I Sat With Millionaires, and Here are 5 Lessons I Learned

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I am fortunate to have sat with movers and shakers in industries from tech to fashion to real estate, and top executives in corporate America. I’ve sat one-on-one with each of them, just listening to their stories, and learning from their struggles, successes, and tough decisions they’ve had to make. Omo, don’t be deceived by what you see on the outside oh, the hustule is real out there in the streets.

I always leave each one of these meetings soooo pumped, so filled, so inspired, that I almost want to pick up a megaphone and tell everyone what I just learned. Well I kinda do, just in a refined way through my podcast. Call me creepy or what not, but what I enjoy the most is hearing about their humble beginnings. Yes, it’s great you have a multi-million dollar online fashion brand now, but tell me about how you stood on street corners, vending your clothes to passersby under the sun hot enough to scramble an egg. Yes, it’s amazing that you have this real estate empire now, but tell me all about how it really started… How long did you stay at your parents’ house to save up for your first down-payment? Tell me about a house flip you did that went south and how you managed to bounce back from it. These are the types of stories that get me excited. 

As you can tell, each of these interviews is an episode on my podcast, my baby #2, because this blog is baby #1. Today, I put together five brief lessons I learned from a few cool folks I’ve interviewed on my podcast. 

Photo by nappy
  1. It’s never too late to start. This is how Fola Jinadu’s story goes; from a retiring as Lt Commander in the U.S. Merchant Marines, to returning to school for a business degree, to working at a law firm as an immigration specialist, to then driving a cab on the side for some extra cash, and finally quitting his comfortable job to open a restaurant with the money he saved. Bruh, again I say, it’s not too late to start! (Fola Jinadu, owner of Suya Spot).
  1. There are still tons of business opportunities out there. If you, like me, have watched literally every episode of Shark Tank, you might think, “what else could possibly be left to invent?” Chiko is an entrepreneur who quit his job at age 26 with only $1,000 in his bank account, and now owns multiple businesses with revenue in the millions. According to Chiko, business is simple. You just find a problem people have, solve it, and then charge for the solution. O make sense, abi? So don’t stop exploring, and don’t stop cultivating your passions. (Chiko Abengowe, CEO of Perfect Office). 
  1. Hard Work Pays Off. Work incredibly ridiculously hard. Mediocrity is not an option. Work so hard and so smart that people can’t help but notice you. That’s exactly how Ikepo went from being an Analyst to being the COO at Castalia and becoming her bosses’ boss at age 32. According to Brandon Stanton of HONY, if you’re wondering how you’ll stand out from everyone else who is doing the same business, or has the same passion as you, just work harder than them. Work soooo hard to perfect your skill and to be consistent. (Ikepo Oyenuga, former COO at Castalia).
  1. Talk to people. Go out. Network. Ask questions. I asked my friend and real estate guru how she got into real estate investing. Talk, talk, talk to people about anything and everything, she said. Attend networking sessions for whatever is relevant to you. In real estate, the best deals are not the ones you find on Zillow.com. The best deals come from leads which you only get by talking to people and forming relationships. It’s the same for the career folks. How do you interview for positions that are not even listed on indeed.com or gain more insight into what leaders in your field are doing? Errr just go talk to people. Easy peasy. They won’t bite you. (Bolanle Ogunmakin, Serial Real Estate Investor; Fope Agbedia, VP at Mastercard).
  1. Every minute matters. Last summer, I attended a wedding on a Saturday, and found my brother, Femi, was the wedding photographer. The next day, I drove two hours ish to attend my friend’s baby shower in Philly, and voila! I found Femi there again as the event photographer. Knowing the event would go late into the evening, I booked a hotel and took the next day off work because YOLO men. [Cue in Timaya’s “This life, I can’t kill myself” song]. Femi on the other hand drove back home that night and made it to work bright and early the next day. 

    So in my interview with Femi, I asked – when exactly does he get the time to even do anything? While he outsources some things, “no time goes to waste,” he added. Femi takes a one-hour ish train ride to and from work everyday. So during his commute, he edits his clients pictures. Then during his lunch breaks, he steps out into the beautiful city of DC (which is now even more beautiful with the big bold “BLACK LIVES MATTER” street mural), and he practices his photography. I always say this – you can’t Netflix and chill all day everyday and expect to wake up to a successful business or career. You have to be intentional to make time for the things that truly matter to you. (Femi Abolude, Wedding Photographer).

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There’s so much depth to each of these interviews. You’d have to listen to the full episodes to hear their passions and their stories and how they all took one step after the other to achieve success. Also, don’t be fooled by the title of the post; success is not all about money. In fact, some people I’ve interviewed on the podcast are still on the hustle to their first million. Success is less about money, and more about purpose, passion, and impact, and everyone of us should strive to achieve this. Do you have any success tips to add to the list?

My podcast is called The Successful Africans, and all episodes are listed here. They are also available to listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, and anywhere else you listen to podcasts.

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10 thoughts on “I Sat With Millionaires, and Here are 5 Lessons I Learned

  1. Work incredibly ridiculously hard…hmmm…sigh…fine…I’ll get back to work, lol.
    I’ve been doing showings at 7:45am this past week before my “regular job” and I was like wait ohhhh…all for what, I’m tired. But now I remember the goal after reading this. This is sooooo gooodddd and has gingered me this morning. All these millionaires don’t have two heads…will be taking these tips so I can join them!

    • Pele, God is your strength! If it makes you feel better, at least it’s your own thing. Me I’ve been starting my “regular job” at 5 or 6am… I’m salty.com.

    • Great post, I think another tip I would add is this, whatever gets you gingered, keep it in front of you. Whether is reading about successful people or listening to ppl that keep you motivated, vision boards etc. Anything that keeps the fire going. I love hearing about the journey as well and the sacrifices ppl make daily to reach their best life.

  2. Very helpful, Abisola. Thanks for sharing. I waste way too much time doing things that don’t matter. I wish the sense I have now came sometime last year when I had everything I needed. Again, thanks for this subtle reminder.

  3. This is really nice and helpful. The point about networking and talking to people particularly struck me. Because the world we live in is a very small world, one can never be sure of the extent of the influence and connections other people have.

    Thank you for this post!

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