Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Struggle and the Hustle

While we know struggling and hustling are by no means synonymous, I increasingly see a peculiar lack of drive in people who have never lacked, never wanted.

My question is this: Are we doing a disservice to our kids by providing too much for them? More questions still. By providing all their needs and possibly wants, have we killed their get-up-and-go? What's your take on this, people? How do we strike that balance between providing for them and going overboard to spoiling them. Where do we draw the line between housing a grown child for free without any responsibility required of them and helping out a grown child temporarily that is warranted and sometimes necessary.

I couldn't help noticing on the radio the other day that Gladys Knight and the two radio show hosts all said at some point, their mothers had been on food stamps. Yet on the other hand, there are scores of heirs and heiresses to huge business empires who will never do any more than squander the family resources literally. They feel absolutely no need to be gainfully employed or to learn how to make a living because they are already wealthy without it. And they add a good dose of irresponsible public behavior in the mix as a recipe for disaster.

We know that if God has blessed us to be able to provide well for the little ones he has placed in our care, we cannot then pretend that we do not have. How then do we instill these values in them? How do we work hard and make money to provide comfort for our family and still keep their drive? What kinds of conversation keep them in perspective and focused?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

We are all selling something!

We all have something we are selling, be it goods, services or ideas. Whether or not they translate to actual cash versus popularity or acceptance is irrelevant as that is not always the aim for everybody. But it does not make it any less of a sale. We're all still selling something.

In selling, let us be mindful of other people's space and time even as we pitch "our thing" to them. That's why I love facebook as a social networking and marketing tool. You can post whatever you want on your wall all day long and it will show up on your friends' home pages. Whoever is interested will click on it. An interesting question might spur a discussion. A much needed bit of information might encourage clicks to a link. You might actually make money if someone buys something. You might get a thank you for insightful words shared. And whoever is not interested just keeps it moving. Like we say in Nigeria, "Notin spoil."

Of course we have the inbox messages and depending on how you use it, you could actually get on people's nerves. For those with a fan page to push what they are selling, you can also send updates to fans. That can start to get on people's nerves if they are too frequent. The good thing about it however is that anyone who so pleases can "un-friend" you, if that is a word or choose to no longer be a fan of your page, if they are uncomfortable with the pressure or the frequency of your updates. Or they could simply hide your updates and that way, everybody is happy.

Twitter is even better, for those who can keep up with it. It all happens in real time except someone retweets. You only see tweets so far back. It's all dynamic. Whatever you don't catch when it is happening is gone, except you go search it out by hashtag or on the sender's page.

When you are physically selling to people in their own space, the same rules apply. They have invited or allowed you in out of the goodness of their heart. And the fact that you have brought lunch, a fruit bowl, free samples or other incentive does not negate the fact that you are in their space. Try to be mindful of their space and time or you might lose the privilege of being able to pitch to them, just like on facebook.

Always remember, they don't have to listen to you at all, they don't have to visit your page, they don't have to make that comment, and they don't have to press the like button. It is totally of their free will and you cannot force it. Do not push so hard that they wish they had never let you in.


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Half Full or Half Empty

Nigeria turned fifty yesterday. Fifty years since Nigeria got her independence from the British. When I woke up, I chose my facebook status update carefully:

‎"I pledge to Nigeria my country..." Reminiscing as Nigeria clocks 50 today...I am proud of my heritage...

There is no need to lie, even on Nigeria's special day and especially since the next line of the pledge says "to be faithful, loyal and honest."

I saw a lot of different status updates yesterday. There were those like me who were celebrating the heritage like me. Others were celebrating regardless, it was just party time. Others were pointing out the things about Nigeria that have not moved forward or that have frankly speaking regressed and there was no lie in it.

One thing I have learnt in my fourth decade on planet earth is that I can control my perception of any situation. To the best of my ability, I have adopted a "half full" vs "half empty" approach. For me, it's also in line with faith as a Christian. I am not lying to myself, I just choose to focus on the good over the bad. That's especially so on birthdays.

Every country, person and situation has a good side to it if we look closely enough. The same way that your spouse, partner, friend, sibling, parent, boss, co-worker or employee is not perfect but you focus on the good in them so as to be able to continue to relate to them, you can think of Nigeria in those terms. While I cannot glorify the corruption, the senseless killings, the religious and tribal tension and the inequality, on that one day of Nigeria's golden jubilee, surely, I could try not to think of electricity and water just for that one day.

It is not because it does not affect me. When I visit it does. And even when I don't visit, it affects my family and friends and my ability to reach them, my peace of mind about their safety, my ability to have a good night's rest. I heard about the bombing in Abuja yesterday before my family in Nigeria. My parents had no electricity and did not feel up to putting on the generator having recently lost the guard who normally did it so they were not watching TV or surfing the net. They were alerted by a text from me. My brother who was local also had not heard about the unfortunate incident. These type of stories are typical.

But we will continue to press forward. Maybe, just maybe one day, we will truly be proud of Nigeria for so much more than our culture and heritage. Maybe democracy will finally prevail and justice will be served. I have a dream. A dream of the end of tribal and religious wars and a rich, thriving and flourishing Niger-Delta area. Not just for the oil company workers but the Niger-Delta people.

One day....