I sat clearly transfixed amidst hundreds of other young people as I listened to the words that changed my life and spurred me on to pursue my dreams, they were not mere words of inspiration; you know, not the kind we have become accustomed to, that for many have become words of frustration as they have grown stale from constant use, reuse and overuse. These were different, and not in any way conventional. They were apt and extremely convincing. And the speaker? Oh! He was on point and spoke with so much eloquence and precision that kept me wondering. That day, I made an important decision, to be the best in what I have been called to do and today I am glad I took that decision.
Someone once said that success does not just happen to people, people make success happen. Oluwafeolami Durotoye has made success happen not just for himself but also for a lot of other people that have paid close attention and made the decision to take the step of courage like I did. Fela Durotoye or FDas most people love to call him was born on 12 may 1971 in Ibadan South-West Nigeria. A year later, his family moved to Ile-Ife where he grew up as one of the most active kids in the University environment where they lived at the time. Two years down the line, the little boy started his basic education at the University Staff Children’s School where he became a member of the boys scout and the school band until 1981. And then he proceeded to Moremi High School (1981- 1986), where he was also the lead vocalist and keyboardist in the youth band, “The Midwaves”; a regular feature on TV.
Fela moved onto the University for his Bachelors degree in Computer Science and Economics from 1986 to 1991, after which he went further to pursue an MBA in the same institution from 1995 to 1997. During this period, his entrepreneurial skills came alive and he started “The pool bar”, which became a hotspot and the major hang-out on campus at the time.
For the young entrepreneur, business was booming but he was clearly unaware of the impending event destined to turn his life around. In April 1997 Fela had a one on one encounter with God, an experience he may never forget that ushered him into the real life; a purposeful life.
Now with a clear understanding and clarity of vision, the young entrepreneur took a job with Phillips Consulting, a Management Consulting and Training outfit in Lagos; where he excelled greatly and rose in an exceptional career path to head the Customer Service Group. In this role, this determined man facilitated several customer service and personal training programmes and retreats. Based on his outstanding approach to facilitating, Fela became a highly respected figure in many organisations including Chartered Bank, Diamond Bank and Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, where he managed several customer service programmes on behalf of Phillips Consulting. His immense contribution to the company was so glaring and impressive that his boss at the time, the executive chairman of Phillips Consulting could not help but testify in his favour, “I saw Fela preach the gospel of customer service according to the gospel of Saint Fela Durotoye and I watched in amazement as he converted all the souls of his listeners involved.”
In 1997 the unimaginable happened; in a prompt response to a divine instruction, the entrepreneurial guru quit his plum job, determined to fulfill his mandate of becoming a nation builder. This period was definitely not an easy one for him, it was more like a trying time, yet the action man did not relent on his decision as his mind was already made up; a salary raise at the time was not even enough to woo him or make him change his mind.
A friend of mine once said that some people have thousands of reasons why they cannot do what they are supposed to do when all they need is one reason why they can. For Fela, that one reason is his mandate to build the nation. His decision to leave was a big challenge for him. According to him, “the most difficult aspect was leaving , having to detach myself from Phillips Consulting because I loved it with all my heart and had a personal drive to get to the top echelon. My vision was aligned to the growth of the company”.
In furtherance of his vision, Fela started a Christian Lifestyle and Entertainment Centre called EDEN, and at this time he barely had enough to sustain himself. He recounts, “For a period of time, I went from having a salary to having none.” In a bid to raise money to set up the Centre, Fela gave up everything he owned, “including my television set, fridge, air conditioners, radio, deep freezer and even light fittings. It was an incredibly challenging period.” He later went into consulting where he continues to excel.
Fela was the celebrated speaker in the 2003 ECOWAS Regional Youth Conference and thus received a mandate from the ECOWAS Secretariat to prepare a five year plan for youth empowerment and employment in the 15 member states. Also in 2004, he was one of the guest speakers at the Nigerian Professionals Forum (NIPRO) in the US, and also received an award for excellence in consulting.
In 2012, Fela broke a record for signing 10,000 of his books “17 Secrets of High Flying Students” in 8 hours 49 minutes.
Today, he is the Managing Partner of Visible Impact (VIP) Consulting Limited, a social enterprise set to tackle social and environmental challenges. The company assists clients to create visible improvement in their service delivery culture through required training and consultancy. Now the genius has this to say “I am in my place of obedience, I am committed to being the best in what I have been called to do”. He is also the founder of GEMSTONE, an organisation invested in moulding the leaders that will build Nigeria.
His advice to young professionals, “endeavor to build a reputation of expertise”. “Don’t just be a general practitioner, identify something that you can do better at, grow from being just a pursuer of business to being sought after”.
About his wife, the proprietress of the renowned TARA Make-up Studio in Lagos Nigeria, he says “she is the greatest gift God has given me, and there is no other human being in this world closer to me than my wife. I love and admire her as a person”.
This great man is not just a consultant; he is also an excellent entrepreneur, nation builder, husband, father and most of all a God lover. Fela’s love for God is clearly incontrovertible, he owes everything he is to God. He declares plainly, “God is not mocked, whatever a man sows he reaps in time. It is either you make things happen or watch things happen or wonder what’s happening. Be desperate for whatever you desire”.
Talking about the future, the man of wisdom says “The future I do not actively create will surprise me. My future must happen, it is either I make it happen or watch it happen. Nothing is at a standstill. Change is happening so fast that it looks like a constant. As long as I am breathing, my future has not come. And now I say, stand up and create the future you will love to see. You can do it. Remember, you have all that is required. See you at the top.