A society is gauged by how they treat their mentally unstable.
I once wrote this down somewhere in my notes and didn’t even think much about it at the time.
After all, thoughts would always be thoughts.
Well, today, I met a clean cut, handsome, smiling 66yr-old with dementia.
I didn’t even figure it out initially as I was caught up with how impressionable and overly affectionate he was with a neighborhood kid.
When it hit me, my face was like one of Martin Scorsese’s freeze frames.
Jaw drops. Click!
Memories came flooding back.
I tried to think of the exact minute you go from being all rational and logical to spewing incoherent and meaningless stuff.
The exact moment it clicks shut in your mind, and then you begin saying nonsense.
The exact moment your mind is broken.
And then, the forced smiles, yimus, snickers, and managed tolerance from people around you.
The loss of dignity. The shame. You go from being respected to becoming a mad man.
In a very superstitious community like ours, your case takes on a spiritual undertone immediately.
“A mad man is never ashamed, only his family members are” – Igbo proverb
Why then would his family let him go about like this?
But then, there’s only so much caregivers can give and take.
People get tired.
Patience has an elastic limit.
People have their own lives to live, build and manage, and not let it peter out by being tasked with the burden of taking care of a family member, a mentally unstable one at that.
What about his country/community?
Which begs the question, aside ostracization, what does Nigeria do for its mentally ill?
Kesh just told me “They don reason us wey well finish before they start to reason craze people? Baba, you go wait tire o“
In saner climes, mentally ill people are provided with robust options; quality health care system, accessible medication.
And so many of them even get to enjoy life, doing almost everything others get to do including getting an education and raising a family.
And though I have never been to a mental health institution in Nigeria, you just have to visit our prisons to understand what it means to be institutionalized in a country like this.
This is not one of those ‘everything wrong with Nigeria’ posts, rather it’s a reaffirmation of the maxim ‘Enjoy the life you’ve been given‘.
We could all die any day, worse is we could lose our minds any day.
And with a country as ours, we are always minutes away. Love yourz.
When we talk about the uncertainty of life, we almost always think of death.
I once got down from a bus at Marina, walked about ten steps, tried to shift for an aged woman walking beside me so she wouldn’t get hit by an oncoming vehicle and boom!!! I smashed the side mirror of a danfo parked on the side of the road to bits.
I had just the transport fare to where I was going on me, so when the conversation switched to “Bros, how we go do am naa?“, hard guy for start to dey cry sef. 😂
I thought about every decision I made prior to alighting from the bus when I did.
“See me wey suppose stop on top bridge. Heiii God!!! 😂 Which kind calamity be this?”
And then it hit me, someone once said that’s how the afterlife is/would be.
The one time you get to question every single decision you’ve made throughout your life.
That is if you refuse to live introspectively.
So do we wait until we die before asking questions of ourselves?
Funny thing is, death doesn’t even scare me.
However, yut you see dementia? Chills my bone marrow.
If there’s one money lesson I’ve learned, but I had to be reminded of again from Chelsea winning the Champions League it is to by all means avoid sunk cost fallacy.
Sunk cost is the misconception that you need to pump more money or time into a bad investment and ‘force’ it to become profitable, or else all the time and money you already invested would have been for nothing.
People spend more time at a job that doesn’t fulfil them because they feel if they put in more time then it’d get better.
People stay in a relationship that drains them hoping their partners will change if they could just show them a little more love.
It’s a fallacy!
In reality, you end up wasting the new investment as well. No upside.
“There are two important rules of business, knowing when to get in and when to get out. Of the two, knowing when to get out is the most important.” – Hymie Levy (The Power Of One)
I’m a stickler for determination and holding on, but whether in a relationship or business, sometimes it’s better to end it. At least for your mental health.
Not everything will work even with consistency.
Sometimes an idea might not be saleable or the market might not like or want your product or it can’t just work.
What many people do is they try to force it into working because they’ve either spent too much time or money on it.
But that’s hustling backwards.
I understand the motivational industry tells you to keep trying. But sometimes the best solution is to walk away & cut your losses.
Sometimes, the best solution is to pivot, re-strategize and come back from a different angle.
We have so many companies, musicians, artists who started with a particular product idea or concept & when it wasn’t working they had to go back to the drawing board & rebrand.
Or sometimes even change direction entirely.
There’s no shame in that.
You don’t have money & time to waste.
You shouldn’t be flogging a dead horse.
This is what Roman Abramovich proved when he sacked Frank Lampard despite his status as a club legend and replaced him with Thomas Tuchel.
Business and sentiments are like oil and water, they don’t mix well.
A lot is going on in the world right now, and I’m rife with emotions this morning.
Chelsea won the Champions League last night.
But today is #BiafraRemembranceDay
At this moment, I don’t know if I should talk about my father who was born in the middle of the war.
Or I should talk about the constant persecution of the Igbos.
Or I should talk about the time when I was in Primary 3 when Igbos in Ikom, Cross River State were attacked, people maimed, their shops burnt, goods destroyed, families separated, people killed, lives never to be the same again.
This happens all over Nigeria every year.
But today, I’ll talk about Mr Laz.
In 2016, I was an intern at VON in Abuja when I met Mr Laz.
I was living with a relative who attended the same church as him. He came for oil prospecting and we all stayed in the same house for months.
I keep a lot of notebooks, jotters and diaries where I write about a lot of random stuff I’m thinking about.
Even my mother insists on taking jotters as souvenirs when she attends weddings, just so she can give them to me. Lol
Mr Laz was probably bored one day, and he started reading some of them.
I have no idea why.
I come back home from work one day and he tells me he has been reading some of my stories. I’m so embarrassed!!!! 😆
But then he starts lavishing me with compliments and telling me they are quite good, and he had no idea I had an artistic side. I start blushing ☺️
Over time, we bonded over stories and then one day he tells me a story about his childhood. A story about Biafra.
Mr Laz was born in the North (can’t remember the exact state). But he told me he was a child, say between 5 and 7 when the war broke out.
His mother was able to smuggle them out and they managed to get on a train headed to Igboland.
They thought they were safe and everything was behind them as they arrived Benue.
Benue is in the Middle Belt, and those who travel to the North from the Southern part of Nigeria know it’s a gateway to Enugu and Cross River.
But what they saw at Benue was unbelievable!
People were lying in wait killing every male that stepped out of any train coming from the North.
Imagine escaping the North and reaching Benue, only to be hacked to death. I mean, you can smell the okpa they sell at Enugu from Makurdi.
You could smell your home, but you’d never reach there. Onwu ejituogi n’uzo.
So, how did Mr Laz survive?
His mother had to dress him up like a girl.
Oh, it was easy.
Mr Laz is a very handsome man. You can only imagine how he looked like a child.
Add a dress, eyeliner and scarf, and you have a beautiful girl.
They hacked down every male – old or young.
Who knows, they might have found him out if some Biafran soldiers who heard about what was going on didn’t pull up at Benue with automatic weapons and dispelled the murderers.
That was the only way the rest of the Igbos running from the North could pass into Igboland.
Imagine a child living through these horror stories and having to remember and retell them every time?
They’ll tell you it was a civil war, but don’t let anyone fool you.
What they did to the Igbos was a GENOCIDE!!!
They didn’t kill you because you were successful or domineering or diligent or hardworking or an overcomer.
They killed you because you were IGBO.
They killed you because an Igbo is all of the above and more.
And even though I have certain reservations about the current state of the Biafra Movement, I choose to know my story.
Know your story too.
Because one day we’ll all tell our stories.
Maybe yours truly might even make a movie.
#Ozoemena But until then… #Echezona
PS: Who knows, maybe my father or Mr Laz might have been one of the children in this picture.
“Until the lion learns to write, every story will glorify the hunter.” – Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart)
I just discovered why I’ve been falling sick repeatedly for the past year, spent hundreds of thousands in hospital bills and eye care, almost overdosed on sleeping pills, lost my sight a few times, and nearly went insane.
So, in 2020, I got an offer to work in one of the top five Nigerian banks.
I worked for just one day, and then I left.
Now, I had a major reason for turning down that job offer (which I’ll share with you guys someday).
But one of the reasons why I said no was because I felt working at the bank would hamper my personal development.
During my NYSC in 2018/19, I had developed a routine that helped me read for at least 2 hours every day while writing a bit on the side.
I read over 60 books within 9 months or thereabouts as reading was what I used to fill up the day.
I moved to Lagos after NYSC to teach Spanish and I pretty much kept the same routine.
It was easy for me because I was teaching Spanish for just 2 or 3 hours a day, 2 or 3x a week.
I just needed to wake up early in the morning, exercise, eat, and then read before going to my classes.
And then the bank job came around October.
It was an offer to work for one of their branches in Victoria Island.
It was HUGE as I’d gone through rounds and rounds of interviews and performance-based tests for months.
This was the finish line.
But a part of me felt somehow.
I wasn’t particularly enthusiastic about the job anymore, and I had no idea why.
After everything, banking school training and all that, the onboarding session was supposed to last for a week.
On my way home after day 1, I called my mother to tell her I wasn’t doing it anymore.
I lived around Mile 2 at the time & working in Victoria Island meant I had to leave home by at least 5 every morning or get stuck in traffic.
Bank closing time was 5 pm, but then we still had to service customers who were still inside and this could take up to 2 or 3 hours depending on the size of the crowd.
Then we’ll have to wait for the cashiers to balance their accounts and then the vault locked up.
Then I would get into Lagos traffic, and start making my way home.
Give or take I got home between 11 pm and 12 am.
Then I would have to wake up by 3 am to be able to read, exercise, eat, and then leave home by 5. Every day.
It was a perpetual treadmill.
One I had to run on for the next couple of years.
I tried to look at my life for the next two years ahead and it didn’t look like I’d be getting anywhere fast.
I’d just moved to Lagos, and I wasn’t making a lot of money yet so getting a house on the Island wasn’t possible.
So, I quit.
Fast forward to 2020, I got a job offer that was more suited to my skills, flexible, better work environment, and with a higher ceiling.
Since I was coming from the Mainland and traffic is terrible, part of the offer was coming in for 2 or 3 days a week and working from home on the others.
But less than a month later, I fell out with the friends I was squatting with and had to move out.
Moved to a place on the Island about 20 minutes drive from work.
But then moving to the Island meant I started working every day and I loved it.
I was waking up at 3 am to pray, read for 2 hours, write for an hour, exercise, eat, nap for a bit and still get to work before 9 am.
Close at 5 p.m. & still get home before 8 no matter how bad traffic was.
I was growing like crazy.
But then COVID struck!
It meant I could still do my routine without any problems.
But the downside was I had too much free time since we were all indoors.
To fill up this free time, I turned to books & sales copies.
But there’s only so much we can do in total isolation and over time I started filling my free time with sleep.
Sleeping during the day meant I wasn’t falling asleep easily at night.
So, even if my body was tired and screaming for me to sleep, I couldn’t sleep for long because I’d been primed to waking up by 3 every day.
I started having headaches regularly.
I chalked it up to the blue light from my laptop and got antiglare glasses to protect my eyes.
One night, I was working when I stopped seeing anything for almost 2 minutes.
And that’s how my monthly journeys to the hospital started.
I couldn’t sleep.
I was a walking zombie.
Went to an eye clinic for a checkup and was recommended glasses.
Stopped working heavily.
Stopped reading for long too.
But my sleeping problems didn’t stop.
I kept getting admitted into the hospital, and drugs and supplements kept draining holes in my pocket.
I even got prescribed sleeping pills and nothing worked.
Not being able to read and do research as I used to meant I fell off so badly at work.
I had to skip work, I missed project deadlines, lost much of my creativity and practically went from flying at 100 to zero.
It affected my writing output too.
I had to stop exercising too because my body couldn’t keep up.
My eyes would be aching, my teeth chattering, and I’d feel so weak.
Then I would get some relief and then it would start all over again.
This has been my story for the last year.
I just moved to a new place closer to work late last month.
And then this week, my eyes start hurting again.
In my head, I say “here we go again”😁😁😁
But then I decided to try something new for the last two days.
I decided to start sleeping latest 10 PM.
And brethren, I just discovered the reason I’ve been feeling this way was that my sleep pattern had been disrupted for over a year.
The result was I started getting up at exactly 3 or 4 am, pray, read, exercise, do a little bit of work at home before getting to the office.
The only downside is I feel a little sleepy during the day.
But I’ve been doing some of my best work this last week. I can’t even lie.
Dan Go put out a tweet once saying a tiny majority of people can get by with less than four hours of sleep, but most people need at least 6 hours of sleep to function properly.
I think I’m most people 😁
So, the goal now is to shift my bedtime to 8/9 pm and waking hours at 3/4 am.
Waking up at that time when the rest of the world is still asleep means I get to start my day in turbo mode.
That’s when I function best.
So, unless I’m out partying, hanging out with friends, on an online webinar or having sex, I have no reason to be awake past 9 pm.
That’s the reason why I’m putting out this tweet by this time.
I knew Toyin Omotoso from when I attended Akin Alabi’s YECO event while serving in Ibadan in early 2019.
Started following him, Ronald Nzimora, Biola Kazeem and most of the people who spoke at YECO. Turned on notifications too.
But it wasn’t until late 2019 when he put out this tweet talking about learning Spanish did I get to finally interact with him.
I started with teaching him Spanish 2hrs a day 2 or 3x a week, but by sheer divine providence he took it upon himself to teach me copywriting, sales, advertising and the entire marketing caboodle.
In 2020, I ended up becoming his protege, became the in-house copywriter and Digital Content Manager for 7Star Support Systems Nigeria, and collaborated on several projects too.
All this might not sound like much to most of you but going from teaching Spanish for 2k/hour to working with one of the greatest marketing minds in the whole of Africa, and still making money off of it for me is something you only get to see in movies.
It’s been a crazy ride this past 1 year but below are the 19 things I learned from working with @toyinomotoso in 2020.
1. Everything Is For Sale.
Pet rocks. Sparkling water. Small e-books with all kinds of information. Waist trainers. Diet plans. Exercise routines. People will buy anything, as long as it’s important to them and they can afford it.
That little piece of knowledge you have that seems common to you could be the difference between poverty and massive wealth for you. Someone somewhere needs it. And they’ll pay you for it if you can make it available to them.
2. The Offer Is King.
“I’ll make him an offer he cannot refuse.” – Don Vito Corleone (The Godfather)
Lots of salesman and marketers talk about different tactics and strategies for making a sale, but nothing beats an irresistible offer.
Your customers want to believe your product or service is the best offer (or at least the second-best) they are getting from the market.
Your irresistible offer is how you get the customer and also how you crush your competition.
3. There’s A Marketing Angle In Almost Every Story, It’s Your Job To Find It.
Everything has become an opportunity for me to learn since I started working in marketing over the last year. Books, movies, conversations, experiences etc.
These days I’ve learned to find a marketing angle even in the most mundane stories. This helps with creating powerful leads and story arcs.
People also love it when you share a story with them about an experience they can relate to.
4. Principles Are Everything.
To achieve anything worthwhile in any endeavour, it’s important to understand the principles and roots first.
Those principles form the foundation and everything is built on them. Which is why as a salesman, it’s important to always have it at the back of your mind that even if everything changes, human nature never does.
Human nature is what drives every emotion, which drives every single sale and purchase. You’re making a mistake if you don’t pay attention to how people behave.
a. Focus on what’s important and ignore every other thing. There are all distractions towards your end goal.
Instead of doing 20 low-quality things, how about you just focus on 2 and make them the highest quality possible?
b. Focus on your strengths, outsource every other thing if you can afford it. This will free up time and energy for you to focus on what’s important. If you can’t afford it, then keep working till you can.
c. Most people are lazy and distracted today. You can become a god in your chosen field if you just ‘outfocus’ them.
Has someone ever told you you’re easy to talk to?
Well, the truth is you might not even be easy to talk to in the actual sense, but once people notice you listen to them, they believe you’re easy to talk to.
Plus, you pick up more from listening than from talking. People naturally open up to you when they know you’re willing to listen to them talk about their problems. Sometimes, they don’t even want a solution or an answer to their problem, they just want to vent. Most people eventually figure it out themselves.
Listening is also how you become a better copywriter and salesman. You learn about your prospect’s problems by listening and paying attention.
7. Just Do It.
Start first. Make mistakes. Correct them. Keep going. Learn along the way. You never what it’s going to be like until you take risks.
I think I should do this more 😁
8. Stay Curious: You Start Dying The Day You Stop Learning.
Your job as a copywriter/salesman means you have to keep learning till the day you die. You are required to know about a lot of things and how they work.
That’s how you create winning ads. That’s how you create better presentations. That’s how you create powerful leads. That’s how you get better clients. That’s how you do great work.
Read books. Research different topics. Watch instructional videos. Listen to podcasts. Try new things and new experiences. Always be looking to learn something new every day.
9. Quality Over Quantity, But Quantity Begets Quality.
Every day in this digital marketing world, we hear a story about someone who has made hundreds of millions of dollars from putting together an incredible offer. But nobody asks how many times they had to try or how many different things they had to do or how many projects they failed at or how many duds they had put out before or how many years it took them to get to that level.
The truth is to get to the level where you consistently put out quality work, you might have to put out a lot of mediocre work at the beginning. But consistently improving on them and getting better is how you eventually win. Which leads me to the next lesson.
10. Practice, Practice, Practice.
Ask Ronaldo, Ask Kobe Bryant, Ask Michael Jordan. Consistency is how you win. Which is why you have to keep practising every day.
11. Just One Good Offer + One Good Sales Copy Can Change Your Life.
“Just one good sales letter is what will change your life as a copywriter. It changed my life. It changed Ronald’s life. It changed Akin Alabi’s life.” – Toyin Omotoso
12. Garbage In, Garbage Out/What You Sow, You Reap.
What you consume is what you give out. Consume quality and you give out quality. Consume garbage and you give out the garbage.
13. There’s Money Everywhere.
But first, you need to understand the difference between you and the guy who has money is value. And then when you do, add value too. That’s how you make money.
14. Attention Is Scarce But Money Is Plenty.
People will pay through their nose for what they are interested in, but first, you need to find out what is this thing they are interested in and then figure out how to get their attention.
If you can get their attention, manage to hold their interest and then give them an irresistible offer, they’ll chase you down with their wallets open.
15. Strive For More.
Toyin Omotoso once sent out an email where he said he gave himself a target to be one of the best guys doing marketing in Nigeria when he first started. Years later, he feels he should have set his goals higher. I’ve never forgotten. This has stuck with me ever since.
16. Research Is Everything.
Know your market. Know your product. Know your competition. But you can only know all this through research.
Everything required to sell depends on excellent research and it’s on you to do it.
17. The Road To Success/Greatness Is Long, But A Mentor Takes You There In Twice The Time And Probably Half The Effort.
There are a lot of great people on here and in real life I see as mentors and learn from. Some of them I’ve never met physically and will never meet. But that’s not a barrier because the Internet has made it easier to access their knowledge through their books, articles, posts, and materials they put out.
Which is why it’s important to study for the masters or anyone who has succeeded in something you’re interested in.
There’s a reason why they succeeded. If you are humble enough to learn from their experiences and implement, someday you might become a master too.
18. Invest In Yourself.
People get to a certain level, make some good money or get some fame and decide to relax, but Toyin Omotoso has spent around N2million (that I’m aware of) between January and now on new materials just to continually upgrade himself.
If someone at that level keeps adding to themselves, then who am I to stay stagnant?
He once told me the reason why I give you all these books is that I know you’ll read them. That’s my inspiration.
19. Positioning Is Everything.
Everything about your approach to life changes the day you discover this.
There’s a reason why someone would see you and think you’re too cheap and not want to work with you or buy what you’re selling because they think it’s not worth it.
Positioning affects your relationships, your product and service offerings, how people see you and even how they regard you.
People like Toyin Omotoso entirely changed the game for young people.
Aside from opening our eyes to how enormously profitable the sales and marketing industry is, you have to think about the different roads he’s helped pave: Consulting, Advertising, Media Buying, Affiliate Marketing, E-Commerce, Persuasion, Personal Development etc.
I mean, you look at young copywriting geniuses like Andy Mukolo or affiliate marketing mavericks like Bruno Nwogu, or kings like Emmanuel Adiotu & Yusuf Adedeji crushing it in E-Commerce and how much he’s influenced them and then you’d understand.
Lupe Fiasco once said, “Hip-Hop saved me.” Well, Toyin Omotoso saved my life.
So, thank you for the opportunity to drink from your fountain of unending knowledge and learning at your feet. Thank you for everything, Baba mi. Every day I feel like I won the lottery.
And here’s to many more years, Maestro’s Maestro. 🥂
Also, I think I was lucky enough to be in this position. Many people reading this would wish they could. But not to worry, you too can learn from the master himself when you click on the link below 👇🏿
Just like you, the first thing I do most mornings when I wake up is to grab my phone. I mean, who doesn’t?
I open WhatsApp and start viewing people’s statuses or go on Twitter and just scroll mindlessly.
I wish I wouldn’t sometimes, but it’s almost a habit. And then at the end of the day, I end up doing less than I intended to.
So, in trying to get more out of my day I decided to try a few things and since they’ve been working for me so far, I decided to share them with you.
1. Say Thank You
It’s easy to forget you once prayed or wished for the things you have now.
So, while striving for more, don’t forget to be grateful for waking up today. As a new day is always a brand new opportunity to get everything you missed yesterday.
Don’t also forget to be grateful for your family, friends, and loved ones.
Be grateful for growth opportunities.
Be grateful for people who continually believe in and invest in you.
Be grateful for the hard lessons. At least, there were opportunities to learn something.
And it doesn’t even matter if you’re an atheist because gratitude has no religion. It’s simply therapy for the soul – the single master key that unlocks everything.
2. Drink water
Your body needs about a gallon of water (around 3.7 litres) daily to function optimally.
Drinking water immediately you wake up helps release toxins from your body, aids bowel movement and boosts your appetite.
I also hear drinking water and minding your business helps you look younger and live longer 😁
So, if you’re going to be drinking 1 gallon of water every day, starting with a good litre in the morning is the best way possible to kick off your day.
1 litre of water is just 2 sachets or two small 50cl bottles. Easy peasy!
Reading is an opportunity to go into someone else’s mind and then getting to reimagine things from there.
It helps you develop perspective, widens your horizon and gives you much-needed nuance on varying topics.
Imagine being the guy/girl at the party who everyone wants to talk to because you have an idea about almost everything. That’s your superpower, Hero!
1 page. 1 chapter. 1 line of thought. Nothing is too small.
This is an opportunity to clarify your thoughts. An opportunity to brainstorm ideas and work on plans/projects you’ve been thinking about too.
And shockingly there’s no limit to what you can write about. One of the world’s best-known books, The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank was written by a 13-year-old.
It was simply a collection of thoughts from her diary.
There’s a Bible passage which says deep calleth unto deep.
To move from a level of life to somewhere higher would require a lot of meditation and deep, clear and focused thinking.
As much as this is the hardest thing to do especially in a world filled with so much noise and distraction, you need to learn how to still your mind to achieve this kind of deep and clear focus.
Your future will be glad you did.
I hard to leave the hardest part for last. I know 😁
At a beginner level, you can make do with:
5-10 jumping jacks.
Walking distances where you’d naturally use other options. And none of these requires a gym or workout equipment. Only determination and a will to live well.
What’s funny is that doing all of this will take just between 20 minutes to 1 hour and you’d still get to do everything you planned to do today. But the difference is you’d have started your day on a flying note.
So, try this over the next 6 months and watch your life blossom.
But wait, how do I have time to do all of this? The answer is simple: Sleep early.