“Ladybrille’s 15 Questions with . . .” is a feature that salutes some of the most important names in the fashion and entertainment industries around the globe, with a particular emphasis on Africa. We hope you are as inspired as we are with the brilliant men and women in these industries that make the world go round.
Our feature today is with Audu Maikori, founder of Chocolate City Group, one of Africa’s leading music labels which is home to some of the continent’s biggest hip hop stars including M.I, Jesse Jagz , Ice Prince, Brymo, Tonii & Dj Caise. Since it’s creation in 2003, Chocolate City has won numerous local and international accolades for its work in the creative industries. In 2007, the Label won a global music award and recognition by the British Council becoming the first Nigerian music company to attain that.
Ladybrille caught up with Audu Maikori to discuss about his work, his passions and everything in general. Enjoy.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Describe your career. What exactly do you do?
Audu M.: I am the founder and CEO of Chocolate City Group made up of Chocolate City Music, Chocolate City Media and Chocolate City Distribution. I like to describe my job as finding the right talent(both artistic and human resource), marketing the companies I administer to the world and finding ways to inspire clients (both potential and current)and to keep patronizing the services these companies offer. Like any great company, none of this is my individual effort but is a result of the support, input and hard work of a great team that ensure these goals and objectives are achieved.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: How did you end up in your chosen field?
Audu M.: I have been surrounded by music and arts since childhood. I had piano lessons growing up and both my parents were members 0f the choir and were music fanatics. At age of 4 I was drawing and sketching images quite well. In University of Jos, where I studied for my first degree, I was heavily involved in show promotions and raves. After my call to bar I started off representing artistes (as legal counsel) mainly because I was interested in the business side of the show and how they could be protected from pirates etc. In 2001, along with some partners, we formed GAP (Guild of Artistes and Poets) to discover and foster growth for the arts and I would say at a point I realized that even though GAP provided a platform for discovery and development of talent, without money the arts/ artists would die off, so we needed a commercial angle instead of the non-for profit vehicle. In 2003 Chocolate City was registered and the rest as they say is history.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: How do you balance the demands of your career with the demands in your personal life?
Audu M.: It is tough I must admit, but I think that’s the beauty of doing what you love, as the distinction sometimes isn’t clearly defined. Therein lies the danger as well, because your family can easily suffer. However, I find time to just runaway with my family and focus on just being a family man and not a show business practitioner.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Hmm . . . So what has been the most difficult challenge you have faced in getting to where you are?
Audu M.: When I started off my biggest challenge was nobody believed in the vision. They heard me , they listened as I painted a picture of the vision but they just didn’t get it. My friends used to laugh at me behind my back. They mocked the idea that a lawyer would leave regular practice and delve successfully into music. Now those friends are quick to identify with Chocolate City and me. Interestingly, the more they doubted, the more I believed. The more they told me it couldn’t and wouldn’t succeed, the more I was spurred to show them that it could and it would. I tell aspiring entrepreneurs to understand when you have a dream no one else can see it except the dreamer. When you narrate the dream the listener can only grasp a little of your dream because it is more graphic to the dreamer – so why take their interpretation of your dream, I always ask, why?
LADYBRILLEmag.com: How do you define success?
Audu M.: It is the ability to carry/execute or achieve goal(s), objective(s), task(s), and/or mission(s) diligently and consistently.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the one thing you wish most people knew about you?
Audu M.: That I am a down-to-earth person, no airs about me but I just happen to not smile a lot and people read that as arrogance because when people first meet me that’s the first thing they say “wow you so different from what I thought” etc! So guys I am really nice (even if I say so myself), forget the straight face..its in the genes!
LADYBRILLEmag.com: Share with us your memory of the happiest moment in your life?
Audu M.: Two moments, the moment I realized my girlfriend was now my wife and when I won my first international award in 2007.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Congrats on the award…it’s quite an honor.) What keeps you awake at night?
Audu M.: Work! Catching up on emails and my playstation.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: (Oh my, another playstation addict.) So what drives you?
Audu M.: The need to be part of a positive change, to leave a legacy that people will remember either improved their lives or inspired them to a better change.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What makes you get up everyday to do what you do all over again?
Audu M.: I have so many things I want to achieve in life, and that weight of those objectives doesn’t allow me to lie in bed all day…that aside, I am a very restless person..i am always doing something.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What are the daily principles you live by?
Audu M.: Honestly I can’t articulate anything on a daily basis, the only guiding principle is that God is in charge of my present and future and that through diligent hard-work I can achieve a lot. Through Jesus I can achieve all things even beyond my wildest dreams.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What inspires you?
Audu M.: Studying and discovering the unique individuality of every human being inspires me.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: When all is said and done, what do you want to be remembered most for?
Audu M.: I want to be remembered as a person who lived out his dreams despite all odds and inspired others to live out their (positive) dreams and leave the world a little better than they met it.
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What is the best piece of advice you ever received?
Audu M.: Read all you can, learn all you can and trust in God with all you heart, soul and might – that’s from my father and he’s right!
LADYBRILLEmag.com: What do you do to relax and reward yourself for all of your hard work?
Audu M.: I travel with my family sometimes or just hide indoors and chat about nothing or visit family and friends
To view Chocolate City’s website, click here.