Everyday, I am being chased by deadlines.

image: lifehacker.com
It starts with the deadline to make my daily blog post before 8am or earlier (if I have a morning meeting or training class). Then there are the jobs that never reduce; as I am getting one done, another pops up. There is not a day I don't nearly miss the deadline for some task.

But there is a good side to it all, I love the feeling I get when I eventually beat the deadline, escaping narrowly. One minute I am all tensed and afraid something terrible will happen because the deadline is already too close and I am not sure I will make it; then I suddenly make it and the next minute I feel like on top of the world with joy and exhaustion.

I get an amazing lot done when under the pressure of deadline. No doubt, I could have made things easier for myself or do a better job if I didn't let the deadline press me against the wall. The trade-off would be that I wouldn't do as much as I am doing. It's not poor time management or being lazy that gets me always being chased by deadlines; it is because I am always working on a lot. I am doing so much that it takes a miracle to finish well before deadline.

There's another good side to it beyond the good feeling that comes with eventually beating the deadline. It reminds me of 2012 when I had similar struggle with my Excel based job as an MIS and Business Analyst. I was working very hard and narrowly missing deadlines majorly by working way passed the closing hours. I would get home and have trouble sleeping because the work doesn't leave my head. Even some of my weekends were occupied with work. I thought I was in the wrong job and needed to get my career back on the right track. But I am glad I persevered through it, because just as Robert Schuller said, "Tough times never last, but tough people do". In the end I became extremely good at the job and Excel, and all the troubles vanished. Now I am benefitting immensely from that period of my life. It was what prepared me for what I am today -- running my own Excel consultancy biz.

I am happy with all the stress I am facing today and the deadlines chasing me, because I know I will overcome in the end. A day will come that I will look back and be glad I went through this phase. And the skills and changes I will be forced to acquire now will strengthen me for a better future.

So for me, being constantly chased by deadlines make me feel like I am going through a training and preparation for something very big. It's like extreme sports; you will always end up being way better than the average guy.

That is the title of the chapter 1 of a book on Entrepreneurship that I am reading for an MBA assignment/essay. 

image: batman-on-film.com

I have read a lot of very boring academic books but these ones on entrepreneurship that I needed to read to get the essay done are not in any way boring. They opened my eyes to the breakdown of entrepreneurship.

And I particularly like the argument of the one I took this post's title from. Why doesn't genius translates to riches? If you are such a genius, why aren't you rich? 

John has been working on his business idea for months now. He spotted an entrepreneurial opportunity, a need gap no one else is addressing in the market, and he has marshalled resources and strategies to build a thriving business on it. In his business plan, he needs 50,000 active customers to become profitable. Then Buhari came into power and foreign investors started the wait game. Oil price has tumbled and isn't rising. CBN is implementing contractionary economic policies. People are cutting down on expenses and some even are losing their jobs. Now John is finding it very hard to even get 10,000 customers. He tries to reduce his burn rate hoping he can outlive this depressing time. But after 21 months he runs out of cash and had to close down the business. Now he is poorer by taking on his entrepreneurial idea.

Just three years ago, James made a similar move. He spotted an opportunity and seized it. He's not as smart as John and his business plan wasn't as well made as John's. But then, Goodluck was in Power. Oil price was sky high. There was a lot of money going around. CBN was busy looking at NNPC's books. SURE-P was ensuring people were getting ridiculously paid for painting the third mainland bridge and for buying commuter buses at twice their list price. James also needed 50,000 paying customers to become profitable. And he got them almost sweatlessly. The economy was in an expansionary mode and people were optimistic enough to spend on anything.

To be rich and successful as an entrepreneur, you need way more than you and your genius, you need to ride a wave. The circumstances you can't control often have more impact on your success than you imagine. Many entrepreneurs have succeeded not because they were particularly bright but because they rode a wave, while many intelligent entrepreneurs have failed because the tide turned. It is called the market dynamics, and rightly so for a reason -- it keeps changing.

So when it comes to entrepreneurship (and becoming the next Aliko Dangote), you need not just an entrepreneurial spirit and awesome ideas, you need external (uncontrollable) circumstances to be in your favour. In fact, you will benefit more from finding and riding waves than coming up with original ideas and having the smartest people partner with you.

As long as you are not going to print fake money, your genius isn't going to make you rich. It will help you on your journey to become rich but not as much as you would expect. You have to look for waves to ride. And riding waves don't require genius, just a good eye and a never-die attitude.

Business is going great and now I am working on hiring a full-time technical assistant. The plan is to train him on the job and make a technical project manager out of him in as short time as possible.

I have been working and thinking hard on how to build a strong team and my resolution is now to try all the options I have and make adjustments along the way. Part of the team will be working remotely but I need one person to work full-time on-site. He would shadow me and learn the tools of the trade, especially the subtle part of the business that can't be absorbed remotely.

The ultimate plan is to begin to hands-off the technical bit of the business gradually and have a team that can take up as much jobs that the marketing team brings. I would also be trying out virtual workers via Upwork. In the end, which ever works is what I would be doing more of. If the results from having a full-time on-site team member works fantastic, then I would hire more and the guy that gets this role will immediately become the team lead (hopefully).

Below are the Job Details. If you have someone okay with the pay and opportunities, and also young enough to absorb new knowledge and meet the requirements, please share with him.

1.       Has work/academic experience in Excel, VBA (very important) and Database.
2.       Able to understand project requirements
3.     Comfortable with technical details and able to work on projects independently
5.       Good communication

Job Role
1.       To assist project manager with Excel based projects for companies and clients
2.       To attend client meetings and take down specifications
3.       To do project documentation
4.       To support clients and manage issues

1.       N55,000/month
2.       25GB/month free internet
3.       Performance bonus up to N100,000 from some jobs (will always get a cut of every major project)

Regardless of the type of business, going on your own is very tough. You can no longer complain that some task fall outside your job role. Not only do you stop earning a regular monthly income, you also have to put in all your life savings. You will work harder than you've ever worked before and wonder when the results you desire will come. But these are not why entrepreneurship is very tough.

image: freevideolectures.com

Entrepreneurship involves identifying a entrepreneurial business opportunity and taking it. On the surface, you'll think there's nothing extraordinary to it. Everyone does something once in a while that brings in extra cash, something outside their normal salaried work. If that is the way you are looking at it, then you are missing the key part of that definition: Entrepreneurial business opportunity. 

Entrepreneurial business opportunity is an opportunity that involves a big risk. It defines your career and future. It is different from occasional freelancing. It requires a lot of gut -- believe in yourself and the business idea. You will be sacrificing a lot to take the entrepreneurial opportunity and still keep on sacrificing to make it work. And that is why entrepreneurship is very tough. 

It is not just about the hard work or irregular income; it is more about the starting. Most people don't go past the starting wall and understandably so. What if the opportunity is very temporal? What if someone is already doing the same thing? What if I don't make it big enough to be worth the jump? What if things don't work out as expected? Where will income come from and how soon? Is this worth quitting my job for? Where will I find a business partner? 

There are so many questions that come up only when you are seriously considering taking the entrepreneurial jump. They don't show up when you are doing the analysis. They don't show up when you are researching the industry. They don't even show up when you are thinking about your friends who run their own businesses. They show up only when it's you involved and the sacrifices are from you. That is the main reason entrepreneurship is very tough.

I have a friend who collects books. She buys the hardcover version of the books she likes and keeps them with lots of care. For me, I do buy books but don't care about them beyond the words on the leaves. What I collect are quotes. I know a great quote when I see one and I have a book I keep them all in.

Today I will be sharing with you the quotes I like best. Do enjoy.

Little is much when God is in it. Anonymous.

It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that they are difficult. Seneca.

The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Eleanor Roosevelt.

If you don't risk anything, then you risk even more. Erica Jong.

They can because they think they can. Virgil.

Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. Oliver Holmes

Circumstance does not make the man; it reveals him to himself. James Allen.

It's not who you are that holds you back, it's who you think you are not. Anonymous. 

It's is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not. Andre Gide.

Fortune favours the brave. Publius Terence.

The man who trims himself to suit everyone will soon whittle himself away. Charles Schwab.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started. Mark Twain.

The world has the habit of making room for the man whose words and actions show that he knows where he is going. Napoleon Hill.

If we're growing, we are always going to be outing our comfort zone. John Maxwell.

If you wait to do everything until you're sure it's right, you'll probably never do much of anything. Win Borden.

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

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing. Abraham Lincoln.

A small gift is better than a great promise. German Proverb.

What you are is God's gift to you; what you make of yourself is your gift to God. Anonymous.

Perhaps the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time. Anonymous.

Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves. Anonymous.

Children may tear up a house, but they never break up a home. Anonymous.

The hardest thing about facts is facing them. Anonymous. 

There is no excellence uncoupled with difficulties. Ovid.

Well done is better than well said. Benjamin Franklin.

Some men dream of worthy accomplishments, while others stay awake and do them. Anonymous.

Excellence is not a matter of chance, it's a matter of choice. Anonymous. 

Don't be discouraged; it may be the last key in the bunch that opens the door. Stonsifer.

Success comes in cans; failure comes in can'ts. Anonymous.

When success turns a man's head, it always leaves him facing in the wrong direction. Anonymous.

It is not enough that you're on the right track; you must also make sure you're going the right direction. Anonymous.

The greatest thing in the world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving. Oliver Holmes.

It is comforting to know that not only the steps but also the stops of a good man are ordered by the Lord. George Mueller.

The winds of God are always blowing, but you must set the sails. Anonymous.

He who blows out the other fellow's candle won't make his own shine any brighter. Anonymous.

Regardless of circumstances, each man lives in a world of his own making. Joseph Emms.

God provides the nuts but he does not crack them. Anonymous

Most of us can, as we choose, make of this world either a palace or a prison. John Lubbock.

In every success story, you find someone who has made a courageous decision. Peter Drucker.

The right angle for approaching a difficult problem is the "try-angle". Anonymous.

True courage is like a kite, a contrary wind raises it higher. J. Pett

Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks his neck out. James Conant.

The best revenge is massive success. –Frank Sinatra

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.  Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. –Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Eighty percent of success is showing up. –Woody Allen

An unexamined life is not worth living. –Socrates

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now. –Chinese Proverb

“Fear knocked at the door, Faith answered and nobody was there.” - Unknown

A window of opportunity won't open itself. -- Dave Weinbaum

Either you run the day, or the day runs you. ~ JIM ROHN

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle. I just wish that He didn't trust me so much. ~Mother Teresa

If we did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves. ~Thomas Edison

If you knew how much work went into it, you wouldn't call it genius. ~Michelangelo

Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up. ~Thomas Edison

The trouble about man is twofold.  He cannot learn truths which are too complicated; he forgets truths which are too simple. ~ Rebecca West

Experience is not what happens to a man, it is what a man does with what happens to him. ~Aldous Huxley

We don’t see things as they are we see them as we are. ~Anais Nin

I believe the greater the handicap, the greater the triumph. ~John H. Johnson

The most practical, beautiful, workable philosophy in the world won't work - if you won't. ~Zig Ziglar

Unless you change how you are, you will always have what you've got. ~Jim Rohn

"Problems are seldom as bad as they seem at first sight." Venessa Williams

You can ignore reality but you can't ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.

"Do one thing every day that scares you." Eleanor Roosevelt. 

"It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it." Lou Holtz

"Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway." Mary Ash.

"Sometimes good things fall apart, so better things can fall together." Jessica Howell

"To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can."  George Bernard Shaw.

"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step" Lao-Tsu 

The people who get on in this world are the people that get up and look for the circumstances they want. If they can't have them, make them.

Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come. Chinese proverb

Some minds are like the sea - wild and turbulent. Some are like a stream - active and clear. And others are like the lake - full and dying

Man's mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. Oliver Wendell Holmes

It takes both rain and sunshine to make a rainbow. Anonymous

Big shots are only small shots who kept on shooting. Dale Carnegie 

A smile of encouragement at the right moment may act like sunlight on a closed-up flower; it may be the turning point for a struggling life.

A successful man is one who can lay a firm foundation with the bricks others have thrown at him. --David Brinkley

You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. –Wayne Gretzky 

I might not be the right person to talk about failure. 
When your life has revolved a lot around staying in your comfort zone and being a bookie, you don't encounter the type of failure must people face.

I have always passed examinations I take, and a lot of times with scores that are beyond my expectations. I used just 3 weeks to study for my Oracle Database Administration certification exam and passed with a 100% score. I owe most of that to the exam dumps though, but that has always been my reality. I do extremely well and I can point to something as giving me the extra help. I spent less than 2 months to study for Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) and passed with 973/1000. I owe it to working in a company that gave me all the freedom and big monitor that made reading ebooks easy. The Mobil Scholarship I got while in the university, I was among the ones feeling bad after the exam. I saw too many easy questions I got wrong. And even at university exams, I was occasionally surprised by some of my good results. And at secondary school, I had cleared both my WAEC (with Bs & Cs) and NECO (with all distinctions) before I was 14 years old.

And the benefits of working a technical job is you get praised too often when you are the fix-it guy. People make you look like you won a brain lottery and immune to failure. Unfortunately, they were all setting me up for a bigger and hard to detect failure.

We are like ships. Our value is meant to shine on high seas and while braving storms. Not built to cruise the calm waters or stay in the dock for life. Lack of failure is the biggest failure. It shows that you stuck to calm waters. You stayed where you felt safe and comfy.

I am one of those people who could get by happily with little and expect nothing from anyone. I like to stay in the shadows and leave no trace. So I have no ambition, just lucky to be hardworking. That's why I avoid building strong friendships. I don't want people believing in me more than I believe in myself. I don't want the pressure of high expectations or any expectations. I feel safer when considered as socially unreliable than as a great always there friend. So I have pretty much worked myself into a corner where it's almost impossible to fail. No expectations. No big goals. No ambition. Just to work hard at the things I love with little regard to the outcome.

I don't consider it bad to do only the things you love. But if one sticks too much to his own cosy corner and limit himself to easy waters, then all his success will deny him the essence of genuine living. Which is the biggest failure.

It could sometimes be likened to -- "Staying in your village vs moving to Lagos."

image: directhousebuyer.co.uk

The truth is, for the same efforts, you will be financially better of. Emigrating to a developed country is the easiest way of improving your standard of living. You get access to better infrastructure, higher wage rate and better security. You live better without necessarily doing more or spending more.

So should you move to a better country? Usually, the answer is a lot more subjective. People already have their minds rooted on a particular answer and can't be easily persuaded otherwise. But going by pure Economics, the answer is yes. You get better living standards, opportunities and pay. And your children benefit from those too.

So what of those who stay back in Nigeria, are they worse off? On the surface, economically, they are. To get the same results as your friend or relative in the US, you will need to work a lot more/harder. Then again, there is this amazing thing about we humans. We can achieve whatever we set our minds on. So there is nothing you want that you can't achieve even if you stay back in Nigeria. It might take more work and more time, but in the end you get what you desire and go after.

And when you stay back and make up your mind to flourish and not just survive, you are also inspiring other people. Your success gradually begins to lift the nation even if in very small imperceptible amounts, but it all adds up with those of others like you.

In the 1700s, it was the never-do-wells and those running from someone/something in Europe who moved to USA. No one saw any good thing coming out of USA. It was full of fraudsters, corrupt officials and poor people. Then people like Benjamin Franklin, George Washington and the founding fathers showed the rest that there is a better way to live. That they could build a nation they will all be proud of. They helped lift the nation slowly and created the American Dream (that you should live a life better than your parents and hand over a nation better than you got to your children).

In the beginning too, Australia was a prison. Great Britain sent prisoners there so they wouldn't get back to their society. Then those with financial troubles and enemies seeking to kill/imprison them ran away to Australia. Again, no one saw any good coming from that place. Now they are doing so well people now migrate there for better opportunities.

That is the reality. Whatever decision you make is right. Emigrating makes the most economic sense. You secure a better live for yourself and your children. Staying back is also good; as long as you decide to flourish and leave the country better than you got it. What is most important is to be where you want to be.

Life is in so many ways like farming. You reap what you sow. You sow seeds for the future harvest. You till your land, water the plants and fight rodents. It is a lot of hard work. Some people get a better land than yours. Unexpected disasters happen. But you get better with time and experience.

image: blogs.redcross.org.uk

So we can all learn from the good farmer. He is hardworking. He puts in a lot of work at the beginning. He buys a land, clears it, till it and plant seeds in it. He religiously waters and caters for the plants. He buys fertilizers and anti-disease sprays. He doesn't wake up two months after planting and give up because he can't see the harvest. He knows that every single activity matter. Every little care, every little attention and every extra effort add up in the end.

When the rain falls too much and damages his farm, he doesn't curse the rain and complain endlessly. He immediately try to undo the damage and improve the chances of the surviving plants. Then when there is no rain for months and the plants begin to dry up and die, he works extra hard to water them all and buys tanks of water. 

When the insects and rodents strike, he fights back and spends heavily on putting an end to their attacks. When diseases afflict his plants, he buys them spray drugs. He pays attention to the health of his plants.

As his resources allow, he gets helping hands and buys more lands. He buys heavy farming equipment. He makes more investment into his farm. He knows that he is only going to reap what he sows. 

And life is also like that. You have to work hard and fight off a lot of hardship. You have to be consistent and hopeful. You have to plant what you want to harvest and nurture it. You have to pay attention to all that matters to you. You have to grow and expand too. 

In many ways, we are farmers too. Be a good farmer.

For a lot of us, it takes only an intense formal education and some mentoring to recognize that it's perfectly okay for a company to spend way more than its income in the first years of its existence. And it takes some huge mental shift for us to deliberately pour more money into our business than we are sure of recouping in the next 2 or 3 years.

That is why there are mostly small businesses in Nigeria. The founders avoid spending more than they earn. They fit the business plan and size to that of their pocket, and then keep the business on a  non-ambitious path.

The fundamental difference between a small business and a big business is leverage. Mostly financial and logistic leverage. The big business is funded from a pool of money from several investors and bank borrowings. It is started, or at least run, with a very big ambition. The owners are going for a very big kill. They want to take the entire market. The want to expand aggressively. They want to go global. And they have no trouble spending more than the business earns.

image: profitclinic.com

Leverage is all about multiplying your results by using resources that are not yours. And in the business world it often involves using funds that are not yours, spending way more than you are earning in the beginning and going after a big share of your market. 

For someone like me with a geeky background, the number of hoops to jump are a lot. You first have to change your mentality of relying on your skills. Then proceed to killing your fear of making mistakes, especially ones with financial consequences. Then get used to spending both your energy and money without the assurance of making the money back soon. And finally, overcome the innate resistance to giving control to other people and using resources that are not yours.

For some other people, the hoops are much fewer. A salesperson is probably used to leveraging other people's resources and may only have to work on getting used to spending way more than he is earning in the business.

The big gain in business is in taking big bets. And as long as you are limiting your business to your own resources, you are not yet taking any big bets. Big bets involve leverage. The better you are at leveraging, the bigger your chances of building a big business.

According to Wiktionary, an online dictionary, a hyper specialist is an expert in a particularly narrow and specialized field.

image: nexusmc.com.au

And if you need an extended description of who a hyper specialist is and a 239 years history of how they came to be, you can read the following Harvard Business Review article -- The Big Idea: The Age of Hyperspecialization

So why should you consider becoming a hyper specialist?

  1. Nowadays, it is possible to see lots of people with all the skills you can ever put together. People now hold certifications in as many as 10 different skills set. People who used to feel safe in their jobs and not bother apply for work in other companies are now actively looking for working. The competition in the job market is crazy and offers little chance for the recent graduate as employers are no longer willing to hire newbies and train them, when they can hire skilled people at that same pay. However, if you focus on one very narrow and difficult field and better yourself at it, you stand a very great chance of getting work. You can easily sell yourself rather than compete with everyone, especially people with more certifications and years of experience than you. You don't even need to be an expert at it. You can read to acquire the knowledge part of the skill and then offer your services on volunteering sites like UN online volunteer. Soon you would have built an impressive work portfolio and knowledge base to get real job at a much better pay than a newbie. You just need the confidence to not follow the crowd in doing all those time consuming no-real-edge giving certifications. Focus on something specific and build yourself extremely well in it. Jobs will come pursuing you. You might even end up as a consultant and no longer want to work for a company. Once you have acquired a few strong experience doing volunteer work, then go on freelance jobs sites and offer your service for sale. 
  2. With the rate of change and rapid development, it's a waste of effort to try to know everything. It is increasingly becoming difficult to stay on top of developments in more than 2 or 3 fields. And as long as you want knowledge or skills for a workplace environment and career progress, not knowledge to compete in who wants to be a millionaire, then you have to stop trying to know everything and be a master at something specific. Know everything about something. Just be very deliberate in your choice because the idea is to spend the rest of your professional career in that field.
  3. The competition is low for very specialized knowledge. And the pay is often higher. It's those jobs that want all the skills the HR can think of that pay low salaries. The ones that require very specialized skills pay a lot higher and often hire across continents. It is all about having a breaking-in strategy and not following the confused crowd.
  4. Finally, you never get obsolete. The opportunities keep coming. You can write a book, become a part-time trainer, speak at conferences, and maybe invent something better. All because you are a hyper specialist. Generalist are still trying to catch up with the happenings in the many jars they've stuck their hands in.

As long as you have the Office Pro Plus, you can access the Power BI tools. So next is to show you how to find out whether you've got the 2013 or the 2016 version.

How to know which version of Excel you are using

In Excel, go to file and select Account.  Then on the right side of the pane that shows up, click on About Excel.

If you use the 2013 version you will see Excel 2013

If you use Excel 2016, you will see Excel 2016.

For Excel 2013 version

The Power BI add-ins are:
1.       Power Pivot
2.       Power Query
3.       Power Map
4.       Power View

Click on File and Options

In the Window that comes up, click on Add-Ins at the left pane, and select COM Add-Ins.

Make sure the four Power BI add-ins are ticked. Then click on OK


That will enable/activate the Power BI add-ins.

You will see PowerQuery and PowerPivot on the Menu bar.

You will see the Power Map and Power View under the INSERT menu.

And that’s it for O365 Pro Plus 2013 version.

For Excel 2016 version

For 2016 version, PowerQuery is now an in-built tool (no longer an add-in) and referred to as Get & Transform. Accessible from under Data menu.

For the other three Power BI tools, the activation process is as follows:

Goto File and Options

In the Options Window, click on Add-Ins on the left and select COM Add-Ins.

Tick the PowerPivot, Power Map and Power View add-ins.

PowerPivot shows up on the Menu bar

Power Map is under Insert menu. It has a new name – 3D Maps.

Power View, is a little tricky to access in Excel 2016.
You have to go through the following steps to make it active.

Go to file and click on Options.

In the Options window click on Customize Ribbon.  In the left pane, choose All Commands. Then scroll down to Power View and add it to your Ribbon.

And that’s it.

Today could be your lucky day to get the Business Data Analysis and Excel for the Busy Professional for free.

Since I published it in July, it has been rated as 5 stars (highest rating) and bought by over 550 people (most were during a promotion like I'm currently doing). So within a limited time you can also grab a copy of this book for free.

All you need to do is head over to Amazon and you'll see it at the promo price of $0.00 (free). Here is the link -  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01255TQ84 

After the promo, the price will jump back up to $9.99. 

The book covers all I train in my intensive Microsoft Excel for business data analysis class. I am currently facilitating a training for Kimberly-Clark (makers of Huggies diaper). It has been running from 10am to 4pm since Monday. Today is the last day. The feedback has been mind-blowing. People began coming to work as early as 6am just to get most of their work done and not miss the training. Everyone kept saying, "I always thought I knew Excel, now I know that I am just a learner." They learned a lot of things that would make their work faster and reports way better. And those stuff are in my book, with lots of easy to follow screenshots.

Again, don't delay. Get the book today for free:  Business Data Analysis and Excel for the Busy Professional 

This is again one of the posts I lift off directly from the source as there's no where to fix my sentiment in it.

I came across it on Financial Times and you'll be inspired by the bold move a Chinese man made in seizing the opportunities in Nigeria that we Nigerians close our eyes to. The original story can be read here: Excerpts from the three proposals (Financial Times)

image: connectnigeria.com

Sun Jian is from Wenzhou, a mid-size city in southeastern China. Nearly four thousand years ago, Wenzhou invented a lustrous pale green glaze called celadon, and in the process, became the birthplace of Chinese ceramics.

By the 1970s, however, times in China were tough. After elementary school, Mr. Sun dropped out. At age 13, he started working in factories. But at least he was in the right place: in 1978, two years after Mao Zedong’s death, Wenzhou became the first city in China to set up private enterprises.

Mr. Sun worked his way up several factories in the leather processing business, eventually saving enough to own his own factory. By the late 2000s, however, costs were climbing at an alarming pace, and he knew he needed to move his factory out of China. After considering everywhere from Bangladesh to Uzbekistan, a friend told him about a place called Nigeria.

He went for a five-day visit. “I got off the plane, and immediately all these poor people were asking for money,” he recounts. “But then I realized there are a lot of rich people too, and although it’s hard to make it in this market, I realized that it’s just as hard for everyone else as it is for me to make a factory here.” Back in China, he called a contact at the customs authority and asked him what the physically heaviest product being shipped in large quantities to Nigeria was. The answer? Ceramics.
With that, Mr. Sun devoted nearly forty million dollars to building a ceramic tile factory in Nigeria. His factory runs 24/7, and it produces 56,000 square meters of ceramic tiles—enough to cover ten football fields—every day. He employs nearly eleven hundred workers, a thousand of which are locals. Electricity is unreliable and costly, but still, business is good. Nigeria, with its relative lack of competition and booming demand, allows Mr. Sun to earn a 7% profit margin, compared with 5% in China.

Mr. Sun is making more money in Nigeria than he could in China, and he believes Nigeria is profiting too. “The train of development—which station first and then which station you need to go through—we Chinese know exactly what the path is. Nigeria needs to learn from China! For Africa, the Western path is unwalkable.”

People change. Sometimes for the better, other times for the worse. But no one stays the same.

image: iweanyawrites.com

There's this popular quote by Mark Twain -- "Only my tailor acts sensibly, he takes my measurement anew every time we meet; others just keep holding on to their old measurements of me and expect them to fit me."

I seen people hold on to their secondary school measurements of their friends. I hear them say -- "Bunmi is so just not up to my level. Throughout secondary school she was always looking up to me and wasn't half as smart as I was. This amazing feat she has just achieved is definitely by luck." Here is someone trying to judge another by measurements she took over 15 years ago, as if people don't change.

For as long as I can remember, every year my life changes drastically. There has never been any year in my life that as left me close to what I was at the start of that year. I don't even have a static opinion of myself. And it's the main reason I don't care about other people's opinion of me. If I can't be right about myself for long, why should I expect someone else to be right about me?

It is almost a lie to claim to know anyone perfectly. Because even in the very rare case that you actually do know them perfectly, you can be sure that it won't be for long. They will soon change. People change, either deliberately or indeliberately. 

In the dealing with the people close to you, you have to give them some room. Don't claim to know everything they will do or can do, or you are setting yourself up for a big disappointment. Don't keep holding on to the childhood memories you have of them, they are no longer the same persons. Don't even attempt to know all about them, you can't. And don't ever say they can't change. People change. Always.

I came across a very detailed research article on building a successful consulting practice. You can read the 22-page interesting article here: View/Download the research article.

It had a section on the myths of consulting and another on why people are interested in consulting. I have decided to share those parts in this blog post.

The Myths of Consulting

There are many myths associated with consulting that often motivate people to enter the business when it may not be the right choice. These myths, fully explored in this chapter and briefly detailed here, are presented in a variety of excellent resources in the consulting field (Biech, 1999). 

1. Consultants don’t have to work so hard. In reality, consulting may be one of the most difficult jobs today. It requires a tremendous amount of hard work to be successful and survive. The traditional eight-hour days are replaced with long hours, weekend work, and often no vacation or holidays.

2. Consultants don’t have a boss. While an independent consultant may not have an immediate manager, there’s still a boss in the equation: the client. The client can be more demanding and difficult to please than any direct manager.

3. Consulting is a respected profession. As described earlier, the image of the consultant has been severely tarnished in recent years. Many individuals in the client’s organization view outside consultants as disruptive, unnecessary, and even harmful as they recommend flawed plans or processes. Add accountability concerns, and the issue of excessive costs, and consultants often suffer images depicted in Dilbert. (Adams, 1996)

4. Consultants make large amounts of money. The daily rates for consulting are often less than imagined. Also, this daily rate is just that—the rate for a particular day. Unfortunately, there are not enough billable days for many consultants. When the daily rates are spread over the costs of providing consulting services, many firms don’t have enough income to survive.

5. Consultants are viewed as experts in their area. Expertise is not automatically granted with the label of consultant. The consultant must constantly prove himself/herself to every client – in every situation.

6. Consultants are void of office politics. Sometimes consultants are placed in the middle of office politics as they attempt to accomplish their jobs. Many find themselves using their political skills as much as their technical, organizational, and management skills.

7. It’s easy to expand a consulting business. As the number of clients increase, it would seem logical that the business could easily grow. However, once the number of clients grow beyond what the original consultant/owner can deliver, it is often difficult to expand merely by adding consultants. Clients may not perceive the same level of expertise with other consultants or the additional consultants may not have the same skills.

These and other myths create a flawed perception of consulting, causing many to make the leap into
the consulting business, only to fail along the way. 

Why People are Interested in Consulting

Each year, many professionals (and non-professionals) are attracted to the consulting profession. Some are pursuing a life-long dream of independence, freedom, and financial success. Others are running away from jobs and situations in hopes of finding something better. The attraction is very strong and can usually be summarized in the following scenarios. To a certain extent, these are almost mirror images of the myths of consulting because what attracts someone to consulting is often based on a myth.

1. Independence. Running your own business and managing your own schedule gives you independence not enjoyed in occupations inside conventional organizations.

2. Freedom. The freedom to grow the business (or not), accept clients (or not), and travel (or not) is an important issue. This freedom often does not exist in other traditional jobs in other organizations. A consulting opportunity seems to be an ideal way to escape the constraints of previous jobs.

3. The nature of the work. Consulting is a helpful process that adds value to an organization. The nature of the process, from exploration and investigation to analysis and recommendation is all exciting work. It’s challenging and self fulfilling.

4. Rewards. Consultants help individuals and their organizations. It is rewarding to see the results of a consultant translate into important improvements in an organization. Ideally, the consultant makes a difference—sometimes a significant difference. 

5. Image. In many cases, consultants are well respected, the image of their work is a positive one, and they’re proud to be a consultant.

6. Financial rewards. Consulting appears to be a lucrative process, consulting rates are often very high, and large consulting projects can be extremely profitable for the individual as well as the firm.

7. Leveraging talent. Consulting is an excellent opportunity to leverage the knowledge and expertise of the consultant in the organization. In some cases, knowledge and skills are literally transferred throughout the organization.

8. Opportunity for growth. The profession is growing and the use of consultants is growing. The consulting field has the appearance of opportunity for much growth and the opportunity for individual growth within the profession appears to be great.

9. Escape mechanism. Consulting appears to be the way to escape many of the frustrations inherent in corporate bureaucracy and the stifling effect of large organizations. Consulting is a way to move from the present situation to something much better. To go it alone is the ultimate dream of a lot of people.

These, and others issues, are attracting people to the consulting business each year. Attempting to determine if consulting is a good fit for an individual can be difficult. The list below shows a slightly modified checklist taken from an important guide to consulting (Biech, 1999). It illustrates the key issues that should be considered to determine if consulting is right for you. The number of checks in the figure is not significant; each person must face the reality of each issue. Every box that you are unwilling to check is an indication that you might not be closely matched to this profession. 

  •  I am willing to work sixty to eighty hours a week to achieve success.
  • ‰ I thrive on risk.
  • ‰ I have a thick skin—being called a pest does not bother me.
  • ‰ I am good at understanding and interpreting the big picture.
  • ‰ I pay attention to details.
  • ‰ I am an excellent communicator.
  • ‰ I am a good writer.
  • ‰ I like to sell my work and myself.
  • ‰ I can balance logic with intuition and the big picture with details.
  • ‰ I know my limitations.
  • ‰ I can say ‘no’ easily.
  • ‰ I am compulsively self-disciplined.
  • ‰ I am comfortable speaking with people in all disciplines and at all levels of an organization. 

Read the entire interesting article here.