Many of us grew up under the tutelage of parents and teachers who often told us education is the best legacy. To be a partaker of this legacy, going to school was presented as the best choice for a quality lifestyle in the future. At this period, university graduates were greatly celebrated as Argonauts who didn’t falter on the quest for new knowledge found only in the four walls of a classroom. Today, we have many graduates and few jobs. Expressions like “school is scam” seems to have replaced “education is the best legacy.” This is rooted in the current state of the economy that has rendered many graduates unemployed and forced many others to keep their certificate and wear the garb of hustle to put bread on their table.
1. Could you please briefly tell us about yourself?
I’m Tolulope Ahmed (aka Dr Tee). I’m a polymath, a first-class author and innovator. I drive a platform called ValuePlus (a platform for reproducing achievements in others). Perhaps I’m best known as the author of the best-selling book, 10 LAWS OF ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE. Secondarily, as the creator of the PIVOT EDUCATIONAL GAMES for secondary schools and Founder of MYFUND, a financial intelligence platform to help people grow their funds and acquire assets at www.valueplus.ng
2. As a young achiever whom many are looking up to, how have you been able to rise against the major challenges facing many youths in this country?
There are many factors responsible for my continuous progress. But I’ll summarize them into three.
- The Right Environment (which is responsible for more than 60% of our progress). So, the country itself as an environment is hostile to our noble endeavours, but being around the right people in the right quality environment can help narrow that
- Character e. discipline, diligence, etc. (30% of our progress)
- Quality Information/Knowledge g. via books, seminars, etc. (About 10%). This is why attending seminars and reading books are not as important as many people make them seem if the right environment isn’t an enabling one.
But if I have to summarize them into one factor, that would be “Continuous Growth“. I’ve continued to learn. And as I got better, things around me got better as well. That’s how I’ve risen despite the challenges.
3. Have you ever failed? If yes, when?
Of course, I’ve failed many times. The first time I opened up an office for business in 2014. I pumped a lot of money into fixing up the place and getting the equipment needed. The equipment packed up within the month of operation and I eventually had to close the office down. Lost a lot of money. But I learnt the lessons and moved on. Woe is me if I lose the money and also lose the lesson. So, in life, I’ll either win or learn.
4. What is your perspective about failure?
Failure is golden. It’s what is primarily responsible for growth. I tell people “There’s no growth without the opportunity to self-correct.” And you can only self-correct is you learn from your own mistakes and failures. My creed is this: “Every failure brings with it the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit”. Failure is golden!
5. The first time I got to know about you was at an academic Sunday organized by B.S.F OAU. I heard you narrate your story to academic excellence despite being from a very poor background. To what extent would you say your academic excellence has influenced your level of success?
A large extent. It was a springboard for me into setting up an education/finance (edufintech) platform, ValuePlus. My first-class result gave me easy access to new and fantastic relationships (Governors, Commissioners, kings, VCs, influential people, etc.) But I’d say it was my first book, 10 Laws of Academic Excellence that contributed to this the most.
6. How would you approach the popular saying that “education is a scam”?
First, it’s a way in which many people try to explain away their own “academic failures and inadequacies”. What they’re referring to is how “schooling” hasn’t translated into success for them. They expected the school system to simply make them successful but were disappointed because the factors of success aren’t in the academic curriculum. Second, education is different from schooling. Education is simply “continuous growth” which results in continuous progress as I’ve earlier pointed out.
7. I understand that “education is a scam” is a popular quote being spread like harmattan fire by the pop culture via social media. Don’t you think social media is now a factor responsible for poor mindset among the youth?
Social media is neither good nor bad; it takes on the nature of the users. So, it is an amplifier of the good or bad that people do with it. Social media can be responsible for poor mindset as well as good ones depending on the social space a person finds himself. My company runs a WEALTH LEADERSHIP ACADEMY online and in the last 1 year I’ve received feedback that has stunned me. Many have got jobs, freelance careers, new career paths, increase income and grown their funds to hundreds of thousands and millions. So, it’s a factor for quality mindset for the youth in our social space – it depends on the social media environment a person is.
8. There have been several reasons raised by people for the poor quality of life of the youths. Do you think the political system is a major factor responsible for this?
Absolutely not! I tell people “the way the masses are controlled is to make them think that their current result is not their fault. And the way to empower people and set them free is to make them know that their current situation is their fault, hence they can change it.” That’s what we do at our Academy. So, no. I do not think the political system is a major factor. The quality of a person’s life is determined mostly by the quality of the person’s environment, character and information entering into the person’s mind — the person’s continuous growth.
9. You have a serious interest in academic excellence. Do you think it matters in this age where skills are selling very fast without the need of a degree?
What I think is for you to get both. Why should you choose between academic excellence and skills? As skilful as I am, I have a PhD in view. Is that not better than thinking once I have one, I must forgo the other? Let’s get rid of these limiting beliefs.
And by the way, my serious interest is in “education” not really academics. I (and my team) have a plan to replace the current system in a space of 15 to 20 years. I will eventually have to be appointed a minister in that space because of that project. Imagine if schools actually helped kids identify their strengths by exploring their talents from a young age and growing their skills for more than 12 years instead of letting them all follow the same routine and leaving them confused in life after graduation? Exactly! That’s what I’m working to leave as my legacy!
10. As a model and mentor for many, what advice would you give to students still in school and graduates still trying to find a career prospect?
Your first product to the market is probably your SKILL. Therefore, do not, I repeat, do not graduate from the campus without developing a plethora of high-income skills. Start offering your skill as a service as from your first year on campus. I tell people “The student who has been active on the campus, who is such that he gets along with all kinds of people and have done an adequate job on his studies has the most decisive edge over the strictly academic student.” Your career prospect will show up in the process of offering those skills to help people out there.
11. Closing remark. What do you have for our readers and the youths of Nigeria and Africa at large to round up this interview session?
For me, the summary of life is in four things: “TO LIVE. TO LEARN. TO LOVE. AND TO LEAVE A LEGACY.” Most youths have probably got the first two covered. But for the next two phases of your life, here’s what you can do right now: look at one of the 17 SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) and check out which ones describe you the most. Get started on making them a reality for this country (or work closely with people who are already doing so). Therein lie your success and legacy. That’s what I’m doing.
Thanks for having us, sir.