Saturday, November 14, 2009

Information + EMOTION => desired action!

Now that’s an awkward title for an article, and I believe most would agree with me, but symbols could be quite powerful and I’d like to “think outside the box” (or is without a box now!?) and do differently. So that’s my title!

STORY 1: There are over 5 million unemployed youths and graduates in Nigeria today, and we believe government, individuals and organizations have a compelling moral obligation to tackle this escalating economic predicament that threatens the persistence of the Nigerian state. We have many graduates that do not have jobs, and are wasting away by the millions. At the last count, over 5 million graduates were found to be unemployed. If nothing is done about this, then we are at risk of failing as a nation and branding ourselves as a classic reference for a failed state where nothing worked, most were downtrodden and remained perpetually at the rear of the social ladder with no hope of redemption.

You would agree with me that this is quite an interesting story (partly true and maybe worrying too), that warrants light-speed attention and planning and ought to jump-start all parties into instant action! If you would rightly observe, this story is quite familiar and does not seem to have the edge required to challenge the intended audience, by force-shifting their transmission from the deplorable “Parking” state to “Drive”, or better still “Turbo Drive +” (for those of us that drive Mercedes, and I’m not talking about v-boot here).
Many would probably sigh, think for a few minutes, discuss with a few friends, unanimously condemn the situation together and then utter the expected statement – God is working, things will get better by God’s grace – AMEN, and that’s it! We move on to the ‘real’ issues of life.

……but we’ve been using this same christianese phrase for donkey years, though I think it’s hypocritical and has yielded little or practically no result – infact, things have gotten worse, but we still keep saying the same thing. Maybe God should be held responsible, or what do you think? Or could it be that the responsibility is really ours, and that we’ve just found a convenient way to shift it to someone up there who we all know hardly speaks audibly, at least in physical terms). Now I’m starting to get emotional, and I’m digressing too.

Let’s get back to the main point! STORY 1 doesn’t linger, doesn’t stick in the memory of the intended audience, and definitely produces little action.

STORY 2: Chukwuemeka is a bright young student who read Mechanical Engineering as an undergraduate at Ahmadu Bello University. He graduated with honors, completed his mandatory NYSC Youth Service program in Abuja, and subsequently returned to University of Jos because he was not retained where he served, and could not secure a job after several unsuccessful attempts at tests and interviews. He could not afford the fees for a Master’s degree and since he had no one to look to for help (His father is late and his mother sells vegetables in the village), he resorted to selling telephone recharge cards. The odds of him getting a good job are fast declining, given the fact that most employers have age limits and would always prefer to employ “fresh” minds.

Ladies and gentlemen, there were 2 million examples of Chuwuemeka in Nigeria in 2000, but today, we have at least 5 million. Chukwuemeka is your cousin, your neighbor, your recharge card vendor, and maybe your brother. Tunde had a similar experience as Chukwuemeka, but has since resorted to Fraud and armed robbery. I do not pray for this, but at this rate, there’s a good chance your son could grow up to become just like Chukwuemeka, or worse still Tunde. What we do right now will determine what happens next.

Wow! So this is what is really happening, and there’s a good chance my son can become like this??? The answer to that is………..well……………, YES!!!!

Those are the kinds of questions that would race through the minds of those in your audience, and I could almost guarantee that you’ve just successfully launched your “Network Marketing business”. People will talk even more, and many will certainly ACT. Remember what we really want is for people to


Stories are real, personal and they stir up emotions, hence everyone can relate to them. Statistics and theories are real too, but they are impersonal and unemotional. At best, they make us exclaim WOW…...but that’s where it ends.
How we love to quote the stats and present data, but they seem to never work when they stand just by themselves.

Next time you want to communicate and get results, tell good stories and support them with the stats.


Sunday, September 06, 2009


When I was younger, I often dreamed that God would “just bless me” with immense wealth, such as would enable me ‘make a huge positive difference’ in my society. It didn’t require detailed investigation and intelligence to recognize that there were enormous human needs all around me, but I often felt helpless and constrained thinking that I didn’t have enough to make an impact.

That feeling of being drowned and overwhelmed with the myriad of visible challenges of friends and neighbors often meant I did significantly less than I was actually capable of doing at that time (regrets!).
In terms of the sheer quantity of help needed by people in my sphere of influence today, there hasn’t been much of an improvement (in fact, it has increased exponentially!).

Many more people need clothes, food, portable water, shoes, school fees, laptops, internet access, admission, parental care, health facilities, cars, employment, rehabilitation, encouragement, financial support, accommodation, recommendations……and that list is virtually endless.

I do believe that the most pressing need of men is spiritual reform, but how can we communicate genuine concern for the souls of men, if we ignore their most pressing needs? (looking at it from their own perspective). Maslow’s Pyramid of Needs indicates the desire to live and persist as the most fundamental, and that is in fact, practically authentic.

MLK said above all, I see ministry as a dual process. On the one hand, I must attempt to change the soul of the individual so that their societies may be changed. On the other, I must attempt to change the society so that the individual soul would have a change. Therefore, I must be concerned about unemployment, slums and economic security. (from The Autobiography of Martin Luther King Jnr)

“Make a difference’ or ‘make an impact’ are buzz words today that readily challenge us to act and do something positive for another (or the society), but I wonder how much of an impact these words have had on us. I would rather recommend a return to the traditional “help that person beside you” phrase. It’s simple and straightforward. There’s no grandiose grammatical construct to hide behind, in such simple but yet powerful phrase.

Today, I’m glad I’ve learned from past mistakes, and readily recognize that I’m ALWAYS in a position to help someone, and pull another one up. There are enormous needs around us, and they present themselves on a daily (perhaps hourly) basis, but many of us still frequently pass on these opportunities. It’s quite easy for us to forget that the privileges we have is by no means a product of our abilities, but by the supreme placement and GRACE of GOD, who expects us to extend the same without reservation to all starting with those around us.

I no longer waste precious moments thinking of hitting a jackpot of a billion dollars In order to help someone. The little I’ve got is sufficient to help that person right beside me. If 1% of Nigerian families could adopt just one child from the orphanage, I doubt we would have any need for orphanages (they would have become museums in a matter of seconds!)

A few tips on how to help someone:

Make a habit of giving pedestrians a free ride in your car (it’s not always dangerous to do that!).

Pay schools fees of kids around you, that you know ought to be in school, but can’t afford it.

Send your house-maids to school.

Give way to traffic on the left.

Stop at Zebra Crossings

Don’t throw garbage out of your window.

Never use abusive or curse words on anybody, but encourage and bless instead.

Buy a couple of shirts for someone.

Buy good books and text books for people (Very important!)

Make a habit of giving your good but old clothes to people you know have just a few clothes.

Make a habit of keeping only stuff you really need, and give away everything else!!!

Visit the orphanage and homes of the physically challenged at least twice a year.

Sponsor Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education for one or more persons.

Buy laptops and computers for students and other people around you.

Earmark a fixed percentage of your income as donations to charities and other foundations.

Support ministries that you believe are genuine.

Pay your tithe.

and many more ways of making a difference (Sorry! i meant "helping someone"!)

You see – it doesn’t take meticulous planning or the brain of a rocket scientist to make simple interventions!

Friday, June 26, 2009


…because I am King, I was born and entered the world so that I could witness to the truth. – John 18:37

...the food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work He started. – John 4:34 (References from THE MESSAGE BIBLE)

We were hewn out of God by God Himself, and therefore, possess His creative power to execute His specific and personalized assignments for us. In contemporary terms, we all have a purpose. PURPOSE is a buzzword today, and there are numerous Christian and Business publications addressing this critical issue from multiple perspectives. The use of this word has increasingly become pervasive, such that we now reference it as some sort of automated mechanism that once acquired and deployed, makes success inevitable. Make no mistake about the fact that not understanding the purpose of a thing eventually results in undermining it, but I would like us to explore deeper beyond the realm of ‘purpose’.

Ammunition and sophisticated combat equipment (such as warheads and F-18s) could be kept in some military base, and their purpose and applications could be well understood (such as for protecting civilians, combating crime, training military personnel, or even entertainment in the form of air shows). Because their purpose is well understood, there may be no case of misuse. A radically different scenario is one in which these items are strategically deployed to combat and defeat enemy forces in an actual war-front, in order to secure or recover lost territory, and subject same to their own sovereign laws. Now that’s a classic instance of what I would refer to as Ammo deployed on Assignment! Let us refer to the duration within which this ‘war’ was planned and waged as a CYCLE. Think of this CYCLE as your LIFE-TIME. Without intending to play with words, I’m convinced that there’s a difference between YOUR PURPOSE & YOUR ASSIGNMENT.

There’s an epidemic of purposeful people who seem not to have a clue as to what their specific Assignment entails. The subject of Purpose has a tendency to be occasionally vague, but make no mistake, assignments are always highly specific. The responsibility lies with every man to take the initiative, and actively seek to discover and subsequently execute his assignment.

(…a bit of Digression)
The purpose of attending a formal arrangement called a graduate or business school is to learn, but more importantly, learn how to learn. (We ought to go to school to learn the skill and discipline of how to keep ourselves relevant and informed throughout life! The process is more important than the outcome. I studied computing in school, but that isn’t sufficient indication that I would run a software firm. The process of learning computing in school has helped me acquire the critical skills and discipline of applying myself to actionable knowledge. I have since leveraged these skills in developing additional competencies (informally) that are necessary for executing my assignment (in national planning and reformation, strategy and execution). This process would certainly result in my attaining a higher level of effectiveness than many persons that actually studied to acquire these competencies in formal arrangements! This does not undermine the importance of formal arrangements, as they are very critical for aggregating/harvesting knowledge for human development.)

This publication doesn’t particularly address purpose, passion or preferences. However, all of these are prime pointers to what this article addresses, which is your assignment! I’ve decided to look beyond “Purpose” in this publication, for the purpose of charting new frontiers and developing a radically different perspective of approaching life. This message is intended to be life-transforming and at the same time, life-constraining. When one man refuses to execute his assignment, the often result is that it is merged with another man’s assignment, and this second man automatically receives the reward of executing that assignment, in addition to the reward of executing his own original assignment.

This truth is Life-transforming because it ought to change our lives completely, and help us effect a fundamental shift. It should pierce into the very depths of our souls and completely change our views and perspectives about life, assignments and death (in that order because our assignments start at birth, and end with our transition into the reward-zone). We build our lives upon foundational/fundamental perspectives that we form, and occasionally reconstruct over our life-times. These constructions, deconstructions and re-constructions are influenced by a myriad of factors, chief of which is the environment, culture and family values. (Huntington and Harrison addressed this extensively in “Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress”). On this background, I still firmly believe that the concept of right and wrong foundations is not subject to the theory of relativism.

Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set ye free!

This doesn’t sound like a negotiation! It’s cast in diamond-stone. There is the right foundation. There is the truth. There is the right way to do things. There is the right way to train a child. There is the right way to lead a country. And then what you have left is everything else - Counterfeits!

Though we were brought up in different societies, with varying income-groups, different cultures with different histories, different methods of getting things done and even still, different standards of measuring success, there remains nevertheless, the right foundation, irrespective of our circumstances. Therefore, we must accept this fundamental truth that life is all about assignments, and these assignments can only be successfully executed on the right foundation, knowing that everything else about our lives revolves around our Assignments.

This truth is "Life-constraining" because everything is subject to the theory of constraints. Everything (except one) has its own boundaries. Even though boundaries have the ability to be extended and pushed out, they would always remain. Therefore, life ought to be lived in such a way that limits it to certain boundaries, which when violated will spontaneously ignite the law of diminishing returns. Let us recognize that our limited cognitive and intuitive abilities are the reasons we invented what we call infinitesimal quantities. The fact that we cannot measure some quantities accurately, or estimate the dimensions of certain elements of nature does not make these elements infinite from the point of view of the Original Intelligent Designer.

We humans are the ones who by reason of boundaries and limitations, lack the ability to measure these seemingly immeasurable quantities. We must therefore recognize that our Assignments are always applicable within specified contexts. When we stray beyond our allocated layouts, that basic law of economics (diminishing returns) sets in. In a few words, our assignments demand that we limit ourselves to the relevant and most critical things. Allocating our limited resources to none value-adding or conflicting activities would significantly compromise our ability to execute our assignments.

END OF Part 1

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


It’s now common place to hear people complain daily that “I’m very busy”. I theefore decided to take an in-depth look at this phenomenon, and ascertain whether it’s true that some folks are really busy and occupied, while others just merely observe time as it fleets never to return.I decided to look at my life (not in a narcissistic sense) over the years, and I basically discovered I haven’t actually gotten busier over the years. It’s just that some sort of displacement reaction has taken place.

My point is I’ve been pretty occupied over the years (high school, university, youth service and now work/volunteering/development consulting) and it’s just my priorities that have changed in sync with the demands of each stage of my life. I would hypothetically state that this is probably true for many people (perhaps everybody). If you ask me, I’d gladly tell you that the home-maker (21st century term for house-wife) who stays at home watching AfricaMagic has also got her hands full, and has the right to say she’s busy. In case you’re asking why?? I’d love to inform you that it takes work, i.e. a great degree of concentration to follow storylines for hours upon hours. Whether this sort of work adds value is another discussion entirely. (I’m not in any way endorsing compulsive habits that lead us nowhere!)

You see, there are demands placed upon us at every stage of our lives. There are activities that ought to be more strategic per season. We must not misplace activity for productivity, and we must be careful about equating the quantity of effort with the enormity of results. Our focus today is on the word busy and let’s not forget this has little to do with that heavy word called relevance. As some say, busyness doesn’t imply business!

I believe the most important thing for every one of us is to locate ourselves constantly (using some mental GPS positioning device) and recognize the activities that deserve allocation from our limited reserve of 24 hrs daily. In simple words, we ought to allocate time to the more noble, and more rewarding competing ends (whatever that means to you!). One man is very passionate about his career and therefore works very late on a daily basis, while another one places high priority on his family by refusing to take his laptop home. Yet another considers his ministry top priority, and gallivants around the globe ministering to the needs of others while neglecting some of the basic needs of his family. The amusing fact is that each man possibly has sufficient proof to justify his formula for allocating his time.

However, I would suggest that the keyword is balance. There’s something I learnt in high-school economics, called scale-of-preference. We must continually strive to maintain a balance between the numerous competing ends in our lives. This balancing act must be based on an ideology, or an established system of values. If you ask me, I’d gladly tell you that the WORD-of-GOD ought to be our compass at all times. (I’m a Christian, and would gladly tell you that only the Spirit of God can help a man attain the designation of a certified time resource-allocator, but that man must be willing to follow His lead).

I would recommend that we allocate more time to tasks that add more value, and less time to those tasks that are less important. Value is another subject that I would not delve into in this exposition, but judging the value-potential, or value-content of an activity in my opinion is a function of its persistence-attribute. In simple terms, are the rewards of such activity temporal, long-term, or eternal? (another quick one – I’d rather allocate more time to my primary area of calling, than to those things I’m just not gifted for!......even though I’m convinced I’ll be better than Roger Federer someday!)

Next time you say to yourself, I’m very busy, that could well be the perfect time to reassess, revalidate, reconfigure and re-scrutinize the tasks you’ve been dwelling on (just to be sure they are the right tasks, whatever right means to you!)

Here’s another one for us to watch out for – it’s called Temporal Intelligence (TI – measures our ability to master time and extract maximum value from time by applying ourselves optimally in the time dimension). TIME MASTERY by John Clemens & Scott Dalrymple highly recommended!

It’s an addition to the intelligence family (IQ – Intelligence Quotient, EQ – Emotional Intelligence, SI – Social Intelligence, EI – Ecological Intelligence)

Cheers to all busy folks out there!

Friday, March 20, 2009

...In Dire Need of Dimensionalist Leaders for National Reformation.

A Dimensionalist leader is one who dives into possibilities in time (temporal intelligence) and changes the current atmosphere before time catches up, so that the fullness of time merely provides a physical evidence of the visualized realities of his futuristic dwelling (Paraphrased from Tudor Bismark). True visionaries live constantly in the future. They often have to be alerted to present realities so that they can ‘descend’ from the heights, and help propel the ‘many’ that are locked in the realities of the present, into the limitless possibilities of the future.

A habitual critic is the anti-thesis of a dimensionalist. The critic has a penchant and skill for pinpointing inadequacies. The critic often relies on unproven ‘facts’ and even when the facts have been substantiated, he blows them out of proportion and beclouds his target with doom. He’s quick to pass judgment, and often delivers his verdict before the defendant is given an opportunity to express his opinion, or stage an appeal.

The critic finds it virtually impossible to see the positives in a sequence of events. He’s quick to pick out and stress the inconsistencies in a system, and uses such as an excuse to discredit a process in its entirety. Critics abound, and are not difficult to find. You come across them every day. They are often self righteous and disillusioned folks who believe their prescription and point of view outlines the right course of action. In essence, the critic finds it a lot easier, to see the evil rather than the good, the risks rather than the opportunities, and a corrupt Nigeria, rather than a nation on the path to greatness. ARE YOU A CRITIC?

The demands of this age impose a condition that states that it is impossible to be effective and to deliver groundbreaking results without learning the rudiments of dimensionalist thinking and living. Many are held bound with the chains of the past. Jerry Savelle says that if your memories are bigger than your dreams, then you are in deep trouble! The average mind always thinks of the present, and focuses on meeting the immediate demands. He consistently fails to recognize that no matter how efficiently he reactively (rather than proactively) solves his problems, he’ll always remain a step behind. It’s about time to break free from the ideology of comfort and the tyranny of custom.

The dimensionalist leader is pre-occupied with what could be, rather than what has been, or what currently is. Dimensionalist leaders go beyond rhetoric and oratory. They understand the “theory of flow” (every single activity, including formal, informal, planned and unplanned; constitutes a part of a coordinated system that can deliver massive results), and discard the concept of ‘discontinuities’. They are not just motivators or charismatic warheads and human engineers. They are what we would accurately label as STRATEGIC AGENTS AND DISCIPLINED EXECUTIONISTS THAT EMPLOY INNOVATIVE AND SYSTEMATIC MODELS FOR NATIONAL REFORMATION. In the word’s of Martin Luther king, They have been to the mountaintop and have seen the promised land. They are transformed non-conformists.

An example of a dimensionalist leader is our very own Fela Durotoye. He "has been to 2025", and has decided to live in the Nigeria that exists in 2025. It’s very different from today’s Nigeria. That’s why an average mind finds it hard to comprehend his message that says that Nigeria would be one of the most desirable nations to live in, in the world by 2025. He’s not bordered by the events and systems that currently prevail. There’s no place for criticisms and expression of doubts. The only thing that’s left to do is to get busy with implementation.

In the WORD, it’s called FAITH. Abraham (Father of FAITH) raised an army of 318 soldiers and defeated 5 kings. Dimensionalist leaders are preoccupied with raising vibrant armies, and building the critical mass of strategic change agents and value enforcers. You see, we don’t need very large numbers. The question is ARE YOU WILLING TO BE A PART OF THAT FEW? Thereafter, he met with Melchizedek, paid tithes to him and received bread (representing the doctrine of the kingdom) and wine (infilling of the Spirit) from Melchizedek. These were the ‘resources’ he needed to overcome the Sodomic systems in place. He received the blessings of elevation, dominion and possession. Kingdom resources are accessed by FAITH. The resources of the LAND OF PROMISE are accessed by FAITH.

For every corrupt world system founded on philosophical thinking and luciferian ideology, there’s a kingdom (apostolic) model and a prophetic process that counters and replaces it. Dimensionalist leaders have the ability to understand mysteries, access hidden architecture and receive revelation knowledge that sets them up for supernatural accomplishments. Corrupt systems were propagated into society by strategic agents. In the same vein, these evil and repressive systems must be replaced by kingdom models and kingdom thinking mechanisms for strategic infiltration into society. However, accessing kingdom keys isn’t achieved on a platter of Gold. It’s done through hard work and travailing. Gone are the days of pontificating, pretensive postulations and traditional ideologies.

The choice is yours. You could choose to be expert at identifying and complaining about the inadequacies of our current system, or you might just decide to become a solution to some of the problems we are currently facing. Money is the reward for solving problems. Those who walk by FAITH have understood that solutions can be ‘downloaded’ from above. There is A realm of problem solving that eclipses natural human reasoning ability. That’s the realm that dimensionalists walk in. They have understanding of the times, know what ought to be done, and get right down to executing it.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Story of Success - Its beginning...and then conclusion.

Malcolm Gladwell's latest book offers great insight into the dynamics, subtleties and undercurrents that influence and somewhat induce exceptional achievements amongst humans.
Using historical data, and referencing a diverse range of vignettes and experiences over centuries, he carefully carves out a "cause and effect" correlation between a host of environmental, cultural, psycological and physical factors, and the corresponding 'output'.

In a few words, successful people don't get successful by accident! There's often a long chain of causatives and other events that may have been set in motion long before we came on board this plane called earth. While pondering over the possibility that my position in life today may have been conditioned (to a significant degree) by events that lie outside of my domain of influence and control, i began to realise that there's so much to be grateful for. (Where would i be today if i had been born in war torn societies like somalia, somewhere around the mid nineties?) I'd rather not imagine!

Days later, i read through Daniel Goleman's blog (As is my custom) in search of new updates on the social/emotional intelligence theme, and i hit a jackpot! He had just written a review on "Outliers - The Story of Success" and there it was. The missing piece of the puzzle in Gladwell's best seller.

Here's the rest of the "Story of Success"

by Daniel Goleman -

In his fascinating new book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell makes a strong case that people owe their success to a lot more than IQ. He reviews data and offers convincing cases to show that above an IQ in the neighborhood of 110-115, IQ fails as a predictor of success in a career. In other words, you need to be smart enough to handle the cognitive complexity of the information you need for a given role or job, be it engineering, law, medicine, or business. That’s the IQ around 115. But after reaching that threshold of “smart enough,” your intellect makes little difference.

That explains why, when Harvard’s Howard Gardner reviewed longitudinal data that follows people from their early years into their career, he concluded that IQ alone predicts just 6 to 10 percent of career success. That leaves lots of room for other factors, like luck and circumstance. Gladwell makes the case for these very factors, arguing that one’s cultural and family background offer habits and outlooks that, given fortunate historical circumstances, can make some people highly successful.
But there’s more to the story.
Gladwell illustrates the case for circumstance and luck with fascinating tidbits about success, like the fact that Bill Gates and Bill Joy, two titans of the computing industry, just happened to be lucky in getting access to some of the earliest computers around in a day when almost no one had even seen one – and then were able to practice thousands of hours writing computer code starting in their teen years, and so get a jump on the fledgling software industry.

Or the fact that an entire generation of Jewish immigrants around the turn of the century was able to bring business and craftsmen’s skills they had mastered in Europe into entrepreneurial success in America. Their industrious and enterprising habits then became a model that benefited their children, some of who were to become lawyers. Those who happened to be born around 1930 and had easy access to good schooling because their generation had relatively few children; on entering a career in law, many were turned down by the most prestigious law firms of their day, but then went on to become enormously successful because they were the first to get involved in litigation for corporate takeovers – a business those other, more haughty law firms disdained.

There’s little doubt that the mix of such lucky circumstance and personal backgrounds matter for success. But there’s more to the story. A maxim of social science tells us that in some respects, every person is like every other person, like some other people, and like no other person. Gladwell has unpacked the middle range of factors, the ways certain groups or cohorts experience unique circumstances that can, with a bit of circumstantial luck, make them hugely successful.

But here’s where the rest of the story starts. Gladwell says nothing about individual differences within those groups or cohorts – why only some in that fortunate group go on to great success. He does not raise the next set of questions like: Why didn’t all the members of the school club that gave the young Bill Gates that early access to a computer become billionaires like him? Or why didn’t all the Jewish lawyers born in 1930 become huge successes like the handful of cases Gladwell focuses on?

Here a good part of the answer no doubt can be found in which individuals among those groups has a higher level of competencies like adaptability and initiative, the drive to continually improve performance, and empathy skills like sensing how another person thinks or feels. Such abilities give a person the drive to achieve, the initiative and the interpersonal effectiveness that success in a field like software (drive and initiative) and law (add in interpersonal effectiveness) require.

A massive amount of data collected by companies on their own people suggests that such personal abilities are the secret ingredient in success over and above those Gladwell describes so ably. The data I’m referring to derives from “competence modeling,” in which companies systematically analyze the abilities found in their stars (those in the top ten percent of performance by whatever metric makes sense for that specific job or role) but not found in counterparts who are mediocre. A goodly amount of these abilities – like initiative, the drive to achieve, and empathy — are in the emotional intelligence domain. Competence studies show that the higher a person goes up the organizational ladder, the more prominent the role these personal abilities play in performance. In other words, the more successful someone is, the greater the contribution of this skill set to his or her triumph.

This is good news for anyone who would like to see success in life shared widely, rather than given to a lucky few who happen to be born into a fortunate, charmed set of circumstances. One way to give every child a greater chance for career success – and a good life in general – would be to have curricula in social and emotional learning (see a standard part of schooling. Data shows that children who are systematically taught social and emotional skills like how to manage their distressing emotions better, empathize and collaborate do better: have fewer problems like substance abuse and violence, like school more and pay more attention in class – and score significantly better (11%, on average) on academic achievement test scores.

The best news: the benefits are greatest in those schools where children need this boost the most, like those from the poorest families. That’s the rest of the story of success. END

Need i say more!? Thats the end of the story.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

How Sustained Economic Progress Underscores Energy Innovation

We currently live in a world where prosperity/sophistication/affluence and poverty/destitution/inadequacy surprisingly co-exist. This isn’t an unusual state that our world is in, but what’s unusual is the staggering number of people that are in the former state, i.e. impoverished!

Dipal Barua, Managing Director of Grameen Shakti (and Deputy MD of Grameen Bank, i.e. right hand man to Muhammed Yunus, The Nobel Prize laureate) was awarded the Zayed Future Energy Prize ($1.5 million) for his pioneering work in facilitating the provision of solar powered lanterns to millions of homes that do not have access to electricity in Bangladesh, and empowering indigenous entrepreneurs to help service these same devices in these communities. This helped to radically cut-back the hazardous and hardly effective use of low intensity naked flames as light sources. Kids can now do their home-works at night; entrepreneurs can now work better after sunset and many other possibilities have become a reality.

World leaders have since realized the potential catastrophe that could result if the current state we are all in persists. Many of us would be surprised to learn that much more than a billion people have never experienced the joy of electricity, or the use of electrically powered devices; let’s not even begin to consider these colleagues of ours having access to the internet, or even making telephone calls.

On this premise, many nations (at least those that care to look, perceive, understand and act) have embarked on a host of empowerment/enlightenment/development programs aimed at mitigating, perhaps overturning these unacceptable conditions existing amongst humans with supposedly equal rights (at least that’s what we have inscribed on documents such as our Sovereign Constitutions, or the UNs “Universal Human Rights Declaration”)

A host of economic development and rural empowerment programs have been enacted by Development Strategists in National and Multilateral Development agencies and not-for-profits all around the globe and these are being implemented and monitored by experienced executionists. One of the core challenges we however face in our time, has been the unprecedented surge in human population. This essentially translates into much less accessibility to and availability of fixed resources per head. (Examples of relatively fixed resources are Water, Land, Air, and Subsurface Resources including metals and fossil fuels and some more). Hence, we are left with no option but to find ‘better’, i.e. ‘more efficient’ and ‘conservative’ ways of utilizing these limited resources fairly.

We humans are great learners, and have an extraordinary ability to adapt to changes that we recognize (or more accurately, changes that we choose to recognize). Take a peek at a city like London. The average apartment is so small (relatively), that a middle-class first time visitor (or immigrant) from Nigeria would begin to wonder whether the houses were built for high school students. But the reality is London has had to adapt to the surge in population, and by implication, such huge demand (and fixed supply) for real estate because of her esteemed status of “Leading Global Commercial Nerve Center”.

My focus here is on energy, and I want to point out that significant and sustained economic advancement would remain an elusive dream if we do not ensure that energy is reliably available, and not at a high cost to help power entrepreneurial and development activity. (‘High cost’ refers to whatever we have to pay for it, be it in strict economic terms, or in less definite terms such as the destruction of our ecological and environmental systems).

I’ll be swift to point out that renewable/alternative energy technologies are not designed to replace fossil fuels and other traditional sources we’ve been familiar with. Rather, the purpose of exploring and developing these technologies is to complement and expand /diversify our energy base. The pace of anticipated economic development that is required to bring out millions (perhaps billions) out of extreme poverty would create enormous increase in energy demand that legacy sources would certainly not be able to cope with.

Furthermore, even if additional reserves of legacy energy sources (such as coal, gas, crude-oil, bitumen and some more) are discovered in large enough quantities, and are exploited to keep up with rising demand, then we may end up sacrificing the critical life support systems of our planet altogether in the name of ‘economic growth’. Already, scientific data has provided more than enough evidence to support the proposition that human activities have exacerbated CO2 (and other GHG) concentrations in our atmosphere, resulting in a climate imbalance that threatens both aquatic and terrestrial life.

CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage) technology, Geo-Thermal energy, CO2 reinjection into petroleum reserves for EOR (Enhanced Oil Recovery), The CDM’s (Clean Development Mechanism) Emissions Trading (of Carbon credits using “Cap & Trade” to help orchestrate flow of funds from the culprits, i.e. industrialized economies, to developing economies and in the process cutting back net-global emissions), and the new-improved Nuclear Technology, have all proven to hold significant promise for clean energy. Japan for instance, derives about 30% of its energy needs from nuclear technology. Though Nuclear technology has been quite controversial (particularly with respect to dilemma of dealing with nuclear waste), we have to understand that just about only 10% of global nuclear waste is a product of the civilian applications of nuclear technology, and the technology has been greatly improved. (Please do not ask where the other 90% of nuclear-wastes came from). Also, Iceland has exploited geo-thermal energy to take care of more than half of her energy needs.

The readily and abundantly available energy of the Sun and Wind provide massive opportunities for even larger scale implementation than earlier mentioned sources. CSP (Concentrated Solar Panel) technology is being utilized for the MASDAR project ( in Abu Dhabi, UAE. CSP is about seven times more efficient than traditional solar panels, and holds great promise for harnessing solar energy.

The path we face now is that of entire cities being powered by solar, wind and other forms of abundant, long-lasting renewable energy sources. Admittedly, many of these projects require enormous financial and human start-up capital (tell me which project doesn’t require that!), but once they are up, marginal costs of keeping them operational decline steeply. Worthy of note is that many rural areas, especially in the developing world currently do not even have the luxury of a nearby grid. Grid expansion projects require enormous capital, and are usually the exclusive domain of national governments. However, renewable energy technologies (such as solar and wind) do not have to be fed into a grid.

Independent projects could (and ought to) be implemented and replicated in several remote communities, implying partial elimination of grid expansion/distribution costs over large areas.

Efficiency is an absolutely important aspect of energy production, transmission and usage. A research conducted in a region of the United States showed that the average grid was about thirty years of age. This sounds more like a case of powering today’s economy with yesterday’s energy solutions. A lot of energy is actually wasted during transmission on in-efficient grids. (I wonder how much energy we lose on our poorly maintained grids in Nigeria, and Africa). Investing in grid-efficiency, and efficient usage of other energy sources have been proven to hold the potential for achieving 25% of the emission reduction targets that have been set for 2050 (i.e. returning global emissions to 1990 levels). We now have to think deeply when making choices about which cars to purchase (but this has little to do with my desire to purchase a BMW when the money comes – BMW has a technology that converts the heat energy generated when you apply your brakes to electricity, which is then harnessed for other uses in your car plus a low-resistance rolling technology that allows your wheels to roll with so much ease, reducing the energy needed to overcome gravity and friction. BMW ought to pay me for this!)

We need to be innovative. We need our economies to continue developing rapidly. We need energy, and more energy. We also need to take care of our planet (except someone has found another one). We need as many as possible to have fair access to 21st century technologies and resources, powered by reliable and renewable energy sources. Who knows whether the next Nigerian Nobel laureate is playing around in some remote village, waiting to be a given a well deserved opportunity for self-expression?

“Outliers” – A book written by Malcolm Gladwell brilliantly ties success (what many call genius) to opportunities (Time and Chance). Take nothing away from successful people; they worked hard and were rewarded, but they were presented with opportunities at dead accurate times that many did not have. Indeed, to whom much has been given, much is expected. If we want ‘much’ to come out of our societies, then we must present ‘much’ to our citizens. I’m excited NNPC has partnered with Masdar (The Future Energy Company, whose parent is the famous Mubadala) in aligning Nigeria with the Clean Energy movement. Great things lie ahead.

Renewable energy provides great opportunities that must be embraced now, and I dare say is the FUTURE of ENERGY. Well done MASDAR!