The Measure of Intelligence, Redeeming Nigeria from Moral Precipice and the place of Public Policy

Intelligence is often measured by way of standardized IQ tests which in a sense, is parochial. I bring up this argument in my recently published book, The Code: A Simple Story about Raising Great Women. And while I broach the subject of how we measure intelligence from a broader perspective; as a means truly understanding the strengths of our girl-children in order to harness it, my underlying premise aligns with the popular quote, often attributed to Albert Einstein which says:

‘Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.’

How true! In my book, I devote a chapter to the eight original intelligences as described by Harvard professor, Howard Gardener in his book, Frames of Mind, adapting them to parenting; how moms and dads share the responsibility of understanding which of the eight their children have high quotients in, as means of helping these kids develop until they reach some sort of genius.

The eight intelligences, more popularly referred to as the Theory of Multiple Intelligence include;
· Linguistic intelligence (word smartness)

· Logical-mathematical intelligence (number/reasoning smartness)

· Spatial intelligence (picture smartness)

· Bodily-Kinaesthetic intelligence (body smartness)

· Musical intelligence (music smartness)

· Interpersonal intelligence (people smartness)

· Intrapersonal intelligence (self-smartness)

· Naturalist intelligence (nature smartness)

If you look very closely at the quick definitions I put in parenthesis beside the eight intelligences, you may agree with me as to the veracity of my argument. Simply put, people are smart differently and standardizing the measure of intelligence in for of IQ tests is nothing short of an anomaly. We just aren’t smart the same way. Some people are word smart and others are music smart. Even music maestro, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti alluded in part to this phenomenon when he said;

‘Book sense different from belle sense’

That said, I have been studying a rare form of intelligence, called Moral Intelligence; a smartness of right from wrong. And while this article makes no judgement as to political views or religious leanings, a recent piece of legislation regarding granting amnesty to economic saboteurs in Nigeria perturbed me into writing this piece and raises the question as to whether there are morally intelligent people in the country’s political leadership.

As with all intelligences, I hypothesize that moral intelligence is both inborn and can be honed. And that in creating a society that is morally intelligent, the government, by way of its education and national orientation policies can emphasize moral instruction as a means of improving the overall moral intelligence average of the country.
Without doubt, some people are morally smarter, without the input of any religious or moral instruction while others aren’t. We have all come across the truthful hedonist or the degenerate religious leader who fails to practice what he preaches. The multi-dimenionslism of human beings speak to one thing: People can in character lead double live based on their moral smartness. And so policy makers, in public and private sectors, have the onus of looking for ways of measuring and funneling  the moral intelligent  into leadership…by way of robust human capital development policy.

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Start a Business

From time to time during the year, and in many of my posts, I have broached the subject of wealth accumulation from the viewpoint of a passerby. But as I work with more and more people, I see the need to be a little in your face, particularly if you live in a country with a high unemployment rate and you cannot seem to find yourself a job.

From a very rational standpoint, I do not think it makes sense to keep looking for a job five years after you have left school in a country where because of a lack of entrepreneurial ingenuity, it’s so difficult to find work. 

From the perspective of a social worker, I am peeved by how young people unable to find work, spend countless hours skimming and angling to find one rather than engaging in the process of creating a job for themselves and others.

The time and energy spent in creating and recreating a CV could be invested in looking for how to meet needs around you. 

See, success …real success…is discovering a human need and reaching out to meet that need. 

Rather than look for a job that is elusive, start looking out for needs. The first place to start, is  with yourself. What are the basic needs or problems you have? And what are the similar needs and problems that others around you encounter in the course of their day? 

Needs are the seeds of opportunity. Find a need and make it a duty to meet it in exchange for financial reward.

Stop looking for a job. Start a business!

Think 120 Years


As a person of faith, I am often pressed to share thoughts from the Bible I think beneficial to my readers.

But before I dive in today, I have a question:

How long are people supposed to live for? What’s is the typical lifespan of human beings across the world?

Now, if we go by the 2015 estimates of life expectancy by country, Monaco, Japan, Singapore and Macau all follow each other in quick succession with Monaco at 89.59 years and Macau at 84.51.

Arguably, people in these parts of the world live long compared to the last 40 countries on the life expectancy list, (38 of which-by the way-are African) but not long enough if we look at it from the perspective of Bible. 

You see, I came across a portion in the Bible today that says, God ordained human beings to live a minimum of 120 years and while I was 

But the problem is, many people have been socialized to think that 70 to 80 years is the standard length of human life. 

My findings traced the origin of this thinking back to the same book, the Bible; to the tenth verse of the ninetieth chapter of the Book of Psalms. And while I found much of its import was taken out of context to arrive at the conclusion that man’s days are 70 years or at best, 80 years on the earth, my findings linked this phenomenon to poor nutrition and poor lifestyle habits as well as how we are socialized to think of our time here on earth.

The latter is why I put up this post. Imagine that before Roger Bannister came along, no human had run a mile under four minutes until 6 May 1954. But in just 46 days afterwards, Bannister’s record was shattered. One after the other, we have come to be accustomed with the sub-four-minute miler in our culture.

And I am saying that life expectancy should be this way too. Thinking about living to 120 years can quickly change your perspective about yourself, what you can accomplish, your diet and wait for it…how young you are now!

And if you were wondering where in the Bible it says, 120 years, get one and turn to the third verse of the sixth chapter of the Book of Genesis.

No matter how old you think you are…you are young…

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…?

 

 

7 Questions You Need To Answer Before You Start That Business

I recently read a book, Zero to One by Blake Masters and Peter Thiel, recommended to me by an article on Inc.com. And having written my first book, partly as a commercial venture to revive my online bookstore start-up—which had failed twice—I could quickly see why I needed to pivot back into retail but not without a new perspective as to how to make it work.

book-zero-to-one-1024x1024

In the book, the authors broached the subject of affirmatively answering seven questions without which a business was prone to failure, no matter what.

Here are the seven:

The Engineering Question
Can you create a breakthrough solution or technology? Not just an incremental improvement but something out of the ordinary that is useful and needed. Uber for instance, answers this question in the affirmative. Maybe, you might consider creating an Uber type business for dispatch riders that allows companies to order nearby dispatch riders and mail stuff on a just-in-time basis without having to wait till the next business day.

The Timing Question
Is this the right time to launch your product? Many dot.com companies in Nigeria before 2007 would have faced payment gateway problems coupled with the fact that the cashless policy was not even in place at the time to support online payment processing in the country.

The Monopoly Question
This book devotes a lot of time to explaining why establishing a monopoly is good. The world’s biggest brands often operate as monopolies because while the typical economic theorist would debate that competition is the best market structure, competition things out profits. As an entrepreneur can your solution be 10 times better than your closest rival company? For instance, Google controls 64% of the search engine market while closest rivals Bing and Yahoo are 21% and 13% respectively leaving the remaining 2% to other search engines. The issue here’s not whether you have a great product but whether your company can dominate your market.

The People Question
Can you assemble the right team to execute your mission as a business? A great company should be somewhere between a cult and management consultancy. By this, a great company should have the cohesion and convictions of a cult and at the same time have the versatility and competence of a management consultant firm. You will agree that in Nigeria, very few companies answer this question well. Perhaps Access Bank does but for me America Company, Space X with its nearly 3000 strong workforce mirrors the ideal answer to the People Question. The Space X team with its closely-knitted work style and Spartan efficiency equates itself to the elite US military Special Forces.

The Distribution Question

My start-up still struggles with this question. And the point here is that having a great product without a great distribution mechanism is equivalent to having a bad business. Sales are as important as the products you create. And to cap it all up, people are least likely to buy from you if they don’t even know your product even exists. The Distribution question demands you are in touch with the flow of your product from your factory/lab to the final end users.

The Durability Question
Is your market share defensible? I mean, is your business so replicable that another company can encroach and even steal your market share from under your company but simply copying and bettering what you offer. An example of a company that answers the Durability Question is Linda Ikeji’s Blog. While blogging has an easy entry, stealing market share from ‘Aunty Linda’ as many call her may be impossible. The only problem an LIB may have eventually is if the company continues to operate as a sole proprietorship, in which its existence is ties to that of its owner.

The Secret Question

No matter how Pepsi and Virgin try, the Coca-Cola recipe will always be the secret and undue advantage of the Coca-Cola Company. Phone retailer, Slot leveraged on bank loans and buying low priced phones at the beginning of the boom in the Cellular phone market in the early 2000s to establish its leadership of the market in Nigeria. By the end of that decade, Slot had pivoted to franchising when other competitors were beginning to latch on to more market share in that space and continues to maintain a good share of the market, even today. So the question remains: What is the undue advantage your business has over others in your space? Is it access to capital? Or is it customers like Linda Ikeji’s blog boasts of?

Every business that is successful is monopolistic in nature. And monopolies are about keeping your secrets secret.

Scoring time

So it’s time to score your Start-up venture. And the rule of thumb is that you would more likely succeed at your venture if your product/company can answer—in the affirmative—at  least 5 of the 7 Zero to One questions.

Otherwise, failure is inevitable whatever you do and you might as well abandon ship now and save you and your company the debts and frustrations that will inevitably pile up.

If like me, you have tried before and failed at some entrepreneurial venture or ventures, you’d have learnt that being brutally honest with yourself is better than pursuing a start-up that at best, only scaled four of these questions. DO NOT DO IT!

If you are to succeed, you must have at least six or seven answers to these questions in your kitty. Otherwise let me say it again: DO NOT DO IT!

Zero to One will be available on Stuffsilos.com in the coming week. Order your copy after subscribing to our website

Have a great day!

 

Stories of My Fatherland: The Chronicles of Chief Justice Adetokunbo Ademola

Justice-Ademola.-First-indigenous-CJF-1

Courtesy of Naijapot.com

If you have ever been to Victoria Island in Lagos, or to Wuse in Abuja, it is almost certain that you would have lavishly found some many semblances between both locations in their respective cities. Dotted by prime housing, banks, eateries and shopping malls, Victoria Island and Wuse share deeper commonality- major roads named after one Adetokunbo Ademola.

As a matter of fact, Sir Adetokunbo Ademola was Nigeria’s first indigeous Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Nigeria. Born in Abeokuta on February 1, 1906 to the prominent Oba Ladapo Ademola II, the Alake of Egbaland, Adetokunbo was tutored at St. Gregory’s College, Obalende and King’s College, Lagos. Having rebelled against his father’s wishes of becoming a medical doctor, he went on to study law at the University of Cambridge from 1928 to 1931 and was called to bar at Middle Temple in London in 1934 – the first African ever to achieve such a feat at the Bencher’s Inn.

Young Prince Ademola returned to Nigeria in 1934 to pursue a career in law working first as a crown counsel at the Attorney General’s Office and later, as an assistant secretary in the southern secretariat in Enugu, Eastern Nigeria.

Adetokunbo Ademola practised law from 1936 till 1939 when he was called to the bench as a Magistrate of the protectorate court. In 1949, He became the third Nigerian ever to be appointed a Puisne Judge. Upon the granting of autonomy to Western Nigeria; Sir Adetokunbo Ademola became the first Chief Justice of Western Nigeria in 1955 thus becoming the first indigene to head a judiciary in pre-independence Nigeria.

With the imminence of an Independent Nigeria, Sir Ademola was again appointed the first Chief Justice of the Federation in 1958. He was knighted by the Queen of England in 1957 and conferred with the national honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger in 1958.

Worthy of note was Sir Ademola’s extremely influential role in keeping Nigeria from disintegration at the coups of 1966. After the counter-coup that ousted Aguiyi Ironsi, an Igbo Military Head of State, Gowon and his colleagues had thought to secede from Nigeria on the grounds that “the basis for Nigerian unity was not there.” What had not been told was that Ademola and the British High Commissioner had saved Gowon and Nigeria from the mistake of balkanisation by meeting with the northern leaders and successfully arguing that since the Northeners had taken political control and were now in government; they had no reason to leave Nigeria; the result being that the northerners stayed in Nigeria.

Chief Justice Adetokunbo Ademola served on several advisory boards and international committees including the United Nations International Public Service Advisory Board, the International Commission of Jurist and the International Olympic Committee among others. A Hall at the Nigerian Law School was also named in his honour. 

Sir Adetokunbo Ademola died on 29 January 1993 aged 86.

So when next you drive on a major road named after Sir Adetokunbo Ademola,  I guess it might make more meaning to you that there once lived a Nigerian who believed and laboured for a Nigerian unity that should even mean more to us today.

A Tribute To Papa Wemba (14 June 1949 – 24 April 2016)

 

papa-wemba

I remember listening to Jules Shungu Wembadio Pene Kikumba as a little boy. He was Papa Wemba and all of Africa should be proud of this African maestro who showcased the continent’s rich culture during his time on earth.

I will always remember this Congolese- born musician for hits like Yolele and So Why which he did with fellow Maestros Youssou N’Dour, Lagbaja, jabu Khayile, Lucky Dube and Bayete-Lordes

Papa Wemba died today of a cardias arrest after the stage on which he was performing collapsed in Cote d’Ivoire.

Africa has lost another son to our cultural careless but God knows best. I can hear the wails from Congo tonight. And we in Nigeria mourn with you.

Wake up Africa…Adieu to the King of Rhumba Rock!

You are missed…