Four Word Story: Chale Wote Street Art Festival

                                

Walking through the streets of Jamestown was so different on April 14. It wasn’t a normal Saturday afternoon for me. It was one that gave me a lot of inspiration. It was the second edition of the Chale Wote Street Art Festival.

The festival celebrates the vibrant art traditions of urban life from visual media, experimental theater, and dance installations to extreme sports. It’s a very “young” festival since most people in the country aren’t aware of it.

For those of you who don’t know, chale simply means “friend” in Ghana and “wote” is a Ga word meaning “let’s go.” When you put both words together, you have “friend, let’s go” and that’s certainly what happened when I decided to go to the festival with some friends.

The Chale Wote street art festival taught me a few things….

#1 Chale, there are talented people in Ghana.

It was very easy to see talent all around. I was astonished at how some young guys could paint. Did I say guys? Maybe I am supposed to say boys.  The streets of Jamestown were painted. Some were done on wood and hung along the roadside. There were guys on skates doing dangerous tricks and they were incredible even though I feared for them most of the time. Don’t mind me…. I am just like that when it comes to people’s safety and health. There was a musical concert in the evening.  There were some technical hitches but that didn’t stop the event.

#2 It’s time for Ghanaians to embrace Ghanaian stuff

I am a huge fan of African fabrics, bracelets, shoes etc. I find it astonishing when people ask me sometimes why I wear them. You will never find me going “Britain” throughout the week. A few weeks ago, I was working at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and decided to pass by the Cultural Centre to get a new African-printed bag. There was an exhibition so the stuff was pretty affordable. Unsurprisingly, I met more foreigners than Africans or Ghanaians. I really don’t know why we don’t like our own stuff. I don’t know why we don’t write our own stories. I don’t know why we don’t promote our own culture. I don’t know why we don’t love ourselves enough to love our own things.

At the Chale Wote Street Art Festival, you could see foreigners more enthused about Ghanaian dresses, bracelets, anklets, necklaces than the citizens. They love stuff made in Ghana… while we cherish those made in China. I just implore my fellow Ghanaians to love Ghanaian stuff a bit. Chale, the country is for us oo…. We are the only ones who can make it better.

#3 There’s another fun thing in Ghana and this time…. It’s free.

Christmas, Easter, Independence Day… oh let me take out Independence Day. It’s really celebrated by the Ghanaians abroad. Those of us over here don’t care about it, right? If yes, I believe there is only one thing that gets Ghanaians excited…. Football or let me say “The Black Stars.” That’s the only time the nation goes agog especially after a victory. The Chale Wote festival is another opportunity for many Ghanaians who want to have fun but have limited options.

#4 Chale, we are gradually placing Ghana on the world map.

Ever heard of the group, Generik Vapeur from France? Yeah, they were there and that was the climax of the festival for me. They are usually called the “Blue Men” and they brought more fun to the festival. Having such a group at the festival meant a lot to Ghana and the organizers. Tourists visit the country each and every day. Soon, Ghana will be on the list of Lonely Planet’s top 10 countries to visit. We can do it and we must. Check out more incredible photos by Nana Kofi Acquah on his blog.

Big ups again to Accra [dot] Alt and the French Embassy for making it happen this year too.

I hope to see you next year at the festival. Can Ghana be the top country to visit? Let’s hear from you.

5 Life Lessons from the AFCON/CAN 2012

I can’t apologize enough for not blogging for so long. I just needed to get myself a new laptop since the old one was giving me some unbearable problems.  I could have blogged from my phone but I prefer blogging using my laptop. Nonetheless, I am happy to be back and I have so many things to share starting with the African Cup of Nations (AFCON/CAN 2012.)

Lesson 1: You can always prove people wrong

Have people written you off? Are they saying you can’t make it in life? Do you feel let down and can’t continue because all you hear are negative statements about your inability to be great? Do you remember the favorites for this year’s African Cup of Nations tournament? People expected Cote D’Ivoire or Ghana to lift the trophy. Nobody, I mean nobody, ever imagined Zambia lifting the trophy in Gabon but they proved everyone wrong. They didn’t get discouraged for not being regarded as one of the favorites. They stood their ground, fought and conquered. You can do the same. You might have been ruled out. You might have been discouraged but never lose faith in yourself. Never make your enemies happy…. Persevere.

 

Lesson 2: Never underestimate an opponent

We live in a world where people are overconfident and take things for granted. They find themselves wanting when the very foundations they boast of get shaken by the storms of life. Zambia defeated both favorites of the tournament on their way to lifting the trophy. They did so well…. They fought well but in their match against Ghana, it was so obvious that the Ghanaians underestimated them. The Ghanaians thought it was going to be a walkover and were really shocked at the end of the day. Never underestimate any opponent in your life no matter how strong you feel.

Lesson 3: Missed that spot kick? Rise and move on!

Missing a spot kick is like missing an opportunity in your life. For those who don’t know, a spot kick is a free kick at the goal from a point (penalty spot) within the penalty area and 12 yards (about 11 m) from the goal, with only the goalkeeper allowed to defend it: awarded to the attacking team after a foul within the penalty area by a member of the defending team. We sometimes miss opportunities in our lives but that shouldn’t put us down. That should rather lift us and make us aware that there will be other opportunities in the future. Renowned forwards like Asamoah Gyan and Didier Drogba missed penalty kicks in the tournament. Even in the final, the latter missed a penalty kick but that didn’t stop him from fighting for his country. He battled till the final whistle. We are bound to miss some opportunities in life but we must learn to keep a cool head, learn the lesson and move on. Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It just means you’re trying and learning in life.

 

Lesson 4: Unity is Key!

Some of the powerhouses of African football were absent at the tournament. Countries like Egypt, Nigeria, South Africa and Cameroon could not make it to Equatorial Guinea/Gabon. It was however expected that, either Ghana or Ivory Coast stood a greater chance of annexing the trophy but that didn’t happen. Before the tournament, people were so concerned with the confidence in the Ghana camp. I saw that to be overconfidence. Others protested it wasn’t. At the end of the tournament, we all heard what the ex-coach of Ghana said. “When spider webs unite, we can tie up the lion.” – Asante Proverb.

There was little or no unity in the Black Stars camp as that missed penalty kick by Gyan evidenced. Ayew was the one going to take the shot by Gyan went and took the ball from him. We heard of misunderstandings in the changing room etc. Together, we are better!

 

Lesson 5: After every good fight, there is a reward.

All the battles in your life will end with a trophy in your hands. When Christopher Katongo lifted the trophy for Zambia, it was a joy to behold. The 30 year old who was crowned Best Player at the AFCON2012 was a symbol of patriotism, perseverance and wisdom. There were matches that he couldn’t even play the whole 90 minutes but he did so well anytime he was on the field. He led his country with pride. He made the players know the essence of the tournament. In the final, the Zambians really struggled against the Ivorians but fought really hard. You may be going through a difficult time in your life.  Just fight on because at the end of the battle, there is always a greater reward. You will surely make it!

Stop waiting for something to happen, go out and make it happen.

 

Start the year with Alikoto Clothing!

Christmas is over… everything is back to normal. I don’t get suffocated in traffics like the days preceding the holidays. Yeah… I hate traffic… both vehicular and human. I doubt if there is anyone out there who cherishes them but you never know because we are all different.

Before the holidays, people went shopping for clothes, shoes, bags and any other thing you can possibly think of. I got myself some African shirts. Oh yeah, I love African shirts, shoes, bags, sandals and anything made in Africa by an African since they are unique, simple and define me better. I have been a fan of African dresses ever since I was born. Why? Because my parents made me wear them all the time and I am more proud of them for that. I have come to love African dresses and I know the best from the rest when I see them.

“The finest clothing made is a person’s skin, but, of course, society demands something more than this,” said Mark Twain. I always tell people that a person’s self-esteem is sometimes directly proportional to the clothes he wears. As I was shopping before the holidays, I saw samples of the dresses of Alikoto Clothing online. They are on facebook, twitter and tumblr. Seeing an item online is different from seeing it in person so I called and booked an appointment. Nothing comes close to the service and hospitality they deliver when you call them.

I saw the clothes… different designs, different colors, different shades and different sizes. Gentlemen, you are going to be surprised by how unique these shirts are. The quality and naturalness are unrivaled.

Let me state five reasons why I love them:

  • They are 100% natural be them cotton, nylon, silk or polyester.
  • They are comfortable.
  • They are reasonably priced.
  • They look very hip.
  • They can be washed with the hand or machine.

I must say that Alikoto clothing connotes uniqueness, quality and timeless beauty. I am covered for the first quarter of the New Year. I will surely go back for more as they keep on making new and cool dresses for men and women. Did I tell you that, I got compliments from a lot of ladies when I wore one to church on Christmas Day? I was the envy of most of the guys.

Alikoto Clothing can be found on facebook, twitter and tumblr. Talk about a clothing line that’s also tech-savvy and loves social media. You can also call them on (233) 269-138-021. As I celebrate the New Year, I am going to do that in style…… thanks to Alikoto Clothing. Don’t be left out, guys!

“Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly.”  – Epictetus

5 things I learned from BarCamp Ghana

The Christmas holidays are over. This time of the year is one I sometimes loathe because of the human and vehicular traffic. I know I am not the only one. Welcome to the life if you share my sentiments. Anyways, before the holidays, I got the opportunity to learn so many things in a day when young men and women from all walks of life met at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT on December 17.

The event was to highlight the importance of appropriate partnerships and corporate engagements in ensuring the success of projects, spurring wealth creation and economic growth. It featured mentors who shed light on how attendees could use successful partnerships and mentor support to scale up projects and businesses.  I get people asking what BarCamp is, anytime I’m seen in a Barcamp T-shirt (Too bad I didn’t get one on Dec 17.)

BarCamp is simply an ‘unconference’ – an ad-hoc gathering of people with the simple desire to share and learn in an open environment. Unlike a conference, at a BarCamp everyone is both a speaker and a participant. The content is provided by all attendees based on their interests.  Barcamps in Ghana bring people interested in Ghana together for an informal networking forum where attendees share ideas, discuss interests, network and learn how to add value to their lives and make impact in their communities. Since you now know what it means, here are the five things I learned from the event.

Iron sharpeneth Iron

The Bible says in the book of Proverbs that, “iron sharpeneth iron.” There is no better way to understand this than to attend a BarCamp event. If you thought you knew something, you go for the event, listen to other people and realize that you need to know more. Most often than not, you get some extra points and add to yours. In the “Art of Leadership” session, I met some vibrant leaders who shared a lot about leadership. I got the chance to be sharpened since leadership is a “skill.” Writers who went through the “Creative Writing” session would also testify to the fact that they got sharpened after the event. It’s better to be sharpened once in a while like a knife so you would cut through pieces of bread, materials etc so easily. Don’t wait to corrode before you act.

Mentorship is the way to go

One question was raised which caused a lot of debate. The question was “why are there few women in ICT?” I remember sharing ideas on this with a host of my friends including Kwabena, Ato, Prince, MacJordan and Amma Baffoe. I kept wondering even after leaving the premises. One answer I found was that, there are few mentors for the women in ICT. I know some of our women are in the field and very soon, Ghana is going to have a lot of prominent women who would serve as mentors. Enough of that and back to the mentorship part…. There was speed mentorship earlier in the morning. Nothing beats sitting beneath an elderly person and getting all the knowledge you can. We learn more from our elders than we do in a classroom. They have been in that position before and certainly know better so it’s so easy to tap into their knowledge and make good use of them. Creative Writing, Acting, Fashion, Banking to mention but a few were some of the knowledge imparted. One could easily get a business card from a mentor and bingo… you get the chance to forge a relationship for the future. Ghana has mentors and the young ones must realize this and make good use of them before all the knowledge is sent to the grave.

Ghana is equally greener

We keep on talking about brain drain. I know very well that it isn’t going to stop today but here is the catch: even if it’s greener at the other side, you would still have to mow the grass and also take care of the weeds. The same applies to the grass in Ghana. There are so many opportunities in Ghana. They are just wearing work clothes and seem so gargantuan. We refuse to see these opportunities. The likes of NandiMobile makes you believe that, Ghana is indeed a land of opportunities if you can see beyond the horizon. Success stories from various people who started from nowhere tend to uplift the spirits of others and that is exactly what BarCamp Ghana served. The motivation, the vim, the spirit was there and I tapped into that. Let’s mow our own grasses. Let’s make Ghana a better place to live. We can do it!

We already have the future think-tanks, Gates, Zuckerberg and Jobs of Africa

I wrote an article on the 5 lessons we could learn from the legacy of Steve Jobs (May he rest in peace) some few months ago. I must say that, there are some Ghanaians who could rise in this world and be the Jobs and Zuckerbergs of this world. The kind of ideas that are in people’s minds beats my imagination. At Barcamps, you realize how great some people think and that is contagious. Even if you have nothing on your mind, an idea suddenly pops up when someone is sharing a story. Yeah…. People started with nothing and are making something. I know very well that those people won’t rest but will aim for the stars.

I got to meet a host of these men and women. When I was young, I had a friend who would say, “Take me as a friend now because if you don’t, one day, you will join a queue just to see me.” Since our words are very powerful, he is the pastor of an Assemblies of God church in Accra and of course, you have to book an appointment if you want to see him except some of us who took him as a “friend” and can now call him to meet us anywhere when we need him. Networking is very important. It opens doors and BarCamp offers such an opportunity.

 

Our children/grandchildren will have the coolest of mothers.

“The surest way to keep people down is to educate the men and neglect the women. If you educate a man you simply educate an individual, but if you educate a woman, you educate a family” said Dr. Kwegyir Aggrey. At Barcamps, you see women exchanging ideas. The days where the woman’s place was the kitchen in Ghana are over. The days where women were so scared to stand for their rights are over. We are in the days where women are conscious of their environment, tech-savvy and are determined to make waves in the society. I am told BarCamp Tamale had a lot of women attendees than all the other Barcamps this year. It is a step in the right direction. I only hope there would be as many women as men next year and the years after. BarCamp isn’t for men. It isn’t a tech event. It’s an event where people choose their own topics so we can share ideas on them. I therefore entreat women out there to discard that notion of a tech event and embrace BarCamp. Even if it’s a tech event, the women are supposed to be there since we live in a tech world and one cannot afford to miss out. Nonetheless it isn’t a tech event as it encompasses a host of topics that arise from the attendees.

 

We can all make Ghana a better place. This nation belongs to the youth. Africa belongs to Africans. I learned a lot from BarCamp but have shared five of them. Let’s hear what you also learned. God bless you and see you at the next BarCamp event.

Are you suffering from normosis? Get that vaccine of uniqueness!

      

Did you know that scientists still haven’t been able to figure out the number of possible combinations of DNA molecules? The best they have been able to do is provide an estimate: 2.4 billion to the power of 10!

That’s an incredible number when you consider that the possible combinations of all particles in the universe amount to only 76 to the power of 10!

As you can see, that is vastly less than the possible combinations DNA, which form your identity.

So scientifically speaking, you are unique! There’s no chance of ever finding another person exactly like you on the planet. And you can also be sure that there never has been – and never will be – two identical human beings in the entire universe.

So why waste time and energy trying to fit into a mould? To be like someone else? You are unique, and thus radically different, no matter what you think and no matter what you do.

A friend of mine says that most people are sick. They’ve got a “normosis” – a type of neurosis. They
try to be “normal”. Are you trying to be normal?

The best carpenters always work in the same direction as the grain of the wood, never against it. You should do the same. When you have to do something that doesn’t fit with your personality, that goes against your ‘grain’ (against your inner beliefs), you always feel it and should simply say “no.”

Stay unique and always refuse to do anything that may destroy your beautiful sense of unity.

 

NO ADMITTANCE? I didn’t see that!

That's the spirit!

Research, work, writing…. it has been a very busy moment in my life and I love it because I always want to be on the move. I was reading last night and a story touched my heart and mind. I decided to share and then say a thing or two that got me thinking.
Wishing to encourage her young son’s progress on the piano, a mother took her boy to a Paderewski concert.  After they were seated, the mother spotted a friend in the audience and walked down the aisle to greet her. Seizing the opportunity to explore the wonders of the concert hall, the little boy rose and eventually explored his way through a door marked “NO ADMITTANCE.”

When the houselights dimmed and the concert was about to begin, the mother returned to her seat and discovered that the child was missing. Suddenly, the curtains parted and spotlights focused on the impressive Steinway on stage.
In horror, the mother saw her little boy sitting at the keyboard, innocently picking out “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.”

At that moment, the great piano master made his entrance, quickly moved to the piano, and whispered in the boy’s ear, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” Then leaning over, Paderewski reached down with his
left hand and began filling in a bass part. Soon his right arm reached around to the other side of the child and he added a running obbligato.

Together, the old master and the young novice transformed a frightening situation into a wonderfully creative experience. And the audience was mesmerized.

The first question that comes to mind is……. Can you be like this mother? Do you encourage people to be the best or you drag them down? Are you jealous when people are making it? If you are then I have bad news for you….. no matter how much you dress jealousy up, it isn’t cute. Most of us always criticize instead of building and inspiring others. We got the negative mentality more than the positive. I always ask people why they think negative before positive.  Dad: “Kofi, I want you to give a speech on my birthday.” Kofi then starts thinking, “What if I make a mistake? What if I gbaa?” The positive leaves his mind instantly. Instead of thinking, “I have to make the best of this situation and make daddy proud of me.”

The woman could have discouraged the son easily. “You suck at that. Put the piano down and go and play football.” She didn’t do that. She wanted to rather inspire the son. There are people in your life who need a little inspiration or motivation. Yes….they do! You may not know but when you say something nice to someone, it helps make their day.  A simple smile makes people’s day. Learn to show happiness because it is contagious.

Another golden nugget in this story is that, the boy also never gave up. He ignored the “NO ADMITTANCE” sign and moved on. He didn’t let what was written scare him from exploring. It was his zeal…. his passion to play the piano. That enthusiasm urged him to go past the sign. The “NO ADMITTANCE” sign represents stumbling blocks in our lives. We face them all the time. Yes we do! It is up to us to make good use of them. While others use the blocks as stepping stones, many of us hit the blocks and retreat. If you really want to be great, ignore the “NO ADMITTANCE” in your life. They come in varied forms. It could be someone’s words. “You can’t do this. You can’t do that.” People are full of negativity. They easily rub on us so watch out the kind of people you share your dreams with. They could easily tell you to back off but will steal your dream.

Ignore certain people. Ignore certain circumstances that stifle your growth and move on. It could be pretty difficult. The boy saw the crowd. I believe there were thousands of people but he wasn’t moved. It was a moment that most of us would have crumbled but he wasn’t perturbed in even the least of ways. He was focused on ONLY the piano and he got to it and started playing.

He was even playing the simplest of songs….. Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. It shows how he wasn’t an expert but was willing to learn and succeed.

 

Paderewski came on stage, saw the boy and told him, “Don’t quit. Keep playing.” The fans must have been furious…. Yelling and screaming but this little boy heard them not. Do you hear the screams from your detractors? If you do, better get some headphones of positivity on. They would block you from the external forces of defeat.

When you set on the path to be who you want to be, there will always be that “helping hand.” It’s something about life. You may not believe it but we tend to meet guardian angels in humanly forms. Just when you think there is no way something can be done, you get help from somewhere else. A door closes, another opens but this happens only when you take a step. Take the first step!

Whatever your situation in life and history…. however outrageous, however desperate… DON’T QUIT. There is always a solution. You have the power to transform any problem into a way to mesmerize your audience…

Just mesmerize them! More Vim!!

11 things I learned on 11/11/11

 

I do not regret growing older because it’s a privilege denied to many. I pick lessons from whatever life throws at me. I believe everyone does the same. We gather a lot of valuable lessons from what happens each day of our lives. The positive things come with their lessons… so do the negative. Today is 11th November, 2011 or 11/11/11 and below are a few of the things I have learned……

#1 I have learned that I should tell my mom, dad and loved ones that I appreciate them more often than I do.

#2 I have learned that it’s those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular because they make a difference.

#3 I have learned that everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile. It makes their day and brightens mine as well.

#4 I have learned that the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to make sure I surround myself with people smarter than I am.

#5 I have learned one very interesting thing about money…..  It doesn’t buy class.

#6 I have learned that no matter how serious life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to joke around with. It makes you feel normal and takes off the pressure.

#7 I have learned that life is tough but I am tougher!

#8 I have learned that a smile is an inexpensive way to improve my looks.

#9 I have learned that when I harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

#10 I have learned that you CAN NOT please everyone.

#11 I have learned that people still believe in false prophets and thought the world would end today: 11/11/11

Share with us what you have also learned about life. Thank you.

You are not unimportant!

 

 

This is a story from India during the colonial days. Most of the people in the village worked as peasants for the village landlord and got a very small share of the crops and a token money in return for the hard work they put all day in the field.

One year the village witnessed one of the severest droughts ever. The crop failed and the villagers did not get anything in return from the landlord. Most of the villagers fled to the cities.

One of the villagers was particularly in a very bad state. His wife was suffering from malaria and in the absence of food or money, he was desperate.

One day he was sitting under the village tree and was thinking desperately about ways to get some money somehow so that he can take his wife and his children to the town, where he knew that somehow he would get some work. He then saw his cow wandering nearby munching the dried up patches of grass and bushes.

He suddenly had a thought to sell his cow. “Surely someone would like to buy her,” he thought.
The next day, early morning he started for the market. There, he stood under a tree and explained his plight to anyone who came and requested them to buy his cow. Nobody seemed to be the least interested.

The day wore by. The sun relentlessly shown on the barren landscape!

With sweat drenched dirty clothes and in the poor state of health he was in, he was looking a picture of the misery. As evening was approaching, he was losing all hope he had started with.
Then a merchant passed him. He looked at the peasant and with a sudden drive of compassion decided to help him sell the cow.

He asked a few questions and then, in a loud voice full of enthusiasm, he announced to the passersby, “Ladies and gentlemen, never let go an opportunity like this. This cow here, gives two bucketfuls of milk every day, morning and evening. Do not be mistaken by her health. It is just because she has recently given birth to a young calf.

This animal is of such an exceptional breed that last year she had won a prize during the agricultural exhibition of the neighboring village. My friend here has come to an urgent situation and is willing to part with her for a price that seems to me ridiculous for such a prize animal. Who amongst you realize that an opportunity like this does not come every day?”

Meanwhile, a small crowd gathered around them all willing to buy the animal. They all wanted to know the price. The merchant asked the peasant, “Well my friend, what is the price you expect? We have several buyers here”.

The peasant stood up and with head held high, declared with pride and arrogance, “This animal is mine. She is too good to be sold. I shall keep her.”

The first that comes to my mind is that we do not appreciate sufficiently what we have. Health, children, girlfriend or boyfriend etc, we take them all for granted without rejoicing each day for our luck. There are certain things that we feel we have a right to. We forget that certain people lack all those things.

Just imagine if you were born in a war-torn country…. Just imagine if you were born with no hands and no feet. We have to be grateful for what we have be it little, crooked or ugly because someone is dying to have that.

Sometimes it is necessary to have the look of others in order to become conscious of the value of what we have. We do not take the pain to explain the advantages of our proposal and often our remuneration is less because we do not make this effort towards the proposal.

 

One very thing is that, the man got to know the worth of the cow. Do you know your worth? You are not unimportant. You are worth more than you think. You could be going through a rough patch now. You could be down. You could be heartbroken but you are not unimportant. You are worth more! You are important to someone!! Someone looks up to you for inspiration. Someone looks up to you for ideas. It could be a younger brother or sister. It could be a neighbor. It could be a friend… just know that you are important and important to someone.

“Depression and self-pity seldom attracts anybody. Be enthusiastic and the whole world will look up to you. You can win only if you love what you have.” -Amit Kumar

 

Steve Jobs: 5 iLessons we can learn from his legacy

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

Just when I was about to log out of twitter, I saw a tweet that said “Steve Jobs is dead.” In a bid to find the veracity of the story as I usually do when I hear stuff like that, I tuned in to CNN. Death had laid its icy hands on a visionary, legend, icon, entrepreneur and a man who turned technology around. I was however not surprised when I tweeted, “The average life expectancy after diagnosis with metastatic disease is just three to six months. Jobs battled it for 7 years. #thankyousteve” and had almost 100 retweets.

Tributes are pouring in from every corner of the world. He certainly touched a lot of lives with his wisdom, skill and ingenuity. The co-founder of one the world’s most valuable companies, Apple certainly left a mark. Apple now operates more than 300 retail stores in 11 countries. The company has sold more than 275 million iPods, 100 million iPhones and 25 million iPads worldwide.

Jobs’ climb to the top was complete in summer 2011 when Apple listed more cash reserves than the U.S. Treasury and even briefly surpassed Exxon Mobil as the world’s most valuable company. There will never be another Steve Jobs. His life teaches some lessons and I would like to share them with you.

1.       Never despise smaller beginnings

Born February 24, 1955, and then adopted, Jobs grew up in Cupertino, California — which would become home to Apple’s headquarters — and showed an early interest in electronics. As a teenager, he phoned William Hewlett, president of Hewlett-Packard, to request parts for a school project. He got them, along with an offer for a summer job at HP. Jobs attended Cupertino Junior High and Homestead High School in Cupertino, California. He frequented after-school lectures at the Hewlett-Packard Company in Palo Alto, California, and was later hired there, working with Steve Wozniak as a summer employee.Following high school graduation in 1972, Jobs enrolled at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Although he dropped out after only one semester,he continued auditing classes at Reed, while sleeping on the floor in friends’ rooms, returning Coke bottles for food money, and getting weekly free meals at the local Hare Krishna temple.Jobs later said, “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.” This man did not allow his smaller beginnings to destroy him. He kept on dreaming and dreaming and eventually realized his dreams. “Steve Jobs was put up for adoption at birth, dropped out of college, then changed the world. What’s your excuse?”

 

“I want to put a ding in the universe.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

               2.       Chase your dreams….. Think Different!

Don’t let small minds convince you that your dreams are too big. Our world is infected with negativity. Dreams are sent to the trash bin each and every day. People who should encourage us to dream are those who rather tell us to quit. “It’s not going to be possible” they say. “How can you do this and that? No one has ever achieved that.” We hear these all the time. When Steve Jobs was launching the iPad 2, he made a statement I will never forget. “I have always dreamed of making a video call and now we have it” he said. We need to chase our dreams. It gets tough sometimes but we should never give up. Jobs had the dream of putting a ding in this universe and he achieved that. Whatever the obstacles that come your way, never give up on your dreams. You could be the person to find the cure for cancer or HIV/AIDS. As soon as you give up, it means geniuses like Jobs will continue to die. The world needs your dreams! Failing a million times doesn’t make you a loser….giving up does. The most valuable people are determined by their character. It takes having a character that reasons with a stubborn faith to make it.

 

“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

                  3.       Connect with the right people

While at HP, Jobs befriended Steve Wozniak, who impressed him with his skill at assembling electronic components. The two later joined a Silicon Valley computer hobbyists club, and when he was 21, Jobs teamed up with Wozniak and two other men to launch Apple Computer Inc. It’s long been Silicon Valley legend: Jobs and Wozniak built their first commercial product, the Apple 1, in Jobs’ parents’ garage in 1976. Jobs sold his Volkswagen van to help finance the venture. The primitive computer, priced at $666.66, had no keyboard or display, and customers had to assemble it themselves.

Connect with people who can bring out your uniqueness and help fulfill your purpose on earth. We should trust and respect our friends’ views of us but also be aware of God’s purpose for our lives.

Some friends may not have your best interest at heart, and they can still be your friends but you’ll need to distance yourself from them. Your gift is your personality, it is who you are. When you get around true friends, they won’t be jealous of who you are. True friends will help polish and bring out the best in you. I believe that Jobs and Wozniak partnered because they saw the best in each other. Your inner circle should be people who celebrate who you are and are willing to make you a better person every day. When you surround yourself with negative people, you will always yield negative results. It is not the quantity of friends; it is the quality of friends.  Iron sharpeneth iron, says the Book of Proverbs. It’s imperative that you surround yourself with people who share your vision and are ready to surmount all obstacles and make them a reality.

Are there people who hold a special position in your life but always speak negative about their life or your dreams? Are they overly concerned about your relationship choices or goals? Do they constantly caution you about the steps you take towards your destiny and towards achieving personal happiness?  It is time to dismiss them from your inner circle because they are preventing you from progressing. The people I am speaking about may be childhood friends and even relatives; I know that sounds cold but we must learn to love some folks from a distance and love ourselves up-close.

 

“Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

               4Always stay ahead of your competition

To succeed in today’s rapidly changing world you have to focus also on competitors and not on executing your old success formula. You have to be part of disrupting and changing markets in order to compete effectively. Too many businesses spend their time thinking about what they did last week/month/year when they should instead be thinking about what they need to do tomorrow. Instead of spending hours analyzing prior results, put that energy into developing future market scenarios, looking for potential shifts, and identifying how you can upend competitors. That was the approach of Steve Jobs. He was always ahead of the competition. If you want to succeed, if you want to be the leader in business, you have to learn to be ahead of the rest.  If you always do what you’ve always done, you won’t ever do anything new. Intentionally disrupt the way you do things so you will try new and different approaches. This will open your organization to new growth opportunities.  Look for how your competitors are locked in, and attack them in ways they cannot respond. Don’t just do what you want to do, take actions intended to hurt your competitor. Never miss an opportunity to ruin your competitor’s day. Jobs always did that. A little harsh? I remember his attack on Google after launching the iPad and called Adobe a “lazy” company. “We did not enter the search business. They entered the phone business. Make no mistake they want to kill the iPhone. We won’t let them” he said. Shares of Apple jumped after that remark. If you are an entrepreneur or a student, learn to stay ahead of your competition. Do things that others won’t do. See into the future and you will forever be a success.

“You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

 

 

 

5.       Leave a legacy

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

What would you be remembered for when you leave the face of the earth? That man or woman who always fought with the neighbors over nothing or that man or woman who made a great impact in the neighborhood? I trust that the latter is what you desire. We all need to impact the lives of many before we join our ancestors.  He has done something that would take decades or centuries for another to match. For Jobs, how a product looked, felt and responded trumped raw technical specifications. While PC makers chased after faster processor speeds, Jobs pursued clever, minimalist design. Apple’s ads are one of a kind. We can talk about the iPod, iPhone, the Mac OS, the AppStore, the iPad and many more lives that have been changed because of this man.  Ultimately, Jobs’ biggest contribution isn’t just a Smartphone, a tablet or an operating system but Apple itself, a 12,000-strong organization that was once on the brink of irrelevance. Since his return to the company in 1997, Jobs has rebuilt it into the most valuable technology company in the world, surpassing other heavyweights like Microsoft and HP. It may indeed be the greatest turnaround in business history.
Nothing better exemplifies that in design or scale than Apple’s upcoming new headquarters, a 2.8-million square foot campus that will house 300,000 square feet of research facilities, a 1,000-seat auditorium, a power plant and underground parking. “I think we do have a shot at building the best office building in the world,” Jobs said, who arguably wouldn’t settle for anything but the best where any area of his company was concerned.

“Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” – Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.

Apple's new campus

Can we get a day set aside to celebrate the life of this man and to promote creativity and innovation? I am waiting…….

Ladies, 7 Virtues that could make you “perfect” marriage material!


It has been a month of weddings for me. I attend one every week.  I have observed how my boys are picking their wives now. It isn’t about beauty anymore. Conversations have been about how great the women are and not how beautiful they are. I am not a fan of weddings because I prefer a simple yet magnificent traditional marriage ceremony with a pastor present to bless it as it’s done in the church. Anyways that is me.

Guys, have you ever dated a girl you were crazy about but wished you could change that one little thing about her? What was it? Have you kicked yourself afterwards because you and your honey shared almost everything in common, yet you still broke up? So what do you really need to look for in a woman in order to build a successful marriage when ‘Miss Right’ comes along? And what does a lady need to be a ‘Miss Right’ in this computer world? I see myself talking to both sexes now. Do I change the title of the article then? Oh it doesn’t matter so let’s move on.

1.       Faith

The faith of a lady is important to guys. You ask a million ladies what they want in their ideal man and most of them will talk about a God fearing person. The same goes for the men though they don’t talk about it that much. Every guy wants a lady who knows her Creator, who believes in God and who will help his children follow the same steps. Whether the guy is a Christian or Muslim, he expects the lady to have faith in her Maker. A sense of self you might call it; a reason for living. It also includes beliefs about ethics, the importance of family, stability and, religion. For example, a purpose for life, optimism, an acceptance of others, integrity, honesty, responsibility and other similar social values. Guys don’t marry the “club girls.” They just “use” them and dump them when it’s time to settle down. Trust me, it’s the truth. Have faith. Stand for something so that you don’t fall for anything.

2.       Attraction

Physical and sexual compatibility mean different things to different people. For some, it means the physical act itself, perhaps something kinky and wild, while for others romance and intimacy play an important part. A few traits to keep in mind when looking for a missus might be her level of interest in sex, romance, foreplay, love, sexual variations and assertiveness, monogamy, communication, risk taking, playfulness, awareness of STDs and physical appearance. Every man will look for that sexual chemistry before he marries a lady. I have seen my father counsel a lot of people and he doesn’t mince words when it comes to sex. It is the engine of every marriage. Ladies, be attractive and that does not mean put on excessive make up and wear skimpy dresses. No. That turns men off because you look like a clown when you do that. Emphasis on excessive!

3.       Mothering

If you are talking about marriage, then there will be the topic of babies most often than not. It comes with it. Guys want to see if the ladies they want to marry will be good mothers. The way you treat your siblings or your neighbor’s wards will speak volumes to your guy. He wants to know that children love you and they want to come to you.  Every guy wants a lady who can be strict when need be. One who can tell children or siblings to stop doing something that is wrong. One who can motivate siblings to do something positive when they don’t have the urge to do it. Simply demonstrate that you can be a good mother.

4.       Health

Every guy wants a woman who cares for her body: a woman who prepares healthy food for her family.  One who would not be sick always or most of the time because she doesn’t care about her health. Health is wealth.  If you are always sick, it means the finances of the family would be drained. Ladies, start taking good care of your body. Exercise, eat healthy food and avoid a lot of junk. Visit the doctor every now and then. It will amaze you to know that most ladies do not know the way to the gynecologist. It’s imperative that you see the gynecologist at least once a year. I can talk about health the whole day so let’s move on. We will visit this some other time.

5.     Service

Men want women who can serve their family, friends and neighbors with a gentle and loving spirit. A lady who is charitable in everything she does. We are in a generation where most ladies do not even know how to cook. Most men are fans of food. They love food and they love good food for that matter. Also, we are in a generation where service by women is frowned upon. If a woman is able to serve her family and friends or the guy’s family and friends when they are around, she is perfect marriage material. You win guys over when they are watching football and you bring them water or biscuits or food. Your boyfriend will be so proud of you and his friends will constantly tell him how awesome you are. Service is really vital.

6.       Finances

The best wife seeks her husband’s approval before making big purchases and spends money wisely. She is careful to purchase quality items that her family needs and not any junk. I know most ladies will fight what I just said but it is very important. If you want to be the one that every guy would want to marry, take note. How a lady spends her money speaks volumes about her.  We are in a generation where most ladies do not know the meaning of an investment. Every dime is spent on clothes, shoes and expensive weave-on. If the way you handle money is nothing to write home about then you are in big trouble because those little papers make a lot of difference to every man under the sun.  I remember asking some ladies if they had EPACK or MFUND accounts and they had no knowledge about them yet they were looking for husbands. Some didn’t even have bank accounts and they are graduates. Money matters affect everyone. How a woman handles money can tell a lot about her and could make the difference between a comfortable life and an existence in poverty, so it’s important to be compatible in this area too. Pay attention to spending style, lifestyle, personal and professional goals, retirement plans, savings and ideas about money and debt in general.

7.       Industry

 Every guy wants a woman who works willingly with her hands. We are no more in the times of “housewives.” I know some guys still cherish that especially the rich ones but that is just an exception to the rule. Nothing that makes you better marriage material than having a job. Don’t be lazy. Find a decent job. If you are in school, make sure you give it your best. It’s important you become your own woman not someone who will depend on a guy for even sanitary pads at the end of the month. Be confident because confidence is sexy and study all the time. Ladies who learn how to make pastries, interior decor etc aside their careers are awesome. You can be one of them. I have been the “best man” for four weddings and I must confess I have seen a lot. Be an industrious lady and most men will fall at your feet but never let work overcome your duty to your home and family. Family comes first!

A lady who is perfect marriage material creates an inviting atmosphere of warmth and love for her family and guests. She uses hospitality to minister to those around her. She is sociable and people love her. That’s the kind of woman every gentleman wants to marry. That is inner beauty. Outer beauty is great but not all that important when it comes to marriage. It’s all about what you are going to live with for the rest of your life. How a woman thinks about the world she inhabits and how she interacts day to day are important signs of long-term mutual compatibility. Some women are casual observers of life while others thrive on being aggressive personalities. Most men want the lady who would make a home lively and fun. No added stress to that which comes with work.

If you want to avoid any neurological or/and cardiovascular disease, you go for what will give you the greatest peace of mind. These are just my opinions. Please let us hear about yours.

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