Saturday February 18th witnessed the infusion of praise and worship into a loaded and motivating inspirational talk as serial digital entrepreneur and Chairman of Zinox Group, Leo Stan Ekeh delivered an unforgettable sermon in the art and science of entrepreneurial success in the 21st Century.
Venue was the headquarters of the Harvesters International Christian Centre (HICC) located along the Gbagada axis of the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway where a capacity crowd had gathered for The Harvesters Entrepreneurs Forum – a monthly event organized to reach and equip entrepreneurs and people of similar inclinations with the theoretical and practical business knowledge to help them achieve and sustain economic success.
Indeed, one would be forgiven for believing the exercise was a religious service as Ekeh opened up his presentation by leading the audience into a worship-filled session with the soulful rendition of the popular Gospel number – Power Flow by Monique which had the audience singing along.
This was the intro that set the stage for a speech delivered extempore which captured the essence of business success for the multitude of aspiring and existing entrepreneurs, students, professionals and other attendees gathered in the expansive venue to tap from Ekeh’s wealth of experience.
Ekeh spoke on the topic – You, New Wealth and God in the 21st Century.
Noting that a multitude of opportunities exist for the current generation to create and sustain new wealth in the 21st Century, Ekeh was emphatic in disclosing that one’s family background or circumstances no longer represent obstacles to achieving success.
“Today, you are seeing a polished Leo Stan but can you imagine Nigeria 29 years ago? No electricity, no telephone, the roads were bad. People didn’t even know they needed light yet some people think the past was better. You should be positive. The first quality in life is to be positive. If you are negative, you failed before you started. Only positive minds achieve success.
“There are many opportunities for many of you in this generation to create new wealth. Even if you were born into a poor family, you have no reason to remain poor in the 21st Century. You are smarter, you have the knowledge, the hunger, the exposure and better infrastructure than the older generations. So, what excuse do you have not to make it in life?,” he queried.
“Some of the rich people you look up to today are not as exposed as you are. Many of them acquired wealth through funny means and as such, they cannot sustain or defend it. So you must not feel intimidated. You can start small and scale up gradually. But you must discover your passion in life and follow it.”
According to him, many young entrepreneurs struggle today as some of them put pleasure ahead of business, thereby making it difficult for them to make a head way in life.
“You must learn to start small and be ready to take pains before pleasure. Sometimes, I see young men – the first business they hit, they go and buy an expensive car. The world recognizes you as a success but you are empty. I see young men who are just starting a company printing the most expensive business cards – gold cards. They give me their card and I look at the guy and take a decision that this chap is a fly-by-night entrepreneur. You must go through a structured incubation period and be morally and financially sound to survive in a highly competitive knowledge-driven economy. Are you humble? Humility is the biggest asset anyone who wants to succeed must have. You must have this asset in you to earn God’s favours.”
According to Ekeh, success in business requires a number of qualities including brain power and ability to constantly innovate, hunger to succeed, humility, a positive mindset and of course, a firm belief in God.
“When I started out in business, I took a personal decision for all of my companies to pay corporate tithe. This is usually paid even before salaries. I told my staff I am the last person to engage in retrenchment in spite of the depression. I can only sack a staff if he commits a crime or is a non-performer. I am going through the biggest pains in my life history because things are not adding up anymore due to the recession but I put absolute trust in God and have increased my hunger to survive by over 15% which I consider dangerous to my health but it looks like I have no option. I have my commitment with God and I know he will not push me to that point of major retrenchment.”
While fielding a series of questions during the panel discussion, Ekeh also offered useful insights into areas of potential collaboration between the Lagos State Ministry of Wealth Creation/Employment and youth-focused and empowerment-oriented churches such as HICC to reduce the burden of unemployment on the youth.
The well-attended event, with the theme – Crafting A Winning Business Strategy – was streamed live to HICC’s Lekki branch and had in attendance other notable speakers including the Commissioner for Wealth Creation and Employment, Lagos State, Babatunde Durosinmi-Etti; Faculty Member, Lagos Business School, Dr. Anderson Uvie-Emegbo as well as Senior Pastor, HICC and Convener of the event, Pastor Bolaji Idowu, among others.