Just as I was putting the materials together for my column for the week, a young guy who had read the topic we featured last week: “Personal Finance Tips to Consider in 2023,” threw in a few puzzles for my consideration. He was particular about the article not addressing the numerous challenges a young person like him could face in implementing the suggestions in the face of the rising cost of living and inadequacy of emoluments, among others.

A spirited chat ensued at the end of which I promised to respond with a fitting piece to the issues he raised. The response, contributed by Prince Yemisi Shyllon, a renowned philanthropist and knowledge-driven investor, is reproduced below.

Generally, wealth building needs a can-do mindset. This mindset must be devoid of casting blames and excuses. And this mindset grows from years of building competencies, continuous acquisition of knowledge, burning desire for success, commitment and unwavering focus on achieving goals. With these and other positive natural attributes, wealth builders have developed a great chance of building extraordinary lives. Having a mindset that fuels defiance and grit helps you to face life’s challenges head-on.

A cursory review of students’ attitudes at examination centres can teach us something about this Can-Do mindset. An aura of confidence oozes out from students who have prepared well for an exam, and most times, such students pass their exams with excellent results. Athletes also have this same attitude. They come to sporting events brimming with confidence and zeal. I believe a sportsman who does not believe he can win has a high chance of failing. Everything about life and human endeavours requires a positive attitude and thinking to produce good results.

There is a reason many authors widely discuss positive thinking as an ingredient for success in all spheres of human endeavours. It is common for unsuccessful people to blame others, blame their environment and give good excuses for their failures.

Growing up, we had a neighbour who blamed “capital” for failing to succeed as a big-time printer. He was an excellent printer. However, he had to rely on other printing presses for printing the jobs he obtained from clients. Unfortunately, he could not buy a printing press for himself throughout his career as a printer. There were also neighbours, who blamed lack of capital for not being able to build personal homes and lived all their lives as tenants.

Meanwhile, back then on Lagos Mainland, landed properties were comparatively cheap. Yet people in this category were fond of citing lack of capital as an excuse for their inability to buy land. At the same time, many of their co-tenants devoted time and energy to planning and gradually building capital to buy landed properties. Those who kept making excuses for their inability to take advantage of available opportunities and plan appropriately never acquired landed properties. This trait can also be found among potential wealth builders.

Some wealth builders are staying aloof and doing nothing. They are blaming their situation on Nigeria’s high rate of inflation, cost of capital, badly managed Naira exchange rate, and insecurity of lives and properties for their failures in building more wealth. Whereas, under these same circumstances, other wealth builders with the “can-do” mindset are taking advantage of the same circumstances to build wealth.

Generally, success in wealth acquisition is best achieved by observing the environment and being on the lookout for untapped opportunities. No matter how bad the environment of the successful wealth builder may be, he will end up spotting ripe and low-hanging fruits of opportunities which are waiting to be plucked by discerning and smart wealth builders.

Thus, wealth builders who have taken the time and effort to take advantage of all the values and attributes that have been discussed in our previous conversations will always succeed, no matter how bad the social and economic environment may be. History has it that many wealth builders made their wealth during the Second World War between 1939 and 1945.

There were also others who made their wealth in the accompanying economic depression after the war by searching, probing, investigating and looking out for opportunities. Identification of such opportunities requires wisdom, knowledge, skills and a positive attitude towards life.

Placing the blame for failure on the doorsteps of others and making excuses for failure are self-destructive and do not go well with building wealth. Human beings are not built to be passive and complacent. Man was not designed to be idle and do nothing while blaming others for his inability to be successful in life.

Athletes spend hours and days preparing for success. They train hard for D-Day. Scholars prepare for their successes by reading extensively, continuously acquiring knowledge, researching and devouring books. Also, wealth builders succeed by searching for yet-to-be-tapped opportunities, acquiring basic skills, literacy and knowledge about finance and economics and growing their competencies for taking advantage of the opportunities arising from their surrounding challenges.

Such challenges include climatic, economic, financial, scarcity of goods and services, exchange rate mismanagement and many others. We had mentioned in our earlier sessions how individuals such as Femi Otedola, Aliko Dangote and a host of others, used this can-do mindset to take advantage of the opportunities in their respective environments to create phenomenal wealth.


The “can-do” mindset, which can also be referred to as positive thinking, has an element of innateness. Some people are naturally pessimistic. They never see success in any endeavour. Most times, life gets hard for them. In life, those who give excuses and cast blame on external factors struggle to succeed. However, people who have a cheerful outlook towards life have a high chance of succeeding, regardless of how many times they experience failure in their journey.

A good historical example is Abraham Lincoln. He competed for office several times before finally getting elected as the President of the United States of America. There are many examples to cite of those who tried and failed many times before eventually succeeding. The process of achieving success in life is not a piece of cake. It is generally tasking, arduous and can be disturbing. It requires personal sacrifices of energy, resources, reading, trying, failing and rising.

Many times, people tell me that I must like the selfless sacrifices that I make of my time, resources, needs and energy, which explains why I keep making such sacrifices. But I laugh in response to their ignorance. I engage in those sacrifices and hard work mainly because that is how I believe I can eventually attain happiness and leave behind lasting legacies for my descendants.

Indeed, the process of building wealth is not an easy one. It involves making sacrifices that are equal to the success being expected, helping to pump up the energies of wealth builders and keeping them going. Such expected success can be likened to that of a first-class student who spends all his time and energy reading and researching. This is exactly what happens with wealth builders who take advantage of opportunities around them to think positively and find solutions to challenges confronting them.


It is inevitable that a negative attitude towards life would result in failure. This question has been covered by famous authors worldwide. An author whose landmark book on the subject readily comes to mind is Dr Norman Vincent Peale who wrote the world-acclaimed “Power of Positive Thinking.”

Dr Vincent Peale, a clergyman, has written forty-six books on the topic of positive thinking. Power of Positive Thinking is unarguably his most powerful book on the subject yet. In that book, he clearly said that to succeed in life as with wealth building, people must believe in everything they do. Wealth builders must be kind to themselves.

He recommended that wealth builders give themselves time to attend to their health and well-being whilst pursuing wealth building. The author also advised positive thinkers to build new power and determination every time. He added that, like others, wealth builders must renew their energy at all levels as they proceed in building their wealth.


My worst obstacle has been in the quality of Nigeria’s human capital. The human capital in Nigeria is full of people who want to make illicit gains at the expense of wealth builders. The human capital of Nigeria is unfortunately full of people with poor reputation and integrity. They always want to cut corners at the expense of other people.

These include government officials who, without any iota of human feelings or empathy whatsoever, always make things difficult for wealth builders. This is the worst obstacle wealth builders face in Nigeria. This is possibly why private investment in Nigeria is fast dying and why factories and manufacturers are fast closing and moving away from Nigeria to saner countries. This is why our productive ability as a nation is fast declining. This is why our economy as a nation is mostly based on poor quality and poor-performing assets.


Human endeavours cannot and should not be expected to be perfect. Only the work of God is perfect. Man can only strive for the unreachable assumptions of God. Human mistakes should therefore be factored into all of man’s endeavours and activities in the building, forecasting and budgeting for wealth. Wealth building must go through the process of planning, forecasting and taking contingencies that may arise into consideration.

It is these contingencies that people sometimes call mistakes. However, they should not be seen as mere mistakes but as controllable. This is because poorly prepared and unplanned contingencies are a usual occurrence in wealth building. In basic financial management, experts make plans and provide for such contingencies ahead of their occurrences.

This allows wealth builders to apply one of the most important elements of basic accounting, which is the concept of contingency. The contingency concept guides wealth builders to avoid making provisions ahead of expected profits but provides for them to make provisions for future losses.

In general, wealth builders who aim to succeed must develop their competency level in the area chosen for building their wealth. They must develop knowledge, financial literacy, positive thinking and a positive attitude for successful wealth building. To do otherwise, such wealth builders are only assured of eventual failures.


Casting blame and excuses are self-destructive and do not go well with building wealth. Humans are not built to be passive and complacent. Man was designed to lie down, do nothing and blame others for their inability to be successful in life.

Related Articles