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David Adeleke: The Thing About Risk Taking

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I was having a conversation with a friend one day and she told me this wonderful story. It taught me a vital lesson about risk taking. We are both present-serving corps (NYSC) members and I was telling her about a wonderful idea I had but that could not execute because I was thinking about some things. I had to eventually tell her I had been over-thinking. It was this that prompted her to share her story with me in hopes that I could learn something from it. I did, and I hope you can do so too (the story is written in her words):

I went home to Lagos for the weekend from Ibadan, my primary place of assignment, and had no money to return when my weekend break was over. My mother refused to give me any money and encouraged me to go out and make some. I realized I had some Organo Gold coffee products for sale, so I went out to start marketing. I’d been introduced to these products by my mother who made me sign up involuntarily. Today, it was to be my saving grace.

After roaming for hours with no productivity, I was just about to give up. However, my friend who had been marketing with me encouraged me not to. Few minutes later, we came across a tall building and she suggested that we go in. Reluctantly, I went in with her and we climbed up to the first floor where I did a bit of marketing but met stonewalls who had no interest in coffee. We headed up to the second and third floors but still, we made no sales. At this point, I told my friend that if we made no sales on the fourth floor, I was never going to market anything again.

Funny enough, in this magnificent, tall building, there were no elevators, hence, our use of the stairs. As we advanced to the fourth floor, we saw this odd-looking middle-aged man wearing flip flops, climbing the stairs. My friend immediately approached him (remember I had already lost the motivation to continue) and I can remember thinking to myself that my friend must be mentally unstable due to too much exposure to Lagos sun. “Why on earth would she market Organo Gold to a scruffy looking man in flip flops? (Organo Gold products are quite expensive. The cheapest coffee pack is 5,000 Naira). How on earth can he afford Organo Gold when he can’t even afford some shoes?”, I asked myself.

As she walked up to him, she said “We want to market our products to you.” His reply: “If you want to talk to me, follow me to my office.” I hissed! “What office could this one be talking about?” Reluctantly, we followed him. When we entered the first door, we expected him to sit at the secretary’s table but he didn’t. He kept on walking until there was a massive main office in sight. Just as we were about to enter, two assistants stopped us and directed us to seat at the lobby. After some time, we were asked to come into his office. The first three things that caught my eye were encouraging enough: a shelf with different volumes of encyclopedia, a large aquarium to the left and a coffee maker. Jackpot! Later, I got to know that the ‘flip-flops man’ was a lawyer, and in fact the owner of the firm. Apparently he had just returned from the airport and came directly to work because he couldn’t go home to change.

He asked us why we had come and we explained to him. We took time to talk about the benefits of our product and he asked to taste some. At that time, I had run out of samples and so to let rip one of those expensive packet was something I had to think well about. Eventually, I did open one pack and he tried it. Then, asked us to open another, telling us that he didn’t like the first one. I almost said no, but my friend hesitantly opened another pack. He didn’t like that one either and asked us to open another one. I began boiling within. In my heart, I had already cursed him in 501 languages. He told us that if we weren’t ready to open the third pack, we should leave his office. “Horrible man!” That was the most expensive pack I had and would cost me about half of my NYSC allowance. After fighting the battle in my head, I decided to succumb and open the pack. And he didn’t like that one either. Finally, he asked us to leave his office, telling us that he didn’t like our products at all. I was pained, pissed, angry and a-thousand-other-fiery-emotions. As we got to the door, he called us back. “How much for all your products?”, he asked. We told him the price and he wrote us a cheque. I was dumbfounded. It was at that moment he taught me the most important lesson I’ve ever learned about business: Never be afraid to take risks. 

That’s what business and marketing are about. Risk-taking. If you over-think some things you’ll never make progress. He advised us that the risk of travelling from Lagos to Ibadan is more than the risk of opening a pack of coffee. “Weigh the benefits,” he said. I made a good amount of money that day and I learned a great lesson to go with it. That has encouraged me till today never to stop and never to be afraid of taking risks. 

What’s that idea you’ve been over-thinking? Or that decision you’ve been procrastinating for so long? Take the step and take a risk. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Michael Zhang

David I. Adeleke is a personal development writer and blogger. He is the main author on www.davidadeleke.com where he is currently running a #100DaysofGrowth series.Follow him Twitter: @DavidIAdelekeYou can also like his Facebook page: David Adeleke’s Blog

27 Comments

  1. LOLS

    December 2, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    Very inspiring!

  2. Rs

    December 2, 2014 at 9:59 pm

    This made me tear up….

    • tutu

      December 2, 2014 at 10:23 pm

      Tear up kwa??? I am taking a alot of risks presently. This makes me feel like i’m on the right track.

    • David Adeleke

      December 2, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      That’s a good thing. Let it also inspire you to take that bold step and defeat your giant. See you at the top.

  3. Dr. N

    December 2, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Was literally holding my breath. These eccentric lawyers, tho. Lol.
    Great article

    • David Adeleke

      December 2, 2014 at 11:36 pm

      Thank you 🙂

  4. Ephi

    December 2, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Never “look down” on anyone, you never can tell who that person is.

    • David Adeleke

      December 2, 2014 at 11:32 pm

      Very true.

  5. Ife

    December 2, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    I hope people get to read this Very inspiring

  6. signature

    December 2, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Wow!.

  7. Honeycrown

    December 2, 2014 at 11:06 pm

    Very nice story! One big risk I am learning to take too is, having the willingness to spend money if I want to make money. People should invest in quality; Whether investing in your self, others or products.

  8. David Adeleke

    December 2, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Thank you all for your positive and encouraging comments. Her story really inspired me too.

  9. olu

    December 3, 2014 at 1:48 am

    I pray for you kind of favor. Some clients will chop and clean mouth. May God direct our path.

  10. Ade

    December 3, 2014 at 8:33 am

    The article was worth the read, however, as much as risk taking is necessary in life to achieve a greater goal, it also has to be within careful limits.

    …But then, even if you fail, it should be a booster to push on,

    Well done David Adeleke… By the way that is my middle and first name too (Adeleke David) #NameSake 🙂

    • David Adeleke

      December 3, 2014 at 10:13 am

      Namesake!!! 🙂 True, we must carefully weigh our risks too.

  11. Autoprincess

    December 3, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Encouraging article! However, this is not the correct use of the term “marketing”, “marketing” and “selling” should not be used interchangeably. Thank you.

  12. D

    December 3, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Great read but ok I am about to play devil’s advocate. I hear a lot about risk taking especially from Nigerians but never with a balanced view. What am I saying? Husband quits job to “take risk” to have their own business . No advance preparation, no studying the market to see if your business is even viable, if you even have a market, i.e customers, clients that need or require the services you are choosing to render, then family i.e you have kids to feed, clothe and send to school with no thoughts for them and the future you quit and say you are taking risk. 6 years later, your risk is yet to pay off. Mother/wife too quits because they cannot afford to put their dream on hold any longer too, they need to work towards achieving that goal or dream of having their own business (Same story). A decade later children need to go to college and we are begging around for tuition. There comes a time when you can say you know what I am putting all my $$$ into something and there are times you just have to know putting all your eggs in is not the right risk. If anyone has seen the show shark tank, you know why these investors sit down and allow these entrepreneurs make their case and based on that make decisions. They want to see 1. you have done your homework and secondly, if it is a risk they are willing to take, i.e calculated risks and these are people that have enough $$$ that can afford to lose some. We need to give people a balance view of what taking risks means. Yes we read of success story and we say we are motivated but forget that statistics as shown that 8 out of 10 businesses fail, we hear of the 2 and then quit our jobs. Ignoring the 80% starring us daily in the face. I am not against taking risks but please take calculated risks and we need to start yelling that in our country. All this small children trying to get rich quickly are all victims of this mind set.

  13. D

    December 3, 2014 at 9:44 am

    On another note…another lesson to learn is never to judge a book by its cover, he/she saw flip flops and concluded person no fit afford their goods.

  14. lindo

    December 3, 2014 at 9:53 am

    Thanks alot..God bless you.

  15. Diddie

    December 3, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Very inspiring… I am someone who likes sitting in my comfort zone but this write-up has stirred me up to take risks no matter what.Thanks

  16. kk

    December 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Nice article!!

  17. Cynthia

    December 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    Hmm. It seems I’m being spoken to directly by this inspiring article, because I’m into network marketing, and I have already convinced myself, that it isn’t for me, I became complacent.
    I’m going to get up and keep going, won’t give up.

    • David Adeleke

      December 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      There you go! Get up and don’t give up. That’s the only way to progress and breakthrough.

  18. Frances Okoro

    December 4, 2014 at 12:03 am

    I am presently a corp member too…
    this is really helpful for some ideas that have been swirling around in my head to be able to come alive.

    imperfectlyperfectlives.com

  19. Obi Gregory

    December 5, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Wonderful article.

  20. TOS

    December 5, 2014 at 9:58 pm

    TAKING RISK is when YOU ARE PREPARED for the ‘teething’ period of a situation or condition that is FAMILIAR. It is also a calculated hardwork with resources. and willingness to endure and perservere with a little startup cost or energy until you reach a stable growth. This article is an example of risk taking. A corper with an unpopular luxury product, little financial support and income, worked hard to market her only potential earner unconventionally, the rest is history.
    GAMBLING, on the other hands is GREED, LUST for POWER and some or all it can buy and a DELUSION of the mind etc. Be mindful, IRRATIONAL GAIN is the attraction when “your all” is put in a basket with the excuse of “YOU’RE IN BUSINSS”. small, small o! make you no kill o!

  21. Alexandra

    December 6, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    This left me speechless.

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