Personally, I am super thankful for successful people who are genuinely open about their journey because that way, I get to learn. There are so many ways to pick up formal and informal skills for whatever path we choose. Listening, asking questions, and having conversations have been my best learning methods for the longest time. For the past few weeks, I have been reading a book written by two friends who have had to be brothers, friends, and partners as they go through their entrepreneurship journey in Africa while answering a call they have described as ‘Passion for Africa.’
For me, the uniqueness of their story and journey has got to be the same reason anyone might think this book isn’t meant for them – their transition from a working system and society to a place like Nigeria. I met half of the duo eight months ago when our mutual friend asked me to have a sit-down interview with him for Plus TV Africa. She mentioned his name and, of course, I hadn’t heard anything about him at the time. I was sceptical. But in that scepticism, I have learnt not to be dismissive and that some noisemakers in the media are not necessarily as relevant as the ones who have refused to tell their stories, or, better put, decided to lead a quiet life while making a massive impact in the society and being very successful in their area of specialization. If you do the job I do in the media space, you won’t be quick to jump into conclusion after reading a well written ‘profile’. ‘Packaging’ is like the best-selling strategy of the year. But let’s not digress. So I asked that we (myself and half of the duo) have a meeting before scheduling an interview. We did, and I found him interesting. Interesting enough for a conversation that should pick the interest of viewers who are passionate about entrepreneurship, youth empowerment, and the growth of Nigeria and Africa as a whole. During the interview, we covered several issues, such as the need to question incomplete stories, professionalism and growth in the work environment, the Nigerian factor, the concept of BYOE (Bring your own everything), and the need to build meaningful relationships, to mention a few.
In our private conversation, he mentioned this book that was in works at the time. I was excited because I knew he had so much experience to share and the capacity to articulate them so that the layman could understand and begin to make changes as they grow.
Getting a copy was a privilege. I started reading and, to cut a long story short, In-Pursuit; Journeys in African Entrepreneurship is a book I will gladly recommend to anyone. There is something for you. For some who might think they know it all, reading certain books and attending certain seminars might not give you something new, but it’s a needed reminder that you are not alone, that your dreams are valid, that sacrifices must be made and balance is important. It is sometimes a reaffirmation and a reminder of what you already know and how to apply them as daily activities have got the tendency to cloud our thinking. We need clarity. Here as some of the lessons learnt from reading this book:
Networking is needed
You probably heard this over and over again – Your network is your net worth. How do you grow your network, and how do you begin to harness your network’s values? It’s a skill you have to master over a period of time.
Negotiation is necessary
Osaretin Oswald Guobadia spoke about when he negotiated his way into earning much better than people above him. Negotiation is not an easy skill to acquire, but when you do, it puts you in a position where you get what you deserve based on the value you bring to the table. In this part of the world, it might definitely make you the less likeable person in the room as people are quick to use the next colleague as a point of reference while throwing a corporate tantrum. Forgetting that everybody gets what they negotiate, not what they deserve.
Your decisions must be strongly backed by you
Chukuka Chukuma, at some point, shared his frustration at work due to office politics. I am not a fan of corporate shenanigans, but I have had to reluctantly deal with it for the past few years, and I must say it’s never fun, especially when you are all about getting the job done as excellently as possible. If you are not strongly backing your decision, then be ready to be frustrated out of doing the right thing. Understand what you want to do, why you want to do, and what you get out of doing it. That’s the only way you can stay focused regardless of what obstacle you have to overcome.
Get ready to be resented
People will focus on their pettiness and your success rather than the hard work and expertise you bring to the table. Be focused, anyway. Some people will see your value, while others can only see you as a threat. Identify the doers from the talkers and align them properly. Also, remember that your colleagues are not your friends.
Hire entrepreneurs (For Business Owners)
“In Nigeria, the best employees are entrepreneurial minded and have an ownership mentality, and its either they are building the ground under them for themselves of for the organization”. The important part is that they have got the right drive to build something that will, either way, be beneficial to your business.
There is nothing like a soft landing
“No matter how well prepared you may be, there remains the unknown, the bizarre, and the novel to surprise anyone who desires to work in Nigeria. The challenges will come; it’s just a matter of when and how. But when they do, if you focus on them, you may miss the opportunities.
Synchronize with the market
Understand that things cannot always go your way or work with your time. You have to understand the market you want to play in and the timing required. Will your potential partners be more relaxed and interested in meeting with you at 11pm while you have sworn never to stay out later than 10pm? Who are the key players, and how do they roll? “The market drives the appointed time.” You may have to adjust your time or cajole the market. “Even business partners have to synchronize their timing. Every dance has a step that matches the beat. Rhythm is key.”
The cream always rises to the top
If you are good, you will always rise to the top as long as you don’t stop putting in the work.
Model your business for the Nigerian ecosystem
Stop using the wrong template. If you have to apply a model that has worked in a place like the United States, then it is important you rework and fine-tune the model for the Nigerian ecosystem. Stop copying and pasting Mark Zuckerberg’s stories.
Know Your worth
“Knowing your worth and the value of your priorities in life is based on your value system and the toolkit you deploy in order to satisfy them.” Know your space and play accordingly. If you don’t place the premium on time, no one else will.
Adversity will strike you
You must, however, be ready to weather the storm.
In conclusion, the book is full of lessons for everyone, and I highly recommend it. For more details on this book or to get a copy, please click HERE
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