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

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!

 

 

 

Increasing your influence Level 2

So we have identified leadership as Nigeria’s big problem; and we’ve identified influence as the surest route to it. This post is a continuation of the last post and Its about 4 things that will get people to like you and thereby grow your influence over them. Please read the last post here

Being liked isn’t gotten on a silver platter too; it has to be worked for. Here are the big 4:

  1. Excellence: John Gardner is noted to have said that excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. It will win you hearts. From the way you walk, talk, dress, smell and live your life, try to always put out a personal best. Consistency is important. Don’t be great today, and shabby tomorrow. But if you wont be great everyday, try to be it today. But then, I like to say that everyday is showtime. Put up a good show!
  2. Like people: The golden rule cuts across virtually every principle. So if you want to be liked, then care for others as well and show it. Actions they say speak louder than words. One of the ways you can really show that you are interested in people is to use personal data. It works like magic. Call people by their names and they’ll like you. Its not easy to remember people’s names….so it shows that you put effort into it. People recognize and appreciate such efforts.

    index
    Photo credit: Google
  3. Be a Master-Communicator: Communication is a 2 way street too. It should flow in both directions. You’ve heard it being said that God gave us 2 ears and 1 mouth so that we can listen more and talk less. True. But you see, you have to do both. Be a listener; lend people your ears and they’ll lend you their hearts. Good deal if you ask me. But you’ve also got to speak and use words well. One of the best ways to use words is to affirm people. Say good things to them and about them. Dale Carnegie says being hearty in approbation but lavish in praise will win you friends and influence.
  4. Be Nice: Tracy chapman identified 5 love languages people speak. Most of them have to do with you being nice. From doing kind acts, to giving gifts, or saying nice words. Most people respond well to these little things. They are the little things that mean so much to people and doing them will endear you to their hearts.

everyday is showtime. Put up a good show!

So in conclusion, influence isn’t so difficult to have. People who love and respect you will respond to you. Also, you don’t have to sacrifice respect for likability…they are not mutually exclusive. Have fun, be nice, be good, be Great!

Afolabi Soaga

Increasing your influence Level

What is Africa’s biggest problem? If you are thinking its poverty you are wrong. What is Nigeria’s biggest problem? If you are thinking its corruption, once again you are very wrong. You see most of those stuffs you might be thinking about are not the real problems we have. They are products of it. And like someone said, if you don’t like the mangoes a mango tree in your yard is producing, rather than pluck off all the mangoes, get rid of the tree.

Quite frankly, Africa has a leadership problem. Unlucky the land whose king is a young pup – Eccl 10:16 (MSG). In other words, poor leadership often leads to calamitous consequences for a nation or people.

ERFA-Logo-no-backgroundWe often debate why the youths today aren’t allowed to take active part in governance in this part of the world. Fixed in this article is a picture of former Nigerian head of state, General Yakubu Gowon exchanging a handshake with young Justin Trudeau in the 70’s. Today Justin is Canada’s Prime minister.  But from the picture, Gowon was quite young then; but his fellows from that generation have remained in power because we have a cultural problem that attaches more importance to positions and titles than to leadership via influence. This is proved in the recent drama that happened in the Nigerian Soccer team. See my post about it here

we have a cultural problem that attaches more importance to positions and titles than to real leadership

So moving forward, how do we change this? Starting with you and I, we need to start modeling the LWT principle. To do that, we need to build influence.

There are two broad routes to building influence. The first is respect and the other is likability. Which of the two is more important? Perhaps none. The good news is that, unlike what many people may want you to think, you don’t have to substitute one for the other. You don’t have to sacrifice being liked for respect and vice versa.

Neither is gotten on a platter of gold. You’ve got to earn being respected and being liked.

4 ways of earning respect and building influence thereby are

  1. Respect others: Respect is reciprocal. This is so true. Some call it the yellow rule of life. Respect is like a two way street, it usually flows in both direction. So wherever it seems like respect is lacking, you open up a way for it by generously giving it to others and it will make sure it finds its way back to you. So have good manners, say thank you, don’t use curse words, value people’s personalities, choices and opinions.

    12105974_1058114634231340_3100945207053990519_n
    photo credit: Google
  2. Respect yourself: Quite honestly, people won’t treat you any better than you treat yourself. Likewise, you are not capable of treating people any better than you treat yourself. So before you can truly respect others, you’ve got to have some respect for yourself. So value yourself; celebrate yourself. Funny thing is that self-respect isn’t earned, it is deserved. Also, it is a choice. choose it because you deserve to be respected.
  3. Exhibit Integrity: Integrity is a social capital. Basically it means you being true to your words; being somebody people can vouch for. This isn’t so hard to be. Its as simple as not promising what you can’t deliver and you delivering whatever you promise. If that is hard, then don’t make promises. Simple!
  4. Achieve Greatness: This is key. Once you are a person people can identify with success, they won’t find it hard to pay you respect. The point is, for every success you achieve, every victory you get, every breakthrough you make, you earn the right to people’s respect. They owe it to you and in most cases, they wont be able to help but respect you. The only other option they have is to hate and that will age them faster. That’s a greater loss than paying respect to who it is due.
self-respect isn’t earned, it is deserved. Also, it is a choice. choose it because you deserve to be respected.

So in this link you’d find the other part to this post. They are 4 things that will get you to be liked and thereby build influence. I hope you find time to read it too.

Be great

Afolabi Soaga

German mistake

While i was younger, my dad used to be a fan of the German national football team. They were called the German machines because of their efficiency on the pitch. They never tire, always relentless, full of energy.

I suppose that’s the nature of most things German. Unlike their Chinese counterparts that have a notorious reputation of not lasting long, German products tend to have the never-say-die nature and the cat-with-nine-lives mentality. It is in line with this that a nickname was coined for the Mercedes Benz 200 model produced in the 1980s. Back here in Nigeria, we call it the German mistake. THIS CAR NEVER SPOILS. It can burn, crash, fall into a ditch or whatever but it just doesn’t quit like my friend Ayo wrote. It is bad news to auto mechanics and car sellers because it hardly gets a fault and most people that buy it often see no reason to buy another; at least not for utility purpose.

The one my Dad bought years ago is still very alive in the city of Ibadan in the care of my meticulous uncle Lati. Although quite evidently, it can be seen that the car has been dealt the heavy knocks of life, but the fact that it still lives and serves purpose is a testimony that it is a survivor.

I might be Nigerian but I’m also in many ways like the German mistake.

I’m a survivor and so are you. Life hasn’t been a bed of roses for me and I doubt if it has been for anyone. We all face challenges of different types and nature. Everyman has his own burden he or she has to deal with. But the point is that we are created and built up to overcome whatever dart life throws at us.

Being wonderfully and fearfully made goes beyond beauty and looks. You have the makeup of a conqueror- A man who can always win.

There is no challenge greater than us. Inherent in every one of us is the capacity to overcome. Those that get beaten by life are those that just never fought enough. They had every potential to live through their storm, but they probably quit fighting too early.

So, is it your academics that is having issues? Or is it a relationship that has been a pain in the backside? Or are you having a bad financial episode of your life, whatever the case maybe; just note that it doesn’t have to be your end. Like they say, you are only passing through it and sooner rather than later it would become history- the type you laugh at when recounting your experience.

All you need to know is that you have what it takes to win. You are just way too loaded to fail. Yes there are hard knocks here and there, but that doesn’t change the fact that greater is what lies within you than what attacks from outside.

In the sequel to this, I’d write about two major mechanisms we have as tools for surviving and thriving in this jungle world we live in. I’d explain how they have been used and how you also can use them to your benefit.

o daa bo!

Soaga Afolabi Olusegun

Baby Again: the future of the African child

Fear and the inability to take risks are man created. We were not born that way. We were informally trained to be afraid, to lack courage and to avoid risk. We were brought up to think that it’s best to always play it safe. But I have come to realize that although a ship in the harbor is safe; that’s not what ships are made for. They are designed and purposed to sail the high seas and surf through the turbulent storms; and they are specially designed to serve that purpose.

Risks are a part of life; boldness i  s often essential and it is innate. Fear though seems natural, it isn’t our default setting. We picked it up along the way and dropped the courage we were born with not realizing that although fear will take us to a destination faster and safer; often it leads to the wrong one and at when best, to a destination far lesser than where we ought to and could reach.

Take a look at a baby. Regardless of who her father is or how uneducated his mother is. Even if the baby is an orphan from theimages (1) poorest of families; when you place him or her in a room filled with the most honourable and noble dignitaries of the world, the baby would still end up doing whatever it is it wants to do. If it wants to cry, cry it would; or smile or make noise or cause trouble. A baby acts without inhibition and without fear. They are a great example of courage and boldness.

And each and everyone of us was once like that baby. We were all born that way. And that’s what we need to get back to being. Fear is a habit we learnt while unlearning courage and we need to reverse that to unlearn fear and relearn courage.

We were born that way for a reason. The world we are in is one filled with opportunities. But despite the huge opportunities that lie around, what we find also is great inequality.  The resources available are not equally distributed and no matter the kind of socialist system any government tries to run, they can never be. Resources are not necessarily scarce; or let me say scarcity is relative. Resources can go round but it just won’t.  I believe that an interplay of fear, faith, courage and boldness is what decides who gets what and how much of the resources available gets to a person.

It takes the bold and courageous to stretch forth and reach for his own share. It takes a lion heart to have a lion’s share. And that courage lies within your heart. You just need to find it.

And to young parents and intending parents especially my fellow African people i have this to add: We tend to teach our children not to speak where elders are instead of teaching them how to speak where elders are. We teach our daughters to be subservient to their male counterparts rather than making them know how to be achievers in themselves as well as humble afterwards. These are the things that sniff out the boldness and courage we were born with. Little wonder we are the way we are. I believe it is important that we change some part of how we train our children. No doubt our system has given birth to really strong and defiant people and time won’t permit me to name examples, but like always said, there is always room for improvement.  Ability to adapt and to survive are not the only things we can have. images (2)Courage, confidence and boldness could be added to the character of the African child.so we need to adopt systems that would model these traits in our kids. We need to make them start seeing that the white man isn’t better and that the foreign land isn’t more blessed. That they can compete against anyone in the world because they are equally as good as anyone else of any skin type. Our children must see beyond their immediate environment; beyond their history, they must see their future. The must see that they also have a role to play, an impact to make ; a contribution to give towards making the world a better place. They have a share in greatness, and we must show them the path that leads there.

I believe in the future of the African child. I see a future where we also contribute positively to the growth and development of this world. Where we are not just a spectator as to what happens; but rather active partners in change. But to reach that future, we must re-become what we were; re-discover the baby in us and find that boldness, faith and courage God equipped us with for the prize of greatness he has destined us for.

O dabo

Soaga Afolabitumblr_ngbu62KOXQ1rrnn7po1_1280

a white lie fed to black men

One lie most of we black have grown up believing is that the white race made life better for us. So we think they are a superior race. Despite all the campaign against such silly thoughts, many people where I’m from still believe the same. We think that as long as it is white, then its right; or that if it is from the UK then it must be really OK; and that if it is from abroad then it is divinely from above; but men…….all this is really not always true.

They told us that the white man gave us electricity. I say False! Edison and Tesla did. The white man didn’t give us Microsoft, bill Gates did. And like bill said in an interview once, he wasn’t the only white kid that had the resources, information and opportunity he had then, million other whites also did. But bill (1 individual person) started the company Microsoft. The white man didn’t give us airplanes, the wright brothers did. They didn’t give us what has been termed the next best gift to mankind after Jesus- Google; Larry Page and Sergey Brin did. I like million other young men love the video game; but that also was not the white man’s invention; Ralph Baer did. E-mail was by Ray Tomlinson, camera by Stephen Sasson, and our beautiful Facebook was by mark Zuckerburg; not the white man. Indeed, all these men I’ve mentioned thus far were white in colour, but their colour wasn’t what produced the solutions and inventions, rather their hard work and geniuses which are exclusive of their race did. So I won’t attribute those inventions to the white race rather, to the men who worked hard to make them realities.

Creativity is inherent in every man God made. In the bible book of Genesis, we are told that we are all created in his image. Men, women, children, aged, black, white, Hispanic, tall, short, potbellied, hour glass shaped, and every other categories and human types in between; we are all created in the image and likeness( i.e. similitude which refers to the very substance that makes up his being) of our creator.

In the same chapter of the book of Genesis, we see that one major feature or characteristic of God is creativity. That’s what he is and that’s what we all are- creative and innovative. Many of us have lost touch with that part of us due to our dogmatic daily routines and other creativity-killers we are involved with, nonetheless, that doesn’t change the fact that it is in us- both white and blacks.

Let’s take this a bit further. Men of African descent have also made their own inventions. Did you know that the Air conditioning unit was made by Frederick M. Jones in July 12, 1949. Richard Spikes made the automatic gear shift in February 28, 1932. The cellular phone was invented by Henry T. Sampson in July 6, 1971. The elevator was by Alexander Miles(the man in the picture below), fire extinguisher by   T. Marshall, guitar by Robert F. Flemming, Jr., hair brush by a 19th century woman named Lydia O. Newman. Walter B. Purvis made the hand stamp, Sarah Boone invented the ironing board, the lantern was created by  Michael C. Harvey. The lawn mower was invented by  L. A. Burr. Refrigerator, spark plug, tricycle and even the type-writer were all made by people whose skins were black.
Don’t get me wrong, I must say the black man didn’t any of the inventions I have thus far listed in the previous paragraph, noble men and women who fortunately had black skin did. So don’t say that the black man invented the traffic light, because it was actually Garrett Morgan who had a black skin who did.
So it is really not a function of their race or skin colour. Its about who we are and who God has made us. He made us all equal, no one is superior to the other. I must admit that they have a structure over there (abroad) that allows people reach their potentials better than we have here. All the black inventors I have mentioned and the ones I have also omitted probably made their inventions in the white man’s land……but even that isn’t a function of location but rather of the systems and the individual and collective men and women that made those systems. (there is this stuff I heard that if we move all the Americans and relocate them to some parts of Africa, and do the same to those Africans by moving them to America; in a few years’ time, those remote places in Africa will become as America…and America will become in most ways as the Africa we have today. It’s just a thing about our mind-sets)

We Africans can imagine, and so we can invent, we can innovate, we can create. Yes we can! If we can, we should; if we should, we must. So lets arise o ye Africans. Its time to write new chapters in the books of history……..chapters about a glorious Africa; a Africa of good people, great nations, new inventions and innovations. A Africa that is not just receiving from all others, but rather one that is making solid contribution to the development of the global world and the achievements of the goals and objectives of the entire humanity.

Soaga Afolabi Olusegun.
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