I read the article below by Jason Njoku from his blog a while back and bookmarked it. For me, it helped me understand this entrepreneur a bit better in the context of his recent entrance into Nigeria’s entertainment industry.
I also watched the recent talk Jason gave at the 2012 Tedex Euston and found it inspiring. You can check all of it out below.
By the way, when I interact with Nigerians in my line of work, I have found the mentality of many I interact with to be twofold:
1. If you criticize someone, then you absolutely cannot praise them when they do good work, even if they do something positive worth acknowledging; and
2. If I say “hello” to you, even if it is in passing, we are automatically friends. Therefore, you cannot and should not write about me. To the degree you do, it has to be only positive things. Lol!
I am of Nigerian heritage, grew up in Nigeria. Yet, I am simply not wired the above way.
I say that to say, as much as I talk about the (unacceptable) business practices of CEO Jason Njoku of IROKO TV and his company, where his company or he gets it right, I expect to praise him/IROKO just as much; where his actions/that of his company’s is relevant to what I do here on AML.
Check out his speech and article.
At 9. Was I a criminal? or Entrepreneur…
Whenever I read about the startup stories of successful business people I always feel mildly guilty, especially those of working or almost poor background. They’re stories are always cloaked in heroism. How they started by selling Lemonade / Papers / ‘Please insert here’. The Hero’s journey if you will. Personally I think this is straight PR (bullsh*t), but im not judging.
Dragon’s Den Honcho Duncan Bannatyne (net worth £430Mn / $688Mn)
Bannatyne was told by his mother that, because of the family’s lack of money, he could not have a bicycle. To amend the problem he asked the local newsagents if he could have a paper round job and was told he could have one if he could get a list of 100 interested people. Bannatyne knocked on 151 doors exactly to create that list of one hundred customers. Armed with this list, he received the job and, months later, a second-hand bike.
You can add to that list – Bernie Ecclestone [F1],
My story is decidedly different.
1.] There were no paper rounds where I’m from. For record I grew up in the equivalent of a US housing estate. The 6th floor of a block of flats in South East London. Papers-round. Nah.
2.] Role models? At 9, having never met my father (to this day, still haven’t), there wasn’t any. Just the local ‘boys round the way’ Who were into drugs, girls or football.
3.] Lemonade stand? Please.
Getting those Pumps
My first entrepreneurial adventure was for the love of Reebok Pumps. I was 9 and my mum had gotten me a pair of Top3 athletic shoes, what are those I hear you say? Precisely, they were nothing, more so they were desperately uncool back then. All the cool more fashion conscious kids had Pumps. I wanted to be amongst them. So I ‘did what any self respecting young gun would do.
– I asked Mum. No cigar
– I asked aunts and uncles. No cigar
– I asked older sisters. No cigar.
Just so happened around that time at school they were ‘fund raising’ for some charity or the other. I wasn’t actually part of it but decided that I wanted to create the ‘Jason Reebok Pump Foundation’
So what did I do? Got hold of a sponsorship form, I went around Deptford High St, a 9-year old, and asked / begged / cajoled folk into ‘sponsoring’ me. Within one day I had the £32 (equivalent to £150 today) need to buy my pumps.
Do I regret this? Most definitely. Am I a criminal. A definite grey area. In the absence of any legal route to get the Reebok Pumps. I used what was available to me. My friends and peers congratulated my ‘thinking outside the box’. My mother never really knew as I always hid them from her. This natural criminality is the reason why the poor / ‘hood-type’ areas of the world keep getting worst. Young people are bombarded with images of success. All day everyday, and they want a piece of the image. As pastor 50cent once said. GET RICH OR DIE TRYING.
So they grab what’s nearest to them and start ‘innovating’, be in football, basketball, drugs, robbery, fraud; doesn’t really matter. As long as they can have their equivalent of ‘Reebok Pumps’ then its all worth it.
Most successful rappers / music executives have similar stories of ‘getting money’ in the early days. I just wanted to share mine.
Successful criminal to entrepreneur. Same difference.
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