Let me start by asking you to list just five entertainers you know from China. How about their churches or religious brands? I bet you couldn’t even list three (remember they have over a billion people).
In the table of men, entertainment is on the menu after what they actually came for. It’s profitable business here in Nigeria beyond reasonable doubt till you do a balance scorecard assessment with cause and effect on our value system and actual ability to grow and lead a society right.
I had an interview with fresh graduates. There were over 20 of them so we put them all in a group to have a lateral group think with a series of questions. One of the questions was for each person to quickly run us through 5 news of happenings within the last one month. And over 70 percent of them told entertainment news. I asked them to name 20 popular Nigerians and once again, over 70 percent were entertainers, and then religious leaders, then politicians in that order. Considering the age-grade and educational qualification of these applicants for a very corporate role, does this tell us anything here?
I felt depressingly sad over the quality of conversations by what was supposed to be our most promising age demography at the wake of Naira Marley’s arrest. It wasn’t about whether he was guilty or not, but mostly about leaving “Yahoo boys” alone. It’s great to see someone with social capital and support. But beyond that, the nature and cause of the support is also key. In the wake of Naira Marley’s arrest in relation to fraud by the EFCC, Twitter and the online space was uproar. It felt like being an artist, young and rising was the crime. It definitely isn’t. It’s okay to question the how. Whether it’s a pastor making a fortune from tithes or a politician embezzling public funds or an entertainer who is dry cleaning dirty money from the black economy; they are all in the same boat, especially if it’s in limelight for celebration. I believe the ideologies and strategic role models play in forming our opinions and lives can’t be brushed off when a wrong message is sent. Every strategic government should keep a watch on those. But it is failing them they’d say as excuse. So even the spy needs to be spied on too. The role of entertainers and nightlife to the rising trend and acceptance of internet fraud as a ‘hustle’ by an entire generation is actually directly proportional. It sort of remind us the role upon which hip-hop plays on black on black violent crimes on the streets of America. This makes the entire law enforcement agents to keep a steady and more detailed eyes on their cowboys on the hill just for the height they stand on; in this case the entertainers and hip-hop artists, ready to be used as a scapegoat and example of consequences; they are mavens, sneezers, and connectors which makes them strategic. Being an artist can be great. There’s nothing wrong with being an artist if there’s real talent and depth away from just following a bandwagon with similar rhythm and shallow messaging. Real creativity is coloring out of the box, but ours is boxing us in. But beyond that, let’s look at data. While more people try out that career path, whether as passion or easy yet enjoyable route, the scatter diagram is worrisome. The probability of success of being mainstream out of the hundreds of thousands that sleep in the studio is less than 2 percent. Logically that age grade is the most productive and intelligence phase of any lifetime. We may never find it back once it is squandered looking for a quick fix. Like the saying goes, “when our youth is a blunder, it leads to an adulthood of struggle and an old age of regret”.
The average life span of relevance after the first hit as an artist in Nigeria is 2 years. This is with exceptions to the likes of Tuface, Femi Kuti, Wizkid, King Sunny Ade, MI, Falz, et al, looking at them, you can see why. Nigeria needs help and entertainment can’t be the best we can produce in this 4th revolution led by Nanotechnology, e-business, 3D printing and data driven intelligence by the world. Face the facts, China, Dubai, East Europe, and America didn’t become powerful by people who wake up to dance their worries away.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report a few years ago perked the Nigeria’s entertainment and media industry to grow from the $4 billion USD high it was in 2014 to $8.1 billion in 2019, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1%.
While noting that the Nigerian market is heavily driven by consumer spend, the report noted that our population trend and Internet access will be the main contributor to market expansion with revenues accounting for a remarkable 82% of the growth through to 2019. Nigeria is the biggest consumer of Telenovelas and Zee TV. Our women are stuck with it, it’s fast becoming the official station you see in receptions of even corporate institutions. The Nigerian Gaming and betting Industry is the fastest rising in the world. Everywhere you turn to is a bet stand. Now, we know there’s trouble when an entire generation begins to place its entire future on luck, so called grace (what I think refers to as luck), games and chance. As this thing grows, it become a metaphor of how we live. We need people to take better ownership of their lives, instead of handing over to someone else, a moment of temporary relief through entertainment or even a deity.
It seems over to us and we can do much better with ours. Rewrite our future before it is submitted as a present of our past. In every generation, their art directs what it will be remembered for. Perception is being created. Once delivered, it’s hard to erase in the neural pathways of our lifestyles. In life, I’m learning how people may go where excitement comes around, but only stay where there is sense and depth. The artists that have lasted over a decade in this industry show a trend and a proof.
The demand for entertainment for and from Nigeria is high; true. I know we’d say that it’s what the market is demanding that the artists give. It’s a lazy way to think as a manufacturer. The truth is, the customer doesn’t always know what he wants, and you are to create products that help him see the better option, enjoyably. Timelessly, in arts, the curator has the power of influence. We can do much more to alter lifestyles for good. We can be more intentional with what we want out of this potential. I believe that anyone can fall off a ladder by accident, but no one climbs a ladder by accident. Being intentional is key. Gaining the right skill set and knowing the excellence and professionalism of the craft is another. Detailing the steps and ruthlessly executing your way also has to be taken into cognizance. We need more professionalism in that industry. I wish there could be an ecosystem created by intention.
In a country with poverty, unemployment, and moral decadence, for the sake of society and future, we can be more intentional. The mind is master. Let’s intentionally alter it. Take for example, North America and Eastern Europe (continents with the highest GDP and progress) began to make more progress when they became more interested in artistic content in relation to macroeconomic variables. For example, early last century, to pave way for what became industrialization, they began to tax more on entertainment and then some bars were forced to be closed. People started to convert bars and nightclubs to small retail stores, factories and even coffee shops and the likes of Starbuck were born and even became mainstream. Today a lot of cofounders of great businesses will tell you that they either met their partners or had their first sets of meetings in Starbucks. In other words, the light bulb insights and eureka moments that formed their fortunes are traceable to coffee shops. That couldn’t have happened in often enough in night clubs under the influence of loud music and alcohol. We need more business that create value networks. In other words, businesses with products built around social solutions, from a community of people and for humanity and not the other way round. To this day, Starbuck’s main ideology remains that “We are not in the coffee business serving people. We are in the people business, serving coffee”.
For the sake of real business growth, we need to adjust our family systems, alter media and our values. Perhaps alter our education and parenting to teach our kids to be entrepreneurial by actual steps and process. To add value and be kind while staying long enough for things to actually grow. It’s called grit. We are victims of the broken mirror effect. Fix the mirror and we’d have better reflections for all. The young ones with fast paced lifestyles today inspired by either miracle seeking parents who teach grace and fetish pursuit for fortune and protection over process, or their peers who teach Ponzi, fraud, and enjoyment over delayed gratification and leadership would become our politicians tomorrow. They’d run down systems and affect us all again. And the cycle repeats itself. On a flipside but in line with this, I was watching on Bloomberg’s online a story that sparks this. At 11 years old Steve Tuttleman; The President of One of America’s leading investment company started reading the Wall Street Journal with his grandfather. In the early days of Starbucks, Microsoft, Home-Depot, and Walmart he bought shares in this company and some other companies other investment bankers gave no chance. He is regarded today as one of the all-time geniuses of Wall Street.
When Steve was asked why he made such investment decisions he replied by saying “I bought what I liked, I go by my gut, like my father and grandfather, I always knew I would be an investor, our dinner table conversations were always about business as I grew up. I have been in this business for 30 years and I have always had a portfolio of companies, every company has its own issues that I’m constantly dealing with. I’m still building that inner database. What we call mastery starts off mechanical then automatic.
One interesting thing I found out about Steve’s experience is that your experience in life is a sum total of the quality of information and lifestyle you expose yourself to. Nigeria and Africa are exposing their youths to too much media, especially TV and social media, and even more negatively. There is a 100 percent validation to the popular saying that if you consistently hang around five poor people, it’s only a matter of time you will be the sixth. The easiest way to also build wealth is to do the same, try to hang around a bit more around wealthy people. Staying in any mental vicinity long enough begins to absorb you into the spirit of that thing. It’s how people build Tacit Knowledge, a psycho-spiritual level of understanding that is almost intuitive.
Education by association is more valuable than formalized learning. We learn so much from the lifestyle we expose ourselves to than school ever can, we need to understand that. Tacit knowledge (as opposed to formal, codified or explicit knowledge) is the kind of knowledge that is difficult to transfer to another person by means of writing it down or verbalizing it. But if you just hang around long enough, it rubs off. It is the kind of knowledge developed, you may not know the name of the terms you do or how it’s done but you know what to do (like how an illiterate roadside mechanics may be able to fix the most complex cars without reading the manuals simply through apprentice, or a guy who hangs around his herbalist father till a point where he begins to understand signs of nature, herbs and even chants).
The scientific explanation is this; the things you consistently surround yourself with, the decisions and choices you make that eventually determine the outcome of your life are governed by the bottom up a neural pathway of the brain which some people call the subconscious mind. It is activated via associations.
As we constantly receive information, the bottom up neural pathway picks it up and feeds it to the top to the bottom neural pathway which then consciously make decisions that determine our experience in life. So most times when we think we are consciously making decisions, the truth is that we are only responding to the pre-installed database that we have accumulated from previous experience, interaction, and information. Watch what you accumulate and consciously accumulate components of what you desire. It’s easier to feature in a future you’ve long pictured.
My question this morning is: Are you building a database for the kind of experiences or results you want in your life?
The world is gaining notice of us. But let’s watch what we are being known for. It will be great to have more virtual offices, libraries, coffee shops and business than churches and bars. We need to consciously agree on what industries we should promote next to lead us after the collapse of oil and gas as our biggest export. I ask that we do not make the same mistakes twice with this export. Let’s create structure, depth and value for that industry.
Strategy. Business StartUps and Corporate Restructuring Consulting
Uwaoma Eizu is the lead strategist at Hexavia! He is a graduate of Mathematics with two MBAs and over a decade of experience working with startups and big businesses. His core is in building startups and in corporate restructuring. He is also a certified member of the Nigerian Institute of Management, Institute of Strategic Management of Nigeria and the Project Management Institute, USA. By the side, he writes weekly for the BusinessDay newspaper.