I have shared the insights from this book on Twitter using the hashtag #PhrasesAndInsights #WithJimOvia. In this article, I have extracted the lessons I captured from the 30 Chapter book. I have extracted the learning insights I picked from the book. I hope it serves as an inspiration to you.
Jim opened the prologue by saying: “The path to success in accessible to every young African person, regardless of background, family income, or education. This has been said many times, but I repeat it sincerely now – if I can do it, you can, too.”
CHAPTER 1: AFRICA RISE AND SHINE: FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS TO $16 BILLION
JIM’S BASIC BUSINESS INGREDIENTS FO SUCCESS
I gleaned these ingredients from the content of Chapter 1.
- Follow your instincts
- Find the asset in adversity
- Brand matters
- If you build, they will come
- Location, location, location
- Reaction factor
- Innovate, innovate, innovate
- Know when to go it alone
- Network, network, network
- Always remember “caveat emptor”
- Passion is everything
- Return the kindness
CHAPTER 2: BASIC INSTINCT: GOING WITH THE GUT
Here are deep thoughts that swelled up in my mind as I read this chapter.
- The challenges you never resolved for your employer is a path to a new business line for you.
- The best practices that you experienced with your employer may be a major force of inspiration for your entrepreneurial journey.
- Your interests & experiences that support them are vital for designing your entrepreneurial blueprint.
- Opportunities that give leverage to your interests should be embraced irrespective of the limits that competence and resources may put in your way.
- There are teachers on your path, they come as tutors in school, colleagues at work and innovations in the society.
- Competence is built when delegation is minimised at the time of growth and entry into market.
- Childhood experiences that support mental development are a gift to the society and a pride to the world.
- Maximise every moment of your life to grow your competence in the area of your interest.
- Create opportunities where you can have time for skill development in your area of interest.
- Your preparation for future big-wins always get wrapped up in tutelage rather than in platform building.
- Economic activities always bring opportunities
- Policy changes that encourage more participation of players is a great way to open up an economy for wealth through enterprise.
- Setbacks always provide an opportunity for those who believe in you to invest their time and resources in your repositioning.
- There are roles that may not pay huge amounts of money now but provide huge opportunities to excel in your area of interest.
- Your GUTS is all you’ve GOT
CHAPTER 3: THE POWER OF NEGOTIATION: INSTINCT AND TRUST
In this chapter, there were clear suggestions from Mr. Jim Ovia on how to negotiate.
JIM’S 7 INFALLIBLE CONSIDERATIONS IN NEGOTIATION
CHAPTER 4: LOGO AND BRANDING
Having taken the sole responsibility for the logo and initial brand representation for Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia shared his thoughts on branding from which I thought these were his top four considerations in any negotiation deal.
JIM’S TOP FOUR CONSIDERATIONS FOR BRANDING
- Broad-based Appeal
- Recognizable Identity
CHAPTER 5: LICENSING ZENITH BANK
Securing the license the run Zenith Bank was all that a passionate Jim Ovia needed to begin his operations. Here are my 2 striking thoughts from this chapter.
- Strike when you see an opportunity to because waiting can be too costly for the life of your enterprise.
- Your previous engagements are preparatory platforms for the future that is unrevealed.
CHAPTER 6: COMMENCING OPERATIONS AT ZENITH BANK
In this chapter, I looked keenly into the culture and work ethics that Zenith Bank began her operations with. It clearly showed a bank that knows where she was headed for: the top.
- Don’t be sorry for starting small, never accept an excuse for indolence and lethargy.
- Starting with tough principles helps create a culture of excellence.
- A satisfied customer will always seek you for more excellent experiences
- Leaders must not be sorry for sanctioning erring staff.
- Deal with errors decisively and quickly because a delay may suggest tolerance of indiscipline.
CHAPTER 7: SEEK OUT NEW WAYS OF DOING THINGS
Beyond the principles that Zenith Bank started with, this chapter shows how the bank intentionally and carefully overtook her competitors who were clearly ahead in terms of customer acquisition and experience.
- Existing competitors always leave you with no other room than the one that requires innovation.
- Going an extra mile to create uniqueness in your business will set you apart from others and make you a trend setter.
- Attention to details is vital to prevail over competition.
- If you’ll improve on your current business practices, you will find a competitor to remove from the top.
- There’s no hurdle from your competitors other than an innovation stalled.
- Always find a way to communicate your unique identity
- Give your customers an experience that is scalable across your network of service centres.
CHAPTER 8: BUILDING THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY
The overarching lesson from this chapter was simply that; you may have to create what you need if it is not available as a service rendered by government.
- Entrepreneurs create platforms to support the expression of their goals.
- Entrepreneurs know that the future of their enterprise depends on the societal capacity to grow in critical areas of human endeavour.
- Entrepreneurs commit their resources to elevate the society while giving them an opportunity to offer their products and services easily and seamlessly.
- The benevolence of the entrepreneur may have been sparked by personal encounters with limitations and obstacles that would impair the potential of their enterprise.
- Entrepreneurs validate their quest for creation and innovation by the steps they see other people take.
- When you are visionary and do not have the support of those in authority, chances are that you will lose your resources and get yourself strained by deliberate actions of ignorance.
CHAPTER 9: DON’T AGONIZE, DIGITIZE
Many people keep talking about their problems when they can easily create solutions. The key message here is that when problems come, we should stop whining rather we should start thinking of how we can start winning.
- Every rejection you’ve experienced in an attempt to experience a positive change should not deter you from forging ahead with your quest. If you persist, you’ll find an opportunity (loophole) that you can take advantage of.
- OPPORTUNITY comes from scenarios:
- a. Change in Leadership
- b. Change in Policy
- c. Loophole in Systems
- d. Organizational Restructuring
- e. Introduction of New Approaches
3. Opportunities are situation that serve as enablers of the realisation of your pursuits and quests.
4. Opportunities do not abound daily because we are not seeking to recognise them.
CHAPTER 10: GROWING ZENITH AGGRESSIVELY
We all can grow if we care to be passionate about it. Those that don’t grow will always groan.
- Tools and people that know how to use them are what gives a competitive edge.
- Pioneers face obstacles because they are responsible for creating the highway that others will later follow to create a beautiful enterprise.
- Thirst for success is what makes mountains stepping stones.
JIM’S COUNSEL FOR EMPLOYEE SUCCEESS
- Apply diligent effort
- Cultivate the desire to learn what it takes to succeed
- Flexible thinking
- Nourish good relationships with coworkers and customers
- Value their hunger for success
JIM’S CORE HUMAN VALUES
- Corporate Governance
JIM’S CORE CRITERIA FOR EMPLOYEE RECRUITMENT
- Top Grades
- Professional Appearance
- Brilliant Communication
CHAPTER 11: Y2K – THE MILLENNIUM BUG
Business experiences are often faced with unplanned circumstances. Jim shared on how they overcame the fears and the uncertainties of what was termed as the millennium bug.
HANDLING UNCERTAINTIES IN BUSINESS
- Acknowledge the problem
- Evaluate your competence to resolve the problem
- Be proactive by taking steps to limit damage
- Gather relevant information on the problem
- Visualise potential risks, failures, effects and impact
- Take steps only based on facts.
CHAPTER 12: OUR LEGENDARY ZENITH BANK CEO AWARDS
The major lesson here is that a happy workforce is a healthy workforce. A healthy workforce is a vibrant workforce. A vibrant workforce is a productive workforce.
CHAPTER 13: OWNER-PRESIDENT MANAGEMENT (OPM)
Leaders know that the cost of ignorance far outweighs the cost of any learning program they can ever subscribe to.
- Leaders are learners, great leaders are lifelong learners.
- Take every opportunity to correct a bad impression about your business environment.
- Always do your work with the global stage as your platform of performance.
- No matter the status of your business, your experience always gives you something to share with others as lessons on the entrepreneurial journey.
CHAPTER 14: THE INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING
Jim clearly emphasized that goals without strategy is wishful thinking.
JIM’S STRATEGY FOR A SUCCESSFUL IPO
- Adopting a methodical approach using geographic & topographic mapping for marketing activities
- Contracted professionals in advertising, sales promotion, marketing strategy, & public relations.
- Projected the 14-year track record of Zenith Bank to potential investors.
CHAPTER 15: PHILANTHROPY: THE JIM OVIA FOUNDATION
Giving to the world from what you have been able to derive from your efforts in the world is a blessing the world cannot refuse. I used the principles in this chapter to answer the question, “How do you improve the world?”
HOW DO YOU IMPROVE THE WORLD?
- Acknowledge that there is a foundation that has been laid for you to build upon.
- Recognise that your role is to be an extension of the foundation through your own creative solutions.
- Identify areas where you are passionate about seeing improvements.
- Develop capacity to solve those problems by gathering information and building networks to help resolve the dilemma you have noticed.
- Document your findings and share your lessons in books, videos and other formats where others can learn from.
- Multiply your results by creating a framework where your efforts can continue even after your life such that it can be said that you left a legacy.
I could not but note that those who are philanthropic are very resourceful people. I tried to pen down a few thoughts on the power of resourcefulness.
THE POWER OF YOUR RESOURCEFULNESS
- Your resourcefulness is an opportunity for you to close the gap that threatened your success.
- Your resourcefulness confers on you the responsibility to support the aspirations of others while reducing societal inequalities.
- Your resourcefulness is a privilege conferred on you by the belief in your productive capacity.
- Your resourcefulness gives you the power to develop capacity in others
- Your resourcefulness gives you the power to influence change.
CHAPTER 16: BYOI: BUILD YOUR OWN INFRASTRUCTURE
Waiting for problems to be solved for you will always leave you incapacitated. However, building infrastructure that will aid your operations is a daunting task. Here are my thoughts from the chapter.
- The capacity to build infrastructure lies in your surplus supply of resources.
- The opportunity to change things is an opportunity that brings fame.
- The let-down of others through irresponsibility and your rise to take up the challenge is an opportunity towards becoming a value adding personality.
- The value you give others is as a result of new and improved personal experiences.
- Status changes by value addition and not virtues only
CHAPTER 17: HARVARD LECTURE
Harvard University is ranked as one of the best Universities in the world. This makes speaking on any of her official platform a noteworthy feat. I realised the following from reading this chapter:
- The reputation of an institution will attract strong personalities to her platforms.
- Your aspirations and actions are never the same in scope but same in alignment towards an end.
- Success gives you a voice that is sought after.
- Success makes your counsel a law and your suggestions akin to an instruction.
- The same situations and circumstances that hindered businesses aforetime are still prevalent today, with increasing costs to overcome them now than when opportunities abound to overcome them in previous years.
- If you wait for the conditions to change, your ship will not leave the harbour. Don’t consider the wind as much as you consider your sail.
- Ideas have always ruled the world through those who execute them.
CHAPTER 18: FOUNDING A MOBILE-TELEPHONE COMPANY: VISAFONE
Every opportunity that came the way of Jim Ovia was researched for feasibility, profitability and chances for market leadership. In reading this chapter, I came to a conclusion that you are never late on an opportunity if you can harness untapped powers of lesser players and merge their capacities to create a formidable force.
CHAPTER 19: NIGERIAN BANKING CRISIS
Those who share experiences from crisis and failures have uncovered the secrets to excelling where others are likely to fail. It is not all crises that pulls people down, some help people to rediscover themselves. The way Mr. Ovia handled the crisis in the Nigerian banking sector made me conclude as follows:
- Storms help to reform structure and processes.
- Storms reveal the depth and capacity to withstand uncertainties and risk.
- Don’t wait for storms before building capacity to handle them.
- Our connectedness makes us strong as well as vulnerable. We have formed chains with global nodes and we cannot be exempted from the effect of a bad experience within a node that may be outside our reach and control.
- Irrespective of your level of connectedness, ensure your node has a depth in values and ethics.
CHAPTER 20: HOW WE EXCEEDED CUSTOMER EXPECTATIONS AND ACHIEVED SUPERIOR RESULTS
There will always be organizations that have the chance to do bigger things than you in the market simply because they have more resources and have a larger followership. This is by no means a definitive statement of your status as a second fiddle, it is rather a call to find ways to overtake them in areas where you can be creative, innovative and effective in the delivery of your service to customers within the marketplace. The way Zenith Bank pushed the frontiers to exceed customer expectations made me muse that to excel above your bigger competitors,:
- Initiate something new that is desirable
- Always have a constant push to expand
- Always find a way to perform better
- Expand the reach of your business
- Terminate unproductive ways of getting results
CHAPTER 21: CIVIC TOWERS
The process of conceiving and eventual building of Civic Towers showed me that:
- There’s no limit to what area of life you can make a resounding impact in human endeavours.
- Those who believe in having the best can execute the greatest feats in life
- Specific intentions make creation easy
CHAPTER 22: NETWORKING, NETWORKING, NETWORKING
Those who know how to ask questions will always find answers to their bugging issues. If you have value to share, you will always find someone seeking to have you in their corner. Those who solve problems for others are potential candidates for those who have answers to problems that have remained unsolved.
I resolved that:
- Circumstances can bring about the best of contacts which will drive the success of your aspirations.
- Your network is a chain of relationships formed to get things working better before the relationships themselves were formed.
- Your network discounts your weaknesses to leverage on the strengths of others to make your aspirations realities that are obvious to all.
CHAPTER 23: JAMES HOPE COLLEGE: EXCELLENCE AND EMPOWERMENT
Giving back to others can only be from a willing heart. If what you have in your hand is not sufficient to be called a gift, then collaborate with others to make something valuable out of it. By all means, let your giving be useful to the community and not just private individuals. I figured out a few things from this chapter:
- Elders will listen to children with proofs of success.
- The gaps in society are pointers to the opportunities that lie before us.
- Nothing is lost that can be rebuilt
CHAPTER 24: NOMINATION AND APPOINTMENT OF THE CENTRAL BANK GOVERNOR OF NIGERIA
When the successor of Jim Ovia became the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, it became instructive for me to assert that:
- When your fruit succeeds in the marketplace, you become a proud salesperson.
- The rise of your successor is proof of your leadership qualities.
- Forces of success are universal.
CHAPTER 25: HOW AND WHY MTN BOUGHT VISAFONE
There are things that you have that may be considered little but it means a lot to those with bigger platforms. Never assume that your capacity is not useful to those that are bigger than you. I concluded thus:
- Foresight is what makes us see opportunities in bad circumstances.
- The giants of enterprise never cover the whole market, they leave a hole that new entrants can come on to grow & eventually compete with them.
CHAPTER 26: WORK/FAMILY ETHIC OF AN ENTREPRENEUR
The multiple demands on our limited competence is the reason we seek for a balance. However, balance here seeks to expect a fair measure of attention to all the obligations and responsibilities that lie before is. Mr. Jim had his strong views against work-life balance but I posit as follows:
- Work is a critical part of life. It is where we give expression to highest form of ideals and the competence that makes us value adding people.
- Other non-work roles that befall us are also platforms for expressing our humanity.
- Technology will play a huge role in helping us attend to our multiple roles and obligations.
CHAPTER 27: PRIVATE-SECTOR HEALTH ALLIANCE
When Bill Gates galvanizes support for a cause he believes in, he is likely to find men of means to become passionate about the same cause. Here are my thoughts:
- The power of one is capable of turning things around for many but when merged with the power of another one, the resultant impact is on more than many.
- Collaboration is the combination of the energies of individuals committed to address an issue with their resources and network.
- Vision shared with resourceful people will receive acceptance if they find opportunities to make impact and touch lives as they have done in their businesses.
- You can always do more if others join you.
- The problems you ignore today will become a mountain of challenges you will eventually have to surmount.
CHAPTER 28: A LANDMARK PARTNERSHIP – PRUDENTIAL UK
You can do much more with partners that have a global perspective than with great employees with a local inclination.
- You can never tell what you can be until you unleash your potential on opportunities brought to you by providence and relationships.
- Partnerships make what you have the least you can ever have.
- Partnerships with a global perspective will always give you opportunities to do bigger things than you have always done.
- The value you project in your service will attract bigger value.
- Excellence attracts.
CHAPTER 29: GLOBAL SUMMITS 2017: BUSINESS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
JIM’S TAKEAWAY FROM THE SUMMIT
- Avoid short-termism in decisions, operations, & policies
- True strength is derived from the willingness to examine your weaknesses & future vulnerabilities
- The greatest value of failure is its tendency to galvanize change & opportunity.
I reasoned that:
- Problems are a lever for action where inaction has prevailed.
- Problems bring together those who have capacity to create solutions.
- Resourceful people are all the world needs to experience improvements.
CHAPTER 30: ZENITH TODAY, ZENITH TOMORROW: WHAT LIES AHEAD.
JIM’S DRIVING POINTS FOR PERSONAL SUCCESS
- Maximising Adversity
- Attention to details
I enjoyed every moment I had while reading the book. There’s a lot to the details of a person’s rise that a summary of insights will never do justice to.