French first.
So Microsoft has an email group (distribution list) for Excel MVPs. We interact amongst ourselves and with Microsoft via the email group. Not all the MVPs are English speaking but the language of communication within the group is English. Everytime I see an email in the group I can instantly tell if it's from a native English speaker (or someone whose national official language is English) or from someone who learned English as an adult. For those who learned English as an adult, their emails are often like a riddle to be deciphered by reading it two or three times. Their texts don't have the flow and smoothness I have come to appreciate in a language. And it's obvious that my French will be that way too (at least for a very long time) if I eventually get to learn it well enough. Whatever poems I write in french won't have the smoothness and rhyme my English version of it will have. And I have long given up (with expert advice) on trying to speak like (with the accent) of a native French man. And in French your accent matters a big lot, unlike English where people easily tolerate or even like foreign accents (that's why over  50% of people taking my Excel online video learning course are Britons, Americans and other non-Nigerians). In a sentence, I had to quit French learning because I can't see myself achieving much with it and every hour I dedicate to learning is taking me away from much more valuable things I can be doing.

Now MBA.
It's a mixture of reasons. I regularly examine my life and prune whatever is not of value. This month my MBA schooling fell under that category. When I started, it was of immense value. Even that time when I wrote that post on how I was getting very high grades and praising the MBA programme, I was being very sincere. It has changed my business thinking for life and good. I now think like a seasoned businessman. It has shown me what successful entrepreneurs do to build an industry giant. And luckily, now I have done most of the core courses: 7 out of 12. It has been very intensive too. I think I have already learned most of all it has to teach me. And that's part of the reasons for suspending the program. The other part is that I now have a clear roadmap of how I will build my business. I don't have much time and want to make the most of the time I have now, as the plan is time-sensitive. Every delay I make in completing the different phases of the roadmap messes with the entire plan and might render everything unworkable. So I again had to pull the plug on everything non-essential and squeeze out time from every corner I can. And this is the main reason I quit (actually, I don't have a plan of restarting the MBA) the MBA program. I consider what I have to do now way much more important than the MBA. I don't even mind the money I have paid for the MBA program. What I have learned so far is well worth the money I have paid. But I will let it make me lose bigger opportunities if I continue doing it.

One thing being an entrepreneur has given me is the ability to be clear headed. To not have to worry about a bigger system or approval to do what I feel is best for me. And now focusing on my new roadmap to success is what is best for me, whatever needs to be cleared out of the way will be cleared out of the way.

There is a lot of buzz around data analysis and big data, but what are the opportunities really like in Nigeria? Do companies in Nigeria consider it a big deal? Do people see any career improvement from acquiring data analysis skills? Or is it all hype? These are the questions my industry white paper will address.

So I have set up a short, interesting and fun to fill survey. And I need your help in getting the survey filled so we can all benefit from the insights that will be made openly available to us all.

You can fill the survey here: Value of Data Survey

The survey is to help sift the signal from the noise. To show us all what corporate Nigeria think about data and its analysis; whether people have been hurt by lack of data analysis skills; whether careers have been lifted by it and whether there is a big ready market for those with the skills.

From my experience as a consultant on an MTN market research project, I have made the survey unintrusive, fun to fill and very short. It will take you 1 - 2 minutes to fill. And I used the best survey platform in the world to design a beautiful looking and elegant survey.

Already, I have been getting responses between yesterday night, when I created the survey, and now. Someone even left a very touching feedback: "I hope your survey promote data analysis in Nigeria"

You can fill the survey here: Value of Data Survey

Another feedback I got is: "While there is a big potential market for data analysis, the Nigerian economy is still too slow at embracing its potentials."

Still another: "A lot of data being gathered or presented to top management in a lot of organizations are usually not well represented because a lot of managers do not even understand the right tools to use for what kind of reporting. I think organizations need to start taking their data analysis more seriously."

Here are screenshots of some of the fun questions.

You can fill the survey here: Value of Data Survey
At the rate Microsoft keeps updating Excel with new features, the older versions (Excel 2007 and Excel 2010 especially) will soon be so far behind the new versions will look like entirely new products and not just newer versions of same product.

Today I will be showing you how you can use the forecast tool in Excel 2016.

I have prepared a sample sales data.

It is the daily sales record of a grocery store for this year.  The store has been hit by the current economic downturn and sales are not as good as they used to be. The owner is very worried and wants to see what the future will be like if the trend continues.

This is what the forecast tool in Excel 2016 is built for. And here's how to use it.

Select the historic data, go to Data menu and select "Forecast Sheet".

The forecast dialog box comes up. Set the date you want to forecast to end (Forecast End).

If you are familiar with time series, it is a triple exponential smoothing capable time series tool. You can expand the options and set things as you want.

And for the setting above (default setting), here is the result.

Now the store owner can see that things will get worse if he doesn't do something to halt the downward sales trend.
Equity is simply what you own minus what you owe. They are very valuable because they represent your worth -- what you can afford.

There are three types of equity (beyond finance, though):
  1. Financial Equity
  2. People Equity, and
  3. Sweat Equity
Financial equity is the most known type. It is your assets minus liabilities. When you do a rough calculation of what all you own is worth (properties, cash and investments) and deduct from it what you owe, the result is your financial equity.

People equity is all about your network: the people you are in good terms with minus the people who will like to see you dead. Usually, you'll get people equity on your way to getting financial equity. That is the origin of the quote: "Your network is your networth." And when you've got a lot of financial equity, it becomes really hard to not have a very large people equity also. Just think about Donald Trump, how many of us can say the things he say and still have people wanting to publicly associate with us.

Sweat Equity is the least popular type. The best way to explain it is to use a village water need story I came across. Once upon a time, there was a village 10 miles from a stream. The villagers would walk the long distance to fetch water for their basic needs. Two people, James and John, decided to build a business to meet this need. James got big buckets and began fetching water in large quantities from the stream which after deducting a small part for his own home use, he sells the rest. Over time he became stronger and better at fetching water from the stream and was immediately making cool money. John, however, decided to dig a canal from the stream to the village. He spent 10 months with no pay digging the canal. Then when he was done, he could sell the water cheaply to the villagers and put James out of business. He became a millionaire. And that's how powerful sweat equity is. It is more than just sweating, but about doing what no one wants to do because it's very difficult. Carrying bucket is not difficult, or doing whatever gives immediate result. It is doing what will not give you result for a long time with hard work that refers to greater sweat equity.


We all know that the present determines the future, but what most of us do not consider is the magnitude of change in the future that small changes in the present cause. And that is what the butterfly effect is about. Small changes now lead to a very large change in the future.

Here's one of the best example of real life butterfly effect I found:

A Tunisian man named Mohammed Bouazizi, who made a living out of selling fruits and vegetables inspite of having a degree due to the high unemployment, was one day trying to sell his produce when a female police officer stopped him asking for the permit for selling. Upon his failure to produce it, she slapped him, spat at his face and confiscated his cart. Unable to bear the humiliation anymore, he went to the governors office demanding for his cart. Being refused, as a sign of protest and helplessness he lit himself on fire in the middle of the traffic.

Angered by this, starting from his friends and relatives and soon the public started protesting within hours. The protests grew from being a local one to national level protests, and within 10 days, the Tunisian president Ben Ali, ruler of Tunisia for 23 years had to leave the country with his family and thereby end his rule over the country. Inspired by this, protestors took to streets of Egypt, and in 2 weeks, led to the ouster of President Hosni Mobarak, putting an end to his 30 year rule. Subsequently, protests followed in several other Arab countries ranging from Libya which saw Gaddafi being killed, Syria where unrest still prevails and Bahrain too, which was later coined the Arab Spring.

And all this due to a police officer's slap. 
(from Quora)

And that is what butterfly effect is. A small, seemingly insignificant, change leads to a much much larger result. 

If you think back on your life, you will discover that every major event in your life was triggered by very small events. Your choice of university, your career path, your meeting your spouse, your heroic actions, e.t.c. 

Practically, this mean we can greatly improve our chances of big positive events in our lives by doing a lot more of positive small things. Smile more, be courteous to everyone, compliment more, read more, be helpful always, focus more on positive actions and you'll be setting yourself up for a good butterfly effect. You might win a big project because of the smile. You might find your life partner because of the little nice words and you will definitely make a lot more helpful friends because of your positive little actions. I believe that is where the quote "It's the little things that matter" come from.

So, please, smile more.

Next week, it will be exactly 2 years since I quit my job to start my own company. It was a tough decision. I was going to lose the comfort of a steady monthly income and a high potential career path. But I did it anyway because I tried looking into the future and it looked obvious that I can make a very comfortable life from being a Data Analysis consultant. There was (and still is) little competition. Most people in the field are mixing it with too many things: they are doing Excel, PMP, PowerPoint, Six Sigma and many other things at once. With my focused approach I was going to have both a technical competence advantage and a marketing advantage over them. Also I had written top Excel consultants across the world and they shared their encouraging stories with me. So as tough a decision it looked, I was also very sure it was my best option and would be a very rewarding choice.

Now I am again in a similar circumstance. I now make between x2 and x12 of my previous monthly income but as revenue (so I have to take care of business expenses which reduces my take home considerably). My worries of where the next income will come from are gone and replaced by worries that I am working too much. I get too many projects. So like two years ago I now have a steady income though much bigger. And again, like two years ago, I have looked into the future and it is in web applications. 

Increasingly, clients ask me for versions of my programs that they can access from anywhere in the world and on any device they have (iPad, smartphone, laptop, PC). The limitations of a computer/desktop based application that can only be accessed from the computer it is installed on or copied to are now a big deal. I can keep telling them I don't build web applications or I either position myself for that future that has come.

It is a lot like how Trent Dyrsmid explained in his YouTube video on how to start a business with no money. You've got a big business idea, then against all financial and resource odds, you start. After some time you notice the idea isn't as big as you thought but you notice a need your clients keep asking for, something that wasn't on your radar before and it holds a lot more potential than your current business model/offering. He called it the red dot and green dot phenomenon. You start out with a red dot idea you believe will do well; it doesn't but you notice people want green dots you never knew existed. You change your business model/offering to provide green dots and business starts growing impressively. 

I've notice the green dot and though my red dot idea is going good, I have to move on to great. Go from good to great. So I am cutting back a lot on my Excel jobs and have begun intensive web app learning and practice. And like I did 2 years ago, I have put in place a safety net to provide my next 5 months living expense as I expect a downturn in my Excel business due to the neglect it will suffer at this transition point. I'll be starting my business all over. I have done it before and somehow feel very happy and eager to do it again. I want to be where the ball is going to be. 

Programming is a lot harder than most people think. I mean programming on a professional level. The learning curve is very steep. You have to learn a lot of things that won't make sense until you start practicing them and you will have to catch up with an industry that is hooked to a rocket. And for me, I have to do all of these with little local help. I have to keep motivating myself and learning all on my own, and when I'm done will also have to create my own clients. 

After a long period of indecision, I finally took the risk and upgraded my phone to the new Windows 10 mobile OS. You might be wondering -- what is the risk in it? In my case, I bought the phone on Amazon. It originally is a locked AT&T phone and the seller had to send me the unlock code before I could even use the phone. So my fear was twofold: won't it set the phone back to the initial locked state, and as the Windows 10 mobile is still in preview mode the phone may brick (be damaged).

Well, at 1:30am today, I did the deed. And I will be showing you all the steps I took and more importantly how the newly improved Windows OS version looks like.

Stage 0: Backup your phone
As a heady geek, I skipped this stage. But please don't in your case. 

Stage 1: Install Windows Insider app
Go to the Windows app store and install the Windows Insider app. You will need it to enable your phone see Windows 10 mobile update.

Stage 2: Configure the Windows Insider app

All you have to do is set it to enable Insider Previews. (I chose Insider Slow option)

Stage 3: Check for and install update 
After your phone reboots at the last step of the Stage 2, you will now be able to see and install Windows 10 as an update.

It took me some time to download and install. At a point I was worried the phone had freezed when I didn't notice any progress for the first 10 minutes of update installation (the spinning gears part).

Unfortunately, I have no screenshot for this stage.

Stage 4: Welcome to the new Windows Mobile.

Everything looks very cool and lovely in the Windows 10 mobile. Unfortunately, my phone call history and SMS history were wiped off. I also had to setup my email accounts all over.

Enjoy the many screenshots I took to show you what I mean.

We all don't start on equal footing. Some people seem to have it all going great for them and others have it all tough. Same 30 days a month, different salaries for different people. Same world, different realities for different people. But it's just the start. The end is what you make it to be.

You've got the same amount of the most precious resource on earth as anyone your age (technically): Time. If you make the best use of it and do a thorough planning for the future, you will be anywhere and anything you want to be. 

The principle is simple, it is the implementation that is difficult. A good illustration is a farmer. Every farmer knows that the biggest gain is in growing perennial crops that require 4 or more years of tendering before the first harvest. Crops like cocoa, coffee, rubber, oil palm, grape, orange, apple and pear. Yet you will see more farmers planting those crops that have one year lifespan. Why? Not everyone can wait 4, 5, 8, 10 years tendering a crop before the first harvest. And same with our progress in life.

Some people start on a higher footing because their parents had perennial investments that didn't require starting over every year or every few years. Some had to start from scratch. But, again, in the end it shouldn't matter. However, we would be making things difficult for ourselves and our children, if we take the annual approach. If we plant only seeds we can harvest in a year.

Doing the best with what you have is more about long-term planning. Delayed gratification. Planting seeds that won't turn harvest for the next 5, 8, 12, 15, 20 and even 25 years. Ignoring the pressure from peers who are experts at the annual and biennial ones. 

People worry that isn't it craziness to invest in ventures that won't turn up returns for 10 years and at the same time deny oneself of a lot of present comfort and enjoyment. Yes, it is if you don't really believe the 10 years will come surely. But if you do and the 10 years come, the rewards will make you want to do it again. Like banks who borrow businesses 40 year and 100 year loans. They do it because they know it's worth it and that's how they became the biggest banks.

Whether you plan adequately for it or not, the future will definitely come. 10 years, 20 years and 30 years from now will come. But it is the guy with the perennial investments who will be smiling the biggest and have enough to pass on to his children.

In our February Monthly Excel Training class, I was explaining how I use some of the features of Excel for my stocks investment analysis. One of the participants told me I could get a 6 months access to the Bloomberg Terminal. I thought he was joking or it would require me to do something out of my competence league.

That training weekend, he sent me the link to applying for the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa Executive Training Scholarship. If I am successful in getting the scholarship, then I will get 6 month's free access to the Bloomberg Terminal amongst the many other things the scholarship program entails. It is a $20,000 worth scholarship. And this morning, I woke up to a congratulatory email in my inbox informing me that I have been taken for the April to September batch.

And a little background on the Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa Executive Training

The Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa is a pan-African program to build media capacity, convene international leaders and improve access to information in order to advance transparency, accountability and governance on the continent. The initial focus of the commitment will be on Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

The initiative will provide cross disciplinary education programs and mid-career fellowships to increase the number of highly-trained business and financial journalists, convene pan-African forums to examine worldwide media best practices and support research to stimulate media innovations.

Timely and accurate reporting of business and financial matters plays a critical role in advancing efficient markets and is a key driver in supporting economic and social growth. Strengthening business and economic news coverage, expanding training programs for journalists and providing greater access to reliable data about Africa are frequently cited as important enablers to the continent’s continued development. 

The Bloomberg Media Initiative Africa (BMIA) Executive Training Program is a six-month certificate program offered to journalists and mid-career professionals in business and civil society to strengthen their skills in capital markets and data analysis and enhance their knowledge in financial and economic reporting. The program is a core component of the BMIA, which aims to accelerate development of a globally competitive media and financial reporting industry as well as promote transparency, accountability and good governance in Africa.

Funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, with additional support from the Ford Foundation, the BMIA Executive Training Program brings together leading faculty from the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and five other preeminent business and journalism schools in Africa, including: Rhodes University School of Journalism in South Africa; the University of Lagos Department of Mass Communication and Radio, and the Pan Atlantic University Lagos Business School in Nigeria; and University of Nairobi, School of Journalism and Mass Communications and Strathmore Business School in Kenya.

This interactive program aims to enhance the skills and knowledge of media professionals to better serve the public interest as a critical part of continental development and progress. Program participants received instruction from world-class faculty and industry experts. The 19-day program over six months consists of six modules featuring Public Policy, Financial Journalism, Financial Markets, Accounting and Finance. Delegates also receive copies of “The Bloomberg Way”, a guide for reporters and editors written by Matthew Winkler, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Bloomberg News, as well as a free subscription to leading financial and business information system, the Bloomberg Professional service.


It's a great way to start the second quarter of the year, and I have God and the generous trainee to thank for this!


Some of the videos have poor picture quality (bluish), the setting very simple, the cast also few and the length 1 - 2 minutes. But the creativity is world class!

All their videos on YouTube are doing very well -- with viewership and comments across the globe. They are the newest reminder of the fact that you don't need the best resources to be creative. In fact, the simpler/fewer the better.

They are Mark Angel Comedy

And these are some of my favourite among their short comedies:

I feel like saying I am going to work more of my creative ideas: write novels, poems, web apps ... But I am sure people are tired of hearing me say such things. I should just do rather than bore people with the talk of doing. 

Luckily, this is an extra motivation to do whatever I can do with whatever I have when the creative ideas are still brimming. Because creativity, even when alone, always pays. Besides, the more I delay the bigger the odds against my actual doing and, worse, I might lose interest in my creative ideas.

My advice also to you is to work on your creative ideas while you still have them because someday you will not have them anymore. Like Warren Buffett phrased it, "My idea quota used to be like Niagara Falls — I'd have many more than I could use. Now it's as if someone had dammed up the water and was letting it flow out with an eye dropper". 

Ever wondered why huge guys have soft voice and slim guys have strong loud voice? 

Most people who have spoken to me on phone or read my online articles before meeting me always have this look of bewilderment on their face. Some try to hide it but I always notice it before they finally banish the look. The look says, "Is this really the Michael? Looks nothing like I imagined." And frankly, it is that they've imagined a bigger Michael both in status and stature. I always like those moments.

But there is a bad side to this huge reputation people build for me upfront. I know that I talk/type online like I'm 100% sure of what I'm saying and sound like I know too much; it's all a writing style. No one likes to read an author who is not sure of what he is saying and keeps contradicting himself or writes with a weak rambling style. So I seldom/never use words like "I think", "In my own humble opinion" "I may be wrong" and "This is just my opinion". Why? Because they weaken the entire article. When you write, it is implicitly your thoughts, opinions you are writing and, always, you may be wrong.

So yesterday, I found out about an article I wrote that was wrong, Very wrong. It was the article I did about our economic situation. In it I made a graph of our GDP and Inflation rate, and said we've been regressing in real terms (factoring for inflation rate) than the positive growth figure we see on newspaper headlines. I took the figures from a World Bank databank report and I didn't factor in the base price used for GDP calculation. I simply tagged the figures as Nominal GDP instead of real GDP that they were (over a period of same base price). It was my PhD in Accounting friend, sir Francis, who helped me uncover the error.

I will look for the post and include the disclaimer "This has been found incorrect. And I noticed first."

Again, I was wrong and no one noticed.


I am sure you know that Nitel has been privatised (sold). The new company is NatCom and their brand name is ntel. But did you know that they've done setting up and are now allowing people reserve phone lines?

Well, I will be showing you in today's post how to reserve a 0804 ntel phone line.

First, head over to 

Scroll down to "choose your own number" and click on it.

You'll be taken to a form requesting your details. Fill it and submit.

Next, you'll be taken to the reservation page where you specify the number to reserve. 

Once you've picked a number that is available and reserved it, you'll get a success notification and an email.

And that's all! Soon/someday you will be contacted on how to pick your SIM.


One thing many of us need to do more of is to let go. We need to let go of limiting assurances. There is no comfort in your comfort zone. There is no job security. There is no riskless venture. There is no sure bet. There are only good planning and informed decisions.

It is funny how many of us get it right when it comes to exercising for physical fitness. We thoroughly understand that it is not possible to become fit in one day, no matter how intense we exercise. We spread our fitness plan over months and years. Yet when it comes to our career and more important life decisions, we want one day solutions. We think more of what to do once and not repeatedly overtime. That is why so many Nigerians are addicted to certification exams. Get it done and move on to something else. So we do intense studying towards the certification exam and once we pass, that's the end. It's like a one day or one week or one month intense exercise. You get benefits but lose them over time because you stopped.

And it's because we have this strange assurance that certifications give more job opportunities and security. It is true that having more is better than having less. More experience is better than less experience. More degrees is better than less degrees. More certifications is better than less certifications. But what is best is having a stellar plan. Good planning and informed decisions. Take a long-term look at your life and decide where you want to be many years from now. Then do only things that will get you to that long-term goal. Do a certification if it would move you towards that goal, but not just any certification you feel is now in vogue. Read books and take non-certificate training that will give you the knowledge and skills you need. Do only things that will work synergistically towards achieving that goal. 

Let go of non-relevant tasks. Even if your job role doesn't align with your long-term goal, start planning your escape. If PMP will look great on your CV but won't fit into your long-term goal achievement plan, then ignore it. If you focus hard enough on your long-term goal, you will see so many things to do to be prepared and travelling in the path to its achievement and have less time to do non-relevant things. You will even start wishing you had more time.

Don't focus to much on what you stand to lose or the sacrifices to make, rather focus more on the goal and how to overcome the obstacles you've identified. The human mind is very creative and adaptive, it will help you figure out a way to cut your loss and compensate for the sacrifices. But every time you let fear of letting go hold you back from doing what you really want, you stand to lose much more. And the truth is, in the beginning, you will have an exaggerated loss estimate. But as you head in the direction of your long-term goal, you begin to see steps on the mountain, easy ways to overcome the obstacles that look great from afar.

So as you move into this weekend, I want you to do a review of your long-term goals and see if you are optimally heading in the direction to achieving it. Or if you have things to let go of.


We are barely past half of the month and my Airtel bill is already N10,049.88. And it's just one of my main phone lines. So I have spent another significant sum on the other (MTN) line. No wonder Airtel has been sending me premium customer offerings and gave me an account manager I can directly reach for any issues with my line.

Last month, my Naira Mastercard expired. I was stunned by the number of renewal payment unsuccessful emails from the subscription services I have: from Skype to Buffer to Google Apps to and others. Some were from services I don't use, and they just keep billing me monthly. When I did a rough calculation, I was paying about $150 to $200 per month for such services. They have been eating into my finances.

Yesterday, I had to clear a $203 bill from Google for February adverts. GTBank did the conversion at N300 to 1 dollar as they billed me over N60,000. And that is not factoring the other adverts I ran on Nairaland (N20,000), Linda Ikeji's blog (N50,000) and Facebook. I knew I was paying considerable amount for adverts but it didn't occur to me that I was paying as high as N150,000 in just one month. Though they are business expenses, I know they can be better optimized. I can get same value for less.

I have begun making necessary changes. I have discontinued subscription services that I don't compulsorily need, especially the ones I use once in 4 months and get billed monthly for. I have also edited my Google ads daily spend from $12 to $5. The only expense I am powerless against is the phone call expenses. I have been watching it grow from N3,000 a month to N7,000 to N10,000 and N15,000 a month. Now it is on course to N30,000 a month. But I noticed they are mostly business calls, following up with clients and marketing. Now I just have to factor that cost in my overhead as I have been considering it not big enough to worry about.

Whenever I download my account statement, I am amazed by how much entered and what is left. I know it's a business reality and I still have a very healthy profit margin, but I want to now optimize more and spend less on overhead.


Thanks to everyone who joined in the Personal Finance e-Conference. The feedback was very good and I also gained from the sessions handled by others.

Today, I'm taking the lazy man route. I have a long day ahead, making preparations for our Abuja training starting tomorrow. So I will be sharing verbatim my speech for the conference. Enjoy!

Investment: Road to Financial Freedom

Investment is all about making your resources work for you just as hard as you worked for them. It is how you create your roadmap to financial freedom.

We all have pictures in our heads of the type of comfortable and financially sound lives we want to live. For some of us it is to own a very beautiful spacious house in Lekki, have enough fund to send our children to the best schools, own several passive sources of income and be able to afford everything we need. For some it is to be the next Dangote, to be extremely rich. Regardless of what that picture is for you, I am sure it requires more money than you currently have. And that is where investment comes in.

Investment is how you go from where you are financially to where you want to be financially. It is beyond just putting aside a portion of your income. It is way more than that. Investment is into three broad categories that you must delicately balance together:
1.       Self-investment to grow your earning power,
2.       Financial investments to grow your money, and
3.       Happy-ness investment.

1. Self Investment
The biggest resource you have is you. You will make more from your career than you will from any investment. So you first have to invest in yourself. Grow your career, improve your marketability and increase your earning power.

The easiest way to achieve this is to never stop growing and learning. Constantly update your professional skills, acquire more professional experience and make yourself valuable wherever you are. The biggest opportunities you will come across in life are while you are busy at work. Luckily, we have a recent story of Olajumoke. And if you look back at your life, I am sure you will notice a similar unexpected opportunity come up while you were busy at a task you didn’t think too highly of. If you read the biographies of the people we consider great and influential, they all had those points in their lives that everything changed while they were busy at a work.

So your number 1 priority should be to grow yourself. Invest in yourself.

2. Financial Investment
This is the part where you make your money work for you just as hard you did for it. It is about being strategic with your finances. From the personal finance session, you’ve learned how to manage your income and expenses. Now, you will be taking it further. You will be strategically growing your income. It involves setting aside some portion of your income in an investment account so that over time it grows and becomes a source of passive/extra income.

The investment options you have are:
a.       Savings. You can put some of your money in a dedicated savings account to prevent you from spending it and at the same time earn some income on it. Savings are best for keeping money you might suddenly need or probably draw on in less than a year’s time. A good example is your emergency fund account. Personal Finance experts advice that you have an emergency fund that will hold about 3 to 6 months living expenses for you. The reason is to help you cushion unplanned expenses or job loss. A savings account is the best place to put such a fund. You want easy access to it as it is meant to cater for emergencies (which unfortunately, happens in life).

b.       Fixed Deposit Account. If you have a lot of money (millions to be specific), then you can fix deposit them with a bank in exchange for a higher interest rate than the usual savings account will give you. The catch with fixed deposit is that you need a very high amount (last time I checked with GTBank, I was told it was N15 million and above) and withdrawing is not as easy as with a savings account. That is the sacrifice you make for the higher interest rate.

c.       Government Bonds and Treasury Bills. You can also invest in the Federal Government Treasury bills and bonds. They give interest rates that are higher than savings account and usually higher than fixed deposit too. The catch is that there is a minimum investment amount, specific times to buy in and you have to wait till the bond matures before you get back your money.

d.       Mutual Funds. You can also invest in a mutual fund. Mutual funds are often run by investment houses that pull funds from many people and invest it on their behalves. In Nigeria the popular ones are the ones by ARM, Stanbic IBTC and First Bank. They enable you to invest in bonds or stocks or real estate without needing millions or having to worry about the management of the investments. The catch is they charge you management fees.

e.       Stock Investment. You can invest directly in the stock market. The risk is high but so is the potential gain. If you have the knowledge and time, then this may be a very good way to grow your investment.

f.        Real Estate. If you have the industry knowledge and sizeable money to start with, then you can play in the real estate investment field. It is very lucrative but requires a lot of work and smart. If you already have a demanding full-time job, it might be a quick way to lose your money to agents and fraudsters.

g.       Private Investment Manager. If you are super rich, then can you have a private investment manager. He’s going to do all the hard work for you and create a balanced investment portfolio mix for you.  You can put him on a monthly/yearly salary or pay him on profit share (commission).

There are other types (commodities, precious metals and hedge funds) which are not available in Nigeria. I will advise that you read more on the investment types that interest you and start building/growing your investment portfolio. A good investment strategy will involve a mix of the investment types. In my case, I have my 4 months living expense (emergency fund) in Diamond Bank’s High Interest Deposit Account; I have a stock mutual fund account; I have a money market mutual fund account; I have stock brokerage account and I have a US index fund account. I regularly shuffle money between them all as investing market conditions change and to keep my portfolio balanced.

3. Happy-ness Investment
One shouldn’t sell his soul for money. Pursuit of happy-ness should be part of your overall investment plan. Choose a career path that makes you happy, not just what can get the most money into your pocket. If you are very religious and against smoking and drinking, then you might feel happier not investing in Breweries and Cigarette companies even if they are the best investment performers.

You should invest in healthy relationships, experiences and thrilling adventures. The people who spend to skydive or climb Mount Everest don’t view it as a meaningless expense. It is one of their most cherished experiences. They value it as much as a physical asset (e.g. car). We all need a mix of such experiences to live a wholesome life.

The whole essence of investing is to achieve financial freedom. The moment you sacrifice happiness that freedom will never sink in. You can have as much wealth as Dangote but if you gave up a happy life for it, you won’t enjoy the financial freedom.

Now, it’s time for questions.

Q & A