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How Oil Magnate Femi Otedola Rose From Ashes of Failure Back to Fame

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Oil mogul, Femi Otedola, needs no introduction in today’s
global business. Aside being the son of late former Lagos State governor, Chief
Michael Otedola, he was also the second Nigerian to make the FORBES
billionaires list in 2009.
Despite the aura of invincibility wielded around him, Ote-dollar, as he is fondly christened, confessed
that such perception was not his own making.
When asked for his reaction in an interview conducted by
Shaka Momodu of THISDAY after his business plummeted some year ago, this was his
explanation:
“To me, it is funny
when people say I was down. It is not different from when a child is trying to
walk. The child must fall down, but that doesn’t mean the child will never walk
again. So if God has great plans for you, he has to teach you how to crawl
before you learn how to walk.

“There is no successful
businessman today who has not gone through ups and downs. That is what prepares
you for a future of success. It helps you learn a lot of lessons about the
business environment you are operating in. Well, I lost money but I was not
really bothered because as far as I was concerned, I am a capitalist. You make
money and you also lose money. When I make money, I am happy and I don’t allow
losing money to disturb my happiness. But I must admit that there were some trying
moments though.”
Not done yet, the interviewer prodded further on how he felt
at such trying moment knowing that he just lost about N200 billion. Hear him
again:

“Of course, after I had
lost N200 billion, I had two options to either commit suicide or solve the
problem. A week after the idea ran through my mind, I heard news that the
richest man in Germany Adolf Merckle committed suicide having lost his wealth.
Let me tell you in case you don’t know. At one time I was subsidising the
entire country because I was the largest importer of diesel and added to that
had to deal with a huge amount of losses incurred by the devaluation of the
currency and the slump in oil prices.

“You see, at any point
in time then, I had diesel worth over $400 million on the high seas. So then
crude oil prices slumped from $147 to $36, then I didn’t have the structure to
hedge against these losses. But whatever the case, I was determined to solve
the problem. What I also found funny was that when some banks were wooing me
with their money, before my losses they sent beautiful looking women to run
after me for the accounts. But after I lost money and the same banks wanted to
collect their money back, they sent stern-looking men (laughter). Some hungry
looking people will come and knock on my door early in the morning demanding
repayment. They didn’t care how much I lost or how I lost the money, all they
wanted was that I pay back their money.”
On what such experience has taught him, Otedola shrugged off
the question saying:

“It is to give on to
Caesar what is Caesar’s. When you have a business model you must adhere
strictly according to what you want to achieve. Also that being a good
entrepreneur doesn’t necessarily make you a good manager of a business. I was
offered a decision to restructure which I refused. Instead I decided that
whatever assets I had to give up to pay my debts I will offer. I didn’t want a
restructuring because the debt will still be hanging. I didn’t want that. So I
learnt my lessons, dealt with my debts and moved on. And I tell you, my wife
has been a pillar of support all the way.”
Now, that is a lesson for any strong-willed person to take
home.
Need I say more?

Culled from “What To Do When You Lose Your Job” written by Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis

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Adebayo Folorunsho-Francis is a communicator, Journalist, blogger, business coach and, of course, a prolific writer. He has Dip (Journalism) and B.A. (History & International Relations) from the Lagos State University (LASU). The self-effacing young man has worked for national, regional and local newspapers. He had worked with THISDAY covered community news for ISLAND NEWS and corresponded with P.M. NEWS (evening tabloid). Presently, he is the editor of CITYPULSE MEDIA and senior correspondent of PHARMANEWS, West Africa foremost health and pharmaceutical journal.

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