Tony Otoa is an international lawyer from Uganda and a consultant in the extractives sector.
I connected with Tony some time ago on Twitter, where he shares his wisdom on leadership and philosophy, among other topics. He is also a long-time student of Stoicism and applies it intentionally as a philosophy of life.
It was great to be able to interview Tony recently. You can find his answers below.
You can also find Tony online here:
For those who don’t know you, can you explain a little about yourself and how you first discovered Stoicism?
My name is Tony Otoa, an international lawyer and a consultant in the extractives sector. My Stoicism journey started about 9 years ago when a very close friend of mine introduced me to the Meditations by Marcus Aurielus. He did a little explaining, leaving me to discover more on my own. I have never stopped trying to discover more about this great philosophy of life.
How has Stoicism changed/benefited you since first discovering it?
I have become more focused and calm. However what is most amazing is enjoying the moment. The idea of memento mori keeps my focus on the day and the tasks at hand. Stoicism has also helped me make great calls when dealing with people, especially friends.
I am more resilient than before. I take every situation with the right judgement that it deserves with emphasis on focusing on what I control and ignoring what is out of my control.
As someone with leadership responsibilities, which Stoic principles guide you in being an effective leader?
Memento mori: The idea that tomorrow is not guaranteed kills my procrastination demon.
Justice: The need to be fair, especially with my followers.
Courage: The desire to make bold decisions even when in tough situations. Courage also gives me the mantra to take on difficult situations including dealing with difficult people.
One of the mantras you often highlight on Twitter is “Only Quality People” – can you explain how this informs your interactions with others?
People are energy. If you have negative energy around you, you are automatically negative. If you are surrounded by positive people with the great vibes and ideas, you are automatically a reflection of them. Only Quality People is about surrounding yourself with GROWTH ambassadors.
Which Stoic texts do you find yourself returning to regularly and are there any Stoic exercises you practice every day?
I hope by texts you mean books. I love the works of Ryan Holiday. I have been reading Courage is Calling and Ego is the Enemy. I have just started reading Letters from a Stoic by Seneca. Very interesting book.
Another very good book that really helped me understand the Stoic philosophy even more was – A Guide to the Good Life by William Irvine. It opens up the Stoic philosophy to its simplest form.
If you meant texts in reference to quotes, there are very many I love. But the one that stands out is by Marcus Aurielius:
“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”
Which modern resources do you recommend aspiring Stoics check out? (e.g. blogs, podcasts, books, social media)
Twitter and Podcasts
- Daily Stoic
- Ryan Holiday
- Stoic Teacher
- What is Stoicism (Of course )
- Orlando Stoics
- Michael McGill
- Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday
- Courage is Calling – Ryan Holiday
- A Guide to the Good Life – William Irvine
- Letters from a Stoic – Seneca
- Atomic Habits – James Clear
- Lectures and Fragments – Musonius Rufus
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Tony. Finally, the question I ask all interview guests – in terms of what the philosophy means to you, What is Stoicism?
Stoicism is a philosophy of life. It is a philiosophy that has brought meaning to my life and I am grateful to share it with others.