NB’S DIARY: IT’S 2016

I’ve tried resolutions in the past since they seemed like the thing to do at the beginning of the year and everyone was doing it but they’ve never worked for me. Last year, I tried to just focus on a single word and that got cumbersome, too. A few months ago, I thought I’d just key in on a few key  strategic goals for my life in 2016 and do something each day toward achieving them. But those started to seem daunting, so I backed off.

All this coupled with the fact that I often don’t like to put my major hopes and dreams out into this world for all to see means that despite the yearnings inside of me, I sometimes tell myself to step back a bit. Continue reading “NB’S DIARY: IT’S 2016”

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NB’s Diary – From setbacks to passion.

I had a speaking engagement today. I was asked to come and talk at a seminar at the University of Ibadan about setbacks and how to overcome them. As usual, my life was the source of the material I used. I don’t do speaking engagements unless I can use my life as an example. This particular time though, I was speaking on a topic which I could completely relate to having had several setbacks (of my own doing) before getting to this current point in my life.
You see, NB has been a trouble finder for a long time. I will be 33 in a couple of months and in those 3+ decades, I’ve been expelled from school, arrested and done jail time in two different countries, deported from one of them and finally had to come home to start all over and all this happened before I turned 23. Between then and now (10 years), I’ve managed to turn my life around (with the help of family and friends) and pretty much caught up with my peers who left me behind back then (except for the fact I haven’t started my own family but all in due time).
Every time I speak about that part of my life, I end up feeling raw with emotion. There those emotions consisted of regret, anger, bitterness and self-loathing but now all those are gone and have been replaced with PASSION. That’s the raw emotion I feel when I speak about my past. Today, it pains me so much when I see teenagers, especially the guys, going down that same path. I remember all the trouble I put my family through during those years and I feel for their parents and siblings. That passion also translates to wanting to help the people around me succeed. I remember when I was in my 3rd year at uni and I realised a few of my friends were sitting at second class upper level. I started tutoring them in the subjects were I could help and told each and every one of them that I could not stand by and watch them barely scrap through while I was excelling and only needed to puch myself a bit more to make a first class. I didn’t make the first class but I made a very strong second class upper and I am glad to say at each all those people I tutored made the same grade.
It is this same passion that I have put into my consultancy business. It’s cool that I can write awesome business plans (see how I plugged my busness there?). It’s also cool that I can successfully coordinate a market research effort of a business start-up. But and good consultant can do that. I go the extra mile with my clients, I recently wrote a plan for a company that was applying for a grant. They were thrilled with the business plan but imagine their joy when I called to set up another meeting where I would guide them through the filing of the application form. We have also set up an appointment for a training session where I’ll coach the MD on how to succeffully defend the business plan and his vision for the company in front of a panel of business experts. That is PASSION. Someone who consults just because he can do it and needs to make money will not go that extra mile. That client wrote my firm a recommendation and called me a GREAT BUSINESS CONSULTANT. That is the word I want to hear from all my clients when I deliver a service. I don’t want good reviews, I want AWESOME reviews.
Before I go, let me just say that I now realise everything I went through has directly contributed to what I am passionate about today. All the setbacks have led to to this point where I’m typing this post. God knew what He was doing all along and I am grateful that I was able to pick myself up each time and try again. I am grateful for being surrounded by a family that never lost faith in me and friends who helped me stay focused (even though most of them had no idea that they were helping to mould me). 
I’m done for now. Guess this was left over from my talk earlier today. Now if only people would start paying me to speak at these seminars. NB out!

NB’s Diary – First, a rant, then some quick motivation Steve Jobs style.

My people, how una dey? First of all, I need to rant… What is it with Nigerian artisans??? These people act like someone sent them to give me a stroke. I’ve been setting up my store and had plumbing, masonry, electrical and wood work done last week. They all did their jobs after a bit of haggling and I implored them to do a good job especially since I was clearly paying more than the going rate for their services (for some reason people automatically inflate prices as soon as the see me). I don’t mind paying a little extra as long as quality is guaranteed. So imagine how pissed I was today when I got there and saw that the plumbing has started leaking and the electrical work is faulty. The plumbing has been fixed but the electrician has refused to answer my calls. This puts me behind schedule for the grand opening and I AM NOT HAPPY. To crown it all, the signage for the store was supposed to be delivered yesterday and I still have not received them. The printer is blaming the welder and the welder has failed to deliver on deadlines he set for himself twice. We talk about government not working and we curse and abuse our leaders all the time but a good leader must be a good citizen even before he/she becomes a leader. If we can’t deliver on promises to deliver the promised quality even when overcharging, the how can we become good leaders? Like I’ve always said, our problem in this country runs deeper than the leadership level. It starts at the grassroots. If the change doesn’t start from each and every one of use, it will never reach our leaders.
Moving on… I know I’m probably the last one to watch it but I finally saw Jobs the movie today.I know it’s a movie depiction of the man’s life and things would have been added or taken out for theatrical purposes but I am pretty sure his passion was accurately depicted throughout. The rawness of that passion struck a nerve. I mean, this guy sacrificed family, friends and any other thing in his quest to achieve what others thought was impossible, I had to ask myself if I would I be willing to go that far to achieve my vision. My answer came when I watched how he lost what he had worked for because his sacrifices and drive left him open to attack. He didn’t know it but he was pushing the people who could have helped him away the whole time and in the end, he had to rely on people (he even developed a relationship with the daughter he wanted nothing to do with) to gain it back. He never lost his ruthless streak though. Is being ruthless a critical part of being successful? It seems to me that it is to some extent. Most of the business tycoons I know of exhibit varying degrees of ruthlessness. 
Anyway, I loved the movie in general and several scenes and quotes struck me and I feel like sharing my thoughts on them here so here it goes:

  1. “I’m not dismissing the value of higher education; I’m simply saying it comes at the expense of experience.” – I believe that life experiences are more important than higher education when it comes to being innovative. This relates to a post I read on TTT about book smarts vs street smarts (read it here).
  2. “How does somebody know what they want if they haven’t even seen it?” – This is the question every entrepreneur needs to ask when told the an idea or product cannot work. In 2010 who would have imagined that anyone would have asked for another device after owning a laptop and a smart phone. An iPad isn’t something any of us were wishing to add to our list of targets but then Apple gave us the iPad and now most people can’t live without it.
  3. It (what you choose to do) has got to be something that you’re passionate about because otherwise you won’t have the perseverance to see it through.” – This word again… PASSION… It always seems to be the bedrock of my talks at speaking engagements. Passion is a critical component of success. Your work is going to fill a large chunk of your life so it is absolutely critical that you find what you love. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. When you do find it, you WILL know in your heart. The only way to be truly satisfied with what you do is to do great work and the only way you can do great work is to do what you are passionate about.
There are other things I took from the movie but if I proceeded to write about is all, I would never finish writing this post. I will mention one other thing though. Jobs never tried to do a better job with what other had done. He always reinvented. One of the scenes in the movie consisted of him telling his board that he would rather take a risk on Apple’s vision that on a “me too” product. He believed it was better to do something different from.rather than something that was just better than the competition’s product.

Before I go, I want you to ask yourself one question tonight: Is everything you do as great as it could be?

This could be the most important question you ask yourself as a leader, entrepreneur, managing director, CEO, etc. Don’t just make it; make it great.

As usual, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments section below. NB out!