If you’re an entrepreneur or career professional in your 20s (male or female), you’ve got to re-engineer your mind to stop seeing yourself as a young person.
RESPECT is a necessary ingredient for success in Nigeria. RESPECT is still largely associated with AGE in Nigeria.
You need to PROJECT maturity in everything you do so you can overcome this societal error.
You’re not a young professional. You’re a professional, period. That’s how they take you seriously.
For the guys, you know my story. I used to love hoodies and jeans (still do). Dropped it and got quickly comfortable in well-tailored suits.
For ladies, all this spaghetti and Fashionova summer collections won’t cut it. You’re not aiming for the Cardi-B persona. More like a Michelle Obama or an Ibukun Awosika.
Overwoke children safely tweeting with 1st world internet will start throwing words like patriarchy, objectifying women’s bodies, etc. Nor be all meat you must chop.
Same goes for use of makeup and social media shenanigans. I know we all have our playful sides but decide carefully, the one that would be privy to just friends and family versus the one the world sees. If some of you see my private music playlist, you’ll probably lose your religion.
This excess freedom of expression being pushed by western cultures will rob you here.
As a rule of thumb, don’t dress like your mates. Dress like the seniors whose places you want to take.
If you insist on pulling up to that meeting looking your idea of fashionable. That’s not feminism oh. Yeah, you’ll make a statement (only in your mind) but you’ll lose to a peer (or senior) who understands perception management.
For both genders, wear clothing that cover up all tattoos.
BOUNDARIES! This is one that many people learn late. Only a few will come and tell you how this character flaw burned them.
It’s not everybody you hug with full body. If you need love in your life, get therapy. I’m serious. Thirst will embarrass you.
Don’t use terms of endearment loosely. This isn’t college. To be safe, start off unfamiliar engagements with last names – “Good afternoon Mr. Okafor or Mrs. Nweke or Sir or Ma’am”
Even when they approve otherwise, approach with sensible caution. My mother used to say “Have the sense to know when the handshake is going beyond the elbow”. Your respect is reducing.
Concerning emails and other forms of official messaging, read official emails from corporates and learn their pattern. I did this when starting.
If you’re a late bloomer like me, look for ways to enhance your appearance. In my 20s, I looked 14 and it hurt me bad in the marketplace.
If you’re male and you’re blessed with facial hair early, thank God. Groom it neatly but let it show that you have bia bia.
If like me, bia bia no quick show, please don’t be too skinny. Work out. Look energetic.
Don’t wear rubber bands on your wrist or even plastic ones. Wear a watch or keep it empty.
FRAGRANCE OH! When your senior is smelling nice, use sense to figure out what they’re using or ask your mature friends.
Carry breath mints around so that the peace of the Lord may dwell in your tabernacle.
Stack up what Tim Ferris calls CREDIBILITY INDICATORS early in your career – TV/Radio/Print features, certifications, membership of relevant associations, etc. You’ll be perceived a lot better than your mates.
Some people of extraordinary ability, indispensable skill or superior connections might be able to break these social rules but it’s likely you’re not them.
I wish I knew all these things when I turned 20 but oh well… Now you can turn all those “We’ll get back to you” into “Let’s talk some more”
Do you have any questions or lessons from your own personal experiences in the NIGERIAN market that others can benefit from? Please leave a comment.
- John Obidi
PS: See how I capitalized “NIGERIAN”? It’s because overwoke children can’t read.