Bolaji is the creator of Brave Little Heroes, a series of superhero stories for children ages 6-12.
Bolaji grew up in Nigeria to first-generated educated parents. Although his parents became doctors, they had grown up poor and had a very strong ‘do for yourself’ drive that they instilled in their children. That work ethic, combined with his love for American comics, led Bolaji to be an entrepreneur at just 10 years old, when he would draw and sell Spiderman images for lunch money.
He did well academically, going on to earn his undergrad degree in Computer Science and an MBA. Because his parents had come from a poor background, but became doctors, they saw a “good job” as the path to happiness and success because it provided financial stability. But, he tried working in Corporate America, staying in cubicles for 12 years, and never felt fulfilled. When he was laid off for the last time, even his boss said “I don’t know where you’re supposed to be, but this is not it”.
At the same time, he had been encouraged by his wife to start writing down all of the stories he was telling his children. Then, came the first publication. After a few challenging ‘start-up’ years, ‘Brave Little Heroes’ has broken through and they’ve now reached over 100,000 children around the world. He’s also recently started a podcast, Bravepreneur, to interview other entrepreneurs about their most defining childhood moments. As an adult, creating this company goes full-circle back to his childhood. He’s realized his dream and he’s having a blast doing it!
Most Influential Mentor:
- For podcasting, his mentor is John Lee Dumas. It’s not just because he’s done amazingly well-it’s also because of how he has gotten there.
- For internet marketing, it’s Alex Jeffries. Alex’s program is the first time he ever spent $97 on anything for developing his business!
- If you expect someone to pay you what YOU are worth you have to first be willing to pay someone else for that value. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish.
- Every time you invest in a good mentor, it puts you on another level and you never go back.
His Inspiration for Brave Little Heroes
- Society tells children subliminally that they need to stifle their unique creativity as they get older, with adages such as “Don’t stand out”, “Don’t call attention to yourself”, “Get a good job”.
- But, Bolaji knows that we can’t all be the same. He created Brave Little Heroes to entertain children while also giving them the message it’s okay to realize within themselves that creativity; it’s okay to be different and unique, that their individual identities matter.
- His 2 little boys love to hear about Daddy’s childhood failures and fears. When they see his weaknesses, it helps them come to terms with their own.
- One of the stories he tells them is about losing a track race so badly because he was so scared that even the commentator remarked on how brutal the loss was. He promised himself from that moment on-Win, Lose or Draw, never run scared. If you run scared, you’ve already lost the race before you start.
- He was laid off 3 times in 6 years working in ‘Corporate America’. At one point, he was out of work for 6 months. He was so ashamed the first time that he never even told his parents he wasn’t working.
- Over time, these experiences made him change his relationship with fear and failure.
- By his 3rd layoff, he saw the writing on the wall that he just wasn’t meant to be where he was, doing what he was doing. It wasn’t about failure anymore-it just meant he needed pursue something more fulfilling.
- When he overcomes a challenge, he looks back with pride. Maybe he didn’t win the race but at least he ran.
Looking Back at Your Experience:
- It’s really hard to connect the dots when you’re looking into the future, but when you look back, the “A-Ha” happens and you see how all these different paths help you now.
- When Bolaji pursued his Computer Science degree almost 20 years ago, he had no idea that the Internet would be ‘the thing’. When he pursued his MBA, he didn’t know he would need those marketing skills one day to run his own company.
- When he started writing down the stories he was telling his children, he didn’t know he’d turn that into starting his own media company. But, he can see that knowing how to write and draw wouldn’t have been enough to be successful. Now, the Computer Science degree and the MBA make total sense!
Who’s His Superhero?:
- Bolaji still loves Spiderman to this day. It’s not because of his popularity. It’s because he wears his flaws on his sleeve.
- Peter Parker, SpiderMan’s ‘human persona’, was a young kid, down on his luck, who didn’t know how to harness his superpower. Out of this story comes the most important quote ever spoken in a comic book, “with great power comes great responsibility”.
- What flawed superheroes teach us is that people want you to be human and relatable. When you put yourself in the public sphere, you don’t have to wait until you’re perfect. People will benefit from your superpower because you are just like them.
Advice on Being ‘All-In’:
- Get a mentor. If you keep thinking you can do it all yourself, it will slow you down and stunt your growth.
- Surround yourself with people whose talents help you bring your vision to life.
- You’re going to fall down and get up as many times as it takes. The journey is worth it.
- Doing something just for the money is not worth it. There’s a lot of ways to make money. Find that calling that lets you make a difference in the world.
- “‘Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”