On May 29th in the company of a friend I dragged myself to the F.R.E.E. Conference hosted by Jimi Tewe. Needless to say it was time well spent! Jimi is a world class Career Success Catalyst and a renowned motivational speaker, author and coach and in the company of his lovely wife he brought together some of the Nation’s most inspirational speakers. People like Fela Durotoye, Steve Harris, Ijeoma Ndukwe , Mfon Ekpo, Glowreeyah, Olori and more to NAF center, Abuja. Now F.R.E.E stands for ” From Enduring to Enjoying” and ” From Employee to Employer” , so obviously the conference was geared towards empowering people with tools to ensure they go from enduring their work and career life to actually doing what they love and totally enjoying it! The Conference also had free entry for all participants and I think for the Host this is a way of giving back and helping people harness their God given gifts and live a fulfilled life. It was an awesome event and I am looking forward to attending next years edition as well as anything else Jimi puts together. Here are a few snippets from some of the speakers at the Conference.
Fela Durotoye: This man is not known as “Mr Nigeria” for nothing. His passion for this nation and leadership make him by far the most influential transformational speaker to have emerged from this part of the world. He is a mentor to leaders and his wife Tara is a leading female icon. For me his presence at the conference was the icing on the cake as it made an already “sweet” conference decadent and extra delightful. Fela reminded us that Lack is an illusion as what you think you don’t have is around you, and you just need to be sensitive enough to reach it (remember the woman who had just two jars of oil?). For me the most poignant lesson I learnt from him was not what he said but what he did. First of all the raw emotion he displayed when Wale gifted him a box of scents and told us all how Fela had impacted his life. Secondly when the young man from smile struggled to give a short talk of his company’s product, the guy was probably frightened and as he spluttered and stuttered some people started snickering in the crowd. Suddenly, Fela leapt up from his seat and climbed to podium, he spoke to the young man and put a reassuring arm around him and the guy went on with the show. That singular action spoke volumes to me and showed me a caring, empathetic leader…FD you rock!
Steve Harris: I had heard a lot about Steve so it was a privilege to meet and hear him. Steve is the Executive Officer of EdgeEcution and a leading Motivational Speaker and Author. Steve taught us that it really is not what you have that limits you, it is what you have and do not use. Hearing that reminded me about the parable of the steward who buried the talents his master gave him, as a child I always wondered ” why was his master so angry” well its simply because you are meant to use your gifts to serve others and not just stick them in the sand. Steve also spoke about the importance of recognising each season you are in and ensuring you maximise it. This takes being sensitive and discerning and is essential as doing the right thing in the wrong season will yield a poor result. He also spoke on being willing to learn, and this for me is key…learning is a continuous process and one must never feel too big or too accomplished to learn, even from people younger or seemingly less qualified than you.
Ijeoma Ndukwe: Ijeoma “Nwanyiakamu” Ndukwe who we have previously featured on the blog is a lady I am proud to know closely. Over the years its been a delight to watch her perseverance and doggedness even in the midst of difficult circumstances. This woman has made her Bubez Pap a household name and has used that same platform to also mentor others on the importance of building their brands , she is indeed a teacher. Ijeoma spoke about the drive behind her success, her three children. Indeed almost every parent can relate to this drive as almost everything one does is geared at giving our children a good foundation in life.
Wale Jana: The man behind Sapphire Scents is just amazing. He is extravagant yet humble and his story is one everyone needs to hear. He grew up in wealth but when his beloved Father passed on he was left with his proceeds from the estate but had no idea how to keep or make more wealth. He had not been taught the “how” and in no time he was broke…however through twists of destiny, providence and Gods grace he is now the King of Scents. In a moving scene he told the audience how he met Fela years ago in Benin. In this meeting Fela spoke prophetically into his life and today Wale is all Fela said he would be and more. He presented a totally shocked and emotion laden Fela with a box of customised Sapphire Scents. The take away from Wale for me was the importance of learning “how”, as individuals we owe it to our children and mentees to teach them how.
Mfon Ekpo: Mfon is just a class act and at the conference she was in her element. This coach to champions and Executive Director at the Future Project had a lot of impactful things to say but one that stuck out was learning not to receive constructive criticism from people who have constructed nothing. There are some people who perpetually dissect and criticize everything and anything you do, it important to sieve the wheat from the chaff and learn from those who actually have the wisdom and the “right” to give you useful criticism from those who are just “kill-joys”, do not let them kill or steal your joy.
Glowreeyah: This woman has more than a song, she has a story…a story of bravery, boldness and fortitude. While she is known by many as the worshipper behind “Miracle Worker” many do not realise how multi-faceted this woman is. A lawyer, story writer and founder Starbeam Foundation she has purposed to use her God given gifts for Gods glory and you can read more about this dear sister of mine here. Glowreeyah is a born leader and even as a teenager has never been afraid to stand for what she believe in. Like she told the audience the song “Miracle Worker” as with most of her songs was borne out of a personal experience where her beloved niece lay critically ill in hospital, thankfully the Lord miraculously turned that situation around. While she had had to endure some difficult circumstances she has decided to turn her story into Glory and use her scars as stars! Watch out for this vessel of honour who is totally sold out to Christ.
Morinsola Ashiru-Sofola : This woman is one to watch, she is the proverbial “go-getter” who belives that there is always a way. Whatever she sets her mind to Morinsola achieves and with her superstar attitude she is one of the premier HR practitioners today. Morinsola is the Head of HR at Hilton Nigeria and she spoke about seasons and how at different times in life your goals may change, at one point it may be getting a degree at another point it may settling down, whatever your goal is just be focused. With the right attitude and focus you can get what you truly desire.
Ubong King: This the man who they call the trouble maker. However, whatever trouble he makes is definitely of a good kind as he prides himself on brining trouble to your trouble. The President of Kings Men’s world has a story of overcoming setbacks in life to become a mentor to many and had a lot of nuggets of wisdom to share. However one of the most impactful things he shared was on the importance of seeking knowledge and being hungry enough to chase your dreams. You see a dream stays a dream if you do not chase it, and true hunger or desire is the catalyst many of us need to transform our dreams into reality.
For many participants the highlight of the conference was when Fela asked people to write down their fears i.e. those things holding them back from achieving their dreams and like a true prophet he prayed over them. It was a charged atmosphere and truly people left that meeting ready to take on the world. In fact the amazing Sarah Ugamah of Fashionistar Fabrics who was one of the participants told me she is yet to get off the high she experienced at that moment.
These are just a few snippets as there was so much more to learn at the conference. Personally I can say I was equipped with positive knowledge that will be useful as I walk towards fulfilling my God given destiny. Thank you Jimi Tewe and Friends, I look forward to the next F.R.E.E. conference.