I met Fola Adeola, founding Chief Executive of GTbank, recently at his Ikoyi office in company of two other people. I will describe the 50 minutes we spent with him as my best 50 minutes yet this year. It was a Business and Executive Education on the go. We discussed politics, business, leadership, Literature, Virtual Art and Cinema/Nollywood. These are my two important takeaways:
1. The Man Who Brought the Bacon Home
Mr. Adeola used the anecdote of a bacon to explain the many problem of wealth creation in Nigeria and start-ups. He pointed out that Nigeria has many young people with creative business ideas who are too fastidious about their ideas when discussing with potential investors because of fear of the investors taking over the business. Most ideas that would have become great businesses today never took off.
He gave an example of how a young man brought an idea to invest in Cinema to him about 10years ago. He was ready to invest up to $4m to build cinemas across Nigeria. The man was too concerned about control and who gets what that he lost traction of the big picture. The guy’s lofty idea and the billions he hoped to make have remained on paper till date. Whereas Kene Okparu of FilmHouse, Bolanle Austen-Peters of Terra Kulture who activated their own ideas are raking in the benefits today.
Mr. Adeola said the man with an idea is a man who only shows the direction to where the bacon is. It is the man who brings the bacon home that will be praised and celebrated. The bacon is what the family is waiting for to eat and stay alive. It is the man who brings it home that the wife and children will salute not the one who shows where to get the bacon.
2. Not All Investments will bring good returns
Adeola said it is great to make investment and also expect great returns. However, it is not always the case even with all the best expert advise. When investments turn bad just minimize your loss as much as you can and move on. He said not all business will be successful and that doesn’t make anyone a failure. If one business failed try another one. He noted that often, out of 10 investments, 6 may go bad and 1 may be struggling. He said 2 or 3 out of the 10 investments can compensate for the 6 that went bad. He also gave his personal examples.
People like Mr. Adeola should make themselves available to University of Lagos to teach MBA class at least.