‘My Dad believes birthdays should be celebrated in a very special way,’ says Mrs. Bella Adenuga-Disu
Winning with the Nigerian spirit
Year 2023, by God’s grace, is surely going to be a special year. The year when Dr. Mike Adenuga (GCON), the Chairman and founder of Globacom, the telecoms company that is currently handing out keys to houses, cars, generators, sewing machines and other appliances to the lucky users of its brand, will clock 70.
For a man who has redefined entrepreneurship and made landmark achievements early in life starting from owning two banks in his thirties, there is everything to celebrate. The man about whom the Nobel Literature Prize winner Prof Wole Soyinka says in my Adenuga book: “Mike Adenuga is a young entrepreneur I have come to admire. I like his drive.”
A man I have written two books about and on the third one titled: “HOW TO THINK LIKE MIKE ADENUGA.” Having studied and written about this great entrepreneur of our time, I am in a better position to analyze his entrepreneurial acumen, how he sees what others don’t see, how big he thinks, how he recruits, how he strategizes, how he negotiates, how he competes, how he builds his brands, how he satisfies his customers, how he innovates, what drives him, what keeps him awake, what he likes and dislikes. The list goes on and on. I am a fan of Daniel Smith and his books like: How to Think Like Bill Gates, How to Think Like Steve Jobs, How to Think Like Mandela, How to Think Like Churchill, How to Think Like Obama and his latest work: How to Think Like an Entrepreneur.
I believe books that explore the mindsets and strategies of achievers like Mike Adenuga should be published to motivate the younger generation. Robert Slater in his book 29 LEADERSHIP SECRETS FROM JACK WELCH asks: “Is there a secret formula for succeeding in business? Probably not. But it makes sense to study a master—the man widely regarded as the ablest business leader of the modern era. And that person is Jack Welch, the recently retired CEO and chairman of General Electric.”
Among those who helped me understand the mindset of the enigmatic Mike Adenuga who will be 70 on April 29, 2023 is his daughter Mrs. Bella Adenuga-Disu. Here is an excerpt from what she told me:
My dad is so generous that I don’t know how he does it. He gives cars, money, houses. He gives so much. He is someone who believes that birthdays should be celebrated in a special way. Even when I was in America as a student, he makes sure on my birthday, I go to the best restaurant with my friends. He believes that on that day, you should at least enjoy and be out. And he always gives me gifts. He always takes me out, if he is around. If not, he makes sure that I go out.
DAD’S WORDS THAT HAVE SHAPED ME
If there is one thing I took after my dad, it would be the fact that I am very organized. My dad is very organized and I am extremely organized. I am almost a perfectionist. For me, things must be done in a certain way, in a particular way. I just don’t take excuses. It just has to be done. A lot of people, from the way I relate with people at work, say that I am a replica of my father. And my dad says one thing: “If you have a business, if you don’t run it yourself, nobody can run it for you.” People always say the chairman is so busy, he wants to be involved in everything. But he tells me all the time: “If you don’t put your eye on your thing, no one else would run it for you the way you want it to be run.”
So, basically, every single detail of everything, my dad is involved with. He chooses, he is involved in everything. Things he can’t see that has to be purchased, they send him pictures, they do videos for him and all that stuff. In that regard, I am like him. Because I am almost a perfectionist. I hammer on that critically. I don’t think my dad is unnecessarily putting so much pressure on me at a young age. My dad is building an empire for his children to run. If he doesn’t put us in the mix early on, then what’s the point? Honestly, my dad has taught me so much that I can confidently say I know what my mates ten years older than me do not know in the business world.
From my dad, I have learnt that with hard work and determination, anything is possible. Success in life has little to do with being a genius. People wonder if I am a genius. I didn’t do Primary 5 and 6. I caught up. They gave me the exam and I passed them when I was in Primary 4. I equally got into school two years earlier. So I was four years behind in every class I was in. My dad was encouraging my teachers to speed up the syllabus. In Primary 4, my dad was telling my teachers to teach me Primary 5 and 6 work and yet I was excelling. It wasn’t as if I was a genius. All I did was to follow my father’s mantra: to put my mind to whatever I was doing and work hard and I would excel. If you have that mantra in life, there is no way you won’t succeed. Whatever you do, try to do your best and know that people are watching you. The good and bad thing about Nigeria is that people are unfortunately watching to see you fail for them to say: “We told you. We told you.” If you are in a society where people are watching you, you have to work extra hard. In America, people say: “Live your life the way you want.” No one cares. But in Nigeria, you have to care. People care. They are watching to see whatever slip you would make. That keeps you on your toes. You can’t afford to fail. Even me working in Globacom, I have to assert my authority. I know there will be a day when my dad would take a backseat and I know there would be the children to run the business and I just hope that we could fill his shoes when he takes backseat. I hope that we the children would be able to grow the business to an extent where our children take over. So it’s like I worry about making the legacy come alive and sustaining it. If we all remain steadfast, the dream is achievable.