UAC 111 | Recipe For Successful Life

Being an athlete is one career where talent meets hard work, and one can’t prosper without the other. Athletes start young in their endeavors in order to concoct the perfect recipe for a successful life ahead of them. Former NBA player and Vice President and Investment Councilor for Capital Group Private Client Services, Koko Archibong, gives us a sneak peek of what life is like on the court as he talks about his career journey, all the way from playing soccer to loving the game of basketball and being drafted into the NBA. He shares how his household discipline has manifested into the way he played the sport and the decisions he made to stay relevant for the next generation even after retirement from the game. He also gets personal as he explains the struggles athletes face in order to realize their dreams and how to keep an optimistic faith despite every challenge you may face.

Listen to the podcast here:

Koko Archibong: Hard Work, Optimistic Faith, And Failing Fast: A Professional Basketball Player’s Recipe For A Successful Life

This is the show about learning how to live a good life. We believe the best way to do that is by living with intention in the tension. Life is filled with tensions that we have to live in the middle of daily and we believe the best way to do that is living with intentionality. That’s what we’re about here. If you’re new, you can always hit us up on the socials, @UpAndComersShow. You can also send us a message or a, “What’s up?” at TheUpAndComersShow@Gmail.com. It’s a great way to connect. If you want to learn from past guests or maybe have them back on for round two, you can always send those requests by email and we’d love to hear from you.

In this episode, we have an interview. I love to encourage you with the two best ways you can show us some love and to help support the show. The first best way is to leave us a rating and review on iTunes. It’s super simple, super easy and it does go a long way in helping our show reach more people and it costs you only one minute of your time. The other awesome way to help out is simply sharing. Share this episode or any episode that encouraged you with a few people from your community that could benefit from it. Maybe they came to mind when you were reading and that’s a great way to spread the good word. Thanks for helping in those ways.

This episode is with none other than Koko Archibong. Who is Koko? Koko Archibong is the Vice President and Investment Counselor for Capital Group Private Client Services. He works with high net worth individuals and their families to design customized plans for protecting and growing their wealth, often over multiple generations. He specializes in working with professional athletes and entertainers. He has significant experience in the sports world having spent a decade as a professional basketball player in the NBA and overseas. He was a member of the Nigerian Olympic team during the 2012 Summer Games in London. He holds a Certified Private Wealth Advisor designation and is a CFA Level II candidate. He has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s from the University of Liverpool. That’s a degree in Medical Anthropology and the Master’s degree is in Public Health with a focus on the Management of Health Systems. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and son.

Koko is an amazing guy. I originally met him through Good City Mentors. It’s an awesome company here in LA. Check them out. I loved his presence and his spirit and an inspiring guy. As I’ve gotten to know him, I’ve had a joy hanging out and talking with him. I knew that this would be a great interview. It definitely lived up to the hype. Some of the things we talked about are his Nigerian heritage, his childhood, being raised by his parents and what they instilled in him. We talked about his work ethic, the importance of school, his journey of maturing into a professional basketball player in his career. We also talked about the struggles and learnings from those ten years playing professionally.

We talked a lot about his seemingly incongruent career path, the importance of optimism and faith, failing fast of his mission in life and much more. You’re going to want to read and see him drop some knowledge. There are some great stories in there. If you want to learn more about him, you can find him on the socials, @Koko.Archibong. He also has a Facebook page if you search for Koko Archibong. Those are great ways to connect with him. I hope you enjoy this episode with Koko Archibong.

It’s hard to train the will and drive to win at all costs, and the want to compete and be the best. Click To Tweet

The Up & Comers Show is proud to support The Giving Keys. The Giving Keys is an LA-based social impact jewelry brand that is working to end homelessness through employment. Their collection on jewelry and accessories is designed to inspire people through a core collection of keys with hand stamped inspiring words and fashion pieces. Each key is hand stamped with a word of choice and all products are assembled, packaged and shipped from downtown LA by people transitioning from homelessness. In addition to words, The Giving Keys engraves necklaces with initials, religious symbols, hearts, semicolons and Greek letters to name a few.

Since its inception, The Giving Keys has provided more than 120 jobs to people transitioning from homelessness. It’s remarkable. As many of you know and likely aware, homelessness is a growing crisis, especially here in LA. A solid job can be a long-term solution from breaking that cycle of generational poverty and homelessness. I’ve been personally able to check out their space and we also had the President, Brit Gilmore on our show, episode 71. They’re awesome gifts for yourself and for others. It’s an awesome way to wear your word of the year, as we’ve talked about on this show and name it and claim it. If you’d like to help support their mission, you can purchase a piece of jewelry at TheGivingKeys.com and select retailers in the US, Canada, and their downtown LA flagship. For all of our audience, they are offering a 20% discount code by using the code UP20. Thanks for helping be the change that you wish to see in the world.

Koko Archibong, welcome to the show.

Thanks for having me.

It’s fun to be here at this lovely co-working space called the h Club in Hollywood and this soundproof booth is nice. It’s a vision of the future. First, I want to know your full name.

My given name is Aniekan Okon Archibong.

Is there a meaning behind it?

It means who could be greater than God.

Koko came because it means junior.

That’s right.

When did you start going by Koko?

My family always called me Koko at home. It was more of a house name than anything else because I’m the firstborn son in our family. I started letting other people call me that in high school because I was a teenager and I was tired of people messing up my name. I had the choice and I took it.

UAC 111 | Recipe For Successful Life

Recipe For Successful Life: Discipline, honoring your elders, and respect for other are all great foundational traits that can sometimes be taken to an extreme.

 

What would some of the things they would say for your name?

At that time, the newer Star Wars stuff hadn’t come out. Anakin Skywalker is the natural stuff that people say. The defining moment for me was a girl that I thought was cute was trying to say my name, saying it wrong terribly, making a joke out of it and saying, “I’m naked,” and I was like, “No, it’s not my name. Call me Koko. That’s easier.”

It’s been fun getting to know you with Good City Mentors, a shout-out to Brian and company. I’ve learned some interesting things about you, some of the greatest highlights that you aren’t advertising as much. The first one that I’m sure you’re proud of is, apparently your face was all over a trash truck for a long time. Tell me about how you made it be the image of a garbage truck.

I can’t tell you that I know how I got that honor. I was one of four players that basically did an ad campaign for our main sponsor, which was Alba in Berlin, Germany. They’re one of the biggest trash-hauling companies in the whole country. It was a “big deal” there, but it was a weird thing that my friends from America thought was ridiculous and hilarious when they came to visit me. We’d be out to lunch before the game and “my truck” would come by and start picking up trash and it was like, “Why are you on the side of that trash truck?” I was like, “That’s part of our sponsorship deal.”

You have officially made it when your face is on the side of the trash truck. It was in your neighborhood too.

Berlin is huge but somehow in some way, where I love to eat my pregame meal was on the route that had my truck.

I also hear that you also have a mythical ninja character built off of you. Is that true?

We are all destined to become our parents to some extent. Click To Tweet

I don’t know about that.

I’ll have to inform you about this but apparently, there’s a guy who made a ninja character off of Koko Archibong.

I haven’t seen it in years. No one has told me.

You were playing basketball in Berlin, Germany. Fill us in a little bit on your basketball career. Give us an overview and a picture of what those experiences were like.

I didn’t grow up playing basketball. I played soccer growing up. My family is from Nigeria originally. That’s the main sport in the world and that’s what my dad taught me when I was probably two. Soccer was a great foundational sport for me. I still love it to this day, but somewhere around high school, I started gravitating towards basketball. I liked the speed of the game. I was getting taller, I felt like, “I’d like to be good at this,” but I was terrible. The friend group that I’d made at my new high school was playing summer basketball. It was an easy way for me to make great friends and get to know the school. That’s how the whole story started.

I played four years of varsity basketball at high school and I ended up growing from 5’10” when I started to 6’7” by the time I was done. As you can imagine, a lot of schools started to pay attention to me for basketball as well at school. That’s how I got the opportunity to go to Penn and play there for four years of varsity basketball. Towards the end of my career, in college, I started to get some looks from the NBA. That spurred the thought of, “Maybe this could be a career for me.” I had always put in a lot of work into it. I had great coaches and trainers that had poured a lot of love and attention into my game and me as a person.

My goal was always to be the best I could be at it, not to play pro, but here was this opportunity and I took it. I went undrafted but got signed by Lakers. That was my first professional team. I came back home, I went to training camp, veterans camp, the whole thing. I got cut and started doing a journeyman process of going overseas and playing in the top leagues there, coming back to America, and trying out for teams here. That ended up being ten years of my life, which was great. I had stints with the Lakers, Clippers, the Nuggets, and the Suns and played in the top leagues in France, Germany, and Poland. I won championships in all three of those countries.

UAC 111 | Recipe For Successful Life

Recipe For Successful Life: Basketball is always like any sport. It’s just a precursor for life.

 

That’s an experience that not a lot of people can say they’ve had for sure. When did playing professionally enter your horizons?

It was my junior year. That was when everything started. Up to that point, it was something fun for me to do. It was always a side hobby anyway. Growing up in a Nigerian household, education was always first. My parents always reiterated to me that, “It’s nice that you like to play, you’re good and that you’re having fun, but it’s always going to be secondary to what you know. You need to make sure your education is top-notch.” I was focused on becoming a doctor, it wasn’t basketball. In my junior year, I got the chance to go to a camp in Florida with some of my other teammates and IMG Academy hosted it. That was my first taste of what the professional ranks could look like. I got to compete against the top college players across the country who were also there training and getting ready for drafts. I got to compete against NBA players at that time. That’s where my eyes were opened like, “I can do this. I can play with these people and hold my own and do well.”

I want to know a little bit more about growing up in a Nigerian household with parents. Was this the first generation that they were in America?

Yes. My brothers are the first generations born here. Both of my parents came from Nigeria originally. They came here for school. They both got government granted scholarships, which is the equivalent of winning the lottery, but not only one person but two. They found each other in Nigeria and meeting there but staying in touch when they came here. Growing up in our home, I heard a lot about their story, not knowing what I was hearing. In retrospect, I was learning about perseverance, sacrifice, what it means to strive for something and to have a vision and a goal that’s bigger than you. They were all of our motivation. There was no other alternative.

They got academic scholarships. I needed to get an academic scholarship. I was like, “What did it take to get an academic scholarship?” It took doing all the studies that you did during the day, reading your books under the table by flashlight at night to get ahead. You’re always in competition with everybody around you to try to get this coveted scholarship to be able to go to one of these great schools, either in the country or outside to give yourself a chance to have a different life. My mom was fighting day and night to have an opportunity as a young woman to even get an education. My grandma being the one to push that through and make sure that’s the case. She has to get an education because that wasn’t the norm. She had to compete within her family, with her brothers and outside to try to get a spot and find her way through to as well. It sounds more intense than it is. It was our normal life.

Coming from a legacy of competition in a lot of ways, it’s interesting because we were talking a little bit about how there are trade-offs. Growing up in that hyper-competition focus or feeling the drive for that, what would you say was helpful and what was hurtful about that as you grew up? What were the impacts of that in a positive or a negative way?

I like to stay on the positives. There are too many to count. It builds something into me that I don’t think you could buy. It’s hard to train that will and drive to win at all costs and want to compete and be the best. It’s either one of those things that you have or you don’t. Having parents and siblings who are exceptional around me furthered that in me. I see it as a positive. If I were to think about what the trade-off on the negative side could be, I was a focused kid. I knew what I was trying to do. Therefore, it kept me out of a lot of trouble. At the same time, I could probably have more fun as a kid, let loose a little bit more or not have been as strict and stringent on myself. I had a lot of stuff too. For me, it’s the right way.

It’s interesting how the most difficult season of your life and the most money you make correlates. Click To Tweet

It’s a part of that powerful legacy that your parents and your grandparents left. To see that carry over into you and your brothers is amazing and it shows the power of generational impact that you can have and leave in a positive and a negative way. Being mindful and conscious that I feel is such an important thing, especially with a family being a father yourself. With your parents’ example, how has that informed or even guided you as a father now?

It’s everything. We are all destined to become our parents to some extent. You hear that and you’re like, “Not me.” When it’s your turn, somehow someway it happens. I don’t think it’s by accident. They’re the ones who raised us. That’s the example that you have imprinted on you. For me, I try to view it as the foundational material that I get to build on and have my own personal overlay of what I’d like to impart to my son in addition to all the great things. I try to cherry-pick the best of the learnings and incorporate things that I’ve learned along the way that I felt have helped me further that learning over time.

If you had any examples that come to mind that you’re adding on top of that foundation that’s being built, what are some things that you’re thinking about what you want to incorporate or even to maybe with the modern context of now versus 20 or 30 years ago? What would be some examples that come to mind of that adding on of the layering?

The first one that jumps into my head is discipline. My parents were big on discipline. Nigerian culture is big on discipline, honoring your elders and respect for others. All of these great foundational traits but also they can sometimes be taken to an extreme. For me, with my son, an important role for me that I try to play like his dad is to help impart an understanding of respecting those in authority, having the discipline to understand when the right time is for certain things. I also try to incorporate my wife’s teaching on having some flexibility about how that’s expressed and embracing also his individuality within the context of trying to be respectful of others around him. How that manifests itself as something for me, if the teacher says it, you do it. You don’t ask any questions. If your parents tell you to do it, you don’t ask any questions.

We’re in a generation where that’s not how things should be approached, in my opinion. It’s more of a situation where it’s like, “You should respect the authority of the teacher or us as your parents, but you are allowed to have your own opinion and I respect your opinion. Your teachers should respect your opinion.” It’s how you voice it. Helping them understand how you bring that across that it can be heard. It’s not disrespectful in any way. It’s letting those that you’re trying to articulate something to know, “I’d like to understand why this is important for me to do,” that’s fair. I’m trying to help them find that balance of those.

The more layers you go, the more nuanced it gets. There are those underlying principles, but on top of those principles, application of them is situational and circumstantial. There are a lot of nuances that add to the complexity of instructing or raising a kid. It’s funny too because I’ve been thinking about even my own parents and how I was raised and what it would look like for me to build on top of that foundation. As kids, we don’t have a bigger perspective than black and white. It’s more of this or that. It’s not both. As we become adults, we start maturing both into the middle tension of both a lot of time. Not this or this, it could be a little bit in the middle. That’s why even when I think back, it’s not that my parents were deemphasizing those things. The way I received it was a more black and white way because that’s what I can receive at the time.

If we aren’t careful, we take that forward with us and that’s where we forever live. There’s nuance beyond that that we grow into as adults. I’m sure your parents, they weren’t, “The only discipline is the only thing that matters in life and you can’t have any fun.” The way you received it was much more like that, even though it wasn’t the whole picture maybe. There’s a level that we can receive as kids. It’s interesting to think about that dynamic and what’s important to emphasize with your kids. Your son is young, what is the emphasis for you with him?

UAC 111 | Recipe For Successful Life

Recipe For Successful Life: If you could figure out what it is you feel you’re called to do and attack it, nothing but good things can happen.

 

Listening. He has a lot of ideas. He’s much more apt to articulate them. I love his ideas. I love to hear them. I love where he’s thinking and where he’s heading. At the same time when things don’t go his way, I’ve found that he struggles to adapt to the scenario. In situations where he’s being directed by someone in authority, that can be difficult for him. The listening piece has been something we’ve been keyed in on to encourage him that it’s a part of his development growing up that he needs to be paying a little bit of attention to. It’s difficult but it’s good.

Going back to basketball, you made the mental shift when you were a junior. When I made my junior year too, it was like, “Is this something that I’m going to pursue or not? Is this an option or not?” Once that shift was made, once you saw that, “I could potentially do this.” What were those early years like for you in the process of trying to make it and having some initial success of getting to be signed with a team but getting cut? That’s a roller coaster ride. What was that experience like for you?

It’s different than people would imagine in their minds. It is exactly like you described, a big roller coaster, a lot of emotions, huge highs and low lows. I would say a lot more lows especially in that early period of my career because I was perpetually unsatisfied. I could not appreciate the blessing of where I was. I was always on edge. I always had a chip on my shoulder. I was frustrated. What I didn’t even know because I didn’t know how to articulate that it was leading to depression. What’s described to me as depressive symptoms, I was exhibiting them. It was causing me to act out in detrimental ways to me that could have been life-threatening. It was me trying to find a way to express all this frustration. In retrospect, it was the best time of my life, but I didn’t see it that way.

I missed a big part of my experiences because I’m here for a season. I’ll be right back in the NBA. I’m preparing myself for the next NBA tryout. I wasn’t even there. I was living in the south of France. I didn’t even go to see the Eiffel Tower. It’s crazy stuff. It makes no sense. I started to finally, towards the latter part of my career, appreciate all the culture, things around me, the life and the people that I got to interact with much more. It made me much fuller and richer in experience. In the early years, it was full of angst, tension, frustration and all the things you don’t need to succeed.

This is such a human condition thing. This was the exact same thing for me. I remember my grandpa would continually try to remind me and encourage me and other people would too. They were like, “Enjoy the process, have fun, don’t be hard on yourself.” It’s amazing how much we put pressure and expectations on ourselves. It never produces the result that we want. During that time, what would you say was your common self-talk? What were the things that were in front of mind that you’re preaching to yourself the most both helpful and unhelpful on that?

I was primarily unhelpful and negative. I was pretty much always negative about almost everything. I honestly don’t know how I was able to achieve this stuff that I was able to achieve because I would constantly be fighting with my own mind about whether or not I could do what I was out there set to do. The term for it is impostor syndrome. I was trying to survive and thrive at the same time. It was this weird imbalance of, “I’m a Laker, but am I supposed to be a Laker?” I was trying to prove it to myself every day. I was doing well, but in my opinion that held me back was that I could never play free. I’m never loose enough to be creative enough to show what I could do. I kept myself tightly wound and within strict bounds so I wouldn’t make any mistakes. The point isn’t to make mistakes, it’s to play and to win. I knew how to do that but I wasn’t showing it.

What helps you start making that transition in your mind and in your performance? What were the things that led to that transformation in a sense? It is a transformation from this controlling to this freed performance? It’s a different thing and that’s a hard transition to make. What were the elements or ways that you were able to start making that switch?

Be faithful in the way that you approach your job and take it to heart. Click To Tweet

It’s time, my experience and personal growth. I tell people all the time I got super lucky. Most people’s careers end in high school, sometimes middle school or college, but mine kept ongoing. As it extended, God kept on giving me more and more opportunities to learn and to grow. It was up to me to take the time to do so. I got into a situation where I got hurt. I never got hurt, not really big injuries, but I had degenerative cartilage in my knees and I had to shut it down. They wanted me to have surgery but they couldn’t guarantee me that it was going to make me better. I was like, “Why?” I’ll rehab it for 6 to 9 months and I was out.

The struggle to get back into the game and that process, during that time I learned a ton about myself and it pushed me to take more risks. I was playing with the Polish team. It was the most difficult season of my life and the most money that I ever made. It’s always interesting how those two correlate. I got this when I got hurt and I went back home to Germany where I and my wife were living to do the rehab and prepare. At that time, we got married. There was a ton of great life stuff that happened, but I was struggling with the fact that I was out of a job. I’d been out of a job for some time. I didn’t know what the future is looking like. My agent wasn’t seeing many opportunities for me. The season started and here comes a couple of opportunities and I jumped on. I’m like, “Let’s go look into them.” Both of them were second-tier teams in the league. They were towards the lower part of the pack where I was used to playing on teams competing for the championship. There was a value in me going to those teams for them as they would be able to attach my name and pedigree to their team.

What I didn’t understand at that time was it was lowering my stock value. Business-wise, it was a big mistake. Life-wise, it was the best thing that I could’ve ever done because it put me in a position where things depended on me. I was able to take on a new persona and perspective on who I was and who I wanted to be on the team and how I viewed myself. All of these things start to come together at the same time. On my personal side, on the growth side, I start to learn about the power of affirmation. I started to practice and enlist vision casting and visualization. I was in the process of changing my mind from one that was inherently pessimistic for whatever reason, to a person that’s optimistic about everything.

What that meant for me was I had to overdo it, overemphasize, over-exaggerate the things that I wanted to happen and see because I knew the battle that I was fighting internally, which negativity was trying to pull me back down. Not to be lost in this conversation was the personal growth from a spiritual side was also coming together for me. I had found my spiritual groove in terms of finding a rhythm. I was back in the word and I found a devotion that took me through the year. Even though I didn’t have a church home, I was finding those ways to tap back into my roots of being part of the church and moving on faith.

It started to all make sense to me how I wasn’t being faithful in the way that I was approaching my job, my sport and this career I’d been blessed with. I took that to heart as well. My wife played a huge part in this too in terms of gratitude. My posturing was changing to I’m grateful that I get to even do this because it almost did get taken away from me. I didn’t have major surgery or anything, but the options were looking bleak and here I was having an opportunity to play again and prove myself and a fair amount of hubris. I was like, “I’m going to do great things on this team that nobody expects much from.” I like being the underdog. I always have. I was like, “Let’s get to work.”

It’s beautiful because it’s always those trials and hardships that are unexpected that take us down a level that helps us see ourselves and the situation from a new light. It’s like a new perspective that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We can move forward after that period of introspection with greater self-awareness and a greater appreciation or gratitude. That’s why we can see those trials a blessing versus a curse a lot. It’s hard usually at the moment but in looking back, it’s cool to see all of that period brought switching your own mindset.

Gratitude can be overstated for how important that is and the optimism belief. The overemphasis of it, you always have to over-correct to find your way back to the middle. It’s funny how that all works. I want to know a little bit more about the latter part of your career in making that shift. What did you start seeing from the fruit of it? What did you see on the court as a result of the inner work that was happening? Would you say that progression or that work that you’re doing on the inside is more common or less common among your peers at the time?

UAC 111 | Recipe For Successful Life

Recipe For Successful Life: Everybody is trying not to make mistakes, but when you’re the underdog, nobody’s expecting anything from you.

 

I’ll answer the last part first. People thought I was tripping. I didn’t know what I was talking about. I tried to explain it to them but they didn’t get it. It was a more personal journey. I saw the results of it personally more than professionally. We didn’t win the league. The team didn’t do as well as everybody hoped, but this is outside of my control. This was more a function of team dynamics and money. We didn’t have enough money to build the team in the way that they had hoped. We had great teammates and a great coach, but it wasn’t a situation that was built to go further than we did. We did make some great strides and I feel like we did have some great wins. For me personally, that season was eye-opening because I got to see me for the first time. There was no going back. I was like, “I’ll never play the other way.” It doesn’t matter what team I’m on. I was ready to be a Laker but it’s too late. I’m old. I’m at the tail-end of my career but my mindset was ready. Basketball is always, like any sport, a precursor for life. For me, it set me on the path to now. Having this mindset in the regular world, it’s crazy. I’m moving stuff in the matrix.

It’s rare and what’s crazy about it. It doesn’t naturally happen. It has to be refined through fire. Doing and performing arts or a sport at a high level is one of the most ultimate refiners in life because you have to dive into such a deeper level. If you’re conscious and intentional of your whereabouts, you don’t have to. If you’re going to be intentional about it, you will. That unlocks a whole different perspective. It’s one of the greatest gifts for sure.

You only see wins. I have a lot of conversations with a lot of people every day inside and outside of my company, interns, peers, people that are senior to me and people will see my story, they’ll hear my story and they’ll come and reach out to me. A lot of younger people, for instance, I do encourage them, “You have it, you know the answers. There’s nothing but winds out here.” If you could figure out what it is you feel called to do and attack it, nothing but good things can happen if you have the right perspective about it.

The issue is that failure and as I see it for what it is, it fails faster. That’s what I got to see. When it was all up to me it fails faster and you can try to get back to winning. Whereas when you’re on top of the world, failure is monumental. Everybody is trying not to make mistakes, but when you’re the underdog, nobody’s expecting anything from you. You have the leeway to fully express all the things that you have in you and try the stuff that you have in your mind. You’re trying to win but it’s not expected, you can try and do what you came to do.

It’s counterintuitive. I know for me too, I was the same way. In the early season, you’re always trying to pretend or make others believe that you’re beyond where you’re at. Because there’s that imposter syndrome that you feel so you start trying to hold on too tight. When you get on the other side and if you do make it, you’re like, “I wish I was back in the other season because there’s much more freedom there. All this stuff depends on me and it’s a lot heavier weight.” It’s appreciating what season we are and recognizing and leaning fully into it to express it that way can unlock a lot.

I even look back at my career. I wish I would have learned that sooner for sure. Before we move on to all the things you’re doing, which is a lot. It’s going to be fun to dive into your career path. What was the experience? I’ve had some of the references that I mentioned that it’s not something that you often tell a lot, which speaks to your humility. You were able to play on the first-ever Nigerian Olympic basketball team. What did that experience mean to you? What was that journey like?

It was the pinnacle, the peak, it was retribution. It felt like I got another chance to be on the high stage one last time because I was at the end of my career. Once I made that decision to go to a lower-level team, it kept on going and my injury kept getting worse. It was getting to a point where I didn’t feel like I was having fun, as much fun as I wanted to. I wasn’t winning, which is what I always came to do. If I couldn’t be a part of a winning situation, I didn’t feel like it was worth continuing to put my body through the damage that I was already doing.

Fail faster so you can try to get back to winning faster. Click To Tweet

Getting the opportunity to even try out for the Olympic team was a struggle. I was not going to go. I got the call and at first, I thought it was a scam. I cannot play a game without having both of my knees drained with full 30cc syringes and I can’t walk for a few days. It’s like, “Why am I going to even try?” It was my younger brother who was like, “Are you crazy? You have to try out for this. You have to go. What do you have to lose? At the worst, you get to see China where the training camp was and you come back.” I was like, “You’re right.” I thank him to this day for that because he believed in me and he pushed me to get out of my own way and stop feeling sorry for myself.

Everything was great. We didn’t have to practice too much so I didn’t have to strain myself that much. I was able to be a veteran voice and player on the team. I didn’t have too much responsibility, but I had enough and I was able to contribute. We had a Cinderella story and I’d never been a part of a Cinderella situation. Here we are, underdog again, had to play into this tournament that gives you birth in the 2012 Olympics. We got that third-place spot. No one thought Nigeria never been. If an African country is going to go, it’s going to be Angola and one of the other countries that always goes and that was us. We beat Greece and be on the biggest stage. It’s interesting how life comes to a full circle, an example of a full circle. Here I am back on the court looking across from Kobe, LeBron, Carmelo, all these players. We came in together.

I was always trying to get back to playing with or against them, and here I do have that opportunity to suit up and test my metal against the best. I’m eternally grateful for that. It’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. I tell people all the time if you have the chance to play international, do it. It’s a whole other type of internal feeling when you’re representing a country. It’s our representation of war to some extent. There’s a lot of pride. There’s everything that comes with it. It’s a different emotional experience as an athlete. Go play for your team, this team that’s a made-up thing. Not the country USA, this is a country that you’re representing. Nigeria, that’s a country of 200 million-plus.

In looking back, I know you’ve played against a lot of great players, but who are the standouts in your mind that the people made it easy?

I named multiple and everybody knows that Dream Team and all the other ones. There are some players that are a cut above. They’re geniuses in whatever sport they play in. Kobe is on that list for sure. LeBron and Chris Paul are on the list. The easier question for me to answer is, who was the most surprising? That for me was Kevin Durant because I had never played against him before. We were supposed to be the same height. I’m 6’9” and he’s supposed to be 6’9” too, but I will tell you categorically that is not true. I can remember the play like it was yesterday. The ball swings around the court and it came to Kevin Durant. I was closing out to him in the corner and he was going to shoot at three. When I’m fully extended, my arms are a 7-foot plus. It’s pretty tall. This man shot over me like I was a child. He’s a full head taller than me. I was like, “There’s no way he’s 6’9”.” He’s good, tall and talented. All of them were and Carmelo won one of the best games in Olympic history. It’s an amazing talent.

One thing I want to know about is this career path of yours because it’s quite funny to me to see the different areas that you explored. Correct me if I’m wrong on any of these but initially, it was pre-med that turned into an Anthropology major before competing in pro ball. I believe there’s a stint as an assistant athletic director before working in the finance world. Talk to me about that journey and if I miss any, fill in the gaps on that too.

You’ve got all of them. From the outside looking in, it looks crazy. All of the moves made sense to me as I was going. What you’re seeing is me following my passions and trying to go deep on all of them and walking through open doors that come up that I feel like are interesting and feel like the direction that I should and want to go. Becoming a doctor was my passion from the time I was in seventh grade. I did a report on the heart and I was like, “This is awesome. This is what I want to do.” My natural curiosity kicked in and I started researching on my own outside of the report that I had to do for school. I found out cardiologists are the ones who work on people’s hearts and I was like, “That’s the type of doctor that I want to be.” I was clear about what I wanted it to look like and what I wanted to do. That’s what I always had as my target.

UAC 111 | Recipe For Successful Life

Recipe For Successful Life: Once you do something long enough, naturally it starts to define you.

 

It was good because it was a big goal. I was striving towards that and I was like, “How do I make that happen? How do I get to a great school where I can get a great education to become a great doctor?” which is why I chose Penn. I wanted the best of both worlds. I love basketball too once I came into it, but it didn’t trump what I came to do. I was like, “I need both. How can I do both at a high level?” When I got to school, I was like, “I love Bio. I’m going to be a Bio major.” Being a Bio major and D1 basketball player is difficult at an Ivy League school. It’s not impossible but it felt that I was doing myself a disservice because I was competing with kids who had that their whole life, whereas I had this whole other life outside of that. I had graded advisors through the athletics department who helped me structure a program that made sense for me.

I stayed pre-med and did all the requirements, but what I did was I linked in and out to where I did it over four years instead of three years. Thinking I can take my MCATs after school and give myself a year to figure it out and I can be successful in the classes as opposed to struggling through. Two, I looked at other alternative majors. I start to look at all the different classes that I was naturally attracted to, African-American Studies, Social Sciences, all these different kinds of alternative classes that were interesting to me to learn about. I started to think about what skillset-wise I wanted to bring to the table as a doctor. That’s where Medical Anthropology came in. It was a department and curriculum that was developed there at the University of Pennsylvania by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Frances Barg. She’s an amazing teacher. I took one of her classes as an elective and I was hooked. I didn’t even know that major existed.

It was basically the study of medicine in different cultures. It was an awesome complement to traditional Western medicine and the learning that I was already having on the pre-med side. That’s how I piece that together. It was never about what I could do with that degree. It was more about, “This is great learning for me as a person because I know I’m going to become a doctor.” In my mind, it’s like, “It’s a good base.” Basketball came in and took me all over the world. You asked about the early years of my basketball playing games. For the first two years at least, I carried around with me an MCAT prep book. It’s was thick. I’m like, “I need to start studying.” On top of the angst of trying to make it back to the NBA, I was also feeling under pressure to do something productive with my life and go back to medical school. It took time for me to let that go like, “That’s not my path anymore.”

I started to change as a person and what I wanted to do and what I was thinking about and also learning. I’d be on these planes and I’d be sitting in the exit row or first-class with a doctor. I talked to them about their day, what they do and how much they enjoy it. They all, by and large, complained about a lot of stuff. It was telling for me. What I learned from that was like, “They’re not that much different than me being a highly paid employee,” but they don’t run their business. They are subject to all the rules and regulations of the hospital and whatever regime they’re working under. A lot of it is turned into paperwork and not unless about the thing that brought me into it, which was people, I want to help people. That was informative for me.

Fast forward to the end part of my career, I would say year eight, I was like, “This career is going long. I should probably start to think about the end.” I tried to map out a five-year plan and I had some great advice from a mentor who was like, “Why don’t you start doing some stuff and volunteer your time while you’re playing? Whatever you think you might be interested in, try to see if you can get involved with it.” It was great advice. I ended up shadowing at a hospital manager, which was an amazing experience, especially being in Germany. I got the opportunity and took the chance to talk to my professor, Professor Barg, back at school.

I was like, “I got this great degree. I’m happy I did it. I had been playing basketball at this time. I’m trying to figure out what my next steps could be. I don’t know if I should get an MBA, but here’s what I’m thinking. I don’t think medical school is my path, but I still am passionate about healthcare. I’m thinking more on the management side maybe.” She was like, “Why don’t you look into public health? Having a Master’s in public health is a highly-coveted thing in the hospital. Most management has somebody with an MPH on it and it could be a good pathway for you into that world.” That’s where that idea came from.

I found a great program where I could study at the University of Liverpool and do a lot of remote work while I was still playing. I dove into that and I got some amazing training but it was also a reintroduction to learning. I spent 5, 6 years not doing much on the learning front. I barely started getting back into reading books because I was like, “I’m going to focus on basketball,” because I never had that. For me, that experience, the MPH was learning how to learn, pushing myself again in that realm. Also, I want it to signal to those that I was going to be interviewing with when I came out that I was using this time productively.

Once you do something long enough, naturally it starts to define you. Click To Tweet

The heading for me was healthcare management in my mind. When I was done, which was two years into what I thought was a five-year plan, I was lost. The things that I still gravitate towards were healthcare management as a pathway and sports management because of my basketball background, but also the overarching thing that I was thinking that I wanted to do with something in business. Something where I can do strategic thinking and help people for the long-term in the way I hope to help them. I looked at that and the third thing that I knew I wanted to do was train kids in basketball and give back all that I felt like I had been given.

That’s how the assistant athletic director job comes into play because the first thing that I knew I wanted to do was hit the ground and start training kids. I went back to my high school coaches and I said, “I’m here. Use me. I’d love to help.” They did. They were like, “Here’s a group of kids.” I will come in. It started with me having one kid. Every time he was available, I would go in the gym with them and we do drills, but it was more about me trying to impart my mind to him and talk to him about the stuff we talked about so he could figure it out sooner. One turned into 2, 4, 6 and turned into me having sessions of 20 to 30 kids. It was exhausting but I loved it.

Since I was around all the time and I was at school, they saw me floating. I was having meetings trying to figure out what my move was going to be, they offered me a job. They knew that it wasn’t necessarily my long-term goal, but they said, “We would love to have you be involved here at the school as much as you want to be.” For me, it was a no brainer. It was a way to give back to a community that helped me and also impact kids’ lives every day. That’s how I got into that role, but I was still always searching and I was still talking to a lot of people. It was through conversations that I had in that role that led me to financial services.

A mentor of mine put me in touch with the people we had at Wells Fargo. I started having some great conversations with them about their financial advisor and training program. I was thinking about making the move until I talked to one of my good friends who you spoke with, Paul. He was working at Capital Group. I was asking him like, “What do you think? You’ve known me forever. Do you think I’d be good at this? Am I crazy?” He’s like, “No, you’d be great at it, but it’s a big switch so you should be sure about it. It’s risky. If you are serious, you should look at Capital Group potentially because it’s a great company, a great place to learn organically. You won’t get thrown out there to try to fend for yourself and you’ll learn how to take care of people in the right way.” I was like, “That sounds right up my alley.” I did my research and I was like, “It will be a great opportunity.” I put my application in and the rest is history. That was a ridiculously long-winded way to answer that question. I hope that helped.

That was great. I love it because it gives a nice picture of the messy, scattered path that it takes for all of us. It does take that to find out what we’re good at, what we’re not, what we’re passionate about, what we’re not. You figure you learn by doing. That’s how we all learn as humans. As a takeaway from all of that, it’s important for all of us to realize is one of the keys in everything was you were interested. To be interested in something and pursue it so you can learn, is this interest valid or not? Am I interested in the idea of it or am I interested in the reality of it? Those are two different things and you don’t know until you get that experience. It’s also cool because each level or aspect of it gave you a specific skill or knowledge base that allowed you to open the next door.

A lot of times as humans, the thing that we fear is that failure aspect of if I go down this path and fail and I have to go to the starting line and start over again. That’s never the case because what you learned will help you take a few steps back and pivot to a new direction without going all the way back to the beginning. That unlocks our ability to start opening those doors more and taking some of those risks and seeing. It’s always hard at the moment. I want to know a little bit more about the big transition shift because after you play ball professionally for ten years and you go into a new path, that is undeniably a scary thing. Even for me, after 3.5 years, I’ve lost all this time with my peers and I’m starting from a lower position and all those insecurities or doubts about it. Talk to me about your experience in the transition from what you had known and been good at into something that was entirely new. How you were able to navigate that or what the inward process was like for that.

It was hard. This was another time frame where it was probably another low moment for me, much more so than I had anticipated. I had always prided myself on seeing myself and presenting myself and making sure that I’m more than an athlete. I’m thinking about things I’m working on outside of sports. You do something for long enough and it naturally defines you and starts to define you. That was what it was for me. I didn’t realize how much of my personality and identity was wrapped up in it until it was gone. This was a difficult thing to deal with.

UAC 111 | Recipe For Successful Life

Recipe For Successful Life: It’s a worthy cause to put the energy, time, effort, and sacrifice into something bigger than yourself.

 

The big fear is have I lived the best time in my life? I’m 32 years old. That was heavy for me. I feel fortunate that I had a lot of family support and people that care about me that brought me up when I needed it. I finished my dissertation for my MPH, for anybody that’s ever gone through that process, it’s 9 to 12 months of research and writing. It’s exhausting, to say the least. The second I put the final period on it and sent it in, I planned a trip to go visit my younger brother in Singapore where he’s living at the time, to do nothing.

This is my brother that told me I should get my butt over to China to go try for the Olympic team. This was his advice too. He was like, “Stop sitting around. Come out here and figure it out.” He was right and I did. I was a bum for about a month while I was there sleeping on his couch. This is my little brother who I’m usually taking care of. It’s a huge role reversal, but I’m grateful to him for the opportunity to clear my mind at a difficult time on a lot of fronts, personal side and everything. I was able to do a ton of thinking, reading and a lot of writing of my thoughts to try to map my mind. That’s how I envisioned it.

I was seeing where the common threads were. I wanted to throw all the options out there and start picking through to get down to 2 or 3. Those are the three that I highlighted for you after all that time and all the thinking of stuff that might be interesting and might be cool to get into. What I’d like to do if I didn’t get paid for it. It was going more inward. What was the point? Why was I trying to be all these different things? Why was I trying to be a doctor in the first place? I found that common thread was always about people. It was about loving people and wanting to help as much as I could. What I found was there are a ton of jobs that you can do where you help people. It was like, “Which ones do I feel like I have a unique skillset for and can I even get involved in that way?”

I started trying to run down the different paths that I saw. Every time I had a conversation that led to another conversation and opened my eyes to more possibilities and options. Financial service wasn’t even on my list of things to do but in retrospect, it makes a lot of sense because I see myself as people’s financial doctor. They come to me with problems. I diagnosed the issue and I try to find solutions for them. I try to find preventative solutions for folks as much as I can, but sometimes it’s fixed after the fact and making sure that we’re good and healthy going forward. The same process, the same type of consultative approach I wanted to be able to take as a medical doctor but I felt like I couldn’t because of the system. Now, I’m in a scenario where my whole day is oriented around, “How can I help?” I love that.

One of the things I wanted to highlight too is that I feel that there’s such truth in life to what you highlighted from your experiences that we always have to develop on the inside before we can develop on the outside. That process of taking space and time to get clear inwardly allowed you to move forward outwardly in a much better and efficient way. That little bit of space, it doesn’t happen by chance. Something I always have to remind myself of is if you don’t stop, sit down and pause and reflect. You’re going to spin circles. That’s counterintuitive to take time away from doing something to get better at something. When we step back, it does add up.

It didn’t happen that once. I kept revisiting. I still do to this day. My why is what’s more solidified to where I see when I wake up, I’m like, “I know why I’m here. I know what I’m doing, let’s go.” Why I feel like I’m on the right track is because for the first time since I stopped playing, I feel alive again. I have a goal that’s big. Something I’m trying to achieve that’s bigger than me and outside of me. It’s a worthy cause to put the energy, time, effort and sacrifice into it. That was the fear that haunted me in the beginning. It was a hard time. It’s important for people to know that it doesn’t happen overnight or one time. I also got some great advice that I might be a person that needs to try a lot of things to know what you don’t want. I was having some paralysis by analysis happening with too many options and too many ideas. I wasn’t doing any of them and I was getting antsy and frustrated. That advice came at the right time because I started doing them.

That question, I thought it was powerful that you asked. The ultimate fear is, “Have I lived the best years of my life? Have I gone through the best and the rest is downhill?” That’s something that many people reading and all of us who are human can relate to. They’re asking that question. What encouragement or advice would you give them?

Too often, people want to skip the hard work, not realizing it’s how you get better and what separates you from the rest. Click To Tweet

Think bigger. Most likely as I was, you’re limiting the idea of you have the best of what you can do to what you’ve seen, but there’s always more. It’s up to you to have faith and think bigger. It’s okay to be a little scared of what comes to your mind. Don’t shoo it away because I feel like it wasn’t exactly this, but I had the vision of helping a lot of people in some way. I only knew these jobs. Those are the only jobs that even were in the realm of possibilities or stuff like maybe being exact get Nike or Adidas. I was coming up with stuff because these are the things that I see in my world. As I expanded my world, more doors open, more options showed up and more ways that I can help even more people. What it came down to is taking the time to figure out who I’m here to help, how and picking one and saying, “This is the way I’d like to do that.” I could have done it as a coach. I could have done it in healthcare. I could have done it in all these different fields but I chose this one for specific reasons.

Five years with Capital Group, how did you take your experiences and lessons learned during your ten years playing professionally? How did that shape the five years with Capital Group, as you approached a whole new arena and endeavor with new goals and new skills required? What transferred over from those ten years and what you learned from that experience to help you travel down that road the five years to where you are now successfully?

It’s everything, every single small part. It’s a mindset that’s built trial through fire in the sports world. That’s my approach to everything. Come in early, stay late and win now. Have a big goal but win now. I always have these long-term things that I’m striving for. I try to make them high so they stretch me, but I try not to get too caught up in where I’m at in terms of reaching that end goal as much as what do I need to do every day to get there. I feel like I’m building a staircase to those big goals over time. It starts every season and the goal is to win a championship. You’ve got to win in practice, you’ve got to win each different individual game to give yourself the chance to do that at the end. I see my career as a lot of seasons.

On a practical level, what role did you start out with? What role do you have? How did you think about those stepping stones in those roles?

I started at the most junior level that you could be on the team and it was tough. I was 32 years old and I was doing the administrative type of stuff. I was sitting on a desk. I was overqualified essentially for the job, but I knew coming in what I wanted to do was what I’m doing as an investment counselor. I knew I needed to learn a lot. For me, I looked at it as I’m a rookie again so I’ve got to do rookie stuff. I’m not going to be a rookie for too long because I’m going to apply the discipline and the skills that I’ve gained over the years to speed up the pace. That proved to be a misnomer because you can’t speed up time. Time is always going to take as what it’s going to take. I had to struggle with that. I had to learn how to think more long-term. I had to get out of a one and done season type of mentality and start thinking in 30-year chunks. This was all difficult work, but it was important work, I would say.

As I did that, it started to become more about the foundation. What are you trying to build? Build it strong. It needs to be on a strong foundation. As opposed to getting there quick, take your time and get there, but build it to last. That started to become my focus. With that focus, I started to look at skillset. What skillset do I want to build? Do I need to build to be the best advisor that I want to be five years down the road when I was first starting? That’s what I threw myself into. Learning outside of work, obviously dominating everything that I needed to do at work, but pushing myself outside of work to get licensing and credentialing in place. It’s not for a show, but for my knowledge.

I can add value to people and be the adviser that I hope to be. It’s not leaning on everybody else all the time, but knowing my stuff. That’s what’s led in large part to any success that I’ve seen far. I truly believe it will lead to success in the future. The last piece was tapping into the knowledge and the truth that I learned playing that I can create whatever future that I envision for myself. If I can get into the game, I can win the game. Taking that mentality, I was able to take initiative on some stuff before I was even granted the role to show like, “I’m doing the work already. Here’s how I would love to partner with you.” That was also a turning point for me and my career.

UAC 111 | Recipe For Successful Life

Recipe For Successful Life: You can create any future you envision for yourself. If you can get into the game, you can win the game.

 

Taking initiative is huge and it is such a vital skill in life. You are a principled person as we’ve been talking, as people I heard from, even what you shared. What would you say are those governing or foundational principles for you in your life?

There are many I would say but I try to always make things simple. If I had to choose one, it’s to give more and expect nothing. I truly believe that my ultimate success or anybody’s ultimate success is going to be based on how many people they help. Am I adding value? Am I impacting as many folks as possible in the way that I’m uniquely suited to help? That’s to me is the guiding question. Whenever stuff starts going haywire, the thing that brings me back to the center is, “Have I helped anybody now?” If the answer is no, I’m not on track. I didn’t do what I came to do. I would say that’s the main foundational principle. Outside of that, it’s all the stuff that I feel like all of us hopefully can have at the core of us, love for our fellow men and women, respect, trust is huge in my business but also for me, authenticity. To me, it’s about thinking outwardly. If I’m doing that, I feel like everything else will line itself up.

I heard a sermon about Jesus’ temptation in the desert. He made the illustration that our nature and Satan, what he was trying to do at that moment was to prove the point that it’s all about, “What can you give me?” Jesus’ way and what he was proving was that it’s all about, “What can I give you?” Giving more is what he led by example. He gave it all including his life. That is how I believe we have the most blessed life for sure, give more and take less. I love that question, “Am I adding value?” That’s a good one to take home.

One of the things that struck me about our conversation in getting to know you more is there are these threefold character traits about you that are such a powerful combination and it’s this combination of hard work. That’s one of the feedbacks that your friends gave that’s one of your superpowers, also faith and optimism. They all commented that you’re incredibly optimistic and they clarify, “It’s not only optimism but it’s also faith.” Also, the emphasis on failing fast. Hard work, having faith, optimism and having the mindset to fail fast is such a powerful recipe. What are your thoughts on those three things as a part of you or is it important to embrace in our own journey?

First, I’m honored that those are the words that you used to describe me. That makes me feel I’m doing something right. Those are the three. Too often, people want to skip the hard work. I had the blessing of having a coach, trainer, big brother who believed in me before I believed in myself. One of the things that he always used to say is we used to get to a certain point in time in the workout and you’d be dog tired. This is when he would get the most animated and he’d be like, “This is when you get better. This is when you start to separate.” I’ll never forget it because I know it to be the truth. I saw it to be the truth. You feel like crap at the moment but suffer now and live like a champion later. It’s always those games when all of a sudden, my body took over and did something that I didn’t even tell it to do because I put it through in those times when I didn’t feel like I can move another muscle. It’s that hard work. It’s always been at the core of who I am and how I found success. I don’t think I can reiterate it enough.

Too often people are like, “If it’s my destiny, it should be easy.” I’m like, “No, the idea might come to you easy, but you’ve got to go deep. You’ve got to dig in and do the work.” There was a sermon that I heard and I loved that broke this down pretty well. I have a whiteboard in my office. Two of the main things that stay up there are GMEN, Give More Expect Nothing. The other one is BPA and what that stands for is Believe, Prepare, Achieve. It’s those three things that you’ve described. Faith and optimism is the belief piece, prepare is that hard work. The final, that’s when the achievement comes into play. You can’t get to the last step without the first two.

One of my favorite verses, 1 Peter 3:15, he says, “Being compared to give a defense for those who ask of the hope that is within you, yet doing it with gentleness and respect.” It’s beautiful because it also speaks to our role as children of God that you’re supposed to be prepared. First of all, you have to believe that there’s a God and that he’s working through you. Be prepared by knowing him and having a relationship with him and achieving is being able to love others well and humility is what that is. Speaking of the hope instead of sharing it, trying to give more and doing it with gentleness, respect and you’re the same as everyone else. It’s such a cool perspective to have. We’ve got a few one-offs I want to ask you, Koko. I want to know where you’re at with Capital Group. What are you most excited about and what is captivating your vision for what you’re trying to accomplish or pursue as a part of them?

You may feel like crap at the moment, but suffer now and live like a champion later. Click To Tweet

I’m most excited about the alignment of what I feel is my personal mission and the mission of my company. I can’t be more grateful for that, for the fact that I landed at a place that has morals and values that match mine. The fact that some of the stuff that I’ve envisioned is starting to play itself out in terms of me being able to give back from the knowledge and expertise that I’ve been able to attain there and that I have at my disposal to those that can’t afford to get that knowledge and expertise. Going into those types of communities. Talking to other minorities, talking to youth and trying to plant the seed about the importance of stewardship over the things we’ve been blessed. At the end of the day, that’s what this is about.

For me, that’s the most fulfilling about what I get to do. It’s talking to athletes, entertainers, kids, talking at community groups and encouraging them to know that it is possible for them to achieve financial security and independence. It’s a matter of understanding the steps. What brought me into the industry was feeling, “Why didn’t anybody ever talk to me about this before?” Two, maybe that’s why I walked the path that I want to be that resource for others who have walked a similar path, maybe look like me, maybe resonate with my story for whatever variety of reasons. Maybe I’m supposed to help in this way. That’s the thing I’m most excited about what I get to do in terms of helping and giving more in that way.

What scares you? What is that scary 10, 15, 20-year vision? The legacy you want to leave with that.

The legacy doesn’t scare me. The legacy excites me. The scary thing for me is not achieving what I said I have to do. The way that would happen is not being able to find the clientele to keep the lights on and keep my job that I can keep giving to those that I feel needed. That’s not going to happen because I’m about to crush it.

When it comes to things we’re pursuing, if something scares you, that’s a good thing because it’s bigger than your current capacity. It’s between the scary because it’s beyond where you’re currently at versus scary because beyond what you think you’re capable of in the future. That’s a big difference even though it seems small. It’s a massive difference in respect. I love that you highlighted that. What books have you read that have had the biggest impact on you?

There is a lot I can share. I can share some that I have put into some lists for presentations and purpose related books and also investment stuff. I would say what I’ve been recommending to a bunch of people is The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday. It’s quick, it’s fast, but it’s a good reminder of some basic truths about the perspective that they helped me at a time when I lost a little perspective. They could be good for everybody. If they don’t know to learn about and also if they do know to remember like, “Everything’s a win out here.” The Four Agreements was a great book. That helped in terms of managing yourself, your internal and finding those ways to be at peace. I love The Alchemist, The ONE Thing and I love the book that I’m reading, which is about different cultures and how they think of us here in the US, the Japanese, Chinese, is interesting.

What is it called?

UAC 111 | Recipe For Successful Life

Recipe For Successful Life: We have a lot of power to be able to do a lot, but ultimately our success is outside of our hands.

 

Culture Hacks by Richard Conrad. It highlights a lot of stuff that you have to experience through normal life. It’s interesting how the corollaries between other cultures and how that’s being manifested in different ways. It’s simple stuff like us as Americans thinking linearly, right and wrong, black and white. Getting to a level where you realize there’s gray. East Asian culture already appreciates the fact that there’s gray. They live in the gray a lot of times. It further highlights for me on a personal level the need for greater understanding amongst people in the world. This is a long-term prayer.

I want to read that book. That sounds awesome. What habit or belief has most positively impacted you in your life?

Affirming what I want and being careful with my words. It’s one of the things that made a tremendous impact on my life. Paying attention to the intention of my words and actions.

If you could give a TED Talk, what would it be and why?

I did a TED Talk-style presentation at my job. I didn’t know what I was going to talk about. Definitely, I felt like I didn’t want to talk about myself, but what I found in that process was that I was able to talk about gratitude and show gratitude to my family for all the support over the years through that. That would be an awesome thing to highlight again if I ever did a TED Talk.

Gratitude is powerful. If you could send a morning text reminder to every up and comer out there, what would you say and why? This is the text message they’d get on their phones every morning from you. What phrase or sentence or what would you say and why in that text?

“Be still.” The reason I would say that is because that’s what I needed and I always need to remember, which is, I’ve got to keep moving on. We have a lot of power to be able to do a lot, but ultimately our success is outside of our hands. As an up and comer, if I were to categorize them, I tend to be ambitious, driven and focused on the goal. What I’ve found over time is that it can be difficult to be present. That’s what that message means to me is be here. You don’t miss these moments. It’s different for me and it’s different for everybody. For me, that means is I see the nuances and the little inflections that my son makes in his voice or how he’s smiling at me or that he’s watching me doing something as opposed to being on my phone and checking email or continuing to push to further my career. Be there for breakfast, pick him up for the school play and be there as much as I can. Be present, be still and trust it. As long as I’m being consistent about the work, I’m going to win. It’s not a matter of if, it’s when. I feel like it’s going to be the same for everybody that’s reading. Trust that.

Believe, prepare, and achieve. Only then can you achieve. Click To Tweet

Be still. Those are great words. Koko, this has been awesome. Thank you for taking the time. I appreciate it. If people wanted to reach out or ask questions, where’s the best place to connect and learn more?

I have a Facebook page that I’m going to be starting to populate and share content. It’s mostly around financial literacy topics and the things that I work on, but it’s a great place to connect. I also have an Instagram page where you can connect with me directly. I’m happy to answer questions or connect via that. It’s @Koko.Archibong on Instagram.

Koko, until next time. This has been a joy. I’m grateful for coming on and sharing all the wisdom you get to drop. Thank you.

Thank you. I appreciate it.

For our audience, I hope you have an up and coming week.

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About Koko Archibong

UAC 111 | Recipe For Successful LifeKoko Archibong is a Vice President and Investment Counselor for Capital Group Private Client Services. He works with high net worth individuals and their families to design customized plans for protecting and growing their wealth, often over multiple generations.

Koko specializes in working with professional athletes and entertainers. He has significant experience in the sports world, having spent a decade as a professional basketball player in the NBA and overseas, and was a member of the Nigerian Olympic team during the 2012 summer games in London.

Koko holds the Certified Private Wealth Advisor® designation and is a CFA level II candidate. He has a bachelor’s degree from University of Pennsylvania and a master’s from the University of Liverpool.

He lives in Los Angeles, CA with his wife and son.

Connect with Koko!

@koko.archibong – Koko’s Instagram page

Koko Archibong – Facebook

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