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Don’t Just “Tell” Kids to Do…Be an Exemplary Role Model

When the bundle of currency notes was handed to me by Professor Idowu Oladele (who’d received the payment via his Euro domiciliary account), it was the first time I was setting eyes on the "Euro" in cash . If I sound like a "bush man" by admitting the foregoing, forgive me. I’m just being myself. I do not believe in creating false impressions, trying to make myself seem to know more than I do :-)

I earn income in dollars for some of my products/services, but the cash gets to me often with the help of my sister who works in a bank out here, in Naira. I’ve of course handled both dollars and pounds in cash many times over the years.

Odd as it may sound however, I’d not seen the Euro physically, before that day.

When I got home, I sat my kids down, and made each one take a fifty Euro note and examine it closely, then tell me what currency it was. Maybe it was the Igbo blood that runs in their veins, but all of them correctly announced that it was fifty Euros. Again, forgive me if you think this is no big deal. Maybe my "bush man" attitude is what makes me think it is :-)

Any reader of my parenting articles will know I seize any opportunity to share my experiences of the world with my kids.

Even the smallest of them who turns four in a few months gets my full attention, each time I do this exercise.

It’s not some ego trip.

Far from it. Instead, I do it because I feel driven, even compelled. A strange sense of urgency to pass on as much of my real world experiences to each of my kids possesses me.

I do it so dedicatedly, that their mother has accused me of caring for no one else apart from the kids!

The truth is however that many potentially traumatizing experiences I had struggling to breakthrough in the business world my country are the cause

Those experiences taught me that very little of what I learnt in school, and even less of what I’d picked up in paid employment, would help me succeed in business in my country.

I had to unlearn and relearn so many things that I thought I knew.

And it was such a slow and painful process that exposed me to prolonged periods of humiliation, and psychological suffering. All that time I knew it was not me that was the problem. I knew it was the incomplete "educational" preparation I’d had that was limiting me.

I did not know the ways of the world. That people will often not be straight and honest. That things are rarely white and black i.e clearly defined. I was not ready for the widespread duplicity most people engage in.

In essence, I was simply NOT street smart enough to succeed in business…in NIGERIA!

But soon I learned.

I had to!

I realised no one was willing to help me effect the needed corrections or filling the gaps in my “education”.

So, I took the bull by the horns, as they say, buried my fears and doubts, and began taking the needed steps to find a solution that worked for me.

A careful analysis led me to the conclusion that doing business like the majority would go against my values and ethics. And those I will never compromise.

I therefore decided to channel my energy and efforts into using my creative intellectual skills to attract high profile buyers for my solutions. Time soon revealed most of such people would be better found using my online self-promotion platform.

So, I gradually stopped seeking clients/work offline, and focussed my efforts 99% ONLINE.

Today, all of that silent, but hard work is paying off.

My progress and success rate has really ramped up, especially after I relocated to Benin Republic.

From that time back in April 2013, my work volume and quality simply hit the roof, and I began to get quality sales leads from my online self-promotion.

One day, the opportunity to write the agribusiness research paper on using Excel-VB to develop software for Feed Formulation came.

And the payment being offered for the accepted paper was 2,500 Euros.

As with everything else, I told my kids about it. I sat them down and reminded them how people would phone me after reading my articles on agribusiness. They recalled email alerts from GT Bank for payments ranging from N1, 500 to over N25, 000 for different products and services described on my website.

Then I told them I was in the country to conduct questionnaire surveys for this paper I’d been asked to write by an International Organisation, which had given me a contract, stating it would pay me.

I explained how my co-author Professor friend had sent me the Call for papers document and asked me to write the proposal.

“If they accept the final paper I submit, they will pay us 2,500 Euros. Do you know how much that is in Naira?” I asked.

They all said no. So I got on the web, and did a check of the prevailing exchange rate at www.coinmill.com and did a quick calculation to show them how much money it would be in Naira.

When they saw the figure, the eldest one said “You mean they will pay you that for writing 4,000 words?”I said “Yes. But it’s not just anything that I’ll write. My paper must meet certain conditions they’ve specified. And of course it must offer useful new knowledge/information.”

But I knew telling them about it would not be the same as showing them the real thing if/when it materialized.

This was just too strange a way of making money for them to accept. They would have to see it to believe.

You must understand. I’ve always pushed them to think and write creatively.

I’ve challenged them to write short stories. To think up interesting new twists and angles to real life experiences they have, and then write it out as a short story.

And they’ve been trying to do it.

As you can imagine, with kids – in Africa’s Nigeria, who see little creative effort rewarded – they did not do it with much sustained enthusiasm.

So I knew that if they saw the physical monetary reward of my own writing efforts, it would provide them a more lasting motivation.

They would readily invest more effort – on their own – to develop the habit of creative thinking and writing.

That was why I called the meeting and let them see the bundle of notes.

By the time we finished our meeting, I could see that the three older children in particular, had come away with a new found enthusiasm for the ideas I proposed.

Talking with the 14 year old during our subsequent outing, I could see he was more open to doing more writing, to improve on this one he did months back.

As I’ve tried to emphasize in all of my past write-ups on a similar theme, I do not share my success stories, in order to brag.

Instead, I do it because our society is often devoid of such examples.

And that makes it hard for kids or young people to imagine it is possible, talk less of believing they can succeed in that manner.

Yet they can, if they are properly guided. We, their parents, are in the best position to do that.

As one who succeeds in this unconventional manner, with honest and integrity, I am coaching my kids to discover their own talent for doing same.

The best part is that anyone can still do it all, while holding down a well paying 9 to 5 salary job!

That means you can effectively double your income without needing to quit your day job. There is no better gift one can give a child than this.

In 2014, and beyond, I urge you to help your child develop this additional level of skill and competence. S/he will forever be grateful to you!

[IMPORTANT: This blog's contents are being updated following the transfer to www.tayosolagbade.com from my former domain - Spontaneousdevelopment.com. As a result, some parts of it may not work properly for now. Quick Tip: If a link contains "spontaneousdevelopment.com", simply change it to "tayosolagbade.com" - and it should work. This applies to article links as well as image links. Work continues to update the links(in over 500 articles). Tayo K. Solagbade.]

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Tayo K. Solagbade*
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