(and shout out to my Rouse sister, Morgan Fykes for the inspiration)
Ignoring my own sharp advice, and usurping my usual chill and unfazed vibe, I’ve been stewing a bit.
Ah-ah, Oga Chidi…what are we stewing about now, bossman?
Let me tell you.
A former ALUSB MBA student of mine wrote me a note, asking me to forgive him for disrespecting me. Disrespect ko? I wasn’t feeling disrespected, so what was he going on about? Well, as a high-ranking member of the squad at his multi-national, he had been tasked with bringing a digital transformation/product consultant to help the org…transform digitally. They went and got a big name digital transformer, who charged them 99% of their revenue (I kid…it was more like 80%), and essentially sold them gucci bags of semi-nothing. Nice decks, squads of billable people asking what they claim were questions, and then another deck with recommendations that induced yawns that melatonin would be jealous of.
He got rocked. As in, almost demoted type rocked.
So as he was licking his wounds, he got on LinkedIn and saw a post of mine. Ah, my Prof in full effect, he thought. And then he checked out a couple other posts, and then suddenly it was as if Shango elbow smashed him with a dose of thunder and lightning: “OMG…see my big yeye head—I should have just brought in Prof, he is one of the best at doing this. Hai!”
You damn right…I am.
His point was that allowing himself to forget/neglect that he had access to a resource that would have knocked it out the park was disrespectful to me. That it was disrespectful of him not to acknowledge and deploy one of the most powerful and accessible weapons in his arsenal…his Prof of PIE. Product, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.
You know me. I was all stoic and nice with him about the whole thing, told him it was all good.
But was it?
That is what stewing looks and sounds like. When your brain starts to ponder and analyze and look further. I have friends and people I know who put themselves on blast on the ether and whatever else will have them, with the personal brands and agents and all that stuff that gets them the attention they seek and deserve. I don’t. Part because I don’t have a brand per se, and part because I am more the producer behind the board type as opposed to the talent in front of the mic type. But wait o. Let us be clear—I am very good at what I am good at.
Product stuff? Sensei is not a nickname here.
Speaking/Presentations? One of the best. Written? Don’t let my shenanigans here deceive you, the decks be decking. Verbal? Come on. Visual? I said…come on. On stage? I command it as it should be commanded. Whether I am solo, on a panel, or interviewing the Very VIP.
Teaching/Instruction? Not many are on my level. I said it. And I am only getting better.
Comms/Events/Gatherings: The stuff Zain Verjee, myself, and theZVG squad have done is quite remarkable (Unstoppable Africa, Rouse, Fearless Women, Africa House). Top-notch events and comms products.
Coaching? Ask anyone I coached how many goals they have scored. Ask them. You get coaching from me, and you may find yourself out there doing crazy stuff. As in crazy amazing. And when I am committed to seeing you win…you are winning something, somewhere, somehow. And yes, I have dropped the ball on some of my people. That is on me, my miss, my fail.
Africa? My muse. The continent’s DNA is literally interspersed in everything I do.
I know…this is unusual braggadocio from me. You know what, let me shout my shout for once, plis. Fact is, I have the goods. The bag is chock full of what you need, and what you didn’t know you need. My rocket fuel is pure undiluted energy. So, my eyebrows get archy when someone I know organizes a conference and they have a ho-hum person on stage talking product in Africa, and I am getting texts from someone in the audience asking “Chidi, why aren’t you here?”. I just arch, then un-arch…and move on. I no get time abeg. My mentee or former student is running a big piece of the govt, and yet she is flailing and I haven’t gotten a call or a Whatsapp? Maybe my spiky hair might spook her people. Is ok…we move.
Now, just so we are clear though, I have folks who want to see me win and put themselves out there to help me win. I will name a couple of names as they absolutely deserve props:
Seth Trudeau, former VP of Product at The Room is pretty much my product agent. This dude has me on blast wherever he goes, and Seth, I appreciate you, man. Some of my best product engagements have Seth written all over them.
Yes, you…Orlena Blanchard, marketer extraordinaire. Orlena is my sister from another mother. When stuff was bad for me and my family financially, Orlena would carve out work from her work and send my way, just so I got a check. some cash to keep the lights on. And when Dove Men+ Care included me as one of 25 Black Men To Be Celebrated, that was all Orlena. Much love.
Isidore Iradukunda. My relationship with the country and people of Rwanda is one of the highlights of my current career. And Izzy is one of the people responsible for the relationships, work, and warm embrace I have gotten in Rwanda. He’s ghosted me for a bit, but I forgive you, brother. My man. We dey here.
And of course, Zain. There is Chidi pre-Zain, and then Chidi with the Z. Two very different Chidis. Not many are lucky to find a partner as I have been with Zain. I could say more, but that’s a book. It has been more than I could even ask for.
Of course, there are others (Evana, I see you sister…and my fam for sure), but I chose to go with these four as they are top of mind and I am trying to keep this short. These are people who want to see me win and have helped me win. And I am very appreciative.
So. I stopped stewing…after all, I am not a pot of chicken and goat pepper stew that is just on the stove stewing. We just do the work, right? Show gratitude to those dropping our names in the rooms that matter in our absence, and make sure we don’t disgrace them, as our Nigerian parents like to say.
What an inspiring read!