MAKING MAGIC HAPPEN AT UBER! #SpotOn

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We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change. – Sheryl Sandberg

In this edition of #SpotOn, one of the very few Nigerian ladies who have been actively exploring and pushing the boundaries of tech in Nigeria Ebi Atawodi delivers profound insight into her corporate itinerary at Uber and the drive that keeps her going.

Ebi Atawodi comes with over a decade of marketing in the digital technology space. Ebi joined Uber as General Manager for Lagos and is now Uber’s General Manager for West Africa. She was previously Head of Corporate Communications and High Value Sponsorships at Etisalat – the fourth and fastest growing telecommunications company in Nigeria, 12th in the world. She created the Etisalat Prize for Literature – Africa’s most prestigious literary prize.

Prior to Etisalat she worked various roles/projects for Nokia, FirstBank, Booz & Company (now Strategy& Afren), GlaxoSmith Klein, Channel 4 and Bupa.

She holds a Bachelors with Honours in Electrical Electronics Engineering from the University of Nottingham and Masters in Computing Science from Imperial College London with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Infographics. Ebi is a competitive Hobie Cat sailor and passionate scuba diver (PADI rescue diver).

Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.

1.  Having had over a decade experience in Marcomms, What can you say motivates you and keeps you thriving?

Being able to create things out of nothing has to be my biggest driver. I’m obsessed with a challenge – the bigger the better, and through that journey I learn more about myself, my strengths, weaknesses and uncover new adventures.

2.  What are the fundamental lessons you’ve learnt working at Uber?

Some key things I’ve learned include being able to hustle, make magic and get things done. At Uber we need to ‘always be closing’, i.e. -always be hustling. This industry and company moves at an incredibly fast pace and we need to be ahead of the curve. I have also learnt to make magic happen – this includes going back to the basics, and that being said, the third fundamental lesson learnt would have to be that having something done, is better that it being perfect. Sometimes there just isn’t time to fuss over the details!

3.  With your exposure to tech, what are the evolving trends you believe youths can leverage on particularly in Africa?

One of the areas we really have not fully maximized in Africa is the wealth of knowledge on the Internet. I really would like to see young people focus their efforts on self-development first from basics like grammar and literature to more complex topics like mathematics and logic. The depths of the Internet are limitless and communities like Andela and CCHub are championing the next frontier of education.

I believe the future of technology will be founded on some key things; Robotics, AI, Neuroscience, Biotech, 3D Printing

 

4.   As a lady, how do you thrive in a male dominated environment?

I have read Lean In cover to cover 🙂

5.  What are your most important quotes/nuggets?

  • The only thing that can stop you is yourself
  • ‘We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.’ – Aristotle
  • It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. – Invictus by William Ernest Henley
  • Je pense, donc je suis (I think, therefore I am) – René Descartes

6.  What is the role of mentorship in achieving a dream?

I think the concept of mentorship has taken a different meaning. A mentor isn’t arranged or designed, these things just fall into place. I believe it is important to surround yourself with people – peers and other leaders – who inspire you, challenge you, call you out/keep you in line and most important strive to see the very best version of yourself.

7.  Your top three most inspiring books would be?

I have an endless list of fiction books from Pride and Prejudice to A Fine Balance. For non-fiction

  • Persuasion: The Art of Influencing People
  • The Four Hour Work Week
  • Lean In (Of course)

8.  Is there any gap or divide you have observed amongst the present youths and what do proffer as a solution to it?

One of the things I have noticed the world over is a tendency to look for shortcuts. We are in a generation of instant gratification largely fueled by the Internet. Believe it is important to remind our generation that nothing easy is worth it and nothing worth it is easy.

Watch Out for the next edition of #SpotOn!

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Applications for Pitchit @ LendIt Europe 2016 are due September 12.

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#SpotOn With Bongwong Justin

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The tempests of youth are mingled with days of brilliant sunshine.-Luc De Clapiers

Happy new month to our esteemed readers, in this edition of #SpotOn, newly-appointed Global Head of Events, World Merit, Bongwong Justin, takes us on a personal and insightful journey through the paths of active youth volunteerism and social innovation.
I first encountered Bongwong under the auspice of Ashoka/African Changemakers Network in a community that exhumes energy and passion to see change come to Africa not by dreaming of it or mere wishing but then taking the initiative to ensure it becomes a reality. He is one of such people who has taken it upon himself to lead change in Africa starting from his home town in Cameroon.

Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.

Who is Bongwong Justin ?

Bongwong Justin is the Co- founder of EFAO working on rural education and has contributed on quality education of children in about 11 rural schools with about 600 children having access to education today. The initiative that led to the creation of Banten community Library was to impact on the life of Marginalized children in Cameroon as we campaign to impact on the lives of the underprivileged.

He has passion in promoting World Merit Propaganda which he calls the only way for the hope of mankind, as he moves from Head of Advocacy and Partnership Committee to join the Global Marketing team.He was Delegate in the 2016 Youths speak forum powered by AIESEC and the MilliMUN conference in Baku.

Looking forward to be a great global citizen is all he wishes as he looks forward to engage all the Youths at all angles of the world to fight for SDGs till 2030 with 360 Conference in UN.

-What’s your lifelong passion and what are you doing to bring it to reality?

Coming from a rural area in Africa has been a great opportunity to identify the problems of my people, Coming from a problem region has made me to become a solution. As M. Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see in the world” .Therefore I have pledged to be change I want in the world through volunteerism.

In 2006 being so passionate about community development at that time when so many children in my community were not still able to go to school because of one reason or the other. By then I was still studying to obtain my advance level certificate from Government Bilingual High school Kumbo in Cameroon. I had a vision to improve the situation of less privileged children to gain the opportunity to attend school in suburbs as prevailing situation was too critical.

Many children study in the rural areas and majority of them do not have the means to finance their school needs. I have joined so many youth networks to make this dream a reality. I think my journeyto put an everlasting solution to the problems faced in rural education should be an integrated approach with international community. As it is being said “Think globally and act locally’’ I have alway followed the advocacy of Nelson Mandela. He started from his  local community and Dr Bernard Fonlon did the same too in my community.

 Coming from a rural area in Africa has been a great opportunity to identify the problems of my people, Coming from a problem region has made me to become a solution.

How did EFAO come to be and what has been its achievement so far?

My mother was very good at subsistence farming where she educated us all with my father as he could not make it with his retailing business at the time. I use to feel bad when I was at school and others were not at school. In 2003 we could not  boast of 4 advanced level learners from my village in the Cameroon general certificate studies but after consistent advocacy in my community people have opened up to take school serious either because of EFAO  that started as a family initiative or because of Globalization.

In our house our father (Bongwong Aloysious) use to keep our books for previous classes in his room in his Red Cross box where he had been keeping his valuable documents when he was a volunteer. One day I said why keep these books to waste while lower income children were facing problems with books? Secondly we were left in smaller classes but we were not using these book. Then I decided to take these books out and started sharing to the poor kids in 2006 and it was generally successful.  This initiative led to Bongwong’s Family Academic award. From there My Sinior Joachin Nsofini a PhD student in Waterloo, Canada  and Bongwong Albert from SHUMAS Cameroon were always there to support. From Family it became a community campaign in Banten Village in Bui Divison.

It is through this initiative that more than 600 kids are looking forward to gain quality education as goal 4 of the SDGs.

 

If you were the president of Cameroon what is the one thing you will like to change or see happen?

Even though I have a degree in Law and Political Science, I am not interested in being the President of Cameroon but Presuming I am one, I will make the system of equal opportunity, address the issue of sustainable cities, ensure sanitation in cities and solve regional inequality because it is only developing in a binary city format which shall not be a good thing for the future we are dreaming of.

I will improve on youth participation in public action and SDGs, change the curriculum of study and make the study more practical than theory so as to make youths not just certificate holders but economic operators. That is what will achieve sustainable development goals from no. 1, poverty to partnerships (goal 17). I will increase also the investment budget and reduce the retirement age in government.

Lastly I will create institute of Social innovation and SDGs and empower the youths with skills and resources and also promote informal education. I will empower the civil society to solve global challenges.

 

How did you become the Global Head of Events at World Merit?

My appointment to the five member Global Marketing team can be essentially traced to my community endeavours. The experiences made me to be stronger than ever before. Ever since I joined the world merit community, I have remained committed and always love what we do because of the passion I have for such an incredible movement.

In 2015 precisely on the 12th of July I organized an event in Banten Community, in Cameroon to engage youth in volunteerism and promote community development by building their capacities. This was called the “Young African Leaders Initiative Youth Forum”, because at that time I had just completed e-learning courses with YALI on Leadership and Civic engagement and I wanted to maximize this new learning. This event was what led me to ever know about World Merit.

Someone introduced me to the Cameroon Country rep. to World Merit. We shared contacts and he told me to follow up on World Merit. In January 2016, Together with some Cameroonian Youths our country Representative selected carefully World Merit Cameroon team and we democratically took responsibilities as World Merit Cameroon Board Members. There at World Merit Cameroon I was Head of the Advocacy and partnership committee. After I had signed in the virtual site where I came across so many millennial fighting and promoting Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations.

It was a dream come through to me joining such an energetic community. World Merit Platform www.worldmerit.org is where I meet all the youth leaders of the world. I have more than 1000 friends in the platform and it happened that every member is credited with points for whatever you do in the platform like posting of pictures of activities you do in your community. As CEO of EFAO I have been updating whatever I do to the World Merit community.

In this Platform I have been credited with more than 62,000 Merit points and 8 badges of achievements. I have achieved this throughout my tireless efforts online to update whatever I do. The mission of world merit won my heart beyond my imagination.

 I will improve on youth participation in public action and SDGs, change the curriculum of study and make the study more practical than theory so as to make youths not just certificate holders but economic operators.

What are your advice to African Youths?

Africa is blessed with so many talented youths who are ready to work towards SDGs but it will not be of any help at all if they do not lead their futures themselves and at the same time lead the destiny of the world by engaging in Sustainable Development Goals either directly with World Merit at www.worldmerit.org or indirectly in a synergy or partnership.

Moreover, let us study in class and think of the impact to society and not on the Certificates and titles. Let African children be architects of their destinies and take democratic principles serious as a civic responsibility because politics at times has been a great problem to equal opportunity, favouritism and corruption that has pushed so many meritorious youths to the wall and in that respect has been a failure to see them realizing their potential.

Since I started working with these great youths in networks like Young African Leaders Initiative, African Change Makers Initiative and now Ashoka Network, I have realized that there are so many powerful ideas coming from youths in the civil society sector.

This is a clear sign that youths are determined to stand and fight together global challenges. I therefore advise them that there is a common achievement or success in businesses that addresses societal problems. Let us learn to volunteer and develop society, do charity together with social entrepreneurship. Let‘s develop the knowledge and skills necessary for successful strategic leadership performance, within the context of dynamic local and global challenges with social entrepreneurship. Set goals and develop flexible strategies for satisfying diverse stakeholder and partner’s demands across and other value adding systems.

Equally as a social entrepreneur on SDGs I advise all the social Innovators in Africa to join world Merit as Local Partners and indirectly will impact on change for themselves and for the society. We have 17 sustainable development goals to be achieved by 2030.

We must not fail dear mother Africa, because we have promised and failed during the Millennium Development Goals on the 2015 deadline. So this time with all youths taking lead in the Sustainable Development goals from Climate change (Goal 13) and so many others. World Merit will develop a lot of strategies to help them realize this dream.

Follow the action connected on their platform and see what “Recycle Up Ghana’’ could do with Sampson Oboh colleague from Ghana. That means as Millennials we are possible. So let everyone get up and take action on these goals and keep the world a better one for all.

Kindly share your thoughts and feed backs in the comment box

#SpotOn With Tomi Ogunlesi

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My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.- Maya Angelou

In this edition of #SpotOn, an ad man sailing through the oceans of marketing and brand management, Tomi Ogunlesi delivers profound insights on tips and nuggets that has kept him thriving and pushing forward in his present path.

Tomi Ogunlesi who is the Corporate Brand Manager of arguably the leading electronic transaction switching and payment system in Nigeria, brings to bare the saying that success really is a combination of preparation and opportunity, having started acting on his passion, and igniting his creativity even when it didn’t look like the road to be taken.

He is a brilliant strategic thinker who has been able to express his creative prowess on brands like Intel, First Bank, Virgin Nigeria, Reckitt Benckiser and many others.

Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.

 

Who is Tomi Ogunlesi in 140 characters?

I guess the descriptor on my twitter profile would be expedient, given the expected brevity of the response to this poser.

Ardent Student of Culture+Brands. Post Modern Marketing Strategist. Classical + Contemporary Pianist & Guitarist. Art Collector. Very Good Bad Guy! J

 

…..Are we out of characters yet?

 

How did growing up affect your choice of career?

I am not too sure about this, but what I can say in hindsight is that I think certain experiences along the line conspired to put me on the track that I’m currently on. Both of my parents were in the medical field, and I grew up on a campus-like environment in a house that was pretty much a library of sorts. My siblings and I used to compete to be first to read the dailies once they came in. Would say I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to be surrounded by a diverse repertoire of titles and subject matter ranging from such extremes as The British Journal of Psychiatry (understandably so, my father being a career psychiatrist), a good chunk of Sigmund Freud, C.S Lewis’ books to Enid Blytons (Famous five, Secret Seven, etc).

Also remembrance-worthy is that I believe my older brother, now a pretty acclaimed writer/journalist/blogger and social media ‘overlord’ sort of influenced me to start writing stuff from early on….I still have weather-beaten scraps of drafts of wannabe ‘Enid Blyton’ type stories I wrote back in the day, and Ah yes! I also used to draw all manner of stuff…..At the point of making a ‘career choice’, I remember being quite confused, being that I seemed to be interested in so many things but a common denominator was that whatever it was had to involve writing and being imaginative or ‘creative’. I was also discerning enough to know that the mathematically-inclined fields weren’t my strongest point. At different times, I was under illusions that I would be a medical specialist, a renowned economist or a NASA scientist, eventually sometime in the course of undergraduate life, I realized the world of advertising (even in the limited perception I had of it back then) probably held the allure for me….the rest, as is said, is history, lest I bore you with the detail!

 

What facilitated your interest in the creative industry?

I may have touched on some of these in answering the last question, and whilst I was persuaded that I could be ‘creative’ and I knew would probably fare better and be most engaged doing something eclectic, sometime in my 3rd year of undergraduate studies (studying environmental chemistry & toxicology in a University of Agriculture!), I began taking more than a passing interest in adverts.

By year 4 when I was going for what was known as the ‘SIWES attachment’ (It’s probably still called that), I had started actively building my own scrapbook of adverts, complete with headlines, body copy and art direction. I’d basically taken up the pastime of recreating adverts that caught my fancy, trying to string headlines that rhymed well enough and all of that kind of stuff. By the time I was back from the 6 month internship, I had become convinced that all of the NMR spectroscopy, hazardous substances management, analytical chemistry etc. wasn’t going to be my thing!

Lest I forget, from reading a lot of newspapers, I started noticing certain guys who were always in media briefing pictures and event photo-splashes, characterized by their mostly sharp sartorial looks, and the very interesting names of the firms they represented. Not like I really understood much of what they did at the time, but what was interesting to me was that there were a few of them I’d started to encounter in the papers recurrently, and the striking thing was that they seemed to have their fingers in many different pies, always being seen with different clients. I suppose that also struck a chord, and shaped my resolve to break into that business to really experience what those guys had. Funnily, as trivial or primordial as those motivations now seem, those where some of the things that really gingered my interest…It’s worthy of mention that the scrap-book of imitation adverts I started building as a 3rd year undergraduate was instrumental to my getting my 1st advertising job in Lagos about 4 years after, 2 months before I completed the NYSC. Of course, I quickly got to appreciate the more profound sides to advertising/communications once I was privileged to get into the mainstream .and there’s been no looking back since then.

I realized the world of advertising (even in the limited perception I had of it back then) probably held the allure for me

Motivation over the years…

Interestingly, for me, the dynamics of the world of marketing, brand management, advertising and the creative arts generally offers motivation in itself (even before any of the typical motivating factors such as financial compensation, awards and the like). The opportunity and leverage one has to infuse your thoughts and perspectives into the construct of brands, and to thereby shape experiences, culture, expectations etc. is fundamentally a motivation. The marketing/creative sphere is so lateral, iterative and engaging, as compared with some other more strait-jacketed fields of endeavor which are more linear in orientation (and less interesting, in my personal assessment).

I’m also spurred by the fact that there are so many possibilities in terms of growth and professional development prospects, and the realization that with interest, passion and continuous learning and exposure, one can take full responsibility for their self-development and career progress!

The reality is that once an individual finds their true spot, motivation becomes intrinsic, as frequently said, it’s just like getting paid as a bonus for doing what you ordinarily enjoy.

Your top three most inspiring books would be? 

Wow, I’ve got quite a bit of these, I’ll probably name more than 3

  1. Robert Kiyosaki’s books – ‘Cashflow Quadrant’ & ‘Dad, Poor Dad’…read these 2 books a long time ago, and the perspectives on financial literacy have been very liberating to say the least.
  2. Spencer Johnson’s ‘Who moved my cheese?’
  3. Malcolm Gladwell – ‘Tipping Point’
  4. And of course, from a professional POV, I cannot forget David Ogilvy’s masterpieces “Confessions of an Advertising Man” and “Ogilvy on Advertising”– despite the vagaries of time, the simple truths and insights espoused therein, about not only communication, but indeed human behaviour remain intriguingly relevant, moreso when you consider that these thoughts were penned at a time when marketing/communication was so straightforward, as compared to contemporary times.

The reality is that once an individual finds their true spot, motivation becomes intrinsic, as frequently said, it’s just like getting paid as a bonus for doing what you ordinarily enjoy.

What are the skill sets you think a lad interested in strategy and brand management should possess?

I would extend this beyond skill-sets to also mention attitude and a mind-set.

As regards the requisite skill-set to excel in strategy and brand management, I’d say the following

  1. Ability to strike a good balance between one’s left and right brains (logic and creativity…I like to call it a fair mix of ‘logic’ and ‘magic’)
  2. Necessarily, good communication capabilities – in writing, speaking, presenting (and listening of course!)
  3. A vast knowledge base – which can really only be acquired/broadened by learning, reading and getting exposure…it’s what’s also referred to as depth, and this is what separates a lot of high-flying folks from the rest, particularly within the context of our industry

 

On attitude, and mindset  (which is equally as important as skill-set, if not more…all the skills without the right attitude and mindset won’t get anyone so far, regardless of what field of endeavor they’re in!);

  • Real interest…or call it passion about what you do (or want to do)
  • Self-motivation…also stems from how much passion you’ve got
  • Open mindedness and a capacity to learn fast and to be comfortable with transition
  • A relentless quest for self-development and exposure
  • A resolute, somewhat persistent character (without the nuisance factor!)
  • Capacity to manage your expectations and also to quickly ginger up yourself and re-bound after disappointments….in reality, it’s a tough industry/circle to break into, and even tougher to break into the big leagues…there are bound to be plenty of disappointments…so brace yourself!
  • Also many young people manage to break into the industry only to realize that there’s so much hype…in reality, it may turn out not to be as glamourous as it looks from the sidelines….in many instances, pay at the early phases may actually seem like peanuts (when juxtaposed against the expectations and deliverables), and you’ll often have to roll up your sleeves to do dirty work. It’s called paying your dues 🙂 but remember, in the quest to build capacity, what you earn is secondary, initially, to the sheer extent of what you’ll learn! I never fail to emphasize this to upcoming folks…Take it from me… the fat paychecks and perks will become “your portion”, in good time, if you stick to the program!

 

In the quest to build capacity, what you earn is secondary, initially, to the sheer extent of what you’ll learn!

 

Candid advice to Nigerian youths.

Actively avoid the path of least resistance. To attain ‘excellence’, you’ll necessarily have to push yourself beyond personal boundaries and comfort zones so that you can achieve your aspirations, which have to be audacious but realistic, in the first place.

Another thing is that, I have noticed that it is very common for young people these days to feel that those who are in authority or those who are successful owe them something. I think it’s a problem that is generally endemic in these parts, and in fact does not characterize young people alone. Most people want an ‘easy’ way out. I think a change of thinking is critically required, especially among young people. Young people need to realize that they alone have ultimate power over their future and what happens or doesn’t happen to you. Take hold of your ‘destiny’ and maximize the opportunities, which are out there, though they may appear hidden.

The world owes you nothing, so manage your expectations and do away with the ‘entitlement’ mentality!

 

Kindly share your thoughts and feed backs in the comment box.

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The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks. – Mark Zuckerberg

In this edition we take a peek into the mind of a digital strategist, a shrewd planner, David Ole (Director of Planning and Insights, Sponge Nigeria) who feeds on insights daily.

The first time I met with David I didn’t need a soothsayer to announce to me that I was conversing with a man living out his interest. His soothing and calm nature quickly projected his ability to see through the needle’s eye. A thinker who tackles every problem headlong with the confidence that there exists a solution,

Having been able to proffer solutions to clients like MTN, Reckitt Benckiser Coca Cola, Diageo, First Bank among others, he provides profound and useful nuggets that has kept him thriving in the industry which I believe would be of great help to you.

Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.

How did you come to develop interest in Strategy and Planning?

I’ve always been passionate about solving problems and was fortunate enough to identify this early in my career which led to my interest in the Marketing and Communications industry. After graduating with a degree in Business Administration, I had a brief stint in Brand Management Consulting before jumping neck-deep into digital. This was very early in the game when the market was still getting used to the idea. I joined the team at Web Liquid as one of the founding members and at the time was on the Client Services team.  I was exposed to strategy formulation process and thoroughly enjoyed it which led me to make a case to the business as to why I was a better fit for the strategy unit. They bought the idea and I have never looked back since.

What’s the most challenging and equally exciting project ever handled?

 There’s just so much plus more everyday which makes it really difficult to select one. I’ve been privileged to develop strategies across Web, Mobile and Social for some of the biggest brands in the world such as Reckitt Benckiser, First Bank, Coca Cola, Diageo, MTN amongst others.  I’m always happy to talk about how we were approached by one of Nigeria’s leading banks to formulate and implement their Social Media strategy.  We successfully did this and they went from zero to top three banks within their first three months of engagement. Another exciting one is a Digital Activation designed for Reckitt Benckiser with the objective of connecting with millions of mothers in Nigeria via their mobile device. The local team received global recognition for this. Today, one of my key projects is building valuable connections between brands and content creators.

 

Do you think creativity is learned or innate?

I think you have to combine both for it to be truly impactful. Yes, there is natural ability but it has to be nurtured either within a formal or informal environment. The ultimate key is continuous learning and improvement.

 I’ve always been passionate about solving problems and was fortunate enough to identify this early in my career which led to my interest in the Marketing and Communications industry.

What has been your mantra or guiding principle over time?

Not so much a mantra but three things I hold really close; the first is to think deeply at all times because there’s always a solution/answer – no problem is impossible to solve. Second is to approach every challenge as an opportunity for growth.

Finally, find people that are equally as passionate or perhaps more passionate to collaborate with. It would go a long way in helping you achieve what you set out to do.

 

As a strategist, how do you get your ideas?

The first step for me is to define what it is I am trying to achieve. Is it a problem that needs a solution or opportunity that needs to be explored? A clear definition is an important step in the right direction. Once this has been done, next would be to get as much context as possible. Is there an audience? You need to find deep human truth – insight. Insight is the trigger that helps you find your road-map.

 

Your top three most inspiring quotes would be?

This is another challenging one – I’ve probably heard so many quotes, it’s difficult to pick just three. I always reflect and go back to “Start with why” which is a two-edged sword in a way since it’s actually the name of a book and iconic speech by best selling author and speaker, Simon Sinek. All of Muhammed Ali’s quotes are also quite iconic. I consider him one of the world’s greatest speakers.  You’ve got to love this one  -“I am the greatest. I said that even before I knew I was”.

 think deeply at all times because there’s always a solution/answer – no problem is impossible to solve.

What are the skill sets you think a lad interested in strategy and planning should possess?

Planners are logical thinkers with the ability to relate research findings to creative solutions. As such, a mix of analytical and communication skills to present their findings, in addition to marketing and consumer research experience would come in handy. You also need to have strong numerical ability with good data skills. Since teamwork makes the dream work, the ability to work well as part of a team is a plus. Ultimately, I believe the greatest assets for a Planner are curiosity and resourcefulness.

 

In your opinion, what opportunities lay bare for young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the Digital space?

The world is evolving to an increased reliance on data-driven decision making. My advice would be to explore the value they can provide in this area. Also explore ways to deepen connection between brands and their consumers. Programmatic is going to increase in dominance. Content is going to grow. Consumers will demand less intrusion and more participation in determining how we promote brands. The opportunities are endless. We are all set for an exciting ride.

Kindly share your thoughts and feed backs at the comment box.

12 Inspiring Books You Need To Get Acquainted With #SpotOn

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The most powerful motivator isn’t money; it’s the opportunity to learn, grow in responsibilities, contribute, and be recognized. – Frederick Herzberg

This Sunday on my way back from church I was drawn to purchase a book- There Was A Country by Chinua Achebe and every page has been really captivating and enlightening. I was attracted to this book because of three things.

First, The Content, Someone once said that those who are oblivious of history are likely to repeat the same mistakes, which if you study global patterns, you discover that this is very true. Secondly, The Author; you will agree with me that Chinua Achebe has left an indelible mark in our country’s sands of time but more importantly, a book is a reflection of the author and you better understand his outlook through his literary executions. Finally, you’re what you know (and apply), not what you want to know. There seems to be a dearth of readers in Africa and ultimately leaders or half-baked leaders in the country.

Which brings me to this edition of #SpotOn, one remarkable response I keep getting from previous #SpotOn guests when asked about their bests books is ”I read a lot which often times even make it difficult to even select three.’’ That I believe, should say something to aspiring leaders, you really cannot go far if you are not a reader.If you invest more in trivial things then you need to watch it. Like it has been rightly said that the leaders of {today} are those who can learn, unlearn and relearn.

I have been able to do a cursory review of the books #SpotOn guests have found very attractive and I believe you also get familiar with them not because you want to show that you’re a reader but it is what you know that pops-out in time of need.

12) HOW WILL YOU MEASURE YOUR LIFE BY CLAYTON CHRISTENSEN: Using lessons from some of the world’s greatest businesses, applying his theories about disruptive innovation, and drawing personal examples from his own life, Christensen puts forward questions which would ultimately help lead a successful and happy life.

The principles of resource allocation can help people attain happiness at home. If not managed masterfully, what emerges from a firm’s resource allocation process can be very different from the strategy management intended to follow. That’s true in life too: If you’re not guided by a clear sense of purpose, you’re likely to fritter away your time and energy on obtaining the most tangible, short-term signs of achievement, not what’s really important to you.

11) THE SECRET BY RHONDA BRYNE:

Fragments of a Great Secret have been found in the oral traditions, in literature, in religions and philosophies throughout the centuries. The Secret contains wisdom from modern-day teachers — men and women who have used it to achieve health, wealth, and happiness.

10)  THE MASTER KEY SYSTEM BY CHARLES HAANEL:

This book is rumoured to be what inspired Bill Gates to leave Harvard and start Microsoft. Haanel uses precise logic and a consistent, common-sense frame-work to present the way we can achieve what we most desire in life.

 

9) THE NEW IQ BY TRACY AND ROSS ALLOWAY:

What determines the strength of our working memory? How does it change over the course of our lives and is there anything we can do to improve its capability? These are fundamental questions Tracy and Ross answers in this book. \

8)  MASTERY BY ROBERT GREENE:

Mastery synthesizes the years of research Robert Greene conducted while writing the international bestsellers The 48 Laws of PowerThe 33 Strategies of War, and The Art of Seduction and demonstrates that the ultimate form of power is mastery itself. By analysing the lives of such past masters as Charles Darwin, Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, and Leonard da Vinci.

7) THINK AND GROW RICH BY NAPOLEON HILL:

Think and Grow Rich is a modern day classic filled with ideas which have the power to change your life and set you upon the path of learning and self-development. This book conveys the experience of more than 500 men of great wealth, who began at scratch, with nothing to give in return for riches except THOUGHTS, IDEAS and ORGANIZED PLANS.

6) SPREADABLE MEDIA BY HENRY JENKINS, SAM FORD, AND JOSHUA GREEN:

“If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead.” This catchy marketing slogan is, happily, only found on the book jacket of Spreadable Media. Following up on the hugely influential Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide, this book challenges some of the prevailing metaphors and frameworks used to describe contemporary media, from biological metaphors like “memes” and “viral” to the concept of “Web 2.0” and the popular notion of “influencers.” Examining the nature of audience engagement, the environment of participation, the way appraisal creates value, and the transnational flows at the heart of these phenomena.

5) HOW TO BUILD A BILLION APP– GEORGE BERKOWSKI:

How to Build a Billion Dollar App takes a comprehensive look at how the world’s top apps reached billion-dollar valuations written by the founder of Hailo- a taxi hailing app. This book gives a chilling and fresh insight into the inside stories of Guys like Instagram, Whatsapp, Clash of Clans.

If you have that billion dollar app in your head then this is your book.

 

4) ZERO TO ONE BY PETER THIEL:

Thiel begins with the contrarian premise that we live in an age of technological stagnation, even if we’re too distracted by shiny mobile devices to notice. Information technology has improved rapidly, but there is no reason why progress should be limited to computers or Silicon Valley. Progress can be achieved in any industry or area of business. It comes from the most important skill that every leader must master: learning to think for yourself.

3)   PAID TO THINK BY DAVID GOLDSMITH:

In Paid to Think, international consultant David Goldsmith presents his ground-breaking approach to leadership and management based on research revealing the twelve specific activities that all leaders perform on a daily basis, and he provides you with each activity’s accompanying tools and instructions proven to boost your performance and that of your entire organization.

2) THE ALCHEMIST BY PAUL COELHO:

Paulo Coelho’s masterpiece tells the magical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure as extravagant as any ever found.

The story of the treasures Santiago finds along the way teaches us, as only a few stories can, about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, learning to read the omens strewn along life’s path, and, above all, following our dreams.

  1. THE BIBLE: A timeless and relevant book that constantly instructs, guides and sheds light into human gloominess.

 

What has been your most inspiring book, Thus far? Kindly share in the comment box.

X-raying the Prospects of Digital in Nigeria #SpotOn

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You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.― William Faulkner

I guess it’s not too late to wish every one of us a happy new month.

In this edition of #SpotOn astute and brilliant IT professional who is presently redefining, exploring and pushing the frontiers of Digital in Nigeria, has shared some really salient points as to the future of digital in Nigeria and how young minds can leverage on this relatively new trend.

Olusegun Martins who is the Head of Digital and Technology in arguably Nigeria’s largest Advertising agency, Insight Communications, has really taken his time to provide success nuggets for Digital natives whose disruptive culture and insatiable urge to break free from the norm and build a viable enterprise keeps them mobile. Personally I think this is the most honest and sincere advice for Nigerian start-ups.

Enjoy the chat but more importantly apply these truths to your life.

  • Are Nigerian brands really exploring the opportunities Digital offers? 

I think a number of Nigerian brands are beginning to embrace digital in a way that wasn’t happening just a few years ago.

When I look at digital I tend to look beyond digital marketing alone. I look at digital from the way businesses are able to use digital technologies to enhance their business offerings and customer experiences. An example is how all the banks have embraced technologies like ATMS and online banking. How Insurance companies are now offering services online that you can pay for with your ATM card. How traditional retail outlets are expanding to offer online access to their inventory like what Yudala is doing. How businesses can leverage on this fast changing trends that technology has made possible.

Digital marketing on the other hand is simply a subset of digital. It is however the subset that most brands/companies choose to focus on. From the work that I do daily, I see brands that historically spend 100% of their budget on “traditional advertising” making shifts of as much as 60% – 70% to digital already, I mean these are brands that you would consider “safe” and “traditional”. And I am talking both big and small brands. Digital is extremely flexible and brands are beginning to see this. One good example is Pepsi’s Long Throat campaign which arguably was the biggest digital/integrated campaign in Nigeria in 2015, the Pepsi team got it right with that campaign, it not only translated to increased conversations around the brand but incredible sales increase too. Several new mobile phone brands are entering the Nigerian market these days and solely advertising online.

While digital is cool, what you really want as a brand is focus on the consumer if your consumers are on mobile, if they are on social networks, if they are online then you should be using digital channels. My advice is not to do digital for digital sake but to focus on the customer and have the right mix of channels to ensure your message gets through all the noise out there.

 

  • Where do you see Digital Marketing (Nigeria) in the next 5 years? 

In the world of digital 5 years is a long long time but I will risk some educated guesses based on current trends. In Nigeria, I think it would be fully led by mobile and social media. It’s really a no brainer. As much as 80-90% of all web traffic in Nigeria is already from mobile devices.

Facebook recently released data that shows 100% of their 16 million users from Nigeria, is from mobile. Nigeria and by extension Africa is a fully mobile continent and in 5 years I expect to see mobile taking a significant share of advertising spend. While the focus is more on browser based mobile ads right now, in app mobile ads will be big in coming years.

We spend most of our time on mobile devices within chat windows like Whatapps, BBM, Facebook messenger, I expect instant messaging to be a big marketing channel in not just Nigeria but emerging markets too.

The concept of the digital agency will also begin to vanish as they get swallowed into “agencies”, what we will have, will be more of technology driven digital production houses. Globalisation would fully have taken its course in Nigeria as brands will be able to work with the best talents from across the world via the internet. Agencies and brands who do not innovate will struggle at this point.

5 years is a long time in digital so no one can say for sure, imagine getting into an Uber in future and you get a screen within the ride that re-markets to you based on your online browsing habits. Things like Virtual Reality, Autonomous Cars, IoTs will always be in focus but I doubt they would be fully adopted in Nigeria in 5 years but then again, you never know

  From the work that I do daily, I see brands that historically spend 100% of their budget on “traditional advertising” making shifts of as much as 60% – 70% to digital already

  • Your background (Education) is in sharp contrast with your present interest (Digital Marketing). Where was the tipping point? 

lol. You know how the education system is in Nigeria. Let’s just say my focus then was to become a graduate quickly. Knowing what our education system is like, I knew I had to do something on the side that would guarantee me a good life in future. I focused on technology and went all out for it. In-between classes in UI (University of Ibadan), I taught myself everything I know in the technology space.

It was still a relatively virgin territory then so I was able to stand out. I proceeded to validate my technology knowledge with relevant certifications and the rest is history.

Over the last couple of years I have been able to work in both technology and digital marketing capacities. I have been fortunate to head technology and digital for some of the biggest businesses in Nigeria within that period. So it’s not really about what you read in school, that’s just a paper, at the end of the day it comes down to passion and perseverance, you get to determine what you want to do with your life.

 

  • What can you say has been your drive and motivation over time?

Having to study education in school, I knew I had been dealt a very tough hand and I would have to work extra to succeed so while others partied after classes, I focused on learning new skills. I am like a sponge, I read and learn just about anything. I often kid my friends that give me a month and I can be decent in any profession. Lol.

  •  What was your most challenging project executed? 

As head of technology for 8 multi-billion naira companies in Nigeria, project comes by the dozens. I am currently working with my team to fully integrate digital into everything we do at Insight, so far it’s been a fun project that is already recording huge successes.

 It’s not really about what you read in school, that’s just a paper, at the end of the day it comes down to passion and perseverance, you get to determine what you want to do with your life.

  • Your top three most inspiring books would be? 

This is going to be a tough one because I read a lot of books. Some of the top ones that come to mind for me now are

  1. Paid to Think by David Goldsmith – A real gem of a book
  2. How to build a billion dollar app – George Berkowski – Priceless book, I am always referring to it.
  3. The new IQ – Tracy and Ross Alloway
  4. And a bonus one – Spreadable media – Henry Jenkins, Sam Ford and Joshua Green

 Having to study education in school, I knew I had been dealt a very tough hand and I would have to work extra to succeed so while others partied after classes, I focused on learning new skills.

  • What’s your advice to young start-ups moving into the digital space?

  Most of the young lads I get to encounter these days don’t care much about the 9 to 5 and understandably so, technology and the internet has empowered us. Some of them that do have a 9 to 5 job are seriously disengaged and their bosses are struggling to understand why.

My advice is if you feel so passionately about your idea, before you go all in, validate it. Validate it beyond your family and friends. Don’t start building an app because your mum and sisters say they like the idea, go beyond them. Don’t be afraid to talk to other people about your ideas.

It’s extremely though to start and manage a start-up, you need a lot of passion and perseverance to make it. If you are in it just for the money, you are most likely to abandon ship early at the signs of struggle.

Pick a mentor(s), intern where you can get some experience, spend loads of time on Slideshare, Quora and YouTube. Read, read read. I can’t even say that enough. Read books about founders and writers in the start-up space that snipers you, learn from their mistakes.

Nigeria is a bloody tough place to start a business, it’s not for the faint of heart. You practically have to provide everything yourself so it’s tougher to start-up from here but several people are doing that. At this stage talent simply isn’t just enough, passion and perseverance is key, staying power.

Don’t be afraid to ask others for help too. Meet people, network, mix with other start-ups and learn from each other. While many of the start-ups in Nigeria are playing in the ecommerce and retail space, it really would be great to see solutions that solve real Nigerian problems like malaria, traffic, bad roads, power and related things. Don’t be too quick to get funding, bootstrap as much as is possible

Olusegun martins writes at www.martins.com.ng

Kindly share your thoughts and feed backs at the comment box.