Twenty-nine-year-old Jamlick Kogi oozes with confidence, which is ideal considering his profession – or professions if you prefer – as a marketer, brand manager, TV show host, MC, entertainer and entrepreneur. Determined to not only make it in life but to inspire others as well, it is hard to believe that Kogi was once a shy boy with a stammer and whose future was almost curtailed due to lack of school fees. He shares with ESTHER AKELLO on his journey toward self-confidence and leveraging on it to succeed.
“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it” goes a quote by Rick Warren, author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling inspirational book, The Purpose Driven Life. What on Earth Am I Here For? Though not Jamlick Kogi’s favourite quote, it embodies his life’s spirit in a nutshell. He is the author of the book, The X-matrix: The 7P’s of Success, which talks about how to not only discover one’s purpose in life but how that purpose should be used in service to others.
“I believe in people and their ability to lead fuller, more fulfilling lives through not only their skills, but innate talents as well.
Unfortunately, a lot of people wade through life struggling, simply because they have not tapped into their purpose,” says Kogi.
It is only fitting that Kogi should write a book on the subject of life’s purpose. All things considered, if his life had followed the script he had been dealt with, he should have ended up as another unfortunate statistic, swallowed by the seemingly insatiable jaws of poverty.
“My parents separated when I was 11 years old and my mother had sole custody of my six siblings and I. Unfortunately, her income as a casual labourer could only cover so many expenses and our education suffered. Three of my older siblings never made it to secondary school while two others never finished due to lack of fees,” explains Kogi.
The pattern seemed likely to repeat itself on Kogi but his mother was awake to the fact that life would only change if she did something differently. Convinced that her two last-born children could have a different future, she transferred them to a different primary school and convinced the head teacher to allow Kogi and his brother to stay on because they were bright students. The two did not disappoint. Both boys moved
to the top of their classes and maintained the streak until they finished primary school education.
As if life was acknowledging their efforts, both boys won scholarships to the Starehe Boys Centre. It is here that Kogi’s leadership skills were nurtured. “For some reason, the students’ leadership and school administration believed in me and appointed me a sub prefect. I moved through the ranks to become senior prefect and eventually house captain in charge of 80 students. These positions forced me to deal with my shy nature as now not only did I have an opportunity to address people, but enforce school rules as well. Eventually, my confidence grew and I lost my stammer,” says Kogi.
Being a leader to other students also meant that they looked up to him for solutions to their problems and being a school that predominantly took in needy students, those needs were sometimes financial as pocket money for most was a luxury. “I started selling biscuits and would appoint a different boy each term to be in charge of sales. That way, each salesperson earned a commission from the profits and whatever remained was shared with other needy students,” he explains.
With his newfound voice and confidence, Kogi became acutely aware of opportunities around him even as he proceeded to the University of Nairobi, school of business to pursue marketing studies. He became an airtime agent and rented a tuck shop, which sold vegetables among other small wares
to students and earning him a handsome income. However, it was not until his second year in campus that Kogi felt as if he finally ‘discovered’ himself.
Story Moja, a writing company, came looking for storytellers. On a whim, Kogi signed himself up. He put in a stellar oral performance of a reprised rendition of a tale he had been told by one of his former deans and finished in the quarterfinals stage of the competition. In 2009, when Story Moja came calling the second time, Kogi auditioned again.
“This time I wrote a 10-minute original story about women empowerment and made it all the way to the finals. I also qualified to attend a writing workshop in the UK. Additionally, KBC, the national broadcaster, happened to be filming the festival during my performance and when they aired the story, Story Moja sent me a cheque of Ksh 5,000. It was then I realised that talent can pay,” says the marketer.
Convinced that he was on to something, Kogi decided to take his act to a larger audience. “Soon after the Story Moja Hay festival, I saw an advert at Alliance Francaise calling on comedians to audition for a new show, Kenya Kona. I did not fancy myself a comedian but I knew I could infuse a bit of humour in my stories and decided to audition. Out of 97 people who auditioned, 15 of us went on to perform on a live stage to an audience of close to 1,000 people,” he says.
Soon after, a producer from popular stand up comedy show, The Churchill Show (formerly, Churchill Live), called him and asked him to audition for Daniel Ndambuki (Churchill). He sailed through and moved on to the live recording of the show under the moniker MC Kogi. Unfortunately, due to programming difficulties experienced by NTV, that particular show never aired.
Seemingly unbothered, Kogi who describes himself as an optimist, moved on to work as an auditor for KPMG before leaving to join Fountain Enterprises Group Kenya (FEP) as marketing and brand ambassador. In mid 2015, he left FEP Kenya to run the events, MC and entertainment company, KEIJEI, which he had inadvertently birthed following his foray into the storytelling world. It was then that he pitched a show idea, Kogi Live to various media houses. WTV Kenya took it up.
The show, which was renamed and rebranded as ABLE (Africa, Business, Leadership and Entertainment) Live last year, combines entertainment with a question and answer session with inspirational industry and business leaders.
“ABLE Live was inspired by the popular TED talks and it’s shot in front of a live audience. It combines inspiration, business, entertainment and leadership with an aim of bringing leaders in various industries closer to regular folks who may want to learn more from them,” says Kogi.
In December 2015, Kogi also started another company, TCM Africa. “TCM Africa stands for training, coaching and mentoring Africa and has two pillars. One facet concentrates on youth and women empowerment while the other is geared towards corporate clients. We provide training in terms of issues of governance, entrepreneurship, branding and financial literacy,” explains Kogi.
His passion for service and mentorship has seen Kogi volunteer his time in several non- governmental and humanitarian organisations in various capacities including chairperson of the Big Brother Mentorship Society formed by alumni of Starehe Boys and Girls Centre. He is also a member of the recently formed Lions Club of Nairobi South. He has also worked with US President Barrack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) as a volunteer mentor.
“I am of the school of thought that we can empower our society one person at a time and we can still do that with values such as integrity and trust being our core pillars,” says Kogi who is quick to dismiss critics who call him idealistic. “Dismissing me as idealistic is akin to saying that I become comfortable with the status quo. Sure, the process of change may be slow but it has worked in other countries and can also work in Kenya provided people are empowered to vet and question their leaders from informed points of views. Are you aware that there are people who do not know the contents of a document as fundamental as the constitution?” poses Kogi.
Despite his busy schedule, in his free time, the bachelor not only catches up with friends and his favourite TV shows such as Empire, but he reads a lot as well. His current read is Soaring Like an Eagle by real estate developer George Wachiuri, CEO of Optiven Limited and who graced the cover of the July 2015 issue of Parents magazine. Kogi is in the process of writing his second book and his advice to young people who want to make it is: “Be patient. Take the stairs and not the short cuts. Success is not only material gain, but also making measurable progress every hour, every day, every year.”
Published in July 2016