Total Pageviews

Monday, November 28, 2011

My Journey with an Upcoming Star

This is the second week that I am speaking about stars (trust me, I am not speaking about me lol). I heard someone say that stars are recognized in the ring but are made in the gym (I made that up).

If there is one thing I learned from coaching Basketball, is the ability to spot potential in people before anybody else. I remember saying to one of my players that she would be one of, if not THE best point guards in the league for years, and she laughed at me. Looking back, I truly understand why she laughed. She was just learning how to do a lay up and I was talking about being the best of the best. Guess what! As I predicted, she ended up being the best point guard for years (am I a psychic or what!). Or maybe she had a great (and yet modest) coach.

I can't even remember why I am talking about Basketball. Oh yes. Potential...Let me get to it.

It took me two years to write about this guy. Every time I wanted to write a blog about him, he always said no (for two years!!!!). With respect to his low profile, I persisted and he finally agreed to my request.

His name is Diego Ndikumasabo but his friends call him DJ. In fact, he has been a DJ for over 14 years (and a very successful one indeed).

He came to Canada at a young age, and his main priority was his studies (good choice). I first saw his leadership skills back in 2003 when he was running the Burundian association of Toronto with his best friend Christian B. There were times between 2005 and 2009 where I saw Diego attending University full time, working at Citibank Canada and on week-ends, he would would work as a DJ (What a hard working young man!!!). Did you know that he has been organizing Caribana Events for nine years in row? Tirelessly ambitious, his goal was always to open a place “to serve his community” as he always says.

Life has a funny way of making dreams come true. Sometimes dreams happen in a disguised way that it's hard to see them. While my friends (Diego and Nicolas) were working at a place called Nile in downtown Toronto, its owners decided to shut it down without notice. No more work for my friends; or was that really the case?

Instead of finding another place for work or blaming the owners, Diego got this crazy idea of buying the closing business. Why crazy? You may ask. Simply because he was still a student, two months away from graduation day and he did not have enough money to do it. But as they say, where there is a will there is a way. I don't know how he did it, but he found a way to set up a corporation, secure the business, put a team together and Ngoma Lounge was born.

Buying the business was not the hard part (even though it meant putting other projects on hold). Instead, it was keeping it open which proved to be one of Diego's biggest challenges . Soon after buying the business, he thought it would be a piece of cake to run it. Guess what! It took 8 long months for the government to issue a license for Ngoma Lounge. Getting the liquor license and all those other stuff you need to open a bar took so long that my friend wanted to give up thousands of times. Did I mention that he was paying the rent for a place that did not make him a penny? Try that one.

On November 30, 2009, Ngoma finally received permission to open. We were all there to witness the grand opening on December 25th, 2009. His dream was coming true (so he thought). But in order to run Ngoma, he had to quit his daily corporate job at Citibank (hey peeps, do not try this at home. Lol)

Do you know why my friend did not want me to write about this story for the last two years? Because it has been two years of constant struggle to keep Ngoma open. I have the opportunity of being one of Diego's closest friends and I knew from the beginning that he was going to make it even though I knew it was not going to be an easy task. He spent (and still does) many sleepless nights to keep the place open so that he “could serve his community”. Trust me when I say that he DOES serve his community. Now Ngoma is the reference for the African community in Toronto, thanks to the winning team of: Diego, Nicolas, Kijanya, Umwali, Jehann, Nounou, Faustin and his wife.

It has been a constant battle for Diego, mainly because it was his first business venture and also because he started with very little capital. But he has a heart of champions. He is a champion and one of the upcoming Superstar entrepreneurs. Against all odds he kept his dream alive and the best is yet to come. I just know it. Happy 2nd Anniversary Ngoma.

Hey, Diego, two years of my free Sprite at Ngoma just made you a Superstar. You are featured on my blog. By the way, what's the next move? Let me guess, taking over the STOCK MARKET? lol

Moral of the story? Do you want to make a difference in your community? Just ask those customers who have been visiting Ngoma lounge every weekend for the past two years.

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman

Monday, November 21, 2011

My Journey with A Rising Star

His name is Jean-Pierre Nimbona and he is known by the name of Kidum. By far he is the greatest Burundian superstar singer of all times (that's my opinion). He has been to a place no other Burundian artist has ever been. He was elected the best male artist of the year in East Africa in 2011 and he recently finished his first Canadian Tour which included performances in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal (twice), Calgary and Edmonton.

He happens to be my wife's family close friend (I can now get inside information about his career lol). He is about to fly to Switzerland for one concert, then to Sweden for another one; after that he will return to Z├╝rich for another concert. He will end his European Tour with a concert in Belgium before heading back to Kenya (where he lives) for only five days. After, he will head to Rwanda for a concert, plus play five concerts in Burundi before flying to South Africa. After the African Tour, he will go to the US to perform 30 concerts! Did you hear that? 30 concerts in the US. I am tired from just writing the number of concerts he will be performing at over the next few months. It's crazy.

I have seen him perform in Burundi a couple of times; he was once my guest at the radio station when I was still in Burundi, but at that time we were not really close friends. Now that my wife has introduced me to him, I have had the opportunity to be with him one on one a couple of times while he was here in Toronto. What a blast! The guy can produce hit after hit. At his concerts, all he has to do is start a song, then the public takes it from there and finishes it. He is such a talented artist.

I was with him yesterday at Ngoma Lounge here in Toronto where he came to say good bye to his fans and offer free drinks (I was there just for that one lol). He got to perform with my boys Kijanya, Nicolas and Tamsir Seck. It was a joy man. We had so much fun.

I had another chance to speak with Kidum once more. He told me his story. He fled from Burundi during war to live in Kenya where he started his career as a musician. The first years were so hard that he wanted to give up numerous times. He started regretting why he had left his home country, but he couldn't return as the war was still on. He started playing in bars and getting a little bit of money here and there.

Then came the song “Yaramenje”. That song took the whole region like a storm, and the rest is history. Looking back at his tough times, he doesn't regret anything at all. Now he can really enjoy his success as he knows that it came by working hard and never giving up. Do you know what is his goal now? In his own words: “I want to leave a legacy. I want to go to places where no other artist has ever been, so as to be an inspiration to other African Artists”. I guess he is on the right track.

I am glad I was there to hear that. Most of the time, we see people at the top of their careers and we have no idea about what they went through to get there. I believe talent alone is not enough. It is about persistence, believing without seeing, passion, determination and above all, doing what we love to do. The rest is in God's hands.

Moral of the story? Do you want to spend time with a superstar? Just marry someone who knows people at high places, maybe he/she will happen to know me.

Always a pleasure


The Journeyman

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Journey to a Late Blog

Talk about commitment! If I did not know you were anxiously waiting for this blog, I would have posted it on Tuesday. I am writing it at almost 11PM on Monday. Why so late you ask? Well it's because I just got in and I am so very exhausted!

What a week! I think it was my busiest week since returning from Africa. But it was for a good reason. I was busy helping organize a two day seminar which runs today (Monday) and tomorrow. Now, usually I am used to being the one speaking, however, this time I worked from behind the scenes to make sure that the seminar is a success. Today was only day one and we have already started off with a home run; people are pumped and excited about achieving their goals.

Being full time in business is quite a thing. Knowing that it is all up to you can be both challenging and exciting. What a better way to deal with the unknown! You know there is no pay cheque waiting for you unless you go out and perform. And as you all know, things don't alway happen the way you thought they would; but that's ok because it's all part of the journey (aren't I the Journeyman ? Lol)

Just the other day, I was trying to figure out what would be my next step (sometimes it's not that obvious), so I did what I normally would do when in these situations. Once I don't know the answer, and it doesn't seem to come as fast as I want, I just let it go. I know that it will come at its own time. And sometimes the answer comes in a funny and unpredictable way.

I went to visit my brother yesterday. It was an opportunity for me to collect some stuff that I left there before my trip to Africa. Among the stuff was a book I forgot I had. As I read it on my way back home, I came across the answer! It came from the book. The name of the book is “The Fred Factor” by Mark Sanborn

Here is what I read:

“The trick is to replace money with imagination, to substitute creativity for capital”

That little sentence hit me like a brick. And I should have known better because I always tell the people that I coach that money is not the main thing. When you do what you are supposed to do, money will come. But how many times do we think about a project and decide not to start it because we do not know from where the money will come? How about using our imagination and creativity instead?

Do you know the funny part? Well, that's exactly what was covered in the first part of the two day seminar: How you can get your marketing cost paid by others. How about that!

Let me use that advice and see what will come from it. Of course I will share that with you as the news comes out.

Moral of the story? Do you want to be creative? Go and visit your brother and you will get a brand new idea

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Journey to a Wonderful Year

I know, I know...The year is not over yet. But I am telling you, what I have experienced this year is simply out of this world. I don't even know where to start. Was it easy? Not at all. But I know I am living a life that I have chosen. The choice is mine and nobody else's.

Something weird happened today. As you all know, when I returned from Africa, I lost all my phone contacts (I know you remember my story of 4 phones in 5 days). Even now, there are many friends of mine whose numbers i no longer have; so if I haven't called you yet, hopefully you have a chance to read this blog. Today I felt that I wanted to call a lady who I was coaching before I left. I asked Paul (by now I think you know who Paul is, right?) for her phone number so that we could get back in touch. I sent her a text message mentioning that the Superstar was back in Toronto. Thirty seconds later she called me. Guess what! She had been calling my old phone number (by the way, my new phone number is still for sale, but for a limited time only lol). She wanted to talk to me today as well. I guess we were meant to talk today; what do you think?

Would you like to know why she wanted to talk to me? Well, she wanted to tell me that the system which I taught her works. Now her business is booming! How cool is that. Let me tell you that she made my day!

At the beginning of this year, I wrote down what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to be in full time business by the month of June, then go to Africa for 4 months, get married in August, come back from Burundi and work from home with my wife. There are other goals that I wrote down, but these were the main ones. Guess what? June 14 was my last day at work; I spent 4 months in Burundi (where I met heroes of mine), got married on August 6, got 4 contracts while in Burundi, got back to Toronto in October (and got offered a new contract even before I landed at Pearson Airport). Now I am working from home and my wife is coming here in just a few weeks. Did I know at the beginning of the year how all these things would happen? Can you guess? Did I have the money to do it? I will let you figure that one out lol.

To top it all off, two days ago, I received a phone call from a business partner of mine who just returned from Europe, asking me to join him in a new venture he just started with his multimillionaire mentor. I am still in shock. I can't believe this is happening to me! And...I will be mostly working from home!!! We are putting together an event this month which will revolutionize (and I am not exaggerating here) how people do business. I can't believe I am part of this. And the year is not over yet (that's crazy, isn't it?). There is one other big piece of news that I am holding off on telling you for now.....(suspense!!!!)

A few years ago I went through some serious challenges that I thought would never end. It was so difficult and it took a huge commitment on my part to learn what I needed to learn in order to get what I needed to get out of it. I did not know that the work I did would pay off one day, but I paid my price (still do in some ways). I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. Those were humbling moments, and I got really close to God (the only hope left for me at the time, and still is). I am thankful I went through those moments because I now know from where everything comes. It helps me keep things in perspective so as to not let my ego ruin everything.

I am not where I want to be, but today I felt that I deserve to celebrate what has been done so far. Do you think I am writing this blog for you? Come on man! I am writing this for ME, so that when my head is spinning around with new challenges, I can go back to it and read it again. It will be my reminder that I have to be thankful for what I have. You can do it too. Ok, ok. I am writing it for you as well (I know you were starting to get mad at me!). I am so excited man!

Moral of the story? Do you want to accomplish great things this year? Just get married and you will work from home

Always a pleasure

The Journeyman