Success and Productivity Lessons From Four of Nigeria’s Richest and Most Successful Men

While there may be some element of luck in making it to financial success it is agreed that most successful people have traits and habits they have developed to help get them to the level they attained.

Hitting the top of your career will definitely be tied to your productivity level. Do you spend work time checking out your facebook messages or tweeting one thing or the other? Have you found out the time you do your best and most quality work in a day. Do you give your organisation more than three times in value the wages you are paid?

See what you can learn about productivity and career growth from these Nigerian Billionaires and Multi millionaires

1. Aliko Dangote: A friend once confided how surprised he was on a certain visit to the billionaire’s office complex. He was scheduled to meet with one of Dangote’s aides on an interview for a position in Dangote’s office. Meanwhile he had come to the venue at 8 am and sat on the cosy seat at the reception expecting that the big man would certainly walk in anytime. After spending over thirty minutes he approached a staff passing and asked when Dangote would likely be coming in. The reply shocked him to his feet.

“Oga was here as far back as 6 am,” was the answer he got from the staff.

According to my friend he never thought a man with all his wealth would bother going into the office so early and had estimated Dangote’s arrival time at the office to be 9 am at the earliest. Sources close to the billionaire explained that it was an ethic he had built into himself for years.

“He always comes in early and leaves late. That has been his way for years now from when Dangote Group was small,’ one of them said.

Whether you are working for someone or for yourself you definitely need to put in the hours. While you may not have to go to work so early as Dangote you ought to find, if you work for yourself, when best you work and put in more than average hours at getting the best from your career or business.

LESSONS: Put in more hours than the average person for when men sleep the successful work silently towards their goals.

2. Mike Adenuga: Nigeria’s second richest man is known to be very rclusive and shuns the media as much as possible. However much has been revealed about the man known as “The Bull” and estimated to be worth over $4 billion in an upcoming biography by Mike Awoyimfa and Dimgba Igwe.

Here’s what the Chief Operating Officer of Globacom Mohammed Jameel has to say about him,”He is a very target-oriented manager. He is a manager who has a huge vision. He always thinks big. If you are hearing him for the first time, you would think this man is just joking. But he is not joking. Whatever he says, he is determined to achieve it. He is very passionate about whatever you do with the business you do for the brand. Even things like branding the street, he gets into the details to get things right. And he doesn’t take instant or spontaneous decisions. He has to think it across.”

LESSONS: Think Big (It’s a well known cliche, right?). Be silently determined to hit the lofty goals you set, otherwise goals are of no use if they are not met.

3. Pascal Dozie: Dozie earned his degree in Economics and followed it up with a Masters in Administration from City University in London in 1963. He went to work in London and consulted in Croydon where he worked at the National Economic Development Office.

In Lagos, Dozie set up his own consultancy, the African Development Consulting Group. He never worked for anyone else again. In the early year, he was fortunate enough to gather consultancies for the big guns like Nestle and Pfizer. In his spare time, he wrote about Economics for the respected publication Business International.

In the 1980s, the road to real riches opened up, thanks to a simple idea. Dozie had noticed traders from the remote villages in the east of the country, where he grew up, faced the problem of carrying huge bundles of cash when they trekked to Lagos for business. “Sometimes they would be waylaid by rogues on the road,” he says. Dozie pioneered electronic transfers in Nigeria so traders could transfer their cash to Lagos instead of having to carry it. It saw the creation of Diamond Bank, which opened its doors in 1991. “The first customer was my wife,” laughs Dozie. The bank started from a 3rd floor office in Victoria Island with 20 people and $5million.

A South African cellphone company, MTN, approached Dozie with the idea of setting up a cellphone network in the vast Nigerian market. The South Africans wanted to pump millions into a 60% stake in MTN Nigeria with Nigerian owning 40% Dozie set off with high hopes to London and the United States to raise capital among the big money men and Nigerian expatriates. When he got there, it was as if he was trying to sell sand in the desert.

Many people saw the struggles of the government telecoms company, NITEL, with its wobbly and sparse landlines. Investors said that if the state couldn’t set up a cellphone network in Nigeria, no one could.

“It was very disappointing. You have a good project and you are turned down. You start to question your head,” he says.

Dozie could raise merely enough for a 20% stake in the new company. Through debt funding, MTN poured in millions to make up the difference. It was a huge risk, at the time, but MTN prospered and the rest is history. To this day, Dozie is Chairman of a solid MTN Nigeria.

“Most of the people I asked to invest now regret not investing – I even regret it myself. They would have enjoyed returns of 20 times their money”.

LESSONS: Never give up when convinced an idea has potential and opportunity

4. Tony Ezenna: Tony Ezenna, as he is often called, started out with a family chemist shop, Eastern Industrial Chemist in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State as an intern in 1975 and worked there for thirteen years before he opted to chart a course for himself. Having been well honed in the art of drug sales, the young Tony then decided to take his destiny into his own hands and on July 20th 1988, he registered and incorporated his personal company, Orange Drugs Limited.

The company started out from its offi ce in Ikenegbu, Owerri, Imo state in 1989, but the urge to play in the big league brought him to Lagos, starting off from Okupe Estate, Mende, Maryland, Lagos. It was from the Maryland base that the company, in 2001 relocated to its present Head Offi ce at Town Planning Way, Ilupeju, Lagos.

Lessons: Master Your Trade. Move to Areas of Greater Opportunity

About Paul

Paul Eze is the Co-founder and CEO at NGCareers. He is an avid writer. Connect with Paul on Twitter

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