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C.E.O. and Managing Principal of JIL, LLC, a diversified holding company
Writer and Speaker
Awards: Golden Eagle Leadership Award for Entrepreneur of
the Year 2003 by the International
Education: M.B.A., C.P.A., Yale University
Married to B.J., one daughter
Seni Hazzan was born in Nigeria to a Muslim family. His father had three wives, and Seni was the oldest of his father's eleven children. His mother raised him and his five other full siblings basically by herself. Seni felt the pressure of high expectations and the pressure to be a good example to his siblings. His mother was quite the encourager and instilled a good sense of self worth in her children. Seni learned how to be religious and how to work hard.
Though neither of his parents had a college degree, Seni had the desire to go to college. His mother made great sacrifices by working hard and selling valuable so that Seni could attend college. Seni received his bachelor's degree in Nigeria, but this did not give him the promise of better work opportunities that he had hoped for. Frustrated and despondant, he cried out to God. Seni challenged God that if he didn't get a job in a week, he wouldn't believe that God existed. Within three days, Seni got a job.
One day at his new job, he didn't have any money for lunch. He saw a woman he believed was crying and assumed that it was for lack of lunch money. When he asked her what was wrong, he found out that she was not crying but interceding in prayer. She explained this to Seni, which intrigued him. The next day she was doing the same thing. She shared Scriptures from the Bible and witnessed to him. He then received Jesus as his Savior.
Throughout the years, several of Seni's family members in Nigeria have become Christians through observing him live godly principles.
Seni had kidded with one of his friends that he would like to attend graduate school at Yale University because it seemed to be the school for American presidents. (He knew that former presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton had attended the school). His friend told him he was dreaming because he had no connections in America and no money to go to school. Seni believed God would provide everything to make his dream come true. Seni got the idea of going to Yale the same week as the deadline for the qualifying test for 1994 admissions. He sold some of his valuables to pay the test fees. Seni took the test and waited to hear about the results.
He soon found out he was accepted to Yale's graduate business program, but he had to raise $100,000 (12,000,000 Naira, Nigerian currency) to finance his tuition for two years. He called Mr. Silverman, the director of admissions at Yale School of Management, to talk about his financial options. Silverman suggested Seni apply for financial aid programs, which would provide $20,000 of the two-year tuition. Seni was left with $80,000 to raise, and he believed that God would provide the rest. Seni found favor with Mr. Kramer, who headed the company he was working for. Kramer agreed to cosign on Seni's loans throughout his education at Yale.
When Seni arrived at JFK Airport, he vowed the vow of Jacob: "If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, so that I come to my father's house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God of all that thou shall give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee. From this day forward, I will serve the Lord wholeheartedly in all areas of my life, and I will give more than the expected one-tenth of my increase back to the Lord."
He made a covenant to give more than half of his increase, in worshipping
God as his "senior partner" in all his endeavors. He had a long-term
goal that within five years of graduating from business school, he would have
a business in which God would be his "senior partner." Before having
this goal, Seni wanted to work on Wall Street with one of the best firms in
the industry, and he wanted to attain an executive position before "leaving
corporate America behind." Committing all these plans into the hands
of God, in 1996, Seni graduated from Yale with an M.B.A. and C.P.A. He immediately
joined Goldman Sachs, one of the best firms on Wall Street, in the Investment
Banking Division. Then he became a manager with the Transaction Advisory Services
Group (Mergers and Acquisitions) at Arthur Andersen.
REBUILDING FROM GROUND ZERO
Though he reached his goals of working at a prestigious financial firm and attaining an executive position where he was making more money, he found it empty. He was in debt, and his relationships with his wife and daughter were suffering. Sooner than he had planned, four years after his graduation from Yale, Seni made the bold decision to begin again and form his own company. He decided to focus on serving people, which was truly his heart's desire. He began to write about overcoming obstacles that can come in the pursuit of dreams. He soon found fulfillment in his relationships and also found fulfillment financially. This lead to many speaking opportunities.
Then came 9/11. Seni was selected by the New York State Government and Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of a team to help rebuild businesses affected by the tragic event. Around the same time, he decided to write the book Rebuilding from Ground Zero to help people overcome the tragedy and begin again. Seni shares his own story as well as the principles that helped him overcome and succeed. The heart of his message is God's Word and covenant are true today if we apply them, and that wealth should not be strived for, but should be a reward for serving other people.
One of the strangest and best ways he discovered to secure wealth is to constantly give a significant portion of it away. First, one should give back to God, the One who blesses with the power to get wealth in the first place. Giving a portion of one's wealth back to the Source is one good way of demonstrating one's gratitude for God's gifts and showing recognition to Him. Second, one should give to the less privileged in our society.
The biblical truths of self-control, focus, and controlling one's thoughts are the foundation of what Seni calls "The Power Pyramid of Achievement," or the shortcut to wealth. This consists of 1) self-mastery (self-control or self-discipline), 2) serving others (the key to greatness and wealth creation), 3) the support system (for every opportunity to serve, there is provision), and 4) the protective edge (securing your wealth).
Seni continues to live the godly principles that have prospered him, and his mission is to encourage others to do the same.
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