By OLAYINKA AJAYI
My beginning I started as a freelance reporter in The Guardian news paper back then as an under graduate around 1984/85. I was also part of active campus magazine called Sentinel in Ogun state University. That kindled my interest in journalism.
I studied English and I had a very strong bias for literature. It was all part of my eagerness to grow and to be very active in things that have to do with arts. I was also very active in theater after graduation.
I did very well in school in my days. That was the reason behind my going back as a graduate-assistant. After my youths service, I headed for The Guardian as a judicial reporter and a sub-editor. In those days, it was interesting because those were the active days of Chief Gani Fawehinmi and all the young ones that he had trained.
They were good gladiators in the courts and it always enchanting to cover such people. Then, I was privileged to be working with the big wigs in journalism such as Dr.Tunji Dare, Odia Ofemu, Andy Akporugo and Femi Kusa.
These were giants in their field and it was also an incubating period for me in terms of ideas and views because I was working on the editorial page. Somehow on the way, I lost interest in Journalism because I noticed that it is not everything you see that you can write about.
I found out that it was just a fraction of what was happening that we were writing about. So I opted out and opting out for me was looking for another exciting thing. Advertising came naturally but that does not mean that I did not struggle to get it.
I did several job interviews, I remember one of the major job interviews I did then with Saal Advertising where I worked as a copywriter and I was there for three months before I went to Promoserve which was one of the biggest agencies and there were over 400 of us that applied for the position of two people.
We had seven different intensive interviews and I was fortunate to be one of the two that got the job. During the interview, most applicants spent 15 to 20 minutes but I engaged the panel for over an hour.
It was not because I was argumentative but because I had a clear understanding of what advertising is all about. I joined Promoserve as a client service executive and later became a business executive which was where the professional flowering came from . I learnt a very rigorous discipline there that I followed through in handling adverts briefs and contracts reports.
I have always seen what others call bottlenecks as an opportunity to do better. I ended up doing a lot of things differently. Again, I think part of what helped me was the fact that I was able to own ground handling projects on my own and with little supervision, things that were supposed to be challenges became opportunities to shine.
For instance, there were contracts reports that had to do with my interaction with clients that were meant to be submitted in 48 hours. I wrote mine under 45 minutes which in turn earned me respect among clients and colleagues in the agency.
It was so much that within my first year in the agency, I won the staff of the year award. There was a time I wanted to opt out to do something different like joining a commercial bank as the corporate affairs manager but it did not work out and then Primaganet was just opening and they invited me to be part of Primaganet. It was a rare privilege to be part of something new from the scratch.
I think that was where I had challenges because most of us that started Primaganet were very young and we had active advertising agencies then.
So, it was not a tea party breaking into the market that was dominated by titans. For me, it was a very big challenge that we had to breakthrough. We were able to have a niche for ourselves within a short period and I think the rest is history.
I was part of the first African agency to air a truly global campaign on CNN. The day the campaign broke, it was the talk of the town and that alone made us famous as an agency . I stayed in Primaganet for about 17years.
What motivated me to build my own empire
After a while, I became restless. The moment people start applauding me on a job, I tend to ask myself the next big thing. I realized I have learnt the basics of the profession and so, I went ahead.
We started during the election year in 2007 when there was scarcity of money in circulation and businesses were shutting down and there was so much of uncertainty but the foundation I laid in terms of value and efficiency kept me going.
Another thing that spurred me was the challenges clients face every year.
So basically, we have positioned ourselves in a way we would be relevant to solve clients challenges strategically.
Attracting and keeping my own clients
Nothing good comes easy. My philosophy in life is that there is no shortcut to success. So, it’s been rewarding for me because I see some of the projects I worked on having a life of their own.
Things like helping clients in setting their own corporate objectives for us is rewarding which is something we can’t wish away.
We nurture brands based on strong strategies acquired from the bi-monthly lecture which most times is internally organised and we also attend creative summits which strengthen our staff.
What life taught me
I realised it is only when you venture that you can find help. If nothing is ventured, nothing is achieved. Unless you make an attempt, you won’t succeed; unless you take a step of faith, you are not likely to achieve anything.
I would have started this agency in a two bedroom compound but I said no, that I wanted a compound that we could play with and I said to myself this is the type of property I want to occupy based on my idea and where I was coming from and today, not only do we own property but we also have another property that is bigger than the one we are occupying.
So that is the power of vision and I think it is quite instructive . Whatever your dream is, the best time to start your dream is now. I started practically with nothing, although I was able to turn most of my activities into shares.
I went through rigours to achieve my goals in life. It is only when you go through rigours that success becomes sweet. Success is not only when you have money in your bank account. To me, success is an inner feeling of impacting an organizastion positively.