Madiama (Majama) Mbaye, known and beloved within the African Leadership Group as The Professor for his stellar work leading the Public Speaking Class and Leadership 101, has just published a book titled “Fated to Win: 7 Steps to Finding Meaningful Success.”
The first letter of the book’s seven chapter titles spell out the word ‘success:’ Sense of Direction; Understanding; Commitment; Courage; Efforts; Serenity; and Soaring.
“My mission is to touch countless lives with the power of the words utilized to help people to find their true callings while unleashing their full potential,” Majama writes in the book’s introduction. “I write and teach about motivation, success, and personal development in order to help people unlock their talents and become their best selves! I uplift and inspire people with the knowledge that changing the world begins with changing ourselves.”
Majama, born into a large family in a small Senegalese village, was raised by his eldest sister and her husband in Dakar, Senegal’s capital. His sister, Binta, was a strict disciplinarian, which Majama says helped keep him out of trouble.
He graduated with distinction from Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar Senegal with a Master’s Degree in American Literature after publicly defending his thesis, “Subverting the canons”: An analysis of Zora Neal Hurston’s ‘Their Eyes Were Watching God’ and Toni Morisson’s ‘Sula’.
Majama emigrated to the United States in 2000, working for a year as a high school French teacher in Kansas City before moving to Denver in 2001.He became a franchise owner of a janitorial services company, where he won many awards and accolades for his outstanding leadership.
He has been active in the African Leadership Group for many years, primarily as an outstanding teacher, but also for his high-quality video productions for ALG.
We interviewed Majama recently about his book and what he hopes it will accomplish. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
African Leadership Group: What inspired you to write the book?
Madiama (Majama) Mbaye: The inspiration came from the work I do in the community. There was another book I wanted to write back in 2013, when I was writing a blog called Motivate to Elevate. I was sharing my experiences of what I was learning about self-development. The idea was to write about my life here as an immigrant, as well as stories from back home. I was reading a lot about business and self-development and shifted a bit to that, sharing what I was reading about.
Then the public speaking class came along, and I shared some of the knowledge with the different cohorts. And people started saying they saw wisdom in what I was talking about. Then in cohort eight, one of the participants wrote a children’s book. From then on I could never rest. The class was saying if one of the class members can do this, so can you. You’re the professor. So I started writing. And that’s how this version came about. That was my inspiration.
This book evolved from what I was writing on my blog back in 2013. It evolved into new stuff, but is focused on success in business and personal development . Some of the stories are from the experiences of participants in my classes, which I used with their permission.
ALG: People who have taken your Public Speaking Class say that is really about so much more than public speaking.
Majama: Yes, that is true. I think my biggest moment was when someone who was studying at the Colorado School of Mines enrolled in the Public Speaking Class. He graduated that same year and he went on Facebook and said he learned more in the few months in the class than he did in four years at the School of Mines. He said it was not just a public speaking class, but it was an empowerment class. It was life lessons.
I sum this up in the book as well, but what I talk about all the time in class is what steps you must take to find meaningful success. I would always insist on the meaningful part. If I just say success it’s very vague. A lot of people have different success, but what is meaningful success to you? Coming from where many African immigrants come from, a context of poverty and challenges, being in the U.S. for a year or two and starting to work and sending money back home is a huge success.
ALG: What about your upbringing in your sister’s home made you who you are today and made it possible for you to write this book?
Majama: Even though I came from a very large family, I was raised in a very small one. It was my sister and her husband. And it was very, very strict. It gave me a strong sense of right and wrong, not just living a very loose life. Having to follow directions really helped me when I came here. It was easy for me to get along with people and not to get in trouble. My childhood upbringing kept me on a straight path.
I also learned not to be judgmental about other people. I always say that it often seems that I am colorblind. And the reason for that is growing up to a place where everybody looks like you, you don’t see any difference between people. I was able to transport that here. I don’t see a difference between people because they are Black or they are white. Even though this country is very complex, and sometimes you have to face reality, in me there is nothing like that. That is how I was raised and I believe it has helped me navigate here better than someone raised in a totally different environment.
ALG: Who is your target audience for the book?
Majama: I always imagined it would be the immigrant community because I wanted to make a trail for when people came from Africa or from anywhere in the world, to read this book and see themselves in the stories of struggle and in the stories of overcoming. But as I was finishing the book I realized that this is not just for the immigrant community. It can be for anybody looking for ways to succeed. I came to realize that when it comes to wisdom or when it comes to success, it is the same everywhere.
ALG: If people could take away one lesson or one learning from this book, what would you want them to take away?
Majama: For people to run their own race. The world or other people should not be the competition. That’s the way I end the book. Your competition should be the person you were yesterday. And by analyzing that, if you see any amount of progress between the person you were yesterday and the person you are today, it is a win.