It is said that he who does not read only lives once while a bibliophile lives a thousand times.

image: breath-defying.deviantart.com
It really doesn’t matter what type of books you read – fiction, biographies, autobiographies, college books or certification guides – as long as you read a lot and read lots of books, you will find out that every book is to some degree an autobiography. An author always leaves a part of himself in his book.
The best part is all bibliophiles read novels or biographies. They get to experience lives that are not theirs. They get to live the lives of a thousand people. They begin to see life from a thousand different perspectives and are able to think broadly. They are able to see patterns others don’t know exist. They are able to connect life’s dots in amazing ways. And they are able to live a thousand times.

(I'm typing this at past 2:00am; the Future Leaders Seminar is quite intense. Starts from 7:00am and ends late at night. Today, we had Minister Olusegun Aganga and a member of Akwa Ibom house of representatives speak to us.)

 
image: globalstage.net

It’s a short story by Leo Tolstoy about a poor man who wanted to break free from poverty. He worked extremely hard as a farmer, saved and borrowed to buy land and grow his business. And after not so long he broke free from poverty but had trouble figuring out when to slow down. He was constantly acquiring more land, and then a great opportunity came his way. There was town he could get as much land as he could walk round in a day – dawn to dusk – for a very cheap price. He sold all he had and moved to that town and paid the fixed amount to acquire as much land as he could circle in a day. And that was what brought about the question of how much land does a man need. He thought he needed as much land as he could get and decided to go for the max he could walk round in a day. He began his land acquisition walk at dawn and began walking in one direction till past noon. Then he walked East, then South and finally ran West to get back to his starting point before the sun completely set. He made it to his starting point just seconds before the sun sank, but collapsed and died out of exhaustion. He achieved his goal of acquiring as much land as he could get. But when his servant buried him all he used was just 2 feet by 6 feet. And was just how much landed he needed.

 

I think it’s not a good story. I strongly believe we should make the most of whatever opportunity we get. Nevertheless, I can’t argue against the morale of the story. What we really need is never a lot. And most men die from the activities they engage in to become as wealthy as possible. They, like that poor man, die trying to acquire as much land as they could get.

How much land does a man need?

I don’t know and I don’t think it’s 2 feet by 6 feet. But I believe that since we all run the risk of being killed by the very activity we spend the greater part of our lives on – work – we should at least pick a job that we enjoy.

And if you’re lucky to know just how much land you need, please try not to circle beyond that.

 
 
Today will mark my third day at the NLI Future Leaders Seminar.


Nothing can be more amazing than seeing, meeting and listening to great men who have a deep passion for the positive change Nigeria needs. Men who know, personally, everyone from Chief Obafemi Awolowo to Goodluck Jonathan.

I have learned about the real history of Nigeria from someone who was part of that history.

I got a personal business advice from Mr Gbenga Oyebode, who is the chairman of Access bank and Okomu Oil Palm, and is also on the board of MTN Nigeria and Crusader Insurance. I also learned about value-based leadership from Dr Christopher Kolade.

Then there's the amazing Mr Tunji Lardner, who has been making us think critically about a lot of things.

Unfortunately, I won't be able to make a long post today as I'm still trying to process all I have been loaded with and my tablet isn't typing friendly.


We often underestimate the influence of our environment on us. And we ascribe some of nurture’s influence wrongly to nature.

image: docstoc.com
Ever seen a guy that looks so much like Rasaki, you’re almost sure he’ll talk like Rasaki, he’ll act like Rasaki and definitely have his mannerism. You’ve seen so many Rasaki’s you don’t think you’ll be wrong. Then he suddenly speaks and you hear a UK accent. And whoosh! Everything changes. Rasaki disappears. He suddenly looks like someone else. You begin to think his name is Elvis and has foreign mannerism. Then you hear he’s lived all his life in the UK, and you became sure he’s different.

The truth is, the biggest difference between any two people isn’t their nature or their genes. It is their nurture. The environment they grew up in, the environment they were immersed in. In fact, the only difference between Africa and Europe is the entrenched system, the prevailing environment. That’s why Nigerians flourish abroad -- break academic records in the world’s top universities, extremely law abiding, and often the best citizens in the European countries they live in. Some are so European they are even better than the original Europeans. Why? They were immersed in an environment that molded them right. They are as much Nigerians as those of us who have lived our lives here in Nigeria. Same genes, same nature. Only difference is the nurture.

So how can you fix your environment as a Nigerian living in Nigeria? There is a good news and a bad news. The bad news is that you can’t fix the Nigerian environment. You should try but history has its way of choosing its heroes. You can only try your best, but it’s not for you to choose if your best will be enough. The good news is that you can change your own environment. You can choose your own environment. You can nurture yourself.

You can consciously choose the influence you are under, the people you look up to, the information you feed yourself with and the way you live your life. You don’t have to change your accent. It’s all about the way you think and the actions you take.

You can be anyone, you can be the role model you seek and you create your own environment. It’s not about nature, it’s about your nurture.


Yeah, you can be the greatest
You can be the best


Hall of Fame by The Script ft Will.i.am

The song is one of the few songs that tell a stark truth. 

We all have ambitions of being the greatest at something. It could be a childhood ambition that didn't die off and often glows in our happy moments. It could be a recent ambition borne out of a desire to not just exist but live fully. And it could be an ambition you are already pursuing. Whatever it is, you can be the best at it. Don't wait for luck.

Go after it, even if you have to start very small. You don't have to be crazy like me. All you need is just 10 mins everyday. Spend 10 mins everyday on your ambition, on your dream. And if you can, spend more than 10 mins daily on it. I don't think there's anyone so busy he can't find 10 mins to spend on something he is truly passionate about.

That was how I began chasing my one life goal. To become a renaissance man. It all began when I was about 12 years old. I read a book about a family that was involved in a shipwreck and ended up in a jungle. Three children, their mother and their father. But they not only survived but thrived in that jungle because the father was a renaissance man. He was a white collar guy, blue collar guy, pink collar guy and extremely knowledgeable. He made a comfortable home from the jungle resources, built useful tools, cultivated a garden, hunted, and provided more than their basic needs. He wasn't some egghead.

Then, I made a list of all I need to achieve my goal. And everyday that passes I'm getting closer to my goal. Even my daily blogging is one of my daily means of working on my goal. Being a renaissance man, for me, also means being an accomplished writer. The only reason I've not given up on my french studies is because of the goal. I need to become a polyglot. For more than 3 years now, I have been brushing with my left hand in a bid to become less right brain dominant. Also not unconnected to my goal. I have read more books about the 18th and 19th century than the 20th or 21st century. I have all my savings in the stock market, to force me to become a good financial analyst; and I have read more finance books than engineering books. And now, I'm already simulating my own shipwreck by quitting my job and surviving solely on my own creativity.

Though my goal is not tied to being the greatest renaissance man or the best, I still find a good deal of encouragement in that song. Especially in the video, seeing people taking on loftier and almost impossible goals and having a feel of the huge obstacles they were up against, I feel like mine is going to be an easy ride. 

And so I will like you to take inspiration from the song and go after your dream. 

Yeah, you can be the greatest
You can be the best
You can be the King Kong
Banging on your chest

You can beat the world, you can beat the war
You can talk to God, go banging on his door

You can throw your hands up, you can be the clock
You can move a mountain, you can break rocks

You can be the master, don’t wait for luck
Dedicate yourself and you can find yourself

Standing in the hall of fame (yeah)
And the world’s gonna know your name. (yeah)
‘Cos you burn with the brightest flame, (yeah)
And the world’s gonna know your name. (yeah)
And you’ll be on the walls of the hall of fame

You can go the distance, you could run the mile
You could walk straight through hell with a smile
You could be the hero, you could get the gold
Breaking all the records you thought never could be broke

Do it for your people, do it for your pride
You never know if you never even try

Do it for your country, do it for your name
‘Cause there’s gonna be a day

When you’re standing in the hall of fame, (yeah)
And the world’s gonna know your name. (yeah)
‘Cos you burn with the brightest flame, (yeah)
And the world’s gonna know your name. (yeah)
And you’ll be on the walls of the hall of fame...


First of all, I don't mean your house or car or iPad. I'm talking about your innovative creations. 


All the jobs I have gotten, recommendations I have gotten and awards I have gotten were because of the numerous high quality stuff I gave away. The several hours I spent after work helping other departments with their own work. The helpful tips I give away for free online. The selfless service I put into volunteer works. And my obsession with giving my best whether I'm getting paid for it or not.

And to encourage you to do the same, to always give away your best stuff even when you don't see value coming back to you, I will be sharing the positive impact giving away my best have had on me.

  1. I stopped hoarding information or anything of value for fear of someone else benefiting more from it than me. On the surface, it doesn't look like a benefit. But since having the mindset of always giving away every valuable knowledge and idea I have, I have been constantly having ideas and valuable knowledge. I'm now experiencing the infinite mindset. I don't ever feel like I'm going to lose anything if anyone steals my idea or better his life more than mine by using the valuable knowledge I share. Everyday I wake up I'm constantly attracting new ideas and valuable knowledge, so much that I can't run out of them.
  2. I became valuable to a lot of people. Even the people who don't like know that Michael is a source of free help they can readily use. It's not there is much value in being valuable and not getting paid for it, but it's way better than not being valuable and not getting paid for it too.
  3. All the money I have made from my business, since I began it as a part time biz in October 2012, has been from referral from people I did great free work for and people who stumbled on my high quality free online materials. Even the Microsoft MVP award I got is a product of giving away my best always and mostly for free.
  4. People trust me, even to heights that alarm me. And I believe it's because they don't see me as a gain seeking fellow. 
  5. Self discovery. Nothing hides a man from himself more than money. Money distorts our reality fields. That's why you'll see people do what they hate when they are offered money. So being able to work without the influence of money has helped me a lot to figure out the things I really enjoy doing and the things I would only do for the sake of money. I became more aware of myself, which was the first step to deciding to choose myself.
  6. Best of all, I became more social. I no longer feel like there is anything I shouldn't say. Could be bad for some people. But for me, it's like trying to mend the mast of a sinking ship. I'm already spilling my mind on my blog to thousands of people daily, why trouble myself with concealing it from just one or two persons I'm meeting in a social gathering. Luckily, I'm always having good and funny thoughts in my mind which often make me not boring to gist with (till I run out of gist).
I hope with these I have been able to convince you and not to confuse you that it's best to always give your best stuff away.

Thank you!


image: ascrewsloose.com


Yesterday, I decided to dump "nice sounding" for "more effective". I looked back at my life. I remembered 2004 when I decided to start reading at least a verse of the bible a day. It was the second toughest decision of my life, tougher than even quitting my job. Only second to my decision to pray every day. I remember the numerous midnights I would suddenly jump out of my bed to pick my bible and read, by candle light or my Nokia 3310 backlight, just one verse of the bible. Everyday, then, my biggest accomplishment was reading at least a verse of the bible. 


As usual I grew steadily, and ended up reading the bible thrice in about 3 years. I have once read Job in one sitting and 2 other old testament books that same day. Then I moved from at least one verse a day to 1 chapter a day, and then to 3 chapters a day. And began telling everyone that cared to listen, "Guess what? I read three chapters of the bible a day." At that rate, I read each of most of the new testament books in 2 days and the entire new testament in a couple of weeks. But never the old testament. In fact, since the 3 chapters a day decision I have ended up reading Paul, Peter and John's letters over and over. I avoided the books with lengthy chapters and less conversational verses. I avoided almost all the books in the old testament. 

By making a more nice sounding rule of 3 chapters a day I ended up reading less of the bible and more of the same chapters I found short and interesting. Now I'm going back to one chapter a day and maybe start from Genesis.

What led to this?
I went for Toastmasters West Africa district conference on Friday. A lot of the participants were from the francophone countries (Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin and Cote d'Ivoire) and were having trouble at the conference registration stand. I decided to help and found out that my French is even worse than it was 3 years ago. So on Saturday morning, I picked up my french self study book and found out that I was at page 31, chapter 4. 54 days ago, I gave my self the lofty goal of reading a chapter a day. The 3 days I was faithful were not happy days for me. I had set a goal that will no doubt make me advance very fast in my french language learning but will also make the journey a very miserable one. So I decided to drop the goal to one page a day. Realizing that if that was my initial goal, I would have read 54 pages by now and not feel exhausted after each reading. And then I looked at the other aspects of my life that I have been setting too ambitious goals and limiting my own growth/efficiency. And in a few minutes, the 3 bible chapters a day came to my mind.

Now I'm going to eat my elephant one bite at a time. Not a big bite that will always give me trouble to swallow and make me dread the next bite. But a small bite I can swallow and look forward to the next bite.

And I'm going to apply this principle to every aspect of my life. Going to take one day at a time, and one small bite a day. Like I'm doing with my blog posts. I have written 145 posts already this year on just this blog by writing one post a day. Luckily, it has not been a choking bite. I'm now even beginning to look forward to each day's post. Every morning, I check my emails at past 8 to read my own post and wonder what I'll post for the next day. I see it as my ultimate way of living one day at a time. 

So if you've got an elephant to eat. A goal so big you are tempted to get a big shovel. A project so big you are often overwhelmed. Don't make any big resolution. Drop your shovel. Get a table knife and fork, and eat it one small bite at a time.

Happy new week!


In an earlier post, I had explained how to use SUM, SUMIFS and COUNTIFS. I remember not including enough screenshots or including a practice Excel file in that post. 

Today, I'll be showing you a very practical use of SUMIFS and COUNTIFS functions in Excel and including a sample file.

Here is the Excel file with the data I'll be using for illustration.



It's the sales record of the number of Pizzas a QSR (Quick Service Restaurant) sold in the first opening hours of a particular day. 

If you look through the Excel file, you will see a sales record of 5,000 Pizzas sold.

Usually, the restaurant manager will want to see a summary report that totals the number of pizzas sold by type and total sales amount too. Something in a format similar to the one below.


In this case, a COUNTIFS and a SUMIFS will get us the summary report we want.

COUNTIFS will get us the number of each Pizza type sold while SUMIFS will get us the total sales amount made from each pizza type.

Here is the COUNTIFS function syntax --

=COUNTIFS(criteria_range1, criteria1, [criteria_range2, criteria2]…)

The part in the square brackets, [ .. ], are optional and should be used if you want to specify more that one criterion. 

For the sample file we are working on, to calculate the number of BBQ Chicken pizza sold, we'll enter the formula --

=COUNTIFS(B1:B5001,G3)


It is going to count the number of times BBQ Chicken occurs in the sales field (column B).

You can look through the sample file to see how to do for the other pizza types.


And for SUMIFS, here is the synatx --

=SUMIFS(sum_range, criteria_range1, criteria1, [criteria_range2, criteria2], ...)

And to calculate the total sales amount for BBQ Chicken, the formula is

=SUMIFS(C1:C5001,B1:B5001,G3)


 It's going add the sales amount in column C where the Sales item (column B) is BBQ Chicken.

It's that simple and powerful. You should attempt to do for the pizza types I haven't done for in the sample file.



The easiest way to get a smile is to give a smile.


As human, we all have the same basic reactions/emotions. We are always fascinated by the giggle of a child. We look at a beautiful girl twice, at least. (I think for girls, they dream about a handsome guy twice, at least). We take every frank "No" too personal. We find a set of people that have a specific look attractive beyond reason. We find it impossible to accept that someone else is smarter, even when it's obvious. I think it's called the illusion of equality, everyone thinks, putting all aspects into consideration, he is the equal of the greatest man his age. We love to talk about the people that intimidate us. We are blind to our weaknesses. We overrate our strengths. We enjoy the company of the people who make our stupidity look normal. 

At the core, we are no different than nomadic ancestors. Just with more fluff, and big grammar.

For about three years now, I have been trying to be in constant touch with the inner me. To let go of the superficial and big grammar. To be unashamed of the real me. To look every beautiful girl thrice (the truth is, it's usually a reflex action). To stop pretending that my friends are frank to me, especially about my stupidity. To stop deceiving myself that I know my weaknesses. To constantly remember that I overrate my strengths. To stop trying not to get offended when I'm offended. I have stopped rationalizing my taking offence; I now take offence on purely emotional basis. If I feel offended then I'm offended, whether it makes sense or not.

But there is one that got away. Not being ashamed of my illusion of equality. You'll never find me say I'm as good or great as anyone, popular or unpopular. Why? I've got extreme narcissism, I only think of myself.



It has been 52 days since quitting my job. I have only made N8,000 from the my business and spent more than double my estimated expenses. I just realized yesterday that I don't have a sales strategy. I'm still torn between doing what I enjoy and doing what will keep me from starving. By all quantitative measures, I'm 10 times worse off than when I was still an employee. People still wonder why I couldn't have retained my job and build my business on the side. And worse of all, I don't see any improvement in my state happening soon.

Nevertheless, those 52 days have been the best of my life. For once, I can feel myself at the driver's seat of my corporate life. I make all my high level decisions. I now own the one thing that is most valuable to me -- my time. I decide my work hours, who's call to pick, who to take serious and what work to work on. I know I'm probably managing my corporate life worse than the job system was doing it for me, but I'm a fast learner. And with the help of the impending harsh reality, I will definitely learn fast. My growth is no longer tied to a rigid system. My work life and personal life are now integrated. I work when I'm most energized and creative, no longer for a rigid 8am -- 5pm. I think on my bed, where I think best, and not on a work chair. I chose who to work for or partner with, not who someone else partners me with. I chose what work I feel is worth my time, no longer every work that is shoved at me. And for once, I can feel the raw power of my thoughts, how they daily shape my life unshackled to a system outside my control.

image: technorati.com

For me the entrepreneurial journey has been an emotional and personal journey. One of building my life the way I want it. I remember my 2010 poem where I stated that I like the person I'm turning into but dislike the world I'm moving into. Now I can say I like both the person I'm turning into and the world I'm moving into (a world I chose). 



We've all got our good sides and our bad sides. And we are sometimes torn between making the most of our good side and fixing our bad side. But for people like me, it's not sometimes but almost always. When your good side is uncommon and your bad side is also uncommon, your daily life can be a constant dilemma. One part wins you friends and the other part ensures they don't stick. It drives my friends nuts. I have the rare qualities they seek in a friend and lack the ones almost everyone has.

image: urlm.co
At first, I thought it was because of the way I grew up. That I could easily fix my bad side if I just put in some effort. And so I tried to pick every phone call, and call friends and family more often. Afterall, I was already doing much tougher things -- doing push-ups everyday (then), keeping daily track of my expenses, reading 3 chapters of the bible daily and reading several books a month. Making two or three 5mins call a day should be a piece of cake and using a postpaid line meant I needed not hunt for recharge cards. So I tried and was initially successful. I called people I hadn't spoke to in years. The funny thing is I have everyone's number; if you give me your phone number today you can be sure I will still have it 20 years from now. I used to have a book I backed up people's phone numbers on. I have a friend whom I still have all the phone numbers he has used since 2004, and he has used a lot. Then to make me more determined to improve, I told everyone I called that I have reformed and will now call them more often. I made several people's day. And was happy the first week, and drained too.

Fast forward 3 weeks, the project failed. Everyday, I had to force myself to make 2 or 3 calls. Then I changed it to every other day. Then to one call. Yet the discomfort I encountered in making each phone call only increased rather than decrease. After 3 weeks I was sure I wanted to live with the consequences of not making and picking phone calls than with the trouble of fixing it. The same way people are amazed by how consistently I write daily is the same way I'm amazed at how easy they find it to pick and make phone calls. And it has been my biggest reason for trying not to find faults in others. Maybe that fault is their own making phone calls. That thing they fail at, and that I feel even a 5 year old could do well, is their own making a phone call.

I still try to fix every new thing people complain to me about me. But I avoid paying too much for success. If fixing it is breaking me, I simply leave it. Instead, I'll expend the efforts on building the good I have. 


Next week is going to be a special week for me. It's the week I'll be going for the NLI Future Leaders Seminar. At the start of this month, I was sent No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe and a huge anthology of mostly political and philosophical writings. After several days (and nights) reading, yesterday I was done reading the books. 

It marked the second time I read No Longer at Ease. My first was over 10 years ago. I grew up reading my mum's collection of books -- Things Fall Apart, No Longer at Ease, Zambia Shall be Free, Mine Boy, One Man One Matchet, The Second Round, A Man of the People, Carcase for Hounds, The Drummer Boy, Treasure Island, Little Women, Little Men, The Black Arrow, Children of the New Forest, Gulliver's Travels, A Midsummer's Night Dream, As You Like It, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, The Jero Plays, Plato's Dialogues, On Man in The Universe and Merchant of Venice.

But the anthology was filled with chapters from books I haven't read -- by Friedrich Engels, Obafemi Awolowo, George Orwell, Ibn Khaldun, James O'Toole, Karl Max, Karl Raimund Popper, Lee Kuan Yew, Leo Tolstoy, Martin Luther King Jr, Milton Friedman, Niccolo Machiavelli, Peter Drucker, Thomas Hubbes, Tony Elumelu and Ursula Kroeber Le Guin. All interesting read. But the one that inspired this post is the one by Lee Kuan Yew, the founding father of modern Singapore. 

He did the impossible in Singapore. Took it from a shaky existence to a highly developed country with the highest percentage of millionaires and almost no acutely poor citizen. And in explaining how he did it, he said nothing can take the place of people who work extremely hard and Singaporeans believe in hard work. All he did was to ensure that the right political and economic structure was in place, and that no one got nothing he didn't work for.

image: conejochurch.com
Here's a country that has achieved the world's goal of eradicating poverty, and did it not by setting up charity homes and giving people money they didn't work for. They did it by creating a culture that rewards hard work. A culture that had no place for corruption and laziness. They worked hard as factory workers after independence, then with a compulsory education they worked hard as knowledge workers, and now they are working hard as entrepreneurs/intrapreneurs. Books like Retire Rich at 40 didn't sell in Singapore. They never remove the hard from hard work.

And you shouldn't. Nigeria is in a bad mess but you don't have to sink to the bottom of that mess. You can be a nation within the nation, a nation of one. Make the changes you want to see in Nigeria in yourself. Be a great nation of one. The world is messier than Nigeria, yet there are nations that look like paradise already. You can become the paradise in the messy Nigeria. Follow the example of Singapore, work hard, then smart and harder.




Left - Right: Fabulous Femi, Magical Mike, Yare Yemi & Kool Kome

That's my team up there! 

Too bad we didn't emerge as one of the best three. Maybe I should have warned the rest of the team that I seldom win in any competition and having me head the team is a bad omen. Take Toastmasters for instance. Initially, the major reason I don't do the speech projects was that, based on experience, I was convinced that the only way I was going to be voted best speaker is to be the only speaker. So I had no incentive to put in the enormous work required for each speech project. It was so bad I stopped filling the voting slips for 2 years now as the people I voted ended up not winning and I began to feel it was because I voted for them. Then the unimaginable happened 6 months ago, I was voted the best speaker. Now it has made my situation worse, I'm sure it won't happen again in a long time from now and I'm better off eternalizing the experience. So I have given up almbitions to complete my Speech projects, I want to forever look at myself as a Best Speaker Award winner.

But back to the Lean Startup Machine workshop. What I learned.

  1. Never build a business without first getting interested clients. Don't just assume there is a market or bank on family and friends, go out and get people who will want to patronize your business before you start.
  2. Always test/validate your assumptions. Test your assumption of the customer's purchasing power, test your assumption of how important your product is to them. Test your assumption of what the customer's pain point is. Test, test, test.
  3. There is never a final product. You have to keep evolving your product to be the best for the customer and to continually exceed the customer's expectations.
  4. You don't need huge money to start a business. What matters is growth, growing in a sustainable way. Start lean.
  5. Your connections matter a lot. To get people who would be interested in our (my team's) project, I tweeted at my over 8,000 twitter followers (2 different twitter accounts) and mailed my blog connections. Guess what? I was deeply touched by the rate of response from my blog connections. And it's now my biggest motivation to dedicate as much time as I can find to make it work and deliver on the expectation of everyone that signed up. And that's how the biggest milestone in businesses are reached, through the connections you have. People who believe in you.
  6. Target specific customers and meet very specific need. If you set on making everyone your customer, you will end up with no customer. And if you don't have a specific need, you'll have a tough time making the right business strategies.
  7. Don't take up a business partner, no matter how rich or skilled or experienced, if you guys don't align. 
  8. Be always open minded.
  9. There's never just one right way. 
  10. Put passion in all you do.


I’m currently at the 3-day Lean Startup Machine workshop going on at iDea hub, Yaba, Lagos.

Lean Startup Machine is the world's leading bootcamp on Lean Startup methodology and a global movement of entrepreneurs and innovators who are changing the way new products and businesses are built. It's an intensive three-day workshop which teaches entrepreneurs and innovators how to build disruptive products. It was founded by Trevor Owens in the US in 2010. It has organized over 200 events in over 40 countries. And the ongoing one at iDea hub, which is happening concurrently with another in Accra, is the first in Africa. Another will happen in Cape Town at the end of this month.

image: ueberproduct.de

The event started on Friday 6:00pm with participants putting down their names to pitch ideas. Then we were told what Lean Startup Machine is all about and how it's creating successful entrepreneurs and innovative businesses all over the world.

We had a fireside chat with Raphael Afaedor, ex-CEO of Jumia Nigeria and Founder of SupermartNg, and Marek Zmys┼éowski, the MD of Jovago. I learned a couple of things. Raphael kept emphasizing the need to start with a small market, telling us how hard it was for Jumia to focus on Nigeria as it's market, and went on to tell us how he is avoiding that problem in his new startup, SupermartNg. Marek is a very funny guy. You can't hear him talk and not laugh. He told us how he started his entrepreneurial journey from his home country, Poland, by creating a dating site. And how it failed. Then he brainstormed for an idea that no one else was implementing, in search of a business with no competition. And guess what he came up with? A funeral services booking site. He managed to get investors interested, and became part of Rocket Internet GmBH. Then not so long ago, Rocket Internet wanted him to come build a revolutionary business in Africa. He was hoping it would be in Morocco or Tunisia or Algeria. But he ended up in Nigeria and he says he is enjoying it, building Nigeria's number 1 hotel booking site.

After the fireside chat, we pitched our ideas. 13 ideas were picked, and thanks to Excel sorting bug, mine was the 13th idea even though the 14th and 15th had same amount of votes. God bless Excel. My idea is on creating an online hub for all accessible market research data.

Luckily, I got some of the brightest people to join me as a team to build a business out of the idea. A Data Analyst who is based in Germany and works for GFK (the 4th largest market research organization in the world) and 3 other great guys. Then there were very supportive mentors too who helped us fine tune the idea and narrow down to one market niche. 

We spent the better part of Saturday validating our business assumptions -- who our customers are and what they need. We started with targeting university students and providing them all the research data they need in one place. After going to Unilag and speaking to 11 students, we discovered that their problem wasn't having research data in one place but cost of internet. So we pivoted. We decided to focus on business owners. And proceeded to interview 6 business owners. Amazingly, we found out their biggest frustration starting up their businesses and making strategic business decisions was lack of reliable up-to-date market research data. Industry data that could point them to the size of their targeted market, the prevailing customer behaviour and market pricing data. They said it would be a huge relief if there was a local data bank, a single place online they were certain to get any market research data they needed and in a format they could use (not scanned pdf reports that can't be copied). They talked of how National Bureau of Statistics doesn't reply to mails and how most market research data are unavailable online or cost a fortune. So we were able to validate our assumptions. We found a set of people that have the need we are addressing.

Our Javelin Storyboard

So we worked out a solution. And if you need market research data for your business, feel free to register here http://data.myinstapage.com 

Altogether, it has been a great experience and I have been learning a lot and networking with great people. I got a non-paid training deal with LeapAfrica after discussing with the founder, I'm on-course to getting one with CcHub and met the awesome founder of Jandusradio.

The workshop is ending today. I'll probably be presenting for my team. But I can't wait to meet more great people and make great business connections.



"Hi Mike, my name is Kenneth. Here's my business card. I'm into printing, sale of AGO & LPFO, office furniture sales and events management."
I often meet people like that. And I find it hard to remember what exactly they do and even harder to recommend their services. 

image: terryarzt.com

In today's post I'll be sharing why I chose to pick a very specific business niche -- business data analysis -- for my company and the benefits it affords.

  1. Ever wondered why we study same thing throughout Nursery school and Primary School, then mandated to choose between Science class, Commercial class and Arts class at secondary, and finally pick a specific career course for University? It's because we don't think anyone can be professionally good at multiple fields. Notice the word "think". Because even if you are an exception, not many people will believe that. And too many people think they are an exception. Have you ever heard of a Professor of Science or Professor of Music? I don't think so. It will always be Professor of Mathematics or one of the sciences and Professor of Classical Music (not just Music). We are wired to think the more specialized your profession, the deeper your expertise. And the more specialized your business, the more professional and reliable it is.
  2. When you hear Davido you think of music, when you hear Obasanjo you think of politics, when you hear Alibaba you think of comedy. We like to associate people with just one thing. Even the musicians that are making more money from their fashion biz than music are still referred to as musicians, not musician and business owner. Same with businesses. We find it much easier to remember a business when it does one specific task and we think of it when we think of that task, making it easy for us to send them referrals. And in the corporate world we love businesses that do just one thing.
  3. Improves your ability to weather tough times better. I know you might think that having more than one business activity would reduce your risk of failure when tough times come. History and logic has proved that the businesses that thrive most and longest are those focused on one thing. ExxonMobil, Walmart, IBM and Lloyd's. When you are focused on one thing, you'll soon become better than half of your competitors and then if you keep pumping in the dedication and professionalism required to run your business you will be able to weather any tough time better than if you have 5 different businesses.
  4. Finally, it greatly increases your chances of becoming an innovator in your chosen business niche rather than just another business down the block. You become so knowledgeable that you can spot trends and prepare for them, see opportunities other less dedicated competitors aren't seeing and most importantly, be able to figure out a much better way, an innovative way, of doing your chosen business.
I hope someday, when you here of Business Data Analysis you will think of Michael Olafusi.

Enjoy your weekend!



I see life as a choice between being the most you can be and acquiring the most you can get. I don't believe there is a middle ground or you can have it both ways.

image: huffingtonpost.com

Everyday of our lives we make decisions that push us along one of the two paths. You either make a decision because you find it financially rewarding (now or in the future) or because the decision completes you. 

A lot of us find it very hard to separate the two -- a decision made based on financial gain and one made purely for fulfillment. But I'm going to show you the test that will help you distinguish the two. It's a two step test involving two questions. The first is to ask yourself, "If I had all the money in the world would I still go ahead with this decision?" The second question is, "If I had all I need in life what would I really want to do?"

If your answer to the first question is yes, then it shows there's a genuine value in your decision. If it's no, you should reconsider your decision. But don't be tempted into considering a "Yes" answer as meaning you are doing it for pure fulfillment sake and "No" answer as an indication of you doing it for financial gain. This is actually a dummy question as far as our goal is concerned. Dangote still makes a lot of financial gain decisions even though he has no money needs.

So to the second question, the real question. You will notice it's not a "Yes" or "No" question. The question tells you to forget about all your material needs and focus on deeper things. Could be family or your true career desire or just adventures you've always dreamed of going on. Occasionally, you might have a list of answers, more than one thing you would rather spend you life doing if you had nothing to worry about. It's absolutely normal. We are a complex being and the greatest journey in life is the journey of self-discovery. And often the toughest journey too. If your answer (or one of your answers) is not reflected in the decision you want to make, they you can be sure you are making it for financial gain. It's not bad and depending on your stage/state in life, it could be your best decision.

Life is a twice written scroll. You'll always get a chance to rewrite, once, whatever you've written. Most people start their lives trying to acquire as much as they can and then try to become the most they can be. But there are a few who write the same thing on the scroll when the opportunity to rewrite the scroll comes. They either go for wealth squarely or personal fulfillment squarely.

I aim to be in the personal fulfillment squarely category. I plan to be the most I can be without any thoughts for what I can acquire. I want to write want I really want on my scroll and not have to wait for a second chance. I don't want to put off my true dreams to a more convenient time. I don't want to start a family first before starting my real life. 

Every time I face the choice to have more or to become more, I try hard to choose to become more. 




1. Kindle

Most of the books I want to read can be cheaply bought on Amazon Kindle store. So I have ended up buying a lot of books from Amazon kindle store and read them via my Kindle app (on my android phone, iOS device, Windows tablet and laptop).

2. Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate


I've been practicing hard to improve my programming and web development skills. And I have been using Visual Studio 2013 Ultimate a lot. I got the software free from Microsoft as one of the benefits of having a BizSpark account.
I'm currently reading Microsoft Visual Basic 2013 Step by Step, Windows® Phone 8 Unleashed and Pro Windows Phone App Development, Third Edition. And to practice all I'm reading, I use the Visual Studio 2013 software.

3. Camtasia Studio 8


I got it for free as an MVP. I use it for my video tutorial recordings and I'm currently using it to make the videos for the upcoming Excel training
I'm almost now a good video producer. 

4. Expression Design 4


I also got it free from Microsoft, via my BizSpark account. It's the Microsoft alternative to Adobe Photoshop. I use it for my graphic designs. It's what I used for UrBizEdge's twitter cover page and Facebook cover page. It's very easy to use.

5. Safari Books


After reviewing my last month's expenses, I have stepped up my cost cutting measures. I've stopped buying books and now pay $14.99 monthly to SafariBooksOnline.com to read 5 books per month. And I think it's a great bargain as I seldom read a book more than once and I can finish a 1000 page book in 5 days no matter how boring or techy the book.

6. Snagit

I use Snagit for my screenshots. All the images you see in these post except the one directly above this text were taken with Snagit. It has more features that previous favourite screenshot tool, PicPick.

7. Microsoft Excel 2013


It's simply the best Microsoft Excel ever. Too bad I have to use Excel 2010 for the training video recordings as more people have Excel 2010 and Excel 2007.

8. Microsoft Outlook 2013


I have tried Mozilla Thunderbird, Pegasus Mail and even Windows Live Mail. None comes close to Outlook in terms of ease of use and functionality. I sometimes delay responding to emails till I have gotten on my PC and opened Outlook. 

9. Skype


I still got a job vacancy alert on my Skype yesterday. I've been interviewed for jobs on Skype and have a huge contact list. Most professionals use Skype. It's not uncommon for Tech teams of different companies working on same project to collaborate on Skype. 
Best of all Skype is also great for keeping in touch with distant family members and friends.

10. Notepad++


This is my default program for opening text files. It's way better than Notepad and I use it a lot.


In addition to my android Expense logging app, these are my most used productivity tools and software. 



Are you embarking on an impossible mission? One you are all alone at. No one else around you is on a similar mission. And you often feel helpless because of the overwhelming obstacles you meet, and then stupid because no one thinks you need embark on the mission. It's like going after a dragon, not to kill it, but to own it and train it. It's impossible and makes no sense. And I'm going to show you how to do it -- how to train your dragon.

image: ellefsen.net

First, I am not implying that I've done it before or on-course to doing it. Even my quitting my job to build my own business doesn't come close to it. Though I'm taking an impossible route to achieving my business goal, I do have a lot of support and compatriots. My knowledge on this special topic is completely from all the great books I've read about it.

So here are the steps to going about it successfully:

1. Have Your Own Definition Of Success
You are on a unique mission. The last thing you need is someone who has little knowledge of your goal and ideals deciding for you what success is. You have to think out what success will mean to you, forgetting about what the world expects success to be. You need to have your own unique definition of success.
Even me who is not on a dragon training mission, I avoid people who tell me that I could have achieved more if I had done this or done that. What makes them feel that achieving more is my goal? My life's manual is not based on Forbe's list. Success to me is not inching closer to getting on that list. Success to me is doing whatever I want for whatever transient reason I have, regardless of whether it makes me poorer or richer.
And success to you will be much more unconventional. You are embarking on a mission no one believes is worth it; you will need a definition of success that will make sense to only you.

2. Live Like Everything Is a Miracle
Since achieving your goal will be a miracle, it's time you began getting used to miracles. Albert Einstein says you either live as if everything is a miracle or nothing is a miracle. In your own case you have one option, the everything is a miracle option.
So how do you live like everything is a miracle? It starts with thinking nothing is impossible. Then acting as if nothing is impossible. And dedicating resources to achieve your impossible mission.

3. Follow Your Dream
In this case, your impossible mission.


And who are those I know who followed this path? Who had impossible missions no one thought were worth it? 
Jesus Christ, even his closest disciples didn't see the need for his crucifixion and deserted him the night before it. 
Joan of Arc, our perfect example of the equality, or possible superiority, of women. 
And Johannes Gutenberg, the most important man of the renaissance and the least honored. 



We've all met that eloquent guy who talks smoothly and with such grace that we involuntarily listen to him and fix our gaze on him. Or her. For me, it has usually been a "her". The issue most of them have is they know too much about talking smoothly and not so much about everything else. They lack some of what I call the 5 basic knowledge everyone should have.

image: healyourskinthebook.com


1. ARITHMETIC
Everyone should be mathematically good as every Emeka or Obinna that runs a general merchandise business. You should be able to do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and simple interest calculation. 
I have stopped being surprised when I discover a smooth talking fellow who is constantly having to be corrected mathematically.

2. COMMUNICATIONS
You must be very fluent in (at least) one language -- Yoruba, English, Igbo, Hausa or your dialect. Be able to speak intelligently and without screaming and gesturing furiously when talking passionately in that language. Nothing is more annoying than having an argument with someone who is constantly supporting his limited vocabulary with loud shouts and furious hand gestures.

3. BASIC PRINCIPLES OF ECONOMICS
This is the main reason I stopped reading Nigerian newspapers and stopped watching Nigerian TV stations (including Channels TV). Whoever wants to give a suggestion on how to fix things in our nation should first make the little effort required to acquire sound knowledge of basic economic principles.
Principles of demand and supply that govern all our transactions.
Law of one price that states that you cannot forever profit from an unusual opportunity.
And a basic idea of how GDP is calculated. How a nation's wealth is determined. Which makes it clear that real wealth comes from putting our capital and labour to more efficient use and investing in technology to increase our total factor productivity.

4. HUMAN ANATOMY
We are humans and owe it to ourselves to have a sound knowledge of how our body works. The knowledge of our anatomy makes living a lot less stressful. You won't need the fear of diabetics or overweight to have a healthy lifestyle. You won't consistently feel like your body and mind are out of sync, like your body is lagging your mind.
And best of all, you won't be falling prey to less educated drug merchants who say unbelievable things to sell their drugs.

5. BASIC KNOWLEDGE OF WORLD HISTORY
That there was a stone age. A knowledge of how our word has changed since creation.
A knowledge of the world history positively impacts every aspect of your life, especially your interactions with other people. It makes you a deeper thinker and usually more temperate. A lot less easy to deceive.


These are what I consider the basic knowledge everyone should have.
What do you think? Am I missing some other vital basic knowledge? Or do I need to prune my original list?


I spent the greater part of Friday at a friend's place. He is now based in US and came in briefly for a project in Nigeria. He is the founder of a US startup and built it from scratch with a US partner. They've done product demo, pitched several US VCs and on-course to getting big funding. He is doing what I can only dream of. And I'm lucky to have known him long before now and he still thinks I'm more techy than him. We went to the same university and I was the guy always doing crazy geek stuff at school -- a Linux seminar (then, unheard off), a very complex final year project, and the guy who knows something about every geek thing.

We discussed a lot of things and he showed me how to use Microsoft Azure. And when I told him I still code in VB, he was surprised because he remembered when I was learning C# and got training videos from him. He told me about the Internet of Things revolution. At the end of our discussion, one thing was clear: The internet is changing everything.

image: enterprisecioforum.com

The changes might be slow in Nigeria, but it's certain. The next generation of millionaires will be internet millionaires. Soon, internet companies will be like the telecoms companies of 2004, the banks of 1994, the oil companies of 1983, and government jobs of 1971. Everybody will want to get a piece of it. Just as the entire western world is crazy about the internet, we will soon catch the craze.

Internet businesses will give the big traditional companies a run for their lives. What Amazon did to Barnes & Nobles and Netflix did to Blockbuster is going to happen in Nigeria. Some unknown and ignored online company with 15 employees is going to put a very big traditional company with thousands of employees out of business. People will stop looking at online business owners as frustrated job seekers who took to the internet or foreign based Nigerians who are seeking a big way to come back home. Banks will begin advertising that they have support for internet entrepreneurs and funds for online startups. The same way adverts of stock investing dominated the airwaves in 2007, and real estate (Lekki Phase 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5) is dominating the airwaves now, is the same way internet business opportunities will dominate the airwaves soon.

Just like the BB revolution, there's going to be an online business revolution. People will begin to see the internet for what it really is: A total revolution.