You are Strong!

@QueenEsohe sent me this poem. I fell in love with it as soon as I read it…

Strong is confidence in your identity and boldness to dream and pursue it

Strong is knowing when to be vulnerable and when to ask for help

Strong is knowing when to give up and when to say, “I’m sorry”

Strong is the emotional capacity to weather the storms of life and the drama of dealing with imperfect and fallible people

Strong is forgiving the past, accepting the present and hoping for the future

Strong is being you when everyone is losing their head

Strong is allowing yourself to be weak, unsure and ‘insecure’ when you doubt yourself and your next decision

You are STRONG & AWESOME. Don’t EVER think you’re not strong because you are having a bad day.

The amazing truth is you don’t give yourself credit enough….you sort of are used to your own awesomeness and take you for granted.

You are STRONG just the way you are…


A Connected World – Convergence, Conversation, Connections.

The concept of ‘Internet of Things’ and discovery of the five (5) major future trends in technology (Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Workforce Automation and Digital Disruption) reconfirms the (obvious) fact that the world is already deeply connected. In fact, the context of connectivity far outweighs connectedness because the ‘global village’ and ‘digital village’ concepts in Mass Communication and ICT4D are at least two (2) decades old.

“Experts predict the Internet will become ‘like electricity’ — less visible, yet more deeply embedded in people’s lives for good and ill…”

Digital Life in 2025 Study, Pew Research Centre

Accordingly, the celebration of 25 years of the discovery of the World Wide Web (WWW) by Sir Tim Bernards-Lee marked a new vista in technology forecasting. It also propounded schools of thoughts, research theories and concepts, which perceive connectedness as long conquered. Critics may weigh in on the fact that significant populations of the world are marginalised and seemingly victims of a ‘digital eclipse’; nonetheless, this provides a clear opportunity for leapfrogging because as Internet and technology penetration deepens and diffuses across these regions, connectedness or basic levels of connectivity will be overlooked, as interventions will move populations from merely being connected to the disruption of their lives.

Consequently, the significant investments in developing, communicating and executing an agenda-setting initiative and industry platform such as TechPlus, should not be to confirm the obvious and over flog a tested & trusted concept and fact; rather, it should seek to catapult participants into future possibilities, position Africa in the Thought Leadership map and spur enterprises to innovate their business models based on future potential and possibilities rather than past and current realities.

For instance, why suggest that connections alone are cutting-edge when the ability to effect mobile payments has been disrupted with new developments and evolved into automated intelligence and digital imagery aka #PayWithCapture?

TechPlus is positioned to be the largest international gathering for all things technology and technology-related in Nigeria and West Africa. The maiden edition held in 2015 with impressive statistics. However, there is a lot more room to cover in the increasingly burgeoning technology ecosystem in Africa.

The 2016 edition is positioned to become a reference point for all events, a memorable convergence of ideas, experience and access to the newest and most thought-provoking trends and developments from the past year and years ahead. From a simple format of plenary sessions and breakout sessions to a completely different and revolutionary style of running five (5) stages concurrently – the first in Nigeria – in order to allow a more robust conversation on technology, #TechPlus2016 has set a new standard in thought, content and talent for all other events to emulate.

Although the 2016 theme, ‘A Connected World’ aligns with the Lead Sponsor’s brand positioning, this does not remotely suggest the decision to hinge discussions on connectedness and connectivity. However, it is perceived as deliberate and laced with chutzpah because it captures the essence of our journey to integrating technology into our socio-economic development narrative as a continent. This journey is one we must embark upon with passion and aggression – as a solution to our current myriad of challenges. Africa is positioned for explosive economic growth and regarded by global financial experts as the next investment hub in the world, therefore technology serves as a catalyst for this robust capacity and future potential. Nonetheless, connectivity poses a very thought-provoking opportunity to engage across all sectors and is capable of sparking interest and commanding the attention of thought leaders within and outside the industry.

A Google search (at press time) for ‘a connected world’ returns 21.4 million search results with #TechPlus2016 leading on the continent. In addition, it draws credence to agenda-setting reports published in 2012 and 2013 on the role of connectivity in the development of economies. What is therefore intended is to carve a niche through the theme for easy alignment to the various sectors on display at the event (Government, Marketing & Brands, Business, Women in Technology, Education, Start-ups, etc.) This will no doubt ensure better top-of-mind awareness, interests and follow-up questions from the myriad of stakeholders.

“The most useful impact is the ability to connect people. From that, everything flows.”

The objective of this event is to propose best practices, suggest solutions and justify the business case for the impact of technology on human existence and this is the core essence for convening TechPlus 2016.

  1. Deliberate on relevant outcomes across each sector and focus area to the current theme in order to provide more context, thrust and alignment in industry solutions;
  1. Prepare a follow-up plan to the next steps and possible responsibilities of various stakeholders, as will be posited by the brilliant array and calibre of speakers such that it is feasible and achievable by Thought Leaders, intellectuals and laggards in the industry;
  1. Provide case study content by engaging ‘outlier brands’ who dominate as industry trend-setters in order to inspire innovative improvements and disruptive solutions that leapfrog African technological advancement;
  1. Demonstrate a more definitive scope for all sectors to engage the technology ecosystem in ways that clearly distinguish TechPlus from all other events in the industry where only techies engage one another;
  1. Through elevated content, calibre of speakers and quality of conversations, position TechPlus as the gathering of all technology gatherings on the continent and the one-stop demonstration of the best industry trends and developments;
  1. Put in place the right context and pool of technical expertise to facilitate effective public-private and non-profit partnerships for industry development;
  1. Showcase the very best of local content in formats that attract international participation and commercial patronage.

Consequently, the essence of connectivity cannot be overemphasised.

Over the last decade, many government and donor agencies have looked for more efficient ways to leverage declining resources, and for many, these partnerships seemed like effective solutions. Non-profits may do a better job by articulating their contributions to public-private relationships in building cities of the future. This discussion takes another look at these relationships, interrogating what has worked, not worked, as well as the possibility of better convergence of agents.

With the variety of social media apps and networks, it can be difficult to keep up with trends: 87 per cent of today’s youth have witnessed cyber bullying and close to 34 per cent of students acknowledge that they have experienced cyber bullying. On the flip side, a number of organisations are making significant investments in STEM for girls and promotion of adoption mechanisms for adult women. What are the implications of these trends for women and what measures can be adopted to make the virtual space safer? What undertones should women pay attention to and how can social media tools be utilised to curb bullying?

Women continue to lag behind in access to mobile phones and the Internet. Since digital literacy also sharpens other essential skills needed to operate in an ever-changing digital environment, many women still require support and resources through training to become digitally literate. This session is focused on increasing women’s access to and use of mobile phones and services especially in developing markets. It will also take a cursory look at closing the gender gap in digital skills such that more female talent can be attracted and retained over a period of time to boost female leadership in technology.

…today is technology-driven and Africa’s tomorrow will be TechPlus.

Technology is increasingly dependent on creativity through design, user experience, narratives and the explosion of augmented and virtual reality. On the flip side is the role of technology in the creative industry and the disruptive advancements recorded in fields such as arts, photography, film, advertising, publishing, media, public relations etc. However, the influence of technology on the creative economy as an enabler or hindrance is an emerging discourse. It may be pertinent to interrogate the future prospects for the sector through the seamless integration of technology infrastructure for curbing current and envisaged challenges. The conversation also planned will seek to compare indigenous technology in the sector vis-a-vis western trends and influences (hinged on technological advancement) in order to highlight opportunities for the industry.

Some of the conversations that will happen over the next few days have been highlighted in previous paragraphs and it is envisaged that the 2016 TechPlus experience provides participants a potpourri of opportunities to explore challenges requiring urgent solutions and for innovators, a clear picture to orchestrate the future Africa deserves.

Need we say more? Indeed, today is technology-driven and Africa’s tomorrow will be TechPlus.




Reflections on ‘Taj; G for Genius’

I had an opportunity, a rare one I think, to have a sit-down with Olamide Adedeji. It was rare to sit with him at his office because we would typically communicate via calls, IMs or SMS. And if I do not succeed, his home would be the last resort for an informal meet if I harassed him long enough.

I admire Olamide a lot. He may be surprised to read this but I have known him since he was 18 or 19 years and to listen to the successful, confident and assured man I met a few days ago (about 31 or 32 years now), inspiration swelled inside me like a proud mother (Sorry, ‘Lamide I did mean sister. Trust me!) When you watch someone work very hard and over time attain great heights, it would be impossible not to identify with him.

This meeting was also an opportunity for me to engage the CMA Group as a corporate entity and best practice for the industry. I had long wondered how the company made money, expanded rather quickly after some quiet periods and significantly raised the bar in becoming the only media company to successful run over 6 TV & Radio Channels at the same time. For me, it was important because ThistlePraxis & CMA Group have both metamorphosed into a group of companies within the creative and core business sectors that I was certain I had a few lessons to learn from my trip to Lekki.


#Recommended: I refuse to work for free.

“When ‘free’ becomes the way creative work gets assessed, it undercuts the market for everyone, famous and obscure alike. Writers are exploited. That won’t change until we acknowledge that writing isn’t a hobby or a passion — it’s a job.”

– Yasmin Nair 

READ: I’m a freelance writer. I refuse to work for free.


Why’re you Angry?

I recently engaged a Youth Leader in Nigeria who posted on Facebook that he was angry.
In summary, the current President has abandoned young people, the very significant demography responsible for electing him into office. Whilst I disagree with this assertion (I hope to find time to blog about this too), I found his outburst outrightly distracting and counter productive. Also, young Nigerians have remained docile, nonchalant and somewhat oblivious.
In addition, he called for a movement and crowd-sourcing of ideas to change the status quo. On this, I could not fault him though; we should never get tired of discussing, engaging and then, working. However, what is most peculiar to us as the most populous black nation is ‘what’ and ‘how’ but never ‘when’ and ‘whom’.
I am always open to volunteering ideas to causes and have been committed to this for many years. Many public-facing initiatives get unsolicited emails from me with constructive criticisms and suggestions laced with what I consider very bright ideas. Whether these visionaries possess the courtesy to acknowledge the email is yet another blogging topic even after requesting ideas and reviews. Nonetheless, I gave him the benefit of doubt and reached out in an email with the subject, Why’re you angry?.
Here’s my first email:
Young people do not need political appointments to make a difference in Nigeria. Rather, should work on themselves to add value and if interested, seek elective positions. Yes, public service is key to large scale reforms but there are alternatives.
In 5-10 years, my generation will be running every sector of this country; and if we are serious, the government as well. This is not the time to organise mass protests but to prepare ourselves. With technology and innovation, we can render the generations ahead redundant and orchestrate the future with our minds, skills, and ideas.
I am not sure these are the angry ideas you envisaged but your Facebook post was counter-productive in my opinion.
Look forward to the outcome of the ideas you’re crowdsourcing.
He promptly responded and we engaged over a few emails which I cannot reproduce due to privacy laws but my final submission I will oblige.
Today’s generation (not sure which I actually refer to: those in their 30s, 20s or younger) will remain an angry generation just like those before them if they do nothing about it. Anger is good, many people say but I doubt that anger not channelled to any productive cause remains only an emotional sensation. This submission I also shared via my Facebook profile.

“The clamouring for youth representation is misplaced, in my opinion. Being young is no guarantee for brighter, fresher ideas or even expertise and better governance….Movements are not planned IMHO, they evolve through conscientization usually built over a period of time by ideologies and content. Although this may take a longer period than a typically orchestrated revolution, it is more widespread and can be sustained almost permanently.

Accordingly, the way forward in my submission would be aggressive investments in the majority of the youth population on Peace Education, (Awareness about) Governance Systems, (A careful study of) Nigerian History, (Imbibing) Religious Tolerance and (Inculcating) Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Skills. Call it a revised Citizenship Curriculum”. 

*text in parenthesis were not included in the original post.

Here it is, my humble submission garnered from years of engaging young people, youth leaders, individuals who take and make decisions on behalf of young people, youth development experts (and not those who organise events, campaigns, and initiatives) as well as much older and accomplished individuals.

Sometimes, I feel ashamed to still be young and wish I were much older. Other times, I wiggle a victory dance in pride for what my generation is changing across the world. I guess I cannot have my cake and eat it and so when it matters most; I cannot deny I am a young person.

Consequently, the answers are obvious, anger clarion calls, protests, political revolutions and initiatives (and there are so many of them siphoning funds without new ideas or approaches) will not change our predicament. I have a few conclusions:

  1. For as long as our education system is on its knees, we are wasting our time calling for a revolution. If 75% of the demography cannot read and understand what the constitution says and allows, we will be leading a herd of cattle down a steep;
  2. Our parents and grandparents know we are impatient – just as they were – and deliberately use this to manipulate us. We must demonstrate the courage to be patient, wait out a long, boring narrative and respond with as much courage and certainty as we would blurt out “Enough is enough!” after a few minutes;
  3. Constant self-development is inevitable for any young person who aspires to greatness. One who aspires to public office must prepare for battle and stay battle ready all the time. We often see our leading lights jettison their altruistic visions, sadly, but mostly for the comfort of an appearance of success;
  4. Our victory will be pyrrhic no matter how hard we try or how fiercely we fight. We are not ready. I am not too;
  5. We do not have the critical mass. It will take decades to build. When I co-founded an initiative, The Future Awards & The Future Nigeria Project; it was to build this critical mass. The vision started with finding positive lights (not necessarily role models as much as I remember) to demonstrate the business case that there are 18-31-year-olds who prove the stereotypes of the Nigerian Youth are wrong. The long-term vision was STRAT (Strategy) 2025 – 20 long and painful years of building, investing and grooming a critical mass to restore the greatness of our nation. Anyone honest enough to embark on this ‘anger trip’ knows he/she may not be done after 20 years;
  6. Journeys such as this are not fought and won as part-time activist causes. For a cause such as this, will a man or woman or group of young people solely dedicate their lives. Nothing short would do and nothing haphazard will be good enough. Nelson Mandela, Lee Kuan Yew etc. are examples of sold-out lives. I believe it is a good enough price to pay because the outcomes would record the most sustainable global mind revolution that ever occurred in human history. Nigeria is that relevant and infectious but who would bell this humongous cat?
  7. With a sense of responsibility, the majority of Nigerians are not concerned enough. I struggle to explain this but as long as the cause – whatever it is or will become – does not directly benefit an individual, his interest is limited. Corruption has for decades eroded our sense of values and nationhood. We exist as fragments of ideologies, beliefs and interests and not as Nigerians.

We can remain angry and attempt a revolution but it will amount to no good if the reasons are personal, to gain political relevance, fame, sustained income or substantial wealth and affluence. Also, for as long as many young people gravitate towards quicker, not stressful and seemingly simpler ways of making money; we will remain angry. Angry until our pockets are stuffed with cash, relatives are appointed into public offices, we earn a title ‘activist’ or ‘role model’ for a few years or have our dreams privately met.

Anger is good but anger will never be enough, and should someone ask, “Why are you angry?”, we better have an answer that’s beyond a political administration or governance opportunities – one for a marathon and not a sprint.

We better develop a real answer, and quickly too.


Don’t, don’t what?

My work — responsibilities, job title, salary, benefits, compensation, long-term rewards, security, and achievements — is a core part of my life, purpose, and identity.

I have heard, “Oh, it’s business. Life is not fair, don’t take it personally”.

Don’t, don’t what?

Of course, I will take it personally!

No employer should joke with these and no employee should be scared of clarifying these in the fine print before taking a job.


Quote of The Day

“The future’s already here, just not evenly distributed. The budgets are moving, the skills are shifting, the measurements are changing, the outcomes of our work are changing….No company is immune from digital disruption and our profession isn’t either.”

— Jon Iwata, SVP, Marketing and Communications, IBM

Source: Holmes Report on ‘The New CCO: Why Senior Communicators must change‘.


Happy Holidays!

From all of us at ThistlePraxis….



WATCH: Tomorrow will be #TechPlus

Yesterday was technology driven, tomorrow will be #TechPlus.



Tomorrow will be #TechPlus

TechPlus, an amazing technology event which debuted last year is back, bigger and better.

Read about the 2016 Edition here

I am serving again this year on the Advisory & Planning Teams.

Look forward to an exciting outing in July.

Please register to attend!