Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Lessons for the Next Generation

I do not have a child talkless of a son to begin with, but I can speak of what values were passed on to me by my father. In many respect I am not my father's son. He is emotional, I am dubiously logical. He tends to be pragmatic, I am more idealistic. Dad is also prohibitively moralistic, I am more accomodating. But I am also his son. I was shaped by his stories, his lessons and his thoughts. Dad taught me growing up to perceive new information through the objective prism but never shy away from making up my mind and sticking with it -letting others know clearly where I stand; he asked that I strive to learn new things and to try as much as possible to incorporate a common sense view to life problems. He fostered debate at home: I remember at nine engaging in mind numbing intellectual debates on socialism vs. capitalism with dad. He always would allow you speak your mind, and argue your way through everything: and I mean everything. That lesson have shaped me to this day.

He also taught me the lessons of not compromising and being principled. Dad is perhaps the most principled man I know that walks the surface of the earth today: and I am not exaggerating. I remember when we lived in Warri back in the day, and the transformer blew out one phase of the electricity. While the half of the street went without light, donations were quickly made to bribe NEPA officials to come fix the transformer: dad refused to pay. I mean, this was a pariah move. In any case, food was going bad in the freezer, and mom wished light be restored in a quick fashion. Like the neighbors she procured an electrician to switch phases on the light pole. Dad met them midstream of the process and forced the electrician down: considering the act illegal and tampering with government property. Mum was furious, but she knew the man she married. Never compromising, astutely principled and single minded once his mind is made up. These were the lessons handed down to me by dad: always root for the little guy, stand up for the oppressed even when it doesn't pay to do so, have a sense of right and wrong: and always be on the side of right, never look down on others, treat everyone equally, and never take yourself too seriously. These lessons I learnt from the Old man...his laugh is also the most infectitous one only rivalled by mine. Perhaps I am my father's son afterall.

2011: The Year that was...


What will you remember 2011 for? Where were you when OBL was assassinated? Or when Ghadaffi was caught? Or when Mubarak fell? 2011 surely will be remembered as the year of the upheaval; when finally the think fabrics of deception in our society started tearing apart to reveal the ugly under belly of repression, inequality and sometimes greed.

Domestically in Nigeria, it was a year of suicide bombings: now by a different sect (Boko Harem), than the ones that started it (MEND). From two polar opposite corners, these two revolutionary groups (or so they think..actually terrorists) - one for economics, the other for religious purpose- have rained bombs of destruction and maiming upon innocent Nigerians starting form last year's Nigeria independence celebrations which have now become serial bombings on public buildings and house of worships. Unfortunately, the new President is a decided failure; seemingly incompetent and incapable of finding creative solutions to our persistent problem. Simply put, we still have a large leadership deficit. His cabinet, his budget, his few policy decisions be it on tenure elongation or fuel subsidy exposes a clueless president.

Personally, 2011 have been a year of fulfillment. The ideas of 2010 are finally translating into concretes. The incubation model of last year presented at Stockholm is now the first start-up accelerator in Nigeria: the Wennovation Hub. The love story of last year, translated to the engagement  of mid-2011. Indeed, the professional aspirations of 2010 are the licensures and certifications of 2011. On the personal development, the search for service and spiritual growth finally did intersect this year: for which I am very gRateful. It has been personally an eventful year: one that has taken me to places only previously imagined.

Per the usuals: I wrote less, read more and had a lot more meaningful travels in 2011. From NYC to Vegas to Daytona to AbuDhabi/Dubai the first half of the year were filled with those dash around the world that makes your head dizzy. Of course, with three trips to the homeland and two to Ghana and Cameroon in the kitty my visits across the continent are also providing a deeper perspective to my larger body of experiences.

Finally, I Started also to finally pen the book, watch this space as that project evolves. The most transforming literature of 2011? It got to be "This House Has Fallen". Quite a piece.

How Customization Is Revolutionizing Our World

The work I'm almost nearly most excited about within our wide array of services at LoftyInc is our technology incubation and acceleration work at the Wennovation Hub. This past week, I was in Kenya, attending the DEMO Africa Investor's Summit to support one of our teams- OTGPlaya as they pitched their exciting new media platform product, and was opportune to meet various young start-ups doing exciting work. Upon three days in Nairobi, and catching the flight to back to Houston I tried to tie my thoughts around the single underlying trend in the innovations I had seen, and it kept coming back to me: CUSTOMIZATION

With Linda Kozlowski, Evernote's VP, Int Marketing
& Wennovation Hub CEO Wole  at Nairobi. Evernote is
Customizing their Way to Global Billions
Sitting next to a Marketing Executive from a Pyramid Marketing Company, offering Tea Products as a medium for selling wellness and entrepreneurship in Africa, I undertook an analysis of what I was thinking and what she was saying (not that I was buying; but it is nevertheless relevant). 

Forget what you hear that Social Network is the big deal, the even bigger deal is the mad revolution now taking the world of manufacturing, politics, religion, relationships, business, even life-work balance by storm. My discussion with our Tea executive begun from the point of view of exploring various business models for marketing. At our hub, we have companies experimenting with business models that allows individuals sponsor events and as such media access for others (it is a gift after all, and people are more generous on a personal level than on a corporate level). This business model is taking the twist out of the Google Ad for free search model, and personalizing (i.e. customizing) it on the most personal level. Companies will need to customize their business models, the traditional direct sales, pyramid marketing and even online approach will not work. As people demand customization, new paradigm must be explored. Hybrids will need to be developed. 

Take the world of 3-D Printing, and what that will mean for manufacturing in the future. A world where you can instantly design and deliver products customized to meet people's needs, will change the paradigm of distribution networks, payment systems and demand. Indeed, while consumer product manufacturing is taking the wholesome lead with 3-D Printing, its permanent requirement to scale may actually prevent this sector from seeing full customization potentials before others.

Food is one area where I see (talking about my Tea Selling Pyramid Network Executive) an opportunity to disrupt how we eat and what we eat with customization. Imagine a world where you order your food without specific ingredients most in tune to your health profile? Your genomic profile? You can remove those ingredients you don't like or are bad for you, and you can order to fit. You go online on say Nestle website, input your ingredients, and samples get sent to you. You order more, and heck you now have a Busanga Customized Coffee palate and I can get on Twitter to promote just that to friends on my network. Guess what? Will Nestle pay me for that free promotion? Now, I -the consumer -is making money as I have innovated my way by customization and lowered my own procurement cost thereof.

Coke is doing something interesting. Been to the United Kingdom lately? You can order Coke with your own name. Now these are early days, and those names are pre-printed- but it points in one direction: customization.

The sectors where Customization is even disrupting most are the most intangible ones like Politics, Religion and Relationships; and wait a minute: work/life balance. Most individuals I know of, at least my circle, are choosing not to live to work but to work to live. This is forcing employers to device new schedules, new ways to accommodate employees and retain talents. One size fits all company policies don't work for the millennial, and any traditional thinking in this area is bound to lead to failure. At LoftyInc for example, I bet you more people in our organization work after midnight than before it..that is the way they like it, and we thus like it too! 

In Politics, Egypt for example have been demanding a customized leader for the past three years; it has led to some very interesting outcomes. Morsi thought he was a savior, and oh boy was he surprised. The public and electorate are demanding leaders that mirror their demand. This led to the rise of a lanky Senator from Illinois to the world's most powerful position in 2008, and it is checking a whole lot of tyrants around the world. Even Tea Party in the US is a creation of political customization demands! People are demanding customized leaders, and until their desires are satisfied then coup by Twitter will be the norm! Need I go into religion, and how the lines between the world religions are increasingly blurred and how humanism and desire to be the very best person and serve the next man is now leading to massive losses in Church Pews and Mosque Grounds. About time, if you ask me.

All is not well with customization however; followers will demand more, and leaders will be stretched.Convention and culture for all the bad things it yields, serve stable purposes in business, society and among mankind- now those things are endangered. The survivors will be those that can harness the positive energies of customization. Billion dollar companies will declare bankruptcy (ask Blockbuster, as Netflix destroyed its business model and deftly pivoted to another even as Wall Street complained). 

In case you miss it, even your relationships are getting customized. Marriages and dating relationships are no longer what they used to be. If you think they're, then you have a surprise waiting for you!  


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