How can I possibly forget December 15, 1997? I still remember the day very vividly. It was a sweltering Monday afternoon at Yinusa Adeniji Street, Ikeja, Lagos, a street made popular by the newspaper I worked for then as the Group Business Editor.
I had just hopped out of my desk to have refreshment before settling down to serious editing work. Just as I was about climbing up the staircase back to my desk a few minutes later, one of our security personnel handed over a beautifully-wrapped medium-sized parcel to me, informing me that a dispatch rider had dropped it for me a short while ago.
It was easy to guess what was inside because of the period. This is Christmas time anyway. Most journalists look forward to this period with excitement and expectations. It is even better if you are a financial journalist. This must be a portable radio or a well clock, I thought as I raced through the staircase. I was wrong. When I eventually opened the parcel, I found inside a set of four medium-sized books and four audio cassettes.
All were on how to become a millionaire. There was also a little plain card with these words written in long hand: “My dear Ayo, study and digest these materials, they will change your life. I deliberately sent the materials to you and our mutual friend (he mentioned his name) to show how much I value the two of you. I read one of the books six years ago and my life has changed beyond my own expectations.”
I must confess, I was not excited at all. I only managed to flip through few pages of the first book and I did not even listen to any of the audio-cassettes. As a matter of fact, I refused to contact the sender of the gift until April this year. The books and the cassettes, of course, quickly made their way to one corner of my study where I stuff materials I consider sub-optimal. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t intend to suggest I don’t read. Reading is a hobby to me. I remember the other time I travelled to London, I invaded The Economist shop in Regent Street where I bought books that did not allow me to put any other item inside my travel box. Although I was chided by my wife who expected me to bring back shoes and clothes for her and our daughter.
So I do read, only that I concentrate on professional books. The idea of studying to become a millionaire was very funny to me and I felt embarrassed by the sender of the “funny” gift. To be comfortable, yes, but I didn’t see how writing news and becoming a millionaire are related.
But something dramatic happened early this year. March 2002 to be precise. I was in Johannesburg to attend an investment seminar organized by a Lagos-based consulting firm. I had just retired to my hotel room after the opening cocktail when I noticed with the blinking on my intercom that I had a voice message. The thrust of the message was that a friend of mine, the other guy who also received the book gift, wanted to host me before I travelled back to Nigeria. We arranged the time and by the following day, he picked me up at the hotel and we drove to his place.
The home, an architectural masterpiece, is situated not far away from Sandton, Johannesburg. It is a complex set of duplexes built on approximately 8 plots of land. There is a beautiful lawn, two big swimming pools, a well-laid garden, a beautiful water fountain, and fishpond. Don’t let me bore you with the details of the interior, but just to say that it is breath-taking.
After some few direct interrogations I got these unbelievable facts: My friend owns the building; he has two other well developed pieces of property in Cape Town; and another one in the United Kingdom; he has two thriving businesses with headquarters in Johannesburg; and he has some sizeable investments in stocks both on the London Stock Exchange and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. Afterwards I pulled my friend by his shirt and dragged him to the garden and asked him to tell me the secret of his wealth.
He only dashed back to his study and returned a few minutes later with a small box, which he dropped on my lap. “This is the secret, the whole secret,” he said with some measure of seriousness.
Guess what I saw! The same set of four books and the audio-cassettes I received about five years back! The only thing I noticed was that his own set of books had suffered from over-reading. There were different kinds of markings inside the books. I also noticed that he made some copious notes into a small dairy he put inside the small box.
He explained to me that it was our mutual friend that told him I would be in South Africa then and he insisted he must have a heart-to-heart talk with me. He disclosed that our mutual friend had visited him in South Africa a couple of times and on every occasion they had discussed the principles in the books and how well they had applied them to build wealth for themselves. He told me of a couple of friends who have also applied the principles in the books with dramatic results.
Was I excited? My brother, it was a sickening experience. I thanked my friend and asked him to take me back to my hotel. I spent the whole of the evening and, as a matter of fact, the rest of my days in South Africa, meditating on that experience. Back in Nigeria, I quickly reached for the books, still as clean as they were four years ago when they were presented as gift. I devoured the books within a period of two weeks, while I made it a duty to listen to the four cassettes every day. I called my friend who gave me the books (he is a multi-millionaire, in dollar terms, by the way) and told him of my experience.
Surprisingly, he didn’t fell offended. He said I could still achieve beyond my imagination if only I could apply whatever I have learnt in the books plus a few lessons he would be giving me on a monthly basis. I started on what I called the millionaire tablets in April this year and have noticed dramatic turnaround in my personal finances.
Ayo Arowolo, a Reuters’ award winner, has been involved in financial education for the past 16 years as a reputable financial and investigative journalist. He has worked in leading newspaper groups in the country, including the Concord Group, The Guardian Group, The News Group and This Day Group. He was the founding Managing Editor/CEO of Financial Standard, the nation’s premier financial newspaper and served as the Chairman Editorial Board of the paper. His column, Moneywise, in Financial Standard enjoyed wide readership
PS: Based on popular demand, I asked Ayo to name the four books, and below is Ayo’s response
Let me recommend these books for a start:
1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill;
2. The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clarson;
3. Rich Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and
4. The Dream Seed ( audio and book) by Mike Murdock.
Those should do for now. Some of the four books are there. Will still like to maintain the mystery around it.
I believe this brings the issue of the four books in question to a close – Usiere Uko