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.

AbokiFx has chronicled the exchange rate for years. In that time, they have reported both the strengthening and the weaking of the Naira. But rather than make the tough choices to confront root causes of the Naira’s continued devaluation, the CBN has chosen to go after the scoreboard operators.

And can we collectively shake our heads at a CBN governor who uses his bully pulpit to say things like “those who feel they want to support him [AbokiFx’s founder], to fight me, come out, let’s fight.”


Some of the best ideas I’ve had have come to me in the shower. In fact, I’ve recently taken to keeping a notepad and pen just outside the bathroom so I can record these ideas before I forget them. This is not unique to me. By some estimates, up to 72% of people get their best ideas in the shower. Why is that so? And how can we increase the number of good ideas we have by putting our minds in “shower-state” more frequently?

Without getting into too much detail, it turns out we get our best ideas when we feel good, we’re relaxed, and we’re distracted. Distraction is an important pillar of this three-legged stool, as our minds will often make the creative connections required to solve tough problems when we stop thinking consciously about these tough problems after thinking about them extensively. This is why showers are good for creativity. They feel good, especially when the water temperature is just right; they are relaxing, so we are open and receptive; and we are distracted and idle – so our subconscious minds can run wild and free.

Why does this mostly happen in the shower? I think it’s because we’re so averse to being idle at all other times. An experiment by researchers at the University of Virginia found some people would rather administer mild electric shocks to themselves than sit alone with their thoughts for just 15 minutes. And the constant stream of distractions served up by modern technology has made it even easier for us to constantly distract ourselves.

So, what can you do to be more creative this week? Practice doing nothing. Think about situations or problems in your work or personal life as long as you can, then just do nothing. Go for a walk without listening to music, a podcast, or pressing your phone. Watch other people while waiting in line on a queue or riding the bus to work. Or sit in your local park and just watch the birds.

Let me know how you get on.


What I’m currently reading: Decision Points, by George Bush. I was recently thinking about the 911 attacks and became curious about George Bush’s state of mind that day. Therefore, I thought I would read his autobiography. As an aside, I enjoy autobiographies because they offer a fun way to learn about life through other people’s experiences. There are many good bits in there, but this has resonated with me the most.

In the leadup to my 30th birthday, I was journaling about how much my life changed between 10 and 20 and between 20 and 30. I also commented on the impossibility of predicting where I might be or what I’d be doing at 40. So, this passage from Decision Points jumped out at me. It’s a long book and more a passion project than anything else so I don’t really recommend it.

What I’m currently listening to: Where Happiness Hides, from Hidden Brain. In their own words: “We all think we know what will make us happy: more money. A better job. Love. But psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky says happiness doesn’t necessarily work like that. This week, we explore why happiness often slips through our fingers, and how to savour — and stretch out — our joys."

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Have a fab week!


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