Posts by chikaU

Nomadic by nature but home when it counts.

Why We Should Listen To JP Morgan’s CEO About Bitcoin

Jamie Dimon had a lot to say about Bitcoin the other day.

We should heed his warning. Just like they should have listened to Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft in 2007. “The Iphone is too expensive,” he said. “It wouldn’t appeal to the business professional. Apple is the incumbent and they are going to have to play by our rules.” It’s almost 10 years to the day and Apple just released the Iphone X, a 1K+ phone.

 

 

Here… Lets go way back on  to 1946……“Television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months.  People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” — Darryl Zanuck, 20th Century Fox. Sorry, I couldn’t find a video for this one.

I can go on and on. If you want, here are some other random predictions here. Seems like a lot of people were just flat out wrong on Apple.

Executives, especially those who are incumbents and gatekeepers in their industry,  are rarely capable of seeing disruption. Actually, the best way to foreshadow a key challenge to basic industry assumptions is to look at the industry leaders and watch them make comments like Jamie Dimon did above. While some may argue, he’s talking about bitcoin and has much respect for the technology behind it ( JP Morgan is investing a ton of money into blockchain companies), I believe his comments on bitcoin are less about the coins and more about control. A decentralized reality for a control focused financial industry is scary. It reminds me of the Blockbuster snub on Netflix. To say there would be a day when people didn’t need physical copies due to the mass adoption of the high speed internet would have been a tough pill to swallow.

The people who face the biggest threat from disruption seem to call it wrong. Sometimes its just theater. I’m sure shareholders don’t want to hear there’s a technology/platform that could fundamentally change how their industry works. There’s definitely a confidence game going on with many executives, but I believe there’s a way to be confident and realistic.

We should listen to Jamie Dimon. His comments are a prelude to a major shake up in the financial industry.

 

Africa Startup Ecosystems Ranks: Where does Nigeria Fall on the list?

Sometimes a conversation becomes a little more. I shared this a founder who was asking me my thoughts on where Nigeria’s startup ecosystems ranks in Africa. While I didn’t have key metrics, I did mention where I would go to look and how I would evaluate. If I had to make a real essay out of it, (which I’m seriously thinking about doing), I’d probably take a more in depth look at where Nigeria’s startup ecosystems needs to course correct to be a global competitor for talent, ideas, and capital.

So a couple of things… In the life cycle of an ecosystem, Nigeria’s startup ecosystem unfortunately is still in its nascent days. There’s leakages of opportunities for investors and startups due to resource and capital constraints. I do know that we’re heading toward the globalization part of the ecosystem life-cycle. We are seeing a more foreign money, ideas, and resources flow into the Nigerian ecosystem. Comparatively, SA had all of these first and has exits under its belt so I’d still put SA up top. Nigeria still falls in the second tier of startup ecosystems in Africa for the following reason; lack of research and development $ from government, low ease of doing business scores, quality of human capital, access to seed funding (or lack thereof), etc. I will say though, Nigeria has made significant strides in “community” through the cabals, co-working spaces and other community focused pillars that re being built.  This can be accelerated by an increase in the quality of education, R&D investment, and improving the ease of doing business metrics to make it easier for startups to find talent, operate,  and to make money.

5 Ways To Make Your Product Development Process More Inclusive

In the early part of 2017, I had the opportunity to teach aspiring product managers at General Assembly. While we were on the user personas part of the curriculum, I got an interesting question from one of my students;

”It’s theoretical, but there’s something disquieting about creating these personas based on distilling, and how it could really leave a company never creating consumer products that are designed for a broader swath of person than white, single woman with disposable income. Is there a philosophy on how to best make sure that more people are represented?”

The product development process can sometimes become a silo and miss out on opportunities for other groups of users, potential features, and revenue. Based on my experience, here are 5 ways to ensure you’re building products and practices that help capture larger groups than the standard user persona allows.

  1. Focus on what needs to be done rather than who is doing it. The jobs to be done theory is the process a consumer goes through whenever they evolve themselves through searching for, buying, and using a product. It begins when the customer becomes aware of the possibility to evolve. It continues as along as the desired progress is sought. It ends when the consumer realizes new capabilities and behaves differently, or abandons the idea of evolving. (Learn more here) The jobs to be done framework moves beyond who the user is and focuses more on the future state of the user. While demographics and other user information is important, product teams should focus on collecting the appropriate information to build that bridge from current state to future state.
  2. Have a methodology you can look back to and evaluate. Companies should keep a metric/ or a process reserved for how effective they are at capturing fringe segments, feature requests, and/or products use cases. While it may initially seem like an extra chore for an already busy product team, it helps ensure that the team is accountable to dissenting features, products, and ideas. For example, a client I worked with back in the day had a 10% rule… The 10% rule stated 10% of their feature idea had to be fringe use cases. It helped the dev, product and marketing team think about particular types of users who may not be in the initial user segment.
  3. Employ for Diversity. Inclusive product teams (of experience, culture, background, gender, race, etc) is one the most important things you can do to insure you’re bringing inclusive products to market. The internal team asks the first set of questions, plans the go to market approach, and prioritizes which features get developed.
  4. Build diversity into the product feedback process. I’ve worked with a lot of companies who’ve outsourced ui/ux feedback to third party companies in the hopes of lightening the internal load. Feedback, especially early in the product development process, is best managed by your internal team. It also gives the product team a chance to focus on bringing a diverse group of users to the table for feedback.
  5. Don’t be afraid of the niche. Companies, especially in the early days, are afraid of building a niche product/feature. Building a niche product and getting market leadership is sometimes more important than getting mass market acceptance (also depends on company and industry). Sometimes being laser focused on a specific type of customer builds the bridge you need to the mass market and/or other niches.

Thank You 45

Dear 45,

Hope all is well. I know you’ve had a pretty rough couple of  months with the new job and all. I’d thought I’d brighten it up by sending a note of thanks . As you’ve quickly realized, the presidency is a thankless job so I thought I’d share 3 things I’m thankful you’ve knowing or unknowingly done.

You’ve shown all the leaders of tomorrow anything is truly possible under the right circumstances.  

I’ve always thought there’s a guide/ steps to becoming a leader. Leadership requires trials and tribulations, you have to have self awareness, earn the loyalty of your followers, be a consensus builder, etc….. We can throw the last 30 years of leadership cannon down the drain. Seems like there’s a little bit more to leadership than I thought. I guess I missed something.

You single- handily forced America to have the conversations we’ve been running from since our founding.

I don’t know how you did it or if you did this on purpose but kudos. We are having all types of conversations now. What is the role of the executive branch and what are the real checks on power? What is the role of the 4th estate (journalism) and what will it look like going forward? How are we going to reconcile our past in a way that is inclusive of experiences and true to reality? Do we really need the electoral college? Do protests really work? Yes, there’s definitely a separation of church and state but is there a separation of morality and state? What kind of country do we want to be? Was Kanye right?*  How do we walk toward the future without leaving others behind? There’s probably a ton more but you’ve got people talking and some of those conversations are translating to significant action.

You’ve shown us how to accelerate Globalism. 

 A mono-polar word works when there are institutions that give the rest of the world confidence in leadership. With your presidency, you’ve accelerated the need for other nations to take on leadership on the global stage and accelerated the start multi-polar political reality we’ll have to navigate for years to come.**

Thanks again for your work so far. Can’t wait to see what other things you have in stored.

Best,

Chika Umeadi

*Kanye said “Racism still alive, they just be concealing it.” Actually…. #Charlottesville

**Most will argue we were already in a transition to a multi-polar reality globally. I’d agree when looking at economic and military might. However, with Trumps presidency, we’ve fragmented our power in the political space by bringing Russia to prominence and creating uncertainty in US leadership. 

 

The Remedy for Impostor Syndrome: The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals

sfI have stage 5 impostor syndrome. Most of us do in some part of our lives. It tends to show up more in my professional life. After doing some research I found out some interesting stuff…. Looks like I’m not alone…..

The “Impostor Phenomenon” was first identified in the late 1970s by Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Their researched showed that many high-achieving women tended to believe they were not intelligent and that they were over-evaluated by others.

People who have Impostor Syndrome “experience intense feelings that their achievements are undeserved and that they’re likely to be exposed as a fraud,” according to a report in the International Journal of Behavioral Science.

Psychologists first thought that Impostor Syndrome affected only professional women, but research has proved that men and women feel it equally. The profession you’re in doesn’t matter. It’s been found in college kids, academics, managers, and medical workers. Actual success doesn’t matter either.

According to the same report, “anyone can view themselves as an impostor if they fail to internalize their success.” ( Breena Keer,Why 70% of Millennials Have Impostor Syndrome, November,15, 2015)

A quick rundown of how impostor syndrome works. (Thanks Hustle). I’ve found discerning between amateurs and professionals can be helpful. Then, Farnam Street blessed my inbox with a post about that.

  • Amateurs stop when they achieve something. Professionals understand that the initial achievement is just the beginning.
  • Amateurs have a goal. Professionals have a process.
  • Amateurs think they are good at everything. Professionals understand their circles of competence.
  • Amateurs see feedback and coaching as someone criticizing them as a person. Professionals know they have weak spots and seek out thoughtful criticism.
  • Amateurs value isolated performance. Think about the receiver who catches the ball once on a difficult throw. Professionals value consistency. Can I catch the ball in the same situation 9 times out of 10?
  • Amateurs give up at the first sign of trouble and assume they’re failures. Professionals see failure as part of the path to growth and mastery.
  • Amateurs don’t have any idea what improves the odds of achieving good outcomes. Professionals do.
  • Amateurs show up to practice to have fun. Professionals realize that what happens in practice happens in games.
  • Amateurs focus on identifying their weaknesses and improving them. Professionals focus on their strengths and on finding people who are strong where they are weak.
  • Amateurs think knowledge is power. Professionals pass on wisdom and advice.
  • Amateurs focus on being right. Professionals focus on getting the best outcome.
  • Amateurs focus on first-level thinking. Professionals focus on second-level thinking.
  • Amateurs think good outcomes are the result of their brilliance. Professionals understand when outcomes are the result of luck.
  • Amateurs focus on the short term. Professionals focus on the long term.
  • Amateurs focus on tearing other people down. Professionals focus on making everyone better.
  • Amateurs make decisions in committees so there is no one person responsible if things go wrong. Professionals make decisions as individuals and accept responsibility.
  • Amateurs blame others. Professionals accept responsibility.
  • Amateurs show up inconsistently. Professionals show up every day.

For me, It comes down to celebrating all successes big and small. Another tactic I will try to make happen more often is understanding that all my successes are connected to a core set of capabilities and skills that allow for long term success. Having a bigger picture view of my capabilities and achievements will help put my impostor syndrome in check.

 

New Slaves vs The Story Of OJ

I was thinking of doing a long in depth analysis of the Story of OJ vs New Slaves, but the songs do a good job of explaining themselves.  Take a listen

 

Key points to ponder:

  • OJ Simpson, during his trial back in the day, mentioned that he didn’t identify as black. The irony is race was the focal point of his defense.
  • “Niggas” are a collective. No matter how you try to differentiate, niggas are still niggas. Jay-Z tries to activate the collective consciousness of the black plight. While I see what Jay is saying, the black population/experience in the US isn’t monolithic. While there are collective experiences (injustice, racism, etc) black people experience, there’s geographic, socioeconomic, educational, lineage differences that create a segmented reality. For example, I don’t have drug money and therefore cannot use it to buy the neighborhood. That’s a whole set of experiences I’m just not exposed to.
  • Jay tries to put people on game…. Buy assets that appreciate and don’t give in to the consumerist lifestyle/ trying to keep up with the Jones. To Jay, black people in America can only improve if they focus on asset acquisition.

Take a listen to New Slaves.

 

Key points from New Slaves:

  • Kanye is a very angry place when he made this album. This song is initially a moment of expression about his current challenges around engaging the fashion community. He feels like the gatekeepers of fashion don’t accept his ability to enter the space. So while the song has racial features, the ultimate struggle he’s arguing against is gatekeepers of consumerist culture.
  • Like I mentioned, Kanye invokes a lot of racial history and visuals. He makes a pivot into a larger audience in the first verse though; “Use to only be niggas, now everybody’s playing.” This differs from Jay’s approach as Kanye is speaking to a larger group than black people. He’s speaking to the power dynamic between consumers and corporations.
  • Kanye talks about all the other institutions that corporations own/run/influence and ultimately scheme to keep the status quo.
  • Kanye’s solution to fighting the man is to increase his voice, tear down walls/ misconceptions, and share with the world through his music. Oh yes, can’t forget sleeping with the mans spouses… I believe its a reference to the old slave masters fear of their spouses being raped by slaves and how its manifested presently in how black men are perceived in our society today.

The Story of OJ and New Slaves share a lot of the same imagery and messaging around slavery and racism. They both talk about power dynamics of the oppressed and the oppressor. Ultimately, they are reflection of Jay-z and Kanye and where they were in life. Jay has risen to prominence through flipping / selling value to his community. Not to put downplay Jay-z’s accomplishments, but he hasn’t done anything revolutionary.  Kanye, on the other hand, is less of a business person and more of a creative. He’s faced people, even Jay at times, that wanted him to stay in his lane (ex: as a producer). Kanye’s had to fight and prove his ability to gatekeepers at every point of his career. New slaves is a critique on institutions that prevent him from actualizing his creative potential.

Ranking The Best Rappers Of All Time: A Quantitative Approach

Everyone has a top 5 best rappers list. It normally looks like:

  1. 2pac
  2. Biggie
  3. Jay-z
  4. Eminem
  5. Nas

Give or take a few people… How does one arrive at a top 5 list to begin with?

Well, Rap Genius made a top 99 list , 2pac and Biggie took one and two respectively. Their metrics of evaluation were based off the 2015 billboard ranking  They made the list based on the following:

  1. The opinion of rapper’s; because who better to judge than other professionals?
  2. The opinion of the public; because it’s the largest population sample
  3. The opinion of critics; because they’re experts who put extra thought into it.

PinkCookies (a top rated user on Rap Genius) went through these categories and gave a rapper 10 points for being 1st, 1 point for being last or mentioned, factored in the number of appearances and came up with lists for each category. After a lot of informal interviews and messy math, they came up with their list (link up above).

I thought I’d take a more systematic approach in creating a list. The problem with the methodology above is people can easily name their top 10 but its tough after that. So I figured I’d come up with all the artist and then come up with categories to score from 1 to 10. From there, you could add the different parties to the mix ( rappers, public, and critics) but they’d have a more structured way of thinking about it which would most likely produce a radically different list from what they have now.

  • Longevity – How long have you been making music?
  • Discography – How many songs / albums do they have?
  • Underground Relevance – how well are they known by the connoisseurs of rap.
  •  Originality- Did they bring a new twist to rap? Do they have a style that’s theirs alone?
  • Concepts- Do they bring interesting concepts to life? Are their stories unique?
  • Versatility-  How well can the artist carry on a new style, use different beats and do things that are outside of their normal ability.
  • Vocabulary – How good is the artist vocabulary?
  • Substance- Are they saying anything worthwhile?
  • Flow-  How well can they put pars together and how long can they keep it going? Also could include speed in the conversation.
  • Flavor- Do they have that unique swag to their artistry that sets differentiates them from other rappers?
  • Freestyle- Ability to make things happen on the fly/ off the dome.
  • Vocal Presence- Can they hold a note or two?  
  • Live Performance- Can they carry a concert? How is their stage presence?
  • Poetic Value- How effective are they in using poetic structures in their writing/ music?
  • Industry Impact- How have they change the rap/music industry?
  • Social Impact- What has the artist done to impact the society.
  • Lyrics- What are they saying and how are they saying it?
  • Battle Skills –  Ability to beat other rappers in lyrical war

I figured I’d name a bunch of rappers from the beginning of rap until now and score it out. I hope by creating categories, I could be more inclusive to all types of rappers, people who are purely battle rappers and crossed over, those who have been in the game for a while vs those that were in it for a short time, and any other kind of group you can think of. One major challenge I foresee is my bias toward recent memory which could be mitigated by crowd-sourcing the list from people of all ages groups and taste.

What else should be included? I was thinking of using album sales/ ticket sales/ streaming data to evaluate but it’s tough to get your hands on that information.