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How I Moved From Pulpit To Public Stage – Niyi Adesanya

One of Nigeria’s leading public speakers and youth motivator, Niyi Adesanya, speaks on his transition from the being a pastor to becoming something much more….

Niyi Adesanya is the CEO, Fifth Gear Plus / Photo credit: Adesanya
Niyi Adesanya is the CEO, Fifth Gear Plus / Photo credit: Adesanya

One of Nigeria’s leading public speakers and youth motivator, Niyi Adesanya, speaks on his transition from the being a pastor to becoming something much more….

Studies show that “Public speaking ranks among the top 10 greatest fear people have.” How did you evolve from being a pastor to being a public speaker?

Yes, Public speaking actually ranks top of the 10 greatest fear people have. To think I did not initially nurse the thought of being a public speaker, I was just someone that got the call of God upon his life to restore hope and confidence back to the body of Christ and faithfully pursued (and is still pursuing) it.

My evolvement started with the realisation I was more of a teacher than a pastor, then my mentor Sam Adeyemi (PhD) told me he feels I should be doing what John Maxwell is doing in America right here in Nigeria and I should brand for the corporate world. I bless God that I listened to him because that advice smoothened my transition.

There are those who believe speaking is more of talent, than a learned skill. Do you agree?

I strongly think and believe it is a conglomerate of both. If you are so talented but not trained, the chance of failure is very large. However, if you get trained even without much talent, there is a huge chance of success.

Discipline and training will always beat talent without training all day any day but to become the best among the rest, talent has to be trained, then you become unstoppable.

So many are opting for a career in public speaking these days, is public speaking the latest gold mine?

Yes, it could be just like it is in America. In America, a speaker can earn as much as 300,000 USD for an engagement considering his level of experience and expertise.

In Nigeria, we have really not scratched the surface yet because we still have a larger society who haven’t bought fully to paying or valuing the intangible knowledge. Nigeria is still ‘green,’ but efforts are ongoing to make Public-Speaking a gold-mine, hopefully in the next five years.

From your experience as an entrepreneur, what are the three biggest challenges entrepreneurs are faced with in Nigeria?

The major challenge is power, closely followed by funding or access to credit/loan facilities and then lastly is corruption. When I say, corruption, I am talking about the situation whereby the qualified person doesn’t get the job simply because he or she knows no one.

Niyi Adesanya / Photo credit: Adesanya
Niyi Adesanya / Photo credit: Adesanya

How did you manage those challenges peculiar in your field?

Challenges, Challenges, Challenges! In my field, I just had to build a strong and robust network. However, you must keep expanding your network because your network determines your net-worth and that helps deal with all the challenges you might face.

In other climes we see brands and businesses that have lasted for over 100 years still waxing stronger, why is it becoming very hard for our brands and businesses to attain immortality in Nigeria?

Firstly, it all boils down to the founder’s vision and secondly the sacrifice to pay the prize for the vision. For a company to live beyond 100 years, definitely it has outlived the first and probably the second generation of founders.

The questions then are, how will this company look like in 30 years, 50 years or 100 years from now? Who should be leading it? What qualities must they possess? What kind of culture must be imbibed to achieve stability from now to then? Once these questions are appropriately answered and expedited, you can expect longevity to be an incentive.

Money or mentoring, which is more important to be a successful entrepreneur?

Mentoring; it is mentoring any day.
A mentor will show you where the money is and how to get it; a mentor knows how to run a successful business and interestingly, the mentor knows the trade secrets that money can’t get. Money can get you information or education but cannot get you wisdom about what works in your field, a mentor can do that.

“If you are so talented but not trained, the chance of failure is very large. However, if you get trained even without much talent, there is a huge chance of success.”

As the CEO, Fifth Gear Plus, a company that does training, recruitment and consult for corporate organization, what basic qualities do you look out for in applicants during recruitment?

Attitude is a significant prerequisite. Skills are important but attitude is much more important. We also try to find out how the individual fits into the chemistry and culture of any organisation.

Some of our readers would want to improve their performance but do not have the opportunity to meet you in person. Share with them tips on how they can smartly improve their corporate and individual performance…

I have a formula that has helped to improve performance as an individual, it is very simple and applicable. I call it the individual competitiveness formula and it is thus, what you know + how you express it multiplied by who you know and who knows you.

The first key here is knowledge and there are two types of knowledge: Knowledge of you and knowledge of yours. This means knowing so much about your physiological and psychological makeup.

Then, knowledge about your environment, career, community, people, company, field, business and the list goes on and on. Afterwards, you must express those two kinds of knowledge creatively, confidently and with an impeccable communication skill.

You are also a leadership development expert. Why leadership, why not followership development?

“In America, a speaker can earn as much as 300,000 USD for an engagement considering his level of experience and expertise. In Nigeria, we have really not scratched the surface yet because we still have a larger society who haven’t bought fully to paying or valuing the intangible knowledge.”

I believe leadership development is simply followership development because there can be no good leadership without great followership. Come to think of it, a great leader will always turn his followers to leaders and that is what leadership development is all about… turning followers to leaders.

Many blame problems in Nigeria on leadership. As a Leadership development expert, how can Nigeria overcome her leadership challenge?

I will rather blame it on culture. A popular quote by Daniel Patrick Moynihan goes thus, “the central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics that determines the success of a society.”

Also, blame it on the leaders because they are supposed to be focused on changing the culture; the way of thinking of the people and how the people do things. Patrick went on to say, “The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself”, in other words, the leaders should focus on the way people think so as to overcome her leadership challenge.

Pastors of some new generational churches are accused of being more of inspirational and motivation speakers when they are called to be preachers of undiluted biblical truth. As a pastor and a “pragmatic inspirational speaker”, how do you strike balance in your ministry work?

I strongly believe all preachers must first be motivational speakers and then inspiration speakers because even the word motivation is from Latin that means movement. So, I believe all preachers are supposed to move people to do or act on the sermon as well as inspire which means to give hope and a reason to believe.

I always tell people that all public speakers, whether secular or spiritual must be motivational. It is now left to you whether you want to motivate spiritually, physiologically or intellectually.

“A mentor will show you where the money is and how to get it; a mentor knows how to run a successful business and interestingly, the mentor knows the trade secrets that money can’t get.”

Daddy Freeze is a torn in the flesh of some preachers with his very controversial campaign against tithing. Does his argument have valid points or is he leading a rebellion against the church?

First, I believe anybody who takes up an assignment on God’s behalf must ensure they are called or instructed by God to do so. Therefore, if they claim they are, then they are answerable to God and he alone can decide whether they are doing a good job or not.

Second, I must admit that the system has been polarised and it is just normal for anything that is working or real to have a fake lurking around somewhere. Thirdly, I think the truth can and should be spoken in love and not being disrespectful or with hate.

Last, I believe in tithe, offering and sacrificial giving. I also believe in the fathers of faith. There may be some mistakes here or there which shows they are still human but they are still our compass and guide.

Have you ever had a bad outing as a public speaker? If yes, share with us the experience…

Yes, severally. I remember one in particular around the year 1999 or so. I was trying to pronounce the word educationist and to make matters worse, some of my friends in front were trying to correct me, expecting me to read their lips but the more I tried to read the worse it got. I can’t forget it, now I laugh about it but then, it wasn’t funny.

What are your unforgettable experiences as a rookie speaker?

One will always stand out among the several ones and it is speaking at an oil and gas company in 2005 to the whole staff at their diversity week, it was an unforgettable experience for me. Also, in that category falls my first seven-digit check and you will agree with me when I say that can never be forgotten.

Finally, traveling to over 65 tertiary institutions shaping the lives of the future workforce of my nation, these three and many more are significant for me.

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