Lanre Ayoola was a speaker at the Big League Summit of the Kingdom Life World Conference 2014. Below are excerpts of an interview he granted at the end of the Conference.
Question: In a nutshell, how would you rate the just concluded Kingdom Life World Conference, in terms of content for yourself as a business person as well as the spiritual aspect? What is your general opinion Sir?
Answer: I think that the conference was well timed. I think that in Nigeria today, a lot of business men are a little lost. They have tried very hard but things have been quite difficult. They have put in maximum effort and they are not as satisfied as they would like to be but, as this conference came, I personally felt it was a doorway to a new beginning; a doorway to a new land, a new destination.
A time for a rethink of what you have being doing, what you should be doing and the use of your mental faculty – your connection with God and your relationship with the Holy Spirit to really redesign your future. Looking at the situation like where you are today is not where you are supposed to be, and where you are supposed to be is waiting for you but you just haven’t decided to get there. You haven’t decided to connect with your inner self, with the Holy Spirit and take His direction.
This conference to me is a conference that has opened up my heart, opened up my spirit, given me a new direction. It has made me decide to even go back to ministry. I have been sitting on the bench for the past seven years and it is time to serve. Even with the decision to serve, doors are opening up for me all over the place. I wish there was time for testimonies because the testimonies I would have even in this conference would be mind blowing.
I know that as time goes on the Lord will give me opportunities to share what I have seen, what I have received, the revelation, the opportunities, the helpers that have been sent to me from all parts of the world to knock on my door and say, ‘come and allow us to help you’. This time around, it is not a time for TREMites or Christians to be knocking on doors, the helpers will be knocking on our doors. The doors will be flying open, the guidance to which doors to take and what you should do when you enter those doors will appear to you and you will pass through them and get to that promised land.
Everybody has a promised land which is always seen as a land of abundance and plenty and wealth and riches but I say that the promised land is the land where you are content, you are happy, you are full of joy; you wake up in the morning and you are happy to be alive. You wake up in the morning and even without food you are satisfied and with plenty of food, you are still satisfied. I feel that this conference has been a catalyst to the massive development of people who have attended and people who have heard and people who will watch it on satellite television or the internet.
So for me this is a conference of new beginning, a conference of hope. I feel that everyone who has attended this conference will benefit tremendously and see a massive change in their lives because Bishop Mike Okonkwo and all the other ministers who have ministered to us have showered anointing upon us and we have strength, we have vision, we have energy, we have hope, we have faith and we are activated.
We shall go forth and do great things and the testimony that will be told next year will be amazing and those testimonies in themselves will be catalyst for those who have been sitting on the sidelines, yet to decide whether to come to Christ or not. They will come to Christ and they will become part of the work force that will serve God and bring more souls to Christ in Jesus name.
Question: How easy is it to start a business, especially if you don’t come from a ‘silver spoon’ family or if you were not born with any spoon and you don’t have connections but you have great ideas? A lot of people who listened to you while you were giving your talk at the Big League Summit would have said because you came from a privileged background, maybe you saved the allowances your dad gave you and used that money to start something. How do you start something with nothing, and how do you run with it?
Answer: I have been described as a ‘silver spoon’ child. I am not quite sure what that means because even when people were looking at me as a ‘silver spoon’ child, we were very average, compared to many children we knew at that time. The strategy I applied to my business is the same strategy that the poorest of traders in Alaba market use.
Persistence, removal of greed from the strategy, which means: sell the product (even if you make one Naira) but gain a friend and gain a customer. To me, stamina, first-class service, faithfulness, honesty and loyalty are some of ingredients that would make even the poorest of entrepreneurs rich. Yes, I was rich by virtue of my birth but at the time I started business, I did not tap into my father’s wealth. I tapped into the education I had.
Indeed, my education was good but along the way, I have come across business men who make me look like a very small boy in business who did not go to the best schools that money could buy like I did. It humbled me in that I had a Bachelors’ Degree and a Masters’ Degree and people who did not even finish primary school were teaching me how to do business, how to have faith, how to have a medium and long term strategy and not a short term strategy.
The boy who becomes an apprentice and serves for 5, 6 or 7 years in very humble conditions with virtually no income, waiting for that moment when his master will say ‘’Yes, you have served me well and diligently, this is your shop’ and he gets a little shop and from that little shop he gets other little shops and eventually becomes a major exporter, I respect that person a lot more than a university graduate who joins a bank and does the normal thing and after twenty years becomes the bank manager.
It doesn’t take money to start a business because even when I started my business, I started by the financial generosity of others. By companies whom I had the faith to ask for credit and because they looked into my eyes and I suppose saw something that showed them that I was sincere, granted me credit; incredible amounts of credit, to be quite frank, which was surprising, bearing in mind that I had no house or cash to give as collateral.
All I had was my word, all I had was my sincerity of purpose and my sincerity as a human being. They didn’t know me, they were foreigners, they didn’t know whether I was a ‘silver spoon’, a wooden spoon or a no spoon person but they knew I was sincere because I was sincere. That which is inside you will always come out and tell the people who you are. If you don’t have it inside you, it won’t come out and speak for you. If you have the Holy Spirit inside you, He will summon angels who will speak for you. They will go far ahead and speak.
If you are honest, that honesty will come out and speak to the people you are talking to. Another ingredient is boldness and I feel that the ingredient of success is not a silver spoon, it is not a privileged background. Do you know that most children with privileged backgrounds do not become successes? If you look at Nigeria today, the most successful people do not come from privileged backgrounds. Tony Elumelu, where did he come from? Aliko Dangote, where did he come from? My father, where did he come from? He was a poor child from Ilesa. A man whose father was a school teacher and who was educated in what I will call the studies of life.
Who are you? Are you somebody who is nobody or are you somebody who is going to become somebody? What makes that man better than me? What makes him better than me is that he tried. He was sincere, he kept at it, he moved in faith, he didn’t sit down and wait for handouts, he went out and asked for opportunities, he went out and made a way, even where there was no way. How did he do that? In most cases, because he had a belief in God and he was able to move forward with that strength of belief that he was more than a conqueror not someone to sit on the sidelines.
Success as an entrepreneur comes not from how much money you have but comes from how much substance you have; spiritual substance and the conviction you have inside you, sincerity of purpose and all the things I have said before. The success of virtually everybody I know, has come from that, and not from the cash they had.
How much money did Bill Gates have when he started Microsoft? He had a business in the garage, maybe he had one little computer, he had an idea, a vision and he was ready to stick to it and he knew it and he went forward and he got it. I don’t know whether Bill Gates believes in Jesus Christ or not, however I do know that he was not a rich child and therefore, being a rich child could only be an advantage if your parents sowed the right seeds in you, the right philosophies in you. I know many rich parents’ children who are very poor today and many poor children who are very rich today, so the beginning is not important but the destination, that is the key.
Question: How do you make out time for God in spite of your hectic schedule and all of the success around you?
Answer: I was very fortunate. God showed me, at the peak of my wealth what life is like without Him. I was up there and I fell like a comet to the ground and you know when comets hit the ground, because they are so big and so powerful, they dig a very deep hole. I found myself in a deep hole and when you are in a deep hole and you look up and you can’t even see the sunlight at mid-day, then you know that your hole is very deep. You see because I have been there, I don’t want to go back there.
Without God, life is horribly difficult. I don’t just make time for God …..my time belongs to God and He owns it. I think of Him all the time. I am continuously aware of His presence and the fact that He keeps me safe. You know that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God. Well I say that is true but I add that wisdom is spending time with God. He is all powerful so what safer place is there but to be with Him; and what could be a better strategy than to aim to please Him? After all, I need all the blessings that I can get. Don’t you?
Lanre Ayoola is Chairman/CEO of Tranter IT Infrastructure Services Limited