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How I Became A C.E.O | Lessons in Creating Opportunity

“Talent is Universal …Opportunity is not”

So yesterday I was telling my children about some of my childhood stories. We laughed so hard my eldest fell of the chair with laughter. A few things struck me in my story and I picked up some patterns, pregnant with life lessons.

Let’s rewind to 1990 – I had just finished my junior certificate (Form 2). I arrived in Harare for the first time – yes first time to visit my brother who was already working. After a few days in Harare I got my first “job” working for my uncle – Bamnini Bevan who had a carpentry shop in Magaba in Mbare. Every morning I would wake up early and go to “work” – I was only 14. After working so hard he never paid me as agreed! Bless his soul. I was never bitter – we even laughed about it.

Fast forward to 1992 I completed my O levels. Even before the results were out I went to Gweru for the the first time – this time I went to stay with an Uncle – Sekuru Munhanda. He owned a small college which was a Pitman exams Centre so I started studying Accounts & Finance during the gap period! When O level results came out I suspended the studies because I had to go and do A level studies.

While at University, I invested about $500 of my payout in a recruitment business. Two smooth talking gentlemen – Phillip and Patrick talked me into it. I was naive I lost everything and was almost beaten up following up on my “lost investment”.

Years later the year is 2008, I am now working in South Africa – I am just a few months in a foreign country and I got myself a side gig as a columnist in Black Business Quarterly (BBQ) magazine. In no time I was already getting qouted in the respected IT Web’s i-Week(www.itweb.co.za) and national broadcaster SABC as an expert in my field.

When I was recently studying (2 week block release) in Kenya in 2013 I offered to go and teach Strategy at a local university for FREE- it was an exciting lecture. In 2014 I also helped a technology company in Kenya set up their Strategic Programme Management Office (SPMO) and I did some cool consulting stuff for them in my spare time for FREE. In short this is how I became a Creator of Empowering Opportunities (C.E.O) of my life.

Let me share some insights:

1. Don’t wait for opportunities – create them. Talent is universal – opportunity is not.

2. It’s okay to start small – my first job I was a carpenter crafting wood…now I am a strategy expert I shape organisations

3. When you go to a new place don’t think of checking out the fun places only – invest in networks, connect with opportunities. First time In Harare I picked a job. In Gweru I picked a new skill. In South Africa I build my personal brand. In Kenya by offering my skills for free I put a down payment for opportunities I may need to go and close one day!

4. You don’t always win or earn – sometimes you learn. I lost $500 in a bad investment

5. It’s not where you start that matters, it’s where you end up – I started working in Magaba-shed and now I am in the C-suite

6. Don’t be driven by the PROCESS (what, how, when)…be led by your PURPOSE (the WHY)

7. A skill is a seed. Don’t waste it invest it.

8. If you only link the value of your skill to a salary you will never grow your influence beyond job titles and job grades

Lastly because of an attitude of being a Creator of Empowering Opportunities (C.E.O) most times I don’t have to apply for jobs…I am given work. You can too!

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Build Your Digital Assets

“Sir, thank you for the opportunity we had to learn we are going back to finish our studies” These were the words two young students on internship told me as they finished their internship in our organization. “Well done, one more thing as you go back – go and build your digital assets. A degree alone is enough. Don’t ever forget this final lesson”, I replied. I then explained to them that the world has changed – it’s the digital age and they will need a new skill set.

Only this week Twitter shares were soaring on the back of good business. Telecom powerhouse Econet Wireless this week launched a mobile money linked MasterCard which redefines the concept of traditional banking as we have known it. This is disruptive – it’s the digital age.

The Germany Soccer team won the World Cup on the back of serious Big Data informatics and analytics powered by SAP Match Insights. It’s the digital age.

To earn your wage in the digital age you need to repackage your skills. Here is how you do it:

1. Learn simple writing skills
2. Open a blog on many free blogging websites sites such as WordPress, Tumblr. I have been blogging since 2007…. published two books harvesting from this blog
3. Build your digital footprint by joining Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+
4. Build influence on social media – tweet/post to express not to impress. Engage to transform not just inform.
5. Be sincere – be yourself – people engage when you share from your heart not your head. As a (wo)man tweets so is s/he.

Now take a simple test – if you “Google” your name what search results show? It’s time to build your digital real estate and digital asset portfolio.

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The Power of Consistency: Lessons From Nelson Mandela

“Trevor when you packed my things where did you put my weights?” These were the words which Nelson Mandela asked Trevor Manuel (ex South African Finance Minister), a day after he had been released from jail after 27 years. ‘Your weights?’ Trevor asked. ‘Yes, my weights. I gym every morning, I need my weights!’ Mandela responded matter-of-factly. This was in a telephone call at 500am in the morning! It sounds rather surprising for someone who had spend 27 years in jail to worry about weights just a day after tasting freedom. However this was the hallmark of Nelson Mandela – consistency. He has led a life of consistency whether in speech or in action. So consistent was this democracy icon that 26 years after his Rivonia Trial (in 1964) speech he used exactly the same words to end his Freedom speech (in 1990) as follows:

‘I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if need be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die ‘ – Nelson Mandela in 1964 and 1990

Without doubt, the force of consistency has helped Mandela realize his ideals during his lifetime. This is a lesson to every one of us that if we cultivate consistency we will enjoy the fruits of our ideals, dreams and aspirations. Reflect on this:

1. Consistency is the ability to maintain a particular standard or repeat a particular task with no variation.
2. Consistency produces specific desired patterns of behaviour, intended habits and the attitudes that lead to achievement of your dreams.
3. Consistency is the force that will bring energy to stuttering goals and receding dreams.

How To Transform Yourself To Succeed (Part 2)

In the last blog I shared about the Passover Stage where you need to go out of present limiting circumstances. Its not enough to ‘go out’, you must ‘go under’ in the second stage – the Makeover stage. If you have watched the TV show “Extreme Makeover” you may have a some idea of what this stage is about.

Makeover Stage

Your mind-set determines your life-set. To upgrade your life you need to upgrade your mind.  You may come out of the village, but it’s also important for the village to come out of you. Your mind needs to go under some transformation. Jesus did a bit of ‘surgery’ on the man’s eyes laying hands and spitting on them. Some scales which were blinding the man had to come off so he could see clearly. Once you come out of the village you need to do a mental and physical makeover. When the children of Israel left Egypt they were used to being slaves. In the wilderness God wanted to get Egypt out of them and change their slavery mindset. You cannot continue to wear village clothes in town; neither can you walk like you used to do in the fields. Change your style!

There are simple physical and mental makeover tips to consider:

  1. Know your true value – your value is not in things or people. Its made up of your self-concept (how you SEE yourself) and self-esteem (what you THINK about yourself)
  2. Based on how you see and think about yourself – don’t talk yourself down. Have positive affirmations about yourself such as “I am a success, I am a champion…and more”
  3. Change your talk – your talk determines who listens to you. Your language locates you. Your life follows the character of your words.
  4. Change your wardrobe. Dress the way you wanted to be addressed
  5. Change the way you carry yourself. There are so many grooming experts who  can coach you on ettiquette and deportment
  6. Set high standards for yourself – reject mediocrity and pursue excellence

Mental transformation is a key element in the journey towards achieving lasting success in life. Without a complete mental makeover you will not be ready to Crossover and Takeover…to be continued…/

How To Transform Yourself To Succeed (Part 1)

As a coach and mentor one of the things I have learnt is that personal and business transformation is a journey and not an event. However along this journey there are defining moments or events. A lot of people and organisations fail to make the transition from one level of success to the next because they fail to read these key stages. The world abounds with stories of people who did not get great opportunities but made great of the opportunities life presented them. An opportunity of a lifetime exists in the life of that opportunity. The secret is in understanding times and seasons. I shared recently in an article how phone maker Blackberry failed to read the times and they have paid a heavy price. To perform you need to transform. If you conform to the norms you will deform and lose your form. I am a firm believer in disruptive innovation – this requires to be misunderstood… to be a little crazy and weird in pursuit of game changing transformation. Disruptive innovation is understood in hindsight.

There is a simple story in the Bible in Mark 8: 22-26 and I want to share some important lessons on transformation:

“Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village….his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village…”

Jesus encountered a blind man. He took this man ‘by hand’ out of his village. The first time after being laid hands upon this man could see ‘man like trees’. The second time around his sight was completely restored. Jesus then told him not to go back to village. I want to share the 4 vital stages of transformation for your success. These stages are Passover, Makeover, Crossover and Takeover in that order.

Passover Stage – ‘Go Out’

Jesus took the matter of this blind man literally into his own hands, by leading him out of the village ‘by hand’. In order to progress in life you need to leave your village. Village represents familiarity, limitations, little exposure and limited vision. Village is not necessarily a place but is also a state of mind. Village is a place of surrender and condemnation. In Africa the old, retired, sick, rascals and hopeless folk are send to the village. The children of Israel once stayed in a village called Egypt for over 400 years until a time to ‘passover’ came.

In order for your career, marriage, ministry, business or project to flourish you need to leave your village.  A village or cradle mentality makes you a slave to the familiar, daily grind and routines. In order to experience growth you need to break out of the familiar and go out of your village. For some your job, industry or country has now become your village while others the village is in the mind – you want to stick to the familiar and you think there are sharks out there. Dare the undared, try the untried, venture into the unknown, blaze the trail, go out, break out – passover!

Dont miss out the next Blog for the Makeover Stage…

How To Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

There is a story from ancient Israel of a man who was paralyzed for 38 years. He lived by a pool that was called Bethsaida. This pool had healing powers. An angel would come periodically and stir the pool – if any sick person jumped into the pool at that time, they would get healed. This man for 38 years desired to be healed. Jesus turned up one day and saw the man. All the man could tell Jesus was “There is nobody to help me into the pool”. He was looking for a pity party. Jesus responded with three verbs: “Stand up, pick up your bed and walk” The gap between wholeness and 38 years of lameness was just ACTION!

Many dream few execute. Many desire and few perspire. Action must now succeed where words have failed. Action is the spark in your dream. I want to share with you four principles critical to executing your dreams.

Principle One – Change Your Mentality

You cant be winning in life if you are losing in your mind. The lame man had a dependency mentality. For 38 years he was waiting for someone to help him get into the miraculous pool. It never happened. Execution of your dream is one thing you can never delegate. Your dream hears your voice. What YOU can conceive YOU can achieve. You have the power to turn your dreams into reality.

Principle Two – Change Posture

Position determines possession. The man had been sitting for 38 years. Jesus asked him to change his posture – “stand up!” Execution sometimes requires that you change your methods.

Principle Three: Change Your Focus

You become what you behold. For 38 years this man focused on his inability to get into the pool. He had a deficit inquiry than appreciative inquiry approach to issues. He looked at what was not working rather than what could work. Positive focus is the force that turns dreams into reality.

Principle Four – Action, Action and Action

Action is the bridge between your dream and reality. It is instructive that Jesus did not make a hell shaking prayer or sing a powerful hymn for this lame man to be made whole. He gave a simple command – stand up, pick up your bed and walk. 3 verbs! Therein rests the greatest key to executing your dreams – action. I want to persuade you to turn the great ideas from thin paper to thick action. That song must be sung. The book must be published. That business must get busy. The project must get off the ground.

Rise up; pick up your ideas and fly!

The Power of Association

General Colin Powell wrote this about the power of association, “The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity” Its a fact! I have a different revelation to this though. I want to share the same quote wearing my appreciative inquiry glasses “The more you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you celebrate excellence in others, it increases your excellence” One of the greatest lessons I have learnt in life is that between you and your next level of success is a person – just get the right connection and you will go to the next level. Today I was reflecting on the impact that Jesus had on his disciples:

“When the Council saw the boldness of Peter and John and could see that they were obviously uneducated non- professionals, they were amazed and realized what being with Jesus had done for them!”

These simple man became overnight celebrities based on a simple qualification – “they had been with Jesus”. Their association with Jesus was a game changer. It gave their gloomy, inglorious lives an EXTREME MAKEOVER…overnight. This is the power of association. Here are some nuggets to chew over the weekend:

1. Your alignment determines your assignment
2. Your position determines your possession
3. Who you see determines who sees you
4. Perception influences acceleration
5. Your network determines your networth

If I had time I would share about how an orphan called Lot became so rich, just by being with Abraham …the power of association!