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Lanre Dahunsi

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“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” – Marcus Aurelius

I recently ordered the Daily Stoic’s Momento Mori Medallion as a way to remind me of my mortality. We hear of people’s death daily on social media, in the news, within our family, we lose friends, colleagues and we know deep down that it is an inevitable thing that would happen to us all. Death is a debt we all have to pay, and it is a subject our society encourages us to avoid. We act awkward around people that just lost a loved one; some people even avoid reaching out to their family and friends because they do not know what to say. The sad reality is that when you DIE, the world would move on, you and I are not that special.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. – Steve Jobs

FEAR is a powerful human emotion usually induced by perceived danger or threat. It leads to physiological, behavioral, and biochemical changes such as fight or flight response to a threat. Fear is a warning signal; it alerts us to the presence of danger, it could also lead to a certain stimulus in the present moment or anticipation of a perceived threat in the future. Fear is a natural human behavior (rational), and it can also be irrational (phobia) based. Fear shows you are human, and we can witness it in different form as anxiety, worry, anger, envy, unhappiness, etc. We can either use fear to push us into greatness or destructiveness.

FEAR can be an illusion as American Author, and Speaker Zig Ziglar noted, “F-E-A-R: has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours.” We have the choice to either make fear cripple us or motivate us into action. Fear can be used as a tool for good or a tool for evil. Fear can be commercialized, politicized, spiritualized, used as a weapon of emotional blackmail, or used as a tool to effect positive change. Former American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt implored Americans to face their greatest fear during the great depression. At the same time, Führer and Chancellor of the German Reich, Adolf Hitler, stocked the flame of fear against the jews and orchestrated the Holocaust – the genocide of about 6 million Jews and millions of others.

American essayist and critic William Deresiewicz whose book  Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life, is based in part on his essays “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education” and “Solitude and Leadership.”. Deresiewicz delivered the speech to the plebe class at the United States Military Academy at West Point in October 2009. In the speech, he noted that solitude is the very essence of leadership. He shared some great insights on bureaucracy, Leadership, multitasking, focus, concentration, social media, and solitude,

True leadership means being able to think for yourself and act on your convictions.

 ‘I wish you luck, because what lies ahead is no picnic for the prepared and the unprepared alike, and you’ll need luck’ 

Russian-American poet and essayist Joseph Brodsky delivered the 1988 winter commencement speech to the graduating students on December 18, 1988. Joseph Brodsky was a Soviet dissident and poet who won the Nobel Prize for literature the year before this speech. He was an American poet laureate in 1991. He died in 1996.

Joseph Brodsky’s University of Michigan 1988 Commencement Speech Transcript

Africa Rise And Shine is the story of how Jim Ovia built Zenith Bank from a nascent business with $4 million in shareholders’ funds to an internationally recognized brand and institution with more than $16 billion in assets despite a decaying infrastructure and periods of economic instability. Ovia wrote the book determined to redefine the gloom narrative about Africa and illustrate the real Africa behind the headlines. We are a some total of our lives experiences and it is always exciting to read, learn and discover what makes highly successful people like Jim Ovia thick. Success they say leaves clues and Jim Ovia’s story leaves lots of very relatable clues.

jim-ovia-2013-forbes

Death ground is a psychological phenomenon that goes well beyond the battlefield: it is any set of circumstances in which you feel enclosed and without options.

Many of us think we have all the time in the world, and we tell ourselves that Someday I’ll, we continuously settle for less than we can become. We go to jobs we hate, stay in toxic relationships, tolerate bad behavior from our family and friends, delay starting the business or taking the vacation, delay living, procrastinate, fail to follow our dreams, and always have a plan B. One of the challenges of having a plan B is that you are likely to go for it until you burn all the bridges; you would always want to go for the path of least resistance. One of the principles that could help with relentlessly executing your goals is the Death Ground Strategy. It involves having a sense of urgency like you are on the war front, and you need to be victorious, or you sink.

For example, in the movie 300, a fictionalized retelling of the Battle of Thermopylae within the Persian Wars. The first battle scene of the movie shows Leonidas, the king of Sparta, motivating his warriors to defend the “Hot Gates,” hence blocking the invading Persian forces of Xerxes into the narrow pass between the rocks and the sea. The Spartans still won the battle with 300 soldiers compared to the over 300,000 invading Persian forces.

Death is nothing, but to live defeated is to die every day. – NAPOLEON BONAPARTE

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.

When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed.

They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support,

To aid you physically, emotionally or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are.

They are there for the reason you need them to be.

Then, without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time,

This person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away.

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In Think Like a Monk, former monk Jay Shetty writes about the timeless wisdom he learned as a monk into practical steps anyone can take every day to live a less anxious, more meaningful life. Shetty shares great insight and offers advice on reducing stress and improving focus in our very distracted and ever-busy world. The advice Shetty provided is based on his experiences at the Ashram Monastery. He practiced as a monk for three years, and he says that thinking like a monk is not about dressing like a monk but rewiring our habits and thought process.

“Our thoughts are like clouds passing by. The self, like the sun, is always there. We are not our minds.”

Intuition is the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning. Intuition is a feeling we all have, but we fail to listen to it most of the time. It is the power of knowing; even though you do not know how and why you know, you know it. You can call it a hunch, gut feeling, sixth sense, inner knowing; no matter what you call it, we can all learn to trust our intuition/gut by listening to it more often. It is that voice that knows the answer before you even ask the question; it is that inner wisdom that guides and leads you to the right path. Your intuition is usually more important than your intellect because it knows best.

The late CEO of Apple Steve Jobs quipped in his 2008 Stanford University Commencement speech:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

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 In Leaving the tarmac, Nigerian Entrepreneur and former group managing director of Access Bank Plc shares how he and Herbert Wigwe turned Access Bank, a crisis-prone Nigerian Bank they bought in 2002, into one of the most admired banks in Nigeria and Africa. Aigboje gives the readers a front-row seat to the challenges, setbacks, successes, and failures they had to deal with in the process of building a world-class financial institution in an environment like Nigeria.

The book provides insights, lessons learned, a history of Nigerian banking, banking regulation, and a blueprint for dealing with the government while running a thriving business in Nigeria. It is a story of grit, getting things done, building a great team, the power of timing, and striving for excellence.

Leaving the Tarmac Mentorship and Internship Programme

As part of the global launch of Leaving the Tarmac: Buying a Bank in Africa, Mr Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede is offering internships to five exceptional young Nigerians.

  I was excited to read the book because most successful Nigerian business leaders/Entrepreneurs hardly share their success stories. It can be hard for aspiring Entrepreneurs to read their own version of their journey. Leaving the Tarmac is a relatable story about the ups and downs of running a business in Nigeria, continuous improvement, learning through best practices, and connecting the dots by seizing the opportunities around you.

Favourite Takeaways – Leaving the Tarmac

“The new toolmakers do not intend to rob you of your inner life, only to surveil and exploit it. All they ask is to know more about you than you know about yourself.”

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In The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power, American Harvard professor, and social psychologist, Shoshana Zuboff argue that the biggest technology companies such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Amazon are exploiting our attention, modifying our behavior, and selling our data to the highest bidding advertisers.  Surveillance Capitalism is an economic system centered around the commodification of personal data with the core purpose of profit-making. 

Zuboff noted:

“Forget the cliché that if it’s free, “You are the product.” You are not the product; you are the abandoned carcass. The “product” derives from the surplus that is ripped from your life.”

Surveillance Capitalists unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data which] are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later.

Favourite Takeaways – The Age of Surveillance Capitalism

Swedish runner Gundar Haegg’s 4:01.4 minute time record set in Malmö in 1945 stood for nine years until British middle-distance athlete and neurologist Roger Bannister became the first human to run a sub-four-minute mile. He broke the record on 6 May 1954 at Iffley Road track in Oxford.

In 1954, Bannister set himself the target of breaking the four-minute mile barrier. At the time Bannister was a 25-year-old full-time medical student at St Mary’s Hospital Medical School. He could only train for 45 minutes a day for the event. The opportunity to break the record came on 6 May 1954, when Bannister was competing in an event for the Amateur Athletic Association against Oxford University. Bannister set a British record in the 1,500 meters at the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki, Finland where he finished in fourth place.

Roger Bannister broke the record at 3 minutes and 59.4 seconds, and the record lasted for just 46 days. On 21st June 1954, the record was broken by Bannister’s Australian rival John Landy, with a time of 3 minutes 57.9 seconds. The sub-four-minute mile has since been broken by over 1,550 athletes worldwide, and it is now the standard of all male professional middle distance runners in several countries. In the 65 years since the record was broken, the sub-4 minute mile record has been lowered by almost 17 seconds, and it currently stands at 3:43:13, ran by Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco, at age 24, in 1999.

Try never to be the smartest person in the room. And if you are, I suggest you invite smarter people … or find a different room. 

Michael S. Dell, chairman and chief executive officer of Dell, the computer company he founded in 1984 with $1,000 and built into a multibillion-dollar global corporation, delivered the commencement address for the 120th spring commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 17 2003

 I’m talking about never measuring your success based on the success of others – because you just might set the bar too low.

Michael Dell’s 2003 University of Texas Commencement Speech Transcript

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Title: Competing in the Age of AI: Strategy and Leadership When Algorithms and Networks Run the World
Authors: Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani
Published: 2020 by Harvard Business Review
Rating: 8/10
Theme: The authors observed that a new breed of firms, characterized by digital scale, scope, and learning, is eclipsing traditional managerial methods and constraints, colliding with traditional firms and institutions, and transforming our economy. Software, analytics, and AI are reshaping the operational backbone of the firm.

In Competing in the Age of AI, Authors Marco Iansiti and Karim R. Lakhani argue that reinventing a firm around data, analytics, and AI removes traditional constraints on the scale, scope, and learning that have restricted business growth for hundreds of years. From Airbnb to Ant Financial, Microsoft to Amazon, research shows how AI-driven processes are vastly more scalable than traditional processes, allow massive scope increase, enabling companies to straddle industry boundaries, and create powerful opportunities for learning—to drive ever more accurate, complex, and sophisticated predictions.

The book describes the profound implications of artificial intelligence for business. It is transforming the very nature of companies—how they operate and how they compete. When a business is driven by AI, software instructions and algorithms make up the critical path in the way the firm delivers value. This is the “runtime”—the environment that shapes the execution of all processes.

The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it’s the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it’s the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the backyard patio with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning, turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it. I turned the dial up to listen to a Saturday morning talk show I heard an older sounding gentleman, with a golden voice. You know the kind, he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whoever he was talking with something about “a thousand marbles”.