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No. 122: You Need Mastery, Innovation and a Problem Solving Focus

Modiu confidently assured me he could do it. He said “Just let me have each child’s age. That’s all I need to sew the outfits for them”.And he was going to sew six full outfits in about 4 days (with piles of other people’s fabrics awaiting his attention)! I still struggled to believe it.

Modiu is my Tailor Friend in Cotonou…

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Publication: Weekly Public Speaking IDEAS Newsletter

Date: Monday 30th December 2013

No:122

Title: You Need Mastery, Innovation and a Problem Solving Focus

Author & Publisher: Tayo K. Solagbade [Tel: +234-803-302-1263 (in Nigeria) or +229-66-122-136 (in Benin Republic) ]

Blog URL: http://www.spontaneousdevelopment.com/blog

Archive (E-mail version started 14th May 2012): Click here to view

Archive (Blog version started 24th September 2011): Click here


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No. 122: You Need Mastery, Innovation and a Problem Solving Focus

Modiu confidently assured me he could do it. He said “Just let me have each child’s age. That’s all I need to sew the outfits for them”.And he was going to sew six full outfits in about 4 days (with piles of other people’s fabrics awaiting his attention)! I still struggled to believe it.

Modiu is my Tailor Friend in Cotonou…

This happened last week. It was the first job I was giving him. Being the doubting Thomas that I was, I went the extra mile to get my laptop and deliberately show him pictures of ALL the kids in a group photograph, noting which child was what age.

He smiled indulgently at me and said “Don’t worry. I do this all the time. I have a chart here with standard measurements I’ve worked for different ages and sexes. I’m sure I’ll get it right.

Then he added:You see Tayo, this is what I do!

And when he said it, he looked me directly in the eyes. Little wonder that I counted the full fee and gave to him 100% in advance!

But apart from his convincing manner, I also wanted to be sure thoughts of getting his balance did not distract him from giving his very possible best.

Time was short. It was a Tuesday. I had to arrive Lagos Saturday.

As the week progressed, I went around town doing my last minute buying and then retired to the cafe to work into the night. On my way home each night, I’d see Modiu’s lights on, and him bent over working. He had loads of client’s fabrics at different stages of progress. I kept wondering how he’d get around to my “pile”.

Each morning, by 9a.m at the latest, this young, hardworking tailor and his assistant would have arrived. They knew they had lots of work to do.

And they also knew when to say NO, to new work, if/when necessary.

Indeed his assistant told me that Modiu had been turning away new jobs at the start of the week, saying he’d taken on enough and wanted to have some free time into the New Year!

“Now this is a guy who knows his business.” I told myself.

He’d planned his work so he could actually say NO to “excess” clients, to avoid failing to meet agreed deadlines or standards!

All of what I saw made me feel more convinced that I’d made the right decision to have him sew the special year end outfits for my people.

I recall stopping over the second morning at his shop to say “You never asked me for any details about their mother!”

He calmly replied that he would have called me later on, since the first thing he had to do that day was to go and get the fabrics from the market.

But since you’re here already, please come with me.” he said.

Gently pulling me by the arm, he took me just outside his shop, and pointed to a woman seated on a commercial motor bike, waiting for the rider to move.

Is she anything in stature like that lady over there?” he pointed at the woman. I looked and found, to my surprise, that my wife actually had a similar build to her!

I said “Yes, I must admit, she would wear just about the same size of clothes as that lady you’re pointing at. How did you know?

A Sure Sign of Mastery…

I could not help myself. I had to ask.

Modiu smiled knowingly when he heard my question, and said “Ise mi ni” (That’s Yoruba for “It’s what I do”). “I know how to get what I need to do my work properly” he added.

[NB: Modiu speaks French and Yoruba languages fluently. We tend to speak the latter more often. ]

To me (I don’t know about you), it was like magic.

But he acted as if there was nothing to it.

He said he did not really know my wife’s size of course, but since I’d said she was as tall as I was and not slim, he’d gotten a fair idea.

Then he added that if the woman he’d pointed out had not fit, he would have taken me around till we found someone else who did. That way, he got a real-life idea, as close as possible to my wife’s measurement, to work with.

From what he told me, he’d been doing it successfully for years, such that today, old clients who relocated to Europe and America simply send funds down, along with names and ages or pictures of those they want outfits sewn for!

…and they are never disappointed. So he told me.

I wondered what my story would be…

Trying on The Outfits In Nigeria

By 2p.m Saturday afternoon, Modiu handed me a neatly wrapped package containing all the outfits, sewn and ironed.

They looked beautiful, but I still wondered – quietly to myself – if they would fit.

It was such a strange experience for me.

So, I thanked him for finishing the job on time, and promised to call to tell him how they fit.

I arrived my home in Lagos, exhausted, on Saturday night at past 10p.m. The traffic from right after the main border town had been hectic. I knew I was indeed back in Lagos!

When I walked into the estate, the kids were all over me within seconds(I’d called their mother to ask them to help with the bags).

They grabbed my bags and hurried into the compound. The little 4 year old “lady” who was already asleep eventually woke up due to the noise, and soon joined in.

Despite being dead tired, I just had to know how well Modiu had done his job.

So, as they tore at the masks with blinking lights and the other gifts, I told them to pick up the outfits and try them on.

Each child did as s/he was told, and I found myself staring in amazement at them.

The clothes fit them perfectly!

Even their mother who often accused me of exaggerating about good things in Cotonou, agreed Modiu had done a great job despite not having any actual measurements (She later tried on hers, and it also fit well!)

One thing is certain: I’m going to be calling Modiu to say a very big thank you!

Modiu’s Combination of Mastery, Innovation and Problem-Solving Focus Is Worthy of Emulation

I’ve tried to analyze what Modiu does. And this is my experience based conclusion.

Note however, that achieving mastery comes first. Without it, innovation and problem-solving become hard to apply.

Modiu developed a chart of people’s sizes according to age ranges they belonged over the years of doing his work.

Using that chart, he found a way to successfully improvise for customer unable to supply measurements for people they wished to have outfits sewn.

It must have taken time and effort – and probably a few errors (and angry/disappointed clients!).

But over time, with persistence, he appears to have achieved mastery. Then his amiable, positive, problem-solving disposition makes him willing to entertain fears a client may express and to find ways to address them satisfactorily.

[NB: I still feel it’s a risky approach given that growth rates for people vary across societies, with diets etc. For instance a 14 year old in the US is most likely to have very different measurement. Knowing Modiu, when that issue comes up, he’s likely to find a way around it.]

Final Words: Are you a speaker who wants to be a master?

It is my considered opinion, that Modiu’s mastery of what he does, and his attitude to getting around challenges to deliver requested “tailoring” solutions are worth emulating by every expert – including you (i.e. if you do not already do it).

Doing so will make buyers/customers choose you over others.

Many will not even mind waiting in line, just to have you handle their job – like they do at Modiu’s!

In 2014, as an expert-who-speaks, I suggest you make doing the above an objective.

You may wish to start by checking out Burt Dubin’s On Being a Master website. It could be the key to Stellar Speaking Success (like that enjoyed by many coached by Burt over the past 3 decades) for you.

PS: Happy New Year In Advance

Thanks for reading my newsletter all through 2013, and I wish you an exciting and prosperous 2014!

Not sure what your plans are, but I’m here in Lagos, to spend quality time with my familly, into the new year.

My father will be 80 years old on the 4th of February 2014, so there are BIG plans being made to celebrate that.

I’m going to be teaching my kids to make my Pineapple peel cakes – without using an oven – just like I did it some weeks back. You should have seen them get the charcoal stove I brought with me started by themselves – WOW!

They already make and sell the pineapple peel drink by themselves.

If all goes well, we should have a special “batch production” of the cakes and drinks, for “‘Grandpa’s” birthday bash ;-))

Tayo K. Solagbade*

Self-Development/Performance Improvement Specialist

*Sole Agent For Burt Dubin’s Speaker Mentoring Service In Africa

Mobile: +234-803-302-1263 (in Nigeria) or +229-66-122-136 (in Benin Republic)

http://www.spontaneousdevelopment.com

Self-Development/Performance Enhancement SpecialistTayo Solagbade – works as a multipreneurial freelance writer providing  zero risk article and report writing support for website owners, while travelling slowly across West Africa as a Location Independent Multipreneur.

He’s presently based in Benin Republic, where he’s preparing an English-French Language Guide, City Travel Guides, and a Commercial Rabbit Farming Guide.

In a previous life, before leaving to become self-employed, Tayo served for seven years as a high performing manager in Guinness Nigeria. He rose from Shift Brewer, to Training & Technical Development Manager, then later acted in senior management roles as Production Manager and Technical Manager.

When he’s not amazing clients with his superhuman skills (wink), Tayo works as the creative force behind his Self-Development Nuggets™ blog, and Public Speaking IDEAS newsletter (which he publishes to promote Burt Dubin’s Public Speaking Mentoring service to experts working across the African continent).

For a limited time, Tayo is available to speak to your group or organization for a moderate fee. Send e-mail to tayo at tksola dot com. You can also visit www.tksola.com to learn more.

Connect with him on Twitter @tksola.com and Facebook.

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Self-Development/Performance Enhancement Specialist - Tayo Solagbade - works as a multipreneurial freelance writer providing zero risk article and report writing support for website owners, while travelling slowly across West Africa as a Location Independent Multipreneur. 

 

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[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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