Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Ben Carson’

learn daily

April 28, 2010 1 comment

I learnt a while ago to never stop learning. Someone once said, “The day you stop learning is the day you start dying”. Initially, I never had mentors. I didn’t see why I needed them. In 2003 or 2004, while still in my “wanna be a doctor” mind, I got to learn about Dr. Ben Carson. At the time, he was the best neurosurgeon in the world; best thing to me was he is African-American…African being the key word. He made me feel motivated and gave me this drive that if he could do it, so could I! I was a little thrown by the five books per week thing he and his brother had going on (when they were younger), but I aspired to be just like him.

From that day, I learnt that it doesn’t matter where you come from, you can still be the best. This was a breakthrough for me because for the longest time, I feared that only less fortunate people become millionaires, because they are determined to change their destiny; while the rich people stay comfortable, never growing, because they never take risks with their money. That is what I thought until I read about Donald Trump. In fact, I discovered my model company is just like his Trump Organization. His money and company was inherited, but he’s more than quadrupled it and built Trump into a super brand. His story has given me the desire to do better and more. So, even though, I am fortunate to have had a wealthy father, and didn’t grown up in poverty as Dr. Carson did, I can be better – after all, there’s comfortable -> rich -> very rich -> wealthy -> flourishing, and flourishing is where I wanna be. I’ve heard stories people who were wealthy one day and penniless the next. Your today doesn’t necessarily reflect your tomorrow. I affect my tomorrow by the decisions I make today. Everything I know today is an experience. Yesterday won’t matter tomorrow.

In the summer of 2007, one of my wasteful periods, I paid phone bills worth about $200 almost every two weeks for 2 months. Eventually, I missed a payment. I didn’t realize until I needed to make a phone call pronto, and noticed my line had gotten disconnected. So I called the company and asked them to restore my line, and I would pay in a week. My reasoning was – I have always paid all my bills on time, never defaulted, and had been paying at least $400 every month for the past 2 months. The customer service rep told me, “Well sir, I can see your history, but that was then and this now. And right now, you have an outstanding bill you haven’t paid”. In that instance, I realized it didn’t matter that I always paid. As far as he was concerned, if I wasn’t paying, I wasn’t getting my phone restored!

In the spring of 2008, I found a note I wrote to future me in 2003. It said “learn from the best”. And since the inception of The SKA Group, I try to learn something new about money, saving and business everyday. I read online articles from,,,, everyday! I’ve read books like “The Millionaire Mind” and “The Campus CEO” to build myself up. One thing I learnt from both books is “No matter how much you’re worth, you still respect money, especially if you worked for it”. Just because one is a millionaire doesn’t make it easier for him to part with a thousand for no reason.

In 2009, I heard about a show on which some millionaires would listen to a business ideas and decide whether to invest in the businesses or not. I couldn’t remember the name, so forgot about it until one of the rare times when I actually watch TV, I came across “Shark Tank”. I thought that must have been the show. Later, I found out it as the Canadian-version, Dragons’ Den, I was told about. Anyway, I liked the Shark Tank more, sorry Canada lol. Basically, I instantly fell in love with the way moguls literally dissected a business/idea, talked about money, negotiated deals, and communicated.

At the time, the meanest of the sharks, Kevin O’Leary (worth $3.2 billion), happened to be the richest. He always says this, which makes a lot of sense – “Here’s how I think of my money – as soldiers. I send them out to war everyday. I want them to take prisoners and come home, so there’s more of them. Everyday, I want to be richer when I go to bed than when I was in the morning.” The only woman, Barbara Corcoran (worth $500 million), once said, “Don’t you dare underestimate the power of your own instinct.” Another shark, the only African-American, Daymond John (worth $300 million), once said, “From the day you’re born, you’re branding yourself as something or another…until the day you die, you’ll advertise your character, your integrity, your passion, your faith and your background.” My favorite is Robert Herjavec (worth $350 million). Not only because I think we have similar personalities, but because he’s just like the guy next door, and has the real deal success story – he is a former immigrant whose family moved to Canada with just $20. Years later, he bought the most expensive house in Bridle Path (one of the most, if not the most exclusive neighbor in Toronto). He once said, “Don’t ever be enamored by what something sells for. It’s more important what you get to keep in your pocket.”

I started following the show and within the first three episodes, I learnt how to negotiate- start high enough such that if it’s beaten down, you still make a profit. I don’t miss it now. I searched each of them on Google and realized that they are all self-made multimillionaires with the same history – great idea, hard work, great timing and boom! But, every time a hear a rags-to-riches story, even though I’m always impressed, I never feel I can relate because I don’t think I can have their “i just have to make it” drive to succeed. Even though a good chunk of what I have is self-made, I also feel like I’m not trying hard enough, because I have a safety net (parents’ money) to fall back on, so if these businesses fail, all is not lost. I hate having that mindset because it doesn’t give me the necessary edge.

One mistake I won’t make though is grow too quick. Always wondered why when my dad started his company, he chose to begin operating from a very small office, when he could have built a more befitting structure. Now, I know – start small and grow as necessary.

I’ll try to emulate all these people, key into their nuggets of wisdom, and learn from their mistakes. After all, a wise man learns from his mistakes, a wiser man learns from the mistakes of others.

Keep learning people!

think big

November 20, 2009 Leave a comment

When I first decided I wanted to become a Doctor, I was so into it. I remember in grade 2 (1994), my mum got me a first aid play box – it came with a stethoscope, sphygmomanometer, otoscope and reflex hammer. In grade 3 (1995), I made my first set of colored bandages and swipes during an art class. And then, in grade 5 (1997), my dad got me “operation”. It was a fun game that mimicked the operation table of a surgeon.

Somewhere along the line, I decided to be a Chemical Engineer like one of my maternal uncles because I learnt he was making a lot of money. Sadly in 2000, based on my JSCE results, I was placed in the senior school for those poised for medically inclined line of work. I was so upset and wouldn’t have it. I complained and fought for engineering. I got it, but then it took me 2 years of bordering on failing advanced math to realize engineering wasn’t my calling.

One night, I remembered again that I wanted to be a Doctor and decided never to derail again. I fueled the dream by reading think big by Dr. Ben Carson, M.D.; and 2 of his other books. He became my first mentor and motivator. My fight to become a Medical Doctor, took me into Covenant University where I studied Computer Science for one year. It wasn’t a waste because while I was there, I got the inspiration to be an Oncologist.

I left CU and spent the next 2 years of my life in Houdegbe North American University (HNAUB) in Republique du Benin. While I was there, I was being trained to be a Medical Doctor and I loved it. The school had one too many challenges so I accepted by mum’s suggestion to transfer to Canada to continue.

I got to Canada and after a while, I began to have a twenage life crisis after at sat down one day to do the math. First, I had to do a 9-month program. Next study any 4-year program (most likely Psychology or Health Studies). After that, write the MCAT and then study Medicine for 4 years plus another 2 years in clinicals/internship. Finally, about 3 years shadowing an Oncologist. That was 13-14 years before I would be free to practice – at age 32/33. Tell me you wouldn’t freak! I couldn’t help thinking that if the Nigerian system wasn’t so sloppy, fresh out of high school, I could have been an Oncologist at 26 (10 years). Sometime after getting into McMaster, I lost absolute interest in medicine. I decided to focus just on Health Studies (which I’m in my Third year of presently) and do a Masters program in Public Health – and most likely get a job with the UN or WHO.

At age 17, while in Covenant University, I did a compulsory course in Entrepreneurship – we were educated on entrepreneurship and investments. I didn’t really pay do much attention during the investment classes ‘cuz I was already radical about it lol; and besides, my dad had taught me basically all we were being taught. He had tons shares in pretty much every company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, kept buying more for himself and all of us – his children. Much to my mum’s dismay, I caught the fire at age 15 and continued to buy for myself from my savings (built primarily from the dividends lol). Anyway, we were given a project in CU to map out our dreams over the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years. Mine included Oncology, Research Labs, Automobile Company (Ritmo Car Company) and Resort (Pearl City/Adade Resort) with my younger sister, Veronica. That was my first attempt at thinking big.

I guess it was no surprise that at 20+, I started Pearl Creations. Funny thing is I still don’t know how I remembered about the buttons. It was birthed from a plan I had with my HNAUB roommate in 2005. Almost two years into my business phase, I still catch myself thinking if I’m actually doing the right thing. I wonder if I was meant to be doctor or if all I went through was to bring me to this end ‘cuz I can’t read medicine anymore. I feel like I might feel fulfilled, but will be simultaneously miserable. Miserable that I spent 26 – 27 years of my life in school becoming an oncologist! I already did the calculations and I couldn’t be an Oncologist before the age of 30. People tell me it’s not how long, but how well; frankly I don’t think they’re putting themselves in my shoes. For goodness sake, I can’t spend practically my entire life in school? I think it was around that time I decided, you know what, I’m going to be an Entrepreneur. I’m going to be business-oriented, work for myself, start from scratch, think BIG and build my way up.

I started by dreaming new dreams and pondering on some new ideas; and just as I was done, I watched “Two weeks notice” with High Grant & Sandra Bullock. In it, there was an appearance by a Mr. Trump. He was portrayed as some wealthy socialite. I had heard Trump a couple of times, but never really bothered to look him up. So after the movie, I decided to google Donald Trump and see what all the fuss is about. Well, he is a big deal. Just check out and see for yourself. After this, I read his biographies and story. Now, he’s my new motivation; not just because of his story, but because he has built a thriving empire (similar to the one in my dreams) from virtually nothing.

I have spent time thinking about how short life is and how little the time we have to make an impact on earth. It’s been six years since I left high school. I was one of the first to go straight into college and I’m still there! A lot of people tell me I should be happy and content, ‘cuz at 20, how many people can boast of a company (especially in a country that they aren’t from), earning their own money and even being profiled in newspapers and blogs?! I thank God for all of that, but I believe I can be much more!

One day, I decided, no more medical school…just like that! Next, I decided to put my new bigger dream in ink – Pearls Incorporated. Pearls Inc consists of Pearl Cafe, Pearl Creations, Pearl Academy and Pearl Hotel. I was so excited! I began drawing up plans, blueprints, structures, websites etc. It all sadly came to a halt after my dad passed away in May. It made me think more about time. It made me more family oriented, motivated to succeed, but I digress.

More and more, I think everything happens for a reason…even the passing away of my dad. I see reasons why things happen – where I am, why, where I was, what’s happened. It’s all coming together like a puzzle that’s being put together piece by piece. So to the array of dream companies, I decided to add my dad’s start-up – SKA Ventures (a financial solutions company). I think SKA (pronounced “scar”) came from his name – Sylvester Kay Adade; which is in tune with something I learnt from him and Donald Trump – the power of personal branding. He also thought me the importance of expanding and not limiting oneself. Hence, believing God, I pluralized all the Companies (e.g. Cafe to Cafes, Hotel to Hotels & Towers etc). And until last week, I called the umbrella company, The Pearls Incorporated, because it was all pearl this and pearl that. But now, taking a cue from my late dad and the donald, it is now: The SKA Group! Since I am Sylvester Kay-Adade II, the company name ain’t far fetched lol.

While I was in CU, Dr. David Oyedepo made two statements that have stuck to me all these years: 1. When purpose is not known, abuse is inevitable, and 2. We can only possess the future we see. Nothing disciplines a man more than the future he sees of himself; because only goal-setters ever become goal-getters. I know how easy it is to make plans and not execute them. So I prayed, started making new profiles & plans…which was fun, but also a ton of work. After all the restructuring of the brand, I came up with a draft design which was a lot better than the previous picture of a white pearl lol. My talented colleague, Najim Z*, cleaned it up and it came alive:

My initial plan was to put it all out here, but then, there are dream stealers and killers. Therefore, nahhh may be later…after it is all patented and legally registered lol. Anyway, for getting this far in reading all this, here is a brief:

The SKA Group – The umbrella Company for all my companies. So, as of January 1st, 2010, the umbrella company for Pearl Creations, Suave Clothing, SKA Ventures, Pearl Academy, Pearl Cafes and co will not be The Pearls Incorporated, but The SKA Group.

The Pearl Academy – middle and high school. Kasope A* (my high school best friend) and I thought of this way back in high school. The plan is still underway, though I think it is eventually going to be a lot more than just a high school.

Pearl Cafes – group of high-end coffee shops.

Pearl Creations – creative arm.

Pearl Hotels & Towers – accommodation and relaxation.

Pearl Lands & Realtors – real estate leases, rentals and sales.

SKA Ventures – financial services & solutions.

Suave Clothing (formerly Pearl Clothing) – formal and stylish clothing sales.

Sylver Publications – printing and publication services.

Please remember:
– Don’t be afraid to think big and dream bigger.
– Never underestimate yourself!
– And, no idea stealing or forgery! 😛