5 Ways Your Business Can Become More Convenient.

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In a previous post, I wrote on the importance of building a business that is focused on serving your customers in the most convenient way possible. The easiest way to do this is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. To figure out what you can do to make their transactions with you faster, more flexible, and more attractive. Along with speed and friendliness, nearly 80% of consumers consider convenience as the most important element of a positive customer experience and 43% of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience.

This is why business owners must focus on providing convenience, from the board room to the staff who interacts with the customer. Products should be developed with an eye on not just providing convenience, but also on ease of usage. There is little sense in spending a lot of money to develop a product and bring it to market, only to have customers abandon you for your competition because your product is too complicated to use.

Your customers crave convenience.

It is advisable to employ an inside-out and an outside-in approach to measuring your business’ level of convenience. An inside-out approach will allow you to address unavoidable hurdles such as company policy and legal requirements, while an outside-in approach will help you see your business through the eyes of the customer. While most businesses do the first, the second is what is most important. Convenience after all, is defined by the customer. 

While some customers like personalized service and do not mind the extra time it takes to deliver because this makes them feel valued, others may prefer a one size fits all style, as long as they get what they need.

In general, 88% of customers appreciate customer experience as a key differentiator for businesses, meaning that most of your customers don’t only notice how convenience your service is but will use it as a metric to decide if to stick with you or move on to a competitor.

Critical convenience-building areas to focus on:

Every customer wants to have a great service experience when they contact your business. When you build significant convenience into your interactions with your customers, then you stand a chance of disrupting your immediate competition and perhaps give your business a chance to be a market leader.

A few things you could do to significantly improve your convenience index include:

Reduce friction: make it easy for people to buy from you. Identify obstacles that stand between your customers’ money and your business. Look at your whole process from the customers’ point of view and eliminate unnecessary steps. Whenever the effort required from the customer in order to do business with you is too high, it signals a bottleneck that needs to be removed. For instance, you may consider allowing online purchases from a guest profile without demanding that customers go through a registration process. Alternatively, allow third party logins with Gmail or Facebook credentials. Ultimately, reducing friction implies that you reduce customer effort needed to complete a purchase or transaction cycle.

Introduce Do-It-Yourself options: Sometimes, a customer does not want to go through the trouble of making a phone call or sending a mail (and most certainly not coming to your office), before getting some issues fixed.  This can cover anything from password resets to online registration for flights and events, renewing subscriptions, and even correcting orders on online shops. If customers can efficiently handle a business process safely and securely without contacting you, then you should give them the platform to do just that. It will also give you the time to focus on providing better service to the customers who do make contact.

Go to the customer: Some of your customers may be too busy to come to you even though they need what you are selling. Being able to reach them is essential. For businesses that offer services, consider offering home or office service options. For physical products, make arrangements to get purchased goods to customers. This is where delivery services come in. Brick and mortar shops are increasingly taking their businesses online, to social media where a significant number of their customers gather every day. And in order to make sure they get what is purchased, delivery options are attached to all online purchases. Consequently, customers can now make purchases on the go or from the comfort of their homes.

Take advantage of technology: In a world of fast changing technology, you cannot afford not to go digital. Look for ways to improve your business process by employing better technology. As the banking industry developed, significant technology such as ATMs were adopted to improve convenience. These days, mobile apps allow for easy banking. Being able to innovate by weaving your business process into existing technology can become a major competitive advantage for you. The whole online shopping industry is firmly riding this wave. While you do not need to break the bank to have cheap AI run automatic chat boxes and email subscription pop up boxes on your website, bigger businesses pay millions for big data, customer analytics and digital integration. Suffice it to say that if you are not making a move, then you are being left behind.

Human interaction: Your most important asset is your staff. Employees have a significant impact on convenience and are the main drivers of customer experience. Every business that understands this tends to do better in the long run. Empower your employees to make decisions without having to go through a stringent approval process. Knowledgeable employees will know what to do and how to do it well. This ensures your customers have excellent service and will keep coming back. 46% of all consumers will abandon a brand if the employees are not knowledgeable and 74% of non-U.S. consumers want more employee interaction in the future. Having friendly, enthusiastic, and well-trained staff across all customer touch points will never go out of fashion.

The Convenience Culture

More than a list of things to do, convenience is a culture that touches on every part of a business. As time goes on, more people will migrate to more convenient options. Kodak was upstaged by digital cameras, Uber has completely revolutionised the cab industry, as Amazon did to online shopping. When you are guided by this mindset in your day to day running of whatever business you are currently involved in, you stand a chance of keeping your customers and taking some from your competition.

Convenience: A Huge Part of Customer Experience.

With a growing availability of local and international options to many retail products and services, businesses are being forced to rethink the way they market themselves. Along with low pricing and impeccable service, the level of convenience being offered the customer has grown to become a major demand in the marketplace.

Convenience is a fundamental pillar of Customer Experience. Everything your business engages in should be geared towards providing convenience for your customers. When customers call on you for a service, chances are, they are doing so because they think you can make their life more convenient. If your business does not offer them that, they will leave for other options, and quite rightly so. No one wants to pay you to make their lives more difficult or complex than it already is. On the contrary, customers will pay more for the same service if you offer more convenience. According to the Lux Report, consumers are willing to pay an average of 11% more for each added layer of convenience in a food chain. For instance, shoppers are willing to pay an extra 15% for grocery items bought online over in-store purchases.

Over the last decade and a half, we have lived through a revolution where businesses offer the same services as their mainstream counterparts but with a lot more focus on simplifying their business processes. In a world that is rife with competition and where the market has gotten used to certain standards of service, being accessible and easy to do business with is no longer an afterthought, but should be one of your unique selling propositions along with price, product selection and excellent service.
As competition and buyer empowerment compounds, businesses need to figure out how they can stand out and be appeal more to their customers. Convenience has become so important that there are businesses that leverage on it as their sole competitive advantage.

Uber, a company that prides itself on a simple structure, has been able to disrupt an entire industry by simplifying how anyone can get a cab on demand. They did not stop there; they also simplified the process of having members of the public with some extra time on their hands driving for them. This convenience is the bedrock of their success. They want to remove as many steps as possible from the time a customer is thinking of getting a cab till when the customer is sitting in one of their partner-driven cars. Their process of onboarding new partners is so efficient that you don’t need to go to their offices before you can have your registration sorted out.

Making your business more convenient for your customers could mean anything from major product, platform, and process overhaul to fixing smaller issues that are most frequently raised in customer’s reviews. If you are a small business owner who does not have an expansive budget for major innovations, it is smarter to focus on addressing the convenience roadblocks in your existing system.

Now that we know that all things being equal a customer will choose the company that is the easiest to do business with, what can you do to be more convenient to your customers? What do your customers define as convenient? What steps do you need to speed up and which need to be cut out completely? Once you figure these out, then you can align your business to be a more efficient competitor in your market.

How To Build a Thriving Brand Loyalty

So you had a great idea and wanted to build a business around it. That’s how most businesses start. If you followed the usual route, that means the next thing you did was research. Your idea was beautiful, but there was a lot you didn’t know about the process, product, pricing, market, marketing the product, etc. Research helped you get a hang of these basic things. When you felt you knew enough to begin, you made a few samples and tried to sell them. Then things picked up and you had to order for more.

If it is a service, then you got more calls from customers asking for your help. If this was your route, then you are not alone. A lot of businesses have the same ritual dance when growing from idea to reality. Like many others, you’ve probably not invested that much into mastering how to handle your customers with the main aim of growing brand loyalty.

Many businesses put in a lot of resources into product development and skip the basics of delivering excellent customer experiences. In a monopoly where everyone has to come to you, this would be okay. However, if you have to compete for customers with John from down the street, then you have to go beyond the norm. Beyond being competent at what you do or offering a quality product in a receptive market, you need to build a customer service approach that is focused on communication and relationships.

Communication is a two-way street. Many times, we are so caught up in our marketing campaigns that we fail to listen to customers. Ironically, the best marketing campaigns are born out of listening to customers and meeting them where they are or even using their language (metaphorically and literally). Listen to your customers. You need to know what they are saying, and thinking. When customers know that you listen, they will pledge their loyalty to you and your business, which will translate into any number of benefits for you ranging from free advertising to increased patronage.

The easiest way to fix this problem is by making sure that your channels for pushing out information are also used as listening posts. Remind customers to reach out to you, if you have to and when they complain don’t just solve the problem, find a way to fix any faulty system.

When you’ve sorted out your communication, then you can leverage that to build a relationship with your customers. More people will be loyal to your brand if they have a functional relationship with it and you. Since you’ve been doing a great job at listening to your customers, you would have found out what they value. This is the foundation of every working relationship. Make sure you’re both on the same page. Don’t just listen to what they say but how they say it, and then morph your approach to match their expectations. Go beyond offering your service on a professional level, make it personal. The details matter.

Big businesses tag all their customer details and can call it up in a minute but if you can’t do that, write down names, birthdays and anniversaries. When addressing them, use your customers’ names. Let your unique selling proposition guide you as you hunt new customers and build relationships with them. On the whole, this take time to cultivate, so you may have to keep at it for a while. Be mindful of the quality of service you are delivering, and deliver it consistently.

A thriving brand loyalty allows you to take on more challenges without having to worry about long periods of transitioning and most importantly, offers you a sincere source of feedback. This is useful for improving your current product offerings while also developing and bringing new ones to market. At the right scale, your customers will spread the tales of your brand fast enough to increase your demand and shrink your advertising costs.

There are many benefits to growing customer loyalty and if you’re in business for profit, then those benefits usually at the very least, add more zeroes to the bottom line. When mixed with a good product and suitable marketing, blossoming relationships with your customers which is based on effective communication could be the secret ingredient to building a prosperous business.

Pivoting: changing lanes and switching rides.

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Recently, I have had to look at a business that lost momentum over time, in a bid to get it going once again. Sales had gradually reduced to a slow trot and founders were wondering what to do. When you start a business, it is exciting to tick off milestones on a list, but after that initial buzz from early adopters, it usually requires an extra effort to stay the course. In other cases, it may make more sense to pivot away from your original strategy, only after getting proper feedback and research, of course. 

The startup world is filled with buzzwords and there seems to be a new one once in a while. One of the older ones however, is the pivot. So what is pivoting, and how does it affect you as a business owner? Pivoting generally refers to a shift in strategy to apply a new approach regarding a startup’s business model. Before a business is started, its founders have an idea of what they want to offer and how they want to conduct their business. Plans are made for which niche the business will operate in, the kind of customers it will go after, its range of product offerings, unique selling proposition, and even its value system. However, only few businesses turn out the way they were envisioned. Most times, it is necessary to make a few changes along the way in order to keep the business afloat or deliver value. A pivot may become necessary for any number of reasons but should always be driven by specific feedback. Take the time to obtain the information you need, to help you decide what needs to be changed urgently, and to what degree. A few of the more common ways you could pivot involve:

  • You may need to strip down your product to fewer features, resulting in a simpler offering or developing your product to become a feature in a larger suite of features for another product. Occasionally, a more radical move is needed and a complete change of products is made by a business.
  • Changing your market place or platform, for instance, introducing an app or opening brick and mortar outlets.
  • Engaging a new revenue model to increase inflow.
  • Modifying your target market demographics. Sometimes, it may be necessary to increase or change your target market to either add to the number of customers you have, or focus on the highest paying clientele.
  • Switching to a more lucrative business model. Usually, businesses that start off by offering a subscription based service may have to switch to an ad based revenue model. Some businesses have to morph from B2P to B2B or vice versa.

Pivoting is more a mindset than an event along the life cycle of a startup, more evolution than big bang. Although it is often employed as a last ditch effort to staying afloat, it doesn’t have to be so. You don’t need to wait for a crisis to happen before thinking of it. Some of the highest earning and best performing products have to undergo some form of pivoting in order to keep ahead of the pack. And so, while most pivot to stay alive, others do so to stay ahead.

Many people are stuck between sticking to an original plan long enough to make a bigger impact in the marketplace, and switching things up for the same reason. In order to avoid moving your business into a worse position, here are a few factors to consider so you can be sure if you actually do need to proceed:

  • A limited response from your target market. It is normal to do some customer development along with PR to generate some buzz before a product launch and try to ride the wave for as long as possible but if you notice that the market is not responding to your product at all, you should consider finding out why and begin preparing for change.
  • Pace of business has slowed to a drag. If progress has become slow and it is difficult to get going again, you may have to take an honest look at your strategy to identify something that needs new life. If the work put into a business is not reflected in the inflow, then you may have to consider doing things differently.
  • Partial success or failure. If you notice that some aspects of your company are succeeding while the rest are not performing well, then it may mean that you should either change what is not working, or completely stop doing it. Resources can then be better utilized in the areas that are performing optimally.
  • Too much competition. Usually during product development, it is advisable to find a niche and stay there for as long as you can, but there is nothing to stop other businesses from entering your niche. Competition can be stiff and damaging for startups, especially in a restricted or contracting market, and if much larger companies with more funding and a built-in audience are involved. In the face of rigid competition, it may be necessary to modify any number of things from product offering, platform and technology to business model.

It is important to know when to pivot your company and if you have made that decision, here are a few tips that will guide you along the way:

  • Firstly, do some research. Pivoting should not be a stab in the dark, hoping to achieve your aim. It is a carefully calculated decision that should be based on information that you have collected from your market. Customer reviews and feedback come in handy at this point. It is easy to learn both the pain points your customers are facing and the expectations they have of your product. Before any pivoting is done, have an honest, down to earth, and thorough look at your situation and the way out so that the pivot does not end up taking you in the wrong direction.
  • Use what you already have. Creator of the Lean Startup methodology Eric Ries teaches that pivots imply keeping one foot firmly in place as you shift the other in a new direction. Once you have decided a new direction to head in, identify parts of your existing business structure that can be integrated into the new idea. Useful units can easily be adapted to serve your new goal.
  • Do it immediately. If you eventually have to pivot, then it is much more profitable to do it as soon as possible. This will help you avoid losing market share and customer loyalty, and significant funding that would usually have been spent in marketing and PR while trying to sell the old product. Sometimes, a company may need to pivot multiple times before it reaches market saturation, so you might as well get on with it.

Carrying out a successful pivot is hard work, but it is all worth it if you end up achieving the main objectives you started out with. If you do so, you will be in good company.

Groupon started out as a platform designed to rally members of the public around social and charitable causes, called The Point. It started to fizzle after a successful launch and a later addition to the platform (Groupon) where customers could try to negotiate a discount by pooling their money started getting more traction. After a while, it became the central platform.

Before Google bought Youtube for $65 billion, it started out as a video-based dating service. Users could upload short videos of their ideal partner and also browse for potential matches. Its creators realized its potential as a host of online videos, and pivoted away from the dating industry.

In 2004, Shopify’s founders tried to sell snowboarding equipment online. In order to do so, they built an ecommerce site from scratch. Apparently, they didn’t like what was available then. Their online store, called the Snowdevil, was a bit of a failure but they got good feedback for the storefront itself. So they switched both product offering and business model to building online storefronts for other startup businesses. Look how that turned out.

Starting a business and growing it to a reasonable level requires a lot, so you have to understand that you may not get it all right the first time. Keep an open mind and don’t be afraid to make changes where necessary. Remember to prepare and plan carefully.

IS PRAYER MORE POWERFUL AT MIDNIGHT?

Hi guys, I hope your weekend went well. Last week I posted this tweet and it brought up a lot of reactions on twitter and on a couple of blogs, so I decided to write a little more on the topic. Some people reached out and this post is for further understanding. Let us start by talking about what prayer is and what it means, then we can talk about a few of the common issues that were raised on the topic.

Let’s begin by defining prayer. Prayer is primarily a communication between you and God, a two way street. You speak to Him and He speaks to you. If your prayer does not involve God speaking to you, then your prayer is not quite complete. So all you do is talk and He talks back, like a two way convo on your mobile. You could talk about anything really, anything. Imagine the amazing opportunity that prayer offers to us. Don’t restrict yourself for to the occasional holla when you need something real bad or need to get out of a bad situation.
As saved Christians, we can now pray to God the Father, through Jesus. Why through Him? Well, we operate as Christians only because Jesus died and rose from death. John 20:17…his Father is now our Father, and his God is now our God. We now have a relationship with God, yayyyy! Ergo, everything we do must be through Christ.

So anyway, Jesus died, rose and ascended back into Heaven.   How do we then communicate with them now that Jesus is gone. Well, before he left, Jesus promised another comforter, the spirit of Jesus. He plays many roles really, the Holy Spirit, and one of the things he does is lead the Children of God to do certain things. He first convicts you of sin, then presents Jesus to you, he confirms to your spirit that you are God’s child, and then he leads you into all truth. Like I said, he does a lot. We communicate with God through the Holy Spirit.

Looking through the bible, there are a few things that are necessary for effective communication with God.

1. A relationship (sorts out your righteousness because God doesn’t listen to sinful people Heb 4: 15-16. In Matt 6:9, Jesus taught that a Father-Child relationship is our access point to God).

2. Faith (Well, you need to believe God exists and that you’re not talking to yourself. Also, you need to believe in His ability, nature and words. Heb 11:6. Faith comes by hearing…Rom 10:17).

3. His will (These are a web of things God plans for you as a person or part of a larger unit. His will could either be widespread or specific. If we pray according to his will, he hears us. 1 John 5:14-15. This applies when we are making requests).

Basically, this is what’s needed but a few things come in here and there. While prayer isn’t entirely requests, if you have a petition to make, do so in thanksgiving and in the name of Jesus. Phil 4:6 and John 14:13,14.

Practice the basics and you will be fine. You can speak to God all day and every day. We are not restricted to speak to God only during devotion or church services. That brings me to the tweet that started all this.

Waiting till a specific time in the middle of the night because you think that any prayer made at that particular time is more ‘powerful’, is not of God. You may believe it, God will answer you (as long as the basics we listed are in place), but it is NOT because you prayed at exactly 12am. Sometimes, God might wake you from sleep to pray or you might be led to pray at a given time by the Holy Spirit…fine, listen to that. However, the power of God to deliver is NOT dull in the day and sharper at night. Again, this does not say you shouldn’t pray at night. It says, God is NOT more powerful at night. Waiting till then to pray doesn’t therefore add efficacy to your prayer. Also, praying naked, by the stream, with a candle or wearing all white does NOT add efficacy to your prayer. That one is not found in the Bible and is just you mixing Christianity with some form of spiritism. OYO.
I thought to respond to a few recurring replies to that tweet.
Some folks spoke about how the silence helps them focus and hear God better before the bustle of the day. Great! If praying at night helps you receive information from God clearer and helps your focus, then go for it.
A few people said we should leave people to practice what they believe. Well, it is not our place to practice anything we believe.  You could be practicing things in ignorance or plain demonic things. There is a way that seems right to a man but at the end thereof, leads to destruction. Jesus died so we could believe in Him and His word. If your believe isn’t ratified by scripture, then error o. Kuku practice what you are practicing with your chest but as a Christian, you need to do better. It was never about us anyway, it is all about Him.

Some guys asked why witches work at night. Amam? Don’t ask a car mechanic about carpentry mbok. Ask me about the Bible.

A few folks said that if witches and evil people could wake at night then why can’t you as a Christian wake up to battle demons? First of all, Jesus did not come, suffer, die and rise from the dead so that we will copy devil worshippers. If the situation calls for persistence in prayer throughout the night then go for it. But we are not competing with witches and wizards. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, they are mighty through Christ. This is not one of those ill-informed drawings where Jesus and Satan are doing some arm wrestling. LOL. No devil can stand in the presence of Jesus. As you grow in faith and revelation, you will realize that you don’t need to shout, violently gesticulate or tremble before the devil flees. They flee at the name of Jesus, not your spiritual shivering, the loudness of your voice or the time you woke up to pray.

The whole point of this thread was to tell you to work on the basics. Deepen your relationship with God, grow your faith and learn to unleash it, then spend more time hearing him in order to understand his will for you. When you do these, prayer will be effortless and enjoyable.

What are your thoughts on prayer and specific times? Drop a comment so more people can learn.

God bless you.

THE BLACK PANTHER AND THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE

I know, everyone is talking about it these days but we can’t talk about it enough. Before the #blackpanther movie premiered across the world a few days ago, the specific marketing that was done by Marvel Studios was nothing short of amazing. It all started with the Captain America: Civil War movie which was released in mid 2016. The Black Panther character as played by Chadwick Boseman possessed great power and was able to handle his own in combat against both the Winter Soldier Sgt Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes and Captain America Steve Rogers. And so, the world was introduced to this African superhero who is arguably the wealthiest superhero in the Marvel Comics fold. We couldn’t wait for the guys at Marvel to make a complete movie with him as the main character. We did wait, seeing as we didn’t have a choice, but it was worth the wait. I have decided to list a few things that I think contributed to making the movie such a good one but will have to restrict my scope since I don’t want to be writing any spoilers.

Dialogue
Marvel has always paid particular attention to the quality of dialogue between their characters in all the movies of the MCU. This one was no different. There was a healthy sense of humour interspersed within the action such that the cinema was often thrown into fits of laughter. Isn’t it just annoying when a movie is all action and no humour? The Black Panther was not having that and we did laugh to our fill. The African accents helped a lot and who knew Winston Duke was so funny?

Research
The first bit of action in the movie happened* in Nigeria, somewhere in the Sambisa Forest which is a stronghold for a deadly terrorist group. In this scene, some of the terrorists speak phrases in Hausa, a language common to that area. As a Nigerian watching the movie in Northern Nigeria, I was impressed at the attention to details. Many other African cultures were represented in the movie and they did quite well in making sure that cultures were properly researched. Names were properly pronounced and at least for us Africans, that goes a long way.

Casting
Have you ever wondered about how other actors would have fared if they acted your favourite movie characters? Sometimes actors do so well acting a particular part that you can’t imagine someone else doing it better. That was the case in this movie. Everyone fit into their roles so well, it would be beyond impressive; from the ageless Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker to the impressive Michael B Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o. All but two of the main characters were black and that in itself was a record in the MCU. I say kudos to the guys in charge of casting.

Graphics
CGI has increasingly become a core part of our action movies in recent years. It is however also important that it be used correctly. The#blackpanther movie is set in the make believe country of Wakanda with unheard of levels of technological development in everything from medicine to weapons systems and it was necessary that the graphics to help us enjoy this imaginary world be spot on….and they were.

Combat routines and sequences
I really wanted to go into this but I doubt I can say what I really have in mind without dropping spoilers. Suffice it to say that the fight sequences were really good. Considering that they had to incorporate those new technology that we aren’t too used to such as spears, shields, and Shuri’s other gadgets; the sequences often excited the cinema enough to cause clapping and cheers.

African representation
One of the main things that fuelled the hype around this movie was the African representation. Black people all over the world have chosen to see this movie about an important representation of the Motherland, even if it is of a make believe country and culture. It is a bold move by Marvel and many black people have seen an attention from Hollywood that has been grossly lacking. I dare say that in recent years, this is the only movie that has attracted so much goodwill from black people the world over. Black Panther was loudly African, from the colourful asoebi-like costumes to the earthen floor of the throne room. Thank you #Marvel.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, please go and see it so we can begin talking more specifically. If you have seen it, tell me what you think made the movie such a good one….without spoilers of course.

Money Talks

coins

Hello wonderful people.

I really do hope you are doing okay, considering… In the last few months more people have been talking about the economy as if it is a living breathing malnourished child whose wellbeing is our collecting concern. We don’t all know exactly what is wrong, but we must sha insert it into every conversation,  even if that conversation is with a total stranger. I especially avoid those ones; with the total strangers, I mean. You could be sitting in a taxi or standing in a queue and some very random guy will tap you on the shoulder and start off a conversation you are not even prepared for.

How do you see the state of the economy, he will shoot off as if you had just gotten to his house for brunch.

Oh and, trust Nigerians. Just as we don’t need your permission to start a conversation with you, throwing a question like that into the air is too tempting. Someone in that cab or on that queue will jump in the air and grab it before it ‘falls to the ground void.’  Since the election, the narrative has transformed considerably. More people are urging the government to feed this malnourished economy so that it can stand on its own.

Ah ahn! These people are just pursuing looted funds instead of taking care of the economy *remember to imagine a malnourished child*

Well, my father has always advocated farming as our way out of this jam so it looks like that’s what I will be telling my children. I might even take it further. One of them might be guided into farming. If a man has what to eat and some spare change on the side, he won’t have to worry much about the economy abi?

Anyway, back to those uncomfortable conversations. I have devised a few techniques to avoid them because quite frankly, I cannot come and go and kill myself.

  1. Wear earphones always. It doesn’t matter if they work or not, just wear them. I think that is the universal symbol of ‘leave me alone.’
  2. If you have no earphones, look intently into your phone while texting away. Try to come across as a doctor who is trying to text instructions for a surgery to a remote village in northern Cross River State. I really hope the mother and child make it.
  3. If your phone battery is too low for the trick above, then act like you don’t speak English, don’t speak at all or can’t hear.
  4. Considering that these people can smell your fear, know your weakness and will go on whether you join the conversation or not…join in just for fun…and let them do all the talking. It won’t kill you to talk about the economy.

I should probably say that talking is not enough. Grow that idea for a cheaper alternative. Feed your passion for self-sustenance. Don’t forget to take up farming to grow your own tomatoes.

Morning Runs

Running

Running

Everyone knows a go-getter. They are those people who shoot you an idea in the morning and while you are still trying to consider if it’s a good idea or not, you see them in the afternoon already doing what they said. These people are very enthusiastic about things, maybe a tad too enthusiastic. Bukky is like that.

You see, some weeks ago she mentioned that she wanted to start morning runs (apparently, keeping fit is important to her), and I retorted that I am seriously considering doing that too. I use that line a lot. I have been using it for 3 or so years. Unfortunately for me, Bukky is a go-getter. A couple of weeks after the discussion, she had already purchased running shoes and other gear. I was still seriously considering the issue.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a slacker or anything like that. I actually enjoy exercising and all that, but years of a regular job have pushed all that to the back seat…actually, the boot. See what I did there? I blamed my job. Don’t judge me. For those who don’t get it, my job is a good source of excuses, and I like it.
Ememesi, we didn’t see you at the book launch. Ah, you know how it is. Working always. How was it?
Mesi, we have this meeting for…. Oh I wish I could make it. I’ll be at work.
Mesi so you can’t call me back after all this time? My dear, it’s work o.

You’d think that trick would work with go-getters? You are wrong. I dropped by her place on Sunday and we were casually watching The Voice when she commented on the running thing. You see, she had already been running for a few days and I responded with ‘Really? You should call me the next time you are going.’
I really thought she would forget and do her own thing like most people. I was wrong, again. Two days later, I was still wallowing in the lingering throes of early morning sleep like a man on a diet who had convinced himself that he needed another wrap of akpu. You know that kind of sleep where you are trying hard to push away every sound that’s trying to wake you up. I was doing quite well till someone started banging on my gate.
I stumbled out of bed and heard Bukkie’s voice.
Ogbeni!

The next few minutes were a blur, really. I opened door and gate and she got busy opening windows and blinds and talking me awake. I threw on some cargo shorts and a shirt and before I could say Usain Bolt, we were out the door and on our way.

I did a little stretching when we got to Jabi Lake, then off we went. You think exercising is easy. Wait till you do a few laps around that Jabi Lake place. Then follow it up with lap sprints for 20 minutes or so. Then sit ups. Finally, add some planking. Whoever started that planking business is not holy. I can tell you that. I was shaking like a kabu kabu whose driver was trying to push its 60 kmph speed limit.
It’s been two days since all that and I’m glad I went. I think I’ll pop by during the weekend and repeat it all, including the planking. I will plank on that park bench and shake in all my kabu kabu glory. All in all, I am grateful for having a go-getter around. If like me you have been planning to begin running or any kind of exercise, get a go-getter. They are great people.

Side note: if I ever declined a massage from you because I was too busy with work, I am sorry. I need that massage now…everything hurts.

Clique

I just discovered this post today and it stirred my love for poetry a bit. Beautiful poem, beautiful story.

DAMIWRITES

The end is closer than we think
It could all end faster than we can blink
Don’t be deceived by the devil’s wink
His seductive glance or methods so sleek

The earth we know is at its brink
Slippery slippery it’s almost an ice rink
Days are dark and nights dreary and bleak
Our futile efforts can’t fix this leak

Satan’s been there, done that – he is the father of tricks
Thinking you can party with him and still win, dude get out quick
God is not mean, He is not some sadistic freak
There’s a WAY of escape for the sick who will seek

Grace I tell you, grace more vast than the Pacific
The message of grace so true, it’s terrific
Works of the law are vain, they reek
Your righteousness is a rag – wow that’s tragic

Jesus SAVES… He is heaven’s PARAMEDIC
For Love

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