John Obidi: Giving Young People in Africa a HeadStart

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John Obidi Giving Young People in Africa a HeadStart

At 32, John Obidi is one of Nigeria’s most influential young people and the reason is not far-fetched. He’s an international speaker, community leader, Personal Development and Spirituality Trainer, Online Business and Personal Brand Consultant, Software Company founder, Brand Influencer and much more.

For someone who’s neither a music nor movie star, he has an impressive following across all social media platforms and is a respected voice among the community of young people making a change in Africa.

But it had not always been like this for the high-flying Ibusa, Delta state born Social Media expert. As a matter of fact, Obidi comes from a deprived background and his grass-to-grace story is worthy of an Hollywood script.

In the beginning…

Born on September 9, 1986, Obidi read Computer Science at the Benson Idahosa University in Benin City, in South-south Nigeria.

In 2012, after a couple of odd jobs, he became a Web Development and Programming instructor in Benin City, which was a massive leap in circumstances for the then 26-year old yet he was far from satisfied because he realized he was not close to the future he envisioned for himself. Nevertheless, he embraced his duties and made the best of the prevailing circumstances.

He recalled his humble beginnings:

“The hustle was real, but I did it from my heart. I made sure I left an indelible mark on the heart of every single student who went through my class. I answered any and every question whether or not it was a part of my job.”

Whilst still engaged in his day job, Obidi was fashioning a career for himself in Social Media Strategy for brands and businesses because, blessed with uncommon intuition, he knew that was the business of the future.

He self-taught himself valuable skills in programming and social media through online videos and articles despite the appalling internet connectivity in Nigeria.

Obidi recalls sometimes having to travel between his hometown of Ibusa and Asaba, the capital of his Delta state – a journey of 118 kilometres – just to get internet access to learn and practice programming.

Armed with the requisite knowledge and skills, Obidi knew he needed a better environment to practice what he’d learnt and, naturally, Lagos which is the economic capital of Nigeria was first choice on his list.

In 2013, with money barely enough to cover his transport fare in his pocket, he arrived Lagos to attend a Mastering The Business of your Talent Masterclass by Steve Harris. He also used the opportunity to test the waters about the prospect of moving there on a permanent basis. In February 2014, he made the move.

Tough times don’t last…

Judging by his early days in Lagos, Obidi could have just packed up and returned home to Ibusa but, in the immortal words of Robert Schuller: “tough times don’t last, only tough people do.”

Obidi started out volunteering to help with web development and live streaming for events while concretizing his credentials as a social media expert.

He started ObidiSocial.com, a platform which creates exposure for brands and businesses on the Internet, using Social Media.

Obidi Social is also dedicated to empowering SMEs with globally competitive tools and strategies and he teaches businesses how to generate exposure, get customers and increase revenue using Social Media while it also provides training and consulting solutions for its clients.

The rewards were not long in coming as he got high paying jobs and clients including telecoms giant MTN among others. He also got a nomination in the prestigious The Future Awards Africa – described by Forbes as the “Nobel Prize for young Africans” – in 2013 though he failed to clinch the prize.

A year later, the restless Obidi was on to something new. He started SmartBCamp which he called a community that bridges the gap between working professionals across various professions in Nigeria.

The idea was a product of his weekly Smart Business Teleseminars with people tuning from various countries all around the world. The major attraction of SmartBCamp is that all the information accessed on it are totally free!

SmartBCamp was later renamed Headstart Africa and is one of the fastest growing group of its kind across all social media platforms.

Recognitions…

Listed on the Business Day CEO Magazine Class of 2018; Nominated on Avance Media’s 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians in 2016; Won Avance Media’s 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians (Personal Development and Academia Category) 2017; Nominated for The Future Awards Africa Prize for New Media in 2013; Won The Future Awards Africa Prize for New Media in 2013.

That Christmas Present…

In an article on Gist End in 2018, Obi narrated what he considered to be his best Christmas yet: the success of a protégé.

According to him, when he was about leaving for Lagos in 2014, the mentee, a former student of his, asked for advice.

Obidi recalled:

“…He was in a bind. Life was closing in on him and he desperately needed a lifeline. He was 19 years old. If I didn’t show up for him, the systems of this world would. I taught him everything I knew, showed him all my research and showed him the revenue in all my accounts. I held nothing back. He kept in touch and regularly updated me on his successes. I was glad.

My father was ill and his monthly treatment was costing me about 75% of my monthly income, but I dismissed the thought and did the necessary. I focused on creative ways to grow my income because in reality, he was one treatment session away from death.

“In 2016, my finances were over-committed due to the aftermath of paying for my father’s treatment and expenses when he passed. I was in a bind. I had 48 hours to seal my spot in an investment worth many millions of Naira. My international partners would move on without me. A few hours to the deadline, I got a Facebook Message from a familiar name. It was my student asking how I was doing. He apologised for taking so long to ‘show appreciation’ for all I’d done for him. He asked if my account details with him were still valid. And then the alert came. My eyes widened. It was the exact sum I needed for my juicy deal.

That’s not all. At Christmas, he told me he was building a house and wanted to send me a return flight ticket to come and ‘launch’ the house. He’s barely 24! This was my most valuable Christmas present.”

Going forward…

Obidi has come a long way in the five years since he started his journey to liberate his generation from the shackles of poverty yet his compass is still pointing in an upward trajectory.

“It’s not only important for you to become a superstar at what you do, it is necessary. There are people in your future counting on you to make it. Let’s get back to making the rest of our lives the best of our lives. For me, it’s not just about me but I’m excited at every opportunity to affirm to my generation that we can achieve excellence,” he wrote in a Facebook update.

Obidi’s Five Value Creed

  • There is value in choosing the straight and narrow.
  • There is value in living your noblest truth with passion and purpose.
  • There is value in cleaning up your act and redeeming the times with radical focus.
  • There is value in remembering your Creator while you are young.
  • There is value in committing to building competence and learning early to boldly communicate your best ideas with confidence, clarity and certainty.

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