Celebrating the success of our young people in South London
I was delighted to be invited as a keynote speaker on Saturday, June 22 by Markaz to celebrate the achievements of young people in South London. 1,500 people attended the celebration including children, their parents and community champions, which together made a very vibrant crowd.
The best part of the event was a spectacular performance on the stage by about fifty children who acted what they had learnt in their schools and what they do to stay out of trouble. Their parents were ecstatic to see their children graduate with flying colours.
My keynote speech focused on three secrets of success: acquire higher education; exchange cultures; and make yourself a celebrity rather than others. I encouraged them to aim higher and reach for the stars. Having given me a very warm reception, lots of guests and parents spoke to me afterwards about my message.
You can see the speech in full here:
Distinguished guests, Ladies, Gentlemen, I’m thrilled to be here with you today.
We’ve gathered to recognise and celebrate the achievements of our young people. I feel deeply honoured and humbled to have been asked to speak at such a meaningful occasion.
You should be proud of what you have achieved in your lives so far and I want to simply congratulate each and every one of you. I look forward to meeting with you individually afterwards.
But this is only the start of your journey. Now I’d like to tell you three secrets of success that will help you realize your hopes and dreams. The first is acquiring higher education. The second is sharing and embracing different cultures. And the third is making yourself a celebrity – not others.
Number one – getting higher education. Acquiring higher education has been the cornerstone of my life and made me a multi-millionaire in just 12 years after moving from India to New York in 1986.
After completing a Bachelor’s degree in engineering in India, I went to New York on a teaching scholarship to pursue a Masters’ degree in engineering. I decided to save 50% of my scholarship – by eating healthy food at home and enjoying free parks and museums. After that I worked for four years as an engineer in New York and saved about $50,000. I decided to invest my savings in building my future rather than buying expensive clothes or gadgets.
Just like you, I was very active in my community and always stayed out of trouble.
I became a volunteer fire-fighter and first-aider. My first-aid team was nominated for a Life Saving award for saving a life of 70-year old woman.
I went on to earn a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of California in Los Angeles and graduated with the top student award. Afterwards, I started Global Markets Consultants, a management consulting company, in London in 2002 and have been its CEO since then.
So I encourage you to continue making education as your number one priority and aim higher to attend world’s top universities and acquire the best education.
The second piece of advice I want to share with you is to share and embrace different cultures. You should be proud of your culture and be happy to share it with your classmates and friends.
But at the same time, learn about and embrace other cultures, too.
London is one of the most diverse cities in the world. Here you can easily learn about different cultures, people and cuisines. To learn about different cultures, I enjoy different international festivals. Recently, I participated in the Chinese New Year festival in China Town and shared my travelling experiences in China with others. Next month, I’m looking forward to celebrating Ramadan with you.
To learn about different people, I encourage you to make friends from different countries, including Japan, Brazil and India. You can visit their countries and then invite them to see Nigeria – a beautiful country. Last year, I went to Nigeria for holidays and have beautiful memories, including travelling on the bus from Lagos to Abuja and back! Let me tell you a secret about making Indian friends: go to India for holidays!
How many of you try a new cuisine on a regular basis? Two years ago I tried Nigerian food for the first time. Now okra soup, suya and jilof rice are my favourite dishes.
And 805 Old Kent Road is my favourite restaurant.
The third and final word of advice for you is to make yourself a celebrity. Don’t make others celebrities at your own expense by investing your time in them. This will give you five hours more every day to fulfil your own dreams.
Every day a lot of activities continuously demand our time. These include watching television, surfing the internet and using social media. Did you know that people spend six hours every day to make others celebrities? This is how much time each person in London spends on watching television and on texting, emailing and surfing social networking sites!
By spending huge amounts of time and energy on these activities, we’re willingly playing into the hands of Hollywood stars, sports celebrities and social media owners. As a result, they’re millionaires and billionaires and we’re not fully realising our own dreams.
I do enjoy myself, but I have limited it to one hour per day on average. Before I spend more than seven hours per week on entertainment, I always ask myself whether I can put the experience on my CV or talk about it in a job interview. So, I urge you not to spend more than one hour per day on activities that make others money rich and you time poor. Instead invest your free time to make yourself a celebrity. Just imagine, you could be Mo Farah or Beyonce or Didier Drogba!
On this note, I’d like to conclude by congratulating, again, all the winners.
I believe that you can also reach great heights in your life by believing in yourself. You have had an excellent start to your journey, now just keep building on it by acquiring higher education, exchanging cultures and making yourself a celebrity rather than others. I urge you to always remember that your journey must never be one of short-cuts or settling for less because your life is certainly worth more.
So let us reach for the stars and continue achieving your dreams.
I’d like to close by sharing these words of Muhammad Ali who inspires me everyday… he said: “I hated every minute of training, but I said: Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”.
Thank you very much and please enjoy the rest of the celebration.