Personal failure threatened to put down Dr Wale Akinyemi and his wife
“Our children had to stay off school for a whole year because we could barely meet the basics,” he forlornly recounts, “When visitors knocked we’d tell our kids to go to the bedroom…“ He reveals: “No one called. I’d hide in the bedroom – reading book after book in quest of how to recover…” For this supposed personal failure, he took responsibility and apologized to Taiwo, his wife – for taking her “through hell.” Her reaction?
Wale and Taiwo gave their bare bones account to The Babylove Network. Written by Brenda Kilonzo-Wangwe.
‘Conformity needs no effort. It is the default position of the masses. It is the mother of mediocrity’, ‘Why do some people prefer to be gold fish in an aquarium when they were made to be great white sharks dominating the ocean?’, ‘No masterpiece was ever made by a lazy artist’, additionally, ‘To venture into the deep seas you must lose sight of the shores’,” are lines synonymous with Dr Wale Akinyemi. He pulls no punches.
Listening to him, I see all the many things I need to unlearn
His energy is infectious. Wale oozes with conviction. Additionally,he is the master of ‘It’s-never-that-serious’. He has also perfected the art of retelling his pervious ordeals with wet humour. I would almost say I wish I had met him way earlier in my education…. Listening to him, I see all the many things I need to unlearn; to live my purpose with gusto. Additionally, to learn how to deal with personal failure…
She has ALWAYS been my best friend
The business mogul, laden with scientific solutions and all raring to go to attend to market complexities is a man keen on the softer things of life. He loves his children to a fault, narrates his wife, Taiwo. The father of three beams, “Twenty four years later I am more in love than I was when I got married.” There was definitely something about that woman who was more than happy when Wale first just bought her a pair of shoes. “I felt like I had bought her a factory of shoes!” Wale recollects reliving her overwhelming response and his hunch was not wrong. He confesses: “She has ALWAYS been my best friend,” adding, “I treat her like a queen. I also tell my boys they need to marry a woman like her who will love and care for you even in your stupidity!” he laughs.
He knows how to break down a problem
Wale is the CEO of PowerTalks Limited, a corporate and personal development consulting firm; where he also serves as the lead consultant/trainer/facilitator. He is a demography and social statistics graduate with 20 years of local and international work experience. He is also a well sought after conference speaker and business strategy advisor. I also quickly second those who rank him as one of the most inspiring and creative thought leaders in business strategy. “I am not a motivational speaker,” he however fore-warns. Additionally, he knows how to break down a problem, into manageable pieces. The fire place at his state-of-the-art three-story Karen home bares it all; accolades from a plethora of multinationals. A testimony that personal failure, however severe, is just but temporary – of course depending on what you do about it!
His writing acumen has seen him author a number of books
Besides his riveting read on his Friday’s Daily Nation Change Talks column (see one of his pieces here: POWER TALK: Don’t let your history limit your destiny), his writing acumen has seen him author a number of books: Creative Thinking For Phenomenally Effective People, Stress Management for Phenomenally Effective People, Onboarding Strategies for Phenomenally Effective Organizations, Living on the Edge, Why do some people dream of success while others wake up to achieve it?, The Billionaire Within, and Help My Chocolate is Melting.
In Living on the Edge
Dr. Akinyemi writes:
“Faith is not like a spare tyre;
it is not something you do
when all else fails,
it is the only thing you do!”
How has he done so much? Overcome personal failure? “My day begins at 2.30am after going to bed at around 10.30pm. That gives me two working days in one – at least 16 working hours,” he prides. ‘We are able to say a strong NO to idling and oversleeping because we have said a strong YES to building great lives for ourselves and others,’ he wrote in his Friday Daily Nation Change Talks column.
They were poorer than a church mouse!
Quite an outstanding episode is one of his biggest launches into business. Wale invested millions of dollars into a government project back in Nigeria. Long story short, “….I didn’t understand the terrain…. I also didn’t want to be associated with corruption…. I could not get my money back, so I walked out of the mega deal…. No one understood it. Only my wife did,” he recounts. And before they knew it, by the mercy of a friend, they were in Kenya’s little town Kilifi – “Poorer than a church mouse!” he laughs, “Taiwo became the best githeri cook and also a real master of the jiko.”
And did we say he is not part of the ‘rags to riches story’. No, he was not born in a poor family – he corrects beforehand. Taiwo was also not born in a poor family. Wale’s father was a medical doctor and had worked in various parts of the world – a good part of it was England, where he grew up – well provided for. Just a picture to indicate the shock that greeted them at the Kilifi environs.
My wife…my best friend…
Our children had to stay off school for a whole year because we could barely meet the basics,” he forlornly recounts, “When visitors knocked we’d tell our kids to go to the bedroom,” he chortles – the pain evidently counteracted by his current state of affairs. “No one called. I’d hide in the bedroom – reading book after book in quest of how to recover. And Taiwo would keep checking on me. My wife was my best friend…”
This revelation by Wale makes me muse over how all those friends disappear when personal failure hits you.
Wale continues, “I really apologized to Taiwo for taking her through all this. And she told me, ‘Don’t worry, we are in this together,’” Wale appreciates. “I promised my wife we were going to be in a better place. She put up with me through hell!”
Passion is the boost that takes you on when logic has failed
“I started making trips to the great Nairobi to roll out the recovery plan. From first-class air travel, it was down to the cheapest bus possible. Then it was the popular (pun intended) Tawfiq. One time the lady seated next to me in the bus put her irritable baby on my laps and went to sleep. I rocked the little crying baby most of the way. When the baby had just drifted to sleep and I was catching up with my much-needed sleep at 2am, I was woken up by a vendor for his njugu karanga! I thought, ‘Do these people know where I am coming from?!’ And a revelation came ‘No one cares! This who you ARE. Shut up and enjoy the ride.’ – Never allow your condition to steal your dream,” he points out laughing.
A great tip indeed for anyone wanting to avoid or tear down the feeling of personal failure.
Several trips to the city (with the more interesting experiences – of course on a better attitude) and things he saw in his spirit started crystalizing. “I eventually got a car. It served me well – but only until we got to a steep hill – then it would need help to move. Or until we got into a water puddle and it would go off,” he says with infectious laughter. His incessant efforts thankfully continued to pay off. “Today I drive a car that is consistent. Should I be going up or down hill, it gives me the performance I ask for. Water puddles are also no longer a worry. A typical reflection of my wife! Her love for me has never changed with the circumstances. Now there’s nothing my wife wants that I don’t get for her,” he avows.
“I have three phenomenal kids. My son Tomide, Mr. USIU, has a special incline to music and fashion. My second son, Olaolu, was elected USIU’s School of Business Representative. He also has his own fashion line. Funmi, My daughter, is soon bound for South Africa to give a talk. They all top their classes. Additionally, all my children have their businesses and they have never called me to negotiate for them,” he cannot help but say.
Is it because of the genes? “Oh there’s no connection or correlation. For genetics to find expression an environment has to be created. I have seen geniuses become fools. I have also read a lot of biographies of great patriarchs. Genes don’t apply. For example Rockerfeller – you would expect his kin to outdo him, but the story is different,” Wale indicates in his Nigerian brawl.
I also listen and observe them
“I have exposed my children to a lot of books and also created an environment where they are not scared to express themselves. I am also not one of those parents who say, ‘I don’t want my kids to go through what I went through,” he states, “They will go through their own stuff and develop their own muscles to handle their experiences. I allow them to go through their own failures.”
“I teach my daughter how to be treated like a lady. I was very impressed when Funmi said many boys around her are conventional. She said, ‘Dad there’s a lot of chocolate and roses business (stuff I can do for myself) instead of fundamental,’ I high-fived her! I am actually just about to go for lunch with her.”
“I also listen and observe them. For example, my first born son is a perfect gentleman. He knocks doors, asks gently and the like. My second son,” he laughs, “Is perfect a gentleman too – in another way. He goes straight to the point… I must treat them as individuals,” the tycoon tells with gravity.
“I am allergic to mediocrity”
The same going for his other special family – his staff (mentees) consisting of a number of transformed individuals from the heart of Kenya’s Mathare slum. “I treat them as individuals. You also need to know your troop as a leader. When Cynthia comes in with a different look on her face, I should know. Otherwise you miss out on the important stuff.”
At the heart of his efforts is passion for Africa. “I am allergic to mediocrity. I am also passionate about the development of the human mind to meet global challenges. At PowerTalks we help our clients to turn their plans into realities. We also help them to make sense of the changes around them and help them become masters of change. Our singular goal is to transform Africa one mind at a time,” his bass reverberating with conviction.
He doesn’t have a social life outside his family
And in the course of that delivery, he says he doesn’t have a social life outside his family. I am a ‘from-work-to-home’ man. I am not the kind that stops somewhere for a drink. I make sure my family gets the best of my time,” avers the business think-tank. ‘The mastery of time is the beginning of greatness,’ his proverbial line supports his persuasion. “What is important is not what those who know me as a public figure think but what those who know me at home as a husband and father think,” he asserts.
Dr Akinyemi’s wife, Taiwo says:
• The “terrible marriages” song is in every corner. What to do? “That doesn’t mean there aren’t good marriages out there. Additionally, If you must listen about marriage, choose to hear about the ones that are working. How are they working?”
• Parenting: “Play the part. What children see is what they reproduce.”
• A special concern – “There has been this big focus on the girl child; but no tangible movement on creating the ideal man for the empowered girl.”
• To cook or not to? “Cook, cook, cook! I cook all our meals. It’s not about whether you are good at something else… A wife is a combination of all those good things. I mean, you need to eat. So what to do? So if you don’t know… breathe… and learn.”
• “Monster” mother-in-law: “Be ready to accept her. It is very difficult for him to choose between his wife and his mum. Make it easy for him.”
Believe in your man
• The phone: “My husband uses it for more serious stuff like discussions on Twitter. I use it to make calls and also play games. That’s us. Everyone can make their pick on how to use their phone. Just don’t let the posting of your activities to all and sundry drain you. The most important people are those around you. Make that count.”
• There’s a definite sense of style at the Wale’s. Who is behind it? “Wale is very good with colours. If it were left to me, I’d wear what’s comfortable – but my best friend, a fashion designer, comes in handy. When arranging his clothes I’d put a tie that I thought went well with his suit. I’d always find he’d taken a different one. Now he wears the tie I pick out for him. So I don’t know whether I have improved my fashion sense or he has adjusted to my simplicity.”
• After the ring: “Believe in your man. Pray for him.”
Wale’s marriage lines...
Communicate (the most important), be intimate (make the best of it – research says there’s a direct correlation between intimacy and performance) and get the money! (It oils life)
Eat healthy, read (food for thought) – a good book is like fertilizer and a pesticide – creating a good environment for the manifestation of your dreams.
Personal Failure – Never allow your condition to steal your dream was compiled by Brenda Wangwe-Kilonzo.
Brenda is a former editor at Pregnant Magazine and a regular writer at The Babylove Network. She is the founder and lead consultant at Media That Transforms (MT2). Catch up with her on her Facebook Page