From Taxi Driver to Billionaire: A Success Story

From Taxi Driver to Billionaire: A Success Story

In my article “What It Takes to Get to the Top I stated that after I tasted failure for the first time in my life, I embarked on a quest of knowing what it takes to get to the top. I started learning from people I felt were the perfect example of entrepreneurial success. One of the most incredible success stories I encountered was Mike Adenuga.

Mike Adenuga’s name may not be familiar to you, but this man is richer than Oprah Winfrey. In fact, he is the third richest black person in the world. According to Forbes, he is worth $4.6 billion.  He is the chairman and owner of the fastest growing communication network in Africa with over 25 million subscribers.

Mike Adenuga did not inherit his wealth. He started out as taxi driver and security guard in New York City. Today he is one of the top movers and shakers of the business world. The first thing I wanted to understand was whether he was a genius. And the answer is no – he’s just like me and you.

When asked Mike what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur, he said:

There are 4 steps: Ask people questions; discover their problems; research their answers; give them solutions, and you will become successful. And when doing things, never put money first but last. Most of the businesses I own today started from little ideas. I did not need the support of influential people.

Never give up on your ideas and dreams; the solution is around the corner. Let your business be a pace setter. God gave everyone talent and when you discover your talent, polish it and turn it into a business. I know of people with talents that buried [their talents]. Take your talents where they are relevant and never feel you have arrived.

Do what you can to improve your business; aim for the top, the sky is not your limit; [think of] space. Let me leak a secret to you. I have a very busy schedule, but I find time to do two things: read books and do what I read. In books you will learn hidden secrets [wealth secrets] about what I do and how you can do that, too. Remember, I was just a taxi driver. Books contain thousands of things you don’t know and may never know.

Even with his billions, Mike Adenuga still refers to himself as taxi driver. What humility! Everything about the life of this icon is worth emulating, but I have summarized it into four main points:


Mike experienced failure at the beginning of his career. At one point, it looked like he would not make it. It looked as though it was too tough to rise to the top if you are not part of it from the beginning.

The big question is, are you resilient enough to persevere?  Mike stood his ground. He understood the biggest secret of all time: if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you often get the best. He refused to accept failure. He knew he must succeed and that failure was only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success. Yet the failures were coming in rapid succession. He never saw them as failures; he saw them as a collection of failures that would soon be called experience.

Resilience and perseverance were juxtaposed to make Mike Adenuga the successful entrepreneur he is today.

Remember, the fact that you tried the first time and failed doesn’t make you a failure. Move on, try harder, and if you still fail, move on anyway and try to be smarter. You will definitely reach your targets—it’s a natural law of the universe

Hard work is the mother of luck

Mike Adenuga said, “the harder you work the luckier you become”  Brian Tracey is also a cheerleader of this philosophy.  As Tracey said, “I have found luck quite predictable. If you want more [luck] take more chances.”

Luck, they say, is preparation meeting opportunity. Luck doesn’t come to you when you sleep all day. Neither does it come when you only play video games from dawn to dusk. You have to be prepared to be lucky. Preparation entails hard work.

Always remember that when hard work is pregnant with preparation, it gives birth to luck. Hard work is the mother of luck.

Aim High

Mike Adenuga said, “One thing I have learned in business is it never pays to make your targets too small.”

At every point in his life he aimed high. Some of his targets were considered to be outrageous. Some even felt it was impossible. When he set the goal of having the largest telecommunication network in Africa, his friends thought he was insane and it was unachievable. Robert Schuller, the author of Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do said, “the people who are really failures are the people who set their standards so low, keep the bar at such a safe level, that they never run the risk of failure.”

Always remember that high targets are dreams, and those that don’t dream of better things never achieve anything in life.

Foster Esprit de corps

Adenuga said “I have learnt in business that you cannot do it all on your own.” Teamwork is so important that it is impossible for you to reach the heights of your capabilities or achieve the success you want without becoming very good at it. So for you to become a successful entrepreneur, you must learn the art of team work. Network with people and bring out the best in them. This is the leadership role and trait that is expected of an entrepreneur.

Look out for the full story of Mike Adenuga’s entrepreneurial journey in my upcoming book from EarthPeople Media!

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