It is another Konnect Africa interview. It’s always a great feeling to interview someone you have always admired, someone who is successfully doing those things you dream of doing sometime soon.
Have you have ever listened to the Fidelity SME Forum radio show, which airs on several Nigerian radio stations? Today, we bring to you our interview with the Host of that Talk Show, a true Nigerian Star, a man with great experience in Banking, Business Consulting, Publishing and Radio. He is none other than Martin Udogie.
This is an interview you want to read. You will learn a lot. Read on…
Tell us about yourself – family, ethnicity, education etc…
I was raised in a small village in Edo State Nigeria in the 60s, but was formed and became wise in the City. I attended Immaculate Conception College, Benin City, Edo State (the best school in my time in my humble opinion) and then University of Benin , Edo State (the Great UNIBEN). Graduating with a first class in Business Administration, I subsequently sat and qualified as an ICAN Chartered Accountant.
My first job was with Citibank Nigeria where I cut my professional teeth, then navigated through a few other banks culminating as head of planning and strategy at Fidelity Bank also in Nigeria. I later ventured into management consulting with Accenture before setting up BottomLINE Newsletter. Citibank and Accenture, two quality American companies were fabulous training grounds for me.
So I went from a somewhat shy and aloof village boy to a tough, confident urban hussler. But the transformative journey spanning decades served one powerful purpose. It helped me to know who I am, and what makes me tick.
It is a combination three things: my spirituality, my reading and my physical exercising. I always strive to have all three in sync, and whenever they are, I hit my “flow”, meaning that I am at my peak performance. I try to attend church everyday (Daily Mass, being a catholic), I read about four books every month and I exercise vigorously.
BottomLINE was my foray into entrepreneurship. It also turned out to be my vehicle into the powerful and wonderful world of media, from the traditional to the new media. BottomLINE sharpened my writing and research skills, which again became indispensable when writing my book.But as I observed the media closely, it was obvious that voice, ability to speak to and through a mass medium would be indispensable. So when the opporrunity for radio came, I tip-toed with much trepidation into it. Both newsletter publication and radio significantly expanded my network.I continue to build a network of business people, both of corporate executives and lately, amazing young men and women building amazing companies by taking advantage of emerging technologies.I believe in the saying that your network is your net-worth. I am currently working on projects that would leverage this network.
The opportunity to interview some of Nigeria’s most innovative entrepreneurs and value creators every week has been a huge education for me. And I have learnt so much that it is hard to talk about one singular lesson as the biggest.
One that stands out is that all entrepreneurs started their business ideas with little or nothing. It is that driving force to overcome that apparent resource disability that sustains you and makes you an entrepreneur for life.Cosmas Maduka started with just about N400 ($2). Today, the Coscharis Group is a multibillion dollar business. Nike Ogunlesi made night dresses for her children that some friends and family members loved. And thus Ruff and Tumble was born.Charles Anudu left his prestigious job with a multinational and opened a barbing saloon, cutting hair himself. Today, he presides over two massive businesses that he founded, Swiftnetwork and Candel.
After searching fruitlessly for work as a Computer Engineer, Nnamdi Ezeigbo begged a friend to allow him to squat in a corner of his shop to repair computers. That corner today is now SLOT with outlets in over 36 locations nationwide. The examples are simply too many.
You are also a published author. Tell us about your book – “How to read more” and what inspired it?
After graduating from the university and began my professional career, I stopped reading books. I only started reading again when I wrote my ICAN exams. And then stopped again.
Until I joined Accenture and was given a book to read by the managing partner on my first day on the job. That book opened a whole new world of knowledge to me and started me on a lifetime of learning and real education.
The reason I wasn’t reading even though I was a bookworm on campus and graduated with a first class was because I erroneously thought that reading books was what you did while in school. Or while studying for an examination. Why else would someone be reading a book? Many people have this mindset.
I once came across a quote that said that we first learn to read, then continue to read to learn. Some of your best education comes from what you read in books after school.
But as I read, I began to realise that really, reading doesn’t happen naturally. It is a habit that one needs to build gradually, and that there is in fact a process to developing the habit. This was the motivation for writing my book, How To READ MORE.
Almost everybody that has read my book has said that they not only thoroughly enjoyed it but have learnt a lot from it. One reason is the style the book is written in.
How To READ MORE is packed with stories and written in a simple, conversational tone that just engages you and keeps the pages turning. A nine-year old pupil, Ime-Ruth Udoh read it in two days. It took my son, an undergraduate, five hours to read.
Some people reading this interview would be interested in getting this great book, How To READ MORE. Where can they get it?
For those in Nigeria, How To READ MORE is on sale at Laterna Bookstore, 13 Oko Awo Street, Victoria Island, Lagos. It is also available on the major online bookstores such as Amazon.
The eBook and audio book can be accessed on amazon (click here) , and on the book publisher’s website, www.authorhouse.co.uk
You can download the the book on okadabooks mobile app. You can also click image below to buy it.
What challenges did you face in the course of publishing your book and how did you overcome them?
I have come to realise that writing a book is the easiest part. Promoting and marketing to reach people is the hardest part.I am currently leveraging all possible channels to get the book and the reading message to all Nigerians. How To READ MORE is more than a book. It is a campaign, a movement.Right now, the book is available in hard-copy, eBook, audio book formats. I am also serialising the book through short, daily one-paragraph sms to people’s mobile phones.
So if you text READ to 33070 on your mobile phone, then you receive daily messages with beautiful images. This is ideal for those who still can’t find time to read the entire book. So over time, they still get the message everyday on their phones. This is novel.
There is also an animation service being created for the book and of course the short video clips of the reading habit of successful people. Writing a book is easy, very easy. The hard work is promotion and marketing.
Your love for books is infectious. Speak to that young person reading this interview who is wondering what is there to gain from reading books.
Reading is probably the best kept secret. Talk to any successful professional or executive or even an individual of quality and substance you admire, you will find that they read, and probably read voraciously.President Barack Obama reads. He went on his two week summer vacation in 2010 with five books totaling 3,000 pages of reading.As Microsoft Chairman and World’s richest man, Bill Gates used to set aside one week in a year for doing nothing but reading.
Lee Kuan Yew as Singapore Prime Minister was an avid reader and credits reading for the success of Singapore.
World acclaimed, black American neurosurgeon, Ben Carson says reading made him smart. The list goes on.
And there are several examples as well in Nigeria. I am currently compiling short video clips of prominent Nigerians talking about how reading has shaped their success, from Dick Kramer to Dotun Sulaiman, Omobola Johnson, Ndidi Nwuneli, Okey Enemalah, Chief Phillip Asiodu, Nike Ogunlesi, Larry Izamoje, Adesuwa Onyenokwe, etc.
These people are successful and reading has been a big part of that success. Unfortunately, most Nigerians are not aware of this, because nobody has focused on it.
If there is anyone you admire who is articulate, reads and writes very well, and exudes confidence and always seems to make sense whenever he communicates, it can only be for one thing. The person reads books, always.
What is that one thing you would like every African youth to know? Inspire a young African in a sentence
Actively seek knowledge through reading.
Thank you very much for sharing with us.
You are welcome.