Richard Nyong: The audacity of enterprise

By Charles Odibo

BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), is a concept developed in the ninety’s business bestseller Built to Last, by legendary Jim Collins and Jerry Porras. A BHAG (pronounced “Bee Hag”) is a powerful way to stimulate progress.

A BHAG is clear and compelling, needing little explanation; people get it right away. The authors cited the NASA moon mission of the 1960s and Boeing’s venture into commercial aircraft manufacture in the 50s as some iconic examples of BHAG.

The best BHAGs, they insist, require both building for the long term and“exuding a relentless sense of urgency.”

What do we need to do today, with monomaniacal focus, and tomorrow, and the next day, to defy the probabilities and ultimately achieve our BHAG?, they ask.

Enter Richard Nyong, CEO of Lekki Gardens Estate; founder of Foreshore Waters Limited; Horizon Estates, Port Harcourt Gardens, Ikoyi Gardens, and Life Camp Paradise, Abuja, amongst many other real estate franchises, who turns 40, today, Friday, May 28.

This young and audacious real estate czar was totally unknown in corporate Nigeria ten years ago, but in nine short years he has re-written the template and narrative of the nation’s multi-billion Naira property industry, to the adulation of many but scorn of a few, especially competitors, who wonder why it has to be him.

Step back and compare Richard’s audacious entry, at 31, with no name recognition into the property market then controlled by government and established corporate giants, with Boeing’s entry in the 50s into the manufacture of commercial aircraft.

In 1952 Boeing engineers had the idea to build a large jet aircraft for the commercial market but it virtually had no presence in the commercial market and itsearlier commercial attempts hadbeen failures. Boeing was building aircraft primarily for the military and so four-fifths of its business came from one customer—the Air Force.

Worse still, its sales force reported that commercial airlines in both the United States and Europe had expressed little interest in the idea of a commercial jet from Boeing and no other aircraft company had proved that there was a commercial market for jet aircraft.

But Boeing’s management defied the odds and committed to the audacious goal of establishing itself as a major player in the commercial aircraft industry. It built the jet and called it the 707. And thus Boeing brought the commercial world into the jet age.That was bold and visionary.

This is the audacious path young Richard followed.

Fresh from the University of Calabar where he studied Economics, Richard ventured into land sales, identifying good land deals and matching them with buyers as a third-party sales consultant. But he found a higher calling and then moved up the notchto acquiring plotsof his own from his commissions.

Yet he saw a bigger opportunity in the nation’s housing deficit, and the impediments to home ownership and in 2012 he chose to make an audacious move to fill the gap. The nation’s home ownership market has never been the same ever since.

Richard put his Economics training to good use and mined data which showed him a screaming housing deficit of over 17million as at 2012, when it was estimated that Nigeria will require 700,000 houses annually as compared to the less than 100,000 that was being constructed at the time to effectively cater for its people’s housing needs.

With monomaniacal focus he still saw another gap. The payment plans for home ownership which required prospective home owners to pay in full.

So in 2012, he moved from land sales and formedLekki Gardens with a clear mission of “Luxury you can afford” and created very flexible payment plans spanning up to 36 months.Little wonder, between 2012 to date his company has developed and sold over 15,000 housing units across Lagos, Abuja, Ogun and Port Harcourt, and still counting. Today, staggered payment plan for home acquisition is the minimum offering in the industry.

With clarity of purpose and sheer consistency, Richard defined his property development company as one with strong leaning for selling to clients both to close the housing deficit but also with an investment focus.

From the set go he desired to become a premier Pan African Property Investment Company focused on finding, owning, developing and selling best real estate investment deals and offerings with emphasis in residential real estate opportunities that can be sold to middle class and the upwardly mobile.

Presently, Richard Nyong is also re-defining the luxury home ownership market in upscale locations in Lagos, especially in Banana Island, Ikoyi with his signature 35-storey IME Towers and 28-storey IME Heights, aptly described as the “the pride of Banana Island.”

Richard’s real estate business is driven by three core essentials – an audacious goal; clear mission; and enduring values

The ten-year goal is to be a Pan African Property Investment brand offering first rate, differentiated, multifaceted and sophisticated solutions and offerings; and a mission to make home ownership affordable to all. All of these are anchored on the core values to build a principle based and exemplary corporate leadership.

Richard, a true apostle of Martin Luther King’s Jnr. “fierce urgency of now” sums up his BHAG thus: “With captivating marketing campaigns, bold statements and crystal clear results, and a perfect blend of luxury and affordability I made a bold statement in the sector.l carved a popular brand mantra “affordable luxury” and built over 5,000 housing units of varying house-types (apartments, maisonettes and terraces) within the  first few years thereby making homeownership easy and delightful. These immediate successes not only made my organisation famous but also opened the floodgate of real estate investment in Lagos Island as well as in other areas of the country”.

But Richard Nyong is not all about building a multi-billion Naira business empire, but also realizes that true wealth lies not in the pocket but in the heart. This he has done consistently but it was made more eloquent in the dark days of the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020 when many families became hard-hit. He quickly recognized the need for the business community and persons of means to better support vulnerable populations in an emergency period like the lockdown. He therefore led his company to touch the lives of communities where the company’s estates were located across Lagos and the Federal Capital Territory.

In his words, “consistent with our DNA we activated our robust contribution and response to provide the much needed support to over 1000 families in communities where some of our estates are located in parts of Lagos State, by supplying them essential food materials. At an average of four persons per household we are actually supporting and touching the lives of over 4000 persons across the communities in this our modest intervention. So whatever it will take for us, within our means, to touch lives at this period, we shall do.”

Richard has had his fair share of bumps and upheavals but like all visionary and audacious leaders he did not take his eyes off the ball and has pulled himself up, made amends and has continued on his upward trajectory.

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If you encounter Richard, three things about him will strike you: he is kind, firm, and a truly amazing person.

Richard also fits Albert Einstein’s saying that “the value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.” Richard is a man who gives. He gives much to his work, to his Maker and his family, religiously setting aside one week day, weekly, away from work, for him and his family to be in God’s presence.

In celebration of a remarkable birthday, this great salesman, confidently clothed with the courage of his convictions exemplifies brilliance, and inspiresemulation.

As he turns 40 may his birthday bless him with everything that puts a gigantic smile on his face and a heart that never stops bursting at its seams with endless happiness. Thank you for decorating the lives of all who have genuinely crossed your path. Happy Birthday.


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