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Friday, 30 January 2015

The Job Interview with a Big Life Lesson: A Must Read!

I found an interesting story shared by The Champions Chat Club International on Facebook. 

I believe it carries a great message that will inspire you either as a young person, an applicant awaiting a job interview, a manager or a mother.

Happy Reading (grab a popcorn if you can)

One young man went to apply for a managerial position in a big company. He passed the initial interview, and now would meet the director for the final interview.

The director discovered from his CV that the youth's academic achievements were excellent. He asked, "Did you obtain any scholarships in school?" the youth answered "no".

" Was it your father who paid for your school fees?"

"My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.” he replied.
" Where did your mother work?"

"My mother worked as clothes cleaner.”

The director requested the youth to show his hands. The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

" Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?"

"Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books. Besides, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.

The director said, "I have a request. When you go home today, go and clean your mother's hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.

The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back home, he asked his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed her hands to her son.

The youth cleaned his mother's hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother's hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother winced when he touched it.

This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fees. The bruises in the mother's hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his education, his school activities and his future.

After cleaning his mother hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother.
That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.

Next morning, the youth went to the director's office.

The Director noticed the tears in the youth's eyes, when he asked: "Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?"

The youth answered," I cleaned my mother's hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes'
“I know now what appreciation is. Without my mother, I would not be who I am today. By helping my mother, only now do I realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done on your own. And I have come to appreciate the importance and value of helping one’s family.

The director said, "This is what I am looking for in a manager. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life.”

“You are hired.”

This young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and worked as a team. The company's performance improved tremendously.

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop an "entitlement mentality" and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent's efforts. When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others. For this kind of people, who may be good academically, they may be successful for a while, but eventually they would not feel a sense of achievement. They will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying our children instead?

You can let your child live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn piano, watch on a big screen TV. But when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. After a meal, let them wash their plates and bowls together with their brothers and sisters. It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love them in a right way. You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will grow gray, same as the mother of that young person. The most important thing is your child learns how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learns the ability to work with others to get things done.

If you are inspired by this story, please share it through the buttons below to all your friends on Facebook, twitter, google+ or email.

Have a great week ahead!

About the Author: Grace Ihejiamaizu is a social entrepreneur, lecturer and founder of Opportunity Desk.
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The Confidence Paradox by Josoft



‘Confidence in a can’ is a slogan derived by friends as part of their marketing titbit for a recently launched roll-on/deodorant spray targeted at young adults. The mantra follows the new age marketing gimmicks and social media punchlines that lead us to define our 21st century identity by the toys (gadgets) we use and the expensive stuff we wear (deodorant sprays and roll-ons inclusive).

>>> There are many ways to create a sense of confidence – dress well, speak fast, show yourself, stay ‘up-to-date’, and the list goes on. <<<

The goal of being confident though is to transmit that confidence to the people we face so that they can believe us and what we have to offer. This is true for job interviews, applying for opportunities and communicating with people. If our goal is to inspire confidence, then our ‘sense of confidence’ derived from the trivial things listed above can only go some way. Due to different reasons, we may not be able to dress overwhelmingly well, or speak properly or show ourselves at every opportunity. When those variables exist, how do we still impress? Where does confidence come from?

To find the root of confidence, we have to trace it to our childhood. This is because children don’t need the extra accessories to inspire confidence in us. A kid is never more confident than when they have either done something new or different, or have found out something knew. True confidence comes from insight and ability because they are the only factors that would ultimately convince the people we engage with.

The ability to sit and learn, what many would not learn, can boost confidence. The patience to avoid mediocre work/art and un-scrutinized ideas will win us lasting friends more than our status quo regalia would. It is important to note that you cannot always dress the best or wear/use the most expensive accessories. But you can learn something that counts, that someone else would be delighted to hear you exhibit or speak about.

About the AuthorJoshua Ihejiamaizu is the co-founder of NIXIT, the company responsible for HealthMobile, an android based healthcare app, and other healthcare and IT initiatives. Joshua has also founded the offline content creation and managemet company, B-Y Consult. He is a Writer, Engineer and ICT Expert in the making! He blogs at Josoft Blog, where he connects, enlightens, and inspires people of different backgrounds and thought processes in Nigeria, with some deep thoughts and perspectives. Follow on Twitter via @joshuaiheji
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Top 7 Self-Promotion Ideas to Work Around With



The information age has graduated from industrial machines to the internet revolution, which has created massive opportunities for self-publishing and making your work or voice matter.

However, it is easier to get lost than it is to be found in this mesmerizing age of information overload. But assuming you are creating work that matters and want to get more eyes on it – to pay or to applaud, here are seven ideas to work around with:

1) Leverage Partnerships and Collaborations: Someone else already has the platforms that you need – a strong marketing team, social media audience, sales outlets or business directory listing. It is your duty to seek the right ones, partner with them and be ready to significantly enhance the business of your partner. Going solo all the time will limit your reach, pay and perhaps the effectiveness of your message.

Example – A spa service provider just starting out decides to partner with a hotel, using one of their rooms to provide services to travelers, as against opening her own shop right away.

2) Sponsor Events: In order words, do everything to get your brand seen. It may not cost as much as you think. It may be a client’s event or a charitable event. What counts is that you are building trust by associating with the right people and the right causes.

Example – An education Start-Up decides to jointly sponsor a UNICEF award or effort to solve a problem in their local community.

3) Improve your Online Visibility: Rent someone’s Facebook cover page to advertise; place a helpful side deck on your line of business on Slideshare; let working professionals in your area know about you through LinkedIn; share pictures of your work (watermarked though) on Flicker; engage your brad in a twitter #hashtag discussion related to your business; ensure to create a website – WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Socialgo, OnePager are a few drag and drop tools that you can use to put yourself online.

Example – A web hosting provider posts a slide deck on how to choose the best hosting provider for your website, on Slideshare, and shares it to LinkedIn.

4) Use Limited Offers: Post your offer to deal sites (such as OLX) that will list your deal at the top of their webpage to get you early customers, while their pay comes from the calls you get. Note that this is only effective when you are prepared to take a slight cost in order to win your first few customers.

Example – A soup delivery Start-Up in Lagos, Nigeria decides to post a 30% discount on price of soup bowls on Dealdey, and gets 30 loyal customers from the first week.

5) Free Brand Materials: Don’t forget to stamp your logo on a nice little product that your clients probably use every day, and deliver as gift items during appropriate times.

Example – You can brand mugs, notepads and pens.

6) Purchase Word of Mouth: Have people who go where your potential clients or customers are, work for you under a fixed reward system that may not be financial.

Example – Unilever has campus ambassadors that sell the uniqueness of some of their products to students, in return for travel opportunities or free product packages depending on the number on conversions.

7) Use Forums and Communities: Any place where people ask lots of questions and discuss a myriad of issues online is a good place to immerse your brand by addressing issues and offering solutions through your business without being a spam.

Examples - Channels like Quora and News website comment pages are  a good place to start.

About the AuthorJoshua Ihejiamaizu is the co-founder of NIXIT, the company responsible for HealthMobile, an android based healthcare app, and other healthcare and IT initiatives. Joshua has also founded the offline content creation and managemet company, B-Y Consult. He is a Writer, Engineer and ICT Expert in the making! He blogs at Josoft Blog, where he connects, enlightens, and inspires people of different backgrounds and thought processes in Nigeria, with some deep thoughts and perspectives. Follow on Twitter via @joshuaiheji
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The Habit and Value of Small Wins by Josoft



THEORY

Researchers tell us that almost 50% of our daily lives are made of habitual activities. Habits are more important than the goals we set; this is true because the phenomenon that helps us achieve our goals – willpower or motivation, is a fickle thing that comes and goes without warning. On the contrary, habits and learning how to form daily habits are the nucleus of sustainable personal development and behavioral change.

The habit of small wins is thus a colossus of two ideas. First, 'small wins' is about making progress in meaningful work. Second, the habit deals with sticking to it every day till mastery is gained. Progress as a habit is what will take you to the top. For an example, look no further than the well documented story of multiple Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps. Phelps is a mental swimmer – his daily habits put him ahead before he even shows up at the pool.

Progress will be tough, if it does not first happen in small steps. And here lies the problem. Many people have a very difficult time starting from a very small, small step. The value of small steps though is that they galvanize us to bigger steps. Small wins incremented lead to big gains, and most importantly, these small wins create a ripple effect that produces more small wins. Each genuine small win creates a mounting sense of victory – which is often all you need going any battlefield or competitive space.

PRACTICAL

If there is nothing worthwhile that you can do with ease, then you need to practice the habit of small wins to gain a life-worthy or pay-worthy skill. To get you started, have a trigger (external cue or call to action) that sets you up. The trigger should delve you into a routine (reading, exercise, etc) within a short time (5 minutes maximum). Then the reward will come if you focus enough on your routine.

If you are failing at imbibing a habit, it might be that you are taking big strides at a time. The secret to progress is in taking small steps, because then, you have a lot of wins to your name each day.

About the Author: Joshua Ihejiamaizu is the co-founder of NIXIT, the company responsible for HealthMobile, an android based healthcare app, and other healthcare and IT initiatives. Joshua has also founded the offline content creation and managemet company, B-Y Consult. He is a Writer, Engineer and ICT Expert in the making! He blogs at Josoft Blog, where he connects, enlightens, and inspires people of different backgrounds and thought processes in Nigeria, with some deep thoughts and perspectives. Follow on Twitter via @joshuaiheji
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10 Point Guidelines to Writing a Project Funding Proposal

I previously worked for a project funded by U.S Agency for International Development (USAID) and Family Health International (FHI 360) as well as worked at a Corporate Social Responsibility department of one the leading companies in East Africa.

It is obvious that fund is a mandatory requirement for the success of a project to be realized. Anywhere in the World, there are standard guidelines that apply in writing a funding proposal. In this case, fundability is a combination of the merits of the idea and the likelihood that your project will be supported by the potential sponsor who can be a company, a foundation, government, or an individual.

Proposal Writing

The tips below will guide you in writing a project that seeks funding.

1. Identify a sponsor

Technically, unless you identify a potential sponsor or rather a funder, you cannot apply for funds. It will not be necessary to apply for funds to organizations that DO NOT offers funding. So you have to do your research prior to your application. Identification of a sponsor should be based on the objectives of your project and the organizations you would like to be associated with. The more potential sponsors you identify, the higher your chances of getting funds.

2. Eligibility for funding

Ensure that your project meets the criteria for funding. This includes meeting the deadline for application submission. Most sponsors have specific criteria for selecting the beneficiaries of their funds and unless you meet these requirements, you are not likely to get any funding. For example, is your organization registered? How long has your organization existed? You should simply confirm that your project conforms to the stipulated ethos of the sponsor.

3. Sponsor’s Aim/Mission

It is important to check if your programs further the mission of the potential funder. How do your values align to that of funding organization? You may check areas of Corporate Social Responsibility undertaken by corporate companies, for example. This correlation is a sign of likelihood of partnership or funding. Does your project address a need recognized by the funding organization? You are likely to get funding when your project is furthering your mission as well as that of the sponsor.

4. Methods and activities

You have the specific objective for the project but you must show how the objectives will be met through identifying specific activities to be carried out and the duration for each. It should also be clear how you are planning to execute your activities.

5. Impact of your project

What is the impact of the project to the community and to the sponsor? All funders want their ‘donation’ to make a measurable targeted impact. This impact should justify the amount spent. A project that benefits only a handful of its target would mean that the project is not cost effective. A cost benefit analysis is a good component of any project. For example, a project that reaches many people may interest corporate companies that are looking for marketing opportunities. Even in the case of Corporate Social Responsibility, corporate look for their image visibility, so the more you prove good impact, the more they are likely to fund your project.

6. Sustainability of your project

Prove how your project will survive after the end of funding period. Or do you rely 100% on funding? If applicable, the project should include a sustainability plan. Funders are reluctant to support a project that is designed to be ongoing but that has no viable plan to sustain itself after the initial grant. Few funders will support a project indefinitely and neither do they want to invest in a project that is under constant threat of folding for lack of financial support.

7. Monitoring and evaluation

Your organization must show accountability of the funds received. This means there should be a clear plan to monitor and evaluate the project activities as time goes on. Funders also want to see how you will monitor your activities so that no money is wasted or embezzled. At the end of every activity, will the evaluation show a positive trend in meeting the intended objectives? As part of monitoring and evaluation, you will be required to write interim and final reports of activities undertaken. This should be communicated back to funders, especially NGOs. Evaluation also shows the success and weakness of your project, so that you improve on your weakness while capitalizing on the strength.

8. Personnel and organizational capacity

Funders are keen to check if your organization has the capacity to deliver the intended outcome of the project. Every project is undertaken by somebody. You should show who is responsible for what and what qualifications and experiences do they have that prove they are capable of executing the intended project. The funders will lose trust if the personnel are incapable of executing their duties. You may include past track record of the organizations and the experience and education of the responsible personnel.

9. Budget

How much is your budget? Does your budget make economical sense considering the impact of the project? Are there alternative ways to minimize the cost of the project while maximizing the impact? What resources do you already have? Talk about your internal funding, facilities, equipment, etc. Show a detailed budget that is well broken down to each item. Your budget show a logical model or in other words, a relationship between inputs, activities and process, output and the outcome of the project to be undertaken.

10. Attachments

Here is an opportunity to boost your funding possibilities. Attach letters of support such as awards won, recommendations, media coverage for you organization, etc. This is important because they will boost your credibility. If your project is new, don’t worry, it’s not mandatory to attach.

SUCCESS IN YOUR APPLICATION!!!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Douglas Owino

Douglas Owino is an International Business Consultant, a Writer with a Bachelors in International Business Administration (Hons) from US International University (Kenya) and currently pursuing an MBA – International Business in South Korea. He is a Global Changemaker with British Council, Youth Peer Educator, Peace Ambassador, Scholarship Advisor and a Mentor to high school pupils. He previously worked for I Choose Life-Africa (NGO), USAID, FHI360 and Kenya Commercial Bank Group.

Website: http://www.douglas-owino.com
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Thursday, 15 January 2015

5 Steps for Selecting a Winning Team

So, you have a brilliant idea and can’t wait to hit the road of implementation and making real change? You are tired of being called a ‘slackitivist’ and ‘clickactivist’? But implementing your initiative needs a thicker team? You are not enough labour to run it!

You can’t do all the tasks that will make it work. So, who do you work with? How do you select who to work with and who not to work with? I was at this crossroads in 2012. Luckily for me, I had shared my idea with a close friend, with whom we had worked before, so we were already two on the team.

Tip 1; Talk to your friends about your idea.

It is easy to find that your friends share your vision. And friends are good to work with, but make sure it is not the friendship that glues you together, rather the conviction and passion you both have, regarding the initiative. Utmost loyalty is owed to the initiative, not the friendship.

Tip 2; Look for opportunities where you can meet like-minded people

In March-April, 2012 I represented this initiative of ours at a social entrepreneurship symposium in Connecticut, Boston and New Hampshire in the United States. In the Symposium, I was attracted to someone whose idea was very much in sync with ours. Quite naturally, she also thought the same when she heard me pitching our idea. Our tripod was complete. The third leg was in place. I did not know her before the symposium. We mutually picked interest in each other because of the unity of vision.

Tip 3; Do not get excited by attention and acknowledgement

Our road as regards recruiting people o work with has not been smooth. We have already made mistakes. After the completion of the tripod, we started talking loudly to everyone about our initiative and few people of our generation did not show interest in joining. We recruited some without checking their loyalty to their initiative. As we have found out, there are several reasons why people would want to join an initiative that do not necessary benefit the initiative.

Sometimes, they have a lot of time on their hands, and so want to spend it working with you. Other times, they may be interested in developing a personal relationship with one of you, and want to use your initiative as an entry-point. Other times, they are just unemployed. There are also times when they want to use you as a ladder to climb. And indeed, they sometimes think there is some money to be earned by working with you. It is also true that some people just want to associate with success. Be focused. Let nothing else that is not related to growing the initiative not matter. Be strong enough to say No to those who are not loyal to the initiative.

Tip 4; Your initiative is your child

Without you, the founder/s, this initiative would not exist. You are parents in that sense. Do not ever neglect your child until you are absolutely sure they can fend for themselves. It is great to trust employees, directors and other people you bring on board, but they lack a parental bond to the initiative. Do not delegate your parental duties. Always, check out if the person intending to join you knows your vision and try as much to establish their commitment to this vision. Do not compromise this. Do not put your child at risk.

Tip 5: You can’t work with everybody, focus!

You have to be focused and say NO to those who are not loyal to your initiative.

I wish you well in selecting a winning team with which to implement your initiative.

Remember if you have any questions or comments, you are welcome to do so below this post. Share this with all the people in your network. you never can tell who needs it.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR - Brian Bwesigye

Bwesigye is the Founder and Programs Manager of Center for African Cultural Excellence. He is a British Council Global Changemaker, Board President of the Uganda Youth Advisors to Washington, a Harambe Entrepreneur Alliance Associate, and a D&F Academy Fellow. He teaches at Makerere and Busoga Universities and consults with Wamunga Nabifo Inc.
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Saturday, 3 January 2015

Kenechukwu Ogbuagu (KC SHIINE) completes the VSO-ICS Program

Just yesterday, we received a message from one of Opportunity Desk readers, Ogbuagu Kenechukwu, popularly known as KC SHIINE. He was selected as a Volunteer at the VSO-ICS Program 2013 (published here on the blog) that brought together young people from the UK and Nigeria to live, learn and work together for the better of the society.

We are more than delighted to share this message with you. Read it below.

- Ogbuagu Kenechukwu SHIINE

A shout out to Opportunity Desk. They posted a link, and a friend linked me to it. That link made me better!

I applied on the last day for registration. I was interviewed and got selected with 9 other young Nigerians. It was the beginning of an extra-ordinary 3 months.

In February 2013, our United Kingdom counterpart pairs came in which marked the beginning of the program. The experience, exposure and education has been worth it. We bonded, we argued, we cried, laughed, fund raised and volunteered together. We built something really great and am honored to have been part of this great team.

Today, it saddens me that the program just ended with our counterpart pairs traveling. But the experience still lives on! The exposure and education forever. I love my VSO-ICS Calabar (016) team!

The online community serves as a great platform for opportunities and Opportunity Desk makes it easier.



This is awesome, Kenechukwu. We are very proud of you and hope that you use their skills and experiences you have garnered to contribute positively to the improvement of society. Wishing you the very best.

Let me quickly add that KC is the founder and project leader of SHIINE Academy, an organisation that helps young people discover, nurture and channel their greatness properly to make the world a better place.

We await progress stories. Do keep us in the loop of activities as they unfold.

All the best!
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