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The Power of Resilience as an Entrepreneur (Episode 139)

Steven Adjei is a British-Ghanaian author, poet, healthcare consultant, and entrepreneur.

He is the founding partner of BlueCloud Health, a UK-based African-focused healthcare firm that exists to provide solutions to health businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa. BlueCloud is part of the Emerald Management Group, a multi-sectoral consultancy firm with offices in London, Dubai, and Delhi.

Steven is also an award-winning consulting pharmacist who has worked with Britain’s NHS and several pharmacy multiples in England and Africa.  

Steven holds an MBA with project distinction from Warwick Business School, one of the top business schools in the world. He is also an executive contributor for Brainz Magazine.

He is currently working on his next book, ‘In Search of Permanence: Surviving and Thriving Your Business in a Constantly Changing World’ (due August 2023) and ‘From Gory to Glory, the Sorry Details’, a collection of business and lifestyle-themed poems and short stories.

Steven currently resides in Plymouth, a beautiful seaside city in southwest England with his wife Dela, and two teenage children.

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What you will learn

  • Discover the entrepreneurial spirit of Africa
  • Why resilience is one of the core entrepreneurial traits in Africa
  • Learn about the innovations in Africa that the rest of the world never hears about
  • Find out what inspired Steven to begin his entrepreneurial journey
  • Discover how Steven helps businesses in Africa get funding
  • Learn the four kinds of pain that all entrepreneurs go through
  • Find out more about Steven’s focus in 2022
  • Discover how to leave a legacy with your business
  • Plus loads more!

Transcript

Jeff Bullas

00:00:04 - 00:01:46

Hi everyone and welcome to The Jeff Bullas Show where we discover the stories of entrepreneurs, why they started and how they grew their business and also how they struggled with possible failure and how they solved that.

So let me tell you about Steven Adjei. Steven is a British-Ghanaian author, poet, healthcare consultant, and entrepreneur. He is the founding partner of BlueCloud Health, a UK-based, African-focused healthcare firm that exists to provide solutions to health businesses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Blue-Cloud is part of the Emerald Management Group, a multi-sectoral consultancy firm with offices in London, Dubai, and Delhi. Steven is an award-winning consulting pharmacist who has worked with Britain’s NHS and currently resides in Plymouth, which is where I think the first fleet took off from frankly, I think, a beautiful seaside city in Devon, southwest England with his wife Dela, and two teenage children.

He loves running, and that's a passion of mine as well, and has competed in several 10k and half-marathons. Steven holds an MBA with project distinction from Warwick Business School, one of the top business schools in the world. He is also an executive contributor for Brainz Magazine. Pay the Price, with its associated pioneering Spotify playlist and poetry, is his first book. His first book was Pay the Price, creating ethical entrepreneur success through passion, pain and purpose.

Steven, welcome to the show.

Steven Adjei

00:01:47 - 00:01:50

Thank you Jeff, it's really an honor to be here with you today.

Jeff Bullas

00:01:51 - 00:02:18

So Steven, you have been on a journey of entrepreneurship, I think ever since you could spell entrepreneurship I think, and you did your pharmacy degree in Ghana because you were British born, you said I want to go back to England, why did you want to go back to the UK?

Steven Adjei

00:02:19 - 00:03:01

That's a question I still haven't answered, you know, so I have a comfortable life and it was a lovely country to be at the time. But I felt that I was born in the UK, I was British and I felt that I wanted more, wanted more out of life. So I just, my idea was to just come to Britain for a year or two to practice, make a ton of money and then come back to Ghana but I got to Britain. I was intrigued by the country, I loved it, and loved London. And so the dream changed. I still go travel to Africa a lot because of my work, but 20 years later and I'm still here in the UK.

Jeff Bullas

00:03:02 - 00:03:08

Right. So you're born in the UK. You can tell a little bit about how that happens.

Steven Adjei

00:03:09 - 00:04:19

So my mom, my dad was and still is a lawyer. He qualified here in the UK and my mom was one of the first cashiers to work in Selfridges with first black cashier work in Selfridges. So yeah, my dad had a very good job in the Bank of Ghana when I was little. So I was about four or five years old. I was very young and my dad just said, okay Steven, it's time for us to go back and I had no idea what's happening. So at five years old I just found myself back in Ghana. But I think it was the best decision that my dad made because I have a deep love for Africa and I wouldn’t have that if my dad hadn't decided to go back and my life blossomed and flourished just because I went back to Ghana and I don't think I have had the same opportunities that I have now and the same business that I have now, the same challenges that I have now if I didn't go back to Africa. So I continually thank my mom and dad for going back, they’re still there now. My dad is 84 years old, still as sharp as beans and yeah, I loved it.

Jeff Bullas

00:04:18 - 00:05:16

So you have a love for your home country in terms of not where you're born, but where your heritage came from. And also you have a love for the UK and I love London as well. It's one of my favorite cities in the world. It's got energy. I love going to Westminster Abbey and what I love about Westminster Abbey is that I can almost feel the age and heritage of all of the UK seeping out of the stones of the Abbey because there are so many, Darwin's buried there, Steven Hawking's buried there. Poets are buried there and the list goes on. Kings and queens are buried there and I, whenever I go there I am almost in tears because it just speaks to me and I don't know why.

Steven Adjei

00:05:17 - 00:05:45

Yeah, London just have that effect on you. And every time I go there, I was there just three years ago and there was a pool of London, which is hard to describe. It's just a melting pot of everything and everything in the world that you can think of. Drama poetry to the iconic London buses, the people, it's just a wonderful city and I'm just lucky to be born.

Jeff Bullas

00:05:46 - 00:06:42

So you feel like you've maybe got a foot in two camps: Africa and the UK. I haven't had that experience. I was born in Australia. All spent my time in Australia. So it really, we're gonna talk a little bit more about what it means to be an entrepreneurial spirit that is trying to make a difference. And tell us a little bit about the entrepreneurial spirit of Africa because that's something we discussed in the pre-show chat. So tell us a bit about why you believe so much in Africa's entrepreneurial spirit and some of the experiences there.

Steven Adjei

00:06:43 - 00:09:23

Yeah, like I said to you, Jeff, I love Africa and whenever I travel and I've traveled to many countries on the continent. I'm just amazed. I mean we, if you look at the news here, you read the news in the west or you read the papers, people think of Africa as a place where people go to die. It's very poor, people are depressed, there's lots of, but when the continents, I mean when you're in Nairobi, Kenya or when you're in Lagos or Cairo, there's just a resilience and a love for life that you don't find anywhere else in the continent. My dad was an entrepreneur and there's so many people starting businesses all over the place and for me it's just the resilience and the innovation and the way people are able to solve problems that's always, always amazed me. And one of the reasons why I want the book is that when I went to business school here in the UK and I've studied business all over the world, we seem to want to learn from the big story, the big companies from Apple, Google, from Nokia, rightly so, I mean they are very big success stories, but I feel that there's a resilience in the African spirit, which is not captured in the literature and I think we pay the price of the Facebook to do. So where I believe you can learn a lot of things here in the west from African entrepreneurs are able to navigate the challenges and these are massive challenges from not having a house to live in, or not having any capital to start with, or not having any food to eat, but still people are able to navigate through completely ingenious and crazy ways even to get the business off the ground. Obviously a lot of failures and a lot of sad stories, but those that make it have a resilience that nobody else has in all of the world on this planet. And I'm always intrigued and I thought these are stories that have been, I've been lost, you know, and I felt that we need to learn for once in the left arm of the world, we need to turn the tables and land from Africa, and I believe that a story that we learn from Africa can inform us here in the west on how to navigate the entrepreneur journey, because I think, Jeff I said to you this before we started the conversation, there are 90% failure in entrepreneurship is not sensible, it is not good that 90% of businesses are still failing and I've seen how problems in the world in Africa have been solved by entrepreneurs and I love the problem that we face in the world here. So I believe entrepreneurship is the solution to a lot of the problems that we face.

Jeff Bullas

00:09:24 - 00:09:40

I think entrepreneurs are incredibly innovative and creative and I do agree with you too that it's good to hear the stories of the Amazons and the Nokias, the trouble is as humans, it's very hard to relate to that.

Steven Adjei

00:09:41 - 00:09:41

Yeah,

Jeff Bullas

00:09:42 - 00:10:51

But I think you know, I think we can relate more to the ordinary person that wants to make a difference that strikes out and wants to start a business to pay for his family to make his family life better, to make his life better or their life better. And I've heard some of the stories coming out of Africa regarding the innovation, regarding just using mobile phones to actually, and I'm not talking smartphones even I'm just talking about simple SMS phones, basic, I think 3G phones that are used to make payments, and also some other innovation. So the other one we talked about too which I found really great, I had heard about was the ability to use low cost drones to deliver medicine. So tell us about some of the most fascinating entrepreneurial stories you've heard when you've been in Africa. What are some of the most interesting examples of innovation from African entrepreneurs that inspire you?

Steven Adjei

00:10:52 - 00:14:37

Yeah, I mean obviously about drones that I've always loved about a company called Zipline, which was built in Africa and I was speaking to the Commercial Director just last week at a conference in London and I found it fascinating that somebody could even think of using a drone, you know, to fly in vaccines. This would be ahead in the UK and the US and in Australia because it's such a crazy idea that it's all in Africa that these things can come to life because people are desperate. I mean if somebody, there was a girl who was dying in I think it was Rwanda who needed blood urgently and the person have died within half an hour. If the Zipline wasn't in Africa like the whole of that, you know, and to be able to think of a way to fly vaccines or much needed medicines from one place to the other in half an hour with an unmanned drone is crazy. I mean the fact that somebody who sells coconuts, you can access the stock markets on his phone from the top of a tree, you know, and sell coconuts. I mean there's this guy who does coconuts and sell coconuts and he's able to access from his 3G phone on the top of the tree, you know, and he's cutting off coconuts of trees and selling it with his mobile phone, you know, in Ghana now for instance, we have what we call digital addresses. Okay, so now people don't use addresses anymore, in the UK we still have post codes which are fixed to a particular building. Okay, so now in Ghana you have what you call digital addresses, people just, you just have a number and a name into your phone and it tells you exactly where somebody's living, you can just drive there and that completely changed in Ghana. I was there last month and people were ordering food. Somebody lives in a hut somewhere and orders food from their mobile phone and just type in the number and the food will be there in 30 minutes, you know, and this is no address, you know, so people are able to use things in different ways that people cannot think of because of the incredible challenges. I think the challenge in Africa is moving those things now to the mainstream. You know, these are still on the fringes of the continent. I mean medicines deliveries, people are able to deliver medicines using motorbikes because people cannot get to the pharmacy, they're able to use motorbikes now to deliver medicines using a digital address and wherever you are in Accra, which is the capital of Ghana, you couldn't have your address, your medicine [can come] between half an hour, you know, these are things that are done, which seemed crazy in the west, but it's happening in Africa. And we just need to, the challenge now, like I said, it's moving these things into the mainstream, I mean, there are few companies that have achieved that is a company called Flutterwave in Africa now, deals with Fintech and mobile phone payments and innovation can take off the Sendwave. So Sendwave is one of the first companies in the world where you can send money across to anybody in Africa without a charge. Okay, so I sent money to my sister last month using Sendwave, no charge, you know, you just press a button within two minutes, it was in my sister's mobile phone accounts and I don't have to pay a dime to get that done. Now in wherever you are in the world, you want some money across to someone in the country, you have to pay a charge. In Africa, you don't, so these are innovations that are happening because of the challenges about nobody hears all of these things and that's what we must be passionate about in Africa.

Jeff Bullas

00:14:38 - 00:15:03

Well, I certainly think by listening to you as well that you don't learn from pleasure, you only learn from pain. Innovation generally comes out of solving a problem. So tell me a little bit about where did, you know, Steven’s entrepreneurial journey spark come from.

Steven Adjei

00:15:04 - 00:16:09

Yeah, and I think again that comes from Africa, obviously my dad was an entrepreneur and still an entrepreneur, built a lot of farm, went into farming and a combination of that, a combination of obviously the African spirit in me, of entrepreneur spirit in me and for me as a person, I'm naturally curious, I'm sure I want to know why is this happen, what can we do to make this better? I think a combination of that and maybe some genes, I don't know whether you think entrepreneurs are born or made, but in my case there's a gene there, which I tried to live a normal life, Jeff, I tried. I did my best to, and that's why I moved to lovely city, lovely wife, beautiful kids, lovely job, but I just couldn't do it after three or four years, there was just itch and it kept getting louder and louder and louder and until I finally gave in and went to business school and became an entrepreneur. So I think it's a combination of factors where I was born, my parents, my African genes and my natural curious and bends.

Jeff Bullas

00:16:10 - 00:16:17

So you said, I'm really curious about starting a business, so is that what drove you to go to business school?

Steven Adjei

00:16:18 - 00:17:22

Yes, yes, I lived in Africa obviously most of my life and I came to the west and I saw the stories on the news about kids with big bellies and house flies around their mouths and kids crying and I thought this is not the Africa that I knew, this Africa that I knew was Africa of joy of happiness. Oh yes of pain, yes of struggle, yes of all that and I'm not denying that that's all there. But when I came to the west and I saw Africa on TV and I saw the the mismatch between what I saw, what I experienced as a child and what I saw on TV and obviously people, the entrepreneurs in Africa that combining me, I'm supposed to be able to become an entrepreneur and to primarily solve the problems which I could see not just in Africa but also in the world and also intrigued to know why are so many of us failing as entrepreneurs, why so many businesses failing, why there's so many sad stories and that question me, I suppose, what may become an entrepreneur and also become an author, so I think that together.

Jeff Bullas

00:17:23 - 00:17:29

So you did your MBA. What happened after that?

Steven Adjei

00:17:30 - 00:18:38

Yeah, so I did my MBA. I had no idea I was doing an MBA, Jeff. My wife questioned my sanity at the time because we just bought a new house. My kids were quite young and my wife, I just started a new job and she questioned my sanity, I questioned my sanity, I said why do I have to do MBA but I thought I didn't have the skills that I needed to become an entrepreneur and I felt that if I wanted to become an entrepreneur, I want to do well. So I felt that it would be good to have very, one of the top business schools in the world and an MBA will give me the skills that I needed to become an entrepreneur and that wasn't completely off, it wasn't completely wrong, it was right. I learned a lot of stuff, made a lot of new friends, I was a mess in the new business world, but a lot of things that were taught in business school are correct, but a lot of things were left out and that's why when I qualified, I had all this zeal and I was gung ho and I wanted to go and change the world, change Africa, you know, do everything and I realized that when the rubber hit the road, there was a completely different story and that's why.

Jeff Bullas

00:18:39 - 00:18:42

So the reality gave the myth a smack in the face?

Steven Adjei

00:18:43 - 00:18:53

Absolutely. I've tried to use more colorful, colorful language, but I thought it best not to do that.

Jeff Bullas

00:18:54 - 00:20:06

So after the business school, is that when you started to start BlueCloud Health and you then immersed yourself in Africa in trying to help entrepreneurs start health-focused businesses, is that correct? So what are some of the stories from that and what did you learn by going to Africa, you've done your MBA and myths gets hit by reality. But what's great is you actually did step into reality. You didn't sort of say I've got an idea but didn't act on it. So you obviously acted on your idea. So you've got your MBA, you start building BlueCloud Health which your focus was to provide solutions to help businesses in sub-Saharan Africa. So tell us what happened after you finished your MBA and then decided to leap into the unknown of helping businesses in sub-Saharan Africa.

Steven Adjei

00:20:07 - 00:24:37

Yeah so I knew Africa was risky so I spent a lot of time so when I started off I was long distance. So I spent my last year researching what I wanted to do. So I came across this idea and did a lot of research on Africa and I realized that it was a messy Middle which was the middle class part of Africa which was booming at that time, Africa rising the fastest billion. And there was optimism. Even the economists came out with an article called ‘The Hopeful Africa’. So there was a hope there and I thought I would tap into that. So all that I did when I got a distinction for that research which I turned into an article afterwards, told us that there was a missing middle and that was where we need to focus on. Okay, so yeah, I did the research, we came up with five principles of investing in South Africa, and I said, yeah, this is it, we're gonna launch into it. So we went to Gung Ho, we started BlueCloud, opened offices in London and Dubai, opened an office in Johannesburg in South Africa and then went in to try to fund a business in Africa that needed funding incubating and that's when the problems began to happen. So the first years were brilliant. We located four or five businesses in Ghana and Angola, in Kenya and Botswana, Nigeria that we thought, yeah, it's a good fit for what our research did. We had a massive conference in Cape Town. We found more entrepreneurs than needed funding and then we started the process of building them up and presenting them to investors here in the UK, in Dubai, in the US but that's when we hit a snag and that's when we realized that Africa was ready. But the [inaudible] in the UK and in the US were not ready and there was a reason why and that we lost that reason in our research and the reason was that middle Africa was not being funded because they needed a lot of work. Okay, it wasn't just a matter of going in there, signing on the dotted line and throwing money at the problem. These guys need real help. They need help with strategy. They almost needed to be hand held, you know, and taught the basics of marketing, the basics of forming a company and no [inaudible] had time to do that and that's why those people we're getting left. And also there were the parts in my naivety of Africa, the black side which was true, there was the bribery, there was the corruption, there was a lack of good leadership and stable political systems, you know, that we didn't really, I knew it was there because when I was in Ghana there were coup d’etat all over the place. I mean there were people being murdered and shots and stuff so I knew that was there. But in my naivety of coming out of business school with fresh eyes. We sometimes put a parasite and so that part also hit us. So the first two years were great. The third year we ventured into more, risked our markets and we lost a lot of money through fraud and to being naive, lost tens of thousands of pounds. I nearly went bankrupt and that triggered epilepsy in me, I got really ill, I started getting fits, I crushed two brand new cars, end up in many. And then I lost my sister. Things took a really bad turn, really bad. I made some mistakes which I regret. I took some bad moral decisions, nearly with my marriage. And for 10 years, Jeff, I had no paycheck. I went completely broke, I couldn't even afford to take a bus to work, but luckily I was a pharmacist and I was working as a pharmacist then, so the basic income to sustain my family was still okay, but it meant that I lost a lot of money and I got myself into tens of thousands of pounds of debts and that was not a good thing to happen. So I basically feel the other point.

Jeff Bullas

00:24:38 - 00:25:04

So this despite your first book, Pay the Price, so in that book you revealed some things a business school doesn't tell you such as the different flags. Tell us about those flags you think that we as humans and as entrepreneurs come up against and challenge us. What are those flags?

Steven Adjei

00:25:05 - 00:33:30

So in Pay the Price. I realized that after going through the 10 year hiatus and all that stuff that there are three phases to entrepreneurship. Okay, and I put them in the book as the honeymoon phase, the formative phase and the legacy phase. Okay, so the honeymoon phase, what we're taught in business school. Ok, it's the passion, getting the plan, getting the mystery of the plan, validating your plan during your research, finding the market fits, the four P’s of marketing, all that stuff that were taught in business school. That is what we call the honeymoon phase, that prepares you and it's crucial actually to making sure that you succeed as an entrepreneur. So that honeymoon phase, which I call the person, purpose and passion of what we've got in business school.

But as we call the formative phase, which I talked about in the book, which one of them is pain, which you mentioned by the flags. And I realized that 90% of entrepreneurs fail at the formative phase, which is where we go through the pain. And basically I realized that there were four kinds of pain for my own experience and from working with hundreds of entrepreneurs, talking to hundreds of entrepreneurs in Africa and also in the US, in UK, there are four kinds of pain that every entrepreneur will go through whether you like it or not. Okay. And to make it easy, I classify those pains as flags, as colored flags. Okay. And I used the traffic lights system to make it easy to remember.

So there are four kinds of pain. The first kind of pain that we go through as entrepreneurs. We call the red flag pain and that's the pain of self sabotage. I use the red flag because it's a pain that when you're driving and you get to a red flag and you don't stop at the red flag, you will crush your car. If you crash your car, you're dead, your car is gone and you might escape or you might be dead. In business, if you get to a red flag and you don't stop, you will crush your business. That red flag is what you called self sabotage. Okay, so in my case, when I went through failure, I self sabotaged with bad moral decisions, pornography was my problem and procrastination. Some of the issues that I went through and lack of discipline. So some people is alcohol, some drugs, some of them are just procrastination, lack of discipline, not sticking to your plan. Those are already flat pain. Those are things that we do to ourselves. And a lot of entrepreneurs self sabotage and the only solution to that is to stop what you're doing, obviously, it's easier said than done, we need to recognize that these things that we're doing to ourselves are gonna destroy business and they destroyed many businesses in the past and we're not different from them and but somehow we think we're different, but it will also, and for me, I had to put myself through a very painful process of coming out of my red flag pain to be able to get myself back on track. And then you have what you call amber flag pain, which is the yellow flag pain or amber, as we say in the UK. And that is the misfits between you as the entrepreneur and the market you're trying to serve. In my case, I did all the research that I had to do to reach Middle Africa, but there was a mismatch, the companies that do funding, institutional funders, angel investors were not ready for the market for Middle Africa. So that was an amber flag pain. Ten years ago, there was practically no fund for Middle Africa. Now, it has changed. A lot of companies now are funding Middle Africa which is the space for between $200,000 to about $5 million. Now there are a plethora of companies there. 2022, they were ready, 2010, they were not ready. I was ahead of the markets by 10 years and most bad timing. So amber flag pain is just part timing and entrepreneur, it might just be a month, two months, three months, a year, four years, five years. But in it, there's always a waiting period and that is a match between you as entrepreneur and the markets and that's just be waiting and pivoting.

And then you have what we call green flag pain. Green flag pain is the pain that people tell us of ourselves, our self worth. So you might be an entrepreneur, you start your business and people tell you that you're gonna fail. It could be that you go for funding. The private equity guy who's sitting at the table tells you, Jeff or Steven, your business is no good. It's never gonna make it. This is a stupid idea. And I'll talk to you about flying drones to develop vaccines. It took them a very long time to raise the money because everywhere they went, Zipline, they could even get a country because every country they went around the world. So this is a stupid idea. What do you mean by flying drones? But they believed in the idea. And finally it was wonder that took them on and said, yes, we wanted to try this, but it kept going because they believed in the idea. They believed it was possible. So a green flag pain, you keep going. People tell you bad things about it. People tell you things, this is not gonna work. You tell yourself things are not gonna work. Your brain tells you this is not gonna work, but you gotta about that's a green flag pain. And it means that you keep going. It's a green flag when you're driving, you get your green flag, you don't stop, light is green, you don't stop, you may have to pay what's and some traffic lights, you see a green flag, green light with an arrow, you have to tell them rights and business person, but you're still going, you might have two pivots.

And the final thing is what we call white flag pain. When you see a white flag, it means surrender. I got this from when I went, in Africa, actually I went to this restaurant in Botswana, lovely restaurant, and what they do is they said you meat okay and there's all kinds of meat you can think of and some of them meats I won't mention here because it's a bit but you said, they said all kinds of meats and they give you a white flag. And the white flag is on your table. They keep bringing you the meats until you put a white flag on your plate. That tells the waiter. Okay, I surrender. I'm not gonna have any more meats and they don't give you any more meats and that's where I got the idea from. A white flag is things that happen to you that are unfair. You have to surrender to them. In my case, it was getting epilepsy. I used to, I love driving and I love fast cars. I love turn up the stereo. I love Graham and rap music. I loved having to turn up the music when I'm driving and I annoy people around me, but the loud music. I loved it. I love new cars. But when I had epilepsy, I crashed my car twice, end up in an alley, and sometimes I'm having a meeting with people or I'll go for work and I'll just have a fits, I'll start filming them off. I'll be having a bath sometime. I mean my wife has had to give me so many times from having a fit when I was in the bath.

I have to accept that. That's a white flag pain. I could either become a victim and cry like a baby. So yeah, epilepsy, I can't do this anymore, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. But that life is unfair. What do I do? You surrender to it. I surrender, I surrender, Jeff, that I have epilepsy. I can't drive to the airport anymore. I have to take the bus. I wasn't rich enough to afford a chauffeur. So I have to take the bus, had to walk to work. So I have to pivot. And that has added a few years, a few more inconveniences to my dream, but it's a white flag, accept it. I walk with it and I move on. These are the four pains and most entrepreneurs fail and had one of these four pains and that finishes a lot of dreams.

Jeff Bullas

00:33:31 - 00:33:43

That's quite an insight from your book, Pay the Price. So where are we up to today with BlueCloud Health and where's your focus in 2022?

Steven Adjei

00:33:44 - 00:36:55

So I want to continue. So funny, I don't know why that pain happened to me. So for nine years I had no paycheck. It was dead. But the stuff that I had in the honeymoon phase which I talked about my person, my purpose and my passion were still strong. There was this voice inside me that still told me that what you're doing is the right thing. It will work, it is good, it will work. I just had to be patient. So for 10 years, I had no paycheck, went bankrupt but my sister died suddenly and as people are in the diaspora we always have what you call the fear of the early morning call. So most of us in Africa are always ready when you have a phone call. You pick up your phone and it's from where you are from, it could be Jamaica, London, Australia, wherever you are in the world. You get a call in the morning in Africa because most and I had that call in the morning from my mother and my mother was crying on the phone, she said to me Steven, your sister is dead, you just lost your sister. So she died suddenly, how to fly to Africa to go out to bury her. When I buried her, it was the very next morning I had a phone call from a multi million dollar company in Ghana that wanted medicines and that was directed to BlueCloud. So I picked up again suddenly if my sister hadn't died, which given what I call white flag pain is unfair. If my sister hadn't died, if I hadn't gone to Ghana and buried my sister, I wouldn’t have that phone call, I wouldn't have had this company. So from that was directed the company again and that gave me the impetus to continue what I was doing.

So the focus for 2022 to come to your question, we're going to do more of what we're doing. So the focus is to reach more countries in Africa with BlueCloud and to make sure that more entrepreneurs in Africa benefit from the new funding that's coming into the continents and also want to help entrepreneurs all over the world. I am still very saddened by the number of failures, not just in Africa but across the world. And I believe that from the two that I've learned in business school and from my own life experiences and from the popularity of the book, I mean the book went to #1 on Amazon in 18 categories within two days. It was a best seller. Book records for the publisher within two days, it was a bestseller. So my focus is to use the book, they used the book to talk about pain of entrepreneurs, to encourage entrepreneurs not to give up to make sure they have a strong honeymoon phase to reach more countries in Africa and also to use writing and podcast to encourage more entrepreneurs not to give up because I have family believe that if solutions to the world, entrepreneurs are fun I 100% believe that and I know you do, Jeff and for me that's my focus.

Jeff Bullas

00:36:56 - 00:38:32

So your mission continues. Mission is to help African entrepreneurs realize their dreams

Steven Adjei

00:37:11 - 00:37:37

And even beyond Africa the UK to the US to the Middle East. So for all entrepreneurs to know that when you go to that pain period as far as your honeymoon period and I need to stress that as far your honeymoon period is strong, so for us, you have a good idea, you believe in your way or do you have the passion, that honeymoon period is crucial. So far as your honeymoon period is strong, you will succeed when you go to the pain. So you need to make sure, and I talk about in the book that you make sure your foundations for building your company need to be strong because there's the honeymoon period that will sustain you through the pain. If your honeymoon period is weak, there is no way you will make it, you will fail, you know, it's like a marriage. You talk about the honeymoon because when things go difficult in a marriage, you can go back and remember why you fell in love with your wife, why all that stuff that you went through when you were on Barbados by the beach. You know those things, you remember them and that's why we go to counseling, they ask you, do you remember the first time you fell in love? You know that honeymoon phase is crucial for every entrepreneur to make sure you don't fail. It could take five years, 10 years, 12 years but if your honeymoon period is strong you will succeed in the end.

Jeff Bullas

00:38:33 - 00:39:00

So keep embracing the mission. Are there any final tips you'd like to leave to people that are on the entrepreneurial journey that, you've mentioned quite a few, but are there a couple of tips that you would like to restate or tell us about that you think are really, really important for any entrepreneur?

Steven Adjei

00:39:01 - 00:42:57

Two things I'd like to say, Jeff, and thank you for this question. It's something that's been on my heart. There are two more things that I've mentioned, the first thing is your legacy. Okay, so being an entrepreneur is not just about making money, it's not just about you becoming rich or looking after a family. These are all importance, but the crucial thing is your legacy and in the book, Pay the Price. I talk about the four kinds of legacy that the average entrepreneur can leave.

The first kind of legacy you can leave is that of a philanthropist. Okay, so a philanthropy means that obviously you are a good, a bit like Jimmy Carter or Bill Gates, you leave a lot of things behind for people. But philanthropy is not just the only thing that you can leave. So a philanthropist basically has to live in a good legacy for people. There's also what we call the purist. So an example of philanthropy, leave a legacy by being a purist, someone who leaves a legacy solely through the company that he founded or the lead. Steve Jobs is an example of that. Okay, so Steve Jobs, we don't think of Steve Jobs as a philanthropist, Steve Jobs legacy is Apple. Okay, so people are inspired to Steve jobs to Apple, that's another kind of legacy that you leave.

Okay, there’s also a legacy called profligate which is a legacy that is a wasted legacy. Okay, Jeffrey Epstein is one of them. Okay, he wasted his legacy through his bad company and a bad personal legacy. That's what we call the legacy profligate and the final legacy, which I believe that every entrepreneur should aspire for, were called the legacy of a Pathfinder. Pathfinder as legacy. He leaves a legacy through his personal life of being a philanthropist, being an example and also a legacy through his business and I use Strive Masiyiwa, he’s an African. He's the first black billionaire in the UK, the Zimbabwean. And he's living a legacy through his company, which is called, Econet Global, which has built the biggest economic telecoms in Africa. And also he's living a legacy through his personal life, through philanthropy. He is sponsored by 100,000 Africans who are often to get a good education. He's working with Virgin to get a better carbon free world. He do work with Gates, he does work with farmers. So the legacy should always path as part of the legacy of Pathfinder, which is a good business and being a good person. So when you're entrepreneur, you started on your journey needs to always remember the legacy that you're leaving, not just the money that you're making but the legacy. And that's one of the things that I like to leave. And the second thing is that we need to get inspiration from everything around us. So in the book, I talk about legacy, getting inspiration from poetry, music, from things that we don't normally notice. And so entrepreneurs, we need to cut out our next wide, I mean I have a Spotify list for instance, I have music that I listen to when I'm down. So we need to look beyond just traditional business books and listening to business people and spend our net wide into poetry, music, into nature and all these things. All these things pay a very huge parts in success.

So those are the two things I'd like to leave, look at outside business and leaving a good legacy.

Jeff Bullas

00:42:56 - 00:43:50

Thank you for sharing your insights, Steven. It's been absolutely wonderful. And I think that being an entrepreneur is a long journey. It's a creative journey. It's being resilient as you've mentioned before. And I think sometimes it's wrapping up the pain and using that to keep us going. Because there's always tomorrow and that's hard to see when in the middle of pain and we all have friends, we all go through it. The pain seems that draggers feels like it drags us to the edge of the Abyss. And we need to surround ourselves with people that inspire us with stories that inspire us and thank you very much for sharing those stories.

Steven Adjei

00:43:51 - 00:44:14

Thank you, Jeff, you've been an inspiration to me. I've learned a lot to your podcasts. I never knew how podcasts could happen. I listened to your podcast about Brandon and you've been a personal inspiration to me and I feel myself very privileged to be able to spend spend time with you. I have learned a lot from you and thank you so much for your doing, and I hope that you keep going.

Jeff Bullas

00:44:14 - 00:44:17

Thanks for being on the show and thank you very much for your kind words.