Over the weekend, I was watching a video by Felix Odiwuor, the comedian who goes by the stage name Jalang’o. He is a funny man, but his success story is not.
He was narrating to a captive audience in a packed auditorium how he landed a breakfast show host job with a leading radio station.
In the narrative, he graphically explained how, they were huddled in an interview room, two hundred eager job seekers. Those without a bachelor’s degree were asked to leave, to which the unqualified ones obliged.
This ritual was repeated with those in possession of degrees other than in journalism and communication and lastly, those without broadcast journalism experience. By the end of this process, there were only seven men standing.
That is how Felix landed the job except that he had none of the requisite qualifications. It sounds almost unreal but the world is full of unlikely heroism and acts of valor. This the difference between funny stories and horror ones like the one that is currently trending.
A man of the cloth cum credit unionist cum aspiring governor has soiled his second altar. A few days ago, the regulator suspends the operations of his 55,000 members strong SACCO and froze its accounts. This after the members staged sit-ins and attempted to break into the head office over unmet obligations and dubious promises. The deposits are estimated to be in excess 2.5 billion, now this is what horror stories are made of. The last time I stepped into their offices, the number of customers in the banking hall could have made any financial institution green with envy.
You may be wondering what a funny man has in common with a man of the cloth, a lot actually. Great opportunities like the one Felix seized always present seemingly insurmountable obstacles like lofty qualifications and formidable opposition. At the other end of the spectrum, are dodgy exploits that present little resistance whilst promising generous rewards. This is where the wheat separates from the chaff and as Jesus put it “the road to paradise is narrow, rugged and winding”.
I am not suggesting that the Bishop is culpable, however large crowds tend to signal signs of unhealthy appetite. To sustain such momentum requires investment in robust management systems and strong governance structures. This article is not directed to Bishop Ngare though, it meant for the thousands, probably millions who always end up with the short end of the stick in such instances.
Real opportunities always present themselves as difficult obstacles or bumpy rides. They rarely require constant advertising to be exploited or invite thousands of participants. In fact, they endeavor to dissuade would be prospects. On the other hand obviously, bad ideas are wrapped in attractive packages and offer easy access.
Here is how to identify real opportunities; there are always apparent high barriers to entry like licenses, qualifications, proprietary knowledge, technology, capital or skills. Naturally, our mind is conditioned to avoid resistance and rejection and these barriers create the necessary filters to sieve out the faint-hearted, like in the case of Jalang’o. At the same time, you will find very few people encouraging you to venture or even having knowledge about such opportunities. To pursue real opportunities you will need drive, courage and an independent mind.
Phony opportunities, on the other hand, offer very little resistance or low barriers to entry. Information is readily availed mostly be your peers and acquaintances and requisite qualifications are usually low and sometimes waived. The brain loves good news and pursues it with all its being. That is why betting is big business, as the entry level is very low while the probable jackpot is beyond the realm of possibilities. However, you notice that betting requires heavy advertising and almost everyone you know is in it one way or the other.
While Felix makes a decent two hundred thousand shillings for a two-hour gig, the average savings account at Ekeza SACCO was about 45,000.00. Our savings culture is commendable but our appetite for risky ventures tilts the scales against our good intentions. There is something alluring when someone in a position of social authority lends their endorsement to anything and that may explain why Ekeza had fanatical following and celebrities are endorsing betting.
Our minds need the training to acquire discernment capabilities, late last year, I was giving a talk on the difference between the behavior of a King, Priest, and Slave. These were metaphors depicting our mental attitudes towards real opportunity. Obviously, Kings feel entitled to the best and most rare opportunities and act that way whilst enjoying exclusivity. Priests, on the other hand, wield a lot of influence for they believe they are anointed to enjoy choice pickings. It is the Slaves that worry me because they work hard to avoid standing out, they fight those who try to and gain comfort in numbers while engaging in fatuous pursuits.
This may just explain why sports bars are crowded places while members clubs are not. Next time you go knocking for opportunities it may profit you to consider who else is in it. This is because crowded places just like funny stories are meant for superficial socialization. The real conversations and credible ventures are done behind closed doors away from the fickle and faint-hearted. The funnyman may be living like a king now but that only happened when moved away from playing amongst his peers and joining the super league albeit in a funny way.