My name is Remilekun Manoela Carolino Owadokun, born in Brazil in 1987.
My father came to Brazil in the 70s to study Medicine on a scholarship, during his time here, he met my mother who was at the time an air hostess.
They got married after he graduated and both moved to Nigeria.
He was from Ondo state.
When my mother moved to Nigeria, she was not very fluent in English so my parents always communicated in Portuguese and so I learnt to speak Portuguese by association, reading I learnt from comics and we were in Brazil every other year for Christmas. I learnt English in School.
I did my Primary and Secondary School Education in Nigeria.
I lost my father to cancer when I was 15 and in SS2, by the time I graduated I moved to the US to attend university.
[bctt tweet=”Unprepared for challenges can come at any time you don’t expect.” username=”SamSemako”]
But due to some complications my host family were experiencing at the time, I chose to return to Nigeria for a year or two instead of staying there.
At the time my mother was working in Abuja at the Portuguese Embassy.
Since I was 17 at the time, no one thought it was such a bad idea to be at home instead of UNI.
One day I went to renew my passport at the Brazilian Embassy in Abuja and the woman in charge asked me if I spoke Portuguese and I said yes.
[bctt tweet=”What you know how to do is the lever you need in life.” username=”SamSemako”]
She told me that a new arm of the office opened and the 1st Brazilian Defense Attache to Nigeria was looking for a bilingual secretary.
The position had been open for a whole year, they put an ad in the newspaper in Portuguese and no one responded. Since a requirement was to speak the language. That was how I got my first job at 17. I was earning 80k a month, asides benefits.
The job required a graduate, with experience who spoke and wrote Portuguese.
My only qualification was that I could speak & write in Portuguese.
I had no other skill, neither did I have experience but since the Defense Attache had gotten desperate and *staffless* after one year of waiting.
I became the best candidate.
[bctt tweet=” Proficiency in any language, is always an advantage. ” username=”SamSemako”]
Career lesson 1 – Create Unfair Advantage
There will always be people who are looking for jobs, opportunities, etc.
There will even be people who will want to do your work for free!
So my recommendation is to always create opportunities for yourself by creating unfair advantage in this case for me was knowing a new language.
I worked there for one year, my boss was a Colonel and being a military man he was extremely orderly and disciplined and most of the things I learnt with him (that I complained bitterly about then) I use today in running my business. More than 10 years later.
Career Lesson 2 – No skill or knowledge is ever wasted
I hated order at 17, but order has greatly helped my business today.
[bctt tweet=”Order PUTS order into your life and business.” username=”SamSemako”]
Career Lesson 3 – You don’t need a degree to earn good pay
You just need to have an advantage.
The more *unfair* the advantage, the better for you.
After some months, I got bored and wanted a new experience.
A friend of the family who ran a successful travel agency in Lagos at the time wanted to open a branch in Abuja and needed someone she could trust to run the office, so she did not have to relocate to run the business and that is how she hired me as manager of her travel agency in Abuja.
[bctt tweet=”When you get bored or tired, don’t stay there, MOVE ON!” username=”SamSemako”]
During that time, I learnt how to create tours, find cheap hotels, cheap tickets.
[bctt tweet=”Be on the move; create things!” username=”SamSemako”]
The Abuja office closed months later and I was jobless.
Career Lesson 4 – It is not *only* about what you know but who you know
My mother working at the embassy exposed her to a lot of people.
One day in 2005, Ayo Animashaun of HipTv came to apply for visa to attend the World Music Awards in Portugal while I was in office visiting my mother. She introduced us and we kept in touch.
Not particularly liking the routine of 9-5, between 2006 and 2007 I decided to create more opportunities for myself, so I learnt French & German.
[bctt tweet=”Keep learning.” username=”SamSemako”]
I learnt to do business plans, websites and I also did translation jobs to keep money coming in.
I did a business plan for a small company who wanted to present it to a bank to get a loan. I got paid 90k and they got the loan.
I learnt to do the business plan online for free.
My highest paying translation was 500,000. It was for Lafarge Cement, they brought in a Brazilian Expert who did not speak English.
One day, a friend sent a message asking if I speak Portuguese and I said yes and he hooked me up with the company responsible for hiring.
Career Lesson 5: Choose to use the Internet to your advantage
You might not be able to afford courses but there are tones of free resources online.
By this time, I had announced to my family that I had no interest in going to University and it was not a welcome idea.
Apart from the fact that I did not know what I wanted to study, I only saw getting a degree as a means to earn a living and for me I was earning a living without a degree.
In 2007, Ayo Animashaun was going to cover the World Music Awards in Monaco and also the MTV BASE awards in Munich Germany.
He applied for visa at the German embassy to take his entire team to cover his event but they were all declined visa. He was the only one who got granted.
He called my mother to assist but because it was less than a week to the event there was a little she could do.
I sent him a message sympathising with him.
He then asked if I would be interested in going with him. to record while he interviewed since he did not have his team.
Since I have a Brazilian passport, I did not need a visa into Europe. He called my mom to seek permission and the next day I was headed to Lagos to learn how to record with a camera.
[bctt tweet=”What you have is good enough to start with.” username=”SamSemako”]
Three days later, we were in Germany and then Monaco.
After this experience, I decided I wanted to travel!
So I started creating tours to Brazil for the Carnival. I did this for every year until 2010.
In 2007, I went to Europe for free with Ayo.
In 2009, he paid me to serve as a translator for his team who were coming to Brazil to record the carnival.
In 2009, I decided to have an actual career in something instead of doing random businesses and since I was already sketching for fun and someone had left an old sewing machine at our house. I decided to go into Fashion Designing.
Career lesson 6: You have enough to start
[bctt tweet=”Start where you are, with what you have.” username=”remiowadokun”]
My friend had a common friend with Jesse Jagz, so when he came into Abuja from Jos, I met him and offered to make him a jacket for the City People Awards.
The jacket was made in 24 hours and I got paid 40k for it. MI saw the jacket and called me, then I made a jacket for him to perform at Big Brother Africa when UTI won and UTI called me and that’s how I rose in the industry and became the go to girl for jackets for Performing artists.
I ended up getting calls from Psquare and I made the jackets used in the Alingo video.
I was popularly called Remi Buttons and I had made jackets for everyone in the industry.
From Project fame all Stars to Tuface, etc.
Career Lesson 7: The best form of marketing is word of mouth and it is free
The only investment is the excellence in delivery of your service. Make sure you treat every client with 110% attention and doors will be open for you that you never imagined possible.
I was hungry for growth, so one day I told a friend of mine I wanted to work in an organization to learn about structures, reporting systems and he said he knew one of the Senior Special Assistants to the Lagos State Governor.
He set up a meeting for me with her and she asked me what I could offer and I gave her a string of things I believed I could do. She however said she could not pay me.. and so I lost interest.
Soon after, I decided that what I wanted to learn was more important that getting paid.
So I reached out to her again and volunteered. At this time she had been promoted to Deputy Chief of Staff to the Lagos State Governor.
I started as a volunteer, but, within months she started giving me money weekly, I got an official car and an apartment.
[bctt tweet=”Volunteer your skills and knowledge. It pays.” username=”SamSemako”]
I was the highest paid in the office.
I did this along side my fashion.
I left after almost 2 years of service and it was very sad day at work. I was offered so many things to make me stay, all of which I declined. My mission there was accomplished, I had learnt.
2 years after I left, she sent me an email offering me a job with the current president. While I was still there, she had offered me a posting to work with the innovation office in Cape Verde when she left office. Both of which I declined.
I left for Milan Italy to do 2 courses on Men’s Fashion. I learnt Italian while I was there.
Career Lesson 8 – Where ever you find yourself, work on leaving an unforgettable experience
Work on being irreplaceable, though it is said no one is irreplaceable. Help them change that perception by being the first.
Career Lesson 9 – Don’t underestimate the value of service/volunteering
If I said I can’t work for free, see what I would have lost?
But in choosing to work for free and working like I am paid. I got 10 times more than I bargained for.
I came back from Italy and kept working on fashion and I got a gig to work in South Africa for MTV BASE for a segment styling Denrele Edun. I had been styling him since I started my Fashion business.
When I came back I was at a point in my life where I was not feeling fulfilled with what I was doing.
There was still a void. Yes I was popular, money came in… but something was still missing.
So in 2012, I took a break for a few months and then later decided that I did not want to return to fashion and not just that. I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. I was lost.
I discussed this with a number of people and they ALL thought I was crazy. ALL.
No one understood what I was saying and why I was complaining.
When everyone wanted my life.
Worse part? I did not have an idea what I wanted to do.
Career Lesson 10 : When you want to change career, don’t always expect support
[bctt tweet=”Expect resistance!” username=”remiowadokun”]
Don’t ever stay in a career because you want to please people. Most people don’t know what they want
Career Lesson 11: Don’t let good be the enemy of great
I used all the funds I had gathered to rent an apartment and to take care of myself during the *wait* period. I thought I would have figured out myself in 3 weeks to one month…
Nope! 10 months later I was still confused.
However, since I believe in constantly improving myself I decided it was best to at least work on my weight. I was weighing 110kg and I was sick, but I had gotten accustomed to being sick that I did not think anything was off. It had been 13 years. Maybe it was my destiny (I said to myself, no one is perfect).
I had prolonged periods. I had migranes. High BP. High cholesterol and I looked 10 years older than my age.
Career Lesson 12: Sometimes where you are is not where you belong
I was able to lose 40kg in 10 months with change of lifestyle. No gym. No personal trainer. Just change of diet, exercise & mindset.
And from taking pills daily, I saw the doctor and he said absolutely nothing was wrong with me and from having monthly cycles for 3 weeks, it went to 5 days for the first time in 13 years.
I have not taken any pill since then, even Panadol.
I went to the mall one day and one lady who knew when I was overweight saw me and did not recognize me. We spent 4 hours chatting about my transformation and she asked me to blog about it.
Hmmmm… sounded interesting. I had Internet and a laptop. I had a story and I had time. So, yes. I spent the 48 hours setting it up. It was my first time. It was great.
I texted her the blog address and 4 days after I went to check and it had gone viral.
Comments and shares.
People were asking me questions; asking me to help them, but I was not interested. Losing weight was hard enough for me.
But I wanted to attend Steve Harris event and I had no more money or means to attend so I took 2 people on their offer. Charged them 20k each paid to attend the event.
And that’s how I became a Weight Loss Coach by divine order.
3 months later I wanted to formalize my business but my blog was brought down by Google and I had to start from scratch and I did not make any single backup.
[bctt tweet=”You can ALWAYS become whatever you want.” username=”SamSemako”]
Career Lesson 13: Expect challenges but also expect to overcome them
I wanted to be qualified to help people and I did not want to rely on just my experience.
So I searched for the best Health Coaching school in the world and found Institute for Integrative Nutrition and it cost almost 7k$.
I called them and negotiated to pay monthly and I didn’t know where I would get the money though.
I eventually got enough clients a month to cover my tuition and in one year I was certified as health coach.
That was how I formalized my business and Total Makeover was born.
Career Lesson 14: Decide what you want before you decide how you want to get it
In that time I wrote my book “How I lost 40kg” that made it to the Amazon best sellers list. It hit number 2 in UK, US & Canada with over 3000 purchases & downloads.
Coaching was great but it was also very limiting for someone as ambitious as me, with coaching there is a limit to how many people you can reach with 24 hours in a day.
Which meant there was a limit to how much I could make.
So during a conversation with someone I had met at a training, he said to start an online school but also read a book by Brian Sheer “How to make money from thin air”.
In 3 months I set up my online school and in 9 months I had almost 1000 students signed up from different parts of the world.
Career lesson 15 : Your network is your network. You are one person away from your next level
Taking us back a year, in 2015, I decided I wanted to share health facts… but sharing health facts could be offensive and in an attempt to make health coaching fun and sharing some hard truths about obesity I started the Phatgal series.
A comedy animation series, each episode less than 1 min, sharing my story as an overweight girl.
It went viral on Facebook with over 60, 000 collective views on the 10 episodes.
And from there the Character “Phatgal” was officially born.
Out of that Character, I created a mobile game on Andriod and IOS. It’s aim was to raise health consciousness in a fun and exciting way. It launched in July 2017.
In 2017, I have launched 2 other best selling books: Total Makeover – You deserve to live your best life, and Mentorless? – attract, retain and make the best of Mentoring relationships.
I also went on to get
Certified as a Life Coach,
Master Practioner of Neuro Linguistic programming.
In sharing my experience and life lesson on Social Media, I was christened Mother Hen.
Career lesson 16: Even though I never got a formal degree, you can see I am a big fan of learning
I am a big fan of knowledge & self advancement.
So, always seek to know more about your field and yourself than you knew yesterday.
[bctt tweet=”Become a big fan of continuous learning.” username=”SamSemako”]
Career Lesson 17: You are the author of your own life
[bctt tweet=”You can re-write your story.” username=”remiowadokun”]
[bctt tweet=”You are the author of your own life!” username=”remiowadokun”]
Thank you for reading, I will be taking questions now.
Samson from Lagos: Ma, how can we contact you.
Remi Owadokun: firstname.lastname@example.org
Daniel Uwaoma (Optometrist), Makurdi:
You seem to be very good at languages, any skill in learning languages you could share?
Remi Owadokun: In my opinion, interest is the most important thing. You have to be genuinely interested in learning languages.
The second important thing is patience. People want to learn everything overnight.
The third, would be to practice
The forth would be, not to be afraid of looking foolish *at first*.
I did not really have an interest in learning languages until I saw the opportunity when it opened up for me.
While French translators were earning peanuts, only because Nigeria is surrounded by francophone countries, Portuguese translators were offered 100 times more. I had nothing else to fall back on, so I had to increase my earning potential.
Ayoola Omolola from Osogbo: During the time you were learning different things did you ever feel you were doing too much (not sure of what you want) and did people around you not make you feel you were Oliver Twist?
Remi Oladokun: Over time I have developed a thick skin.
I am the least interested in people’s opinion of me.
I truly do not care.
I think that people lose so much in life because they care too much about other people’s opinion of them… and these people have not even achieved anything significant enough to challenge them.
[bctt tweet=”When you care more about other people’s opinion you give away your power.” username=”remiowadokun”]
Don’t get me wrong, a few of them actually worry and genuinely care.
My mother was afraid that I would wake up one day and be jobless and not be able to live a good life. She felt I would miss out on many opportunities because I did not have a degree and I would be unemployable with only Sec Sch Certificate.
I also did not share what I was learning or doing with people. I always prefer to execute and talk less.
The world is full of talkers.
If anyone thinks I am Oliver Twist for wanting to improve myself then it is the first indication that we are not meant to be friends.
Flora, Educationist /Cake Designer from Uyo: Aside the loss of your dad at a tender age, what serious challenges have you had while trying to live your dreams and how were you able to find strength to continue?
2. Please, are you married?
Remi Owadokun: No, I am not married.
I had numerous challenges to mention.
My mother had some challenges with my father’s gratuity and so we ended up living in a house with no door and no light for 9 months.
My mother being a foreigner did not sit well with her in laws, so when my father died it was the last time we heard from them until they saw me in the centre spread of newspapers.
As a fashion designer, I started flirting with drug use and so I smoked weed for some time.
Pressure from family to get a degree so I had to constantly push myself to prove I made the right choice.
I had health complications. You are a woman, imagine having your periods for minimum of 3 weeks to 2 months none stop for 13 years?
And many many more.
I got through them reminding myself that where I was and the labels I was given were only an indication of where I was in that moment and not final judgement.
I could still decide how I wanted my life to end.
I could still decide how my story would go.
I am always always in charge; I decide, no one else.
Daniel Uwaoma: Please, do we have any more questions? There are no more questions it seems.
So we close tonight’s session on that note.
I wish to thank quite immensely our guest tonight, Remi Owadokun for the valuable life changing and inspiring story and lessons.
Thank you so very much!
I also want to thank the PAC team leader, Mr. Sam Semako for working so hard to ensure we have great minds come to inspire us every weekend.
I want to thank also the entire PAC team, Olumayowa, Florence, Jonnie. You guys rock.
I want to thank also everyone who participated tonight. Thank you so much. Your presence made the session much interesting for our guest. You make PAC what it is. Thank you so very much
Till then, stay blessed.
You can follow Sam Semako on WWW.fb.com/SamSemako
You can read his blog at samsemako.com.ng
Join our Facebook group at http://WWW.Facebook.com/groups/peopleandcareer
From me Daniel Uwaoma, good night and sweet dreams.