5 things you don’t know about Nigerian ATMs

Just a few years ago, we practically begged people to use ATMs instead of queuing up at the banking counters but at least that has changed. But then the change came with friends, family and other random people asking me random questions why they can’t brew a nice cup of coffee at the ATM.

Some of the oddities are explained here.

Why doesn’t the ATM retract cash?

If you forget to take your cash abroad (places where the snow falls in January) the ATM simply takes it back and then reverses the amount. Sounds convenient and nifty for forgetful souls like me.

Why doesn’t it do that in Nigeria?

Well it started that way until some dudes figured out that they could take out a bit of the cash and trick the ATM to withdraw everything back, crediting the full amount.

Warri no dey carry last!

Why doesn’t the ATM accept cash?

I remember walking into a NatWest Bank when I was in school and feeling funky with myself, deposited some scraggy notes into the ATM instead of bothering with the dour looking cashier. It went smoothly and I got my credit almost immediately.

Some random banks tried it in Nigeria but the experiment reminded me of Icarus. Icarus thought he could fly, strapped on some wings and jumped. It was his last jump.

Cash accepting ATMs have to count the cash, scan the notes and determine the currency by staring at it. Unfortunately the cash notes in Nigeria have been to more places than I could safely describe on the Internet without getting my HR to invite me for a serious conversation. NSFW!

The ATMs choked on the cash and the experiments went south. Simply put, we mangle our cash in Nigeria and no ATM made of man has been able to overcome that. A few banks are still struggling with these devices but I know as long as we still roll up our notes, write things on them like jotters or stuff them inside sostén then cash accepting ATMs will never work.

Why do I have to input my PIN for another transaction even when I haven’t removed my card?

There is something funny that happens in countries like Nigeria where you need lots of notes from the ATMs for even the simplest purchase. In the US, usually maximum withdrawal is $300 and nobody apart from Nigerians take that much cash.

Equivalent of that amount here is N84,000, that depends on who you ask though. Since ATM cannot just open its guts for you to point and select your cash, it can only push out at most 40 notes. So an average transaction in Nigeria needs multiple withdrawals.

What if you forget your card and it doesn’t require PIN for the next transactions? Actually that’s the way it was and suddenly forgetful people, who have taken their cash and gone, are separated from the rest of the money in their accounts by the next dude on the queue.

Their wailing and gnashing of teeth made banks to reconfigure the terminals. The wailing stopped but not the gnashing of teeth.

Why does the ATM have blue background and yellow text by default?

The engineers who configured the first set of ATMs in Nigeria have no taste. Next!

Fortunately some banks have since seen the light and have gone on to do graphical interface designs. Nothing impressive at this time though. One of these days when I have less to do, I may wander around comparing screens.

Who is the girl that talks on the ATM?

I don’t know her! I swear, she ain’t my cousin.

While she loves to say “Thank you for banking with us”, I know she’s saying exactly the same at other banks; she’s probably promiscuous and has no loyalty.

Nota Bene

You can ask me other random question on anything you want to know about ATMs and I will do my best to answer them. I’m not an expert so don’t scream blue murder if I try to pull the wool over your eyes.

The Body Count Conundrum

Everyone wants someone who’s got experience and can do a lot of amazing things, but then we don’t want someone who’s been around everywhere and will probably leave in a jiffy, stomping out into the late evening. To find that perfect balance is more of an art than anything else.

Wait, what do you think I was talking about?

Recently I helped a friend review a resume for a vacancy. It was quite impressive; and having spoken to the candidate previously, I was half assured of the quality. But, the resume said a bit more than the exciting background – candidate has worked at five different companies but never spent more than 2 years at any of them.

The person recruiting wanted a solid performer. But most importantly someone he could build a team around – someone who would stay for a decent number of years. For those of us out there who know the pain of building a good team, stability is as important as skills.

My friend never followed up on the lead as he was very concerned about the candidate’s stability on the job. I have seen this play out many times over.

Is it right to judge someone based on the number of places they have worked?

Experience is key but too much of everything is bad
When recruiting experienced hires, recruiters welcome diversity as we believe, sometimes erroneously though, that if you have been around, you probably have learned a number of important contexts which should bring the richness of your experience to bear.

However, if you have worked in too many places and it seems you frequently change jobs, then we are very worried you won’t stay long in the new role, fracturing the team and making a mess, especially if you are senior and lead a large team.

Think before you resign
Forget what you read on the Internet, including this one – every job will be annoying at one time or the other. The grass is greener on the other side, until you scale the fence and discover it was just an optical illusion.

Careers, just like relationships, aren’t inconsequential to get into – the history stays with you for a very long time.

Therefore, don’t leave your job on a whim or because your boss pissed you off, or because you missed that promotion. Unless there is a threat to your life, stay until you find a solid career move worth the hassle and increase in body count.

When you leave a job too fast or too soon, your resume stops talking about your experience but about your person. Recruiters and others start to think you have a commitmentphobia, can’t work in a team, get bored easily like a teenager or some other random problems. We are probably wrong about you, but the bad part is we won’t even discuss it with you; we just form a bias in our little minds and move on.

Don’t hate us, we have a mountain of resumes and LinkedIn profiles to wade through with not enough time pull a Sherlock Holmes.

Spin out the positives
When you finally get to have a chat about a new role and you have a career record longer than a street whore, you can still spin a positive tale around it.

Always have a good story to say about each place you have worked. When you say nice things about others, it makes people think highly of you, feel you are a team player and a grateful soul. Even if you aren’t any of this, stick to the script.

There is a limit to this though, if your ex-company was involved in salacious things, just say you had a good time but would rather not discuss what happened as many of the things you know are confidential. When you don’t run your mouth at interviews, we believe that you will keep our own secrets if you are brought on board.

Talk about the diversity of experience and how it has made you a more rounded person with a world-view…whatever that means. After all an interview is more like a solo theatrics performance.

Talk about other areas of your life that has been stable so nobody thinks you are a rocket on a mission. For example, you could talk about how you have been using the same dry cleaners for 150 years or that you love your old perfume.

Okay, so now that I’ve told you about why you should stay loyal, what’s your body count?

The stone the builders rejected – RIP Mohammed Ali

As a kid, I used to have a t-shirt with Mohammed Ali on it and I loved it so much until my rotund stomach couldn’t fit in anymore.

Growing up, I was regaled with different stories of Ali by my grandmother who felt there wasn’t any greater boxer than he was. Even when Mike Tyson came on the scene, his erratic behaviors ensured that he never amounted to anything important with my grandmother. I’m happy he’s cleaned up though.

But Ali wasn’t always the greatest. He was hated by his country and his life made miserable just because he wouldn’t want to be drafted into a war that is ranked as one of the worst ever. He fought for his conviction much more than he fought in the rings.

The lessons from him are very simple:

Never give up on your conviction even when it’s not popular.

If you are good in what you do, the world will come around to appreciate it – Psalm 118:22.

Rest in peace Mohammed Ali – you will always be remembered and send my regards to grandma up there if you ever happen to bump into her.

Ladies, please stand up!

I have known too many women over my professional career and have more than a fair share of female friends. In fact out of the 100 friends I have, 120 of them are womenfolk.

This unfortunately makes me a bit of a backyard authority on issues they face especially career related annoyances. I have heard so much gripe, my otorhinolaryngologist warned that the next time I come over for tinnitus treatment she’s going to seal the damn ears with wax. Ok, that was an exaggeration.

Back to more serious issues.

Gender inequality is over flogged everywhere; it’s more of a theory to the average Omobinrin on the street. But when that reality confronts them it’s clothed as something personal – career decisions, societal pressure, I need to have kids, I’m getting old, I’m a chic, what will my family say, bla bla bla.

Nature already stacked the table against every girl from birth (who said nature is nice?) – period, pregnancy, mishmash of hormones and Telemundo. But here’s the strange thing, despite these natural challenges, why do women still allow men and society to add to their pains?

This isn’t a blame-the-victim tripe. Far from it. This is a call to action to my beautiful friends although I don’t have the guts to give them this holier-than-thou lecture in person as I could end up with scratches from poorly fixed nails. Call me a chicken in pinstripe if you like, na you sabi.

The girl is good, maybe not all the time!

Some of the most amazing and talented people I ever worked with are women. They work hard, they are super smart and extremely ambitious. Not only that, they have empathy and solid emotional intelligence which the most sensitive of men can only dream off. I also know a few “Up NEPA” ones that make a dull office look pretty awesome on a rainy Monday morning.

Then they get married and most often than not their ambition, performance and sometimes some body parts go south. They become a shadow of their former selves. Ten years go by and countless missed promotions, they become bitter and angry.

It’s extremely confusing for me. Their brains are still there; their knowledge, and competence gained over the years, are not lost, what happened?

My male friends come back from honeymoon smoking hot and still productive for years. In fact studies have shown that quite a lot of men have career boosts post marriage. Why not the average working class woman?

I did a back-of-the-napkin study and found out that they never really lost the dreams or ambition.  They just got their backs against the wall….and not in the sense that you think of.

Usually a woman goes into a marriage, especially in my part of the world, and she’s expected to be the one to compromise. In fact if she’s a high flyer and unmarried her parents, the same ones who paid for the expensive education, are the first to fire the first salvo “Rolake, you are too career minded, no man will marry you!”

She will be advised to chill out, scale down, and underplay her progress so she can be attractive to some dude with very low esteem. Post wedding she’s the one to get home on time to cook, the one to take care of the kids, and worst of it if they both work in same organization without family friendly policies, she’s the one to resign to stay at home or look for another job.

If kids are ill she takes time off work. She can’t work away from home or abroad because it won’t speak well of her but nothing is wrong if her spouse is posted out of station to Kathmandu. If the idiotic husband loves to pound her instead of fufu, her parents will be the one to tell her to chill, pray, endure or whatever random rubbish anyone could think of.

There is nothing wrong with marriage (for those hung up on it) or having kids (they are fun when not annoying) but like everything you do, you have to know what you want and go for it. In fact good relationships are beneficial, they provide synergy and support not available to lone rangers.

However if you enter into any contract or relationship without knowing what you really want or deserve then you are a loser from day one.

So what’s a girl to do? 

Men and women are EQUAL but not necessarily the same (I don’t want to be a girl, duh). As simple as that sounds, it’s fundamental to everything! If you sincerely believe that your life as woman, hope, aspirations, etc. is as worthy as that of any man’s then you have taken the right steps in the right direction. Please repeat that ten times!

Find your dreams again. What did you want to become? How do you want to reap the years and countless millions you have invested on/for your life so far? Think about this; the degrees, certifications or even professional experiences you have aren’t required to be a good mum but to be a build a good career, then make good use of them. However if you are already married you are going to need a ton of diplomacy and compromise to get a decent traction. Learn it!

Marriage is fun and relationships are beneficial but there is absolutely nothing wrong if you aren’t married. It isn’t a failure as much as every man not being a millionaire a failure. Next time someone tells you that you are not complete without a man, let the person know he’s a failure for not being a Bill Gate. Case closed.

Look before you leap – things have to be clarified before you let him put a ring on it. Like a contract, if isn’t well defined before you go into it, you can’t change it to favor you once you are in it. Remember, it’s difficult to fix an airplane’s engine while in flight!

Don’t have more kids than you can manage and that means also projecting into the future; school fees go everywhere except downwards. Space them if you can so it doesn’t put stress on your career progression and you can even have one for the road later, I heard it’s fun! By the way, there is something called family planning, don’t depend on men to do the right thing at the right time; they won’t and the burden of their mistakes will be yours forever. #BorrowWisdom

Choose your friends carefully as you won’t be better than them. If you hang out with the type who have lost their sense of self-worth to their other partners or those who feel women were born to serve men, how will you do better? Their negative claptrap will corrode you and make your life miserable forever.

Learn to keep your cool as many will surely try to get a rise out of you because of your decisions. Just keep calm and keep your mouth shut – you can’t win an argument with any of them. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or unhappy about your final decisions, don’t live your life for them.

What’s a girl not to do?

Don’t take this as an excuse to be a bitch at home if you are married, hey, if you got tossed out because of it, I ain’t got no spare room!

Don’t take a hardline on everything – your way or your way – life isn’t that way. A compromise is probably one nonviolent means to end any domestic warfare but make sure you never get the short end of the stick.

Don’t blame men, boys, grandpas, etc. for everything that goes wrong with you. Remember you take the ultimate responsibility for your life, careers and aspirations. The faster you know the buck stops on the stool next to you, the better for you and your sanity

Be careful of things you read on the internet, including this! Take what resonates with you and junk the rest as quickly as a bad habit (wait, ain’t bad habits difficult to stop?)

Before you form that conclusion

I’m just a simple guy with an honest belief that everyone is equal but same but I’m not a feminist. While I believe that those in positions of responsibility should ensure level playing ground for everyone irrespective of gender, women everywhere also have to standup for themselves.

So You Want to Be Respected?

I’m always amazed when I reminisce on the many stupid things I’ve done just to appear cool. I remember when I was a teenager I used to iron the back of my school uniform shirts in a certain way just to have that swagger. Boy, looking back now, that must have been one hell of madness, really!

But when you compare all I did to look cool (I still didn’t look cool, sad!) to what others did or are doing, you will pat me on the back for keeping most of the screws holding my sanity together. Em, you can’t blame me for losing a few.

So which begs the question: why do we desperately want to appear cool? Or what do we want to achieve when we do very outrageous things…to be respected by others?

You want to know what some of us do just to be respected? Here are some:

Lie about who we are
My mum owns the National Theatre or I’m the CEO of Somewhere Limited with interests in oil and gas, properties, etc. I’m also into forwarding and backwarding.

Drop names like it’s hot
Bihari and my dad play draught every weekend and if I don’t call Osinbajo every other day he’s going to throw tantrums, crawl into a little room in Aso Rock and bawl like a child.

Buy things we can’t afford on credit
Social media is replete with car dealers chasing celebrities around on cars not paid for. I know a couple of guys who get first class tickets on credit and then dodge the hapless travel agents for months. Enough said.

Sucking up
Become a lap dog to senior management, celebrities, just to be relevant. They treat you like crap but you take it like blessing all because you want to be seen as part of the hip crowd. You even laugh at their stupid jokes!

Fake it like it’s real
This is pretty common! Buy fake designer bags, shoes and accessories just to look like you’re happening! I once followed a friend into a real Channel store, saw the price tags and left with a profound knowledge that all the Channel brooches I’ve seen in my office are fakes. Walahi!

Date an eye candy
Do all you can to date that super skinny yellow girl with a hip/waist ratio – that can make even a Cardinal lose his faith. It doesn’t matter that she’s emptier than a washed out barrel. Sometimes it is to stick up to the abusive super rich oil tycoon married boyfriend who pounds her with blows better than fufu.

There are many more ways to be a dick head just because we want to be known, seen, respected and be successful. If you think I’m talking about musicians, Nollywood starlets, OAPs, etc. you are so wrong! Their misbehaviors are part of the drama that life gives us as entertainment; their craziness is what defines them. I’m actually referring to the everyday me, you, my cousins and some of your colleagues at work.

Fundamentally somewhere in the deep recess of each of us (especially me) we want to be respected and everything we strive for is to achieve that – money, career, fame, girls, husbands, etc. Since the need to be respected can’t be cured or is innate to us, maybe we should focus our attention on how to be respected in a wholesome manner.

Let me break it down. The best way to be respected is to be good in what you do. No other sustainable way.

I can illustrate this better with two Nigerian women. Dame Patience Jonathan was a favorite punch bag for everyone with her numerous gaffes and poor grammar; she provided a good comic relief. Nothing beats this YouTube performance. Nike Davies Okundaye, on the other hand, represents some of the best things that ever came out of Nigeria. She grew up uneducated but despite that developed herself into a world renown artist.

Both are Nigerian women with poor grammar and don’t speak with phoney but while one is lampooned at every turn, the other is revered. Why? Because everyone knows Nike is good in what she does.

How to get real respect
Understand that the need to be respected isn’t bad. Like the need to get Coldstone Ice Cream or to Netflix, it’s part of every one of us.

Real and enduring respect comes from competence. When you are very good at what you do, and you are smart and consistent, trust me, even your haters will give you sadankata. I don’t like Cristiano Ronaldo and it’s from pure jealousy; he’s rich and I’m not. He has a six-pack but I’ve just a large one. He’s popular but nobody even knows me on my street. Beef aside though, I respect him because he’s good and not from luck; he’s good because he works hard at being good. How do you explain scoring more than 50 goals consistently for 6 straight seasons, na yam?

So put in real efforts into what you do and after a while, everyone will give you the required praise and attention you need. Don’t look for a shortcut, real competence takes a while to have.

Be yourself and don’t try to be others. After all you weren’t born a clone so why become one? You will be surprised that the fancy people you want to be like aren’t even half as good as you are!

Don’t buy what you can’t afford, fake your accent or wear stuff just because it’s the in-thing. Be comfortable in your own skin. By the way, this doesn’t give you liberty to dress like an idiot. Being cultured is part of competence.

Don’t suck up to politicians, celebrities, supervisors, the happening guys in your office, bla bla. It’s just a sad display and will definitely embarrass your kids in the future. You can’t imagine how much I cringe at the sickening display of loyalty in different offices – you call someone young enough to be your child oga or madam etc. just because you want to be relevant, seriously? Dude, do your job!

Understand the fact that being popular wouldn’t last forever so why kill for it? Even if you are the trending item on Twitter today or the most sought after speaker on the talk circuit, after a while everyone would be naturally bored and move on to the next thing. It doesn’t mean you ain’t respected, so don’t sweat it. Continue to do what you are good at. It will most certainly speak for you in the long run.

This brings me to talk about supervisors, managers and other random senior people in random offices. If you want your subordinates or colleagues to respect you, it won’t be by politics or being the boss from hell. Be a leader and be competent. Leadership means you provide your team with vision and you lead them on a mission of towards greatness. Of course discipline is needed and if butts need whopping, please apply whatever whopping is prescribed in the company handbook. But you need to be good and knowledgeable on the job to be respected so preaching leadership alone is – meh! When things are tough, they expect you to reach into your endless wealth of experience to solve whatever problem the team or your subordinate is facing at that time.

This article has also been published at www.bellanaija.com.

Do You Want A Job or a Career?

I was recently giving a career pep talk to my colleagues when one ambitious fellow pulled me aside to ask for the difference between a job and a career. In my usual sarcastic way (I swear, I’m gonna get beaten up one of these days), I wanted to remind him that Google isn’t connected to PHCN (if you ain’t a Nigerian, that’s probably lost on you).

But then I thought deeply about it and found that I didn’t have a ready answer. So that evening, while nursing a tumbler of Vedka, ice and Coke, I sat to dimension it from my own perspective.

The internet is chuck full of different meanings but since jobs and especially careers are deeply personal things, maybe it would be better to look at it from that intimate angle. My definitions are definitely mine and I ain’t making any attempt to be politically correct.

A job is something you do to stay alive while a career is something you stay alive to do.

I’m already having a headache digesting that.

The Job
A job is what you do to earn money for its own sake. You don’t, necessarily, have to like it or even want to stay longer than required. As far as you are concerned, a job puts bread on the table and shirt on your back. You may or may not like your boss. You could even be like some people I know, when bored, you fantasize about beating your supervisor up. Trust me, while it’s a bad thought, it can be satisfying.

You get into a job out of necessity unless you are greedy lass where the perks and the money is what drives you. Jobs can be stressful as you do it for survival; you practically have to drag yourself out of bed each morning just to be there.

If you find someone who is cranky, hardly smiling, drives like a maniac and it’s evening – he’s coming back from a job.

Most jobs are dead-end; but if, and I mean a big if, you can find a light at the end of that job’s tunnel and which isn’t a train, it could become a career.

A Career
If you’ve dated a very cute girl before, you would understand what a career is. You just want to do it. It may or may not pay as much but it makes you satisfied and happy. It’s usually a lifelong obsession.

You make a lot of stupid and irrational decisions about a career – get certifications or additional degrees with the hope that it gets better. You spend long hours toiling away and most often than not a career turns into something successful because when you put in that much passion and energy, you are almost guaranteed to succeed. I know people who have taken pay cuts to drive a career. Careerists and entrepreneurs are cousins – they devote their lives, savings, relationships and everything to something they truly believe in.

How did I find myself in a job?
It’s never a fair world and the fight between job and career isn’t fair either. We all usually start with a job.

You get out of school with a good degree, exaggerated view of yourself and a taller-than-life rosy picture of a career in investment banking or petroleum. In this pictured life, you have a Ferrari at 27 and a private island by 35.

The first thing life does to you is make sure you comb the whole street of Lagos until you are better than the latest version of Google Maps and can do better traffic update than Tsaboin Traffic talk. A thousand iterations of your résumé (CV) later you land your first job, usually a lowly contact center agent at a telco.

That’s a job.

I know a lot of people who marry people they don’t like but because of the goodness of their hearts, end up loving them. It happens with a job too.

You could start with a job but you make something good out of it. You become good at it and as you progress, people realize you are an expert and treat you as one.

A career is born.

What to do in a job/Upgrading to a career
Having a job isn’t bad. I mean, what’s the alternative? Even pimping is a job; it’s also a career for some…but that’s by the way.

Instead of fretting about how dreadful your job is, you could do the following to move from being in a job to having a satisfying career:

  • Be grateful for that job. No matter how terrible you think a job is, as long as it puts money on the table, it’s something to be happy about. Remember, it could be worse if you find your backside on the curb without any means of livelihood. While being grateful though, remember what it is, it’s just a job, don’t sell your soul, whatever it’s worth, for it.
  • Go for a very long walk to meditate and ask yourself what you want to do with your life. Don’t do less than 5 kilometers. It’s so simple to know what your career should be – if a genie assured you of success in whatever you do, what would you rather do?
  • Be reasonable in your expectations before your wife kicks you out of the house. Or how do you think she will react if you suddenly came up with the idea of a career in medicine when you lately spent N1M doing your 40th birthday?
  • If you think you can get joy out of your current job, then ask what you need to turn it into a career. You could have anchor role models and find out what they did to get to where they are or what set them apart in their fields.
  • Once you’ve decided on that career then act! Nothing kills a career faster than procrastination. The best time to start a good career was yesterday but the next best time is right now. Do you need some certifications to be able to practice? Go for it now. How much do you know about these career field? Read like a mad man! Does anyone know you and your capabilities? Go to industry events, network, play, mingle!
  • The journey to a career nirvana is narrow and full of blistering thorns but you can’t pull back. Long after the enthusiasm of being a CFA has died, you must have enough resolve in your reservoir to pull you to the next level.
  • A career is like a mahogany tree, it takes years and lorry loads of attention, affection and money for it to grow and blossom into something beautiful. Don’t play with fire while at it.
  • A career is a demanding mistress, it will take all of you. It can also be a bitch, it doesn’t care how much effort you have put in previously, if you don’t keep at it, you could lose it on a whim.

A Nice Job vs. Career, who wins?

I have discussed the easy part, here’s something to drive you crazy: You are sometimes unfortunate to be faced with a superbly paying job and just a career, which would you choose?

This article has also been published at www.bellanaija.com.

Your Job Is Leaving You Angry & Frustrated? Stop the Gripe… Do Something!

I’m a classical corporate áshéwó! Don’t blame me, if you don’t hop around, you don’t get to be on top, and nothing beats being on top. Every guy knows that!

When you jump around, like some of us understandably do, you will notice quite a lot – mostly bad things. I’ve observed how people complain about their careers – the lack of traction to get to the top.

So justifiably, I want to rant about this. By the time you finish reading this, you could either give me a good kick at my scrawny backside or canonize me as Saint Adédèjì.
It’s human to complain about everything – Nigeria, corruption, traffic, taxes, Buhari, etc. In fact the only thing certain, apart from change (or lack of one), is that there will always be someone who complains about something (or the other).

However, when complaining about your career is what you do for pastime, then maybe you should just enlist in the Kvetch Amateur Olympics. If you don’t know the meaning of that, Google still works.

Top dogs don’t complain, they act because they are hot dogs!
One thing I know for sure is that guys with flying careers hardly complain, they act. You feel that something should be done? Just get it done and not raise a storm about how it’s Admin Department that should have done it.

Top dogs hold themselves and others accountable and can be nasty about it. They notice the little details and they demand that others meet their standards. And when the organizations or their bosses can’t meet up, they simply leave; no need hanging around being bitter about how things aren’t going their way.

You are responsible for your career!
I don’t know anyone who is totally satisfied with his career progression – it’s always slow. However, you have 100% control on what to do with it.

While your company decides if you should be promoted or not, you are the one to make a decision if you still want to work there. If you strongly believe that you deserve that push or the pay upgrade and you ain’t getting it, then they don’t deserve you. Make them pay for their misbehavior; leave!

But somewhere at the back of our minds, we know that we may not be good as we think we are. So instead of complaining, why don’t you ask yourself how you can be better? For example the economy is tough now, why don’t you lead the cost optimization effort of your company? Why don’t you follow the sales and marketing guys to that uncle of yours to land a deal?
If you don’t have an uncle, adopt one.

Upgrade yourself
Everyone loves a new shinning toy. Right now I’m hustling for a new Samsung S7 and already thinking of selling one of my friends into slavery just to get it.

Honestly, apart from throwing in more efforts at work, you also need to upgrade your on-the-job skills. If you are engineer, the world has probably moved on to new ways of engineering, get those skills. If you are a doctor in a general hospital, don’t be content with doing wákà wákà around the wards impressing female nurses or doing dangerous abortions, upgrade your expertise and become a consultant. Save the world!

Efforts alone don’t count, rare skills are important. It’s simple law of economics – demand and supply. When your services can be easily replaced by younger, cheaper and more nimble others, it will happen – unless there is something else going down between you and your boss. It’s a logical conclusion, isn’t it?

Develop your network
You will feel better when you find out that your job is not more miserable than your neighbor’s. Nothing beats schadenfreude. How will you know if you don’t have a social life?

To move your career up a notch, you need to connect with like minds and be very active in your social network. It will allow you to compare notes with others in similar unfortunate job roles. You will most likely be remembered if a good position becomes vacant. If you are engaged enough, someone may even mistake you for an expert and lands you a decent job that blows your mind.

So be active on LinkedIn, go for industry events, and polish your CVs shinier than a soldier’s boot. Many guys have landed jobs just by forwarding great CVs at a moment’s notice.

Be appreciative of that job
Nigeria is hard; having a job that ensures food on the table, month-in-month-out, is a blessing. What you don’t know is you could have a better career growth if you are appreciative and the appreciation shows in your attitude to work. Employers don’t like a mean spirited employee who can’t be satisfied and who growls around the corridors like a wounded local dog.

Do you feel your job is horrible and underpays? Lose it first and see how hard it’s to get a replacement. You know the sad part? The dude who replaces you will probably earn less and do a better job.

Remember, life is never perfect
Think about it: our spouses will never be the most beautiful, our kids won’t always be the first in their classes; our parents won’t be the poshest, richest, bla bla bla. So just add your job to one of life’s injustices, live with it!

I’m not asking that you accept mediocrity, nope, far from it. I mean accept the realities of life and make the best out of what you have instead of pining for the unattainable. Stevie Wonder is blind but he didn’t look for artificial eyes or blame providence for poor workmanship, instead we count his music as one of the best oldies.

In Summary
I’m not disputing that some jobs are made from hell – many bosses are so horrible they make the devil cringe in shame. But then complaining does more damage that just annoying friends – it can also damage your health, and probably your reputation as well.

So, if that job is that bad, just do something about it, maybe just leave. But if you know you aren’t able to get another one, just be a good boy, dig back, make yourself better and trust me a good opportunity is around the corner.

This article has also been published at www.bellanaija.com.

The Artificial Intelligence (AI) Challenge

I’ve been on the AI train for quite a while. Sounds like the next thing humans will do but you never know it may end up like the disappointment genetics ended up being despite the promises of 1990s.

Google AI recently spanked someone at the game of Go, considering that “someone” is one of the best humans at Go, that’s something.

Suddenly everyone is sitting up with many bandying around the belief that there would be Armageddon when machines take over the world. It won’t probably end that way but then who knows? What I know is that AI has been quietly creeping into our daily lives without anyone even noticing. Your smartphones are chuck full of blistering AI technologies. When Siri is bantering about all sorts of rubbish, you think it’s your cousin?

For me the greatest challenge AI can face is being able to analyze video – recorded or live stream.

Before I go into more explanations, AI today can check a picture and identify items in it. Facebook can see a picture and identify all your friends in there. Scary enough? No, hear this: Facebook can identify you from pictures even when your face isn’t visible.

All I want is to have AI watch a video and tell me the plot of the story or watch a live camera feed and tell if something untold is happening. This is beyond facial or material identification, this is AI understanding plot!

At least I can spare myself the horrors of watching Batman V Superman and let the damn AI just tell me it ain’t worth visiting the cinema.

Core Banking Software in Nigeria

This is probably the third time I’m writing about core banking software in Nigeria. I did that in 2011 and it’s interesting to see how banking software have evolved in Nigeria since then. The choice of core banking software is not trivial and a wrong move can spell disaster. Banks are usually very conservative about who and what to choose; hardly do you see mavericks in this line of business.

And boy oh boy, these software can be so expensive but frankly I don’t know why they are. My experience with three of them have left me grossly unimpressed – buggy, poor user experience, lags years behind modern technology, lacks all the good features a proper human being desires, etc.

Meanwhile kindly pardon my unusual curiosity about things like this.

Bank Website Software
Access Bank www.accessbankplc.com FLEXCUBE
Citibank www.citigroup.com/nigeria FLEXCUBE
Diamond Bank www.diamondbank.com FLEXCUBE
Ecobank www.ecobank.com FLEXCUBE
Fidelity Bank www.fidelitybank.ng Finacle 7
First Bank of Nigeria www.firstbanknigeria.com Finacle 10
First City Monument Bank www.firstcitygroup.com Finacle 10
Guaranty Trust Bank www.gtbank.com Basis
Heritage Bank www.hbng.com/ Finacle 10
Keystone www.keystonebankng.com/ T24
Skye Bank www.skyebankng.com FLEXCUBE
Stanbic IBTC Bank www.stanbicibtcbank.com Finacle 10
Standard Chartered Bank www.standardchartered.com/ng eBBS
Sterling Bank www.sterlingbankng.com Banks
Union Bank www.unionbankng.com FLEXCUBE
United Bank for Africa www.ubagroup.com Finacle 10
Unity Bank www.unitybankng.com Banks
Wema Bank www.wemabank.com Finacle 10
Zenith Bank www.zenithbank.com Phoenix

The software Lineup

In 2011 Now 2016
  • Finacle – 7 (29%)
  • FLEXCUBE – 7 (29%)
  • Globus/T24 – 4 (17%)
  • Basis/Banks – 3 (13%)
  • eBBS – 1(4%)
  • Equinox – 1 (4%)
  • Phoenix – 1 (4%)
  • Finacle – 7 (37%)
  • FLEXCUBE – 6 (32%)
  • Basis/Banks – 3 (16%)
  • T24 – 1 (5%)
  • eBBS 1 (5%)
  • Phoenix – 1 (5%)

Notes *

  • Skye Bank dropped Finacle when it acquired Mainstreet Bank (which was Afribank in 2011)
  • Finacle lost a site when Heritage Bank, which wasn’t even in existence in 2011, bought Enterprise Bank. Enterprise Bank was Spring Bank in 2011
  • FLEXCUBE lost a site when Access Bank took over InterContinental Bank

More About The Core Banking Software

Finacle is a complete suite of banking application from Infosys, one of the largest technology companies in India.

FLEXCUBE is from Oracle Financial Services. FLEXCUBE was initially i-Flex software but the company was bought by Oracle in 2005 during one of its famous spending sprees. A bit of history: FLEXCUBE was originally developed by Citibank and was spurned off as Citicorp Information Technologies Industries Limited, an independent company. FLEXCUBE is highly regarded globally with about 700 installations in 125 countries and has won Core Banking Solution of the Year and Application of the Year from The Banker.

Basis and Banks are from ICS Financial Services, a midsize Jordanian/UK software company with about 45 installations worldwide.

Despite the fact that the Nigerian market is dominated by 2 major software from India, the core banking software business is rich and varied worldwide. To read more about other banking systems, head over to http://www.inntron.co.th/corebank.html.


Things to know before you quit your job

I’ve had a decent career and everyone expects me to jump ship to run my own business but I haven’t. This is for different reasons, but those closest to me know that I’m a closet chicken. Run my own business, are you kidding me?

Before you finally consider me a loser, listen to the best of my arguments.

You need skills to run a business
Unless you want to sell pepper and goat meat, you need a decent level of skills to run your own business. The more technical your dream business is, the more the skills you need to have before you jump right in. You want to sell foreign exchange? Better be sure you understand how it works. You want to become a real estate magnate? Make sure you know the difference between sharp sand and plastering sand.

Quite a lot of world-renown founders didn’t have long experiences but they created a whole new set of industries to play in. If you think you know as much as the Google boys or Zack, you can start right away! I wish you luck.

You need connections to land customers
Even if you are going to open a shop to sell gúgúrú and èpà, you need to know people to succeed. And you need gazillion of them: someone to buy key raw materials or products from; someone to facilitate licenses with the government; someone to link you with large corporates who will give contracts, etc.

You even need connections to recruit. If you depend on CVs and LinkedIn profiles to hire workers, you have entered one chance! The quality of your network is what determines how many believers are ready to leave their jobs to join your quest for glory.

It takes time and effort to build your business connections. It’s easier for those in front office roles such as marketing and sales to know a lot of people, than those of us who sit pretty in back offices making lives of others miserable.

And while at it, please work on your attitude. The fact that you are a senior executive with contractors and customers kowtowing to you means nothing. You don’t know the value of that network until you are out of a job.

So while still doing this cushy job, cultivate relationships. Be nice to everyone. Be fair to all and sundry. Help others as much as you can and don’t trample on lowly entrepreneurs.

Not everyone is an entrepreneur
We ain’t all born to be same. Think about it: growing up, some of us wanted to be doctors, politicians, lawyers, strippers, pilots, pimps, bankers, etc. The diversity is what makes the world go round. Imagine a world where everyone is a lawyer? I shudder at such thoughts.

So extending same arguments mean we can’t all be business owners and that doesn’t mean we won’t succeed. I would rather be a Tim Cook than a failed business owner.

A note of warning: The fact that you want to do your own thing doesn’t make you superior to others. Remember that you will recruit people to run your business. If you think working class are idiots, then you are going to treat your staff like idiots and they will, in revenge, do you over.

You need money to run your own business
Forget about your friends and that retired army uncle who promised funding for your silly business ideas, you need cold cash to start a business and preferably yours. When you depend on other people’s cash to get things going, you will end up with bosses worse than where you worked before.

You probably have to work for some time, save everything, forgo vacations and Louis Vuitton bags to save just enough to start.

The thing with money is… it is never enough!

You need balls to start a business
Some call it liver, heart or spine. I call it balls, smooth steel clanging balls. You need big balls to start a business. It’s not child’s play at all. This is where many of us are deficit. We are just scared.

Fear is not a bad thing unless we allow it to overwhelm us. At least that’s what I tell myself when I have a bad day at work.

Presentation matters with business
You don’t need spend a million dollars to look like a millionaire; however the way you look, or present yourself is very important. While dressing like a village headmaster mayn’t affect your salary at month end, it affects the pricing that you can get out of that product you want to sell.

Packaging is everything!

When you run a business, especially at the first stages, the first product you sell is yourself. Be poorly presented and you are likely toast.

Dress nicely. Shine your shoes and work on your poise. Let your PowerPoint be spiffy. These are the things the chickens like us look at when you come around to present your products and services for sale.

You need discipline to run your own show
If you think that when you start your own thing, you can wake up at any time you want and sleep when you feel like, sorry dude, you are in for a rude shock. Those who run their own businesses run long hours and ain’t appreciated. Customers don’t care.

If you can afford a vacation, (a big IF), take it and let’s see if you have any business or customers left by the time you get back.

The best place to learn discipline is right on the job you have now. If you can’t make it to meetings on time, you will be severely punished for it when you have your own thing. If you don’t know how to talk to your customers with respect, they will punish you by taking their businesses to those who appreciate them.

Discipline is extremely important!

Back to planet reality
There are a zillion other reasons to start or not to start a business. If you can hear your balls clanging and the wherewithal to start, go for it, but put the things I have talked above in perspective.

Don’t call your colleagues, who are chicken like me, chickens. We won’t forgive you when things gets rough with you. In fact some of us will dance on the grave of your business. Karma is a b*tch.

Save like your life depends on it. You will need that cash and much more.

If you decide not to start a business and be a career suit like me, hey, better be good at your job – else you find your butt on the curb. Appreciate whatever you have and be grateful for it. If you feel you ain’t appreciated, or paid enough, or respected enough, or celebrated enough, or get enough days off, remember, starting your own business is always an option. But if you don’t hear the clanging balls giving you assurance of success, respect yourself and do your job like a good boy.

Meanwhile…If I haven’t started my own business, where do I get these nuggets of wisdom from? Well, one last rule, don’t believe everything you read on the internet!

This article has also been published at www.bellanaija.com.