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Dressing Well and Knowing It

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Check out this great article from Buzzfeed on wearing suits. You can see how much you know about suits and dressing well.

There is a whole lot I did not know about wearing suits and was very glad to know that I did know a lot even though I do not wear them often.

Thursday, January 9, 2014 Posted by | OpenZone | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sir Alex Ferguson’s 7 Leadership Secrets

http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20131024113124-13518874-sir-alex-ferguson-s-7-leadership-secrets

The article above is one I really enjoyed. Most of the text is pasted below so you can see what lessons we may draw from this sporting icon.

When Manchester United boss Sir Alex – the most successful manager of a British soccer team in decades – announced his retirement back in May, it generated more than 1.4 million Twitter mentions within the first hour. This ranked as more significant than the death of Margaret Thatcher, if slightly less so than the announcement of the new Pope.

So here are Sir Alex’s seven leadership lessons:

(1) Face Tough Reality And Sort Problems Out Head-On

The son of a Glasgow shipbuilder, Ferguson’s grit was forged during 17 relatively unspectacular years as a player in Scottish football. He reflected: “The adversity gave me a sense of determination that has shaped my life. I made up my mind that I would never give in.”

When he became manager of Manchester United in 1986, the tough reality was that the side hadn’t won the football league for 26 years – Ferguson was depressed by the players’ level of fitness and worried that they were drinking too much. However, as he would do many times in later years, Ferguson drew strength from adversity, managing to increase their discipline and improve results.

A key lesson for CEOs is not to let problems fester but to tackle them head-on. As Ferguson says:

“No one likes to get criticized. But in the dressing room, it’s necessary that you point out your players’ mistakes. I do it right after the game. I don’t wait until Monday, I do it, and it’s finished. I’m on to the next match.”

(2) Only Accept Winning

“I’ve never played for a draw in my life,” boasts Ferguson, and with 49 trophies, 13 Premier League titles and two European Cups to his name, it shows. He has inspired by his passion, convincing players that they can push their performance on through a brick wall.

Ferguson is also passionate about his politics, leading his friend and Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell to comment:

If there is one lesson politics can take from sport, and someone as successful as Fergie, it is that if winning is what matters, make sure you do everything you need to do to win. That sounds obvious. But it is a mindset that combines the big vision with microscopic attention to detail.”

The temptation for Western CEOs is to get stuck in the mindset of incremental improvements, where 5% sales growth will get them through. However, as they come up against the big dreamers of increasingly professional Chinese companies, they would do well to adopt the mindset of the binary world of sport, where there are only winners and losers.

(3) No-One Is Bigger Than The Team

While he made solid transfer decisions, a big part of Ferguson’s success was the ability to spot talent and nurture from within. He turned exuberant “show ponies” – such as the 17-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo – into team players, while providing a home for talented misfits like Eric Cantona.

If you think there are big egos and strong characters in your organization, just look inside a Premier League dressing room. Ferguson’s genius has been to make everyone understand that the glory and the riches that they enjoy flow from being part of a winning team. It doesn’t matter how big a star you are. The team is always bigger. Either he was in control or the players were – as Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy, and David Beckham found out to their cost.

Many CEOs should apply this to their top teams and deal more firmly with the big individuals who end up casting a dysfunctional shadow on team spirit and the company culture.

(4) Command Loyalty As A True Father Figure

One of the great characters of football, Ferguson is often associated with his volatile temper. His “hairdryer” – whereby he dressed down a team member with such force and directness that it was said to dry his hair – is the stuff of legend. However, his role as a mentor and a father figure should be not be overlooked.

Ultimately, Ferguson has been more about building players up than knocking them down:

“There is no room for criticism on the training field. For a player – and for any human being – there is nothing better than hearing ‘Well done’. Those are the two best words ever invented in sports.” Whatever the private exchanges, he always defends his team externally: “There is no point in criticizing a player forever. And I never discuss an individual player in public. The players know that. It stays indoors.”

CEOs can learn much about loyalty and the importance of seeking external perspectives from Ferguson, who also told Alistair Campbell:

“You know my definition of friendship – the real friend is the one who walks through the door when the others are putting on their coats to leave… I know from my position here that sometimes there can be so much noise and fury going on around you that you need people outside your own bubble who can take a slightly different perspective for you. We all need that.”

(5) Work Hard & Stay Fresh

Renowned for his work ethic and 7am training sessions, Ferguson says:

“I tell players that hard work is a talent, too. They need to work harder than anyone else.”

However, Ferguson – whose outside interests span racing and military history – is an unlikely advocate of work-life balance, commenting:

Mental and physical fitness are two sides of the same coin. You have to build rest into any program. That’s another thing that applies in all worlds, not just sport. I don’t think you can do high-pressure jobs now without being physically fit… there were times I could see [the leader] was getting tired, and I was thinking he’s probably doing too much himself, not delegating, not spreading the load.”

Only when they apply this insight can CEOs consistently perform at their best:

“Being able to analyze a situation and then decide what to do – that is such an important part of these top jobs. Reaching the right decisions under pressure.”

(6) Build An Enduring Institution Of Which People Want To Be A Part

Ferguson told the Harvard Business School that core to his success at Manchester United was building a “club” and not just building a “team” to survive:

“The first thought for 99% of new managers is to make sure they win – to survive. They bring experienced players in, often from their previous clubs. But I think it is important to build a structure for a football club, not just a football team. You need a foundation. And there is nothing better than seeing a young player make it to the first team. The idea is that the younger players are developing and meeting the standards that the older ones have set before.”

With a 27-year reign that’s eclipsed that of most CEOs and political leaders, Ferguson has excelled in managing multi-generation succession at his club. The baton has passed from the likes of Lee Sharpe and Nicky Butt, to Phil Jones on the inside and Robin van Persie from the outside. This would-be dinosaur has actually moved with the times, embracing new technology and medical advances to build a state-of-the-art training facility at Carrington. Ferguson has kept on developing his style and systems – and, professing that the modern player is somewhat more fragile – even claims to have mellowed a bit over the years.

(7) Leave On A High

Back on top of the English Premier League, Ferguson was wise enough to step away from the touchline of the beautiful game at a time of his choosing; without being given the red card. While it’s tempting to stay on and have another go and the ‘treble’ and the UEFA Champions League, the smart move is to leave space for someone else to take it on. That way his legacy has room to grow.

Many great leaders are true ‘one-offs’ and it is too simplistic to suggest that they should seek to bottle their essence to be preserved in aspic. Rather, the big challenge for them is to groom the next generation and ‘blend the essence’ so that it’s fit for their current and future organisation. Ferguson’s anointed successor, David Moyes, is said to be another Scot in the same mold but he is still going through a difficult transition.

Note to soccer fans: As a passionate lifelong fan of Leeds United, a competing soccer team, it’s hard for me to write this post in praise of Sir Alex (easier though after Leeds’ 1-0 FA Cup Victory over Manchester United in 2010!). However, I have to respect what Sir Alex has achieved and the lessons we can draw from his leadership.

*** And Don’t Forget To Add Some “Fergie Time” ***

One of the most revealing passages in Sir Alex’s new autobiography is when he deals with the matter of “Fergie Time”. He admits that theatrically tapping on his watch as matches reached their conclusion was a psychological ploy.

The long-held popular belief was that this tactic would intimidate referees into granting Manchester United a little extra “stoppage time” (added with injuries, player changeovers etc.) at the end of either leg of a match. It was often in these vital extra seconds that his team would successfully score the goal that needed to level up the match or clinch victory. As BBC TV soccer presenter Gabby Logan would often say during her commentaries: “They’re playing Fergie Time!!”

I think the lesson here is that leaders and sports players – when in really matters – are able to get fully “in the zone” and into a state of peak performance. In this moment, we seem to lose track of conventional “clock time”, and the usual physical obstacles melt away. American football player John Brodie brings this concept to life:

“Time seems to slow way down… It seems as if I had all the time in the world.. and yet I know the defensive line is coming at me just as fast as ever.”

A truly great leader can shift other people’s perceptions of reality – inspire people to do the impossible. “Fergie Time” reminds me of Steve Jobs’ famous “reality distortion field” – which famously inspired his team to create ever-smaller, faster “insanely great” products – and convince us to buy products that we didn’t even know we needed.

Read more about this idea in my post Five Steps To Master Happiness Through Time.

With Sir Alex’s retirement, have we really seen the end of “Fergie Time”?

What do you think? you may visit the link at the top of this post for more from the original writer.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014 Posted by | OpenZone | , , , | Leave a comment

Coffee

Dear friends,

I have to admit, it’s not easy to get good stories to share. The story which follows is one such. Enjoy reading it.

A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. Conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life.

Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups – porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain looking, some
expensive, some exquisite – telling them to help themselves to the coffee.

When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said:

“If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress.

Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases it is just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink.

What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups… And then you began eyeing each other’s cups.

Now consider this: Life is the coffee; the jobs, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain Life, and the type of cup we have does not define, nor change the quality of Life we live.

Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us.”

God brews the coffee, not the cups………. Enjoy your coffee!

“The happiest people don’t have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything.”

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Friday, April 19, 2013 Posted by | OpenZone | Leave a comment

Homework

Akpors was doing his maths homework & saying:
2+5, the son of a bitch is 7.
3+6, the son of a bitch is 9…
His Mom: What are you doing?
Akpors: I’m doing maths homework.
Mom : This is how your teacher taught you?
Akpors : Yes
Infuriated, Mom asked the teacher the next day -
‘What are you teaching my son in maths?’
Teacher : Right now, we are learning addition.
Mom : Your teaching them to say 2+2, the Son of a
bitch is 4?
Teacher after laughing : What I taught them was,
2+2, The Sum of Which is 4

Thursday, February 7, 2013 Posted by | Jokes et al | Leave a comment

Illegal

Akpos failed law & decided to make a deal with the professor.
Sir, do u know everything about law?
Prof: Yes
Akpos; if u can answer this question,i will accept my final marks. If you can’t, you have to give me ‘A”. The professor agreed.
Akpos asked, ‘What is legal but not logical, logical but not legal & neither legal nor logical?
The prof thought about it for hours & pondered… but found no answer.
He had to finally give up as he really did not know, so he gave Akpos his ‘A’.
The following day, professor asked same question to his students.
He was shocked when all of them raised their hands.
He asked one student the same question.
He answered: sir, you’re 65, married to 28 year old, this is legal but not logical.
Your wife, is having an affair with a 23 year old boy. This is logical but not legal.
Your wife’s boyfriend has failed his exam & yet u have given him an ‘A’. It’s neither logical nor legal!

Thursday, February 7, 2013 Posted by | Jokes et al | Leave a comment

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 4 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Monday, December 31, 2012 Posted by | OpenZone | , , , , | Leave a comment

Akpos Driving

Akpos hammer and buys a new Automatic BMW X6 sport.
He drives the car perfectly well during the day, but at night the car just won’t move at all.
He tries driving the car at night for a week but still no luck.
He then furiously calls the BMW dealers and they sent out a technician to him.
The technician asks,
“Sir, are you sure you are using the right gears?”
Full of anger Akpors replies,
“You fool, idiot man, how you could ask such a question, I’m not stupid! I use D for the Day and N for the Night.”=D =))

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 Posted by | Jokes et al | Leave a comment

The Gospel According To ‘Saint’ Farouk

The Gospel According To ‘Saint’ Farouk

June 13th, 2012 by zebbook

1) And it came to pass after these things, on the first day of the first month of the twelfth year after the second millennium, that king Jona son of Bele announced to the people saying; there is no money left in the royal treasury, and the future of the kingdom is in great danger.

2) Therefore, a measure of oil shall no longer sell for three scores of silver and seven, but shall now be seven scores of silver and one. But the people grumbled aloud, and said unto another, what shall it profit our king to gain all these oil money and lose his throne?

3) For it is appointed unto him to reign but once, and after this prison, for many are the atrocities which he has committed.

4) So they said unto the king, eat thou thy food in peace in the palace, and surround thou thyself with thine women, only touch not our oil price and do thy people no harm.

5) But the king would not listen, and said unto himself, I know my people, they shall only grumble for a while and soon they shall forget.

6) But the people would not forget, for the burden was too much for them to bear, and they said; now unto him that is able to increase the price of oil exceeding abundantly above all that his people can bear or think, according to the greed which worketh in him;

7) Unto him be curses in the streets by the masses throughout all ages, protests without end.

So they took to the streets and gave the land no peace, and there was no going out or coming in throughout the kingdom for two weeks, and the king feared greatly and said to himself, surely these people shall overturn me if I answer them not.

9) So he called the head of the labourers unto the palace, and gave him bags of gold, that they might turn off the wrath of the people against the king.

10) So the king assembled the people and said unto them; a measure of oil shall no longer be seven scores of silver and one, but shall now be four scores of silver, one dozen and one, to this your leaders have agreed. Praise me now therefore for I am a benevolent king.

11) And after all these, the Loudspeaker of the House of People said, let us inquire into the king’s claim that there be no money in the royal treasury. So they appointed Farcrook, son of Lawal.

12) And said unto him, gather ye now all the oil sellers, that we may know who stole from the kingdom. This did him with diligence, and came back with his report saying

13) Thieves abound in the land, and so have the oil sellers stole from the people, and gave them not oil, this they did with the help of Aliyaro the king’s mistress; and the amount he mentioned was unheard of in the land.

14) When the people heard this, they were dismayed, and sorrow gripped their hearts.

15) But the oil sellers went in unto the king in his chamber, and said; rememberest thou O king that the what we stole did we made available to thy campaign, and by thus did we make you king.

16) If thou deliver us unto the people that they may punish us, we will hold not our tongue to tell the people that thou art one of us.

17) And they said unto him, how else shall we destroy the message if not to destroy the messenger? Let us therefore implicate Farcrook the son of Lawal in this matter.

18) So they sent a certain rich man from the West by the name Otedollar, and he took Farcrook into his house and gave him some money, that he may alter the report which he had set before the people.

19) And it was that Otedollar went before an assembly of the people and said unto them, trust ye this man who said we stole from the treasury? Surely he is one of us, for he came unto me in the middle of the night, and he left with his pockets full of money.

20) And the people where amazed, and their hearts bled, for Farcrook was a man in whom they had to their trust.

21) So Farcrook arose, and said; Otedollar is my briber, I did not request. He maketh me to sit down in his Maitama house; he leadeth me beside the chilled champagne.

22) He exploited me greed; he leadeth me in the paths of marked dollars for subsidy’s sake.

23) Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of EFCC, I will fear no arrest: for bribes are with me; my loots and my kickbacks they comfort me.

24) Thou preparest the dollars before me, in the presence of the SSS: thou anointest my mouth with wine; my pocket runneth over.

25) Surely the shame and reproach shall follow me all the days of my life, but I will dwell in the house of PDP forever and ever.

26) And the people wept, but there was no one to console them.

Monday, July 9, 2012 Posted by | OpenZone | Leave a comment

Descent

The writer of the article below will pardon certain liberties I have taken to edit the text.

I have had time to repeatedly contemplate the events that have befallen us as a nation in recent times and feel compelled to put down these words. Our Nigeria has become a conundrum within an enigma. Who shall resolve this riddle? Who will unravel Gordian knot? Our stories are outlandish as the Orwellian allegories.
 
The disasters that have in recent times befallen us as a nation can broadly be categorised in 2 viz: natural and man-made. The latter can be further broken down in to 2 sorts. There are those perpetrated by wicked people and then there are those that have resulted from people who should know better but certainly don’t.
 
I have often wondered where the slippery slope of mediocrity that we have embraced wholeheartedly and seem to now accept as a way of life will lead us.
 
This is a nation that has consistently lowered its standards, a nation were a 40% score is deemed a pass. Just a couple of weeks ago it was in the news that JAMB (UME) has lowered cut-off marks to 180 for universities and 160 for polytechnics and colleges of education. We are churning out of our education system and institutions 40% calibre people. We are seemingly celebrating averageness and allowing mediocrity build a castle in our land. Imagine for a moment that the owners and drivers of the petrol laden trucks that caused the debacle on the Lagos Ibadan expressway resulting in loss of lives and property were 80% calibre persons or that employees of FERMA and the various agencies that oversee the construction of those death traps called roads were people of distinction: would we have read about that carnage?
 
A litany of disasters; collapsing buildings, a democratically elected government that autocratically sacks its doctors enmasse, billions of dollars spent with power generation at almost similar levels, failed educational system (we are now at 27% pass rates in WAEC. Recall that pass mark is 40%. That is to say that only 27% of candidates who sat those examinations have above 40% performance). Schools where we learn nothing, hospitals that are no better than hospices, libraries that hold no books, pharmacies that stock fake or expired medicines. Where is our individual sense of pride and integrity?
 
It has come home to roost. Our acceptance of averageness. Our lackadaisical approach to life and entrenched of mediocrity have become our greatest dangers. We have unwittingly become a hazard to ourselves. We have probably sunken to the point where even if we want to do better as a people we neither have the capacity nor the sustainable will to do so. How sad!
 
I have read the many words of encouragement flying around the place, words which are fine in themselves but when put in context leave a bad taste in the mouth. They are akin to the bland platitudes our governments ever so often feed us with when ever these things occur. We could fill a library with those meaningless speeches; Diezani’s tears on Benin-Shagamu road, Jonathan’s promise to restore security, Yar Adua’s rule of law mantra which was more like ‘ruse of law’. It really is an endless list of drivel.  A system that allows an Ibori to become governor is a system to be feared. How did he pass all those security screenings that we are told State Security Service (SSS) carries out on aspirants? Is the SSS manned by ‘40% caliber persons’ too? That could be the only plausible explanation
 
And now, the Dana Air crash. Aircrafts don’t easily crash. There has to be a series of events or failures that build to a crash. Even a single engine shutdown in mid flight will not easily bring down a plane. The current system of keeping the airlines honest and flying safe depends a lot on the operators. For example, if they don’t log in a fault it is not easily known by our regulators that an aircraft is unfit to fly. By the combination of greed on the path of the owners and incompetence on the side of the regulators we constantly brew up dangers. Flying in Nigeria is literally “on a wing and a prayer”. We shall soon be inundated with stories of  bad operational practices at Dana and co. This will be followed by knee jerk reactions by government but none of the officials will be honourable enough to take responsibility for the failure and resign. No, not in a thousand years will that happen. It isanathema to the Nigerian mentality.
 
What happened to the promises made when the aviation intervention fund was set up not too long ago? What did we learn from the numerous crashes of the last decade? Can someone tell me what NEMA does? Do they have employees? What do they do daily?
 
If there was a chance of rescuing some alive it disappeared as quickly as the first in the crowd of onlookers gathered, gawping and impeding; the typical behavior of ‘40% pass mark people’ a mix of primitive curiosity and false belief in their ability to help. How on earth they would accomplish anything of note completely lost on them: untrained and themselves in danger. Unwittingly they aided an already bad situation in arriving at an epically shocking conclusion.  
 
When these disasters occur the very pervasive low-level intelligence and averageness around does not even allow the national conversation to attain transcendental heights. We often find ourselves wallowing in the quagmire of puerility and inane banalities; the steady flows of mindless claptrap often enough to gradually drive the intelligent minority to points of insanity. I find so often in trying to have decent well-reasoned conversations that the contributions leave me gob smacked. How can we advance if the mental capacity to envision great things is beyond us?
 
Starting from now and with me I resolve to always give my best and to demand it of others when I am in a position to. No more tolerant smile and acceptance of tripe. It is the start of my personal campaign. I will become a police unto myself.
 
When next I pay for a service, I will not accept low quality work. When someone tries to cut-in in front of me in traffic having driven against traffic, he can expect no sympathy. In every little way I can, I will crusade. People will learn to be much more accountable when we make sure they cannot easily shirk their responsibility. We should always insist on getting true value and give full value too.
 
We all may not be able to do something grand for starters but we can start to help today by educating ourselves a little more, trying a little harder and being less tolerant of averageness. If there will be any redemption, it will only come when we can once again be a people of standard.

Odi Okundaye
Church 4 Real
Church of God Mission Int’l

Comments please.

Monday, June 11, 2012 Posted by | OpenZone | Leave a comment

Foolishness

Mr Azu and his friend Oko were arguing about their sons. Mr Azu said his son was more foolish than
Oko’s son, but Oko disagreed
so they decided to prove it.

Mr Azu called his son and told him to go to the market and buy a box of matches and the boy left without asking for money.

Then Mr Azu said “You see how foolish he is, he didn’t even ask for money”

Oko replied; “is this what you call foolishness? Wait and see”.

Then Oko called his son and told him to go home and check if he was around.

The boy took to his heels and came back panting; Papa, you no dey house, Mama say you dey
your friend place.

Do have something more foolish than this? Please share

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 Posted by | OpenZone | Leave a comment

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