Friday, April 20, 2012


There's a very delightful, inspiring video that I watch every few days or so to help keep me on track creatively and in general. It's titled "29 Ways To Stay Creative".

This creator of this visual masterpiece, To-Fu Designs, compiles a list of quirky yet TRUE, sincere and accurate ways to get creative juices flowing. It is also doubles as legitimate instructions for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs. Aside from some of it's more frivolous suggestions like the one  that prompts us to  'sing in the shower' or 'read a page of the dictionary', if followed, the rest can help to make and sustain a successful entrepreneur. This list represents a culmination of all the lessons an aspiring entrepreneur could/should learn in order to carry out their various entrepreneurial endeavours.

1     - MAKE LISTS




5     - QUIT BEATING YOURSELF UP                       





10    - BE OPEN



13    - COLLABORATE                                           

14    - DON'T GIVE UP                                           






20  - TAKE RISKS (Sometimes I feel like I need to do something drastic, that is, make the biggest, most risky leap; not considering whether or not or how hard I fall - just to break my dependence on the safe side of life. In truth, as I have mentioned before, the would-be quality of my work suffers because I tend to not be willing to break the mold and tackle things that I normally deem too risky or 'not done'. Still a work-in-progress though...

21   - BREAK THE RULES                                   




25   - STOP TRYING TO BE SOMEONE ELSE'S PERFECT (It's true that some of us *points to self* sometimes only see ourselves in relation to others. We try our best sometimes to live up to others' standards and kill ourselves trying to impress others. I have news though..... we will NEVER in our lifetimes be satisfied with ourselves or our work if we aim to please anyone but ourselves first.



28  - HAVE FUN


Young Entrepreneurs Interview Series - Part Deux

I mentioned earlier that I went to the YEA expo last semester and met some of the young entrepreneurs.
The lovely ladies that own and operate the nascent pastry and beverage manufacturing company, Coffee Connoisseurs, have obliged me by allowing me to interview them. So, we cozied up one Sunday afternoon on one of the benches in the lovely breezeway of the Mona School of Business and proceeded with our honest and open conversation - one of a few which gave me a real insight into the daily struggles and triumphs of young entrepreneurs in Jamaica.

Dian Campbell and Sharon Thompson are both inspired, inspiring visionaries who got an idea and leaped at it. As anticipated, their journey to success is still a rough one (complete with physical and financial setbacks and lack of support from the government, to name a few)- but they are determined to " it the right way".

I've put together a snippet of what they had to say...

Accounting & Finance REDUX: Making Sense out of Dollars & Cents


I was made to sit through a fast-track session on accounting, complete with spreadsheets, profits, losses, blah blah... all that good stuff.

You know, there's a reason I'm in the humanities and NOT in the Social Sciences, Pure and Applies Sciences, etc. That's because I've done the the whole accounts thing way back in high school, but failed quite miserably. It is to be noted that I failed miserably not because I'm not smart or numerically inclined, but because I had woken up one day and decided that this is something that seemed slightly intimidating and I simply was just NOT going to even try to tackle it. Afterall, I had just gotten the hang of Math, and this was just gonna dampen my mood.
So I did away with it.

NOW, I'm being made to face it again. I'm having to eat the words "...screw this...I'll never have to do accounts in my life". This time, there isn't the option of whether or not I'm gonna try. Knowledge of accounting at even the most basic stage is so important to entrepreneurs with new or existing businesses - big or small. Keeping all expenses, expenditures, profits, losses, cashflow, and that whole shebang under close watch is a necessary evil for people like me who cringe at the very thought of it. IT MUST BE DONE.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Young Entrepreneurs Interview Series - Part 1

I dragged my friend and made a trek out to the Wyndham Kingston Hotel one Sunday afternoon last semester to check out the annual Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica expo that was put on by a company called Value Added Services. I must admit, 'twas a fun outing, but not very exciting and even less inspiring for an upcoming/wannabe entrepreneur (me). It was what I would call a "dry" event. However, I did get to meet a few young entrepreneurs, who I would later on consider to contact for my research documentary project.

I had the pleasure a few weeks ago, while attending one of my entrepreneurship class sessions, of hearing the President of the Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica and CEO of Value Added Service speak on entrepreneurship. He spoke quite eloquently and was very convincing, inspiring, and all around impressive. I thought: "...this must be fate...all these people are crossing my path, so I HAVE to do something with this". Sooooooooooo...... I tracked him and some of these young entrepreneurs down in an effort to pry some information from them.The result is a bunch of interview footage that I broke down and put into my research documentary.

I really don't see myself uploading the entire documentary, so I have put together a few of these interviews for my blog series. Nevermind the unsavoury background noises and the pseudo bad quality of the video. The weather forced us into positions we never intended to go for this interview, but the show had to go on. So,

Here goes......

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I'll be the first to admit that I have no business doing 'official', formal business.
I've always consoled, rather, excused myself from learning anything about business and finance with the
notion that "I'm an artist" and engaging in business would corrupt my art. (Drama queen over here... I know)

I always sit and daydream about making films, running a production company and all that jazz. I'm usually confronted very soon after, however, by the thought of having to get corporate support for any of these projects.

"A painful fact of life and business is that you NEED corporate support. Without it you cannot function for long or go very far

Wise but very brash and painful words from Mr. Robert Davis, delivered in our little entrepreneurship finance class presentation recently. At first, I was quite weary of having to sit in a 3hr presentation of what I thought would be some finance person filling our heads with false hope about where we can get money to finance our projects. I thought this guy had the hard task of speaking his message louder than the ear-filling chatter about there not being any money or opportunities for us and blah blah blah. I tuned in anyhow.

The looming question that was at the forefront of everyone's minds was WHERE IS,WHO HAS, AND HOW DO WE GET THE MONEY?                                                

All was not lost though. Got some good knowledge going forward.

1. The first lesson in wrestling (read: business) is learning how to fall. Falling is inevitable, so before we learn how to 'play the game' - learn how to fall.

I must admit that the very idea of failing and facing disappointments cripples me. As a result of this, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I would prefer to tuck myself away in a nice comfortable corner in life rather than take a risks and being disappointed. Bit by bit, though, I am training myself to think and act otherwise for the sake of living my "best life" (word to Oprah). Davis encouraged us to expect failures and rejections and strengthen ourselves emotionally to continue pushing on.
Stay tuned......

2. You will never achieve higher than you believe.

You must first believe in your own project for potential sponsors to believe in you or it.

3. Act to minimize pain and maximize pleasure.

One of the very basic needs in a human's life is 'pleasure'.This can be applied to every facet of life, including business. In making any deal, doing any venture, convincing anyone to sponsor your project or buy your product or service - make sure to dish candy for the eyes, ears and mind dammit! Make sure you pitch your ideas or projects to the right people though.

4. You have ONE CHANCE to impress
First impressions last, we've all come to realize... and they don't take but more than a minute to be made! This is true in life and in business. This reality, I must admit, is nerve-racking for a metaphorical nail-biter like myself [read: occasional performance anxiety like a bitch!]. Anyway, if you, like myself, can manage to hold it together for 5 mins. you can show that you really believe in your project, and that it works for THEM.

Robert mentioned that we should try to start from the top down when dealing with these corporate entities, because trying to get past these haughty, supercilious 'gatekeepers' could prove to be an impossible task.
So.... find someone at the top, get a business 'Godfather', make them an offer they "cannot refuse" and GET THAT CHEESE!!!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Crazy Ones...and a Documentary

I'm going to start this thing off by saying that I still haven't found my much needed blogging 'voice', albeit having written a few entries here and there over the years. So, we meet awkwardly, again.

Speaking of being at a loss for words... I completely forgot to mention in the inaugural entry, the fact that I had been working on doing a documentary on young people and entrepreneurship in Jamaica for my final research project. I just wanted to highlight and celebrate those who have chosen to take 'that other road' I spoke about earlier. Those "crazy ones" (word to Steve Jobs) who give a big fat middle finger to the status quo and make something happen for themselves.

I decided to completely emerse myself into the world of entrepreneurism in an effort to gain as much knowledge as I can about it, while hoping that somehow some of that 'special stuff' that these courageous souls possess would rub off on me. Honestly, I am more interested in the latter than anything else *tee hee*.

This production of this documentary, that happens to be running concurrently with my entrepreneurial skills course, is a way for me to get a sneak peak into what it takes to do that stuff and to get the chance to get my Michael Moore on and pick at a couple of these brains.

There is so much more to the entrepreneur-oriented (a legitimate phrase in my world) mind than I ever expected there to be. What I thought before was just sheer luck and the right amount of money and influence turned out to be (in most cases) a wicked cocktail of qualities that one would have to take a sip in order to run a venture successfully, or even have the gall to try.

I'm gonna go ahead and end this with a short, yet piercing speech thing that Steve Jobs gave, in all his Steve Jobs goodness.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ken Nnebue: Father of Nolllywood


here is a much used and slightly cliché saying that goes “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. This has been the metaphor used to describe the modus operandi of many entrepreneurially and otherwise successful persons across the world. Many famous, infamous, influential and very well respected media and communications moguls such as Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Silvio Berlusconi and even the very late William Randolph Hearst, in some way or another, have been noted to have formed their empires out of seemingly abject and sometimes sordid circumstances. Nevertheless, whether by divine intervention, sheer luck, opportunity or intense effort – these entrepreneurs have made names for themselves for sustaining very lucrative businesses, while setting standards and creating blueprints for younger aspiring media practitioners and business owners around the world.
Kenneth Nnebue, a Nigerian born and raised video store salesman had a consignment of imported blank cassettes in his video store stock for which he thought he had no use. His first instinct was to attempt to sell them, and he tried, but to no avail - because at the time there was no market for such an item. Nnebue, pondering on what he could do to get rid of the blank tapes, came up with the idea of putting some kind of content on the tape in order to make them more appealing to people. This enquiry on his part led him using that resource - which was those tapes, to record a ‘home movie’ titled ‘Living In Bondage’ in 1992. The expectedly low-budget film chronicled the actions of a man who kills his wife as a ritualistic act to gain wealth and power, but is tormented when she returns as a ghost to haunt him. It was an entertaining mix of comedy, drama, suspense and of the supernatural.
This venture on his part yeilded in the sale of some 750,000 copies of his movie across Africa. He, under his production company, NEK Links, had overseen the making of up to ten of the most popular and most lucrative home video films like ‘Glamour Girls’, ‘The Maid’, ‘True Confession’ and ‘Lost To Lust’. He had enjoyed the dominance over the entire industry until the idea was adopted by others. Kenneth Nnebue today is considered by many in Nigeria to have given birth to the now explosive Nollywood Industry – the third largest film industry behind the likes of The United States of America and India and its famous ‘Bollywood’ movement (Ogbor, 2009).
Nigeria currently has a $250 million US dollar movie industry, producing an appoximated amount of 200 home movies per month, which is a cultural staple within households in the country and among the diaspora. This industry was born out of an era full of odds where film-making was an extremely elitist activity with back-breaking production costs, the images that were being disseminated were either from a colonial standpoint or from an Indian or Oriental feed, and where the government had been putting some restrictions on their beloved theatre industry.    
Nnebue’s sense of innovation behind this particular venture is seen in the fact that no other product like this was in existence at the time and there was an absolute need for people to have a tangible representation of a cultural staple at the time which was their beloved ‘street theatre’ in their homes, schools, and other public forums.
What is intrinsic of the entrepreneurial practices of some of the aforementioned media tycoons is their determination, adaptability, and their ongoing innovativeness that is absolutely necessary for the sustainability of the products or services they offer. Steve Jobs for example, up until his death, constantly sought to upgrade his products to suit the ever changing market and needs of his consumers. On the other hand, Nnebue, although he showed some traits or attributes of a person who was poised to become a very successful entrepreneur, seemingly failed to remain as resourceful and innovative as he was years after he made his first couple of films.
Regrettably, there is not much to be said about or much said by Nnebue’s personality or personal life, as he has managed quite well to remain ‘under the radar’. There doesn’t even seem to be any record of any direct quotes from the mogul pertaining to his thought process or reasoning behind making the moves he did. Many of the most successful moguls have been able to pass on the knowledge of how they did the things they did and what type of mindset is necessary to follow in their footsteps. Nnebue, although it was not completely necessary, failed to do this. As a matter of fact, I may be able to deduce from his actions or lack thereof after the release of his first film to corner the market by copyrighting his works and ensuring that he received full credit for his invention, that he was quite heedless to making any long term goals in the industry. I do not think that he remained quiet because he was a ‘private person’ like many wealthy moguls claim to be, or that he is simply shy. I do believe, however, that he may have been outsourced, overpowered, and forced outside of the very lane he had created for himself with this venture. This is an absolute shortcoming on his part, and is strongly recommended against in entrepreneurship or business on the whole.
Nonetheless, his initial vision, curiosity  and appetite for risk-taking allowed him to open the door for many other Nigerians who have taken to making their own living through the home movie industry within the country and other places on the African continent like Kenya and Ghana. Nnebue showed how salesmanship-oriented  he was when he was able to spot an opportunity to diversify or shift his stock in order to appeal to the masses and maximize his profits – if even on a short term basis. Although he is not currently ‘sitting’ on an empire, he has under his belt a wealth of movies to show, experience, and great respect for showing that entrepreneurial vision that has sparked a movement so great in his country that will enable economic stability for years to come.
The business of film in general, and home movies in this case, is plagued with problems of copyright infringement and extreme levels of piracy. It  is then understandable how the revenues for the film-makers like Nnebue who have churned out a number of films over the past years which have recorded staggering amounts of viewership, have not met its full potential. The ‘bootlegging’ phenomenon, coupled with the oversaturation of the home movie market, has put would-be wealthy entrepreneurs at a disadvantage where they are able to produce their own features but have to suffer seeing others profit from their work without prosecution or compensation.
The state of the home movie industry in Nigeria now, is such that the market is absolutely flooded with films that portray the same themes, have the same actors and actresses, filmed at the same locations, and are sold at the same price. It is a long cry from being in the ranks of innovative for this fact. However, it is not impossible for avenues to be opened up from which something new and fresh can emerge, just like it did at the inception of the home movies. The attributes then, that would be necessary for maintaining this hypothetical business successfully, that Nnebue may not have had a chance to combine to create a lucrative long term business for himself would include:
·        Focus
·        Adaptability (to the market, the societal surroundings and the economic climate, for example.)
·        Problem solving ability
·        Resoursefulness, and
·        Continued innovativeness - to name a few.
Kenneth Nnebue is admired today not for having a longstanding, lucrative, business and for building or creating his own tremendously wealthy empire – but for being curious, innovative and risk-taking in his quest to make a decent living. These traits had enabled him to act upon a simple idea which has sparked a movement that has spread widely across Africa – and changing the face of digital media and its consumption in Nigeria.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On Risk-Taking...

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I... 
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference".

I remember reading this Robert Frost poem called 'The Road Not Taken' way back in sixth form and thinking nothing of it for the simple fact that it was one of the many 'chores' that had to be endured as a requirement for the completion of that dreaded programme.

"Roads, woods, travelled...blah blah blah"
*nods off*

It wasn't until I was sitting in my Entrepreneurship Skills class last Wednesday night that it popped back into my head. [insert cheesy W. Clement Stone self-help mumbo jumbo about verbal repetition affecting your subconscious mind here] 
We were made to consider good entrepreneurial traits.
So I counted them down:

Curiosity .....*check*
Innovativeness...... *check*
Balance..... *check*
RISK TAKING? .......


There is no thought more cringe-worthy for me than of travelling down "the road not taken".My complete abhorrence towards the idea of climb mountains, bungee jumping, or riding roller coasters should be enough to concrete my own thought  that the bane of my existence is a RISK. I admit that I have  always allowed myself to be curious, but never to the point of wandering into the unknown or the unsure - which is a deep-seated, crippling fear of mine.
Not many people know about my desires to become a film-maker. I've kept it mum, honestly, because Jamaica is not necessarily a mecca for this type of activity - and FAILING publicly at gaining access into the industry, I believe, would be the worst thing to have happened to me. I HATE FAILING!

This is where my attachment to comfort and security comes into play. Committing to my career plans B and C, which incite less passion, but are notably less rigid and risky.

However....... The buck stops HERE. Notwithstanding the seeming lack of existence of my 'Fearless Gene', I have realized that a risk is a necessary evil in life and I have to embrace the natural God-given appetite for it.
This 'road' called entrepreneurship involves placing your ideas and dreams before people, risking ridicule. But risks must be taken, because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
I am curious to see what 'difference' this will make in my personal and professional life. It's time to