• Journey to Self-Discovery; My first encounter with Fela Durotoye.


    10 years ago, Monday, March 1st 2012 … I met a Man… A true Father, Mentor, Leader… And everything changed for me!

    Enjoy below the article I wrote 10 years ago about my experience of my first encounter with Fela Durotoye.

    As I was going through my twitter timeline on the 20th February 2012, I read a post that changed my life, it was an advert for a Public Speaking training at Gemstone Leadership Institute that was to come up on March 1 & 2nd 2012 and just like a flash, an instant revelation, I knew I just had to be there no matter what it took, I don’t know why the nudging felt so intense, but I knew I had to do anything possible to be there.

    The limitations came facing me, it was a whopping N50k (over half of my monthly take home-pay), so also, it was going to be held during work days and I thought to myself, how would I be able to take permission from work for 2 days when work pressure was intense. To crown my worries, I had nothing close to 50k on me, they had not even paid us our salary, but I could feel the nudging so badly, I knew I had to be at Gemstone Leadership Institute.

    I was going to be turning 23 years on March 8, and I knew I had to live my life above the mediocre way I had been, I’ve always had a yearning in my heart that there was something much more to me than seating behind computer desk doing regular routine duties, there just had to be something more. I cannot have spent 22 years of my life wandering away living my life to please people, and still continue the next 20 something years that way.

    The moment I saw the GLI (Gemstone Leadership Institute) advert, it was almost like a prayer to my yearnings, more like my own breakthrough and I knew I had to seize the chance of it.

    The first person that came to my mind that could loan me such money at such short notice was my brother (Kola), but as much as he wanted to be of help, he wasn’t in town at that moment, and so I could not bank on it, considering that I was trying to meet the deadline of the limited seats available.

    I remember calling the inquiry number (Ibeleye of Gemstone), informing her of my intention of attending the class, but was limited at the moment, but I was going to make sure I paid up the fee as soon as possible.

    Fortunately for me, on my way home from work, I was speaking to one of my colleague (Tosin Abe), telling him my intentions on attending the class and how I needed to pay up the fee at all cost, and how important it was for me to go there, I really had to be there. And so like God heard the yearnings of my heart, my colleague had some idle cash that he could loan out to me till I received my monthly salary.

    Excited me, as I got to the office next day, the first thing I did was to remind him of our discussion, he went down to the banking hall, withdrew N50K cash and gave it to me, as I held the money, it felt like I had just received the Key to unlocking my destiny, hurriedly I went to the nearest GTB bank, paid in the sum of fifty thousand into Gemstone account. Immediately I got out of the bank, right under the hot scorching sun, I called Peter of Gemstone, informing him of my payment for them to confirm the credit.

    Yayyy!!! Mission accomplished, there was just something about that class, that I still cannot explain, but I know it wasn’t the first training I was seeing, but this training, I knew I had to be there. I could not be more grateful to my colleague Tosin for being such a blessing to me, I’m sure he just might not be able to fathom what a great thing he had done for me.

    And so after payment, the countdown begun, I kept staring at the calendar everyday waiting for the 1st of March to be at GLI(Gemstone Leadership Institute), I had to think of how to get 2 days off work, how to get myself transported to the venue, what to wear, what it would be like the 2 whole days, the kind of people I was going to meet, at some point though, I must confess, I was a little excited and star-struck I was going to be meeting Fela Durotoye in person, I had heard a lot about him, listened to him a couple of times, he’s so good at what he does, a big fan of his wife, I loved the fact that the God-factor distinguished him from the rest, he was a Public speaker with a difference, so it was an honor. To think that it was going to be an exclusive class, I so could not wait for that day.

    As days went by, I told everyone and anyone that cared to listen I was going for a personal development training on Public speaking with Fela Durotoye, I sang about it every day at home, so much so, my mum was also counting days with me. I had deliberately left my dad in the dark of this decision, I wasn’t sure if he was going to support my decision and I really did not want anything to come in my way.

    As I received the registration forms and joining instructions, I thought in my heart… Gemstone here I come!!! I wasted no time at all in filling the forms and returning it back.

    Another stumbling block showed itself when my new boss at work was reluctant to give me my 2 days off, I don’t know what I did though, but I know I prayed so hard in my heart, for God to grant me favor in his sight, and just like God always does, He granted my prayer request, so I was certain, nothing at all was going to stop me.

    When I went to for Wednesday mid-week service at church, as I prayed, I felt in my heart that something really big was going to happen, I just knew it, it was my month, and I was excited already for all that was to come.

    And so the d-day came, I had already planned in my heart like 2 weeks back what I was going to wear that day, I didn’t want to look too much like a kid, but even though it was corporate casual, I wanted to be able to look corporate but also a put a bit of my feminine sexy side in it.

    And so I settled in wearing my white TM shirt that I had purchased not so long, my black skinny jeans, and toned it up with my red shoe that I got as a gift from my Ex-boyfriend(Thank you Wale for the Hot shoe) and yea, I got a wine bag from my sister(Remi) to complement it. (Thank you Sis, still haven’t returned it though), did a bit of makeup in the morning before leaving the house and set out to one of the best experience of my life.

    I had my brother in-law drop me off close to Oniru estate, because he was heading to his work place on the Island, I was going to take a cab from there to the venue, not sure if it was over-excitement, but looking back now, I think the taxi guy cheated me so badly by collecting N1,500 for a trip that should have cost much less than that, but as at that moment, I could actually care less, all that ravaged my mind was just to get there.

    We set off to leave at about 7am, faced slight traffic at the Lekki toll gate; afterwards, it was a free. In about 15 minutes, I was standing infront of the Yellow GLI building, paid off the taxi man, adjusted myself in my tomato red heels, and cat walked towards the gate.

    I can’t really remember all of the thoughts that were going through my mind, but I was hoping I had not arrived a little too early, I got in and I was already in awe of the place, I stared at their Nigerian shaped mirror to check out myself one more time, there was nobody at the reception, all I could see were the notepads and name tag, and at an instant spotted my name (Simisola) Yayyy!!! It was real, Gemstone baby…

    I went in to the waiting room and met somebody already waiting; apparently I wasn’t the first to get in there.

    I greeted the young gentleman politely and took my seat beside him, I remember thinking that I had to loosen up a little, meet new people and just open to everything that was going to be coming my way. Can’t remember who started up the conversation, but the young gentleman was by the name Felix, he was coming all the way from Kano, wow!!!, apparently I wasn’t the only one that had to be there.

    Not too long after, I met with Bobby, a very warm gentleman, greeted us really nicely, and the rest of the started trooping in, from Adaobi to Naomi to BayoJ,to Fidelis to Chinonye and the rest of the gang…lol.

    I also got to see the faces behind the names, Ibeleye & Peter, all very warm and sweet, they sure made me feel at home. Not too long after, were invited to have our Network coffee, somewhere inside of me still felt shy though, but I tried to shake it up, I thought in my head, I had waited so long to be here, so I had enjoy & savor every bit of it. At the light snack, I got talking to Benneth, a very funny man, we talked about our intentions for attending the meeting and soooooo….. I spotted the Man of the day FELA DUROTOYE. He had just walked into the building, we could already hear his voice, I tried staring at him with a side-eye, but I did not want to seem too star-struck, so I acted like I was still in my conversation with Benneth, but truth be told, my heart was pounding fast as he approached were we sat to say hello to everyone, and like the blink of an eye, he approached us with a sweet smile, checked at the name tag, called us by our names, asked how we were doing and left… Wow… I had just met Fela Durotoye, what an Honor.

    Not too long afterwards, we went to class, we were about 12 attendees, and typical me, I just picked the nearest seat to the door.

    FD came in with his team, trying to get the work tools ready for the day.

    Then IB came for the introductory speech, with her very sweet voice “It’s a Great day”, and well she went through what GLI was about, what they stood for as a company, class rules and the likes, I remember her last words, “Now go for IT!!!’

    Then FD came up, and after about 10 minutes of listening to that passionate man, I was glued, it wasn’t about me being star struck anymore, I just knew my life was never going to be the same anymore, he talked about how excited he was to be there, how he didn’t want to shower a part of him, but rather pour out what made FD thick to this special group of people, and well, he also confessed, that it wasn’t really going to be the theoretical ABC of public speaking, so, if we were expecting that, then we just might be disappointed, but there was something much more he had to offer, something that has changed my life forever.

    We had to introduce ourselves and I remember telling the house that I had my birthday in a week’s time and there and then, they sang me my first birthday song, that was special to me, it meant so much to me, and so, I gave a brief description of myself and so did every other person, and after each person spoke, FD had a comment to make as an observation, and so slowly and gradually, I began loosen up.

    We got so engrossed at the first part, we had our breakfast pretty late, but I could tell, we were all getting  it, you could see in our eyes we were really hungry, had a great desire an expectation.

    By the time we got back from breakfast, we went straight to action, and trust FD, he gave it is all, and if there was anything I learnt, it would be to have your pen & note close, because FD always had a word of wisdom to say at each time, and I remember him saying “you need to right that down”…. “Wow that sounded so good, write It down”…lol.

    Oh yea, I remember Micheal Tejiri, the camera dude, his pictures are soo on point, I could not have looked prettier in my white sparking almost as soon as he posted pictures on facebook, my friends had started to ask me what I was doing with FD, what the whole training was all about, but well, that was just the razzmattaz, there was so much more going on.

    The Lunch was so on point… A giant crazy love to the Gemstone crew for such an excellent service.

    I remember FD coming to eat amidst us, we chatted away, took pictures ( FD is always camera ready, as he says  “duty calls”) and as you can bet, I changed my DP(display picture) on my blackberry to me & FD, and so after the exquisite lunch, we got into the “koko” of the matter.

    I wouldn’t go into so much details of the training; you really need to be there to experience it.

    And well I also had the opportunity of meeting some of the Durotoye boys….such courteous kids, their mama thought them

     But I remember at the end of Thursday, I had met 11 other great guys, the energetic Naomi, the bubbly Adyspicy ( My adopted mother),  the shy Chinonye, the analytical Mike, Our Kano brother(Felix), the man from the south(Fidelis), the Abuja guy(Emmanuel), our class captain (Myke), the career consultant (Segun), Our MC ( Benneth) and Ex-banker BayoJ. Awesome guys I must confess.

    We already felt like a family, in like 9 hours under the Gemstone building, we had already bonded, and like we were told, FD had not sounded so passionate to any group of people like our class, even he had to confess he was having way too much fun.
     On my way home on Thursday, all of the broken pieces of my life started to make sense, It started to dawn on me the reason for my existence, all these thoughts kept ravaging my mind.

    I got a ride somewhere close home from one of my new found brothers (Benneth), and even while in the car, we just kept talking about our experiences at GLI, and we couldn’t stop talking about it all. And so as soon as I dropped, my thoughts came primary, I started to revise in my mind all of the things I had learnt, I giggled at myself when I thought of something hilarious that happened at the class, there was so much excitement in my spirit, truth to be told, words cannot fully express it.

    I couldn’t go into too much detail when I get home that night, but my mum could see in my face how excited I was that day, I’m sure she thought I learnt how to talk on stage in the public, but well, I got so much more. As I settled in my bed to sleep, i wanted to get a gift for FD, mainly just to show my appreciation, but I couldn’t think of anything that would have been worth giving him, or could have gotten in the limited amount of time I had, so I decided to write him a letter of appreciation, I scribbled down something for him, basically expressing my heartfelt gratitude , how much I had learned and how expectant I was about the next day, afterwards, scanned through my notes revising all that I had learnt all day, and well, we were to have a our first speech with the class, and so I rehearsed in my head what I was going to talk about. I’m not sure what time I slept, but I know I had so so much going on in my mind.

    Friday March 2nd 2012, at about 5:00am, my mum did not have to wake me up today, I had already woken up, getting ready & expectant for what the new day was to bring. And just like on Thursday, I already had it planned what I was going to wear, this time around, I wanted to go ethnic, I was going to wear a cute orange Ankara jacket piece by my designer (1000 kisses Tee threads), my brown pants and one of my favorite shoes so far Orange & brown stilettos ( shout out to Tola Ademola), and so I was set for the day, got into the car with my brother inlaw, telling him about my experience on Thursday, I just kept talking like a chatterbox, I wouldn’t stop, we got to the island a little early, and so he thought of dropping me off rather than get ripped off again by the taxi guys.

    And so he dropped me at “home”… my GLI Home… I couldn’t do so much makeup from home, got into the ladies, just touched up my face a little, this time around, I felt like I had my brothers & sisters around, so there wasn’t so much need to get all caked up, the connection we had, went far beyond the physical, we had already bonded as a family.

    So then we had the usual morning ritual, I wasn’t so sure about the initial letter I had written a night before, I decided to write another letter in the morning, atleast I was hoping one of them might make some sense, we didn’t even want to waste too much time with all of the cookies & coffee, we just wanted to get into the business of the day.

    And as planned, we got into the business of the day, revised all that we had taken away from the previous day, had some experiencing sharing too.

    And so came the moment, that changed my life forever, it was time to have our speech the class, and truth be told, I started to get nervous, after picking a ballot, I was the last past on the queue to talk, not sure if that was relaxing per se, but I had to listen to 11 other guys talk before me, we all had our assessment forms to rate and make comment about each of the speakers has they gave their talk, we had to only write about the positives for each piece and what we got from it. And just like yesterday, I remember each person having such powerful messages, they found their voices, these guys were going to speak to lead. I listened to Nigeria’s hopefuls; it was such an awesome time.

    And so as each person spoke, it came closer to my turn, and everything I had thought of talking about just got wiped off, I could hardly pick the pieces anymore… I was completely blank, but well, I had to say something. And so it got to my turn, and just as if I wasn’t nervous enough, the camcorder had an issue, so I had to stand infront of the class for about 1 minute till it got fixed and so I connected to the inner me and start to speak words from my heart, and in about 30 seconds, I had started to talk about an issue that I had never spoken to anyone about before, I talked about how insecure I was as a young girl, how I had always felt not good enough, not pretty enough, how the whole world told me so many lies about myself, how I have struggled so badly with the scourge of low self esteem, but not anymore, I was going to use my mess as a message, I was going to tell every young teenage girl to believe in herself and in her beauty, there is something inside of them that the world needs, there is no need limiting themselves because they feel they are not good anymore, the World isn’t their standard, God is, and He has said they are all wonderfully & fearfully made.

    I can’t remember at what point this happened, but I couldn’t look into their faces anymore, as I narrated my story, I started to cry, I couldn’t help it anymore, I had never spoken about it to anyone before, I wasn’t the only one crying, the rest of the class were practically in tears, they all stood up and there and then I got my first standing ovation, I think I saw tear drops from FD’s eyes too, I’m not sure what my closing statements were, but I was in the arms of Naomi & Adaspicy, as they hugged me so closely, they were also in tears too, the guys came around & hugged me too, I had spoken out my heart, and they all felt it, they all could connect to it. There & Then, I discovered my MESSAGE… it was all too emotional, and good thing that I was the last person to speak, it was a good reason for us to go on lunch break. Wow!!!!… What a moment. Bit by bit, it all started to make sense.

    During lunch, I could hardly eat much, I already had swollen eyes from crying during the speech, sad enough, time seemed to be on a flight, it simply felt as though we should put a pause to it and just drink off the moment with FD.

    As the day came to a close, we had a our group pictures, it was so much fun, sweet memories indeed, and trust FD, always camera

    And so the moment I dreaded came close, we were about to call it day, it was going to be a wrap. How could that possible be? How can 2 days run so fast, I really did wish it could continue, I wish we could pause and restart it all over again, but well, it had to come to an end.

    We received our autographed book by FD, took pictures with our certificates, and exchanged contacts with each other, it felt like a graduation.

    And the moment I would never forget, we received the anointing for the invisible that makes the visible evident, it wasn’t a compulsory exercise, we had finished the training, but this was the moment that made the whole 2 days worth it we’d use anointing oil on our tongues and confess the exact things we wanted from it, after which we all layed hands on FD for him to pray for us. I felt it, words cannot describe it, but I felt it, there is so much more to FD that goes far beyond the physical, the God-factor that sets him apart, the anointing that sets him ontop, and to be able to tap into such anointing, was worth much more than N50k could get for me.

    I could not hide the tears afterwards, to think that it had all ended, to think that I would not be waking up in the morning coming to GLI was just really saddening, in 2 days,I had met with an FD that the world did not know, I had looked deep into eyes, penetrated into his soul & drank from his well, I had seen what set him apart from the rest, I had out-grown my star-struck state & had really deep respect for him,he had become my model, my father & friend. In the same 2 days, I had grown to meet a group of outstanding young people, who were so passionate about Nigeria, we all seemed to have one vision we were working towards, the Gemstone vision, that by Dec 2025, Nigeria would be the Worlds most desirable place in the World, and our duties, were to make it happen, just like beacons of light, we were to go far & near spread the word to all, we were speakers to lead, speakers of change, we were no ordinary speakers, we were ordained and anointed speakers who had found our Voice, and our mandate was to Speak to Lead.

    We left at about 8pm, a program that was to have concluded by 6, and still we were all reluctant to leave, we had all come to know Gemstone as a home. But then the reality had to come calling, we had to go and put into practice all that we had learnt, we had to face the real world outside of the Gemstone walls, Nigeria awaited us, it was calling for us.

    I got down from the car, bid them farewell, hopeful that we were going to meet again. And as I found my way home, I held closely my notebook, much tighter than I held my bag, because inside of the book was the Key, I had found the next precious thing to my bible.

    YES!!!! Mission Accomplished… I found my VOICE… I discovered my MESSAGE… the World awaits me, that young teenage girl is counting on me to show her the way out of the bondage of low self esteem, that young lady needs me to remind her she is a Princess, the daughter of the King of Kings. The world has been waiting for me, I am a answer to their Prayer, a solution to a problem in the land.