This man, one of his continent’s best, wrote to me many times in 2013. He sent a pitch deck and he even followed up, offering me an advisor role in his company. In all those emails, I did not respond. Think about it, I could have been given a small piece in Andela, now a unicorn.
I was stuck with teaching engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. That was the life there and it was to teach, research and run the day. But when a MASSIVE opportunity was knocking at the door, I did not pay attention. I failed the test of observation and awareness because my mind was conditioned on the straight road I was then.
This was the last Iyin’s email to me: “Also I wanted to ask if you are fine with me putting you on as an advisor for our project Let me know”. I did not respond to that email. He followed up via LinkedIn on my CMU classnotes and how I could assist him (I deleted my old Linkedin profile before I returned in 2016 or so).
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I have shared the experience many times with him; he simply laughed! In an Alibaba Board meeting program we both attended last year, I found a way to get into that also.
I am using that experience to mentor people: sometimes, the goal we desire to achieve can come via many ways. That I was a professor teaching engineering and a group of young people with a huge vision wanted me to serve as an advisor would not have been a distraction.
The Lesson: do not ignore the Iyinoluwa Aboyejis in your network as they email you. Most times, what they want is nothing; small guidance. Of course, I do hope Iyin, now that he is a big king, will not ignore emails. All of us who are now privileged should return emails to our young people.
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