The Brand YOU

Answer to your first opportunity with competence and consistently to the rest with character

The whole concept of you as a brand isn’t novel any more. Today, a good number of people understand that they have a reputation/brand that they have consciously or unconsciously developed and that this reputation to a large extent decides how much opportunities people throw their way and how much success they achieve in life. However, I have come to know that strong brands are built deliberately and on purpose and good success is always intentional.

How then exactly do you build a strong personal brand? How do you ensure that people know you for what you want to be known for? How do you make certain that you are not mis-communicating your brand and that your brand isn’t being misunderstood by the people who interact with it?

The place to start is to engage the power of focus. Focus isn’t just the ability to stick to one thing; it is likewise or even more importantly the ability to say no to everything except one thing. Strong brands are built on the significance of one; their ability to be the first associative name when that thing is mentioned. Let me give you examples, when I say nation building, Fela Durotoye comes to mind. When I say change (good or bad), APC comes to mind. When I say soft drink, your mind easily remembers Cocacola. That’s the power of one. So first, identify your one thing.

4(1)

After identifying that thing, build your expertise and make enough noise till someone gives you a chance. One grave mistake to do in life is to wink in the dark. You have both wasted your effort as well as denied others the opportunity to experience something good. Yes it’s true that opportunity eventually finds the prepared, but sometimes it finds the fool who isn’t ready for it first especially if the prepared does nothing to be noticed. You must be ready to do all it takes to promote yourself and whatever it is that you do. Stop at nothing to raise your voice; to raise your work!

When opportunity eventually shows up, make sure you exceed expectations. Surprise them and give them more than what they bargained for. One thing that would do is that it will bring them back again. The second time they come, show them they can trust you by being consistent with the experience you delivered the first time.

It takes character to treat every honour as a privilege

However, you can only achieve this if you understand that the first time you get an opportunity, it is a privilege; the second and subsequent time, it is an honour. You must nonetheless be willing to treat every opportunity as a privilege so that you always give your best, thereby always earn the right to more honor.

Obviously, it takes character to treat every honor as a privilege, and character is the end product of a life lived completely on values. Your values are the things that you stand for. They must be invaluable to you because once they have a price tag, someone will pay you to compromise. Do you have values?

So here is the flow of thought:  Values will form your character. Character will enable consistency and competence. But competence should be specialized. Specialized competence should be promoted so as to attract opportunity. When opportunity shows up, character must not die; answer to your first opportunity with competence and consistently to the rest with character.

Afolabi 2(1)

Stars not Kettles

Let me tell you a rather personal story about pots, kettles and stars.

I visited the Ikeja City mall recently. Like most days, a particular brand was having an activation to sell its products. They had mascots, models, video games, music and obviously dancers. The dancers I believe drew the most attention and even I was at some point carried away with what they were doing. But as I was about to step into the main complex, I heard the security lady say in vernacular about the dancers something along the line of “after all these, you will need to take Paracetamol for your headache. Better go find a better job for yourself”. Typing it in English makes it look like she gave a rather kind advice. But NO! This was no advice at all. It was a statement said to scorn the dancers who were doing a really good job at their own work.

 

I remember walking past her thinking to myself, what a classical example of a pot calling a kettle black. To be sure, I did a little research before writing this. The average roadshow activation dancer earns about N5,000 in a day as opposed to a security guard who earns an average of N40,000 every month which scales down to about N2,000 for a day’s job. But the wage difference isn’t really what concerns me, but that a person will look down at another person for doing excellently at a legitimate job is just rather obnoxious.

It leaves me certain questions I’d like you to think through. First, is it really wrong for a pot to call a kettle black? Has the pot that called a kettle black lied? Is there really anything wrong in being black? I am not providing answers to these here but i’d like you to take time to think about them.

So, this article would have had no proper end if not for another incident that happened just the next day. This time, I had just finished visiting my mother at her house and as I approached the bus stop I could hear someone shouting at the top of her voice, “wazo, wazo, fifty naira, wazo; if you love your husband wazo, fifty naira wazo”. As I moved closer to the bus stop, I could see the woman trying to sell her products and it turned out she was someone very familiar. But, as she saw me, she stopped shouting and so we exchanged pleasantries. However, she did not resume until I had left. I saw in her face that she wasn’t proud of the work she was doing and so waited till I left before she continued. That was sad! She should have been proud!! She should have seen that she was a star not kettle!!!

WhatsApp Image 2017-07-17 at 21.03.31(2)

Where is dignity in labor?

At her arrival in London, Princess Diana of the Hollywood Blockbuster movie wonder woman tasted the goodness of an Icecream for the first time ever. The ice cream was so well made that she turned to the seller and said, “this is really good, you should be proud of yourself”. That for me was very profound. If you are doing legitimate work and you are putting your best effort into it, then you should be proud too. We might not all do great things, but we can all do small things in a great way. And that’s what matters the most.

This is what i would like you to leave with – Don’t let anyone look down on you because of the work you do, and never look down on yourself either. As long as you put your heart into it and do it excellently, then you should be proud of yourself. President John F. Kennedy was visiting NASA headquarters for the first time, in 1961. While touring the facility, he introduced himself to a janitor who was mopping the floor and asked him what he did at NASA.  The Janitor gave the most remarkable answer; “I am helping to put a man on the moon”. Now that’s whatsup! Be like that janitor!! See the bigger picture always and be proud of yourself. Even if you are black, you are a star not a kettle.

Ciao!

PS: Please remember to share this post with other people. I also look forward to your own kettle-to-star stories and feedback in the comment section.

Afolabi Soaga

 

WHO ARE THEY???

Fela Durotoye (FD), nation builder, leadership expert and CEO Gemstone group, shared an interesting story with me during our time together recently. The story was about “they” and the lesson in it was quite remarkable.

Who or what are ‘they’ you may ask? You just read on a little further and find out!

One time, he had arrived at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos; and the place was really hot. He moved close to one of the air conditioning systems and realized that the temperature was set at an inappropriate 30 degrees.

FD recalled that he drew the attention of an airport official to this issue, saying: “Sir, this place is hot because the temperature is set at 30 degrees. If you press this button right here to reduce the temperature to about 16 degrees, this whole place will become more conducive for everyone”

The official however responded in our conventional pidgin English saying; “Oga, that is how ‘they’ set am”. FD wondered who the ‘they’ in question were, just the way you wondered when you started reading this piece.

I mean, if anyone was in a position to do something about the temperature inside the airport on that faithful day, the airport official was one such person and here he was practically refusing to do so because of some ‘they’ somewhere that no one knows about.

FD then went on to adjust the settings of the AC by himself. While he was at it, the official kept saying that ‘Oga, if it spoil, they go hold you o”.  Once again FD wondered to himself: “Who are they? Where are they? Why should ‘they’ stop you from doing what you ought to do?”

Most of us are like that airport official. There are certain things we have decided not to do anything about, not because we cannot, but because we are too concerned, we bother ourselves too much about “what ‘they’ would think, say, do, or how ‘they’ would react”.

You might wonder, “If I quit my job, ‘they’ would say I’m crazy?” “If I leave this abusive relationship, ‘they’ would think I cannot suffer long” “If I start my business, ‘they’ will not patronize me”. “If I forgive, ‘they’ would probably do it again”.

Now I ask you, who are ‘they’?

FD adjusted the AC that day and ‘they’ never showed up. ‘They’ didn’t show up because let me shock you; ‘they’ don’t even exist! Even if they do exist, they are never as powerful as we make them to be in our minds.

If there is something that needs to be done, go ahead and do it! Regardless of what others may do or think. For all we know, They are not real! They are not powerful enough to stop you!! You are the one stopping yourself. Only YOU can stop YOU!

This is to challenge you to just do it like Nike. (If you just pronounced that as Nike, the girl that sells Indomie down your street; please know that I am praying for you. LOL). But really, you need to rise above whatever is holding you back, above those things playing around in your heads.

You are powerful enough to make that change happen!

Go for greatness!

Afolabi.

Scars of War

I want to start by congratulating myself on finding such a dramatic title to this piece. Although it sounds like the title of a blockbuster Hollywood movie, this is far from fiction; this is everyday life; this is the story of my life.

Nod your head if you have never failed in life. If you didn’t just nod your head then please read on because you are exactly who I had in mind when putting this together.

My first year in the university was my most challenging one academically. I had the uncommon privilege of scoring all the grades possible in just my first semester. Once again, it felt like I was watching a movie every time I went to the result board those days. I told myself this just can’t be me. More annoying was that I scored an A in a 1 unit course while the F was in a 4 unit course; the way the grade system works, I would have just been better off with 2 Ds in both courses really.

After the first semester, I couldn’t just settle for the result. I am brilliant chap no doubt. My secondary school results were pretty good and I felt I deserved better. I spent some time attempting to contest the result but for the advice of concerned strangers who warned me against it. You have four more years in the university ahead of you, buckle up, do it again and you’d be just fine. I’m glad I took their advice

The real gist was an event that happened in my second year. I was placed in a position where I had to publicly declare what my CGPA was. Though I can’t remember why o was asked to, but I can’t also forget how miserable it made me feel.

This was church event and I couldn’t possibly lie.  I shared my poor 1.87 CGPA with everyone in attendance and that went down as one of the most embarrassing days of my life but also a very decisive one. Looking back, there are 2 quick lessons to pick

First is that one event that goes wrong in your life doesn’t define your life forever. Often I feel that all eyes are on me at all times and I know we all mostly do feel this way too. Note, this is 2pac and not scripture so it can’t be true. Even if it was true, after a while, people forget about your embarrassing moment because they have their own to remember and think about. So don’t go kill yourself over it. I still remember that day fondly but I doubt if many other people that were there that day do. And yet, as at then it felt like I had let the whole world in on my top secret at that time.

One event that goes wrong in your life doesn’t define your life forever

The second is the big idea of this article- if you don’t take responsibility for your failures; how on earth would you be responsible for turning things around.

I went on to graduate from that same school with a second upper division with every semester GPA surpassing the previous one back to back despite starting as a mere pass student. I believe that would not have been possible if I lived in denial all through my campus life.

If you don’t take responsibility for your failures; how on earth would you be responsible for turning things around.

The concept of failing forward is based on your ability to realize that failure is just an event as well as an opportunity to begin again more intelligently. If you have ever failed at a thing, you need to know that you didn’t fail, the thing did and if you can take responsibility for it then you also can rewrite your story and tell a testimony. Don’t play the blame game, don’t give excuses. Rather, own up, buckle up, and go at it again.

Failures are your scars of war. They show that you lost a battle. When handled properly, they can also become your mark of victory that will be proof that you won the war.

Selah,

Afolabi.

Dont just take NO for an answer, ask WHY!

Several research studies have revealed that most non-routine sales occur only after 5 follow-ups. This means that it takes at least 5 continuous and consistent follow up efforts after the initial sales contact, before a prospective customer agrees to patronize your product. That’s an equivalent of 4 NOs before you get 1 YES.

This highlights the importance of a list of things. Top of that list is persistence; but also important, though not often spoken about, is feedback.

Here is what I mean, 4 NOs don’t always ordinarily guarantee a YES at the 5th trial. It is foolish to do things the same way and expect a different result. What you do with rejection is what decides what happens at your next try. The issue is that often, people don’t make an effort to find out why they are being turned down. They just turn away without asking for feedback.

What we ought to do when a prospective customer refuses to patronize our business is to find out why he/she didn’t. You ought to take every rejection moment as a learning opportunity- What did I get wrong? What can I make better? What extras can give me an advantage in my next outing? What can I do to change this customer’s mind? Why do you prefer my competitors to me? Don’t just accept being rejected, ask why!

This finds its application not just in sales. Whether it is a prospective lover turning down your advances, or a prospective employer showing you the door after an interview, sometimes what you need to do to guarantee that you don’t get rejected again is to ask and receive feedback.

Don’t just accept being rejected, ask why!

In some cases, you’d find out that what asking that all important question does is to make the prospect see that they really don’t have a reason for rejecting you. Their inability to point you to your flaws could bring to the fore front their own bias and in certain cases cause them to rethink on their decision.

Whatever the case might be, whether there is a flaw identified, or a bias revealed, or even neither of the two, we are presented with a winning opportunity when we choose to ask questions rather than accept fate when faced with rejection.  This winning opportunity might perhaps be the reason why you don’t need to try 3 more times before you get your desired ‘YES’.

 

A Reason to Hope

I listened to Bernie Sanders speak in the days after the historic US election that saw the unlikely Donald J Trump emerge as the president-elect of the United States of America. I heard him say that he was very hopeful and optimistic about the future of their country even as he has written in his new best selling  book ‘Our Revolution’.

However, his enthusiasm has little or nothing to do with Trump’s election but everything to do with the young, vibrant, beautiful, and enthusiastic young individuals he met as he traveled across the United States during his own campaign to be the Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party.

Then I thought to myself, if Uncle Bernie is hopeful about America because of THIS reason, then we have even more reasons to be hopeful about Nigeria and Africa at large. Spread across our great land are young, energetic, dynamic and bright individuals who are passionate about the future of our country.africa-green-ring

Young men and women who are awaken to the fact that our leaders can do little to help us. Therefore, we must now take it upon ourselves to do everything we can to help them. We will hold them accountable on how they lead and govern us. We would participate as much as we can in the affairs of things. We would create businesses and opportunities for ourselves and the people around us. we would use whatever resource we have to build our nation.

Young men and women who are awaken to the fact that our leaders can do little to help us. Therefore, we must now take it upon ourselves to do everything we can to help them.

Consciously or not, we are beginning to see that we don’t need titles or positions to lead. We can do our own bit starting from where we are. If there is not so much our country can do for us, then there is so much we can and will do for our country.

We won’t relent till we see Nigeria become great again and Africa take a leading position in world affairs.

I am very hopeful about the future of Nigeria and you have reasons too.

Stay believing.

Afolabi

Footprints behind us

This is gradually becoming a ritual for me. Every year on my birthday, I like to share thoughts and ideas that have shaped me and are continuing to do so in the hope that someone who reads it can learn a thing or two on how to move their lives forward.

This year, my thoughts have been around the footprints we make and leave on the surface of the earth. These prints are our legacy. They are the things that the world would remember us for. They are also the things we will be defined by and it is important to pay attention to them.

When Alfred Nobel’s brother died, a local newspaper mistakenly published Albert’s obituary instead. That allowed Alfred the dread of coming face to face with his own obituary. He was confronted with what his legacy was but was also presented with an opportunity to change it.

From a man who was to be remembered as a merchant of death who became wealthy by finding ways to kill many people fast to one remembered as the creator of the prestigious Nobel Prize. Alfred Nobel rewrote his own history.

Two ready lessons from Alfred’s story are these. First, consciously or not, we are all leaving behind a legacy either good or bad. More interesting is that many of us are unaware about what type of legacy we are leaving behind. Second and perhaps more importantly is that it is never too late to decide what we would be remembered for. We can take conscious steps today and rewrite the stories that would be told of us.

I have found that our lives are really a sum total of the decisions we make. We are no better than our daily decisions and actions. The question then is- what informs our decisions?

I believe that a proven answer to that are the values you hold. These are the things that decide what decisions you go with and the ones you discard.  They are the unseen litmus test that validate the actions we take. We are just as good as our values. Therefore, to leave behind a great legacy, we must first live out great values.

Your values are things that you must continually do and think to become the person you have envisioned yourself to be. They have such a compelling influence over your actions that they practically define who you are. They are the things you stand for and they are the things that will keep you standing.

To leave behind a great legacy, we must first live out great values.

Note that your values don’t necessarily have to be ‘natural’ to you. Why this is important to know is that we are likely to fall into the danger of thinking about our values based on our past experience- on what we currently are, both good and bad. While that is helpful, it is also important to know that we can also be forward looking when thinking about our values. In other words, they are not necessarily what you’ve always been or done; but could rather be what you will start doing and being.

It is never too late to decide what we would be remembered for. We can take conscious steps today and rewrite the stories that would be told of us.

So you see, leaving a conscious and deliberate legacy starts with identifying and committing to a set of values that align with that legacy. By committing, I mean that you take ownership of those values and you start defining yourself by them. This might require that you recite it over and over again until it becomes internalized like a software that runs your life.

You don’t have to pick every good trait you can remember, you could just pick a few that you can really commit to, and that also best align with your vision and goals. If you work well at those few values, you’d be greatly amazed at how such singular action can transform your life.

My own identified values are Growth, Love, Faith, Patriotism, Humility, Generosity and Service. What are yours?

Cheers!

Afolabi

Life On Purpose (My 7.125 Billion Story)

As at 2013, the estimated population of the world was placed at 7.125 Billion. That’s a massive lot of people.

If you believe like i do, that the true wealth of the earth is not in the abundance beneath the ground but rather in the people who live in it; then that would mean that the earth is a super rich billionaire! But if so, why is there still suffering and poverty? why is there still decadence in the society? why aren’t things the way they ought to be?

This might explain it- a 7.125 billion Dollars man and a 7.125 billion Naira man are not equal. What both can do and achieve differs greatly. The figures are the same but what they can do differs. So it is not enough to look at the numbers, you must also look at the quality of the numbers.

The problem the world has is not numbers but rather quality. If there were better people, like better currency, we can achieve better results.

Quality of life begins when purpose of life is established. When the purpose of a life is unknown that life becomes a loss to all its stakeholders. A life is fulfilled and optimized when lived primarily for the purpose it was wired.

img-20161029-wa0000

On the 19th of November, 2016, LifeOnPurpose Conference (LPC) would be holding right here in Lagos Nigeria. LPC is a faith-based and nation building initiative aimed at positioning the lives of young adults towards living a life of purpose and impact.

It is highly recommended for teenagers and young adults who would want to improve their worth and lives. It would be a blend of learning sessions on various topics and skills facilitated by some of the country’s finest minds and hands.

You can REGISTER for it by clicking here. It promises to be all that it promises and even more.  See poster for more details.

PS: You can catch me live at the event too. Look forward to seeing you

Cheers

Afolabi

Why you should be a Futurist too

Without being too technical in my definition; a futurist is basically a thinker who plans for the future. He assesses the trend and situation of things today and with that make judgments and decisions that will position him to lead tomorrow.

Mary Kay Ash believes that there are 3 types of people- those who make things happen, those who watch things happen, and those who wondered what happened. Futurists belong to the group of those who make things happen.

Sometimes it feels like all the big things that will ever happen in the world has happened already and there is little or nothing more that we can do. The truth is that it felt that way a few hundred years ago and look at how far we have come since then. Yes a lot has been done but yet, a lot more can still be done.

The next Bill Gates wont likely built a software system nor will the next Mark Zuckerberg build a social network platform. What will they build? That’s the questions futurist try to answer and is one you should ponder on too.

Futurists belong to the group of those who make things happen.

Regardless of whatever industry you play in, there are 3 questions you can ask yourself if you want to be futuristic.

1.     What can I expect to happen in this industry? You can draw answers from this by considering certain industry historical data and trends and then drawing predictive inferences about the future from them.

2.     What other things could be made to happen? Not everything is captured in history and trends. You need to also be up to speed on current plans within your industry. What product line are your competitors planning? What government policies are in the pipeline and how can they affect things when they finally happen? How can you be innovative and be a game changer in your industry? What can your next big move be?

Sometimes it feels like all the big things that will ever happen in the world has happened already…… it felt that way a few hundred years ago and look at how far we have come since then

3.     What do I want to happen? What would I rather have happen in this industry and how can I make it happen. Are there things I need to stop or are there things I need to join. What are the resources I need and who are the people that can help me build that future that I desire.

Our ability to provide answers to these questions will go a long way in helping us take vantage positions in the future that is beginning to happen daily. Statements about the future describe possibilities, probabilities or preferences. They help with good planning and good planning is always a good way to go.

Story of Our lives

Sometimes we wonder, how did I get to this place? How did I miss my way? How did I end up this way? But that is usually where our problem begin. Because we stop at wondering and we never really find answers to that question.
Therefore, history repeats itself again and after a while, you begin to wonder if what you’ve become is who you really are.

A thief, a murderer, a liar, a prostitute, a sinner, broke, uninspired, and the list goes on. But that in itself isn’t a problem. The problem isn’t that we question our identity but that we believe the wrong things about ourselves.

It is then that we stop trying because we have accepted fate. We deny ourselves a reason to try- to make an attempt. We start living a lie when we accept that lie as truth. Our thoughts then become self-fulfilling prophecies when they never should have been.

Story of your life? Perhaps yes.

Take a step back to where we started from- your wandering thoughts.

What if you don’t stop at wondering how you got to where you are. What if you find out the answers. What if you identify where you missed the road and tripped to rock bottom.

What if things can be different. What if the power to change is in your hands.

Then I believe you can trace your steps back and pick yourself up again. You may then learn from the past and history never gets to repeat itself. And when the question of identify comes up, you then don’t have to believe a lie as there are reasons to believe the truth. As long as there is hope of a better, you therefore try. You try and try and try again. And soon you get it right because you were made to do so.

A righteous man will fall several times, and several times he would rise again.

Story of my life? Definitely Yes!!

This truth liberates! Sets free!! Makes whole!!!