General Interviews


Written by #TheAATS

AKPOVETA is the Leadership & Management Development Strategist at The AVT Place. He has written a number of life-inspiring books, including The Sycharian Well and Breaking the Sacred Spark. Through his books, publications, audios, conferences, as well as individual, team and organisational trainings which are held several times each year, he shares revolutionary thoughts and empowers people to challenge conventional wisdom and identify, with the aim of breaking through, limiting patterns that have kept them locked at different points.

In this interview, he shares his opinion on why it seems principles that have worked elsewhere don’t work out in Nigeria and he advised budding leaders to dare to fail. Hello, who is Akpoveta Valentine?
AVT: AKPOVETA, Valentine ‘Tejiri is the Leadership and Management Development Strategist at The AVT Place. He is passionate about people finding and fulfilling purpose. He believes that the fulfillment of purpose ultimately finds expression in leadership in various forms and his teachings, using the principles of KinetoLeadership, help to fine-tune that sense of leadership and the immense results that it brings for individuals, teams and organisations. What is KinetoLeadership?

AVT: KinetoLeadership is, simply defined, the dynamics of leadership. And it is built on Five Foundational Codes with two supporting Codes. Interesting. I take it that helping people learn how to decode these codes is one of the things you do at The AVT Place. What other things do you help people learn?

AVT: Can we be better leaders? Yes. Is it even important that we be better leaders? Yes.
And what if we choose not to, are there consequences? Yes. Are there any positive returns that prove a case for why knowledge of sound leadership principles should be a requirement for everyone? A whole lot. These premises set the tone for what The AVT Place sets out to do. To help people be better leaders in whatever sphere they are, and gain immensely while at it. How would you describe a purpose driven life?

AVT: I often ask a question… Is everything you are doing right now necessary for the future you envision for yourself? A purpose driven life is one that asks this question time and time again. It is one thing to discover purpose. It is another thing to be driven by and to the fulfillment of discovered purpose. A purpose driven life asks, am I doing right now what I should be doing right now, and if the answer is a lot of “no’s”, then it makes the necessary adjustments. How do we identify purpose and focus on achieving the identified purpose?

AVT: When it comes to discovering purpose, I usually recommend my book, THE GIFT OF DISCOVERY. It contains two tests that help. The Passions, Causes & Strengths Test and The Four-Way Test of Purpose. When it comes to focusing on achieving purpose, there are a lot of habits that help. Of all of them, surrounding yourself with the right kinds of people ranks the highest. How ready you are to stretch your learning curve is also very key. Did you set out to become a life coach? What were your childhood dreams?

AVT: I think my childhood dreams led me to where I am today. Once, I wanted to be an engineer. Another time, I wanted to be an artist. At different times, I wanted to be different things. I think, in growing, I realized that if I had discovered purpose early enough, I would not have been living life like a lotto. And that influenced why I do what I do. The realization that people do not need to unnecessarily waste time in finding purpose, and that it doesn’t have to be a “innie-minnie-mannie-mo” game. Leadership is something I grew to realise as key after reading a lot of Maxwell’s books. He was one of my earliest influences. The merging of both is what defines what I do now. Explicitly, what are your thoughts on youth leadership in Nigeria?

AVT: It leaves a lot to be desired. Frankly. We have not reached the critical mass where responsible leadership begins to take on a life of its own amongst youth. Do you think the environment – educational system, economic structure, family etc is enabling enough for youth leadership development?

AVT: This is a typical Chicken and Egg question. The environment didn’t make itself. People made the environment. To admit that the environment isn’t healthy enough is to say that we are at the perpetual mercy of people. If people are fixed, the environment will be fixed. If the environment is fixed, it would make it easier to groom people. At some point, we must realize where to break into the cycle and see if we can change it to a virtuous one where the results feed off themselves. Trying to pinpoint which one is responsible one is responsible for what, might not be the solution in this case. Do you follow politics? What is your perspective on Nigeria’s politics?

AVT: I’m sure you want us to end this interview in some minutes time. If I answer that question, we would be here till February 1, 2017 and I would just be getting started. Next question. Oh. Well, the next question will still keep us on the political scene but I am sure it won’t take time like the other one. Name calling and blame game are common features of politics in Nigeria, what effect(s) do you think these have on leaders and the led?

AVT: Oh dear me. You really are interested in getting me really started tonight. I am literally having to bite my tongue. I mean literally. I would just give this short answer. I hope it suffices. We would not get anywhere with it. Since it seems all economic models; ideas and all other theories for development have failed in Nigeria, what do you think Nigeria and Nigerians should do (focus on) to help her achieve her self acclaimed giant of Africa status.

AVT: I do not think they have failed. I was discussing this with my friend recently. Principles are universal. However, and this is my first point, their applications in different places may vary slightly. I think we import solutions just like that without regard to how to ADAPT them to our peculiar situation. That marked lack of adaptability is a terrible problem. You don’t pick up something you saw in a book or a journal or which one social scientist says worked in a different environment and apply it to the Nigerian environment without adaptation and expect it to work. No two scenarios are exactly the same. And when it comes to Nigeria, that difference is often more pronounced.
The second point is the lack of follow-through. We try this, it doesn’t seem to be working as fast as we want it to, we dump it and adopt another one. Not follow-through. No continuity. And this is a challenge. If we can fix the area of adaptability… And then learn to commit [of course, after the use of pilot projects, rather than sinking huge funds into what we would eventually find had always been a disaster waiting to happen] we would be the happier for it. What advise do you have for budding leaders from all walks of life?

AVT: Dare to fail fast, learn the important lessons- the RIGHT lessons, apply them, grow, document your growth [very, very, very key and one area we are lacking in Africa] and pass these valuable lessons to upcoming leaders. You see, following this path alone has so much ripple effects for future generations that the results are just mind-boggling. Honestly.
One generations learns from the previous, evolves, adapts, passes the lessons, and the next generation takes up from there. I think this is called LeapFrogging in development.

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