By NJ Ayuk
In 2021, most opportunities in the business will go to those who show up and negotiate better deals and get involved in making African resources work for us.
Forget handouts, foreign aid and government handouts. In 2021, young African dealmakers, negotiators and lawyers will have to embrace a new mindset to win.
I have a few words of advice for this generation, for Africa’s young attorneys, entrepreneurs, rising stars and dealmakers:
Never lose sight of the significance of your work
I am the first to advise many young people to avoid feeling entitled to anything. No one owes you or us anything.
I have stated many times: you succeed when you look for mentors and let them mentor you. Next, be stubbornly loyal. Don’t try to pull a fast one because you know more than others! Further, embrace your trials and shortcomings for they teach you to be a better person and lawyer.
I have seen too many young lawyers or rising stars who get a chance to be on a podium, and then tend to spend more time being celebrities than being around colleagues or supervisors.
Many so-called celebrities have not earned a deal and completed one, so avoid having a big head. For me if you have not closed a deal and are not making money, you need to keep your philosophies to yourself.
It is crucial to have a strong focus on building your skills because clients and business partners really want you to be good at what you do. Your writing, critical thinking, commercial mindset and in-depth industry skills cannot hurt you.
Most clients want to know who is working on their deals, and they do not care about your race or nationality. They want to know you are qualified and can get the job done.
When you finally get a deal done and you get your first bonus or check, do not fall in the trap of buying that fancy car or getting into fast life. You will get broke so quickly. Spend wisely even when you think you have arrived where you need to be. Always think there is more and stay hungry. Look at the Texas oil boys, they are always hungry. They wear their cowboy boots and continue searching for the next big discovery.
Hashtags do not pay the bills. Get off your phone.
Get offline, social media is nice but it isn’t everything, we have seen people who prefer to seat on their phone even during business meetings rather than engage on real business. How do want a deal when you are busy on your whatsapp group chats?
When you don’t get the job or the contract, don’t be so quick on blaming the “White Man” or Racism.
We need to start having a post covid mindset and know we will have to engage again. I am not crazy about Zoom meetings, but we have to do it.
Business is not about who had the best tweet two hours ago or who does the best hooting and hollering. Get down on the ground and make money. Do not believe those who tell you money is bad. We know it is bad being broke and we hate being broke. You should never apologise for working hard and making money. To do that, you must be focused and yes, get off your phone.
Commit to work. Pay your dues. Your time to shine will come.
Always ask yourself, “Am I adding value to the firm or the company?” Don’t think you are in the firm to be the labor union representative or the head of diversity.
You are not owed anything.
You must understand that building a successful practice or business calls for something not taught in law school or business school or any school: the ability to hustle and deliver on deals. I have a fierce sense of urgency that many others don’t share.
The truth is, I am harder on myself. I am never satisfied, and I just believe I can win bigger and do the deal better. The most important outcome for me is to have people around me achieve more than they ever thought they could.
Lean in and take the heat for your client or causes you believe in, and for Africa
In 2021, you must capitalize on the opportunities that you see.
One of the key things you must do in 2021, is take the heat for your clients. I have never had a problem being called an ambulance-chaser in the past.
Today I am that ambulance that is being chased and many know i will always stand with them and I built a strategy of taking the heat for them. Don’t let them push on your client or kill your issue. Develop a thick skin and let them hit you. If I can’t take the heat, I have no business being in the kitchen.
I have been pushed, been kicked, sometimes been spat on, lied on, demonized, talked about and even derided in the media. Its does not bother me one bit, I always know I am going to outlast my distractors or competition. I have also been invited to meet with Presidents, Ministers, CEO’s and even Royals. But I never lost my way.
Never take your eyes off the prize. Be patient, play chess, keep smiling, be ready to take a punch and definitely hit back and do it harder. Maybe a combination of Jabs, Uppercuts and Hooks. That’s going to be you in 2021.
Its going to be a fight to stay alive, stay employed, stay in business, stay relevant and stay sane when everything and everyone around you is going crazy.
You are going to be tested. They are going to come after you. Sometimes even your own friends and those who laugh with you then stab you in the back. You will be called a traitor to most of your liberal elitist friends who feel entitled, drink latte with soy or almond milk.
They sometimes cannot believe that this kid who was their darling and their best boo does not buy into their tree hugging, cry me a river ideology. You and I will have to believe and fight for Africa first, against energy poverty, and for personal responsibility, free markets, limited government and yes we must not be ashamed of being people of faith.
The writer is the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group