Friday, December 31, 2021

Life Lately: Some gratitude to end the year

The author of Luke tells a fascinating story about gratitude. While traveling to Jerusalem, Jesus encounters ten lepers and asks them to present themselves to the priests, healing them as they go. Upon realizing they have been healed, only one of them returns to thank Jesus. Jesus then remarks, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?”

When I first encountered this story as a child, I thought the nine were strange people. Think about it. Someone heals them of a devastating condition that has excluded them from society for years, and they can’t be bothered to say thanks. I was confident that could never be me. As I’ve grown older though, I have realized it is easy for good people to be ungrateful. And very often, I think that happens when we’re very focused on the things that haven’t gone as we expected.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Life Lately: What a car accident taught me about living

Seven years ago, I had one of those turning point moments. One minute, I was singing Jaywon’s “we making money, we making money, we making money this year” while driving from Lagos to Ibadan to spend Christmas at home. The next, I was dazed, grabbing the steering for dear life as the car plunged into a ditch, and thinking how sad my family would be if I died.

Thankfully, I didn’t die. The car rammed into a big tree and came to a stop. The seatbelt and all airbags worked as they should, saving my life in the process. Dozens of travellers stopped and scrambled down the ditch to help me get out of the car and stop the engine from smoking. The Federal Road Safety Corps arrived on time and made sure I was well. My friends, Mofe and Loro, who were also on the expressway, drove to the scene to pick me up.

The car was insured for more than it had cost. I had no obvious injuries. I made it home for Christmas with my family. Not much had changed externally, but a lot had changed on the inside.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Life Lately: Omicron

I am not surprised that there’s a new coronavirus variant sending everyone into a panic. The virus is doing what viruses do, mutate, and there will be many more variants before the pandemic is over. (As written before, I still believe COVID will then become endemic). Given how recently Omicron was detected, we don’t know yet if it is more infectious, virulent, or vaccine-resistant.

However, we already know many of the Omicron mutations are in its spike protein, which is what the vaccines target. If the spike protein has been changed significantly by these mutations, current vaccines may be less effective. Again, we don’t know anything for sure yet and it will be a few weeks until we do, so governments can’t do much for now other than try to contain its spread.

I’m tired of reading, thinking, and writing about COVID – but I wanted to say two quick things about Omicron. First is we should all be grateful to South Africa for their advanced sequencing capabilities. A key weapon in the global defence against COVID is our ability to quickly identify aggressive mutations and then act as needed to modify vaccines or therapeutics. South Africa was first to publicly report Omicron, not only because of significant investments in sequencing, but also because of a culture of scientific honesty. Unfortunately (although I can understand the case for it), quick action also includes limiting travel from South Africa to contain the spread. The world needs to strike a balance in responding to new variants, otherwise politicians may become incentivized to gag their scientists when new variants are found.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Life Lately: The Matthew Effect

Contemplating my future atop the Sacre-Coeur Basilica in November 2018

On this day three years ago, I was cash-strapped. I was approaching the end of my year in business school with an empty bank account. While I could look forward to a nice signing bonus, that was still many months away. In the interim, we needed to fly back to Nigeria, wait out a few months of funemployment, and spend money on our visas which I could then claim back after starting my new job. I had money – the problem was that it existed in an employment contract, not as cash we could spend.

So, I needed to raise cash. I agonized about it for days as I’ve always found it difficult to borrow money. I negotiated again with my recruiter for my signing bonus to be paid immediately. It didn’t work. My last option was to go to my friends. Three conversations and fifteen minutes later, I had all the cash we needed to cover the next few months until my first paycheck came in.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Life Lately: The Psychology of Money

Chilling with my first personal finance coach

If I close my eyes and think hard enough, I can still conjure up vivid images of my mom’s budget sheets from my childhood. While I prefer to think of her as a miracle worker, I know those sheets played a huge role in stretching the family finances as far as possible. After I started my first job, my dad sent me notes from a teaching he did on personal finance in the early 90s. These all formed the basics of my approach to managing money: budget and spend less than you earn, invest your savings wisely, block lifestyle inflation, know what journey you’re on and don’t be swayed by people on a different journey...

I’ve just finished what I think is the second-best personal finance book I’ve ever read – and I’ve read quite a few. The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel is a great book and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it over the past few days.

A core thesis of the book is that doing well with money is more about how you behave than it is about what you know. There are ordinary people who have built million-dollar fortunes (e.g. Grace Groner) and there are highly educated finance professionals (e.g. Richard Fuscone) who end up bankrupt. The book contains 20 short points about how we think about money and how we can behave differently. It was originally a blog post, which is free to read here, and there’s a good video summary here. I’m also going to share some of my favourite takeaways below.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Life Lately: Winter Blues, Finding & Working with a Mentor

Today is a great day for football. At 15.15 BST, there’s El Clásico, the first of the post-Messi era. Then at 16.30 BST there’s Liverpool vs. Manchester United. Both will be great games for neutral fans, but I am rooting for Real Madrid and Manchester United (for Ronaldo). Fingers crossed at least one of the two carry the day.


Lovely blue skies at the Victoria Park

The past week was tough on my energy levels. It was grey and wet from Monday through Thursday, and I missed the sun very badly. I am a child of Ibadan, where the sun never misses its daily rendezvous with the earth. Four autumns down the line, I still find it difficult to go days without seeing the sun. By Thursday I had taken to praying for some blue in the sky, and when I saw that it would be sunny on Friday – I knew I had to take the day off and get outside. I hope that sustains me through the next few weeks.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Life Lately: On Black Taxes

I was recently speaking to someone who is indebted to the tune of 7x their monthly income. Now, not all debt is bad debt. This wouldn’t be noteworthy if they had taken out all those loans to invest in their future: say to buy a house, move to Canada, or pay for a well-chosen master’s program. But in this case, they were concerned – and I was concerned, because they had borrowed the money over many months to meet family obligations.

My last Twitter thread about black tax, financial support young black people are expected to provide their families and extended families, elicited a deluge of comments. People argued about its definition, whether young people should “pay” it, and how it perpetuates poverty. I’m not getting into matters of definition or propriety. I’m instead focusing on how to manage financial support to one’s family so that it does not result in debt or create lasting resentment.

Sunday, October 03, 2021

Life Lately: Virtual bible study and three tips for working more deeply

With part of the crew. Some of my favourite people in the world

One of the things I miss the most about living in Lagos is the spontaneous discussions my group of friends, affectionately known as The Crew, often have. I met the first members of The Crew when I started at OAU and joined the Student Christian Movement in 2006. I took an instant liking to Joseph, Kemi, and Wale. I met Ope through Wale in 2007, and then Detola, Bunmi, and Busola in 2008. A lot has happened in those 15 years, and we’ve stayed together for most of it, so everyone has a lot of context on everyone else. We’re often able to build on that constructively in our conversations and I missed that so intensely this past week.

So, when the idea came to me to suggest a virtual Bible Study plan, I leapt at it. Thankfully, they were up for it and we’re now on Day 6 of this lovely 7-day plan: Wisdom for Right Living. We all read the same devotional and bible passages, and then comment on WhatsApp or using the discussion space in the Bible app. It’s not the same as getting together in someone’s living room to discuss passionately, but it’s close enough, and I’m thankful we can use technology to bridge the gaps in geography.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Life Lately: The CBN goes after AbokiFx; One way to be more creative

Last week, Nigeria’s Central Bank (CBN) went after AbokiFx for publishing parallel market exchange rates. That is ridiculous – to put it mildly. It’s like going after Live Scores for reporting that Bayern Munich is trashing Barcelona 8-2 or banning Google Maps for showing there’s traffic on the Third Mainland Bridge.

Let’s start with a simplistic recap. The Naira has been in free fall for years. Nigeria’s main foreign exchange (FX) earner is crude oil, which gives us about 90% of FX earnings. The instability in the price of crude causes fluctuations in the amount of FX we have. Given we need to import raw and finished goods, both for consumption and as manufacturing inputs, Nigerians need FX. When you have lots of Naira chasing scarce FX, FX costs more Naira.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

On Turning Thirty...

It was a bright and beautiful Sunday ten years ago when I turned 20. It was the last day of Missions, a week-long event organized by OAU’s umbrella association for Christian fellowships, and it was my last Sunday as Secretary of the association. Shortly before noon, the pastor told thousands of gathered worshippers that it was my birthday and asked them to please sing for me. And they sang. I covered my face with my hands and turned as red as my dark skin would allow.

Missions is held early in the second semester. After handing over the office that Sunday, I had three months of university left. Except for a strong desire to not be broke, I was not really clear what I wanted from my life. At an event to mark my birthday that evening, someone asked what I thought I’d be doing in ten years. I thought about it for a while and told them I had no clue.

Sunday, September 05, 2021

Life Lately: Tuition scholarships for five OAU final-year students; Show me Your Work

After much hemming and hawing and obsessing over minutiae, I am delighted to share with the world. While the site has been ready for months, I’ve had one reason (read excuse) or the other for postponing its launch. Between gentle reminders from Wale Osideinde and taking my own medicine (see Working on A Dream), we’re finally live!

It is most certainly a drop in the ocean, but there’s a real problem that needs addressing. Despite the subsidized and therefore relatively low tuition fees at Nigerian federal universities, many students struggle to pay tuition every year and some drop out or don't go at all because they can't afford it. There is abundant proof that education changes lives, and I believe all students who want a university education should be able to get one. But this is us starting “where we are and with what we have”.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Life Lately: The World as it is

I’m going to be 30 in two Saturdays. I’m very excited about this milestone and I’m looking forward to that week (yes – it’s an entire birthday week away from work). But what’s a milestone where Koye doesn’t reflect? So I’ve also been reading my old journals and thinking about my journey. I found this entry from 2009 about a simple but political decision I had to make, and thought it was a good example of how my thinking has evolved over the past decade.

In our third year as Mechanical Engineering undergrads at OAU, we needed to run practical exercises in a wind tunnel. A wind tunnel is a tube with air blowing inside that is used to observe the interaction between air and objects moving through air. For example you might use a wind tunnel to observe how a streamlined sports car cuts through the air more easily than a boxy truck. The lab at OAU used kerosene to add smoke to the air so we could see the interaction between the air and our scale models. We were all excited about the practical, but a small challenge had arisen. The lab expected us to buy the kerosene.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Life Lately: Working on a Dream

Hanging out with my guy, Shakespeare, on the grounds of the lovely Southwark Cathedral

I know someone who has been planning to apply to business school for just over six years now. These days, I smile and change the topic when our conversations turn to that dream. I have worked with them over the past few years to identify and address a series of blockers, and we’ve reached the conclusion that inertia is the ultimate blocker.

Chances are you too know someone who has dreamt of doing something for a while but has not gotten around to doing it. Maybe they want to start a business, adopt a healthy lifestyle, or volunteer at a non-profit. Heck, maybe you’re that someone. I too have many dreams I have not done anything about. I recently wrote in my journal that I could live a full life working on the dreams I already have without ever having another one.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Life Lately: Are you getting the learning you need?

Taking in the grandeur of the Cathedral of Barcelona

I was discussing this post (Life Lately: Learn & Be Curious from April 25) with someone recently, and they told me how they were struggling to make the time for learning. It got me thinking about yet another post I shared with my Conversations newsletter group but never posted to this blog. I've reproduced it below and edited it to bring it up to date.


When last did you learn something new? It could have been a new Excel function or how to take better pictures. Think about it. Did you do any learning last week?

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Life Lately: What does PIE have to do with Career Success?

Which of these counts the most towards career success?

Performance? Image? Exposure?

If you think it is performance, like I too once did, the research does not agree.

I focused on performance when I started my career, expecting my work to speak for itself. I paid little attention to how colleagues perceived me or how much visibility I was getting. I would deliver complex projects and just move on to the next one without making a fuss.

Sunday, August 01, 2021

Life Lately: Self Assessments and How to Read More

Reading Decisive by the Heath brothers a few Saturdays ago at a nearby cafe

Happy new month people!

There are two quick thoughts in this week’s note.


I struggled to prioritize mindfulness in July. I felt that I had to make up for the gap that opened up when I was away from work in June, so I started skipping my morning meditations and diving straight in. I also went well over my budget, often excused with a muttered YOLO to myself. Lastly, I felt like I spent much of my time at work sorting out small housekeeping-type-stuff; you know – the type of stuff that keeps the business ticking along but is not necessarily transformational.

Why am I sharing this? To illustrate the practice I’ve had for a few years of asking myself “What worked? And what didn’t work?” at the end of every month. The answers to both questions help me double-down on the positives and address the opportunity areas before too much time passes.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Life Lately: Thanksgiving

2006, 2012

The most afraid I have been in my life is the two incidents when there was a real chance I could lose either of my parents. And that one time I was halfway through a daredevil roller coaster ride and promising Jesus I would never try it again if the ride ended without drama.

It’s my dad’s thanksgiving service in Ibadan today. While I can’t be there, it’s all I have thought about through the weekend. So I figured I’d do some thanksgiving of my own in today’s entry.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Life Lately: Freedom Day and my roadmap for living with COVID-19

Enjoying the sun and glad to be free of my second self-isolation in seven months

Tomorrow is Freedom Day in England. Most measures for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 will be dropped. Mask-wearing in public and social distancing will no longer be mandated. I’m not sure how I feel. Having had COVID twice, both times with symptoms, these changes spark a little anxiety. But I also believe society needs to move on.

I don’t think COVID-19 is going anywhere. Given the respiratory nature of the virus and how far it has spread, I don’t think we’ll be able to eradicate this one like we did smallpox. I believe COVID-19 will become endemic, circulating in pockets and causing localized outbreaks. I’m not alone in thinking this. Smarter people who are more familiar with immunology have reached similar conclusions. (See here, here, and here). What this means is we need to learn to live with this virus, as we have with other viruses.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Life Lately: Consistency >>> Intensity

It's a big day for sports today! There was the Copa America final, which I didn't watch as the time didn't work (it's hard to wake up at 1am for football). Then there's the Wimbledon men's final (Djokovic vs Berrettini) which I am very fortunate to be seeing in person. And it ends with the EURO 2020 final, where I'll be rooting for England to bring it home!

The atmosphere at the Stade de France was electric after France won the 2018 World Cup

One of my favorite experiences in 2018 was seeing the World Cup Final alongside thousands of French fans in the French national stadium. The game was beamed live from Russia on large screens and the Stade de France went berserk when Beyonce came out singing "We are the champions" after Hugo Lloris lifted the trophy. Remembering it still gives me goose bumps.


A colleague asked me last week how I got so good at financial modeling. I immediately thought back to my first few models and how embarrassingly bad they were. I learnt to build good models by sticking with it, asking for feedback and trying again, over and over. (I'm glad to no longer be building detailed financial models but those skills still come in handy). So I figured I'd share this post I wrote about consistency in October 2019 but did not post to this blog.

Sunday, July 04, 2021

Life Lately: On Yoruba Nation and Secessionist Movements; Lights Out at General Electric

What else has the current Nigerian government got right asides the trains?

Nigeria is not working. I wanted to open this with anecdotes from my last trip but reading my notes was draining. Is it the needless death; the spike in the number of people, mostly women with sickly babies, standing outside pharmacies seeking help to buy medication; endless kidnappings; or rampant inflation? The present administration is underperforming expectations by a wide margin.

These trends have caused a decades-old question to resurface. Would the constituent parts of Nigeria be better-off on their own? While they never really left, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is back in the news following a spate of attacks. Calls for a Yoruba nation have regained prominence, with Google searches for “Yoruba nation” peaking last month (the Oduduwa republic was a previous name for a similar idea). The Federal Government went after the leaders of both movements over the past week, arresting Nnamdi Kanu (IPOB), and arresting a cat and allegedly killing two people in a failed raid on Sunday Igboho’s (Yoruba nation) house.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Life Lately: I Can Do Hard Things

Through hardships, to the stars

A few moments ago, I was listening to Shankar Vedantam (host of the Hidden Brain podcast) discuss how commercials from our childhood influence our decisions as adults while vacuuming our living room and half-thinking about slow cooker recipes, and it hit me that I was “back”. I realized that was the first moment in four weeks I was thinking just about myself and something I wanted to do. It was the first time I wasn’t consciously in “go” mode – speaking to someone, hurrying somewhere, managing familial stakeholders, or making what felt like an endless run of important decisions.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Life Lately: Don't worry, about a thing...

This post is short as this is one of those weekends where I shouldn’t be able to find the time to write. But I’ve done this every Sunday for 18 Sundays in a row and I really like the sound of that, so I thought I'd share a quick one about worry.

I was recently scanning through my journal (Day One!) and saw a few things I had listed as making me anxious a few months ago. It was interesting that the time spent worrying about those things had turned out to be a complete waste as none of those ‘worst case scenarios’ had materialized. Even more interestingly, the two most significant troubles in my adult life almost literally hit me in the face when I wasn't looking.

It all caused me to remember this paragraph from Mary Schmich’s Wear Sunscreen essay

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

That’s my word for you this week. Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.

Cheers to the new week!


Sunday, May 23, 2021

Life Lately: Ibadan - A Poem

Ibadan from Bower's Tower

Every new day sets a new record for how long I've gone without being back home in Ibadan. It's harder than I let on. The most random things remind me of that place. I dream about it from time to time and recycle my favorite memories from growing up there. I even made a list of those memories so I can access them quicker.

Therefore, today, I thought I'd share this piece I wrote late in 2018 about growing up in Ibadan.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Life Lately: The Trouble with Open Offices and Two Thoughts on Investing

I know way more than I want to about a guy who sat behind me at the office on Friday. There were three people in that row of desks but this one guy stood out. I heard what he ate for breakfast. I heard that he was born in India, moved to the US, and just bought a flat in London. I have a pretty good idea what projects he’s working on. And so on…

He held many meetings at his desk, speaking as though he was in a noisy stadium rather than an almost-empty office building. His sing-song voice cut through my noise cancellation earphones and the focus music I put on in attempt to keep him out of my head. His voice sparked garish flashbacks to the loud people from the open offices I’ve worked in. When I eventually moved to get away from his voice, I couldn’t help wondering how I got anything done in open offices before the pandemic.

Sunday, May 09, 2021

The Power of Weak Ties

Picture of Obama from his 2004 keynote speech at the DNC

Barack Obama met John Kerry for the first time in April 2004. Three months later, Kerry selected Obama to deliver the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Obama went on to deliver a great speech that announced him nationally, eventually resulting in a two-term presidency. Obama’s big break came from a weak tie, not someone he had known forever and was best buddies with.

We know relationships are important success drivers. There is a lot of material about the importance of friends, mentors, and sponsors. These are very important people who make and shape us. We know that already, so this isn’t about them.

Sunday, May 02, 2021

Life Lately: How recognition from a kind teacher changed my life; Work anniversary

1998, at Adesola Kings & Queens School, Ibadan, Nigeria

I posted this picture on Instagram during the week with the caption “I am somewhere in this picture doing what comes naturally to me in a large group”. 19 friends responded, some with one word, and they were nearly all right. If you look closely, you too can see me. Go on, look for me. Do you see me?

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Life Lately: Learn and Be Curious

Ten years ago at OAU's amphitheatre

I cringe when I look at my Facebook posts from twelve years ago. I ignored grammar rules, overshared the minutiae of everyday life, and my thinking was, well, “different”. I sometimes can’t believe I wrote those posts. I have learnt and grown so much since then that it feels like more than twelve years have passed.

Bill Gates famously said most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in a decade. I think a similar axiom is true for learning. When I read my notes from 2011, it is clear I underestimated how much I could learn – and therefore grow – in ten years.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Life Lately: Why You Need Input Metrics

A highlight of this week was beating Liverpool over two legs to advance to the UCL semi-finals. The picture on the left is from the home dugout at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Early in 2019, I became convinced I was overweight. I had gotten into the habit of recording my weight daily and I had watched the line trend upwards for months. So, like I had done before, I set a specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound goal to lose about 10kg over the next few months. My plan was to create a calorie deficit, but I did not immediately define that in further detail.

Well, nothing changed over the next few months. I began eating less and exercising more, by a vague and varying amount, but that line tracking my weight continued to inch upwards. And then a chance conversation with Ehis helped unlock an insight I was aware of professionally but rarely applied in my personal life.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Life Lately - Who Can You Support This Week?

DMX and Prince Phillip. Photo credit: Getty Images.

Two famous men died on Friday. Prince Phillip, a 99-year-old British royal, died after a long and full life. DMX, a 50-year-old American rapper, died sooner than most people would like. The Prince was born into Greek and Danish royalty and married the British monarch. DMX suffered abuse as a child and turned to stray dogs for companionship after leaving home aged 14. The Prince’s gaffes made their way around the world. DMX’s music set records and inspired a generation. Their lives couldn’t have been more different, but they both left marks on the world. May their souls rest in peace.


There has been an outpouring of good DMX stories on Twitter. I read through some of them and it’s clear he wasn’t just a celebrity acting nice. He was warm, welcoming, and didn’t think of himself as above his fans. It got me thinking about this line from the hymn Only Remembered, “only remembered by what we have done”.

There is an endless list of things that people do and are remembered for, but I wanted to focus on generosity today because I’ve been thinking about it for weeks. Specifically, I’ve been thinking about generosity in the context of sharing our time and material resources with people who are less privileged than we are.

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Life Lately - This I Believe, Happy Resurrection Sunday!

Own photo from a live production of The Passion of the Christ; Trafalgar Square 2019

I really enjoyed evangelism as a child. There were few things I loved more than going out in the bus with my dad before Sunday services and special programs to invite people to church. Some kind people would come to the bus to request more information after hearing my squeaky voice over the PA system. They would tell me how surprised they were to hear a child speaking so passionately about God and they would compliment my confidence. A few of them even showed up to church – something that delighted me greatly.

Then life happened. I grew up and started to get sidetracked. Rather than focus on God’s love and redemption, which made for a simple and compelling message, I would let myself get drawn into lengthy discussions about the original meanings of Greek and Hebrew words, hair coverings, trousers, tithes, and church scandals. The message became complicated and more difficult to convey. I started to major on the minor.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Life Lately - Dealing with my unending workload

A view of London City from Victoria Park

The past few weeks were kind of weird. Despite working longer hours and with more intensity than at any previous time, I kept feeling like I wasn’t doing enough. So I did the usual things – I prioritized even more ruthlessly, I identified things ‘not to do’, I meditated more, and I worked even more hours.

None of this worked. My stress levels increased and I inched closer to burnout. At some point on Wednesday, I thought to myself that I couldn’t continue like that, so I tore myself away from the computer and went on a long walk to attempt a reset.

I started by quantifying things. Because I’ve been logging my daily hours for years, I know I am working about 10 more hours per week than I would be doing if I was going into the office. How could I feel like I was falling behind while working what was effectively six days a week? What did I need to do differently?

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Life Lately - My hack for better weekends, Trust in God

I cover two unrelated topics in this post. The first is on my approach to having better weekends. The second, inspired by recent conversations with new graduates, is about one of my favorite songs and how it helped me through an anxiety-inducing transition from university into work.


I had a really crap weekend just over a year ago. It was a complete wreck of a weekend. I slept too much, ate too much, discussed charged topics endlessly, watched TV for what felt like an entire age, and was completely drained of all emotional energy when Sunday evening rolled around. It took all my 'home training' to not call in sick on Monday, and as I sat in the train to work – tired and drained before the week had even started – I realized I had to do better in future.

I thought about it for a little bit and decided to list the things I found energizing and then fill my weekends with those things. Starting that week, I began making what I now call 'my weekend to-do list'. There’s nothing fancy on the list and it includes most of the usual suspects – call x, take a long walk, read y, check on b, see a movie, and so on. Making the list during the week helps me look forward to the weekend, and ensures I have a 'balanced weekend' mostly consisting of things that energize me. It also helps fend off the “where did the weekend go?” question.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Cheat Day - Mother's Day, The Order of Time

Happy Mother's Day, Mrs. Ko

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women who are reading this. Thank you for all that you do. I know this day can spark a variety of emotions depending on what’s going on in our lives, so I wanted to share this link to Nifemi’s post describing the joy and pain of Mother’s Day. If you’re hurting today, for whatever reason, I wish you peace and comfort.

I’ve been trying for a few hours, but I now have to admit I’m unable to do any serious writing in my current frame of mind. Therefore, I thought I’d instead share one of my favorite passages from Carlo Rovelli’s The Order of Time.

"We are not a collection of independent processes in successive moments. Every moment of our existence is linked by a peculiar triple thread to our past – the most recent and the most distant – by memory. Our present swarms with traces of our past. We are histories of ourselves. Narratives. I am not this momentary mass of flesh reclined on the sofa typing the letter ‘a’ on my laptop; I am my thoughts full of the traces of the phrases that I am writing; I am my mother’s caresses, and the serene kindness with which my father calmly guided me; I am my adolescent travels; I am what my reading has deposited in layers in my mind; I am my loves, my moments of despair, my friendships, what I’ve written, what I’ve heard; the faces engraved on my memory. I am, above all, the one who a minute ago made a cup of tea for himself. The one who a moment ago typed the word ‘memory’ into his computer. The one who just composed the sentence that I am now completing. If all this disappeared, would I still exist? I am this long, ongoing novel. My life consists of it." - Carlo Rovelli

Have a fab week, and see you next week.

Sunday, March 07, 2021

Life Lately: "I can increase your happiness"

When I took this picture of Zajecarski, Serbia, I did not know I would be fast-walking (running) away from a dog on this street within the hour.

I don’t want a huge pimple on my nose; I don’t have one. In fact, given how much trouble I had with pimples as a teenager, it’s fair to expect my children to get a free pass. I don’t want to lie in bed unable to sleep because of the cacophony of generators; I don’t have to - for now. I am afraid of all dogs and don’t want to live in a house that has one; I don’t.

When we think about the things that make us happy, the things we are grateful for, we tend to focus on the things we want and have. Good memories of departed family members. Family and friends that are still here. Our jobs or businesses. Holidays – past and future. Money in the bank. PlayStation consoles.

We don’t often think about the things we don’t want and don’t have, things that contribute to our happiness by their continued absence in our lives. I haven’t made a list, but I strongly suspect the list of things I don’t want and don’t have is longer than the list of things I want and have.

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Life Lately: Redeeming the time, habit stacking, and a gift for you

There were some really, really, beautiful days this week

Four weeks ago, at the end of January, I started that post by saying January felt like it zoomed by. I could say the same thing about February. In fact, when I woke up this morning, I thought to myself “how is it another Sunday already?”.

In St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, he asks them to make the very most of their time on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence. Whenever I feel like time is flying by, like I do today, I stop for a moment and ask if I am making the most of every day that passes.

The answer is never yes. Like most other people, I have good days and bad ones. Sometimes I bring my A-game and power through the day, other times I’m low on energy and slow waltz through the hours. I now think of St. Paul’s exhortation as an ideal, something to strive for on the journey to being better with each day that passes.

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Life Lately: My first snowman and rediscovering a sense of play

My first snowman. I promise subsequent ones will be cuter.

I have been trying to play more lately. My natural tendency is to take things seriously and that is no fun, so I’ve been looking for opportunities to rediscover the sense of play I lost as I transitioned into an early adolescence. So, when it snowed recently and it occurred to me to make a snowman, I shut down my first reaction – which was “but I should continue reading this book about Index Funds”.

The idea of making a snowman and the reality of making a snowman turned out to be different. First, we didn’t have a lot of snow so I needed to shovel the snow on our balcony with a dustpan. Second, I didn’t realize I couldn’t just wear any gloves. I couldn’t compact the snow no matter how hard I tried in gloves and my fingers got wet very quickly. So I took them off and went with my bare hands.

It’s definitely not a handsome snowman but that doesn’t matter to me. What matters is that for those five to ten minutes when I scurried around looking for buttons for the eyes, a Sharpie to draw on the smile, and a bamboo skewer for the arms, I felt like the happy child I remember from the 90s.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Life Lately + Book Summary - Decisive: How to make better choices in life and work

"Two roads diverged in a wood and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." - Robert Frost

While scrolling through LinkedIn during the past week, I saw an update from someone who had made me a fantastic offer for a role in Product Management at an American Industrial Goods company towards the end of my year in business school. For a brief moment, I let my mind wander and explore what could have been if I had taken that offer, or any one of the other offers I received towards the end of that year.

This doesn’t happen often, but from time to time something will trigger retrospection and I’ll wonder for a few moments what those paths may have held. I always come away from these moments thinking the same thing – I followed an exhaustive process to make my decision and I made the best decision I could have made. As icing on the cake, detailed essays spell out the process I followed, the factors I considered, and the conclusions I reached. 

I think it is powerful to be able to move forward knowing I made the best choice I could have made. It means there is no lurking regret, no wishing I had done things differently. When I went through challenging patches in consulting such as a lengthy period on the bench or a poorly-defined project, I could think back to how I had chosen that position and trust the process.

Sunday, February 07, 2021

Life Lately: A life on our planet

Unblocking gutters that had been clogged for years as part of the Sanitation Corps. Picture taken by a friend during my National Youth Service in Lagos.

When I was 13, I tried to invent a process for recycling plastic. There was a stream in our area that I had crossed on my way to school since I was about 4, and I had seen the stream go from clear water with lovely little fishes and tadpoles to filthy water packed full of plastic waste. Being slightly nerdy, I started scouring the library for relevant material and attempting to melt and reform plastic at home. I did not succeed and I ultimately gave up after a month or so to do more ‘fun’ things – like text Westlife lyrics to girls at school.

I have since learnt this was playing out across the world, and in fact had started decades before I observed it. I have also learnt the problem transcended the amount of waste we were creating and how we were discarding it. It extended to hunting animals to extinction on land and in the sea, cutting down swathes of forest, and burning huge volumes of fossil fuels. The earth had become ours, run by humankind for humankind, with little left for the rest of the living world.

I have just finished A Life on Our Planet, a brilliant book by David Attenborough. I had seen the Netflix documentary, but it was picked by my book club at work so I bought a copy and read through it over the past week. In this brilliant book, Sir Attenborough describes how the world has changed in his lifetime (he’s 94) and lays out a vision for rewilding the world and restoring its biodiversity.

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Life Lately: On using my phone more mindfully

January feels like it zoomed by. I can’t believe it’s already a month since I sat on the sofa, coffee in hand, and reflected on which habits I wanted to continue prioritizing this month. At the end of the exercise, this list included things like: using my phone more mindfully, meditating every day, eating and snacking healthy, being more mindful and present…

Using my phone mindfully is something I have wanted to do for very long but didn’t crack until recently. For many years, I would reach for my phone first thing in the morning, respond to instant messages throughout the day, use it to escape once things got boring, and stay up late catching up on the latest news. I would sometimes make drastic cutbacks to accommodate busy periods at work or school but otherwise continued on that trajectory.

While all that time passed, my case for change grew stronger. First, my mood and energy levels would vary unpredictably and in ways I couldn’t control. I might randomly see a tweet about a stabbing and descend into a negative spiral for hours. (I’m introverted and I become overstimulated pretty easily). Second, interrupting myself frequently meant I wasn’t producing my best work. Third, keeping up with my new workload required me to be extremely productive during the day or work late every night. Fourth, all that phone use was resulting in a lot of connection but not enough conversation*.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Life Lately: On COVID, work, and my word for the year

Victoria park on a sunny winter day. My first walk after recovering from COVID in December. I didn't leave our flat for ~14 days so I was very glad for this beautiful day.

This year has started really positively. I’ve heard a lot of good news from friends and family, ranging from new boyfriends to new jobs and babies, and it is so exciting that good things continue to happen for people despite the pandemic. I hope that there continues to be more good news than bad news as we go through the year.

I’ve had a pretty strong start to the year myself. After getting quite sick with COVID over Christmas and being very frustrated that I could not travel to Nigeria or the UAE, I’ve again come to terms with the world we now live in. I say again, because it seems to be a cycle. I come to terms with it, then I’m tired of it, then I remind myself I can’t change the situation but can change my attitude to it and so I come to terms with it, and then the cycle repeats.