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.

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

AOC Generation

I don’t really know how it works these days, but I remember well that while I was in secondary school, we had a habit of always asking our teachers whenever exams were approaching for what we called an AOC.

AOC is acronym for Area of Concentration. The idea is that, if we were taught 8 topics during that term or semester, and the exam will only cover say  4 topics, the AOC tells us where to focus our reading efforts on such that rather than read the entire 8 topics, we can focus effort and attention on the 4 guaranteed exam topics.  Good way to save energy, focus energy and increase efficiency!

While AOC proved to be a good idea in some cases; in some other cases, it wasn’t. There were times when certain ‘wicked’ teachers decided to mislead us by giving us wrong AOCs. So he says read topics 1 to 4, and then he ends up setting topics 5 to 8 in the exam. I’m sure you know that the result of that is usually not pretty. Someone reading this must have had such nasty experiences too. So early enough, I’ve learnt not to be an AOC dependent student; when I have an examination, I leave no stone unturned, master all I should; and in retrospect, I think it is a good idea that has worked well for me.

Being an AOC person is too risky as a student in school and even more importantly, as a student outside school. Many people want to know that ONE thing that they can do to become successful, that ONE thing they can do to make a first class in school, that ONE thing they can do to make more money, that ONE thing they can do to land that dream job, that one thing that will make their marriage heaven; just that ONE thing!

Newsflash- there is hardly a one-thing-to-do! Instead there are usually SEVERAL things to do. Success in life and any endeavor is rarely an easy-one way-formula. If it were, everybody would be successful. Further still, what works at a particular level might not at another level. To crown it all, life as a teacher doesn’t give AOCs… it doesn’t even have an examination timetable. You have to ALWAYS be prepared and not only that, you also have to be FULLY prepared.

You have to ALWAYS be prepared and not only that, you also have to be FULLY prepared.

In conclusion, examinations in life and other specific circumstances are not just given so that you can pass them. There are there so that you can become something by reason of them. There are there to certify that you have learnt enough if not all of what they are about. AOCs are good, but they only make you half baked. Sooner or later, questions will pop from areas outside your AOC. The question then is- will you be able to tackle them?

Afolabi Soaga

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

 

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

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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