CareerGrowth, Guest Writer, The Experience Series

How I Employed Faith and Other Tools in Tackling Underemployment as an Immigrant and Secured my Dream Job

Friends, in this post, I have the immense pleasure of bringing on a fellow Christian and a blogger-friend to share her story with us! Mrs. Juliet is an environmentalist. After migrating to Canada with her family a few years ago, she faced the oh-so-familiar challenge of under-employment. In this post, I have invited her to talking to us about some of the principles and tools that she engaged in scaling that hurdle to secure a dream job in her choice career. I have also included some bonus tools and resources at the end, so don’t rush off until you check those out as well. 😉

Exceller: Hellooo Mrs. Juliet, it’s so exciting to have you providing content on The Exceller Blog. You’ve been an inspiration to me, being a blogger yourself, and always actively engaging with our posts. How do you feel about sharing your journey with us?

Mrs. Juliet: It has not been easy sharing my journey because it requires being vulnerable, exposing your shortcomings and all that. I am an open book, but I married a very private man which means, I need wisdom in my writing… I trust God that my journey and process as a Christian will bless fellow Christians like me. As the scripture says, Iron sharpens iron. (Proverb 27:17)

Exceller: Before moving to Canada, you were already well-educated and set up for a promising career. Yet, on relocating, there were a few tools and programs that you explored in order to adapt to the Canadian labour market. Could you tell us about some of those?

Mrs. Juliet: I couldn’t afford paid programs at the time, so I went to immigrant training sessions by some not-for-profit organizations to understand how interviews are conducted. I attended the resume clinics. I also utilized LinkedIn to build relationships and I kept applying to jobs related to my field. I also learned how to write a good cover letter which is very important in my field – the ability to tell your story to align with the organization’s need and how you are the solution they are looking for.

Exceller: For the first several months, you were underemployed and in a field outside your area of expertise. I imagine how discouraging that must have been. What top 2 principles kept you persistent in your job search?

Mrs. Juliet: First principle is in Matthew 7:9-11, I know my “now” is not an accident so that scripture is an assurance that the job suitable and custom-made for me will come. Secondly, I stayed connected to the right people who kept encouraging me.

9“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? 11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Matthew 7:9-11

Exceller: One of the things you kept engaged with before settling into your original career was volunteering. I know that you still serve some of those NGOs. Is this something you would recommend to others in your shoes? If so, why?

Mrs. Juliet: Yes, volunteering is very important. Although, back in Nigeria, it was not something we were taught but I learned from studying in Finland the importance of volunteering. I got my first job with EU for Africa through volunteering at my university back in Finland. All the references I got for my current job were connections made from volunteering and I have met some wonderful people through volunteering.

Exceller: Let’s zone in on one of your principles. What role did your faith in God play in pulling you through that phase?

Mrs. Juliet: My faith in God made me realized that God never fails and even in dark moments, He comes through, and it is always obvious.  I will tell you a little story. I have always been a very impatient person especially when I can get something done myself. I was doing a night job that required us to work as a team and my supervisor was a very stressful one. I was always angry with her. One day we got into serious arguments, and I warned her seriously to the extent that she was so afraid. That night, I remember the Holy Spirit asking me to go and beg her before I can even think of praying but it took me days to obey because I felt cheated.

God takes us through processes to make us better and prepare us for a bigger blessing!

I apologized to her, and she cried, she ended up becoming my friend and over time I was able to talk to her about Christ. Few days later we both changed jobs. Immediately, I felt my assignment on that undervalued job was over. Sometimes, God takes us through some processes to make us better and prepare us for a bigger blessing.

When I felt discouraged, I cried and sang praise, I let myself be expressive, but I did not lose hope. I kept the faith.

Additionally, the community of Christian friends around me has been a tremendous blessing… I was always connecting with friends who prayed with me and encouraged me and spoke positive words over me especially when I had doubts about myself when I got rejections on jobs that I felt I was qualified for.

Exceller: What are some myths/popular opinions that were sold to you, but which your personal experience helped to debunk?

Mrs. Juliet: I had been told that as a black person, getting a job in my field (Climate Change) will be difficult and also, I did not have any prior Canadian experience, neither did I attend a Canadian school, so I was told to forget about searching for jobs in the climate change space in Canada. However, I stopped listening to them and allowed God to lead me. I got a job in my field and also my role is multi-faceted which has empowered me in less than a year! It can only be God. One advantage we have as Christians, is the help of the Holy Spirit to help us make right decisions even at crossroads in our career and not just in the spiritual things.

Exceller: Wow! Thank you so much Mrs. Juliet for sharing your story with us so openly and authentically. Your journey inspired me, and I am sure it’s the same for all the wonderful Exceller_Readers. God bless you immensely, and I am confident that your path will continually shine brighter and more radiantly.

About Mrs. Juliet:

When she is not working at her formal employment, Mrs. Juliet enjoys spending time with family, serving young people and blogging at My Christian Journey. Do well to check out her blog for other inspiring writings.

Editor’s Note:

Tell me, which of the above-mentioned tools or principles resonated most with you? 😊 Was it persistence in faith, resume, cover-letter and interview clinics, professional networking (LinkedIn), volunteering, a supportive Christian community, partnering with the Holy Spirit, or a mix of everything?!

Did you know that there are over 1250 free newcomer services scattered all over the provinces and territories of Canada? You can find the entire list here, as well as narrow your search to career-related services that are closest to your location .

Other “tools” that you may find effective for aiding your transition into the Canadian workforce include:

  • Obtaining the Canadian equivalence of your overseas education,
  • Acquiring internationally recognized professional qualifications that are specific or related to your area of expertise.
  • Learning relevant technical skills that are competitive in your field of endeavour.
  • Developing soft skills that are required in the Canadian work environment. I will suggest that you do not downplay the relevance of soft skills, especially if you are relocating from a culture that has strong language and mannerism. It is necessary to learn to communicate in a way that your colleagues will find familiar, or at the very least, non-revolting. No pressure, though. 😊 We all keep getting better. Last year, I bought a nice, little book from Amazon titled “Canadian Workplace Culture – Mastering the Unspoken Rules.” I haven’t finished reading it yet, but the parts I read were definitely refreshing. 😊

Note that although these tools seem to be specific to the Canadian work environment, readers in other parts of the world will find usefulness in them.

It is interesting how much can be found from a simple internet search with just the right keywords. E.g., “most in-demand IT skills in Sydney.”

Most importantly, I pray that the grace of God will continue to amplify our efforts and open amazing doors for us.

Cheers to breaking glass ceilings, debunking myths, staying the course, and winning together! 🥂

CareerGrowth

Excellence by Association ~ 3

Hi friends, let’s talk briefly about mentorship and informational meetings – two tools that have been known to enhance and accelerate career progression. How do we maximize the value we derive from these?

In Excellence by Association ~ 1, I provided four relevant tips for relating with one’s excellence influencers and associates. Excellence by Association ~ 2 used a simple heat engine to illustrate that we must always be channels of good, and not reservoirs. In other words, lift as you climb. 😉 Remember to pay it forward.

In “Excellence by Association ~ 3”, I will like to provide five tips each for making the most of your mentoring relationships and your informational interviews.

In the past few years, I have actively invested in, and sought out career mentors. I have also participated in a good number of informational interviews. Without mincing words, I can tell you that I have received maximum value from these two forms of association.

Mentorship

According to a blog on World Education Services (WES), mentorship refers to a relationship where the individual with more experience, knowledge, and/or connection (i.e the mentor) passes along what they know to a “junior” person (the mentee) in a specific field. The mentorship relationship is usually intended for a given period of time say, 3 months or 1 year.

  1. Have a goal in mind: It is ALWAYS a good idea to go into a mentoring program with a specific goal in mind. For example, one of the mentorship programs I embarked on was during the time when I was targeting a certain professional certification. I had a set date in mind, and I got a mentor who had already secured that certification some years before. Most of our interactions during the period was centred on the goal. This made it easy to realize the target.
  2. Take ownership: As a mentee, it is your responsibility to show enthusiasm, suggest meeting times and initiate conversations with your mentor. Think of it this way; “This person has a wealth of experience or knowledge that I want to tap into during this mentorship. It is my job to make this happen.”
  3. Ask lots of relevant questions: Since you as the mentee are the driver of the relationship, maximize your communications by asking targeted questions. Ask questions targeted towards your goal. Ask questions related to their career successes and past mistakes. Ask for stories. Ask questions about the path they took to arrive to the heights they have reached. If you ever run out of what to ask, you may consult this Forbes article about “40 Questions to Ask a Mentor” and adapt the question(s) to your unique situation.
  4. Drop any entitlement complex: This should go without saying 😊 but just in case anyone missed the memo, 😉 please note that your mentor is not required to get you your dream job, land you a contract or ensure you pass your examinations. They do everything they do as an act of goodwill and frankly, some of the information or connections they will introduce you to will be invaluable in dollar amounts. Therefore, please do not approach your interactions with an entitlement attitude, or make uncomfortable demands of them. Be consistently pleasant and respectful.
  5. Contribute: Share what you know with your mentor. Whether it be a quote or a personal story, be assured that you also have something valuable to bring to the table. By remaining present and mindful, you may say something that will benefit your mentor themselves!

Informational Interviews

According to an article on the University of California Berkeley website, an informational interview is defined as an informal discussion that you have with someone working in an area of interest to you.

People take part in informational meetings for several reasons including:

  • Their need to go into a new or unfamiliar career field,
  • Seeking to understand the “day in the life” of individuals from a specific profession,
  • Seeking to learn about the various career paths in a field,
  • Research into the current trends and innovations in an area,
  • Seeking to expand one’s professional network, etc.

Before the COVID pandemic struck, it was typical to schedule a chat over coffee with someone for informational meetings but thanks to God because post pandemic, we have all become more adaptable in our modes and media of communication.

Now you may comfortably conduct an informational interview via video-conferencing, by exchanging a thread of emails or even over a phone call! This flexibility enhances the ease and should encourage us to connect more.

Here are a few tips for optimizing your informational meetings:

  1. Use your network to expand your network: A couple of weeks ago, I reached out a friend to find out if she knew someone in a field that I wanted to learn more about. Surprise: She did! A few emails later, she had introduced us, and I had gotten insights into many questions that internet search engines could not have done justice to. Please note that as in the mentorship relationship, please remain respectful in your communications and refrain from making any uncomfortable demands. This will make your colleagues confident to connect you with others in the future.
  2. Conduct a personal mini-research before your meeting: This will help you clarify your thoughts and equip you with more streamlined questions to ask during the discussion.
  3. Ask LOTS of questions: Remember, the purpose of the meeting is to gather high quality information that will assist you in sound decision making. As such, come armed with your arsenal of questions. Ask questions based on your past research. Ask questions, even if you feel they don’t completely make sense. Remember, this person is knowledgeable on the subject. They just might figure out what you are or are not asking.
  4. Take notes: Ever heard the saying that “the faintest pencil is more powerful than the strongest memory?” It is no joke! Come prepared to the meeting with your physical or digital notes-taker. Your memory will thank you later! 😊
  5. Follow up your meetings with a thank-you note: After your session with the interviewee, send an email appreciating them for their time and assistance. Also, you may include about 2 action or summary points you identified during the conversation. It demonstrates that you benefitted from the interaction and it serves as a reminder to you as well.

I hope that this was helpful? What else have you tried in the past with mentors and interviewees? Cheers to more graceful and accelerated career progression. 🙏🏽

Related Posts

Excellence by Association ~ 1 

“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 (NLT) “Great minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds discuss people” – Eleanor Roosevelt “Show me your friend and I will tell you who you are.”    – Wisdom words The people you associate with can greatly influence you for excellence. …

Excellence by Association ~ 2 

I took some time to read the story of the Wright Brothers, Wilbur and Orville who are acclaimed to have designed and piloted the first aircraft. Such a beautiful story. None of these two brothers finished from high school. Wilbur suffered from depression after a hockey accident that he was involved in. But behind closed…

CareerGrowth

Managing Effective Communication in Project Teams

Communication is the lifeline of any and every kind of relationship. It is said that project managers spend about 90% of their time on any project communicating. Yea, you read that right - 90%. This goes without saying that the quality of communication that a person coordinates while on a project can determine if the project will succeed or fail. In this post, Mrs. Uchendu will address some common challenges to effective project communication within project teams, as well as recommend best practices.

Could you highlight some of the common obstacles you experienced while managing project communications and how they were tackled?

  1. Project team reporting to functional managers – We work in an environment that consists of project team members that have project duties (Project Manager) and day to day (Functional Manager) duties. Ensuring that all project related items are communicated to the Project Manager and not the functional Manager is one of the major challenges that had to be addressed. This caused false task approvals and information not being clearly communicated to the project team. In order to amend the issue, we implemented a reporting system that clearly identified to the project team members when and to whom they needed to report.

  1. Team members having “side discussions” – When team members are working together on tasks and not sharing the outcome of their work, preferring to work in silos. This caused confusion on what was completed and what was still outstanding. Simple remedy to this is implementing a rule that if it’s not written and communicated to the project team then it was considered to not have happened.

If a work is not communicated to the project team, it is considered undone.

  1. Team members located across the country – Limited methods of communication are available and ensuring communication was received clearly was an issue. There was the need to have more follow up meetings to ensure the message was received. Detailed meeting minutes with action items helped, as well as more touch point sessions to relay the message more than once.

  1. Communication timing, time difference between project team members – Due to team members being located across the country, we had an issue with communications not being received or returned in what we felt was a timely fashion. The first step was to establish core working times, meaning when everyone was available. Then we needed to make sure that not only the information was communicated, but the expected reply time was also part of the communication.

  1. Clearly communicating requirements – Long winded emails that tend to dance around the point and the message or action of the receiver was not clearly understood. In order to remedy this, we needed to set some common practices amongst the team to be more direct in our communication and when assigning tasks. For instance, you could give the explanation of what you would like to communicate and then assign the task to who you’d like to execute it (Example @John, please review the document attached and provide feedback on the action plan in Chapter 6).

Others include:

  1. Assumptions – People making assumption and acting on it instead of opening up for discussion and seeking feedback or validation of their assumptions.

  1. Lack of ownership – People not taking ownership over their part of the project which in turn affected their communication style.

What strategies did you find useful for effective project communication?

  • Daily stand-up meetings for agile projects, or regular status synch up meetings.
  • Using collaborative tools like JIRA, Trello
  • Including the core project team members (Project Manager, Design Authority and Functional Lead) on all communications that pertained to the project. Setting up the core team and setting the standard that all communication requires their inclusion from the beginning. This will set up the common practice throughout the lifecycle of the project and will ensure that no information is missed.
  • Using one centralized location for maintaining all records of business value. Most organizations will have similar tools for communicating and maintaining records of communication. This allows for a centralized location for all information that the project team requires throughout the project.
  • Establishing the preferred method of communication. This often depends on the organization; and all other communication through other methods should be re-communicated through the agreed method.
  • Regular project sub-team meetings – This allowed for a more personal form of communication and discussed topics that needed a more efficient way of diving deeper into the topic. For instance, weekly meetings also allowed for us to communicate more effectively through non-verbal forms to help differentiate between urgent and non-urgent topics.

Get to know your team’s preferred method of communication.

What best practices would you recommend for managing project communications?

  1. Get to know your team’s preferred method of communication before establishing the forms of communication you would like to use. For example, some team members will be more comfortable in a face to face meeting than others and some team members will be able to communicate more clearly in written form. Understand what you’re working with and then set the boundaries of how you’re going to implement a Communications Management Plan.
  2. Do not be afraid to change the plan throughout the lifecycle of the project. Some plans will have some issues and will need to be changed to match the preferred method of the team or what the situation calls for.
  3. Ensure all factors are accounted for when developing your communications plan (social, logistics, language, culture, etc.)
  4. Identify opportunities for stakeholders to be proactive and ask them to follow up on action items closer to deadline.
  5. Promote a culture that embraces failures as learning opportunities instead of a reason to stop developing.
  6. Set clear expectations and have regular review of them with stakeholders.
  7. Ask questions.

Adapt your communications plan as required, throughout the lifecycle of your project.

Closing thoughts.

The #1 goal of your communication plan is to ensure the right information is communicated at the right time to the right people. Ensure all forms of communication meet this objective.

C. Uchendu
  1. Ensure your plan has flexibility, establish a baseline plan and communicate that to the team, but also keep an eye on the natural communication methods of your team and adapt the plan accordingly.
  1. Corporate culture will drive your project communications. Sometimes you need to change the culture if you want to improve your project communications.

Mrs. Uchendu is a certified project management professional and a program manager at one of Canada’s government corporations. She enjoys spending time with family, and treating herself to a nice movie during her leisure.

CareerGrowth

Notes from “Dare to Lead” by Brené Brown

Dare to Lead is a thought-provoking and relevant book. In it, the author expounds on what she describes as “Daring Leadership” – a style of leading that challenges status-quo, leverages on the contribution and diversity of team members, and requires the leader to be courageous enough to demonstrate vulnerability and human authenticity with colleagues.

The book is more than a leadership book. There is something in it about public speaking, managing “universal” emotions like fear and shame, self-leadership and project management.

This post is not a summary of the book. It is a few of the points that resonated with me while I went through the book. I hope you find them interesting as well.

When you face an audience, think “people, people, people.”

They are only people, typical humans. This will be helpful when one feels nervous before a speech or a presentation.

#publicSpeaking

“The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing. It’s about the courage to show up when you can’t predict or control the outcome.” – Brené Brown

I once heard that showing up, just showing up is a major step in the right direction.

Brave leaders encourage culture. #diversity

Brené Brown

Feeling fear is not the problem. A true obstacle to great leadership is how we respond to our fears.

Power is the ability to achieve purpose and effect change.

M.L.K. Junior

Once everyone understands their value, we will all stop hustling for worthiness and lean into our gifts.

BrenÉ brown

“Paint done.”

Tell with specificity what you want accomplished. “Painting done” opens to creativity and suggestions from others. It reduces wasted time and frustration.

The next time your manager gives you an ambiguous task, ask them to paint done. You will be surprised by what you will discover.

Cultivate and promote a culture of rest and balance.

There is nothing pretty about burnouts or over-crowded schedules.

I hope that you have an excellent week ahead! ✌🏽💛 😊

CareerGrowth

Lean In – Women, Work and The Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg (Book Review)

Hi friends!

I was at a career seminar a while ago when the speaker highly recommended Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg. I finally got to read the book, and I have to say that it totally lives up to the hype! 💃🏽💃🏽

The book is thought-provoking, educative, informational and at the same time, quite honest and vulnerable. Throughout the book, Sheryl manages to combine personal stories from her winding career journey, with research – based facts.

I loved it! 🔥

Spoiler alert – This post contains some noteworthy quotes from the book but the intent is that they whet your appetite enough to go grab Lean In and read it all!

In the book, the author advocates for women to take their place in the workplace and particularly in leadership positions. She applauds the ongoing fight against institutional and external barriers that prevent women from taking chances, advancing and leading at an equal pace with their male counterparts. However, she also recommends that women must tackle the internal barriers to their progress – all the ways that we usually hold ourselves back.

It is a call to stop leaning back, but rather to lean in!

I do not agree with everything said in the book. For instance, I am not a fan of constantly and completely comparing women with men, when we know that both genders are physiologically, biologically and otherwise different. But I stand with the writer in saying that those differences should be the very reasons for we all to stay compassionate and proactive in helping women overcome the barriers to their upward movement in the work environment, because we need them at the top!

Eight career tips you can garner from the book:

I mean, who better to take career advice from, other than a woman who was once the Chief of Staff at the US Secretary of the Treasury, a Vice President at Google and now the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook? 😮💃🏽🎊

Career choices: Sheryl recommends that one should prioritizes opportunities that afford potentials for growth above job titles one might prefer. For instance, when companies grow quickly, they tend to have opportunities that can expose one to more responsibilities as the company may not have enough hands to do the work. Also, staying too long in the same department or organization causes a form of inertia. In order to prepare for leadership, one must actively pursue different experiences.

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.” Ladders only allow vertically translational movement—it is either people are moving up or they are going down. With jungle gyms, there is a lot of room for “creative exploration”. This is great news especially for women who find themselves at different points starting or switching careers, tackling external barriers or rejoining the workforce after taking time off.

“Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.”

Sheryl Sandberg

Growth: Our advancement requires both focus and flexibility and for this, the writer advises adopting two concurrent goals: a long-term dream (the big picture) and an eighteen-month plan. She shares that she tries to set more personal goals like learning new skills in the next few months.

“In many cases, women need to be more open to taking risks in their careers.”

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

Owning one’s success is key to achieving more success. Professional advancement relies on the value that people perceive that the employee delivers. She alludes that men generally feel more comfortably with claiming credit for what they do. But for women, sometimes, taking credit can be really costly yet it is necessary.

“Sit at the Table!”

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

Mentorship: Although mentorship & sponsorship have been greatly emphasized in recent years, the writer informed that asking someone you rarely know to become your mentor is awkward. (Who else found this point quite table-shattering? 😁🤭) She opines that pursuing such connection with a near-stranger hardly ever succeeds. According to research, mentors choose protégés based on potential and performance. They select people intuitively, and will usually only continue as the mentees maximize the opportunity, keep up growth efforts and stay respectful of their time. Sometimes, this basic professional relationship progresses into friendship.

“If you want to change things, you can’t please everyone. If you do please everyone, you aren’t making enough progress.”

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

Criticism: Sheryl quoted Arianna Huffington, founder of The Huffington Post, who stated that learning to withstand criticism is a necessity for women. Sheryl confided that she wishes I were strong enough to ignore what others say, but experience tells her that she often can’t. (I know what you mean, mamma! 😢) Allowing herself to feel upset or very upset, and then moving on is the best she can do. (I totally relate!)

Taking career breaks for maternity, the author states that she has observed that women sometimes refuse job opportunities or stall their career progress because they envisage that they may have a baby in the coming months or years. She argues that “the time to scale back is when a break is needed or when a child arrives… The months and years leading up to having children are not the time to lean back, but the critical time to lean in.”

Women must support and validate other women! “Mothers who work outside the home should regard mothers who work inside the home as real workers. And mothers who work inside the home should be equally respectful of those choosing another option.” I did not bother to rephrase the last 2 sentences because…they simply looked perfect and I couldn’t bring myself to alter those lines! A shout 🔊 out to all the men who support and encourage the women in their lives – you guys are the real deal!

Women must support and validate other women. Men should support women as well.

Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

Hey, do you all know what it means to be “relentlessly pleasant,” how to “combine niceness with insistence”? Apparently, it is yet another skill that female leaders need under their belt. I will let you read the book to get all the juice! 😜

Good news! The narrative is changing. I mean, there is still work to be done with supporting and promoting women in the workforce, but guess what? In the last several months, most of my bosses have been women. One time, my boss, my boss’s boss and my boss’s boss’s boss 😊…up to the highest level were women. Plus, I see several examples of successful women around including my very own mother 🥰 who built a successful business while raising her children in partnership with her husband. How inspiring! 🙌🏽

Until next time, this is me choosing to lean in, to show up, and to keep faith. We move!🚶🏾‍♀️✌🏽

CareerGrowth

How They Started – Innovative Nigerian Brands (Excerpts)

Onyekach Ogbon 20160425_022317

Editor’s Note: Remember Mr Kachi Ogbonna that recently did a post here on Excellerblog titled Awaken The Genius In You! ? His book, How They Started: INNOVATIVE NIGERIAN BRANDS has finally been unleashed! Below are excerpts from the book which he has compiled as an appreciation to the general public of which you and I are a privileged part. 😃 Do enjoy and be inspired. Don’t forget to share…

For all the support I received from the general public while writing the book HOW THEY STARTED:INNOVATIVE NIGERIAN BRANDS, I consider it necessary to give out part of the crucial lessons free of charge as a “thank you” to all. Read and share with others, you never can tell who it will inspire to greater height.

Not until I sat down with the founders of these Innovative brands in those exclusive and extensive interview sessions I never knew that:

Though Aliko Dangote is today one of the richest black men on planet earth, it took him 30 years of hard work and consistent effort to make the first billion.

LESSON: Success doesn’t come over night, you must work hard and be patient for the result to manifest.
DO YOU KNOW? that you will learn a lesson from what I call “the discipline of a billionaire” when you find out why Dangote doesn’t always fly his private jet to China for all his business trips despite being the richest man in Africa. On so many occasions he will just go to the airport and join Emirates.

2. Innocent Ifediaso couldn’t pass his entrance examination to join his mates to the University. He then resorted to trading. Today he owns the Innoson Group of Companies which includes IVM – the innovation behind the Made-in-Nigeria cars we have today.

LESSON: There is a genius in every one of us but it doesn’t necessarily have to be  in the same field. That you ‘failed’ in one field doesn’t mean that you are not good enough. In fact I have come to understand that failing an exam is not the same thing as being a failure. Don’t give in to that temptation of believing that you are a “good for nothing fellow”.
DO YOU KNOW? that today Innoson employs over 7,200 Nigerians in his company? If Innoson can do this, who said you can’t?

3. Nnamdi Ezeigbo graduated with “a comfortable” 2.1 as an engineer, but for 2 years he searched and roamed the cities in search of job without success. Nnamdi told us that he never ever dreamt of being an entrepreneur. But it happened that his certificate had “failed” him and he needed to approach life differently. He stopped looking for job and started looking for how to render services (he didn’t even have any money to start with). From being a jobless man who was just rendering services to people, Nnamdi is the founder/CEO of SLOT Systems which now employs nearly 600 staff in over 50 different outlets across the country.

LESSON: Don’t be deceived by your university certificate, your destiny is not tied to it. As good as it may be, no body said you will amount to nothing without it. Instead commit to lifelong learning process and be eager to serve whenever the opportunity present itself.
DO YOU KNOW? that Nnamdi didn’t start with sales of mobile phones, but today SLOT is known as the number one phone shop in Nigeria.

4. Cosmas Maduka told us of how his father died while he was just 4 years old, he ended his school at Primary 3, his boss whom he served for 7 years sacked him with only 200 Naira at age 14, today he has turned 200 naira to over 500 million dollars, as he runs the
Coscharis Group.

LESSON: None of us had a chance of choosing what family we were born into (rich or poor), but every one of us can choose what we want to become in life. Will you stop blaming your background and your bad luck and determine to take charge of your future today? No matter how bad you think your background maybe, there is something God has put in your hand, if only you can decide to use it today.
DO YOU KNOW? that Cosmas Maduka is today among the top 7 richest men in Nigeria? The fact that you finished secondary school means you already have a better start than him, so what is your excuse?

5. Do you know there (probably) could have been nothing like Tantalizers today if Unilevers had not sacked Bose Ayeni after 11 years in their service? She reflected on the experience during the interview session and told me, “Kachi, honestly I was disappointed because I was neither expecting it nor did I consider it fair, but I was not going to cry over spilt milk, I needed to move ahead and find a way to survive”. Find out what she did to build the Tantalizers that today employs over 1250 staff across the country.

LESSON: Seek to keep your job as much as possible, but if the unexpected (and the inevitable)happens (and you lose your job) it is never a time to commit suicide, it is not the end of the world for you, it could just be a time to discover your real self.

I think more than any other time in the history of Nigeria, we just need this book. The fall in the price of oil has made thousands of people to lose their jobs when they least expected it. Millions of graduates simply can’t get a job that will pay them as much as 40,000 Naira (and you only need to reflect on how much was borrowed to pay the now exorbitant fees while in school) 3 years after graduation. I know of students that are now in their 400 levels in writing JAMB, they are still optimistic they will get admission some day (sincerely I admire their courage, unrelenting spirit, and unwillingness to give up their pursuit of university education).

I don’t know exactly what you are passing through right now, I don’t know if you are about to give up, maybe you believe your parents, your uncles, your church, Nigerian government have not done enough to help you(maybe you are right). But friends can I tell you that nobody owes you anything. You are not permitted to leave your life to chance, it is not too late to start today. You can still become anything you want to become in life.
Time will fail me to talk about Speedmeals, Jobberman, Jumia, Omatek, Zinox, iRokotv, HealthPlus etc. But you certainly will get all the details in the book.

Let the stories of these 25 exemplary Nigerians encourage and inspire you today.
HOW THEY STARTED: INNOVATIVE NIGERIAN BRANDS is for you, ask for your copy today. You can also empower as many young people as possible with copies.

And as a young person, should you need a mentor, a coach or to network with other budding and established entrepreneurs who can show you how to start, guide you through each stage and lift you when you are falling feel free to reach out to us today.

If you share this post among your network, chances are high it will inspire a youth out there who is about giving up to build the next GLOBAL BRANDS.

Kachi Ogbonna is an Entrepreneurship/Youth Consultant. He is a value-driven young man very passionate about Nigerian youths becoming all that God has destined them to be. He helps to grow so many start-ups. You can reach him by clicking on the link http://www.how-they-started.strikingly.com