Are you prepared to become very serious?
When I was a young entrepreneur just beginning to enjoy the first flashes of success in my business career, I befriended a very successful businessman from my homeland. Ariston Chambati was a towering figure in his day. He was the nearest thing I ever had in those days to someone you would call a mentor today. He’d already gained international recognition and often travelled to international meetings, and served on several international boards.
He would often say to me, “Master two things: your time, and finding the right person for a job. Get those two things right and you are on your way.”
He was a “no-nonsense type” and he did not “suffer fools.” If he invited you for a meeting, no matter what time of day, he would turn up on time and well dressed.
I will never forget how he once asked me to come see him late one Sunday evening. Arriving at his home, I found him dressed up and in his study. He never joked around and expected you to get to the point quickly.
After the meeting, I asked him why he went to such great lengths ahead of such a simple meeting, even with me. His response was well measured and serious.
He first explained to me a very painful experience he’d gone through on one of his business travels. Then he added: “Young brother (he always used a term of endearment in my mother tongue and I always addressed him by a similar term, which means “senior brother”), you have the talent to go very far. . .”
__”Only remember this,” he said, “Don’t expect others to take you seriously when you are not prepared to take yourself seriously. When you walk through that door, I want you always to know that I’m a serious person.”
Those words still ring in my ears over what must be two decades now, as though that conversation took place only yesterday.
The men and women who are going to take Africa to the next level are those really prepared to become serious, very serious.