An Open Letter to the Class of 2015.

Image Credit: Check DC

I’ve wanted to send this for a long time now. But I was trying to get into some type of zone. Maybe I’m there now. Maybe not.

I’m not sure what I want to talk about really, but it’s been over a year now since we graduated and we are getting closer to the completion of service. I think the question on a lot of our minds is what is next? Answering this question, I would like to touch on a few points. God helping me I can gather my thoughts in a coherent way.

Obviously I can’t answer the question for anybody but for myself. We tried to ask this question a lot of times in school, in different languages and using different means. One of the ones I can remember is where do you see yourself in 5 years which we asked in the yearbook.

Life is in phases and men are in sizes

Now let me give you my own story and how I battled with this:

Rewind to last half of the year, 2015. We were just out of school, post graduation vibes, pre NYSC hustle. It was all going good, I was making some money. Very very good amounts for our standards. I could do anything I wanted.

This could as well have been me

I was balling out of control. I went to camp with my gang. We balled. It was a happy life. In that state it is not very easy to be thinking about the future. Trust me there‘s some kind of money you would make at some point in your life that would shift you out of base. That’s why Papas words “life is in phases and men are in sizes” sticks for me. So till the end of December (I sprayed money in 1000 crisp bills in the village — it was that good) into the first week of January, I was okay.

I knew shit in my finances had gone south about January 7th. But by that time we had gotten a house at Ibadan and I had set up my space. So at least the son of man had somewhere to lay his head. Progressing into the year, I was broke; there was not much to do in Ibadan. I was bored. So I was bored and broke. It is a terrible combination. The only thing worse would have been sickness. Then I would have been sick, bored and broke. That’s le worst. Obviously as most of us would have realised, your parent’s allowance tap has stopped flowing. So I didn’t even have that fall-back plan. At this point I was wallowing in the greatest form of self doubt, self pity. I would occasionally throw a bubbling pity party with anyone who cared to listen.

I started to question everything I have read, everything I believed about myself. My outlandish dreams and goals. I actually almost made a bet with some of my friends during TTG that I would be worth 5 million dollars 5 years after school. They didn’t agree, I think they believed I could do it. Funny how ealier this year, whenever Wole did a ranking of the guys in my house (according to finances), I was a constant last — the poorest in a house of 5 boys. At this point I was asking why the hell did I even think that? 5 million? I’m asking, at what exchange rate?

I remembered one girl stopped me someday in school and told me I was supposed to be given the award for most eligible bachelor, I realized how much of a scam I was when I thought of this. With all the suits, books and fancy vocabulary.

I took the yearbook, and while going through it I went back to my where do you see yourself in 5 years: mine was Davos Man. I laughed at myself senseless. Because I was sure I was shit crazy when I wrote it. Let me explain why I thought so. So Davos is another name for the World Economic Forum in Davos, regular attendees are called Davos Men. Here’s the catch, it’s invitation only, and the people invited to this thing are people that are obviously obviously making visible impact and contributions to their society and the world at Large. Business Leaders. No, Captain of Industries would be a better term; Economists of the first order; World Leaders and the Press. So you would be expecting: The likes of Dangote there, Tonye Cole, MD World Bank, MD Credit Suisse, Frank Underwood (no really, he was there at the last one), President of Nigeria, President of Rwanda.

So obviously this was the tall order and I was crazy to have thought I would have measurable impacts by 2020 to be a Davos Man. Funny thing is I knew all these facts before I wrote that as my 5 year goal. Just that something has changed in my personal philosophy between the time of writing and now. The situation was so bad my friend Charles Eke had to come from Lagos to Ibadan to nurse my Sense of Self Worth.

I decided to bring myself out of the gutter and get back on my feet.

I got a real estate job in Ibadan, I was very unhappy there and my office (Old Religion) in Lagos was suffering for my absence. So I quit the job and went back to Lagos. My dad balled me out of the house in 2 weeks because he believed I should be serving my nation. Just 3 days before that, I found an opportunity, that changed things for me. It put me back on the path of self development, I started to dream again, I started to learn. It was truly magical.

So fast forward to the second half of the year. I’m in a much better place. financially, mentally, my personal philosophy has changed. It’s been a beautiful journey, I have learnt a lot and I’m now an active student of life (again).

I thought to share my story, because a lot of people (I believe) had ideas about me, that I have stuff figured out; but my story, I hope, shows that nothing can be further from the truth. I really just fly by the seat of my pant. If I decide I want to do something, I take action immediately and dream very big.

I have called a bunch of us, with our numbers on the yearbook (and I’m still calling as frequently as I can, just in case I haven’t called you). On these calls I try to bring up the 5 year question. Some people have changed theirs, some people are still bent on theirs, some people just laugh. But see why the 5 year thing is important? It gives you a goal to shoot at so you can direct your life. Without a goal post, footballers would be running around the pitch like drunk monkeys. The power of goal setting is too mad. I have another instance to show how I don’t really have stuff figured out, and how the 5 year thing helped give me direction.

Now, my 5 year goal is Davos Man. At some point I decided to do Masters, I was vehemently against doing masters earlier, so much so that it caused some serious tension in my house between my dad and I. So by my own conviction (which is 🔑 in anything you decide to do), at some point I decided to pursue a Masters in finance, for the exposure living abroad can bring and because it transcends disciplines. I believe I was called to make money. So I was deciding where to choose, I previously chose a school in New York, but the fees seemed very high. I knew I didn’t want England because it was too expected, too mainstream. So I was thinking Europe but where I didn’t really know. While I was in Owerri 2 weeks ago, I was talking to my neighbor from Lagos where he said why don’t you go to Switzerland? Their finance game is strong and then a light bulb came on. I’m like that’s very brilliant because the Swiss are a financial powerhouse (read he kept his money in Swiss Banks) and more importantly Davos is in Switzerland.

Davos is in Switzerland

So it made perfect sense to put me a couple of steps closer to my goal. Right now I’m trying to put things in place, to get me there by February 2017 and my Father is not eager to hear the news because, the economy. So I’m trying to pull in massive weight to see if I can raise 80% of the money I need and to get there. This leaves me doing odd shit because I’m starting from 0 (zero, not, naught, nada. You get the point). And I had to mention this so you don’t think oh his dad is well to do so its no problem for him. God put food on our table, I thank him, but apart from that when it rains it rains on us all, the economy hits everyone the same. Believe me, I live in Lekki.

The question now is: do you have a 5 year target? If not why not?

What can you do or start (doing) to get you closer to your target? There is always something to be done. Plant the seed and God will make the trees.

I need to remember my team mates from CPC, why? Because I was talking to someone from the set a couple of days ago, and we got on the subject of stealing money or not and she was surprised to find that the only money allocated to us from our 30k was 10k. So we accomplished every thing we did within that 10k/student and we left debt free. She asked if it was a stressful time for me and I remembered how much free time I had because I had people more capable and intelligent than myself running things. Those guys made me look good. So they deserve all the praise I can muster anytime CPC 2015 is mentioned.

To have read this far, I should say thank you to you. This letter is not about me, my lavish or struggles but what I hope you can gain from my experience. I hope it helps you if you are struggling or stuck as I was.

If you feel you have some issue you would like to share with someone random, business or personal, I would be more than happy to listen and if you want I might be able to give you some objective advice based on my little experience and that of the people I’m learning from. You could send me a personal mail:

I really look forward to hearing the extra ordinary things you would be doing. I hear Ani Udo (our extraordinary achievement awards recipient) has already bagged his CCIE. That was on his 5 year goal. I’m extremely happy for him and really proud of him. Seeing as it is a feat only a handful of people have done.

I would like feedback on the yearbook to get a sense of how many people didn’t get it. If we have too many people respond in the negative. We might consider putting together downloadable version, so it can become as useful for you as it is for me.

It has been my pleasure to share with you.

Stay hungry, Stay Foolish. — Steve Jobs

Yours truly,

Buchi Okoro

CPC Chair of that year.