2014 has been a great year. Even though I came into it with many expectations, I can confidently say I'm exiting it with most of those expectations met. I will be entering year 2015 in less than 24 hours as a happy growing man. As a satisfied work-in-progress. Not that I'm satisfied with where I am or what I have become, but I'm satisfied with my rate of growth. I started from a very low base. I have too many poor skills, well below average skills, and this year has been more of becoming average at those vital skills I scored very very low in. 

 If each year could be condensed into a story, this year would make for a good one.
  1. I started my own business,
  2. I do more of the kind of work I enjoy
  3. I read many books and learned a lot.
  4. I identified all the parts of me that need to change or be complemented for me to be successful in business. And I am beginning to make the changes required.
  5. I broke free from my employee mindset that made me very negative at the beginning. As an entrepreneur it's never about where you are but where you are headed. Things are too dynamic in the business world that you can be broke now and have millions tomorrow. So I stopped monitoring my bank account balance.
  6. I learned to build a virtual team and not try to do everything.
  7. I learned to become more pragmatic and able to get over my bad lucks/experiences fast.
  8. I learned to be bolder and more daring. Going full-force for what I want and trusting my ideas more.
  9. I did all sorts of jobs this year and learned how to manage many unrelated jobs/projects successfully.
  10. I became less worried about my bad habits. No entrepreneur is perfect. Business is all about being the client's best choice. Not his perfect choice. Even the CEOs of big successful companies have flaws that will amaze you. Business is almost like politics, people go for the best or least terrible of their options. Just be better than your competition.
  11. I now focus on my strengths and seek perfection at what I'm very good at.
  12. I got a great partner -- life and business.
  13. I became good at giving my clients the warm fuzzy feeling that makes a consultant a darling. They sleep easy knowing they've got someone very competent and dependable working on that important task for them.
This year has been my greatest so far. And I am filled with a positive zeal to make 2015 a greater one. I also hope to be a better christian next year, not letting work eat into my church time.

image: getbent57.wordpress.com

Happy new year in advance! Thanks for being there, making my daily writing a worthy task. May the coming year be a very great one for us all.

Hope is a belief that everything will turn out great. It helps one to rise above the challenges in one's way to go create that reality one so much desires. It encourages one to keep putting in one's best and know that a much greater reward will come. Hope is that mental bridge between one's dreams and one's current state. It fills one with the determination to go after one's dream and the resilience to weather any unpleasant situation that confronts one in the course of going after one's dreams. In all, hope is what makes any journey interesting.

image: allegralaboratory.net

I see 2015 as my year of hope. That every big decision I made this year and the new direction I have taken for my life this year will lead to something very great next year. That as I keep surviving one challenge after another, my dreams will soon embrace reality; welcomed by reality. That everyday with every step I take, I am moving closer to the end of my dream tunnel. That 2015 is going to a very active and interesting year for me.

This year I had just one new year resolution: To live a more focused life. And I achieved it. My 2015 new year resolution will be to achieve fluency in reading French. Yesterday, I did some thinking about why I have not achieved any significant success in my learning of French for the past five years. I have learned harder stuffs with much less effort and resources within those five years. I find it extremely tough to practice French for 30 mins daily despite buying lots of books, audio programs and Rosetta Stone software. Yet I conveniently spend over 2 hours daily writing a blog post. On the surface, it's like I find the harder task easier to do. I have a beautiful native speaker who volunteered to help me become fluent for free. And she even put in more effort to get me practicing than I do. Somehow, all the recommended ways of learning French aren't working for me because there is this inexplicable internal resistance I have to doing them. I have gone to neighbouring Benin Republic and Togo to practice and nothing to show for it. I still avoid calling the wonderful friends I made there. So after doing some deep thinking I figured out that I have do build on my strengths and take my path of less resistance. As a child I read books I didn't understand. It took me 3 years of reading one of Shakespeare's book before finally understood the plot. I never check for meaning of words I don't understand (which could be up to half of all the words in the book). I do quantity over quality. It was the way I built my fluency in English. My written English has always been better than my spoken English. And even though I have been a member of a public speaking training organization for 3 years now, I still prefer writing to speaking. 

So I am deciding to take that natural approach to my learning French. I will simply read the French books I bought (and I have lots of them already). I will also force myself to do the Rosetta French course as I paid a fairly huge sum for it. I will take the same approach I used as a child in learning English. I won't bother so much about my French speaking skill. My original aim of learning French was to be able to write beautiful poems and articles in French. It is the reading and writing fluency I need. And I'm better off going straight for it rather than killing myself with the conventional learning methods focused more speaking fluency.

It might look strange that my resolution for the entire 365 days of year 2015 is to read French. Well, that's the way I do new year resolutions. I am yet to fail at my new year resolutions since 2005. I pick what is bothering me the most and I make a new year resolution out of it. It's usually one thing. There will always be a next year for any other thing I terribly want to fix. I never overload a new year with too many new year resolutions.

So in line with my 2015 theme, I am hoping I will become fluent reading French by December 31, 2015. And I am hoping all my eggs hatch in 2015, all my efforts turn out great results and my business moves close to what I have always imagined it would become.

It's one more day to the new year. How are you preparing for the coming year?

This year I met many amazing people. Much more than I have met in any other year of my life. It's said that if you know where you are heading, the world will make way for you. I think it should be: If you know where you are going, the world will put on your path people who will help you. And usually that help will come in form of some of them knocking you around and giving you bad experiences that will toughen you for your journey, while the rest will literally hold your hand and help you walk along the path you've set yourself.

Luckily for me, I met more of the "hold your hands" category of people than the "toughening bad experience" people. I met H. I met E. I met F. I met A. I met B. I met Y. I met S. I met K. I met I. I met P. I met M. I met D. I met V. People who have encouraged me to go confidently in the direction of my dream and to live the life I have always imagined.

Most of them are entrepreneurs, running their own successful businesses. I learned a lot from them and got personal help from most of them. I learned the human side of business from S, that one shouldn't be too obsessed with profit generation but be willing to give back to the society in ways your pockets will deeply feel. I learned from F that business is all about seeing beyond the hardship and the never ending troubles, and creating the reality you want. I learned from K that money will always come, I should just stay in the game.

Then there is super E. Showed me practically how to build a virtual team and get amazing results. And she has got something for all of you hoping to get a secondary source of income in the coming year: Internet Marketing Home Business

Earning money online is more about doing a couple of things right rather than doing everything possible. She has walked the work and earned the street cred to talk and show you the way too. If you are interested, you can read more here -- http://reefknotglobal.com/UltimateSalespackage1/ 

Like we Yorubas say: if God is going to help a man, He sends him the right people. Judging by the kind of people I have met this year, I think God is trying to help me.

And you? Did you meet more good people than bad people this year?

image: liberalrev.com
Murphy's law is very popular and it states that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. And this year that law did a stress test on me. I have had all sorts of trouble this year, some of which I list below:
  1. The guy who helped me with my company registration and was fast becoming a close friend suddenly played a fast one on me. He took N30,000 from me to get me a Tax Identification Number. After 4 months of his giving me one excuse after another for not getting it done, I decided to do it myself and ended up spending less than 10 minutes at the tax office to do it and was not charged any fee. So he defrauded me of N30,000 to do what was free and fast, almost without the intention of doing it.
  2. I put all my eggs in GTBank and they cracked every one of them on my head. The detailed story is here. They've added one more this week, a client did a NEFT transfer from her GTB account to my FCMB corporate account. It's 5 days now and FCMB says no transfer initiated yet from GTBank. And with the robot like answers GTB staff give I don't know when the hung money is going to get released. The same corporate account GTB stressed me intensely for many weeks to get opened, I opened easily within one week with FCMB. Now I have opened accounts with FCMB and Diamond bank. I'm no longer putting my eggs in one basket. 
  3. My business plans did not work. Nothing worked as planned, except my quitting my job.
  4. While heading for a meeting on a Saturday morning I hit one of Shell Oil company's cars, breaking it's back bumper. That day I learned why most drivers act irrational and always blame the other driver. Sometimes, that is the only rational strategy.
  5. I bought something online and despite specifying shipment via DHL, the chinco seller went ahead to ship via a method that would involve NIPOST. I had to repurchase the item. The only items NIPOST has reliably delivered to me were books. Whenever I send a non-book item through them, it never gets delivered. 
  6. I shorted the Euro and Yen against the US Dollar based on intelligent analysis. My analysis was proven to be correct and the resulting gain would have been more than I expected. The irrational part of the market wiped me out first within 2 hours of executing my trades. Then things started going just as I predicted. It's the worst kind of loss. There is no lesson to take away from it. You were right and you still lost. And it was a rare opportunity. I was 100% sure. Since then I have been waiting for another clear-cut opportunity. Too bad I don't know how to give up.
  7. In one particular month around the middle of this year, I spent over N40,000 on internet. And I didn't make up to that amount that month. I really felt sorry for myself. I was already incurring many fixed expenses monthly and having my internet expense balloon to over N40,000 in a month looked like there were some wicked people from my village blowing the thing up.
Then there was Shirky Principle: People will like to preserve the problem they are a solution to. It's much cheaper for WHO and the drug companies to make all the mosquitoes in people inhabited places sterile. It will eliminate malaria once and for all. But they won't. WHO will lose no small funding and the drug companies will lose future profits. And it's like that for almost everyone. No one wants to be made irrelevant. And that's one of the troubles I faced this year. Most of the people who should have hired me to automate the reports and analysis they do, don't even want to give it a thought. They feel I will be eliminating the problem that makes them relevant. 
Finally, there was Parkinson's law: Work will always grow to take up the time available. I am constantly busy, even when I'm not making any money. It's a terrible law to fall prey to. Especially when your income is not fixed monthly. The only way I can get out of the always busy syndrome is to have dedicated days that I will not do any work. I am going to reduce the time I have available for work.

And you? Did you fall prey to any unfriendly law this year?

I did get a strange gift this year. Not a physical one nor an emotional one. It was a mental one and, undoubtedly, the result of my neuroplastic exercises. There is this amazing finding by scientists that the brain is plastic, no plastic in terms of the composing material, but plastic in that it can keep taking new shapes (and skills) all throughout one's lifetime. The technical term is Neuroplasticity. And it proves through a lot of research that when we use our brain differently than we used to, when we try to be competent at something we are not naturally good at and work hard at it, our brains change and take up a new form to enable us reach the competence level we seek at the new task. I don't know if you've heard about this saying that a mind once stretched by a new idea never returns to its former size. It was by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I think in the light of the new research findings, it is the brain that changes when you try something new.

image: whatisneuroplasticity.com
So what is the special gift I got?
You've probably come across one of my posts where I mentioned that in 2010 I began brushing with my left hand after reading in some academic articles that by using my left hand more as a right-handed person, I will unlock new skills as my brain adapts by creating new neural paths to less used areas of my brain.

I think there is some practical truth in the theory. Since brushing with my left hand I have become better at using my left hand, especially for brushing. A new skill. I have also become better at remembering colors, faces and shapes. But this year I got something bigger. And I think having to write daily also contributed to this. I got the gift of movie-length dreams, rich in special effects and complex plots. I am now even considering writing a thrilling fiction or sell a forward thinking nollywood producer a great movie script.

In a day, if I sleep long enough, I could come up with two blockbusters. In the Dreamers' Pyramid there are three categories of dreamers. There are those who dream in black and white; they don't remember or notice colors and smells in their dreams. Then there are those who dream only non-fiction, they only dream about what has happened or is very likely to happen. And, finally, they are people like the new me who dream Academy Award winning dreams. Five years ago I was in the category one -- black and white dreamer.

It's a strange gift I got this year and I think it's a good one. For one, I don't get to bother about any of my dreams coming to pass. They are all fictions. I have seen people who fret about what they saw in a dream thinking it might come to pass. Not me. Then I don't have nightmares. If I have a dream that is more like a horror movie and I don't like the way it ends, when I wake up, I simply sleep back and edit the movie. I know it sounds funny and strange, but that's what I do. I am able to go back into my dream and change whatever scene I don't like. And that's why I call it a strange gift. 

This year I learned that there is a very big difference, bigger than most people think, between knowing and doing. Oftentimes we think the best comes from the people with the most knowledge. Well, technically speaking, those with the most knowledge would produce the best result if they put that knowledge to work. But in reality, the gap between knowing and doing is much wider as knowledge is never complete without some practical actions; without doing. You can't know how to drive without doing some driving. You can't even know how to write without writing. You can't read your way into becoming a good swimmer. Then there's always this David and Goliath effect, when the best comes from the least expected. So doing matters a lot more than knowing.

Personally, I learned that my knowledge of Excel doesn't matter as much as my confidence to take up Excel projects. I shouldn't try to know everything before putting myself out there as an Excel expert. Also, I can only become perfect by taking up all sorts of Excel jobs and not by limiting myself to the ones I'm 100% sure I can do.

This year I began doing more of the things I am not an expert at. Things I would never had considered doing while I was working for a standard organization. While I was working for Nokia Siemens Networks, a multi-billion dollar corporation operating in over 150 countries and, then, second largest in its industry, I blogged very sparingly. I was very concerned about what a google search of my name would turn up. Then when I was being recruited by Comviva (one of the biggest in its industry with operations in over 90 countries), and there was a prolonged silence after the final interview, I thought someone in the HR had googled me and wasn't happy with what she saw. But as I became less concerned about the rigid corporate world and wanted to be on my own, I began to express myself more freely online. I started doing more both online and offline. And my doing peaked this year after I quit my job to start my own company. Surviving has been more dependent on what I can do and not what I know. I built a robust school examinations result computation software in Access, and it was my first Access program. I wouldn't have agreed to do it if I had a day job. I became a technical partner for a new telecoms company, working on technical and financial proposals, and going for presentations. Another thing I would not attempt if I had a day job. I write about anything that interests me without the fear of stunting my career growth. In the field I'm playing, only one's skill and project portfolio matter.

The more I do, the more the gap I found between knowing and doing. Most businesses were started by people who knew not so much about the field they were venturing into. Like an accountant starting a telecoms company or an engineer starting a bank. If you want results you just have to do and sometimes ignore knowing. Learn by doing. 

And so today as finally arrived. Merry Christmas!

image: ahmsta.com
For many years and until today, Christmas day, for me, as been a day to do no work. Unlike what I see in movies, I don't get Christmas gifts. It seems in Nigeria the only thing we send ourselves on Christmas are Christmas wishes. And like a good Nigerian, that is what I am also sending you.

Unfortunately for me, today is not going to be a no work day for me. And neither is tomorrow. I have an Excel program I should have written over the past weekend that I just figured out how to write it yesterday. That's the thing about programming. It's so much like writing. You spend more hours figuring out what to do than actually doing. So today I will be doing the program, as I have finally moved past the stage of figuring out how to code the program. 

I will try to squeeze out time for some phone calls and more Christmas wish gifts. And like this post, my Christmas break is going to be a very short one.

Once again, Merry Christmas! And regardless of how you intend to spend today, do have a wonderfully merry day.

"Except a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit." John 12:24

image: drropra.com
I believe in destiny. That a man can't become everything or anything he wants to become: there are bounds to what he can become. And I also believe that no man knows those bounds; no man knows the full breadth of all he can become. So he can safely try to become whatever he desires and only after numerous failed attempts can he find out one of the things he wasn't destined to become. I don't believe in someone trying to let me know upfront what falls within or outside my destiny. The only reliable ways I can know are if God tells me by himself and when I find it out for myself.

Well, this year, 2014, has been one of fulfilling destiny for me. I call it dying to fulfill destiny. Taking actions that are killing one in some ways just to find out more about what one could be; one's destiny. This year I have taken very bold and almost suicidal steps. I have buried almost everything I have, like a seed, and hoping some will rise to a more glorious life. Like that corn of wheat that dies to rise more glorious and fruitful.

So far I am still watering my seeds. One or two are beginning to sprout.

This year I watched more movies than I usually do, both at cinemas and at home. And today I will be sharing some of the movies I watched this year. You will find it easy to detect the genres I love. A few are old movies. But they are all movies I watched for the first time this year.

The Lego Movie

Margin Call

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Hotel Transylvania

Olympus Has Fallen


Jack Reacher

World War Z

The Family




Free Birds

The Smurfs 2

Transformers: Age of Extinction


Stand Up Guys


The Frozen Ground


The Reunion

The Art of The Steal
Forrest Gump

I watched most on Netflix, and the rest at Silverbird cinemas, Genesis Deluxe cinema and iTunes. Next year I might watch movies only on Netflix. I bought an unofficial lifetime subscription on eBay.

An individualist is someone who is not bothered about what others think or say when making his decisions. He is not anti-society, going against every societal norm. He is simply indifferent to the societal norms; that his actions conform or do not conform to societal norms are pure coincidence because his aim is not to go with nor against the society. He only aims to do what he considers right and reasonable.

This year that is who I have increasingly become. An individualist. Less sensitive to the society I live in. And in today's post I will be sharing the reasons I have taken that path and what the journey has been like.

image: philosophyoffreedom.org

Growing up, I was never been good at fitting in. I found it extremely hard to do things just because I saw others do them or just because people expected me to do them. So I had been naturally wired to become an individualist. I found it much easier to do things I could back with my independent thinking than do the things society demanded. My childhood was a constant struggle between being independent and fitting in. Sometimes the criticisms I got from people pushed me to abandon my independent mindset and fit in, then, later, when I found fitting in extremely frustrating I went back to my independent self.

As an adult, I have learned to overcome that struggle. I no longer try to fit in. And more recently, I have been going full-speed in the direction of my independent thinking without any concern for the impressions I leave in the minds of those around me. And this time around it's not just because I am naturally independent-minded. It's because of the following extra reasons:

  1. I am not happy with the Nigerian society. Nothing inspires me about us. As a country, our actions are mostly ignoble. We hold on to too many unreasonable habits and we let the unthinking rich gluttons always have their way. So I try hard to not become like most of the people around me. I weed out the influence of the society on my thoughts and actions.
  2. I am obsessed with being the best I can. I see myself as a project; a work-in-progress. I have given myself very high standards. I have a brain and I am going to make the most of it. I'm going to do unique things. And in achieving this I am increasingly drawn away from crowd reasoning.
  3. My goals in life are uncomplicated and few. Most of the things that drive the people around me have no significance to me. As a consequence I have very little reason to act like everyone around me.
  4. I like trying new things and taking uncommon risks. Somehow, societal norms aren't built around taking uncommon risks. Societal norms are a recommendation of well-worn paths. 
  5. All the people I look up to are individualists. They have a mind of their own that dominates everything they do. They care very little about the public's opinion and recommendation. 
This year I have become a purer individualist. I got rid of the influence of corporate crowd thinking in my life; I became more independent; I took up more risks; I quit activities that weren't taking me to my goals and I became more like the people I admire.

This year moved really fast for me. It was like most days this year had less than 24 hours or the hours had less than 60 minutes each. And it's already 10 short days to the new year, 2015. However, this year has been a very eventful  one for me. I have learned a lot this year and I will be sharing with you some of the lessons I have learned this year.

  1. Plans go astray. Fortunately, I started this year with just one plan: to be my own boss. And I achieved it. But my subsequent plans of how to run my business kept going astray. The only thing I am certain of is what I am doing and the results it is getting me. As for what I will do, even in the near future, as penned down in a plan and what results it will get me, I have little assurance. And the one that gets at me most is the time I agreed/planned with a client for payment. Decisions I make based on expected income usually have an onion slicing effect on me, tearful; the only money I'm sure of is the one I have in my bank account. I still make plans but I don't expect them to play out the way I originally laid them out.
  2. Techies shouldn't run a business. I have always known that techies make bad business managers and that I am a techie, but I underestimated both how techie I am and how bad a business manager I would make. I thought business is all about getting jobs in and being busy, which I have been extremely successful at. I am now busy all day and every day of the week. I missed out the most important part of business: getting the money in. I charge unsustainably low for everything except my Excel training. And training is becoming a smaller pie in my services suite. Now I am having to get someone else handle the business part of my business.
  3. Thinking is cheap. Act the thought. For a couple of years now I have been reading books on entrepreneurship and business management. I can analyse a business and do all the acronyms on it -- SWOT, PEST, PESTEL, DESTEP, VRIO,STEEPLE ... And I often do analyse businesses while making stock market investments. I thought I was very good and can even do better than CEOs of some big companies. Now I know better. I'm struggling to be the CEO of my own small company and all my book knowledge aren't translating well into reality. Most times I know what to do and all that is wrong with my business, but my Achilles' heel has been turning those thoughts to action. In business only your actions generate result, thoughts only generate plans.
  4. I am a technical genius. I have heard people refer to me as a genius but I never let it get into my head. Most times they say it after I have helped them fix a problem for free; so I always consider it as a cheap way of making me feel appreciated. But since my savings ran out and I'm now living from clients' paycheck to paycheck, I have been forced to take up projects I consider partly impossible, and I did them extremely well. Most of my programs work error-free on first coding. I have been increasingly amazed by how well I handle complex computational steps in my head and build a program that works right the first time. I can do complex iteration in my head easily. And I am now an expert at remotely fixing computer issues. I always know the right thing to do, almost by intuition.
  5. You can't start too small. An entrepreneur's growth is not linear. Your income doesn't take a smooth slow upward path like a regular career does. Your qualifications and years of experience don't matter much. Entrepreneurship is one of the few endeavours that starting small provides you with a huge advantage. And I have learned that. There's now a technical term for it -- lean startup. 
And those are the key lessons I have learned this year.

I began the year with the following computing devices: 

  • 1 Android phone, 
  • 1 Blackberry phone, 
  • 1 iPod 4G 64GB
  • 1 laptop and 
  • 1 Windows Surface tablet. 
As of now I have:

  • 1 Android phone,
  • 1 Blackberry phone,
  • 1 Windows Lumia phone
  • 1 iPod 4G 64GB
  • 2 laptops
  • 1 Windows Surface tablet
  • 1 Google Nexus 7 Android tablet
  • 1 iPhone 5 64GB
And I should be getting 2 more android phones before the year end. I got a special job from a UK telecoms company, and to do the job I would be needing 4 android phones. Then there are other supporting devices I also have: 2 Spectranet internet devices, 1 Swift internet device... Soon electronic devices will form the bulk of all I own. 

Today, I will be talking about the one device that has helped me the most this year. And it's not my work laptop, though it's the one making me the most money. It is my iPhone and it is not only my most helpful device this year but my best buy this year. When iPhone 6 came out, people in the US began selling their iPhone 5 and 5S. They wanted to get more than what Apple will pay for those devices in their usual exchange/upgrade program. Especially those whose iPhones were still very new and could be sold for a much higher price. And that was the category the iPhone I bought fell under. The owner had just bought it 4 months before and he didn't really use the accessories (I guess he used those of his previous iPhone). The phone had no scratch as he used it with a specially tough case called A+Care.  He took his time to write the biography of the phone with pictures of it. It was listed on Amazon Marketplace. And so for $409.95 I bought the iPhone 5 64GB, less than half the list price ($900). Even after paying for shipping it still was far cheaper than what I could get it for in Nigeria. It came at about N80,000 and it was new with a free high quality case. It came in its original box and with new looking accessories.

Well so much for how it came, lets move on to how it has been unusually helpful to me. Unlike my android phone, it doesn't get hot and its battery life is almost 3x that of my Samsung Galaxy S2 phone. Then there are those apps that only exist for iPhones, and all the popular apps have a better iPhone version. I found Google's Chrome browser for iPhone better than the one for (same Google's) android. It's a pain using GTBank internet banking on the android's Chrome, the form fields keep jumping up and down, while it works perfect in Chrome for iPhone.

So since getting the iPhone, I have not had to limit my phone activities trying to conserve battery like I used to with the android. With the 64GB space all my storage space worries were gone. And as the phone doesn't get hot, I get to use it more comfortably. And the result is that it has become my PA. I trade Forex on it; I scan documents at a quality better than that of my scanner at home; I read The Economist and Bloomberg Businessweek on it; I enjoy my Spotify premium subscription on it; I make Skype calls with it without fear of burning my ear; I stream internet radio via paid version of TuneIn Radio without worrying about battery life; I manage my PayPal transactions on it; the BBM on it is less buggy; I join webinars on it; I shop on Alibaba and eBay on it; I get discount codes for online stores on it; I read a lot on it: and I don't experience the speed/usability drop that happens with android as you install more apps. 

They are all small things and may be tasks of little value to you. But they form the bulk of what I do most days. I spend so much time in traffic that I have to get things done on my phone while in traffic and the iPhone does very well everything I need done. And that is why I have decided to name it my 2014 most helpful device.

This year has been a very unusual one for me. I completed the cycle of all that can happen to anyone in the corporate world. In 2011 I had been downsized out of job (same as being fired for someone else's mistake). In 2012 I quit the job that turned me to a Microsoft Excel guru for a bigger job. And this year I quit that job to start my own business. So I have been fired from a job; I have resigned one job to get another and I have quit a job to start my own business. I have had a taste of the general situations anyone can find himself in the corporate world.

But that is not what this post is about. In today's post I will be sharing with you the list of books I have bought this year. For me, reading and writing are like photography. They are the ways I take my own selfie and keep the memories I find special. I also was gifted one book this year, which I will mention too. And here we go.

image: zazzle.com

  1. Visual Studio Tools for Office 2007: VSTO for Excel, Word, and Outlook (Microsoft Windows Development Series) by Eric Carter, Eric Lippert
  2. How to Succeed as an Independent Consultant by Herman Holtz, David Zahn
  3. Collected Works of Bernard Shaw by George Bernard Shaw
  4. The Complete Works of Mark Twain: The Novels, short stories, essays and satires, travel writing, non-fiction, the complete letters, the complete speeches, and the autobiography of Mark Twain by Mark Twain
  5. Oscar Wilde: Collection of 300 Classic Works with analysis and historical background (Annotated and Illustrated) by Oscar Wilde
  6. The Book on Writing by Paula LaRocque
  7. Journalistic Writing: Building the Skills, Honing the Craft by Robert M. Knight
  8. Balanced Scorecards and Operational Dashboards with Microsoft Excel by Ron Person
  9. Practical Node.js: Building Real-World Scalable Web Apps by Azat Mardan
  10. Pro AngularJS (Expert's Voice in Web Development) by Adam Freeman
  11. Mastering Web Application Development with AngularJS by Pawel Kozlowski, Peter Bacon Darwin
  12. Learning AngularJS for .NET Developers by Alex Pop
  13. Microsoft SharePoint 2013 App Development (Developer Reference) by Scot Hillier, Ted Pattison
  14. Professional SharePoint 2013 Administration by Shane Young, Steve Caravajal, Todd Klindt
  15. Professional SharePoint 2013 Development by Reza Alirezaei, Brendon Schwartz, Matt Ranlett, Scot Hillier, Brian Wilson, Jeff Fried, Paul Swider
  16. Learning SQL by Alan Beaulieu
  17. Predictive Analytics: Microsoft Excel by Conrad Carlberg
  18. Applied Predictive Modeling by Max Kuhn, Kjell Johnson
  19. Data Science for Business: What you need to know about data mining and data-analytic thinking by Foster Provost, Tom Fawcett
  20. Data Smart: Using Data Science to Transform Information into Insight by John W. Foreman
  21. Predictive Analytics For Dummies (For Dummies (Business & Personal Finance)) by Anasse Bari, Mohamed Chaouchi, Tommy Jung
  22. Decision Analytics: Microsoft Excel by Conrad Carlberg
  23. Statistical Analysis: Microsoft Excel 2010 by Conrad Carlberg
  24. R for Everyone: Advanced Analytics and Graphics (Addison-Wesley Data & Analytics Series) by Jared P. Lander
  25. Learn R in a Day by Steven Murray
  26. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
  27. Step By Step Bootstrap 3: A Quick Guide To Responsive Web Development Using Bootstrap 3 by Riwanto Megosinarso
  28. A Software Engineer Learns HTML5, JavaScript and jQuery: A guide to standards-based web applications by Dane Cameron
  29. A Smarter Way to Learn JavaScript: The new approach that uses technology to cut your effort in half by Mark Myers
  30. Pro ASP.NET MVC 5 (Expert's Voice in ASP.Net) by Adam Freeman
  31. Windows Phone 8 Unleashed by Daniel Vaughan
  32. Microsoft Visual Basic 2013 Step by Step (Step by Step Developer) by Michael Halvorson
  33. Beginning ASP.NET 4.5.1: in C# and VB (Wrox Programmer to Programmer) by Imar Spaanjaars
  34. The Valuation of Financial Companies: Tools and Techniques to Measure the Value of Banks, Insurance Companies and Other Financial Institutions (The Wiley Finance Series) by Mario Massari, Gianfranco Gianfrate, Laura Zanetti
  35. Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City by Brad Feld
  36. How to Win at the Sport of Business: If I Can Do It, You Can Do It by Mark Cuban
  37. The Lord of the Rings: One Volume by J.R.R. Tolkien
  38. HTML5 for Masterminds, Revised 2nd Edition by J.D. Gauchat
  39. Responsive Web Design with HTML5 and CSS3 by Ben Frain
  40. Rework by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
  41. LE CAFÉ DU CANAL - Une histoire sentimentale (French Edition) by Michèle Abramoff
  42. Il faut tuer Léa Keller (Tom Valmer t. 1) (French Edition) by Daniel REZLAN
  43. L'ange gardien: Un thriller psychologique, un suspense magistral (French Edition) by John La Galite(Jean Michel Sakka)
  44. A la recherche du temps perdu (édition complète - 10 tomes, augmentée, illustrée et commentée) (French Edition) by Marcel Proust, Luc Deborde
  45. Honoré de Balzac : Oeuvres complètes - 101 titres La Comédie humaine (Nouvelle édition enrichie) (French Edition) by Honoré de Balzac
  46. Le Petit Prince (French Edition) by Antoine de Saint Exupéry
  47. Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur
  48. Le roman d'un jeune homme pauvre (Novel) (French Edition) by Octave Feuillet
  49. French Stories/Contes Francais: A Dual-Language Book (Dover Dual Language French) by Wallace Fowlie, Wallace Fowlie
  50. 20 Things I've Learned as an Entrepreneur by Alicia Morga
  51. Choose Yourself! by James Altucher, Dick Costolo
  52. The Start-up of You: Adapt to the Future, Invest in Yourself, and Transform Your Career by Reid Hoffman, Ben Casnocha
  53. How I Raised Myself From Failure by Frank Bettger
  54. THE COLD CALLING SECRET: Discover the NEW ground-breaking cold calling techniques that get results! by Mark Boardman
  55. How To Write A Business Plan - A Complete Outline To Create A Concise And Profitable Business (Starting A Business, Writing A Business Plan, Business Plan Outline) by R.T. Williams
  56. How to Start a Business by Jason Nazar, Rochelle Bailis
  57. Bookkeepers' Boot Camp: Get a Grip on Accounting Basics (101 for Small Business Series) by Angie Mohr
  58. How To Do A Year's Worth of Bookkeeping in One Day: A Step-by-Step Guide for Small Businesses by Robin Davis, E.T. Barton
  59. The Art of Negotiating the Best Deal by The Great Courses
  60. Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson
  61. Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel, Blake Masters
  62. SPIN Selling: Situation Problem Implication Need-Payoff by Neil Rackham
  63. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin by Benjamin Franklin
  64. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  65. Street Smarts: An All-Purpose Tool Kit for Entrepreneurs by Norm Brodsky, Bo Burlingham
  66. The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy
And those are the books I bought this year. Oh, there are three other books I bought that I don't want to include in this list: one was a memoir by Chelsea Handler that I found too vulgar I returned it; the other two are books on learning a skill I should have learned more than 6 years ago.

And as for the book I was gifted, it is: David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell.

Life is like building a house, you can't do without a foundation.

image: aspensnowmassrealtor.net
If there is only one thing I have learned from reading The Economist, it is that no one can be too smart to neglect the fundamentals. Even USA can't outsmart the fundamentals. And like Warren Buffett put it, "You can't get a baby in one month by impregnating nine women." Most things in life have no quick fix, you just have to put in the old-fashioned work and time, like building a house.

A lot of times we are tempted to think our lives will be much better than the ones of most of the people we see daily; we know we are more educated and smarter and should be getting more out of life than them. We think we can outsmart those around us to our own perpetual gain. We think we can take a shorter and cleverer route to success than the ones the people around us are taking. We think we can bargain better at the big things of life and always in our favour. But I have a perfect answer for you courtesy Abraham Lincoln; he said, "You can fool all the people sometime; you can fool some people all of the time; but you can't fool all the people all of the time." Simply put: You can't outsmart everyone every time. Even if you've got the cranial firepower of Albert Einstein and the zeal of Chris Rock.

Some things in life will always require a significant amount of time and effort. A child prodigy still need to attend a primary and secondary school like everyone to be able to make it to the university. No amount of smartness can put the knowledge you need to pass WAEC and JAMB in your head without you having to read like everyone else. No intelligent person learned how to drive perfectly on his first day behind the wheel. The learning curve is the same for everyone (whether you are perceived as brainless like majority of the danfo drivers or you are a university professor). You can't also be rich without any form of value exchange. No one is going to give you his money repeatedly just because you are intelligent. Even university professors work hard for their pay, providing value through teaching and research. And the hardest form of writing is a academic writing; a 10 page paper can cost you years of research, reading and validation.

Life is like building a house. There is always a foundation that will require hard and muddy labour. Houses may have all sorts of amazing shapes and design, but the foundations are fundamentally the same. Even real estate magazines that focus entirely on exceptional buildings and luxurious houses never show images of a foundation or talk about advancement in building foundations. And it's the same with life. Your intelligence and smartness is not meant to help you bypass the fundamentals. You shouldn't build a house without a foundation. If you want to be rich then you have to be able to create an exceptional value lots of people will be willing to pay for. If you want to learn French, your smartness won't get you a result that is even close to half of what a 4 year old living in France will achieve, you just have to learn like a child does. If you want to stay in business you don't need more than you already have, you only need to let your expenses be less than your revenue. For all the major things in life you just have to do the fundamentals and build the required foundation. And like the Bible says, the real intelligence is in building a strong foundation that will withstand future storms. A wise man will build his house on a rock putting in the exceptionally hard work required while a foolish man will build his house on the sand concerned more about the outer edifice and quick results. And as is the nature of nature itself, a storm comes someday and only the one on the rock stands and remaining standing through many more storms. The wise man always work harder in the beginning because life is like building a house and the foundation matters the most.

Occasionally, one stumbles on a very good old movie and upon watching watching it for the first time, one wonders why one hasn't watched it before now. Especially for a 1994 movie like Forrest Gump

image: whatculture.com

Yesterday was the first time I watched the movie Forrest Gump. I have never watched any movie that taught as much practical lessons as Forrest Gump. The movie is about the life of a man named Forrest Gump. But the lessons I learned from the movie were beyond what happened in the movie. This is a 1994 movie, the technology then is nothing compared to what we have now, especially in the movie industry. Yet this movie beats all the 2014 movies I have watched. It showed me that genuine creativity supersedes technology any day and anytime. And an excellent work is timeless, like a rare art.

My best movie quote is from King Kong, where Carl told Jack that if he truly loved the theatre he would have jumped out of the ship and swam back. It's practical meaning is that you would go any length to get what you truly love. And Forrest Gump is a movie that shows what magic dumb doggedness can create. How much you can achieve by giving your best in all you do. That what you see yourself as matters way much more than what other people see you as. That having a good nature and a lot of contentedness is one of the purest beauties that breaks all barriers. And that the day you discover you can run you should make running you new walking; the day you discover you can play ping pong you shouldn't stop until it takes you to places; that you should put your best into whatever you discover your are good at.

When Forrest Gump, while on his shrimp boat, heard that his mother was ill, he left the food he was eating and jumped out of the boat. He swam ashore and ran home. Whatever he wanted to do he did immediately putting all of himself into it. He wasn't the complaining sort waiting for perfect conditions. Even though he had simple almost childish ambitions, his focused diligence put something extra in every ordinary thing he did.

From watching Forrest Gump I learned that you don't have to be a genius to get exceptional results or even be exceptional. You only have to be exceptionally determined and diligent. And that stupid is as stupid does.