How Sports Prepares You For Entrepreneurship (part 1/2)

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It is no news again that the unemployment level in the country, particularly among youths, is alarmingly high. The President Goodluck Jonathan-led Government tried to curb this problem through encouragement of entrepreneurship
and small business development. As a consequence, many Nigerian youths have embraced enterpreneurship as an alternative career choice.

Participating in sports can actually help prepare the Nigerian youth for enterprenurship. Personally, I have been playing and watching sports since I was 5. Even though I don’t get to play and watch sports as much as I would like anymore, I have come to realise there are interesting similarities between sports and enterpreneurship.

Passion
This is a very key element in sports. If you are passionate to be the best in the sports you love, you can take that passion into everything you do, including enterpreneurship. A passionate person is always ready to go extra miles and get things done. This is essential in enterpreneurship. Most entrepreneurs are driven by a passion for their business. It is the force that keeps them working when things are falling apart.

Work Ethic
Sports is the epitome of hardwork, desire and dedication. Sometimes talent is not just enough. There is a common saying that “Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.”  Sports can prepare one for the rigours and uncertainty that come with the enterprenuerial journey. Take heed to the words of former American baseballer, Derek Jeter, “There may be people that have more talent than you but there is no excuse for anyone to work harder than you do.”

Preparation
Former American swimmer and nine-time Olympic champion, Mark Spitz once said, “If you fail to prepare, you are prepared to fail.” Preparation is crucial in sports. Every sportsman trains and prepares very hard to have a competitive edge over his closest rivals. The same happens in business; it is hard to see a successful entrepreneur wake up one day and start a business the next. He must develop his invention idea into a product, find the right market for his product, determine how to reach them and also come up with a detailed plan on how to beat his/her competition, and that takes time and effort. It must be said that preparation is not a guaranteee that one will be successful but it increases the odds. Always remember the words of late Joe Paterno, American college football hall of famer “the will to win is important but the will to prepare is vital.”

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Self-Confidence
Self-confidence, not self-obession, is crucial to success in all aspects of life. Without self-confidence, we struggle to fit in. Sports helps raise the confidence level of an individual and this can trickle into all areas of the individual’s life. According to Dan O’Brien, former American decathlete and Olympic Gold medallist, “For many of us, who struggle with ‘fitting in’ or our identity – sports gives us our first face of confidence. That first bit of confidence can be a gateway to many other great things.” An enterprenuer must be self-confident to reach the zenith of his/her endeavours. Self-confidence allows one to take calculated risks but without self-confidence one will be scared to take risks and even if/when you do, nobody will believe in the risks you take.

Self-Discipline
This is one special quality that many successful people have acknowledged can lead to greater success, accomplishment and happiness in life. No personal goal or achievement can be reached without self-discipline. Lou Holtz, American College Football Hall of famer, once said, “Without self discipline, success is impossible, period.” Weakness for the bottle and women, drugs and gambling have ruined so many people. Sports can help one develop self discipline that can lead to success in all areas of life. This is in line with the words of Bob Cousy, a former American Basketball player, “Sports gives your life structure, discipline and a genuine, sincere, pure fulfilment that few other areas of endeavour provide.” In Sir Alex Ferguson’s book with Sir Michael Moritz, Leading, he praised Cristiano Ronaldo’s self-discipline not to deface his body, smoke or drink. He also said that Ronaldo keeps himself at about three kilograms below his natural weight to help him maintain his pace. Ronaldo is smart enough to know that if he doesn’t stick to his healthy lifestyle, he will regress. Every enterprenuer needs Ronaldo-esque self-discipline inorder not run his business into the ground.

….To be continued

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The Olajumoke Orisaguna Story: From Inspirational to Exploitation

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I’m pretty sure that most of you must have read or heard from someone about the story that has made the country and international community buzz in recent weeks – the story of Olajumoke Orisaguna, the bread seller turned model.

Olajumoke, a 27-year-old mother of two, was just jejely doing her thing; hawking bread well set on her head in Sabo area of Lagos when she innocently stepped into a photo shoot of popular photographer TY Bello with Nigerian-born British singer Tinie Tempah.

The picture came out ‘perfect’ and she looking like a professional model. TY Bello took her under her wings; gave her a make over and helped her to feature on ThisDay’s Style cover. Ever since then, she’s been featured on CNN, BBC, Huffington Post, and virtually everywhere online.

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The genesis. Source: TY Bello

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I was really happy for Olajumoke and her family, and I likened it to the case of one stumbling across a new talent when we least expect it. You know how sports scouts go to games to watch a certain player and discover another talent altogether, much to their own surprise. Yeah just like that! After all, nobody is talking about Tinie Tempah who was supposed to be the main subject of the photo shoot.

I can imagine how many pastors who have used or planning to use Olajumoke, as a focal point, to prepare their semons since the story broke out. And telling their congregations to tap into such blessing when praying.

However, the Cinderella story of Jumoke went from inspiring to weird for me when I heard a luxurious apartment company in Lagos had given her a new apartment. I mean, there could be workers in that company who help in building those luxurious apartments but don’t live in one or even have a roof over their heads sef. But hey, we only get what we negotiate for and not what we deserve in life right?

The endorsement deals didn’t stop there. StanbicIBTC and PayPorte have also made her their brand ambassador, with the former awarding her two daughters scholarships up to university level. The National Identity Management Commission also hopped on the bandwagon when Jumoke paid a visit to their University of Lagos (UNILAG) office to register for her national identity card. They posted a picture of Olajumoke with one of their staff on the Commission’s official Twitter account with the caption “Olajumoke knows she needs NIN. She walked into a NIN centre yesterday unsolicited. Olajumoke is smart. Be like her.”

Olajumoke has become an overnight celebrity – a brand –  however I find this sudden metamorphosis tainted with hypocrisy and opportunism. The height of it came last week when Jumoke was scheduled to give a motivational speech at a conference in Abuja even though she doesn’t speak English fluently.

I am aware that the media love a sensational story and the story of Jumoke certainly offers them such sensationalism. As a result, everybody wants a piece of her as this seems to be the easiest path to embrace news headlines.

I had thought Olajumoke was feted by corporate bodies for humanitarian purpose or corporate social responsibility (CSR) but it has become a curious case of exploiting an innocent victim – a case of “Who no like to embrace the winner?” Just pause and ask yourself if these sudden philatronpists would have ever noticed Olajumoke on the streets or even bothered to buy the bread she sells when Shoprite bread and the like dey!

There are many people like Jumoke out there; still hawking one thing or the other or even positioned in front of strategic places asking for alms, who never get noticed or helped. Also, some of these big shots have househelps who have lived with them for years, who yearn for the smallest grain of such benevolence bestowed on Olajumoke.

Sooner or later, this story will fade out and  media will find something else to have their interest piqued. As a consequence, I sincerely wonder what will happen to her and her family when this honeymoon is over. Would she still have a luxury apartment? Would she make it in the modelling world? Would she set up her own beauty salon(s)? Would StanbicIBTC honour their promise and ensure her kids are educated up to tertiary level? And most importantly, would her family still be together? I guess only time has the answers to these questions.

Despite all these uncertainties surrounding this story, one thing is certain, the lady and her family definitely need all the protection they can get right now. I really hope her story won’t be a serious instance of “if you are reading this, it is already late” in the end.