image: venturesafrica.com
It's not his long vacation that is worrying but the secrecy around it and the non-definitive return date that makes it all worrying for the common concerned Nigerian like me.

I would be very happy to see the president back hale and hearty, anything less does no one no good. So I am not in the camp of those who wish him ill health or hoping he doesn't come back. But I am sad, sad that we have a government that likes keeping us in the dark and let EFCC keep us busy with sensational news, the type we all love. I am sad that they keep telling us for the last two weeks that he would be back "this Saturday".

I want them to tell us once and truthfully where our President his, what he is really doing there and when he is coming back. Thatszall!

You can read more and join at https://www.worldskills.org/what/career/bechangemaker/

I got the news from HP LIFE and below is a copy of the details.

A special opportunity for HP LIFE users - Join the BeChangeMaker social entrepreneurship initiative. The deadline for application is March 9, 2017.

WorldSkills International and the HP Foundation are working together to inspire young people to take action and to increase their awareness of social entrepreneurship as a career option through an online social entrepreneurship initiative, called BeChangeMaker (BCM). WorldSkills is the largest platform of skills excellence and development in the world with members in 76 regions and countries.

BCM consists of a series of online social entrepreneurial skill trainings that enable young people with vocational background and great ideas to explore their career potential as social entrepreneurs.

Anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 years old who has begun or finished vocational education and training, and is interested in creating social impact in their community and the world can join. BCM deadline for application is March 9, 2017.

BCM participants are encouraged to learn about social issues using the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and to use their knowledge to identify social issues in their communities, design solutions and test scalability.

At the end of the project, three teams will be chosen to receive seed funding, which includes further training by business incubators/accelerators in their own countries, to support post-project development. Learn more.

Remember to register for the 3 upcoming HP LIFE webinars:

Design thinking, March 8, 2017 at 11am Pacific Time - register now
Design thinking is a process to help you ideate and prototype new products and services. This webinar will focus on customer empathy and research, the first phase of design thinking. The skills in this phase are essential for defining the real customer problem and testing potential new solutions. To get the most out of this webinar, complete the new HP LIFE Design thinking course before you watch the webinar.

Crowdfunding, April 4, 2017 at 11am Pacific Time - register now
This webinar explores the potential of crowdfunding to empower entrepreneurs with both financial capital and social capital. Learn about the different types of crowdfunding options, debt, perks and equity, and how to make your crowdfunding campaign successful.

Grow and scale your business, April 26, 2017 at 11am Pacific Time - register now
You will learn how to think about business growth and build a growth engine that works. After the webinar you will be able to visualize and validate the assumptions behind your growth engine using the Growth Funnel Board. You can use that board to identify and prioritize next steps.

All webinars will be recorded and available to view at any time on HP LIFE.

image: time.com
Sorry I had to use the picture of Donald Trump. I can't say it is the most relevant picture to use but it was the best I saw while searching google for "ignorance hold you back". And it looks lovely.

Today, I completed my first professional financial article for post consideration on a global finance blog. And this post is to encourage you that if I, without any finance education background and any proper formal finance/investment training, can break into the field of corporate finance, you should never let your ignorance hold you back. My journey so far has been one of ignoring my ignorance.

While many people will give up because they know that they are not skilled enough I put myself forward because I know that I will never be skilled enough. I have learned that the things I didn't achieve were the things I didn't attempt so I now attempt everything I want to achieve without paying attention to my competence level. I take my focus away from what is the worst that can happen to what if I succeed.

Today, I am a recognized (by paying clients) finance and investment expert and not just locally but internationally. Today, I am breaking into the world of financial journalism writing for big name blogs that operate in the international arena. It is not a matter of whether my article will be accepted or rejected but a matter of this is a new beginning. If they reject the article I will find another publisher who would accept it or self-publish it on The Motley Fool.

If you have a dream you want to see come true, then you have to start knocking on the doors of those who can make it come true. That's what I do. I put myself out there, get someone to pay me to do what I don't know and then set myself up for success. I used to think it is being a fraud or setting myself up for failure, but now after doing it repeatedly and for three years I see that if you focus intensely enough and have a big deadline chasing you, you can learn anything. You can deliver on promises made and even above expectation. 

So my dear friend, as you move into this new week, start doing the things you want to do and becoming who you want to become.

Success!
I have been reading up on the frontier markets, which Nigeria falls under, and came across a worrying fact.

There are three categories of equity market to the global investor: Developed Markets, Emerging Markets and Frontier Markets. According to S&P Dow Jones Indexes Country Classification System:
  • Developed markets are the most accessible to and supportive of foreign investors. Generally, there is high degree of consistency across these markets.
  • Emerging markets generally have less accessibility relative to developed markets, but demonstrate some level of openness.
  • Frontier markets are typically much less accessible to foreign investors, exhibit notable limitations in their regulatory and operational environments, and support a smaller investment landscape. Markets tend to be much less robust and in the earlier stages of development.
According to CNBC Africa, there are about $500 million foreign investors money in our stock market and a large portion of them are from index funds like the MSCI Frontier Markets ETF, Guggenheim Frontier Markets ETF and Global X Next Emerging & Frontier ETF. And the non-index ones often rely on the market classifications in allocating their investment funds.

The bad news is that many of the global bodies that create these market classifications are reviewing Nigeria's inclusion in the Frontier Markets category. The most popular bodies are the MSCI, FTSE and S&P Dow Jones Indices. And one of them, MSCI, is set to make its final verdict in two months. MSCI and FTSE, last year, cited the foreign exchange market restriction as the main worry, making it difficult for investors to repatriate their capital. And as the situation hasn't improved since they placed Nigeria on the watchlist last year, there is a high likelihood that we will be evicted from the Frontier Markets into what they term a Standalone Market (the equivalent of no classification).

If they kick us out then things are going to get worse for our stock market. The sell-off will cause a big drop in the market value/capitalization. Bank shares will probably be the hardest hit as most foreign investors target our financial sector first and then the consumer goods industry. 

If you are trying to get into the stock market you might want to wait out this period of uncertainty about our status in the global investment community.
I have been given opportunities to write for two big international finance blogs.They are both non-paying gigs but I see them as the start of something big for me.

I have been reading the materials from my last year six months Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa Financial Journalism course. 

image: amazon.com


I plan to focus on frontier markets using my practical experience with the Nigerian market. I have proposed a few topics to the editor of one of the blogs and he has helped me with some useful feedback on what audience they target and what they expect overall from me. 

Unfortunately, my current blog writing style won't cut it. I have to be more journalistic and less me me in the articles I would be contributing. And being for a finance and investment niche, I would need to do some research and gather facts for the body of my article rather than sling nice sounding words around like I currently do with my blog. The hardest part is that I have to write for an international audience -- more than 50% American. What can I write that won't be lost on them? What do I know that will be useful and worth reading about to them? The only conclusion I have found so far is that I should stick to writing about the frontier markets. 

In one of the blogs, I am allowed to write about more abstract financial stuff. Like the technical bit of financial modelling and valuation but with a unique twist that will interest their audience. 

Now I am reading up on how to do this professionally and then I will start reading up on frontier markets. I have already subscribed to market news on Flipboard. Next is to setup a google alert on frontier markets and scour Bloomberg Terminal for all in their archive about the frontier markets.

I will be sure to share with you the links to any of my articles that get published. 

Wish me luck!

I want to be a writer. A professional writer. To write a lot. Write novels, write articles for online and print magazines, and write all the stories I have lived with since I was born.

My original affection for writing started from my primary school days. I read too many books as I wasn't allowed to have the play-filled childhood most children have. Then naturally I began to have my own stories. I would read a novel, feel unhappy about how the story ends, and then rewrite it in my head. I would make stories from happenings at school, mostly about getting back at my bullies and a couple about winning some particular hearts. I loved poems. I liked the way they say a lot without saying much. The depth they squeeze into shallow words. I loved to read and write poems that rhyme. So I did most of my early writings in rhyming poems. I would occasionally write conventional articles (prose) for competition. And when I started reading more philosophical books I began writing more prose.

Now the bulk of my affection for writing is that all my heroes except one were professional writers. Samuel Langhorne Clemens (Mark Twain), Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw were all life long writers. Steve Jobs was the non-writer. Writing brings me closer to their type of heroism, the type I admire. To put it more plainly, writing helps me become more like my heroes. And the type of writing they did wasn't the teaching type, the raise no sands type, the let lying dogs lie type nor the there-is-a-line-to-not-cross type. And that is what makes me specially admire them. The ability to turn your inside out in words.

And that is what I really want to be in life. 

You'll notice that I didn't mention anything about being a great father with a wonderful family, changing the world, making the world a better place and achieving greatness. I strongly believe that if you are true to yourself and not subject yourself to unnatural theories about how things should be, you would achieve all those. The moment I started ignoring the theory that the more vital information I hold back the more valuable I would become, I stopped suppressing my natural desire to share what I know. And I have seen my value rise because of that, though not instantaneously. I now regularly get emails from people thanking me for freely sharing my knowledge. By being honest and straightforward, I have healthy relationships with people. People trust me and I trust them back. Even the few who abuse my honesty and trust have had little effect on me. I hold no grudges, I move on and I keep being me. I always go about with my own sunshine. I have little expectations from others and allow them plenty room for mistakes. And that's the real me. And I am sure that everyone, though differently wired, are good people naturally. And if you figure out the real you and let it shine forth, you will make the world a better place and have a wonderful family.


Microsoft Nigeria has been very nice and agreed to provide meeting space to Nigerian Excel Users community. And we are not going to let that offer go to waste.

If you are an Excel lover, then you should join the bubbling community of other Excel Power Users in Nigeria at https://www.meetup.com/Nigerian-Excel-Users-Meetup/ 

We are planning our second ever meetup and the first meetup for this year for April 15, 2017 at 10am to 3pm.

We would love to see you join us as we together explore the amazing world of Excel for solving business problems and doing very creative stuffs. 

We will keep the members updated with the details of the agenda: how to be a presenter, who would be presenting and the topics presentations would be on.

Again, join now at https://www.meetup.com/Nigerian-Excel-Users-Meetup/, don't delay! See you in April!
image: factoflife.net
It's worrying how fast the day zooms. I am not an early riser. So on most normal days, I get up at 9:00am. And from that moment till past 12 midnight I am working and feeling like why is the time speeding too fast.

I now feel that 24 hours a day is no longer enough. Not because I have deadlines chasing me nor because I have a daily todo list. I don't have a daily todo list. It is because I still feel energetic at 12 midnight that I have to pull myself forcefully away from work and go sleep so as to avoid the headache that comes with not sleeping deep enough. 

One one hand, I am glad that this is how my typical day turns out as it indicates that I am being productive and constantly working on things I am passionate about. It is only a work you enjoy that will compete daily with your sleep time. But on the other hand, it means that my work is taking over my life completely. 

Today, I woke up at 8:55am. I printed and scanned some documents. I worked a little on my Excel add-in. I did a small analysis for a Whatsapp group I have been a member of since April 2016, the group created for the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa Intake 3. I showed them via charts who were the most active members of the group, what time of the day we were most active, what day of the week we were most active and the most popular topics/words by month. It was my valentine gift to them. It was a very interesting one and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A couple of the members couldn't believe that one could glean such amount of data and analysis from a simple Whatsapp group chat. In the mid-afternoon, I went to LAPO Microfinance bank to stand as guarantor for my dad. He is borrowing one ridiculously small sum of money. I already told his account officer that there are many things we can sell among his properties that he wouldn't even notice to pay off the loan, so she needs not worry about whether I can pay if he defaults. Even if he defaults, we will raise the money from him, his possessions actually. Then I went to meet the tax consultant working on our income tax filing. By the time I was done and back home, it was already 8:40pm. I worked a little on the Excel add-in again and made impressive headway. The thing is now working great. I can feel myself nearing the publishing date of the add-in on Microsoft app store. And now I am writing today's blog post at 11:20pm.

I still feel like working more before hitting the sacks. I am not feeling sleepy at all. But then I have a meeting at American Tower Corporation tomorrow morning and another at Microsoft in the afternoon, if I don't want to get there late and acting like a dullard, I had better sleep early.

I wish I can get more than 24 hours in a day.

I started today by working a little on my Excel add-in application. I am already done with creating APIs for the FX rates and Stock Indices.





Then I left home for a couple of strategic places. I started with the Tax office to file in our January VAT. Then I went to Federal Reporting Council of Nigeria (FRC). I wanted to find out from a staff, rather than limit myself to what I saw on their website, what the end-to-end process of registering is.

I was told that I have to be a member of a professional body that has an enabling Act backing it up. I told him about the other director being already a member of a Medical Laboratory Scientists body in Nigeria, and that would that be good enough. I also asked him that since I am member of foreign professional bodies, will joining IoD (Institute of Directors) be acceptable. He said yes and that though IoD does not have an enabling Act, it is accepted. That it is the only professional body given that exception.

But from their website, a lot of other similar bodies with no enabling Act are listed as acceptable. Unfortunately, I didn't see the Medical Laboratory Scientists one. So, maybe the other director too has to join one of the bodies listed on the FRC website.

I then left FRC for a client's place. Went to drop some official documents for vendor registration.

Finally, I went to IoD office at Glover road, Ikoyi. I got there very late, 5:45pm, but they were still open. Well, the receptionist said it was just coincidence that I met her still at her desk as it was past her official closing hours. I asked about the registration steps to be a member of IoD. And as usual, I got a version different from what is up on their website. A fee of N275,000 for my first year (inclusive of the induction and other new member fees). And it is compulsory to attend a N150,000 course (IoD Nigeria Company Direction Course 1) before I can even start the membership application. But on the website, the course was optional.

The other professional body I find interesting/relevant to me is the Nigerian Computer Society (NCS). I checked through their website for registration steps. Everything looked straightforward except having to get recommendation from two existing members. I think they forgot to factor in that they don't have that many members. I don't know anyone who is an existing member. I will give them a call tomorrow and ask if they can get me those recommendation. Like banks used to do in their aggressive target days.

IoD would make a good body to join and I was okay with the N275,000. But the additional N150,000 and time away from my work to sit in a class I don't need made me rethink its tangible value. NCS is more technically relevant and reasonably priced. So for now, I am tilting towards NCS unless I can figure out how IoD will tangibly benefit me since I no longer do networking nor plan to attend talk talk seminars/conferences.

Ultimately, I just need something to get on with my FRC registration.

image: atlantablackstar.com
How many of you measure your success by how far you've come since your kindergarten days?
Do you compare how much you do now with how much you did when you were just five years old?
Do you decide how much harder or softer you have to go based on how hard you worked when you were ten years old?

If we have learned to put the memories of our childhood behind us when making the big life and career decisions, why then should you keep holding tight to your business' childhood days? It is the easiest way to get out of touch with the changing world, to lose touch with your evolving customers and to become the very dinosaur, the this-is-the-way-we-used-to-do-it-before-you-were-born, businesses we constantly criticize. 

Excelling in business is like climbing an infinity high mountain. There is always a greater height to attain, but the moment you look back and feel you've arrived then you start carving a plateau for yourself. Whenever you focus too much on how far you have come, you neglect how much you have changed. It wasn't the same you as it was at the start. The current you has more knowledge, more skills and more experience, which demands greater use. Like they say, with more power comes greater responsibility. With every new height you attain in business, it is your new responsibility to reach for a greater height.You must do more with the more you now have.

I try to live my business life by this principle. I don't try to slow down, I only try to be more efficient. To achieve more with the increased business muscle I amass. I have learned to manage clients, to identify the problem ones and the desirable ones. I use that knowledge to have a healthier mix of clients. Reducing waste in our resource allocation. I have learned the importance of having a structure and process, and now I am trying to put process around the core aspects of the business. I am currently learning to build a team. Having a technical team is a big goal for the business this year. It is a new skill I am trying to acquire -- team building and management. And I know once that is attained there will be another height to climb.

I work just as hard as I did on the first day of the business. Sometimes, even harder. It is the exact opposite of when I was in a paid employment. Even the toughest job I had that got me coming to the office on weekends to meet my assigned targets became a lot easier by my sixth month on the job. And by the end of my first year, I was cruising. I could get everything done before closing hours and had enough time to help other colleagues with their work. But in my own business, despite the stratospheric growth in my competence and skills, I am just as hard pressed for time as I was at the start. New heights are always within sight.

Succeeding in business and keeping your sanity is possible if you constantly celebrate how far you have come, but if you want to excel, to achieve your business potential then you just have to forget about the childhood memories of your business and press on to the ever present higher ground.

All the best!