Friday, November 30, 2018

On Michelle Obama's Becoming...


I finished Michelle Obama's Becoming earlier this morning, and I totally recommend it.

Among other things, she wrote about:

  1. Her professional journey that took her off a more traditional Law path in pursuit of work she loved.
  2. An enthralling ringside account of Barack Obama's meteoric rise to the US Presidency.
  3. A candid take on the difficulty of raising two young daughters in the public eye.

She also wrote powerfully about the challenges she faced in trying to balance career and family, and as I read those - I thought of the many choices men (traditionally) have not had to make. As an aside, I'm glad the conversation about gender roles is advancing. We must accept that humanity cannot achieve its full potential if half the population is held back by various 'norms'.

It's my most highlighted book this year. Again, I recommend it!

Sunday, November 25, 2018

2019 Elections: Why the Third Force Will Not Win, and What We Should Do After They Lose


Idea in Brief: The chances of a third-force candidate emerging President in 2019 are slim. Winning the presidency in Nigeria is expensive and the field is crowded. In the unlikely event of a third-force victory, governance would be near impossible. This does not mean we will be led by the current crop forever. We must support the brilliant new Presidential candidates and continue to engage with a view for the long term.
In 1992, Ross Perot, an independent candidate for President of the United States, won 18.9% of the popular vote. Despite winning no electoral votes, his campaign is described as one of the most successful third-force bids for presidency of the United States. No one has been elected to the US Presidency without running on the platform of one of the six major parties the US has had throughout its existence.

It is exciting that brilliant people like Oby Ezekwesili and Kingsley Moghalu are running for President and articulating a fresh vision for Nigeria. What is unexciting is the reality that the chances of a third-force victory in 2019 are infinitesimally slim. In the highly unlikely scenario of a third-force victory, it is difficult to see how they could successfully govern without representation in the National Assembly.

First, winning the Presidency in Nigeria requires machinery – lots of it. Candidates must campaign across the country, as they need to win the most votes and at least 25% of the votes in 24 of the 36 states. This requires a lot of money and resources. They must also solicit votes from the many Nigerians who don’t have Twitter and require engagement offline. This will require them to rent venues and audio equipment for campaigns, and run TV, radio, print, and billboard adverts in different languages.

Monday, October 22, 2018

How Many Years of Work Experience Do You Need Before an MBA?


People applying to business school often reach out to me with questions. The number one question by a wide margin is "how did you prepare for the GMAT?". I wrote this to answer that.

Recently, I have been seeing an increase in people asking how many years of experience I think they should have before applying to MBA programs. While I enjoy meeting new people, I thought writing and sharing my answer would be more efficient. I put it on Medium so it is easier for people who don't know me to discover it.

My answer is somewhere between three to five years.

Here's a link to the full post.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

INSEAD Africa Business Conference 2018 - Harnessing Africa's Potential: From Ideas to Action

Participants during networking cocktails at the INSEAD Africa Business Conference 2018
Nigeria does not generate enough electricity to power the country around the clock and providing your own power is expensive, so many retailers cannot refrigerate products overnight. As a result, dairy products such as yoghurts cycle between chilled and warm states repeatedly before they are sold. This sometimes causes yoghurts to go bad, as I often found out to my horror as a child.

So, what do you do when you’re Danone and you’re looking to sell your yoghurts in Cameroon? You have to reformulate it. You can’t just sell the same formulations that work in France. You have to design something specifically for your target market in Africa.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Happy Birthday, Koye

Mrs. Ko and the gang. No bonus points for spotting me.
I did not feel like writing a post for this birthday, but I have written one every year for six years and I like the idea of starting my own traditions, so I had to.

I don’t take it for granted that I am marking another birthday today. I am grateful for life and the many opportunities I have had to learn and grow in the past year. I am also grateful that I am blessed with Busola, loving friends, and family. The past year has been incredible! I am grateful to be living many of my long-held dreams and excited to be charging ahead with new ambitions.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Thoughts On Silicon Valley: Build The Future

The receptionist at Upwork was working from home
Upwork did not have a receptionist. Or, they had one, but she was working from home. She always works from home. Think about that for a bit. A “front desk officer” who works from home. Oh, and she was freelancing.

Is that the future of work, or at least some part of it? I don’t know, but Upwork is betting it is, and they have built the world’s largest freelancing marketplace in preparation for that future. Freelancers on Upwork billed over $1bn annually as of last year. This encapsulates my view of Silicon Valley: a place where people imagine a different version of the future and then build it.

There are many good courses at INSEAD taught by great Professors. It is hard to pick a favorite, so I’ll say Building Business in Silicon Valley is one of my favorites. As part of the course, we spent last week meeting people at a variety of companies in Silicon Valley. I wrote furiously throughout the week, filling up my notebook. I decided to share some of my thoughts here and answer a few questions.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Thoughts From Silicon Valley: So Good They Can't Ignore You

INSEAD 18Ds take Silicon Valley

Katie Dill is an incredible person! For about an hour yesterday, she held me and a group of other INSEAD MBA candidates spellbound as she talked about her career journey, her thoughts on design, and her passion for the future Lyft is helping to create.

As Vice President of Design at Lyft, Katie oversees design in a broad sense across the company. This includes user experience, product, and other areas. Prior to joining Lyft, she was Director of Experience Design at AirBnB for about four years. She oversaw Airbnb's service experience and trust and payments platform, and grew the design team there from ten people to a hundred. She was recognized as one of Fast Co’s Most Creative People in Business in 2017.

As I sat there and listened to her, my mind kept returning to one of the more important books I have read recently: So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. Cal’s thesis in the book is simple: ability is important.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Thoughts From Above The Oregon Mountains

A grossly inadequate picture of the grand mountains of Oregon

Looking out the window of the plane at the rocky mountains of Oregon this afternoon, two things strike me. First, the vast, diverse, and proud terrain of this planet we call home. Second, the adaptability and indomitability of our species.

From above, I can make out the telltale signs of human presence: roads snaking across the foot of this mountain, a perfectly rounded field here, a quarry there. It is incredible that what started as a band of hunter-gatherers moving a few kilometers northward in search of food, to escape conflict, or for whatever reason propelled early men out of Africa, has resulted in our spread over the entire place.

A third thing - or set of things - comes to mind now. How beautiful our planet is; how small one man is in the grand scheme of things; how little one lifespan is compared to the eternity of time.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

How to make something of your life? A simple and practical guide

I don’t like motivational writing and I had second thoughts about writing this. The more I thought about it however, the more I felt I should. If it gets just one person to act differently, then it is worth it.

My friend from university, Tobi Ogunsina, will be 30 in a few days. She started a countdown on Instagram and I found myself looking forward to her daily posts. We spoke recently, and our conversation got me thinking about the passing of time and how one makes something of their life. Writing this followed from there.

My friend from university, Tobi (Akinbo) Ogunsina, will be 30 in a few days.
How does one make something of their life? Is there a road map for making the most of your talents and skills? I will present a simple and actionable framework based on my limited experience and learning from books and people. It is so simple that there is nothing here you didn’t already know.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

How did the first half pass by so quickly? Where did all that time go?


A few months ago, I stood before a roomful of my classmates to tell my story. I talked about growing up in Nigeria, influences that shaped my choices, and what I hoped to achieve. Preparing the talk was difficult, but I had help from friends who were skilled at telling stories. I was exhausted but thrilled at the end of the session. Telling that story was so far out of my comfort zone that I could barely believe I had done it.