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Never Give Up on Your Dream

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It is a privilege to be here at Olashore International School – my Alma Mata, where I graduated 19 years ago, a school that molded me, and built the foundation of the level I am today. A school that has produced many successful men and women who are making waves in different sectors of not only our great country Nigeria but all around the world. Aren’t you proud to be the product of Olashore International School?

With that said, I congratulate the magnificent Olashore International School graduating class of 2019. No doubt, you all have worked extremely hard to reach the level you are today. I bet it was not easy, but you all did it.

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Congratulations also go to the parents and guardians of the graduates, as they have worked hard in other to support and encourage their children to finish their studies at O.I.S.

Today is a day of celebration, because it is a day all the diligent work that you have done has brought you to this moment, and to some, it is a day of great relief.

It is a day of thanksgiving, as you thank those that nurtured you, taught you, and encouraged you, and cautioned you when you did wrong.

To some, it is a day of nostalgia as you look back at the good times you have had at school, and the numerous friends you have made.

It is a day of reflection, as it connotes the end of one era of your life and the beginning of a new one, although, for some of you, there might be apprehension and anticipation about what the future holds, don’t worry, there is no need for apprehension because the satisfaction we derive from the life or work we choose depends on our attitude towards it.

Yes! It is also a day in which numerous pictures with friends and families would be taken and definitely, be posted on different social media platforms – oh what joy.

I am not here today to sweet talk you and tell you how Rosey and easy the life ahead shall be, but to talk to you about the importance of never giving up on your dreams.

First, what is a ‘dream’? There are so many definitions of what a dream is, but the best that came close to the definition is – a cherished aspiration, ambition, or ideal. I am sure many of us have dreams, ambitions, and aspirations.

The question is not if you have a dream, the question is if you are ready to do all it takes to realize your aspirations and ambitions.

I am going to tell you a story about Jason Njoku. He is a Nigerian entrepreneur, film magnate, and African start-up investor. He is the co-founder and CEO of iROKOtv, one of the early video-on-demand movie platforms for Nigerian movies.

Between the years 2005 to 2010, Jason Njoku started up some enterprises, some of these enterprises he started up included a blog network, a T-shirt business, a web design company, however, these all failed. One can imagine the distress and agony of doing a different business within 10 years which all failed. He knew he wanted to build a very successful business empire – he had a dream to be a successful entrepreneur, and he was not going to let failure or anyone stop him.  

He realized there were opportunities in the TV industry in terms of internet television networks, gaining inspiration from western companies such as Netflix and Hulu, and he dived into it.

In 2011, he co-founded iROKOtv with his best friend, Bastian Gotter. Keep in mind that iROKOtv was Njoku’s 11th attempt at starting a business. When he wanted to start the iROKOtv, everybody thought he was an idiot. According to him “That’s fine, it wasn’t a bad conclusion. I was 10 times a failure in startup hits”

There were so many hurdles, so much back and forth, the consumer internet in Nigeria then was very scary and unpredictable, unlike today where one can access the internet easily and cheaply via cell phones and other devices. There was a lot of uncertainty bringing this into the Nigerian market, how were Nigerians going to react to it? (So much negativity). No one wanted to be part of it.

Eventually, IROKOtv did became a success. In July 2012, he was cited by Forbes Africa as one of the ‘Ten Young African Millionaires to Watch’. On 29 August 2013, Njoku was named as the ‘CNBC All Africa Business Awards Young Leader of the Year for West Africa’. He has also been named as one of Fast Company’s Top 1000 Most Creative People in Business. Despite all of his failures, Njoku never gave up, he stayed persistent and wanted to achieve greatness and succeed until he reached his goal.

There are a few things I would want you to take from this story;

Bravery; we all know life is not a bed of roses, so you have to be brave. Don’t be afraid to try because you are afraid to fail. A lot of people out there today are not able to reach their best because of fear. Fear can cripple one’s dream and can delay the achievement of one’s potential. Life would knock you down at some point, but what you do when you are down making the difference. Do you want to keep being down or you want to get back up and pursue that dream?

Attitude; developing the right attitude to whatever you do is a huge step in realizing your dreams. Whatever you decide to do, aim to be the best, but with a lot of effort, it will be hard, but it will be worth it. If you did not finish tops of the class, this doesn’t determine if you will make it in life, neither does it mean you will not be at the top of your career, what determines your success in life is your attitude and persistence to not giving up on your dreams. For those that were tops of the class, kudos to you, and keep up the good work.

Self-development; don’t stop developing your selves – investing in one’s yourself is very important. Strive to know everything you could know about your dream and its realization. Also, make sure you have the basic knowledge of any vocational skill (e.g. sewing, baking, learning another language) because you never know when it would come in handy.

Do not let other people’s opinions derail you from giving up on your dreams; the plain truth is some people would not believe in your dream. It is you who will have to believe in yourself and dream. Some people think if you go after your dreams, you are wasting your time. I actually believe that if you do not, you are wasting your life. You need to be fearless, persistent also a little ‘crazy’. Most people don’t have what it takes because they are only willing to give it a shot and then quit the moment they face any form of difficulties. That attitude will guarantee failure because success rarely comes to those who are only prepared to give it a shot, it mostly comes to those who are willing to achieve it no matter what!

Miracles don’t usually happen overnight but if you work with the right dedication and sincerity your efforts will begin to pay off. Over time everything will add up and to everyone else, your life will look like a miracle.

Karen Salmansolin said “I’m a big believer that your life is basically a sum of all the choices you make. The better your choices, the better the opportunity to lead a happy life”

Lastly, I challenge every one of you to do something specific – follow that dream of yours no matter what it takes!

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