Education Growth Innovation Leadership Strategy Thought

The Future of Mentorship – [My TEDx talk]

The themes of growth, values, mentorship and leadership are some of my most endeared themes. I started life learning to embrace learning and growth, sharing what I have learnt with others willing to ‘sip’ and taking lessons from the lives of others – people i regard as ‘illuminares’.

On November 11, 2017, I gave a TEDx talk on “The Future of Mentorship – and what we can do about it” at TEDxIsaleGeneral. Beyond sharing some thoughts on this theme – which is off the beaten track, according to a mentor – I savoured the moments i had learning from other speakers and attendees. Everyone is a story worth sharing!

Sharing at TEDx IsaleGeneral

As requested, below is a -rough- transcript of the talk on The Future of Mentorship. I’ll include the link to the video when I get it from the TEDx team. I will love to read your thoughts either in the comments, via mail or on Twitter.

Future of Mentorship and What to do about it

December 12, 2012, with the help of a few friends, I started an annual leadership programme that grew from accommodating less than 30 emerging young leaders from Nigeria to over 200 young leaders from more than 35 countries. About five years into building Studership from a project to some sort of community, it struck us that we failed in one of our responsibilities.

While we succeeded in connecting and promoting drive for development in the hearts of these young people, we felt that we failed. We felt we failed because we didn’t provide a structured mentorship system for each and everyone of them.

After a couple of conversations with some fellows, I observed a pattern; though we didn’t make the mentorship component visible, mentoring happened nonetheless. Among participants. Within leadership learning teams. Within the community. In subtle and fluid manner.

Mentorship is an individual and corporate investment in hope. One of the best mentoring relationships I have had is with someone, who strives daily to be dispensable; He strives to make himself increasingly unnecessary – though available. True mentorship evolves from the diminishing dependence of the mentee on the mentor.

One of the things my experiences with mentors and mentees have taught me, is how to study and understand elements of the future. The fast changes in technological advancement and human desires will also influence what we (and generations after us) know as true mentorship.

Mentorship of the future will be influenced by what I refer to as the koinoina effect. The koinoina effect is that state of wholeness caused by deeply unique fellowship, communion and partnership in a relationship.

Briefly, let us analyse what trends to expect about about the future of mentorship: [here are three things that will characterize mentorship of the future].

1. Mentorship in the future will be characterized by a mix of high human touch and high-tech. Like we do today, we’ll continue to leverage technology to make communication, learning and collaboration easier, while holding on to – and ‘incentivising’ the – values of love, trust and compassion. Societies, clusters, organisations and individuals that thrive will be those who encourage the tradition of honesty, vulnerability and openness.

2. The line distinguishing roles of mentors and mentees will be diminished, making it easy for both parties to switch roles fluidly, at interval.

3. In few years, there will be the emergence of an artificial intelligent (AI) mind – one that has access to several other algorithmic systems and data – capable of delivering personalized advises, guidance and mentoring to individuals based on data-symmetry of individuals we admire and long to learn from. Through meta-learning – this AI will learn about our most preferred role models and can advise me based on knowledge about them.

With a very subtle presence, this AI will work like other algorithms that help us with search or recommend friends we should connect with, but with more sophisticated abilities. Using surveillance and sousveillance technologies, it will be capable of making knowledge of and from the greatest minds alive (that can be your dad, mum, the richest individual in the world, your most adored political/business figure – whoever you want). This AI will be capable of advising you based on the knowledge of whoever you admire all at once – using on available data about each of them, and their up-to-date individual online experiences. The company(ies) that control this AI will be rich in data, and the users of these AI will ‘always’ get correct, predictive responses.

Will you take advice from an AI mentor?

With the exciting revelations and experiences awaiting us in future, we must remind ourselves of the roles we need to play to enhance our humanity.

First, more than before, there is the need for deeper connection with people and greater investments in people. Mentorship involves the peddling of hope.

Second, we need to increase our awareness of the ethics of the technology we make use of, and request that we – as a people – are at the center of our data. We need to request and ensure that while interacting with any technology, our values are recognised and honoured.

Third, we need to do some soul-searching, ask and find novel answers to some questions. How do we reconcile what technology does with the need to incentivise character values that make life worth living? How can we make that merge? How can we individually and collectively promote deeper connection within ourselves, among our communities and the generality of mankind?

Finally, we need to value our collective culture beyond race, ethnic background, sexual orientation and political inclination. I refer to the culture of being human  Over the course of the future, we need to allow our relationships reflect our humanity- our abilities to be helpful, loving, trustworthy, compassionate and human.

In the end, all we have is one another.
Thank you.

What future of mentorship do you see?

Education Growth Thought

Books for the Future

For some months, I have been exploring new things – stretching the bounds of my learning to other areas. Those who know me can testify that I like sharing; I do most sharing privately. Whenever I read things, the next big thing that I think of – apart from how to put into action the new learning – is who else I can ‘share this with’.

I have had the privilege of peeping into the future and learning from some great minds. Here is a list – not an exhaustive one though – of some books I read in 2016 and highly recommend.


Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

I have had this book since 2015; read it and went back to it in 2016.

This book delves into the science and art of decision making, further stretching concepts like the truth about relativity, the ‘cost of zero cost’, the problem of self-control and procrastination, the high price of ownership, the power of price, the effect of expectations, the context of our character – and several other realities.

Sometimes, you aren’t always at the driver seat as you think, often times, we are swayed by the perception of our desires than reality. The chapters in the book describe forces that influence our behavior, while we mostly underestimate these forces or completely ignore them.

It is a good read for anyone interested in understanding human behavior, providing enterprise-based solutions to problems and contributing to (economic) policy development. I recommend for social entrepreneurs, policy makers and citizens who intend to see beyond perceptions.


Why Nations Fail 

This is one of the best books on governance I have come across by Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson. I share in the school of thought that no nation can ever rise beyond the quality of its citizens (citizens, not just leaders).

Why do you think nations fail? It isn’t just lack of knowledge, but a combination of several factors. Leadership should be intentional.


Abundance: The Future is Better than You Think

I got to know about Peter Diamandis some years ago, while following the works of the Heretic’s Pascal Finitte. Some years later, I was reading Richard Branson’s adventures in Business Stripped Bare and saw a reference to his work again. Fortunately, I laid hold of the book – Abundance – in 2016.

This book by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler is about improving global living standards both in the developed countries and developing world, tackling global challenges, revealing solutions and embracing / harnessing the strength in evolving exponential technologies. With the myriad of challenges faced in the world today, one basic solution is to raise global standard of living.

We tend to see scarcity often and respond by ‘cutting our coats using austerity measures’. However, one of the better responses to the threat of scarcity is not to try to slice our pie thinner – rather it is to figure out how to make more pies. We are within a generation where we are able to provide goods and services once reserved for the wealthy few, to any and all who need them, or desire them. Through technology, Abundance for all is within our grasp.

I agree that we live in a world of abundance; the thoughts shared in the book relates with some of the thoughts we had talked about when I hang out with some colleagues. The concept of global citizenship, or should I say ‘global solutions making’ is such that ‘solving problem anywhere, solves problem everywhere’. Devoid of what the media wants us to believe, the world is more peaceful than it was a century ago, there is a global reduction in violence and increase in safety, the world is experiencing increasing happiness and equality. AND the future can be better than now.

I have been studying the rise of exponential technologies and the shift to the fourth industrial revolution. The question I ask is how these improvements will translate into better access to personalized education, productive human capital, affordable housing, accessible energy and improved governance for Africa and the billions of people at the base of the pyramid. Studying Abundance further strengthened my resolve to engage these technologies in solving challenges in the areas of education, governance and human capital development.


What other books do you think should be here?

Growth Strategy Thought

Getting the Best Out of the New Year

We have flipped the calendar to another year, how might we get the best out of this year? I’ll share seven approaches for getting the best out of the year, together.

Choose a theme
Your theme is like your minimum viable resolution for that year. I know some have seen new year resolutions as a glorified ‘To Do’ list that is set aside by the second week in February. In place of a list of things you wish to do, choose a singular theme for the year.

My theme for 2016 was growth. That of 2017 is exponential growth. Don’t crucify me; I have an insatiable thirst for growth. I may choose other themes for other years, but this is more important to me.

What’s your theme for this year?

Plan for the Upcoming Year
It might sound ‘somehow’, but one of the best approaches for getting the best out of this year is to plan towards the next. If you’ve written some things you plan to accomplish next year, what must you do this year to make things easier and more productive?

Invest in relationships
This is as important as every other thing. Relationship is key. Build a community of people you want to learn from, share with, ideate and grow together. Invest in your relationship with them. Don’t withdraw from the relationship account when you haven’t saved in it.

Get an accountability partner
This just flows from the previous. Get a person or group of people to serve as your accountability partner(s).

Seek opportunities
Look for happiness and opportunities in each day. When you find them, harness them. Spread the love among those within your growth circle.

Build, break and build again (fast)
Don’t be afraid to try out new things. Build things that matter. If (or when) things break, learn from it and build again. Explore as much as you can.

Improve your capacity to out-learn your previous self
Build skills. In this and future century, leadership, creativity, intuition, empathy, and social / cultural intelligence are important skills that must be built and harnessed.

Start today. Each day in this year is an empty page. What will you write in it? Let’s write a best seller.

Growth Thought

The ‘Iyalaya Anybody’ Lessons on Innovation and Development in Africa

Most times in the development space, we have to look beyond headlines and taglines and focus on lessons from pieces and lives. I read Prof. Pius Adesanmi’s keynote address titled “Iyalaya Anybody: Pencils, Nigerian Innovation, & Africa’s Path in the 21st Century” delivered last week in Lagos, Nigeria. Beyond the ostensibly ‘obscenity’ that may come with the title, he distinctively approached the theme of innovation and the development of the African continent with conscientious audacity, thought-provokingly.
The world is changing. Innovation, knowledge-based growth, vision and corresponding actions are important factors for national development – in this case, I prefer to say continental development. While I applaud futuristic initiatives as the United Nations Agenda 2030 and the Agenda 2063 of the African Union, we need to place all hands on deck to innovate, act, review our actions, evaluate progresses and further scale up development. Like I shared with a colleague some nights ago, these ‘Agendas’ are achievable, if like the United Arabs Emirate, we – among other things – build strong institutions, promote strong societal values embedded in a culture of excellence in leadership and responsibility, invest in education and human capital development. No nation ever moved up the development ladder by trivializing inclusive governance and human capital development.
We get to respect and appreciate the borderless possibilities that exist only when we try; when we try to live responsibly, knowing that the fate of the African continent depends largely – not only on the actions of her governments but also of her young people. For several days, I have been opportune to meet and interact with some of the brightest young minds in the continent. One thing they possess in common is an audacity to change the narrative. Whether through entrepreneurship, civil society leadership or public management, they can be dubbed as ‘innovators of the public’ – apologies to Ashoka, solving some of the various problems in their various spaces across the continent, with or without public institutional backing.
A visionary leadership in all countries in Africa positively encouraging youth innovation is unarguably an answer to the question of how we may live in the realities of the envisioned Africa come 2063. Some other questions are worth answering: do we have to wait till 2063? Can we get Agenda 2063 achieved years before the deadline? Can we learn from the successes and failures of the Millennium Development Goal/Agenda (MDG) and commit ourselves to the task at hand? Can we harness the innovative prowess of our young people, in an environment that promotes creativity, innovation, peace, mutual respect and dignity? Can we recheck the foundation laid in anticipation of development, and mend or re-lay weak ends for this and future generations? Can we be truthful to ourselves and review our preparedness for the journey? Can we consciously encourage home-grown youth-driven innovations?
The experiences of several other innovative young Africans sometimes make me imagine the level of progress we might have further made, if we had better climate that genuinely supports what we do. However, I resonate with Prof’s opinion that the absence of this climate can result in positive doggedness and a resilient positive attitude raised to a square of what is required in other societies.
Another important factor, we must learn not only to change the narrative by doing, but also by telling. We need to tell our own stories. We need to encourage ingenuity. Recalling the story of Dziffa Akua Ametam, the 23 year old founder of the Ghana-based e-commerce platform,, whom I met at a Breakfast meeting recently, and the stories of several others, we are reminder that while changing the development narrative, we need to be proactive in telling our story; what my friend, Adenike means when she advises on blowing your trumpets. While rankings, fellowships et al may be helpful, we need to go beyond that and have a strong record system. It is in this light that I feel the toils of Jidenma’s Celebrating Progress Africa, Innovation Prize for Africa, Africa Rizing’s Watch2016 Rizers listing, African Youth Awards, YouthHub Africa, The Future Project and others within the continent and in diaspora. We need to be, and do much more.
We have a good journey ahead. We can go farther when we hold hands and hearts. In work. In Values. In results. For Africa.
Growth Thought

A Toast to Growth

Dear friends,

I had been on leave for a while.

However, throughout my ‘partial-leave of absence’, I delight each time at news I receive about friends (including several readers of this blog and members of my online community), colleagues and members of our @All4Development tribe. I delight at moments when your seemingly ‘impossible’ ideas grow and transform lives; i delight at moments when you do things better, because you learnt from experience; I delight that through passion and dedication, we are contributing to solving some of problems faced by young people globally.

I delight that we, like eagles, rejuvenate after pain-staking actions. The world need you now, than ever. I delight at (y)our progresses, impacts and daily actions aimed at learning and creating value. Beyond delights, I celebrate you.

To you, I make this toast. 

Referencing the narrative by Steve Jobs, here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

A caveat: every of those words used above are defined positively.

Damola Morenikeji celebrates you
Let’s keep growing and creating value. I look forward to reading from you.

Damola Morenikeji

t: @DamolaMore

BBM: 7E06F40E

Growth Leadership Thought

What leadership is (and isn’t)

Leadership is everything. Leadership is open-ended. I love conversations that deal with talking and walking ‘leadership’ because it is the nucleus of development in every society – it is the central and seemingly most important of human development. It can be defined in contextual and general terms; regardless, it always conveys the message of responsibility with a result that beats the status quo. I may decide put a spotlight on a definition by John Agno which states that ‘leadership is applicable to all facets of life: a competency that you can learn to expand your perspective, set the context of a goal, understand the dynamics of human behaviour and take the initiative to get to where you want to be’ – emphasis on the italicized words are purely mine. Leadership involves leaders – individuals like you and I – bringing people together around a shared purpose and empowering them to step up and lead authentically in order to create change and value for all.

Before I proceed, I’ll love to stress a caveat; my understanding of leadership may seem ‘off-the-wall’ compared to what is practiced in several societies – I seek an indulgence. However, I uphold the strong belief that a deviation from the ideal is not enough reason for the status quo to thrive; we must embrace personal responsibility and play the part of enlightening ourselves on what can be and take actions into making it work. Ideal leadership, based on value-based principles of integrity, ‘servanthood’ and love is possible. If well practiced, it guarantees the development of any nation and the prosperity of her greatest resource – her people.

Foremost, leadership is about leading. With all modesty, I meant what you have just read – leadership is about leading; so is following. One topical myth of leadership I have encountered is one that attaches leadership only to official titles and positions. That myth encourages only those answering titles to their name or those ‘serving’ on one exalted position to be seen or referred to as leaders. I bliss in my heretic deference; leadership is not position, it is responsibility!

Leadership involves the art of leading oneself effectively while allowing others to do the same with our gazes focused on the collective destination. It involves not only the art but the act of personal responsibility and growth; making growth the center of our being and creating the right environment to enable others to become more. It involves leading others, through love – as one leads oneself. Maybe it wouldn’t be out of place for us to consider asking ourselves how we lead ourselves. Do we invest enough in resources that aid our growth? Are we committed to upholding our values even in the face of the worse turmoil ever imagined? Beyond equipping ourselves and others for excellence – or exploits – do we commit ourselves to ‘walking the talk’ or do we talk and walk in divergent lanes?

While some definition of leadership stresses that leaders have, maintain, or increase the number of their followers, I rather see the importance of leaders building several others to be leaders. One of the greatest perks of true leadership is when your mentees are helping other younger leaders grow. That is what I call leading – that is one of my aspirations. 

Leadership is about everything, but more about people. Economic development, through political leadership decision, is possible when leaders concentrate not on things (material and mineral resources) but on the greatest resource of each nation – man. A concentration on the development of the people, guided by the principles of vision and values, will translate into further development of the nation. I subscribe to the school of thought that no nation can grow beyond the capacity of its people. Look at several countries from across the world; have you observed a proportional relationship between her human capital development and the country’s economic development? Singapore’s success in the nineties under its Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew emits lessons that go beyond economics and politics, it teaches a height of possibilities that could occur when the overriding factor in development is the people first. No nation can rise beyond the vision and capacities of its leaders and people. There are enormous lessons we can learn as a nation from this and several other nations, about leadership.

Leadership is not a rare skill. While genuinely great leaders may be rare, leadership – in itself – is not a rare skill. It can be learned and earned. It starts from the realization that leadership has been entrusted on us; we have a responsibility to lead ourselves – each of us leading himself/herself – through a sense of purpose built on the right foundations. It involves growing, thinking, living, and building ourselves through creativity. Describing creativity, Ken Rowat once opined that “creative activity, agonizing though it may be at times, is essentially life-enhancing, often joyful, and this can be judged not from the fixed smiles worn by models advertising power tools but by the extent to which the individual is seriously engrossed in his activity. Outside making love, men and women never feel better than when they are totally engaged in exploration or construction, especially when the motivation is simply: ‘I wonder what will happen if I do this?’” In a similar way, I not only wonder what will happen if we dedicate ourselves to growing, helping others grow and achieve purpose in creative ways, I also wonder what will happen if we stop wandering in the wilderness of vague thoughts, start taking responsibility and leading positive change.

Leadership is not ambition. I want to stress this because I have come across several acclaimed leaders that communicate ambition rather than communicating a vision. While I am not worthy of judging others, I have to state that there is a huge difference between vision and ambition. Vision is the essence of leadership; it has to be clear enough for the leader to articulate it with radiance. Little wonder it has been said that there is nothing more demoralizing than a leader who cannot tell us why we are doing what we are doing. Instead of differentiating, I’ll note what vision is not; vision is not a conception of your private view of the future, it is not personal, private, or selfish ambition. This may sound controversial – remember my earlier caveat – vision is not a goal, but it produces goals, it is not a complicated list of programs but it produces programs. It is not mere physical sight, but the perception of the unseen future. True vision is not for self-promotion, but it promotes others; it never destroys humanity but builds and preserves human value and dignity. True vision may never be fulfilled in a lifetime, but it extends to generations. True vision, like leadership, is not ambition, but it inspires self-service.

Leadership is not assumption, it is feedback. One of the greatest challenges in leadership is that of communication. Often times, failure to communicate effectively pose danger both to the process and the result. I have observed several worthwhile initiatives fail due to basic assumptions laid on erroneous foundations. Let’s not assume, rather let us ask questions. I remember a conversation I had sometimes ago with my friend and partner, Joshua Peter where we laughed about and stressed the need to ‘kill’ assumptions and ask questions. If you do not understand something about someone, don’t assume you do, ask questions. If you feel offended by someone else’ response or reaction, don’t assume the person knows (or wants to injure you intentionally), rather be courageous enough to seek clarifications.

One way to overcome assumptions, and develop our curiosity is to begin to ask more questions courageously, both when we are talking with others and when we are talking in our minds to ourselves. Questioning, or feedback, when carefully done, helps us distinguish between what is known and what is unknown. It further helps us in understanding the context at which we are understood. It enables us to further understand the cultural context at which our messages are decoded, as we strengthen the medium used in communication. One thing is unchangeable; the qualities of questions we ask mostly determine the quality of answers or solutions we get. Stop assuming, start asking, courageously.

Leadership isn’t only about equipping. Imagine this: A group of turkeys attended a two-day training program to learn how to fly. They learned the principles of aerodynamics, and they practiced morning, afternoon, and evening. They learned how to fly using the wind as thrust and how to fly against the wind; together and individually, they learned how to navigate mountains and valleys. It seems great! At the end of the training, they all walked home. This is often what I see in our society; several people intentionally want to grow, learn principles but fail to practice those principles. Growth through equipping is best achieved when principles ‘consumed’ are well ingested, digested – sometimes regurgitated – and displayed in further actions. A secret of growth and personal accomplishment is repetition. Beyond training, repeat and review your values and human relations prowess among other skills.

Leadership is not fenceless: The highest form of leadership is ‘self-leadership’. This is one of the parts of leadership I cherish; the part where we talk about the self-imposed fences put in place by individuals, for them to achieve their visions. These fences are put in place to strike warning signals when we are about climbing over them. If you wish, you may call the fence limits, barriers, but I prefer to call it ‘discipline’. Discipline is the fence that beautifies our personal gardens – it prevents us from pursuing personal indulgence and provides a runway for fulfilling our purposes. It provides a barricade to nurture our character, focusing on our values and taking actions, not only based on convenience but based on necessity. Self-discipline – when fully embraced by individuals – helps in making ‘pleasing results’ a preference over ‘pleasing methods’. My younger brothers and I have been used to reminding ourselves of a mantra, especially when any of us derail from what we ought to do. This mantra is ‘do what you have to do, in order to do what you want to do’. 

Self-discipline helps in recognizing and differentiating between what is important and urgent, what is urgent but not important, what is important but not urgent, and what is neither important nor urgent. The fence guiding our leadership garden – self-discipline – is doing the right thing rightly, simply because it is the right thing to be done. It involves resolving to behave in such a manner as if your every act were to become universal law for all people under similar circumstances. Self-discipline involves waiting patiently, when needed, refusing to rush the process in the search for a shortcut. It involves delaying gratification, shunning mediocrity, and managing time and other resources well.

Leadership is not fenceless; it has the beautiful and strong fence of self-discipline. The strength and height of your fence depend on how often you build your fence – it depends on the depth of the foundations of values you embrace. It depends on how often you decide not to compromise on your values in exchange for fame or riches. It further depends on the quality of decisions you make and how persistent you are to follow through with those decisions. If you are to measure your fence, how tall or strong will it be? Start now, be consistently consistent.

Leadership is not playing the game: I have witnessed the game being played. It is – if a statistic is available to back it up – one of the most played games in the world. Though it does not follow the rules of sports, it is mostly enjoyed by individual players often without support from fans. It is a game called the blame game. Almost everyone blames someone for something no one did or did not do. We grew up playing the blame game without been taught the rules; we blame our parents for birthing us in a particular environment, blame nature for our waking from sleep late. We blame the traffic for our lateness; blame the government for the dirty waste bins. I see several cases where we just pass the ‘ball’ to someone else, failing to face the truth and take responsibility. Let’s face it. Though blame-trading may have a soothing feeling, however, it is distorting your reality. It is high time we woke up and started taking responsibility. It is your life, live it responsibly. If some things have occurred because of the nonchalance of others, forgive them for it, and move on. Forgive them, not only because that is what leadership requires, forgive them because you deserve better. Leadership involves taking responsibility, beyond playing the blame game. 

Leadership is not just having values, it is living it. Values are important in leadership and human relations. Either individual or cultural, it influences what each of us – or our community – defines as being right or wrong. Our values influence our behaviours and understanding of various concepts. Depending on the cultural balance each of us falls into globally, our individual values are intrinsic and essential part of our makeup as humans and leaders. Values are not just sets of principles or standards we chant, rather they are principles that are so important that we cannot afford to live outside them. They shape our decisions, thoughts, priorities, and character.

A Global Leadership and Organisational Behaviour Effectiveness (GLOBE) study on values or attributes that characterize an outstanding leader, based on a 7-point scale and the “world mean” of each scale (i.e., the average of 61 country means) revealed that irrespective of cultural differences witnessed in several countries, the most desirable traits are Integrity (6.07), Inspirational (6.07), Visionary (6.02), Performance-oriented (6.02), Team-integrator (5.88), Decisive (5.80), Administratively competent (5.76), Diplomatic (5.49), Collaborative team orientation (5.46), Self-sacrificial (5.0), Modesty (4.98). Value-based leadership stresses each of us identifying our core values and living out high standards, decisiveness, and innovation. Value-based leadership seeks to inspire people around a vision, creates a passion among them to perform and does so by holding firmly unto core values.

Leadership is not overstaying. It involves knowing when to leave. This is a key lesson that needs to be re-echoed, especially in our political, academic, and religious communities. Persons in leadership positions often protect their turfs and prevent a replacement from occurring – especially when it involves them. I have learnt over time that one of the true measures of leadership is the ability to leave. It is the ability to make oneself less necessary, through quality mentorship. I had once been instilled with the notion that as a leader you should be irreplaceably important – without you, nothing moves. However, I have fortunately grown beyond this. I have come to understand the essence of the measure of growth, interdependence, and independence that should thrive in teams and communities. I now believe that it is a sign of effective leadership if your team can survive without you – because you have created an enabling environment for each of your teammates to grow and become independent. 

One typical example of this quality of leadership was displayed by respected African leader – Nelson Mandela, who stepped down from the most exalted office in his country after serving his first term of four years as President of South Africa. Nelson Mandela had every opportunity to continue his stay in office – including the mandate of the people, but he decided to tow the honourable path of leaving for others to emerge. Learn from Madiba; never miss an opportunity to make others grow; never miss an opportunity to shut up and listen. Never miss the right opportunity to leave.

Leadership is not duplicating you. I earlier talked about the need for leaders to help others grow and become more effective leaders. Yes, leadership involves preparing others to become leaders and take forward a vision, but more importantly, it involves – in a simple but complex sense – proper mentorship. Mentorship is not the process of building others to be like you, rather it is building others – through hard work, consistently conscientious partnership, and diligence – to be more than you. It is not duplicating you. The world already has you. The world needs your help in the growth of someone else to be better than you are. That’s one of the essences of leadership; even the greatest leader ever also displayed it. This is one of the enormous tasks associated with leadership; true mentorship requires patience from the mentor. It requires the mentor to provide opportunities for growth, allowing the mentee to make mistakes/error and learn from them. It requires the mentor not to feel threatened by the successes of the mentee. Mentorship is one of the reasons for leadership.

Finally, while I have the conviction that we have been placed here to tend this modern Eden, with the utmost conditional divine assurance of our status of ‘headship’, I want us to note with every diligence that leadership is not a divine right. It is earned or attained by a dedication to clear vision, a sense of purpose, honorably exemplary character, credible track records, patriotism, and commitment to values among other commonly agreed parameters.

This little insight into what leadership is and isn’t portrays the dire need for us to encourage exemplary civil leadership education from within the family. As I had documented elsewhere, “there is an adept need for individuals to be growth-driven, goal-driven, vision-directed and committed to personal and leadership development of young people” and other members of our global community.

We owe it to ourselves to guard our hearts, lead, and live in the true sense of leadership.

We were born for that – leading and living positively, for exploits.

This piece was sent for publication on April 7, 2015. Syndicating it on this page for future reference.

Growth Thought

Of Harvard, Life and Mathematics

Previous years had availed me opportunities that were invested in meeting, learning (with) and growing with several people – young and old, great and greater. Apart from people, a conscious commitment to personal growth and knowledge have witnessed my learning from erudite scholars and institutions from across the world. One of such is my participation in the inaugural offering of JusticeX from Harvard University in April 2013. The course, led by Prof. Michael Sandel, enhanced my view of critical decision making as we explored through critical thinking what is right, and sought moral and political decisions.

Prior and after the encounter with Michael Sandel, I continue to make critical and simple decisions everyday – just like you. These decisions had, and will often dictate the quality of results we record. As we progress with life, you and I will continually have to make decisions – ranging from what we say, whom we hang out with, which problem we create/solve, to what type of life we decide to live. Funny enough, indecision is also a decision.

Sometime last year, I got the book ‘Better than Harvard’ by Steve Araba. I had met Steve on a number of occasions, gradually learnt from him and entrusted our time with each other.

My first meeting with Steve was at a Future Leaders Summit organized in one of the leading federal universities in the South Western part of Nigeria, where he was guest speaker. I was introduced to him by a friend I prefer to call Salt. It was a brief and pleasant meet up. Later in the year, we met again; this time, it was at the World Economic Forum on Africa. Steve, who was busy at the ‘background’ working towards the success of the Economic forum, came to pick me up after one of the sessions, we had another round of great honest conversations on several things (including nation building, youth development etcetera) and thereafter continued our conversation on phone and site. He is one young (though very much older than I) Nigerian I respect, for his commitment to chastity, truth and freedom.

With several truths outlined in the book ‘Better than Harvard’, I couldn’t but notice the creative use of mathematical terms and their redefinition. I wouldn’t review the book – at least, not yet. You can get a copy here. However, it is pleasant to note that just like Steve, we may also decide to change our definition of terminologies life lob towards us.

As young people and patriotic citizens, there remains the dire need to live right and contribute consciously to the development of our society and country. We need to make more commitment to the development of discipline and character.

We need to improve the scale for measuring the quality of our lives, personal growth and societal development. As Steve noted, mensuration goes beyond being a branch of geometry that deals with the measurement of length, area, or volume of shapes. It is a position or perspective through which you interpret and understand what or how you see, hear, feel and think about everything that happens to and for you in life.

A calculus of our relationships is important, as we forge alliances, make friends and build networks. Calculus in this context is the critical analysis of relationships in your life that either differentiate or integrate you, essentially indicating the life you could or will have, depending on the people variables you make available to influence you.

This is another year for young people (and every citizen) to model integrity, live intentionally and grow exponentially. Vote at the polls, make our voices heard, speak words and take actions, respecting the dignity of human. Take personal education beyond schooling and invest in holding ourselves and our leaders accountable for words, thoughts and actions.

Everyday in this newly flipped calendar will require timely decisions; let’s make them wisely, seeking depth rather than mere heights. Our life and that of others count on those decisions. Thank you for your ‘commitment’ in previous years; let us do more, henceforward.
Damola Morenikeji
Growth Leadership Thought

Growth Galley – Be Careful of Your Thoughts [Podcast]

Great day!

It is delighting to welcome you to the Growth Galley. The Growth Galley is a periodic podcast aimed at enriching our collective growth; for us to grow right, lead right and live right.

In this episode, we are exploring the creative and destructive power of thought – depending on which you choose to explore. 

Click HERE to listen.

I will love to read / hear your view. You may comment below, send me a mail or let’s connect via Facebook / Twitter.

Much love,

Damola (@DamolaMore)
Growth Leadership Strategy Thought

Building Productive Habits as an Entrepreneur

Productivity is key as a leader and entrepreneur. I consciously remind myself that it is not just enough to get busy, but to get busy fulfilling purpose – being productive. 
Thoughts on my most productive habit as a social entrepreneur was published, along with that of other ‘successful’ entrepreneurs on IdeaMensch, under the fifth habit in the ‘35 Habits That Successful Entrepreneurs UseTo Get Shit Done.
I agree that to be excellent as an entrepreneur, you need to prioritize your daily activities, make a to-do / not-to-do list, get up early,  read, learn and grow, find your most productive time and focus. The quality of your thought is an important factor is making positive and effective impact on yourself and your environment.
As I shared ‘weaving thoughts, contrasting it with resources at hand, and continually envisioning the effect of its realization though may be tasking, but is much fun’.
Read and learn (and digest) the 35 Habits That Successful Entrepreneurs Use To Get Shit Done’ (
I’ll implore you read, digest and share this post with others within your network. It is worth the time!
Stay productive!
image credit
Growth Leadership Thought

Measuring Your Listening Quotient

Every great leader is a good listener. We have emphasized overtime the importance of communication in leadership development. I have learnt – through the absence of communication – how a community of vibrant thoughtful minds can become disengaged and moribund.

Listening Quotient

In as much as communication is important, listening is more important. Communication is faulty, if listening is phorny or ingenuine. I have witnessed several occasions when hearing, rather than listening is the order of the day. Thus, the essence of this post to challenge us to evaluate our listening quotients.

So, how do you measure your listening quotient? My formula for listening quotients is strength of active listening divided by unit time.

For my friends, who likes mathematics – only for the spelling, let me deviate from the mathematical expression and  highlight some key elements of active listening.

When listening to the next person that speaks with you, watch the quality of attention you give out. Let it be said about you that ‘S/He listened to me like I’m the only person in the world, at that time’. Guide your attention.

One of the greatest gift you can give is your sincere and loving self. It is said that people do not care what you know until they know how much you care.

Minding your body
Body language plays an important role when listening actively to someone. Position your body, eye movement to be in unison with what your mind speaks which is ‘I care, I am listening’. Nothing is more disappointing that observing that the person you are speaking with is hearing (not listening) what you are saying and his body communicating his absence.

It is necessary to be true to yourself and whoever you are discussing with. If circumstances will impede you actively listening to anyone, tell the person with all modest sincerity and love.

Listening is critically essential!

Question: Looking back into the last few discussions you had with anyone, how effective did you actively listen? If you were told to calculate your listening quotient, what percentage will you be rated? What other element did I not mention?

Let’s connect on Twitter or Facebook.

Growth Thought

Of Thinking, Thought and Thinkers

What are you thinking? This emblematic question reminds me of the timeless principle of thought, which states that ‘as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he’.

True! A man is literally what he thinks, and is character is the complete sum of all his thoughts. The life you live today is as a result of the thoughts you entertained yesterday. To live a different life tomorrow, you have to change your thoughts today.
According to the classical author, James Allen, ‘a man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed-seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind. Just as a gardener cultivates his plot, keeping it free from weeds, and growing flowers and fruits which he requires, so may a man tend the garden of his mind, weeding out all the wrong and impure thoughts, and cultivating towards perfection, the flowers and fruits of right, useful and pure thoughts’.

As individuals and a nation, we must learn that we cannot grow beyond the quality of our thought. Yet, i have observed that one reason we are still where we are is that we desire to change the situation without changing our thoughts.
I once read that the battle for control and leadership of the world has always been waged most effectively at the idea (thought) level. An idea, whether right or wrong, that captures the minds of a nation’s youth will soon work its way into every area of the society, especially in our multi-media age. Ideas (thoughts) determine consequences.
It is only when we make the right changes to our thinking do other things begin to turn out right. Remember that your thought influences your attitude; your attitude determines your altitude, and influences your behaviour and character. To change your altitude, change your thoughts.

It is essential for us to note that everything begins with a thought. Everything we see today began as a thought. What we think determine what we do; what we do is a determinant of who we are. The truth is that we can change the quality of life we live by changing the way we think.

Finally, I challenge you to take up the challenge of becoming a skilled thinker, which will make you face a battery of hitherto unanswered question and change your perspective to series of unquestioned answer. This challenge of critical thinking provides the impetus for reformulating our view of the world; through it, we can appreciate the intellectual work required to change our thinking and our lives in fundamental ways. Through it, we can grasp the need to regularly re-examine the extent of our ignorance. Through it, we can grasp the need for regular exercise of disciplined thought, and through it, we can understand the long-term nature of intellectual development, social change, personal growth and transformation.

I look forward to reading from you.

Start thinking right, keep growing!


Aanu Damola Morenikeji is considered Africa’s youngest youth intellectual and leadership development advocate. A sought-after speaker on the theme of leadership and personal growth, he is an alumnus of the M121 Social Leadership Academy, U.S.A and founder of Studership Youth Leadership Academy – an initiative of All for Development Foundation [ADM-Foundation]. He blogs at www.admnigeria.blogspot.comand can be reached via
Growth Leadership Thought

What are you learning from the Lion?

During a personal growth workshop, i studied and learnt from the visionary leadership of a lion. Though known as the king of the jungle, the lion knows that it wouldn’t be king forever if it doesn’t ‘mentor’ the next generation.

Lions travel in prides, the pride creates an environment suitable for mentoring cubs; the next generation of ‘kings’ and ‘queens’.

What are you doing to build the future? Learn from the lion.


Aanu Damola Morenikeji
13th June, 2013