Happy Birthday Ademola Morebise.
I give thanks to the Almighty God for his goodness and for his mercies towards me. God has been gracious and kind to me, all things considered.
I am saved by grace and really grateful for the mercies I have enjoyed.
I am super grateful to my wife and other members of my family for the love and support they give wholeheartedly. These are the things that create an enabling environment for the things I do every single day.
Thanks to my wife and the beautiful people in my life, I think I am beginning to care about birthdays. This is a sharp departure from my previous approach to birthdays.
I guess people do change after all…. And I am yet another case study about the cliché that getting married “changes people”.
The thing is, I realize now that one thing I did not factor into my birthday celebrations (or lack of) was that a birthday is not really your day. Rather, it is a day for people: family and friends to celebrate you.
In other words, your birthday technically does not belong to you, it belongs to “the people”.
So, if you do not feel a need to celebrate a birthday like I did for nearly 10 to 15 years, just hang in there. One day, someone you mean the world to will pull you in.
BOTTOM LINE: I guess one shouldn’t focus on celebrating their personal birthday after all. It might be better to focus on living your life in a way that makes the people in your life feel obligated to celebrate your birthday with or without your consent.
The birthday checkpoint
One very beautiful thing about my birthday is that I reserved the day as “a checkpoint”; a day to reflect upon my life’s journey and where it is headed, so that I can keep track of the vision.
I usually revisit my answer to three questions every birthday: what is my life’s mission? How far have I gone with it and what lies ahead?
Over the years, I have answered the mission question along the lines of “helping people (especially young Africans) become the best version of themselves”.
This is because I discovered long ago that following the time tested principles of love, selflessness and taking responsibility for others will lead to a rich, rewarding and fulfilling life for everybody. When a vision drives us everybody wins.
This year, I modified it a bit as: working towards unlocking the CREATIVITY, PRODUCTIVITY and WEALTH of ONE BILLION AFRICANS. We will do this by building strong institutions that can positively shape the society and influence national economies, taking Africa to the next level.
That is the mission.
We seem to have a clear picture about where we headed, but getting there is a different story altogether. It is not enough to have identified your life’s mission, one must also develop a workable plan. This has engaged my thoughts for quite some time now – how do I get started with the things I want to do?
That is why this year, my checkpoint is inspired by the MILLION DOLLAR SERMON.
Let me provide a little backstory.
The Million Dollar Sermon
According to Wikipedia: Frank Wakeley Gunsaulus was a noted preacher, educator, pastor, author and humanitarian. Famous for his “Million Dollar Sermon” which led Philip Danforth Armour to donate money to found Armour Institute of Technology (now Illinois Institute of Technology) where Gunsaulus served as president for its first 27 years.
It happened that Gunsaulus had a vision about how he could build a better college if given the chance and resources to do so. While he was going through college, he had observed many defects in the educational system.
He wanted to organize a new college where he could do his thing without being handicapped by orthodox methods of education. However, building a college isn’t cheap, and he was going to need a million dollars to get this done.
So, he did what preachers do. He mounted his pulpit on a Sunday morning and preached it.
He preached the million dollar sermon and someone in attendance approached the pulpit, extended his hand, and said, “Reverend, I liked your sermon. I believe you can do everything you said you would, if you had a million dollars. To prove that I believe in you and your sermon, if you will come to my office tomorrow morning, I will give you the million dollars. My name is Phillip D. Armour.”
That was how it became a reality.
This story inspires me to also “preach” a million dollar sermon.
I am doing this for three reasons:
1. I realized that you are entitled to a wish on your birthday. One could wish for a car, a job, a new house or anything at all.
I choose to wish for a million dollars.
2. Matters of vision and mission soon become matters of money – sooner or later.
I want to write and make projections into my new year as if I had a million dollars in my bank account… that way, I can understand what I am really doing.
It is better to have well-thought-out plans rather than cower away and hide under the excuse of not having enough money to do the things one wants to do.
Everything I describe below is REAL and WORKABLE, and let me be clear: a million dollars or not, I am forging ahead to work out everything I have listed below.
In a way, my million dollar sermon is about removing a mental block that troubles every visionary: lack of enough resources to do everything one wants to do.
So, what would I actually do if I had a million dollars?
3. I cannot rule out the idea that someone stumbles upon this and does hand me the million dollars, or hands over some part of it. My “Philip D. Armour” could also be out there and waiting to hear my plans for a million dollars.
It could be a grant, a loan, an investment or a kind of gift.
That is why I am doing a Million dollar sermon.
So, here we go.
Ademola Morebise’s Million Dollar Sermon
“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents.” – Sir Winston Churchill
As I reflect upon my birthday today, that quote by Sir Winston Churchill above, summarizes how I feel on the inside. I feel specially blessed and equipped by God in order to tackle some chronic problems we face in our society today.
I see a chance to do a very special thing. Something well suited to the man I am becoming through the things I have experienced. Both negative and positive experiences alike.
The problem is that when I look around, it looks like people are set up to fail and live out mediocre lives. It really looks like poverty and underachievement will be a part of the Nigerian experience for the foreseeable future, and we must change that somehow.
Nigerians are hardworking, but our hard work seems to be producing poverty and not creating any form of wealth. This vexes me because honestly, we are just suffering for nothing.
Nobody needs to win a Nobel Prize before we can create solutions to the problems raging Nigeria.
The battle is against ignorance. Ignorance is the enemy.
For starters, we don’t understand the rules of wealth creation. We are slaving away at a game we don’t even understand. The Western ideas around ECONOMY have not been properly understood and implemented by Nigerians. That’s why Nigeria is a “poor” country and a broke American has a greater purchasing power than even the most hardworking professionals in this part of the world.
Overall, I think Nigerians prefer petty politicking and endless arguments instead of engaging in critical thinking and implementation of progressive ideas. We cannot continue to recycle ideas that we already know do not work.
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results” – Albert Einstein.
These things must change.
The task ahead looks clear enough. We must destroy poverty, mediocrity and underachievement in the Nigerian society. I consider this to be my higher calling, it is a national assignment I feel God has allocated specially for me.
We will move Africans away from poverty, mediocrity, underachievement and turn their minds towards creativity, productivity and true wealth creation.
I see a future where ideas of African origin dominate the world. Every day, I cannot stop thinking about how Nigerians can lead the world with creativity and invention.
My critics say this is an impossible proposition. However, I think they are mixing up impossibility and difficulty. There is a difference between DIFFICULT and impossible.
It is difficult, but not IMPOSSIBLE for AFRICA to become the source of ideas, innovation and fresh knowledge in this century.
European and American ideas dominated the previous centuries and those ideas have now run their course. African ideas can dominate this century. This is AFRICA’s century.
It will be difficult, I agree…. But it’s not impossible.
The way I see it, even if there is just a 1% chance that we can get it done, it’s a risk worth taking. The current scheme of global affairs doesn’t favour Africa in any way.
We cannot continue this way, we have to LEAPFROG and jump into a place of global dominance…. Becoming the source of new ideas and leadership in this “post COVID-19” era.
That is the way I see it.
That is why I am praying and working towards unlocking the CREATIVITY, PRODUCTIVITY and WEALTH of ONE BILLION AFRICANS.
After a lot of thinking, consultations and seeking feedback, I have determined the best way to deploy my first one million dollars towards achieving the above stated goals.
Here is a quick TL;DR version. If I had a million dollars, I would:
- I will deploy $500,000 towards acquiring a SAAS Company already generating between $120,000 and $200,000 in annual EBITDA. This will create jobs locally while creating value globally.
- I will deploy another $300,000 towards our SWITCH TO CREATIVITY movement. This will help get the message (books, video series) in front of more people, build a studio, get a Toyota Hilux and build a couple of apps.
- I will build a PhD advisory and funding platform.
Now, let me provide more details about each point above.
Acquiring a SAAS Company for $500,000
This year, God blessed me with some new mentors that really helped me re-shape my business thinking.
One of the things I learned this year was the “acquisition entrepreneurship” model. In this model of entrepreneurship, you do not build a company from scratch. You rather buy an existing company – complete with their customers and revenue streams, then you build up from there.
It is a very, very sound model and battle-tested as well.
For many years, I knew the whole Silicon Valley style tech start-up was not working in this part of the world. However, I did not really find an alternative until now.
So, I would rather buy an existing Software-As-A-Service (SAAS) Company that services clients internationally and then relocate the development team to Nigeria, than investing any time into building a tech start-up from scratch.
This “BUY, THEN BUILD” approach to business is something I feel more young people should look into. If you think about it, you would realise that there are loads of business owners out there that are ready to retire. Rather than allowing the businesses to die out, one could acquire them and build up to the next level by injecting the much needed fresh entrepreneurial energy.
My plan is to buy a WordPress plugin (or plugins) that consistently makes between $10,000 to $20,000 a month, preferably in recurring income. The idea is that with that revenue, we can build out a new development team locally that continues to maintain the plugin, service the existing customers while we then grow the platform.
Within 3 to 5 years, our goal is to build a premium WordPress Cloud platform. We will become a global leader in providing WordPress and web-based software, services and consulting. We want to become a major force and shape the future of the internet by consolidating the heavily fragmented, cottage web-based software industry.
We aim to service a global market by building a distributed team with deep expertise in creating web-based software across sub-Saharan Africa.
This is a good idea because we will be exporting solutions from Nigeria to the world. Any business that serves an international audience would truly create jobs, local opportunities and create massive value globally.
We would also hold free software development training in selected Nigerian cities as a form of CSR. The existing revenue stream gives us a safety net to see what works and tweak carefully for maximum performance.
It is one model that can actually empower Africans to offer value to the world. I studied the business model of several Indian software companies (especially Zoho Corporation) to better shape this idea.
It can be done.
Switch To Creativity
I set a goal to reach millions of Nigerians every week with our message of creativity. It is time to sow the seeds for the future we want.
This year, I literally published hundreds of educative posts that I offered on various social media platforms where I maintain an active presence and some free books as well as in-depth articles. I write about invention, creativity, business development, wealth creation and how to facilitate Africa’s Century.
It is a lot of work, especially juggling this alongside my day job – the one that pays my bills. However, it is very rewarding and I do not plan to stop.
Having a million dollars to spend means I can do more and take it further.
We have to use Facebook Ads, mainstream media (Newspapers and TV Stations) platforms and other marketing platforms to boost our articles every week. The goal is to get to a point whereby we can reach ONE MILLION people consistently with this message every week.
Earlier in the year, I purchased maxicreativity[.com] as a portal I could use for online training. We have to train people in the skills of complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. I have not been able to develop it due to a very tight schedule, but now… with a million dollars at my disposal, I will be able to hire a team to get it done.
Then we would hit the road. Going town to town, and from campus to campus. We want to organize live events and workshops across various cities, towns and even villages.
I decided it would be best to get a Toyota Hilux pickup truck as that would assist me with the event logistics. I have always favoured utility over form, a pickup truck is designed for work and I am ready to do some work across the nation.
Eventually, I realised that we would also need to build a studio. A modern studio helps us improve the quality of our media and consistently publish high quality audio and video production every week. In addition to video content, we would also be able to stage online conferences, and other interactive media.
PhD advisory and funding platform
For Africa to lead the world, we will need to develop a critical mass of educated people. The key to long lasting development begins with education, there are no shortcuts to this.
I am of the opinion that young creative minds should be motivated and encouraged to add PhD-Level Knowledge to their innate creativity. It is an argument I have made over and over again in a lot of my articles, short form posts and books as well.
The way I see it, there is no other way.
We know most people do PhD in Nigeria basically for lecturing sake, politics and societal ranking/clout. That’s not what this is about.
This is about working hard and CREATING NEW KNOWLEDGE that can be relevant in improving the output of our industry. Something that gives Nigerian companies a true edge in the global marketplace.
That’s how PhDs will have an effect on the productivity and economic output of Nigeria. I believe that if we add PhD-Level Knowledge to our God-given CREATIVITY, we will be unstoppable.
I’m praying and working towards a future where NIGERIANS can lead the world with CREATIVITY and INVENTION.
The people leading the world right now with Creativity and Invention usually possess PhD-Level Knowledge and so, I want young, creative Nigerians to get their PhDs. The job of PhD holders is to do research and discover more ideas and better ways of solving problems. It is more than just to teach or mentor others.
PhD holders should be contributing to Nigeria’s GDP and economic growth but it SEEMS that they are not doing the work right now. My generation will change that.
I am putting together a social enterprise with other like-minded people that will specifically address this issue. We will provide advisory services to help people understand what is possible by highlighting relevant research fields for example.
I think we will need to create a kind of fund that allows us to support and empower people to get as much education as they need in order to fully express their creativity.
That’s why I dubbed it advisory and funding platform. We have to factor in both.
This year has been very fascinating and I am so happy to begin to roll out these new updates to the mission. We have our plans outlined and now, execution is key.
It is obvious now that 2019 was the end of an era, and 2020 has ushered in the new. We must double up and move quickly with the light we have.
Not a moment to lose.
A million dollars or not, we forge ahead. My policy has always been to take things one day at a time and see where it leads.
These are my thoughts at this checkpoint, thank you for sharing this moment with me.
I am Ade – kankun – mola – nrewaju Morebise
Happy birthday to me.