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One or two quick lessons from the growing world of Sam Adeyemi

By Sam Adeoye
09 October 2021   |   4:12 am
Someone once told me to change my name. Me, a full-grown man, a self-respecting professional and everything — this office mate of mine looked me straight in the eye, absolutely unironically, and said...

Sam Adeyemi. Photo: ENTREPRENEURS

Someone once told me to change my name. Me, a full-grown man, a self-respecting professional and everything — this office mate of mine looked me straight in the eye, absolutely unironically, and said, “You have to change your name.” I asked him why.

“Because it sounds too similar to my pastor’s name.”

Um. What’s your pastor’s name?

“Sam Adeyemi.”

Wait. You’re kidding me, right?

But I did understand where he was coming from. Sam Adeyemi evoked such deep devotion in many people. Even I, especially at the time of this left field ambush, had become a super fan of the man Sam Adeyemi.

I’d known the preacher for more than 10 years, having first met him via his radio programme Success Power and later becoming more familiar with him as the chief executive of Daystar Christian Centre.

As a young, typically angsty teenager in 1995 who was grappling with the unrelenting beatdowns that was being meted out by JAMB and WASSCE to my cohort, it was Sam Adeyemi’s deliberately calibrated-to-soothe voice that lent me some sense of what was possible. Even if I was helplessly hiking in the valley of the shadow uncertainty, I could build a road through any boulder that might be in my way, he taught me.

For months, at exactly 11:15am every Wednesday, it would come on to reassure me that everything would be just copacetic if I would only look beyond my fears and do the work.

Besides, would Sam Adeyemi advise me to change my name so as to accommodate another person who just so happened to be a megastar pastor? I doubt it. He’d probably charge me to look for my own unique value and offer that to the world — that’s how you make a name for yourself!

So, Mister, I shall not be changing my name because of Sam Adeyemi. Instead, here’s what I’m going to do.

I am going to share with you two quite handy business truths that I, as a self-assured journalist and marketing communications professional, have gleaned from the Rev Sam Adeyemi. Perhaps you could use them too.

#1. A Travel Guide Goes Far
In November 2020, Forbes magazine said it had admitted Sam Adeyemi into its invite-only coaches council.

In its profile of Mr Adeyemi, Forbes cited his credentials Master’s in Leadership Studies from the University of Exeter, and a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership from Regent University. But what earned the pastor his spot was his stellar work with the Daystar Leadership Academy, DLA.

Through “seminars, workshops, and conferences,” the DLA has graduated over 40,000 people since its launch in 2002.

Evidently, it was the DLA, together with his private coaching practice, which gave birth to the Sam Adeyemi GLC. On its site, Sam Adeyemi GLC touts itself as “a global leadership consultancy with specialist insight on developing economies.” And its mission, understandably, is to “raise high impact leaders who will shape their corporations and nations.”

With such blue-chip firms as First Bank of Nigeria, and Rain Oil now taking up his time, you, like other critical thinkers, are wondering: What is Sam Adeyemi these days? Still a pastor or not?

To answer that question, you’d have to go back to the very beginning of the Sam Adeyemi enterprise: The Success Power radio show. That was the start of everything. That was the original launchpad from which the propelled himself into Nigeria’s collective consciousness as a consultant to anyone who wanted to “make it” in Nigeria.

Also, it has been said that his church, Daystar Christian Centre, took off when, for eight months, they opened their Sunday meetings with an hourlong training on entrepreneurship.

For 26 years, Sam Adeyemi’s form of pastoring has been in shade of thought leadership. As the consultant Russ Alan Prince once wrote in Forbes, “Thought leadership delivers value creating ideas and insights that enable intended audiences to become meaningfully more successful.”

It’s what Mr Adeyemi, 54, has always done, isn’t it? Show others how to build a venture, while actively growing his own. He’s what you may call a travellers’ guide — the type that’s now a key feature in global coaching industry, which the International Coaching Federation and PricewaterhouseCoopers have valued at $15 billion.

#2. Ride the Wave
Yes, another metaphor but I assure you it’s not a metaphor just for the sake of it.

You see, not long after he started Daystar, Sam Adeyemi, like any entrepreneur, hit a loud lull. It seemed the church just wouldn’t, couldn’t grow anymore. On the one hand, he must grapple with rent that was out of reach; on the other hand, the Lagos audience to which he was talking had been there, done that.

Eventually, his answer came from a book: Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Church.

A notably adventurous clergyman himself, Warren said he’d discovered through years of trial and error, a pretty potent idea for growing a church — and I dare say any business for that matter.

Mr Warren’s premise goes like this: “No surfer tries to create waves. If the waves aren’t there, you just don’t surf that day. On the other hand, when surfers see a good wave, they make the most of it, even if it means surfing in the middle of a storm.”

In other words, wouldn’t you rather sell to a market what it already wants than make something first and then try to convince the market to desire it. Of course, thousands of businesses choose this latter option every day (or else all ad agencies would be out of a job) but wouldn’t you rather have the first option? Wouldn’t you?

Sam Adeyemi did go for the obvious, wise choice.

It’s why Daystar profiled its ideal members as the Lagos Andy and Angie. Young, urban, open-minded, often college-educated, professional Nigerian who not only gravitates towards a high-quality existence but would like to leave a mark of improvement on the country.

It’s why the church’s tagline is “Raising role models.”

Rather than inventing a wave, Sam Adeyemi elected to ride it. Instead of posturing to convince this sceptical group to pray and fast their way into prosperity, he would give them a key to unlock their wildest dreams. He’d teach them how to think — in a biblical way, of course.

Quoting his boss, Pastor Kenny Folarin, Daystar’s chief operating officer, said, “Our senior pastor maintained that when the crowd comes, those members will in turn teach the coming crowd; that was what it turned out to be.”

Naturally. It’s just like what Seth Godin says in Tribes, his bestseller about leadership. “Tribes grow when people recruit other people. That’s how ideas spread well.”

Although he’s from the domain of organised religion, Rev Sam Adeyemi’s flagship establishment could might easily serve as a brilliant case study for product management in a developing economy.

And I remain, humbly, Sam Adeoye.

* The university entrance exams set yearly by the Joint Admissions and Matriculations Board (JAMB)
*The West African School Certificate Examinations (WASCE) for high schools.

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