I took quite a number of insults before I was able to get the money to join the network marketing company, contrary to my friend who half his family were either in the business or rooting for those who were, my parents had thought I had lost my mind. I remember my father sitting me down one evening and giving me a remedial course on the importance of working hard and avoiding ‘get rich quick schemes’.
In the first month of being in the business I had lost most of the people I considered friends. “Awon ponzi, Mr. marketer, always inviting for presentation” was a few of the reasons given. And after they heard I had made it big, it was “he is into rituals”. No one would understand I couldn’t lend them money because I had to reinvest in myself. “He is proud now, him no dey our level again” they said.
I didn’t mention the trips, night-journeys because I had presentations at short notice. It would seem I forgot share when I had to sleep in a bus in the middle of nowhere because the bus I used broke down or the number of times I was embarrassed, abused or thrown out of offices because what i was offering was beneath the prospect I spoke to.
Exactly a year after I started network marketing my mum died. And I lost it. She was my only supporter, my one-man fan club. And I lost it, falling into depression made me loose a lot of money. That was the first time I thought about using my Resume which after a couple of interviews drove me deeper into depression. It was a classic hero-to-zero story. My one million I had made disappeared faster than the one hundred and seventy-five Naira.
I met my mentor in that year of depression and it took a while and a lot of stubbornness on her part but she got through to me. She became he mother I had lost. For every wrong business move she scolded me like little boy and for every brilliant idea she cheered me on. I pull myself up and yes it was a beautiful comeback.
I said I invested in some companies. Last year I almost lost my shares. The year before that most of you would remember the law suit that went away after the hype that followed it. Two very tough situations. This is my eleventh year as an entrepreneur. People still want to sue me, people still hate me, my consulting firm still faces major challenges and as you know telecommunication companies in Nigeria are not finding it funny. I am thirty-five years old, and my wife just gave birth so I have daddy duties. But I am still here.
. . . . . .
This time people were on their feet, some were shaking their heads, some were smiling but everyone was clapping. I had walked back to the podium during the course of my story and I just looked. More overwhelmed at my story than at its effect to the crowd. It really has been a long journey.
I looked up, took a deep breath, raised a hand for silence and decided to continue.
“Folks, that is what most people forget to say. That is what people think. Since they don’t know you one on one, you never told them your story they assume. They think you never really worked hard, IT JUST HAPPENED. For those who feel network marketing is shady, it is simply because you thought it would be easy since you took the stories told and focused on the good part” I looked into the crowd as I spoke.
“It is never easy. And just because it took someone 2 decades to make it in life and it took another half the time doesn’t make either of them less important. If you want to be successful, respect successful people. There is no time to hate” I said.
A number of people were nodding their heads.
“We should be proud of our young folks making it big. We should encourage it. We should support it. Support your children if they have dreams. Learn about what they are interested in and guide them. You job is not to make them do what you want but guide them to do what is RIGHT” I looked around.
I have always had the weirdest type of speeches and this was one of them. I decided to round up.
“I would like to end with this. It is possible for you to be successful, know that for every ‘over-night’ success there is a story of struggle behind it and remember that if you believe it is possible and you work towards it, somehow, some day it will happen” the auditorium roared with clapping.
“Like every speech I have I have to end with the words of my favorite motivational speaker” I smiled as I look to the crowd “It has been a plum pleasing pleasure, as well as a privilege. Good Night” and I walked towards the back entrance of the stage, and like in every single speech I give, tears fill my eyes.