I just discovered why I’ve been falling sick repeatedly for the past year, spent hundreds of thousands in hospital bills and eye care, almost overdosed on sleeping pills, lost my sight a few times, and nearly went insane.
So, in 2020, I got an offer to work in one of the top five Nigerian banks.
I worked for just one day, and then I left.
Now, I had a major reason for turning down that job offer (which I’ll share with you guys someday).
But one of the reasons why I said no was because I felt working at the bank would hamper my personal development.
During my NYSC in 2018/19, I had developed a routine that helped me read for at least 2 hours every day while writing a bit on the side.
I read over 60 books within 9 months or thereabouts as reading was what I used to fill up the day.
I moved to Lagos after NYSC to teach Spanish and I pretty much kept the same routine.
It was easy for me because I was teaching Spanish for just 2 or 3 hours a day, 2 or 3x a week.
I just needed to wake up early in the morning, exercise, eat, and then read before going to my classes.
And then the bank job came around October.
It was an offer to work for one of their branches in Victoria Island.
It was HUGE as I’d gone through rounds and rounds of interviews and performance-based tests for months.
This was the finish line.
But a part of me felt somehow.
I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the job anymore, and I had no idea why.
After everything, banking school training and all that, the onboarding session was supposed to last for a week.
On my way home after day 1, I called my mother to tell her I wasn’t doing it anymore.
I lived around Mile 2 at the time & working in Victoria Island meant I had to leave home by at least 5 every morning or get stuck in traffic.
Bank closing time was 5 pm, but then we still had to service customers who were still inside and this could take up to 2 or 3 hours depending on the size of the crowd.
Then we’ll have to wait for the cashiers to balance their accounts and then the vault locked up.
Then I would get into Lagos traffic, and start making my way home.
Give or take I got home between 11 pm and 12 am.
Then I would have to wake up by 3 am to be able to read, exercise, eat, and then leave home by 5. Every day.
It was a perpetual treadmill.
One I had to run on for the next couple of years.
I tried to look at my life for the next two years ahead and it didn’t look like I’d be getting anywhere fast.
I’d just moved to Lagos, and I wasn’t making a lot of money yet so getting a house on the Island wasn’t possible.
So, I quit.
Fast forward to 2020, I got a job offer that was more suited to my skills, flexible, better work environment, and with a higher ceiling.
Since I was coming from the Mainland and traffic is terrible, part of the offer was coming in for 2 or 3 days a week and working from home on the others.
But less than a month later, I fell out with the friends I was squatting with and had to move out.
Moved to a place on the Island about 20 minutes drive from work.
But then moving to the Island meant I started working every day and I loved it.
I was waking up at 3 am to pray, read for 2 hours, write for an hour, exercise, eat, nap for a bit and still get to work before 9 am.
Close at 5 p.m. & still get home before 8 no matter how bad traffic was.
I was growing like crazy.
But then COVID struck!
It meant I could still do my routine without any problems.
But the downside was I had too much free time since we were all indoors.
To fill up this free time, I turned to books & sales copies.
But there’s only so much we can do in total isolation and over time I started filling my free time with sleep.
Sleeping during the day meant I wasn’t falling asleep easily at night.
So, even if my body was tired and screaming for me to sleep, I couldn’t sleep for long because I’d been primed to waking up by 3 every day.
I started having headaches regularly.
I chalked it up to the blue light from my laptop and got antiglare glasses to protect my eyes.
One night, I was working when I stopped seeing anything for almost 2 minutes.
And that’s how my monthly journeys to the hospital started.
I couldn’t sleep.
I was a walking zombie.
Went to an eye clinic for a checkup and was recommended glasses.
Stopped working heavily.
Stopped reading for long too.
But my sleeping problems didn’t stop.
I kept getting admitted into the hospital, and drugs and supplements kept draining holes in my pocket.
I even got prescribed sleeping pills and nothing worked.
Not being able to read and do research as I used to meant I fell off so badly at work.
I had to skip work, I missed project deadlines, lost much of my creativity and practically went from flying at 100 to zero.
It affected my writing output too.
I had to stop exercising too because my body couldn’t keep up.
My eyes would be aching, my teeth chattering, and I’d feel so weak.
Then I would get some relief and then it would start all over again.
This has been my story for the last year.
I just moved to a new place closer to work late last month.
And then this week, my eyes start hurting again.
In my head, I say “here we go again”😁😁😁
But then I decided to try something new for the last two days.
I decided to start sleeping latest 10 PM.
And brethren, I just discovered the reason I’ve been feeling this way was that my sleep pattern had been disrupted for over a year.
The result was I started getting up at exactly 3 or 4 am, pray, read, exercise, do a little bit of work at home before getting to the office.
The only downside is I feel a little sleepy during the day.
But I’ve been doing some of my best work this last week. I can’t even lie.
Dan Go put out a tweet once saying a tiny majority of people can get by with less than four hours of sleep, but most people need at least 6 hours of sleep to function properly.
I think I’m most people 😁
So, the goal now is to shift my bedtime to 8/9 pm and waking hours at 3/4 am.
Waking up at that time when the rest of the world is still asleep means I get to start my day in turbo mode.
That’s when I function best.
So, unless I’m out partying, hanging out with friends, on an online webinar or having sex, I have no reason to be awake past 9 pm.
That’s the reason why I’m putting out this tweet by this time.
I knew Toyin Omotoso from when I attended Akin Alabi’s YECO event while serving in Ibadan in early 2019.
Started following him, Ronald Nzimora, Biola Kazeem and most of the people who spoke at YECO. Turned on notifications too.
But it wasn’t until late 2019 when he put out this tweet talking about learning Spanish did I get to finally interact with him.
I started with teaching him Spanish 2hrs a day 2 or 3x a week, but by sheer divine providence he took it upon himself to teach me copywriting, sales, advertising and the entire marketing caboodle.
In 2020, I ended up becoming his protege, became the in-house copywriter and Digital Content Manager for 7Star Support Systems Nigeria, and collaborated on several projects too.
All this might not sound like much to most of you but going from teaching Spanish for 2k/hour to working with one of the greatest marketing minds in the whole of Africa, and still making money off of it for me is something you only get to see in movies.
It’s been a crazy ride this past 1 year but below are the 19 things I learned from working with @toyinomotoso in 2020.
1. Everything Is For Sale.
Pet rocks. Sparkling water. Small e-books with all kinds of information. Waist trainers. Diet plans. Exercise routines. People will buy anything, as long as it’s important to them and they can afford it.
That little piece of knowledge you have that seems common to you could be the difference between poverty and massive wealth for you. Someone somewhere needs it. And they’ll pay you for it if you can make it available to them.
2. The Offer Is King.
“I’ll make him an offer he cannot refuse.” – Don Vito Corleone (The Godfather)
Lots of salesman and marketers talk about different tactics and strategies for making a sale, but nothing beats an irresistible offer.
Your customers want to believe your product or service is the best offer (or at least the second-best) they are getting from the market.
Your irresistible offer is how you get the customer and also how you crush your competition.
3. There’s A Marketing Angle In Almost Every Story, It’s Your Job To Find It.
Everything has become an opportunity for me to learn since I started working in marketing over the last year. Books, movies, conversations, experiences etc.
These days I’ve learned to find a marketing angle even in the most mundane stories. This helps with creating powerful leads and story arcs.
People also love it when you share a story with them about an experience they can relate to.
4. Principles Are Everything.
To achieve anything worthwhile in any endeavour, it’s important to understand the principles and roots first.
Those principles form the foundation and everything is built on them. Which is why as a salesman, it’s important to always have it at the back of your mind that even if everything changes, human nature never does.
Human nature is what drives every emotion, which drives every single sale and purchase. You’re making a mistake if you don’t pay attention to how people behave.
a. Focus on what’s important and ignore every other thing. There are all distractions towards your end goal.
Instead of doing 20 low-quality things, how about you just focus on 2 and make them the highest quality possible?
b. Focus on your strengths, outsource every other thing if you can afford it. This will free up time and energy for you to focus on what’s important. If you can’t afford it, then keep working till you can.
c. Most people are lazy and distracted today. You can become a god in your chosen field if you just ‘outfocus’ them.
Has someone ever told you you’re easy to talk to?
Well, the truth is you might not even be easy to talk to in the actual sense, but once people notice you listen to them, they believe you’re easy to talk to.
Plus, you pick up more from listening than from talking. People naturally open up to you when they know you’re willing to listen to them talk about their problems. Sometimes, they don’t even want a solution or an answer to their problem, they just want to vent. Most people eventually figure it out themselves.
Listening is also how you become a better copywriter and salesman. You learn about your prospect’s problems by listening and paying attention.
7. Just Do It.
Start first. Make mistakes. Correct them. Keep going. Learn along the way. You never what it’s going to be like until you take risks.
I think I should do this more 😁
8. Stay Curious: You Start Dying The Day You Stop Learning.
Your job as a copywriter/salesman means you have to keep learning till the day you die. You are required to know about a lot of things and how they work.
That’s how you create winning ads. That’s how you create better presentations. That’s how you create powerful leads. That’s how you get better clients. That’s how you do great work.
Read books. Research different topics. Watch instructional videos. Listen to podcasts. Try new things and new experiences. Always be looking to learn something new every day.
9. Quality Over Quantity, But Quantity Begets Quality.
Every day in this digital marketing world, we hear a story about someone who has made hundreds of millions of dollars from putting together an incredible offer. But nobody asks how many times they had to try or how many different things they had to do or how many projects they failed at or how many duds they had put out before or how many years it took them to get to that level.
The truth is to get to the level where you consistently put out quality work, you might have to put out a lot of mediocre work at the beginning. But consistently improving on them and getting better is how you eventually win. Which leads me to the next lesson.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice.
Ask Ronaldo, Ask Kobe Bryant, Ask Michael Jordan. Consistency is how you win. Which is why you have to keep practising every day.
11. Just One Good Offer + One Good Sales Copy Can Change Your Life.
“Just one good sales letter is what will change your life as a copywriter. It changed my life. It changed Ronald’s life. It changed Akin Alabi’s life.” – Toyin Omotoso
12. Garbage In, Garbage Out/What You Sow, You Reap.
What you consume is what you give out. Consume quality and you give out quality. Consume garbage and you give out the garbage.
13. There’s Money Everywhere.
But first, you need to understand the difference between you and the guy who has money is value. And then when you do, add value too. That’s how you make money.
14. Attention Is Scarce But Money Is Plenty.
People will pay through their nose for what they are interested in, but first, you need to find out what is this thing they are interested in and then figure out how to get their attention.
If you can get their attention, manage to hold their interest and then give them an irresistible offer, they’ll chase you down with their wallets open.
15. Strive For More.
Toyin Omotoso once sent out an email where he said he gave himself a target to be one of the best guys doing marketing in Nigeria when he first started. Years later, he feels he should have set his goals higher. I’ve never forgotten. This has stuck with me ever since.
16. Research Is Everything.
Know your market. Know your product. Know your competition. But you can only know all this through research.
Everything required to sell depends on excellent research and it’s on you to do it.
17. The Road To Success/Greatness Is Long, But A Mentor Takes You There In Twice The Time And Probably Half The Effort.
There are a lot of great people on here and in real life I see as mentors and learn from. Some of them I’ve never met physically and will never meet. But that’s not a barrier because the Internet has made it easier to access their knowledge through their books, articles, posts, and materials they put out.
Which is why it’s important to study for the masters or anyone who has succeeded in something you’re interested in.
There’s a reason why they succeeded. If you are humble enough to learn from their experiences and implement, someday you might become a master too.
18. Invest In Yourself.
People get to a certain level, make some good money or get some fame and decide to relax, but Toyin Omotoso has spent around N2million (that I’m aware of) between January and now on new materials just to continually upgrade himself.
If someone at that level keeps adding to themselves, then who am I to stay stagnant?
He once told me the reason why I give you all these books is that I know you’ll read them. That’s my inspiration.
19. Positioning Is Everything.
Everything about your approach to life changes the day you discover this.
There’s a reason why someone would see you and think you’re too cheap and not want to work with you or buy what you’re selling because they think it’s not worth it.
Positioning affects your relationships, your product and service offerings, how people see you and even how they regard you.
People like Toyin Omotoso entirely changed the game for young people.
Aside from opening our eyes to how enormously profitable the sales and marketing industry is, you have to think about the different roads he’s helped pave: Consulting, Advertising, Media Buying, Affiliate Marketing, E-Commerce, Persuasion, Personal Development etc.
I mean, you look at young copywriting geniuses like Andy Mukolo or affiliate marketing mavericks like Bruno Nwogu, or kings like Emmanuel Adiotu & Yusuf Adedeji crushing it in E-Commerce and how much he’s influenced them and then you’d understand.
Lupe Fiasco once said, “Hip-Hop saved me.” Well, Toyin Omotoso saved my life.
So, thank you for the opportunity to drink from your fountain of unending knowledge and learning at your feet. Thank you for everything, Baba mi. Every day I feel like I won the lottery.
And here’s to many more years, Maestro’s Maestro. 🥂
Also, I think I was lucky enough to be in this position. Many people reading this would wish they could. But not to worry, you too can learn from the master himself when you click on the link below 👇🏿
Just like you, the first thing I do most mornings when I wake up is to grab my phone. I mean, who doesn’t?
I open WhatsApp and start viewing people’s statuses or go on Twitter and just scroll mindlessly.
I wish I wouldn’t sometimes, but it’s almost a habit. And then at the end of the day, I end up doing less than I intended to.
So, in trying to get more out of my day I decided to try a few things and since they’ve been working for me so far, I decided to share them with you.
1. Say Thank You
It’s easy to forget you once prayed or wished for the things you have now.
So, while striving for more, don’t forget to be grateful for waking up today. As a new day is always a brand new opportunity to get everything you missed yesterday.
Don’t also forget to be grateful for your family, friends, and loved ones.
Be grateful for growth opportunities.
Be grateful for people who continually believe in and invest in you.
Be grateful for the hard lessons. At least, there were opportunities to learn something.
And it doesn’t even matter if you’re an atheist because gratitude has no religion. It’s simply therapy for the soul – the single master key that unlocks everything.
2. Drink water
Your body needs about a gallon of water (around 3.7 litres) daily to function optimally.
Drinking water immediately you wake up helps release toxins from your body, aids bowel movement and boosts your appetite.
I also hear drinking water and minding your business helps you look younger and live longer 😁
So, if you’re going to be drinking 1 gallon of water every day, starting with a good litre in the morning is the best way possible to kick off your day.
1 litre of water is just 2 sachets or two small 50cl bottles. Easy peasy!
Reading is an opportunity to go into someone else’s mind and then getting to reimagine things from there.
It helps you develop perspective, widens your horizon and gives you much-needed nuance on varying topics.
Imagine being the guy/girl at the party who everyone wants to talk to because you have an idea about almost everything. That’s your superpower, Hero!
1 page. 1 chapter. 1 line of thought. Nothing is too small.
This is an opportunity to clarify your thoughts. An opportunity to brainstorm ideas and work on plans/projects you’ve been thinking about too.
And shockingly there’s no limit to what you can write about. One of the world’s best-known books, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank was written by a 13-year-old.
It was simply a collection of thoughts from her diary.
There’s a Bible passage which says deep calleth unto deep.
To move from a level of life to somewhere higher would require a lot of meditation and deep, clear and focused thinking.
As much as this is the hardest thing to do especially in a world filled with so much noise and distraction, you need to learn how to still your mind to achieve this kind of deep and clear focus.
Your future will be glad you did.
I hard to leave the hardest part for last. I know 😁
At a beginner level, you can make do with:
5-10 jumping jacks.
Walking distances where you’d naturally use other options. And none of these requires a gym or workout equipment. Only determination and a will to live well.
What’s funny is that doing all of this will take just between 20 minutes to 1 hour and you’d still get to do everything you planned to do today. But the difference is you’d have started your day on a flying note.
So, try this over the next 6 months and watch your life blossom.
But wait, how do I have time to do all of this? The answer is simple: Sleep early.
You’ve probably read countless posts since the 30th of December with people sharing different insights or tips for having a great year.
Chances are you’ve even seen some of the same things I’m about to share with you.
The only claim I make is these are things that work for me. And hopefully, they might work for you too.
1. Do 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 Things Every Day. No More.
What are the things you need to do every day that will make you feel fulfilled or feel like you had a good day?
For me, I read a daily devotional and pray, read a book (fiction or nonfiction) for about an hour or more (long enough to finish at least one chapter), practice Spanish on my phone with Duolingo for 5 – 15 minutes, read a sales letter, and write for at least 30 minutes. I work out at least 3x a week.
As long as I get all of these done in one day, then that day is a great day for me already. I don’t need to do more. But if I end up doing more, good!
And just to add, I’m not some sort of Superman. I’m sorry, but there are days when I’m low on energy and I can barely manage to do all of this.
On days like that, I might just read for 15 minutes, work out a bit or not even work out at all, practice just one lesson on Duolingo, read just one page of a book, write for a few minutes, and read either just a page, a few paragraphs of a sales letter or none at all.
The most important thing is consistency and frequency.
By being consistent, I’ve managed to lock down these habits. As such, my body doesn’t need a lot of motivation to do any of them. The response is almost automatic. And boy, does it feel fucking good!!!
I can also sleep peacefully.
2. Know What Works For You + Understand Your Body.
This is not an excuse to be lazy or procrastinate. But it’s a great idea if you understand your most productive hours and maximise them, plus also understanding how your body works and how to gain the most from it.
I’m a bit of a nightcrawler (been this way since secondary school). I don’t sleep much at night plus my most productive hours are between 11 pm and 4 am. It’s quiet, less disturbance, plus it feels like this is the time the heavens are open and my brightest ideas are born.
But as much as I’m a nightcrawler my body still demands that I sleep at least 6 – 7 hours every day. If I don’t I end up having a fucked up day!
Well, thankfully, I work a very flexible day job and my resumption time is between 9 – 10 am, plus I live about 20 minutes away, which means I can catch in an extra 4 – 6 hours of sleep every morning. I’m also careful to nap during the day, or once I get back home in the evening.
Going outside this and my day would be a mess.
I read somewhere that our bodies are alarm clocks. This is why people with bad health habits get heart attacks, people with crazy working schedules are strained and become mentally tired over time, and people with bad sleeping habits have a less than an optimal day. It’s simply your body begging you to slow down.
I work out enough to keep myself exceptionally trim – defined muscles, flat stomach, a bit of chest and arms, at least enough to look good naked and in tight clothing.
Doing more than the above doesn’t end well. My body can hardly keep up (passed out in a gym after doing too much in 2019, fell seriously ill twice when I aggressively increased my workout regimen in 2020).
3. Don’t Make Wishes, Set Goals.
You’ve seen this before, in fact, I’m certain that every productivity and getting the best out of the new year post will carry this.
But I read somewhere that dreams are dreams, wishes are wishes, but goals are dreams with a plan to achieve them.
It’s typical for people to make lots of resolutions every New Year and get lost a few months into the year.
Sometimes it’s their fault, sometimes it’s not. Which is why you must have plans to achieve anything you set out to do.
And these plans involve cutting your goals down to bit sizes. Small achievable sizes.
Do you want to write 100 songs in 2021?
It’s a big goal.
But it’s simple.
There are 52 weeks in a year. And you just need to write an average of just 2 songs a week to reach 100 songs. You could spend just 1 hour every day to do this.
I used this as an example because I know someone who did it.
He reached the 100 songs mark in 8 months, and write around 50 more over the remaining 4 months to end the year.
I read at least 40 books every year, for at least the last three years.
But I don’t spend all day in a library. Far from that!
I’ve got a job, a family to feed plus a myriad of personal ventures and I can’t spend my whole day reading. But I manage to read for at least 15 minutes to 1 hour (or more) every day.
At that pace, I can comfortably finish 1 book (or sometimes 2) in 1 week.
There are 52 weeks in a year, remember?
So, I can comfortably read 40, 60, 80 or even 100 books in one year, and neither my business, job or family will suffer.
In 2020, I set a goal to get better with my writing.
But we all know that is a vague goal.
What exactly is get better with my writing?
I simply identified I needed to write more, at least once a week or even every day.
So, what did I do?
I started writing for at least 15 minutes every day. I also started a blog where I post my thoughts at least once a week (Sunday evenings). I wrote at least 50 blog posts in 2020 alone.
I won’t lie to you, it was hard some days.
Sometimes I was so mentally wiped out that I didn’t know what to write about. I just managed to put down anything that came to mind.
Some days it was so easy that my Sunday posts were already ready early in the week. But sometimes I had to write some last minute.
It was so bad sometimes that I had no idea what to write about until I started writing.
Inspiration met me halfway.
But inspiration needed to find me working.
And that’s the most important thing about setting goals or making plans – EXECUTION.
I just got a push notification from Netflix. A new series I’m interested in has been released. I still haven’t finished over 40+ episodes from the other series I downloaded.
There are so many distractions to keep you going for the next one thousand years. You look at everything you have to do every day and it’s okay to feel overwhelmed. But it’s unnecessary to wallow in it.
You can make your life simpler… by simply focusing on the IMPORTANT things.
Focus on one important thing at a time.
I learned late last year from my mentor about the importance of deep work.
You have something to do? Turn off every distraction and just zero in on that single activity.
But it’s also important you understand your body.
Some people work for at least 6 hours straight nonstop!
I can focus for at least an hour and up to 3 hours straight just working and churning out content.
But not everyone can.
So, you must find what works for you.
20 minutes? 30 minutes of totally focused deep work? 45 minutes? And then intermissions in between to recharge your brain. This simple exercise will push you farther than anything else this year.
Remember, whatever you focus on grows.
5. Say No
“You can’t be everything to everybody” – J.Cole (Sacrifices)
Some people aren’t good for you.
Some requests from even the good people in your life aren’t good for you.
Some opportunities aren’t good for you.
Learn to say no to people, to things, to ‘opportunities’ etc.
Offered a drink or weed at a party and you don’t want it? Say no. And don’t try to explain or defend your stance. Just keep it moving!
A friend asks for a small loan and you can’t afford it? Say no.
A job or career opportunity opens up and you don’t see it aligning with your purpose? Let it go.
Be willing to walk away from people, things, situations, circumstances and even ‘opportunities’.
Every open door isn’t meant to be walked through. Accept that fact.
Need I say more about this?
Few activities leave you feeling good about yourself, while also boosting your health, improving your appearance and elongating your life.
You don’t have to run for a thousand kilometres. Or lift as much weight as Arnold Schwarzenegger does.
It’s okay to just take walks regularly.
Walks have been even proven to be one of the most important factors behind the longevity of the Japanese. They work almost everywhere.
10, 15, 20 pushups, situps or squats everyday compound over time. You don’t even need to do too much. Just keep it regular.
Reading 15 minutes or more, or just one page a day can change your life.
Reading changed my life. I have nothing else to add
It’s a common theme nowadays to have a ton of half-done or unfinished projects.
So many times it’s from bursts of unsustained creativity. Other times it’s just down to a lack of organisation and cluttering an already overcrowded life and schedule.
But focus changes everything.
Focus and an emphasis on purpose totally simplifies your life.
It defines where you direct your priceless enegy – what you do and don’t do.
Unfocused people try to do too much – and this eventually leads to unnecessary stress, avoidable fatigue, and conflict with your inner self and with others.
Focus simplifies your life.
You concentrate your effort and energy on only what’s important. And so, you grow in every area of your life by simply being selective with a few parts of it.
There is nothing quite as potent as a focused life, one lived on purpose.
The men and women who have made the greatest difference in history were the most focused.
“Without a clear purpose, you will keep changing directions, jobs, relationships, churches, or other externals – hoping each change will settle the confusion or fill the emptiness in your heart. You think, Maybe this time it will be different, but it doesn’t solve your real problem-a lack of focus and purpose.” – Rick Warren
Instead of being involved in too many things at once, just simply spending one hour completely dedicated to a particular project could change your life.
Make a decision today to focus on what’s important. Not just only focusing, but also carrying it out to the end.