Sunday, December 28, 2014

Vultures and Volatility

Here's to a year of winning in romance and finance.
Step One: Order Big Girl and Big Boy.

Step Two: Enjoy a few minutes of grown-up fiction, and come back for more UpNaira every day.  

Vultures and Volatility
by Tosin Otitoju
“Oh God, is this thing even moving at all?” she mutters as rain water crawls down the glass of the car’s windows.  There has been a mere drizzle but the clouds - engorged as they are with dark bile - threaten a great show-down replete with thunder, lightening, and flood. 
“Mr. Yellow, enter that next lane.”  She has no time for this slow-crawling traffic at ten o’clock in the morning, particularly because the markets have gone mad again. 
Her phone rings: “Yes, yes, I know,” she is saying.  With one ear still pressed to the flat phone she grabs her bags.  “Un-fucking-believable,” she sighs while pushing the vehicle door open. 
Thus it is that our financial maven has to walk the last few meters to the office today.  She is tottering slightly as her tastefully-heeled pumps negotiate the rough stone and sand street that is already littered with puddles.  The two minutes to her building, she is a mess of missed phone-calls and a mental struggle to rediscover her analytical methodology.  She needs to prioritize and execute.  First, prioritize. 
The startled security guards at the gate of the office building fall over themselves to help with her oversized bag and her laptop bag.  They have never really seen her outside her chauffeured vehicles before.  She is chuffing under the weight of the bags and the humid tropical heat.  Her armpits itch from the sweat.  She ignores the guards and quickly makes it to the elevators and up to her office suite. 
By the time she gets in she almost knows what to do but she needs a piece of information:  “Tai, Euro-dollar,” she asks her FX-trader. 
“It has just been red all morning, ma,” he says. 
She stands at Tai’s desk.  Her bags have been taken by the assistant, unobtrusively into her office.  She sees from the currency charts that their losses could only grow.  She calls her dealer in London.  She redials.  If he doesn’t respond, she has a back-up plan.  He picks up on the third ring: “Honey, you owe me big time,” he says.  “I have a buyer for 100.”
London is ready to take 100 lots off her.  “Sell ASAP.  Confirm,” she says without even waiting to hear the price. 
The lots are sold within a minute, with losses enough to erase three cycles of profit.  It could have been worse.  An hour later and it would have been 2.5 times worse. 
She has not saved her company yet.  They have accounts in local stocks.  Those are down, but she thinks it’s just jitters; local is not expected to mirror the global market.  Inexperienced local traders would not know that, so she sees an opportunity to make a little “lunch” money off the rebound.  “Ram, we should maintain UpVol.” she calls to Ramesh.  “I think we’re looking at a panic play.”
She is exhausted.  She is in the red, no matter what she does today.  Euro-Dollar is their most leveraged account, and there just isn’t the kind of speed in local to undo their losses.  She is trying to get fresh funds to play with.  “Where does one recoup over a million dollars of losses?” she wonders.  “Who is wet right now?”  She dials the former governor, a client.  “There’s an opening right now, sir.  I suggest you take a look.”    
She succeeds, because Sam the former governor says, “you’ve been doing a good job, young lady.  You have my permission.” 
Now smiles broadly, full of sugary charm: “I knew you would move quickly on a good thing, sir.  How much?”
“Just put the whole thing,” says the governor.  “Half.  Eh, I don’t know - you use your judgment, just bring me the returns.” 
“Well on this you could be looking at sixty days with five or six percent…if you have some cash somewhere not doing anything for you.” 
“You said sixty days?  I see…”
“My guys could assist with the transfer, it’s top-rate,” she says, and starts typing a message to Esohe, her marketing guy.  
The governor says, “I have a daughter like you – very sharp.”
“Thanks sir.  I’m just doing my job.” She sends the instant message to Esohe: “Chief Sam U. has fish.  Confirm.”  She estimates half a million at most in Trust Bank as he hasn’t made any real money since the elections.  She trusts Esohe to secure most of that total within hours. 
Next customer!  She tries the number of another famous “Big Man,” but finds his phones switched off.  He must be travelling.  Her sandwich arrives for lunch.  It’s turkey slices with butter and egg whites, lettuce and beets, between two extra-thick slices of pumpkin bread.  She asks her assistant to keep trying the Big Man’s phone.  Food is joy, she thinks as she swirls her tongue around the creamy mix. 
She is reading messages too: Chief Sam has three hundred cash at home, so Esohe is taking it through the bank.  She replies, reminding him that there is three-sixty or so at the bank as well: the chief deposited over 350,000 for a six-month interest of 2%, and that was six months ago.  Things are going better than she expected.  She receives another message from Barack: “Babe, babe…”  It irritates her how much he uses the word.  She deletes his message. 
“The chief has picked up?” she yells over to her assistant.  The chief did say he was going to be abroad, she suddenly remembers.  He would be several time zones away, in the dead of night. 
“I’m still trying, ma.”
“He must still be asleep.  I want to be the first person he talks to when he wakes up.” she snaps back.  Now she checks the news wires – it has been a bloody day in the markets.  What she needs most is safety - some treasury bills or something - but there are no signals she can trust.  She could load up on local securities, but that takes so long that the play would have gone stale.  Still, action must be taken quickly. 
Her analytical methodology takes all these pieces of information and outputs an answer that is actionable and exact.  She instructs Esohe to call his list – “very high priority,” she says.  She goes fishing herself, talking to a dozen people from the list.  Someone wants to set up a meeting…but she needs money now, not later.  She needs a million plus, and the big problem is that after tomorrow’s headlines, nobody will want to invest.
Around three p.m., they finally get the other chief on the line.  “Don’t rush things,” he says.  He seems to suspect something.  Maybe he has seen the news.  “When I get back we can sit down together.  You always look so sweet.”  In other words, no cash. 
By around four p.m. the money is in from Chief Sam U.  Four hundred thousand only.  She is relieved that Esohe made it before the banks closed.  Esohe also has two good leads from the list, estimated at about eighty thousand.  Even if he reels those in tonight, she still needs half a million. 
There are phone calls now from worried clients.  She assures them, “we anticipated the shake-out and are now operating our proprietary plan.”  She ignores a phone call from Barack, who then writes “So bad, Babe.”  He is eager to see her again, that’s what he means by “so bad.”  His ardent sex drive irritates her. 
She talks to her US brokers – they are just as shaken.  She signs various approvals for the next day’s transactions.  Just before she can finish up, her assistant alerts that Money FM is on the line, so she gives a quick radio interview while the staff is gathering around Tai’s desk for the six o’clock staff meeting. 
Ram is worried about a freeze-up in local.  His boss has now finished the radio piece and joined the huddle.  Liquidity is always an issue in such markets, Ram says, and he doesn’t want to be locked in when there is an adverse movement – that is one horror movie that he never wants to watch again.  But she argues that the local trade presents “un-missable” short-term gains. 
She searches the men’s faces for signs of support.  Ram shrugs.  He may disagree with her aggressive plan but she knows he’ll do what she says and do it with extremely good judgment.  She is not worried about Ram. 
“What kind of night can we look forward to on UpVol, Tai?” she asks.  Tai, who has never seen a trading day like this one before, is too shaken to offer any opinions.  He stammers that he’ll run the numbers and she is annoyed that he wouldn’t just estimate but as usual leans too much on exact figures. 
The office manager, the only one at the meeting with gray in his hair, does not voice his own worries, but his stiff, shocked demeanor says all: if this company can’t make fifty thousand within this week, it may have problems paying staff salaries.   The boss strives to reassure her team: “money makes more money, it does not just disappear.” 
This meeting continues until she receives a reminder - “you coming?” – for dinner at 7pm with her former classmate.  This guy is her old acquaintance, former friend, fellow alum, something like that.  She is never really sure where to place him.  She asks him for 30 minutes, she’s going to be late.   She decides presently that it’s best to adjourn the meeting and quit the pep-talk, and so they close for the day, tired and hoping for a bit of good luck to save them.
She picks up her bags, out the door, elevators, security says goodnight, Mr. Yellow waiting down the stairs, and hurls her body tired but still fragrant in its yellow blouse – it’s silk, very becoming - and patterned skirt into the backseat of her jeep.   Mr. Yellow is looking in the rearview mirror with his head cocked, waiting for instructions.
 “We’re going to Sonar,” she tells him. 
“Yes, madam.”
She quickly dabs and sprays and touches-up.   Her mirror approves. 
At the restaurant-club Sonar, her friend Ego (pronounced AY-go) watches her enter the main hall.   When she reaches the table, he gives her a kiss on the cheek.  “You look tired,” he says. 
“It’s been quite a day.  You know.”  She orders chapman and shrimp fried rice.  
“You need something stiffer, Child.  Take some of this.”  She obediently downs his nearly-full glass of Guinness, despite its bitter taste.  Behind Ego is a Nigerian oil painting - of a royal on horseback amid the crowd at a Durbar festival.   She notices that the painting is bright while the furniture is dark.  She forgets to be sad, so preoccupied is she with the robe’s blue-white and the scene’s yellow bright. 
The waiter brings her rice.  It feels soothing to have her mouth full of this salty, oily stuff they call fried rice in this town.  Soon she is telling Ego of her woes.  She knows he has been through worse situations, she wants his advice.  “But a million is nothing to you” she says finally. 
“I just pick up scrap for a living.” he jokes.  “I’m the dustbin man.”
“The rich dustbin man,” she says and sips her chapman.  If chapman is a mixture of sweet (fruit punch), sour (lime), and fizzy (soda), this one is mostly sweet, and she loves it so. 
“When the asset is rotten, then I go in.” 
She remembers a poem from her childhood, “…flies to a tree and looks around // for rotting rubbish on the ground” and thinks how her once-fresh assets have become rotting rubbish…
Ego interrupts her thoughts with “how is your musician?”
“He’s alright.  At least he doesn’t have to worry about going broke like this.”
Ego looks over her bust with greedy beady eyes.  “He’s a lucky boy.” 
“Hey, he’s not that young,” she says with a chuckle. 
“Cradle snatcher,” he says, his face laughing hard but noiselessly.  A vein bulges on his head.  It snakes from above his eyebrow up to the North Pole on his head apparently.  He fits the poem perfectly: “…hunching shoulders, old bald head // he’d like me better if I were dead. 
The little rhyme is about a vulture.  Now she remembers a war movie - was it about Somalia or Ethiopia?  This skin-and-bones African child in the dry sand, weak, but not quite finished yet.   A vulture just a few meters away wanted to make a meal of the child.  Angelina Jolie’s character - to the rescue - shoos the vulture away and nurses the youth. 
“Who will be my Angelina?” she now wonders, feeling sorry for herself and her financial wreck.
“Yes, another stout,” Ego’s voice rouses her again from her thoughts.   They have known each other since her second year in Finance at NU, and years later they wound up in the same business school for their MBAs.  She considers that his voice was never the best thing about him, and now he has lost his good looks as well.   He could be her ugly Angelina.  She could marry the ugly vulture.  She hates the idea so much that her tummy heaves angrily.
“I have to go home.  It’s been a long day.”
“I’ll come with you,” says Ego, in a very quick response. 
She stops to watch his face for signs that he was just joking.  Still not sure, she chides, “Ego, seriously now.”
“To the car.  I’ll come with you to the car.  What’s the problem?”
“Sure,” she answers, with relief.  The anxiety in her which has just risen so suddenly again falls so very sharply, making her more tired than ever.  She needs some ice-cream or anything sugary.  She calls the waiter and asks for an ice-cream.   The restaurant has strawberry and chocolate flavours.  That would be good enough. 
He has his Guinness, she eats two scoops of ice-cream.  When they finish together, they pick up all their property – phones and keys and bags – and leave a few bills on the table.  At the car, he kisses her goodnight.  She crawls in the back of the car feeling disconnected from her mind, unlike the analytical, methodological maven that she usually is.   Grasping to arrange her thoughts, she finds the poem*:
The ugly vulture flaps and hops // pecks at scraps and walks and stops // flies to a tree and looks around // for rotting rubbish on the ground. 
He likes dead things and he pecks them clean // he’s terribly ugly, dull, and mean // hunching shoulders; old, bald head // he’d like me better if I were dead...
She remembers learning that in primary school: the class seated in pairs, the wooden desks and chairs, reciting line-by-line after their teacher during English period.   
Mr. Yellow is driving her home and wondering about the man who just pushed his madam against the back door with a vigorous kiss.  Unlike the other man at the house, this one looks old enough to be the new boss.  He is glad about that: every woman needs a man to be her proper boss at home, and every woman needs to be protected.  And the man she has at home now is too young to fit the bill.  He looks in the rearview mirror to see her slumped, asleep, in her seat.  “She is a curvy woman all over,” he thinks, and it makes him aroused.   
In a few minutes they reach the condominium apartments.  The boss enters and locks her front door, and Mr. Yellow is not needed any more.  He starts his own long journey home without the luxury of a private vehicle. 
Barack is in, smelling of gin.  She takes off her shoes and unhooks her bra before falling asleep next to him.  He takes off more of her clothes and has sex with her.  All she hears is a string of babe this, babe that, disrupting her sleep.    
In the morning she gets her corn flakes and tunes to the news on cable TV.  She has to go in to work early and work on their big deficit.  She has a headache, so Barack brings her aspirin and water.  Later he wants to join her in the bathroom.  “Time,” she complains and so he stays out.  He spreads butter on his bread and prepares his hot chocolate milk.  He talks to her all through breakfast.  “Babe, you know I never ask you for money…” he says.  It irritates her that he begs for money like a child. 
While she gets dressed for work, he keeps talking about the plan at his studio, to “release two singles,” “test the market.”  It irritates her that he has so much faith that these songs of his will make money.   The real money is not in music, the real money is in money.  That money makes more money is an obvious fact to her.  She needs to pay her staff in two weeks – another fact. 
“Babe, you look worried Babe.  Is your head still paining?”  She is mentally drawing an action plan to earn fifty thousand within a week on eighty percent working capital.  He moves in to touch her neck and forehead.   Her temperature is normal.  He combs his fingers through her expanse of superstar hair.  It pleases him how it looks just like the hair on black Americans.  They kiss with a great amount of desire.  In all this, he avoids touching her scalp where the fibers are sewn onto a rough, stiff basket.  They kiss with such an unbearable amount of desire that she makes time for love.
* Poem is attributed to a Macmillan Primary English Reader.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Top 100 companies in Nigeria

 What I really want and haven't got:
1. The list.
2. The criteria, e.g. accompanying each company name is some financial measure - taxes, assets, capital, revenue, or a defined combination.
But guess what?  I can't even find the list, just several news stories each stating a few companies from the list and that this is an initiative of The Presidency, the Ministry of Trade and Investment, and implemented by an independent committee.
This is third-world journalism, no?
Fortunately, one news(paper) The Nation, has the above pictures from the Dec 2014 Presidential dinner with the CEOs of the top 100 companies.
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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Don't trust that alert as proof of payment. It could be a Scam method.

I just found this story on Bellanaija:
The scammer 'paid' for the merchandise, seller confirmed the payment via phone alert, and then handed over the goods, in this case a car valued at about $15,000 with documents. 
It turned out that the alert was fake, probably just a cloned message from a sender NOT the bank but resembling the bank.

This is terrible.
These criminals are ruining 'trust' in our society.
They should be found and punished.
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Friday, November 28, 2014

Six Questions with musician Le'mmon

Le'mmon may be (just) under-30 but he is already an accomplished vocalist, songwriter, and producer.  With his silky smooth voice, fun-but-mature themes, and classic R&B aesthetic, this Nigeria-based musical artiste may just become one of your favourite.
Twitter: @lemmonchukwu
A brief history of Le'mmon: A true Lagosian, born to an Igbo father and Yoruba mother.  Real name Vincent Osuagwu.  A former church boy, was in the choir at eight.  Won Most Creative Student In Art award in school.  Le'mmon is notable for stubbornly producing different flavours of Rhythm and Blues music throughout the 21st century.  He will make you listen! 
Listen to Vintage Le'mmon.  I love That's All.
Q1: If you couldn't be a musician...
I would still be in the art world. Fine arts.  Or maybe military.

Q2: Best and worst things about your job?
Imagine a world without music!  The best thing is that my work touches people's lives everyday.
Also, music is a profession, so personal growth and career satisfaction are the other best things about my job.
Live at the Civic Center
The worst thing, however, is that in Nigeria there isn't enough support - opportunities, mentoring, management, and resources - for talented artistes.  Nobody wants to build from scratch with a talented nobody... It's different overseas.
Also, instead of perceiving a newcomer as a source of inspiration and fresh ideas, most established and successful artistes who ought to help these newcomers see them as a threat and in turn refuse any call for help.
Past EP projects: Rejected By All, Heart On Paper, and more. I have two dozen Le'mmon tracks and keep discovering more.

Q3: Studio Rat or Stage Bunny?  Lol.
 I consider myself more of a studio rat because it's a world that knows no limit in terms of creativity and production especially in this part of the world where we don't have the best technology for stage/analog production.
Q4: Tell us about the album...
 I have no album for now but I'm putting out a mixtape titled #10,000hours in early or mid 2015 which is a compilation of carefully selected songs showing my prowess as a songwriter, producer and a sound engineer from the start to the present.
Coming soon: #10000HOURS

Q5: Your top 5 artistes? 
John Lennon  
because of how he'd make a song so simple with his lyrics and he was a rule breaker and therefore changed music without knowing he was. 
Fela Kuti  
for stamping it hard on musicians especially from Africa and Nigeria  that music knows no language.
Frank Sinatra 
for his timeless voice and "never give up" spirit through his rejected times coming up as a back up vocalist.
2face idibia 
for being a great source of inspiration to Nigerian artiste who celebrate his longevity and ability to move along trend as they change over the years in the industry.
Robin Thicke 
for his strong will to succeed in a pop-dominated music industry that saw him work hard for 17yrs before he got his big break with the hit song "lost without you"

Q6: Three rules you live by? 
Mom, Music, Money and in that order's self explanatory..those are the things I devote my heart to and love as I grow as a person...They keep me grounded...
Listen to Le'mmon Heart On Paper
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Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Uber taxi app is just an app

In Uber: What could possibly go wrong , Rick Bookstaber claims that the app is "only mildly innovative" and that if existing limo and taxi companies put out a "meta-app" the new company might be in trouble.  Other risks for the $18billion start-up include increased regulation, and new technology that will remove the need for drivers altogether
This is Uber: Get a taxi, private car or rideshare from your mobile phone. Uber connects you with a driver in minutes. Use the app in cities around the world. 
The use of 'non-Uber' taxi mobile-apps has already taken off in Nigeria. 

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

"Do these things right, and you have a chance to reach business nirvana ...INNOVATION" - Google Chair

This is how google works
How Google Works - by Schmidt and Rosenberg (click for more SLIDES)
Good ideas aren’t restricted to the people with the most experience or seniority. In fact, some of the best ones come from unexpected places. The smartest thing a leader can do when it comes to idea generation is adopt as open a posture as possible. This means encouraging people across the company to speak up with suggestions and build demos of projects they think should be supported. It also means making it easy for people who use your product to send feedback and taking it seriously when you receive it. - (SOURCE) Jonathan Rosenberg, co-author with Eric Schmidt of How Google Works


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Sunday, October 12, 2014

What is poverty?

This clip always makes me cry.   

But can we end poverty, quickly, throughout the world? 

Yes.  If we focus.
April 2014: The BBC's Michelle Fleury talks to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim about attempts to reduce extreme poverty.  Click to watch, and to see the original article.
Economic growth is "not enough" to end global poverty, the World Bank has said.
It has urged developing countries to allocate more resources to their extreme poor, including through bigger welfare programmes.
The bank, which last year set itself the goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030, said such measures would increase productivity and growth.
But the impact on poverty of growth alone has its limits, the bank said.
"Even if all countries grow at the same rates as over the past 20 years, and if the income distribution remains unchanged, world poverty will only fall by 10% by 2030, from 17.7% in 2010," said World Bank president Jim Yong Kim.
"This is simply not enough, and we need a laser-like focus on making growth more inclusive and targeting more programmes to assist the poor directly if we're going to end extreme poverty."
 To achieve its 2030 target, the bank estimates the extreme poor - those earning less than $1.25 (74p) a day - will have to decrease by 50 million people each year until 2030.
That is the equivalent of a million people each week for the next 16 years.
"This will be extraordinarily difficult, but I believe we can do it," said Mr Kim, at the start of the bank's spring meeting.
"This can be the generation that ends extreme poverty."
The highest levels of extreme poverty are in Africa, the World Bank said.
The country with the biggest extreme poverty is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where 88% of the population is below the poverty line.
It is followed by Liberia, where 84% of people are in extreme poverty, and Burundi and Madagascar, where the figure is 81%.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Do you really want to live forever?

Five Tales from Crazy California
"I have no intention of dying"
- Sumner Redstone.
Billionaire Redstone, now 91, has made no secret of his longevity regime. It begins with a breakfast of goji berries, "Green Machine" smoothies and tomato juice — followed by a fish dinner and a shot of vodka for its "wonderful" antioxidant properties. The mogul also says he exercises 90 minutes a day.
"It's not even a hypothesis; it's just obvious: The human body is a machine.  Like any other machine, it can be subjected to preventative maintenance that will keep it going indefinitely by removing and replacing parts, just the way we do for a car." 
- Aubrey de Grey, head of the Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence Research Foundation, and author of Ending Aging: The Rejuvenation Breakthroughs That Could Reverse Human Aging in Our Lifetime.
"Our goal is to move to a preventative medicine paradigm versus treating diseases after they occur.  This is the start of the future of human medicine."
- J. Craig Venter, geneticist and owner of Human Longevity Inc., which will sequence 100,000 genomes annually for paying customers.
"There are a lot of people out there saying, 'We can sell you good health if you pay attention to what we do,' which is genome sequencing, but I have yet to see them actually make an impact."   
- Dr. Dennis Slamon, chief of UCLA's hematology-oncology division.
The urban legend that Walt Disney had his body frozen after death is not true, but it is an option today. 
Most recently, the body of famed computer coder Hal Finney was flown to the Alcor Life Extension Foundation in Scottsdale, Ariz., shortly after he died Aug. 28 of ALS. 
That night, his fluids were replaced with a proprietary chemical solution called M-22. 
His body then was chilled to -320ºF and placed in an aluminum pod suspended within a 450-liter tank filled with liquid nitrogen.
There, Finney will remain in suspended animation, or biostasis, until he can be revived.
(Full-body cryopreservation costs $200,000, but one can preserve one's brain for a mere $80,000.)  
Exactly how or when that might be achieved is unclear, but according to the Alcor website, the key lies in nanotechnology, by which molecule-sized devices could "recover any preserved person in which the basic brain structures encoding memory and personality remain intact."

Source: How to Live Forever: The (Mad?) Science Hollywood Is Using to "Cure" Death
by Seth Abramovitch for The Hollywood Reporter, 10th September 2014

Sunday, September 07, 2014

The Vantage Point

Despite the fact that I squeal over the possibilities of an engagement announcement and get a little 'mushy' perusing wedding and other related photos, bridal showers weren't events I used to be at in the past. Probably because it was not really in vogue where I grew up and even in my time. So being at my lil sister's bridal shower was a rare one for me and memorable too.

Now I also don't know what actually goes down at most showers, but the planners of this one made sure there was good time devoted to talking. During this session, questions were asked and lots of counsel shared, mostly from the experiences of those who have been married years before. All to better prepare the new bride for the new phase.

I felt privileged being able to contribute my own bit, having been on this journey for some years too. It seemed natural to look back at the many lessons I'd garnered over the years and to bring it to such a forum to share.

In reality, we all stand in what I'll call 'Points of Advantage'. We've been there, we've seen that, we've done that. We have had successes that brought us gladness. We have had falls, stirred ourselves up, brushed off the dusts and resumed the runs. In all, we have grown and gathered such wealth of knowledge that only experience doles to those it has had direct contact with.

On another hand, life gives us opportunities to leave footprints for those coming after, such that they would run even better. It allows us from the strength we have gained to provide a helping hand or a supporting shoulder to that one who has become weary.

However, at other times, it challenges us to seek out those opportunities to share our wisdom because of the Vantage Point where we now stand. It is easy to look down on certain moments of our lives and assume no one needs to hear that story, but you'll be amazed at how desperately some need them.  

I remember the movie – Vantage Point, which I watched years back. It showed clearly how the spots where people have stood in life have better positioned them for specific views of life's happenings. Eventually our vantage points when better perceived helps connect those dots when we've stepped out of it all.

So then, as we live and learn, let us maximise our many Vantage Points so someone else may see better, understand deeper, or just simply be reminded that that impossible is possible.


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Obituary: 'Kunle Olaifa 1980-2014

Until his passing one week ago in a car accident, Mr. 'Kunle Olaifa was the Head of Human Resources, West Africa, for a large multinational company.
A dedicated HR professional, Kunle built many careers.  He of course built a stellar career for himself, with stints at Adecco HR Consulting, GE Energy, and Triangle Nigeria, as well as Career Solutions Africa and Samsung.
He was an alumnus of the University of Ilorin and Nigerian Navy Secondary School, Abeokuta.  He was also an AIESECer, an associate fellow of NLI - the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, and a thought-leader and frequent speaker on human resources at various fora including the Leadership Academies at DayStar Christian Center.
But we remember him most for being a pillar of several communities, a leader, one who was very intelligent, visionary, concerned, engaged, funny, and kind.  In plain language, he was a good friend, inspiring mentor, and a father figure to many.  He was married with children.
I will post below a few of the writings of Kunle that I can find on the internet, and hope you join his family, friends, and associates, as we all pay our respects to a fellow who lived an exemplary life.  

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The Unforgettable Boss

Unforgettable bosses possess qualities that may not show up on paper but always show up where it matters most -- in the minds and even hearts of the people they lead.


Here are some of the qualities of truly unforgettable bosses:

1. They believe the unbelievable.

2. They see opportunity in instability and uncertainty.

3. They wear their emotions on their sleeves.

Memorable bosses are highly professional and yet also openly human.
Professionalism is admirable. Professionalism -- with a healthy blend of humanity -- is inspiring.

4. They protect others from the bus.
Terrible bosses throw their employees under the bus.
Good bosses never throw their employees under the bus.
Memorable bosses see the bus coming and pull their employees out of the way often without the employee knowing until much, much later... if ever, because memorable bosses never try to take credit.
And if they can't, they take the hit. (And later speak privately to the employee in question.)

5. They’ve been there, done that... and still do that.

6. They lead by permission, not authority.

7. They embrace a larger purpose.

8. They take real, not fake risks.

In short, memorable bosses inspire others to achieve their dreams: by words, by actions, and most importantly, by example.

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Monday, August 11, 2014

By 2015, a global partnership for development

The Millenium Development Goals are: 
To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 
To achieve universal primary education 
To promote gender equality and empower women 
To reduce child mortality 
To improve maternal health 
To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases 
To ensure environmental sustainability 
To develop a global partnership for development


Tuesday, August 05, 2014

On being overpaid (or underpaid) for work

The work of a management consultant is no more complex than that of a bank teller, a journalist, a musician, or a chef.  Yet management consulting is one of the high-paying fields in the developed world.  It's not for demand-and-supply factors either: there are millions of people who can do the work required - a little math, a little pressure, teamwork, powerpoint, and politics.  Why then does the difference in pay persist? 

Does excess pay create real problems in society?  Robert Reich argues that the work of highly-paid financiers, corporate lawyers, lobbyists, and management consultants ... zero-sum games ... amount to a mammoth waste of societal resources. 

As you know, he's a former US Secretary of Labour, who has a lot of thoughts on Work and Worth - an interesting topic that overlaps with politics. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

"But the German way with money is to keep it quiet"

"It is not the kind of place then to approve of young millionaires roaring around in expensive cars - they may make the Porsches and the BMWs but it's for others to rev them up and show off."

"In the US and Britain, business people are part of public life. Warren Buffett gives press conferences. Bill Gates tours the world, banging the drum for measures to prevent disease. Every American city has a museum or a medical research centre or a university department named after a local moneybags."

In Nigeria, ... , never mind.

Enjoy Germany's super-shy super-rich, by Stephen Evans, for BBC News. 
This article is my source for the quotes above, and is reprinted below.

Karl Albrecht and the shop in Essen started by his mother
Karl Albrecht and the shop that began the Aldi empire
Nobody could accuse the richest people in Germany of flaunting their wealth, quite the opposite.

With the death of Karl Albrecht, there was no announcement for nearly a week, and not until the small, private funeral was over. He and his brother, Theo, had turned their mother's small grocery store in the Ruhr into Aldi, one of the world's biggest supermarket chains, but the habits and thoughts of this mega-business mogul were unknown.  For the obituaries the German papers could only trace bland statements he had made in 1953 and 1971.
This was not a chatty public figure.
He grew orchids, apparently, and played golf - but on his own, private golf course. In the absence of a public presence, a legend grew around him.
The brothers, ex-employees said, would keep accounts using stubs of old pencils, almost too short to hold. It is said that they once told architects designing a new store that they were using paper that was too thick.  

It was this frugality which set the Albrecht brothers on the road to super-rich status.
Interior of the original Albrecht family shop
The Aldi chain began after Theo and Karl Albrecht took over their mother's grocery shop in the Ruhr
After the war, they took over the grocery store and set up a company called Aldi after Albrecht Diskont.  They pared the costs to the bone, dispensing with advertising and relying on the reputation for low prices. They sold what sold quickly, only 300 items initially.  Even shelves were thought to be too extravagant - after all shelves had to be stacked and that meant stackers and that meant wages. Instead, the goods were deposited, in the stores on the pallets on which they arrived.
Even today, Aldi stores usually offer no more than 2,000 products compared with the 45,000 products for other chains.
Food tended to be in tins because fresh food cost money to store. Managers had no telephones - they were told to use the nearest pay phone.

When Theo was kidnapped in 1971, Karl negotiated - over some days, according to the German media - and then paid the ransom which, legend has it, he tried to offset against tax. 

If Karl Albrecht was reclusive, the head of the rival Lidl chain is positively invisible.
There are only two photographs in existence of Dieter Schwarz, and one of those is in black-and-white. He may be the 25th richest man on the planet but nobody outside his closest circle knows anything about what he thinks or does. 

It is the same with the Quandt family which owns BMW. The product may be a symbol of conspicuous consumption but they are a symbol of inconspicuous taciturnity.
Take the case of Susanne Klatten, the daughter of the industrialist Herbert Quandt, the man who made BMW the luxury-car colossus it is today. She was left 12.5 % of BMW.
With her other business interests, she is the 44th richest person in the world, but a woman with a low profile. When she started in business, learning at the bottom, as an apprentice, she worked at a BMW factory under a false name.
The man she married never knew her real identity until the romance was solid.
Susanne Klatten
Susanne Klatten is Germany's richest woman
It would be tempting to draw big conclusions about the reticence of Germany's super-rich. 
In the US and Britain, business people are part of public life. Warren Buffett gives press conferences. Bill Gates tours the world, banging the drum for measures to prevent disease. Every American city has a museum or a medical research centre or a university department named after a local moneybags. 

But the German way with money is to keep it quiet.

It is partly because frugality is a virtue, a matter of morality and not just of wise behaviour. And maybe, after the experience of Theo Albrecht, privacy means you're less likely to get kidnapped.
It is not the kind of place then to approve of young millionaires roaring around in expensive cars - they may make the Porsches and the BMWs but it's for others to rev them up and show off.

The figures show that private wealth in Germany is more unevenly distributed than in any other country in the eurozone. While the richest 1% have personal wealth of just short of one million euros on average, a quarter of adult Germans have no wealth or even owe money.
But because those with the money keep their heads down, it doesn't always show.

Previously on UpNaira