Debola Williams is a Nigerian Media Entrepreneur, Journalist, Political Activist and Motivational Speaker.

To celebrate his birthday, we share excerpts from an exclusive interview on his strategy for staying relevant in the Industry

How do you remain relevant in the Industry?

So, a man’s work will make way for him. That’s working to remain relevant. But another thing, is to keep reinventing yourself. Pay attention to the times. Don’t lose yourself, but find out what values you have that is in line with the times demand. Different times and season require different things. You have your core value, but how can your core value serve different times and seasons? If your core value can only serve one season then you’ll go into extinction. There’s a time lap. 24 months on everything you are doing. So remember, we did the Future Awards, we launched Rubbin Minds on Channels TV, we did Enough is Enough, we launched Y!Naija, we started Nigeria Symposium for Young and Emerging Leaders, we moved into doing elections. Last year, we launched three more shows. So, what is the time asking for? We have the same value proposition: youth empowerment, youth enlightenment, youth inspiration. And we’ve put it across all of these brands over the years. Even for elections, we inspire young people to vote. That’s what we do. So how do you take value proposition across the board to fit.

What will you say is your biggest achievement so far?

Hmm… what makes me so excited and fulfilled with my life is the journey of the Future Awards. The Future Awards has birthed ideas, it has birthed a generation. It has created an ecosystem that is formidable – young people who are empowered, who are powerful. Some of them don’t even know journey, they don’t know the beginning, they don’t know that they are doing what they are doing because a group of people came together, were inspired and started doing it, and you being inspired by what they are doing. Because the most potent thing that has ever led to conversion for young people is peer-to-peer education. And that’s why we zeroed in on the Future Awards. I said “Listen, let’s find our peers, and use them as strong positive images to inspire other peers and create an ecosystem.”

So we’ve created an ecosystem, this critical mass of young people now who are vocal in business, in technology, in music, in arts. The only thing that cut its teeth properly when we started The Future Awards is art. And then the Future Awards put serious business around it for young people.

And I remember M.I saying “Listen, the biggest thing that happened to me was not that you guys gave me a platform to perform at The Future Awards. It was the fact that I came to that Awards and I met TY Bello, I met Tara (Fela Durotoye), I met people I was only reading about in the papers. And that told me that I could not go back to where I was coming from. I needed to break through and stay with this people.”

Bayo Omoboriowo, the President’s photographer, in 2010, he came to the photography training which we do for young photographers. In 2012, he won the Future Awards and we started commissioning him to go to Osun State to photograph the elections for Y!Naija, to go and photograph around the country, he started meeting with people in the government. By 2014, we put him on the Presidential campaign as the President’s campaign as the President’s photographer. And today, he is the President’s photographer. So now, I say that we are all lights to Africa. But one light here, one light there, and another light there cannot light the Continent. We need to use our own light to light others. And before you know it, Africa will change from ‘Black Africa’ to ‘Great Africa’

Place an order to get a copy of the October 2017 edition to read the full interview with Bankole Williams, exclusive interview with Femi Kuti and Seun Kuti, and other interesting stories.

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