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.


In case you are wondering the source/background of my knowledge: I used to be a digital marketing trainer and consultant; and trained quite a number of big companies staff.

Social media growth strategy is measured by two main metrics: 1. Number of relevant followers (quantity) and 2. Engagement level (quality)

Digital marketing is measured by just one metric: ROI. Return on money, time, energy and other resources invested. So you won't care much about quantity or even engagement level. You care only about cost of conversion to a particular sales transaction.

So let's start with Social media growth. 
Constantly put at the back of your mind that it is quantity and quality game.

1. Pick a viral theme. Care more about appealing at the subconscious level first before the logic part. Just the same way restuarants use color red a lot because it is a stimulating color that raises your heart rate and amplifies your hunger. So even if your company or person is a very boring one either by industry nature or personal nature, you have to spice it up if you don't want to get stuck at below 100 followers. And better if you can theme your brand in a viral way. In a way people will engage with (share, like, follow, comment etc.) without even thinking about it.

2. Be very active. Except you are already a celebrity, people won't follow you if you don't engage in any interesting conversations or even trigger those conversations. Luckily, there are many tools that can help you be active without being active. Help you schedule posts, follow people who meet some set criteria and generate interesting conversations. Personally, I use three paid tools and a couple of free tools. The paid tools I use are Buffer, FollowLiker and Upflow.

3. Pick a niche. Be known for something. Have a defined community. @Omojuwa: Political issues. @jag_bros: Controversies. The quickest way to get frustrated on social media sites is to try to be known for everything. Spreading yourself too thin, either as a company or individual. The same way KFC picked the chicken niche and Dominos picked the Pizza niche, just pick what most resonates with your brand and where you can be a thought-leader or conversation starter with original contents. 

4. If you are a one man team, then focus on one social media platform. Do you try to connect to Omojuwa on Facebook? Or Bobrisky on Twitter? Be present on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram but have your core strategy focused on one. Then use automated tools to reshare those contents (as appropraitely) on others. For my personal brand I use LinkedIn.

5. Follow other people. And a lot in the beginning. At least till you are popular enough to organically pull followers. On Twitter, if you don't have an egg profile image and have some activity, for every 1000 people you follow about 300 will follow you back. On Medium, the ratio is quite lower. I don't know for Instagram. But it applies in every social media site except the ones you friend people (Facebook, LinkedIn etc) where the ratio is 1 to 1 but can be annoying when you friend the wrong person.

6. Be very creative. Avoid being a me-too person or company. Use creative contents. Things that make you stand out as original and valuable. A community leader.

Finally, why? Why would you want to put in that much effort to grow your social media presence?

The answer is that when you have the quantity and quality right, doors open for you and/or your company. You get a lot of things for free: from people sharing your adverts for free to people paying you attention because they see the numbers you pull. And as a data person, my God, you'll never not test an idea because you don't have the numbers. I easily create surveys and get participants. I easily do sentiment analysis with a diverse pool of crowd. I easily validate an idea from real people. And when I run paid adverts, for $10 I get more total exposure than someone else with much fewer clout spending even double of what I spent.

What is my own social media growth strategy?
I have three different social media account groups. I have my own personal social media accounts (@olafusimichael) that I strategically use to position myself as an industry expert in data analysis field. I have my company (@urbizedge) that I use in conjunction with paid digital marketing campaigns to keep a steady stream of prospects into our sales pipeline. And I have a generic social media account (@nigeriadaiily) that I grew purely to have access to lots of Nigerians and to test my ideas, business or personal.

Now on to Digital Marketing

This is purely for business. If you've done an MBA or an advanced marketing class, you'll know about the 4 P's or marketing. Product, Price, Place and Promotion. Well,  digital marketing is a subset of Promotion. It is purely promotion using digital technology. In the Promotional Mix it used to be like a seasoning to flavour your advertising, PR, sales promotion, direct marketing and personal selling. Well, now, it is standalone as digital technologies have evolved and require a more structured approach.

It is very broad and the technology stack covers social media, intelligent electronic billboards that has analytics, virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, interactive adverts and everything powered directly by computer codes.

In Nigeria, the most common ones we use are online adverts. Google Adwords, Facebook advert campaigns, Instagram adverts, Twitter Campaigns, Admob and online banner ads.

And when you have a social media team in your company whose goals are to support sales, improve customer experience and grow customer lifetime value then you are already doing digital marketing even if you don't do any paid adverts online. The very salaries of those guys+girls have to be charged to your marketing dept. And there must be an ROI. Some justification for the cost of keeping the team.

So you can never say you are doing digital marketing if there is no attached ROI goal. If you are not selling any product or services.

Personally, I use digital marketing for my business. Automated inbound sales generation. I have Google Adsense, SEO, SEM and a few bots working 24/7 for me. My human sales team just follow up on the pulled-in prospects.

For some months now I have been digging deep into the exciting new world of Excel (Office.js based) add-in. What does that mean? In straightforward terms, it means the new powerful and exciting way of creating Excel add-ins.

However it has not been easy finding learning resources. In fact, most of the early push and learning I got where based on insider NDA content shared in the Microsoft MVP community. But not everyone will get that silver spoon feeding privilege.

So how would you, without direct content from Microsoft, access resources that will get you started on learning and building your own Excel web Add-ins?

That is the question I have set to provide answer to in today's post.

1. I will recommend you start with Michael Zlatkovsky's Building Office Add-ins using Office.js site

2. I will recommend you watch Michael Zlatkovsky's End-to-End Walkthrough of Excel JavaScript Add-in Development video on Microsoft's channel 9

Also make sure you download the solution file so you can practice along.

3. Get familiar with the code snippets for doing the common tasks you'll want to carry out at office-js-snippet-explorer/excel-snippets and Office 2016 JavaScript API Snippet Explorer 

4. Build some sample add-ins from scratch with guidance. Try out Build your first Excel add-in and samples with the codes from Office Dev Center.

5. Read more helpful documentation (Excel JavaScript API programming overview and Excel JavaScript API reference) and maybe buy the Building Office Add-ins using Office.js book.

So those are my goto resources. But ultimately, how far you go will depend on how much practice and non-guided add-ins you build.

Best of luck to both of us on this new exciting journey!

I spent a good part of yesterday downloading reports from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS) website. Those guys are doing a very terrible job in formatting the report. They make it available in PDF when other countries provide you both CSV and Excel versions from as far back as 1940. I could only dig out a few years record from the website. I doubt even if the Statistician General can easily get insights and trends from those reports they publish. Maybe they have another in-house one that is more user friendly that they don't publish.

So why was I downloading those reports?

Well, as you might be aware in my Built Some APIs For Some Interesting Nigerian Data Use post, I am creating a databank of useful Nigerian data. So yesterday I shared with a Whatsapp Data Science group I am a member of about the progress I am making (you can check that progress out at Nigerian Elite API) and they all encouraged me to include a databank of the NBS reports data.

I have started and will also keep you all updated on my progress, sharing with you the final outcome so you can benefit too.

Also a big thanks to everyone who gave me suggestions of what more include in the data bank. I am still open to more suggestions.

Happy new week ahead!


I almost forgot to make today's post. Got carried away with too many other stuffs.

I think I am entering another phase in my life. Not the usual phase transition people often talk about, those ones that involve assuming a new level of responsibility. No. I didn't get more responsibility nor new job nor any physical transition. The phase I am talking about, it is all mental.

I am a little familiar with these types of transition. The first significant one I remember was when I was eight years old. I suddenly went from a dullard to an intelligent (book-wise) person. Imagine someone who was always kinda last in his class and had to repeat Nursery 2 then jump to top 3 position and keep such top performance for the rest of his life.

The second major one was in my first year in the university. My entire thinking changed. I became deeply philosophical. Some of my friends got caught unawares and a few left me as they were extremely uncomfortable with my sudden new outlook on life. If the first major one made me more intellectually aware, the second one made me more psychologically aware. I even used to run mind games on people until it got me more enemies than friends. And I found out that no one likes to lose an argument by you picking holes in their logic and making them contradict themselves in a very open and embarrassing way. So I stopped getting into philosophical and moral arguments with people. I just let you be and still be friends. 

The third major one happened in my first year after NYSC. In the real world of career building and setting a life-long career plan. I found out that my Engineering and academic knowledge is not enough for a good life. I began my journey to being the 360 degrees guy. Sports: check. Technical skills: check. Soft skills: check. Art (writing, mostly): check. Financial knowledge: check. I began my journey to being a renaissance man.

Now I am experiencing another major one. It started late last year. It's more like I am undergoing a pruning process. The chipping away of some aspects of my life to allow room for the more important aspects. I am beginning to live a more focused life and giving less excuse to people. I no longer try to bend myself to anyone's request or expectation. Not in a selfish or arrogant way but because I am more in oneness with myself. I work more out of passion than necessity. I do things not because I am expected to do them but because I genuinely want to do them.

And that is why my daily posting has been at an increasingly erratic timing. I am also not letting (new) people into my life. It is not whether it is a bad thing or a good thing but because I express myself better and feel a lot more free when there is no one to hurt. I am not afraid of hurting myself or others, no I am afraid of not expressing myself. All those outside influence holds me back. And I try to avoid that.

Once again, happy new week. And do bear with my rambling today. Cheers!

In this month's webinar, 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)

The year has fully started!

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.