So I’m going to be very frank with you all, life in Nigeria is not easy… I’m sure most of you know this or at least have an inkling towards that way of thinking but here I am, a young man trying to make it in Lagos and well, I can tell you, it’s not a walk in the park. Lagos is what I like to call the New York City of Africa (even though I’ve only been to several west African countries) and as such there are a million and one things that get in the way of day to day planning, “strategizing” and general money making (Hey, a guys got to eat right?). I could really go on about how our Power Holding Company insist on “holding the power” and the crazy traffic makes moving about even more stressful than trying to find a dropped pin in plush carpeting, but what I’m about to talk about is more… how you say,….. basic.
Let’s look at our typical Nigerian business ethic (or lack thereof, in most cases). In most, so called 1st world countries, even the little things like customer service have been taken care of (flash backs of customer service training at Burger King comes to mind) so they don’t have frustrated customers who are welcomed with “What do you want?” or scowling staff who are more occupied with their lunch or painting their nails than what brought you through 3 hours of traffic and into their establishments, brandishing your hard earned money. So just at the entrance, most people don’t even bother with the shop, office, restaurant or where ever, they just have to chin up and bear it, or do like Jay-Z says “On to the next one”.
So there’s a tip right there, most people remember places they’ve been in Nigeria where the service was above average and trust me they’ll keep going back. Taking that into consideration is just the 1st step to doing well here, in any line of business that includes forms of public service.
As a budding creative (if I don’t toot my horn who will?), it’s not easy starting something in a country where the office politics tend to be so stifling, huge “conglomo’s” like MTN never do overly creative campaigns like their European mates Orange or the American Verizon. It’s not like we don’t have the talent over here, we sure as the grass is wet in a rain storm, do. So why is it that most of the billboards we see are all lacking in creative tact or subtle messages, everything is always “BUY US, WE’RE REALLY GOOD!”. Well from my experience it’s all about the big wigs. If they don’t understand it straight away or their friend in “Random Mc Ad firm” is pitching something else then, there’s nothing for Mr. Intelligent concept guy. So most artists tend to start their own firms or bend to the will of their very own creatively draining company.
Moving on, I do have to say Lagos is kicking ass though, at least we’re not drowning in all the “Blah Blah Blah son’s” over here, with their small shacks and money grubbing mindsets. So that’s definitely a step in the right direction.
On another note, let’s talk about the social aspect of our fair city of Lagos, with the rate of “flexation” over here, it’s surprising anyone gets any work done. There’s a launch today, a cocktail party tomorrow, a show the day after and those friends of yours just came into town two days ago, so it’s time to hit all the hot spots and have fun with them while you can. But the question now is, “how in heavens name do you do it all?”This is where the art of time management comes in; many “players” (yes people are still called that and in this day and age females are just as skilled at it, if not even more so from what I’ve heard) are skilled at it. Seeing four girls in the same state at the same time, but yet never the four shall meet. Seriously, I have a friend who was dating four girls. One was the main girl he’d take to social gatherings with family and friends, one was the babe he’d take clubbing and boat cruising (solo runs), one was strictly a booty call for those late, lonely nights and one was his out of town girl who was always ready to fly in (all bills paid) at the drop of a bbm. With this skill which he had groomed since our secondary school days, he manages a small company, makes and sells shirts and also freelances as a creative consultant.
I’ll be honest with you, I used to give him “holier than thou” speeches all the time about getting too old for all that, but If I had learned this skill of “playerism” earlier my life, everything would be more straight forward, because nowadays I find myself trying to do everything at once and please everyone, which in turn leaves me drained all the time. He was forced to learn how to plan ahead and think on his toes, so like when two of the girls are in the same vicinity, he weighs his options and sets himself on a planned route of action (escape is a better word for this scenario). This is perfect for business because it taught him how to act fast and smart. So when his shirt business was being pushed out by the multitude of rivals that sprung from nowhere, he weighed his options and focused on the company he was managing till the competition lost steam and then coolly and calmly set back about his shirt business with less stress in his life, but more money in his pockets.
We could all learn something from him (the positive parts of course, although no hearts were broken in the making of this article) and I do have to say moving to Lagos was a tough move but a smart one, because you can’t learn anything if there is no real pressure and experienced competition around you.
All I know is, with all the hurdles we have to scale on a daily basis, if you haven’t learned to deal with them and (like I used to) whine and moan about them instead of actually stepping up to the plate and knocking it out of the park, then Lagos is not for you. You can live here but you surely will not thrive (unless like a lucky plenty, have a well placed uncle or friend).Like I heard once, “don’t fight the flow, move with it”. I used to hate this city….but now, I’m living the life, Lasgidi style.