You Don't Know What You Don't Know

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I have stopped taking for granted things I know and used to consider as general knowledge (something everyone would know). And the main reason is that everyday I come across people who should know and don't know.

A recent striking example is the one involving the CEO of Konga. About two weeks ago there was a lot of online talk about a foreign investor publishing details of Konga's business numbers and saying Konga has 184,000 active users. Many Nigerians jumped on the news and built a mountain-tall analyses (ana-lie-ses seemed more appropriate) from that tiny morsel of active user count. None (that I came across) bothered to explain how the active users were determined. For an ecommerce site like Konga, it could be the numbers of people who made purchases in a month. It ignores the number of times they make the purchase and the value of their purchase. If you run a business and every month your get 184,000 different people buy from you and some buy multiple times from you each month, that is a mighty good business if you ask me.

However, what I came across were articles from high and low saying how low the number is and how terrible Konga has been projecting itself as larger than it really is (really?).

I saw people throw numbers around in ways that made no sense. People which excellent work experience and foreign degrees. People I had an unearned respect for just because of their profile. I saw them did things and say things that made absolute stupid sense. Worse than no sense because they mixed up good logic with bad logic and used data wrongly. Very dangerous, especially using data wrongly.

Then I came across a reply from the CEO of Konga in form of a LinkedIn article ( And that one made other people's misuse of data look less horrible. He made a chart with no title, no legend, no axis label, no axis title and no proper style, and used it as his basis of replying the critics. He ended up creating more critics.

And it's become an issue I frequently encounter. People who don't know what they don't know.

I am also one of them. I can't count the number of times I have assumed I know something and found out I don't know as much as I thought. I encounter it a lot at my training classes - people suddenly surprised that they don't know Excel as much as they thought they did. So I think it's an issue most regular people have. But what is more important is how we deal with it.

Some people let it drive them to know more. They met someone who knew more than them and showed them the gaps in their own knowledge, they immediately started working of fixing the knowledge gap and knowing more. Others let it drive them into a defense mode. They took offense and belittled what that other person knew.

I used to be a little on both sides - a little humble in accepting that there is more to learn and a little too proud to accept that someone else is better than me at what I am supposed to be an expert at. But after too many of such enlightening experiences and seeing the benefits of being of the first type, I am now a lot more of the first type. I let my knowledge gap drive me to be better.

And the more you are of the first type the less embarrassing cases you'll encounter. You would have plugged very many of your knowledge gaps that you won't make some of the mistakes I see people already at the top of the careers making.


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