Olawale Joseph Lawal, a.k.a. Mr. Perfect , graduated with First Class Honours from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, in 2010. However, the man who graduated top of his class decided to follow a deep conviction for media and eventually has turned out to be a serial entrepreneur. In this in-depth interview with OnBecomingAMan.com, he shares his inspiring story of courage, passion for souls, and lots more. Enjoy reading!
Please tell us about yourself and what you do
My name is Lawal Olawale Joseph. Perfect is the name I adopted.
I am a Christian and lover of God. I am the CEO of WiGRadio (Wisdom Gate Radio), an online Gospel radio station saddled with the responsibility of reaching the world with Good News. By the grace of God, we’ve been able to reach over 110 countries since inception. I’m also the CEO of Wisdom Gate TV, an online Gospel Television, and WiG Properties, a real estate firm. I also serve as the Director of WiG Media Institute, which is a media training organization, and several other organizations which are under Wisdom Gate Communications. I see myself as a serial entrepreneur. I am passionate about the media and entrepreneurship.
When and what made you decide you were going to become a Christian media practitioner/entrepreneur?
As early as 2004, I already knew I had a passion for the media. I felt I could leave a mark. Whilst studying Biochemistry at the University of Lagos, I remember telling my course mates that I wasn’t a Biochemist. I decided to continue because of my background in the Science, though I knew I might not practice. So, whilst serving under the National Youth Service Corps programme, I prayed and trusted God to show me the next step and phase of this journey. The normal thing would have been to go back to lecture at the Biochemistry department, especially since I graduated at the top of my class with a First Class degree. I meant to do that, but while I was praying, the Spirit of God laid it on my heart that He would not have me go back to Biochemistry. Instead, he had an assignment for me in the media. This was substantiating what I already knew as far back as 2004. So, I decided to go back for a Postgraduate Diploma in Mass Communication to get myself prepared and equipped for that particular assignment.
When I went for the Post-graduate Diploma in Mass Communication, my eyes were opened and I saw more reasons why we needed Christians in the media. I saw some of the rot in the media sector, and I realised that there was no point in sitting down, folding my arms and praying that God would do something about it. After the completion of my PGD, I prayed again and the Spirit of God laid it in my heart that it was time to start a radio station. Then, I felt God didn’t know what it meant to start up a radio station in Nigeria, because on looking at my bank account, I realised that all I had then was just 200 Naira – less than a dollar, even at that time!
I took the first step and the next, and with a group of committed team members, wonderful people, and of course with faith and God’s backing, we were able to start up our first broadcast and it’s been wonderful. We have continued to make progress on a daily basis since then.
How did your family react/respond to your decision to venture into Christian media?
Any parent would think, “Oh, my child finished with a first class, he should either go to the bank or to an oil company.” In fact, one of my dad’s dreams was that I would go back to study Medicine, you know, the hope of, “My son is a medical doctor”. But when I was convinced about my decision. What I did was that I told myself that I would rather pay attention to what I believe in my heart. It wasn’t about my family, but it was all about me and my personal relationship with God.
I remember one early morning, my dad called me to ask, “What exactly is the correlation between Biochemistry and Mass Communication?” That day I tried to form some things, but I am not good at lying. But I had conviction. I believe that there are some people reading this interview, who for one reason or the other are in the wrong environment, not because they want to be in such places, but because they are afraid of certain people. I believe you need to get to the point where you tell yourself that “I need to do what I believe I should do”.
I went ahead with the PGD with no support from anybody. When my parents saw that I was convinced about what I was doing, they began to support me, even though they were skeptical initially. I remember paying the acceptance fee by myself. When it was time to pay my tuition, they were like, “Come, we need to help this guy”. This reminds me of a scripture: “Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.” (Habk. 2:2, NLT)
The vision will surely speak, though it tarries. Now, they can see that the vision is speaking. I remember the first time my parent appeared in the national dailies because of the influence of one of my friends who had seen something I posted about them on Facebook. They were very happy as they never thought something like that could/would happen. This was because of my going in the direction of what I wanted to do. So, they’ve been very supportive. The current WiGRadio studio used to be my dad’s office, although it started from inside my room, on my bed. My dad let us make use of his former office, and he hasn’t collected rent from us.
How supportive has your family been to your calling?
I will say that parents and siblings supporting the vision of their loved ones goes a long way. My family has been very supportive of the vision. I can imagine that if they hadn’t given me that support at that point in time, WiGRadio might not have been able to achieve all that we have achieved so far.
Another set of people that constitute my family are the WiGRadio team. I usually say that they are the best team on planet earth. Most of the exploits we record in WiGRadio is because of the great things that these wonderful people do. Some of them are not seen, but I can tell you that they are indeed awesome and they are the real brains behind the great things we achieve daily.
Please describe a typical day as a Christian Media entrepreneur and what the life entails?
I usually wake up sometimes at about between 4:30 to 5, 5:30 or thereabout. I start by observing my personal devotion. I prepare breakfast on days that I am not fasting.
I must resume at work between 7:30 – 7:45am and that gives me enough time to get to work, rest and reflect and pray at work before I come up with my broadcast for the day which begins at 8am every day. After that, I go into my personal office where I have the opportunity of receiving guests. Our wonderful staff continues with the remaining broadcast for the day. The day is always packed full with several activities, you know. There are always so many things to do. We also have some sponsored programmes that we run. While all these are going on, I am always glued to my headset. I make sure I am listening to every programme to ensure that it meets spiritual and professional standards. We also run training classes for the WiGRadio Media Institute from 11:45 am to 2:45pm. After that, I have enough time to rest. Somewhere in between, I’m reminded to eat if I haven’t eaten from home. I forget to do so sometimes due to my focus on work.
Sometimes, I can have a couple of meetings outside the studio when I need to meet with people or make some phone calls. Occasionally, I meet clients that we need to do external broadcasts for. I ensure that I close no later than 6pm and take my journey back home. When I get back home in the evening, I prepare dinner and then catch up with friends and family on social media. I ensure that daily, I interact with at least one person that I have not spoken with in a long time, including WiGRadio family members. I try to ensure that I follow up on their spiritual growth and personal life.
I sleep off and I wake up by 12 am to pray. After that, I sometimes reflect and plan for the next day and also prepare the wisdom bank. Then I go to sleep. Weekends are sometimes much busier because of external broadcasts. The only day that I think I give myself a day off is Friday.
What steps did you take towards actualizing your goal to become a Christian media entrepreneur?
The first major step that I took was to spend quality time in prayer. In fact, this is the one aspect of the story that a lot of people are not aware of. WiGRadio started on 1st of March, 2013. Towards the end of the year 2012, I spent about almost 3 months fasting and praying. I did a 40-day fast and prayer twice and another for 21 days. It was a wonderful year for me spiritually. It was a year of spiritual growth and God helped me.
Fasting helped me grow in my walk with God. My eyes of understanding were enlightened that I might be able to know what exactly I was supposed to do at that point in time. The place of prayer cannot be over-emphasized. And then there’s the place of wonderful teammates. No matter how much God has spoken to you, you must also understand that there are people that God wants you to work with. Your ability to recognize them is very important. One of the things God has helped me to do is when I meet with people, I just know that this person is part of the vision. God has blessed us with wonderful people. At the risk of sounding boastful, I will say I am a man that believes that there is nothing impossible. In fact, that’s one of our slogans: “Be careful what you call impossible”.
There are times that we come up with a particular idea of what we want to do and we give no thought to how it’s going to happen. It might look far-fetched and unattainable, but we tell ourselves that it is possible.
With a mixture of prayer, faith, believing that all things are possible and with wonderful team mates, I think that any Christian business person can go to any height.
How do you fund operations for WiGRadio and other initiatives under your organisation?
We have been primarily faith-funded since inception. We trust God for all our needs. In fact, I will never forget times that we were pushed to the wall and felt that this cannot continue. I have learnt early enough that whenever there are financial needs like that, I just get on my knees in the place of prayer. I enter the studio and I tell God, “I did not tell myself I wanted to do these things. You were the one that asked me to do these things. I had my life laid out ahead of me and I knew what I wanted to do. So, you must open my eyes to see your way of provision.” And, you know, at such times an idea will just drop and by the time I do it, money would come in. Other times, God would just lay it in the heart of somebody who would then give me a call, “Oh, Mr Perfect, please send me your account number, or send me the account number of WiGRadio.” Things like that; and our needs are met. They have always been met.
It’s not just about sitting down all the time expecting somebody to call and to provide the money. Some of the time, one needs to also think outside the box, think of business ideas. So, it means that one needs to get the money. That’s why I said I am a serial entrepreneur. I have done as many businesses as possible. If it’s legal, ethical and not going to harm anybody, I am always willing to do it. There was a time that I started selling land. I got an opportunity to do so with some acres outside Lagos. Money was coming in and there was this understanding that I had which is, the money wasn’t there so that I can boast to people and prove that I have arrived. It was there to enable us fund the work of God in WiGRadio. It could get challenging sometimes, but I can tell you that God has never failed us and He will never fail us.
How did you plan to ensure sustainability of your idea from the onset?
Sincerely, I never thought about the sustainability initially, I just knew that we have started and we would go all out for it. It was more of a step of faith. I didn’t know how all of those things were going to happen. I only knew that, for me, this is God. So, there was no way I could say these were the steps that we took at the beginning to ensure sustainability. But if you ask me how we’re doing that now, it’s grooming people to help them develop their capacity.
We know fully well that as we keep developing others, these people will be the ones that will continually uphold that which we are doing. We have alumni who have gone on to other aspects of the media and are doing great and wonderful things. They have gotten employed in various places.
At WiGRadio, we allow people to come the way they are. Most of those we receive don’t know much about the media and we train them. We invest time, energy and effort and, at the end of the day, they become professionals and are always there to sustain that which we are doing, but, most importantly, God is our sustainer.
What are the top 3 lessons you have learned in your journey as an entrepreneur?
Treat people right, treat people well and you will get the best out of them. I can say that more of the things that I see around me today are a result of knowing how to manage relationships with people. I have learnt that if we should manage people well, you can get anything from them; people will be willing to go to any length to help you achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve.
I have also learnt to put my faith in God, you know. Taking a step is very much important than just sitting down. There are a lot of people who have great ideas, have written them down, and talk about all those things. If they don’t take any step, even though it’s God speaking, nothing will happen. For us, it’s always been a step of faith, which is why we are where we are today.
I didn’t allow the fact that I had just 200 Naira prevent me from taking that step. Today, we have been able to employ several staff, with a couple of people on salary. We have people doing broadcast work for us from outside Nigeria and have been able to reach over 110 countries. We have been in different parts of Nigeria for live broadcast. I just look at all of these things and I am grateful to God. My greatest happiness comes when I look at people that God has blessed us with and those to whom we are also a blessing.
Are you married?
I am not married yet.
Do you intend to get married?
Of course, I intend to get married. You know, the Bible says that it is not good for a man to be alone. So, I am at that point in my life where I realize that I need a help-meet who will help me actualize more of that which I have started just like Adam. He was busy working in the garden and God gave him Eve and through her, he was able to actualize more of God’s plan and purpose.
How has your work as a missionary, Christian media entrepreneur, amongst other hats, impacted your relationships and preparation for marriage?
Well, I know that there was a time I was in a relationship and that relationship did not work out because I was a workaholic. But by the Grace of God, I am more balanced now and I trust God to get married sometime soon, according to the will of God.
Any other thing you would like to share with us?
With faith, all things are possible.
I’m also an author. I’ve written about 5 books. “Be Careful What You Call Impossible” is a best seller. About more than 5,000 copies of it out in circulation. “We are not Here to Play” is a book on purpose discovery. “You will See What will Become of My Dream” was my first book. I wrote that book when I was in my final year at the University of Lagos. Then there’s “Do not despise your days of little beginnings“. “I Believe in Miracles” is my latest book.
Thank you so much, Mr. Perfect, for your time and inspiration!