Interviews

Mide Akerewusi, Founder and CEO of AGENTSC on overcoming fear

Mide Akerewusi is the Founder and CEO of AGENTSC, a fundraising and social change agency helping organizations attract significant financial investments. Mide’s story reminds us that fear can be a powerful emotion in holding us back from accomplishing our dreams, no matter where we are in our career. But when we overcome the voice in our head holding us back, we have the freedom to achieve. Mide’s success shows us the power of perseverance and grit and shares some practical tips for a career with impact.

What does meaningful work mean to you?

Meaningful work is mindful work. We often equate the value of our roles with job titles or perks. However, a friend helped me understand years ago that my vocation – my purpose – is more important than my career and what I do.

I have never aligned with the concept of the 9 to 5.  For me, my work is meaningful when it involves a 24/7 commitment to getting things done. I think meaningful work also requires partnering with meaningful people, meaningful teams, and meaningful organizations.

There is a meaningful eco-system and I am glad to be part of it.

Tell me about your company and why you started it.

AGENTSC is an agency specializing in fundraising and social change. We help social impact organizations attract significant financial investments. Our clients are some of the world’s most successful nonprofits, spanning Australia, Canada, UK and USA.

I had a pretty exhilarating ascension through the ranks of fundraising, working for a number of inspiring nonprofits in the UK and Canada. By the time I had reached the top of my profession, I was only 37 years-old and knew deep inside that I had missed the opportunity to fine-tune some of my leadership skills. Thus I took a step down the career ladder to work for Pathways to Education for almost five years, acquiring the skills and experience that I lacked.

I knew entering into my job at Pathways, that the mark of accomplishing my mission would be the successful completion of their $185 million fundraising campaign and a marked reduction in the number of youth dropping out of high school. When we achieved these goals, I had the confidence to launch AGENTSC.

Today AGENTSC is respected and recognized in different parts of the world for our great work.

What is the greatest challenge you had to overcome to make this idea a reality and how did you go about doing it?

Fear was my greatest challenge. To be precise, fear of not having clients and money to sustain the business felt stifling. As much as I felt ready to go it alone with AGENTSC, I was scared to take the first step. Though I have always been someone who throws caution to the wind and takes big risks, I am far from cavalier. I wanted AGENTSC to be really successful and that added to my anxiety. Three things helped me overcome my fear:

  1. I had support from an excellent career coach who helped me set goals and important steps towards my vision
  2. I built a network of trusted self-employed people who were supportive of the concept of AGENTSC and shared advice and expertise to launch the business
  3. My family encouraged me to go for it. They believed in what I was trying to do.

What advice do you have for people looking for meaningful jobs?

In her book entitled Grit, Angela Duckworth talks about passion and perseverance as the hallmarks of success.

On a practical level, grit helps you continually work to refine your ambition, embrace a commitment to lifelong learning, and stay focused even when you experience knock-backs or encounter barriers on the way.

My advice to people seeking a meaningful job is don’t settle for anything less than your dream job. Have some grit. Be 100% committed to the search. If you get knocked down seven times, stand up eight times.

Do you have a philosophy you live/work by?

I have three philosophies I live and work by:

  1. Always put the interests of others above your own
  2. Dream big dreams
  3. Never let a mistake leave the kitchen (thank you, Gordon Ramsey)

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Mritunjay (MJ) Sinha on starting a career in impact investing

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