Lies Successful People Tell


I was sitting in one of those overpriced restaurants on the island staring at my bill. You know that type of bill that causes nightmares later. While I was contemplating between doing dishes and paying for what I owed, the idea for this piece came. On a lady’s hand not far off my table was…


Text size

I was sitting in one of those overpriced restaurants on the island staring at my bill. You know that type of bill that causes nightmares later. While I was contemplating between doing dishes and paying for what I owed, the idea for this piece came.

On a lady’s hand not far off my table was a motivational book on how to be successful in life and career.

Below are some of the lies which the author and many successful people have told us in the past.

  1. I Started With Nothing

Whenever I hear this lie, I imagine that the successful person at the beginning of his sojourn went to a vendor/supplier and gave a Barack-Obama-Yes-We-Can-Speech asking for supplies of goods on credit and then, the vendor in turn stands from his seat and screams like Martin Luther, “I believe, that someday, you are going to pay back what you owe.” If that never happened, there is no way you can start a business with nothing.  No capital, no loan from friends/family, no personal savings?

With commercial bank interest rate at double digits, power supply still suffering epilepsy, and cost of production at an all-time high, Charles Darwin has a better chance convincing me about his evolution theory than any millionaire claiming to have started with absolute nothing.

  1. I Sleep For Only 4 Hours Daily (Some don’t sleep at all)

I always wonder who these successful people are trying to impress whenever they say this. It is possible at the infancy of your business, you were consumed with ambition that you forgot to sleep. However, as the business grows and more staff are employed, responsibility is delegated and sleep is enhanced for Le Boss.

Doesn’t sound like rocket science, does it? This successful people still observe the annual ritual of a summer vacation. Do they travel thousands of miles just to keep vigil? Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

  1. It Is Not About The Money

I always thought the major reason we are all encouraged to be self-employed is so we can quit the rat race.

I don’t know anyone who tolerates Lagos traffic for hours on end daily just because it feels good to be in an office. You are doing it to earn your pay! Why do you think these entrepreneurs blush sheepishly and develop a baritone voice whenever business clicks? There is something about credit alert.  This same successful persons who tell this lie would be dragging their feet if you request them to speak for free at a forum. Yet ask them “how much do you charge’’ after making the request and watch the conversation take a dramatic twist.

Having read and listened to many get rich sharp sharp messages, I could write many other lies but for some reasons, I would leave it here.

However, I have composed my own lie so that when I become successful and I am asked, “Sir, what is your success secret”? Yours sincerely would reply “I don’t eat Lunch”.

Image via HBCU Lifestyle


    1. Dickson
      I thought Charles Darwin himself later retracted his claims? Anyways; he has no empirical literature/ or case study to prove his claims…
      I dont believe it. …
      Thanks for reading
    1. Dickson
      Hahaha… true
      Seems the successful today were all never-do-wells back in school.
      But somehow; after school, the jinx was broken….funny

      Thanks for reading

  1. Ivy
    Omg! My boss says all these. Saying he doesn’t sleep and ish! Who cares? I know people who don’t like to sleep, but it’s my hobby. He will also say he doesn’t understand why we (staff) are excited when there’s holiday…huh? *ROTFL*
    1. Dickson
      It seems entrepreneurs saying “I dont sleep” shud be taken as seriously as adults saying “when I was ur age,…..”.
      They have probably heard it all their lives and they just go ahead to do same without asking questions

      Thanks d reading.

  2. Wizzlyn
    I was gonna say, I would show you this piece until I realized, you wrote it. Nice one. I don’t eat lunch…. Lol.
    What would mine be?. …that would be “I don’t read newspaper”
    They keep hiding the truth. That’s why I don’t believe there is a secret to success. Become successful and whatever you say is the secret. I don’t believe any successful person who says he knew he would arrive at his current state.
    Another annoying thing is books about how to be a billionaire written by men who are still finding their feet hoping that the book would become a best seller and earn them good money.
    Lastly, can someone tell me how every American author happen to be a best seller?
  3. Andronicus
    Funny piece.
    I agree with you that many successful people brag and exaggerate their paths to success (remember that secondary school book?)

    I am a member of a team of entrepreneurs. We make IT hardware like routers, modems etc.
    We are still at the startup stage though we have a product already in the market and others in development.
    I assure you that its hard to sleep when you are thinking of how to pay your staff.
    How to beat your competition (who are multinational giants).

    Yes we are in it for the big bucks, but that is on the long run.
    Right now it is passion for what we are doing that keeps us moving.
    This is why some of our staff don’t last. They are looking for money and that is not possible at this stage.
    Many times my colleague has considered quitting so that we can get regular jobs.
    You see your mates being promoted, driving fancy cars and you wonder what you are doing.
    Your parents are giving you side eye every day, trust me sleep becomes difficult.
    Trust me it’s passion and the knowledge that we are building a great product that keeps us going.
    We get paid the lowest right now.

    It’s true, you can’t start with nothing.
    You have rent to pay, other bills, overhead costs.
    Nobody trusts your business enough to want to be paid in shares (Nigerians want their cash sharply).
    Big companies want to take advantage of you and will not want to partner with you ‘cos you are small and unknown.
    Recently because we wanted to protect our IP rights, a big company we were pitching to told us we were not ready for business.
    After a bit of understanding, they threatened us with legal action and that was the end of our discussions with them.

    I know for a fact that these CEOs/business moguls keep irregular hours.
    Because the few meetings we’ve had with them were at very odd hours.
    Even though you delegate roles and hire brilliant minds/experts to run your company, you are the brains behind it.
    You can’t afford to be too relaxed and let competitors gain the upper hand.
    If things go south, you are the biggest loser.

    These ‘successful’ authors lie and exaggerate. But people like Richard Branson etc. do know what they are saying and that’s why I only read motivational books by proven business men and world leaders. Trust me it’s not rosey at the start. Especially in Nigeria where nobody cares about small businesses. You are on your own. If you like sleep, or go on vacation. That G-Wagen will not buy itself.

    1. Dickson
      Thanks for reading.
      U made so many valid points. However; I am glad an entrepreneur like yourself agrees wit me that no one starts with nothing…
      That point is very valid if we are to stop misleading those behind us.
  4. Skeptic
    Hi Dickson, very tricky name you’ve got there.

    1) I really don’t know how exactly you deem it impossible for anyone to have started from nothing, like, I don’t understand at all. You’ve never heard of people taking goods on credit and building a business from it? Never heard of people that do what’s called “oso afia” basically just living off commissions from bringing people to other people’s shops and starting their own business from it? Okay oh.

    2) I’m not even that successful and I don’t sleep much, I fail to see how this is a lie.

    3) You know, the top 50 richest people in the world right now are so rich they could afford not to work a second more for the rest of their lives, why do you reckon they still work? For the money? As for Lagos traffic and being in an office, when you consider the alternative, which is idling away at home, you’d realize it’s not so bad. A lot of people work just to feel useful, productive, like they’re doing something with their lives, not necessarily because of the money. There’s a reason people quit their well paying but too easy jobs for something more challenging, we humans crave purpose, work provides that.

    Perhaps this was tongue-in-cheek and I’m taking it too seriously, it’s a public holiday and I have time to kill.
    All this isn’t to say there’s not a bunch of lies some rich people tell, in fact, some could say these things while it’s untrue for their case, doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Take for instance, I could tell you I’m currently typing this from my yatch, but then I would be lying (or would I?…) doesn’t mean no one has ever posted a comment from a yatch.

    1. Dickson
      Dickson, a tricky name? Lmao.

      However I must appreciate you for painstakingly making ur points known.
      1. As an economics, no one starts with nothing.
      Capital can be in cash or otherwise. Many claiming to have started with nothing had inputs from acquaintances, friends or family. No one starts a business in autarky.

      2. Not sleeping much might be a habit formed over time….not necessarily due to work demands..psychologist do telk us that sufficient sleep is a necessity for the brain to perform optimally. Hence, insufficient sleep is counter productive.

      3.I don’t know about the top 50 and their reason for working. Besides, saying top 50 is generic, vague and somewhat ambiguous. You might want to read on a billionaire called Mark Cuban and see what the true life of a billionaire looks like. Its strssfree and calm…forget what the rest say….

  5. OluwaPRtoyosi
    This write up got me so happy that i sing…..”shomo dickson dickson”in Adewale Ayuba’s voice off the album “Ijo fuji”…….that been said your write up is so so true. Robert Kiyosaki is so guilty of this too much lie’s…

    Pls why won’t Dangote sleep, he even once had a former minister serving under him as his staff whilst he was minister…..

    Though sometimes entrepreneurs might have complications with their sleep at some point because of their business growth if it’s still grappling. However they still sleep.

    The story of enterprenuers saying I started with nothing is so not true, won’t u jump bus, you won’t print documents, Pls did they give u free meal ticket doing all that…

    God bless u and such a sharp writeup.

    1. Dickson
      Interestingly; I know that line from that song. ..
      More seriously; I think u really get my drift. How can a person who started with nothing pay for the basic everyday expenses like stationery, printing; photocopy etc.
      I could be absolutely wrong, but i would like to assume that it is ambition that keeps billionaires awake when they should be sleeping not necessarily work demands.
      Thanks for reading.
  6. Collins
    Very interesting got me laughing so hard especially the ‘I don’t eat Lunch’.I guess mine would be ‘I swore off breakfast, Lunch,Dinner and Girls’.lol..This article is correct from a Nigerian perspective.. From a Western perspective, like US, its possible to start with nothing, get your dad’s garage turn it into something, there is free electricity and you get a lot of things from scraps,that’s if you are into electronic, because America is a wonderland of waste…But all in all, Mr Dickson is absolutely right..I remember there was this debate in Camp about how one can be an entrepreneur without finance and see ‘ silly’ corp members agreeing and defending that one can be an entrepreneur in Nigeria with just ‘ IDEA’..Kai….Ideas may rule the World, which by the way I think its a lie’ but Money makes the world go round, without Money, the world is stuck in Limbo..
    For the record, Darwin has empirical literature to back up his theory of evolution.. Lol Mr Dickson..
    1. Dickson
      So true ..personally; i believe environment is the single most influential factor in a person’s life.
      It impacts on us all from our religious practice to our choice of curse words but dat is story for another day.
      However; on the Charles Darwin empirical evidence on evolution, Collins u might want to read more on that.
      Thanks for reading anyways
  7. Foyin_Pepperoni
    The earlier we realise that some of these people just want to be heard the better..
    They are the ones who convince young people to become entrepreneurs but still prefer to patronise ‘only’ successful entrepreneurs who have made it big. When they even decide to patronise the young ones, they impose their own price. It is well.. Biko I’m going to eat jellof rice and sallah meat.
  8. Don maximo
    Thanks for this piece! These ‘famous’ lies makes me feel like am lazy, dull, wasted my school fees! They never say the connecting dots that lead to their successes just to be seen as super-humans!
    Heard recently on Tv say u don’t need money but ideas to start a business! Like seriously? Do u pay shop rent with IDEAS?
  9. JAL

    A couple of things.

    1. You sound like you do not share these traits.
    2. You sound like you believed that these were the paths to success
    3. You sound like you have never worked outside Nigeria/Africa.

    What you said above may be lies to some and may be truths to others. I know this for a fact because I am successful and I move around a number of successful guys who say what you wrote. Also, when people say they started with nothing, ask what they mean by nothing. Their nothing may be something to you or may be even lower than nothing. So calm down with the whole “successful people bashing” and become successful so you can tell your own lies…or truths.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *