On Christmas morning, I woke at 3 am with a smile on my face – it was a big smile. I had gone to bed early the night before and now, I was wide awake and excited. I had left the gifts wrapping, planning and execution command centre early for my bed and that led to sleep, still smiling at this. I was now anxious to see the Christmas tree and how it all turned out with wrapped presents. I walked to the tree, turned on the lights and glared at its beauty in the dark room. It felt good. I sniffed the air and something was missing, I could not smell the freshly killed livestock being stewed or the pot of Jollof rice being cooked on an open wood flame. So, I lit my fireplace hoping to capture some of that essence – a fail.  

Growing up in Benin city, Christmas was new Christmas cloth, church, overfeeding, visiting and receiving guests (wake up in the morning with food in the air, knowing you were going to have to eat three lunches as you have to eat pounded yam at both grandmas, the only places you were allowed to eat outside home). I don’t even remember gifts but I do remember something like a tree. Christmas mornings were magical. 

I am standing, staring at gifts that represent a lot of my kids’ simple wishes, some comical. Later that day, my daughter unwrapped toothpaste and allergy meds, so wishes are not all so glamorous as long as wishes are delivered wrapped or unwrapped. So, it’s Christmas!  

How did we get here again? I mean, it was just Christmas the other day. So, as the year 2019 is quickly packing its bags and getting ready to close shop and as conclusions go, it leads you to reflecting on time passed and question if you have used your year wisely. A few years ago, in my year-end reflection, I came to a conclusion that the years were really just fluid – why and who said the year ends in December and the new year is January 1? OK, I digressed. Let me focus on the assignment at hand. How was 2019?

How does one measure time and value? Is it a log on to banking application to stare at the bottom line and determine by the random arrangement of numbers that it has been a good year? Do we review our balance sheets in hopes that the credits far outpaced the debits by 1000%? We must admit there is a vast difference between a 5 before a 3 followed by 6 zeroes versus a 3 before a 5 followed by 6 other numbers. That aside, assessing time and value cannot be done with numbers only. How do we then evaluate value? Yes, I know, I know. Watch out for entrepreneurs that preach it is not about the money. If it is not about the money, how then do you eat? And wait a minute! You mentioned gifts above? You stole them? Money is clearly important.

Stepping on the pulpit, brother and sisters of the entrepreneur journey, I ask you this question this morning: what role are you playing in the movie which is other peoples lives and dreams? How are you adding value with your time and vast experience? It’s not even about deep, vast experience. It can also just be your unique experience or skill aiding an old entrepreneur to evolve. I have said publicly that my business is older than Facebook, so I am dependent on younger entrepreneurs that have mastered the various platforms that are now a critical part of internal and external business communication. Once again, I am off-topic.

I was asked by my team to write a review about 2019 and my hopes for 2020. So, here it goes. We worked harder in a contracting economy. We got and executed new projects, hired new people, watched our staff lives progress. I tried a lot of new things, it was almost an epidemic. I wrote a book with a good friend and it’s all giggles, as it started off as a joke and ended up being 10 chapters discussing an ongoing journey in entrepreneurship. I watched my kids grow and the process amazes me, as it’s just far more spectacular than anything else I have done and honoured to preside over. 

What do I hope for 2020? I would say for 2020 to just be as my Christmas Day. I ate breakfast at my mother-in-law’s, devoured pounded yam lunch at my mum’s and then, had a Jollof dinner at my dad’s, family happy and smiling. A man can ask for nothing more.

Wishing you this and more in 2020!


Welcome to the blog Os! Thank you so much for sharing your story with us and we are looking forward to seeing more from you. Happy 2020!