In choosing the title of his book, ‘The Potent Force of Sponsorship’, Omo-Ojo Ernest Ivie consciously uses the word ‘potent’ to demonstrate the power, efficacy, potency of the force of sponsorship, which, according to him, is “the very principle that rules the world”.
And the author demonstrates, in six chapters and 86 pages, that “the world runs on sponsorship” – it is there in the businesses/corporate world, entertainment industry, churches or religious organisations, politics, sports, etc. But there are also 15 preliminary pages that include endorsements, dedication and introduction.
The book, a bold attempt to change mindsets,answers the critical questions – Who is a sponsor? Why do we need a sponsor? Can you reach your zenith without a sponsor? Do we confuse a mentor with a sponsor? Does the world run on sponsorship? Is it scriptural and spiritual?
Going through, one cannot miss the nuggets that dominate the entire book, nuggets that essentially speak to the critical place of sponsorship in every phase of human life and career. But beyond these nuggets, the author calls readers to be strategic in positioning themselves to be identified by potential sponsors as, according to him, “Life without a sponsor cannot reach its zenith.”
‘The Potent Force of Sponsorship’ opens with an introduction, where the author emphasises that while having a mentor is good, a sponsor is actually more critical than a mentor. Indeed, he says, sponsorship is “the most useful of the success chains” as “all the coaching and mentoring” would be useless “if you do not have a platform to showcase all you have learnt”.“A mentor is good,” he argues, “but having a good mentor without a sponsor is time and energy wasted.”
The opening chapter, titled “Who is a Sponsor?”, traces the word ‘sponsor’ from its Latin origins and offers various definitions from different sources. Some qualities of a sponsor highlighted in this chapter include that a sponsor announces your arrival to the stage; makes room for you; sponsors are very impatient and very strategic; they are visionary – they see opportunities well ahead; they usually have big egos; they could charge a fee; they could demand rewards; and they do not operate based on emotions.
“Sponsorship does not happen by accident. It is deliberate, thought over, planned and executed. It takes a lot for someone to agree to undertake a sponsorship; it demands responsibility from both partners. Most times the person sponsoring must find value before embarking on the mission. It does not come cheap, it is expensive and as such you have to earn it, there are no emotions about it, which is why it is not a philanthropic movement,” the author says.
He goes ahead in Chapter Two to clearly distinguish between sponsors and mentors, two distinct roles, he says, people often tend to confuse. While “a mentor is someone inside or outside your organisation who can give advice, feedback and encouragement”, the author defines a sponsor as “someone within or outside your organisation who has positional and political influence to help you move your career or life forward. Sponsors provide leads to advancement and growth”.
Using Biblical examples, the author in the third chapter attempts to show that the world runs and has always run on sponsorship; that even God himself understands this concept and used it.
To illustrate this point, he cites the examples of Jesus and John the Baptist, David and Jonathan,Moses and Pharaoh’s daughter, Naaman and the Jewish maid (2 Kings 5:1-26), Rebecca and Jacob (Gen. 27:5-30), Joseph and the Cupbearer (Gen. 41), Ruth and Naomi (Ruth Chapter 2), Saul, the first king of Israel (1 Samuel 9: 6-20), Jesus at the feeding of the 5,000 (John 6: 1-10), among others.
Arguing that John was the sponsor of Jesus, the author buttresses his argument by pointing out that John announced Jesus’ arrival on stage when he said, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world”, and made room for Jesus when he said, “He will increase and I will decrease”.
The author says, “You can never tell where your next breakthrough would come from as the next person to you may just be the sponsor you have been waiting for; so do not despise small beginnings.”
He adds, “We all need leveraging, don’t despise the power of leveraging, it’s the difference why two people who set out on the same journey same day to the same destination arrive differently.”
In Chapter Four, the author, using contemporary examples, demonstrates that the sponsorship principle is a reality of our time which you ignore or hate at your own peril.
“This principle today defines the essence of politics, government, business, religion, entertainment, sports, etc. It is the single game changer or decider of who gets what, why, where and how. If you hate or fail to recognise and operate in this principle, your chances of succeeding and reaching your zenith are greatly diminished,” he says.
He cites the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa as an example of a sponsor in Pentecostal Christianity, Don King in world boxing, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu in Nigerian politics, while he also uses immediate past United States President Barack Obama to show a great beneficiary of the sponsorship principle.
“You must strive to get to a position where your sponsor will believe so much in you and would have no alternative to you, which speaks volume about loyalty and trust. This principle is not ‘ojoro’ (deceit), this is how the world operates and your feelings cannot change it. Instead of being frustrated by it, key into this principle,” he admonishes.
In the fifth chapter, the author highlights some qualities one needs to develop in order to attract a sponsor. These include develop your skills (both hard and soft skills); humility to learn; patience; perseverance; loyalty, and trust.
“The path to sponsorship discovery,” he says, “involves a series of steps. Essentially, you must believe in this immutable principle of human existence as it governs the affairs of men. You must realise that life’s success is not only a determinant of the most skilled, most talented and most hardworking, but time and chance happen to men. It takes a lot of effort and focus to tap into this principle.”
In this sixth and final chapter, the author sums up the discussion using some personal examples to show how the sponsorship principle has worked in his life and calls his readers to action.
“My entire life has been about sponsorship; if it worked for me it can for you. Don’t go on this journey of life without a sponsor; the pains and headaches are too much to bear and it is certainly not worth it. Sponsors shorten time, distance, space and generally give you a leveraging advantage,” he says.
For the author, the sponsorship principle is something experiential. And like the author, if we also look very closely at our lives, we may see that the principle the author has espoused in the book is what many of us probably have experienced all along. At every phase in our lives or career, we have had someone speak on our behalf, recommend us for an assignment, a job or a position. The only difference is that we may not have given a name to it. And while we may have been thinking sponsorship is accidental, the author says it is not and calls us to be strategic as we go about positioning ourselves to be identified by potential sponsors.
Essentially, what the author has done in ‘The Potent Force of Sponsorship’ is that he has gathered our collective experience, using his personal experience and those of a few others, and given it a potent voice, an expression. It reminds one of what Alexander Pope says in his definition of poetry – or what he calls “true wit”: “What oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed”.