Author: Kingsley Mayor Omenaiko
An activist is one who is politically active in the role of a citizen; especially, one who campaigns for change. He is someone who is conspicuously active in carrying out any occupational or professional functions.
When I started in 2011, I had no training, no skill, no mentor, no one nor organization to look up to. All I had was a BURNING PASSION TO CHANGE THE WORLD OR DIE TRYING.
To complicate my situation, I had no clarity or direction. I just wanted to make a difference and that was all that mattered to me then.
My lack of experience drove me in a speed of light into several hardship, mistakes and untold pressure. I almost lost my mind trying to help others find theirs. Indeed nothing can be more expensive than inexperience, lack of skill and a weak network.
I still remember how I went bankrupt between January – April 2013 .That was when I began to seek knowledge, skills and experience.
However, I will never forget a conference I attended in Lagos that renewed, refreshed, reinvigorated, revamped and reinstalled my next level. From that point onward, I began to climb the ladder upward.
Today, I am a globally recognized education and development practitioner, sustainably delivering solutions to global, continental, national, and local problems. Looking back, I can now say that it all happened on the wings of:
- Skills and Knowledge
This is why in this article; I want to share with you 10 things I wish I knew in my earlier days of activism with hope that you might find a thing or two to learn.
10 Things I wish I knew as a young activist
1) Passion is not enough
Activism can start with PASSION, but must be complimented and sustained with SKILLS AND NETWORK, if SUSTAINABLE RESULT is the target.
2) Fame without wealth will put you under pressure
The more famous I became, the more pressure I was under, financially, emotionally, spiritually, socially, and otherwise. Everybody I met wanted something from me, and most often, wanted things i either couldn’t give or didn’t have.
Unfortunately, many of them wouldn’t believe I either couldn’t give it, or didn’t have it. This placed me under undue pressure.
3) Your Network should be equal to your NET-WORTH
Funders, partners and people are more comfortable funding and supporting people and organizations they know or can trust. I have learnt that GOOD IDEAS ALONE DOES NOT EQUAL FUNDING. TRUST DOES.
4) Funds are prioritized according to funder’s Organizational focus and values
Most funders (if not all) have priorities for their funds. If their priority is Governance for example, they will never fund a Health project even if an entire community is dying from health related disease(Except the project is linked to governance or there is a special arrangement for that). I wish I knew earlier.
5) Collaboration and partnership is the new competition.
I never knew that impact could be scaled through effective collaborations and partnership. In my ignorance, i missed.
6) Volunteerism was the easiest and cheapest way to build Network, learn skills and achieve goals
I never saw the reason why I should work for free for an organization or an individual or in a project. The result of my ignorance was wasted time, efforts, resources and stress.
It took me several years striving to get things I could had gotten with just one dial from my mobile phone to my network.
7) Impact doesn’t pay bills
I was driven by passion and impact. I wish I knew that there are two sides to activism. The side of PASSION and the side of MONEY. I would had blended the two. Using my passion to make money.
What is the dignity in being an activist who can’t pay his/her child’s school fees or who goes to bed hungry because he/she doesn’t have money to buy food?. Ignorant dealt with me like I have seen it deal with many youths today.
8) Sustainability is the life line of activism
I have seen many youth activist fall out on the way. Many are now roaming with application letters because they never thought about sustainability. I learnt this the hard way.
I define sustainability as how long you will remain active and relevant in that field, given that no additional support or funds get to you. How long do you remain relevant? That’s your sustainability limit.
9) The size of your office does not determine the size of your impact
I wished I knew that I didn’t need to rent an office at the beginning, to be effective. Many times, we spend so much in putting up an office with nothing happening in the office.
Therefore, the fund is wasted and many have lost so much money this way. Thanks to my friend who counseled me on this. Today I know that you don’t need a well furnished office when you are starting to be effective.
Grow sequentially. You can use your house as an office. You can rent office space in an existing office only when needed. You can use a friend’s office space, etc.
Except you have enough funds, don’t furnish an elaborate office when you are just starting. Instead, invest in building trust, network, skill and profile. Naturally, your profile, trust, network, skill will furnish your office.
10) Finally I wish I knew that I could travel the world without money
If only I knew earlier, I would had seen the ends of the earth, but better late than never. I’m grateful I have had the opportunity to visit 23 States in Nigeria; and 13 countries in 4 continents. I now look forward to more.
Now you have your chances. What would you do with it? Don’t wait to regret or wish. Turn your WISHES to ACTION and let the world feel your IMPACT.
Now to dive into business. I will be outlining some of the skills you need in order to succeed in business
Skills you need to succeed in business
1) Goal setting
Let’s start with the basics, if you’re starting a business you need to know what you want to achieve. You need to know how to set a feasible goal. This goal can be critical in helping steer your business as it grows so it needs to be sensible but ambitious.
2) Self promotion
Knowing how to promote yourself is crucial for your career, but mastering how to do it without sounding too modest or too arrogant is no easy task. Almost nobody likes talking about themselves.
The English language is used in workplaces and organisations all over the world – communicating clearly and carefully is vital to projects running smoothly and building international relationships.
4) Expertise in numeracy
Whether it’s working with Excel or balancing the books, having an interest for numbers can come in useful in lots of different ways.
You don’t need to speak fluent algebra to succeed in business, but having an appreciation of things like percentages, ratios and averages will be helpful. You need to know how to interpret data and understand statistics.
5) legal Knowledge
A working knowledge of basic law can help you resolve conflicts, improve your analytical thinking and avoid hefty legal bills.
6) Project management
One of the most valuable skills in any career is knowing how to manage your workload; effective project management can save you time, stress and money.
7) Brand Management
Here there are couple of questions you need to ask yourself:
- What is it that sets you or your business apart?
- What do you stand for?
- What tone of voice do you use when speaking to customers?
These are all questions you need good answers for if you want to have a memorable brand, and a successful business.
8) Industry Awareness
If you’re going to stand out, you need to know what you’re standing out from, this means understanding your company, marketplace, industry – or all three.
Forming solid relationships with other professionals and entrepreneurs can help you in all sorts of ways, whether it’s having someone to turn to for advice or a useful contact to help you get a foot in the door.
These nine skills are very important in running a successful business. I always tell people that running a business could be simple or difficult. It all depends on your strategy and methodology.
Activism is very important in any place you find yourself. You could be an employee in an organization or a sole proprietor or even a co-owner of a company. Always imbibe activism and strength to boost your business growth.
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