Having consulted for companies within Nigeria and outside Nigeria, built Excel-based solutions for dozens of clients and done training for over 500 professionals on Business Data Analysis using Excel, I will be expanding your mind on the use of Excel to boost your business productivity.


To be in loop of these webinar series just sign up here http://eepurl.com/bKwoaT

The webinar is scheduled for next week, Wednesday 6, 2016 from 4:00pm to 5:00pm.

I will also be sharing the YouTube recording of the webinar for all, more for the benefits of those who miss the live webinar.

It will be hosted on Google Hangouts on Air. And the live event joining link is https://plus.google.com/events/ctotjoqqnrq9svjpctpijhjknb8 So on the D-day, if you are confused about how to join, just come back to this post and click that link, and you'll be in.

I will be showing you some of the mind blowing things you can do with Microsoft Excel. Why companies value employees with deep Excel usage skill. And how you can automate things with Microsoft Excel.




Don't miss the webinar!

It's already half of the year. For many of us, the first half is more of what the economy handed us. But I am positive that this second half will be more of what we do for ourselves.

You can download my daily goal tracker to set and track your goals for the second half of the year: Download the daily goal tracker.


For me, I am planning on cutting down on my running around and build a solution I can mass sell. Well, it's been something I have been saying for many months now, and I will keep saying till I have done it. The whole field is before me and I have a choice of which part of the field to play on; I am choosing to play on the most rewarding part of the field. Training and consulting services are more of grunt work, too much work for each Naira earned. But software products, produced once and sold forever, are way much better.

All the top companies in the world are product making companies. They are not consulting companies or training providers. They sell a solution or product that they make once and maybe update yearly.

Building your own business is tough work. Even the guy who's into Shawarma selling business is not having it easy; for him to do it on a level he can live a comfortable life on, it is no small unending work. But I believe in following Bill Cosby's advice -- Aim for the moon, if you miss you'll land among the stars. Aim as high as possible, which starts with picking the most lucrative field section you can in your business domain. Don't be too bogged down by your access to resources or competence level, after all, entrepreneurship is more about jumping from a skyscraper and growing wings before you crash. When you pick a big goal for yourself, stubborn resourcefulness is all it takes to hit success.

Also, for the remainder of the year (and beyond), I am planning on reducing the number of moving parts in my life. I am cutting down seriously on the number of activities I do. I will only do very necessary things. The fewer the things I need to remember or keep up with the more time and brainpower I have for the things that are super important.

What are your own plans for the second half of this year?


image: quora.com

Every month I get emails from either FCMB or Diamond bank or Stanbic or GTBank about avoiding scammers sending fake emails, fake SMS and fake calls to get my account details. Not once have I come across a news of the banks or authorities making genuine efforts to go after those scammers and make an example for others to learn from. What reason then will the scammers have to stop doing their fraudulent activities if no one is trying to catch/prosecute them?

And it's the same attitude that is fueling corruption in the country. You will see the very authorities instituted to ensure that the rule of law is adhered to making billboards and wasting tax payers money on radio adverts that people should castigate their neighbours or family members who are making a lot of money in ways they do not understand. What logic is in that? They are basically telling you to make yourself an enemy of anyone making progress as long as you don't like the way they are progressing. They, themselves, let go the hardened criminals and give them no reason to quit their lives of crime. In fact, they help them with ideas of how to bypass the authorities and do a revenue share with very authorities that are meant to prosecute them.

And there are those who come on TV and radio to say if all Nigerians obey traffic rules, drive safely on the road and act in a law abiding way, all our problems will vanish. Those very people will be the first to break a queue if they find that a few people are jumping the queue. No one likes to be trodden on. If a danfo driver is trying to be law abiding and parking correctly at bus-stops, he ends up losing passengers to the less law abiding ones. Then why in God's universe will he keep doing that if he has a family to feed and will be extorted equally as others by the touts/police? If you lose more by following the laws while you watch others gaining disproportionately by unfollowing the laws, you must either be a university professor or be a 100% morally upright person to continue in your losing ways.

How many of us try to not lose our morality is by choosing an environment that rewards/encourages doing the right thing. We work for non-shady companies. We avoid dishonest people and systems. We chose our friends and colleagues. But not everyone of us is fortunate to have that much freedom of choice. Not every danfo driver happily chose to be a danfo driver, but once he is, he has to follow their unwritten rules (modus operandi and modus vivendi) to survive. Not everyone embroiled in the Arms fund and oil money embezzlement are intentionally corrupt; if you work in a system where it is extremely harder to be clean than corrupt, you stand little chance of being different for long.

If we don't start making it more expensive to do wrong than right we will keep having people addicted to doing wrong. And going by the prisoners' dilemma, you lose most when the other guy is gaming the system than you do when you both game the system or both decide to stay clean. There is a bigger incentive to game the system than to be the clean guy. So we have to focus more on making the system harder to game and punish severely those caught trying to game the system.

When I read in the newspapers about the Senate prodding the Attorney General of the Federation because of the case against the Senate President and his deputy, and I also see the drama around the Saraki cases, I get the sense that we are not ready to change for good. They are trying to make laws to protect themselves. When a criminally inclined Nigerian sees this he is encouraged to have higher aspirations, and gain immunity from prosecution.


Last week, I came across a picture of a nurse and a doctor, shared by one of my LinkedIn contacts. The interesting bit about the picture is that the nurse was the very nurse who took delivery of the doctor some 4 decades ago. What my LinkedIn contact  saw was an inspiring story of how a little baby grew impressively well, caught up and zoomed past people present during his birth. But what I saw is what can happen when, either by necessity or choice, one stops or slows down his/her growth. The nurse was probably happy with the positive impactful job she does or the nature of nursing makes one hit a ceiling quick or she's already fulfilling her life dream. None of these is bad. There's more to life than job level or pay grade.

But what I want to drill more on in today's post is that you shouldn't stop or slow down your growth. Be always growing. At least in the aspects of life that are dear to you.

I care about very few things: my relationship with God, my immediate family, my life and my business. I don't have many friends and I try to not have more friends. I'm not a friend material. I don't think straight when there are opinions from friends to consider. They say two heads are better than one, both for me joining my head with someone else's works only when it's all pure business. No social pull or emotions involved. The result is that I am one of the most self-centered persons on planet earth. I try to stay by myself and generate as much content/value as I can. I've got creative ideas I want to implement -- write more novels, build solutions, master building a business and create more video tutorials. So I keep trying to grow in the aspects I care about.

I avoid people and events as much as I can. I spend as much time as possible around my cares and improving that aspect of my life. I am always learning more almost daily in the field I care about. I grow almost everyday. I spend a large chunk of my waking hours improving my myself through hands-on experience and self-study in my chosen field. I have very little trouble letting go of things. I don't get too emotionally tied to things (and, sadly, people). And it's more because I have an artist mind -- care more about the art than the tools or external world. I am infinitely looped to keep improving my art regardless of the cost.

My case is an extreme, probably. Not what anyone else should do. But I strongly believe that when you are true to yourself and have found what you are most passionate about, you will never allow yourself to stop growing. You will do things more from genuine interest and have a lifelong motivation for the very path you've chosen in life.

Have an open mind; clear out every dogma, and see yourself as you really are and not as what people/society wants you to be. Embrace your peculiarities and live the life best suited for you. Fill your life with only the things that matter to you. Fill your time with the things/activities you are passionate about. Be always growing.
Yesterday was demo day for me. I did a demo of Power BI for a client for another client. It was the third time I am officially demo-ing Power BI to a large company, and increasingly companies are beginning to give Power BI serious considerations.






In today's post I will be focusing on custom visuals for Power BI -- new chart types you can add to Power BI.

Power BI comes with 27 visualizations (charts), you can easily increase them to over 70 by installing custom visuals, like I have done.



And they are very easy to install. Just head to https://app.powerbi.com/visuals/ and download the ones you like (I recommended at least the Word Count visual).






Next is to import to Power BI Desktop.




And that's it! Now you can add as many custom visuals as you want and create very beautiful dashboards to stay on top of your business data.



The thing in business is you've got to do everything that you can to not just survive but flourish. And last year, I came up with the cool idea of running a monthly webinar on BI, business data analysis and Microsoft Excel. The main idea was to show people what's new and useful, with more focus on the Nigerian environment.

In total, we had two webinars though I had paid for almost a year on the webinar platform. Why? It wasn't easy juggling all. Around February this year, I got buried in so much work that I often forgot to eat. And I kept missing the webinars I had scheduled to host. People would email me and ask about the webinar I announced was holding, and I would have no reasonable reply. So, I suspended the webinar altogether and cancelled the webinar platform subscription.

Midnight today, I was watching a Microsoft Conference video on Power BI and all the new cool things it can do. It brought back the pleasant memories of the first webinar we held -- which was on Power BI. I felt sad about having to shut down the webinar and decided it's worth restarting even though the price is now close to double due to the exchange rate.

This morning I renewed the webinar platform subscription and has promised myself to do at least one webinar per month on what's new and useful in the business intelligence and business data analysis world.

You can join the webinar directory list here so you will always be notified of the coming webinars. You can also share ideas of what you will like me to cover in one of the webinars, relating to business intelligence, business data analysis and Microsoft Excel.

Thanks!


Sorry for the clumsy title to this post, I just wanted to make sure that you see a good use case of custom list. If you are an average or above average Excel user, you will be very familiar with Excel autofill. A common example is you typing numbers 1 and 2, then dragging to have Excel do to 10 for you. Or having January and February, then dragging to have Excel do the other months of the year for you.

What if I tell you that you can create your own list. A list of states in Nigeria which you can autofill whenever you need to recreate them. Or a list of your products; you simply type the first two and drag to create the rest (autofill). It even helps you with sorting in the order you've created the list. This can be super useful for companies that use codes for aspects of their operations -- base station address code, branch code, product code and so on. Caution: The custom list has a quite limiting size limit. 

So here is the example of how I created a custom list of states in Nigeria, arranged alphabetical order.

First, I have the states typed out in Excel, in the order I want it (alphabetical order).


And we are half-way done to having it permanently in Excel as an autofill-able list.

Go to File, Options, Advanced, and Edit Custom Lists.







In the Custom List Dialog box that comes up, import the list of states you already have typed into Excel.






And you are done.

Now in a new Excel file or Sheet, type in the first two states, select them and drag down. Excel will start autofilling the other states.




Congrats! Now you've created a custom list. No more typing out states in Nigeria, just type the first (or first two) and have Excel autofill the rest for you.

image: openeurope.org.uk

Increasingly, everything is getting interconnected. Just the same way the activities of Niger Delta Avengers are impacting the global oil supply and price, and the monetary policies of the CBN is closely watched by major foreign investment houses, so also is the recent decision by Britain to breakaway from the European Union sending waves across the entire globe.

First, on a selfish level, I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw how much my US stocks investment dropped yesterday. I logged out and logged in repeatedly to be sure I was seeing right. I even thought that maybe the stock investment app had a glitch. Then I saw headline news about how stocks across the globe are tumbling because of Brexit. So I stopped blaming the app and did what any real investor would do: buy more stocks when the prices are down. And that is the most personal effect the Brexit has had on me.

On a less selfish note, one of our Abuja Excel training participants works for DFID. Well, during break yesterday he called someone up there in his organization and asked how Brexit will impact funding. That is another dimension of effect it will have on Nigeria. Everyone with a business link to UK is now being very cautious, evaluating how this new circumstance will impact their livelihood.

Next -- exchange rate. I heard a Pound is exchanging for about 460 naira. That is good news for those still paying for their UK masters (especially the online ones billed in Pounds). Also ordering stuffs from UK Amazon and Asos.com just got a whole lot cheaper. (Any chance USA be breaking away from something, anything?)

How about Nigerians living in the UK? How does this affect them? I think not very much, except no more easily visiting the entire Europe from UK. Nigerians already are subjected to strict immigration rules -- Visa requirement and work permits. It is the other EU country folks in UK who are bothered most -- the health insurance, public pension, work permit etc. And also British folks in other EU countries are bothered about same things. In fact, Google says a lot of people in UK are now searching for how to get an Irish passport (most likely British folks wanting to keep the benefits EU countries citizens enjoy). Even the breakdown of the vote by age brackets show that the youths overwhelmingly voted against breaking away from EU. They love the mobility it provides them. 

How does this affect Buhari? Compared to the things currently affecting him -- insignificantly. The only part he's shown concern about is the resignation of David Cameron. But it is difficult to say he likes it or not considering David Cameron called us fantastically corrupt last month.

How does this affect the average Nigerian (the masses)? Compared to our own stronger brewed homegrown "change" -- insignificantly. Except that businesses into selling UK education in Nigeria will now start advertising that there is now a promo price and UK schools have suddenly gotten cheaper.

When is UK's last day in EU? Most likely sometime in 2018. The breakaway is not instant. David Cameron is going to start the breakaway negotiation before leaving office in October (as stated in his resignation speech). There is a constitutional timeline of about two years to effect the breakaway. This is the first major exit of a country from the EU and no one really knows all the dynamics involved. Greenland has once done it but it was under a different complicated situation. The general belief is that UK won't try to change too much of their relationship with the other EU countries, it will replace the EU conditions with similar ones to maintain a lot of things. Its main issue is with uncheckable immigration and the billions it contributes to EU without getting a comparable value.

So how really does Brexit affect Nigeria? I would say more as a cascade effect from its effect on the global community. What we will mostly feel is the aftershock or ripples deflected from the international business and NGO community.

In conclusion, I am loving the dramatic changes happening in the world recently. I can't wait to see the change that will pop-out of the USA presidential election this year. May the most dramatic win!


"So it's you!"
"You, I know you!"
"Glad to finally put a face to the name!"

Some coincidences are good. And if you are kind easy going person, most coincidences will be great. Like the one that happened to me yesterday. In 2014, GTBank disabled (though they called it "flagged") our company account. Reason: on one of the numerous forms they told us to submit, my surname was spelt as OLAFUS instead of OLAFUSI. So their legal department flagged the account and froze our money in it. I was expecting payment for a job and was also trying to register as a vendor to Vodacom Business Nigeria. That period, GTBank was the devil in corporate flesh. Luckily, FCMB came to our rescue and I will always be grateful to them. Best bank I have ever banked with, FCMB. However, due to my knowledge of decision analysis (thanks to MBA) I knew that it is better to have two suppliers/banks, even if one is the devil, than to put yourself at the mercy of one. So I still went ahead to fix the error GTBank complained about. They wouldn't accept an affidavit from the High Court Ikeja. They wanted me to go fix it at Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). And of all the government agencies, I think CAC is the worst run. The Yaba office I went to opens 10:00am and closes 3:00pm. They use paper for pretty much everything. If you come too late to check for your documents, the record book might have torn and your struggle given a longer life. They frustrated me so much that I gave up about three different times. It was an easy straightforward task I was to do -- submit an affidavit backed request from the board of directors of the company to correct the spelling error in my name on the form CAC 7. The last time I gave up, I met a friend by coincidence at the Yaba CAC office. She is a lawyer and now runs her own law firm. I happily handed my matter to her.

That was coincidence number one, and not the yesterday coincidence I initially hinted.

After another lengthy battle, involving Abuja CAC HQ, we finally got the error fixed. Took an entire 18 months. And I keep hearing the government saying it is doing everything to encourage small businesses and stimulate the economy. So I had to go back to battling the devil -- GTBank. And they always exceed my expectations. First, the branch has closed down and our account transferred to another branch without any notice. Then the problem is now not only the CAC 7 missing "I" in the last name but, in addition, a dormant account. The account is now dormant. To reactivate the account, customer care said I should go with a utility bill and valid ID card. I got to the branch and it was not there, called customer care to find where it has moved to. I then drove to the new branch. They told me I have come with the wrong documents, that what is needed is a letter/instruction from the board for account reactivation and that I can submit it at any branch. I got to the other director and made the required board of directors letter. I went to a branch near my house, and, as usual, I got another story. "You didn't come with a recent utility bill and a passport photograph? Sorry, there's no way we can handle your request." So I went back home and watched Pirates of the Caribbean. Then got all the documents everyone of them from customer care to the last bank officer told me to get. And yesterday, while sorting things out for our Abuja training (in Abuja), I went boldly to a GTBank in Garki area 11. Guess what? The devil happened again, "Hmm, it seems there is a flag on your account. We can't handle the request until the flag is lifted."

Well, I had had it (for the umpeenth time). So I called to find who our new account officer is as it's changed with no notice to us. We have been given three different account officers and we find out only after we try unsuccessfully to reach the last known account officer. The last I was given was a ghost. No replies to email and no contact number. I finally got through yesterday and got the contact of the account officer's manager. Guess what, he is someone I know. In fact, someone I have helped with an Excel issue. A friend. What a pleasant coincidence. Now I got renewed hope. But I still hate GTBank.
image: themedianet.org

Nigerians are always in a rush. We are extremely hardworking. We are everywhere. We are very intelligent. We are many many things but ambitious. Nigerians aren't very ambitious. All our ambition can be sum in one short sentence, "I better pass my neighbour."

We have got all the resources to do more than Dubai and Abu Dhabi are doing. We have got more human capital than a lot of the developed countries. Yet we don't have a booming manufacturing industry; we import almost everything and we don't put effort into anything that will take 10 or more years to bear fruit except it is schooling. And this is what is stunting our growth.

Everyone is divided into two broad categories: those who want to work hard to be better than their neighbours, and those whose heroes are the politicians and just want to outsmart their neighbours. Almost no one thinks beyond beating his neighbour. Very few original thinking. The result is everyone flocks to the same industry and type of business while some industries have been dying since 1984.

To most Nigerians, success is about working for a multinational company and rising to the top. To most Nigerians, success is about being famous and earning millions. To most Nigerians, success is about being better than your neighbours. To some Nigerians, success is about instant reward. We don't create work of arts -- done out of pure passion and drive for perfection. We don't build world first or largest -- anything that will take many many years to complete. We don't work on the things we most need, only the things that make us look marginally better.

We have some of the best professors in some of the best universities in the world. We have some of the best brains smashing academic records across the world. We have the most hardworking people in the world. Our missing piece is ambition. We seldom see beyond our neighbour.