Meet The Literati _Edmund Olotu

Introduce yourself

My name is Edmund Olotu, from Benin City, Edo State. CEO of TechAdvance Incubators. I am 33 years old. I moved back in November 2008 and I have made Lagos Nigeria my home ever since.

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Jumping for joy at the launch of super geeks

What has been your favorite/defining moment since moving back to Nigeria?

 There have been several defining moments since I moved back. But on this particular day last year, I told my dad to come with me somewhere to intervene on my behalf. The folks I was meeting were much older and I needed him to help me break the ice. Somewhere in the discussions he said. “let me tell you something about him; If he sets his mind to something, nothing can stop him. If he tells me to sell my house today and give him all the money I will. No questions asked, he does not fail”. Considering all the pain I have caused them and sleepless nights, that moment was really priceless for me. It was validation of 32years of my life. And most especially 11yrs of my foray into technology entrepreneurship of which the hardest years have been the past 5years in Nigeria.

 

Seen in Literati Python loafers

Seen in the Literati Python loafers

 What is Nigeria to you and what does it mean to be Nigerian?

Right now I have a love hate relationship with Nigeria, So I have to answer this question as candidly as possible. Nigeria as a country means nothing to me. It was forced upon us and in recent times, certain people have taken themselves to be the landlord of this country.

However, I do love my co-tenants dearly. Especially the younger generation of Nigerians. We are determined to leave our mark on this world, regardless of what blight or stigma being a “Nigerian” comes with. Nigerians are possibly the smartest, most ambitious and most tenacious people anywhere in the world. We stand out everywhere and we excel. To be Nigerian is to exist against all odds. If you see a successful person in Nigeria, to understand the magnitude of their success you must multiply it by what I have called the relative execution risk factor- and for me in Nigeria that number is a 100. If a child goes to school and gets all A’s in Nigeria, you must multiply all A’s by a factor of something to begin to comprehend the success level. For example, imagine the number of days kids have to take off school for having malaria. Think about the heat in the classroom plus inadequate access to studying tools. The lack of variety in the activities kids usually do to stimulate their mind. Calculate the traveling time with traffic, which inextricably is redundant time for that kid as they make their way to and from school. These are execution risks that mitigate against ones success. So if they still get all A’s imagine what they would become if they had the opportunity to go to a sound primary and secondary school and then attend MIT? Similarly if a business man earns even just a N100,000 in income imagine what he would have achieved doing the same business elsewhere. You must multiply his N100,000 by a hundred to begin to comprehend his actual level of success.

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Seen in the Literati Python loafer and Crocodile portfolio case

How did you find your voice / confidence in your decision to pursue your chosen profession / how did you know you wanted to do what you do?

This “profession” came to me by chance actually. I had failed through school. My first degree grade wasn’t all that solid. I received 14 rejection letters in one day most of the top engineering, consulting and Investment banks in England. I wasn’t ready to move back to Nigeria so I had to search deep within myself to identify what I truly loved. I knew I was a good thinker, and I was also very good at sleeping. I just didn’t know how to really think or sleep for a living. I decided to craft a career that allowed me do a lot of thinking and communication of my thoughts; and hopefully will give me the freedom to sleep as I please. And that’s how I fell into technology entrepreneurship.

Tell us about a significant turning point in your life.

Literally begging the admissions lady and her subsequently agreeing to let me into Nottingham University for my Masters degree even though I had a 2:2 and they were accepting only 2:1’s and firsts. She reluctantly agreed and I graduated with a distinction. It kind of erased all my previous bad grades. I am forever grateful to her.

What keeps you going?

Knowing that unless the Lord takes me, if I sleep I will wake up and it will be another day, and life will surely go on. It stops me from worrying incessantly… oh that and knowing that come the end of the month at least 30 people and their families are depending on me to pay their salary. It makes every single decision I take, no matter how flippant count for something.

 We know words are very close to your heart, If your words could change peoples attitudes on one particular issue / topic, what would it be? and what change would you wish to see.

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Love. Love truly conquers all. Love something, love someone. Love is curious, love is unselfish, love is inspiring. It sounds very cliché, but people have just stopped loving. People need to dedicate some part of their day to doing something that does not benefit them. Perhaps for just an hour. If you are a hair stylist for a living do your neighbour’s house-helps hair this Saturday. Have a conversation and see how your mind opens up. If you are a consultant ask your driver what business he thinks will make him money. Listen to his response and engage him. Every bad thing happening in this world is as a result of us knowing the very least about each other. From corruption, to Boko-Haram to the Middle East crisis to the global recession. It all boils down to love. People say necessity is the mother of all invention- id say now that everything necessary has pretty much been created, love is…

If you could go to the past and give your younger self advice what would it be?
Make sure you remember every single minute of your day every single day. And then keep a diary of it. At the end of every hour ask yourself if you have created value.

Of all the places in the world to visit, where would you like to be/visit at this very moment and why?
The Caribbean somewhere- Perfect place to think and sleep. But seriously, I find it quite annoying that in my “old age”, I know very little about how other black people on this planet live and potentially what value we can create together.

What would you rather, the front of Time magazine or forbes? Why?

The Literati python sachel

The Literati python sachel

Time Magazine most definitely- Forbes magazine typically celebrates wealth. Time Magazine celebrates relevance. Wealth and relevance are not always the same thing. I’d rather be relevant.

Favorite hip-hop/music / song lyric?

I just landed in Europe N***, Shopping bags I’m a tourist N****. Yes it is very ratchet, but there is a certain level of elation in that line and as one who loves to travel- I relate to it very well and when I hear the entire song it provides me with 3-4mins of escapism. Judge me as you please.

seen in the Glow in the dark,Literati zombie tee (futuristic)

seen in the Glow in the dark,Literati zombie tee (futuristic)

Imagine your child is reading this 15yrs from now, say something to them.

Don’t listen to EVERYTHING I say. I probably will be very wrong about you and in a bid to keep you safe and comfortable, limit your ability to be the greatest you can be.

What do you think are ingredients required to the make a successful entrepreneur?

I’d say consistency of purpose, blind faith and healthy dose of stupidity masked as faux intelligence.

 Success has many fathers and failures along the way are not celebrated. How do you deal with disappointments en-route to your goal?

This is going to sound trivial but I simply go to sleep, wake up and tell myself “So you didn’t die abi?”

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Meet The Literati_Yinka Alakija

1Yinka. A seen in; Terrorist vs Liberator tee, Literati Linen trousers and Literati ‘ Jolomi’ slippers

 

-Introduce yourself-

Olayinka Taiwo Alakija. Family of six including parents and an identical twin.

What has been your favorite/defining moment since moving back to Nigeria?

My defining moment has been establishing a business presence in Agro business (Snail farming) in Nigeria for local consumption and international export.

4seen in expat-okada driver in lagos tee

What is Nigeria to you and what does it mean to be Nigerian?

Nigeria is challenging but progressive environment built on strong work ethics; where initiative, passion and enterprise, interwoven with creativity, a flair for fresh innovative concepts and a desire for improvement are encouraged with the potential of being viewed as an asset. Nigeria is home and a successful ground to all who see solutions, not problems.

2Literati ‘ Jolomi’ slippers

Having illustrious ancestry such as adeyemo Alakija and his work with the Nigerian youth movement as well as Adetokunbo ademola the first Nigerian Judge, what effect if any has this had on your outlook on life and Nigerian society?

There is always going to be huge pressures living up to societal expectations of any aristocratic dynasty, however Man must carve his own path in life, pray and not forget to be humble.

3From L-R Sir Adeyemo Alakija,Alake of the Egba King Ladapo Ademola II and son, Sir Adetokunbo Adegboyega Ademola

You are an avid lover of polo other than the glitz and glamour that is associated with it, what is a regular day for a polo player? How often do you train?

Polo is hereditary in the family. My Grandfather owned race horses in the 1930’s, my father played polo and still rides occasionally too. The girls in the family aren’t avid fans though. Lol. For us, it’s not just an equestrian sport; it’s a way of life. Discipline on and off the Polo field is key. A typical Polo weekend during the season at Lagos Polo Club is played over four Chukkas (competitive practice). Stick and Ball sessions are held on Friday evenings. An entire literature on Polo, Horsemanship, Pony welfare, handicaps and rules of the game are available, should any keen enthusiast be interested.

6Seen in the LITERATI POLO

Do you have a favorite horse? Tell us about him or her.

Nina. Nina is my favorite pony out of 5 horses in my stable at the moment. I bought her in 2010. She is a Sudanese mare and has played about 6 years of active polo. She reads the game extremely well and is super quick!

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Ambition wise, what is the highest honor you strive to achieve as a polo player?

Polo players are rated via a handicapping system (ranging from -2 to + 10) i.e. +10 being the best in the world. I aspire to reach +3 goals some day.

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Tell us about a significant turning point in your life.

Life is full of ups and downs; it’s really about dealing with each snowball as it comes. We learn everyday and can only hope for a better day than the previous!

What keeps you going?

HOPE

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If there was any one thing you could change about Nigerian attitudes on one particular issue / topic, what would it be? and what change would you wish to see.

Quite a few things would need to go but the biggest issue I find is the emphasis on MATERIALISM and living a Champagne lifestyle on Coca-cola salary!!!!  I can write an epistle on this matter as it saddens me profoundly. Peer and societal pressures driving people up the wrong part in life.

9Seen in the Literati futuristic tee

If you could go to the past and give your younger self advice what would it be?

NEVER BURN YOUR BRIDGES!!!

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Of all the places in the world to visit, where would you like to be/visit at this very moment and why?

Outer space! And contribute to the space program in any little way.

What would you rather, the front of Time magazine or forbes? Why?

TIME MAGAZINE any day!

Favorite hip-hop/music / song lyric?

I like everything Wizkid

Imagine your child is reading this 15yrs from now, say something to them.

Son, you must follow the path that leads to your happiness in life. Wealth is secondary to this.  I can lead you to the river but drinking is entirely up to you. Be true to yourself and only speak / stand for what is right. Never promise what you cannot deliver and DON’T FORGET TO PRAY. Women are Gold; treat them accordingly. Daddy loves you. God bless.

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