He is a leading human capital development and business transformation strategist, a renowned international motivational speaker whose fame has transcended the continent. In this interview with FUNKE OSAE-BROWN, DAYO OLOMU talks about his life and the making of his brand.
I held on firmly to my jacket as we alighted into the wintry city of London. The cab parked right at the entrance of Express by Holiday Inn, Stratford, hence we never really had to encounter the cold. Our host, Moranti, was at the front desk awaiting our arrival. She was not there alone. “Meet Mr. Dayo Olomu, he will be our trainer today,” she said as she introduced Toni Kan, Loye and I to him. We were a group of journalists sponsored by FirstBank for a training on ‘Strategic Workshop on Online Marketing & Publishing for Soft SELL & Bloggers’.
When I heard the name, I knew we were in for a good time. Aside the knowledge I would gain from the training, I knew Dayo Olomu would make a great interview subject. In spite of our tiredness, Olomu maintained a lively class and we never got tired.
The name Dayo Olomu brought back great memories. I had read an exclusive interview Ovation Magazine had with him in London in the late 1990s. I could place his face immediately. I had seen him featured in the magazine many times alongside well known individuals in the United Kingdom and Nigeria.
Olomu has made an indelible mark on the motivational speaking terrain and media industry in the United Kingdom and Nigeria. When he relocated from Nigeria to the UK as a British Citizen in 1996, he was full of great hope. He was ready to conquer the world. But then, something tragic would later thwart that hope for some time — his identity had been stolen.
“When I was coming to London,” he recalls, “I had assumed that being a British citizen; life would be a roller-coaster for me. But the reverse was the case. As I arrived that morning aboard a British Airways flight in a cold winter in 1996 from Lagos and landed at Gatwick Airport, I heaved a sigh of relief. I thought my problems were over. I thought I had conquered the greatest fear of my life – the fear of poverty, which I experienced as a little boy.
“Two days later, I went to the department of Social Security to apply for my National Insurance card, which will enable me work; but lo and behold, it wasn’t possible. I got one of the greatest shocks of my life. A fraudster had stolen my birth certificate and used it to obtain a National Insurance number and credit cards and opened a bank account. The person even got married in my name. Everywhere I went, I was told that somebody was using my identity. At this point, the authorities could not identify the real ‘Dayo Olomu.’”
It got to a stage that he wanted to give up, raise the white flag of surrender and admit he couldn’t go on. He reached such a depth that he never knew existed. It was one of the greatest obstacles and setbacks he had to face while pursuing his goals.
“It nearly killed my goal,” he adds. “However, I was resolute not to lose focus. I returned to college and bagged a degree in Business Information Systems and a Diploma in Journalism all in pursuit of my dream. I thank God because those times have been confined to history. However, there were times when I thought, as a song says: ‘I’ve been down so long it looked like up to me.’ At no point in my life did I think it was going to be easy.”
Olomu was barely eight years old when he lost his father. He had to move with his mother and siblings from a nice flat at Ebute Metta to a face-me-I-face-you room in Agege. It was a traumatic experience for Olomu as life became a challenge.
At age 10, he acquired the thirst to achieve greatness from selling iced water and biscuits on the streets at Iyana Ipaja, Lagos, to support his mother. He was raised by his mother, who sold virtually all her personal belongings to send him and his late brother to school.
“Her goals were simple – she wanted me to make something of myself, go places she did not dare dream of, so that her toil on me would not be in vain. Hence when I left secondary school I decided to succeed in life. That decision has been my driving force,” he says.
These experiences prepared Olomu for the glorious life ahead. From them, he learnt the principles of hard work, perseverance, determination and resilience. The four key principles that would guide him in adulthood.
“I also learnt that if you want to make it as an entrepreneur you must know how to sell your products or services. The best thing that happened to me was growing up ‘on the other side of the track,’ without the privilege of wealthy parents. Anything I wanted, I had to hustle and scrape for. Far from a drawback, this was a definite advantage for me.”
Olomu has tried his hands on so many things while in Nigeria, he was manager to Fuji musician, Wasiu Ayinde and also a journalist. He is a leading human capital development and business transformation strategist, a renowned international motivational speaker, business mentor, executive coach, an award-winning event host and a bestselling author based in London, United Kingdom. He is also an International Conference Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer on Transformational Leadership, Good Governance, Entrepreneurship, Business Growth, Human Resources, Career and Personal Development.
He is the founder, Dayo Olomu Foundation; Vice Chairman, CIPD South London; member, Southwark Diocesan Board of Education; Founding President, Croydon Communicators Toastmasters; Founder, African Professional Speakers Academy; and President, Nigerian Trainers & Speakers Consortium (NTSC) UK. He is a Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD) and vice-chair of the South London Branch. He is the CEO, Dayo Olomu & Associates UK; Board Member of Southwark Diocesan Board of Education.
He holds an honours degree in Business Information Systems, MSc in Human Resources and an honorary doctorate. He has a Diploma in Coaching and a post-graduate certificate in Further Education.
His journey into motivational speaking began in the summer of 2003 when he joined his local Toastmasters Club in Croydon, Surry to develop his public speaking and leadership skills. He would later become an advanced toastmaster and the Founding President of Croydon Communicators. From Toastmasters he moved into motivational speaking, starting out at Black History month. He later had his first event as a Seminar Leader on September 6, 2004 at Croydon Town Hall, Surrey, UK.
For Olomu, the principle for survival in the new year, as with most speakers is to think big while starting small. Hear him:
“Dream Big and start small. The person determined to achieve maximum success learns the principle that progress is made one step at a time. A house is built a brick at a time. Every big accomplishment is a series of little accomplishments. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. However, completing a journey of a thousand miles requires only that you keep walking!”
He is also an author who is passionate about thought leadership, as espoused in his new book, ‘My 50 Greatest Lessons in Life & Winning Principles for Success’. He is currently working on his next book on “Leadership” coming out on September 6, 2017.
“Thought leaders are the informed opinion leaders and the go-to people in their field of expertise. They are trusted sources who move and inspire people with innovative ideas; turn ideas into reality, and know and show how to replicate their success. To me, Thought Leadership is simply about becoming an authority on relevant topics by delivering the answers to the biggest questions on the minds of your target audience. I am impacting people through my seminars and book. I have just published my third book.”
In his spare time, he enjoys walking on fire, mountain climbing and running the marathon. He participated in the 100KM London-Brighton Challenge in 2016, a proof that he loves challenges.
“Yes I do,” he tells me, frankly. “I think the writer and mountain climber James Ullman summed it all up when he said something like, ‘Challenge is the core and mainspring of all human action. If there’s an ocean, we cross it. If there’s a disease, we cure it. If there’s a wrong, we right it. If there’s a record, we break it. And if there’s a mountain, we climb it.”