My goal is to inspire people to ‘live the richer life’
Omilola Oshikoya can be described as living ‘the Nigerian dream’. Four years after resigning from a successful Investment banking career, the UK certified wealth coach, who refers to herself as ‘Africa’s Premier Wealth Coach,’ is looking to helping everyone, especially women, attain richer lives. In this interview with TOBI AWODIPE, she talks about learning to conquer fear, living a purpose-driven life and the journey to ‘Doing It Afraid’.
How did you start out as a wealth coach?
I will simply describe myself as Africa’s Premier Wealth Coach. I come from a very wealthy background. My grandfather was very wealthy, but when he passed away, we went through a lot of financial challenges. So, I grew up deciding I was going to be successful by all possible legal means. I wanted to live the rich life. I had an aunt who worked in a bank. She looked like she was doing well, had a nice apartment, cars and I wanted to be like her. So, I decided to study accounting and finance. I studied in the United Kingdom and upon returning, I worked in some of the top financial organisations in Nigeria.
I started off with Accounting in a top Nigerian firm, but I got bored along the way and thought, “there must be a faster and more interesting way to make this money.” So, I went into investment banking. I enjoyed it, as I loved the dynamic nature of the job. However, I reached the point, where I got married and had children, but wasn’t getting to see them as much as I would have loved. I would wake up very early to beat traffic, leave the house when it was dark and came back when it was dark and most times, the kids would be asleep. This was also affecting my marriage, because I wasn’t spending time with my husband either. I started feeling that there should be more to life than making money. I started asking myself if I was fulfilling any purpose, if I was doing the things I was created to do. So, I started searching for more asking myself such questions as, “If I died, would I have spent time with my loved ones and created beautiful memories?”
Around that same time, my mom was diagnosed with brain tumour for the second time, and we went to England for treatment and so, I had a lot of time to think. Later that year, there was the Dana crash and I knew a couple of people on that flight. These were young people with bright future and they passed away just like that and I thought, “That could have been me.” From then on, I desired to know my purpose and so, I joined the discipleship class in my church and shared my concerns with my class and they began to pray with me. My husband is my greatest cheerleader and supporter; he has always supported me right from the beginning. He bought into my dream and he was there to support me. However, having not gone through some of my experiences, he didn’t know or understand when my dream changed. He wondered why I wanted to leave my job, when I didn’t even know what to do with my life after leaving the job. Still, he supported me, but I was afraid.
I started asking God what His plan for me was, and He took me to Genesis chapter 12, where He told Abraham to leave the land, where he was to the land He was about to show him. And I thought, “wow! So, it’s possible for someone to go somewhere without actually knowing exactly where they are going?” I was using a Joyce Meyer Bible at the time, where she narrated how she left her paid employment to follow her heart, and I took that as confirmation. I took a step of faith and decided I was going to do what I had to do.
When I returned to Nigeria, I went straight to my boss and turned in my resignation. They were shocked and didn’t understand, because my career was moving to the next level, when I resigned. My boss had been laid off and I was expected to take over his position. It was a good opportunity for me on paper. They tried to convince me to stay, and I was crying, but I was convinced it was the right decision.
So, what happened next?
I had a few consulting jobs, and I even had a really lucrative offer to work for just two days in a week, but I got a clear ‘No’ from God that that wasn’t what He wanted me to do and so, I waited. After some months, I became depressed, as I wasn’t earning money, and didn’t know what I wanted to do either. I am a very independent person, and have never been a liability. I am not one to ask my husband for money for anything. My insecurities started to play out: I didn’t want to lack or depend on anyone. I feared people were looking down at me.
One day, after praying with my prayer partner, I checked my phone and saw I had a lot of missed calls, but one number stood out. I called the number and it was an acquaintance, who said she had been trying to reach me. She asked me what I was doing and I said nothing now, but I used to be in finance. Then she said she was discussing with the editor of a magazine, who was looking for someone to write a finance column for them and she thought of me. According to her, the woman picked me out of four people, even though she had never met me before. So, I called the editor and she asked me to send her two articles. I was asking myself, if I even knew how to write or what to write about.
But then I remembered that when leaving my company, I wrote a farewell mail, which I sent to all the staff and for some reason, that mail got so many people emotional and I got countless mails and phone calls. One of my colleagues told me then, “Omi, you have a gift for writing, why don’t you explore it?” and so when that opportunity came, I called him and asked him what I could write about, since his prophecy had come to pass and he told me to write on ‘That Prada Bag or a Savings Plan,’ which was what I did. That article has been published more than once and voted the Ladies favourite article. That was how the whole personal finance journey started. Even though I come form a corporate finance background, personal finance is something I learnt through my own journey in trying to make money. It’s one thing to make money and another to manage and save it.
I started teaching people and opportunities started to come in the form of radio and TV appearances, interviews and so on. During this period, I started volunteering in my church in the media and publications division and this was a training ground for my writing.
You describe yourself as Africa’s Premier Wealth Coach. How did you come about this?
I am doing a lot of things simultaneously. I am a U.K certified life Coach, a personal finance coach, life coach and other things, but I didn’t know how to put all these together. I was just thinking about it one day and what came to me is wealth. Money is just an aspect of wealth, and there are other aspects to wealth. So, I merged my life coaching and money coaching and arrived at wealth coach. There is no other wealth coach in Africa. There are finance and life coaches, but no one is combining all, which is why I call myself that.
You recently celebrated the second edition of Do It Afraid (DIA). How did you come about this?
After I started volunteering in my church, I ran into a friend, who had just started a restaurant after leaving her job. She started a monthly series in her restaurant, where she held an event, Brunch With Brain Series, where women came and had brunch on a Sunday afternoon and someone talked to them about certain matters.
She asked me to be the first speaker in the series and even though I didn’t really know what to say, I felt inspired to share my story, of how I was so afraid to resign, but I did and liked it.
I felt a lot of people were going through what I experienced few months back and needed encouragement. The topic was “Doing it Afraid”, and I told the group of about 30 women all about my fears and insecurities— the fear of failure, of not being able to cope financially, fear of what people would think and so on, but I faced my fears and I was happy I did. The response was phenomenal.
Around that time, Uche Pedro of Bella Naija asked me to write for her platform and I sent an article to her about Doing It Afraid, but when it was published it was changed to Do It Afraid and the response blew me away. From then on, I made an audio CD on Doing it Afraid and so many people were inspired by it. I thought I was done with Doing it Afraid, but I got a call from one of my mentees that she saw a vision of me holding a conference, preaching that same message. To be sincere, I noted it down but forgot all about it, because so much was going on with me at that time.
Exactly a year after that call, things were not going well for me and I was wondering why it was so. That same day, I was speaking with a friend, who urged me to do a personal finance conference, but I refused because I only did things after being led by the spirit. That afternoon, while sleeping, I heard a voice telling me, “Do It Afraid,” and I woke up and called my mentee immediately. Within two weeks, I planned the first conference, which held at Civic Centre, and it was a success, while the second held in December last year at Eko Hotel.
What has been the impact so far of the DIA conferences?
DIA aims to inspire business minded individuals fulfil their entrepreneurial dreams and it has come at a pivotal time, when the country is battling recession. People have big dreams they want to fulfil, but are afraid of so many things. DIA gives you courage to fulfill your dreams. Impact-wise, we have had a lot of success stories like that of Nelly Agbogu, who was inspired to resign after attending one of our conferences, to set up her business in March last year. Today, she employs over 20 people and is doing well. Toyin Olatunji-Daniels is another success story after attending our conference. From working in the church, feeling depressed and in a rut, today she is the number one lighting and special effects specialist in the country. She told me she doesn’t even know what recession means, as she only reads about it in the newspapers.
After the first DIA conference, we held an Agri-business workshop to showcase the opportunities in agriculture as a business. The workshop was timely, as the Federal Government is harping on agriculture and export as a means of job creation.
People have set up businesses across the entire agri-value chain after attending the workshop or listening to our DVDs. Some of our entrepreneurs were even featured on BBC Africa. Jobs are being created; wealth is being created, and not just for Nigeria but also for Africa.
Are you contented with what you have achieved with DIA so far?
I don’t think we have started; we have so many things in the pipeline for this year, so watch out for us.
How can women effectively combine and balance career and family life?
I used to think that you had to choose one; either career or family life and I’m sure a lot of women feel this way, but I don’t feel this is true anymore. My goal is to inspire people, particularly women, to live the richer life. A woman can have it all, but you have to learn how to balance it properly. Now, I work my schedule around my family, instead of working my family around my schedule. I see myself first as a child of God, then a wife and a mother and finally a career woman. I make sure my duties as a child of God, wife and mother come first before my career, which used to be the other way round. I don’t believe you’re successful until you’re successful in all things. I’m pacing myself and taking things easy.
I believe women are luckier these days, as technology is helping so much. Most times, all you need is a laptop or phone and Internet to set up an online business and make money from the comfort of your home, where you can still be a wife and mother.
What is your secret to staying successful?
God is the secret to my success. I pioneer things, move in uncharted territories because God is the secret. I don’t do what others have done because God is the one giving me the idea, so you can say He is my secret formula.
How can more women become and stay successful entrepreneurs?
Two things: God and walking in purpose. When you walk in purpose, you’ll be successful. I believe a lot of people are trying to do things they weren’t made to do and so they struggle. Have you ever seen an unsuccessful bird? So, once a woman discovers what she was created to do, what you’re passionate about and gifted to do, it would come naturally. I’m not saying it would be easy, but because you’re passionate, you would stay on the course and make the necessary sacrifices. Just persevere with your vision, and the money will come.
What do you think government can do to support and encourage female entrepreneurs?
There are a lot of women in business, just that they are not captured in formal statistics. The woman in Balogun Market is an entrepreneur, only that she is not in the formal sector. I believe infrastructure remains the biggest challenge. I work from home and most of the time, there is no power and I have to use generator. Sadly, this is money that would have been going into my business. If the government can sort out infrastructure, it would make things easier.
What advice do you have for women out there?
Do it afraid and live the richer life. Women are blessed. We can multitask, and can be so many things at once, but we limit ourselves. There is nothing like glass ceiling, as far as I’m concerned. I hear people say, ‘Oh, she shattered the glass ceiling.’ What glass ceiling? The only reason I’m not the first female president of Nigeria is because it’s not my dream or purpose. If that was my goal, I would be and there is nobody that can stop me.
There is nobody stopping you from being what you want to be. The only thing that limits women from being whom or where they want to be is in their mind, and not any man. Woman, you can be anything, you can be everything but in being that, you mustn’t forget your assignment as a wife and mother. Because if you neglect your kids, while pursuing career and money, you might not like how it all turns out in the end. Train your children, be successful, and live the richer life.