How I Became an Environmental Leadership Advocate – Interview with Ayomide Atitebi
Today, we bring you our interview with a rising authority in Environmental Leadership. He is Nigerian, a trained lawyer, he has travelled around the world preaching this gospel and he is also at the fore front of youth empowerment and sustainable development in Africa..
He is none other than Mr Ayomide Atitebi. In this interview, he shares with us on a whole lot of issues. Trust me, you will learn something new and you will be inspired. So sit back, relax and enjoy the interview.
Tell us about Ayomide Atitebi – family, ethnicity, education…
I’m a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, an Environmental Leadership Advocate and a Public Speaker with keen interest in youth empowerment and youth action for Sustainable Development.
I’m from a family of five; last of three children and I have my roots in Osun State. I studied Law at Obafemi Awolowo University where I obtained my LL.B and subsequently B.L from the Nigerian Law School. Being a junkie of personal development, I have certifications in Climate Change Science, Executive Leadership and I’m currently taking an online Diploma course in Human Resource Management.
You are big on the Environment and its sustenance. You are even popularly known as Mr. SAVE EARTH. How did you get into this space?
Consistent demonstration of environmental leadership and commitment to my passion are largely responsible for the reputation I have acquired. If there’s anything that appropriately captures my interest, it is Environmental Sustainability because give or take, the environment is at the heart of any developmental issue as it is hardly conceivable that humans can exist without the environment.
So, you will always find me leading environmental campaigns, participating in environmental awareness programs in various capacities and other sustainable projects with measurable impacts. All of these contribute to my presence in the global environmental space and I have been involved for quite some time.
How do you think young Africans, especially the teens, can be made aware of the takeaways of the recent climate conference in Paris?
Strategic engagement of young Africans, especially teens, is the key to making them aware of the takeaways of the 2015 Climate Change Conference in Paris. The biggest challenge about climate change anywhere is ignorance! People either don’t know at all, or they simply don’t understand all that it is about.
It is only when we engage young Africans in climate discussions, environmental leadership and other pro-climate activities that information can be shared, knowledge is gained, influence is had and cultures are shaped. Therefore, efforts must be entrenched in reaching out to them in their communities, schools, places of worship, et cetera to apprise them.
In your opinion, what are the relevant skills young Africans can arm themselves with in order to be globally relevant like you ?
To be globally relevant, young Africans must acquire transparency-level skills in problem-solving, analytic thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication, ethics, action and accountability.
If you were to give the young African a cheat sheet on success in leadership, what would it contain?
Find purpose and meaning for your life – it is the greatest discovery you will make;
Develop a clear vision for your journey – it is compass for direction;
Shatter every limiting belief – there is no such thing as born leaders!;
Be committed to process than results – it is the process of followership that brings the result of successful leadership;
Never ever stop learning – your authority is in your knowledge and no one ever follows a blind dog!;
Have a heart for people and be excited to serve – it is the channel to multiplication;
Take responsibility and never leave the place of obedience to God – He alone supplies the wind for wings to fly!
How can young Africans solve the dilemma of monetizing their talents like you have ?
Young Africans should channel their talents to solving problems in their environment because money responds to value! The question they must begin to ask themselves is – what comes to the mind of people when their names are mentioned? Their names must represent a solution in the minds of people whenever it is mentioned such that people are willing to pay for it.
Again, young Africans must carefully identify the market of their talent – don’t sell yam in a boutique and don’t display champagne in a pepper market! Getting a good mentor will not only help them in identifying the market of their talents, but also in mastering the business of their talents.
The art of volunteering is still a relatively unknown subject in these parts. What are some of its benefits? Where can an interested person start?
Volunteering provides the best platform for leadership development, character building, knowledge and skills acquisition, networking, career opportunities etc. The list is endless. It is diamond hid in the chest of selfless service.
The best way to start volunteering is to start where you are – your immediate environment. This can be your street, community, school, place of worship, et cetera, because you can easily access opportunities to contribute to something impactful and build local relevance.
Look out for organizations or groups addressing problems in your community and find out what you can do to help them achieve their goals. You will likely be more committed if you find organizations or groups providing solutions especially to issues you are passionate about – environmental protection, girl-child education, democracy, peace and security, transparency in governance, sports, et cetera.
The more you contribute to solving local challenges as a volunteer, the better positioned you are to be qualified for global opportunities to add value and if you keep being consistent with results establishing your efforts, the universe will align to make your dreams come alive!
Do you think talent is overrated and is it a case of some being more talented than others?
The truth about this is that talent alone is no longer enough to succeed or to shatter the boundaries of acceptable possibilities in this present world. If talent alone is the requirement for success, then, every one of us should be successful because really, we all have talents. Discovering it is a totally different issue!
Today, skills, hard and smart work, consistency, character reputation and other factors are immensely important for any kind of credible and exceptional achievement. A less talented individual who understands and has all or more of these factors in place will obviously do better than an unskilled, lazy, inconsistent, bad character super talented person!
Using your unique story as an example, how can native Africans bridge the knowledge gap that’s seemingly in existence when compared to their peers in the diaspora?
Native Africans can bridge the existing knowledge gap by seriously exploring opportunities and platforms to acquire information. Information is the powerhouse of knowledge. To know anything, you must be informed and when you are informed, you are able to ask the right questions, be more observant and curious about your world.
Reading is an established culture that develops knowledge because in it you will find information and yes, reading is no longer restricted to the traditional four walls of classroom. The internet should be maximized to acquire as much relevant information as they can, take free online courses and even get certified. They must also be interested in attending conferences, seminars and gatherings where information is made available.
How did the Internet play a role in your emergence as an authority given your recognition?
The internet brought the universe to my door and equipped me with resources to participate in it. Perhaps the biggest blessing of our generation is the internet and I’m fortunate to be one of its beneficiaries.
Through the internet, I’ve found and taken opportunities to work in various positions with some of the world’s most reputable organizations – UNEP, IDEAS for Us, Samsung Engineering, UNICEF, PEIF FUND (Canada), Green the Gene and many others, thereby developing global skills and building a confident personality.
The internet has been the strongest platform for the amplification of my voice and commitment actions to development as a young leader and it has allowed me secure significant global partnerships, collaborations and support on most of the things I am passionate about.
How can those reading this interview leverage the Internet in their different spheres?
The internet can be leveraged to coordinate group activities, fundraisers and creating awareness of various causes. You can leverage the internet to develop a voice and build trust with limitless opportunities to function successfully in a community, navigating a public space and developing social norms and real world values.
Entrepreneurship thrives greatly in the online space and you can actually convert the entire world to your customers. Ask Mark Zuckerburg if you disagree! Access to successful personalities who can provide right mentorship for growth and visibility is possible through the internet provided you make yourself worthy of their attention.
You can literally recreate your destiny and write your own history the way you want, if you are smart enough to make the internet work for your dreams.
How do you handle the apparent perils of success given your age?
First, I try not to see myself as a successful person yet by dwelling more on my goals rather than my past and present achievements whatever they are, however great they maybe. That way, success never gets into my head to the point of misbehaving and I’m able to relate with people without necessarily showing off.
Second, self-identity gives me self-regulation. I understand the peculiarity of my journey, the responsibilities ahead of me and what is at stake if I do not handle success wisely. So, I create self-protocols that guide the manner I do anything and very importantly, I never forget to depend on God’s grace and wisdom.
Can the youths of our time play on the global stage?
It’s neither a yes nor a no. Countless number of today’s youth are already dominating the global stage and the beautiful thing is that Africa is becoming more represented. However, there also exists a large population of youth today who are trapped in the contemptible life of ignoble ease while some though having a sense of right direction, lack the necessary skills and resources to play on the global stage.
What do they need to do to build sustainable global brands?
Our world is rapidly evolving and the demands of our times are very unique. To build a sustainable global brand, you must consistently tailor your actions to benefit the planet, people and look at how to make profit. Sustainable global brands today are the ones that address and embrace Climate, Community, Communications, Competition and Corporate Citizenship.
The world is too connected and these Cs are becoming more relevant and integral. You must define your brand, what you want and differentiate it from others in a way that addresses and embraces the Cs.
What is your inspiration? What keeps you going?
My failures inspire me. They remind me of my humanity and vulnerability and that in all I do, the best of me will always be human. But that despite my failures, I can push beyond the boundaries of acceptable possibilities and rise above any circumstance to lead a life that has never been seen and tell a story that mortality has no power over!
What is your take on mentorship? Any mentors?
Mentorship is to success what propeller is to planes. Like Isaac Newton, if I have ever seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
I’m privileged to be mentored by a few great people – Ohimai Godwin Amaize (world’s youngest presidential campaign manager in the history of modern democracy), Femi Oye (Nigeria’s foremost renewable energy senator and disruptive social entrepreneur – he owns the first and only clean cookstoves and biofuels company in Nigeria) and Tolu Moody (I call him dad!).
For you, Life is….
A bank of questions. The more you ask, the clearer your journey is.
Inspire us in 140 characters.
There is a space for you among the stars. But until you start, you can never shine. So, stand up and start now!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
KonnectAfrica is Africa’s powerhouse of inspirational content with distinctively radical approach to youth empowerment!
Thanks a lot, Ayomide Atitebi. Thanks for sharing with us
You are welcome.
© 2016, Arise Arizechi. All rights reserved.
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June 27th, 2016