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’.

 

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.

Dont Let a Crisis go to Waste!!!

Crises are very important. As much as we don’t like them, we honestly owe many of the progress we’ve made as a people to it. The greatest things have happened when things got messed up. Necessity is reputed as the mother of creation and crisis I believe is the mother of necessity. A crisis reveals in clear terms that something needs to be done and that certain things need to change.

It is obvious that Nigeria and the world at large are in a crisis state. Economies are heading for recession, the climate keeps surprising us by making certain things we only imagined in Sci-fi movies our daily realities, terrorism is on a record high, and things are just not ideal as we’d have loved them to.

So what do we do with all these crises we have at hand? What do you do with the punches that life is dealing you? Do you just do so well to dodge as many as you can and hence survive; or do you learn from these crises and confront them and hence thrive?

Crises are no doubt opportunities in disguise. Though its good to pray for opportunities, but not this kind. They rarely respond to your wishes and prayers. They don’t need an invitation from you. They have their own agenda that they are running and sooner or later, it will be your own turn. They are like summer and winter; your opinion is almost irrelevant to them. You can curse, nag, complain, be bitter etc. but you’d still have to live with them.

What you can and should do really is PREPARE for them. If we save in the days of plenty, we won’t lack in the days of famine.

In confronting a crisis, there are 3 things that are needful.

The first is to change something; one of the worse things you could do is to try to act in denial by refusing to change when confronted by a crisis. What crises do is that they change things around you and when things around you change, you also have to change. Change requires change. In the face of a crisis you should ask yourself the big question-what do I need to change about myself? That’s where the solution starts from! Do I need to spend less, save more, work extra, change environment, beef up security, form new alliances, break off certain relationships, form new habits, play less, pray more, etc. What do I need to do differently? If you try to do it business as usual, you’d end up worse off. Those who insist on the status quo when change arrives will find themselves on the wrong page of history.

Change requires change

The second is to develop tough skin. Crises are like seasons, they come and go. So eventually, it will pass away but only if you hang on will you not pass with it. When the going gets tough, only the tough gets going. In tough times, you have to develop tough skin. You shouldn’t back down or break down at every sight of discomfort or challenge. You have to be resilient and tenacious. You have to engage active patience; a patience that doesn’t just wait for dawn to come but that fights darkness while it awaits a new day.

The third is to stay hopeful; Do not let the candle of your hope burnout. Always keep hope alive. When a cup is broken, it will struggle to hold water. At that point, It differs not from a basket. You are not a basket and you can avoid becoming one by keeping the bond of hope alive. Against hope, keep hoping. Believe that better days are ahead. Find that silver lining in your stormy days and hold on to it till it dispels the clouds and brings you the rain of abundance that you desire.

Believe that better days are ahead

A crisis is indeed a veritable tool of progress for those who can handle it. A crisis is raw material for greatness. Never let it waste, make the most of it!

Afolabi Soaga

Things you should know about People

Understanding people is key to life success. Money doesn’t make the world go round, people do. The world is no good with all the money in it if their are no people to use that money. So, i think the most important aspect of your life isn’t just your money but the people in your life.

So below are some of the things you should know about people:

People like to be treated with honor, value, and respect.  Even in cases where they don’t deserve it, people will still expect respect from you. You must understand that this is a fundamental human need for people.

Everyone has a price. This doesn’t necessarily mean you can buy them with money. Rather it implies that people can be reached, influenced, and won over. Whether its by affirmation, acts of service, gifts, or whatever else appeals to their interests and needs, everyone has stuffs they value and respond to.

People are ultimately insatiable. They are always looking for greener pastures. There is no way you can hold back a man who is convinced that there is better for him elsewhere. Sadly though, most people are too lazy to pay the necessary price for their advancement; nonetheless, the desire to improve our lives is an unquenchable thirst in each and everyone of us.

Everyone has the seed of good in them. You should never write a man off. As long as he has life, no matter how terrible his past or present is, he can construct an edifice of a future. Men are ‘illimitable’! limits only exist in our minds and when those minds are liberated by truth, nothing cant restrict the success and progress a man can make.

Human destinies are somehow connected. Those you treat badly today might be in positions to repay you in the same manner tomorrow. Even if they are not, your wrong seeds will catch up with you and someone else somehow will pay you back on their behalf (some call this karma). So it pays to treat people well.

Here is a conclusion you should hold dear- Dealing with people is like playing a video game. when you know rules and how to play it, it becomes fun and easy to do. Before then, it would just be a frustrating activity of nothingness.

Cheers!

Afolabi Soaga

Dealing with people is like playing a video game. when you know rules and how to play it, it becomes fun and easy to do.

 

Dont be all about the money

money.jpgA lot of businesses are not successful and profitable in Nigeria because those who run them are going about their business the wrong way. Statistic says that only 1 in about 3 startup businesses in the country lives longer than 5 years. This shows that there is something wrong with the way our entrepreneurs exercise their entrepreneurship.

I have found that most business owners in Nigeria are all about the money. They are only in business just to make money from people and enrich their pockets. They really don’t have long term commitments to the business or the people they serve. They just want their business to cater to their various needs and luxuries now.

I am of the strong opinion that meeting needs ought to be the priority of any  business venture; solving problems and not making money. I don’t like the idea of starting business just because you have to make ends meet or simply because you cant find a job. That’s the reason many people start businesses in Nigeria. These are good reasons to launch into the waters of entrepreneurship but they should not be your only and or leading reason.

I don’t like the idea of starting business just because you have to make ends meet or simply because you cant find a job. These are good reasons to launch into the waters of entrepreneurship but they should not be your only and or leading reason.

This is not to say that making healthy profits in business is wrong because right next to meeting needs is making profit. But never before it. You can make profits without meeting needs; it won’t just be sustained. And yes, you can meet needs without making profit too; but that is hardly the case except you are running a charity.

The point however here is that your chances of making sales, increasing returns, and making healthy profits are enormous when you are focused on meeting needs rather than on making money.

We don’t have strong brands in Nigeria. A strong brand is one that resonates both functionally and emotionally with its customers. No brand will promise to just make money off its customers although many act just like that. They don’t promise that because it is common sense to know that people are not looking for people to give their money to; they are seeking people who will solve their problems and they will pay sufficiently for such help.

It is said about God, that we shouldn’t go after his gifts but rather after him, the giver of the gifts. Likewise, businesses shouldn’t go after the money of their customers but rather the customers themselves. When you have me, you have all that I have (my money inclusive). Even in cases where repeat business isn’t possible, the moment you win me over, you can be sure I’d replicate myself to patronize you through friends, associates and family.

Businesses shouldn’t go after the money of their customers but rather the customers themselves.

Businesses ought to be in the business of sweeping their customers off their feet, taking their breathe away, blowing them into unprecedented ecstasy. You should be trying to win people and not make money. Because money is temporal, always moving places, but people are always there. Because money is owned by people and not people by money; it is wise to be after them than after their money.

You cant make real money in life if you are all about money. You have to be about several other things. You have to be about service, about giving, about management, deferring gratification, making sacrifices and investments, making wise decisions, etc. Money alone doesn’t make rich, these other things do.

Afolabi Soaga

 

Our Wrong Approach to Innovation

In our quest as a nation and continent to stop being BUYERsellers but rather SELLERbuyers, the drive and push to create and innovate things is greater now than ever. People are being encouraged to look past the theory they are being taught in school and get practical with the knowledge they get; to look past seeking jobs where there are none to creating jobs others can find. We are in the long awaited era of creative and innovative African entrepreneurs.

We’ve gone past the period where we thought that creativity and innovation was a white man’s thing; that the answers to our problems will only come from outside our shores as a nation and continent. We now know that it is our duty to take responsibility for our growth and development and that it is dutiful for us to contribute to world development for we have the capacity to do so.

Yes we now know, but knowledge has never been enough. How do we then make the change, what course of action should we take? What is our strategy? If we have a strategy, are we doing it the right way and what are our chances of success with our present direction?

Yes we now know, but knowledge has never been enough

Typical innovation news we hear in Nigeria goes like this- 7 Unizik students produce automobile bus with local material; Enugu boy builds airplane without engine, 3 Kwasu students built a rocket prototype, etc. while these are all credible achievements that are perhaps worth celebrating, they are still a far cry from the best we are capable of. They are good enough, but good enough they say is never good enough. Those stuffs are good enough for museums but not real life markets.

Innovation-Africa

A good footballer doesn’t go to where the football is; he goes to where the football is going. The problem with those inventions we are celebrating is that they are not even where the world’s ball is at the moment, the world has far gone past those things. It’s like we are playing catch up with the past. How are we ever going to make progress that way?

It’s like we are playing catch up with the past.

We need to stop creating what others have created and stop solving problems that have already been solved. That is not innovative, it is only being re-inventive. While that isn’t a bad thing, I believe that we are capable of better things. Worse still, these catch-up products of ours are still of no quality based advantage when in comparison with the originals we copy.

Our university system also has a similar problem. Final year students are encouraged to work on thesis other people have worked on before. So it’s a copy-and-paste exercise for them. They are not encouraged to champion new frontiers and make new discoveries. They are trained to follow rather than lead. (Again, most of these research works end up in shelves somewhere not really contributing to global knowledge or advancement in their field)

Africa has unique problems; Africa can produce unique solutions

All these can change. Africa has unique problems; Africa can produce unique solutions. To really get to the level we are capable of as Africans, we need to do these things

  1. Stop playing catch up with the past– We need to be charge up our curiosity and ask questions- questions about the future; the future of any field we are playing in. We need to figure out where the ball is going and map out ways and means of getting there before the ball does. Only then can we be reckoned with as good players and only then can we score innovative goals
  1. Even if we’d tackle the same problems that others are tackling; We should do it better. I understand that some needs are universal and generational. People would always have to eat, move around, shelter and cloth themselves. But we don’t have to solve these problems the way they have always been solved. We can solve them in a more distinctive, efficient and timely manner. Our offerings become more valuable that way.

Great new innovations are usually high on two things. The first is the solution or value they provide; second is their divergence from the norm. You and I are capable of creating such solutions; we are capable of delivering on our duty towards world development and prosperity for all of mankind.

Be Great!

Afolabi Soaga

 

 

 

There are 2 types of people

There are two categories of people in the world- The BUYERsellers and the SELLERbuyers. Everyone buys and sell. The difference between both categories is that the BUYERseller buys more than he sells while the SELLERbuyer sells more than he buys. The BUYERseller doesn’t necessarily buy more than the SELLERbuyer does, he/she only buys more than he/she sells.

Countries can also be grouped in a like manner. While some countries are BUYERsellers, others are SELLERbuyers. Nigeria for instance, belongs to the former. We import more than we export. As a result, we run a deficit balance of trade, and hence, we have an economy that could be doing far better than it currently does. We are not alone. Most third world countries also belong to the BUYERseller category and they’ll remain third world until that change. Developed countries on the contrary are SELLERbuyers; and as long as they remain that, they’d continue to be ahead.

It’s important to note also that the country a man lives in doesn’t necessarily decide which category he falls into. There are SELLERbuyer Nigerians as much as there are BUYERseller Americans. So neither race, background, gender or any other caste can be used to predict the market category a person falls into. So at every level and in all cases, it’s all about personal choices. If you seek more value than you add, then you are a BUYERseller and if you choose to give more value than you seek, then you are a SELLERbuyer.

A BUYERseller is primarily selfish. He cares basically about himself only. He isn’t bothered about what other people need. As long as his needs are being met, he’s good. A SELLERbuyer on the other hand is selfless. He is so concerned about the needs of others such that sometimes he even places that before his own needs. His satisfaction isn’t in having his needs met, but rather in meeting needs.

A BUYERseller searches for people who have the supplies he requires. He is willing to devote his brain power, energy and resources (money) towards meeting his needs. He works because he needs to; because that’s the only way he can pay for his needs. He is typically the kind of person that can’t wait for the closing hour. He’s not concerned about doing his best job, he just wants to get through the day.

A SELLERbuyer is consistently looking for people who needs what he has on offer. He devotes his brain power, energy, resources and his whole self towards meeting the needs of others. He doesn’t just work for the money, he works because he is passionate about what he does; about the change he is making in the world and he is simply glad he is being paid handsomely for it. He is never a part of the problems of the world, he is the solution to them.

 

A BUYERseller is a consumer. He places premium on liabilities (things you spend money on) while a SELLERbuyer is a producer. He places value on assets (things that fetch you money) instead. One would expect a BUYERseller to have more liabilities than a SELLERbuyer but NO! that’s not the case. Although a BUYERseller has more liabilities than he does assets and a SELLERbuyer has more assets that he has liabilities, SELLERbuyers generally have more liabilities than BUYERsellers could ever have because they usually have more money.

 

The situation we have in the world today is such that we have more BUYERsellers than we have SELLERbuyers. By effect, it is safer and more convenient to be with the BUYERseller group but it is far better and profitable to be in the SELLERbuyer group.

 

 

Although a BUYERseller has more liabilities than he does assets and a SELLERbuyer has more assets that he has liabilities, SELLERbuyers generally have more liabilities than BUYERsellers could ever

It’s basic simple economics; value is directly proportional to rarity. The world has more consumers than producers; that means more problem owners than solution givers. So there is a greater demand for solutions than the supply of it. Money usually flows in the opposite direction of value; those we seek it will pay those who give it. Inherently, solution is more valuable than problem; because it is rare. And the fact that there are more people seeking it than people giving it means that a producer gets to deal with more consumers than consumers get to deal with producers.

rich-man-poor-man

 

What should you do with all these terminologies and stuffs I’ve said?

 

Make a change if you are a BUYERseller. You were not born that way; you became it by reason of the choices you have been trained to make. Now you can renew your mind and fix things. You can decide that you’d give more value than you’d ever need. That’s the only way to getting paid more than you’ll ever pay.

That’s the only way to getting paid more than you’ll ever pay

And beyond the promise of wealth that this change offer; the joy of seeing yourself change the world by solving its problem is extraordinary. Nothing can be compared to it!

 

Be Great!

 

 

 

Forging your Business Ahead (a tale on opportunities)

One thing that aspiring speakers look forward to is an opportunity to speak at events. The bigger the crowd, the bigger the excitement; the higher the caliber of people you have in the audience, the better the opportunity.

I recently turned down one such opportunity. It was at an event that had one of Nigeria’s foremost and most notable speaker and consultant in attendance. Okay, maybe I didn’t turn down the opportunity per se, but I didn’t push for the chance even though it was somewhat presented to me.

The decision could have been motivated by either of 2 things- fear or wisdom.

The prosperity of fools will destroy them (Proverbs 1:32). I wasn’t prepped to make a presentation that day. If I had decided to just wing it, I feared that I’d flop it and make a mess of myself. I believe that It is somewhat wise to turn down opportunities you are not prepared for.

I believe that It is somewhat wise to turn down opportunities you are not prepared for.

A take home from that however is to always be ready. Wiser is the man who is ready for his opportunity when it comes. Like the 5 wise virgins in the bible, don’t wait for opportunity before you get ready, instead be proactive; be always ready!

**

Maybe I was ready; I was simply also afraid. Fear is a dangerous enemy. I have found it to be more dangerous than whatever caused it in the first place. Fear is a fierce thief that steals your willpower and prevents you from achieving things that aren’t beyond you. Often it starts little, but the more you tolerate it, the stronger it gets and the weaker your will becomes.

Fear is a fierce thief that steals your willpower and prevents you from achieving things that aren’t beyond you

A take home is that one should be ruthless when dealing with fear. Because fear never goes easy on you, don’t go easy on it. You’ve got to kill it before it kills you. How? Take courage. Courage they say isn’t the absence of fear, but taking action despite of it.

**

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Image Credit: Google

Bringing it home, how can you relate this to your brand or business?

Never be in a haste to get publicity. Always note that a good service will bring 3 more customers while a bad one will chase 3000. Make sure you have all angles covered at all times; you can’t afford to be scrappy. Soon your chance to showcase your brand big time will come; will the chance make you or ruin you? Preparation + opportunity (publicity) = success

failure is often a stepping stone on your way to success

Also, believe in your brand and the experience you have to offer. It is only then that others are permitted to believe in it too. Don’t be afraid to fail; failure is often a stepping stone on your way to success. Believe in yourself enough to share your gifts with the world. Many rewards await you.

Be great

Afolabi Soaga