Certification is the affirmation, by means usually called a certificate, that you have been found worthy of character and knowledge or training by a recognized regulatory institution or body. This qualifies you to play certain specific roles in the society.
Certification, however, is not a sentence or verdict. The fact that you are trained or qualified in a specific academic endeavour does not restrict or limit you to that particular field or trade. Jesus started as a carpenter and ended up as a Messiah. I know a young lawyer who has a transport company that is into haulage. He also runs a palm kernel processing mill and is involved in the running of his father’s hotel business. He is also a practicing lawyer. He is able to combine these various streams of income.
The course you studied and the schools you attended are not very important today in making a living. In fact, as much as it is very good to score high grades in school, a lot of those with first class work for those that are not first-class graduates or who never attended universities. There is a saying that, “those who wear suits work for those who wear jeans and T-shirts”.
Tertiary education primarily enables your mind to function deductively and reason spatially. It enables you to apply only a small segment of your knowledge to proffer solutions to an individual and societal needs. It also enables you to maximize men, money, materials, moments, movement, and momentum. If you have had basic managerial training and financial intelligence, the present-day reality of mass unemployment and frequent global economic crisis makes it very necessary that while in school, and after school, a young person should acquire more than one skill outside his area of certification.
I know of a young man who studied banking and finance who is now a caterer. In fact, I secured a contract for him to prepare meals for attendances during a seminar I ran for a company and he made some money that enabled him to start a small business.
The recent economic crisis in Nigeria, with the resultant non-payment of workers’ salaries, brought the issue of skills people need to acquire to earn extra income outside their areas of certification to the front burner. Moreover, a certificate that cannot feed you is as good as toilet paper.
A career is that activity, vocation, employment, or business that takes your time, money, and energy for which you get paid, and is usually tailored towards meeting societal and personal needs. You can be a career soldier, civil servant, clergyman, lecturer etc.
Careers are, also, not sentences; they are a means to an end. The end is fulfillment and contribution to societal development and personal needs. Nowadays, we talk more of career paths and less of career as a sentence, railroad, or life task. An example is a prince, who is an heir-apparent to the throne; the final destination is to be a king, but he might pass through being a lawyer, certified as a public administrator or even own a poultry farm and transport company, but he will end up as king. Even as a king, he can still be involved in several other businesses.
Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former Nigerian Head of State, started as a career soldier, became a farmer, educationalist, politician, and he is involved in several other ventures.
The market place is the arena of social interaction, where values are exchanged and traded. Life is an exchange of values. Even when you got born-again, as a Christian, you exchanged the value you attached to the pleasures of sin for the value you have for eternal life. When you backslide and deliberately go into sin, you exchange the value you have for the sacrifice of Christ on Calvary for the pleasures of sin. In life, everything has a cost price and an opportunity cost. Nothing is free in life. Somebody paid for your salvation.
The medium of exchange of values in the market place is cash. In Money is an Idiot, I say that money has no religion, it is colour-blind, does not respect looks, age, sex, or educational background. When you are able to give people value, they are ready to exchange it for cash.
Cash flow is the quantity and rate of flow of cash into or out of your account. It might have a negative or positive balance. For you to have a positive cash flow, your rate of inflow must be considerably more than your rate of outflow. You must, therefore, regulate and limit the rate of outflow from your accounts and increase the rate of inflow.
The irony is that those that have more inflow and less outflow will always get richer. For you to have a positive cash flow into your accounts, you must provide:
- Solutions to people’s needs
- Specialized knowledge
- Skills that people are ready to pay for
You, also, must have:
- Trading in the stock market
- Multiple streams of income
- Strategic thinking
- Structures for generating and multiplying the wealth
- Systematic generation and accumulation of wealth.
However, for you to reduce the out flow you must:
- Have a saving culture founded on frugality
- Live a simple lifestyle
For you to chart a career path, you must define some basic things about your life:
- What kind of life do you want to live and what legacy do you want to leave behind?
- Who are you as a person?
- What natural abilities do you have?
- What dislikes do you have?
- What is it that excites you?
- What are you most excited about?
- Where are you now and what path would you take to reach your destination?
If your father has a thriving business, common sense requires that you study something that will be relevant to it or diversify it in order to sustain the family business. However, if you are a first-generation African, you must look for a practical way to get to your destination.
I studied to become a medical doctor because it was easier for me to break the yoke of poverty faster by earning a considerably higher salary than my mates. Secondly, it was easier for me to be self-employed early and earn income from more than one place. I also decided, very early, that I was not going to be a professor of medicine. I concentrated early to acquire skills that would make me an effective general practitioner. I had set a deadline at the age of forty to stop practice and start another career path. I had always detested working for people or the government, hence, I opened my first clinic at 29 years of age. I started early to define my life. One major problem with very many young people is that they have not defined what they want out of life, only what is defined can be refined.
- You must define what you have of sale value at each stage of your life—2 Kings 4:2 (AMP)
We are all sellers either of our time, energy or skills. The most traded commodity is time; hence, you are paid per hour in advanced economies.
This irony is that when you are perceived useless to yourself and the company, they retire you. So, if you want to be a civil servant. you must plan in advance what you can invest in, during your retirement, to maintain a steady cash flow.
I had also decided that I would not want to physically work for money in my old age. So, from now, at 57, I don’t need to work before I get cash flow, because from the age of forty, I had set some things in motion that are yielding money even if I don’t go to work.
- You must ask yourself some searching questions like, “What opportunities exist in your generation and your locality?”
In my youthful stage it was medical practice, the civil service and the military that were big opportunities, but today opportunities have changed. Things are more of the creative sectors, information technology, and sports.
Nobody took musicians seriously in those days. Nobody wanted to take theater arts seriously, then, not to mention comedy. If you told your parents, then, that you wanted to be a footballer, they will dissuade you. If a young man gains admission into a medical school, today, and has a chance to play football for Chelsea or Manchester United, he will prefer to go play football. The fashion industry is paying more today than before. Mudi Africa, a fashion magnate, earns more than many medical doctors and lawyers.
- You must fix deadlines in your career path.
The Bible enjoins us to ask God to “teach us to number our days aright so as to apply our hearts to wisdom”. That means that you must segment your age, deadlines, and the expectations you hope to reach. It also means you must know when one phase is over. However, be ready to make adjustments as plans shouldn’t be rigid.
- What is your exit plan?
What is your plan on how will you exit your present job and location?
I started as a medical doctor; I became a pastor; I stopped running a church after two years and became a member in the church I started. Today, I run a private school and I am an author of several books I was mainly involved in traveling ministry, but as I am getting older and my wife is usually alone at home, I want to travel less and settle down more to manage the school.
I have acquired a large amount of land for a tertiary institution, where I hope to go into farming also. I want to spend my old age in that school in a very rural environment.
As a young person, there are skills you need to acquire apart from your certification.
- Basic and specials skills in your immediate field of study.
- Communication skills: (a) Negotiation skills (b) Interpersonal relation skills.
- Passion and appetite for excellence and the great life:
- Start early—anything you want to do or become.
- Have the spirit of punctuality.
- Go out when it is still dark.
- Have a hunger for relevant information and how to analyze and maximize them.
- Run ahead of your challenges and generation.
Many young people don’t think ahead of their generation. I looked at my lecturers in the university and the lives of my senior colleagues in private medical practice and I noticed that they needed to work into old age and they had no free time for themselves. When I stopped medical practice and sold the hospital, some people called me a madman; others called me a religious bigot, but they were not seeing what I was seeing. I wanted a career path that would take me to a destination where others would work for me and I will mostly provide a leadership role.
When I gave out the church I started, to become a member in that same church, many looked at me as an unsuccessful pastor, but I have learnt to leave what is expiring to what is inspiring. I wanted to run conferences and specialize in capacity-building. Today, my conferences are big, but that church is still small. I earn more from public-speaking than pastoring a church. Even though ministry is not about money, people are willing to bless you when you are a blessing. I don’t have the stress of church committee antagonism, but we have a great structure, at least, on ground.
Don’t get stuck in a boring and uninspiring job because that is what you studied.
You must set a pace for yourself. Determine your speed; don’t compete with people, but develop your unique brand and style. Create a space for yourself. Most people cluster together; as much as it is good for buying and selling, in some cases you need to identify a space and place where your vision and career can attract sufficient patronage and cash flow. Rev. Sunday Adelaja created his space in Ukraine; Rev. Mathew Ashimolowo created his space in London; Bishop David Oyedepo created his space in Kaduna before moving to Lagos. Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world, had an immigrant father from the middle east into Mexico—that was his space. Ughelli, Delta, and Nigeria constitute my space and I love it.
In your life, develop the spirit of attention to what is most important in enhancing your career path. The time to celebrate is not now. There are several things that will distract you intellectually, financially, and spiritually. Learn to focus on your business and career. I come to my office early and leave late. You most avoid too many friends and fantasies when you are building your career from scratch; give your time to only those who will enhance your future.
When I started, I had more books than shoes and I had no suits, but today, clothes are not one of my needs.
You must cultivate the attitude of going beyond what has been the best. Have the mindset that you will leave every person or situation or place better than you met it.
You must have a mindset, that in everything you do, people will feel your presence and essence and notice your absence. This is the gradient that gravitates cash in your direction.
If cash must flow in your direction, you must love your work and love to work hard in the beginning of your business or career. A lot of hard work is involved, but as you grow in it, more of smart work comes into play. Then, you harness the strength of people smarter than you. One of the ways to get rich is to hire people smarter than you in various fields. That’s why you can be an economist or study history and own an Airline or a car manufacturing company. You must learn to think out of the box of your certification.
What will bring cash into your hands might be what semi-illiterates are currently not doing well. Pick it up, repackage it, and make money. But you must shut the door of your mind against mockery and negative comments. This will involve adaptability and the determination to upgrade and repackage yourself. Many people have fixed mindsets concerning their careers and businesses.
The world is continually changing; even in the same career, things move very fast. You must learn to move ahead of your generation or, at least, keep pace with them.
No matter your career, save regularly; in fact, punish your appetites when you are young so that you can build a financial base that will help you start something else in the future.
I was in a poultry farm owned by a couple that works in the oil industry. They have three units of the business; one of them I visited had 50,000 broilers. It has a very modern slaughter that processes chicken and they also have another unit that has a hatchery in another village. The third segment has several thousands of layers that produce eggs.
I also know of an accountant in an oil firm that owns a firm that sells building materials. They specialize in the sales of Jacuzzis, special toilet facilities, and wall tiles. Their certificates and careers did not become sentences because they had a financial base to start with. There are people of the same office with them that squander the same salaries this brother saved.
Finally, you must pray to God to bring people across your life that will bring:
- Positive ideas
- A Platform to stand
- People who are performance enhancers and promoters.