‘Youths need positive mentors for better society’

Victor Chuka Onochie is the President/CEO of Genius Meta-4 International Limited and one of the most sought-after internationally certified life-coaches in Abuja. He has, for six years, helped people discover their purpose in life. ROTIMI IGE caught up with him recently for a no-holds barred interview where Onochie reveals why Nigerians need mentorship and how youths could be better off in today’s society.

Early memories of family life?

I grew up in a small family, so we are a very close unit. My parents always took us out to explore. My father was really into music and so from a very young age, I had the opportunity to follow the trends. From the locals like Onyeka Onwenu, Fela, Shina Peters, Mike Okiri as well as Sunny Ade just to mention a few, and then to the international artistes like Michael Jackson, M.C Hammer, Heavy D, Whitney Houston etc. My favorite music artistes of all time are Tupac Shakur, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson and our very own Tuface Idibia. Another major interest of my father, which I emulated is soccer; he played soccer till his sixties. He was very good and almost went professional, but later focused on his accounting profession.

I remember also watching my father constantly reading. I picked that habit more passionately than any other eventually, and I am grateful I did. From what I know now, I see that children tend to imitate their parents, so I am very careful about my lifestyle. Two habits I picked from my father that are quite intense for me are reading and listening to good music. I hate to be ignorant about things and there is quite a lot out there to learn.

When you start reading, you get humbled by how much you don’t know. So, it keeps me constantly learning, because I understand that the world gets better by our knowledge and not by our ignorance. My mother is also a very huge part of my life and she imbibed the values of love in my life. She helped me build discipline and to value others. She was a teacher so the necessity to perform was high at home. She ensured we always protected the family name by being our very best in character. I have fond memories of my childhood and I am glad my parents gave us such memories. My father and mother were always together and that guided my ideals on marriage and love.

My elder sister is like my second mother as she has always treated me as such. I feel lucky to have experienced such a loving family and home till date, and it has shaped me and inspired me to do the same in my home. It wasn’t all easy, but we always pulled through as a family.

What piqued your interest to become a life coach/ motivational speaker?

My interest in life-coaching piqued in 2012. I stumbled on a video on YouTube by Tony Robbins and what he did on stage to help his audience was beyond motivational speaking. I was stunned. I wanted to know who he was and what he did. I wanted to give such value to people. So, in my spare time, I researched him and discovered he was called a life coach. I started researching what it meant and that sent me into a new world of human potential and transpersonal psychology. It was while I was dating my wife that she noticed the deep passion I had for this field and she encouraged me. That was how I gradually redirected into this path, and I am so grateful I did. My parents also supported me and encouraged me. At first, they struggled with the idea, but later they came around. A book worthy of mention that has been of major impact in my journey is the classic, ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ by the late Dr. Stephen R. Covey. It’s a book I recommend for anyone to read. It’s not an easy read as such but a worthy one. It has been a huge tool in living a principled and purposeful life and helping others do same.

Why do you think people need guidance in life to be successful?

If we look at history, no one ever made it successfully in life alone. They had some form of guidance that helped them navigate their paths. Most of them studied other great minds to understand how their minds work and why they did what they did. We are not omniscient or infallible as humans, and we don’t have all the time to figure out everything in one lifetime, so to help shorten the learning curve, it is important we seek guidance in areas that interest us or areas we struggle in. The successful people are constantly reading and learning. It could be in business, marriage, leadership, health, etc.

People have shared experiences on these areas, so why remain in the dark and struggle when you can learn from others? Even growing up and adapting to the world, we learnt that from our parents mostly. What keeps us in the dark and hinders us from the success we seek is mostly a blind spot. How can we get beyond these issues if we don’t seek guidance either in books, in people who are better experienced or in any other way that facilitates knowledge? That’s why I said we are not all-knowing. We need each other to succeed, and humility is the vehicle that leads us from darkness to light.

How has it been thus far?

It’s been quite fulfilling, although very challenging. Trying to establish something that is not popular in this clime is not an easy task. Even the things that are well known are not easy to succeed in, talk more of the ones that are not. However, the joy of doing what comes natural to me and seeing another person break through limitation is something I won’t trade. To really achieve enduring success takes time and effort, and there are times when you doubt what you are doing. But somehow life gives you a reason or two to keep going. There have been highs and lows, but that’s part of life. It’s been the best period of my life, doing work that I feel matters. I am making progress gradually in spite of all the challenges. God has been faithful.

Do you think Nigerians, especially youths understand the process of mentoring or need for it?

From what I see, mentoring is something the youths are open to. However, how they go about it might sometimes be the challenge. Mentoring is usually an agreement between a mentor and mentee, where the mentor helps the mentee gain required experience or knowledge in the area the mentor is more experienced in. The idea is  to provide guidance to limit the road blocks and even mistakes that may be on that path. Unfortunately, some youths might see it as an opportunity to profit financially from the mentor without giving anything in return.

But in the real sense, some people even pay for mentoring. Think about the apprenticeship system that is quite popular with the Igbo whereby a young person goes under the tutelage of a more experienced person in trade, that’s mentoring. Organisations use it as a tool to help young executives learn from more experienced seniors. Another form of mentoring is in reading books by successful people. Now, this might not be the typical mentoring because the mentor might not know you, and could even be dead. But if you are gaining required experience from a more knowledgeable person, then you have chosen to put yourself under the mentorship of that person. I feel that Nigerian youths can really gain a lot from mentorship.

In your opinion, what do you think needs to be done to promote the need for positive mentoring?

I believe those who are getting it right in certain areas should speak more to encourage those who struggle. The successful businessman or executive leader should share more on what has helped him succeed. The couples who are enjoying a thriving marriage should share more about what has helped them succeed. Social media is a tool to express these values. I know some people are very private or even shy.

I feel a perspective that looks at it from a place of human responsibility should inspire and encourage us all. We all need guidance if we are to succeed as a people and to make the world better for our children and those to come. We are enjoying the toil of those who have left, and so we owe the same responsibility to those who are yet to come that we make progress as a people and not disintegrate by ignorance. Some people suffer and struggle because they hold too tight to old traditions that might be challenging to sustain in the modern era, so we must be flexible to update these traditions to suit the present reality.

What challenges have you faced thus far?

Well, the major challenge has been the business side, especially because it’s not a popular field and also considering the peculiarity of the economy. I have had to learn business the hard way as my parents were both civil servants. I have had to learn from others and explore relationships as I have found quality relationships helpful in this journey. Team work makes the dream work. Collaboration is important.

What’s next for you?

My focus is actually on establishing an enduring brand that seeks to solve the major challenges which have inspired my passion for what I do. I am basically focused on helping the personal growth of the individuals to help them progress courageously and live more purposeful and responsible lives; help couples thrive in their relationships and marriage; as well as helping organisations create a successful platform that supports the development of their people to achieve worthwhile goals. These are my three key goals.

You are currently based in Abuja, any plans to expand?

Of course, the goal is global, but I believe I should first maximise what I have and then expand. I hope to do a lot in Lagos and other parts of Nigeria very soon.

You also have a social media channel to amplify your messages. How can technology be further harnessed to push the boundaries of your profession?

We are well versed with social media as a people, and people spend an incredible amount of time on social media, so it’s only natural that we share content espousing what we believe and content that can help someone out there. The pandemic has forced us to focus even more on social media. Webinars and trainings can be offered there to give value and people can sign up for personal engagements. You have to build content and have value to offer. My Instagram handle is @iamvictor_onochie and my Facebook page as well as LinkedIn is Victor C. Onochie. My website is victoronochie.com.

How do you relax?

I used to relax by watching soccer, movies or listening to music, but the soccer part is dying since I got too engrossed in Lionel Messi. I have noticed that he is all I watch these days; his magic always keeps me amazed. But since the whole issue with the board at Barcelona and all the challenges, it’s not been quite interesting. I still watch him, but these days, I settle for music and good movies mostly with my wife.

Tell us a bit about yourself

My name is Victor Chuka Onochie, I am the last born in a family of two children. I have an elder sister. I am from Onitsha in Anambra State, but I grew up in the northern part of Nigeria. I was born in Kaduna. I had my primary education in Bida, Niger State, secondary education in Gwagwalada, Abuja, and higher education in Bida as well, where I earned my National Diploma in Accounting at the Federal Polytechnic in 2004 and then my B.Sc. also in Accounting at Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State in 2007.

My father is a chartered accountant of many years, hence the inspiration to walk his path. My mother retired as a teacher in the civil service. I am married to a chartered accountant, and we are blessed with a son. I am presently a licensed leadership coach, as well as a master spirit life-coach under the certified coaches alliance in Canada having completed the basic requirements of the approved Coach Specific Training Hours (ACSTH) as stipulated by the most accepted global coaching licensing body, the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

I have about six years full experience in the coaching field,  having left the accounting path completely in 2016, although I had been doing it part-time earlier from around 2014. I love spending time with my wife and family.  I also enjoy reading, listening to music, making friends and spending time with them. I cherish public speaking and coaching passionately.

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