In four (trading) days I've seen my Mobil Oil Nigeria shares rise from 188 naira per share to 241 naira per share. And it is because NIPCO is taking over Mobil Oil Nigeria. I've always read it in the books and seen it happen to other people's shares, but this time I'm part of those caught up in it. When a company is being acquired, its share price rise. Even the rumor of it being acquired raises the share price, like it did for Twitter shares some weeks back when it was rumored that Salesforce was considering buying Twitter.

The practical effect has been a handsome spike in my portfolio performance (gain).

This week I shuffled my US investment. The S&P 500 has been rising worryingly recently. I read through a thorough analysis of it's current state vs historical average and the conclusion is that a market correction is near. The P/E ratios are now sky high. The growth has been overexaggerating the economic and underlying asset performance. So I sold all my shares on the Vanguard S&P 500 index fund and in the SPDR Energy Select ETF. I am planning to wait out the bull period that I feel is ending. I have put the money in US Bonds, Emerging market bonds and Emerging markets shares.

I am now very frugal in my lifestyle. Investing as much as I can. For the Nigerian market, I am doing purely stocks and picking them myself. I have put an hold to adding money to my ARM Discovery mutual fund and I have taken out almost all the money in my ARM money market fund. All new addition goes into my stockbrokerage account and I now use Meristem (no longer ARM as I've been having issues with their trading platform, plus Meristem has phone app). One can't eat his cake and have it.
And it is.

Ntel.

I use over 200GB a month and download at speeds exceeding 20mbs all for a very affordable price of N10,000 per month. It beats and has benched my Smile Unlimited plan, Spectranet with their 100% bonus and even the speedy Swift. It is the best thing that has happened to my internet life this year. No more fear of spending up to N50,000 a month on internet because the monthly bundle plan with data cap finishes in one week.

With Ntel I stream without fear and set the quality to HD. I download without bothering about the size, in fact, I bother about my hard disk free space more than I bother about my internet data access. I upload my tutorial videos without fear. I run webinars with the best streaming quality my PC can handle and not handcuffed by the speed access/limit of my internet plan.

I watch Netflix, Hulu and Udemy videos without a single worry about my internet running out quick. I watch YouTube at HD quality. I update all my software without any worry. I update all my many phone apps as often as new updates come out. In fact, I have them set to auto-update.

Now you know what I mean by the best thing to happen to my internet world this year.
image: cfainstitute.org

Heard of ICAN, ACCA, ACA, PMP, CBAP? 

Well in the investment banking and core investment finance world the most revered certification is the CFA certification. And today I have got good news for you, even if you are not interested in doing the CFA certification nor becoming an investment banker.

The CFA Institute Investment Foundations course, which was previously accessible only after paying $250 to register for the exam, is now freely available to everyone. And you should take advantage of it because the knowledge of finance is now a big plus in navigating our complex business and personal investment world.

You can access the course here: The CFA Institute Investment Foundations Course




The curriculum covers, with download link for the materials:

Module 1: Industry Overview
Chapter 1: The Investment Industry: A Top Down View

Module 2: Ethics and Regulation
Chapter 2: Ethics and Investment Professionalism
Chapter 3: Regulation

Module 3: Inputs and Tools
Chapter 4: Microeconomics
Chapter 5: Macroeconomics
Chapter 6: Economics of International Trade
Chapter 7: Financial Statements
Chapter 8: Quantitative Concepts

Module 4: Investment Instruments
Chapter 9: Debt Securities
Chapter 10: Equity Securities
Chapter 11: Derivatives
Chapter 12: Alternative Investments

Module 5: Industry Structure
Chapter 13: Structure of the Investment Industry
Chapter 14: Investment Vehicles
Chapter 15: The Functioning of Financial Markets

Module 6: Serving Client Needs
Chapter 16: Investors and Their Needs
Chapter 17: Investment Management

Module 7: Industry Controls
Chapter 18: Risk Management
Chapter 19: Performance Evaluation
Chapter 20: Investment Industry Documentation


Skill up!
image: Expatica.com

I started my French learning journey in 2009. I am currently at the upper end of the intermediate level. I can read and understand everyday french writings. I listen to a french radio (now, almost) daily and I understand a considerable amount of what is being said, plus the radio is Parisian radio with native french speakers. I can speak and write to get by but with lots of grammar and vocabulary errors. I also did and passed the DELF B1 French exam in 2011.

Here is a chronological list of all I did:
  1. 2009, September. I started my French learning journey after being inspired by a friend who was self-studying French.
  2. 2009. I bought French to English Dictionary. It was a small size pocket dictionary and I was reading it in a cover to cover fashion. I lost it that same 2009 (I think).
  3. 2010. I bought secondary school french learning books -- On y va. I also bought another dictionary, Geddes & Grosset French-English English-French Dictionary with over 30,000 headwords, vocabulary, phrases, irregular verbs, cultural + travel information and conjugation.
  4. 2010. I bought a more advanced french dictionary -- Larousse's French-English English-French Dictionary with over 50,000 vocabulary entries. I also bought the number one rated verb conjugation book -- Le Nouveau Bescherelle 1. L'Art De Conjuger Dictionnaire De 12000 Verbs.
  5. 2010. I hired myself a french teacher. Was having a two hour class twice a week. We used the secondary school books I bought for curriculum, majorly. I think this lasted 4 months.
  6. 2011. I enrolled at Alliance Francaise, Ikeja. Did two months. I did and passed the DELF B1 exam with 75.4% score. Then work transferred me to Abuja, so I continued in Abuja but at Centre Culturel Francais. Did one month there before work transferred me to Port Harcourt/Delta/Benue.
  7. 2011. I lost the job that was transferring me around. I then went to Cotonou, Republique du Benin. Did one month immersion, enrolled in a college that gave me a personal teacher to take me for that one month. I also had friends who tried to help me. I was forced to speak all the french in my head and learn how to listen + comprehend. I got another job and had to come back to Lagos after one month. 
  8. 2012. I started using more of online learning materials. I bought all the Harry Porter series in french and a couple other french novels. Read very few of them. And maybe only one or two completely.
  9. 2013. I started losing interest as I wasn't happy with my progress.
  10. 2014. I bought Rosetta Stone, one of the most highly rated and most expensive french learning software that uses an immersion approach. It takes about two years of consistent weekly learning to complete it. That discouraged me. I tried but couldn't keep with the weekly schedule that is recommended. I also bought french movies.
  11. 2015. I started considering giving up. 6 years and nothing significant to show for all the efforts and expenses. I shifted strategy and hired an online native french teacher but it was too much stress/work for me. I quit class in the second month and even forfeited my unused money/payment.
  12. 2016. I gave up. Then suddenly in September I restarted and surprisingly I started noticing remarkable progress. I listen more to radio and read French-English novels.
My recommendation is that you'll have to try everything and not give up as you won't know what will work for you and when you will start seeing significant progress.

Bonne chance!
image: SHuSHI168.com
Everyday I think about the future. My future. Nigeria's future. The future of business. The direction the world is heading. And my place in it all.

I try to link it all together.

And like in all mathematical theories, you start from the sure foundations (uncontested theories) and build everything else on them. For me that sure foundation is what I call the inevitable future. I try to figure out the things that are sure to happen. In as many aspects of life and business as I can decipher. I read a lot and wide to help me spot those sure things. Some people travel a lot and interact with diverse set of people to figure that out. I like the low cost option of reading deep and wide. After I have figured out those sure things -- like relevance in the world is becoming knowledge based than physical assets based; current recession in Nigeria is an opportunity to reach a market segment that previously used to be out of reach; people pick the best of available options and not the perfect/ideal option they describe as what they want; mixing hardwork with smart intelligence pays handsomely; and being in the right place/environment/league matters more than any personal qualities. I begin to carve out where I want to fit in and ride favourably the ocean of life and business.

From my judgement, the inevitable future (for me, the country and the world) is:

  1. (me) buying low and selling high is the core of business and investment. Now is the time for me to swallow any ego, pride and jealousy, delay every non-core gratification, and invest. Buy stocks cheap. Buy knowledge with the currency of time that I relatively have in abundantce for now. Be dogged. Be focused. Ignore toes and interests (not bothered if I match any toes or mine are matched). Make all my mistakes early in life. Grow a tough skin by throwing myself to the wild shark-filled real life and business world. Buy now (skills, investments, knowledge, thick skin and sharp brain) and sell the products I make and become from them in the future.
  2. (Nigeria) there are numerous opportunities for the very intelligent, risk-taking and extremely hardworking in this country. There are just too many things waiting to be done -- from new products that already exist in other countries to better ways of doing things. The country will grow by all important metrics (GDP, population, wealth per person, literacy, etc.) and I am better off staying here and focusing on building those innovative products and solutions.
  3. (the world) knowledge is power. Intangible now rules tangible. Value over process. Disintermedation. Increased efficiency in everything. No more boundaries. Huge rewards for the bold and intelligently daring.
I see my goal as a journey. I can't control my progress but I can ensure commit myself to sticking to the right path and putting in my best. And that is what I (hope I) am doing.
 
BTW, happy birthday day to me! Yes, I'm a November 26 boy. In fact, born on a Saturday.😎
If you pick a very narrow field, you'll have to master some specific tools, but in the end you'll also become part of the tools. Your work shapes you.

The biggest improvement I've experienced since going full-time as trainer/consultant is not a technical improvement. It is that I've learned to deliver under all kinds of conditions. I have become part of my tools. I have learned to train a class full of noobs, a class full of experts and a mixed class. I have learned to teach the same content in 4 days, 3 days, 2 days, 1 day and in 4 hrs. I have been booked a year in advance, months in advance, weeks in advance, days in advance, just hours to the training and even after the training has started with the original trainer suddenly not available. I've learned to train people who don't seem to want the training and people who don't want the training to end. I've learned to teach in all kinds of setting/environment, from one-on-one in my living room to online over skype/teamviewer/video-recording to a class of over 30 in one room. And much more than my technical skills, it is my skill to deliver that has been my main competitive edge.

I am just like the Excel software tool I use for the teaching.

In the beginning I used to feel sick after every two days training class. It was physically draining to talk, teach and stand for 8 hours a day and two straight days. Now I train 5, 4 straight days and don't feel sick.

And this is just for the training aspect. It's also similar for the consulting aspect. Sometimes, it looks like I was designed to do this very work (actual saying of some of my training participants). I sometimes do it on autopilot. It's like a carpenter whose muscles and brain have become wired efficiently for furniture making. Like a painter who has become of his own master tool.

The work does indeed shape one.

image: youtube.com

I am currently freelancing for a Canadian investment management company. I have done a few works for financial investment analysts. It's amazing that the people who do investing for a living and the companies set-up purely to manage the investments of high net-worth individuals (millionaires and billionaires) are much more conservative in their investment returns expectation while the rest of us are seeking unrealistic returns.

I constantly come across people who don't know the difference between investing and gambling. They compare putting their money into an investment that returns less than 17% for a whole year with playing lotto with a fraction of that money for a winning equal the investment capital + interest, or doing network marketing with the money to grow it multiple folds in that same one year with free vacation trips to Brazil, or, worse, putting the money in MMM. Some choose the others, and most just give up and face their career/jobs preferring to spend the money on professional courses and career building.

Investing is putting your money to work for you and not the other way round. A network marketing scheme that requires you actively looking for downlines/converts and setting up seminars is not investing but another job, at best, a part-time job.

Any zero-sum scheme you put your money into is gambling/speculation. Where for you to win someone else has to lose.

And whenever you go looking for schemes that will double your money for you in a year or less, you are looking for magic. Not investment.

Investing is a knowledge and research driven allocation of your money to productive use that when discounted for time/resources consumed and risk you get a net gain.

I invest in things I thoroughly understand - company stocks mostly. I see my money working and growing as Nestle, FBN holding, Mobil and even Nigeria as a whole grow. It's not a zero-sum. I can tell you about the underlying businesses and the financial/operational performances of the companies I invest in. I constantly monitor the news about them. Mobil Oil Nigeria just got acquired by NIPCO. I have read all I could find about NIPCO and even about it's industrious CEO. I believe that Mobil Oil Nigeria will be better for it. First Bank is the biggest bank in Nigeria by assets. And for the banking industry the Balance Sheet is the business driver. The low net profit they registered last year is a temporary situation and an opportunity for me to get in cheaply. The business is sound and well run. I am even currently facilitating a training for three different streams of their staff at First Academy (not under/as UrBizEdge) and the gists I'm hearing are giving me peace of mind. Nestle Nigeria is a darling. Excellently run, growing and providing essential products that both the rich and the poor buy.

I invest and not gamble. Whatever returns the stock market give them is of secondary concern, that the underlying business is growing sustainably is my main concern.

Yesterday, I held a webinar on Data Cleaning in Excel. Well, there was some technical glitches but I think I have managed to find out the root cause and way around the issues to prevent similar glitch in future ones.

You can watch the video of the webinar here, might want to fast forward the glitched part.


As a compensation, I will be taking you through the crux of what I shared in the webinar with plenty easy to follow screenshots.

1. Text to Column
Sometimes, you copy data from other applications into Excel and they don't get arranged the way you want. Maybe you copied customer data records with first name, last name and email and instead of Excel putting them in different columns/fields, you get them sandwiched into one field. How do you easily remedy that?

Well, I am happy to introduce you to Text to Column.



To fix this, go to Data Menu, Text to Column and in a matter of 3, 4 clicks you are done. Even for a hundred thousand records table.




2. TRIM
Got text data with the spacing irregularly done? No worries, meet TRIM.

It can turn records that look like this:

Into this pleasant looking one:



3. PROPER and UPPER
Got text or names written with all lower case or terrible mix of the cases? Time to fix them looking Proper or all in UPPER.




4. Go To Special, Blanks
There is something definitely special about Go To Special beyond its name.

Have you got records arranged disorderly and you want to align the arrangement. Take for example, the one in the screenshot below.


With Go To Special, select Blanks. Then right click on the highlighted Blanks and Delete, shifting cells to the left. And, voila! It is done!






5. Removing Duplicates
Say you have a table with duplicate records. How do you remove the duplicate entries, leaving one unique record?

You guessed right: by using remove duplicates.

Here is a sample problem to attack.


First, we'll make Excel show us the duplicate records using conditional formatting. It's not a requirement. Just doing it for fun or maybe you really want to see the duplicate records before deleting them. 



Now let's remove the duplicate values. Go to Data Menu, Remove Duplicates.


See result below. Sparkling clean. No more greasy duplicates.


6. Text 2 Number
Sometimes, you import or copy numeric data into Excel and they show up as Text. For you to run regular calculations, with peace of mind, on them you need to convert them back to numbers. 

If you are lucky, which is the usual case, Excel will show you a diamond tool tip to guide you in converting the Text numbers to Number numbers😀.

Say today you weren't that lucky. No diamond tool tip. How do you proceed, and considering there are hundreds or thousands of records to fix at once.

Well, use what I call Text 2 Number.

Just type 1 in any empty cell, copy it and paste special on the problematic entries but as Value and Multiply.



That fixes it in one step for you.


7. Go To Special, Errors
How do you select Error cells in your report and maybe replace them with something more meaningful or delete them all at once?

Again, meet Go To Special.






8. Find and Replace Formula Parts
Find and Replace can work also on formula components. I often use it in making giant templates or in cleaning up my formulas after considerable report structure change.


9. Spelling Check and Auto Correct
Surprised? Well, Excel does have spell check and auto correct.



And those are the Data Cleaning tips we treated yesterday during the webinar.

Don't forget to forward this to friends and family members who will find this useful and love you more for it. And you should subscribe to our webinar directory to be in the loop of all future webinar announcements.


image: knowledgemarketing.com
This month's webinar is today, Tuesday, 22 November 2016. And it's on Data Cleaning with Excel.

Time: 4:00pm -- 5:00pm

Venue: YouTube Live Streaming at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTLxdDKrvec 


 I'll be taking you through how to prepare your data for analysis in Excel.

How to remove duplicate records.
How to break entries into multiple fields (text-to-column).
How to clean off blank cells that are misaligning your record table
And many tips you'll enjoy and find valuable.  

Don't miss it! All you have to be part of the webinar is to go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTLxdDKrvec at exactly 4:00pm today from either your smartphone or PC. You can set a reminder to help you not miss it.

See you!
image: india.com


image: geekysplash.com
Forwarding other people's forwarded Whatsapp messages makes you look not good at all. Depending on the types of messages you rebroadcast the impression of you that it begins to form in the minds of people will range from unserious to plain stupid.

But if you must rebroadcast Whatsapp messages, then you should try my tips below to avoid looking plain stupid:
  1. Don't forward those long essay messages. Especially those ones trying to explain how research has shown that we should not drink ice cold drinks with food to avoid indigestion or women should not wear high heels to avoid permanent injury to their feet or men should not put phones in their pockets due to the radiation from it. 
  2. Don't forward messages about the new tactics of armed robbers, ritualists, rapists and pickpockets. 
  3. Don't forward jokes about religion, politics and race.
  4. Don't forward obviously stupid messages. Those messages that tell you to forward to other people to see a bicycle move or see your battery charge level go up.
  5. Don't create groups adding all your contacts just so you can forward them unsolicited messages.
  6. Don't forward marketing messages from someone else. 
If you ask what I really think is best, it is this: Don't broadcast any message. It's so uncool.



In fact, I am typing this blog post from the Mac. Or Hackintosh running the latest Mac OS -- MacOS Sierra. 

What is a Hackintosh. It is the unofficial name for having a Mac installed on a non-Apple PC. And in my case, I have the Mac installed on my Windows PC, via VMware.

It works great and fast and cool.

I mainly use it for my Excel and programming work. There are some projects I do that the end user runs Excel on Mac. There are some differences between Excel on Windows and Excel on Mac, especially as regards to the programming/VBA part. I then need to verify that my program can run on Mac and the only sure way to do that is to test run it or even build it on Mac.

There are also some developer/programming tools that work better on Mac than on Windows. And I am considering dipping a toe into iOS app development. Nothing serious, just to have a taste of it and keep it as a future option after mastering the web app one that is my current focus. And for iOS app development, you need to have a Mac and better to use Mac for the entire app development process.

Finally, it will be cool to fully explore the Mac for personal intense use. Before now, I have mostly used Mac for work. I used to work for a company where the main work PCs are Macs. I initially found it very frustratingly different but then got used to it. Now, I will be exploring it as a primary/home PC.


The problem with having a flamboyant lifestyle is you'll always be trying to keep up.

You'll be working hard and unnecessarily at maintaining that lifestyle. Life is a series of ups and downs but when you've got a flamboyant lifestyle you make the downs a lot difficult than they ordinarily should be.

So how do people end up with a flamboyant lifestyle?

There are generally two ways: 1) There are some people who have it in their genes. They just don't know how to live small. It's not a function of how much money they have or presence of someone to impress. They just must live large. 2) This is the category/way must people who live flamboyant lives fit in; external influence; they just can't stand looking poorer than their friends and work colleagues.

As for those in way number one, there's relatively little anyone can do to make them change that lifestyle. And they also have a unique advantage. God who has made them that way, has also given them special coping habits and internal lifestyle shock absorbers. They always manage to pull through all the downs in one piece.

It's those in the way number two who can be successfully persuaded. Luckily, many of them know that they need to adjust their lifestyle but can just seem to make it happen. They are up against something easily underestimated: peer pressure.

When you are a manager at work, it is a lot difficult to take danfo to work while your juniors, especially those who report to you, drive their own cars to work. Then you begin to feel intimidated when your subordinates are doing MBA and PMP and ACCA and NEBOSH and CFA and leaving you behind with your B.Sc. And it doesn't stop there. You deserve to live in Ikoyi like your friends and fellow club members. Your car suddenly start looking too old. Your clothes need to be fancier and more expensive. You must go to that country too for vacation. You must start living/dressing like you want to be addressed. It's just a matter of time before your lifestyle blow up. Just a little succumbing to peer pressure here and there.

But what can you do to free yourself from the way number two trap?

You have to find new pressure that will pull you in the opposite direction. Join a group of minimalist online. Millionaires who live simple lives. Have your own big plan that will not make you envy someone else's material progress. And don't feed the wrong pressure.
image: Getentrepreneurial.com

I have a friend, a fellow trainer/consultant. He is always complaining about everything. He complains about the consulting work he is doing. He complains about the very students he is training. And so much that I wonder why he is doing the training/consulting gig full-time like me as it seems he doesn't very much like the work.

I love my work. It's not easy. Things are not perfect. I come across difficult clients. I get students that won't get along easily. Still, I love my work. I smile at everyone I deal with. I even develop a liking for them for the sake of the work. I treat them nicely throughout the course of my work. I make sure they get that warm nice-to-do-business-with-you feeling.

Even when I was in a paid employment, I tried to love my work. To the extent of trying to get along nicely with impossible people so I can do my work well and end each day nicely.

Work fills a large portion of our lives. We spend the most of our active life at work, it makes no sense to go through it kicking, cursing and fighting. Either you find the work you love or love the one you have.

There are some people who believe growth can only come from discontent. They try not to feel comfortable anywhere, and take it as far as fighting colleagues and never feeling happy with their work. It is a wrong way to pursue growth. Rather than making things worse at work so you can be forced to look for something better, why not have a personal and career development plan you follow thoroughly that does not involve making enemies.

Altogether, what I'm saying is: regardless of the work you work, love it. At least, try to.
image: knowledgemarketing.com
This month's webinar will be on Tuesday, 22 November 2016. And it's on Data Cleaning with Excel.

Time: 4:00pm -- 5:00pm

Venue: YouTube Live Streaming at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTLxdDKrvec 


 I'll be taking you through how to prepare your data for analysis in Excel.

How to remove duplicate records.
How to break entries into multiple fields (text-to-column).
How to clean off blank cells that are misaligning your record table
And many tips you'll enjoy and find valuable.  

Don't miss it! All you have to be part of the webinar is to go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTLxdDKrvec at exactly 4:00pm on Tuesday from either your smartphone or PC. You can set a reminder to help you not miss it.

See you!
The biggest frustration you'll face in setting up a business in Nigeria, as a first timer, is that you won't find any organised list of legal, tax and general business requirements. Like me, you might find yourself learning on the field things you should have known before starting out.


image: businessnewsdaily.com

This is not going to be an exhaustive list or ultimate list of what to be aware of before setting up your business. Just an essential checklist. Feel free to add to it via the comment box.

1. Be incorporated/registered from day one.
Avoid falling into the trap of doing business like a road side mechanic. Using your personal account, having no registered company name and having no registration documents.

In the beginning, when you are doing the business on the side while still in your full-time job, it may not be a big deal. After all, the money from it is an extra income and any person/company who chooses not to deal with you because you're not registered is just allowing you more time for your main occupation. But when you are full-time in business, the big clients won't deal with you if you are not registered, even if it's pepper you are selling.

2. Do your tax registration from day one and do your monthly VAT filing.
As a business you are expected to fill a VAT form every month and file at the FIRS, whether you did any business that month or not. If you didn't do any VAT-able transaction, then you simply fill NIL everywhere they were expecting figures and you pay nothing. While failure to do your VAT for any month attract a fine, that can easily be compounded.

Also, when dealing with some companies. You'll need to provide your VAT certificate.

3. Have A Company Profile/Brochure, Company Bank Account and Company Address
Again, even if its pepper you are selling.

4. Have a website and use company domain email addresses.

To be continued... (part 2 here)
I thank God for this year. Made significant progress in my personal life and in my business. I have learned to be a better business man. Done a lot of non-technical training this year, as a participant, that have transformed me from the short-sighted techie who is always receiving instructions from other people. Now I am making the strategic decisions and taking charge.

image: PublishYourArticles.net

I am now thoroughly used to ups and downs of being an entrepreneur. The income inconsistency. The spending upfront. The paper work troubles. The marketing expenses without guaranteed results. Client management. The pressure that sometimes almost run one mad. And how to ignore the people who think I'm running a carpentry business, that I should be at their beck and call, and I should price just slightly higher than the cost of my raw materials.

I have restarted my French learning. Found a strategy that works well. I am now making good progress. I've restarted listening to French radio daily. I'm now able to pick out enough words from the news broadcast, songs and discussions to get an idea of what the theme (or big picture) is, but not the details. I found a website that helps with my reading skill. It has my favorite stories in a bilingual form. I also have a compilation of the most used French phrases and words that I revise to expand my vocabulary.

I also learned all the MBA I need for a lifetime. So I dropped out of my MBA online programme from the University of Nicosia, saving myself both vital time and money. My case is not quite simple. I have, via unconventional means, done MBA almost thrice. Different universities.

My only regret is the pace of my web app development. I have made progress but not as much as I was expecting. The requirements are surprisingly deeper than I expected and the amount of work required is enormous. I am now trying to drop a lot of things to have more time for it. I am killing the consulting aspect of my business because of it and I am scaling down the training arm to make more time for it. I have even narrowed the goal to just web app, stripped off the phone app part. I only wish my progress will be more reflective of the sacrifice made. 

image: blog.hypeinnovation.com

There is no word that get thrown around more frequently at business conferences than the word "Innovation". Everyone describes their business by it.

We are changing the way farming is done, in an innovative way. Now we put the seeds in the ground, we let rain fall on them and sometimes support with irrigation, we occasionally apply fertilizer as the plants grow and when they are ripe we harvest and sell them. Pure innovation. 

We are redefining the way eCommerce is done. We have set up a nice interactive website powered by a popular eCommerce template, we allow you to add items you want to a cart, you can also checkout by paying online and providing an address where the items will be shipped to. It's innovation at its peak.

Sometimes, I think it's a deliberate joke. Well, until I see that they genuinely believe that what they are doing is truly an innovation.

I used to think that what I am doing is also an innovation. Teaching people how to use Excel, building VBA programs and doing data analysis consulting. No one else is doing what I am doing, at least, like I am doing. But that is not innovation.

Innovation is doing something completely and revolutionarily new. Like being the first to build a platform that allows people to order for taxi from their phone and pay from their phone and rate/review the taxi guy and even offer yourself + your car for taxi services. Or the first to allow people watch movies and TV series on demand from any internet connected device for a monthly fee.

Innovation is doing what no one else is doing or even thinking of doing. Anything less than that is promotion. Whenever you use the word innovation to describe your me-too business, you are simply promoting it. Whenever I use the word innovation to describe my business (well, now), I am simply doing some advertising. It is not a bad thing. In fact, my me-too business is what is putting food on my table and giving me some hope that the future is bright. I wouldn't snuff out that hope for some grammar argument. But I also won't deceive myself into thinking I am doing what I am not yet doing.

If one day I come across a business idea genuinely new and revolutionary plus with a positive NPV, I will be sure to let you all know that I now have earned the right to use the word innovation in describing my business. But for now, I better shsh. 

image: medicaldaily.com
Today I am going to show you how enhance your intuition. Improve your gut feeling. I know it sounds funny. Isn't it called intuition because it comes from the deep, inside, part of you that you have no control over? Are we going to have to gut out our gut feeling?

Research and common sense both say that our brain doesn't go to sleep or switch off when we stop doing brain things (thinking, problem solving e.t.c.). And I am sure we all know that. The part most of us hardly consider is that: what then is our brain doing when we are sleeping? That's the question that will form the foundation of all I am going to share with you.

Our brain is constantly working. It is using all the information/education/smartness you have acquired to help you consciously come up with solutions and plans during your waking conscious hours, the same way, too, it is using those very resources to come up with plans and solutions when you are asleep (or at your unconscious mind level). The only difference is that the plans and solutions it helps us come up with during our conscious moments we claim as ours and are not surprised by them, but when it comes during our unconscious moments we call them "gut feeling" and "intuition".

In essence, the difference between your strategic deliberate plans and your gut feelings is at what moment you received them. One came during your conscious moments and the other maybe when you were not 100% controlling your mind. But the processes and resources used are the same.

Garbage in, garbage out. If you make terrible deliberate plans because you are not well educated or feed yourself inadequate useful information or not smart, then your gut feeling will be a fountain of horrible ideas. But if you improve the quality of resources your mind has access to and build up the capacity of your mind to think critically, your gut feelings will be excellent quality.

If you want excellent and breakthrough-triggering intuition, you should feed your mind with good quality resources and train your mind to think productively deep. And that is how you improve your gut feeling.

All the best!


Microsoft, for now, is letting you register for free for its certificate program in Data Science. So if you want to be come a Data Scientist or core Data Analyst, you should take advantage of this unique opportunity.

You can register for it here: https://academy.microsoft.com/en-us/professional-program/data-science/ 



The Course Outline is:

1. Data Science Orientation 

Get started on your data science journey, as you learn what it takes to become a Data Scientist. Learn to work with and explore data using a variety of visualization, analytical, and statistical techniques.

2. Query Relational Data 

Explore Transact-SQL, an essential skill for database professionals and developers working with SQL databases. Go from your first SELECT statement through to implementing transactional programmatic logic. Focus on querying and modifying data in Microsoft SQL Server or Azure SQL Database.

3. Analyze and Visualize Data 

Explore tools in Excel that enable the analysis of more data than ever before, with improved visualizations and more sophisticated business logic. Learn how to import data from different sources, create mashups between data sources, and prepare data for analysis.

Learn how to connect and visualize your data with Microsoft Power BI. Find out how to import your data, author reports using Power BI Desktop, and publish those reports to the Power BI service. Create dashboards and share with business users—on the web and on mobile devices.

4. Understand Statistics 

Learn how statistics plays a central role in the data science approach and how data scientists exercise statistical thinking in designing data collection, derive insights from visualizing data, obtain supporting evidence for data-based decisions, and construct models for predicting future trends.

5. Explore Data with Code 

Learn the R statistical programming language, the tool of choice for data science professionals. Discover its basic syntax, starting with variables and basic operations, and then learn how to handle data structures, such as vectors, matrices, data frames, and lists.

Learn the basics of Python, including simple arithmetic operations, variables, and data structures. Explore Python functions and control flow, and create your own visualizations based on real data.

6. Understand Core Data Science Concepts 

Learn key concepts and techniques used to perform data science; including statistical analysis, data cleansing and transformation, and data visualization with R, Python, and Microsoft Azure Machine Learning.

7. Understand Machine Learning 

Learn how to build, evaluate, and optimize machine learning models; including classification, regression, clustering, and recommendation.

8. Use Code to Manipulate and Model Data 

Get up to speed with programming in R. Explore R data structures and syntaxes, see how to read and write data from a local file to a cloud-hosted database, work with data, get summaries, and transform them to fit your needs.

Learn to use Python to apply efficient, well-known mining models to unearth useful intelligence. Explore data visualization, feature importance and selection, dimensionality reduction, clustering, classification, and more.

9. Develop Intelligent Solutions 

Learn how to apply machine learning to solve common predictive problems, including text analytics, spatial data analysis, image processing, and time series forecasting.

Learn how to use Spark in Microsoft Azure HDInsight to create predictive analytics and machine learning solutions. Find out how to cleanse and transform data, build machine learning models, and create real-time machine learning solutions using Python, Scala, and R with Apache Spark.

Learn how to develop smart applications that use machine learning to engage intelligently with users in imaginative ways.

10. Final Project 

Put everything you've learned into practice by participating in a data science challenge and competing with your fellow students. Take on a challenge on the Cortana Intelligence platform, where you develop and deploy a solution that is tested and scored to determine your grade.

And you can go ahead to get the Microsoft Professional Program Certificate in Data Science (conditions apply). Register for the Microsoft Professional Program Certificate in Data Science