Yesterday (Friday), I landed in Lekki Peninsula Resort for the Data Science Nigeria 3 days bootcamp. And it has been awesome so far. Couldn't even find time to make my daily post easily.

I have been learning an awesome lot from industry experts. It has also been a great opportunity to meet amazing people. People who just plain blow my mind away.

We've had insightful classes on R and Python for Data Science. Had experts video skype to teach us from Canada, Australia, UK and South Africa. Had practitioners in Nigeria come physically train us, from renowned professors to the president of Python Nigeria. I also had the privilege to take two sessions on Microsoft Excel for Data Analysis.

It has been a value packed two days for me, and already expectant for tomorrow (Sunday), 

I got to find out what the community is like in Nigeria both from the hobbyist side and the professional side. I made very useful contacts and got huge encouragement on pursuing my data science adventures. 

I also managed to get myself and my company noticed. Hoping some of the connections I made turn into some business down the road,


Yesterday, I experienced a lesson I've heard many people quote, though in varying versions from "seest though a man diligent in his works ..." to the entrepreneurial "the harder I work, the luckier I become" and "opportunities are often dressed in overalls and that's why many people miss them".

Diligent work opens doors.

There are some opportunities that only come through consistent actual work. Not by being smart, networking or even training.

Why am I saying all these? What happened yesterday?

I had an interview. A one hour stage 3 out of 4 stages interview. I had passed two stages. The success rate for the stage one was about 25% and only 7.6% get past the stage 2. For the stage 3 none of my preparations prepared me for what was thrown at me. I was given a live project to work on. Ironically, it's the very projects I helped people with, some for free, that gave me the practical knowledge to tackle that interview project. Not my book knowledge nor my smartness. I remember how I battled a similar project for a friend for days without pay, giving me the deep knowledge and comfort to deliver in the interview. I never knew I would get the pay in a big way. That work helped me pass the interview.

I'm now waiting for the stage 4 which is the final stage, hoping they've not changed their minds. Records show that those who pass the stage 3 usually pass the last stage.

And that's why I believe work has a value beyond what we normally ascribe to it. Beyond even the benefits we negotiate for while taking up the work. I believe that the value of work is in that it expands our individual world. It is like playing your favourite game, every level you go pass open you up to more features and benefits beyond even the score you get.

So I want to use this opportunity to tell everyone who is getting discouraged for working hard with little to show for it. Please don't be discouraged. The value you will get in the end will always be more than the work itself. It might tarry but it will surely come. Just keep on working and have an expectant mind. The doors your work will open for you will keep growing in numbers.

Don't give up on hard work.

All details culled from:

If you are interested then you should register before the door closes: 

Certificate in Social Sector Leadership
Participants who complete all seven of the core curriculum courses will earn a Certificate in Social Sector Leadership from Berkeley-Haas, helping them build recognition among their colleagues as an accomplished global impact leader.
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The courses are:

Tomorrow, I will be taking you through how to mash up your data in Power BI, connect to different data sources and build beautiful dashboards.

I will also be taking you through how to share your dashboards.

Don't miss it! Create a calendar event for it or set a reminder. The details are below

Date: Thursday 19, January 2017.
Time: 3:00pm -- 4:00pm (Nigerian time, GMT+1)

We run webinars monthly on how to improve your business data analysis skills. To be among the first informed monthly about the webinars and get timely reminders, please sign up here: Webinar Directory.
In 2011 my main personal development plan for the year was to be fluent in French and learn about personal finance/investment.

In 2012 my main personal development plan was to cut down my expenses and get extra sources of income.

In 2013 my main personal development plan was to grow both my soft skills and hard skills. It was the year I read, probably, the most. 

In 2014 my main personal development plan was to not starve. I started UrBizEdge that year.

In 2015 my main personal development plan was learning web app development.

In 2016 my main personal development plan was, was, was, hmm, I don't think I remember. Quite funny, I remember 6, 5 years back and can't remember last year's one.

Anyway, this year is today's post's main focus. What is my main personal development plan for the year. In fact, I call it my simple personal development plan for the year. And it is.

It is to go with the flow. Not any flow, mind you. But the current flow I have set myself on for the past three years. To keep heading the direction I am facing. To not deviate to the left or to the right. To not be fall prey to distractions. To do only the things that agree with my chosen path.

And that is my personal development plan for the year. More like to stay the same. It might sound odd, when most people are trying to do things differently I am planning of staying the same. But the one thing you can't fault is that it is a simple one. ;)
You hear other people's stories and your mind instantly goes into a comparison mode: are they doing better than me or am I doing better than them? It's the way we are naturally wired. We competed for same limited resources in our tiny caves and hamlets at the beginning of our existence. Everyone was literally a threat. Maybe you got to see just 20 females of your age throughout your life, then another guy getting one of them seriously limited your marital progress. Maybe only one person could be the leader as there were no specializations, and it was a lifetime of trying to out-compete the others. Life was just one intense race from birth to death. And our original wiring was well suited to environment. From childhood we are constantly trying to be better than our peers in everything, even at rolling tires down the street.

In this modern world, things have drastically changed. We meet thousands of eligible mates throughout our lifetime. We can be a leader without having to pull anyone down. We practically have access to inexhaustible resources. The sky is not even the limit. Everyone can achieve whatever he wants to achieve without having to kill someone. Life is no longer a race. But our configuration is yet to adjust to that new reality. So we still keep living like someone else's success hurts my success and someone else's failure aids my success.

What then should we take life as?

Life is an adventure. You don't go on an adventure to Madagascar to experience their unique collection of amazing and rare creatures, and then spend your time in front of TV watching Nat Geo Wild and envying the people you see having other types of adventures. And that's exactly what we do. Anybody who catches our attention, be it at work, on the pages of newspaper or during a conversation, we immediately switch into competition mode. It becomes a race -- who is better?

I occasionally get caught in that competition mode but I am very quick to recognize it and break away from its grasp. There are people whose success are enviable and even make me feel little. I tell myself that it's a feeling, it will wash away. I only take away any valuable lessons from their success that can help me on my own journey but never try to wish I am them. I don't start comparing myself with them.

I totally take life as an adventure. Mine shouldn't be same as yours and, more importantly, I'm going to miss out of the fun in mine if I focus too much on yours. I try hard to enjoy mine. You too should.

Are you living a values driven life? (Emphasis on the plural word: values)

Do you stand consistently by a non-changing set of values? Or your values change with circumstance? When there is money to be gained, you tweak them and when it's someone else to be judged you bring them on full force.

Sadly, the world is full of people who no longer pay attention to the golden rule. They have varying sets of values: one set they talk about and push on other people, and a much weaker version they apply to themselves. They are quick to say but my case is different and equally quick to say damn him to another person in same situation on another day.

To me they are just living a gain driven life. Not a values driven life.

How about me? Am I living a values driven life? Unfortunately, I don't know.

I am sure, though, that I am living a value driven life. (Emphasis on the singular word: value). I try to add value wherever I am. I don't do things for any other purpose than it generates identifiable value. The day I find out that something I do not longer adds value, I get this terrible feeling inside and the only way to get rid of that feeling is to stop doing that valueless task. It is the one thing I even hate in consulting business that made me shift from consulting to product building. Valueless meetings, annoying politicking and mindless back-rubbing. I can't cope with it all.

I even don't engage in conversations that have no headway. I don't make a move until the value is obvious. I am obsessed with value. Even when I don't know how to translate the value to money, I'll still go ahead to creating it. In fact, my only test for whether to do a thing or not is -- is it the type of value I will like to create? 

There are some value I am not interested in. Like teaching secondary school students Microsoft Excel. I'll rather leave that to someone else. And repeatedly trying to convince someone that I am right. Even if the value is enormous, if I tell you twice and you won't agree with me, I'll move on. But once I have found a value I an interested in, I will even spend my money and time and resources to create it. Just like I did with my Excel online tutorials. I bought the gadgets and locked myself indoors for weeks to create them. Then I gave them away for free.

Even my daily writing. I put on hold client jobs and even turn down some paying opportunities because they will interfere with my daily writing. And I don't make money from it. I get adsense earning of $20 - $30 a month and spend $45 - $50 a month on the email delivery tool. I can't count the numbers of training classes I have gotten late to because I was trying to get done with the daily post writing.

I have come across people who just can't seem to understand me. I would work crazy hard for N200,000 and reject N1,500,000 of much less work. They don't know that the crazy hard work I did for N200,000 was not just for the money but more for me. It must have been what I really want to do. Maybe would still have done it if no money was attached. 

I don't have values, like an identifiable set of values that I can consistently list out any day. But I do recognize value and know when I am creating one. More importantly, I try to create value always. So I might not be living a values driven life but I am sure living a value driven life :)

On January 1, this year, I got a soft job offer as an investment analyst for a wealth management company and will be based in Dubai (if the offer gets solidified and if I accept). 

Next week, I will be doing the third stage of the four stage interview with the most reputable and hard to get into freelance company, Toptal. They hire only the best and industry veterans, so not just head knowledge but portfolio/experience hugely counts. I have successfully passed the first interview, passed the second which was a very tough test that they say plenty people do fail, and I am scheduled for the third stage next week Friday. But here is the shocker -- I am applying for a Finance Expert role.

Last year, I got a job opportunity with Etisalat. Via referral though. It was for the budgeting and financial planning unit. 

And my academic background? B.Eng in Electrical and Electronics Engineering. No ICAN. No ACCA. No ACA. No CFA.

How then did I break into the notoriously difficult (due to the walls of certification and academic requirements) corporate finance world?

Sit tight 'cos I am going to tell you the secret. It's going to sound simplistic, like a no-brainer and you'll be like "really?"

The secret is to start small, with real work and real clients before head knowledge.

I have friends who are trying to break into the corporate finance world. They've got professional certifications and even work in the financial industry. Somehow, without planning to, I have achieved the very thing they want and without any expensive certification. And what fast-tracked my progress and very cheaply was that I started working for real clients and on real projects. Slowly, I got trusted more with bigger projects and got referrals. Then once in a while, like the Dubai one, a big door opens and someone I have worked with feel I am perfect for the role. 

How about the head knowledge part? Oh yes, I did read as much as those going for professional certification. But with the added advantage that I am immediately applying what I read and the practical use is giving more meaningful context to what I am learning. Makes the knowledge stick and translatable into value.

I am doing the same with web development. And when I am done with attaining proficiency in my French language learning, I will get some well paying translator gig just for the fun of it.

Every day, I am pulled between doing the actual work and seeking attention.

What do I mean by the actual work? I mean the core bit of my business -- doing client work, writing technical articles, creating technical tutorials, learning new technologies and responding to clients inquiries.

What do I mean by seeking attention? It is every other thing I do beyond what is listed above, just so someone notices me. Maybe for an award or for invitation to an exclusive event. To a large extent, most of the glamour is in this area. When you see people list their achievements as an individual, they love to talk about the awards they got and the exclusive events they were invited to and the glamour outside the actual work grind.

But I am old-school. I feel sick when I get too much attention and I tend to do things to the extreme. Put me in a community group, online or offline, and I'll be either invisible or too visible. I don't know how to be right in the middle. I either pour myself into a task or don't do it at all. I am terrible at just doing what is acceptable.

The unpleasant result is the when I pour myself into my work, I ignore all the award and attention grabbing activities. Then when I try to balance things, I end up doing too much to get attention. Which sometimes gives a terrible feeling of shame.

I don't know how to balance things. My only strategy is to avoid completely what I don't want to overdo because I always overdo things.

And now I am trying to convince myself that lack of attention and awards isn't bad and as long as the work gets me income, I should forget about attention and focus squarely on the work. So I will be isolating myself professionally more and be content with just the attention and rewards the work brings me.

Selective amnesia.


Yes, you heard me right. The key to being creative is embracing selective amnesia. You have to constantly abandon the "this is how we used to do it" mantra. You have to constantly look at things with fresh eyes. Ignore history and even experience. Be always trying to do things in a better way, business or personal.

Everyday I let go of my accumulated experience. I don't see myself as having x years of experience in a particular field. I don't act like I know better than someone else just because I'm older or being in the field for longer. For me, the only thing that is important is result. How does my result stack up against yours? Not how old, in years or experience, are you.

I frequently get asked, "Michael, how come you know so much about almost everything?" The trick is I start each day on no assumption. I don't ever feel like I've gotten there. I don't ever (well, yet) try to slow down. Everyday I'm learning something new. Everyday I'm trying to create something new. Everyday is really a new day for me.

I make use of selective amnesia. I deliberately forget about my past achievements and how far I have come. I focus, rather, on what I can become and what more I can do. I keep moving my target daily. Ensuring daily progress without ever reaching a climax.

And it's the very trick the top three people I take inspiration from use. One wrote daily into his late eighties. Another kept changing industries and the way we use technology because he never settled for the present. The third not only ignores past but even ignores people, and it was his trick for remaining creative with huge global impact till he died.

The less dogma you tie yourself to, the freer you are to be genuinely creative.