For Femi Opaneye, getting out of the corporate sector and setting up his own business was the best thing he ever did.
What’s your story?
Growing up I was sold the story that life was about a traditional professional career. I chose law because I didn’t know what else to do. After years of yo-yoing between resignation, unhappiness and depression, I sought another way. The catalyst was trying to understand why losing a job that I hated would lead me to consider jumping out of my bedroom window. The only reason I’m alive today is because at my lowest points, I would get so exhausted that I would climb into bed and take a nap. 2009 was my lowest point, but it took a further 5 years to quit corporate life.
What excites you most about your industry?
Being an entrepreneur affords me the ability to conceive an idea, build it, nurture it and watch it blossom before my very eyes. I love the challenge involved in having absolutely no idea what is going to happen nor which direction things are going to go. In many respects, I consider myself a mad scientist. I have a concept floating around in my head, I formulate a hypothesis, plot possible outcomes on a graph, then proceed.
What’s your connection to Asia?
I was scheduled to be in Hong Kong for only four months in 2010, through my work for HSBC. At the time, I had never been to this part of the world so wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Once I got here, I decided there was no way I was going back to London.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
By virtue of the fact that it is the only place I have lived since being in Asia, Hong Kong. But also, I find it an extremely easy city to do business in. People are open and willing to help at every turn. I have been given so many opportunities simply by being here, mainly through referrals. Once people are aware of what I’m doing they tend to push people in my direction to see if there are any synergies between our respective businesses. Also, because of its proximity to China.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Too many to count! But the advice I tend to hear over and over again from (famous) successful people that are mature in years is to ‘always be yourself.’ I believe there is a tendency for people to always try to fit in and be what society expects them to be and it seems many of these people did at the beginning of their careers. Carl Jung describes it best in his Concept of Individuality. As far as I am concerned, it is the only way to live a truly extraordinary life. It is the only way to discover unique potential and what you can contribute to society.
Who inspires you?
My mum for being mentally and physically strong enough to raise me to be a strong man who stands and fights no matter the odds. I follow certain social media personalities that I consider mentors: Tai Lopez, Grant Cardone, Patrick Bet- David. Listening to Les Brown on YouTube whilst working at HSBC finally made me take the plunge and quit my job, even though I had no idea what I was going to do next. Best decision I have ever made! Others worth mentioning, Warren Buffet, Ray Dalio, Carl Icahn and Barbara Corcoran.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
Everything is created in conversation. The genius is in its simplicity: whatever effect that one wishes to create always starts by having a conversation or a series of conversations. By recognising this, one can be empowered to take control of their life rather than being a passive observer. Getting present to this concept resulted in me transforming my relationship with my business partner and gave me a boost in my self-belief.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I would have more fun in university, skip law school (and postgraduate degrees altogether) and learn how to run a business. I would travel a lot more, live and work in different countries, learn more languages and go on expeditions.
How do you unwind?
Music, meditation, massages, hanging out with (encouraging) friends and family. The majority of my friends and family spend a lot of the time discouraging me from pursuing my goals. For them, the end result is the only thing that matters, not the journey. As such, I am extremely careful what I read and hear. When I listen to music, I dance and the whole world ceases to exist. I’m not sure where it goes, but for a period of time nothing matters! The same happens with meditation though I’m yet to perfect the art. When I get a massage, I fall asleep. Encouraging friends and family have the same effect as music.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
Koh Samui. Thai people are very friendly and laid back. The place is hot, there are beautiful beaches. I also had a dream holiday which I will never forget with a bunch of great friends in November 2014. I highly, highly recommend it.
Everyone in business should read this book:
The Gospel According to Femigod by Femi Opaneye
Economics In One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt.
Shameless plug for your business:
http://apparentiahair.com/ We design, build and brand hair appliances. Our ideal clients are people in the haircare industry: hair stylists, salon owners and hair extension companies. Also, electronics chain stores and business owners that wish to sell a unique product. Our unique value proposition is that we bring 20 years of experience in mechanical engineering; therefore, we understand design, components and materials. Our clients can concentrate on business, and we deliver a high quality product at low cost without them ever needing to deal with any factories. They don’t even need to leave their country of residence.
How can people connect with you?
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
Take the ‘Key Person of Influence’ scorecard <http://www.keypersonofinfluence.com/scorecard/>