The importance of personal branding in life and career success cannot be overemphasized in today’s very competitive world. Earlier this week, renowned brand expert and principal consultant at ADSTRAT Branding Management Consortium, Charles O’Tudor, revealed his top 5 brands to watch in 2017 – Olakunle Soriyan, Ladi Balogun, Lanre Olusola, Mitchell Elegbe and Segun Agbaje.
We chat with three of the honorees. Firstly, let’s introduce them:
OLAKUNLE SORIYAN– Principal Transformation Strategist, The Olakunle Soriyan Company
The Olakunle Soriyan Company is nation-building and total life management training, coaching and consulting firm. According to Soriyan, he resigned as CEO to pick up new responsibility as Principal Transformation Strategist with strong bias for Research and Development, Product Development and Ideation in a way that directly impacts on the nation-building and total life management commitment of the organization. Soriyan works to shape culture in enterprise governments, youth and family life through thought revolution.
MITCHELL ELEGBE – Group Managing Director/CEO, Interswitch Group
Mitchell Elegbe founded Interswitch in 2002 and today, Interswitch is at the forefront of creating intuitive ways to pay and transact using digital technologies. Under Elegbe’s leadership, the company has diversified its business, broadened its distribution channels, expanded into new markets and delivered strong growth in revenue and profits. A Bishop Desmond Tutu fellow of the African Leadership Institute, Mitchell’s leadership abilities have earned him several industry awards across Africa and he pays it forward by mentoring young entrepreneurs.
LANRE OLUSOLA (THE CATALYST) – Founder, The Olusola Lanre Coaching Academy.
A former serial entrepreneur, Olusola popularly called The Catalyst, shut down his 8 thriving businesses to go back to school and consequently set up West Africa’s first wholly coaching academy. Recognized as Africa’s Premier Life, Mind, Emotions and Behavioral Change Coach, Lanre Olusola says he is passionate about people.
One of the most schooled and qualified coaches in the global industry; Olusola deploys the teaching and application of coaching interventions as a critical tool for individual, organizational and governmental transformational processes. Helping individual and organizations transition from where they are to where they desire and are designed to be, has become a unique message from The Catalyst.
Glazia: Congratulations on being listed as one of the top 5 brands to watch in 2017, quite an exclusive list too, how does this make you feel in the 1st week of the New Year?
Olakunle Soriyan: I consider recognition as a virtue. Recognition is supposed to be a good or admirable property. I have been torn and emotionally distracted severally by organizations asking me to pay some type of money to be recognized or awarded. Why should anyone work so hard to create a relevant space for his or her work under the sun, and another is asking to be paid to recognize the great work? I do not judge them I must say. So, I have rejected hundreds of so-called awards and recognitions. I will continue to reject them as long as they are asking me to pay. That’s my fascination with what the brand guru, Charles Otudor is doing. As GLAZIA, you must be praised because you are also doing a report on this and we have not paid you a kobo.
I am excited that minds like Charles Otudor, efforts like GLAZIA and the few who see this path are keeping the flag of excellence flying. Due recognition has to be defended as a form of virtue. Look at what Fortune has done with the 100 Best Places To Work…or what Forbes does. We need those prejudice-free, nepotism and tokenism-free platforms that give persons and corporates the recognition and encouragement their individuality and authenticity deserves. This is the feeling I have about this and it is so satisfying. This is only a beginning.
Mitchell Elegbe: Thank you. It is quite inspiring – a great way to start the year, no doubt!
Lanre Olusola : I’m first of all grateful for breath, health and life. Secondly I’m thankful for being chosen by God as His Messenger with an apt message to Nigeria and Nigerians for such a time as this. Without these, we won’t be talking about me or me being selected as one of the Top 5 Brands to look out for in 2017 by non-other than Charles Otudor who in my opinion is one of the Top 3 greats in Branding in Nigeria.
G: Being listed as the top 5 brand to watch in 2017 with other high performers as yourself, do you feel any pressure to perform this year?
O.S: I feel no pressure at all. I have great respect for all those on the list as they represent quite a huge sense of value in their area of assignment. You know, in an interview like this some years ago, a journalist from one of the biggest media houses in Nigeria asked me to talk about my work. I of course declined to her utter shock. I explained to her that if she was interviewing Mandela or Wole Soyinka or even Bin Laden (as evil as his works were), she as a journalist will not be asking them to talk about their works. Rather, she would have so felt the strength and weight of their works so much that she would have gone out of her way to find more about their works. I have wired my energy over time to defeat the idea that anybody deserves to be impressed apart from my maker. It is why I always reject the notion to be called a motivational speaker. A part of my work can motivate you wile it can also depress you. I have no commitment to motivate or demotivate anybody. I am the voice of the human conscience compelling the human life to accept responsibility at a level. I really do not perform; I just work with my truth, unto good conscience and unto God.
M.E: The dynamics of the economy and the operating environment, coupled with expectations of various stakeholders such as investors, customers and regulators are some of the factors which ordinarily tend to pressurize organizations and business leaders in terms of performance, and this is only natural in a competitive business environment. However, for me, as an entrepreneur and business leader, thinking ‘big picture’, keeping my purpose and strategic objectives for the business in focus, and most importantly, clearly cascading these across the business and gaining the alignment of my people keeps me grounded. I realize that an integral aspect of leadership is the development of people’s capabilities through their accomplishment of objectives, and at Interswitch, we’ve worked over the years to nurture a culture that fosters shared responsibility and a sense of ownership. This, to a great extent helps stave off the ‘pressure’.
L.O: Outside of the interviews and selection with great men and Titans like Ladi Balogun, Segun Agbaje, Mitchelle and my good friend and brother whom I love very much Kunle Soriyan, I am under immense pressure based on mandate this year to help Nigeria and Nigerians navigate their way out of troubled waters.
Imagine being a life guard In the most turbulent waters trying to help save multitudes of people and a monstrous ship from sinking. Yes o as a Life Coach, I feel a huge sense of responsibility to help Nigerians in their individual and professional aspirations and our great nation Nigeria to take center stance among the committee of top nations globally.
G: What does this recognition mean for an industry such as yours?
O.S: This recognition certainly puts to light the most critical industry in human history: The KNOWLEDGE SPACE. For me, this will certainly give many true knowledge users and enthusiast the courage to pursue originality and truth. The industry will enjoy newer recognitions as a result, no matter how little. Society has its own interpretation of what is necessary and valuable; most of which are flawed and untrue. Telecommunication, banking, fashion, entertainment, sports, are the visible spaces most give consideration to, and justifiably so. These are what people see easily. It has taken a lot of work to bring the knowledge industry this far; but we are still very much behind. Looking at the 5 brands picked as brands to watch in 2017, two (Olakunle Soriyan and Lanre Olusola) represent the knowledge industry. 2 out of 5 sure means we are coming. Great minds like Niyi Adesanya, Fela Durotoye, Taiwo Akinlami, Detoun Ogwo, Linus Okorie, and many more are doing so much work.
M.E: It is always gratifying to receive recognition for one’s efforts, whether as an individual or organization. The organization I envisioned and presently lead played a pioneering and transformational role in the electronic payment industry in Nigeria, and in a sense, our story mirrors the story of the growth of that industry over the last 14 or so years. This recognition serves to motivate me to constantly search for what comes next with a view to visualizing and creating the future as far as payment is concerned, and for our business, it re-ignites our commitment to being an inspirational partner and innovative solution provider to all our individual and institutional customers.
L.O: For us in the human capacity development industry especially in the coaching niche, it simply means that it is our time and season to be recognized, celebrated and rewarded. To be recognized for solving complex life problems in such difficult times feels good and motivating.
Glazia also spoke with creator of the Top 5 Brands to Watch, Charles O’Tudor to share more insights on how he came up with this “almighty list” and to discuss the future of brands, read it here.
While the total list of 35 has females in it, the coveted top 5 list is completely male. When asked about this, O’Tudor said “Unfortunately, no female brand resonated. Look around. Last year wasn’t a good one for most female brands in terms of strategy articulation and external projection of same. I look forward to a scenario where female entrepreneurs and upwardly mobile ladies will get out of their comfort zones and take up the gauntlet. If you are doing awesome stuff, project same externally for the world to see”.
All 5 honorees on the Top 5 Brands to Watch in 2017 list were contacted but we only received comments from the featured three at the time of publication