We achieved over 90% of what we set out to do. I was blessed with such an exceptional team.
Everyone at Royal Grace Chapel (especially Rev Dave Faruna, Mrs Faruna, Pst Abu Thankgod, Pst James, Mr & Mrs Tom, Clementina) for the hospitality, gorgeous send forth service, for the books, for the cake, and for the opportunity to transform Royal Grace’s media team, thank you.
(Pst Mrs Faruna & Rev Dave Faruna)
How can I forget?
Precious, Justina, Lucy, Bassey Meriam, Corper Seun, all Omala corps members, all Ife community teachers and of course, Kogi state NCCF, thank you.
I inspired 2,000+ students to think big & stay in school through academic excellence speeches in over 13 secondary schools across 5 local governments in Kogi state.
Spoke to over 60 executives of NCCF Kogi state on ‘Enter the Place: Little known strategies to land your dream job’.
Spoke at Rev John’s AIM GLOBAL seminar on FAILING FORWARD (Omala. Kogi state).
Spoke to my SS3 students (105) during their graduation ceremony on ‘Life after now’.
Spoke to over 30 Omala corps members on ‘Audacity for Capacity: the how of self-development’.
I shared on ‘Emerging leaders, Emerging societies’ to over 700 corps members during a leadership conference organized by NCCF Kogi at Lokoja LGA.
Spoke to over 40 corps members at BASSA LGA (Kogi) on personal branding.
Spoke to over 100 corps members at Idah LGA (Kogi) on personal branding.
Spoke to over 150 corps members on personal branding at Ajaokuta (Kogi).
I taught 20+ corps members on the Power of Leadership at Omala LGA.
I hosted Resonance, a youth development conference that featured drama, dance and the explosive parliamentary sitting with about 300 youths in attendance at Royal Grace Chapel, Abejukolo (Kogi).
At Activate Youth Camp (Lagos) which hosted 250 teens with first lady of Lagos state, Mrs Ambode in attendance, I was a mentor (to 60 kids) and multimedia Secretary.
Inspired about 15 campus ambassadors of Youth Alive Foundation on ‘Nation Building, branding & social Media’. Mrs Koye-ladele spoke briefly but passionately (University of Ibadan).
Spoke to over 180 corps members at Ife central local govt [sept] on ‘the parable of 2 corpers’ (Osun state).
Spoke at the Youth Convention of Methodist Church, Ogbomosho (Oyo state) to over 250 youths on BEYOND ADOLESCENCE: 4 keys to the Excellence Castle. Amid sharing key principles, I told personal stories and used powerful quotes, practical demonstrations & live examples to drive home my points.
Spoke to over 75 students (alongside my brother Ogunbowale Oladayo, the convener) at the inaugural ‘Bridging the Gap’ conference for the prefects of secondary schools in Osun State.
If there is one young lady that made my year exceptionally electrifying, that would be no one else but Funke Ajayi. My beautiful princess delivered love in humongous doses and we took outings anytime we were together: Shoprite, the Zoo, Mr Biggs, Agodi gardens, Country Kitchen et al. Beyond the fun, She passed her CIPM exams to become an associate, launched her blog and her own NGO, Family to Fortune500 (FTF) to much acclaim. Her relentless quest for learning led her to sharpen her public speaking skills and we frequently shared on business and the future. Funke, permit me to say it for the zillionth time: I love you.
Femi Iromini is a true friend. The kind that checks up on you and spends hours on the phone pouring out his mind, sharing strategies and learning new things. Not only is He passionate about Nigeria’s falling educational standard, He is working hard to fix it. He is the guy you share ideas with, the one who can give you great feedback anytime. Thanks for being there, let’s do it bigger in 2016. I cherish you.
He is the kind of guy that challenges you with his reading habits. He is either reading a book or listening to a motivational audio at any given time. He wakes up early, knows how to look good and shares insights freely. I found a like-mind in Daniel as we constantly brainstormed and argued about interesting ideas during my service year. Though his PPA is at Ogodu, He usually stays at my place anytime He is at Omala (the LG headquarter). Thanks to Daniel, I always met good food at home during my leadership tour round Kogi state (He is a great cook!). I’m not surprised He now works with Gtb. Watch out for him.
Olumide is the friend who always ‘turns up’. You can always count on him. Olumide looks out for me anytime, any day and He was very supportive during my brother’s wedding. When you’re looking for a reliable, dependable friend who is fun to be with, Olumide is the guy.
Let me seize this opportunity to thank all our clients & students at Epower.
We successfully Branded lots of individuals & organizations including Jaatja Allied
(website & brochure), Hermosa Makeover (logo, online designs), Assemblies of God (Omala), ECWA OAU (magazine), Eclectic (logo, cert, biz card), Methodist Ogbomosho, numerous CV’s (Faith Thomas was an exceptional client who not only referred her friends but defended our brand, Jumoke Onaolapo was shocked when She saw her ‘crazy CV’, She got her dream job in December!), AMC
(website, brochure, tickets, videos), Plethora farms (sticker, letterhead), Z&Z catering service (logo, business card). We also held trainings (Escape the Rat Race, Matriculated & Certificated).
Shayo Offmc was a rock solid friend and Epower team member who kept wowing me with his devotion. Funke Oyedokun, Funke Ajayi, Ogunbowale Oladayo and Peter Akinola were also very helpful during Escape the Rat Race. Thank you.
I had very insightful discussions on the Change Nigeria Alliance (CNA) Whatsapp group. The Pro-transformation and the Pro-Change agents are yet to repent.
Certain folk’s felt I was being too explicit with my views during election campaigns. I was unapologetic about it. And as expected, Buhari won!
The screening of ministers got everyone glued to their screens. I followed up on social media.
Kogi’s governorship election was declared inconclusive though APC was in clear lead. Abubakar Audu died of hypertension, Yahaya Bello eventually made history, becoming Nigeria’s youngest governor.
Buhari finally appointed ministers. Fashola was named Minister for ‘Power, Housing & Works’. Dope.
ON WINNING THE ORATORS
First of all, I saw the advert online one day to the deadline! I swung into action immediately, prepared a script, shot videos, got through the first round. Needed votes for the second round, fell short but was saved by the judges. In preparing for the final round, I worked tirelessly on my script. My prepared speech was almost flawless (the judges had only 1 complaint: I was too much in their faces), my impromptu speech was pretty solid and thanks to internet research, my facts and my rebuttals were strong (during the debate). I defeated 5 other contestants and was crowned as the Orator of the year (Sapele, Delta state).
My immediate elder brother (Ogunbowale Oladayo) got married earlier this year and for the first time in my life, I was a best man. My brother now has a beautiful baby girl. All through my service year, my parent’s strong support really helped. Mum is exceptionally kind and Dad is quite famous for his magical story telling abilities. Disclaimer: some of my finest written stories are based on stories He told me.
I read quite a number of books in 2015. Some were hot, some were not. Here are the super-inspiring ones in no particular order:
I devoured Richard Branson’s ‘screw it, let’s do it’. Timeless business and life lessons. Grab your copy.
Read James Altucher’s ‘Choose Yourself’… full of practical, honest, witty ideas. Did more research about business models, stumbled across ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’ (W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne). A book I had but had never read. The discovery was mind-blowing. Needless to say, I’m still reading it!
‘YouTility’ by Jay Baer swept me off my feet.
Marketing Apple by Steve Chazin was massively eye opening.
After reading the first 3 chapters of Good to Great (Jim Collins), I just couldn’t help but marvel at the richness of the research, the depth of knowledge and the practicality of the ideas. The case studies were just exceptional, what a book!
I bought John C. Maxwell’s leadership bible. His notes + his paradigm shifting leadership analysis continues to blow my mind. Maxwell has birthed a stunning bible.
SEPT 8: BIRTHDAY
To mark my birthday, we had the introductory session of Escape the Rat Race (with over 150 students in attendance). In addition to other instructors, I taught on branding and the sessions were explosive. So hot, no student wanted to leave after the main event.
Afterwards, Funke Ajayi whisked the Epower crew to the museum, hosted us at her place (surprise, surprise). She made a cake, served drinks and served rice (very delicious!). I was very happy.
I had my very first phone interview via YALI West Africa. I was asked to discuss leadership (as to how the interview went, your guess is as good as mine…).
Kolawole Olufemi interviewed me on Wigradio. My phone network almost messed up. Judging by the feedback, it was a great interview on branding.
Awosusi Kehinde hosted me live at Orisun fm studios. It was my very first time as a guest at a live Yoruba show. It was a little scary at first, considering the fact that 99% of my speaking engagements were in English. My Yoruba was not bad and my delivery was passionate. I shared on my NYSC experience and nation building. Lots of my friends & fans listened, a lot tried to listen. The feedback was terrific.
League of Extraordinary Young People (LEXY), Delta State
Training on entrepreneurial best practices and leadership insights that guarantee a quantum leap in business and career. LEXY was organized by Mene Blessing, CEO of Unfire Nigeria, Global good fund fellow and our advisor at Epower.
Mr Mark Dogun, a university registrar aged 65, yet looking 40, taught us leadership. His teachings were so practical and so insightful that we didn’t want him to go.
Mene Blessing and Kelvin Ogholi critiqued our ideas and gave very constructive feedback.
Col. Moyo blew our minds with supernatural concepts & ideas.
(Kelvin Ogholi & I)
My double-double conference
It was superb. Paul Kayode-Joash delivered the goods. He spoke on ‘how to go from where you are to where you want to be’. Dexter (CEO, Kingdom Africa & wife) also spoke very passionately on ‘starting’.
TedX Bodija, Otunba Femi Pedro looked so young and fresh at 60. He encouraged Nigerian youths to form a critical mass movement and challenge the status quo (of old men running the affairs of Nigeria).
ON AIM GLOBAL
Inspired by Rev John’s testimony of making over N500,000 from Aim Global in 6 months (in passive income), I registered and got health boosting products worth N36,000. From marketing the world’s first Alkaline coffee (which is perhaps the finest defense against cancer) to their no-autoship policy and to smashing 2 Guinness world records, AIM Global is the network marketing company you’ve been waiting for. To join the financial movement, click here.
Funto & I had a misunderstanding over her CV. In the process of helping her brand it, She felt it was taking too long and snapped at me. She later apologized that it was due to exam pressure. I accepted her apology, and She fell in love with her new CV. In a surprising move, few days later, She called to inform me She saw my profile online and would like to write a short story about me as her entry for the ‘I know a Nigerian Star contest’
. After multiple rounds of screening by the judges and voting by the online community, my story was voted as the most inspiring Nigerian story for 2015.
Nigeria trashed Mali 2-0 at the Fifa U-17 World Cup. Osimhen won the golden boot, the silver ball and also made history as the all-time highest goal scorer (I still think He was the most valuable player and that He deserved the golden ball) while Nwakali won the bronze boot and the golden ball. What a fantastic team!
It’s been a pleasure having such a treasure as yourself, perusing my 2015. I do hope you got inspired. Set ambitious goals, make plans and determine to take massive action in 2016. Now, don’t be selfish, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this piece, especially how your 2015 went in the comments section. Thank you. See you next year.
To learn more about Ogunbowale Olugbenga, click here