What do people like Ram Charan, Steven Covey, Robert Greene, Brian Tracy, Malcolm Gladwell, etc have in common? Honestly, I don’t know. What is certain is that they all earn thousands of United States Dollars from speaking engagements. Serious business leaders listen to them! Why would a serious business man pay to listen to individuals with no reputation for success in any particular business?
The above question was the object of attention of The Watcher throughout this month. Yes I left the matter of goats et al and focussed on why another man would pay another simply to listen to them. It is no coincidence that religious leaders are some of the wealthiest people in the world, yet they seem not to be “doing” any particular work apart from talking!
Suddenly, The Watcher decided to charge people to listen to him and he made nine thousand naira in a beer parlour on a single Saturday. And this is not a Victoria Island beer parlour.
As The Watcher was glorying in the few cents he made, MTN ran an advert for Ram Charan. This is a world-renowned business advisor, author and speaker that The Watcher has followed for years. Alas! The speaking engagement is only by “Invitation.” You know that feel? Who is doing the invitation? MTN? Are they rewarding their premium customers (I presume most to be politicians!) or do they seriously want to engender original business thinking in Nigeria by bringing Ram? Questions and more... Pronto I invited myself to the event. What I heard and saw is the object of another piece.
According to a 2007 article in the CNN money magazine, Fortunes, Ram Charan is the most influential consultant alive. The article goes further to say that “What he does is hard to describe. But the most powerful CEOs love it enough to keep him on the road 24/7.” Ram has a house but had never lived there as at 2007 (too busy to go to his own house). Ram, who was a tenured professorship at Boston University, is described as: “not a consultant –so much as a guru, a corporate sage, with unparalleled access to boardrooms across the globe and intimate, enduring relationships with an array of powerful CEOs.”
His CEO clients include Jack Welch, formerly of GE; Dick Harrington of Thomson Corp; and Verizon's Ivan Seidenberg. Former Citicorp CEO John Reed described Ram as being like your conscience.
Do businesses need consciences? In Nigeria? If The Watcher decide to live on the strength of his advice to business owners, will he be able to afford bread? Would these business owners, who feel they know it all, not insist that advisors prove themselves by showing them the businesses the advisors own?
Men like Ram Charan and Steven Covey, who provide strategic direction to businesses, are akin to the priesthood in religious circles. Their words are holy. And like religious priests, the corporate priest must have deep local knowledge for his advice to be apt. He needs clarity of vision that is uncommon –attributes that The Watcher possesses and he uses to solve problems in beer parlours! If Nigerian corporate priests can preach the undiluted gospel of a winning strategy that creates true wealth without wheeling and dealing, then the average person would have hope. When the private sector is fixed, then we are certain that one day even the public sector would be fixed.
To fix Nigeria is no longer a task we can leave to the dictate of government. Nigeria is projected to be the third most populous country in the world after China and India by the year 2100. This is a mere 87 years away.
The Watcher would therefore be sharing wealth tips for free – ok – for readers who have paid!
A major indicator for business success in an African setting that is steeped in cultural values is that personal qualities that brew success and must mirror corporate values for corporate success. A business does not need too much innovation to thrive in a high growth environment like ours. They only need to differentiate themselves by being true to certain values to demonstrate superior character. These values would naturally attract and retain customers for them because their competition would most likely be devoid of these values.
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