Interview With Best Selling Nigerian-Canadian Author Yahaya Baruwa

Today's interview is with Yahaya Baruwa who is one of North America's youngest bestselling author. He is originally from Nigeria but is now based in Canada.

Tayo Rockson: Can you talk to us about your background and childhood?

Yahaya Baruwa: Yes sure! I was born and raised in northern Nigeria. Kano state to be specific but I immigrated along with my family to Toronto, Canada at the age of 12 to pursue greater opportunities both academically and career-wise. Also, I am one of 8 siblings. 

TR: Eight?! Wow that's a big family.

YB: Haha Yes indeed.

TR: You have a very inspiring story can you tell me about a time when you were challenged and how you overcame it?

YB: Absolutely! I was challenged (indirectly) in 2012 by a famous internet marketer when I first became a published author. He basically said that without much authority that, “one can not succeed financially as an author.” This was upsetting to me because as you can imagine I was upset to have heard that. It can be quite discouraging to hear someone cast doubts on your vision. Fortunately though, I was not deterred. I said to myself that yes he is a famous internet marketer and I respect him for being good at what he does. However, I will not heed his advice on something as unfamiliar for him as becoming a financially successful author.

I overcame this by ignoring his comments and began instead to dedicate full attention towards my book. I worked hard and kept a close mind to nay-sayers who said negatively about achieving success in the publishing world. Today, I have not achieved my goal of selling 1 million copies of my novel, nor have I become a millionaire yet, but I am getting closer everyday. I have continued to achieve above average financial success while making a positive impact in the lives of thousands of readers every year and that's really important to me.

I had a vision to touch, move and inspire 1 million readers with the courage to take the first step towards achieving their positive goals in life, and in the process sell 1 million copies of my novel, Struggles of a Dreamer: the Battle between a Dream and Tradition.  And as a personal reward of having served my readers, I would achieve my personal goal of becoming a self-made millionaire - to improve the quality of life for my family and community.

TR: That's amazing! Speaking of impact what type of impact do you see immigrants making in the future?

YB: Hmmm. Well from my personal experience, Immigrants can impact their new country both economically and socially. These men and women arrive from their former countries, not only with their pieces of luggage but with hope and a burning desire to make their sacrifices of leaving everything they know, behind worth it. They usually have an intense work ethic driven by an ambition and if channeled in the right way, this can bring about economic benefits due to increased production in quality, labour and service. I can see them being entrepreneurs. Also from a social perspective, the new country benefits from a diversity that enriches its national identity.

TR: OK. Let's talk about your book. What is it about?

YB: My novel Struggles of a Dreamer: the Battle between a dream and tradition is about the stories of Tunde, a beggar on the streets of New York City, and Toku’te, the son of a farmer in a faraway land. The two stories are woven together in a charming tale full of intriguing characters and adventure. You will encounter the struggles of a dreamer as he faces the challenges of the limiting boundaries of his tradition. You will laugh, cry, experience romance, be frightened, and be held in suspense as you find out how Toku’te manages to remain afloat in a world that requires everyone to fit the same mold.

TR: Spoken like a true writer!

YB: Haha I try.

TR: So what inspired you to write the book?

YB: The book was inspired by a misunderstanding that I had with my father. As a second year student at York University, I decided to write a book as a challenge. For me it was to achieve a goal I had set for myself which is to like I said earlier touch, move and inspire 1 million readers with the courage to achieve their positive goal(s) in life or goals they have procrastinated on. However, my father urged me to focus on school and not be distracted. I took that to mean “do not pursue your dream of writing a book.” As a result, I became angry and decided to write the book in secret. This misunderstanding inspired with the theme of the novel. Fortunately, the relationship with my father has flourished as a result of writing and publishing my novel.

TR: Now this book led to your business. Can you talk about that also?

YB: The novel has made me a hybrid of both an author and business man. Unlike traditionally published authors who have a publisher or publishers, I established my own publishing company, Tapestry House Publishing. Hence, not only do I write my novels, I also lead the production, distribution and marketing of my novels.

**Note: Struggles of a Dreamer is a 3-part book series with part-2 scheduled for release in early 2015.

TR: That's impressive! You touched on something I agree with there. The idea that we all need to pursue our dreams. Why do you think it is important for us to be dreamers?

YB: It is really important to be a dreamer. Think about it. Nothing in the world today was accomplished without someone having dreamt of it first. This is the only way that the seemingly impossible can become possible. But I also strongly believe that in addition to being a dreamer, one must be active and take action. A dream without doing anything to realize it is just that- a dream. In fact it is nothing but a wish. To quench your thirst, you must stand up and go to the tap and get water, it is a waste of time to wait for the water to come to you.

TR: Love it! What is one quote you live by?

YB: “Keep going no matter what.” - Reginald F Lewis

TR: If you could give 11 year old you any piece of advice what would it be?

YB:  I'll use a Warren Buffett quote to answer that question. More of a paraphrase really. Find a really big hill, gather as many snow flakes as you can, make a snow ball and start rolling it down the hill. Your time is finite, the earlier your start, the bigger your snowball

TR: Deep! On that note i'll conclude the interview and thank you for your time today. how can people reach you?

YB: Thank you for this opportunity Tayo and people can reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn, my website, or via email on

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A Conversation About Employability

I had the pleasure of talking to one of my mentors earlier in the year about life and this is the conversation that came out of it.

Tayo Rockson: To those that don’t know you, can you tell us about yourself? Your journey so far in life? So both your personal and business paths. Also, please discuss some of the obstacles you have had to overcome to get to where you are today.

Gregg Nelson: My name is Gregg Nelson and I am currently a sales executive at a social learning company.  I grew up in California, the son of a military dad and stay at home mom.  After high school I attended DePaul University were I earned a degree in Industrial / Organizational Psychology and Communications. 

My journey through life has been positive overall.  Personal obstacles that I have had to overcome do not really consist of all that many.  My parents divorced when I was around 12 years old so there was difficulty in adjusting to the new family dynamic.  I am also an only child which meant I didn’t really have any outlet if I needed one.  I put myself through college working part time sales jobs which I enjoyed, but would have rather enjoyed “the campus life”.  Looking back on it now, I am proud that I was able to accomplish that feat even though it saddled me with enormous debt. 

From a business perspective, I really cannot complain either.  I wish early on I could have had a mentor to help me navigate the business world and provide that wisdom and experience.  In terms of obstacles to overcome in business.  Just being in sales and management there are daily obstacles to overcome!! I Just have to persevere.  Buddha said “ Every morning we are born again.  What we do today is what matters most”.  I believe that is a positive frame of mind to have both personally and in business.

TR: So you have worked at quite a few places. (Dell, etc) how did you go about determining the best place for you to work?

GN: Over my 16 or so years, I have had the opportunity to work for great organizations and managers.  Before I joined Dell I worked in finance and it was a client of my wife who was attempting to recruit her to join Dell.   She was not interested, but referred them to me and the rest is history.  I really enjoyed my Dell days and the people I worked with and for. 

From Dell on I have been recruited for larger positions with greater responsibilities.  In an effort to grow and learn more, I am currently earning my MBA in Management & Strategy which I hope to complete by Q1 2014.  It is important to understand what you are looking for and what you expect to learn and get out of your employment with a particular organization.  They all have strengths and weaknesses but it is up to the individual.

TR: Why do you think a lot of people aren't happy where they work today?

GN: I think there are those that love what they do and enjoy their work.  Others and probably a lot feel they are stuck.  Could be that expectations were either too high or too low, level of work isn’t challenging enough or too challenging, no upward mobility as perhaps believed, fear of having to start over and perhaps come to the same conclusion etc... For those who are in school perhaps utilize the university career services more to better understand your major and what the “real world” is like for the career you are choosing. 

TR: Can you discuss the importance of people building skills especially in today’s world?

GN: Having developed and strong interpersonal and communication skills are essential for both personal and business life.  Continue to practice them by reading, get involved in networking groups that allow for face to face communication and also LinkedIn.   

TR: What is one piece of advice you can give to young entrepreneurs today?

GN: Find mentors who have experienced the successes and failures of starting a new business or developing an idea into a product or service.  That experience is priceless and can save you money and time.  Lastly, do not think that you know everything.


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Cynthia Johnson- Giving Back Through Social Media


Today's interview is with Cynthia Johnson. Cynthia is a marketing professional with work experience in the entertainment, marketing and digital advertising industry.  

Cynthia currently hosts a Social Media Marketing chat on Twitter,#TheSMGirl.  The chat is every Monday at 1PM (PST) and discusses Social Media Marketing, getting a job in Social Media and answers basic how-to Social Media questions. One of the ways she gives back is by raising people's awareness about Social Media.

Cynthia also runs Social Media Marketing communities and groups on LinkedIn and Google Plus.  The LinkedIn group is TheSMGirl and the Google Plus community is TheSMGirl as well.

You can read Cynthia's Social Media blogs and and follow her on Twitter at @CynthiaLive 

Enjoy the interview! 

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Tyler Basu- Read, Network, and Go For It

 Tyler Basu is the founder and President of the Chatting With Champions website which is intended to empower other entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs by sharing information via blog posts, exclusive interviews, social media posts, etc. free of charge. As an author he has written 4 books on amazon and his business is Street Smart Publishing which  is responsible for publishing non-fiction ebooks exclusively on Amazon in various categories including sales, marketing, entrepreneurship, and self-help.

You can follow him on Twitter @TylerBasu 

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