Sunday, February 21, 2016

Clarity of thinking, by Nigeria's Sanusi

1. Exchange-rate talk has moved from the province of traders and bankers to...well, everybody: hairdressers, taxi-drivers, and the denizens of Naija-Twitter.  This is how somebody put it:

Charts: "Official exchange rate" and "exchange rate", click for sources: ,
USD/NGN Fixed at ~198 since Q1 2015

but doesn't stop the real rate from marching along.  Will arbitrage happen?  Oh Yes.

2. Meanwhile, respected former head of Nigeria's Central Bank Lamido Sanusi has said [to the BBC that] the government should end its policy of trying to maintain the value of the currency, the Naira...the drawbacks of the policy far outweigh its dubious benefits.
How so? (Source)
  • “This argument (on devaluation) I think has first of all been framed wrong, it’s not an argument about do we devalue or do we not devalue. The Naira has already been devalued,” he said.
  • “What is the value of the Naira? It’s what you can get for it, what you can get for the dollar in a free market between a willing buyer and a willing seller – and it is not 197.
  • “All that is happening is that the government has chosen to sell its own dollars at a subsidised rate to the private sector. That’s what is happening. So, if you’re lucky, you’d get something worth N300 for N200 and you save N100,” Sanusi added.
  • He explained that, “for every $1 billion that the Central Bank sells, it has transloaded N100 billion to the private sector – that’s what is happening.
  • “So you got a huge arbitrage opportunity, which either way undermines the government’s anti-corruption stance.
  • “You also take so much money away from states and local governments, because this is money that from oil proceeds, from PPT, royalties, that should go to education and healthcare for the poor.
  • “While the president is looking at the pain inflicted on the poor, by high prices of import, he also needs to look at the pain inflicted on them by taking away revenue that could go into education and healthcare.”
( Hey, I'm no former Central Bank Governor, but #IStandWithLogic  )
I'd listen to Grisha (Perelman) if I were you

While commending the President for transparency, removal of subsidy and other structural reforms, Sanusi said the Federal Government needs clarity of thinking in the handling of the foreign exchange policy.

“There has to be clarity of thinking. The government on the one hand says it wants to encourage domestic production, the Governor of the Central Bank says he wants to reduce import dependence, but one would think that the way to reduce import dependence is not to make imports cheaper.
“You subsidize exchange rate – you’re making imports cheap. So you’re actually pursuing a monetary policy that undermines structural objectives,” he said.

Also commending the Goodluck Jonathan administration, [Sanusi] said that the huge corruption that trailed that government was unprecedented, noting that systems have to be put in place to make it difficult for future leaders to steal:

“The thinking that has to be done is beyond looking for these people, beyond recovering the money, beyond prosecuting them. “What kind of institutional changes do we need to have in processes, in systems, that would make it impossible for the next president to do the kinds of things done in the past”, he said.

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Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A New Kind of Expert - the Scholar-Practitioner

’It takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery’’ – Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers)
Who is an Expert?
  • Thought Leader who has deep, differentiated skills and expertise, typically acquired over a time span of 5-10 years dedicated experience in a field.
  • A person who brings additional experience and expertise to a project team at the point in time it is needed.
What do Experts do?
  • Review proposals or solution approach
  • Help a project get back on schedule
  • Troubleshoot implementation problems
  • Review high-level and detailed estimates
  • Advise clients on best practices in a particular area
  • Mitigate risk by bringing deep expertise
  • Serve as primary subject matter expert to review content for training that is in development
  • Host sessions to transfer knowledge to others in change management
  • Coach/ mentor team members
  • Contribute as an SME/sponsor role for asset development
  • Lead / contribute to Community of Practice activities
Who is a Scholar-Practitioner?
  • Someone who stands boldly in the gap between the academic and business communities
  • Someone who believes that there is nothing so practical as a good theory
  • Someone who believes that good theory and evidence-based research are absolutely vital for great leadership and building great companies
  • Someone who believes that if ideas cannot hold up to the complexities of leading in the global economy, then they hold little value outside the pages of an academic journal
What do Scholar-Practitioners Do?
  • Conduct rigorous applied research
  • Publish for scholarly and practitioner audiences
  • Present original ideas at academic and professional conferences
  • Engage with top scholars, executives and students from different countries and cultures
  • Read academic journals
  • Has a doctorate (PhD or DBA)
Judging from the above, is there any difference between an Expert and a Scholar-Practitioner? Are they distinct or complementary? Who would you rather have leading a project?

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

What's Your Legacy?

Today is Ash Wednesday and I got the chance to tick off yet another item on my MBA Bucket List: Celebrate Mass in the chapel.


In 2012, Harvard professor, Clayton Christensen, wrote the landmark book ''How Will You Measure Your Life?'' Drawing upon his business research, he offered a series of guidelines for finding meaning and happiness in life. Using lessons from some of the world's greatest businesses, he provided incredible insights into three challenging questions:

  • How can I be sure that I'll find satisfaction in my career?
  • How can I be sure that my personal relationships become enduring sources of happiness?
  • How can I avoid compromising my integrity - and stay out of jail?

There was a time when existential questions like these were considered out of place in a business school but times have changed.


To remind ourselves of our mortality, Christians (and particularly Catholics) mark their foreheads with the sign of the cross.

A parallel can be drawn with a ceremony from Ancient Rome. In ancient times, the Romans had a custom for conquering generals. Upon their triumphant return to Rome, they rode into the city a magnificent stallion, as the crowd cheered and hailed them. Behind the victor, however, was chained a slave who muttered the words ''Memento Mori'' to the general, meaning ''Remember that you will die.''

The purpose of this custom was to humble the general and prevent hubris by reminding him of the looming specter of death which vanquishes all mortals, generals and slaves alike.


These ruminations may seem out of place in the present-focused and dynamic world of business. But, on closer inspection, is it really out of place?

  • The best leaders always consider their legacy; the worst only think about the short-term
  • The strongest organizations have a purpose that outlasts their founders and helps them survive for several generations
  • The most prosperous nations are built on transcendental values which ensure their continued unity and cohesion

What are you building today that will outlive you?

Monday, February 08, 2016

Pitching to the Elusive Investor

Today, I succeeded in ticking off one of the items on my MBA Bucket List: Speak in public.
Dr. O shared some interesting insights on how to prepare an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a speech given to persuade a potential investor in 30 seconds or less (the estimated time it takes to move from one floor to another in an elevator). Things to keep in mind when developing an elevator pitch:
  • Clarify your target
  • Write it down
  • Answer 3 key questions (Who are you? What do you do? Why your product and not another?)
  • Tailor it to the audience
  • Simplify terms (no jargon)
  • Practise
Then came the interesting part. We were asked to develop a 30-second elevator speech for Fola Adeola (a popular Nigerian businessman and politician) and 10 volunteers got to pitch to a trio of investors (fellow classmates, not real investors).
The tension was high and you could hear a pin drop in the classroom.
At the end of the presentation, the class voted for each business idea. Here are the results:
  • Shipping management (27 votes)
  • I.T business (5 votes)
  • Cocoa export (5 votes)
  • Pepper canning (2 votes)
  • Farming (2 votes)
  • I.T company (2 votes)
  • Foreign-exchange transfer (2 votes)
  • Expansion of training institute (1 vote)
  • Leadership training (1 vote)
  • Microfinance (0 vote)
What interested me about the voting pattern is that the social enterprises (training and microfinance) got the least votes while the purely commercial ventures (shipping and cocoa exports) got the most votes. It raises the following questions:
  • Does this mean that social entrepreneurs are better off seeking grants from ''benevolent'' international organizations rather than pitching to ''profit-conscious'' business investors?
  • Should venture capitalists embrace good corporate social responsibility practices by establishing a fund specifically for social entrepreneurs?
  • Can social entrepreneurs increase their chances of getting funds by getting their numbers right?
If you're a social entrepreneur, where do you usually source your funds?

My MBA Bucket List: 50 Things to Do Before I Graduate

Whether it’s in my personal or professional life, I like setting goals and objectives and holding myself accountable for achieving them. So, I figured my MBA experience should not be an exception.

I created a ‘Bucket List’ of 50 things I want to do before I graduate. As can be expected, I have already started off on some of them. Nevertheless, I intend to share my progress on this blog every fortnight from now until December 2017.

Here’s my list of 50 things I plan to do before I graduate:

2.     Attend a conference and make 5 new contacts
3.     Join a study group
4.     Read a book on Communication
5.     Give a speech in public
6.     Get a LinkedIn recommendation from a staff
7.     Decide: Wunderlist or Nozbe?
8.     Give a tutorial
9.     Find a mentor – faculty
10. Read a book on Personal Finance
11. Learn speed reading
12. Reach my ideal weight
13. Become proficient in Evernote
14. Read a book on Consulting
15. Read a book on Business Creation
16. Subscribe to a business magazine and read it every day
17. Celebrate Mass in the chapel
18.  Learn how to tie a tie
19. Attend a recollection
20. Do a physical review during  Wellness Day
21. Use Google Drive
22. Read a book on Value Creation
23.  Attend the Christmas Party
24. Take the MBTI
25. Use Focus@Will
26. Wake up at 5 a.m for 66 days straight
27. Read a book on Marketing
28. Use StayFocusd
29. Publish an article in a management journal
30. Use Say it & Mail it Recorder
31. Use EggTimer
32. Engage a total stranger in small talk for 1 hour
33.  Attend a dinner party
34. Learn more about myself – Life Project
35. Discover personality type – Strengthsfinder
36. Track my daily habits for 66 days straight
37. Read a book on Sales
38. Get a LinkedIn recommendation from a faculty member
39. Write a book about leadership
40. Get a LinkedIn recommendation from a classmate
41. Read a book on Value Delivery
42. Launch a CM book
43. Complete a CSR Project
44. Complete a Consulting project
45. Take a course in strategy
46. Read a book on Productivity and Effectiveness
47. Find a mentor – alum
48. Travel abroad
49. Write a Business Plan
50. Store all my notes online

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Monday, February 01, 2016

Keep Moving Forward.

Did you ever watch Meet The Robinsons?  Keep Moving Forward

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Previously on UpNaira