There are some people, others meet and for some strange reason, they are not forgotten. It does not matter how brief the encounter may be, they just have a way of making a lasting impact. Ever wondered why some persons are like this?
Is it perhaps due to the aura they radiate? One of understanding the next person, irrespective of class, race or gender? If this be the case, how is it that they have evolved to have such a personality? There is evidence to show that many of us are the sum total of our experiences and how we perceive such experiences. Often times, those who have failed at many a venture, many a time, develop an unforgettable personality.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross could not have put this phenomenon any better when she stated that “the most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
At Team LR, in line with our mission of exposing the “iceberg nature of success”, we have invited one man who has evolved over the years from multiple business failures and bankruptcy to become a “true leader of men”. His name has become synonymous with entrepreneurship, inspirational leadership and empowerment; having spent most of his lifetime overcoming challenges while inspiring others. He has termed his life journey “failing forward” and yes, many people attest to the fact that you cannot forget this man, once you meet him: no matter how brief the encounter may be.
About the man:
I was born in Benin City in Nigeria and left the country at the age of 19 for England to further my education. After the usual hustle and petty survival jobs, I found myself in sales, selling Encyclopaedia Britannica the reference sets of books to have in those days before the explosion of the Internet. After almost two years selling encyclopaedias, I graduated into sales of office equipment chiefly photocopying machines, faxes and computers. A highly paid job in those days and I sold some high-end machines like Canon, Toshiba, Nashua and others.
My entrepreneurial journey began in earnest at age 26 in 1990, when my friend and I both top salesmen for the Cannon, Toshiba and Nashua office machines decided to launch our own business. That first foray into business failed staggeringly nearly 12 months later. Undeterred after taking a short break for a year, we licked our wounds and launched out again, this time proudly obtaining Toshiba and Nashua dealerships to sell photocopiers and fax machines to the business community-based in the (City), London.
We attracted 22 sales people, some experienced, and others we took on as trainees. We paid them a whopping 60% commission with no basic salary and leased them company cars. We were in business operating out of Long Lane, near Smithfields in the City, we felt like millionaires, even though we were just getting started. The joy of wearing sharp suits, and just coming to the rarefied surroundings of the City, and our colour coordinated offices on the 5th floor with a beautiful view of the ‘City’ was so satisfying. Our hearts were full of dreams of how we were going to take a slice of the huge London market.
The man, his falls and the lessons:
In our first 18 months of trading, we found out that everyone was getting paid besides us, we kept drawing money from the company and could not afford to pay ourselves salary. Our debt began to mount up sharply and we borrowed to put back into the company, my credit cards by this time were completely maxed out. We began to realise very quickly that we chose the wrong time to enter the market, as the UK was experiencing one of the most devastating recessions in the early nineties.
I remember one poignant situation when my partner and I had succeeded in signing this very big deal in Covent Garden with a particular company. The company was huge, they occupied a beautiful glass building, and they leased a couple of huge machines from us. We had leased a van to transport the machines to their premises for demonstration, hoping they would fall in love with the machines and keep them. They loved the equipment and signed the deal. The deal was worth nearly £200,000 over 60 months on a lease. We had a profit of £50,000 built in. I remember going back to our offices that night and popping open a bottle of champagne, celebrating the deal and toasting to our greater future.
Everything was depending on this deal, £50,000 was a huge sum of money in 1991. Plus Christmas was 8 days away. However, we could not get the deal accepted, as the client was insolvent. We became desperate and began farming out the deal to brokers anything to get the deal accepted and get paid some money. Even with the exorbitant broker rate we were prepared to accept anything they offered hoping we could still end up with a satisfactory profit. Shockingly we discovered that no one would accept the deal nearly one month later.
I remember in a spirit of despondency one night in the office about 7.30 pm, I had the worthless piece of paper in my hands, with huge sums written on it, but worthless. I looked out of the window and was almost tempted to jump. I had to snap myself out of that suicidal thought. It was really that bad, this was our last lifeline as we had maxed out everything. Things were so bad that we had no option but to close shop and sell off what was left. So after Christmas, we sold the business for almost nothing to the company we used to work for. They took it over and gave us a job as joint General Sales Managers for one of their new acquisitions in Canary Wharf. I was relieved to be back in employment and earning regular income without having the responsibilities of a business.
However, we had incurred much debt and the creditors came after me because I signed a promissory note. American express also came hard after me because I used my charge card as a credit card. In those days Amex provided cheques to accompany my charge card, and I used some of the cheques to pay other creditors – Amex had enough and applied for bankruptcy. They succeeded in making me bankrupt because in court, the judge showed no mercy. It was more beneficial for Amex to bankrupt me as they could claim against their insurance as opposed to waiting for me to pay the debt over a period of time.
The man and intervention divine:
I was spending most of my time in the courts fighting one debt or the other. I was eventually declared bankrupt. I fought back and went back to court 5 weeks later. I was able to prove Amex was very unfair and the judge this time was an absolute angel, he took it upon himself as I had no lawyer, and he basically did most of the work himself and threw out Amex’s case. He tore up their additional claim for their expenses which was also in the thousands telling them it was very unfair how they could expect me to pay for all that. He reduced their expense from thousands to just under £500!
Honestly, it was a miracle as God was fighting for me. The stress had simply been too much and I was on my last legs. Fortunately, the judge annulled the bankruptcy, and I was a free man again. Then in late 1992 August, I was introduced to NSA/JuicePlus a multi-billion dollar American multi-level marketing company by my closest friend then, Ola Okubote.
NSA became one of the biggest learning experiences and most successful ventures in my life. I built the NSA business part-time alongside my full-time job working an average of 14 hours a day. I did this for 20 months and moved quickly up the ranks. Within that time, I had developed a £50,000 a year income on a part-time basis with my NSA business. I saw the potential to double it if I gave it more time and attention. After a few months, I decided to make the leap to full time with NSA and never looked back.
30 months later I hit the pinnacle of success in NSA, the rank of National Marketing Director (NMD). I had succeeded in building teams of many thousands of people in several countries across Europe. Seven months later I had also succeeded in producing the required volume of $1.5 million dollars with my huge team to be appointed to President’s Advisory Council member (PAC 10). I was now one of the world’s elite and in the top 5% of the world’s NMD’s. My expense allowance alone provided by the company was up to £24,000 per year besides my income, which had now hit the 6 figures bracket.
The man, intervention divine and more episodes of refinement:
I was now 31, enjoying all the finer things of life, massively engaged in personal development, spending a small fortune in leadership and sales trainings, to keep my mind finely tuned to all things success and leadership. I was reading several books a month on leadership, biographies and auto-biographies of highly successful individuals. My customized Mercedes sports AMG car was a library in itself where I listened to over 10,000 hours of audiotapes on success and mastery.
I drove long distances 10 days every month, working with my leadership team across Europe. At other times, I took to the skies and even the ferries to access other parts of Europe supporting the emerging leaders and producing the volume. After 11 years NSA ran into some trouble, and I experienced one of the most devastating periods of my life, as I lost a significant part of my business. This was in the year 2000, and within six months I had lost my marriage, which was already in trouble, lost my business, and my health was massively affected. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes from nowhere.
As I figured out what I was going to do next, I succeeded in taking a role in the City as a senior consultant to mid-senior executives with the world’s oldest and leading career management and coaching company Benard Haldane’s in 2001 purely as a stop gap. In this role, I was able to interview in my office over 3000 of some of the most successful executives from the UK and Europe as well as senior players seeking opportunities in the dynamic London jobs market. Trouble is the more senior someone is the more difficult to find a new role, and many of these senior people needed a lot of support.
While working as a consultant I also set up my professional speaking business Charles Khiran International in 2003 on a part-time basis. I trained as a professional speaker and after 6 years of consulting went full-time into the speaking, coaching and training business. It was tough building my brand equity and getting recognized. I did a lot of free events just so I could get in front of the right people and demonstrate my skills. However being an entrepreneur primarily, I had other opportunities that came my way which I took while running my speaking business.
The man, a sum total of his experiences “failing forward”:
I have never allowed my failures to stop me advancing and “failing forward”. This is why I have an unusual connection with my many audiences, as I am able to connect intuitively with people, whether royalty, government ministers, State Governors, Business titans, Civic or Church leaders.
Today, many rate me as speaker of conviction with precision of delivery and gifted with oratory. I have won high praise from the great to the most humble in society who clamour to express their appreciations. I speak with uncommon knowledge and divinely inspired insights, with the ability to handle difficult subjects with dexterity and simplicity. The reason for the way I have turned out is not far-fetched. My many failures have become the sum total of what has forged me.
I am proud to regularly host heads of state, top government officials, captains of industry, top church leaders, and high royalty. I focus exclusively on a niche market of the top 5-10% of the market where I ply my trade.
I have successfully built a strong and recognizable brand associated with trust, quality and excellence by the grace of God. Today I enjoy a reputation as an electrifying inspirational leadership speaker and a leading corporate & executive coach based in Europe. My expertise is leadership, entrepreneurship, empowerment and high productivity.
Many people speak to give their audience a warm feeling, not me. I speak to transform! Long after the event audiences are still reeling from the impact of my words in their hearts, which inspires them to take action.
Now you have met the man Charles Ajayi-Khiran…
Dear readers, you have read it all – you have seen through our shared window above, into the inspirational life of the unforgettable Charles Ajayi-Khiran. With all he has let us into about his life journey, it is little wonder no one meets Charles and ever forgets him. As an entrepreneur Charles has reached the top of his profession in several of his many business exploits. As a multi-level marketing professional for over 25 years, he reached the ‘top of the table’ with two separate companies achieving stunning success by developing teams of high performing leaders and entrepreneurs of over 30,000 – 40,000 people in his business. He has also supported over 400 mid-senior level executives including over 100 CEO’s one to one, assisting them in achieving their most dominant objectives. He has reached the nooks and crannies of the world impacting lives.
Little wonder he is highly sought after to host and chair several high profile events at City Hall on behalf of the Mayor of London, banking conferences and many other high profile international conferences and events.
He was appointed Vice President for Origin/Unite (a nutrition, and luxury skincare company, with emphasis in combating malnutrition against children at-risk populations) and he was responsible for launching the African, UK, Ireland markets, with oversight over the Spanish, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Brazilian markets. He worked closely with his partners, the country directors appointed by him to run these markets, and they reported directly to him.
Charles works full time now as a professional speaker, Executive coach & corporate trainer with both of his companies Charles Khiran International (Speaking and coaching) and 3cj Global (Corporate training and consultancy). He is the author of a brand new book titled; The Entrepreneur’s Code.
Charles is a British and American certified Executive Coach, he is the recipient of over 10 achievements and meritorious awards. He is married to his wife Chyna and blessed with two children aged 16 and 11 and they make their home in England, UK.
Hear about “failing forward” from the man himself
Now you have met Charles Khiran, we know you will not be able to forget this e-meeting no matter how much you tried. We look forward to you all, telling us what you think about “failing forward” in the comments section.
**Many thanks to our LR Editors: Omo Agbonwanegbe, Fr. Micheal Achile Umameh and Loretta Ogboro-Okor for preparing this work for your motivational delight**