Category: Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur Story: Renowned British-Ghanaian Architect David Adjaye In Focus

One thing I have come to understand recently is that it is possible to lead a life of influence and still be very lowkey. Most people have attributed being rich and influential with living an affluent life. But you have people like David Adjaye who prefer to live under the radar. I call them the ‘minimalist rich people’.

Maybe if David Adjaye lived and grew up in Ghana he would also be a household name.

So Who is David Adjaye?

Sir David Frank Adjaye is one of the most creative and talented Ghanaians that I know of. He is an accomplished, world class and well acclaimed architect with an enviable global portfolio. He might not be a famous name in Ghana but he is renowned worldwide in the architecture field.

David Adjaye was born on 22 September 1966 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania where his dad was a diplomat. Thanks to his dad’s career he once lived in Tanzania, Egypt, Yemen and Lebanon. They would eventually settle in London, United Kingdom.

Being a lover of art, he pursued his education in this path. He graduated with an B.Arch. from London South Bank University in 1990 and an M.Arch. from the Royal College of Art in 1993. After graduating from the London South Bank University in 1990, he got nominated for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President’s Medals and would go on to win the RIBA Bronze Medal for the best design project carried out at BA level worldwide.

He has attributed much of his architectural designs to his early travels with his father. It allowed him to develop a unique cultural sensitivity and exposed him to a variety of architectural styles.

He worked with a few architectural firms while in school and would go on to partner with William Russell to form Adjaye and Russell in 1994. In 2000, he went on to set up his own practice, Adjaye Associates in London. Today, they now have offices in New York, Ghana and Berlin.

His works have earned him a number of honors and awards. A few examples are the Design Miami/ Designer of the Year award in 2011. In 2007, he was appointed as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). 10 years later he became knighted for his contributions to architecture in 2017. In 2021, he won RIBA’s 2021 Royal Gold Medal, this is one of the highest accolades in the field.

Earlier in his career, his projects focused on retail establishments, restaurants, studios, and private residences. He would later expand to large-scale public buildings.

10 things you must know about David Adjaye

  1. Most of his works are inspired by his childhood travels
  2. He was also influenced by his younger brother’s wheelchair needs. It forced him to contemplate what he called the “social responsibility” of architecture.
  3. In his early adulthood, Adjaye embarked on a ten year project (1999–2010) of photographing and documenting fifty-four major African cities. The images were published as a seven-volume set, Adjaye Africa Architecture: A Photographic Survey of Metropolitan Architecture.
  4. He was knighted in 2017 for his services to architecture; becoming one of only a few architects to have been bestowed such honor.
  5. He is the first Black architect to win the RIBA Royal Gold Medal in its 173-year history.
  6. Adjaye’s favourite tool is his blue Rexel Cumberland pencil. He prefers it sharpened in a carpenter’s style with a knife.
  7. He is a part-time musician. He even has a collaborated record with his brother, Peter Adjaye.
  8. He has a belief that architecture is a ‘Robin Hood’ practice. He says, “for rich people we make things grittier, for poor people we make them glossier.”
  9. He has also designed furniture, clothing, textiles and trophies. He collaborated with Creative Director, Dorothy Cosonas to design textiles for Knoll. He also designed Monoforms, a furniture system based on the language of form and not technical detail. He also designed the Washington Furniture Collection, and the Moroso Double-Zero collection.
  10. Basket player Steph Curry designed sneakers influenced by Adjaye’s NMAAHC (the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture).
  11. He is creating a first of its kind campus in Sharjah for The Africa Institute.
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David Adjaye’s Best Projects

Some of Adjaye’s most popular projects are;

  • National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC
  • The Idea Stores in London
  • Francis A. Gregory Neighborhood Library and the William O. Lockridge / Bellevue in Washington DC
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Denver
  • The Aishti Foundation 
  • The Moscow School of Management Skolkovo
  • Home designs  for Alexander McQueen, Jake Chapman, Juergen Teller, Ewan McGregor, and Tim Noble and Sue Webster.
  • The Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
  • National Cathedral of Ghana in Accra, Ghana
  • Princeton University Art Museum

David Adjaye’s Awards, honors  and Recognitions

  • RIBA Bronze Medal for Architecture Students – 1990
  • Design Futures Council Senior Fellow
  • Design Miami/ Designer of the Year Award – 2011
  • Powerlist: Britain’s Most Influential Black Person – 2012
  • Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts at MIT – 2016
  • TIME Magazine‘s 100 Most Influential People – 2017
  • Ghana Legacy Honors Impact in Architecture Award
  • AJ100 Contribution to the Profession Award – 2018
  • Thomas Jefferson Memorial Award – 2018
  • Louis I. Khan Memorial Award – 2018
  • Isamu Noguchi Award from the Noguchi Museum. – 2020
  • RIBA Royal Gold Medal – 2021
  • World Economic Forum’s 27th Annual Crystal Award – 2021

Author Life

Away from architecture, David Adjaye is also an author. Some of his books are,

  • Adjaye Africa Architecture: A Photographic Survey of Metropolitan Architecture
  • David Adjaye: Houses: Recycling, Reconfiguring, Rebuilding (2005)
  • David Adjaye: Making Public Buildings: Specificity, Customization, Imbrication (2006)
  • David Adjaye: A House for an Art Collector (2011)
  • David Adjaye: Authoring: Re-placing Art and Architecture (2012)
  • Constructed Narratives: Essays and Projects (2016)
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will.i.am: Untold Entrepreneur Success Story

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy as it’s often a frustrating rollercoaster of ups and downs. But then being a celebrity offer a similar journey.

Is that why celebrities often find it easy venturing into business? Or is it because of their star power? will.i.am’s entrepreneurship journey is a remarkable one.

will.i.am, a member of Black Eyed Peas has had a really good career. The group was made up of will.i.am, apl.de.ap, Taboo, Kim-hill, Sierra Swan, and Fergie at different times.

In fact, the group at the peak of their power were one of the most talked-about in the music world. With over 75 million records sold, they were indeed a powerhouse.

I gotta feeling…that tonight gonna be a…” or people killin’, people dyin’
children hurt and you hear them cryin’
…where is the love…”. If you ever sang along to those lines then you know who black-eyed peas are.

Enough about the group. We are here for the remarkable transition of the leader of the group, will.i.am’s from a musician to a successful entrepreneur.

Background History

William James Adams Jr. was born on March 15, 1975. He is known professionally as will.i.am but also goes by will 1x, Zuper Blahq, and illwilly.

He is an American rapper, singer, songwriter, record producer, entrepreneur, and actor. He is also the founder and leader of the musical group, Black Eyed Peas.

Growing up, he never knew his father. His childhood was spent in a low-income neighbourhood with his mother. The first person who recognized his dream and gave him support was his mother.

For him to reach her lofty dreams of him, she enrolled him in better public schools around the west side of Los Angeles, where he got the opportunity and stage to be who he is now.

When will.i.am reached high school he discovered his passion for music. Black Eyed Peas was initially founded by will.i.am and apl.de.ap has a dance group. They would later transition into a rap duo.

A few record deals and member additions and we have the Black Eyed Peas that we all love and adore today.

will.i.am standing in front of his collection of glasses

will.i.am’s Path To Success As An Entrepreneur

To will.i.am, innovation was second nature. This idealistic nature of him is what lead him to secure a great deal with Intel. He was named director of creative innovation in 2011.

His entrepreneur story began with him designing his digital camera, foto.sosho camera, for iPhone which had a more powerful lens than the regular cameras at the time.

He didn’t design these cameras because he suddenly had an enlightenment that people would appreciate his product. It is because he thought it would help him shoot better photos for himself.

The foto.sosho camera covers the back of the device and had an impact on how its cameras functioned. His hardware converted the built-in 8-megapixel camera to a 14-megapixel camera with added filters and lenses. Not only that, it came with a keyboard that helps with sharing and tagging pictures taken by the phone.

This innovative idea earned a collaboration with an app similar to Instagram, the now popular social media platform.

His ideas and creativity didn’t stop there. He collaborated with Coca-Cola in launching the Ekocycle project, which had the idea of manufacturing products with recycled materials. This shows that his ambition and creativity wasn’t bounded in profit-making routes only.

will.i.am wearing Bluetooth mask

By collaborating with one of the biggest company in the world, he paved the way in building a sustainable eco-friendly environment, and people appreciated and admired that.

This movement inspired people to recycle but was also a highly profitable movement at the same time. The earnings shared by the company and him was later donated to their favourite charities.

will.i.am’s love for charity has seen him award a whooping sum of $550k to 37 scholars through his i.am Scholarships program.

Other investments of his are Shellano Group, in Honest dollar, and in a Music Messenger called Series A round. He invested about $13m in all three companies. $5m in Shellano, $3m in Honest Dollar and $5m in Series A respectively.

He was also a founding shareholder in the largest headphone manufacturer, Beats Electronics. Wow indeed!

In 2017, he linked up with Atom, a Durham based app-only startup bank. He was named as a strategic board advisor.

His entrepreneurship journey has seen him create more than 150 jobs through his companies.

His path wasn’t all successful, some projects of his failed. For instance, he had an idea of launching a social media platform for fans of music called DipDive. This was a collaboration work with iPhone.

When he asked about the possibility of this idea failing, he gave the following response, “Well, then I’ve made something cool for myself.”

Even though the idea was a failure, people labelled him as a bold risk-taker. It showed that he is not just an entertainer but a multifaceted individual. He showed that the musicians are more than what people perceived them to be.

People used to think that artists or musicians were only creative in their respective fields. To those who think like that, will.i.am is a perfect example that shows that musicians can also embody the intellect and entrepreneurship character towards success.

Don’t forget he is the first artist to send a song to Mars in collaboration with NASA’s Curiosity Mars Space Lab. I guess you can say he is an out of this world thinker.

Xupermask

In 2021, wil.i.am in partnership with Honeywell launched a Bluetooth mask with the brand name Xupermask.

Xupermask is an evolutionary new era smart masks. It combines face technology with integrated audio engineering to bring safety, enjoyment, and pleasure to users.

7 Important Lessons Everyone Can Learn From will.i.am

  1. Your background, race, creed, or affluence can’t stop you from reaching your goals.
  2. Obstacles and hindrances you face are what you make of them.
  3. Here is the formula for success: planning + ambition = success. After you reach one goal plan another one. Every success should be a cycle.
  4. Failure shouldn’t stop your ambition.
  5. Teamwork makes the dream work. Changes you make to attain success, should also be impacting your team positively as well.
  6. Be an evolving person. The world constantly changes, so you must stay open-minded.
  7. Have an inclusive road to success. Always give back to the community.

Conclusion

Success should not be labelled as for the destined. Commitment, hardwork and vision will get you anywhere you want. will.i.am had his goals clear and concise and used up opportunities he got along the way to be who he is today.

From designing cameras to investing in startups, he has shown an entrepreneurship range we never expected of him.

The road to success is a high road filled with hope and despair. But the end will always justify the means.

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Adebayo Ogunlesi: Influential Nigerian Billionaire Entrepreneur

“As I dey hustle like Adebayo Ogunlesi, no go talk say me I too lazy.” Like is quickly becoming the case with some of Burna Boy’s recent music releases, upon hearing this verse, people started searching for Adebayo Ogunlesi. And he was in fact a trending topic on Twitter for a while.

For someone so wealthy you’d think most people would have heard about him. So it was somewhat surprising that the average Nigerian didn’t know much about Adebayo Ogunlesi before Burna Boy’s verse in Wonderful. I guess that is the difference between wealthy Africans in Diaspora and the ones living in and making their money from Africa. Can we call it relevancy?

I think we can call it relevancy. Because this Burna Boy’s song wasn’t the first time his name has been thrown into the limelight. Many may not remember it but he was once appointed by Donald Trump in 2016. He was a member of his Strategic and Policy Forum. Yes really, Donald Trump. The forum was disbanded around August 2017.

Short Biography of Adebayo Ogunlesi

Ogunlesi was originally from Makun, Sagamu, Ogun State in Nigeria. He is the son of Theophilus O. Ogunlesi and was born on December 20, 1953.

He would later go on to attend King’s College, Lagos, Nigeria for his secondary school.

Adebayo Ogunlesi has been married to a British-born optometrist, Dr Amelia Quist-Ogunlesi since 1985. They are blessed with two children.

In 2012, He was appointed to the Board of Directors at Goldman Sachs and he became their Lead Director in July 2014.

Since 2013, Mr Ogunlesi has made over 10 Goldman Sachs trades according to Form 4 filed with SEC. As of 2020, Mr Ogunlesi owned about 5,889 units of Goldman Sachs stock which is worth over $1,930,179.

On May 13, 2016, he made his largest trade by exercising 13,012 units of Goldman Sachs stock. It is believed to be worth over $4,264,813. As of 2020, he still owns about 66,677 units of Goldman Sachs stock.

Anyways, let’s get on with some facts about Adebayo Ogunlesi, our underrated Billionaire. Let’s get familiar.

  1. He was appointed by the former American president, Donald Trump, as part of his Strategic and Policy Forum.
  2. Mr Adebayo Ogunlesi is a proper scholar with an impressive array of academic accomplishments. But that is really just a trait that runs in the family. His father, T O Ogunlesi was the first Nigerian professor of medicine at the University of Ibadan. B A in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from Oxford University, a JD from Harvard Law School, and an MBA from Harvard Business School are just some of Ogunlesi’s academic highlights.
  3. He is the Chairman and Managing Partner of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP). It is a New York-based independent investment fund with more than $35 billion in assets under management and investments.
  4. He first became a household name in 2010 after GIP bought Gatwick Airport. Gatwick Airport happens to be London’s second-largest airport. It is because of this accomplishment he now popularly referred to as ‘the Nigerian who bought Gatwick Airport.’
  5. In 1983, Ogunlesi worked for a New York law firm, Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He would practise law for only nine months. He was invited for discussions and offered a job by First Boston, an investment bank. His years at First Boston would later become the foundation for his growth. It was where he was well-groomed into the man that is now highly sought after.
  6. Credit Suisse bought First Boston in 1997 and renamed it Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB). He was once spoken of in glowing review by the chief executive of CSFB, John Mack thus: “Bayo Ogunlesi is a banker of powerful intellect, integrity and innovation. He has a broad global perspective and a keen understanding of complex financial transactions. Our clients worldwide have benefited greatly from his strategic insights.”
  7. Ogunlesi spent about 23 years working with Credit Suisse. He held top positions in like executive vice-chairman, chief client officer and the global head of investment banking.
  8. Mr Ogunlesi was also once described as one of the smartest money managers of Wall Street. He was profiled by Time Magazine in 2002 among 15 Most-promising Young Executives in its list of 2002 Global Influentials. He was also once ranked by Fortune as the Seventh Most Powerful Black Executive in the United States.
  9. Adebayo Ogunlesi studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford University, where he graduated with honours. During his time at Harvard Law School, he became one of the first two editors of African descent, to serve together on the influential Harvard Law Review.
  10. For someone with so much international success, Ogunlesi has never really directly worked with the Nigerian Government at a full capacity. But he has been at the vanguard of championing African economic renaissance. He also served as an adviser to former President Olusegun Obasanjo in an informal capacity, particularly on privatization matters.
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