The Sunday Times Festival of Education was inspiring and interesting on so many levels. Two days of great speakers, two nights of glamping (lovely linen, lousy loos) and hours of brain fizzing ideas and insight. On the second day the speaker attracting the most attention was Tinie Tempah (Patrick Okogwu) the rapper and fashion entrepreneur. This name change at 13 is an indication of his ‘savvy’, pragmatic and decisive approach. The story goes that daydreaming in class flicking through a thesaurus, the word ‘Angry’ stood out on the page, his eyes were caught by the word ‘temper’, and this changed to Tempah, and then to soften this, Tiny was added. By playtime Tinie Tempah was born and had started to gather a following. (To be truthful I was not very knowledgeable about his story or music but I was very interested to hear from a 26 year old who had this superstar draw. 🙂 )
So here are my top take-outs from the very interesting Tinie Tempah:
Lesson 1 – The value of Time
Install an inner egg timer with a lot of sand in it – and face facts, the sand will eventually run out so don’t waste it. (As someone with more sand in the bottom than the top this was a salutary thought). He communicated with a real sense that time passes and that you can’t recover time wasted – so make the most of it. He talked about this repeatedly and illustrated it in a range of ways. When he was 15 spending a lot of time ‘hanging out’ watching DVDs thinking he had finally arrived, trying out things he was interested in and dropping them quickly (football, basketball) but persisting with things where he felt passion and progress (music, building a profile).
Lesson 2- Stay grounded and get the right support
”I’ve got real people around me. My mum will tell me if I’m acting up. She even tells me when there’s too much profanity in a song.” People who you enjoy being with and who support you are key to being able to have the heart to do the work you need to and have fun on the way. The power of support, people who are positive and rooting for you, people who warm your heart. He talked about his cousin who encourages, shapes, pays attention to the work he is doing. He talked about how his mother inspired him to get involved fashion, how her work ethic and example as a ‘trader’ helped him to do this. He was very clear to the young audience that those close to you have been chosen by you and that negative people are an unnecessary drain. Welcome reality checks, but choose to listen to people who have your interests at heart and listen well when they share their perspectives. Compete with yourself and appreciate your progress and learn from your setbacks, make sure you keep moving forward.
Lesson 3 – Be ready for opportunities, experiment and explore
“The world is a big place – try and meet new people. Your life could change in an instant. Get out there. You get out of life what you put in.” A role model of taking action, of being ready for an opportunity and being tuned to recognise them when they come. He told stories of trying things out – some successful, some not – but always learning from experience. Don’t expect other people to do things for you; you are capable of making things happen. He learns from everyone he meets and applies the learning within his own context. He spoke of spending time with Lewis Hamilton and how totally focused Lewis Hamilton was on winning the world championship – the power of self-belief, desire and complete focus.
Lesson 4 – You have to put the work in
“The ideals and morals and values of young people have been distorted, and reality TV hasn’t helped. People want to be successful right now, and they are not willing to put the work in.” He wants to help young people to thrive, and he does this through sharing his story. Including that he works hard, really hard. And that the harder he works the more he enjoys the process. He is clear it is more productive to compete with yourself, to notice your own progress and to keep putting in the work. His success really started to take off when he treated his music career like a 9 – 5 job and put structure around it. He did a stint doing telesales for double-glazing to earn money so he could keep going. When he finally got in front of a record label he had a plan, a track record, a manager and knew what he wanted and the value what he had to offer. When the money started to come in he started a pension plan.“Money doesn’t fall from the sky – you’ve got to get out there and make it happen,”
Lesson 5 – Be a nice guy and be polite
He is ridiculously charming; he made us all feel that it was his complete pleasure to be spending time with us. He told his story with the ease of someone who has told it before but who is doing so much that it is fresh with new insight and interest.He tells us of his diligence at school, that his hard work paid off. He didn’t want to go to University then because he knew he would be successful as a rapper. Hard for his parents but they gave him a year. He talked of going back to studying later on. His parents told him he would have to work harder than other people – and it seems that this is true, but out of choice. The motivation to do this clearly comes from within. The lovely thing is that he is having the time of his life and is inspiring others, including me, do the same.“What I do is the best thing in the world and I’m proud to be doing it”