Thursday, 25 August 2011

To the Graduating Class of 2011

Dear Graduate,
I know this message is a little belated, but let me take this opportunity to be the first to congratulate you on your great achievement. It is another milestone in your life that must be carved in stone with the words, “We Came, We Toiled, We Graduated”. The road was definitely not easy at times the journey was rough, the humps were too high and the potholes too deep yet you tarried on. Finally you can forget about the books for a while, never sit through the lecturers you loathed and bury the Fs because this is your moment to savour.
When you held that coveted degree and raised that cap high, you declared to the world that you are ready and all we can do is await your greatness. We welcome you into another world of opportunities and for many of you the unwelcome title of Job Seeker has been bestowed upon you. This is a truth that many will deny. It is every graduates dream to find a job immediately after graduating and the very fortunate few actually do. Sadly, the majority will have to send tonnes of applications, attend to tens of interviews and continue to wait for that prized call. Therefore, this is my advice and encouragement to you.
The reality of being a job seeker will probably sink into you about a month after graduation when you have not received a call for an interview. The daily newspapers are a job seeker’s best friend. No other day has more jobs than a Monday. Try by all means to look at all three daily newspapers namely The Post, Daily Mail and Times of Zambia. The reason is that some employers only chose to advertise in one newspaper and not all three. Do not rely on your friends to tell you about jobs in the papers if they too are looking for jobs. They will probably tell you about it after the deadline has passed, so it is your own duty.
When you look at job advertisements apply for positions that you think are close to your qualification or think you can do. Do not fall into the trap of disqualifying yourself before the recruiters do it. The bottom line is that you have nothing to loose and everything to gain. My rule of thumb is as long as it does not exceed three years work experience, go ahead and apply for it. Send, send and send.
                There are some of you who are going to be offered jobs that you believe are not worth taking. Think twice before you turn it down. Many have done that and have roamed the streets far longer than they anticipated. So what if you are taken to the rural areas, so what if you don’t get to go to Manda Hill or the position is lower than what you expected. It is always easier to change jobs when you are working than the other way around. If you know that your CV is not strong enough to enable you to get another opportunity do not make the mistake of being too choosy. Acquire the experience any way you can and then you may have the luxury to selecting where you work.
                One of the most challenging times is when you begin to hear you friends getting employed while nothing seems to be coming your way. You begin to question whether you studied the right programme, is there a curse on you? Is there some sin you committed or it is time for corruption. Whatever, you do do not lose hope. I advise you to keep busy volunteer, start a business, network, ignite a talent, or study a short course. Try to keep doing something no matter how small. Eventually you will get there; it is only a matter of time.
                Finally, to every graduate the world is full of opportunities that wait to be taken. Opportunities will not come shouting your name, it is for you to seek them out and grab them. Find your own path and follow it. The road your friend travels is not yours to follow but theirs. Take chances, do not be afraid of risks, always learn and build your networks. When your stories are told of how you became CEOs, Entrepreneurs, Consultants, Inventors, Innovators, Philanthropists, Directors and every position in between, we shall always say, “They belong to the Graduating class of 2011.” We await you.

Yours Faithfully,
Former Job Seeker.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Who Let The Presidents Out?

By now you should have known that presidential nominations for the forthcoming 20 September 2011 elections were filed last week. You should have known this unless you have been living in a cave for the last couple of months or you care less about what happens in this nation. At which point your ignorance can be excused. There were 10 presidential candidates who successfully filed in their nominations even though I was only expecting three. I am still wondering where on earth the excess baggage come from.

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) had earlier announced that there were 17 candidates who were going to file in nominations. I thought to myself what manner of madness am I bearing witness to. I know this is a democratic nation and it is their right to stand for presidency but some of them needed to be slapped back to their senses. There were parties of all kind of names and manifestos. Some had manifestos that they were a youth party, so what? While some borrowed ideas from their grade 12 history class of Karl Marx. I thought the ECZ did an injustice by lowering the nomination fee from K20 million to K10 million. In fact I had hoped that they would have actually increased it to some colossal sum like K50 million to get rid of the chaff.

When the filing in of nominations was drawing to a close I breathed a sigh of relief when I learnt that seven candidates had dropped out. Even though they gave pathetic excuses that they had decided to support another particular party instead or that they opted to stand not in these elections but the next ones. Duh so you only realised this on the day you were supposed to lodge in your nominations get serious? The fact of the matter is that some where just plain broke, could not salvage the necessary 200 supporters not even relatives were willing and some just wanted free publicity. Therefore, we were left with the inconvenience of only seven others.

I mean let’s be honest here there are only 3 candidates with a realistic chance of winning the elections. I would bet my arm on that one. My question to the other candidates is mwenze kuti? When the other three candidates were busy campaigning and talking about each other only falling short of ‘Yo Momma’ jokes where were you? I did not see any rallies, I did not hear you on radio, apart from the occasional short appearance in The Post Newspaper you were nowhere. In fact you would have gone to Russia for 10 years and I wouldn’t have noticed you were missing.

My point is that it is time some of our presidential candidates realised that they are just not popular enough, or they were not blessed with the charisma to get people like me voting for them. The sooner they put down those motivational books with clich├ęd titles like ‘It Is Always Possible,’ ‘Dream Big,’ or ‘You Are A Winner’ the better it will be for the rest of us. There may be some genuine high caliber candidates among the excess seven but these as well need to get dirty and work for the presidency. The eloquent rhetoric bombardilistic words are not for this bloke. Get back to the grind and let us enjoy the real 3 presidential candidates talk about national issues and each other as I wait for a ‘Yo Momma’ joke to come out of one of them.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Why We Love Investing in Houses

Over the last couple of years I have had chats with my fellow friends and family about their future plans. There is one thing that I have come to discover, regardless of what point in their life they are at whether student, job seeker, or employed the majority aspire to be entrepreneurs one day. When I decided to probe further about what sort of investments they would make I can safely say that over 90% of them stated “To buy houses and put them on rent.” Now this default response has somehow always baffled me. How is it that over 90% of young people have the same investment plans for the future?
                I have often pondered how this almost universal investment plan came to be. Is purchasing a house the right investment plan? Is buying houses for investment in our syllabus and I just missed that class? Or can we blame it on the enticing sky rocketing rental prices? I have done by own research even though I should admit it is not scientific and I have come up with certain theories to explain this phenomenon among us.
                The one logical theory that seems to stick out plainly in all this chain of thought is that we are LAZY. We are a lazy bunch that fails to think of innovative business ideas, write a business plan, jump into the deep end and take the risk and lazy to break sweat or a nail. The reason we want to buy houses in Kabulonga, Roma, Ibex Hill and all the suburbs so we can put on rent is because collecting rent is very easy. All you have to do is wait for the month end and expect the cash to hit your account. There is nothing easier than that except for a few tenants who do not seem to obey this simple rule. This laziness has crippled the brilliant minds that fail to see beyond putting houses on rent as a way to earn a living. Why can’t we think of developing software to rival Windows 7, a gadget to surpass the iPad, the next Subway or a hospital with the luxury of Sun Hotel? Perhaps such ideas require someone to actually sit down and think, I guess that is too much work for most of us.
                The Me-Too Syndrome is really killing us. We are becoming carbon-copies of the next person. Simply because you saw an Altezza on the road you also want one, just because your neighbour is selling chickens you also want to do the same, if your cousin goes to South Africa to buy clothes you are also going to hop onto a bus to do the same. This Me-Too syndrome has also sadly sipped into the investment plans of our generation. Just because we heard from someone somewhere that they are making money by renting out their houses so we figured there is enough space to jump onto that band wagon. Whenever, I attempt to state that buying houses and putting them on rent may not be the best investment plan the responses I get only cement this theory. Many of the responses I receive go something like this, “My uncle/aunt has houses in Kabulonga, Chudleigh, and Olympia. Each tenant pays K3, 000, 000. That is K9, 000, 000 per month by 12 months you calculate. There is no better investment than that boi.” It is at this point that I realise I am dealing with someone who has the Me-Too Syndrome.  Maybe we simply just too afraid to take any risks.
                My final theory is that we fail to do our ground work. We are unable to do the research to get our facts right and to substantiate what we are told. As long as it sounds good to be true, that is exactly what we are going to believe. We need to get to a point where we are asking enough whats, whys, whens, wheres and hows in order to get concrete evidence about the things were hear. This is because even if many of us state that my uncle, aunt or whatever the relation is making money from renting out houses that is only half the truth. If we are to take a step back and look closer we shall see that they do not just rent out houses and sit on the beach in this case the lake sipping champagne. They probably have other businesses going for them. It might be a school, restaurant, construction company, salon or guest houses, in simple language they are doing something else. This means that we need to see both sides of the ball before we can come up with any conclusion that we hold dear like principles not to be broken.
                By and large, the theories I have come up with are of my own thinking. You may not agree with them or like those with the Me-Too Syndrome we simply say, “I concur” without stating exactly why. For those that may wish to rubbish my theories. Do not just dispute them for the sake of disputing, bring up your theories and let’s see if you actually sat down to think or like many young people it was too much sweat than you could sacrifice.