Encounters With The Mentor Man

There was a pen on the table. It was one of those pens with golden clips and sometimes a golden tip. If it hadn’t been catching the light once in a while and winking at you, it would have been quite forgettable, because it just lay there, doing nothing. But what it quietly said was loud enough to be heard. It said yes, this little thing was of great importance and yes, it was sitting on this desk to make an indelible impression. Such impression that would get its owner noticed in a crowd.

“So, what would you like to have? Water? Juice? Coke?” the pen’s owner asked.

Oh no, not so fast. Let’s take a moment to look around this place. Indeed this was a startup company, barely six months old, but imagine the impact that this office would have on any guest who stepped into it.

Just across the door as you entered, a gleaming polished wood desk would welcome you. It was wide enough for a game of ping-pong. There were a couple of oil paintings, too; a flat screen TV, plush seating in the corner, studious looking hard cover books in a wooden shelf just by the window, and a coat hanger that looked like it was carved from an extra-mature timber trunk.

And the man with the gold pen himself, seating behind the desk right now, was dressed in a combination of well tailored casuals. In an instant, you would absolutely forget the age of the company; instead, you would pay attention to where you were.

The building was quiet today; it was one of those many Nigerian public holidays. But there were a few other people around. You wouldn’t see them, but you would feel their presence through the clean green walls. Soon one of them popped in through the door, a vivacious young woman, tall, dark, big, eyes like M&Ms. “TJ,” she said. “We’re ready to start.”

“Um,” said Tunji Olugbodi, the man behind the desk. “Please give me a few minutes. You guys can start without me.”

The girl melted away.

“I was supposed to be in a meeting,” he said after the lady had left. “But I’ll join them as soon as we are done here.”

Later, deep into the conversation, he said, “We’re here on a public holiday because the job has to be done. Not a slave driver or sweatshop or anything like that, but we made a commitment to our clients to deliver on time. Actually, our promise is to deliver on time, on budget, and on strategy.”

In the next few years,



  2. An interesting read, Sam. Had the priviledge to work with TJ at PG and for me his most useful lesson was that you must always have plan A, B, C, D,….. because if A fails B may not. Things will always work out if you think of other ways of doing the task and not limit your abilities when a trusted plan fails. Have a can-do spirit always.

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