I Honestly Wish Kate Spade Had Read This

Hours ago, it became news that New York fashion icon, Kate Spade had died. She was 55. In the whiff of that moment or probably out of sheer curiosity, I asked a group of friends what kind of meaninglessness could motivate a person to commit suicide. My premise was that rich people in Africa never commit suicide or maybe a small number have but it must be pretty negligible as we hardly read of such stories in our news.

One of my friends responded that there were just too many people living with depression, internal conflicts and mental health issues in the West.

This response rang a bell in my heart why we should all be Christian. And I don’t mean the religion with it’s effigies touted around the world. I mean, the people that God intended all humankind to be. And here is why:

To be Christian is to be God’s home. When a man or woman accepts the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and his resurrection, God makes that person His home and in every sense makes them immune to sickness and poverty by virtue of Him living in them.

To be Christian is to be capable of infinite love. When a man or woman becomes Christian and God takes up residence in them, He broadcasts His boundless love in their hearts so that they are capable of forgiving and loving without limit. Love is one of the ways that we as a race are distinguished from the rest of the world.

To be a Christian is to be a vital part of a community. Certain people muffled Christianity into an institution but it is actually a community. Christians share a brotherhood that recognize no denominations or sectarianism. We are one. And when you become a Christian, God the Father puts something in you for the rest of us. He gifts you with spiritual manifestations that other Christians can be blessed by.

To be Christian is to be an answer to the cries of the world. Becoming a Christian puts you in a class of solution providers for the problems of the world. And this is just in the area of performing miracles, your mind is upgraded such that you are able to use your work, products and personality to bring tangible change to many. We are charged to let our light shine so that men glorify our Father God.

To be Christian is to have exclusive access to God. All you need to be able to have conversations with God is to become a member of the family. I know it may sound a little cliche but God who allows us to have meaningful conversations with each other is particular about having same with you, possibly on a daily basis. He may not come down in bodily form to banter and laugh with you at the dinner table after a hard day’s work but He will make impressions in your heart that you can relate to; that He listens to you and you can speak to Him.

Their can definitely be no defeat or disadvantage to becoming Christian. It is the answer to depression, loneliness and suicidal spells.

I honestly wish that Kate Spade had read this blog post yesterday to learn how deeply the love of God was willing to go to drag her out of any difficulty she might have faced internally. This love is present with you now, right here and I know you can sense it because I prayed for you with the love of God in my heart.

Don’t turn away from it. Simply look up a Bible verse in Acts 4:12 and trust that it was God that reached out with His infinite love to you.

Feel free to connect with me on Twitter at @NehiIgbinijesu

I love you.

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Low Birthrate, Robotization and the Case for Test Tube Babies


Malthusians have been correct for quite a while now. Low birthrate trends in the developed world have shown no sign of abating, going by statistics.

While countries like Canada have turned to immigration to solve potential demographic problems of an ageing workforce and weak taxation, Japan is turning to robotics because of its desire to remain a homogenous society.  But other homogenous first world countries seem to be caught in a dilemma with many playing the proverbial ostrich; holding out on diversity and economic growth.

Finland for example, like most of its neighbours, has been experiencing lower birthrates on a consistent basis.  It response: state incentives for mothers; the kind that would almost certainly make it a lucrative business to have children in other climes, but no. 

2016 birthrate figures show that Finland recorded its lowest number of babies born in 150 years. Statistics Finland, the country’s team of statisticians, projected birthrate figures for last year to be a worrisome 1.57.

Be that as it may, this kind of problems could eventually lead to the rise of gestational surrogacy as a solution…with a new kind of migrant worker–the surrogate mother from the third world.

Gestational surrogacy is an arrangement in which a woman just carries and delivers a baby for another person or couple. She has no biological relationship with the baby because the sperm and egg are cultured in a test tube via the process of in vitro fertilization (IVF) and placed in her womb to carry it to term. The woman who carries the baby is the gestational surrogate, or gestational carrier.

Governments like Finland’s, concerned about keeping their populations homogenious while improving the number of future taxer payers may jolly well consider incentivizing healthy surrogate mothers from abroad to come and help create its own Finnish baby boom. 

But that’s only the beginning. Artificially boosting the number of babies born could pose new problems like higher foster care costs and even, human right violations. This is why government cannot approach the problem of low birthrate without carefully making laws and planting a pro-family message in its citizenry by way of national orientation to help encourage adoption and healthy families.

Robotization may be Japan’s way of dealing with its ambitions to sustain a homogenous society and sustain economic growth. But the rise of ‘test tubers’ could answers the demographic questions that face the most of developed world in the years to come.

The Issue of Body Image

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Recently, I got some really incredible feedback about my book, The Code: A Simple Story About Raising Great Women that made me reflect about of the subject of body-image as it impacts on how successful a women become in life.

A working mom-in the oil and gas industry-told me that reading the book had helped her become sensitive to the struggle her chubby teenage daughter was beginning to experience because of her weight;so much so that the girl had now been prodding her parents to change schools because of the way she felt about her body.

As a parent, your role is to give your daughter control of her body-image. And while the roles diverge for mother and father on helping a daughter feel good about her looks, the real idea behind giving the girl-child control over her body-image is based on the fact that how she feels about her body and her ability to take charge of her life travel in the same direction. If your daughter feels good about her looks, her self-confidence skyrockets and this is a good thing, no matter what stage of life she’s at.

The thing to note here is that a daughter will take on the body-image of her mom without her mother having to say a word. So, if a mother struggles with her body-image, the daughter would most likely do too. My book asks mothers to learn to take control of their daughter’s body-image by taking control of their own through dieting and exercise.

And while mothers have the sole task of  mirroring positive body-images to their daughters, fathers have the role to affirming mother and daughter about their body-image. The reason, females are wired to think that if you aren’t saying nice things about them, then there is really nothing positive to say which is why the men in their lives need to be intentional about the words they use, particularly as it affects body-image.


I teach nine other ideas in this book to help you raise your daughter which you can get here on Amazon.

 

 

 

 

Never Complain


Complaining is something many of us are tempted to do from time to time.

Some people complain about the government; others about their spouses, co-workers, and some still about their employer…or just about anything.

And if you think about it critically, complainers usually complain to people who have no power to fix what they are complaining about. It’s like a man complaining to his colleague at the office about his wife’s poor attitude at home and then going home to complain to his wife about his colleague’s sloppiness at work. Neither of his wife or his colleague can do anything to effect a change about his complaints to them. 

Then, there are others who complain because of their over-bloated egos. Their pride or perfectionism never let’s them  see good in anything at all. They complain simply because innately, they are unthankful. These are the ones who look at a half full glass of water and describe it as half-empty. They are the naysayers and faultfinders. And I guess you can pinpoint someone you know who is this way. (Show them this post)

The act of complaining reeks of negativity based on the very two reasons why people complain: inability and ingratitude. And like all negativity, it is contagious. 

You would do yourself a lot of good  to caution or not to company with complaining folks in an effort to keep from catching their contagion of powerlessness and ingratitude.

So the next time someone complains about something or someone around you, remind them how they are either abdicating their power or being ungrateful as regards the thing or person they are complaining about.

The Ethics of Exposure


To Expose or Not To Expose

Exposure—the acquisition of new knowledge through study, emulation or experimentation—as it applies to an individual in any position whether as a ward or parent; employee or employer; citizen or leaders, carries within it the capacity for great good and great evil.

The dilemma of how much exposure a person should have before it becomes injurious to the family, company or society at large; or the influences to which one should expose oneself to, per time, in a bid to create or enhance value can create outcomes, often unintended.

The stakes can be very high for the owners of the process, the ‘exposers’—parents, employers and political leaders—in a sense that the ‘exposed’—wards, employees and followers, if exposed to a certain degree may eventually take action that counteracts the initial purpose for exposing them in the first place.

In the work place for instance, human resource managers affirm that while a certain proportion of employees who received poor training leave their position in the first year, a sizeable chunk also leave based on being trained well enough to angle for greener pastures; companies willing to pay more for the skills acquired based on the training investments of the companies where they currently work. An ethical dilemma therefore subsists as to whether to train staff adequately despite the possibility of high staff attrition or not, given the grave economic implications on either side of the divide.

The Good…

In Nollywood (Nigeria’s film industry), we have seen steady developments particularly in business structure with the attendant rise in collaborative effort and commercial value. The single largest factor for this has been the improvement of human capital arising out of exposure.

The recent success of romantic comedy drama, The Wedding Party raking in about N450 million (as at the time of this writing) from cinema showings attest to how the level of exposure has significantly impacted Nigerian film.

From the casting of A-list actors (some foreign trained) to a BAFTA award winning cinematographer, Yinka Edward as well as the eclectic business collaboration (of Mo Abudu’s EbonyLife TV, Moses Babatope’s FilmOne Distribution, Inkblot Productions and Koga Studios) to form the Elfike Film Collective, The Wedding Party mined more value while staving off threats from piracy than any other indigenous movie in Nigerian History.

All of this coupled with the fact that more Nigerian movies are getting screened at International Film Festivals; a record seven of them at the last Toronto Film Festival, it is undoubted that continuing exposure to how the film business is run in more advanced climes have played a good part in this progress.

The Bad and the Ugly

But the good aside, and from a purely cultural view, exposure has shown its evil and ugly faces too. Taking the administration of terror into cognizance, Boko Haram, now acclaimed to be the world’s deadliest terror group didn’t get there by accident. Funding for this organization has been linked to the use of cryptocurrencies and the darknet.

The technological skills demonstrated by the group in the use of digital virtual currencies dislocate our traditional view of them from merely being a ragtag band of Kalashnikov-flaunting men fighting western education to a well-structured organization, up to speed with threat finance and exposed to ways of increasing opaqueness, transactional velocity and its overall efficiency with respect to funding its activities. Overseas, the trend has necessitated improvements in the area of surveillance and scrutiny but to this day, financing of the group has remained shroud in secrecy.

The Nigerian response;

On 18 January 2017, the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation department, CBN, Mr. Kelvin Amugo announced the ban on usage of Bitcoin, Dogecoin, Onecoin, Monero, Ripples and similar products as legal tenders in Nigeria.

Whether this is a step effective enough remains dodgy given that there aren’t similar prohibitions in Chad, Cameroon and Niger where Boko Haram also operate.

5 Shades of Exposures

Reshaping Culture: Exposure helps to overcome cultural stereotypes in the areas of product development and market acceptance. The Iwakura Mission, a Japanese diplomatic voyage to the United Kingdom and United States made by leading technocrats and researchers in the early 1870s is the most known and probably the most impactful voyage as regards the modernization of Japan. The mission had three mandates: to seek recognition for their reinstated Emperor Meiji; to renegotiate lopsided treaties between the West and Japan; and to make a detailed study of modern industrial, political, military and educational systems and structures in the United States and Europe.

Of these goals, the mission’s aim of revision of the lopsided treaties was not achieved. The attempts to negotiate new treaties under better conditions with the foreign governments led to widespread criticism of the mission that members had overstepped their mandate from the Japanese government. Members of the mission were nonetheless inspired by industrial modernization seen in America and Europe and the experience of the delegation provided them a strong basis to lead similar modernization upon their return. The mission emphasized the backwardness of Japan, and its need to learn from the West through scholar exchange arrangements. And by 1874, Yokohama, a port town established in1959 has become a hub for foreign influence. The Iwakura Mission’s work also laid the basis for the establishment of the Imperial College of Engineering (which later became a part of the University of Tokyo) and rehabilitation of the samurai (who had been disbanded in 1871) allowing them to make a shift from their tradition militia heritage into engineering roles as the society changed at the time.

Capacity Building: Exposure equips for better output. And as competencies are developed as a result of it, exposure lowers the bar for investment to flow in. Today, if Nestle Nigeria required 10,000 metric tonnes of soya beans for instance, it would most likely import from somewhere in South America, even though that volume of soya beans could be sourced and aggregated locally. In East Africa and for a similar tonnage of commodities like coffee or tea, Nestle would simply enter into forward contracts and have its requirements met at an agreed date. How? Through Commodities Exchanges in Ethiopia and Rwanda. It is not a surprise that both countries have developed very sophisticated commodities exchanges. Eleni Gabre-Madin founder and former CEO of the Ethiopia Commodity Exchange was a World Bank economist who saw a gap in how her country responded to fluctuations in the agricultural commodities market as well as the inefficiencies of small holder farming. She decided to pursue a PhD at Stanford specialised on commodity markets and this exposure paid off in what we know today as the most sophisticated commodities exchange in Africa. Following on Gabre-Madin’s heels was Rwanda’s East Africa Exchange run by Africa Exchange Holdings, a company co-founded by investors including the Nigerian Heirs Holdings and New York-based Berggruen Holdings, whose aim is to develop a network of commodity exchanges across Africa. Gabre-Madin too has such ambitions too. She plans to have set up 10 exchanges across Africa by 2020. And with her current achievements, her company, Eleni LLC has received seed capital of $5m from Morgan Stanley, the International Finance Corporation, and 8 Miles, Bob Geldof’s pan-African private equity fund.

 

Universal and Neutral Application: Exposure has a universality and neutrality of application whether for parents in raising children or in training business teams for a specific outcome. Though the 10,000 hour rule previously popularized by writer, Malcolm Gladwell has not proven to be completely correct, its import however is strengthened by how humans tend to copy or repeat what they learn from others or are exposed to, particularly when certain desirable outcome are sought.

Tiger Woods was exposed to playing golf at 18 months old; Serena Williams was introduced to tennis by her tennis-coach dad at only three; Bill Gates began programming at age 13, all of them raising the question as to how early should a child be exposed to the skills that could stand them out later in life when juxtaposed with Michael Jackson, who at 6 began his career but suffered many psychological problem into adulthood as a result of his rather early exposure to the music business.

In a 2002 interview with Gold Magazine, Jackson spoke of his problems alluding them to exposure. He said;

When I was little I grew up in an adult world. I grew up on stage. I grew up in night clubs. When I was seven, eight years old I was in nightclubs. I saw striptease girls take off all their clothes. I saw fights break out. I saw people throw up on each other. I saw adults act like pigs. That’s why to this day I hate clubs. I don’t like going to clubs – I did that already, I’ve been there. That’s why I compensate now for what I didn’t do then. So when you come to my house, you’ll see I have rides, I have a movie theatre, I have animals. I love animals – elephants and giraffes and lions and tigers and bears, all kinds of snakes. I get to do all those wonderful things that I didn’t get to do when I was little, because we didn’t have those things. We didn’t have Christmas. We didn’t have sleepovers. We didn’t have school, we had private school when we were touring. I didn’t go to a state school. We tried it for two weeks and it didn’t work. It was very difficult. It’s hard growing up a celebrity child. Very few make that transition from child star to adult star. It’s very difficult. I relate to Shirley Temple. I met her in San Francisco and I sat at her table and I cried so bad. She said, ‘What’s wrong Michael?’ I said, ‘I love you. I need to be around you more.’ She goes, ‘You’re one of us, aren’t you?’ and I said ‘Yes, I am.’ Somebody else said, ‘What do you mean?’ and she said, ‘Michael knows what I mean.’ And I know exactly what she meant – to have been there as a child star and to have graduated to have succeeded in making that transition to fame as an adult is very difficult. When you’re a child star people don’t want you to grow up. They want you to stay little forever. They don’t want you to work afterwards. It’s very hard.”

Michael’s story supports the notion that Exposure is neither good nor bad by itself. It suffices to say that because of its neutrality deciding what to expose a subject to, while being underpinned by the desire to reach a certain goal or set of goals, whether at home or at the office, the inherent costs must be taken into account.

 

Fosters Idea Cross Pollination: Exposure is the hotbed for a cross pollination of ideas and can provide the environment for collaboration. Again, looking at Michael Jackson and his relationship with Quincy Jones that brought them awards in their respective careers for hits like Billie Jean, Beat It, We Are the World, Man in the Mirror and Rock with Me as well as The Wedding Party collaboration that produced the most successful film in Nigeria to date last year, one can safely arrive at the conclusion that exposure leading to a cross pollination of ideas led to the successes of these collaborative efforts among other factors.

Urban planners use Exposure too to cross pollinate people of different income strata in order to combat the prevalence of neighbourhoods with concentrated poverty and residential segregation. Using mixed housing developments as a strategy for poverty alleviation, governments are able to influence the individual’s life outcomes through four mechanisms; social interaction between high income and low income residents, role-modelling by higher income residents, social control with high income residents acting as watchdogs as to how the neighbourhood is run and finally, the political clout of the neighbourhood as high income residents will be able to attract better social amenities to the neighbourhood than if the residents were just low income earners.

Improves Decision Making: Exposure improves the quality of decisions made. The underlying assumption is that with more information, we do better as human beings because our choices are expanded from which to make decisions. HR managers implementing a competency framework in a bid to improve the company’s performance by applying human resource more efficiently understand that incorporating learning and development through knowledge sharing, mentoring and paid training systems so that teams feel adequately equipped in decision making is vital.

But not all exposure enhances decision making which is why exposure must as a matter of relevance be underpinned to a goal or set of goals.

In my book, The Code: A Simple Story About Raising Great Women, I present Exposure in a light that parents can use to help their daughters grow up confident and achieve all they dream to become. Engaging our children using this principle must however be underpinned by what we identify as their strengths and not by what our vocational preferences for them are. It should not surprise you that though tennis great Andre Agassi won several titles during his career—largely due to his early exposure to the game by his father, Emmanuel—Agassi hated tennis even though the sport brought him prominence and wealth.

In the foregoing, Exposure is neither right nor wrong. But it certainly always leaves us with many open-ended questions; one of which is: Do I or do I not expose…?

 

 

The Four Ways To Allocate Money

In my book, The Code: A Simple Story About Raising Women, a fictional story embedded with ten principles for parenting girls, I write about the need for mothers to mirror the four ways of allocating money to their daughters so that it becomes ingrained to the point where their financial freedom, self-expression and influence is greatly enhanced. 

And because of the neutrality and universality of these principles, (which is why they are principles in the first place) anybody, business, government or nation can apply them for results. You can get The Code: A Simple Story About Raising Great Women free on Amazon Kindle. (today only)

So dive in with me:

1. Money is first for Investing. Every penny that comes to you must have a portion that you invest. Investing guarantees that you have money in the future to solve problems and live responsibly. One day, you may retire or want to afford yourself something ostentatious. You may want to leave a legacy for your children in form of an inheritance. Investing a portion of your income will help you with this. Have a wealth tax (a fixed percentage of your income) you apply on yourself so that, come what may, you ensure your ‘investment money’ is deducted first because of the future you want to have.

2. Money is next for saving. You save money for the rainy day. And while many may think that planning for emergencies is fine, rainy days could also mean days of opportunity. Have a portion of your money saved to cash in on financial opportunities.

3. Money is then for spending. After you have invested and saved portions of your money, and only then, should you spend on your needs. And this is the tricky part. People are hard wired to spend first because of the general orientation about money. But money should be spent third. 

4. Money is lastly for sharing. There is a stewardship part to how we use money. The  world’s richest man, Bill Gates says, 

‘Money has no utility to me beyond a certain point. It’s utility is in building an organization and the getting the resources out to the world’s poorest.’ 

Sharing with others shows that we understand our connectedness to them; that we are our brother’s keeper and the money we make is a kind of trust from God to help improve ourselves and the world around us.

If you don’t train yourself to handle money like this, financial freedom will be elusive except you get financial miracle. And even at that, you won’t be able to sustain it.

A word of note:

  • Investing creates money for the future
  • Saving creates money for emergencies and taking opportunities
  • Spending meets your needs
  • Sharing creates goodwill

Have a great week!