God be praised, we had no technical glitches today. You can watch the video recording on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLOfPuwcUKI




For this month's webinar, we explored the powerful Microsoft Excel VBA. 

Too many people wrongly think that VBA is hard or for just for core programmers. 

I will be helping you  see the benefits of learning Excel VBA and then help you make your first steps into becoming proficient at Microsoft Excel VBA.

In this webinar, I will be showing you:
1. How to record Excel VBA macros
2. How to edit recorded Excel VBA macros
3. How to carry out simple tasks with Excel VBA
4. How to work with Userforms
5. And introducing you to loops (If loop, For loop, For Each loop, Do loop, Do While loop and Do Until loop), they form the backbone of Excel VBA coding

Ultimately, I don't expect you to become proficient by just watching in this webinar. The goal is to get you started and comfortable with exploring Excel VBA. To take away any fear you have for it and replace those fears with a curious admiration.


If you have not, do join our webinar directory list to be kept aware of every future (monthly) webinars at http://eepurl.com/bKwoaT 

Cheers!
Our beloved Etisalat Nigeria is now 9mobile (9mobile.com.ng).





They even managed to make it look like it had always been their plan -- 9 the time of birth, 9 the years they've been in Nigeria, 0809ja. But we all know better. We all have one thing to learn from the current sad situation of Etisalat Nigeria. And it is how dangerous taking on debt can be.

It is not only companies that can be crippled by debt. Individuals, you and I, are not immune to its charm and harm. Remember my recent talk about getting a credit card so I can access interest free loans to put in treasury bills (money market actually). If not that all the banks I went to -- Diamond bank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC, Standard Chartered and First Bank -- all gave me stupid conditions like I must have a cash collateral of more than the limit on the credit card in a separate account, savings extra or fixed deposit account, before they would give me a credit card and I must service the card with new money aside the cash collateral or I risk being labelled and reported as a loan defaulter. It made absolutely zero sense so I gave up on the credit card mission. It seems it is only easy for salary earners whose company already worked out a scheme with the bank to allow credit facilities to their staff. I have one such friend, he got the card from Standard Chartered and they were the ones begging him to have it. He is able to access N2 million interest free for 55 days. He was the source of my envy/desire. 

See how easily I rant about the credit card. I still belief it would make a lot of sense for me to have that loan facility.

I have another friend who borrowed N400,000 from me in March and promised to pay back in two months. He originally wanted N800,000. It's not yet two months. And I understand. He is a business man like me. None of us could have predicted how tough business has been this year. Even I who was singing seven years of plenty just last year had to remix the song this year. Imagine if it was a bank loan. Then you are already imagining Etisalat. How what made perfect sense when you were about doing it suddenly didn't turn out as expected. And what I want to bring out is that it can happen to anyone of us.

To some people, it is doing an expensive Masters. They use up their life savings and even borrow believing they would be able to quickly make lots of money back from the increased earning power the degree should give them.

To another some, it is buying a land. Mortgage or the high interest rate unregulated version of it that's now popular. 

And we still have people who take loans to buy car. 

Whatever it is you intend to borrow money to have upfront and pay back gradually later, remember Etisalat Nigeria and ask yourself, "Am I not chasing a 9mobile moment?"

Today, I finally joined the AWS train. As part of the big data analytics project I am working on for a client, I would need to host a cloud server to mine data off Twitter and Google, saving them daily in a CSV file. Ordinarily, I would have used my laptop as the server for this task, but since this is a commercial project and I can pass the cost to the client, I have to use a dependable affordable virtual server.

I then went on Google to search. I didn't want to go with Microsoft Azure as I have issues with the payment system and I heard Azure isn't the best pocket-friendly option for a very small business. I stumbled on Alibaba Cloud Service but before long I settled for Amazon Web Services.



Setting up was really easy; easier than I expected since it was common statement online that AWS is not as straightforward to use as Azure. Now having experienced both, I disagree.


I used the EC2 service and created a t2-micro Windows Server 2012 R2 instance.




On connecting to the Server via Remote Desktop Connection, I set it up for my data analysis work. I installed Microsoft R Open and RStudio for my R based data analytics work. And I installed Anaconda and PyCharm for my Python based analytics work.

Below is how my server setup looks like.


I even pinned my commonly used tools to the taskbar -- Powershell, Task Scheduler, RStudio and PyCharm.

What is left is how to estimate how much this would cost me per month and if I would need to automate startup/shutdown of the server to save compute time/costs. Some aspect of the startup/shutdown decision will depend on if Twitter approves my request to get unrestricted access to their Tweet database and don't charge me some crazy amount. I have already initiated the request and they have requested I provide them some information they will use to decide whether to grant my request or not. My current way around the limitation in how many tweets per 15 minutes I can scrape is to run the scrapping script every three hours, and still I think I don't get enough representative tweets and some tweets keep showing repeatedly.

Overall, I am loving my new adventure into the deep side of data analytics. And I will always keep you all updated on my progress and share my learning.

Yesterday, I bought a couple of new books.

Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt

Liar's Poker (25th Anniversary Edition)

Capital in the Twenty-First Century
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine
It was after I watched the movie The Big Short for the second time.

image: trilbee.com

I have been doing a lot of work lately around economic analysis, financial analysis and investment. I am extremely interested in understanding how they all interplay and how I can profit off the knowledge. 

Like today, at about 4:30am I managed to get to work a trend scrapper for a big economic indicator project. Been working on it for two weeks. The project has helped open my eyes to how there is a business in every news or even tweet. That everything is interconnected and opportunities abound to anyone who can find the patterns in all that is happening -- tying everyday happenings to the bigger economy, to specific companies and to the financial markets. 

Michael Lewis, the author of all except one of those books I bought, has been generous enough to explain from an insider's view, how people in the financial markets profit off everything in the US. And for me that is like reading the future in Nigeria, as our financial markets are decades behind the US one. I hope to learn practical tips that I can deploy profitably here in Nigeria. To be able to read the signs, to know which processes to put in place and which system to be a part of.

And as usual I will share whatever interesting useful find I make.


Bitcoin and Ethereum are experiencing a crash now. Which means an opportunity will soon be opening up for those seeking to add them to their investment portfolio. Bitcoin has dropped more than 30% in the last four weeks while Ethereum has dropped over 50% in the same time period.

I have been reading up lately about the future of cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin and Ethereum. And one thing has become very certain -- they are here to stay and will play a huge role in the future of financial transactions.

They have been notoriously volatile. Been pushed by speculators and online criminals who demand payment in cryptocurrencies (especially Bitcoin). Then I hear Nigerians who know very little about technology talk up the huge rewards in Bitcoin. And almost all the new investment ponzi schemes are now using Bitcoin as primary mode of transaction. All these made me stay away. It was like 2008 all over again -- when everyone was talking about the wonders of stocks.

The results of my research on cryptocurrencies point out that Bitcoin and Ethereum are the most reputable. They are at the forefront of the cryptocurrency race. Bitcoin has established itself as a widely acceptable cryptocurrency while Ethereum is seen as the most secure crytocurrency with lots of corporate/technological back-up. 

My investment strategy is to wait for them to drop to or close to their last year prices and then I will invest in cyptocurrency funds like Alpari's CryptA Capital which I have already opened account for. I am also checking out eToro.

I will keep you all updated on how it all goes.



For this month's webinar, we will be exploring the powerful Microsoft Excel VBA.

Too many people wrongly think that VBA is hard or just for core programmers.

I will be helping you  see the benefits of learning Excel VBA and then help you make your first steps into becoming proficient at Microsoft Excel VBA.

In this webinar, I will be showing you:
1. How to record Excel VBA macros
2. How to edit recorded Excel VBA macros
3. How to carry out simple tasks with Excel VBA
4. How to work with Userforms
5. And introducing you to loops, the backbone of Excel VBA coding

Ultimately, I don't expect you to become proficient by participating in this webinar. The goal is to get you started and comfortable with exploring Excel VBA. To take away any fear you have for it and replace those fears with a curious admiration.

So don't miss it!

Venue: YouTube live
Date: 4:00pm - 5:00pm, Wednesday 19, July 2017

If you have not, do join our webinar directory list to be kept aware of every future (monthly) webinars.

Cheers!

Today, I dedicated time to writing the over 1,500 words essay for the Peter Drucker Challenge. It is a very management strategy focused essay competition. You can find out more about it at https://druckerchallenge.org/2017/home/ 

This year's theme was on human prosperity in a changing world. I ended up giving my essay that very title. Below is the topic context one is expected to draw insight from:

Prosperity is not just a financial notion — inclusive prosperity encompasses the opportunity for lives in dignity, with purpose and roles to contribute to common endeavors in the communities one is part of. It is definitely more than material well-being. A holistic view of prosperity includes all — the material and economic aspects as well the social, emotional, intellectual and spiritual side.


The biggest natural resource on the planet is human potential — human energy, engagement and creativity. Only a fraction of this potential is brought to bear today. However, if better leveraged, this latent potential would be the key driver for economic and human growth.

And the actual questions the essay should address are:

What holds people back in today's organizations and institutions to realize their potential? What are the obstacles that you see in your environment?

What is the role of management to free up human potential? Give examples of management actions that have made a difference in your life.

Can digital technology (in particular automation and Al) spawn prosperity as opposed to eliminate jobs? Give concrete examples

What is your perspective on how technology can enable people to co-create solutions that are good for their communities, the economy and the world?

I wrote about how the new norm is to keep learning and adjusting to changes. I gave personal stories about how my first two jobs, in big multi-nationals, gave me very rigid job roles and wouldn't allow me do anything outside of my assigned narrow job role. Then I got an interesting offer in a smaller company but with much more flexible job role. I was allowed to negotiate my actual job tasks and further allowed take on new responsibilities every few months. And that such flexibility is the new norm. Not just because there are people like me who want and would demand such but because the rate of change in the corporate world makes it impossible for one to survive with just one main job skill.

Technology is changing everything and faster than it used to be. Before now, people could get away with doing one narrow job role throughout their career but it is getting very difficult to stick too long with one main skill competence as the risk of being obsolete is much higher. People and organizations should learn to adapt fast to changes, especially the ones driven by technology. 

I gave a lot of historical illustrations and explained that I don't think that technology destroys more jobs than it creates. That for every horse rider the invention of car displaced, it created a mechanic, a vulcanizer, a car driver and an annoying LASTMA official. That technology only retools and not eliminate the very needs each job type satisfies. The typewriter operator became a computer operator. Her tool changed but the very need to have well typed documents didn't evaporate. And though technology enables us get more from fewer people so we now require fewer computer operator for creating the same amount of printed documents, yet the added job roles like printer guy, network guy, software guy and power guy more than offsets the decreased number of typists.

Anyway, so as not to get penalized, I have to stop telling you what I wrote in the essay. I only hope I make it to the selected top 10. If you are interested and can make time today to write, there is still a full day before submission deadline.




Culled from: http://fatefoundation.com/scaleuplab/
Apply at: https://fatefoundationng.typeform.com/to/WXnngm


ABOUT THE PROGRAMME

ScaleUp Lab by FATE Foundation is a unique Accelerator Programme aimed at providing targeted support to early-stage high-potential and growth-driven ventures within the growth sectors of the Nigerian economy namely; Agribusiness, Creatives, Health and Education. 


The objectives of the ScaleUp Lab are:
  • Identify early stage high potential startup entrepreneurs within the target growth sectors (Agribusiness, Creatives, Health and Education) and position them for growth.
  • Improve success rate outcomes of high potential high impact startup businesses in the target sectors.
  • Create opportunities for agriculture startups to scale up and impact domestic productivity levels within their respective value chains while also creating jobs and improving livelihoods.

  • ScaleUp Labis a 3-6 month accelerator programme and comprises the following sector tracks:
    In each sector track, the ScaleUp Lab provides targeted learning, mentoring, business model improvement, access to market and funds support to boost the following areas:
    • Refined business model
    • Improved product lines
    • More efficient operating structures
    • Better skilled entrepreneurs and business teams
    • Access to market and market expansion
    • Access to required funding
    • High growth and scale
    • Increased revenues and profit margin
    Each Sector Track will only select 10 fellows per year. Whether in startup or early stage, your business will benefit from the Scaleup Lab Accelerator Programme by having customized support that meets your needs.
    Click Here to Apply for the Agribusiness Accelerator Programme


    AGRIBUSINESS ACCELERATOR PROGRAMME


    The Agribusiness Accelerator Programme is for Nigerian entrepreneurs within the agribusiness space at early stage (2-4 years), looking to scale, expand their market reach and/or attract potential investors. The programme duration is 6 months and includes a one-week acceleration bootcamp, interactive workshops, consulting sessions, business support services, one-on-one and group mentoring sessions with a team of seasoned faculty members.

    Supported by:


    Apply Here


    PROGRAMME FLOW

    • Call for Application
    • Shortlisting & Enrolment of 10 Agribusiness Entrepreneurs
    • Agribusiness Bootcamp
    • Gap Assessment:
      • Product/Service Development and Scale
      • Operational Capacity Improvement
      • Access to Market
      • Access to Finance
    • Develop Growth Plan of Individual Participants
    • Implementation of Accelerator Support in line with Growth Plan
    • Demo Day
    • Graduation of Fellows


    EXPECTED OUTCOMES FOR THE PROGRAMME INCLUDE:

    • Increased capacity to scale and build sustainable Agribusinesses
    • Mentoring support provided by Nigerian entrepreneurs and expert Agribusiness professionals and Institutions
    • Access to target market
    • Increased revenue and profitability potentials
    • Improved people and financial management practices
    • Access to specialised funding opportunities


    ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA

    Applicant must be
    • A Nigerian citizen (male or female)
    • Between ages 21-35 as at July 31st, 2017
    • An entrepreneur operating in the agribusiness sector
    • A CAC registered business in startup – early years stage (Only one participant per business will be accepted)
    • Available to participate full-time in the one-week bootcamp between (Monday, August 7, 2017 - Friday, August 11, 2017) and all other activities required throughout the duration of the programme.
    • Able to cover all personal, transportation or communication costs throughout the duration of the programme.


    APPLICATION

    Application opens on Wednesday, June 21, 2017 and closes on Sunday, July16, 2017. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be accepted.
    Apply Here 

    SHORTLISTING

    Completed applications will be evaluated by the Agribusiness Accelerator Programme Review Committee. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.Successful applicants in the first round will be invited for interview after which 10 entrepreneurs will be selected to participate in the programme.


    PROGRAMME OVERVIEW

    Start of Programme: The Agribusiness Accelerator Programme will commence in July 2017 with an orientation session and a one-week accelerator bootcamp in Lagos. This will be followed by a one-to-one GAP Analysis to help each entrepreneur develop an individual growth plan and tailored roadmap that addresses the needs of the business.
    Programme Sessions: There will be about 6 meetups every two weeks for capacity building through peer learning and feedback, workshop and coaching sessions, one-to-one mentoring and a follow-up on each company’s progress. Entrepreneurs will have opportunities to meet and interact with several entities including partners, mentors, investors, and experienced entrepreneurs. Finally, a demo-day will be held after the meetups for business showcase and pitching to potential funding partners.
    End of Programme: The programme will close out with presentation of certificates at the FATE Annual Celebration in December 2017.
    image: investopedia.com
    The perfect answer is YES. Yes, all of them.

    An ideal investment portfolio will have a well thought out mix of these major investment asset types.

    What about the imperfect answer? 

    Say you have just enough to do one and not all? Or you are like me and really really obsessed with picking the best rewarding one and focusing on it. Which would/should you pick?

    Sorry to disappoint you but the imperfect answer is not straightforward. If you are highly number literate, have the heart for high risk and long term focused, go for stocks. Just be like me. But if you love real estate, have the money for it and understand how to navigate the real estate jungle in Nigeria, then go for real estate. And if you like peace of mind more than everything else and risking your life savings adds a few numbers to your blood pressure (you are the opposite of me), then by all means go for Treasury Bills.

    Why am I saying all these? It is because history backed up by numerous Ph.D thesis (or the other way round) has shown that stocks are the best rewarding investment type; followed by real estate while Treasury Bills (generally money market) are the least rewarding but safest. And as usual there are people who feel otherwise. Contrarians or one street folks. They do either none or just one and would swear heaven and earth that all those theoretical research backed by history are horse shit. I have nothing to say to them.

    But if you are open minded and would give facts more weight than your feelings, then I would say investing is nothing to be done lightly or merely just talked about. Listen more to people doing it than those just talking about it. Then become one of the doers too and listen to yourself. Learn from actually doing. Read all the theories and make technically sound decisions.

    That is the route I am following. And my imperfect answer led me to putting all my life savings in stocks (mostly). 

    Isn't it very risky and dangerous? Yes it is risky but as long as I keep my two eyes open and brain/computer running the analysis, it is not dangerous. Risky is driving on Nigerian roads (especially Benin-Ore road) while dangerous is driving with your eyes closed. One can be unavoidable to achieve some goals while the other is totally avoidable (in fact, should be avoided). 

    I have identified my destination/goal, best possible long term gain based on sound reasoning and analysis, and stocks is the road that will lead me there. So I sleep very sound at night even when the markets go up and down. I know what I signed up for. Getting to that destination is definitely only by the grace of God but knowing which road leads there is very straightforward. 

    You just have to find what your investment personality is, and that is after thoroughly educating yourself on financial investments.

    The Power BI Desktop is the main tool you would be using in creating Power BI reports. You can freely download it here from Microsoft




    Once you are done installing it. You get a startup screen like the one below.


    There are two major parts of Power BI Desktop you will need to get very familiar with:

    1. The Designer part.



    2. The Query Editor part.


    Let's start first with the Designer part. It is the window you are presented with upon launching Power BI. It has four main sections.



    1. The menu section comprising File (for Open, Save, Options/Preference settings etc.), Home, View and Modelling.
    2. The Report, Data and Relationship section
    3. Page section (like Sheets in Excel), and
    4. The context based section that shows Fields and Visualization when you are in Reports, Fields only when you are in Data and nothing when you are in Relationship.
    Now to the Query Editor. It is the exact equivalent of PowerQuery (now merged into Get & Transform Data in Excel 2016). Its main function is to help you wrangle data before they are fully loaded/downloaded into the Power BI. So instead of downloading a 16 GB database table and then specifying which fields/rows to keep and which to discard, you can do the specifying using just a preview of the data and only import just the very data you want/need. This is a life and time saver. And space/memory saver too. Then you can do some very interesting and complex stuff you can't do from the Designer part -- like merge or append data from different sources, unpivot and a few other things I find myself doing repeatedly on client/commercial projects.

    You get to the Query Editor from the Home menu in the Designer part.


    And it has four sections too.

    1. The menu section
    2. The Queries section
    3. The Data section, and
    4. The Query Settings section (which only shows up when you have/selected a Query)
    And that is it for this second tutorial post in the new beginner to expert series I am doing on Power BI. Cheers!