Ọlayinka Famodu is the president and co-founder of the Financial Literacy Institute, which teaches their clients the financial literacy skills they should have learned in school.
A native of the Twin Cities, Famodu’s upbringing was unlike many of his peers.
For starters, Famodu went to a Hispanic elementary school, a place that afforded him a unique insight into Latino culture, but one that showed him how much different he was from his classmates.
He also grew up with six older half-siblings (from his father’s previous marriage), but due to their age difference, none of them lived in the Famodu household.
“My oldest brother is 46 [at the time of this writing] and I have two twin sisters who are a decade older than me,” Famodu shares.
“Growing up, I often felt left out in school, and I felt alone because I didn’t grow up with siblings. That was a challenge, but it taught me how to depend on myself, and therefore I learned how to do a lot of things on my own.”
Yet, Famodu’s atypical childhood had zero negative effect on his future.
In addition to being a standout soccer player, Famodu also excelled in math and science courses, and after high school he moved to Ohio in order to attend Akron University.
“I wanted to play Division-I soccer and enroll in a good biomedical engineering program,” Famodu lists as two reasons for his shift across the Midwest, but he also wanted to exit Minnesota and immerse himself in a new environment.
“A lot of people I know in Minnesota end up staying there, and I believe that to grow and go where I wanted to go, I needed to get uncomfortable in order to expand.”
Famodu’s first year as part of the Zips (Akron’s school nickname) went well enough, but due to the rigorous demands associated with being a soccer player and an engineering student, Famodu made the decision to drop soccer so he could focus solely on his academic pursuits.
“There was no way I could be in an intensive engineering program and continue to play D-1 soccer,” Famodu says.
There were some student-athletes who struggled to comprehend why he discontinued his on-field activities, but for Famodu, education and his future career always superseded athletics.
The son of an industrial engineer, Famodu quickly developed the technical skills to excel in math and science courses, and considering that there is a lot of job security in being an engineer, it appeared that the Twin Cities product would seamlessly coast into a predictable career path.
But during Famodu’s sophomore year at Akron, he struggled with the engineering curriculum, so much so that he ultimately failed a required course.
Famodu himself cites having subpar study habits and an overreliance on natural talent as the key factors for this setback, but instead of wallowing in disarray, Famodu instead looked inward and discovered that he needed to adjust the way he digested information.
“Looking back, I needed to take that L in order to learn how to study more effectively,” Famodu says, and once he implemented new study techniques, all his grades increased significantly.
Moreover, he also began to enjoy his classes, something that prior to his revelation, rarely happened.
“I started studying engineering only because it was what I knew, but I persevered and learned to appreciate it because of the way it made me think, how to solve problems, and navigate disappointment,” Famodu explains.
So where does that leave a guy like Famodu, who is unquestionably gifted in math and science, but in many ways burdened by the constraints of a discipline that doesn’t fully tap into his passions?
For context, Famodu is the rare engineer who can also take command of a room with his gregarious personality and mesmerizing speaking skills.
Just like with his scientific aptitude, Famodu credits his father with instilling in him traits that make him affable and approachable.
To maximize his interpersonal strengths, as well as his time on the University of Akron’s campus, Famodu was involved in several programs that taught him leadership skills.
Still, it wasn’t until Famodu became interested in finances during the COVID-19 pandemic did all these different competencies synthesize in a way that showed Famodu where his true passion resided.
“During COVID, I took advantage of the time that I used to complain that I never had and did the things that school never taught me,” Famodu says.
“Personal finance was one of those things.”
Raised in a middle-class household where life was good but money was limited, Famodu often found himself wondering why his parents scoffed at the luxury on display in affluent neighborhoods of the Twin Cities, or why an individual having copious amounts of capital was judged harshly.
“I wasn’t going to question my parents because I respected them, but in my mind, I couldn’t understand why they thought that people who were wealthy were evil,” recalls Famodu, who is currently striving to develop a positive relationship with money.
“I love my mom and dad, but I don’t want to have their perspective on money. I want to have a positive relationship with it. It’s not that I love money, but if you think of money as a person, money likes people and wants to be around those who can attract it.”
Following Famodu’s plunge into the world of money, he consequently gleaned new insights that, once applied to his circumstances, allowed him to pay down debt, eliminate his car payment, and invest money for the future.
“I did all these things that I always wanted to know how to do, and when I started to see tangible results, I doubled down on that strategy,” he says.
Of course, Famodu was ecstatic when his financial position improved, but unlike some entrepreneurs who brag about their recent triumphs, Famodu sought to impart on others how they could mimic his success.
“I wanted to show people how to do something like open a Roth IRA because I felt like I was doing them a disservice if I wasn’t sharing information like that,” Famodu says.
Despite his best efforts, many people were not receptive to Famodu’s advice.
Some of this stems from the fact that he is still relatively young (23 years old at the time of this writing), but Famodu also didn’t have the platform or social proof to engender trust with those who were receiving his message.
To combat this perceived lack of knowledge, Famodu, along with his business partners Sean Lacey and Zach Owen, founded the aforementioned Financial Literacy Institute.
Since the company’s inception, the trio has worked tirelessly to share financial information with as many clients as they can reach, and with low-cost consultation packages available to the general public, it’s likely that the Financial Literacy Institute will rapidly grow in the coming years.
For now, the business will continue to negotiate the murky waters that nearly every startup in the financial sector finds itself in, which is why Famodu hasn’t ruled out leveraging his college diploma to attain employment.
That being said, it’s unlikely that Famodu will resign himself to a full-time position far beyond the foreseeable future.
“It’s not that I don’t like Corporate America, but I don’t have the best relationship with it, and I like to work on things that I fully believe in, and so with a 9-5 job, it’s hard for me to reconcile the fact that I’m working to help make someone else’s dream become a reality,” Famodu explains.
“Here’s the thing: I love teaching people financial literacy. It’s what I believe in, and it’s how I know I can make the most impact on the world.” QS
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