Goals of An African Teenager
When I meet with friends or former colleagues they always ask a variant of a number of questions that revolves around my making really hard decisions that seem crazy at the time.
Why is an Engineer working at PricewaterhouseCoopers?
Why did you leave PwC?
Why did you leave Canada for Nigeria after just buying a home ?
Why did you leave your dream Job working for Microsoft ?
Why did you leave ExxonMobil ?
The Exxon one was the hardest decision but resigning from Microsoft, leaving Canada, renting my home and. heading back to Nigeria was the most impulsive.
The answer is simple when I was 15 I had really big dreams, I set a goal and decided I will do everything possible to achieve it, no matter how seemingly difficult it. becomes……For me achieving the goal of starting a business became my “Pursuit of Happiness”.
I had learnt how to write code at 12 and over the next couple of years knew I had to do something with computers. So right after high school in 1996 I wrote the 1st draft. and then finalized it over an 8 month period.
My final first goal set in 1996 was:
I want to setup a Computer/Electronics retailing/production Company in 15 years that would be my means of living.
- I must go to university
- In 2nd year I must have registered by Company
- In 2nd year I must also have registered for my ICAN (Chartered Accountant)
- Go for my Master’s in either Computer Engineering or Electrical / Electronics or an MBA
- Do stockbroking exam b4 Masters
- Have my car by 2008
- Have a computer of my own by 2003
I made updates in 2003 prior to applying to grad school to. reinforce the fact that the goal was still valid, unachieved and. to update the timing. More importantly it was a wake up call not to forget them as I started making plans to move to North America.
So more on the goals…..Going to University and Grad School was important to get the knowledge required for my “Computer Business”. It was a no brainer. Times have changed but school is still really important in Africa. I am a proponent of getting an undergrad degree before venturing out to the world even though one of my favorite latin proverbs translated is. “Fortune favors the bold” but “safety net” never hurt anybody.
I recognized early on that “business skills” are necessary to run a business and just being an engineer isn’t enough, hence I went to work at. PricewaterhouseCoopers to get varied experience and skills. I really didn’t have to go all the way to be a Chartered accountant or get an MBA as anyone who has worked for a Big 4 firm knows the amount of work you get done in the early years is insane, second only to Investment banking.
Capital is very important for every business and my thoughts were if I traded stocks as a stockbroker, I would generate the initial funds to get the business of the ground. I started buying shares in Public companies in Nigeria when I was 15. The first stock I bought was Triple Gee’s IPO and next was Standard Bank’s final divestment from First Bank. Today I am invested in a number of startups and made the ones in 2 Y Combinator startups.
I knew what an IPO, Divestment, MBA etc was back then, these are not things a teenager should be thinking about 🙂
So there you go I went from a 15 year old African child with the biggest dreams to Enterprenuer interviewed by Forbes by just setting goals, never changing them, trusting that whatever I was thinking back then would. guide me towards happiness…….well that’s the only part I got wrong as a 15 year old……. there is no such thing as being happy as an entrepreneur….It’s highs, lows and higher expectations 🙂.
I missed the target on some of the goals but still kept working at them. The original sheet of paper I wrote my goals on is in the pic below………A goal not written down is merely a wish.