Managing Director of Havilah Books, Lanre Adesuyi (left); Mrs. Joyce Shobanjo, Chairman, Troyka Holdings, Biodun Shobanjo, chief launcher, Chief Oladele Fajemirokun; author, Mr. Dotun Adekanmbi; reviewer, Mr. Ray Ekpu and Pastor Tunde Bakare at the public presentation of The Will To Win: The Story Of Biodun Shobanjo in Lagos… last week
Marketing communications expert and Chairman Troyka Holdings, Dr. Biodun Shobanjo, has said that success in business is not ‘rocket science’ but conscious, unwavering determination and serious hardwork.
Speaking at the public presentation of the book: The will to win: The story of Biodun Shobanjo, written by Dotun Adekanbi, which held in Lagos last week, he revealed that with sheer doggedness, will power to succeed and excellence as watchword, the sky would not be the limit but the beginning.
Having lost his father, who worked at Nigerian Railways Corporation, at the tender age of 15, Shobanjo was left with little or no option than to fend for himself, his mother and three siblings.
Sharing secrets of his success, he said, “I found that those who do not practice this profession very well, who run the business as a ‘typical’ Nigerian business might not be able to pass the rigorous test.”
According to him, he found out that multinational organisations do not have to like your face. “I found that in this kind of global negotiation, multinationals were looking for people they could trust. I found that there were minimum acceptable standards to them in terms of professionalism, structure and even physical presence.”
He said, “once you are able to win their trust, they will open up to you and make you feel comfortable.”
Concerning leadership, he advised that “a leader must be daring and cannot be seen to abdicate responsibility. He or she must manifestly lead from the front, if the boat is sinking, a leader does not keep quiet and pass the buck. A leader must be bold, must own up to his decisions and does not need to sacrifice himself just so he is perceived as a ‘nice’ leader. A leader must clearly define tasks and be very clear and specific about the parameters for measuring results.”
He said, “when things are not going right, ask yourself, as a leader, what guidance or assistance are you giving? Never take success for granted, always take advantage of whatever you have. Always take into consideration every piece of information in your brief. In every organisation, there will always be politicking. What matters is what you do to rise above it and demonstrate your ability.”
Shobanjo said he was able to achieve all that was chronicled in the book, not just because of hardwork and diligence; he was lucky to have interacted with destiny helpers, who believed in his dream. In particular, he commended his partner of over 40 years, Mr. Jimi Awosika, whom he described as the ‘last man standing’ in the league of the co-founders of the enterprise that has grown to become Troyka Holdings, a leading player in corporate Nigeria.
He also urged youths not to give up on their dreams, adding that with the necessary entrepreneurial mindset, they can achieve the unimaginable.
He explained that with proper guidance and support, the young people of Nigeria have a lot to contribute, stressing, “I believe that young people will find nuggets in The Will To Win: The Story of Biodun Shobanjo that will serve as motivation for them to go out there and do things for themselves; for me, that is the thrust of the whole thing. People who have worked with me and have equally become successful in their own rights are positive proof that people can do wonders for themselves.”
The biography is 542 pages with 14 chapters. The forward was written by pro-chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi.
According to the celebrated columnist, Ray Ekpu, who reviewed the book, Shobanjo is a ‘cat with nine lives’. He said, “during the time he was the president of Association of Advertising Practitioners in Nigeria (AAPN), I was the president of Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN). One issue that was always a bone of contention between the two organisations is debt owned to media owners by AAPN members. This has caused serious friction between the two organisations for decades. I proposed two mischievous approaches to solving the problem—that media owners should go direct to advertisers and ask for their money, two-that once an agency defaults on its payment terms, the media concerned should ask for interest to be paid at the prevalent bank rate — Shobanjo disagreed with the two proposals. He preferred specific trading terms.”
Reading the biography, Ekpu said there is a huge dose of what communicators call impressionistic reporting. “I like the deep contextualisation of incidents and happenings, which provides abundant flesh to the bones of the story. The book is written with candor and conviction, with Shobanjo’s strength and weaknesses x-rayed. This makes the story a believable human story. Many authorised biographies set out to eulogise the subjects without corresponding authentication of claims put forward. This book does not belong in that category. It is easy to tell a good story if there is a good story to tell.”
The author of the biography, an award-winning business journalist and accomplished public relations practitioner, Adekanbi, said, “I was motivated to write this book because I found Shobanjo’s personality and professional accomplishments quite intriguing, particularly because he evokes diverse passions in players in his industry. My determination to unravel the myths that surround him prompted my proposal to write The Will to win, the story of Biodun Shobanjo. His willingness to share his professional worldview with young practitioners and people in search of knowledge is what is now being presented to the public.”
The Publisher/CEO Havilah Nigeria Merchants Ltd, Mr. Lanre Adesuyi, in his speech, said the book is a celebration of sort. “It is a celebration of Dotun as a gifted writer who has paid his dues from journalism to advertising, public relations and now, as a published biographer. The book is also a celebration of Shobanjo, not just for his life of accomplishments in his field but also for agreeing to tell his story for posterity and especially for giving a seemingly ‘no-name’ writer a chance to do justice to preserving his legacy. As a publishing house, Havilah Books is proud to be associated with the safe delivery of this baby.”
On his part, Ogunbiyi, a celebrated communications expert and former member of The Guardian’s editorial board, said, “the biography is a useful, well-researched and finely balanced book, one that has been written with candour and conviction. It is an important addition to the growing body of biographies of key Nigerian corporate figures and deserves to be widely read. I have no doubt that it will find its way into our Business schools and colleges as an important source.”
A man who had worked in Troyka Holdings for six years wrote it.
Dignitaries at the event include, the chief launcher, Chief Oladele Fajemirokun; Pastor Tunde Bakare, Dr. Ogunbiyi; Vice Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Prof Eyitope Ogunbodede; Sen. Ben Obi, Mr. Steve Omojafor and representatives of the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona.