I’m going to be in Ife in the early hours of today, It’s late into the night already, and I’m trying to ensure that everything I’m supposed to do tomorrow doesn’t suffer for this outing. The program is being organized by NESA (National Economics Students Association), and the title of my talk is said to be Developing a Competitive Edge in a highly competitive world. The theme I understand is Entrepreneurship development.
I heard that Pat Utomi was there yesterday to speak with them, so was Gbenga Sesan. I don’t know if all this is deliberate (it wasn’t long I was privileged to speak with the same people few months back), but I’m going to be there later today. I need to bring out my posters and vie for the position of minister of education and entrepreneurship.
More and more with every passing day, I’m coming to discover that there are loads of opportunities in this country, there are genuine needs that if the average school graduate correctly positions him/herself can make the most of. It’s just so unfortunate that what we teach people is how to write CVs rather than business plans. We school our youths to graduate and then become dependent on a system that doesn’t have jobs for all of them. We turn fully developed adults into jobless excusiologists.
About Entrepreneurship, my views are, we will all become entrepreneurs one day, either we take the plunge, we get pushed or celebrated out. The beginnings are usually rough and believe me, it’s better when you are a teenager than when you are over 60.
I have a mental framework for my speech already, but I know some people are online this night already, so for their sakes, I will not write the details now 😉 Or what do you think, so that people don’t speak ahead of me during my speech.
When I’m back from the outing, I will write about the event and my thoughts on how to develop a competitive edge in a highly competitive world. Not a new post, this same post, so stay tuned! I’ll also expect the participants to come here and share their feedback.
It happened already…I’m just returning from Ife ( A little town in Nigeria that houses one of it’s greatest universities). The event was a worthwhile one for me, I had the rare privilege of meeting some other facilitators (almost concluded some deals as well :)). The sitting arrangement from my left was, Segun Adaju (DMD Integrated MicroFinance Bank), Adeolu Akinyemi (MD Generis Solutions), Mrs Ausbeth Ajagu (Ably representing Dr. Ausbeth Ajagu, chairman of Betcy Group and fellow of many institutes), Mrs Blessing Awosika (MD/CEO SOKOA Chair Center)
I met with Mrs Ausbeth Ajagu, wife of Dr Ausbeth Ajagu – Chairman of Betcy Group, also an international award winner and authority on entrepreneurship. I read through his profile and was awed, his wife was so humble and so down to earth. She spoke first and talked about key attributes that would give an edge in the business world.
I spoke next, I started by sharing a story about my encounter with a professor of philosophy. I had gone to meet this professor to explain what philosophy was to me. He started by telling me a riddle. He told me that there were two men, one was clean and the other was dirty, he further told me that I had soap and sponge and enough water to wash one person. He asked me who I would wash. Without thinking too much, I told him that I would wash the dirty person, since he is the one that needed it the most. He professor responded, “that my friend is logic, not philosophy!”. He asked me to think again, so I thought and came up with another answer, I would wash the clean person, because he already has habit of staying clean, my investment in him would be worth it, the dirty man on the other hand will still get dirty again. This time the professor smiled and responded, “that my son, is psychology :), think again.” This time I spent quite a while, I told the professor that now I was confused, there are many good reasons to wash either the clean or dirty man. Now I was really confused. The professor smiled and told me “finally, that is philosophy!” I explained to the participants that I was in no way interested in confusing them, that I would try as much as possible to be practical and not philosophical. Of course, the chorus of laughter at this point was a good indication of well taken in points and invitation to take it to another level.
I decided to go practical by giving all the participants two exercises to do. This brought the entire gathering to life. From an approximate crowd of 500 only two of the participants got the questions right (now this is not an indication of their intelligence, they were given impossible time targets). These two emerged with correct answers and were given sits in the front. The entire audience was then asked a vital question. “What gave these two participants – a guy and a girl the competitive edge?”
It was very interesting as expected to hear different participants from different parts of the room echo out one after the other points that I had penciled down for the lecture :). In the words of Galileo, you can’t teach a man new things, you can only bring him to the consciousness of that to which he has been unconscious. The participants reeled out the points from this practical experience, they even explained it!
At this point my work was virtually done, I only spent a few more minutes reinforcing each of their points. They mentioned 11 points in all. These points include the following (I can’t write it all out perfectly, I’m sorry, but I’ve asked them to make the audios available to me, so if you are interested in paying for copies, lets know)
Experience – Someone stood up and said, they’ve seen something like this before :).
Perfect. If you have some experience doing what you are looking for an opportunity to do, you’ll have better chances. Experience is not experience because you were paid for doing it, it is experience because you did it. An ounce of experience is worth a ton of theory. Don’t go to class alone, look around you for opportunities to gather experience. It is the little victories that you have had while you were in obscurity that qualifies you for the big opportunities. My own personal story indicates the value of experience. I had been recruiting on campus, for Exploit makers, for SCM, for EEESS and all. When I got my first Job post NYSC as a recruiting Manager, I had experience! I also talked about over 5 people who came to our office as volunteers, and within a period of less than 5 months were able to bag great jobs in other companies. They had the experience, it didn’t matter that they were volunteers.
Preparation – Some people did not even have paper of pens for the exercise. The opportunity came and they did not have the resources for it. They didn’t have the foresight to prepare!
Proper preparation prevents poor performance. Preparation begets performance. Fortune favors the prepared mind. To prepare is to be set when your opportunity comes. Preparation involves enlisting in a routine of developing habits out of things that failures hate to do. It involves living every day alert, being ready for ones opportunities. The quality of your preparation determines the quality of your performance. One of the great example of preparation in history is Hitler. Hitler is said to rehearse his public presentation to death before embarking on it. Hitler rehearses minute things like his smile, his body kinetics e.t.c while making a speech. Another good example is Tyson, Mike Tyson is said to spend hours on end watching knock out scenes in historical fights. When Mike Tyson enters the ring he has prepared for numerous knockout routines, small wonder he knocks people out in 30seconds.
Knowledge – Someone stood up and said, “they knew something we didn’t know!”
One man I respect a lot usually said, Ignorance of ones ignorance is the minimum requirement for admission into the college of fools. Every human being is born at the level of unconscious incompetence. The journey to mastery involves migration from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence. Awareness makes one move from unconscious incompetence to conscious incompetence, training makes one move from conscious incompetence to conscious competence, practice makes one move from conscious competence to unconscious competence. What you don’t know will hurt you, make a resolution to damage your ignorance daily. An empty bag will not stand upright. Leaders are readers, if you need to hide something from a looser, hide it in a self development book.
Courage, Perseverance, Skill, Focus, Innovation were other items spoken about (wouldn’t want to write a book here :))
Ultimately my overall position on developing a competitive edge is staying innovative. Staying true to the things that make you unique, different, apart. Focusing on your passions, your strengths, your possibilities. We compete because we do not create. Who says you have to be in the same business with the other guy? Who says your competition is the other guy? I reminded them about my professor of philosophy friend, the story I started with – I told them that after I got philosophy clear, he called me to the side and told me, he would suggest that I use the clean water to wash the clean person. I should then use the water that washes off him, which is suggests I collect because it will still be relatively clean, to wash the dirty man. This way I use the same tools to achieve more than I would with a competitive mindset. This he told me is not philosophy, but creativity!
That certainly doesn’t account for all my 1hr, but at least makes you feel a part of it.
After I spoke, Mrs Blessing Awosika was invited to the podium. Now believe me, I haven’t heard many women sound so good. She was a blessing to me, she also promised to call me, that she wants to involve me in something 🙂 (I made it pretty clear that if she didn’t, I would). Aside of the fact that her business does 10 digits (which I must be learning from), she inspired me with her personal story. I was tripped that she did not have more than 3 months post NYSC employment experience, and not kobo to start her business. Now were are all the people who wonder if I didn’t cut out of my golden handcuffs too early? I enjoyed her so much, I’m going to try my best to write a post on what she spoke about.
Everything else went well, it was well organized, kudos to the hosts NESA. The MCs did a good job, the guy had an interesting style, and the lady was particularly herself and good (thought I would see her after to tell her). The president, vice president (she said she was going to go for it last year, congrats) chairman of the committee and all did well. I missed professor Fabayo (looked for him but didn’t find him).
Now that was how it went!