Youth Focus Initiative is my pet project which I started when I was 24, an age by which most students have already completed their first degree and for some their PhDs. After completing secondary school, financial meltdown at the family level put a temporary cap on my thirst for a higher education. As fate would have it, it was in between the struggling eight years of self-help, selling petrol as a pump attendant, teaching pupils in private schools, and working
as a community newspaper reporter that I started Youth Focus Media (later renamed Youth Focus Initiative) in Lagos.
The idea was (and still is) to motivate and engage the youths, wherever they are. I believe that some of the ideas that were packaged into those modest editions of the Youth Focus magazine had the same impact as the regular talks I gave along with the marketing of the publication. I made the magazine so simple that even the busiest person in the world would still find it ‘unputdownable!’ My sister and I were the company and we ‘hired’ some ad hoc distributors. It was not easy in the beginning, but we later found it very exciting.
In August 2001, we went to a massive programme called the Youth Empowerment Scheme at the National Stadium, Surulere in Lagos. The whole stadium was full and we had armed ourselves with 100 copies of Youth Focus magazine to test run the sales. In ten minutes all of our copies had been mopped up and we had to restock with an extra 200 copies, which also sold out within a few hours. It was then that it dawned on us that our Ghanaian cotenant
(Mr. Adoo) was right when he had told us to take ‘everything’ to the programme. We were surprised by the number of sales that we made in four consecutive days. Continue reading “The Story of My Pet” »
In January 2013, I was at a petrol station (gas station as the Americans will say) to refill the fuel tank of my car. As the petrol attendant was refilling the tank of my car, I heard a voice. The voice was so distinct and mellifluous that I could not ignore it. “Could you please give me N50?” (Fifty naira is a Nigerian currency) I looked towards the left and right to ascertain the direction where the voice emanated from. I asked the petrol attendant if she had said anything. She answered in the negative. At that point, I carefully searched for the owner of the voice. After some time, the voice repeated what it initially said “Could you please give me N50?” This time I knew where it came from. It was the voice of a demented woman that sat very close to the entrance of the petrol station. I was shocked, to say the least, because of the impeccable Queen’s English spoken by the mad woman!
Meanwhile before the mad woman asked me for a token of N50, one of the petrol attendants had asked me for a tip. I asked the petrol attendant to tell me how much she wanted. Her response: “Give me anything”. I juxtaposed the response of the petrol attendant with that of the mad woman. And I began to wonder how an insane person could be specific about her demand, while a sane person was asking for anything. While I gave the mad woman what she asked for, I used my discretion to offer to the petrol attendant what I thought she deserved. I wanted to give her more, but since she asked for anything I gave her what I considered to be anything! Continue reading “Life Gives You What You Ask of Life” »
Purpose, according to Encarta Dictionary, means “reason for existence; the reason for which something exists or for which it has been done or made.” To everything there is a purpose. Nothing exists without a reason. When God created man, He had His reason for doing so. He created man to have dominion, to subdue and to multiply. To have dominion, subdue or multiply therefore man must understand his make-up; he must know what makes him tick and what comes to him naturally. Yes, naturally! No one or nothing can thrive well outside his/its natural habitat. If you take fish out of water, for instance, it is an invitation to doom. So, to be able to fulfil purpose in life one must operate within one’s natural habitat.
In the round leather game, one name that has been a recurring decimal, especially in the last one decade is Mourinho. José Mário dos Santos Mourinho Félix, or simply José Mourinho is a Portuguese football manager, currently the head coach of Real Madrid. He is commonly known as “The Special One”. Mourinho is regarded by some players, coaches, and critics as one of the best football coaches of all time. Mourinho started out as a player and eventually switched to management. After working as a physical education teacher and spells working as a youth team coach, a scout, and an assistant manager in the early 1990s, he became an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson. He worked with Robson at Sporting Lisbon and Porto in Portugal, and Barcelona in Spain. He remained at the Catalonian club after Robson’s departure and worked with his successor Louis van Gaal.
He began focusing on coaching and impressed with brief but successful managerial periods at Benfica and União de Leiria, taking the latter to their highest ever league finish. He returned to Porto in early 2002 as head coach, winning the Primeira Liga, Taça de Portugal, and UEFA Cup in 2003. In the next season, Mourinho guided the team to victory in the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira, to the top of the league for a second time, and won the highest honour in European club football, the UEFA Champions League. Mourinho moved to Chelsea the following year and won the Premier League title, the club’s first league title in 50 years, and the League Cup in his first season. In his second year Chelsea retained the Premier League and in 2006–07 he took the club to an FA Cup and League Cup double, though they finished as league runners-up. He often courted controversy for his outspokenness, but his victories at Chelsea and Porto established him as one of the world’s top football managers. Mourinho left Chelsea in September 2007, amidst reports of a rift with club owner Roman Abramovich. Continue reading “Jose Mourinho as a Metaphor of Purpose” »
By Tunde Oseni
Success is a relative term. It means different things to different people. Nevertheless, we all know successful people when we see them. According to The Pocket Oxford Dictionary (e-version), success means ‘accomplishment of an aim; favourable outcome; attainment of wealth, fame, or position’. People admire success and society rewards it. Simply, to me, success is what you achieve as a result of a calculated effort. This is what I mean: you succeed when you set a goal and meet it.
Let us begin with the story of a ‘skinny kid with a funny name’ who attempted to give life a shot with the hope that his country had a place for him too. Barack Obama overcame the stereotype of being born by a white mother, who later died of cancer, and a black father, who he truly never knew. He was raised by his maternal grandparents in Honolulu in the State of Hawaii and went to college with the full hope of making it despite odds. Barack studied Political Science at the Columbia University, worked as a ‘community organizer’ in the Southside of Chicago and went to read Law at Harvard University where he rose to become the first black President of the venerated Harvard Law Review. Barack then became an attorney, elected a state senator, appointed an adjunct professor, and then elected as a national senator, and eventually the first man of his skin colour to become the President of the United States of America. That is success.
Now, success is not just about becoming a president or a governor or being awarded a Nobel Laureate. Success comes in different garbs, colours and sizes. At times success may connote such a simple achievement as getting one’s dream job. For instance, one of my friends, Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr., now CEO of CFA Leverage, shared with us how elated he became after securing a job with Globacom Limited. He said he was hopeful that he would secure the employment despite the discouragement by many of his contemporaries who insisted that getting such a job with a big Telecoms required ‘connections’ and since my friend didn’t have one he would fail. He succeeded.
I believe that anybody can set a goal, make calculated effort, through organised planning and self-motivation, and reach that goal. It is however important to differentiate between good success and bad success. This may be a paradoxical way of looking at the concept of success. But we probably do need to classify some success as good and some as bad in order to separate what is truly glorifying from what is merely vain-glorious. Continue reading “Defining Success” »
It’s tempting and comforting to put in an appearance and do what is anticipated of you: nod, take notes, and enjoy the refreshments and leave. Being negative should not imply actively pulling down only. If you’re not putting in the effort to add something, it’s equivalent to actively taking something away. It hurts all of us.
If you always show up and do just what you’re expected to do, you’re only faintly different from the guy who never shows up. It’s when you make a contribution that changes the outcome of the day, the meeting, the project, that you will be borne in mind and appreciated. Humans by nature respect and adore individuals who do more beyond just showing up.
There’s a cost for your inclusion: there’s the monetary cost, and also the cost of lost opportunity by the other person who does not get a seat at the table Continue reading “Beyond Showing Up: Did You Change the Outcome?” »
Yesterday, being smart was good enough. Today, the landscape is different. The business environment has evolved and become super competitive. The world is moving faster than we can cope. Today, being smart is not adequate. You got to be getting smarter each day. It is only by stretching yourself and exploring opportunities for continual improvement that you will be able to both secure the space you have and acquire new territories.
Having an outsider's perception of the world helps you see change and the desire to succeed so it's not always an advantage to be an insider. Sometimes it's great to be an outsider.
A couple of weeks ago I was with my mentor in his office. I went to him not to be lectured, but for a different purpose. As I was about to tell him my mission, a woman came in. This woman, apart from being a veterinary doctor, also holds a Ph.D. in Innovation and Technology Management. She wanted my mentor to drill her for the interview she was to have the next day. Without blinking an eye, my mentor, in his characteristic manner, immediately began to ask some questions on current affairs. At a point I was wondering why my mentor would be asking a Ph.D. holder such ridiculous questions. To my dismay, she could only answer 1 or 2 out of almost 15 questions she was asked. Continue reading “How Old Is Your Knowledge?” »