Thursday, May 11, 2017

Book Review: Working On a Dream by Gbolahan Fagbure

I met Gbolahan Fagbure in 2012. During my week at Jumia, he was the guy who got to work first and left last. If he wasn’t bent over his computer, he was walking purposefully around the warehouse. He had the intelligent look of a builder. Although we didn’t work together, he left a strong impression.

I began receiving invitations to Speaker Series Africa after leaving Jumia. I thought it was interesting and was vaguely aware Gbolahan organized it, but never attended; I went to Ibadan more frequently then. Next I heard of him, he was co-founding with Raphael. I loved the idea and played around the website.

Therefore, when I saw Working On a Dream with Kemi Onabanjo (this phrase is only here so you know Kemi is my G ), I had to read it! Finally, a chance to ‘know’ Gbolahan. I bought it the next day, and I am glad I did!


Working On a Dream was a good read, worth every kobo of the N2,500 I paid for it; I could hardly put it down. The book is consistent with the image of Gbolahan I formed in 2012: concise, direct, focused, and fast. While it was obviously well edited, you could tell the original writing was incisive. If I may exaggerate a bit, no words were wasted.

I often say good motivational speakers don’t tell us anything new. I believe we mostly already know what we need to do to succeed, and good motivational speakers remind us. Phrases like “your background has no right to put your back in the ground” and “aspire to inspire before you expire” are examples of standard motivational lexicon. Sometimes they show clips from movies, or show Liverpool coming back from 3-0 down against AC Milan in the 2005 UCL final. Gbolahan seeks to inspire people to pursue their dreams and provide a route-map for this pursuit, but Working On a Dream is not your everyday "aspire to inspire before you expire" book.

Working On a Dream covers a variety of subjects, but switches among themes elegantly, without leaving readers confused. It covers subjects ranging from driving a car to choosing a wife and business partners. Gbolahan writes about getting things done, shortly before explaining why he doesn’t wear a wedding ring. He writes about graduating with a third class from his first Bachelor’s Degree at the University of Warwick, and writes about emailing the wrong clients, twice, while working at Goldman Sachs. He even writes about raising children.

It’s the kind of book I have to write someday, documenting my thoughts and perspective on living, loving, and learning.

There was also an interesting revelation. I did not know Gbolahan co-founded Jumia until I read the book. I always thought he was just another senior employee. I realized for the first time that ‘found’ did not necessarily mean “source the idea and start a company to realize it”. I always thought Tunde Kehinde and Raphael Afaedor developed the idea that became Jumia and moved to Nigeria to execute it. I was surprised to find Raphael was hired as employee 1, and Gbolahan as employee 2. (Was Tunde employee 3?).

Working On a Dream is a good read, but not an easy one. Gbolahan sounds so focused and organized that the average reader may doubt their ability to apply his principles in their daily life. It’s a long (192 pages) and serious read for people who love life, value legacy, and are intent on living consciously and realizing their dreams.

I recommend it. Oya buy and read (Konga link).

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