How do you genuinely feel happy for friends, family and peers who just zoomed past you (success-wise) without feeling sad or that you need to overtake them (catch up)?

Some people try to talk down the success - oh, it's going to be temporal, they'll be back to their previous level; he's paying a much greater unsustainable price for it; and so on.

Other people try to find a balance by finding and focusing on three people who are currently struggling for every one person who has zoomed past them success-wise. They ease the pressure on themselves by saying - afterall, I am doing better than A, B & C.

A few people genuinely just don't care. 

Wanna guess which category I am in?

I used to be in the "just don't care" category. You could win a billion dollar from the lottery number I picked for you and I wouldn't care much. I would simply tell myself that it was not my time to come into such type of money or that destiny has something else in store for me or God knows best. I had a store of those type of sentences to break me from feeling envious of another person's success.

Then I went from age 20 to past age 30. My time would come no longer sounded as good as it used to.

I began seeing plenty people doing not as well as I was at a point, some even openly expressed how much they envy my state in life, zoom ahead of me. I found a convenient sentence for the first. Found another good enough sentence to dismiss the second. Can't remember on what count my sentences started failing me but I sure can tell you that I am now in the two other categories at the same time. When someone zoom ahead of me now, I first check if I can pin it to an unsustainable high price they are paying or a transient occurrence. If I can't pick a hole in the way they zoomed past me, then I switch to finding a balance in focusing on others I had zoomed past.

So how should you handle other people's successes without putting undue pressure on yourself?

That's a question I am trying to work out a refined answer for. I have an approach I am taking now and I hope that by sharing that approach with you all, I can get some feedback from you all and come into the refined answer I am seeking.

Personally, I am not a fan of "the end justifies the means". I think that regardless of the easing of the pressure that talking down another person's success achieves, it is inherently not a good thing to make a habit of. 

Finding a balance in focusing on other people who are facing some tough times is also a bad activity and sets you up for a much worse situation when one of those people zoom ahead of you in the future. 

So I am trying to modify the "just don't care" option. Now that I can't say my time will come with the confidence I used to when I was much younger, any sentence with "my destiny" in it sounds lame, and "God knows best" gives a feeling of tragedy. How then do I genuinely not care?

I found another sentence - enjoy your journey. Enjoy your own unique journey through life.

What do you think?

 


Running a consulting business in Nigeria is nothing like what you read in the books or hear from other consultants in developed countries. I think the only right way to successfully run a consulting business in Nigeria is to use the KPMG/PwC approach.

What is the KPMG/PwC approach?

  1. As the owner/manager, don't get involved at all in the project execution.
  2. Play golf, go clubbing/partying, socialize and do lots of grand impression creation to win big clients/projects
  3. Have a very active and assertive legal team to handle both clients and staff
  4. Have more project managers and supervisors than the number of people doing the actual work
  5. Institute a lot of red tapes and processes to ensure clients do not talk directly to the people doing the real work and every request is checked with a supervising manager to be sure it is within scope
  6. No emotions. If CBN or FGN suddenly issue a policy that makes the project useless, not your headache. Client must pay up.
  7. Ultimately, let your love for money/revenue be way more than your love for the field you are consulting in. In choosing between an exciting project and a higher paying zombie project, there shouldn't be any hesitation in picking the zombie project over the exciting one. It is only for the sake of PR or ethics, that you choose a less paying project over a higher paying project
  8. Have very strong internal policies that prohibit employees from deviating from the documented deliverables. No going an extra mile for the clients.
Is anything wrong with this approach? NO.

They why my negative title to this post? Well, for people like me who went into consulting because of the love for the field (data analysis), it is an almost impossible approach. I find it almost impossible to pick socializing over getting involved in the project execution/implementation. I absolutely will pick low paying highly exciting project over a zombie project. And I hate red tapes, having the client pass through numerous gatekeepers to get any message to the guys doing the actual work. So it is either I let go of the business side of consulting and act as a technical staff in my company while letting someone else manage the business side using the effective approach already mentioned, or I get out completely from the consulting business in Nigeria.

Guess which option I picked? Correct! Only a first time reader of my blog would need help with the answer.

I have done many consulting projects for clients in Nigeria and outside Nigeria, and the experiences have been consistently worlds apart. Even when I was inexperienced and had no skills in managing projects, I still found the foreign projects more enjoyable than even a higher paying local project. 

Why?
  1. Somehow, the foreign clients stick more to the project scope. They are usually very honest with admitting upfront that an out of scope need/request has come up and ask if I am willing to take it up as a separate project with separate timeline and additional costs. A Nigerian client usually begs you to add this "small change", often chaining the "small changes" in a long link of spaced out requests; makes no mention of new timeline or additional payment.
  2. Many foreign clients allow a hourly billing setup. I am yet to meet a Nigerian client (company or individual) that allows me do a hourly billing setup for their project.
  3. Nigerians have two buckets for consultants: the artisans bucket and the draconian bucket. If you are not making life difficult for them (red tapes, lengthy processes, many auxiliary staff to deal with, approval processes, lots of request declines), they treat you like their carpenter, mechanic, tailor and hairdresser. They pay no respect for your time, call you at odd hours of the day, have non ending urgent but small requests and just plain remind you of how you treat your mechanic.
  4. Project procurement process in Nigeria has a disproportionately high "messed up" ratio. There are too many projects where the internal staff are using it for their own personal gain and not for any corporate benefits. Either a government ministry or agency is using it to unlock some budgeted money, so they come up with easy to approve but unneeded projects; or a non-profit needs to meet an empowerment KPI and sets up a poorly structured project hurriedly. I don't want to mention the absurdities I have seen in the for-profit companies. 
So what am I rambling about?

Consulting is lucrative in Nigeria but requires an approach that creates unneeded frictions and overheads. Some use the honest approach I laid out in the beginning paragraphs. Sadly, I see some other consultants use the artisans approach (since that's what the clients treat them like): they put bugs in their solutions, create problems that keep the client coming back, be untruthful and manipulative, and just plain remind you of your worst mechanic.

To everyone who called me, messaged me, emailed me and visited me to encourage me to write again: thank you!



I have found not writing daily just as difficult as writing daily. I thought about it daily. I missed the therapy it gave me. I missed the emails I get from you all. I missed taking forever to reply. I missed the mind purge. I missed the ideas bounce. I miss many of you.

Not writing daily has its surprising advantages. It removed the tendency of making conclusions in one day just because I had to write about whatever occupied my mind each day. Writing has a way of making me choose a stance, doing a hurried research so I can have an introduction + body + conclusion. Even when I write to get your ideas, it is after sharing my inclination.

Not writing daily, has also made me feel quite important. Or should I say like a billionaire. Important people do not write about their own lives daily and billionaires try to stay incognito. Imagine I get into a political race or company board tussle, all the armo my opponents need to rubbish me is readily provided by me on my website. 

There were days I wished some of my employees were not subscribed to my blog. And I wondered how far back they read. Luckily, I think I talk and act in harmony with the way I write. But still I didn't feel comfortable with my wife, my family members and my work colleagues knowing more than I tell them directly. My wife hates that she finds out on my blog first (whatever I wrote about). 

One thing I can say for sure is that: I didn't find a balance. The right frequency to write at and the right amount of sharing. I think that balance does not exist for me. So I just have to oscillate between not sharing and over sharing.

And you? How have you been? How have you been daily handling the news? 

I have stopped reading the news. The little amount that sips into my day unsought still manages to fill me with big worries. The kidnappings are no longer just somewhere far away happening to someone unknown. Currently, there is a classmate of mine whose sister was kidnapped on 4 June 2021 and we are all still praying for her safe release. The towns where massacres are happening are no longer ones I have never heard of or many states away. I am worried that it is like a storm and if it is not abating, then the difference between the person being pummeled and the person not experiencing the storm is just time, t. The best self development and preservation strategy is, perhaps, emigrating. And as a close friend says, get out first before overthinking where to go; you will have it easier to move from any saner/better country to your paradise country. 

This month I bought a gamers laptop - A high end Razer Blade pro 17 (2020 edition)




The specs are epic:
  • 10th gen Intel Core i7
  • 8 Cores/ 16 Threads that speeds up to 5.1GHz
  • 16GB RAM that I have upgraded to 40GB and will become 64GB RAM in a few days
  • 4K touchscreen at 120Hz
  • 1TB SSD that I have upgraded to 2TB (using the speediest SSD type that has a RAM shape)
  • 8GB Dedicated Graphics card
  • L3 cache of 16MB, L2 cache of 2MB and L1 cache of 512KB


My high-end Dell XPS 15 is now struggling to handle my data analysis work. It gets hot so quick that the fans go crazy and the CPU starts underperforming (thermal throttling), I just had to get a 4 fan, vapour chamber cooling gamers' laptop that is optimised for performance rather than for sleek looks and battery live.

What do you think about my comeback?

 

I am the one at the far left

Come join us and 30+ other presenters and enjoy 4 days (6-9 Feb 2021) of Excel goodness.

Grab your ticket at https://globalexcelsummit.com/tickets/

And something special for you, you can get an insider peak into the event and 3D virtual platform at https://globalexcelsummit.atolye.live/login

Use your email (any email) but use this password ges2021

Don’t forget to grab a ticket at https://globalexcelsummit.com/tickets/ There are free tickets, cheap tickets and value-packed tickets. The choice is yours.

See you at the Global Excel summit next week!

We got a new neighbour last year November. One of the members of the household is a professional chef. He agreed to teach me how to cook intercontinental meals. We have done some classes in December. I have augmented my learning with some books and YouTube. 

Result. I have been cooking all kinds of new things these days.

On Christmas day I cooked Spaghetti Bolognese. 


A week before that my teacher had taught me how to cook both Spaghetti Bolognese and Chinese Fried Rice.



When my mother-in-law, sister-in-law and brother-in-law visited us three days after Christmas, I cooked them a special meal. It was not something they were used to but they praised me and did some takeaway for my sake.

I have been grilling chicken and gizzards this new year than I have done all the previous years of my life combined. 

I even now cook rice differently. My spaghetti and noodles are now like what you see in their adverts and packaging. 

I have more spices than anyone I know: Yaji, Chili Pepper, Jollof Rice Spice, Ground Ginger, Onion Powder, Stock Mix, Pepper Soup Spice, Ground Tumeric, Cayenne Pepper, Curry Power, Ground Nutmeg, Thyme Leaves, Rosemary Leaves, Meat Tenderizer, Black Pepper, Whole Oregano, Bay Leaves, Sazon Everything Mix, Oyster Sauce, Dark Soy Sauce, Light Soy Sauce, Ground Crazy Fish, Ground Cameroon Pepper and Ground Red Pepper.

I now know the difference between Olive Oil, Canola Oil, Sesame Oil and the Vegetable Oil I have always known. Especially the huge price difference. Come see me shout when someone touches my Olive Oil in a way I do not approve.

I have also been baking more. I sold close to $800 worth of Ethereum at $580/Ethereum to buy a very expensive LG gas cooker that has temperature dial, timer and a broiler. The next day, Ethereum started its meteoric rise. Now it is at over $1,200/Ethereum. Talk about bad timing. Now I sweat the cooker like it's its fault.

I baked mince pie.

I made chin chin.




I am now the latest convert to stir frying. I have chopped more carrots, more celery, more onions and more garlic than I have ever before the last one month. You would think I am practicing for a competition.

I have been reading so much now and learning a lot about the world of cooking that it's like I am entering a whole new planet. Just yesterday I bought suya spice from a suya seller in my neighbourhood. I read the bestseller by Samin Nosrat, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking and it has been very eye opening. I now season meat long before I cook or grill them. I boil water till its steaming furiously before putting in rice or spag or any main food. I play with temperature settings masterfully when using the oven and when stir frying.

I guess if the Excel and Power BI world comes to an end, I will be welcomed to the culinary world. I guess I can then rebrand as UrBizEdge Cuisine. :)

What do you think about my chances?

Happy new year! And we (UrBizEdge) have been lucky to get Bill Jelen (whom I consider the most popular Microsoft Excel legend) to be our special guest this coming Sunday.


You can RSVP at https://www.meetup.com/Microsoft-Excel-and-Data-Analysis-Learning-Community/events/xtlsvrycccbnb/

It will be a very open and interactive session.

This year I am becoming more deliberate with planning and following through with the plans made. I think I have been too unstructured and spontaneous in many of my business and personal dealings.

And you, what big change are you making this year?

 


Microsoft is doing us a special honor. Three managers from the Excel team at Microsoft HQ are going to be guest presenters at our Dec 6, 2020 live meetup session. You don't want to miss this opportunity to learn directly from the people behind the amazing Microsoft Excel and hear them answer your questions. 

The event page is https://www.meetup.com/Microsoft-Excel-and-Data-Analysis-Learning-Community/events/xtlsvrybcqbjb/. Register to attend so you get the calendar invite.


Title: What’s New in Excel for Office 365

Guest Speakers:
Guy Hunkin, Microsoft (Principal Product Manager, Excel Team)
Itai Goldstein, Microsoft (Product Manager, Excel Team)
Dror Yashar, Microsoft (Senior Product Manager, Excel Team)

Description:
During this session you will learn about new and exciting ways to explore and analyze your data in Microsoft Excel, including the ability to ask questions and get answers using Natural Language in "Excel Ideas" and new powerful Excel Data Types that expand what you can do on the grid. Unlock new scenarios and simplify the creation of your spreadsheets with the latest core capabilities like brand-new Dynamic Arrays, latest XLOOKUP function and more.

See you in the online live class session!

Joining link is https://vip.urbizedge.com/excel-live

(c) https://class.urbizedge.com

Recording of past sessions are available at https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0kdLm6FekrMWYBcervKPF_eAZk9dnoSI​​​​​​​

I am in between deciding to emigrate or stay. The entire interest started two weeks ago. Maybe the #EndSARS events triggered it. I was very unhappy with how our government officials lie, deceive us and hold what was meant for them to just share as palliatives. No truth, no shame. The "no army", the "no shooting", the "Ikoyi court burning to bury a case" etc all made me feel like it was time to have another option of where to be even if I still run my business here.

image: finglobal.com

 tried engaging immigration consultants online: https://migrategroup.com/ and https://www.canadavisa.com/

MigrateGroup were very helpful and did a comprehensive free evaluation of my options. They did a profiling of my biodata, career and qualifications. We went through the options of emigrating to USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Spain, Germany and New Zealand. It became obvious that Canada was going to be the easiest and shortest to gaining a permanent residency and second citizenship.

CanadaVisa.com were dodgy and seemed only interested in getting more money from me after I paid a $19.99 for an evaluation only for them to tell that I need to pay another $500 to get the evaluation. I felt like walking into a trap. So I told them to keep the $19.99, I was no longer interested in their service. 

Then after reading a lot of people's experiences of migrating to Canada (https://www.quora.com/There-are-so-many-negative-stories-about-people-s-experiences-after-migrating-to-Canada-and-obtaining-permanent-residency-Are-there-any-positive-stories-out-there-Is-it-really-a-bad-idea-to-migrate-to-Canada, https://www.quora.com/What-has-been-your-experience-migrating-to-Canada and https://www.quora.com/Do-you-regret-moving-to-Canada), I decided to quit the Canada option.

In fact, I decided to quit the whole emigration idea. That was a week ago.

Then this week, the fever restarted. And it was UK this time. I got some motivations from friends to emigrate to UK. Thankfully, I am aware of the UK TechNation Visa programme (UK Global Talent Visa programme). It seemed straightforward and I think I stand some chance of getting it.

Still I see no immediate necessity for emigrating. But looking at the direction of things and the shameful way government is handling everything, I feel sure that things will relatively (to UK and Canada) get worse in Nigeria and I might be back to considering this same emigration in 10 years time. So I concluded that it is better to just do it now and not ever get to a future that I start wishing I had do it earlier.

What do you think?

I am currently considering applying by myself (no consultant's paid help) for UK Global Talent Visa and Canada Express Entry. Ensure that I take my wife along (which both programmes allow at an additional cost).

I will also find a way to keep running my business here. Luckily, my team are a bit more able to work without my supervision/intervention. 

 I hope you are in good health and safe. This October has been like a 2020 amongst the months of this year.

Today I came across something worrying on BusinessDay newspaper (26 Oct 2020, page 29)


In particular, this part:



Here's the text extract:

"

Data compiled from the breakdown and highlights of 2020 budget performance presented by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, showed that in the first 7 months of the 2020, that is between January and August 2020, N2.5 trillion in revenue and spent about N6.25 trillion creating a record budget deficit of N3.7 trillion. At this pace, analysts suggest that the government may generate roughly about N4.3 trillion in revenue, spend N10.7 trillion in expenditure and end the year with a historic deficit of almost N6.4 trillion! To put this figure into perspective, Nigeria budgeted to spend just N6.06 trillion for the entire year in 2016. Today the deficit is on track to exceed that figure in just one year. In fact, total government spending in 2018 alone was N6.94 trillion according to the government. This means that the government is creating debt today at a record pace never before seen in Nigeria’s history.


This reckless behaviour by the Federal Government has now pushed the budget deficit to revenue to 174 percent as at August 2020. The debt service burden has worsened to 85% this year as a total of N2.1 trillion was used to service the national public debt compared to revenue generated of just N2.5 trillion as at August 2020. As at H1 2020, the Debt Management Office reported that the national public debt had reached N31 trillion.


Analysts from EUA Intelligence told Businessday that they fear that if the 1 year treasury yield was more market reflective and rose to a price of around 14% on local debt and 8% on Eurobond to reflect the rising rate of inflation in the country and current market average market yield on Nigeria’s Eurobonds, it will add an additional N1.08 trillion to the national debt service, which will put the debt service ratio of Nigeria from 85 percent today to 128 percent, effectively almost bankrupting the nation but forcing it to pay far more in debt service than it is able to generate in revenue.


“If the country fails to take adequate steps to improve its revenue performance, then it must cut its spending significantly rather than increase it. The excessive spending has failed to generate the promised economic growth and is on the verge of pushing the country towards a debt overburden situation which is terrible for the economy,” said an analyst from EUA Intelligence.

With the government now planning to increase its personnel expense which analyst forecast will hit N3.3 trillion this year (after posting N1.9 trillion personnel expense as at August), the only feasible way to pay for the salary increment as our finances are today is to carry more debt which unfortunately is dangerous for the government’s finances today.

"

Other facts I want you to know are:

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation

Almost all hyperinflations have been caused by government budget deficits financed by currency creation (aka printing more money).

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation

Source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hyperinflation

Now my deductions:

Our situation shows all the signs of factors that lead to very high inflation (and hyper inflation):

1) Huge budget deficit

2) Low and reducing tax receipts

3) Investors now no longer interested in low yield government bonds

4) Point 2 & 3 mean government will have to do more money printing (seigniorage) to cover the deficits

5) High and worsening unemployment rate, anti-business policies and low confidence in government = an economy where seignorage only leads to price level increase rather than boost productivity

6) Capital controls already in place (which is always a very bad sign and one that signals the government is not able to achieve much anymore with the normal fiscal and monetary tools)


My personal and business considerations:

  1. Hold as little cash and non-asset backed investments as possible. So today I sent redemption requests to Investment One and Meristem to take out almost all the money in my company's money market fund with them. Those funds are where the next year's office rent, tax payment reserve and money to fund products/expansion are in. But right now, I want to put them in a better than Naira place.
  2. I am re-evaluating my personal investment portfolio. Until now, I do a target allocation of 20% US Stocks, 10% Cryptocurrencies, 30% Nigerian Stocks and 40% Real Estate. I am thinking of switching temporarily to 20% Cryptocurrencies (with a huge chunk in stablecoins) and 20% Nigerian Stocks. Ordinarily, stocks should hedge against the effects of high inflation, but reality doesn't always work out that nicely in the short to medium term. And I fear that some companies may go under. I am favouring export-based and food companies. So I intend to put more of my stocks allocation into companies like Okomu Oil and Presco. 
  3. Focus on scaling up the aspects of my business that earns us foreign currency. For now its very small but has many growth potentials that I have been overlooking because I was busy chasing the bigger local opportunities. Now I will consciously grow it even if it means spending some time away from the local opportunities.
  4. I recently got into Estonia's e-residency program and got registered as an e-resident of Estonia. I had to go to London last month (perhaps another story for another day, did 3 Covid-19 tests in 3 weeks). With the e-residency I was able to register an international arm of my company in the EU and get access to many startup services that are not normally available to Nigerian companies with less tax burden than I face here in Nigeria. Now, I will be working extra hard on realising the global opportunities potential that comes with it. Not so I can emigrate but so that I can have as much of my business diversified away from the happenings in Nigeria as possible, just as I have done same to my investments.
  5. Decouple from the system as much as possible. By system I mean the Nigerian systems. You don't want to put all your foreign investments in a Nigerian financial institution. If they go under or get very stressed, you will get that stress or even see your money go under too. That's the nature of custodian/counterparty risks. I stay completely clear of Nigerian financial institutions dollar funds and their foreign currency investment accounts. In fact, I prefer a setup where I can access my money without needing a Nigerian bank. I don't want the stress that comes on the financial institutions during a difficult period as a hyperinflation period would cause to trap my money.
What do you think?

Am I overthinking things, overreacting or missing something important? Do let me know.

Thanks!



 This year has been a very peculiar one. Everyone's needs have gone up while income haven't gone up (many have even seen it gone down). And as it is for individuals so has it been for companies. However, some needs can't be deferred for long or the damage becomes more than is justifiable. 

For us as a company, we have pushed it out far for too long to add to our technical team and hiring a PA/admin. We started an internship program this year and we have kept it running even during the lockdown period. We have seen it be a very mutually benefiting one. The talent, energy and vibrancy of the interns we have had is one that shows that more than complaints of deficiency in our educational system, there is a bigger deficiency of opportunities. A UK, US or Canadian student easily get to do multiple relevant internships before graduation while a Nigerian student struggles to get one. We are happy that we are contributing to increasing that opportunities pool.

I am glad to announce that we have 3 roles we are accepting applications for:


PA/Admin Rolehttps://forms.gle/rJ5a53ibnDRbFMvh6 to see full details and application process. 

1) To assist with planning and admin tasks 

2) To help with presentations, executive meetings with clients and minutes 

3) To handle business correspondence for the CEO 

4) To help with business research and reports. 



Business Intelligence (BI) & Data Analyst Rolehttps://forms.gle/adK6foAheLiauCbM9 to see full details and application process. 

1) To work on Excel, Power BI and Financial Analysis projects 

2) To facilitate Excel & Power BI training classes 

3) To create video and written tutorial/training contents 

4) To coordinate webinar sessions.



Intern Role - https://forms.gle/NrowCU9m6wYJM2em8 to see full details and application process. 

1) To learn and support the data analysts 

2) To help with admin tasks 

3) To learn and provide support for our products/services 

4) To mange www.msexcelclub.com


Help pass on to anyone you think needs to see this. Thanks!