Life Lessons from Chadwick Boseman

Featured

Death brings out the sentimental and author in all of us (for some of us it helps us find our lost writing pad)
We mourn and eulogise the departed, canonise them and sometimes outline the lessons from their life; for everyone is either a lesson on how to live or how not to live.

Chadwick Boseman 1976 – 2020

His life speaks of strength and courage- diagnosed of cancer in 2016, he have us Black Panther, Civil War, Infinity War, End Game, Thurgood Marshall, 21 Bridges and 5 Bloods- while battling cancer.
That’s a solid legacy for his family- royalties from the movies.
Now is also a good time to check those our incessant ‘ sick leaves’. Its ok to want to take time off but maybe just maybe …….. He worked through cancer treatment. I’m sure the Line Managers and HRMs are waiting to share this with the first few people who request for sick time off. Lol.

He was criticised and shamed for the body weight fluctuations and how he looked tired. I know we’ve seen it a few times today already but just before I ask us to always be kind, here’s a question- do you think the fat or slim person doesn’t know their weight status? What is it to you that you cannot keep your opinion to yourself? Awon Fault finders association!
Anyways, if you cannot be kind, mind your own damn business! Because really, we are all struggling through something. Stop using someone’s pain as your escapism from your own issues.

And yes, the shaming transcends body weight to every other area we feel the need to judge someone for. No one made you judge over another, stop criticising, be kind. It’s easier to criticize than to create, yes. But don’t always take the easy way out.

He battled cancer for 4 years and not a peep. Goes to show he had solid people around him. Now is also a good time to check yourself- awon fastest fingers first, quick to share- good or bad. Maybe just maybe you are the leaky link in your circle of friends.

The final lesson is “Live Well”. Or maybe just live- in all that living entails.

Farewell Chadwick Boseman.



Love and light!

It’s Okay to Not be Okay

Featured

A few days ago, I had a cold; my chest and head hurt badly, my throat was sore and my nose ran intermittently. In light of the current situation, I wondered if I could have been in contact with anyone who could possibly have the virus. However, because we have learned that the virus is transmittable, even when you are asymptomatic, I couldn’t be sure.

So I took some painkillers and medications for cold. It’s been a few days and I’m better. In interacting with people, I’ve realised that there are quite a lot of people with similar symptoms that ‘look’ like COVID-19. A lot of people are even afraid to speak up about their symptoms for fear of being stigmatized. My dear, we are in the rainy season and the weather is cold; so many people have the flu. Some have also imagined the COVID-19 symptoms even when they don’t have the common cold.

Then there’s the mental health implication of COVID-19. There are those who have to live with their abusers – my heart goes out to them. I have seen a few NGOs and CSOs reach out, asking to be contacted as necessary. If you qualify for this, please reach out.

There are those who had pre-existing mental health issues and the current situation cannot be easy on them. At the very basic, for people who need some form of order in their lives, the disruption to their daily lives, livelihoods, routine and all will not be easy.

Then there are those who are alone at this time. I cannot imagine the difficulty of having to be indoors, all alone.

On the flip side, there is also the fact that some ‘regular’ families were able to coexist because they were not in each other’s space 24/7. Funny as it may seem, this will also be a difficult time for those. News out of China is that the divorce rate has increased as a result of the lockdown. Indeed, for some, this is a difficult time to be alone while for others, it’s a difficult time to not be alone. Whatever side of the divide you fall on, remember that it is okay to not be okay.

Beyond the physical and mental health implications, there’s the economic impact of all this. Many have lost their sources of livelihood already, many will – post lockdown. All over the world, economies are wobbling and it’s affecting everyone. Many organisations were unable to pay salaries for the month of March, many will not be able to pay April’s. Nigeria has a large number of SMEs, petty business people who absolutely need to hustle daily to put food on the table. Having them locked down cannot be easy on them.

I know someone reading this is saying- where there’s life, there’s hope, health is wealth, keep an open mind, and all that. I agree. All the positive words don’t mean everything is going to be fine and dandy. For some, it will. For others, it will not. Truth is – the world as we know it will change post-COVID-19 pandemic and it’s okay to be anxious about what the future brings. It is possible to acknowledge the peculiarity of the times and still stay positive. We shouldn’t sweep our feelings under the carpet of positivism.

Although we want to believe that after this lock down, we should have been able to flatten the curve, identify all positive cases and people can go back to their business as usual, we still are not sure if the shutdown will extend beyond the initial two weeks. Other nations have been on it for months and aren’t sure of when life will return to normal.

As an employer or employee, a function head or a team member,  this cannot be easy on anyone. If you’re wondering if you will get paid at the end of this month or worried about how to pay your staff, your fears are valid.

Nigeria does not have an adequate social welfare system to take care of its people. Your rent will still be due when it ought to be – regardless of how your finance has been impacted by the pandemic. You and yours still need to eat and the cost of staple foods has skyrocketed,

For those of us who still have to go to work (essential workers), there’s the fear that you are putting yourself at risk daily. There’s the fear that you’re exposing your loved ones by exposing yourself. You’re conflicted between duty and self-preservation.

In all of this, it’s okay to not be okay.

I don’t have any answers, but here are some tips that might get us through this:

  • Acknowledge the situation for what it is. It’s totally out of anyone’s control; we are all just trying to find our way through it. Nobody has it figured out, including those sharing beautiful videos.
  • Keep a healthy mind, read and meditate. Your mind is your greatest asset, so feed it with positive thoughts, books, and meditation.
  • Rest, relax, unwind, play. Listen to music and see some movies.
  • Talk to someone – a therapist, trusted friend or family. Just stay connected
  • Exhale: There’s are lots of content out there for entertainment, pick and choose what works for you and lose yourself in it for a while.
  • Strategise for a comeback: The lockdown will be lifted eventually. Make plans to resume your normal routines, prepare for post-COVID-19.
  • Learn a new skill: You can learn any and everything online and some are free. Use your data wisely and upskill yourself.
  • Eat healthily and drink water: Adding weight is a major concern in this period. Lol. Eat healthily, practice social distancing from your fridge (or the kitchen). Drink water, not sugary or alcoholic drinks, exercise and generally try to stay active. Don’t be a couch or bed potato (like me on days when I don’t go to work). Haha.
  • Stay healthy through this period, wash and sanitise your hands, don’t touch your face, don’t self-medicate.
  • Stay home if you don’t absolutely need to go out. Don’t spread the disease further, help by not pressuring an already strained/ inadequate health system. The disease doesn’t spread – we spread it

Special thanks to our health workers; from the security personnel to the janitors to the admin staff, doctors, nurses, etc. We see you, we appreciate you. Our appreciation also goes to other members of society working to keep the world going at this time – the food and pharmaceutical manufacturing and trading businesses, the supermarkets and street shops, the fast-food restaurants and the roadside buka. The downstream petroleum products, the law enforcement agents – we see you all, we appreciate you.

Article originally published on Bellanaija.com

Social Distancing? What’s that?

Featured

As the world navigates its way through the coronavirus pandemic, there are a few words that have become buzz words in a bid to prevent the further spread of the virus: there’s social distancing, tele-commuting (working from home) hand wash, sanitizer, etc.; previously existing terms, products and practices but magnified by the virus. What’s even more interesting is that some of the ways to protect ourselves are ‘basic hygeine’ practices, which we have ignored over the years because- something must kill a man or germs cannot kill a Nigerian.

It’s become current practice to wash our hands at least every hour for about 20 seconds with soap. For a people who most walk out of a toilet without washing their hands- it’s certainly taking some getting used to. Let’s not get started on the sanitisers- something previously thought to be used by the germophobes and those who are just ‘extra‘ have now become mainstream and common place. Everyone; male and female are carrying their little jars of sanitizer and covering our entire existence with the blood– sorry- anti-bacterial sanitisers. We are submitting to temperature checks at various locations and all round just trying to be careful not to expose ourselves to the virus- because, remember; everything in Nigeria will kill you– like Ayo Sogunro says.

So, we’re learning and evolving. I feel like we should be grateful to the virus for enforcing or embedding good hygiene. There’s always an upside to this things. The one precaution we haven’t been able to imbibe however, is social distancing. Ki lo’n je be? I doubt if you can literally translate that into any Nigerian language. It’s so un-Nigerian. How can you ask us to practice social distance when our very existence depends on our communal relationships? What is social distancing: we need to avoid: group gatherings, sleep overs (and other gum-body activities), play dates, concerts, etc.

However, in situating all this into our circumstances, we need to include hugging and other gum-body activities on this list.  But,…. Covid-19 will go, and when it’s time to pay school fees, uncle Bolaji will remember I rejected his handshake because- social distancing! Or big mummy will forever hold a grudge because I flinched and moved a few steps back when she tried to pull my cheek fondly- which equals me saying she has coronavirus! Or, when I send my asoebi to my aunty, she will remember how I rebuffed her hug in the name of social distancing? Let’s not even get started with the pervs who are constantly touchy-feely because- as Africans we love to show love.

The wahala coronavirus will cause will transcend our collective health, health infrastructure, the economy and even affect our personal relationships. I’m sure most clerics have had to really rehearse not asking people to touch their neighbor’s in any form over the past few weeks.

I saw a video which explained social distancing and how it stems the spread of diseases- the illustration with the burning match sticks- my first thought was rara, this match stick isn’t Nigerian. It would have run into the fire if it were- either in a bid to save its loved ones or in a bid to get first hand gist to share. While the latter is fast becoming a societal problem, the former is the very structure upon which our society is built. Eniyan laso mi– literal meaning: people are my covering– our strength is in our network. Even our people are constantly rising above the limitations of the nation- Nigerians as a collective are arguably greater than Nigeria the country.

So how do you want to teach us social distancing? You want to teach an old dog new tricks? When we have our religions, herbs, and the fact that very little thrives in Nigeria- diseases inclusive. After all, our weather is too hot for it to survive or Africans cannot get the virus and other such tales that have been disproven.

Las las, this too will pass, but we need to ensure we don’t destroy our relationships before it passes, right? Let’s not peddle fear and destroy ourselves before the disease gets to us, right?

Guess what? Maybe this is a good thing. We all need to learn to love from a distance. Take this as a lesson and perhaps learn to be less in people’s personal space. Doable?

It has to be, because as we have learnt- the virus is still contagious when the carrier is asymptomatic. There goes your excuse of- but he/she isn’t sick.

Truth is we need to situate what we’re used to versus what we need to do to ensure this virus and other communicable diseases doesn’t continue to spread, because for us- prevention will always be better than cure. Let each do a frank assessment of our health infrastructure and contemplate if it can withstand a viral outbreak. We haven’t eradicated malaria, it’s now coronavirus!

Prevention is key! I’m repeating it for those at the back. We all learnt that in primary school. We need to follow the preventive measures as advised by the public health specialists- wash our hands frequently and thoroughly with soap, in the absence of soap; use an alcohol based hand sanitizer; cough and sneeze into a disposable tissue or your elbow; if you’re sick, please go to a hospital; avoid high traffic and public areas, and please maintain some distance.

Article originally published on Bellanaija.com.

Starting A Side Hustle, Here are 5 Sources of Funds

Featured

Some people are multi-talented and as such cannot stick to one job-hustle-duty. Still yet, others are forced to hold multiple jobs of create additional sources of income to supplement their income and meet their living expenses. Whatever your reason may be, the side hustle has become a fixture and norm in our lives today. We live in a world today where not monetizing your passion is very detrimental. Cue in the side hustle. What makes a side hustle peculiar is the fact that it’s run alongside your day job or main hustle. Its main aim is either to supplement income or to fuel a passion. Regardless of its reason; the side hustle like every business venture needs money is to thrive.

Sourcing for capital is a pain, particularly in Nigeria where you have to go through hoops with the banks and the interest rate is KILLING! There are some other sources of funds though, and regardless of what stage your business is at: Seed stage (start-up phase) or growth stage (scale an existing business); cash is important.

In order to ensure you don’t inadvertently kill your business with a cash injection from an unwise or expensive source, here are a few pointers on sources of funds to fuel your side hustle or business.

  • Savings

A large proportion of businesses in Nigeria are funded from personal savings. However, DO NOT INVEST ALL YOUR SAVINGS in your side hustle. Being that our society doesn’t have the safety net available in developed countries by way of health insurance, etc. It is advisable that you ALWAYS have back-up funds for emergencies, so you cannot afford to invest all of your savings in a business. Particularly because there’s a risk as with all business ventures, it can go south. Savings is however an interest free, stress free means of cash inflow.

My advice though is to treat whatever funds you inject into your business as an investment. Have a payback/ dividend plan, treat it as business funds and ALWAYS ensure you keep your personal funds separate from the business funds.  

  • Family and friends

Another source of funds is your family and friends. This source of funds will most likely be low-interest or interest free. However, as with all sources of income, we need to be careful as to the terms of repayment. Do not promise and unachievable payback period as that would have ruined the relationship. Do not also take your family and friends for granted; be honorable. And if they would rather treat the funds as investment for equity- be smart and business minded. Don’t be sentimental. Don’t sign over shares in your company for less than its market value due to sentimentality. And….. My personal favorite; always include a buy-back clause with every equity transaction.

  • Customers

Your customers are your cheapest source of funds. If you have customers willing to pay upfront for goods and services; that’s a great way to fund your business. Reputation however is everything. Do not accept payment for goods and/or services which you are unable to deliver. With Social media, there is no hiding place for bad service. You can find your business in ruins due to one bad customer review.

  • Grants

They are a number of local and international organisations willing to provide grants to SMEs. Do your research and apply accordingly. Some are grants with no refund needed, while others are meant to be refunded. Whichever you get, do ensure you read the terms and conditions and abide by them strictly. You won’t want your budding business to be associated with an organisation of questionable character, will you?  

  • Loans or equity

These can be bank or VC loans or investors funding your business in exchange for equity. With these, you have to be really smart and have a professional look over the terms and conditions. Even if you are one yourself, there is the value in having an independent agent look over the terms to ensure they are fair. Your sentimentality might cloud your objectivity, your desperation and passion might also cloud your objectivity. Have a professional look over T’s & C’s. Ensure it’s not a cash injection that may end up crippling the business.

Beyond the 5 options identified above, there may be some other funding options available to you. What’s important is that regardless of your source of funds, if there are conditions; ensure it’s looked over by a lawyer, to ensure its fairness and that it will stand the highest legal scrutiny.

Also, like I said above, if for any reason cash is being exchanged for equity; always include a buy back clause lest your company ends up in another’s hands against your will.    

As the year ends, some of us are already thinking and documenting our plans for 2020 and beyond (#teamresolution), others are making plans on how to scale their business. if your 2020 plan includes starting or scaling a side hustle, this article is for you. I will probably share another article on how to merge a main and side hustle seamlessly sometime in the future.

Asides the sources identified above, are there other sources of funds open to SMEs, please share with us.

Image credit: Google.com

Black Friday: Don’t Go Broke Over Sales

Featured

Every year, the last Friday in November is Black Friday; and all the stores ‘supposedly’ crash their prices.

Supposedly

Black Friday comes after thanksgiving and with Cyber Monday and Christmas around the corner everyone is in a festive mood- making merry, giving, shopping, etc.

Many have confessed to having bought unnecessary thing in the lure of lowest prices. Many have actually been caught in the frenzy only to realize later it wasn’t actually a good bargain.

Here’s my advice on how to navigate Black Friday, this is also a note to self, lol:”

  1. Make a list of necessary purchases: prior to Black Friday, draw up a list of what you need, and adhere to it religiously. Don’t move a little to the left or right. Don’t add any extras because you have gotten a good bargain on another. All it take is a little deviation and you’re lost down the drain of unnecessary purchases.
  2. Carefully research your purchase: While drawing up your list, ensure you know their prices- pre-sales. That way, you are able to identify what purchases are a save and which isn’t.
  3. Last and most important: Don’t Get Tempted. Do 1 and 2 above and do not get tempted to deviate from your list.

And…….. if you feel like you will be ‘losing out on deals of a lifetime’, remember there’s also Christmas sales around the corner.

Accept Changes and Stop Tracking

Featured

The danger of Ineffective Communication

A colleague (madam) sent me a document which I reviewed, tracking changes. I sent the document back asking that madam review document to see changes I made, accept changes, stop tracking and send back.

Madam reported to our Line Manager, complaining on how nothing she does is ever good enough. On further probing, she cited the last mail I sent and said she had researched the meaning of ‘accept changes and stop tracking’ and it means she isn’t good enough.

After moving past the horror of what search terms could produce such results, our Line Manager had a serious conversation with madam; firstly, she sent out an unformatted document filled with errors, and is now crying foul after some review has been done for her and all she needs do is accept changes and stop tracking. It was clear there were some performance deficiencies such that madam’s feedback couldn’t even be clearly interpreted. Madam was advised to work on self-development which will aid career progression.

The teachable moment for me was that clearly I hadn’t communicated. Yes, there’s the skill deficiency issue, however, I also fell afoul of the biggest communication problem- which is the assumption that communication has taken place – George Bernard Shaw. I assumed I had passed a message, but I had not. In discussing this, I realized this is a very common communication problem.

Often, we find ourselves either speaking over the top of people’s heads with them trying to catch-up or on the flip side having to over-explain. It apparently doesn’t come natural to be able to explain in the right language and right terms such that there’s no question as to the meaning of the message. People and organisations that excel skill have had to hone the skill. However, it is an important skill nonetheless, as a lot rises and falls on communication- or a lack of it.

Due to my own recent mishap, I had to refresh my communication skills and here are a few pointers to aid official communication:

  1. Always be courteous but concise

Always be your best self; be polite and politically correct. Even with colleagues whom you are familiar with, be polite and with colleagues whom there might be some friction between you- be even more polite.

Eliminate endearments, keep familiarity to the minimum. Eliminate anything that can be misconstrued. Go straight to the point, don’t dither. Always assume the receiver is receiving the message- regardless of the means- in the midst of a very busy work day. Therefore, be brief and concise.

Even when emotions are running high and/or you don’t feel like it, be polite. Learn the art of politely telling people off courteously.

  • Plan

As with everything, planning is important. With official communication, you will need to plan what you want to say; to ensure it’s communicating the right message and it answers most questions that could arise. Planning official communication will ensure you do not have avoidable mistakes, faux pas, or that you aren’t caught unawares. We all have heard the saying ‘whatever you say will be used against you’, we are also familiar with the caveat when we call helpdesk lines that the call is being monitored for ‘training’ purposes. Always have these two statements at the back of your mind when communicating officially.  Don’t wing it. No matter how good an orator you might be, Do NoT Wing IT! Think before you speak.

  • Review for content, context, errors and language

Probably the most important and tiring job we do is revision, its common place to see a document having different editions until the final edition (well, final for the time being). This happens in order to ensure that we get the content right such that it’s relevant to the targeted audience at and that time. Imagine sending out a beautifully crafted holiday email after the holiday!

Content and context are important because therein lies the meat of the message. Language of delivery is also important- this has to do with both language and lingo. If the message is in English but the audience only speaks Swahili, you will need to translate. If you are speaking legalese terms to a room of Pharmacists; you will need to break down certain terms. Same way a sentence might suffice for a PhD holder, but you may need a paragraph of more sentences to explain to O’level holders.

Ensure your message has the right content and situate it within the right context.

  • Put yourself in the audience’s shoes

Sometimes, a lot of times, you need to put yourself in your audience’s shoes and pull off yours. Reason is- you the originator of the message probably have some background such that with just a few choice words you would understand the message, majority of your audience might not be at the same level of comprehension. So, you need to tailor the message such that the audience will understand and it conveys the intended message. 

  • Always ask for feedback

Feedback is the food of champions. For every official communication, where its most likely that not all of the recipients will understand the message, you need to always provide room for questions, feedback, or in a one-on-one scenario you could always ask the other party to explain what has been communicated in his/her own words. What is important is that with each mode of communication ALWAYS ask for feedback. Never assume the message has been lucid enough; never assume communication has taken place. Always confirm.

With official communication- verbal or written, always assume Big Brother is watching, always assume someone is listening, blind-copied or the email will be forwarded or someone is recording the conversation and if you will need to explain it; Do NoT Say IT! Do Not Write IT!

I Just Want to be CHAIRMAN!

Featured

A Guide to Human Resourcing for the Startup and SME

During an interview, one of the questions posed to the candidate was to explain- in his own words the relevance of his course of study in a Manufacturing company. In other words, how relevant is his schooling to our operations.

The candidate- a graduate of Business Administration- in explaining said: a Business Administration graduate can work in any business, as they are trained to manage businesses.

While the rest of us had the ‘why’ question on our lips, one of the panelists drew his attention to the fact that he had previously said Accounting was his least favorite course as ‘he doesn’t find it interesting’. Accounting is however key in managing a business, so how do you manage a business if you cannot understand Finance.

His response was he will hire a ‘strong’ accountant to handle the finance bit.

This got the panelists laughing and we joked that his management style will be to hire people to do the work, while he will be Chairman!

We moved on from that interview but then it got me thinking: there are two ways of analyzing the young man’s ideology. Firstly; there’s the school of thought that believes to effectively manage a business you have to be able to understand finance and most of every other aspects of the business. This is both very true and very right. You need to be able to understand the numbers and what they mean for your business. This is truer if you are running a start-up or small business; because in the early days you might not have the necessary funds to hire the needed Finance professional- or to outsource. You may need to wing it for a while and if you are unable to build a simple cash-flow system or understand how best to utilise your funds, your business may be in trouble.

On the flip side; there’s nothing that says you as a business leader or a founder needs to be able to do everything: finance inclusive. The rule of thumb for resources is to: buy (hire), borrow (outsource- in-plant or consultant), or collaborate. For a going concern with funds, all of these options are available, but for a young business there are slight modifications which can still work for you. The following are some of the options available to start-up.

  1. Of course there’s always the option to hire. At the early stages you may not be able to afford an experienced hire which equals expensive. You can however hire someone relatively affordable but good (you however either need to know what good looks like to deduce someone is good or you work with a recruitment consultant to source for the best candidates within your budget).
  2. A second alternative is to outsource – there are many affordable but standard financial institutions who can handle even the basics of your operations leaving you free to do the creative- which is most likely your forte.
  3. Collaboration is similar to outsourcing- this is collaboration between 2 firms where both might exchange services. Pretty much like trade by barter- a cleaning services firm can exchange its services with an accounting firm for a duration. A caveat on this is- as with all contracts, both parties must be clear as to expectations and where possible (but strongly recommended); have an independent law firm draw up the contract such that it’s fair and binding.

Another way you can collaborate is to partner with a co-founder who has the desired skills and is willing to perhaps provide services in exchange for some stake in the business. Same caveat as the above applies- everything needs to be neat and tidy contractually such that neither party is left holding an empty basket in future.

  • A fourth option is to train; working with the available resource and providing training to bring the resource up-to-speed. This builds some form of loyalty; your people grow and develop with you. A downside to this is; unless the people are aggressive about their own personal development, they may not develop beyond the training which you provide; which might not be good for your business.

While all of these are available options, it doesn’t negate the fact that as a business leader- be it a start-up or a Plc.; you cannot get away from understanding some Finance, Law, HR, Operations, Business Development, etc. Creativity alone isn’t enough. Neither is it enough to throw passion into the mix. You cannot be creative out of a labor law issue if you do not understand the tenets of labor laws or have an adviser who does.

There are a few incubator labs and boot camps for start-ups associated with certain reputable organisations from which you can learn some of the rudiments of running a business. You can also take advantage of a mentor-advisory scheme when growing your business, be mentored by someone who has walked the path you are on now and can guide you through. Another option is to maintain contacts with peers who are on the same path as you are; you all can help each other navigate the obstacle course which is entrepreneurship. There are many options available to you, explore them and toe the path which works best for you. What’s important is to ensure you aren’t going about it blindly.  

Are you loyal or laid-back?

Featured

A lot of us- and organisations place emphasis on longevity of service- attrition rate is built into the HR department’s KPI. Exiting staff are seen as being disloyal and staff who have been with an organisation for years are termed ‘loyal’.

The objective of this article isn’t to hypothesize on their loyalty or otherwise- well, maybe not in the way we would expect, it is rather a call for introspection on the employee’s part.

Picture1

Are you with your current organisation because you have keyed into the organisation’s objective and see yourself as a co-traveller on its journey or are with the organisation because you haven’t found something better and or cannot be bothered to search for a job?

Earlier in this year- 2019, a colleague and I had a conversation around work- we established we had learnt a lot in our current organisation and were developing even as our career was growing. However, a burning question was- do we know enough to thrive in the field of HR- regardless of which organisation we were practicing in, or do we know just enough to thrive in our current organisation?

That is a question anyone who is serious about career development and growth should ask themselves.

We ended the conversation with a resolution to seek for ways to test our knowledge and experience- apply and interview for positions to ascertain if our knowledge and experience can get us better offers or if we were just ‘local champions’.

It’s been a few months and a few tests and we have embraced the experience as learning opportunities. Areas of improvement have been identified and are being worked on. It is important to note that we are both still with our organisations as the objective wasn’t to move, but to identify areas of improvement.

This however isn’t a method I would widely recommend lest we be tempted as in the famous words ascribed to Babatunde Raji Fashola- Former Governor of Lagos state, Nigeria (2007 – 2015)- ‘May our loyalty never be tested.’ But then, maybe it should! Perhaps to sieve out the loyal from the laid-back.

It has been proven that only a minor percentage of the Hi-Po’s start and end their career with an organisation. This in my opinion is attributable to the fact that the top is narrower than the bottom. For example- if there are 4 Hi-Po’s from a class of 10 hired on the same day in different fields. Because of the conditions for career progression which can be roughly summarized to be- the individual has to display the skills and behavior for the next level and there has to be room for progression people will naturally drop off as they go higher and of course it’s narrower on top. There can only be so much room for progression- eventually some of your Hi-Po’s will need to leave to excel elsewhere. This exit will be termed by most to be disloyalty and the laid-back staff, content to continue doing the same thing over the years and progressing slowly will be deemed loyal.

My thought is- we need to get to a place where we can accurately measure results. Did Mr. A achieve more in 6 months than Mr. B in 5 years? If the answer to that question is yes, then Mr. A has done the organisation more good than Mr. B.

Or perhaps, Mr. A is just loyal to aggressively growing his career and slow progress isn’t an option. There is absolutely nothing wrong in being loyal to yourself, like it’s said; we are all CEOs of ‘Me Incorporated’ and we need to run our lives like a business ensuring we are yielding fruits- returns to our stakeholders. Lol.

As employees, I believe- this is perhaps because I am not yet up there having to defend attrition rate; however; I do believe it is better to give your best within a defined period, learn; soak-up as much knowledge as possible, and when the time comes for you to leave- leave on a good note, with your head held high. This I believe is better than making up the numbers and doing the bare minimum under the guise of ‘loyalty’.

The question for every employee today is- are you loyal or laid-back?

It’s Coming For Us All

Featured

metoo

My colleagues and I were discussing the spate of sexual abuse allegations and we are outraged at the perversity of the situation. All in the room were very righteous in our anger; we couldn’t believe how the ones charged with guiding; protecting and leading us are the ones abusing us.

Then a wrench was thrown in the conversation and the question was asked- you know we have these abusers among us? Right here in this office. Or did we build a special screening into our recruitment process to weed out the abusers? Then the conversation dwindled, because we could suddenly see the other four fingers pointing back at us either as the abusers or the enablers.

The widespread perversity of these allegations leads one to the conclusion that we are all sitting on our pedestal because the book of remembrance hasn’t gotten to our page!

For a people as moralistic as Nigerians, the number of sexual harassment stories coming out of us is alarming!

For a people as moralistic as we are, the number of corruption and fraud cases is alarming!

Or, should be alarming! Perhaps we are the ones making a bigger deal of it that it is.

From the father to the brother, to the sister, uncle, aunt, driver, Teacher, Pastor, Imam, Doctor… Tales abound of abuse. It’s so bad that we have internalized it and it has become…. Normal.

Yes, Normal!

What do you call something that is so pervasive and widespread in the society? What do you call something that with every pair, one has been a victim, witness or abuser?

What do you call this if not normal?

Perhaps we have it wrong and it’s actually not a crime or sin and is just normal. Like a rite of passage, the norm that everyone must suffer sexual abuse at one point or the other in their life. Right? Maybe if we normalize it we will stop forming all the faux outrage. With each story that comes to light, we shout and scream and rage, and tomorrow, it comes for someone else.

It’s coming for us all! Yes it is. As enablers, as abusers it’s coming for us all. Because we turned a blind eye, because we covered it up, because we suppressed it; we emboldened the abuser and they continued their spate of abuse. And the abused becomes the abuser, perpetuating that culture of abuse,  the witness also went on to commit his/her own perversion- afterall uncle lagbaja got away with it, why won’t I?

We have a culture of sexual abuse!

There, I said it. Can we accept it and move on? It’s a culture as ingrained as our cultural attires and food, it’s a culture as old as time.

I can hear the rape apologists taking up their arms, I can hear the ‘moralistic Nigerians’ clearing their throats to refute this claim, I can hear the voices saying but it’s not just in Nigeria! I can hear them all, but I can also hear the voices of the abused- and what’s funny about the voices of the abused is- some of them have been conditioned to believe it’s the normal, it’s their fault, their voices are united with the voices of the apologists and this only serves to strengthen my point- We Have a Culture of Sexual Abuse!

When Ochanya’s story broke, it was befuddling to read that the extended family wanted to suppress the case. When Busola’s story broke, many- till today, made excuses for the abuser. When Ondo state opened a sexual offenders register and commenced the naming and shaming of sexual offenders, it was cringe worthy to see the number of people who were more sympathetic towards the family of the abuser than the abused. When the #sexforgrades story broke, many as usual blamed the exploited girls. Have you seen how they dress? Even a saint will be tempted! These girls offer themselves to the lecturers for grades! On and on the excuses go…

I could go on and on citing examples, it’s all cringe worthy and makes one just want to bathe self in a mixture of hot salt water and bleach, in a bid to get clean of the bile we spew. Or, to bury ones head in the sand for the reality of this is too far reaching.

The reality is- these people, these abusers are us. Your partner whom you can vouch for his/her purity is/ was someone’s abuser. Your parent whom you believe hung the stars is harassing the office cleaner, secretary, junior colleague, contractor. Your sibling who will do anything for you abused the child in the neighboring flat. Your friend, your ride or die, who says all the right things and joins you in taking up arms against the sexual abuser is equally guilty. These abusers are us!

Ex-colleagues from one of the big four accounting firms were reminiscing on the escapades of their ex-bosses and some conditions for progression and my eyes literally bulged out of its sockets! Huh? All-of-them sleek suit wearing, polished people are also demanding sexual favors?

The day the book of remembrance will get to that page………

Someone asked why all of this are coming to light now, is it a new culture, a sign of the times?

The answer to that is an emphatic NO! It’s not coming to light because it’s a recent trend, rather it’s coming to light now because we are SPEAKING UP now. Like someone said, we didn’t inherit our mother’s silence and timidity.

And for those who have a problem with all of the sexual abuse coming to light, I hope it isn’t because you have skeletons you would rather remain buried? Because if you do, berra be prepared, It’s coming for us all, ensure you aren’t on the wrong side of a #metoo campaign!

Article originally published on bellanaija.com

The More Things Change…….

Featured

As a child, my uncle taught me how to compare price and value through different periods and across currencies. He said to pick a relatively stable currency- the US Dollar or the British Pounds and compare value. i.e. a product of service which cost N50 in say 1990, the value today will be determined by getting the value of N50 in dollars in 1990, converting that dollar value to Naira today. Not sure if that is a universally acceptable standard of conversion but that lesson has stuck such that I always find myself converting price to Dollars to really ascertain the value of a product or service. My regular vendors know already that I always ask them what the dollar price is for every commodity/ service. I will find out the dollar price of a product, add some for shipping and profit and if the difference between that and your selling price is still too much I will call you out for attempting to rip me off. (Before we are tempted to get into the Buy-Naija-To-Grow-The-Naira conversation, honestly ask yourself what percentage of goods we use isn’t imported. We are an import dependent economy and as such should always be concerned with how our Naira values against the stronger currencies. In any case, that’s not the purpose for this article).

Sometime in 2015, I got a job in Lagos that paid N210k. Wasn’t bad for an entry level job, 210k was a thousand dollars at the time. Unfortunately, in a few short months, my salary commenced a downward slide, it depreciated and kept on depreciating until it got to this current sustained plateau; which isn’t where it started though! Sometime in 2017 it got as bad as 420 dollars (in Naira of course) when the dollar exchanged for N500 to a dollar. Standard of living fell, I was poorer through no fault of mine, the economy just worsened with each passing day. (Before they come for me and try to make it as though I’m referring to luxury items and the likes of imported rice, chicken, seedless grapes (thank you Tolu Ogunlesi), etc. It’s not about that. We all know the basics like pineapple, ogbono seeds, even garri are now imported. Prices have skyrocketed, income keeps declining. How are the people expected to survive?

naira-dollar-exchange-rate-1

Fast forward to 2018, through a few promotions and compensation reviews (my organisation was also affected by the economic downturn and had to constrict salary bands); I’m not yet where I was three years ago. To earn the same salary I was offered in 2015, I would have to earn about N360k- but I’m not there yet. So, although I’ve moved up on the Naira income band, it’s been a downward move on the dollar income band, with expenditure on the upward slide on the dollar band.

The economy, ideally should reflect our collective efforts as a people, but in truth is largely dependent on the actions of a few- those in government and the people they have appointed to steer the economy (because we continue to largely be a mono-product economy, despite all white noise to the contrary). And we all know how well those in Government and their hirelings have steered the economy.

So, to repeatedly read on the news in these past few weeks that we are back to the same politicking and politricking witnessed three to four years ago, with the same politicians cross carpeting and/or realigning with no evidence of any change is just sad. The populace are cheering when we need to ask ourselves the hard-mercenary question: what’s the value of this drama? In hard currency! Like the recent bank ad wars; how did it translate to value for the customers? Answer is; nothing changed. Will XYZ moving to 123 party make for better governance? If no, then its just comic relief, the kind which leaves a depressing aftertaste.

Tunde Leye

These guys (and ladies)- who represent about 1% of Nigeria’s 180million people are just sorting themselves out without any care for the common man- whom they are supposed to be representing, and…. we are entertained! Cheering them on and picking sides, arguing based on our (current) god-fathers and patron. To what end? What change/ benefit did the fence jumping antics of old translate to? (recall when Dino Melaye and co had to scale fences to get into the National Assembly premises) What’s the value of the change received so far? What benefit did we derive from demonizing the hazel-eyed minister? How did the change mantra translate to more money in our pockets? Better infrastructure? Better equipped schools, or even more children in school? Better access to funding for entrepreneurs? We unraveled the snake eating up funds in Jamb, social media was awash with the stories, we’ve put it out that Jamb now remits more into the TSA, but how has that translated to an improved education system?

e be like say- tuface idibia

The answer is: nothing has changed. Rather it has worsened. The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is not about pointing accusing fingers, this isn’t about ethnic or party lines or affiliations. It’s a question of: how have we fared? Let’s have a look at a few examples that will help explain it:

  1. We all know at least one person that has lost a job due to the organisation down-sizing or closing. How are those families supposed to survive on a reduced or no-income? We have become the poverty capital of the world. What this means is we have more people sliding into the poverty bracket daily. Let that sink in.

The more people who are out of jobs, the more people we have tending to crime. It’s not an excuse, it’s a basic fact of life; hunger, need, leads even the most honorable to misbehave.

  1. Canada (and the western world) has become the ‘migration destination’ of our people. Everyone is migrating and rightly so! Abi? They cannot come and die. Let’s explore how this migration affects Nigeria- serious brain drain! A colleague joked: the only doctors left in the hospitals are the ones who haven’t gotten Canadian visas! As it stands today, we have outsourced healthcare to religious bodies and other such miracle centres.

The hospitals, parastatals, banks, startups, conglomerates, etc. people are leaving. In droves! How does it affect us? Decrease in quality of service, decrease in quality of deliverables- your employees are using work hours to fill out visa applications. The ones that are left behind are thoroughly demotivated. But we are happy, right? After all, it could be worse; so and so could have been president and sell us to Cameroun and other such stories.

  1. The third point I would like to point out is that the world is watching. While we are being entertained by the antics of our politicians, the world is watching us and making decisions on the degree of our foolishness. Very embarrassing.

The investor you are courting reads in the news of the traffic gridlock in Lagos- which the government has been unable to provide a lasting solution to for years, and he/she is asking himself if you are wise investment decision because of your operating environment. How productive will the staff who spend half their day in traffic be? If you are now unfortunate to have offices in Apapa and its environs- don’t bother. Because they will ask themselves how people and products will come to you and how the difficulty in navigation will affect product/service availability and pricing.

Your investors read of the mayhem the cattle herders bandits are causing across the nations and how it has affected farmlands. Do you think he/she will be keen on investing in your agricultural endeavor?

 

  1. The current difficulty with the PVC registration to me is also a sign of a failed system. We are expected to be at the registration centres as early 5.00am to put our name on a list, then wait around all day and you still might not get to register on that day. Bear in mind, that the information you are required to provide is similar to that provided for your international passport, national ID card, BVN, sim registration, etc. we keep re-providing this information and someone hasn’t had the bright idea that we can synchronise information? We could synchronise all of the previously collected information and have a portal where you can update details like current residential address- make life easier for the citizenry? Possible? Na! how else would we appreciate INEC but through the rigor and difficulty with which it takes to get things done. We are stuck in a rut where we only appreciate something based on the difficulty with which we got it. Cue the- nothing good comes easy people! #FrontlinersinthesufferingOlympics!

I could go on and on, listing the ways the polity has been negatively affected by these present and past politicians, who lack foresight or simply the will to do that which is right. This article probably won’t end. These guys will continue to treat the polity with disdain and we will continue to be a country where anything goes if we do not rise up and demand for better governance.

Here we are in 2018, a good time to remember Tuface’s e be like say.  It’s that time again when they come to woo us with promises that will never materialize. To entertain us with the theatrics which always characterize the electioneering season. Should we continue to allow ourselves to be entertained and perhaps to receive the crumbs that may flow as campaign funds? (did I hear a God forbid?) Is that ideal behavior today- 2018?

Now isn’t the time to be entertained with their antics, this isn’t the time to argue what party is better at corruption or the disregard of the rule of law. Now is the time to demand better from those whom we have elected to rule us. Emphasis on rule us, not rule over us.

office of the citizen

In addition to that, we also need to get involved, participate. At the party level, the electoral level. Participate, not in looking to line your pockets, but in looking to better the economy. It’s not about joining one cool kids movement that you don’t know the purpose. Let’s be as selfish as the politicians have proven themselves to be, but let’s be selfish for the common interest; we need to demand for policies that will better majority of the people and not a few. We need to transit from praise singers and bag carriers to active citizens. These politicians are not entertainers, we have Nollywood for that (like Peter Obi said). Its time they stopped these theatrics and got down to the significant business for which they were elected; which is governance.

Someday in the future, I hope to write on how we need to pay attention to people in governance at any level, particularly the state and federal legislature, because therein lies the true power of governance.

Until then, we must be committed to real change and not buzz words. We need to fully occupy the office of the citizen. Because we must.