Musings on my travels in Ethiopia 🇪🇹

The second last stop on our Africa tour has brought us to beautiful Ethiopia!

The most hyped up country of all 4 (Nigeria, Ghana, Ethiopia and Kenya), and with a forecasted GDP growth spurt of 8.2% (Taken from the WorldBank.org website) in 2018 I must say that my expectations were high. I was expecting to step onto a buzzing metropolis in the making…. but, not quite.

Now I’m not saying that Ethiopia is not growing, from the areas I have visited in Addis Ababa, I can certainly say that of the 4 countries, Addis had the most developments. You cannot drive longer than 1km without seeing a new development and this is a great sign for things to come from an economic growth, opportunity and expansion perspective. However, right now and into the next 3 years, I don’t believe there would have been enough time for a shift. Maybe in the next 5 to 10 years.

Because Ethiopia is still highly regulated by the law of the ruling government, foreign investment is highly regulated, barriers to entry for outsiders are high and major industries such as Banking and Telecommunications are monopolized. Historically, there has been limited to no support from the local government in order to support entrepreneurs, drive competition, increase the literacy rate as well as employment but the sudden increase in foreign interest should change this and hopefully make the Government realize the importance of working with investors and using the opportunity for the advantage of its people.

From a general, tourist perspective I could say that Addis has a quasi Mediterranean quasi Middle Eastern feel to it. Extremely dry air and dusty roads will make you feel like you’re walking/driving through the streets of Athens, Greece and the local culture, language and aesthetic of the natives has an Arabic sand dunes feel to it.

I was grateful to also have some time to try out the local cuisine which I though was simply divine and completely exceeded my expectations.

And of course…. COFFEE!

All in all, being in Ethiopia was an incredibly insightful experience and I cannot wait to see the country grow and establish itself as a powerhouse in Africa. It is certainly open for business and one to look out for in the near future.

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Musings on my travels in Ghana 🇬🇭

Although practically neighboring countries, Ghana and Nigeria were like night and day.

Where Nigerians where boisterous and welcoming, I found Ghanaians to be more reserved and relaxed…

In terms of infrastructure, Ghana had a stark difference when it came to the developed vs underdeveloped areas. Where it was Commercial and westernized, you couldn’t tell the difference between being somewhere in Joburg or Accra; and where it was underdeveloped/ informal, you could absolutely see.

Airport

You don’t need Protocol here 😂

Temperature

It’s humid but slightly more bearable than Nigeria, the heat however is intense!

Food

Food in Ghana was quite different to Nigeria. I found Ghanaian food to be more nutritious as there was a variety of fresh vegetables and spices in all the meals I had, and boy did I go in with the local food!

Closing comments

Ghana was a much more chilled and orderly country. Where in Nigeria distinguishing between poor, middle and upper class was near impossible, in Ghana you could see it.

So, which country do I prefer between the two? Hands down Nigeria!!! It’s still so rugged and so African which I loved and my soul resonated so much with that. Ghana was too easy and comfortable for me so I didn’t find it as stimulating/ entertaining.

Ghanaian informal markets were my highlight so far on the trip. The experience made me really appreciate and count the blessings in my life and also gave me a new found respect for how hard-working Ghanaians are. No matter how developed the country becomes, none of the natives have forgotten their roots, they trust and believe in their local market as well as what it has to offer which I think is beautiful and truly African.

Quick thoughts about traveling to Nigeria 🇳🇬

If you follow me on any of my social media accounts you would have noticed that I’m currently on a trip around a few countries in Africa for the next few weeks.

I wanted to share some thoughts while on the road to answer some of the questions I’ve been getting so far around Nigeria and I think it would be great to do this for the other countries, compare notes of the different experiences and share my perspective as I go.

The airport

So I went to the part of Nigeria called Lagos State. My frame of reference for the post will be derived from this. I have never been to any other state and there is a possibility that you may have had a different experience to mine due to geographical location, ruling tribes, size, etc.

The first thing you will most definitely notice when you depart from plane is the humidity. Given that I arrived at Murtala Muhammad Airport, although it’s situated in the Mainland, it’s really close to the Islands and the ocean and it’s positioning near the equator makes for hot and humid temperature. If you’ve been to Dubai, it’s not as hot, if you’ve been to Duran, it’s more humid and I hear it’s quite similar to Thailand in terms of it being constantly overcast, but that could just be the time of year Im traveling in.

The second thing I can guarantee you’ll notice is the chaos. You walk out of the plane into the airport and it’s like you’ve just walked into the twilight zone. EVERYONE is shouting at you and each other, running somewhere (I guess to collect their bags at the carousel) but you will notice, it’s vibrant and it’s buzzing.

You then get to passport control and you wish to die. It’s the longest queue, there’s no aircon, never mind a fan. Natives are shouting (again) at you and each other, there’s a tribal “war” that can subtly be noticed between the men controlling the different areas and the ones trying to escort you through the “priority lane” and the faster you wish to leave the more frustrating it will get.

My experience was made so much more bearable as I had some company and Protocol (invest in protocol!!!!). We quickly adjusted to the chaos and realized the possibilities of being stuck at the airport for at least another 4 hours and started cracking jokes about Malaria and some local celebrities we had flown in with.

Top 2 tips here:

Do not check in any bag. You won’t find it at the carousel

If it’s your first time, organise Protocol, if not to and from the hotel, just get it for your arrival- it can be intimidating as a first timer.

On the way to the hotel

Okay, the one thing I must tell you here is that there is traffic in Lagos at any given time. I arrived at around 8pm local time and there was backed up traffic on the highway that I spotted as we were landing. The trip to the hotel was 28km away, Thank God for Protocol who moved all the traffic aside for our driver. It’s great.

The food

Definitely my take outs in this section are the restaurant in Lagos called The Lagoon where I tried some cheese naan, grilled crayfish and jollof rice. The view was incredible and reminded me so much of Venice and the grand canal. The company was also fantastic!

I also had time to sneak in some Cold Stone ice cream which was just Devine and totally worth all the calories!

Night life

What happens in Lagos stays in Lagos

Closing thoughts

Lagos by far exceeded my expectations. As I write this post in Ghana, I can definitely reflect and say although very loud, Nigerians are way more fun, out there and friendlier than Ghanaians (and they make the best Jollof rice 😂). I had a great time, made more friends than I can count, and my fellow Jordies made it incredibly memorable.

How to rock monochrome fashion for work

monochrome fashion
How to wear monochrome

When it comes to clothing, there are two things I love wearing. Black, and anything else that goes with it. Some days I get lucky and my wardrobe spews out top to toe monochrome and I am ready and out the door in 45 minutes and other days I end up looking like a chess board or a waitress. But I am happy to say that most days than not I get it right and look elegant and sophisticated with minimal effort.

As you know, living life in the 21st century is fast, emotionally and physically draining. Most of us have so many other things going on besides a 9-5 such as furthering studies, running NPOs or trying to monetize blogs. Unless you’re trying to break into the fashion industry, it really isn’t practical to spend more than 30 minutes trying to figure out how to put an outfit together on Monday morning while trying to make it to an 8am meeting in peak Jozi traffic.

I frequently receive compliments on how I put my outfits together which is sometimes surprising as I don’t have a million pieces in my wardrobe. My number one secret is visualization (I have an idea of the image I want the clothes I wear to portray and create a theme around it thus always looking consistent and I don’t have to be in Ralph Lauren or Zara everyday). Something else that I do, which is very important when I buy clothing, is to make sure that my pieces can slot into multiple wears, thus  ensuring that I maximize the ROI of my wardrobe, giving me more wear per item and versatility  in the outfits I put together.

Here are a few pics of an outfit I put together which I have worn in the office. 3 simple pieces put together in a sophisticated way that works every time together, but most importantly, with other items in my wardrobe:

how to wear monochrome at workuse this 3monochrome

What is your favorite color to wear to work? I just love black because it’s both powerful and forgiving, and we all need a bit of both from time to time!

Millennial Consumers Determine the Fate of Harley Davidson

Harley Davidson

*Firstly, I want to start of by clarifying that I am by no means a fortune-teller/ marketing expert. The contents of my article today are merely based on my own opinions and research I have conducted around the company and do not reflect or indicate in any way with absolute certainty the fate of the organization being discussed. it’s a wild world and anything can happen :). COOL…

As I settled onto my bed to prepare for one of my Business School lectures, I had already prepared my mind for a half an hour of critical thinking and active reading.

This time around the business case I had to go through was based on Harley Davidson-The history, the journey and “the future”.

What I soon realized on the first page of the 12 pages of information, was a very dangerous situation. You know when a company starts sinking and they can see it but they don’t know what to do? Something like Nokia… Blackberry… HTC….MySpace….MXIT…The crux of the case focussed on the concert the leadership team had around their aging client base and felt that over the years they had neglected their existing millennial fan base who would prove to be crucial in taking the brand to the next level; as opposed to relying so heavily on its former glory days where the fans in the 80s lived and breathed the brand due to influences from pop culture.

Hells Angels

Decades later, having neglected the marketing aspect of their business and not staying in touch with the evolving client base, the leadership in the company which was responsible for Harley Davidison’s strategic direction woke up to realize that their base was growing older and thinner by the year, their competition was eating their lunch (despite their local government assisting them with foreign tax implementation) and in regions where they had chosen to expand with their “more relatable” Buell, no previous research was done of competitors or of target audience preferences. The company had made the very big mistake on relying solely on their powerful and established American brand, not realizing that there was a possibility of customers all the way in Asia/ Africa/ Europe, who needed a customized story and message fit for their context. The HD brand and philosophy was just not landing with my fellow global millennials.

Read more posts related to consumer trends: Why is butter so expensive?

As I read on, thinking that there would be some kind of comeback strategy, to my disappointment, the case ended by subtly suggesting two brand revamp strategies which I don’t think have been implemented at all to date and quite honestly I believe, if done correctly and effectively, could win back the grace and image of the brand in diverse international regions.

Although this case is a bit dated. Having left the reformation to so late, I think it’s going to take more than a brilliant marketing strategy to reform the brand (effective execution is key) and the WSJ seems to agree, with projections of the company’s profits taking a downward spiral as can be read here .

Sometimes it’s better to bend. With new developments, the brand needs to take the millennial voice into account during product proposition design and execution (and it will take more than just paintng the whole motocycle black to win back the client base) or else I’m sad to say, will become obsolete and irrelevant for the future.

See the new Harley Davidson commercial which aims to target their younger client base, while still remaining relevant to their existing base. Do you think it will be enough?

How to get smarter (Not yet, but soon)

Artificial Intelligence

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

Dr. Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University undertook a study where she researched the “growth mindset”. This study aimed to ascertain whether humans have the ability to learn and solve new things which can be defined as one’s understanding and belief that their abilities can be developed.

What I found fascinating while watching her Ted Talk titled “The power of believing that you can improve”, was the concept of individuals falling into two mindset categories namely:

  1. Those who believed they had a “fixed” mindset and
  2. The others group that believed their mindset could be developed

Society has normalized this concept that we are all born with a gifts or a talent, there is no such thing as being multi talented and those who are, are just special/ different.

The difference between the fixed mindset and the growth mindset is one’s decision to “do” or not to “do”

If you don’t get something right the first time, do you usually run from the difficulty or do you acknowledge your shortcomings and see how you can succeed the next time? I for one have been crippled by the fear of failure that when it happened for the first time to me, I felt like the ground beneath me was giving way and I would surly tumble to my demise. Until I woke up the next day, alive…and very much within the reality of my “shortcomings” hahaha! This is when I realized that I could either quit and tell myself that this wasn’t for me (hence why I failed), or see things through and cut myself some slack. I did the latter and overtime since then I always find failing such an enriching experience. It gives me an opportunity to gain perspective and ENGAGE with failure as if it were a teacher as opposed to a disciplinarian.

So with this being said, are we going to confine ourselves to the reality of a single box or will we step out to discover the multi facets of the box from the outside perspective and venture on to discover the world outside of the box and beyond? When we decide to see that challenges and hardships don’t mean “find another alternative, you’re just not good at this” but rather, “not yet but soon if you work at it” we will find that there is so much more that life will begin to offer.