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|Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by gisthabit: 3:29pm On Jan 01, 2019|
Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu is a Nigerian economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
According to him, below is a brief story of his success on how he rose from the being a poor and hungry salesman to a business mogul and a billionaire as a result of hard work and luck.
In business, the role luck plays in success and personal achievement is rarely discussed. If luck is mentioned, it is done with slight condescension, and usually dismissed as a product of hard work, not deserving significant attention. While hard work is paramount – and I have written extensively about the importance of working hard – history and my own experiences show that there is often a large element of success that hard work alone can not explain. It is simply not true that “you make your own luck.”
I started my career as a salesman, a copier salesman to be specific, young, hungry, and hardworking, but the reality was that I was just one of the thousands of young Nigerian graduates, all eager to succeed. How did I get from there to where I am now? Of course, hard work, resilience, a long-term vision – but also luck.
A year after earning a Master’s degree in Economics from the University of Lagos, I applied to join a new generation bank, Allstates Trust Bank. The bank’s one-page newspaper advertisement demanded a minimum of a Second Class Upper result, but I applied regardless, submitting a cover letter and filled out application with my Second Class Lower Economics result.
By a stroke of luck, my application was reviewed by the Chairman/CEO, a painstaking man who carefully read my cover letter and was drawn to the confidence in my words. “I know I may not have met the qualifying criteria for the advertised roles, but I am intelligent, driven, ambitious and I will make the bank proud. My Second Class Lower result does not demonstrate the full extent of my intelligence and ability, and I know I can do so much more.” He read those words and took a chance on me. Though “unqualified”, he decided to throw me a lifeline, an opportunity.
I was invited to join the shortlist, followed by a long series of interviews and even more tests. At the end of a very rigorous process, I received good news – I had a place as an entry-level analyst. Even now, I wonder: What if the Founder had not personally gone through my application? What if my application was rejected at the very beginning? What if I never got the opportunity to work at Allstates Trust Bank?
The story continues: Within 12 months at the bank, aged 27, I went from analyst to branch manager – the youngest ever bank branch manager at the time. I was hard working, energetic, creative and prioritised getting things done, but it was also good fortune that my bosses Toyin Akin-Johnson and Ebitimi Banigo took notice, and then, believed in me. They took a chance on me by appointing me as branch manager after an incredibly short time in the bank. They recognised in me the raw materials needed to make a good leader and were prepared to invest in me and my ability. My rise to Branch Manager within a short period is a great story but I know in my heart, I was lucky, as well as deserving.
This position of branch manager was a solid platform which launched me into several top leadership roles. When we, a small group of hungry, determined, young outsiders, took over struggling Crystal Bank, it was as a direct result of the preparedness and exposure that we received early from our superiors and mentors. Without the intervention and goodwill of these people in my career, I would not have been prepared to take on far greater roles. These learning opportunities laid the pathway to future achievements. To put simply, I was lucky enough to be identified and trusted so early on in my career, and this put me on a unique road to success. I keep this in mind – it is humbling and also drives much of what I do today.
When I left UBA as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in 2010 to pursue other interests, I made a vow that through the Tony Elumelu Foundation, I would “institutionalise” luck and democratise access to opportunities for young Africans. I promised to leverage the success I have enjoyed, to spread luck and hope, provide opportunities and to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs to succeed. Without luck in my early career, I would not be the man that I am today. I am a leader and philanthropist today because I encountered people who gave me a chance early in my career. It has been a lifetime goal to pay this forward in a transformative and impactful way.
Over the past three decades I have spent as a banker, investor, and turnaround expert, I have had the opportunity to meet thousands of entrepreneurs, like me. Many of them are young people with incredible dreams and business ideas but without the experience or access to mentoring and support required to build successful businesses. But most importantly, they have not yet been exposed to the right opportunity.
Our entrepreneurs are hard at work across the continent, identifying gaps in the market for specific products and services, and bridging these gaps with their innovation and ingenuity. Yet, many of these budding entrepreneurs often lack the capital, the networks, the training, the support to take their small business to national or regional scale. All they need is a helping hand, some luck, someone to believe in them and take a chance on them.
This is what the Tony Elumelu Foundation offers: a platform that empowers African entrepreneurs with opportunities ranging from business management training to mentoring, to funding to networking – championing their cause and giving them a global voice to actualise their ambitions. This is precisely why I launched the USD$100 million Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme to empower the next generation of African entrepreneurs. Indeed, their businesses may become the next UBAs (United Bank for Africa).
So, when I am asked, “Tony, why are you and your family doing this? What is in it for you?” I smile and recount my own story of luck. Luck is real, it is powerful, and I am committed to spreading it as far as I can. I am a beneficiary of luck, and I am passionate about sharing it across the continent, to all 54 countries.
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|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by gisthabit: 3:30pm On Jan 01, 2019|
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by BiafraBushBoy(m): 3:36pm On Jan 01, 2019|
Nice one... I will highlight the key points;
1) His cover letter did the magic for him despite not being qualified.
It worked for him and it has worked for me several times also. I can help you design a cover letter and CV that will get you a job this 2019 guaranteed.
Visit https://topwritersden.com/get-cv-free-cover-letter/ for more information.
2) He took up a sales job. Majority of millionaires in the world today started off as sales people. Becoming a sales person has lots of advantage to offer you especially if you intend setting up your own business.
I love sales and I am still selling till date.
87 Likes 6 Shares
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by sundayoga(m): 5:04pm On Jan 01, 2019|
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Nobody: 5:04pm On Jan 01, 2019|
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Factfinder1(m): 5:05pm On Jan 01, 2019|
If only the devil stops distracting us with Women alcohol and the die hard hunger for money
61 Likes 4 Shares
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by FunctionX(m): 5:05pm On Jan 01, 2019|
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by easynetsms(m): 5:06pm On Jan 01, 2019|
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by superior1: 5:06pm On Jan 01, 2019|
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by superior1: 5:06pm On Jan 01, 2019|
He made a huge cash off zenith, illegitimately but smartly
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by jaymejate: 5:07pm On Jan 01, 2019|
He used his upper and worked hard
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Nobody: 5:07pm On Jan 01, 2019|
This is our year too. Hardwork pays. God Bless ur hustle!
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by maxtop(m): 5:07pm On Jan 01, 2019|
We all have a story to tell but until you make it there's nothing to tell cuz it just won't be fascinating. I still sell pure water in traffic but nobody cares but whenever I make it'll be good story.
Make I go hussle
73 Likes 6 Shares
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by israelmao(m): 5:07pm On Jan 01, 2019|
It takes patience and hardwork to build great empires.
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Nobody: 5:08pm On Jan 01, 2019|
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by philip0906(m): 5:09pm On Jan 01, 2019|
maxtop:And you're always on nairaland...be whining yourself
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Muhylonaire(m): 5:09pm On Jan 01, 2019|
Tell any youth about hard work, wait and see how they will make you understand that smart work pays better than hard work...
2019, I just wanna be successful
4 Likes 1 Share
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by oluwasegun007(m): 5:10pm On Jan 01, 2019|
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by davidinterior: 5:10pm On Jan 01, 2019|
God make me bigger
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|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by ossy7881: 5:11pm On Jan 01, 2019|
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Daviddson(m): 5:12pm On Jan 01, 2019|
A good story of grass to grace if no involvement of human ritualistic sacrifices.
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Baroba(m): 5:13pm On Jan 01, 2019|
Very inspiring, Tony Elumelu is a rare gem..
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by HardBishop: 5:14pm On Jan 01, 2019|
who can trust a anambra person?. their business successes is often attached with juju.. he must have a covenant with an occultic kingdom.
chai. from sales boy to billionaire.... hmm. something is fishy
4 Likes 1 Share
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Ugosample(m): 5:14pm On Jan 01, 2019|
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Gaspardd(m): 5:14pm On Jan 01, 2019|
This ur moniker is funny to me
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Ugosample(m): 5:15pm On Jan 01, 2019|
what's this one saying
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by kenzysmith(m): 5:15pm On Jan 01, 2019|
Format tins this guy dey do serious ritual sales boy kor sales man bawooo
1 Like 1 Share
|Re: Tony Elumelu: The Sales Boy Turned Billionaire by Mizk(f): 5:17pm On Jan 01, 2019|
And what are we supposed to do with the info? Because it worked for you doesn't mean we should all take the same route, I'll be intrested if you can ask me of my business ideas and provide necessary funding even if it means I'll pay back with intrest and see if i won't become wealthy, the truth is we're all trying just that we are not as opportuned as he was, he only got lucky.
1 Like 1 Share
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