CONVERSATION WITH MY BILLIONAIRE FRIEND
(THE FINAL WRAP-UP EDITION)
Gratitude journaling just requires you to daily find the silver lining in every event or circumstance, then sitting to watch things multiply – Helena Frey
Gratitude is a currency we can mint for ourselves and spend without fear of bankruptcy – Fred De Witt Van Amburgh
There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle – Albert Einstein
Look for the reasons to be grateful even when you are struggling. Taking time to give thanks for even the smallest blessings can help you appreciate the good things in your life -AmitSood M.D
When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude – G.K Chesterton
A powerful attitude awakens inner strength, energy, motivation and initiative – Remez Sassion
If you look for reasons to be grumpy, you’ll find plenty of them. Look instead for reasons to be grateful, and see them everywhere – Marcandangel
FINAL WRAP-UP: HONOURING MY MYSTERIOUS BILLIONAIRE FRIEND AND OTHER CHEER-LEADERS
This is the second and concluding part of my conversation with my first Billionaire Friend. It is devoted to honouring that individual who has spent 26 solid weeks with me, sharing some timeless wealth-building principles, most of which he had employed to build solid wealth for himself.
In the introductory part, published last week, I wrote a short note introducing my Billionaire Friend. For those who have not read it, here is the recap:
My Billionaire Friend is not imaginary; he is a real investor, a notable billionaire in Nigeria who has left solid imprints in the sand of time with his philanthropic endeavours both in and outside the country. He started building his wealth right from his undergraduate days through deliberate investment, which has now grown into a web of wealth portfolios covering real estate, stocks, gold, solid minerals and so on, spread across Nigeria and some parts of the world. He has travelled to over 70 countries and has hosted several notable ambassadors and diplomats in his house. I first met my Billionaire Friend around 1992 when I was a cub reporter at The News Magazine through a mutual friend, and we have been very close since then.
MY BILLIONAIRE FRIEND WEPT
Something unusual happened last week. My Billionaire Friend wept. He actually cried aloud. This is how it happened. As I did with previous editions of the conversation, I sent the note below to him to review the first draft of my valedictory article:
“Good morning, sir. This final edition is dedicated to you. Would you be kind enough to go through it and see if you can beef up the portion where I tried to describe who you are? You are also free to make contributions to any aspect. Thank you, sir”.
In less than 10 minutes after I had posted that note, my Billionaire Friend sent this message to my WhatsApp:
“Ayo, you made me cry after reading your brilliant, innocently sincere appreciation of what God has used us to SELFLESSLY do for others. This happens to me every time I sit down to also watch those life-changing YouTube Series of those programmes I sponsor to mentor the upcoming youth for the good of our country and humanity. I thank God for using ‘Nothing Me’ in these ways to do those things SELFLESSLY and unobtrusively for the good of others. This is a rare form of religion, as can be found in the combined interpretations of the King James Version of the Bible in James 1 verse 27; Mathew 22 verses 35 to 40, and Luke 6 vs 31.
“Ayo, you make me cry. I have nothing to add or subtract from your brilliant recap of our arduous and stressful journey together for 26 weeks in my weekly written productions, your editing/additions and the dedicated inputs of your backroom team (many of whom I have not met but who know me, their masquerade).
“Most importantly, I use this opportunity to thank your great Chairman for setting up your successful newspaper, ARISE TV and many other successful outfits in his group of companies. Thank you, Ayo, for making me cry this morning with tears of joy, fulfilment and appreciation to Almighty God for using me as a positive vessel for His glory. Thank you, Ayo. THANK YOU, MY BOSS.”
While I was still reading the note from my friend, he called me on the phone and repeated what he wrote in the WhatsApp message, and cried while speaking. I was taken aback. I diplomatically ended the phone conversation, rather abruptly, and sent this note in reply to his message:
“Wow! I am touched! I really appreciate your sincerity and commitment to the project. Since your motive for getting on board is pure love, the universe will start rewarding you in ways that are beyond your comprehension. We are all answering a distant call to use our skills to affect humanity. Thank you, Sir. Thank you and thank you very much indeed, Sir.”
I think I understand why my friend was overwhelmed with emotion. Apart from the fact that he is being appreciated by many people he has touched for his uncommon acts of philanthropy, he was actually reflecting on what would have happened if the two of us had abandoned the vision when the going was tough. I shared with him some of the positive comments that came last week following the valedictory edition. We now realised the importance of staying on to share those thoughts.
Let me now share the remaining four discussion points for your reading pleasure.
ISSUE #4: WHEN YOU CHANGE THE WAY YOU LOOK AT THINGS, THE THINGS YOU LOOK AT WILL CHANGE
One great lesson I learnt from my Billionaire Friend is the power of instituting proper framing for interpreting events and circumstances more accurately. I observed that we do not see things as they are, rather, we see things as we are. How you interpret events and circumstances you face and the frame you use is crucial. When my Billionaire Friend asked me whether I wanted to make money or not, I made a statement that he immediately countered. It went this way:
“Okay, my boss. So tell me, why are you not interested in making money?” he asked.
“I never said that, Sir. It might be a wrong impression. I like to make money. It’s just that combining that with this journalism practice could be cumbersome. The economy is not even encouraging. All the possible economic indicators are not promising at all. Inflation has been on the increase and has not looked back. The external reserve has dropped. Government is borrowing left, right and centre, and it does not appear to make sense to me to want to build wealth here,” I replied.
My Billionaire Friend shot back thus: “I am surprised you are talking this way. Enlightened wealth hunters don’t talk the way you talk. What is my business with whether the government is borrowing or not? Only people with a poverty mindset analyse things like that. Let me break it down for you.
“This government has just got a budget of N17.136 trillion approved by the two arms of the National Assembly. Of that amount, N3.8 billion would be spent on debt servicing, which is already more than three per cent recommended by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007. N6.9 billion would be spent on recurrent expenditure. That means that amount would be set aside to pay the salaries of civil servants; pay estacode to them when they travel; their health insurance is also tied to that. About N5.4 trillion would be spent to create infrastructure, build roads and things like that.
“This is how enlightened wealth hunters would interpret the same scenario you are complaining about: they would scan the budget, analyse all the money that would be flowing out of government into private pockets, and they would figure out how to create their own toll gates to magnetise part of the money. The entire government operation is based on inflow and outflow. I would worry about how some of the largesse would come into our pockets. The government is doing its own and we are doing ours too. We create our own personal economies from which we attract part of government expenditure.
“In 2015, when a dollar was exchanged for N214, ten of my wealthy friends came to this place and wanted me to give them tips on where to invest in the coming years. We do this regularly. I gave them just one tip, that is, they should move 80 per cent of their cash into foreign-denominated assets. That was what I did when I analysed the government policies. It was a no-brainer. It was clear then that the only direction the Naira would go was down because we were not (and still not producing things that would earn foreign exchange).
“I calculated that the Naira might hit about N700 to a dollar. All my friends heeded my advice. And we are all happy doing so. That is how we think. We don’t sit back and rant about the government not doing this and not doing that. We want to always look at how we can benefit from the situation.”
It was clear that my frame was wrong and I needed to work on it. Truly as my Billionaire Friend said in our first conversation, wealth starts in your mind.
ISSUE #5: YOU GAIN MORE INSIGHTS INTO THE ACQUISITION OF KNOWLEDGE WHEN YOU ARE RIGHT ON THE FIELD TAKING ACTIONS AS YOU OBSERVE
One great gift I collected from my friend as we rounded off our weekly engagement was the 26 pairs of glasses he handed over to me through which I could interpret how billionaires think and why they do what they do. Remember, I said I have been busy taking notes of my unobtrusive interaction with some of my billionaire friends, right? My interpretation was warped. But the 26 wealth nuggets I shared in the past 30 weeks have equipped me with better frames to take more accurate notes.
This came in very handy about two weeks ago. Between August 8 and 23, 2022, I spent almost 168 hours between Asaba and Agbor in Delta State, Nigeria. Remember, my boss, Mr Nduka Obaigbena, lost his mother, Princess Margaret Obaigbena and the burial event took place between August 16 and 21, 2022 in Agbor. By the special privilege, I was part of the 15-member organising committee that took charge of guests’ flights, accommodation, room management, security, etc. Our boss wanted the very best and left nothing to chance in ensuring that his guests had the best experience. He worked with the committee day and night to ensure we accurately interpreted the vision he had on his mind for the programme. I must apologise very quickly to those guests who could not experience the best we had planned for them for one reason or the others. It was not planned to be that way, I assure you.
But that is not the aspect I want to emphasise. By virtue of my position on the committee, a senior colleague and I on the committee were directly in charge of receiving the VVIP guests of our boss. For that weekend, Asaba and Agbor were literally shut down. I was oscillating with my colleague between Asaba and Agbor, leading several VVIP guests to the venue of the event. I had never seen such a concentration of billionaires in one single event. More than 18 private jets landed in Asaba.
For another reason, I do not want to mention here, once I successfully received two billionaire partners and bankers who were at the event and handed them over to my boss, I remained off the radar deliberately for the rest of the period. That allowed me to observe and study how billionaires think and why they do what they do. The 26 frames provided by my Billionaire Friend helped me in no small measure. I am very grateful for this. I may share in the coming weeks some of the vital lessons I learnt in Agbor by simply observing from the balcony, several billionaires who graced the occasion, using the 26 pairs of binoculars I had collected from my Billionaire Friend.
ISSUE #6: CONVERSATION WITH MY BILLIONAIRE FRIENDS: THE PATHWAY TO THE NEXT PHASE
In my last visit to my Billionaire Friend, after we had wrapped up the articles, we both agreed to sit down to review the entire articles from the beginning to the last, and we came up with decisions. While sharing the nuggets could be great, nothing would change without people taking action. So, we agreed to work on concepts that would focus on how to inspire readers to practise what they have learnt. We are still brainstorming. But to start with, I will, over the next few weeks, share with you, notes and lessons I have learnt observing billionaires over the past 20 years or so, and probably, we can move to the next phase together.
ISSUE #7: THE 21-DAY MENTAL CHALLENGE
When the series was on, my Billionaire Friend sent this WhatsApp note to me: “Of all the series we have done, which one has resonated more or impacted on your life more?”
Without mincing words, I replied: “Series 1: Wealth starts from your mind.”
I stumbled on a verse of scripture that startled me a bit. I had never come across it since I started reading my Bible. It is located in one obscure section of the Bible: It reads: “But without thy mind, would I do nothing,” Philemon 1:14.
I was in my hotel room at a hotel at Asaba International Airport, which my boss had reserved for a few of the organising committee members when that verse caught my attention. Before I knew what was happening, I found myself moving from one scripture to the other that focused on the power of the mind in achieving anything, the most notable being Romans 12:2: “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.”
My conclusion by the time I left that room was this: Without a changed mind, no one can get his or her life transformed and without a transformed mind, your interpretation of events and circumstances in your life would be warped. It is an inside job. So, at our parting meeting, my Billionaire Friend and I agreed that the starting point in wealth creation is to start thinking accurately and correctly.
To get this on board, my Billionaire Friend threw in what he called THE 21-DAY MENTAL CHALLENGE, which focuses on a mental exercise that can create a mental revolution. He got it from one of the books he read and modified it to suit his purpose. We have decided to use it as a reward for any of our readers who is truly interested in starting the wealth journey correctly.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE A COPY OF THE DOCUMENT? THEN READ THE FOLLOWING SLOWLY AND THOUGHTFULLY
If you would like to get a copy sent to you, simply do either of these:
Send this message: “AA, I want a copy of your Billionaire Friend’s 21-Day Mental Challenge document NOW,” to my WhatsApp line (08086447494).”
Indicate your name, email and your location
What would happen?
Within 48 hours, the document will be sent to you via email or WhatsApp.
Sample Format of the Message:
“AA: I want a copy of your Billionaire Friend’s 21-Day Mental Challenge document now. Please send it to my WhatsApp (put your number here) or my email (indicate your email here).”
My name: John Ajanlekoko
My Location: Abuja
My WhatsApp Number: (put it here)
JOIN ME IN APPRECIATING MY BILLIONAIRE FRIEND AND OTHERS WHO MADE IT HAPPEN
Please join me in saying THANK YOU to my Billionaire Friend. You can send your note to firstname.lastname@example.org, and it will get to him.
ALSO, HELP APPRECIATE THESE INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE WORKED BEHIND THE SCENE TO MAKE THE COLUMN STAND
1) Daniel Onikola, who transcribed all the conversations with my Billionaire Friend and did the first-level editing.
2) Allwell Okpi, who played a unique role as my Inspiration Editor, checked each article to ensure everything conformed to my writing style and blew the whistle whenever he sensed a low level of inspiration in any edition. He did the final editing and fact-checked the references we made in the articles. He also helped circulate each edition among a large network of Christians in business and careers.
3) Chuks Onwudinjo, who took care of the distribution to the Life Lessons Forum and other THISDAY forums.
4) Anwulika Onwudinjo, Executive Assistant to the founder of One Africa Initiatives (OAI), who ensured that every single edition was circulated among over 3,000 youths and small business owners.
5) Mrs Mayokun Oreofe, who allowed every edition of the series to be shared with over 200 women entrepreneurs in her network.
6) Cyrille Bahmou, who distributed the series weekly to over 200 female entrepreneurs.
7) Afeez Raji, who took care of the weekly planning of the column.
8) The management of THISDAY for allowing the column to start in the first instance. It is published on www.thisdaylive.com where it reaches over 58 countries through the partnership with the Canada-based PRESS READER and, of course, Ayo, THISDAY IT executive, who made the distribution possible.
My Billionaire Friend has also given his word that he will not leave us alone. He promised that once in a while, he will share one or two pieces of knowledge to inspire the readers, especially those taking the time to be part of the 21-Day Mental Challenge. He also has many surprises in his kitty, especially for those who indicate interest by sending the required notes to the WhatsApp number provided.
So do not forget to hit your keyboard rightaway and indicate your willingness to be part of the challenge and follow the process described above.
Interesting days are ahead of us. Do not miss in action as I share next week some interesting tips, lessons and notes I took from tracking successful people, most of whom are billionaires, for the past 21 years.
I cannot wait to catch up with you next week.
Our boss wanted the very best and left nothing to chance in ensuring that his guests had the best experience. He worked with the committee day and night to ensure we accurately interpreted the vision he had on his mind for the programme. I must apologise very quickly to those guests who could not experience the best we had planned for them for one reason or the others. It was not planned to be that way, I assure you.
But to start with, I will, over the next few weeks, share with you, notes and lessons I have learnt observing billionaires over the past 20 years or so, and probably we can move to the next phase together.