Speaking at the 6th Prayer for Southwark
Here is my speech from the 6th Prayer for Southwark event on 28 June:
Distinguished guests, Ladies, Gentlemen, I’m thrilled to be here with you today.
I would like to thank Pastor Ola for the opportunity to speak to you all.
I’d like to share three secrets of success with you that will help our young people realize their hopes and dreams. The first is acquiring higher education. The second is exchanging culture. 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. 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 cars.
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 the life of a 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 secret is to share your culture and embrace different cultures.
You should be proud of your culture and cuisine and be happy to share them with your classmates and friends. Introduce them to Okura soup, Nollywood and your heritage in the same way they have introduced you to burgers, Hollywood and Europe. In London you can easily learn about different cultures, people and cuisines. To learn about different cultures, I enjoy different international festivals. Recently, I celebrated the Chinese New Year festival in China Town. Next month, I’m looking forward to celebrating Ramadan.
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 yours. Last year, I went to Ghana and Nigeria for holidays and have beautiful memories, including travelling on the bus from Lagos to Abuja and back!
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 secret is to make yourself a celebrity.
Don’t make others celebrities at your own expense by investing your time in them. 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!
In conclusion, I know that you can also reach great heights in your life by believing in yourself. You can realize your dreams by acquiring higher education, exchanging your culture with others and making yourself a celebrity rather than others. So I urge you to aim higher and reach for the stars.
Thank you very much.