The Next Positive Step(s)


I am one of those people that are unlikely ever going to be vegetarian in any form at any point in life. I love eating meat you see and hence why this popular saying resonates very well with me. “How do you eat an elephant?….one bite at a time“. (I have no plans on eating elephant meat, for the records. lol).

You can either think of the monstrous animal or think of just the piece of meat on your plate.

You can either think of the monstrous animal or think of just the piece of meat on your plate.

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Some people recommend that you break down the big problem into very small individual tasks- which, if you are good with this, then no problem. But usually, when you are near breaking point, you are already sapped of the ability to logically break down the solution into actionable points. Hence why I recommend simply taking ‘The Next Positive Step’ that presents itself in the direction of your goal.

Sometimes we wait for the right combination of circumstances to tackle, the problem, no!

Today, what singular step can you take along the line of the option of actions you have decided on?

Today, what singular step can you take along the line of the option of actions you have decided on?And these steps/opportunities tend to just show up without a consistent structure, each time they show up, take them; as long as it is positively along the path of your big solution. After you take a couple positive steps, the oxygen you gain from making a little progress will help you strategize a little further and you will take one step after another, until the day, your giant is all swallowed up. Catch you soon.

Face up to the Situation


Really want to get out of the current rot! Stop cowering in that corner and staying in bed weeping your eyes out.

Get up and look your problem in the eye! I personally believe you physically should stand up to be able to look your problem in the eye. The good thing about standing up is that it enables you to visualise the fact that you are physically bigger than or equal to your problem, or at the minimum realise that your problem is not as large as it is when you are cowered down in the corner it has got you into. 

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Face the brutal FACTS of your situation. 

In an analysis of some of the most successful corporate leaders in the world, you will like this – Jim Collins renown researcher in the field of corporate leadership established that the key difference between the most successful corporate leaders and their lesser successful colleagues is their ability to face the brutal facts of the situations their organizations were at. They want the facts, the statistics, the actual implications; they rejected, the feel good, warm, encouraging feeling that those who love you tend to want to bring when they see your situation and realise that they are probably incapable of helping you too. 

If you are still living in or seeking the warm comforts of words and expressions by people, the eternal optimists that assure you that things will get better and just to weather the storm and it’s going to be fine on the other side. Then you sure are not the kind of person, I intend to communicate with via this medium- because you need to get tired and frustrated with consolations that you and the giver know means absolutely nothing, if you truly are intent on getting over this situation.

The one thing Barack Obama did for me


You need to have a word with your son“, my wife told me. “He has been crying each time I pick him up from school that he wants straight long hair“.

When you get to know that he was the only black kid in his school, the reason for his desire for straight long hair becomes clearer. At the age of 6, a clear awareness of looking different from his school mates was having an effect. So as it goes in our house, daddy needed to have a chat on this one.

So when it was bed time, I said ” son, mummy told me you want your hair straight and long”. Straight away the tears can down his cheeks, “yes daddy, I want it straight and long”. He was a 6 year old and so none of my admonition that hey “loads of folks with straight her would like to have curly hair like you” and my other motivational talks was appealing to him in any way. I knew this was one of those parenting moments, where you hope for an inspired answer.

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I asked him, if he knew the most powerful man in the world. He was crying out loud now and not listening to me. But I managed to get him to answer, he said “God”, I reminded him that God is not a man. Then I told him that the President of the United states is considered the most powerful man in the world. Then I got out a tablet and googled out the picture pf President Barack Obama. His little face lit up, first in astonishment and then in what seemed to me like ‘great pride’. He took the tablet of me, smiled and said, “he looks like me“. “Yes, he has your kind of hair” I said.

That was the last time we ever had that discussion. As President Obama closes his last week as President of the US. I had a light chat with my son to see if he remembered, he did. He said “so he will cease to be the President of the United States”, but “don’t worry daddy, I know I can be the most powerful man in the world now!“.

 

 

 

Zuckerberg, Influence and a new opportunity for Nigeria


Anyone who does not know the power of influence, just watch the proceedings of Mark Zuckerberg’s visit through sub-Saharan Africa and the impact it should have over the next few years.

His visit has captured the attention of everyone young enough to be an active user of social media within Nigeria and made the headlines of both CNN and BBC. Meaning that all watchers of the tech world took a turn and looked at Nigeria. Not just that, all of Facebook’s competitors would have their antennae sharpened as Mark is clearly engaging and having a foothold in a market that could be the next growth vista for the tech world. 170 million people, a very youthful population, this might be the first time that Nigeria has actively made use of it’s famed energy and entrepreneurial spirit (which he streesed at every stage of his visit) to command the attention it should rightly receive in business and across the globe.

safe_imageThe beauty of this lies in the fact that this was not due to an initiative directly driven by the government, it is the work over several short years of hard grafting and entrepreneurial young Nigerian minds. In one moment both Co Creation Hub and Andela became global brands; it will be interesting if these two companies will use analytic tools and other metrics to see what additional traction this visit has brought them in terms of website visits from international markets; I am convinced they will trace the sources of several of the new visitors down to silicon valley.

Well done to all the pioneer entrepreneurs of the Nigerian tech sector. And if you read my blog, join me in calling for a national honour for the foremost leaders and pioneers of the tech innovations particularly the founders of Co- Creation Hub and Andela. Finally we have a good reason for the world to take interest in Nigeria again in a long time, I hope this promise will be fulfilled.

Nigeria and the followership problem


From book authors to musicians and to almost every journalist that writes on political affairs “Bad leadership” has long been identified as the bane of the Nigerian society. This piece is about the less talked about but equally negative trait asymptomatic of our society, the effects to “bad follower-ship”.

It is amazing how little thought has been given to the effect of the followership on the leading elite and the society at large. Of course the fact that most political analysts are themselves outside the political leadership, it makes sense that all the finger pointing goes in the direction of the leaders; but what if our leaders and indeed society had a mouth and indeed something to say about the followership culture in Nigeria, what will they have to say? Being that it is politically perilous for our elected leaders to lay any kind of blame at the feet of the electorate, the purpose of this article is for us to tell ourselves the truths that our leaders dare not tell us.

That the followership creates the leadership is one of the lesser known truths of society. A society gets the leader it deserves. If our leaders are inept and corrupt, it is a clear reflection not just on the individual leader but on the electoral system that brought him/her forth and the structures and personalities that support that electoral system. By this I mean the electoral commissioner, the INEC official, the youth corps member and teachers that helped deliver the voters registration exercise, the community leaders that mobilized the people, the party electoral observers, the thugs that helped rig the election- if we dig far enough, the finger will be pointing at a family member of ours who completes this chain.

 

Our modern day Nigeria’s money-centric culture places a premium over cash than indeed anything else. To get my vote-cash; to win my constituency- cash; we pay a politician a courtesy visit- we expect cash; a politician visits our constituency- we expect cash. In fact, because a politician I know has been elected a local government chairman, I go to put together what essentially is a 10 page pamphlet and declare a book launch for a piece of work that holds no literary value to any living soul and I invite this local government chairman as the chief launcher- I expect cash! And should he dare give me anything less than N150, 000, I will be very disappointed; mind not that his declared take home pay clearly shows that he should not be able to afford to put down that amount conveniently from one month’s pay. I have succeeded in pushing him in the path of corruption!nigeria

Imagine how much individual pressures those who have some form of access to political leaders put on our local government chairmen, our state  representatives, commissioners, ministers and federal house of assembly members to name but a few. Very few if given the opportunity will choose to be exempt from these actions that have essentially become our way of life including religious leaders, traditional rulers, old students associations members among others. I personally believe that second to sheer greed; the most corrupting influence in Nigerian politics is the expectations of the followership- whether this followership be the political party, clubs and societies or the numerous individuals that place their myopic self-interest driven demands on the financial and time resources available to our elected officials.

 

The more cash a leader throws around, the more followers (Pshyochophants) he gets! I know a very popular man who got elected to represent a body of professionals at national level; he was, prior to his appointment living just a few doors away from our flat. In two terms in office, supposedly serving the ‘interests’ of his colleagues, he returned with enough wealth to buy the choicest properties all around our street and with enough cash to run for and win a senate seat! Till this day, no individual, government agency or his very professional colleagues, as far as I know, has publicly questioned the speed at which this flat tenant became a street owner. Perhaps he has perfected the art of giving gifts to those who should be questioning? The followership!

In advanced economies, the most noble task of the electorate (followership) is to hold its leaders to account. To demand more of them, to place them consistently under the searchlight of the performance radar, to watch out for any signs of personal aggrandizement and to bring to account leaders that are found wanting in any areas of the electorate’s expectations.

Without attempting to be alarmist in any form, for this generation, Egypt’s Tahir Square will perhaps be a lasting reminder to the new democracies of the world (Nigeria included), a clear symbolism of power belonging to the people. In our individual worlds, that power is the single vote and the subsequent followership we provide our leaders. That followership needs to become more sophisticated, it needs to move beyond cash; it needs to demand more, to scrutinize more, to communicate more, to idolize less. We need to get the right perspective as to the fact that the so-called leader is actually a servant we send out to do a job for us and that it is our constitutional and patriotic duty to ensure that he does that job, to support him to do that job and to remove the demands that distract him from doing that job and ultimately to hold him accountable for what he has or has not done!

Followership can be as powerful as leadership in shaping the future of a people. By changing our followership attitudes and mindset, perhaps more than any single factor we can change “bad leadership” to intrinsically “good leadership”. The influence of the followership’s expectations on the decisions and choices of the leadership is perhaps not appreciated enough- Leaders perform to the expectations the followership creates; not the expectations of the vocal few but that of the cash- driven many with whom they have to deal every minute of every day!

If we do not change, our leadership CANNOT change.

God bless Nigeria!

‘Yemi Shodipo

Why Arsenal Football Club is my Model for Business Success


Let me say in the very first sentence of this piece that I am an  unapologetic fan of Arsenal Football Club.  Now that we’ve taken my bias out of the way let me tell you the fact that makes that club my model for sustained long-term success in a challenging and very competitive (business) League.

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Of course we have to start by congratulating Leicester City Football Club on winning the Premier League in 2016.  I saw a list of the clubs that have won the Premier League in the last 20 years and of course Manchester United dominated lots of those years under  Sir Alex Ferguson,  Chelsea was about the next dominant Force and then Arsenal and Manchester City.

In business,  I will opt for the Arsenal model.

So many people who in life and in business prioritize winning; and by winning I mean at the very front, being the top most, the most successful,  then probably Manchester United will be your cup of tea. However when I think in terms of success I see that 2013  and the end of the Ferguson era has been the last time United ever matched it’s performances of usually been the first or second in the league and they even dropped down to 7th at a time, I wonder.  

Chelsea,  powered by the very self confident Jose Murhino dominated the league for a while,  but they are in mid table in this 2016 season.

Chelsea,  powered by the very self confident Jose Murhino dominated the league for a while,  but they are in mid table in this 2016 season.  Manchester City is the new kid on the block,  the jury is still out on the team that will be led by the world’s most expensive coach in the next season. Arsenal however has stayed between the 1st and 4th positions consistently  for 20 years. In my technical field of quality assurance, we will say that it has been the club with the least process variation or the one with the most precision.

In business,  I will opt for the Arsenal model.  Not the boom and burst of Chelsea,  unsecured leadership transition of Manchester United,  and the sudden artificial financial boom that currently makes Manchester City a competitive club, let’s hope the oil price does not affect the Sheikh’s ability to pump money into the club..

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Football aside,  I choose the  Pursuit of consistent, replicable, sustainable success  over any kind of boom and burst  wins.  While the road to initial success in business is hard and actually breaks many,  even at that stage (of starting and building) one needs to set up and position oneself for long-term success,  such that 20, 30,  40 years from now,  the business exists and and it’s sustained and perhaps has the potential to outlive its founders.  When you are in it for such a long run as  I am describing,  you think differently, you plan differently,  you seek long-term wins,  long term relationships,  sustainable business models.  You may not be the first,  but you will be at the top end of the game for a long long time.

Back to football,  I am cross with  Arsene Wenger,  Arsenal need to be back winning the league.

 

Why Start up Businesses Fail? Top 3 reasons from 3 top business mentors


I asked 3 leading start-up business mentors to tell me the top 3 reasons why they think start-up businesses fail.  I will straight away give you the reasons provided by each mentor,  as I haven’t however requested permission to identify them as the providers of this information I will simply identify them as Mentors A, B and C, note that between them, these mentors have over 40 years of mentoring experience. Fasten your seat belts.

Mentor A –

  • Lack of Planning
  • Lack of Passion and Drive
  • Lack of Experience

Mentor B-

  • Lack of planning
  • Lack of resources (not just financial)
  • Lack of persistence

Mentor C-

  • Poorly thought through decision to leave employment and get into business
  • No written business plan or financial projections
  • Unprofitable pricing structure (You need to calculate your break-even price and NEVER charge below this)

I am amazed at the common trend of ‘planning’, otherwise known as business planning or in it’s most simplistic format, a simple business plan is on thread that cuts across

I am amazed at the common trend of ‘planning’, otherwise known as business planning or in it’s most simplistic format, a simple business plan is on thread that cuts across. And I know how many aspiring business people might not generally like what they consider paperwork; but hey, that is the reason why several of the folks who have tried before us failed.

I have a documented business plan, but following this feedback, I will surely be reviewing it a lot more regularly than I do. Your business plan need not be war and peace, it could just be a 3 page document- it is quality over quantity that matters in a business plan.

Some guy named Osterwalder, created some nine building blocks of what is required for your business  or planned business to function, I have copied it down below for your attention courtesy http://www.entrepreneurmag.co.za/

Create a one page document that answers these questions in as much detail and as thoroughly thought through as you can, you will have your first business plan in place, no matter how crude. All the best!20151102_120501

9 Building Blocks of a Business Plan

  1. Customer Segments: Who are your mass and niche markets?
  2. Value Proposition: What are you offering and why are you different?
  3. Channels: Look at the phases your product goes through. This is everything from awareness and distribution to after-sales service.
  4. Customer Relationships: How are you building relationships with customers and is it working?
  5. Revenue Streams: Look at what you are charging and if you could be charging more. How are you receiving your payments and does it contribute enough to overall revenue?
  6. Key Resources: What resources do you require to function? These can include physical, human, financial and intellectual.
  7. Key Activities: Ask yourself what activities need to take place in order to deliver on your value proposition?
  8. Key Partnerships: Write down who your key suppliers and partners are and how they contribute to your overall goals.
  9. Cost Structure: Look at fixed and variable costs so that you can see what can be improved upon.