The novels I love to read have the following start:

"Unless one is wealthy there is no use in being a charming fellow. Romance is the privilege of the rich, not the profession of the unemployed. The poor should be practical and prosaic. It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating. These are the great truths of modern life which Hughie Erskine never realised. Poor Hughie! Intellectually, we must admit, he was not of much importance. He never said a brilliant or even an ill-natured thing in his life. But then he was wonderfully good-looking, with his crisp brown hair, his clear-cut profile, and his grey eyes. He was as popular with men as he was with women and he had every accomplishment except that of making money." (The Model Millionaire).

"You wouldn’t have heard of me unless you’ve read a book called The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. But that’s okay. Mr. Mark Twain wrote that book, and what he wrote was mostly true. He exaggerated some things, but most of it was true. That’s not a big deal. I never met anybody who hasn’t lied at one time or another, except for maybe Aunt Polly, the widow, or Mary. Aunt Polly—Tom’s Aunt Polly, that is—and Mary and the Widow Douglas are all in that book, which was mostly true, except for some exaggerations, as I said before." (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)

"The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things. The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault. Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. " (The Picture of Dorian Gray).

"In the ancient city of London, on a certain autumn day in the second quarter of the sixteenth century, a boy was born to a poor family of the name of Canty, who did not want him. On the same day another English child was born to a rich family of the name of Tudor, who did want him. All England wanted him too. England had so longed for him, and hoped for him, and prayed God for him, that, now that he was really come, the people went nearly mad for joy. Mere acquaintances hugged and kissed each other and cried. Everybody took a holiday, and high and low, rich and poor, feasted and danced and sang, and got very mellow; and they kept this up for days and nights together. By day, London was a sight to see, with gay banners waving from every balcony and housetop, and splendid pageants marching along. By night, it was again a sight to see, with its great bonfires at every corner, and its troops of revellers making merry around them." (The Prince and The Pauper)

And have the following end:

"Eliza, in telling Higgins she would not marry him if he asked her, was not coquetting: she was announcing a well-considered decision. When a bachelor interests, and dominates, and teaches, and becomes important to a spinster, as Higgins with Eliza, she always, if she has character enough to be capable of it, considers very seriously indeed whether she will play for becoming that bachelor's wife, especially if he is so little interested in marriage that a determined and devoted woman might capture him if she set herself resolutely to do it. Her decision will depend a good deal on whether she is really free to choose; and that, again, will depend on her age and income. If she is at the end of her youth, and has no security for her livelihood, she will marry him because she must marry anybody who will provide for her. But at Eliza's age a good-looking girl does not feel that pressure; she feels free to pick and choose. She is therefore guided by her instinct in the matter. Eliza's instinct tells her not to marry Higgins. It does not tell her to give him up. It is not in the slightest doubt as to his remaining one of the strongest personal interests in her life. It would be very sorely strained if there was another woman likely to supplant her with him." (Pygmalion)

"GUIDO: Naught would please me better Than to stand fronting you with naked blade In jest, or earnest. Give me mine own sword. Has but one heir, and that false enemy France Waits for the ending of my father's line To fall upon our city. SIMONE: Hush! your father When he is childless will be happier. As for the State, I think our state of Florence Needs no adulterous pilot at its helm. Your life would soil its lilies.
GUIDO: Take off your hands Take off your damned hands. Loose me, I say!
SIMONE: Nay, you are caught in such a cunning vice That nothing will avail you, and your life Narrowed into a single point of shame Ends with that shame and ends most shamefully.
GUIDO: Oh! let me have a priest before I die!
SIMONE: What wouldst thou have a priest for? Tell thy sins To God, whom thou shalt see this very night And then no more for ever. Tell thy sins To Him who is most just, being pitiless, Most pitiful being just. As for myself. . ." (A Florentine Tragedy)


Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw is my favorite novel.
There is a website I try to visit daily. It is https://www.packtpub.com/packt/offers/free-learning 


Everyday, Packt Publishing put up one of their books as free.

Since I came about it some weeks ago via information from a fellow Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) I have included it in my daily to do list to visit the page everyday.

I have managed to get a couple very useful books. But on some days the free book is on a subject I have no interest in at all and I skip claiming a free book that day.

On top of that, they usually run promos that make available at very cheap price a book you love to have but don't want to wait till its offered free on a future date. Currently, there are running a Skill Up promo. You can get any book or video training material on the site for just $5.



The only catch is that they deal only with technical and programming books.


image: greatbigscaryworld.com

It's the end of the year and most of us will find ourselves examining our lives and trying to see how many boxes in our goals' list we have ticked.

Nowadays, it's getting increasingly difficult to feel fulfilled. Years ago, it used to be that of only close friends and family that we compared our lives to. We were seldom aware of what is going on in many other people's lives. But now with Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and BBM you find yourself comparing your life to that of way more people. You are now suddenly aware of what is happening in the lives of hundreds of people. And as it is with life, you will pay more attention to those whose lives are movie-perfect. They seem to have everything you want and more.

And it doesn't stop there. Based on what we see others achieve, we unintentionally expand our goals list. You wake up someday happy with the goals you've set yourself, then you log on to Facebook. You suddenly see someone already living a life that makes your goals look like crap. Result: You upgrade your goals. Now you have more complex goals. And next month the cycle repeats.

There are some of us who consider ourselves immune to what others are doing. The problem is that we are only partially right. Not envying someone else is just one side of the coin, the other side is being happy with your life. Yes, you don't feel pressurized to adjust your life to catch up with theirs. But also you are not smiling. Your life now feels more ordinary. Nothing special. No spark. You are more in resistance mode. You are not dissatisfied with your achievements, and also you are not impressed by them. You don't want more but you are no longer happy.

Why?
You now know too much. Too much about other people's lives.

What can you do?
Deliberately reduce reading up on others. Then focus more on the most important achievement: being happy.

It is not just enough that you are alive and have hope, you must also be happy. Be happy about who you are and the life you are living. Surround yourself more with positive motivation. Don't compare yourself to others. Find something consuming and fulfilling to do. The only metric you should evaluate yourself on is: "Am I happy?"

If the answer is yes, congratulations. If the answer is no, look for what to get rid off. Yes, get rid off. Happiness comes from within. If you are not happy it is because something within you is blocking it. Search for that thing and remove it.

For this year and the coming year, make it your most important goal to be happy.


There are very few people whose lives match their talk. Most people are more talk than results. I have read everything (authentic) I could grab about Warren Buffett. Bill Gates is richer than him and more popular among geeks like me but I have never considered buying a biography of Bill Gates or reading books about him. The reason is that what impresses me about people isn't the wealth they have but the story of their lives. Their values, principles and their walking the talk. Bill Gates is a great man by all standards I know but somehow I don't really find his life extremely impressive. I have read more about Steve Jobs, more about Pablo Picasso, more about Leonardo da Vinci and way more about Warren Buffett than I have about him.

There is a level of wealth you get and your living standard peaks. Whether you get 10 times more of that it will only have meaningful effect on rating charts and not much on your quality of life. But the one thing that will always be inspiring is your story. That's what Steve Jobs had and everyone felt they knew him personally or got impacted by him.

Warren Buffett has same. His life is an example of simple value-driven life.

So today I will share with you one of my favourite advice of his, which he delivered during a speech to some students at University of Georgia in 2001. I hope you enjoy it.

Warren Buffett:

I really want to talk about what's on your mind, so we're going to do a Q and A in a minute. There are a couple questions I always get asked. You know, people always say, "Well who should I go to work for when I get out then?" I've got a very simple answer, we may elaborate more on this as we go along, but, you know the real thing to do is to get going for some institution or individual that you admire. I mean it's crazy to take in-between jobs just because they look good on your resume, or because you get a little higher starting pay.

I was up at Harvard a while back, and a very nice young guy, he picked me up at the airport, a Harvard Business School attendee. And he said, "Look. I went to undergrad here, and then I worked for X and Y and Z, and now I've come here." And he said, "I thought it would really round out my resume perfectly if I went to work now for a big management consulting firm." And I said, "Well, is that what you want to do?" And he said, "No," but he said, "That's the perfect resume." And I said, "Well when are you going to start doing what you like?" And he said, "Well I'll get to that someday." And I said, "It just doesn't make a lot of sense."

I told that same group, I said, "Go to work for whomever you admire the most." I said, "You can't get a bad result. You'll jump out of bed in the morning and you'll be having fun." The Dean called me up a couple weeks later. He said, "What did you tell those kids? They're all becoming self-employed." So, you've got to temper that advice a little bit. Play one game a little bit with me for just a minute and then we'll get to your questions.

I'd like for the moment to have you pretend I've made you a great offer, and I've told you that you could pick any one of your classmates- and you now know each other probably pretty well after being here for a while. You have 24 hours to think it over and you can pick any one of your classmates, and you get 10 percent of their earnings for the rest of their lives. And I ask you, what goes through your mind in determining which one of those you would pick? You can't pick the one with the richest father, that doesn't count. I mean, you've got to do this on merit. But, you probably wouldn't pick the person that gets the highest grades in the class.

I mean, there's nothing wrong with getting the highest grades in the class, but that isn't going to be the quality that sets apart a big winner from the rest of the pack. Think about who you would pick and why. And I think you'll find when you get through, you'll pick some individual- you've all got the ability, you wouldn't be here otherwise. And you've all got the energy. I mean, the initiative is here, the intelligence is here throughout the class. But some of you are going to be bigger winners than others.

And it gets down to a bunch of qualities that, interestingly enough, are self-made. I mean it's not how tall you are. It's not whether you can kick a football 60 yards. It's not whether you can run the 100 yard dash in 10 seconds. It's not whether you're the best looking person in the room. It's a whole bunch of qualities that really come out of Ben Franklin, or the Boy Scout coders, or whatever it may be. I mean, it's integrity, it's honesty, it's generosity, it's being willing to do more than your share, it's just all those qualities that are self-selected.

And then if you look on the other side of the ledger, because there's always a catch to these free gifts and genie jokes, so. You also have to -and this is the fun part- you also have to sell short one of your classmates and pay 10 percent of what they do. So, who do you think is going to do the worst in the class? This is a way more. And think about it again. And again, it isn't the person with the lowest grades or anything of the sort. It's the person who just doesn't shape up in the character department.

We look for three things when we hire people. We look for intelligence, we look for initiative or energy, and we look for integrity. And if they don't have the latter, the first two will kill you, because if you're going to get someone without integrity, you want them lazy and dumb. I mean, you don't want a spark of energy out of them. So it's that third quality. But everything about that quality is your choice.

You know, you can't change the way you were wired much, but you can change a lot of what you do with that wiring. And it's the habits that you generate now on those qualities, or those negatives qualities. I mean the person who always claims credit for things they didn't do, that always cuts corners, that you can't count on. In the end those are habit patterns, and the time to form the right habits is when you're your age. I mean it doesn't do me much good to get golf lessons now. If I'd gotten golf lessons when I was your age I might be a decent golfer.

But, someone once said "the chains of habit are too light to be felt until they're too heavy to be broken." And I see that all the time. I see people with habit patterns that are self-destructive when they're 50 or 60 and they really can't change then, they're imprisoned by them. But you're not imprisoned by anything, so. When you write down the qualities of that person that you'd like to buy 10 percent of, look at that list and ask yourself, is there anything on that list I couldn't do?

And the answer is there won't be. And when you look at the person you sell short, and you look at those qualities that you don't like, if you see any of those in yourself -egotism, whatever it may be, selfishness- you can get rid of that. That is not ordained. And if you follow that, and Ben Franklin did this and my old boss Ben Graham did this at early ages in their young teens, Ben Graham looked around and he said, "Who do I admire?" And he wanted to be admired himself and he said, "Why do I admire these other people?" And he said, "If I admire them for these reasons, maybe other people would admire me if I behave in a similar manner." And he decided what kind of a person he wanted to be.

And if you follow that, at the end you'll be the person you want to buy 10 percent of. I mean that's the goal in the end, and it's something that's achievable by everybody in this room. So that's the end of the sermon...

Read more: http://www.nasdaq.com/article/warren-buffett-speech-to-university-of-georgia-students-part-1-cm238914#ixzz3vawEsBfV
Regression is a statistical way of finding the relationship between a set of variables (inputs) and a particular variable you want to predict/compute.

Maybe for instance you are a regional sales manager for one of the telecommunications company. It has been extremely hard to grow subscribers and despite the huge spend on advertisement, the subscribers count has been flat. So you decide to focus more on growing customer share (share of wallet) rather than kill yourself over the market share that isn't improving.

You got the business intelligence unit to give you historic data of subscribers -- both the ones still on your network and those who have left (churned). So yesterday, you got the data. You looked through it and noticed that there was a pattern everyone who left (churned) exhibited. And you also noticed that there were a set of subscribers who generated a high average revenue per user (ARPU) for the company.

What do you do with the insights?

Simple. With regression you will have a way of identifying customers who are most likely going to churn. And you won't stop there, you will also be able to identify customers with the same profile as those generating high ARPU. And you know what that will translate to business-wise? 

You can do targeted promotional campaign to those guys who are about to churn. It's an excellent customer retention strategy, focusing on the people who aren't happy and using your learning from them to ensure others won't become unhappy too. 

Then you also do targeted campaigns to people spending less than what their profiles predict they should spend. Another easy way of growing the revenue and customer share of wallet. Effective use of resources on areas there is a huge potential ROI.

So how does Regression work?

First you need to enable it. Go to File, Options, Add-Ins, Excel Addins and enable Analysis ToolPak.






Then under Data Menu, you can now access it.






So I have set up a simple example case.

I don't know the relationship between the area of a circle and its radius. I want Regression to figure out for me what that relationship is, so I can be able to predict/compute the area of any circle I have its radius.

See the result below.



The most important parts of a regression analysis results are the ones I highlighted in yellow. The Adjusted R Square indicates how fitting the model is. The coefficients are used to build the relationship equation. P-value should be less than 0.05. 






Hopefully, it now makes sense.

image: twitter.com

The years I have grown most are the years I have faced the most adversities.

I don't know if there were airplanes in Henry Ford's time or the quote in that picture attributed to him is an online prank, but I agree with the truth in the quote: When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.

In every sphere of life, the people doing the extraordinary are those who have faced extraordinary hardship. The best sailor is the one who has weathered the most storms. The Olympian gold medalist is the one who has worked the hardest. Even to look well-built you need to push your body against tough obstacles (workout). To rise to your potential in life, just like the airplane, you'll have to go against contrary winds.

In adversity lies the seed of a new and bigger you. You have to see every adversity that comes your way as an opportunity to be a better and stronger you. And if you can, put yourself more in the way of the type of adversities that will force you to become the type of person you want to be. Like the sailor, he keeps putting himself in the path of a storm. Even a ship's potential is in how well it can face a storm.

Though you can't be everything nor should you try to be everything, but you have to at least be something. Choose what you want to be and build yourself into one of the best in that sphere. That is only going to be possible by putting yourself against adversities. The adversity of starting small. Most people can't bring themselves low enough to start anything new. It's an adversity they will rather not face. Whenever you start something new and feel frustrated by the very slow progress you are making, don't feel sad, it is called the adversity of starting small and you will come out the better for it.

There's also the adversity of big dreams. Whenever you feel like a tiny ant at the foot of a hill, remember that there is only one way to go -- UP. When you have a dream so big that you can't connect the dots or logically plan how you will get there, then congratulate yourself. That was the type of adversity that led to the discovery of America. It is the type of adversity that gave us most of the inventions we now enjoy and take for granted. Don't let your pride and fear limit you. Have a big dream and commit to pursuing it.

Everyday (or kind of), I tell myself that I am at the ground floor of a Skyscraper, there is only one place to go and all it would take me to get there is time. It helps me brave up to any adversity that comes my way and seize the opportunity in it. It is a habit I will take into the new year.

image: kadvacorp.com

Merry Christmas!

I'll be spending today in a very useful way. First, after posting this article, I will go back to sleep. Some not-so-well guy in the neighbourhood felt the best way to break into the Christmas day was to do a street party and blast music really loud. Result: I couldn't sleep throughout the night and I'm currently having a headache. But I managed to mint the silver lining in that cloud: I prayed more & longer than usual.

When I wake up, I'll get something to eat and take my medication. Currently on a cough syrup, an antimalarial drug and one expensive antibiotic. By the way, it's not self-medication. They were prescribed to me. The cough syrup makes me feel dizzy and I have to use it thrice a day. Result: I feel dizzy throughout the day.

After taking my breakfast or lunch, depending on when I re-awake, and used my drugs, I will start work on a job I have collected pay for and for over a week already. I will also check if my French teacher has marked my assignment and given me more exercises. 

I practiced some competitive C# programming yesterday on www.hackerrank.com and I am very happy with how my C# skill has improved. It gave me the same feeling I have when I program Excel macros, which is a good signal that I am already getting to a level of useful practical use of my C# skill.

My girlfriend and I had done our Christmas outing on Wednesday so today is basically a chill at home day. I bought some goat meat at Shoprite two days ago. I fried some yesterday and plan to roast the remaining today. Unfortunately, they don't taste like goat meat at all. If it wasn't that I bought it, I wouldn't believe it's goat meat. I would be less eager to buy fresh food/meat from Shoprite anymore.

In the end, today will be a pretty ordinary day for me. Which is good and non-exhausting. How about you? Got any interesting plans for the day?

Again, Merry Christmas!
image: twoten9.com

I have a real Christmas story to share with you. It is by Kathy J Parenteau and below is the preface:

"My mother means the world to me. She is fighting for her life because she has cancer. I wanted to honor her with this poem. She came from poverty beyond what most could imagine. When she was a little girl she wrote a letter to Santa. She didn't use postage. She just placed it in the mailbox. The mail man read the letter and got together with a local church to make mom's dream come true. Her dad was a very proud man that would not except charity, however, this one time he graciously accepted."

And here is the main story/poem. Enjoy!

MAMA's CHRISTMAS MIRACLE
Mama told me a story a long, long time ago, not like any that I'd ever heard,
all about a little girl mama used to know, how I remember every word.
Seems like a lifetime ago, though I remember it so well.
It was a Christmas Eve I'll never forget as far as I can tell.
We were sitting at the kitchen table, it was only my mother and me.
I was dreaming of Christmas morning and all the presents under the tree.
Dad wasn't doing that well and money was scarce that year.
Mama found a way of telling me without me shedding one tear.
She told me a story of a little girl and a Christmas long ago,
who came from far away, a place where it rarely snowed.
Santa was just a dream to her, but she believed so much inside,
that Christmas was going to be special, so she knelt by her bed and she cried.
"Lord, let Santa remember me if not just this one time. 
I promise I won't ask for much, maybe a dolly I can call all mine." 
She closed her prayer and thanked the Lord for all that she received.
She knew that Santa would really come if only she believed.
She wrote a letter to Santa, unfamiliar to most girls and boys.
Though her list was long and full, on it there were no toys.
Only things we take for granted, like new shoes or underpants,
hair bows for her sisters and gloves to warm her brothers' hands. 
At the bottom of her list she asked, if it not be too much, 
for a brand new baby doll she could hold and love and touch.
Then Christmas morning came and she looked beneath her tree,
Not a present to be found as far as she could see.
She didn't give up hope as she heard a knocking sound.
When she opened up her door, a great big box she found.
She called out to her mother and dad, brothers and sisters too,
She said, "My prayers were answered, there's something in here for all of you."
Her daddy got brand new boots, her mother new underpants, her sisters got beautiful hair bows, her brothers warm gloves for their hands. 
Buried deep beneath the box was a brand new baby doll and a note that said, "Merry Christmas, I love you one and all."
I'll never forget that story because much to my surprise, 
I saw the true meaning of Christmas shining in my mother's eyes.
For those of you who are wondering, as if you didn't know,
The little girl in Mama's story was my mother long ago.

APPENDIX

This poem is about a childhood memory I will never forget. God bless all the mothers in this world, and may all your Christmases be ones to remember.

END

Source: http://www.familyfriendpoems.com/poem/mamas-christmas-miracle


Do have a lovely Christmas and get someone miracle-like surprise!

image: jtcjournal.com

For the first time in our democratic history, a seating president failed to win re-election.


image: naijagists.com

As a country, this year has been a very unique one. And for me personally, this year has equally been a very unique one. It stands out among all the years I have a good memory of. A lot of very amazing and unexpected things happened this year.

Also for the first time in many years we are now feeling full-force the effects of accumulated bad economic management. The fall of Oil price that we all knew was going to happen someday has finally happened, and the plan we should have put in place many many years ago is now what we are trying to put in place now. 

For the first time in decades we are now seriously fighting corruption in high places. Politics is no longer looking as attractive as it used to be and thieving is no longer the "expected". Stealing is now corruption.

And for me this year has been a pivotal one. I have grown at a rate I never imagined possible. I have encountered complete re-orientation in many areas of my life and business views. I have had my mind expanded. And most impressive, I have learnt to make a habit of turning my thoughts to actions really quick. I don't waste time and resources overthinking things. I simply fire and re-aim. I do and analyse the results, then adjust my strategy. 

And for the first time in my life, I don't feel restrained by money. I have experienced many times this year how to turn an idea into money. And I have been paid N50,000 and then N640,000 for the same effort. I have seen people even make money from doing nothing more than connecting someone else to an opportunity. The many ways I have seen people make money and experienced a few myself has helped me internalize the principle that an idea is powerful (especially financially powerful). As long as I don't run out of value making ideas, all I need is a sound strategy (which one can get better at with time and practice) to keep printing money out of those ideas.

I am grateful to God for a wonderful 2015. I hope and pray the coming year will have as much profound progressive effect on me.

image: marketnavigators.ca

At the start of this year I had just one main objective: how do I make at least what I was making monthly in my previous job. I accepted all kinds of jobs and worked myself like a slave. And because I was thinking at the level of my objective, I charged very low and bent to the conditions the clients were giving.

It's now end of the year, and I am glad I have stopped thinking at that low level. I am now thinking big. I am much more selective of the jobs I take on. I would rather work on my long-term business projects than do a one-on-one class anymore. I now charge much higher than I used to charge and my new objective is to be Nigeria's number 1 business data analysis company.

I have completely reshaped my thinking. I no longer see myself as a highly skilled data analysis consultant but as a business manager. I have even changed my LinkedIn job title to Managing Director. I am conditioning myself into thinking more as a managing director who will source and manage the resources needed to take the company to the sky, growth-wise.

I am putting almost every money that comes from the business back into the business. I get everything that I feel will help us get to the next level faster. I am more willing to make mistakes and waste money. My number one priority is now growth. The focus is no longer me and how excellently I used Excel for data analysis. If in other to grow the business I need to stop doing the technical bit of the projects, then I will. I am already test driving having a standby team of experts I can shift work to and pay per hour. If it doesn't work well, I will try another model and keep searching for what will work.

I am glad I am in a business I chose myself and thoroughly enjoy, what I need to do is think really BIG. Let go of past awards and present achievement, and move the business forcefully to new heights month on month.

From Punch Newspapers:

Deposit Money Banks have commenced a process to stop all customers from using their payment cards, popularly known as Automated Teller Machine cards, for dollar-denominated transactions when they travel abroad with effect from January 1, 2016.

SUNDAY PUNCH’s investigation also revealed the banks would not allow their customers to use naira-denominated ATM cards locally for transactions denominated in forex.

This means bank customers will not be able to use their cards to buy products from foreign e-commerce sites like eBay and Amazon.com in which payments are made in forex.

Already, Standard Chartered Bank has notified its customers that from January 1, 2016, they will not be able to use their naira-denominated ATM cards for transactions that are denominated in foreign currencies, either locally or when they travel abroad.

In a notice to its customers, Standard Chartered said, “This is to notify you that from January 1, 2016, your naira card will no longer be enabled for international use. This is as a result of the limited foreign exchange supply in the financial market.”

That was the sad news that ruined my yesterday evening. And when I read the comments below the Punch Newspaper post, it was obvious that many people seemed confused by this move of the CBN. And on LinkedIn someone asked: "Waoh, What is going on?"

I decided to give my 2 kobo and here it is.

There is only one thing the CBN is trying to protect: the foreign reserve.

It should stop using the outdated managed float exchange rate policy. Advanced countries freely float their exchange rate. If we keep pegging the dollar to N197, not even a $60 billion foreign reserve will save us. It will eventually run out. And all this demand control mechanism is not economically sound, just a way of pushing the inevitable forward.

I understand that Emefiele doesn't want the political pressure that will come with having the naira exchange at the prevailing market rate and let the foreign reserve be used for more strategic and nation building purpose. But this stopping all online payment denominated in foreign currency is economically more damaging and unsustainable.

A sound economy is built on trade. You focus on where your comparative advantage lies. Even if we try to build everything we need, it will take us decades to have high tech industries that build useable cars (not assemble them) or a mobile phone. And that is like going back to the stone age when everyone built everything he needed himself.

It's unfortunate that in these modern days, when other forward thinking countries are building capacity for high value industries and shifting low value production to other less forward thinking countries, our country is obsessed with going back to the 18th century when you avoid banks and governments.

We borrow to pay salaries and oil subsidy, instead of building infrastructure that will grow our production/economic capacity.

The only way to make things better is to improve the supply side. Give Nigerians constant electricity (even if you have to borrow from IMF to do it) and watch businesses rise and bloom. Make it easier for businesses to start and run, not increase taxes and fining the few doing well. Set up industrial research institutes and promote innovation, not funding snail business and poultry farming seminars for NYSC people (did they spend 5 years in Uni to go start snail farming?).

No country grows by sharing the nation's fortune among a few and transferring pain to the masses.

First, these are all fictitious data.




I took five different branches of Domino's Pizza in Nigeria and gave them random Managers. I also pulled out their location data as places like Gbagada and Ibadan confuses the map engine in Power BI.



Then I created daily sales target, pizza type sales target and actual sales data for about two weeks.




I launched Power BI Desktop



I brought in the datasets and created relationships between them.



Then I proceeded to making a sales dashboard showing me the sales performance by branch. It has drill-down capabilities, so one can decide to focus on the sales performance of any single branch.







Then I published the dashboard on my Power BI account so I can access it from anywhere and on the go from my phone/tablet/laptop. It also allows me to ask questions a business manager will be interested in knowing.



Can I see sales by manager?

Show me the top sales branch. 



And the fun doesn't stop there. I can access it from my smartphone too. And even set it to alert me when sales reach a specified amount.






And I can share it with the MD and CFO. Cool!


Good morning.
I came across a not so good news/rumor yesterday: that the CBN is planning to bar Naira ATM cards from making international transactions as from January 1, 2016. I hope it is not true. I am already considering loading my Payoneer Mastercard with as much dollars as I can before January 1, 2016. I have too many services I pay for online and rely on for the proper running of my business. Even the $100 maximum a day is a problem already.

Back to today's main post.

image: wiseowl.co.uk

Yesterday, I had my first tutor based C# training class. I have two different teachers, one is an Indian lady in the US who agreed to take me one hour a day every week day. The other is a guy in India who agreed to take me 5 hours equally split between Saturday and Sunday.

I had the first of the weekday class yesterday. It was a great session. In one hour I learned a lot that I never gleaned from the numerous books I have read. Now I know why people prefer to come for live class training rather than do video training or read books. She has been teaching programming for about two years and had been programming professionally for about 10 years. So she had a well structured way of explaining everything, a great training outline/curriculum and excellent illustrations. We used Skype and Teamviewer.

We started with creating C# projects. Then created a Console Application. I learned the basic structure of every C# program. The using statements, namespaces, classes and the uniqueness of the main class.

I also learned how to write to the console and read from the console. I learned to concatenate strings and how to use placeholders. 

I learned the difference between class library projects and application projects. I learned the different types of integer variable declaration, floating variable declaration and string variable declaration. I learned about how to work with file/folder paths using escape character and verbatim literals. I also learned the benefit of knowing the default values of the different variable types.

It was a mighty lot I learned in one hour! I can already feeling myself making great progress.


image: slideshare.net

There is only one way I know to overcoming fear, failure and frustration. It is to keep doing the very thing giving you that fear, the very thing you are scared of failing at, the very thing frustrating you. 

Everyday, I fear I might not deliver a client's job. There is always this fear of failure silently following me. And I often feel frustrated. But I am lucky to realise early on that it is normal. Everyone faces the same issues. Even the big guys. No one who is growing and doing very well in business is having it rosy all day everyday.

Take the manufacturers of Kia. Would you believe if I told you that Kia is more reliable, better and safer than Toyota, Mercedes Benz, BMW and Volkswagen? On all tests and evaluation, Kia beats Toyota by a considerable margin. And you know how? The company never stopped improving faster than others. They didn't let the frustration of being considered a cheap and low-value brand get them down. They didn't let themselves be overcome by the fear of not seeing the results of the hard work they are doing. They focused on being the best quality car manufacturer and now, over 20 years later, the whole world is noticing. They have moved from the rear to the front, and are winning awards that Toyota and Mercedes used to win.

Nothing significant is going to get better for you by itself. You have to keep doing the things that will get you to where you want to be. You have to overlook your fear, disregard failure and get used to frustration. You have to overcome this three to get the type of life you want.

Yesterday, I took one of the boldest decisions I have taken in a long while. I told myself that there will never be more time for me to do the things I want to do and that I just have to dive in head first into whatever I desire to do.

This time around it is not about quitting my job or switching career; it is about learning French and becoming a proficient C# programmer. I will always be busy and not make out time enough to learn them if I don't give them the status of critical like I give jobs I am past deadline on.


image: wokenmind.com

And guess what I did?
I got myself a French teacher I pay per class and already committed myself to 4 sessions a month (more like weekly classes). She is a native French speaker and has been teaching French for close to 20 years. In fact, she speaks more French than English and already informed me that our classes will be more of French conversation. We had a session yesterday where she assessed my French level and gave me a good rating. She said I am way beyond the beginner's level and that my reading and comprehension is good. That it is my conversation skill that needs to be worked on and that in a matter of few months I will be very good. I felt extremely happy. And one more thing, the classes are via Skype.

I didn't stop there. I also put up a posting on Upwork about needing a C# tutor. I have gotten some interested tutors already and will soon be reviewing their profile to pick one. I will be focusing on rate and experience of the prospective tutors. Low rates get instant high rank and then experience is considered. I am not looking for the best C# tutor, just someone great enough to jumpstart me.

I still don't know where I will squeeze the time from but I know that I am definitely not going to let my money waste. I will take the classes I have paid for and also do the assignments they give me. The french lady has already given me some exercises to do and I have committed to doing them. I know the C# classes will be much easier to do, as I have a natural edge in that. I already do a lot of programming and enjoy programming.

One thing I am very proud of myself for doing this year is taking bold steps. I am convinced that the only way I can achieve great things is to aim for those great things irrespective of my chances and resources (especially time).



"To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you someone else is the greatest accomplishment." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

And I completely agree. There are too many forces trying to shape us into the same things. We were all forced to go through the same schooling system; and now we are all forced to wake up the same time and work the same way.

People don't expect you to make a career out of what you love doing for fun. Fun to them is going to cinemas, travelling to Dubai and partying with friends; anything outside of work. They think you are lying when you say you enjoy your work way more than those things. They are not used to making a career out of what they greatly enjoy doing.

To thine own self be true. Stop trying to be like someone else or living up to someone else's expectations. Don't let other people or the society build for you the image of the ideal person to be. You are you and there is no one youer than you, and that is truer than true. (Dr Suess). 

It is not about being different just for the sake and bliss of being different. It is about letting the real you shine forth. It's about getting rid of those principles and ideologies that are sold in bestsellers. There are no 7 principles of highly effective people. There are no 10 rules of success. Everyone is meant to follow his own equilibrium path to success. A path that keeps every part of you in union and at equilibrium; not success at the sacrifice of yourself.

For instance, I like working in bursts of few hours interlaced with sleep. I don't feel well when I work for 9 hours stretch, even with the one hour lunch break. I also work best when I am in the mood. I can get a high quality immense job done in 4 hours of being in the right mood than 2 days of not being in the right mood. So I spend a lot of time and money on bribing myself into the right mood and I don't force myself to work when I don't feel like working.

I take my work like art, not something I do to put food on the table. I take up only projects I am happy working on and not the one with the biggest pay attached. It's not fun to work on something you don't enjoy. And I find out that the more I work on the very narrow spread of projects I enjoy, I become better faster and learn a lot I could use for something else. That is why I am constantly having some fun projects, both personal and paid projects. 

I also enjoy my work way more than hanging out with people or going to the cinema. So fun sometimes for me is simply working on those projects that make me smile in my sleep. I don't feel like I am slaving away or denying myself of a fun-filled life. Most days are fun-filled days for me. I am learning and growing at the things I enjoy, and making a good living from it. And I believe it is an evidence of being true to myself.

"To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man." William Shakespeare.

I woke up to an unpleasant surprise. I saw the debit alert of a transaction I made yesterday. I was charged N250 to $1 for an international transaction. I bought something online. The Naira equivalent was way above what I calculated when making the purchase. I almost screamed! N35,664.42 for a $142.66 purchase!



Now I am going to do a review of my online transactions, especially the recurrent one. I am running a Google advert campaign for a business and I was paid at N220 to $1. I will have to inform them and maybe pause the campaign before I turn to Father Christmas.

I am also going to check the list of all my monthly charged subscriptions: Skype, Join.me webinar, Mailchimp, Google Adwords, Upwork freelancer payments and others. I will start considering ending the ones I am not making any valuable use of or think of ways to get value out of them.

I really feel for those in the retail space -- import and sell. Imagine if the bill was for a product I had already billed the cost price at the usual N225 to $1 I was charged about two weeks ago. I will almost definitely incur a loss. Just two days ago, I sold iTunes cards and did the calculation at N225 to $1, I didn't bother checking the debit alert I got for the dollar cost price. Now I have checked them and I am barely making a gain. The new rate has wiped off most of the gain. I will have to review the price upward before I run a loss.

It is also getting me worried about my online Masters programme. I still have 14 months (monthly) instalments to make. And at the rate the dollar rate is going up, it is has if the school fee is increasing every few weeks.

Unfortunately, there's no one to blame. In fact, I think the dollar rate will go up more. The CBN is really trying hard to peg the rate. The intention is good but it is not sound. You can't fight the market forces. Exchange rates are tied to the performance of the economy. As long as the demand for our Naira is low due to the drop in Crude Oil sales/price and low export generally, and the demand for dollar is steady as we still import the same amount of goods (if not more) and buy dollars when travelling out; then the price of dollar will continue to rise till demand and supply meet. We have a situation of too few dollars interested in our Naira, which translates to too many Naira going after the dollar. 

It is not something unusual. Even the developed countries experience it. There are countries our currency is doing better than and there are ones, like the US, that it is doing worse than. And as long as fewer people are interested in buying our goods and investing in our country so that more dollars will exchange for our Naira, then we will only wipe off our foreign reserve for nothing if the CBN keeps pegging the exchange rate at below the market rate. And I say for nothing because the foreign reserve is not the Widow's jar of oil and neither is the CBN governor, Elisha. The foreign reserve will dry up and the crash of Naira will be unhelped.

For now, I have been given a foretaste of the looming reality. I have to tighten my trousers and not be caught unaware.


image: dickinsoninvestments.com

I have restarted work on my stock analysis web application. It is into four stages and I am now making progress on all the stages:

  1. Financial Reports Gathering
This is the first stage and I have been doing this since 2012.  I have been gathering the PDF copies of the financial reports of companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. For some companies I could only get as far back as 2008 and for others I got either earlier than that or later. The great thing is I have them in easy to share/downloadable versions.

I currently share them for free via my SlideShare account and you can go there to download any annual report of a company publicly listed on the NSE (that I could get their report; some companies still don't post their reports online so I couldn't get them). Here's the link to my slideshare account: http://www.slideshare.net/olafusimichael 

2. Standardized (IFRS) Analysis Template (lots of ratios pre-analysed)

I am sort of done with this stage. I bought a hands-on guide from an investment analyst with one of the top global investment firms and taught me how to make the very type they use for their own analysis.

It makes it possible to do a standard comparison of different companies even if they had used very different lines in explaining the income statement, balance sheet statement and cash flow statement. It's like what Morningstar does in US. I have once worked for a US client and the reports I was to work on where from Morningstar, already standardized and easy to work with. Mine will be doing same but with lots of quantitative analysis also done in it.

It captures ratio analyses like:
  • Revenue Growth
  • Gross Margin
  • Operating Profit Margin
  • Net Margin
  • Return on Assets
  • Return on Equity
  • Return on Invested Capital (ROIC)
  • Cash Flow as a % of Rev
  • Cost of goods sold as a % of Rev.
  • SG&A as a % of Rev.
  • Interest Income,net as a % of Rev.
  • Income tax expense as a % of Rev.
  • Current Ratio
  • Quick Ratio
  • Debt to Total Assets
  • Inventory Turnover
  • Days Sales Outstanding
  • Days Inventory Outstanding
  • Days Payable Outstanding
  • Cash Conversion Cycle
  • Accounts receivable as a % of Rev.
  • Inventories as a % of Rev.
  • Prepaid expenses and other as a % of Rev.
  • Deferred taxes as a % of Rev.
  • Bank lines of credit as a % of Rev.
  • Trade accounts payable as a % of Rev.
  • Accrued liabilities as a % of Rev.
The little piece I am yet to completely sort out is for the banks and insurance companies. Their reports require a customized template. 

3. Data Entry into the Template

I used to do this myself but now that I am too busy; I now outsource that part to a Ukrainian freelancer. She helps me with inputting the records from the financial reports into the analysis template. So I can say this stage is well covered.

4. The Web Application

Originally, I was planning to learn to do it and build it myself. Now I have realized that it might take years for me to get to doing it. So I have put adverts out for a competent web developer who can help build it for not more than $500. 

It will be a subscription based website. You register and get access to the financial reports in their original downloadable form, also access to the analyses and charts, and be able to run quantitative comparison of two or more stocks.

It is at this stage I will be putting in a monetization plan. Maybe there will be a paid subscription option (premium users) and there will also be custom services (maybe you want us to do bespoke analysis and reports for you).


I still have the details of everyone who asked me to put them on the invite list when it's ready. It won't be ready this year but at the rate I am kicking things back into action, it should be ready next year. Thanks!