Before I delve into today’s topic, I would like to announce upfront that people ‘dash’ me things. And also that I have benefited immeasurably from my mentors. But, sincerely, that’s because I haven’t been a nuisance to any of them and will never, never be, by the grace of God.
I call the mentor I want to tell you about today Dedem. And he calls me Ntam. His family and friends, however, know and address him as Mr. Emeka Oparah. Largely close, he is, as a matter of fact, one of the few persons I can discuss even my darkest secrets and pains with.
An embodiment of charisma, capacity, competence, courage, character and content, without meaning to, this cerebral gentleman who currently combines functioning as a Vice President at Airtel Nigeria with overseeing a leading fashion house, Ethelberts, taught me one of life’s greatest lessons sometime ago. During one of our regular interactions, he had innocently and innocuously said to me, “One of the things I’ve noticed about you is that in spite of our closeness you don’t disturb me for anything…”
Frankly speaking, prior to that life-altering conversation, I had read it somewhere that under no circumstance must you harass or embarrass your mentors with any form of demands, both financial or otherwise. However, that conversation reinforced it. It equally reconfirmed once again the truism that you must never be a nuisance to your mentors or benefactors.
So, today, my dear friends, I want to advise that on no condition MUST you besiege your mentors with your financial challenges; don’t go to them for rent, feeding and such other issues. Free them. Let them be. Quit telling them about your financial issues and challenges.
Rather sell laudable ideas to them; share with them details of those exciting projects you are working on; regale them with your business and academic exploits and then watch them support you effortlessly. Privileged people, I have come to find out, are used to being disturbed daily for this and that. Which explains why they sometimes build impregnable walls around themselves. But show them that you are different; you are not a pest; you are not a leech; you are not a nuisance and then watch them eat from your palms. Even giving you, sometimes, more than you require.
And please, always appear before them looking your best. Not unkempt. Not disheveled. Not uncoordinated. Not oozing some odious smell. They may not tell you, but they detest having such people around them. Remember the popular sayings – dress the way you want to be addressed and tell me who your friends are and I will tell you the kind of person you are. Juju music legend, Ebenezer Obey, for those who understand Yoruba, captured it succinctly in one of his albums: olowo se ore olowo…olosi se ore olosi (the rich gravitate towards the rich and vice versa).
Also ask yourself what does my mentor do and in what way can I add value? Even if very little. Don’t just be taking and taking and taking…Try and give something too, afterall Chief MKO Abiola, the late billionaire mogul, once described generosity as being sexy. So, it could be as little as a card or any kind of gift that you can comfortably afford. But even if you can’t afford any of that, never forget to write them a thank you letter or stop by at their offices or venues whenever they are having any event, to assist.
Yes! It’s called ‘little, little things that matter’, but they sure go ‘a long, long way’.
I advise you once again to quit being a nuisance to your mentors; rebrand yourself before them and then watch them go out of their way to support your business; impact your life and take you places, even beyond your wildest imagination. Just like Dedem Emeka Oparah has done.
Never, never ask them for silly and stupid things; don’t also get into matters that will paint you bad and make them avoid you; up your game, keep shining and believe me, they will gladly identify with you both privately and publicly. Like all fathers, they are also happy to show you off to people as a son or daughter – but only if ‘you no dey fall hand’.
See you again and best wishes!
– Azuh Arinze is a journalist, bestselling author and publisher of YES INTERNATIONAL! Magazine