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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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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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You Have Broken Eggs … Make An Omelette

My 7 year old girl was recently hospitalised. She has such an unshakeable spirit. While in the ambulance I asked her how she was and she replied “This is so cool Dad…this is like a fireman’s car” A few hours in the hospital she asked that I bring her colouring kit. Instead of wallowing on her hospital bed she has decided to put her gift to great use. She has made several awesome paintings from her hospital bed amongst her best to date! The picture in this blog is one of the several she has done. I am inspired and challenged.

A few lessons to ponder about:

1. Masterpieces are born in moments of adversity
2. When life throws stones at you build a foundation. When life gives you clouds make some rain. When life gives you broken eggs make an omelette
3. You can’t decide what happens to you but you can decide how you respond

Have a great weekend. Remember your situation is not your destination. Where you are is not who you are.

I also share some of these key life lessons in my book How To Rise Like An Eagle which is available on Amazon.

Transform to Perform in 2014: Lessons From A Seed

In my morning devotions I was drawn to Paul’s writing on resurrection. He uses powerful imagery of a seed to make his point:

“…When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t a grow into a plant unless it dies first…You plant a “dead” seed; soon there is a flourishing plant. There is no visual likeness between seed and plant” 1 Corinthians 15:36 (NLT)

A seed is dry and looks almost lifeless, yet it has much potential. When a seed is planted in the darkness of the soil, it soon breakthroughs the soil into a glorious plant. Without going through this transformation process , this seed will not perform as a plant.

A few lessons to ponder as you start this week and looking ahead into 2014:

1. You have great potential in you. You may look nothing like it – dry, wilted and struggling, but there is something great and alive in you
2. The circumstances of life are the soil in which the seeds in you will be birthed
3. A seed is not ‘buried’ but ‘planted’. When going through transformation process you are not dying but being changed. You may not like the process, but it’s what brings your progress.
4. A photo is developed in a dark room like a seed. The negative experiences of life are the dark places where your potential is developed

Transform from dry seed to a lively plant. If you don’t transform you will deform. If you transform you will perform.

Declare: I have the seeds of greatness in me. I flourish where I am planted. I am productive and fruitful.

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You can get a copy of book Seeds of Greatness to fully appreciate the success lessons from seed.

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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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Small Steps To Solve Big Problems

There is a proverb that says “You eat an elephant piece by piece” This is an approach that you can use to tackle some of life’s goals and challenges in 2014. It’s good to set big goals at the start of the year. The enormity of the goals can be overwhelming if you don’t apply wisdom. There is a common story in which Jesus fed 5000 from a boys lunch of 2 fish and 5 loaves. How did he do it?

“For they were about 5000 men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by 50 in a company” – Luke 9:14

Let’s look at simple practical steps of solving a big problem:

1. Know your problem – the problem in this instance was hunger
2. Establish all the facts – the depth, height and width of your problem. They counted 5000 mouths to feed
3. Sit your problem down. A problems looks big if you “look up” to it. Look down at your problem
5. Organise your problem into small chunks. The 5000 was broken down into groups of 50

You may be facing a big problem or goal to today. Relax – problems gravitate towards solutions. You are a solution bringer. Go ahead and solve it!

Declaration

I am a problem solver. I create an opportunity for the supernatural to happen in my life by being organised. No problem is too big for me to solve. I am ready and equal to every task and challenge.

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