MEET THE CEO!
Me: For a man that had traveled,worked and lived in almost all states in America but five,a brief introduction might be difficult.
Dr Moshood Fayemiwo is the CEO of Alternative Lifestyle Communication company based in Chicago,USA.Our first contact was during the making and marketing of the “Aliko Dangote Mohammad: The Biography of the Richest Black-man in the World”,will that be correct?
Dr Fayemiwo:That’s correct Lanre!
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself and what Alternative Lifestyle Communication Company is about?
My name is Moshood Ademola Fayemiwo. I am the CEO of Alternative Lifestyle Communication, DBA based in Chicago, United States. We are a public relations outfit, and a printing and publishing company with headquarters in Chicago. We have offices in Nigeria, Ghana and the UK. We also have other subsidiaries whose activities are ancillaries to our printing and publishing businesses. I am originally from Nigeria. I had my undergraduate education at the University of Lagos and did all my higher education here in the United States which I relocated to in the late 1990s. I have three masters’ degrees and a doctorate. I am married to a fellow academic who is also a doctorate degree holder. We have two boys and we all live here in the United States.
2. What were you doing before Alternative Lifestyle Communication kicked off?
We registered our corporation in the State of Illinois nearly ten years ago and before that I was into my doctoral program. I was also the CEO of a printing company while I was living in Florida. Before that, I was a newspaper editor and publisher in my native Nigeria before I relocated to the United States about 15 years ago and I have been in the media for 30 years now. I began my journalism career in the defunct National Concord newspapers owned by the late Chief MKO Abiola in 1985. I had worked with some of Nigeria’s leading national newspapers and magazines while in Nigeria. I also worked for some newspapers in Florida and New York when I arrived here in the United States. I currently maintain a column with several newspapers around the world, mainly on Christian issues and walk with the Lord.
3. What do you love most about your business and your life?
As a journalist, you act as a catalyst for systemic and lasting change in your society. During my secular journalism years in Nigeria, myself and few radical journalists who I would describe as the vanguard of the “alternative press” in Nigeria during the military era employed the pen as a potent force for change in Nigeria. The so-called democracy that Nigerians are enjoying today was birthed at the back of personal deprivations and the sacrifices of people like us in those giddy military dictatorship regimens of Babangida and Abacha. We proved that, the pen is mightier than the sword and my incarceration and the detention of those of us in the barricade showed that, as Napoleon Bonaparte once said: “Two hostile newspapers are to be feared than a thousand bayonets.” Journalism is my life. Writing has been part and parcel of me since my secondary and university days. It allows you to control your mind, thoughts and actions. You set your time and are not directed and dictated to by anybody. It’s a very liberating craft and it helps you to live beyond your time and space. All the money in the world cannot buy you posterity as art and writing will do. Imagine in the New Millennium we are still talking about and reading William Shakespeare. You will discover that when all those idiots who called themselves leaders in Nigeria are dead and forgotten, with all their stolen loot buried with them; generations unborn will be reading and talking about great artistic minds like Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and other men and women of letters whose creative works will continue to endure as life endures That is the power of then pen, journalism, art and that is why I love this profession. What is even more; now that I have discovered why I am here as a Christian journalist, all that I write are for now and the future and on top of it all, for eternity. There is no better way to be remembered than to be a part of gathering for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for only His Kingdom will endure forever. See how simple fishermen as disciples of the Savior who gave us the Synoptic Letters are still shaping our lives more than 2,000 years after they are no more physically with us! That is the power of thinking eternally. I am sure many of the world’s philosophers we quote often in the academy are unknown to may human beings around the world, but who has never heard of Apostle Paul on earth? That is again the power of being used by the Lord God Almighty for His Glory. I thank Him for considering me to be a part of His ever-lasting and never-ending kingdom.
4. What do you think are the most important personal skills someone must have to be successful in business?
The only business I know and consider worthwhile is the business of our Lord Jesus Christ. What do I mean? Every human being that has been born or will ever walk on this planet earth has a mission from his/her Creator to fulfill. When all is said and done and we’re individually out of here, the only question our Creator will ask you and me is; did you carry out the mission I gave you when you’re alive on earth? This to me is the business that each and every one of us must find out and discover and then use all His God-given talents to accomplish. For me personally, the most important skills I think every “business person” must deploy to be successful in life’s business are: true walk and intimate relationship with Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; obedience and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit; God’s wisdom in taking decisions and using that Divine Wisdom to guide us in our relationship with other human beings; and finally love towards others and building God’s Kingdom on earth. These skills have nothing to do with money, status, celebrity, material acquisition and political power. The most successful people in life are those who know why they are here; carrying out God’s purpose for their lives and making it back “home”-heaven- as far as I am concerned. That is why all the so-called earthly accomplishments: political power, money, fame, status etc. will never count immediately you close your eyes and cross to the Other Side of eternity.
5. What are the obstacles you encountered in your business journey and how did you overcome them?
As I explained earlier on, the first obstacle I encountered was first discovering my mission in life. In other words, I needed to know and discover God’s purpose for my life on earth. Why am I? It took me the first 35 years of my life to discover why the True Lord God Almighty, my Creator put me on this earth. If any human being has not been able to concretize this matter, such a person is only alive but is not living. Then the second obstacle was how to go about carrying out the will of God for my life. It took me a secluded and deprived life in the Gulag for two years between 1996 and 1998 during the dictatorship of the late Nigerian military tyrant, Gen. Sani Abacha for me to discover the raison d’etre of my existence. Other obstacles of course are from Satan, his demons and their human agents. Once you are able to surmount the first two obstacles above, then you’re surefooted and determined to chart the compass of your life through the Power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
6. How would you describe your leadership style?
I do not have any leadership style of my own, except the leadership style of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Candidly, all those leadership styles taught in secular education are inadequate to answer the complex answers of human nature, thus the first leadership style is Divine Love. No business school in the world teaches this first leadership style, except in our Judea-Christian philosophy. When you love your Creator with all your heart and soul and strength and display same love to your fellow human beings; the urge to covet and be greedy take backseat; you’re able to treat your subordinates lovingly and not harshly, you won’t steal and defraud other and cut corners; you won’t cheat on your spouse and commit all abominable sins, because you have the genuine Love of God in your heart. Why are all these abominable sins and practices rampart in our world today? Lack of love, I mean Divine Love from above. If you have God’s Agape Love in your heart from the Majesty Throne on High, all these sins will not rear their ugly heads. When you display the leadership style of the King of kings and Lord of lords, selfish ambition has not place in your life and unbridled material acquisition will not consume you. There are no seven or ten leadership styles of life as being parroted by so-called earthly philosophers and motivational speakers of the world, but only one: love, period. All the problems in the world can be located in one place: inside the human earth. There is only one way the human earth can be renewed: through love as taught by the Savior of the world; our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
7. Have you ever had to deal with some of the negativity being portrayed by the media everyday about Africa, considering you are an African living in diaspora? How do you handle people who think there isn’t much to write home about with regards to Africa?
First, I watch carefully what I watch, listen to in the radio, read in the newspapers and magazines and see in the broadcast media. Remember I am a journalist too and I am familiar with the forces that shaped secular news. It’s important to know how the global system is organized and how the various major stake-holders operate and the dynamics that gave rise to who is doing what, when, where and how?
Secondly, once you have the Holy Spirit in you, it’s pretty easy to separate news and information from spiritual understanding. Most of the secular and worldly news in the mass media are deliberately disseminated to achieve certain desired objectives and one of such major objective is to maintain the status quo, so once you’re able to see beyond the façade, it’s easy to make good and Godly choices in a world that is fast degenerating into a moral relative world.
I don’t spar with people who lack fundamental knowledge and understanding of the global system, including Africa. Just as many Africans living in Africa have no clues on how people in the West live and thus have exaggerated views of the West so also majority of those who live in the West are ignorant about events in the South. As a child of two worlds, or as an African in the Diaspora to use your expression, my duty is to correct the twins-ignorance on both sides through my writings and books. To a large extent, I think I have been able to correct such dual-misconceptions through some of my books and publications, either on my own or in concert with other like-minded Africans in the two aisles of the Global Divide and even people of other races. For instance, my wife is an African-American who is also a scholar and her history straddles these two Global Worlds I am referring to, consequently, it’s pretty easy for us to author books together because of our similar experiences. You will discover these two historical convergences in all the books we have co-written which speak largely to our common ancestry. Like I said, there are other non-African American writers too, especially in the Christian genres that are familiar with these common ancestries that we have collaborated with to communicate our Christian heritage to the people of the world.
8. Who was the most influential person or mentor in your life?
Undoubtedly, my Savior and Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords is the most influential person in my life and my eternal mentor. He recycled me back to life when I was about to be wasted and destroyed. He gave me life and hope for today, tomorrow and above all for eternity. I didn’t know who I am as a human being until I gave my life to the Owner of Life and it was Him who let me know why I am here as a human being. No fellow human being, who is also a sinner could do that, hence a fellow human being dealing with the same problems of life as I was before I was saved by the Savior couldn’t have qualified as a mentor or most influential person in my life as far as I am concerned.
9. What was the BIGGEST risk you’ve taken?
To abandon all that I initially planned for my life, did a U-Turn and invest all, I mean all into the Hands of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That was the biggest and greatest risk I ever took about my life and you know what; the risk pays off. Hallelujah! I wouldn’t have wanted any other life than the one I have now. To be honest with you; there is no life worth living that is lived outside the revealed and expressed will of the Creator, who is the owner of one’s life. And I can tell you in confidence right now that the biggest risk of my life which was to devoting the rest of my life to this Good God who so loved me that He had to come down to this earth personally in Our Lord Jesus Christ to die for me in order to save my from the Nether Gloom. It is the biggest and greatest risk every human being on earth will have to take one way or the other in the course of our individual journey in this temporary life.
10. What do you think about college education? Should kids go to college now or get into business if they feel it’s a better choice? Considering some of the worlds’ greatest never had college education, your thoughts?
Without any doubt, college education is good and still relevant. Even in the age of globalization and the Internet, we cannot discount the power to acquire more knowledge. I invested ten years of my life into college education at the higher level when I arrived here in the United States and acquired all the degrees I set my mind to acquire right from Nigeria. Thank God, I am fulfilled because it is not how long but how far. Some Christians believe the more stupid and obtuse they are on matter of this temporary life; the more spiritual they are. That is completely wrong. The Lord God Almighty wants all His children to acquire knowledge, but my advice to young believers is that, they should acquire college education that will enable them to learn how to live rather than earn a living. Candidly, our current college and university education is not equipping today’s youth on how to answer the myriad questions of life complexities and that is why many of today’s university graduates are useless to themselves and to the society, not only in Africa but around the world. Those who are under 50 years today should begin to ask themselves why many of the world’s successful and reputable companies are founded and owned by college drop-outs? You know them all: Google, Yahoo, Kinkos, Facebook, apple etc. As far as I am concerned, anyone preparing to go to college in the New Millennium should have it at the back of his/her mind that he/she will only go there to acquire information and facts, period. Real education now exists outside the four walls of our colleges and universities. When last did you read of great companies and successful business start-ups founded by graduates of the Ivy Leagues where students pay several thousands of dollars to attend? There are many “educational derelicts” now in our midst more than ever to borrow the words of Mr. Albert Raymond Kroc, the founder of McDonalds. So like I said, college and university education is still important, but it is now a supplement. That you made a First Class doesn’t guarantee you success in life.
11. What would be the most important piece of advice you could give to young entrepreneurs and why? Especially for those who want to do business with African and in Africa?
There are some business ethics that are important whether you’re planning to do business in Africa, with Africans or Americans, the Brits or any other people. As people of faith, there are certain fundamental biblical truths that we should adhere to no matter the odds against us. I will rather hold unto my integrity than ruin my Christian journey and jeopardize my eternal destiny on the altar of fleeting business success. That may not resonate much in the ears of the spiritually dead, but as born-again Christians, those mantras are etched in our own Rosetta stone of Christian ethics and business and cannot be compromised, period.
Me:Thank you Dr Fayemiwo for sharing with us!
Dr Fayemiwo:Thanks for having me!