Change Management

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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Don’t Settle For Less When You Can Have More

If we have found favor in your eyes,” they said, “let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan. – Numbers 32:5

INSIGHT

The Gadites and Reubenites wanted to settle before crossing the Jordan. Moses rebuked them. Although this land was good…it wasn’t what God had promised. Imagined they begged to settle for less. A few thoughts crossed my mind:

1. Don’t settle for less when you can have more
2. Not everything that is good…is godly
3. If you are hunting for elephants don’t be distracted by rabbits

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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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Never Judge A Person By Where They Are Today: Lessons from Whats App

Facebook just bought messaging platform What’s App for USD19 billion. But guess what 5 years ago in 2009, the co founder Brian Acton of What’s App was turned down for a job by Facebook. What an interesting turn of events.

After a 19 billion windfall he is laughing or is it chatting all the way to the bank!

Facebook turned down WhatsApp’s co-founder for a job 5 years ago. Well they just paid UD19 billion for their lack of foresight!

1. Where you are is not who you are
2. Your situation is not your destination
3. Don’t underestimate your future worth, because of today’s value

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A FLOWER IS A WEED WITH A GOOD ATTITUDE

Another masterpiece from my 7 year old daughter. I will add my poetry to her art:

Flowers O flowers, beautiful flowers
I could smell you for hours
A flower is a weed with a good attitude
A weed is a flower without gratitude
A flower chooses to bloom
A weed chooses to gloom
Flowers rise in blossom
Weeds fall to the bottom

Today choose to be a flower!

Change Your World With Your Words

Your life goes in the direction of your words. To see where somebody is going with their life, you don’t need to see their life plan, just listen to their talk. Your language locates you.

I was talking to my brother in law about how our words shape our worlds. He shared how he once saw a car parked at a garage and he just said “I will buy this car and paint it black, and inscribe Knight Rider at the back”. Two years later he bought that car and he still has it – painted black and  inscribed “Knight Rider”  He  once told his friends that he was working at a top advertising agency when he was not working there at all. A month later he got a job in that company! The words we speak have creative power. In fact Hebrews 11:3 tells us that “ …by faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God”.  God spoke and it became! Let there be light, and there was light. Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind, and it was so.

Reorganise Your World

In the beginning the earth was without form. It was just a chaotic mass. The picture was not beautiful. However God spoke His word to ‘frame’ the chaotic mass. Deep darkness covered the earth, but God spoke light into existence and a frame of light covered the earth. Words reorganised the landscape of the earth to give us the beauty we see today. There could be disorder, a mess, chaos or lack in your life today? You can speak your way out of the situation. If the bank account is in negative balance, you can declare that “my account is overflowing”   If there is sickness in your body you can say “I am bubbling with health”. This sounds like a simple solution to life’s complex problems. But that’s the way it is – profoundly simple!

Words Create The Context of Your Life

I recently read the autobiography of America Civil Rights leader, Rev Dr Martin Luther King. What a powerful man of his generation. He was graced with exceptional leadership gifts. Yet his life was cut out at such an early age. As I read his book, I picked up in more than five instances how he would speak ‘prophetically’ about his own death. I couldn’t help but feel that he should not have predicted his own death. His words framed or created the context of his own premature death.

Words are spiritual. They create a reality. If you want to be the CEO of your company in a few years time, you better start speaking it now. Start framing the kind of life you want by using your mouth. Do not snare yourself with negative words. If you say I am going to get into trouble you will surely get into trouble.

There is magnetic force field created by our words. This force field is based on a principle – therefore it can work for or against you. Positive words will create a positive forcefield. Financial markets use this principle – one positive word from an opinion leader can create a bull run on the stock market, even without any fundamental basis. In psychology there is the labelling theory, which follows this same principle – if you label something good it will be good. Another sociological principle – the self fulfilling prophecy – if you expect things to turn our bad they will turn out bad. Create a positive context for your life.

Prophesy over your politics, economics, business, children, marriage, ministry or job. Start today to speak words that are positive, words that are seasoned with grace. Be an encourager. Only speak good news, and not be a bearer of bad tidings.

What we see now did not come from things that can be seen. This is the essence of faith – the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Call things that are not as though they were. Something might not be so beautiful but by faith just say  “Oh, this looks so beautiful”, then it will be beautiful.

 Your words must be backed by faith – speak what the eye of faith has seen, so tomorrow your hand can receive the fruit of your mouth.

A ‘Hare’ Raising BIG Fuss: A Small Trademark Wrecks a National Monument

(Picture: AP)The new Nelson Mandela statue at the Union Buildings. The statue is 9m high and made of bronze. (Helen Zille, Twitter)

I just read a news item of a small matter that has become such a big matter in South Africa. Its not completely unexpected – this is Nelson Mandela’s statue we are talking about. Here is the story – the sculptors who did the 9 metre Mandela statue wanted to put their trademark rabbit on the statue. They decided the best place to do it would be in Nelson Mandela’s ear  – how dare you!

The little rabbit is barely noticeable to the naked eye – but some prying long lens camera or binoculars picked it up. Then all hell broke loose. This small rabbit cannot stain the big person of Mandela. The little rabbit must go! The little rabbit probably costs less than USD1 compared to the almost USD1 million dollars cost of the statue.

Just a few thoughts ran through my mind and as usual I thought of some lessons:

  1. The small things in life have the potential to damage big things
  2. Little harmless actions can have serious unintended consequences – imagine a little trademark rabbit has become a sign of big disrespect!
  3. Always check the small stuff – ‘the rabbit is in the detail’