---Being Optimistic no matter the Challenge, Need To Embrace Mentorship & Business Startups
The CEO of Shirley Supremo Finishings Ltd HRH Queen Shirley Ngozi Okwudinma in another interactive session with Team Arise Africa after Bagging Award advised the youths to day no to drug, sharing the secret of her success in business.
Here is the excerpts of the interview:
1. CONGRATULATIONS YOUR MAJESTY, ON YOUR RECENT AWARD AS DYNAMIC BRAND OF THE YEAR, CAN WE GET TO KNOW YOUR FUTURE PLANS, VISIONS:
There is a lot of program that I have in mind for the youths. The kind of NGO am establishing will be focusing on the YOUTHS. I told myself from onset one need to be well prepared for it, don’t need to go around begging for money because I am already in business, to make enough money so as to help the youths. There is great need for us to pay attention to our youths because they are the ones that would take care of us when we are aged and no longer fit for hard LABOUR.
When I see some pensioners and old people who are crying today, one question that comes to my mind is *what did they do when they were young?*
Did they save up for the rainy day?
One can not afford to live a life that would be full of regrets at the end.
ON FACE OF ARISE AFRICA:
I highly commend you for coming up with this initiative so as to encourage our younger ones aspire to achieve great things in life.
“Failure” is an orphan but “Success” has so many relatives and friends. Once you succeed in life many people would come to associate themselves with you. So strive to be the best at what you are never forget success is a Choice and Failure is also a Choice but Choose wisely.
2. Without Being Mundane, What would you like to be remembered for?
This particular question has crossed my path several times because it speaks about ones legacy, which is one essence of Good mentorship. like many will say they want to be remembered for this or that but as a business minded Woman I want to be remembered as that majestic Strong Woman who was able to break through even in the furniture business.
I still see myself as not doing much well at the moment despite all the accolades and am grateful to God for thus far he has brought us. We have been able to establish this brand as the best in Owerri. It is not by my making but by God's doing.
I want to be remembered for giving platforms for our youths to operate, build hostels, train and equip several youths in skill empowerment.
3. Media & Youth Representation in Government is disproportionate. What do you think of it?
I don't encourage that in the first place.
Except there are specific assignments given to the youths who has shown capacity. Because when you give so much power, you see that most times youthful exuburance plays out when they are assigned in position of authority. Many don't manage it well.
There are things you give youths to get involved and not give them sensitize offices. They have to learn the roles before they get involved. They need to pass through proper tutelage and be fully equipped before they can be allowed to exhibit leadership.
For me, allow that individual to be well grounded first. For instance, you have a platform called Arise Africa.. You have something which you have been doing for years and you have calved a niche for yourself. You took time to grow, nurture it till it start blossoming. If blessed in this, the Government decides to give you another opportunity, you will strive to be the best amongst your equal. You would make it, trust me on that.
But if someone should give you something different from this area where you have passion for, maybe SA on some other portfolio. Before you know it you would shift from your area of strength and would not go far. So most times it can be a distraction for some who are not focused
Moreover, Nigeria has it's unique system. You need to understand it before you start operating. If you don't know it, you would not go far!
4. For Nigeria to take its rightful place In the comity of nations as leader and Giant of Africa, we need to fight corruption and improve our economy. Do YOU think Nigeria is doing well in any of the above?
Unfortunately, we are no where as a Nation. There is nothing to commend about the country especially viz a viz our economy.
Many years ago, there was an introduction of a technology called
"GSM". We thought there would be a step forward after that. But the situation is now getting worse and things are vicious everyday.
There should be stabilization of power. If the Government can do something to improve the power sector it would affect every aspect of our economy positively.
Before when there was corruption as claimed. One dollar was one hundred and Eighty five naira but now we are fighting corruption. One dollar is three hundred and fifty. what Do we now say ?
If we are fighting corruption and the dollar is higher than it was before, then do we say our problem is corruption?
I am a very practical person. The matrix I understand well is this our buying and selling .
5. Recently many Nigerians were caught engaging in Internet fraud. What is your stake about young people trying to make it quick without going through the right process?
Its so unfortunate that anything goes for some people today. If you don't stand for something, you can fall for anything.
Crime is crime. Crime doesn't pay and there is no justification for that but we need to understand the root cause of this problem. So as to decisively deal with it.
Our people have young blood, if things continue not to be put right in this country, all the negative vibes sorry to say, would keep on going on. For us to put a stop to it, something drastic needs to be done.
Americans channel their creativity into technology, innovations. While our youths channel theirs into negativity.
If our leaders in this country are doing the right thing, our youths would be useful and purposeful.
Take for instance, there is constant light, good road network, job opportunities, etc do you think anyone would like to leave the country? NO
If anyone wants to travel, people would be wondering why the person wants to do so.
The level of crime you see in the land is largely because of the hardship , frustration and high level of poverty in the land.
The earlier we wake up to this realities the better.
Because many of these young ones are idle, they fall prey to these negative vibes. An idle mind is the Devils workshop
The youths needs to be keep meaningfully engaged. They need to be encouraged to embrace one skill or another in order to be emancipated
6. Can we know what inspired you into the type of business you are currently into?
Well this is one of the frequent questions I come across in almost every interview not withstanding I will say right from onset, my inspiration comes from God and also I have a very supportive and loving husband. Outside the above, I have always had my mind set on doing business from the time I was young. The only difference is that I had a very good reason to be in this business.
Yes some individuals once they want to venture into a business, they expect the money to start pumping out immediately but it doesn't work out that way. Mind you as a business oriented person you are bond to take risk and endure. Station your mind that it can be either of the two sides of a coin, you don't know the result until when flipped. If you want to venture into a business, you really need to go into deep thinking to know:
Your purpose, what is the goal for setting it up.
Your Area of Specialization
For me, I am doing this kind of business because I have _fervor_ for it; I am doing this because there is need to do so as it concerns my ardor for the job, I am doing this to encourage people, to help people get the best in life, give a sense of belonging to people in the environment. To enhance people’s life and it gives me joy also.
HOW DID YOU START THIS BUSINESS?
For a woman like me to get into this type of business when I did was really surprising.
I Started it from scratch which is from nothing when it was not popular and progressively calve a notch for myself. It is not an easy task at all.
One thing is making money, another thing is maintaining that leas as being the best over decades. That is where the mark is. It is so tasking that if you don't take your time, you would loose track and fade away in the system.
I didn't learn this furniture business from anywhere unlike the tiling. It took me time to understand the dynamics. As at the time I started there was no furniture business in Owerri. I went to those making it and familiarize with them.
Started by taking products little by little and built trust and confidence. I didn't put myself into pressure of going to banks to get loan. I was determined to succeed in the business. That passion and desire is what took Shirley Supremo Finishings to the height we are today and everybody is clapping.
7 Looking Back, what do you think Shirley Supremo Finishings achieved In Imo to deserve Dynamic Brand of The Year Award ?
We are the foremost and leading name in the industry.
If we didn’t establish Shirley Supremo Finishing Ltd at the period we did, people would not have in mind of coming into Owerri whenever they are looking for quality, they would say Owerri is a dead zone and establishing this business has also brought lot of Hotels, Fast Food joints and tourism center into our dear Imo State.
Right now people come from all parts of the world to patronize us down here in the beautiful city of Owerri. I did so because I discovered that some people have the money but they don't know where to get Superior Quality rather before our coming as a justice League, people only get inferior quality down here but Supremo existence brought in Prevalent Qualities.
From a humble beginning when we started and right now we have 2 big warehouses but yet it does not contain all that we have. We desire to build in no distant time a Showroom that would showcase a whole lot more furniture at the same time bigger than what we have on ground right now with unresisting quality.
I believe it's this quality that the organizers saw and decided to honour us.
8. Are you looking at branching out outside owerri?
Yes, I have a warehouse in Lagos not a showroom. Every business has its own secrets. At Lagos I distribute to people in wholesale(Large Quantities) who in turn sales to their customers. It helps me to sell more. That doesn’t mean that I don’t mind coming to Lagos or another one in Abuja. This would definitely happen as the demands increases more we will also go worldwide(Diaspora).
8 How do you get to impact your philosophy to your sales representatives?
They watch me closely and see how I attend to customers in a Social manner (which is called "A Customer and Vendor relationship") and also learn from me.
Buying and selling is a practical thing that requires learning. In order to boost sales they are given incentives, Vendors bonus according to the percentage of sales they make each day. This makes them to attend to customers very well. They can't afford to allow anyone who walks into SHIRLEY SUPREMO FINISHING LIMITED go without patronizing because they know there is instant reward/bonus for them outside their salary.
8. What is your advice to the youths?
Especially Youth & Mentorship
Most times, what our youths do for the politicians in the name of followership is simply thuggery. The future of most of our youths is being killed by our politicians. These men are tormentors and not mentors. They are not mentoring anyone but killing our youths. So one should be careful the kind of person you adopt as a mentor.
Secondly, it is very important to note that Youths are known for their natural strength.
But it is so disheartening that most of our youths has destroyed the Natural strength by indulging in hard drugs. The strength is gone, for some it has made them not to be productive, they don't think well or positive any longer.
Let's take some of our musicians for instance, at that point when their career should blossom you would find out that the person is no more.
I advise our youths to say No to hard drugs.
Most of our teaming youths are held hostage and are in bondage by illicit drugs. The consequences and effect of addiction is so damaging
The worst thing that could happen to any parent is losing control over his/her child. Drug addiction makes that possible. It takes our youths down to our faces. Children are vulnerable beings, they could be influenced into getting involved with drugs easily because they lack the experience to fully comprehend what they are getting themselves into.
When a child starts experimenting with drugs, most times it goes unnoticed until it gets out of control. As the problem unfolds, society comes up with different suggestions on how best to curb the problem.
We have seen instances where addicts were punished, and are made to suffer great pain in an attempt to deter them from using drugs. After all attempts to fix this problem proves abortive, family members are often left with a feeling of shame, grief, depression, anger and resentment, which are consequence of unhealthy responses to the problem.
From childhood, through adolescence, peer friendship emerges and with current trends, your child is most likely going to connect with someone who had started using drugs at school, play grounds, Mosque or Church. Some kids willingly experiment with these drugs because at first, it appears to be great fun. Other kids yield to peer influence because of curiosity or the desire to fit into the group. And socially anxious children who quickly figure out that alcohol and other substances can provide ease and comfort in situations that are anxiety-provoking resolve to drugs to get the desired effect. That is how it always begin.
We need to understand that addiction is a mental health disorder, which most times requires the help of a trained professional. While inexperienced individual may not be able to help an addict to recover, family members can play a significant role in recovery. With their support, addicts are more likely to stay in treatment and have a successful outcome.
That is why I appreciate what Arise Africa is doing. By calling the minds of the youths home. If all of us will join hands in this task, it would really go a long way to help out restructure any youth that has been misled as a result of peer pressure group. If you stay amongst the circle of those that drink, smoke or womanize before long you too would join them because a proverb says "Show me your friends and I will tell you who you are" and another says "Evil communication corrupts good morals". Youths are very important in our society today and that is why we have to build the youths.
Like I said earlier, whatever activity you want youths to embark today, there has to be a prize for them. This would make them serious and very much committed to you.
Gone are the days when the youths will come to church work and then go home.
You need to no matter how little give them some incentive. They have to be appreciated. To stabilize their minds.
There is a way our youths think. When you talk as a mother, they think you don’t really know “what is on board”. They see you as “old fashion or we have fade away”. But that would not stop us from offering our parental advice. The only thing I can tell our youths is that they should be who God has made them to be irrespective of the present socioeconomic situation, don’t give in to peer pressure, don't live your life trying to please anybody or working at your own detriments for instance; working for politicians who will use and dump you at the end of the day after making you have series of enemies. _A politician will use you during the elections and afterwards will dump you because they see you as a nuisance once they get to that seat._
_What happens in your life nothing?_
_How do you see yourself?_
_Sit down and ask yourself; what can I do in life?_
_You need to balance the whole thing.
Do you see yourself cut out for a white collar job?_
_Depending on salary or do you see yourself as someone who will create wealth for others?_
_Do you see yourself as a political thug who will be carrying ballot boxes for politicians just for what I call *Stomach infrastructure*?_
It doesn’t have to do with you being old or young It has a lot to do with your values, Nature,culture,integrity,humility,Personality and how you were breed. Our environment plays a very big role in shaping most of our youths.
No matter what you aim at becoming, do yourself the favour of having a mentor. I am one person that believes in apprenticeship It gives you the leeway or latitude to a certain level in life. When turbulent times comes if you have not experienced it before, it would blow you off but when you pass through whatever challenge in life with a mentor by your side or you look you to trust me you will surely be well guided and groomed. If you don’t look at life that way, you have not started in life.
I know where I want to be in life and where am coming from. I am very focused and Optimistic of a better days that was how I could be able to attain thus far height. There are people as creative as you can not imagine but *where are they? Why haven’t they been able to achieve greatness?*
They keep struggling day in day out but nothing to show for it. The Bottom line is that they don’t have a good moral values, a little thing; they are swayed off their feet. But when you show them practically how it should be done they would go far in life.
So I advise young people to get a mentor in that area you want to succeed in life, bring yourself under the tutelage of someone who is far more experienced than you.
Also as a young man plan for your future.
HRM Queen Shirley Ngozi Okwudinma is married to HRH Eze Samson Okwudinma, they are fablously blessed with four extraordinary kids (2male and 2 female). a dynamic entrepreneur from Nneato Obibi -Ochasi Kingdom Orlu; She holds a Bachelor in Education in English from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. The Dynamic Entrepreneur also holds An Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Global Harvest Christian University (Doctor of Humanities)