Tuesday, June 30, 2009

IT STARTS FROM US...



Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever can, or ever has (changed the world).- Margaret Mead...

Today, I am visiting a friend at the University of Ibadan (we go a long way back, and I have known him for almost 9 years now). Visiting UI means going from one end of town to another and this provides me with an opportunity to observe quite a lot of happenings I seem not to have noticed before, and I will relate some of them below.

As the cab moves from Gate (sort of the commercial nerve centre of Ibadan) towards UI, I cannot help but try to quantify how much work needs to be done to bring positive change to Nigeria. You would understand this statement better if you could see and experience the same things as I have today. Close your eyes for a moment, and imagine that you are sitting next to me in the cab – let me relate the things that I can see as I ‘enjoy’ my ride to UI.

Look as far as you can see. Treat your eyes to the sight of mountains of debris alongside the road, gutters that have been blocked by yearlong deposits of trash, streets strewn with sachets of all sorts and sizes, rubbish stretching as far as you can see in any direction. I used to think keeping the environment clean was a collective responsibility! Whatever happened to waster-paper baskets? Hello, weren’t the first few hours of the last Saturday of every month reserved for cleaning the environment? Is it just me (probably an error in perception), or is it like that last Saturday only comes once a year?

Hey, look straight ahead! Can you see that policeman over there? Can you see him stop a cab driver and collect N20 from him? Alas, our cab is to suffer the same fate, however – my driver has to pay N50 because he refused to pay yesterday! Guy, to see the way the policemen carry on and on about the compulsory ‘contribution’ to their salaries, one would think it is an ENTITLEMENT! I used to think that bribery was something that was done only in the dark, alas the day is here when we see it right there in the light – on our roads!

Sorry, but look to the left. Can you see the artisan on a ladder – leaning against an electric pole? He is making an ILLEGAL connection, and I guess he is trying to beat the pre-payment meters. Sorry, but I thought that it was the prerogative of PHCN officials to touch NEPA cables. Gosh, I even read once that tampering with PHCN property could lead to a jail term!

While you look to the left, I can see a terribly scared woman flagging down a bus. Everyone in our cab seems to know her. On investigation, I find that she got the scars when a kerosene lantern exploded in her face – because the kerosene she used was adulterated. I did not know that the drive to maximize profit could lead to such callousness and lack of respect for human life. What if she had died?

OMG, see our very own cab driver scramble to put on his seat belt as we approach a checkpoint, and then take it off the instant the policemen at the checkpoint are out of sight! I cannot keep it in any longer – and so I say “sir, seat belts are for your own good, not for the policeman’s good. Did you know that having a seat belt on increases the chances of your survival in event of an accident by 50%?”

Right in front of us, can you see a driver rear-end another man’s car as he tries to change lanes without using his indicators? Glory to God, one of the first things I read about driving is to assume that every other driver on the road is insane! Listen, I thought driving tests were conducted before licenses were awarded? Where on earth could you be going in what kind of a hurry that would make you disrespect every traffic rule known to humankind? I was taught in primary school that it is better to be late than be the late (if you know what I mean). Or did he (the driver) not go to primary school?

Eewo, see that woman mixing two OBVIOUSLY different grades of garri! As we pass we can hear her swear by God that they are the same. Geez, take a second look at the garri! One looks very white, as in white, and the other is as grey as grey can be. Does she think that our complexion clouds our perception?

See that fine Ibo boy selling pirated films in a fake DVD labelled 100 in 1 (it is actually about 10 films divided into 10 subsections – so you have The Mummy 1A, The Mummy 1B, The Mummy1C etc). Pete! What happened to the regulatory boards? Or do they think that we cannot read?

I cannot help wondering if these things just started happening, or is it that I just started noticing them? Are these things part of what the average Nigerian has come to accept as ‘normal’, or is it just coincidence that I happen to see all of this in a 10minute trip?

I was reading Salisu Suleiman’s ‘140 million liabilities’ sometimes yesterday, and now I agree with him more than ever that we have got a whole lot of work to do to get there.

It goes both ways, top-down and bottoms-up. We do not need a re-branded image, what we need is 140 million re-defined identities! I quote Salisu - ‘only then can we begin to see our population as assets and not liabilities’. The change we want will come from inside, and it cannot be forced (look at WAI – it did not last beyond the regime that started it), it can only be taught...

When last did you hold on to a used sachet of sachet water until you could find a waste-paper basket to dispose of it properly? Or do you belong to the group of people that drops sachets and wrappers at their convenience? When last did you hold on to a used recharge card till you found a proper way to dispose of it? When last did you jump a queue (particularly at Health Sciences – if you know what I mean)?
Do you do the very things that you complain about? Do you ask for bribes in the thousands, and then complain when a minister is accused of fraud in the tune of billions?

It starts from me, it starts from you, collectively – it starts from us. We need to commit ourselves to standing for the truth at all times, and in all places; our rooms, and on the roads. I will take a break from my usual practice of using one quote, and I leave you with the following:

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi.
Take what you learn, and make a difference with it. – Indian Proverb.

I can see a new Nigeria! Can you?



PS
I talked something similar to this over with Nike ALADE a while ago, and Nike – this is for you. Love you...


KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,
+2348062543654,
koyegbeke@gmail.com

Monday, June 29, 2009

NIGERIA, LET'S DO IT! (Part 2)


I don't know why, but blogger (my blog provider) suddenly decided to strip their blogs of formatting (a temporary error I guess), so please forgive the plain format... This is also another long read, but it is worth it, so please stay at it. Comments will be appreciated. This continues the earlier post...



I contend that Nigerians are not the most happy people on earth, listen, we are simply the most complacent people on earth. The man on the street that rides motorcycles to make a living is not exactly happy with his quality of life, it is that he has accepted that as the best that can happen – and is not particularly concerned with the concept of a better standard of life. The average Nigerian does not take personal interest in an issue that does not concern himself or his immediate family; thank God change has come!

Let’s look at education. I would love to look at it right from primary education up until tertiary education, but I have neither the money for petrol nor the credit to drive my research. As much as I hate to write this post from home (I would rather write this from school, particularly in JPH), I am in total support of ASUU’s strike action. I agree with ASUU that the task of repositioning the Nigerian university system is one that can no longer be delayed if Nigeria is to become one of the leading economically and culturally advanced countries in the world by the year 2020. Vision 2020 calls for a development of quality indigenous manpower, if we are serious about its actualization; ASUU is simply pushing that fact in our face.

We do not expect universities to develop better manpower without better funding. While 26% allocation to education might be an unrealistic figure for now, 2.2% is alarmingly small. Such a small percentage is a pointer to the low importance that the present Government places on Education.

ASUU claims to have spent over 2 years in dialogue with the government to create an agreement which the government is now trying not to sign. I cannot understand why the government no longer wants to sign an agreement it was party to. Even though some of the demands of the Union may be unrealistic in the present context of the Nigerian economy, at least the government can provide the ones it can, and demonstrate a commitment to achieving the remaining ones in the near future.
Actually, it is quite puzzling that this unnecessary impasse is being allowed to continue at a time that we have former university lecturers, Dr. Sam Egwu, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, and Umaru Yar'Adua as education minister, Vice President and President, respectively.

Yar’Adua, when will I graduate? One option I have (just like many other bright Nigerian students) is to travel out the instant I am through with NYSC, and never come back. However, if we all do that, then who will make Nigeria into the great country that we WILL be? I understand that the brain drain is one of the many ills that ASUU is trying to slow down and eventually reverse. Yar’Adua, all my professors have gone abroad, and the rest are awaiting visas!

I plan to do my masters abroad, because I intend to be relevant academically and be able to hold my own amongst my more privileged friends who got admitted to MIT and Stanford when I got admitted to OAU. Yar’Adua, what is there to guarantee that I (like many others before and after me) will come back? (Not to worry anyway, I will, because I have a part to play in the making of Nigeria).

I know Yar’Adua will not provide me with answers anyway. What am I to expect from a president who made less public outings in 2 years than Barak Obama made in 100 days? What answers am I to expect from a president that the average WESCOS undergraduate will conveniently outtalk and outdebate? What answers am I to expect from a president that did not know that ASUU was on warning strike for 2 weeks until after the strike had ended?

ASUU, as much as I hate to be at home, I support you. All I ask is that you be considerate, and know when to end this logjam. As fathers yourself, you sure don’t want to know how many lives our bad and pot-hole ridden roads have claimed while they were going back home due to school closure as a result of ASUU strike as a result of FG’s high-handedness as a result of... (The list could go on till... and then end with Yar’Adua). (I have been personally touched in this regard).

Enough talk on education, I will be back quite soon with gist on another sector, but till then – can someone please proffer an answer to my question. Mr. President, when will I graduate?
Time out!

(I have quoted directly or indirectly from quite a lot of sources – some of which are direct statements from Yar’Adua, Dr. Ademola Aremu, Dr. Akin Ademuyiwa, (both of whom are ASUU executives), Salisu Suleiman, Jack Welch etc etc).


KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,
+2348062543654,
koyegbeke@gmail.com

NIGERIA, LET'S DO IT!



This post is quite long, but it is worth reading, so please take your time. Estimated reading time is 5 minutes.

We expect the funds agreed upon to be used to effectively remedy deficiencies in programmes and facilities, to systematically upgrade programmes and facilities, to advance research, create adequate living and learning conditions for our students, and to attract brilliant graduates into the universities as teachers and researchers while keeping excellent academics in the system. - ASUU

I am sitting at my antique table, basking in R ‘n’ B, and feeling like I haven’t got any serious questions on my mind, other than this one – when exactly will I graduate? I dare say that question is common to most other undergraduates of public universities throughout Nigeria – when exactly shall we leave our ivory ‘dungeons’?

By the way, I haven’t seen a light bulb run on PHCN power since my return home and my siblings’ say I’ll most likely not get to see PHCN light throughout my stay at home. I can remember Mr. President promising to declare an emergency in the power sector; where is it? Am I mistaken, or is he promising to take Nigeria from generating less than 2000MW in June to 6000MW in December? I cannot exactly remember electing (or was it selecting) a sorcerer as president; or what kind of illusion does he plan to create?

That means I have to spend more than my daily allowance buying petrol for the generator (did you know we are the largest consumer of generators in the world?) and credit to fund my internet research. Am I mistaken, or do we really have 4 refineries? Am I misinformed, or are we one of Africa’s largest petroleum exporters? Is it not funny how we spend billions to import petrol, when we could spend far less to get our refineries in working condition, or build new ones? Needless to say, I wonder how long my resolve to surf the net for (at least) an hour a day will last – in the face of such discouragement.

In fact, I really do not have a theme for this post, so I will probably just speak my mind the way it comes to me. Let’s go!

It is November 30, 2006. I finished secondary school in July, and I am saying the matriculation oaths at Obafemi Awolowo University just 4 months after. In some other country, this might not be note or news worthy, but considering the odds (1 out of every 10 Nigerian students gain university admission per year, and way less than that percentage get the courses they wanted) today warrants quite a celebration in my family.

I go off to school on the 3rd of December, 2006, quite naive – and hoping that the next time I will see Ibadan (my home town) will be at the end of my 1st semester. The semester runs quite smooth initially, but towards the end dark clouds start to appear on the horizon. Students protesting for better welfare conditions (steady power supply, water, and other basic amenities oh), and among other things – that the federal allocation to education be increased to 26% of the annual budget - lead to school being closed down (well the protests were not entirely ‘peaceful’) just before the 1st semester exams, and then to make matters worse ASUU goes on an indefinite strike just about a month after the closure.

I get home sometimes towards the end of February, and immediately register with a library (ARFH). My aim is to read towards my 1st semester every day, because I keep hoping we will resume ‘next week’; funny how ‘next week’ does not come until about 5 months after. At the end of the ‘break + strike’, I have spent 4 months and 3 weeks at home – doing almost nothing; I am told to resume on a Sunday, and I write my 1st paper on the following Wednesday. Needless to say, the numbers of failures recorded in the 1st few papers are alarming... What a ‘splendid’ welcome to university?

Let’s cut the long story short - we resume, and then manage to run a relatively steady session for almost 2 years, and then on the 23rd of June, 2009, ASUU goes on strike again, and so we are back home. I have learnt, and so this break I have not bothered to come home with any text books – save for the ones on my computer, and I have absolutely no plans to read anything academic. If you ask why, the answer is that I have lost my naivetéI now know that ‘next week’ could be 5 months from now, and I have made plans to do a lot of other things this break – such as pay particular attention to developing myself.

My complacence went with my innocence, and I have made a commitment to saying my piece. God helping me, I will not stop saying it. It’s all part of the fight for freedom.

Can we conduct a quick survey? How many Nigerians like where Nigeria is presently (please drop your answers as comments)? I will bet my Grade Point Average that I cannot get an informed and educated Nigerian to answer a serious yes to that question.

As a country, we need to move forwardand we need to do it fast. From a study of recent world history, we understand that the fastest way to move a country forward is to liberate and empower its citizens. And what better way to liberate and empower the citizenry than to provide them with access to qualitative education? I invite you to take a look at the ‘developed’ countries around, and you will find reason to support this statement.

I have come to find that the way to the survival and eventual growth of our country lies in our ability to produce applied and theoretical knowledge in Science, Technology and the Humanities. The era of dependence on expatriates/foreigners to solve our problems for us is drawing to an end – and that is if it has not come to an end already. Look at India for example, you will note that it was Indians (albeit those educated abroad) who returned home and started IT boom possible – it took well developed indigenous labour to keep it going. OMG, look at Infosys!

Simply put, for Nigeria to move forward – we have to provide the shirtless Ibadan boy on the road, and the girl that hawks tomatoes with access to relatively ‘inexpensive’ (such that it is affordable) and qualitative education.

For some time now, I have had issues with the Nigerian political system, or is it just me? Nobody seems to remember their manifestoes once they get into office. Everybody comes out with n-point agendas, where n ranges from 0 to infinty; yet the n agendas never get achieved. As a people, we seem to have gotten used to so many failed promises that we hardly (if ever) complain when people fail to keep their word. Whatever happened to integrity? Last time I checked, integrity was/is so fundamental that it is only a ticket to the game – without it you have no business on the court. Nigeria, whatever happened to integrity?

(Continued above...)


PS

Please forgive the uneven formatting, blogger is acting up...

KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,
+2348062543654,
koyegbeke@gmail.com

Saturday, June 27, 2009

When my last candle burns out...


I was checking though Salisu Suleiman's (www.suleimansblog.blogspot.com) blog when I found the following interesting entry - please read, think, and comment.



When my last candle burns out, I have no more fear. I have learnt to see in the dark and think through the noxious fumes. The growling of diesel generators and the shrill of grinding machines do not distract me anymore. I was born in this cacophony and will die with it. They are a part of me.

When my last candle dies out, I see with a new clarity. I see the one who promised to declare an emergency. Two years on, I see no declaration, only an emergency in life, and all around. I see those who said $16 billion was spent to cook a pot of stew that nobody could eat. I see them putting down the pot to see what went into it. After two years of ‘maybe’ and ‘maybe not’, I see them return the pot back on the fire. And throw in another $4 billion dollars.

When my last candle burns to the ground, I, alone in the dark can see; my homes are hungry, my industries are hungry, my offices are hungry, but no one knows when the stew will be ready. Through the choking fumes of generator smoke, I see the one who staged a play on the public stage and promised to catch the wasteful cooks who burnt $16 billion in a pot of stew. I see him going hither and thither, lapping in the public adulation and our entreaty that at last, the beautiful ones may have been born.

When my last candle flickers out, I see in the dark, a different soul. A soul that saw N5.2 billion meant for rustic souls. He lost his mind, bared his dirty soles and leapt into the hot pot. Last time I heard, he was cooling off at rural, rustic Kuje. Just a bit of poetic justice. I have learnt not to salivate at the scent that once promised so many dishes, praying even as I know that redemption is only in my grave. The pot of stew I see is spiced and spliced by the golden curry of diesel merchants.

When my last candle withers and dies, through the mind-numbing, metallic monotony, I make out the tragedy of the family just above my flat. Six of them there were. The father just bought a generator for the first time, and the family celebrated their elevation from the pits of daily darkness. It was their last celebration, because when the morning came, we the neighbors found six frozen stiffs, choked to death on the fumes of their new generator. It was not the kind of elevation they dreamt of.

When my last candle runs out of life, I see another family that also ran out of life - roasted to death when a power surge went through their electrical appliances. They all came out soles first - not a single soul left that home. And there was no explanation, no compensation, just commiseration. One more dead family. I see the artisan who can find no work, and when he does, can get no power to do it. I see the repairman, sallow with sorrow. Every appliance in the neighborhood is broken by power surge, but he cannot get a little power to fix them.

When my last candle can give no more light, I see with a new sprite the brave entrepreneur whose courage was crushed by the burden of diesel; I see the banks that spend N20 billion on generators; I see the telecoms firm that powers all its masts with generators; I see the millions of homes dying slowly from the noise, the fumes and the cost of generating power to light a few bulbs and to get a bottle of cold drinking water; I see the offices where no work gets done and the tall building no one can get into; I see the planes landing in the dark and respiratory machines asphyxiating the sick.

When my last candle sputters and dies, I await the release of sleep, I think of my young nephew whose first word in this world is not ‘baba’ or ‘mama’, but ‘nepa’ and the next word one ‘genrator’. He does not know what it means to wake up to the sounds of birds singing in the mornings, or to listen to the simple silence that whispers from nature. His is a generation that is bred on the noise of generators, grows with the fumes of diesel and studies with the flares of a million candles. Without the drones of generators, he is restless; without the fumes of fossils, breathless; without the burden of darkness, clueless.

When my last candle chills out and the stifling room heats up, I have no more worries. I have learnt to sleep through the heat and through the noise that seems to spring from just outside my window; mean medallion for many midnights murdered. I sleep through it all. I dream of my dream that got stolen; I dream of my heart that got broken, I speak the words that never got spoken; I lament the ideas that never got proven, and curse the crooks who kept me craven. I see everything ever so clearly in the dark.

When my last candle fizzles out, I cringe inside my heart with the burden of pain when I picture the merchants of gloom laughing to the banks with burden of gain. I cringe at the waste, at the cruelty, at the shallowness of spirit that would keep an entire nation in the dark, just so that a few more unneeded millions can stroll into the bank. I see them as they wallow in deceit and false claim, hearing nothing, seeing nothing, couched in the pretext that at the helm shall they remain, unmindful that from the depths of darkness, a new light will spring.

When my last candle burns out, I cry about the jokes on me, about how in the scriptures, when it was said, ‘let there be light’, there was light. But in my country, when it was said ‘let there be light’, $16 billion grew wings; I cry because the honest are wretched, and thieving knaves knighted; I cry because eyes are not for seeing and ears not for hearing. But through my tears in this dark, yet revealing place, I reach the ultimate truth: that they may walk with lightening and speak with thunder; they may drive my brothers into exile, in time shall we all surrender; together we will go yonder. When there is time to think and ponder, all the white lies and dark truths will be asunder.

When that very last candle dies, there will be nothing more left to conquer.

(Please note that the above entry is not mine, and it was copied from Salisu Suleiman).



KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,
+2348062543654,
koyegbeke@gmail.com

Sunday, June 21, 2009

WHICH WAY TO EL DORADO? PART 2


“Two words that have gotten to be the most abstract, overused, and misunderstood words in business – mission, and values” Jack Welch.

We will now continue our discussion about mission and values, but before then – a quick word about my attraction to Jack Welch.

I believe that Jack Welch is one of the greatest guys to ever be called by the title of CEO. He took a GE that was doing really good, and made it into a GREAT company – talk about good to GREAT! I like his method, and I like the results he got, and so I have allowed him to mentor me through his books, - Winning, and Jack – straight from the Gut.

Let’s get back to mission and values.

Your mission (goal) announces where exactly you are going, your mission statement announces how you intend to get there, and your values describe the behaviours that will get you there. The three of them are extremely important, as they work hand in hand to get you to the finish in sight.

Your mission gives a definition and purpose to your activity, your mission statement requires you to make choices about how to spend your time – and prevents you from running in all directions except the right one, and your values will keep you on the right track.

Once we are clear on these three parts – the mission, the mission statement, and the values – then we can start to execute. From my earlier post, we see that an hour spent in planning is worth two in execution.

Say for example that my mission is to become a Fortune 500 CEO, my mission statement would list the steps I intend to take to become CEO – (probably stuff like attend HR trainings, develop my HR skills, develop a sensitive business mind, learn to walk and talk like a CEO, read books by CEO’s, get a model like Jack Welch and mentors like ‘Deolu Akinyemi etc), and my values would be stuff like integrity (this is extremely important, in fact it is just a ticket to the game), honesty, hard work, self-discipline, etc.

Please, take a break from your life the way it is, and take some personal time out to write out a mission, a mission statement, and a list of values.

I am a Christian, and very soon, I will write extensively on the extremely important part that God plays in directing and ordering our steps in life, but till then I leave you with the following words –

In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him (God) and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Proverbs 3:6).




KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,
+2348062543654,
koyegbeke@gmail.com

WHICH WAY TO EL DORADO?

“An effective mission statement is basically an answer to one question, how do we intend to win in this business?” Jack Welch.

I and my sister are visiting the United States for the first time, and we are staying in St. Louis, Missouri with our favourite uncle.

It is our third day in his house, and we need to get trousers. We have an allowance of $1000 each, and so he says – “Oh! Go to Gap, get a pair of pants each, and be back in an hour so that we can go see the Mark Twain national forest”. Mind you, we have not been here before, and we have absolutely no idea where or what Gap is.

Seeing that I don’t know how to get to Gap, I phone my cousin (he’s at school), and ask for directions. He gives me precise directions (Gap is actually within walking distance from the apartment) and I go for my roller skates. On the other hand, my sister grabs her iPod, plugs her ears, and saunters out of the house, without having the faintest idea where Gap is.

I skate down the street, and I’m back in 6 minutes. 3 hours later, my sister is nowhere to be found, and by the time she finally shows up looking like she was chased by a pack of angry goats and carrying a bag load of stuff, it is too late for us to go anywhere – and so I go to bed angry.

OK, let’s cut the story, and get down to business.

A lot of the time, we know where we are going, (or where we want to go); but we seldom take the time to sit down and establish how to go about getting there.

Reverend W. A. Nance once said – “there are two classes of failures in this world, those who thought and never did, and those who did and never thought”. I believe that there is a third class that never thinks and never does.

Today, I will not concern myself with the two classes that don’t do, we’ll take a look at those who do and never think. This class has an edge over the other two classes; at least – they do something, and they get something. It is just that they seldom get what they wanted!

After we establish what it is that we are going for, it is extremely important that we look at how to get it. For example, at the beginning of every year, everyone comes up with a list of what they want to do in the New Year, but they seldom achieve it, and the few who do only do so because they formulate a workable plan. You do not become a builder by sitting and talking; neither do you become a business executive by reading M & B’s.

We have to take steps towards our goals, and what better way to establish what steps we need to take than to sit down and formulate a plan (a mission statement)? A personal mission statement is important because it tells you what you need to do, and when you need to do it - to ‘win’ at whatever ‘business’ you are doing.

I’ll be back soon with more on this topic, but till then - how do you plan to get that dream job?

An hour spent planning is worth two in execution.

KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,
+2348062543654,
koyegbeke@gmail.com

I'M SORRY!

I am quite sorry that I have not made an update in recent times. My ISP (O-Net) decided to go MIA, and I kept hoping that they would be back on-line in time. Please bear with me.


KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,
+2348062543654,
koyegbeke@gmail.com

Monday, June 15, 2009

Will you BUY me?


On Saturday, at the BEYOND IFE breakfast session with ‘Deolu Akinyemi, Temitope Akinyemi, Christian Love, and Joshua Adeyemi, I was asked to talk about myself – in the context of who I am now, and where I will be in 5 years. I also had the opportunity to hear about 30 bright people talk about their own visions too.

There were lots of curious opening lines, and there were some really attractive ones. There were some people I had to seek out after the session because their personal visions were tripping, and there were others that I blacklisted after hearing them speak. The ones who tripped me all spoke extensively about themselves, and curiously – the ones on my blacklist spoke about their products. Listen, when you are SELLing, if people don’t buy YOU, they most likely won’t buy YOUR product. For example, from what I gather - no employer wants a dishonest first class graduate.

Think about it. During an interview, you are trying to SELL yourself to the panel; at a proposal defence, you are trying to sell your idea; (on a lighter note) when you are asking a girl out, you are involved in SELLing yourself. I can remember hearing someone say he asked a woman to marry him while he lived in a one room apartment – and he would give her a house in VGC in 5 years – talk about SELLing!!!

As young professionals, we must develop an ability to project ourselves as ‘desirables’. (A desirable is someone who you want around, an available is someone who is just there...). On the rare occasion when you do not have anything to offer, you still must be able to convince your audience that you are just what they need.

Quite a lot of factors are involved in SELLing. First of all, you have to know your product, which in this case is YOUrself. You must start by establishing what your strengths and weaknesses are. This is often the easiest step.

Secondly, you must develop strong communication skills. Lee Iacocca said and I quote, “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, they won't get you anywhere”. It is not enough to know what your strengths are, you must learn to package and project them in such a way that they appear to minimize your weaknesses. This is very important.

Thirdly, you should never under-estimate the power of relationships. One important skill that every young professional should have is the ability to NETWORK. You should not SELL in order to get things from people; SELL in order to make friends and leave a strong positive impression on people (refer to my earlier post about personal branding).

I’ll be back soon with another post in this series, but till then -

“Make it easy for people to BUY your product (YOU), give them something they’ll ask for by name.”

KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,
+2348062543654,
koyegbeke@gmail.com

Sunday, June 14, 2009

BEYOND IFE!!!




The second session of BEYOND IFE held on Saturday. We had Deolu AKINYEMI (one of my role models), Christian Love, and Joshua Adeyemi in attendance. It was TIGHT!!!

Take care.

KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa

Friday, June 12, 2009

BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR 2

I have just delivered an Energy Research and Development paper at the annual R & D summit. I have spent almost a year researching my subject matter, and I have delivered my findings with savvy and panache. My peers from around the globe are rushing to shake my hands. Comments to the effect that the research was tight, hitherto practically unheard of and that the delivery was superb are flying around– hey, I cannot fail to deliver, even when I try not to succeed!

I remember the lady in the front row who was nodding her cute red head in agreement with almost every statement I made in the course of my presentation, and then I seek her out – because there was this connection, you know that kind of thing now! I find her sitting at a laptop computer – presumably her’s, trying to access the Internet over a Wi-Fi hotspot connection, and typing away at an obviously professional PowerPoint presentation. Her badge says Funmi ADEBANJO, and it clicks immediately – she is speaking at tomorrow’s session – that means she’s the best from wherever she came – and at whatever she does there! I sneak in an assessment, and my eyes run from her hair to her shoes, OMG – this lady is professional! Nice clothes (I will not go into the details, although I can see them in my head), red hair, tight accessories, etc. I will my eyes to move to the hands, and I notice that her left hand is bare of rings - and I exclaim inside – finally brethren, a single lady at last!

‘Hello and how are you doing?’ I ask, and she says ‘Hi, I’m fine, and nice research by the way’. I go like ‘Really? Thanks for the compliment’. ‘Do you know if these guys use a particular IP here?’ she asks, I go like – ‘I don’t know, but I sure can connect you to the internet’. She hands over the computer, I grab a seat, and then I get busy tweaking her network configuration. We strike up a conversation and in the process we get to talk about everything – matters as diverse as the weather, the pump price of petroleum products, my HP laptop, and the latest Orekelewa (she's proudly Nigeria too) product she got.

Finally, after beating about the bush for quite some time, I decide to get it over with – because I have to leave soon, and so I establish the internet connection, stand to my feet (I am quite taller than she is), and say the magical words – ‘It was great talking with you...’. Hey, I have been practising for this day for years (since my university days – as in, today), and so I easily arrange a lunch date for tomorrow, during the break between sessions. She has to be somewhere important, I guess a subgroup meeting at church, so she has to leave now too, she’ll probably have to complete her presentation at home – no thanks to me! We say our goodbyes, and then I go for my car. As I pull out of the car park, I look into my rear-view mirror, and there she is – getting into a car that I could easily have mistaken for mine - if they were the same colour anyway. I drive a black, she drives a white – same model, same everything else, even similar leather seats.

As I race away, I can only focus on one thing – her face, and I sure can’t wait to be back tomorrow... Yeah right!!!

OK, let’s get down to business. It was nice sharing my dreams with you, but we have to get back to the matter at hand.

We are still on the topic – BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, and I have just shared what I can see happening a few years from now (just joking). OK, by now I guess you know ‘by this time next year’ does not necessarily mean ‘by this time in the next 12 calendar months’, ‘next year’ could be like ten years from now for a particular context, just like I have shown above.

We are still talking about vision, and I have tried to describe the scene above in such detail - because I am trying to show you that you must be able to describe your vision, your goals, your dream job, your dream office, your dream house, your dream car, your dream wife with amazingly accurate precision. Can you paint such a video as the one above in your imagination? Note that I did not say picture, VIDEO!

You need to be able to see it, if you want to be it. WHAT DO YOU SEE? WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF THIS TIME NEXT YEAR? Answer these questions in detail, and it will amaze you how many things can start from that simple step.

For now, I will leave you with the following words, which are credited to Henry David Thoreau:

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

I’ll be back.


KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,
+2348062543654,
koyegbeke@gmail.com

Friday, June 05, 2009

BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR

On Wednesday, the 3rd of June – 2009, I once again had the privilege of listening to Tolu MOODY, one-time president of the Christ Ambassador’s Student Outreach, speak about a quite curious topic at the bible study meeting of the Student Christian Movement, both of them of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

This young man was simply the bomb! People like him remind me that there is hope for Nigeria. He spoke for about an hour on the topic – ‘BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR’. This unusual title had me thinking immediately, and the magical words – BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR, have occupied my mind for quite some time now.

I have done quite some thinking about it, and it has sparked a new series, of which this is the first. Enter BY THIS TIME NEXT YEAR 1!

In Habakkuk (2:2), it is recorded – put the vision in writing and make it clear on tablets, so that the reader may go quickly [BBE]. There are quite a few keywords in this verse and in the context of this post – they are: vision, writing, clear, and tablets.

1.  VISION
 If a man knows not what harbour he seeks, any wind is the right wind. - Seneca.
 According to the Encarta dictionary, a vision is an image or concept in the imagination, it is also the ability to anticipate possible future events and developments. What do you see? Where do you see yourself in the next one year?
It is important to find an answer to these questions, because you have to be able to clearly imagine and visualize (in your mind and if possible with your eyes) where you want to be – for you to be able to take steps in the right direction.
The question – what do you want to do with rest of your life? – seems quite big and hard to answer. Take a break, and think – what do I want to do with the rest of this year?

2.       CLEAR / CLARITY
 Your goals and your vision have to be clear. You sure don’t expect to hit a target on a blurred picture with accuracy. You have to define your expectations from the rest of the year quite clearly. Don’t expect to get just any car this year; expect to get a blue 2008 Toyota Camry with leather seats.
 Make your goals quite clear.

3.       WRITING, TABLET
 After getting a vision, the next thing is to write, and not in your mind – on paper. According to Bill Fitz Patrick, a recent survey indicates that only three percent of people have written goals, and only one percent reviews those written goals daily.

You need to make it your goal to become one of that elite one percent.

You need to commit your goals, your vision to writing. It is quite easy to lose things that we leave unattended-to in one of the many corridors of our minds. There is this special effect about writing your goals and putting it somewhere where you cannot help seeing it every day. After you get an answer to the question – what am I doing with the rest of this year? – put your answer on paper. Find pictures that correlate to your vision and goals, and put them on your desktop – if you have a computer, if not, paste them where you see them everyday – could be your bathroom mirror, or your bedpost or something.

Get your dreams on paper, attach dates to them, and then work towards them.

For now, I will leave you with the following words – A goal is a dream that has a date attached to it.

KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Get a positive mental attitude!

This is going to be quite short, because I am doing some work on  a larger article, I'll keep the title under wraps for now.

Lets go.

A positive mental attitude is what results when you commit yourself to self-improvement and service. 

With a personal commitment to doing your best today, you do not have to be overly concerned about tomorrow. 

You can be confident that good things will happen and at the same time be confident that even if trouble comes you will have gotten the strength and skills to cope, take control and conquer.  

You are tough. Please, do not allow your doubts to destroy your dreams.

Keep dreaming, because the things we see around us today were dreams yesterday.

Love y'all.

I'll be back.

KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa,
+2348062543654,
koyegbeke@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

AMD vs INTEL - It is all about the brand, don't you see?



 [An office set for an interview - you are at the head of the table, your panelists are at the sides; and at the far end - there is a seat for the job seeker].

You have two applicants, one of them with a first class, and the other with a second class upper division – same qualifications, and same discipline. Let us assume that the guy with the first class has no idea how to dress properly (long and untidy hair, stripped shirt on stripped trousers, brown belt on white socks plus black shoes, and far from straight G-line), and for the sake of this article, we will assume that the guy with the second class uppers looks the part of the perfect employee (he oozes confidence from head to toe, and he is looking like he deserves a place on your side of the table).

Last week, I was privileged to meet ‘Lolu Mogaji, of Image Quotient Consulting. He was at Oduduwa hall, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria, to speak about Image and Personal Branding - as applies to a young graduate.

He has set me thinking, and for the past few days, I have done quite some research on the place of Image and Personal Branding in business and personal success, and I will be sharing my findings here.

First of all, to the scenario above, no right thinking employer will give a job to a first class graduate who has no idea how to dress for an interview – (as in the guy looks like a fisherman with a net around his neck), and who cannot speak clearly and convey his ideas with clarity and force over a second class upper division graduate who looks the part of a business executive, sounds like he has been in the business of public speaking for decades, and speaks with lots of enthusiasm and vigour (probably except  you set out to employ a first class fisherman).

I was reading a great book by David H. Maister recently, Some Advice to a young professional, and in it he tries to give pretty straight to the point advice to people like me (and maybe you) – who fall into the class of people called young professionals. I am working on making the book available for free downloads, if possible without breaking copyright laws. As one of his many points, he argues that a young professional should be an individual, and not a member of a class or subset. 

It strikes me now that we meet far more people in one year than our parents did 25 years ago (what with facebook, messenger, mobile phone chat, etc), and now I understand when people cannot seem to remember my name after they met me once – it is just proof that there was nothing about me that impressed them. For example, you simply don’t get to forget someone like ‘Lolu Mogaji, Deolu Akinyemi, Wale Osideinde, Koye-Ladele Mogbekeloluwa, Deji Adeshina etc when you meet them; they leave an indelible mark on your mind. In simple English, for someone to remember your name – out of like the thousands of people he meets per year, something about you has to stand out.

Enter brandimage, and reputation!!!

AMD vs Intel, Google vs Bing, Coca Cola vs Pepsi, Vista vs Linux, Linux vs Macintosh, MTN vs Etisalat? Frankly, whichever one you prefer is most likely not because of the composition, it is because of the brand, the image, and the reputation. Many computer users do not even know the difference between AMD and Intel boards, the singular reason why more Nigeria computer users prefer Intel is because of the brand, theimage, and the reputation.

I am going to be drawing my definitions from quite a number of sources. First of all, according to Encarta English Dictionaries, a brand is a distinctive type of something (for example, Google is a brand as far as Internet search is concerned, etc). Secondly, according to Marshawn Evans, your image is how you portray yourself – simply put, how you communicate visually. Thirdly and very simply, as far as I am concerned - your reputation is what people think of you.

I was reading another great book, How to think like the World’s greatest high tech titans, and there is this chapter about Yahoo where the author says something quite profound – Make it easy for your customers to choose your products over all others, give them something they’ll ask for by name. And in quite a lot of ways, that statement is as simple as it sounds – you simply have to make it easy for people to choose your product – which in this case is you – over all others on the block. There has to be something about you that will make people/an organization/an employer choose you over every other person who professes to add the same value. There simply has to be this outstanding thing about you that will leave an indelible mark on the minds of people you meet.

That something could be in the way you walk (I have a friend who spent 3 months perfecting a CEO gait), it could be in the way you pronounce your words, it could be in your word play and your use of language, it could be the way you dress, it could be anything. This is the place of image. You simply have to pay attention to the image you project, because the kind of image you project determines the kind of mark you leave on the minds of the people you meet.

Funny enough, consciously or un-consciously, you are leaving a mark on the people you meet anyway. You could meet some people and they just go like – I never want to see that guy again in my life. That goes to show that if you do not consciously doctor your image, people still get an impression. For example, a guy who thinks it is not important what he wears, and goes to a business meeting in a slack round neck and jeans, still ends up projecting the image of an unserious guy; and on the other hand, the guy who pays attention to the smallest details ends up projecting the image of someone you want to work with.

Finally, your reputation is what people think of you. There is this one place where we like to claim that we don’t care what people think, and that is church. There are some ties that once you see them, you don’t need to ask what denomination the guy belongs to, it is written all over the tie, and there are some skirts that look like they are supposed to assist the Lagos State Waste Management Agency in keeping our streets clean. Mostchurch guys and girls like to claim that it does not matter what they wear, and that haters (people who have a different opinion) can go to “hell”. Hey, I may not know much, but I sure know that it matters what people think about you. Obviously, you have to leave a good impression on a panel of interviewers before they give you a job, bro - isn’t that reputation?

There is this link between your value system, your image, and your reputation, and I will look at that in detail very soon.

But for now, please seat back and ponder the following statement from ‘Lolu Mogaji – Image is everything...

I'll appreciate your comments...

Love.

 

KOYE-LADELE Mogbekeloluwa, +2348062543654, koyegbeke@gmail.com

Monday, June 01, 2009

What are you doing with your now?


I took a typing test sometimes last week and found out that my typing speed has reduced drastically, from 120wpm with 90% accuracy when I was 10 to 100wpm with 80% accuracy something around 8 years after.

A lot of people see me type, and wonder how come I do it so fast, and then I tell them they ain't seen anything yet, because my mom does it like 2times faster.

I remember that as early as age 6, I would sit at a typewriter for hours, and my closest companion during those times was my paper-back copy of the book - TYPING MADE SIMPLE.

At the time, typing came naturally to me - because I did not have anything better to do; however, as a result of my seeming 'idleness', I have mastered a skill that almost every computer user on the planet would like to have (but only very few can pay the price to attain).

You are probably wondering what the moral of the story is, aren't you? Just hang on a little longer.

During that same period, I had a friend that would sit and stare at a television screen for hours on end, - God bless Galaxy TV and NTA Ibadan, and today - you need to hear him analyze cartoons (Hey, he even thinks TMNT beats Ratatouille any day any time, I disagree with him on that point); you would think he serves on the Oscar board...

However, today, one of my strong skills is my ability to type fast with lots of accuracy.

Now, to some real talk.

I have often had issues balancing between putting up a good performance in the present and preparing for my future. What with the funny realization that I still seem to have a lot of friends' who seem to be stuck on life in the present; guys and gals whose lives seem to revolve round attending meetings, arguing the difference between faith and reality (and at times, arguing whether there is a difference at all), watching films, discussing everybody's business (except theirs'), and then attending class once in a blue moon.

At some point in my search for a balance, I came across this quote by Sir William Osler - "The best preparation for tomorrow is to do today's work superbly well".

I argue that the best way to prepare for what the future holds is to perform the tasks at hand to the best of our ability. I once read somewhere that "Life seems to require that we make the most of our present situations before we are given a chance to move on to the next".

Please, wherever you are, and whatever it is that you are required to do in the present, do it faithfully, because you never know if tomorrow will require the skills you learn today.

PS
This is just to launch this blog, as for some time now - I have been using a freewebs address. I'll be back with something better soon, for now... L8r.
Koye.