Wednesday, March 8


Last year, I watched the movie, “Fifty”, at the cinemas. In one of the scenes, a woman accused her husband of being financially irresponsible. She complained that he was unemployed and that he needed to get a job. The husband replied that he wasn’t unemployed, rather he was self-employed. This scene got me thinking about the concept of unemployment and entrepreneurship. At what point does self-employment degenerate into unemployment?
In this era more than ever before, the drive for entrepreneurship has increased tremendously.  There appears to be a culture of “appreciating” entrepreneurs and despising employees.  We are often fascinated by the story of the self-made man who started from nothing and became something. The man who took the risk and had the drive to become who he is today, from zero to hero. It gives us hope that one day, we too can become like them. Perhaps, one of the reasons for the sensationalism of entrepreneurship is the fact that, they are credited with providing jobs for the rest of us.
It is this glorification, I guess, that makes entrepreneurship so alluring and somewhat seductive.  It feels pretty “cool” to be called the CEO or the COO, but the heat and pressure that come with the position do not feel quite cool.

While the desire to make profit is the major goal for many entrepreneurs, in other cases, some people simply lack the discipline or humility to be answerable to someone else for their actions, so entrepreneurship or self-employment appears to be the only plausible alternative. The truth is, it is not easy to be an employee too!
As appealing as the idea of entrepreneurship may seem, not everyone can be an entrepreneur. There are certain traits successful entrepreneurs possess that set them apart and young people who desire to start their own businesses should honestly evaluate their abilities and predispositions before embarking on that route.
First and perhaps most importantly, successful entrepreneurs are good managers of money and resources. They understand how to use little to achieve much and are quick to identify opportunities where others only see challenges. They have a healthy appetite for informed risk and are extremely comfortable with uncertainties and change.  People are generally afraid of change and would rather remain in familiar territories than explore unfamiliar terrains; so, if one is risk averse, entrepreneurship may not be the best route for such a person.
Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of skilful negotiation. They know how to hold their end on the other side of the table. They separate their business lives from their personal lives, and so they know how to get family and friends to pay for goods and services rendered. Entrepreneurs are not just great thinkers, they are also great executors, they do not just talk, they do. They are not afraid of asking, demanding, trying and pushing. They react well to failure and have a high tolerance for frustration and disappointment, they are resilient and tenacious.
Attending an entrepreneurial course or obtaining an MBA qualification from an expensive business school outside the country, as most wealthy Nigerians like to do, does not guarantee that your business idea will succeed. Some of the most astute business people in Nigeria are those market women at Oke-Arin and Balogun and they do not possess exotic business degrees; some of them are not even schooled at all! The truth is, the best way to learn how to work for yourself is to learn how to work!
Really, there are no standard rules or templates on what the characteristics of a good entrepreneur are. The truly smart entrepreneurs are the ones who identify all their weaknesses and partner someone who has the corresponding strengths. So, if you are an introvert who does not like attending social events that may help bring new businesses, it is wise to have an extroverted “rainmaker” who brings in the job.
Young people seeking to be entrepreneurs or self-employed must realise that for every successful entrepreneur, there are millions of others who thrive by working with and for others. Working in traditional organisations, has many benefits, you get to acquire some of the most invaluable skills that will help you succeed when you start your own business.  Some of these benefits include learning to work with a team, acquiring good interpersonal skills, being accountable for your actions, and most importantly, having self-discipline and a sense of responsibility- showing up at work every day whether you feel like it or not requires a bit of both.
While being an employee may not be as glamorous as entrepreneurship, and one may not have all the sophisticated titles and awards that entrepreneurs have, employees are some of the most hardworking and diligent people in the world, they truly are the ones who make the world go “round”.
Nigerian employees, particularly those living in traffic-prone cities like Lagos and Port Harcourt, really do deserve special acknowledgement. Aside from facing the hectic traffic situations every day just to earn a living, most employees work under the most awful conditions and are paid meagre salaries, they put in the hours and deserve recognition and commendation.

People who claim to be self-employed, like the young man in the movie, need to conduct a “reality check” on their lives. If you run a personal business that has not generated income within the preceding six months, with no prospect of getting income in the next six months, you are technically unemployed, get a job.

Wednesday, July 20


You spend most of your waking hours at work. You rarely get out for lunch, never mind dinner. You'd like to meet that special someone, but you just don't know where to look. Suddenly, Cupid shoots his arrow, and it hits the person in the next office. Your heart starts beating faster, and blood rushes to your head. Out with all reason -- love is in the air!

Stop. Sure, meetings will be more fun. You already have lots in common. But how often do office romances work? And when it ends, what will your life be like? Will you be peering around corners to make sure your former love isn't in the hall and avoiding the company picnic for fear your ex will flaunt a new love interest? Is this any way to live?

Before you throw your next promotion to the wind, here are five reasons dating your coworker might not be such a good idea.

1. Romance vs. Reality
Unfortunately, this is not a story by Wale Adenuga, so you can't count on a happy ending. You can rail against the unfairness of it all, but think of it this way: If life were fair, you wouldn't be in this dilemma, and the arrow would have pierced the heart of someone nice who works for the company across the street.

If you're smart, you will deal with the real world and anticipate plenty of bloodshed before this tale concludes. One of you may need to leave the job if things don't work out. If things do work out, one of you may have to go, because it's against company policy to date fellow employees.

2. One Promotion Later...

Let's say you become involved with someone in your department, and you receive a promotion. Now you're in a relationship with your subordinate. This opens up the possibility of blackmail. And what happens when it comes to conducting reviews and disciplining your honey? You get the picture.

3. Play It Cool

Still thinking of dating a coworker? Better start popping extra vitamins and heighten your sense of discretion. You'll need a lot of energy and concentrated effort to keep your office romance just between the two of you. And when coworkers eventually find out, you may be the subject of ridicule and suspicion:
"I can't believe he's going out with her."

"Of course She got the raise. Look who She's dating."

If you want people to focus on your professional abilities, don't give them reasons to fuel the rumor mill.

4.It's Not Just About You

You may think this is a private affair, but is it really? Logic tells you your romantic involvement will impact your coworkers directly. If you sit together in the company cafeteria, will people now feel they should give you privacy? Will they exclude you from certain conversations, because they don't know what you'll relay to your new love?

Consciously or subconsciously, your relationship may influence decisions that go well beyond a lunchroom. Your romance may color everyone's judgment with regard to promotions, projects, team building and responsibilities. The relationship could make it more difficult for your department -- and depending on your position, your company -- to operate effectively.

5.Harassment Possibilities

And then there's the H word and all it can entail. If your relationship ends badly, will your ex-love tell HR you were making unwanted advances? Think about how a harassment suit will impact your career. Then join a local dating service.

And while you're at it, join some professional associations. They offer many opportunities to socialize while moving your career forward.

So before you pencil in a date with your office desire, schedule dinner with some nonwork-related friends. You'd be surprised what might happen if you start nurturing your other relationships. If you spend a little more time away from the office and your coworkers, you might give Cupid a chance to improve his aim.

If you still feel your coworker is the one, what do you do? If you work for a big company, transfer to another department or facility. If that's not an option because of your profession or company size, get yourself a new job.

Monday, July 18


While the rules against inter-office dating in general are easing, relationships with superiors are still heavily frowned upon. Such relationships are a natural target for gossip. Fellow employees will tend to suspect favoritism even where there is none, making you work harder for what you achieve in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety. When the relationship ends, it can be awkward for the entire office. If your boss makes an unwanted advance, it is important you handle the situation candidly and respectfully to avoid damaging or destroying your reputation or your career.

Step 1
Be respectful.
Your boss not only deserves your respect as your superior, but he or she can make things difficult for you, especially if hurt feelings are involved. Address your boss with direct eye contact. Do not put them down for asking you out or act upset about the request. Inform your boss simply and respectfully that you are not interested.

Step 2
Deliver your "no" with grace and kindness.
Rejection is hard for everyone. Remember how you feel when you are rejected and try to treat your boss with the kindness you would hope to be treated with. No matter how impersonal a rejection may be, it is hard for the other person not to take it personally. To soften the blow you can say something positive about your boss, express regret that you are not able to date him or her or let your boss know you are flattered, but you won't be able to oblige the request.

Step 3
Respond quickly.
Do not tell your boss you need time to think about it. In fact, it is probably better you don't take time to think about it or you might talk yourself into saying yes. Besides, you don't want to give your boss the idea there is a chance when there isn't.

Step 4
Prepare in advance.
The best way to guard against pursuit by the boss is to maintain a strict personal position against workplace dating. If your boss does ask, it is easy and truthful to say that you simply never partake in office romances.

Step 5
Be honest.
Do not say you are flattered if you are not. Do not say you don't date at work if you were out with the mail clerk last week. These things can help soften the blow if they are true, but a lie is never a kindness.

Step 6
Don't gossip with others about the fact your boss asked you out.
There is no need and it can potentially backfire on you.

Step 7
Do not feel pressured.
If your boss pushes for a yes, don't feel like you must offer additional reasons why you don't want to go out on a date. Being courteous or respectful does not require saying yes when you want to say no. You don't owe your boss anything. Besides, in a situation like this, the less said the better.

There is a thin line between natural attraction and sexual harassment. If you have respectfully declined, but your boss has continued to insist (or if he or she is making physical advances) then your boss is crossing the line into sexual harassment. In this case, you should consider reporting the matter to human resources or, in a smaller company, a trusted superior. Reporting is the best strategy. If, however, you don't feel you can report your boss, at a minimum keep extensive documentation so that, should it end up affecting your career, you have evidence regarding the inappropriate behavior.

Readers, what do you think? How would you handle unwanted advances from a person of authority? 


A Research by the American Management Association AMA found that two-thirds of managers and executives say it’s okay to date someone at the office, and 30% have done so. Most of us have known (and respected) folks who dated people at the office — in fact, a lot of them end up marrying that co-worker. So what are the rules for dating a co-worker with dignity?

1. Know the office policy on dating before anything happens. Knowing when and if you’re obligated to have a conversation with your superior will probably influence your thoughts on the relationship.

2. Do not view your office as a dating pool. It doesn’t matter how big the company is, or how many floors or offices it has — word will get around, and it will hurt you professionally. There should be a chance for the relationship to be a fairly serious one — do not just “date” a co-worker for a “distraction.” If you happen to really like someone you work with, let your feelings develop naturally, and let the relationship progress naturally. (I might also advise that if you’ve already dated someone at the office and it ended, then you should be very, very careful about dating anyone else at the office, lest you be seen as someone who does view the office as a dating pool.)

3. Discretion is the name of the game. Keep your thoughts about the crush/burgeoning relationship to yourself, or only discuss with friends who have no connection to the office. When you start dating, don’t visit each others’ offices that frequently. Don’t go to a bar or restaurant near the office. Keep the cutesy talk outside the office. Avoid leaving the office at the same time (or, cringe, arriving at the same time).

4. Keep it in your pants (to put it crudely). Two rules that I strongly caution against breaking:
 i) no public hook-ups — your first kiss should not happen at a work party, no matter how much you’ve been drinking. 
 ii) There is no place in your office that is private or secluded enough to count as a romantic rendezvous spot — not your office, not the coat closet. Don’t do it.

5. Only appear in public when it’s pretty serious. To me, this would mean living together, engaged, or pregnant — but hey, I'd rather, it be "engaged"

Readers, what are your thoughts on office romance? Have you ever dated anyone at the office?

Tuesday, July 5

CAREER CENTER: Five Easy Tips To Boost Your Career And Earning Potential

Putting to good use the skills and knowledge acquired in school, for most graduates, is the ultimate reward for the all the years of hard work while in school. After graduation, the pressure of being engaged in a respectable job that guarantees ample pay is a legitimate aspiration for young people. In the same vein, survival and career progression are the major concerns of most graduates who are already engaged and are hustling hard to meet their daily needs.

So, your ability to turn your labour into a better pay-check will be your “human capital.” Intelligent combination of knowledge, experience, talent, work habit, and social skills is perhaps your most important income-producing asset.

If you are gunning for a promotion or a raise, or you are in the midst of a job search, these five simple steps can help you to become a happier and more valuable worker.

1. Invest in yourself

Just because you have a job doesn’t mean you should hold yourself back or let your skills stagnate. We can increase our human capital by acquiring a post-graduate degree or professional certification to enhance our résumé for a positive influence on pay.

Also, learning a new language can increase your earning power. It improves decision making skills, and increases earnings potential by around two percent, according to documented research.

2. Raise your performance level

Most employers base their pay decisions on individual performance. Don’t just turn up for work daily without being productive. Be dutiful and ensure that the tasks given to you are completed within the stipulated time frame. Performance has a significant impact on career progression and pay.

3. Take on additional responsibilities

If your boss asks that you volunteer for an impending task that is outside of your purview, take on the challenge. It could be a huge opportunity that will give you a chance to grow your knowledge base and skill set. You become a more valuable employee by readily taking on new responsibilities.

4. Join professional organisations and build a strong network

The key to networking and building business relationships in any industry is simply by making yourself available to network with people. This can be done by maintaining a professional relationship with persons in your industry, participating in industry forums, attending networking events, and even having a solid relationship with those outside your career purview, especially with personal friends.

5. Keep up to date with trends in your profession and industry

Whether you are an employee or a job seeker, it is very important to stay updated with developments and happenings going on in your industry. Newspapers, industry publications, news sites, TV shows, and blogs can all help you to become more acquainted with your industry. Doing this ensures that you are knowledgeable about industry happenings and you can become an authority on industry matters.


Having positive employee generally means that workers are happy to come to work each day, comfortable in the nature of their work and with their co-workers, and optimistic about their production. Whether you are a manager or a front line worker, positive employees in an organization provides several key benefits which includes,

Better Production

When employees feel positive and enjoy the work environment, their production is normally higher. For managers, this helps in achieving departmental and organizational objectives. As an employee, higher levels of production can often lead to increased compensation and promotion opportunities. A motivated sales rep, for instance, may generate a higher volume of sales, leading to greater commissions and bonuses and opportunities in new territories.

Reduced Absenteeism

According to human resources website Go2, motivated employees have significantly lower rates of missed work relative to disengaged employees. Absent employees cost organizations thousands of dollars in missed production or lower revenue. Employees who miss less work are less likely to fall behind and easily get overwhelmed in carrying out their roles. They may also experience more positive relationships with colleagues, which can help minimize stress.


High employee morale usually correlates with greater feelings of teamwork and shared vision. In one-on-one interaction and in work teams, a positive morale is likely to increase the level of collaboration among workers. Positive working relationships with colleagues and co-workers is a common contributor to good employee morale. If you have a high morale environment, workers likely have greater comfort with others and a willingness to work together toward goals.

Esteem and Satisfaction

With high morale and greater levels of production, managers and employees tend to have high self-esteem. When you produce good results and have them recognized, you tend to want to repeat the experience. Additionally, high morale means greater satisfaction in the workplace, working relationships and the position itself. Employees generally prefer an organization that enhances feelings of esteem and provides a meaningful, satisfactory work experience.

You may want to see the effects of Negative workplace attitudes.


The negative attitude pandemic that is likely taking hold in your office could be quietly cutting into your bottom-line. The virulent workplace virus needs only a couple of nasty-ass attitudes to spread and thrive--if left unchecked you may soon hear the sound of money being siphoned from your pockets.

Research is conclusive--emotions are contagious, especially in group settings. Negative attitudes lead to destruction, while positive attitudes lead to construction. In a 2001 Yale University School of Management study, Dr. Sigal Barsade reported that not only are emotions contagious, but negative emotions will cost you big if left alone. Here are some useful findings about emotions.

Negative Emotions:

· They are more contagious than positive ones. There is nothing more combustible than a good rumor, especially if there is scandal involved. This leads to hours of work stoppage, whispered secrets and mild organizational sabotage.

· They are more readily believed than positive ones. We quickly brush off a compliment, but conversely are offended if someone tells us we don't look so good. We spend about triple the amount of time on negative emotions.

· They narrow a person's focus. This can be an asset unless you're in permanent survival mode, which leads to less innovation and more protectionism.

· They are unpleasant. People tend to avoid negative feeling and any place that harbors them. This affects loyalty.

· They lead to validation . We often dig up blame about the past and/or things that can't be changed or controlled.

Positive Emotions:

· require more deliberate attention.
We have to go out of our way to create positive feelings. Nastiness will parachute into your office all day long uninvited, but you have to find good things to get your team excited.

· lead to collaboration and creativity. This is your goldmine. Positive emotions will bring about innovation to beat your competition.

· are attractive. Humans yearn to be around a positive state of mind. A fun and positive workplace leads to increased loyalty.

Prominent psychopathologist, Dr. Bluma Zeigarnic discovered that we achieve our fullest state of consciousness and alertness through negative events. What that means is our brains are more "greased" when we are muddling in the negative and our ability to be critical is sharpened. Negative events turn on the adrenal glands to make us ready and alert for flight or fight. That is often what happens in a contentious company--employees either want to fight or get as far away from the negativity as they can.

There's a Cure
We can all change the way we run our businesses. For instance, the next time you call a meeting that has the potential for nay saying, remember that negative emotions are very contagious.

1. Listen to your negative employees. They are going to have a tendency to want to pick at everything. They see it as their duty to protect the organization from the disaster that might unfold if they do not speak up. They can either become your worst enemy or your best ally.

2. Discuss the downsides. When you open the meeting, announce the issue you're trying to solve and explain to the group that you want to shoot as many holes in the idea as possible. Give your team 15 to 25 minutes to discuss the downsides of the idea and the obstacles in the way. Keep input on a flipchart.

3. Focus on solutions. After this negative session, challenge your employees to find ways to make the idea successful. Keep these "can-do" ideas on a flipchart. Make sure the negative people give input. People have a way of believing their own data--you'll have an easier buy-in.

You've caused alertness to rise, allowing the group to do what it will naturally do--look for the negative. You've gotten those objections and obstacles out on the table so they aren't festering and becoming lethal inside the company. You've contained the negative so that it doesn't become contagious. Finally, you've turned the meeting around to focus on solutions.

Now, you may want to see the benefits of Positive Emloyees.

Friday, July 1


A common job-interview question about money is a trap, and you should never answer it directly

One of the most awkward questions you can be asked in a job interview is "What are your salary requirements?" or "How much are you making in your current job?"
As in many uncomfortable situations, your immediate reaction may be to immediately give an answer, stating how much you make and then explaining what range you'd be looking for in this job.
It's a trap, argues Ramit Sethi, the bestselling personal-finance writer and teacher. 
When experienced hiring managers hear a direct answer to that salary question, Sethi says, they immediately think, "OK, gotcha." Because, for example, maybe they were willing to offer you N120,000. But when they hear you were making N60,000, they'll know they won't have to let go of as much of the company's money to appeal to you.
If you flatly refuse to answer the question, you might give your interviewer a bad impression. But you won't need to do that. Borrow a tactic from politicians and dodge it instead.
If you're in a job interview and a hiring manager asks you how much you make or how much you're looking for, Sethi says, answer something like, "You know what, I'm happy to discuss money down the road, but right now I'm just trying to see if there's a good fit for both of us. I'm sure you're trying to do the same thing."
Sethi says that this communicates confidence to the interviewer and can suggest that you have multiple offers on the table.
His advice is to hold off on salary negotiations until the hiring manager comes at you with a job offer, but, people being people, you may run into an interviewer who will keep pushing until they get an answer.
In an interview with Business Insider in May, HR consultant Lynn Taylor also recommended the dodge tactic, but said that if you get an insistent interviewer, answer truthfully but with an explanation.
That is, answer the range question based on what people already in that position make at the company — which you should know from your research — and answer the current-salary question by fleshing out your other benefits and the possibility of recently increased duties that have yet to be reflected in a raise.
Whatever the case, never answer directly.
Otherwise, you've already lost the edge in a negotiation before it even began.

Good luck.



When you have identified a possible job and set an appointment for a personal interview, congratulate yourself! You've done your homework. Everything you've done was preparation for this event. It's the most critical stage of your job-search because, there's no payoff unless you make a sale.

Little Things That Make A Difference

The most important non-verbal communication you make about yourself is your appearance and grooming. In the first few minutes the person with whom you are talking will form an impression of you which will affect his/her opinion.

Dressing for success means dressing appropriately for the environment for which you are interviewing. By wearing the quality and style of clothing you would wear if hired, you help the interviewer visualize you on the job. Your appearance should make the interviewer think, "This person will fit in well."

You should be mentally prepared to describe briefly specific personal accomplishments you want the interviewer to remember.

Plan to be on time. In fact, it is good to be early. Check out the situation in terms of location and parking before the appointment.

Make sure you've done your homework. There is certain factual information you should be expected to possess. This is one of the best ways to ensure a successful interview. Investigate the company before you interview (size, product-line, major problems, programs, needs, etc.). This will gain you credibility. For example, if you are seeking a position with a major hardware manufacturer, discover how the product is sold locally. If asked, you will be able to make tactful comments regarding displays, sales approaches, advertising, etc. If not asked, bring it into the conversation to let the interviewer know that you've done some study on the subject.

Sources of information for such homework would be web sites, annual reports, trade journals, news magazines, the company newspaper, people in the field, brokerage houses, Chamber of Commerce publications, and industrial directories.

In a small company, the top people will usually control the hiring procedures. Use your network to gather as much information as possible about these key decision makers and their role in the company. Decide if you will contact Human Resources or the person directly responsible for the hiring. Learn the correct name and exact title and discover the person's background with the company, education, interests, etc.


The interviewer's task is to find out just how effective you might be in a specific job. Prepare answers for the following questions in as clear a manner as possible. Make your responses upbeat and positive. Make sure you've done your research on this company, and it will pay off. Also, always remember that an interview is a "two-way street." You are entitled to ask the interviewer questions in order to determine whether or not you want the job. An easy formula to remember is Q = A + P, which simply means "Q" (the interviewer's question) = "A" (your answer) + "P" (probe -- in other words, you now ask a question). vFor example, suppose the interviewer were to ask you, "Are you free to travel?" You might answer, "Yes," but then follow up your answer with the question, "How much travel does the job require?" Q = A + P. The interviewer's answer to your question could certainly have some bearing on whether or not you want the job.

Typical Interview Questions

Here are some questions you're likely to be asked in an interview, along with some suggested responses.
  • Q. Tell me about yourself.
    A. Pre-plan your answer to this question, it's usually the first one asked. Talk about your work experience, skills, and accomplishments, not personal statistics such as where or when you were born, or whether or not you are married. Keep it brief.
  • Q. What do you know about this company?
    A. Be prepared with as much information about the company as possible, especially its products or services. Do some homework on the company's web site, in the research department of your local library, or talk with friends who may work for =or have knowledge of the company.
  • Q. Why do you want to work for this company?
    A. If you've done some research, this should be easy. Refer to the company's fine reputation, growth opportunities, etc.
  • Q. What kind of benefits are you looking for?
    A. Answer this question honestly, otherwise you'll be unhappy and less than productive.
  • Q. Describe your value to your past (or current) employer.
    A. Refer to your resume and your accomplishments.
  • Q. You've changed jobs frequently. Why?
    A. Unless you've been a victim of layoffs, talk about better opportunities and more money.
  • Q. Have you ever been fired?
    A. This can be checked, so be truthful. If the answer is yes, you might want to describe the circumstances, and your side of it. Whatever you do, don't bad mouth your boss or the company.
  • Q. What did you like best in your last (or current) job?
    A. Pre-plan your answer because this question is often asked.
  • Q. What direct supervisory experience have you had?
    A. Refer to your resume.
Types of Questions to Ask in the Interview

When it is appropriate, ask questions during the interview.

The following questions are guidelines only. Use them when and if it is comfortable for you.
  1. Do you have a job description available?
  2. With whom would I be working if I accepted a position here?
  3. What is the most important qualification for this position?
  4. To whom would I be responsible?
  5. When will you be making a decision regarding this position?

When the interview comes to an end, be sure to leave in a professional manner
  1. Stand
  2. Thank them for their time.
  3. Shake hands, look them in the eyes and smile.
  4. Ask for a business card (from them or the secretary).
  5. Ask them when they will make their decision.
  6. Tell them you will call at that time to hear their plans.
After leaving, write a short thank you letter. Thank them for seeing you. Restate your interest in the position and tell them why you feel qualified for it. Tell them you look forward to talking with them again and will call on the agreed upon date.

Your Career is your business - so start running it like one!

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