Careers

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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Gratefulness Leads To Greatfulness

Gratitude is the way to altitude. What are the keys to experiencing the extraordinary? Many times we limit God by failing to thank Him for what we have. We focus on what we don’t have. Grace works with a structure (that which is there). Faced with little resources to feed 5000 people Jesus activated the key of gratitude:

“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish and LOOKED UP into the sky and GAVE THANKS; then he broke off pieces for his disciples to set before the crowd. And everyone ate and ate….” – Luke 9:16-17

A few points to reflect upon:

1. What you have may not be much, but God will multiply it with His touch
2. Jesus didn’t look at what he had (5 loaves & 2 fish) He LOOKED UP to the Father.
3. Change your perspective – say “this can do” instead of “this is too little”
4. Give thanks! If you are not grateful, you are a great fool. Be grateful and you will be ‘greatful’

Today celebrate that which you have…that job, spouse, that small business, few customers, few dollars, that small church. What you celebrate appreciates.

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EXTRAORDINARY DECISIONS need EXTRAORDINARY REFLECTION

The New Year requires making a lot of key decisions. Your life is shaped by the decisions you make and fail to make. The quality of your decision making process impacts the quality of your decisions. Jesus chose his twelve disciples after much consideration. These twelve went on to impact the world. How did he do it?

“And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued ALL NIGHT in prayer to God.
And when it was DAY, he called unto him his disciples:and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles” – Luke 6:12-13

It’s extraordinary that Jesus didn’t go in the valley – but went to the top of the mountain. Let me unravel this.

KEY LIFE LESSONS HIDDEN HERE:

1. Never make major decisions backed by minor prayers
2. When you spend time in the night with God you will see clearly in the day before man
3. To make major decisions take an elevated view – Jesus went up the mountain

Declaration

I make sound decisions. I gather enough facts and information backed by prayer to make impactful decisions.

It Matters What You See : Lessons From Nelson Mandela

Eyes that look are common eyes that see are rare. I was reflecting on what a British clergyman called Fredrick Langbridge wrote ; “two men looked out from prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars”. Thinking about how Nelson Mandela managed to spend 27 years in jail without losing hope, I cant help but feel that he had a different perspective – he saw the rainbow nation beyond the dark clouds of apartheid. To get into his mind you need to read Mandela’s favourite poem by William Ernest Henley’s Victorian era poem, “Invictus” (1875), meaning “Unconquered.”

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.

 Mandela inscribed on his prison wall  the last two verses  of this poem. Before the 1995 World Rugby Cup final, Mandela gave this poem to the captain, Francois Pienaar  of the South African national rugby team the Springboks who went on to win the World Cup.

You might be faced with the biggest challenge of your life right now. There is a ‘bug bear’ which has been nagging you and you want to get rid of it? Your life feels like you are in cul de sac – just going round in circles, or you feel like you are riding a rocking horse – all motion no progress? It is time to change your perspective. Take a step out of the situation, gain perspective and approach things with fresh insight and understanding. It’s time to change perspective to alter the course of your life and that of others. To change your world you need to change your perspective.

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…/