“Life is so short you can’t waste even a day subscribing to what someone thinks you can do versus knowing what you can do.” – Virgil Abloh
The late pioneer of luxury street-wear’s words hit different in hindsight regarding the fierce urgency of now. When you go through life-changing experiences, what you get isn’t just memories, you gain perspective. You begin to look at everything differently, the importance you place on people, things and places gets re-prioritized. That’s what a pandemic does to you; it got you out here thanking God for being alive in sound health while everything else falls to the back of the line. Nevertheless, if you’re still drawing breath from God’s green earth, you have to figure out what your assignment is and get your ducks in a row. More than ever, this is a year to find your roar and speak up because you have been called for such a time as this! Last year somewhat followed the pattern of the year before, so it should not come as a surprise if this year takes the same path as 2020 too. Motivation is great but discipline is more important. You will need more than hope to navigate these uncertain times, you will need strategy.
Can I Have An Honest Moment With You Right Now?
There is no gainsaying that there is a new world order; ‘normal’ as we know it has been forever changed. The dawn of every new world (a unique system of operations not earth as per cosmos) presents opportunities for early risers; those who are believers. In Economics, we call it the First Mover Advantage – these are the perks reserved for those who brave the risks and position themselves for an almost inevitable future. So this is not an age to be indifferent; sitting on the fence will hurt you more than you can ever imagine. Genius thinker and author, Seth Godin, submits that, “the cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.” You have to keep your eyes peeled for the next big thing which almost never looks like anything big.
Ten years ago, most people slept on Bitcoin. Five years ago, most people slept on Tesla. Two years ago most people slept on Tik Tok. One year ago, most people slept on NFTs (Non-Fungible Tokens). Today, these brands have seen their value grow astronomically over time. Pay attention to the chatter about the “Metaverse”, educate yourself about the possible entry points for you because Augmented Virtual Reality (AVR) is the leading vibe. The OG, Steven Spielberg, directed a movie called Ready Player One, go and watch it and see what may appear as far-flung but is already tethering with Big Tech investing heavily in it. There will be many more signatures of the future that you must train yourself to recognize. Pay attention to people like Teeka Tiwari, Chioma Eze-Obi, and financial literacy platforms such as Earn Your Leisure and Money Africa.
The Real ‘Verzus’ In Life is Between Who You Are and Who You Should Become
Since the virtual space has become increasingly animated as physical interactions have become limited, there is a heightened tendency to get overwhelmed with the doings of everyone else on your timeline but the key is to focus on your own lane. For the umpteenth time, most of what you see on social media is carefully curated content – watch this episode of Tea With Tay, you might learn something. So if you are allowing yourself to be tensioned unnecessarily, your insecurities will cause you to become paranoid and there goes your mental health out the window. Celebrate those who are winning, learn from them and bid your own time. Your job is to work on the seed you have and grow it from potential to fruit. You can’t compare the gestation period between an elephant and rabbits. As long as you are doing the best on your level, that’s good enough.
Yesterday’s Price is Not Today’s Price!
2022, you have to pay attention to the margins. Inflation is a real threat to your income especially if you’re a fixed income earner. The naira is not a currency that can protect your wealth, you need to operate in markets that earn you FX. If you live or work in Nigeria, brace for more policy-induced inflation: the proposed removal of petroleum and electricity subsidies, new taxes on Big Tech, ‘sugar’ tax, and so on. Even the World Bank is predicting it might turn out to be the highest in the world. The lazy route would be to just jack up your prices and blame it on cost-pull inflation, however in a competitive market, clients can easily move to the next shop. So you have to take the value-addition route and one way to achieve this is product differentiation; you can’t call the shots when there is no difference between your six and the half-dozen offered by others. Ensure your product is the best on these streets, work on expanding your distribution channels and exposure where you can’t charge more and never run out of stash. When clients get top value for their money, they won’t complain as much. I have definitely adjusted my rate card for 2022, staap playing wimme. You hear that? That’s the sound of my price going up!
The Hyphen is Real
Many years ago in my first-ever Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) class, my teacher, Walter Samuel, told me something that messed up my head for good, “you’re a constant that can be expressed in many variables’. That’s why I started to better understand the concept of being a polymath, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to do many things but more about your ability to become many things. The danger of a label is that whilst it helps others identify you, it can turn around and restrict you. I figured that the ability to concatenate words shouldn’t reduce me to just a writer, it is really a metaphor for what my superpower is – a genius mind. So I began to build product lines in the direction of my identified strengths: books, consultancy, ghost-writing, copywriting, courses or even ‘free’ products like think-pieces.
Respectfully, do you know that the richest comedian in Nigeria isn’t the funniest? He was smart enough to know that he couldn’t limit himself to just being a stand-up comedian, so he began to add other expressions of himself to his portfolio. Cristiano Ronaldo is a footballer, a hotelier, a luxury fashion label owner, a philanthropist, and so on. Even the egoistic and eccentric Tony Stark, the godfather of the Marvel Franchise didn’t skip a beat in his retort to Captain America in the Avengers that he is a, “genius, billionaire, playboy and philanthropist”. Elon Musk isn’t an aeronaut, nor has he been to space yet but a bulk of his wealth comes from Space X. Paul of Tarsus declares that he is “many things” to different people – a prelate, a tent-maker, a cultural connoisseur, a strategist. My point is, you can be more than what your job description suggests but you must be ready to put in the work of personal development; Robert Downey Jr. calls it, “hugging the cactus”. This is not aspire-to-Maguire, so it’s not about quitting your job or firing your boss – you don’t even have to go that far. The major key alert here is that your title isn’t incorrect but it might be incomplete – you need to learn how to use a hyphen so that amongst other things you can earn even when you’re not in the room. Selah (pause and think about that).
I Just Want To Make Common Sense!
A few years ago, a distinguished senator in the Red Chamber stood up and put forward a brilliant, futuristic and very economically consequential bill on the need for us as a collective to (then) begin the mass adoption of electric vehicles and phase out petrol vehicles by 2035 – citing that he had owned an EV for years without incident. His position was met with stiff bi-partisan rebuke because of the prevailing sentiments and seemingly easy money that crude oil was bringing in at the time. A counter-argument was made to do everything possible to “frustrate” such novel idea. His measured response contains words that should be written in gold forever: “I want some of my colleagues to close their eyes and dream that they are in the 21st century, that’s all. You cannot function as if you’re in the dark ages. I will withdraw the bill but I want you to think. In a few years’ time, combustible-engine cars will not be manufactured in the world anymore, whether you like it or not. You do not belong in the 21st century and I understand.”
That last line is crucial as we enter what is a pre-election year where most of the fireworks will happen before the general elections. So while you’re being deceived by political hirelings to vote along ethnic, religious and partisan lines, what you’re actually voting for are themes such as: development vs underdevelopment, the future vs the stone age, a more inclusive country vs a more divided country. Today electric vehicles are a strong signature of the new world but people who couldn’t see beyond oil fought that inevitable change. I don’t have an issue with anyone being partisan, it’s their constitutional right – my grouse is when you’re not patriotic. Some of the candidates that most political parties churn out are people that operate at the nadir of critical thinking, people who cannot run a Fortune 500 company or comfortably lead a first-world country. Whether at a presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial or even local government level, I challenge you to bring forward your best candidate and not insult our collective intelligence by putting forth who you wouldn’t hire. By the way, you-know-who said I should tell anyone who is above 18 years and hasn’t gotten a PVC that there is a question mark over your salvation. Participation is the endgame, not just partisanship.
Turu Ugo Lota! (Bring Home The Glory!)
When your stock-in-trade is word, you find yourself always paying a little more attention to what people say, write, movies, books or in this case, copywriting on a billboard. When I saw it, I smiled because I appreciated the dexterity it took to couch a deeply-entrenched ideology in a very short phrase. The first thing you must understand is that ‘home’ is not necessarily a physical place but a metaphor for your niche, your playground, your sphere of influence and your socio-cultural etymology. Our people say that “the shame is never on the mad man but on his family”. You must realize that your actions and inactions have consequences, so it’s not all about you. This loss of shame is why public officials steal and lie through their teeth, it’s why real estate agents defraud tenants by leasing out the same apartment to many people at the same time, and it’s the reason why a parent would enable his or her child to get away with bad behaviour. The society we want to have will be an aggregation of our collective consciousness, whether good or bad.
When you see Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in all her Ankara glory while working her magic at the World Trade Organization, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina exuding black excellence at the African Development Bank or Amina Mohammed holding it down at the United Nations, you realise they are bringing home the glory. A young man from humble beginnings in the inner city of Surulere, who has risen to the peak of his music career, records music with international powerhouses, owns the top spots on global charts, turns the O2 into the O3, wins much coveted plaques, is bringing home the glory.
When you see Kamaru Usman completely dominate the UFC and is now touted as the greatest pound-for-pound octagon fighter of all time, he is bringing home the glory.
People like Dr. Akin Abayomi who is serving his heart out so conscientiously on public health, Dr. Yemi Kale who is ensuring that during his time, government-produced data gain substantial credibility, or Dr. Stella Adedevoh who refused to “mind her business” but stood her ground and prevented carnage at the expense of her own life, are bringing home the glory.
When the glory comes, it would ultimately be ours but the world will never forget the name of those that tamed the beast. Ours is a generation of giants and giant-slayers because we figured that to get ahead in life, you must get a head. So go on, whatever you do in 2022, please bring home the glory!