Be prepared to change your career (Part 3)

__Always invest in the “tools of your trade.”

Shortly after I completed my engineering degree in the UK, I had to go to work in a manufacturing facility in England to get “practical experience” as they called it. The technicians, many who’d been there for many years, had certain routines from which I picked up some real “life experiences and practices.”

It’s always amazing what important principles you can take away, even if you go on to do something completely different in life.

# Have pride in your tools.

Every technician had a “toolbox” which they looked after lovingly. It was almost like a “rite of passage.” At the end of each day, they’d boast to each other about the tools they’d managed to acquire, and what they were used for. They would clean their tools after the day was over.

Buying and investing in good quality tools was considered a technician’s personal responsibility, not the employer’s.

“I feed my children with them tools, don’ I?” one of them once explained in his colloquial English.

Fast forward:

I would always lose my plastic pen. Then someone said, “You would not lose it, if you invested in a proper pen.”

“Wow,” I thought. “This is just like those old English technicians and their tools.”

That day, I went out and bought myself a nice set of pens. I immediately stopped losing pens!

Question: What are the “tools of your trade”?

Do you have your own computer? Everyone who runs a modern business, or works in a profession, should have a laptop.

A computer is not even a “tool”; it’s the “toolbox” in which most all the modern technological tools are kept.

Are you on the Internet? Do you have it in both your business and your home?

# If not, you better sell your car, if you have one, and walk, but you must have a computer and be on the Internet

# If you have a house, it would be far smarter in today’s world to have a smaller house with Internet, than a bigger house with no Internet.

# It would be far, far smarter to have a smaller car, or none at all, and be able to afford a computer and Internet for your business and family, than to have a luxury car or the like.

# Those who understand what I’m saying here are better positioned to make the career changes needed as a result of disruptive changes to the workplace, and the jobs we do.

Whatever work you do, or plan to do in the future, you have to upgrade your “toolbox” for the changing times ahead. I want you to be prepared. Remember what I wrote last week about your mindset? And the week before that, about imagining the horizon beyond today’s horizon?

As I’ve written you before, the “mobile revolution” has already given way to the “Internet revolution.” If the Internet were an ocean, then what you’re seeing today is just the shoreline. The Internet will even transform our villages. In the future, the village store and grinding mill will use the Internet, even to order and manage inventories. Even the village school will be changed by the Internet.

You will see it happen. Somewhere, somebody is already working to find a solution. Just five years ago, if I had said to you, “Villagers in the remotest parts of Africa will be able to receive money from anywhere in the world within five minutes or even less,” what would you have said?

You’re the ones called to make this kind of thing happen. It’s your time. Is your toolbox ready?

To be continued. . .

by 15 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

15 thoughts on “Be prepared to change your career (Part 3)

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1. An efficient organization needs everyone to play his or her part, and to be faithful to the mission. Absenteeism is just another form of corruption, and its costs are just the same. An absentee teacher or civil servant is just as destructive to a young nation than its most corrupt officials who steal money.

  2. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2. One more thing I also learnt in that job I only had for a few months: Don’t be late for work! I once heard an old technician upbraid a young man who was late: “You’re going to cost us all our jobs, you fool!” The way they saw it, if someone was late, the company could lose customers and eventually be uncompetitive and lose position. When a workmate doesn’t come to work, or is late, or is busy doing something unrelated, do you see this as a threat to your own job?

  3. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Florian, writes:

    What an inspirational post! Its almost seven months since I liked your page and I have never missed any of your posts since then Sir. Surprisingly this is my first time to write a comment on your posts and it’s not that I ignored the posts but I felt I didn’t deserve to comment since I have done almost nothing as an entrepreneur. I have now undergone reasonable transformations (mindset) and am ready to take my way to success, and I hope 2017 will be great to me as a young and upcoming entrepreneur. May God bless you Sir. We still need you.

    My reply,
    Some of the greatest entrepreneurs I have ever met were not in business. I have even met civil servants and teachers who were great entrepreneurs! It’s not just about making money, that is why we now recognize “social” entrepreneurs.
    Think of an entrepreneur as someone who hungers to see transformation, and goes out to do something about it, in an innovative and sustainable way.

  4. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Daniel writes,

    I must say Kwese free sports contents is so magical.
    Picture and sound quality is top notch.
    Ghana, we’re enjoying the 24 hrs telecast.
    Warning! : U’ll be too glued to ur set.

    My reply,
    You made my day!

  5. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Talent Tembo,
    # It is my understanding that it was a directive from the telecoms regulator. I have never supported this type of regulatory approach.
    It makes it difficult to introduce new services such as Mobile TV, when a “floor price” is set for data. Very unusual.

  6. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Anita writes,

    Thank you for upgrading me again
    I am not the same person I was before I read this.

    Discipline is the bedrock of success at any level
    People are selective about where they are punctual and not,where they are efficient etc
    To me if you have self discipline which is an inner quality it will affect every single facet of your life.

    Sir Strive there is a quiet discipline in you that manifests in everything you do.
    I hear it when you speak ,understand it when you write but most of all I learn from it all
    God bless you Richly


    My reply,
    In my life I was not always the smartest guy in the room, or the most knowledgeable, or the most experienced. I always understood that discipline was “the bridge between the desire for something, and its accomplishment”. Anyone can set goals, but only the disciplined get those goals accomplished.

  7. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afram writes,

    I have always been planning towards taking over my mother’s food business after graduating. I haven’t had enough money to set up the iconic food joints that I envision yet, but I had a little cash recently and the idea that came to mind was to start investing in her tools, so I purchased a heavy-duty gas cooker (as she has been using coalpot+charcoal since she began) and plan to get the others in due time. I know the tools and am making them ready Sir. Thanks for the encouragement.

    My reply,
    This is one of the most important comments I have seen in a very long time.
    Many of us were raised by parents who have small businesses like that of your mother. Instead of despising such businesses when we are well educated, we should consider investing in such businesses by bringing modern tools, skills and processes.
    Well done.

  8. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Oluwayobami writes,

    Hum….No Wonder In The Millitary.They Always Recite That "my Rifle Is My Life.Without Me There Is No My Rifle Without My Rifle There Is No Me" In A Nutshell For Me,now I Will Rather Say "my Tools Is My Life.Without Me There Is No My Tools Without My Tools There Is No Me ".Thanks Dr Masiyiwa.

    My reply,
    I wish I had known this before writing my post!
    It is truly excellent.
    No matter what it is you do for a living there are “tools for the trade” on which your career depends. You must know those tools and value them as though your very life depended on them.
    A professional footballer will pay thousands of dollars for the right boots. A top tennis player will pay tens of thousands for a racket!
    What of you; what are the tools of your own trade? They may not always be physical like a spanner, but they are there!

  9. Strive Masiyiwa Post author


    I started reading from this page in late 2014, by January 2015, I had developed a model for curbing the menace caused by small scale miners in my country. Even though I haven’t gotten funds to set up the model mining operation for my model and eventually launch it, I am still looking at ways to change the mode of operation of a model which hasn’t even been implemented yet.
    The future indeed lies in technology and I wouldn’t wait to launch before I look for ways of improvement.

    Thanks Dr. Strive Masiyiwa for your insights.

    My reply,
    I’m excited when I read this kind of testimonial.
    Please keep them coming!!!

  10. Gabriel Kwaramba

    Dr. Masiyiwa I wish you could post something everyday but I understand you are a busy man. This mentorship is the greatest thing that has ever happened to me.

  11. Archie MZ

    Everytime I read your articles, even think about you Sir, even Econet, In me I feel a kick and there is this strong desire and force that kicks within. I feel like if I dont do everything that you have taught me I would have died while living. This feeling in my heart has been there ever since i was 9 years old. Everytime it feels like I have found what am supposed to do, I have no rest within me, I now see what I could not see. In me i feel it and thank you sir for mentoring me to my destiny.. I am blessed to know you

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Enam, writes:

    I like that last part of your reply, it answers my question. An entrepreneur isn’t necessarily the owner of a business per se, but rather an individual determined to see change and works to get the change to become a reality. Thanks Mr Strive Masiyiwa

    My reply,
    If you study a successful company like Apple, Steve Job, the entrepreneurial founder is long gone, but the company continues to develop and launch highly innovative products and services. This means that there was more than one entrepreneur at Apple, right?
    Every organization must be designed in such a way that it attracts and keeps entrepreneurs at all levels, even if that organization is not a For Profit.
    This is one of my business secrets: I look for entrepreneurs all the time. The managers that I value the most are those who show an entrepreneurial flare.
    To paraphrase Moses, “O I would that everyone who works in our organization was an entrepreneur!”

  13. Olagbaju Ifeoluwa

    Hi sir,
    I enjoy reading your post every time (practical and informative). You doing a lot for people especially young ones than you know. I would love to know if you have any plan of bringing kwese tv to nigeria, we seriously need a strong competitor in aspect of digital TV.

  14. Julius Kibunjia

    Thank you very much for this particular post. I have 2 questions I’d like to ask though, let’s say the same taxi man who thinks that his job might become obsolete because of self driving vehicles, has made huge strides by way of investments in vehicles and systems to make a living using Uber. Does he have to shut down the business and lay off workers and start from scratch on another career by the time autonomous vehicles make their debut? I mean for some people changing a career that took years to build is like beginning again to build up something completely different. My second question would be how sustainable is it to be starting a new career every 5 years in terms of focus?

    Thank you


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