How I bought 6 properties by age 26

How I owned 6 properties by 26 (Part 1)

Hi I am Nwamara Obiike and I am a 27 year old Black woman; and this is my story about how I accumulated six properties by age 26.

I come across many people with whom I have interesting conversations regarding money, family & investments. Each new person (all of similar age) are extremely surprised that I currently have investments in six different properties. This not only indicates that they assume it impossible but also indicates the financial empowerment still needed in our black communities. In order to bridge the financial gap, to close in on decades of marginalization where our counterparts built wealth, we need to find ways to accelerate this wealth building, lay stable foundations and let go of the mental shackles.

  1. Making the decision to stop paying someone else’s mortgage.  

At age 24 I had been a tenant for 2 years. The rent was cheap- at first- and the apartment was beautiful. It was this wooden floored, open plan style apartment with high ceilings in the heart of a cultural node in Durban, South Africa. I had just moved into the city when I found it so you can imaginee I needed that soft landing. But after two years of blissful stay and another rent increase approaching I could not bear the thought of parting with that amount of money with no asset attached to it. So I made the decision to stop paying someone else’s bond & started the search for property 1. I found a quaint apartment also in the heart of Durban closer to the ocean at a decent price. It needed a kitchen renovation (but that’s a story for another day) but besides that it was in great condition. Before putting an offer forward I researched for the previous purchased price of the flat (yes, this stuff is available online) and it can be a good indication of what offer to put forward in the current market conditions. I low balled the seller, because sellers will always counter. Because I was a first time buyer, I used my qualification and good credit score to get 100% financing from my bank at a favorable interest rate. Financially the end monthly costs were about R1000 ZAR more than my rental which I was happy with, it was my asset.

2. Taking a Risk  

Needless to say I selected bank 2 and raised the 10% through savings and family (family is interest free 🙂 ). This was my first investment property to be tenanted.

“In property, you make money when you buy, not when you sell”. I took a risk and put my name up and forward to the bank. This is probably one of the few times that you truly benefit from being a full time employee- Banks LOVE to give credit to clients working for corporates. I financed this property also through a bond with two bank offers to choose from, Bank 1 at 100% with a very unpleasant interest rate and the other, Bank 2 at 90% with a favorable interest rate. Banks will test your commitment and stability by giving you 90% as you will need to raise the remaining 10% as a down payment. After doing the math, the interest I would pay in the 100% loan over the period of time would dramatically exceed the 10% down payment required by bank 2.

About 8 months after buying my first property I received a call regarding a new developing block in an up and coming area in Johannesburg. My first thought- “I just bought a property, there is no way I will get financing”. This was my first introduction to “new builds” and their benefits. The price you get is all inclusive with new properties, no transfer cost bond costs. It felt like a bargain because the value instantly increases once the property is completed. The earlier you purchase a developing property the more you gain once it’s completed.

3. Learning to collaborate

The potential growth and value of the second property was extremely enticing that 4 months later I took a bold risk and aimed for a second apartment in that development. Truthfully, I had no more money and would have needed to fund this property through 100% loans which the bank refused to give. I was trying to do it all on my own and was quickly reminded of Kiyosaki’s words. He spoke about owning a small piece of a big pie rather than owning 100% of a very small pie. So I made the choice to collaborate and co invest in this property. My co investor & I could not afford the property individually, but together it was lucrative. I went 50/50 and the bank was more than willing to give me 100% financing on the 50% amount.

I am no expert, this is only a part of my journey and there is a long road ahead. I find comfort in educating myself and there is no better way than reading a book that will help kickstart your voyage to financial literacy.

“I am not an early bird, or a night owl. I am some form of permanently exhausted pigeon!” J African Child | Blogger| Financial Crusader

Thank you Nwamara for sharing how you have managed to reach a feat that many aspire to. It is important that we empower each other not only by sharing the ‘what’ but most importantly the ‘how’. Execution and bringing our goals to life is everything!-Lerato

strong black woman syndrome

4 WAYS THE STRONG BLACK WOMAN SYNDROME (SBWS) KEEPS YOU BROKE AND BROKEN

– A Shared blog by Kara Stevens of http://www.thefrugalfeminista.com

We place a copious amount of pressure on ourselves as females and probably even more so as Black females. In Africa, the intricate balance of cultural expectations, corporate struggles, and racial dilemma’s and topped off with patriarchy is one that leaves us pulled in all directions. These are the threads that have sewn and stitched the garment of SBWS, the strength and resilience we have developed as females is represented in the physical, emotional and psychological weight we carry in our lives… which can leaves us broken… and broke! I’m passionate about financial freedom, & even more so about women empowerment. It is always gold when I find an interesting take that includes both. I am guilty of SBWS and I struggle with vulnerability, but I had not consciously registered the impact on my finances.

Enjoy the read. ||Nwamara Obiike

Strong Black Woman Syndrome (SBWS) calls on Black women to be the problem-solvers, chief caretakers and “end all, be all” for everyone in their lives sans support and respite. Essentially, the Strong Black Women Syndrome demands that Black women never buckle, never feel vulnerable, and most importantly, never, ever put their own needs above anyone else’s—not their children’s, not their communities, not the people for whom they work—no matter how detrimental it is to their well-being.

As a community, we’re slowly coming to terms with the emotional and spiritual dis-ease this syndrome has on the Black women it envelops. Sadly though, we continue to fall short in analyzing its ravishing financial implications, though they are numerous and quite glaring.When we fully unpack the acute financial downside of this unrealistic cultural expectation and tired trope, we can clearly see that SBWS leaves Black women and the families they support not only broke, but also broken. Here are four ways.

  1. The Strong Black Woman Syndrome produces financial underachievers. In many a family, Black women are subsidizing the financial lives of adult children, grandchildren and spouses all on one income. This phenomenon creates wealth hubs instead of wealth webs. With wealth hubs, Black women’s incomes are at the epicentre of wealth and capital in their immediate networks. This phenomenon jeopardizes and threatens the stability of families led by Black women, because there’s little financial reinforcement created to buffer financial strain placed on one income or set of resources. It’s also nearly impossible to spread financial risk equitably if there is only one source of income.

Wealth webs, on the other hand, occur when family members are connected to other family members with growing assets, thus creating a strong network of capital and resources. When there are several sources of income, opportunities for wealth creation become easier to create.

  1. The Strong Black Woman Syndrome stifles business expansion. For Black women with this complex, there’s the distorted belief that they shouldn’t ask for help. An aspiring entrepreneur with SBWS is often uncomfortable with asking for support—seed money, a referral, or child care support—because she considers it a sign of weakness or believes she can’t depend on anyone but herself.

Failure to speak up for what’s needed to expand a business cripples its growth. Period. In the event that an entrepreneur with this syndrome reaches out for help, it’s usually too late, and she loses out on key industry connections, slowing down the trajectory of expansion by years or creating less-than-ideal business agreements.

  1. The Strong Black Woman Syndrome encourages impulse-buying and emotional spending.It’s a law of nature: whatever is repressed never goes away. Ever. In fact, when whatever is pushed down finally surfaces, it tends to explode with the same pressure with which it was forced to quell.

When a Black woman living under SBWS seeks an outlet for all of the emotional and financial caregiving she gives to others, it’s usually online, at a dealership, or at a mall. And usually, what she buys to comfort her soul and spirit isn’t cheap. The cost of the purchase can be in direct relation to the feelings of neglect, overwhelm and resentment.

In other words, the more pain she feels, the bigger and more expensive the reward.

  1. The Strong Black Woman Syndrome models financial dysfunction and passes down a maladaptive money relationship to the next generation. When children observe financial martyrdom in the money behaviors of women in their lives, they emulate these practices as adults. Girls grow to be these women; boys grow up to marry them.

As a personal finance coach, I work with adult Black women who, despite their age, continue to harbor rancor against their mothers for their current financial predicament. In a recent coaching session, a self-proclaimed “recovering Strong Black Woman” shared that she learned to take on a disproportionate amount of her household expenses—using all of her salary for bills and living in an unhappy financial silence in a rocky marriage— because she saw her mother do the same with her father when she was a girl.

The Strong Black Woman Syndrome is a racist and sexist archetype created to emotionally and financially marginalize Black women. It keeps Black women far from emotional happiness and financial wellness, thus limiting access to their full humanity. Beware.

Nwamara Obiike – A Shared blog by Kara Stevens of http://www.thefrugalfeminista.com

“I am not an early bird, or a night owl. I am some form of permanently exhausted pigeon!” J African Child | Blogger|Financial Crusader

This rings true for me even more after having read Thrive by Arianna Huffington.  The expectation for women, especially black women to carry the weight and put everyone else’s needs above their own has serious ramifications as stated by Kara Stevens. Arianna Huffington also shared that you can not fill another’s cup before filling your own. SBW take care of yourself. Be conscious and be intentional but above all, take care of your self.. Thanks Nwamara for sharing-Lerato

 

Thrive

*Thrive*You are a badass*Miracle Morning*

It has been a while since we shared our thoughts and discussions with you our readers. This has largely been due to a hiatus we decided to take in order to determine the direction the book club needed to take to grow. During this break, I continued with my #30bookchallenge and I am now on my 16th book. This means I would have to read 1 book roughly every week to make it to the 31st of December. It will be done!

I have been on a personal development journey and have learnt to appreciate self-help books. (Click link to read a previous article on self-help books). If you are like me and enjoy watching Ted Talks and motivational videos, you probably believe that every self-help book probably says the same thing just in different ways. There is nothing wrong with that. What is important is that in all the books that you read, something clicks and sticks.

Thrive-Arianna Huffington

Thrive 2

Written by Arianna Huffington, co- founder and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post, Arianna covers how she has managed to thrive in business while managing a fair work-life balance. She highlights the importance of well-being in our success. I see it often in the workplace where people work long hours and expect to thrive in all that they do. You know those people who get to the office before you and are still on their laptops with no sign of surrender when you leave. I used to be one of those people. My work was my life! Unfortunately/Fortunately my body heeded to the call of rest. I started having migraines often. I had the type of migraines that would render me enfeeble. It was from then that I started to work the necessary work hours, obviously with exceptions occasionally. I believe in working efficiently. I always strive to do all the required work in the time necessary. Arianna recalls a similar wake-up call where she fell and injured herself due to exhaustion and lack of sleep. Through this book, I have also learnt to schedule my sleep times. It feels like primary school all over again with those 8pm bed time calls! Because I dedicate my evenings to reading books, watching inspirational videos and sometimes some series, it is easy to sleep as late as midnight. I schedule my sleep time alarm to ensure that I do not come up with the inevitable excuse for snoozing my alarm the next morning.

You are a badass-Jen Sincero

You are a badass

Jen Sincero is that sassy aunt with wit, down-to-earth humor and blunt truths! Reading this book was refreshing. No topic is too mundane in this book. She is telling you to snap out of whatever is getting in the way of you being a badass. ‘You are a victim of the rules you live by’. The rules you live by can be determined by what you absorb from your surroundings and forms of influence. Not all of it is positive. We need to find a quiet space that allows us to identify those causal elements and break them down. ‘The life you want is right here, right now’. What type of life do you envision for yourself? Are you living that life now? What do you need to do live that life? Start now. #thatisall.

Ok, ok, it’s not that easy. If it was, we would be living our best lives already. This is where my third book comes in.

Miracle Morning-Hal Elrod

Miracle Morning 2

Of the three books, this was my favorite! I always know a book is good by countless personal notes in the margins or rather in the notes section of my kindle. I had many aha moments and it resonated with a lot of what I had been thinking prior to reading the book. I have often declared that I am not a morning person even though I desire to be one. I believe that if I wake up early, I get a good start to my day. This is instead of the usual scramble in the morning to shower, dress up and get my foot out of the door to make it in time for my first meeting. Hal Elrod says ‘It’s time to wake up to your FULL potential.’ He believes that it all starts with how you wake up in the morning, and that there are small, simple steps that one can start taking today to enable one to become the person they need to be to create the levels of success they truly want and deserve. Hal also gives us a 95% reality check-95% of our society is settling for far less than they are capable of, struggling in almost every area of their life. The other 5% are simply thriving. He advises us to ‘identify the fundamental causes of mediocrity so you prevent them from robbing you of the life you want’.

The greatest insight from this book would be the Life S.A.V.E.R.S. These are the 6 practices that Hal says are guaranteed to save you from a life of unfulfilled potential.

S is for Silence-it is starting the morning with a period of purposeful silence and shutting all the noise that is determine to destroy your day before it even begins. This can be through meditation, prayer, reflection, deep breathing and gratitude.

A is for Affirmations- shutting any negative internal dialogue and replacing it with positive assertions about yourself. This prevents you from ‘repeating and reliving the fears, insecurities, and limitations of your past.’

V is for Visualization-This is the process of imagining exactly what you want to achieve or attain, and then mentally rehearsing what you’ll need to do to achieve or attain it. I have always had a vision board but Hal emphasized the importance of viewing it daily and amending it when the necessary.

E is for Exercise-‘From waking you up and enhancing your mental clarity, to helping you sustain higher levels of energy throughout the day, exercising soon after rising can improve your life in many ways.’

R is for Reading- I am obviously an advocate for this. Because I read before I go to bed, I dedicate my Miracle Morning to reading thought-pieces and articles.

S is for Scribing-This empowers one to document their idea, insights, successes and areas of opportunity.

‘Whatever it is that you write, putting words on the page is a form of therapy that doesn’t cost a dime.’-Diana Raab

 My biggest lesson from reading these books has been that one can search and read about how to improve themselves but you have to be mentally prepared to do the work that is required to see your efforts be realized. And even if you are not in that mental space yet, reading and learning as much as possible still comes a long way into getting to where you want to be.

Have you read any of these books? How have they empowered you in your personal development journey?

 

Capture

2017-What have you been reading so far?

If there is one thing I appreciate about our Meetups, it would be the variety of books we talk about. Our last General Meetup was not focused on a specific type of book but was about what we had been reading for the last month in our individual capacity. The aim of these general Meetups is to expose each other to other types books out there that we would otherwise have overlooked. Often a person’s recollection of a book and its impact on their life is enough to influence you and catch your interest. If not, you at least consider adding it to your book list.

So what have the ladies been reading so far?

 

Nwamara Obiike: Kasinomics by GG Alcock and Rich Woman by Kim Kiyosaki

[AFRICAN GIRLS READ] In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunities ................... Ms. @didilexx at Bamboo Island, Krabi ................... Tag @blvbc and use #AfricanGirlsRead to be our next featured reader ................... #books #bookfollow #bookstagram #ReadingMotivation #Readers #reading #bookclub #2017 #Africansread #quotes #quoteoftheday #africanliterature #africa #Africansreaders #follow #africanwriters #authors #africangirlsreadtoo #bambooisland #krabi #phuket #kasinomics #HAPPYBIRTHDAY #blvbc

[AFRICAN GIRLS READ]
In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunities ……………….
Ms. @didilexx at Bamboo Island, Krabi ……………….
Tag @blvbc and use #AfricanGirlsRead to be our next featured reader ……………….
#books #bookfollow #bookstagram #ReadingMotivation #Readers #reading #bookclub #2017 #Africansread #quotes #quoteoftheday #africanliterature #africa #Africansreaders #follow #africanwriters #authors #africangirlsreadtoo #bambooisland #krabi #phuket #kasinomics #HAPPYBIRTHDAY
#blvbc

[LATEST ARTICLE ALERT] I NEVER GREW UP IN A WEALTHY HOME By Nwamara Obiike Nwamara shares her journey to financial freedom and is currently reading #RichWoman and #womenandwealth in a her desire to share her take on #Wealth, #women and #africa. We can't wait to learn more from her. #bloggers #blogpost #books #kimkiyosaki #bookfollow #bookclub #womenempoweringwomen #LeadingLadies Enjoy the read and share your thoughts #blvbc

Nwamara has been reading a lot of Financial books and also recently wrote about spending habits. See http://blvbookclub.com/2017/03/01/six-questions-to-ask-before-you-spend-that-money/. Her tip from having read both books would be to ‘Start Small’. It is about getting the basics right first then expanding and even getting to a point where you can buy investments in other markets.

We should all be investing in our Financial Literacy. It is expensive to be poor! If you learn more, you earn more.

Asake Okin: Various blog posts

Asake Okin has been reading a lot of blog posts. One that she recommended was https://hbr.org/2005/09/the-dangers-of-feeling-like-a-fake. We discussed the Imposter Syndrome. This phenomenon is common amongst women. This is a feeling of inadequacy and feeling like you don’t deserve to be where you are. These feelings hinder you from progress. The very same feeling of exposing your weaknesses is bound to become your reality.

Ijangolet Ogwang: The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod

The Year of Yes 3

For Ijangolet’s thoughts on ‘The Year of Yes’, see http://blvbookclub.com/2017/02/13/so-tell-me-who-are-you/

Miracle Morning

Ijangolet is on a journey of re-reading and applying the books that she has read in the past and a book that she has been enjoying is ‘Miracle Morning’. It is about the theory that what you do before 8am influences your day. I was excited about this discussion because I am not a ‘morning person’ and getting a good start to my day is always something I try to perfect. It is about having time for yourself so that you have time for the rest of the world. Morning rituals were shared. My biggest takeout is that I need to work on sleeping early so that I am in a position to wake up early. It is a work in progress.

Ashleigh: 10 Simple Steps to Property Wealth by Jason Lee

Making Money out of Property in South Africa

’10 Simple Steps to Property Wealth’ is Jason’s second book after the one I recently read, ‘How to make money out of Property in South Africa’. We discussed buying property to sell that is by buying low and renovating then selling the property for good margins. There are other ways to making money like buying a 2-bedroom apartment and converting it into a 3-bedroom apartment. This would usually take less than a year. We also looked at generating alternative revenues from properties through marketing and signage to add value to the property.

Thuli Dube: The Wait by Meagan Good and Devon Franklin and The Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu

The Wait

Thuli found ‘The Wait’ to be interesting but overrated with all the media hype around it. The book has a Christian premise but claims to be relevant in all sphere of life. We spoke about how we tend to settle for less and at the same time hinder ourselves from being with the one we deserve or actually desire to be with.

So the question was, how do we bring about these opportunities that allow us to be with the partner we are praying for? Ultimately, it is about being patient and waiting on God. The risk of losing patience when waiting for your partner is that you will ‘end up playing musical chairs’: settling for anyone who comes your way.

 

Thuli also enjoyed ‘The Smart Money Woman’. I think this book has been doing the rounds in BLV BOOK CLUB J.

Read  http://blvbookclub.com/2016/12/01/be-a-smart-money-woman/ for more on Smart Money Woman.

The Smart Money Woman characters

Pepsi: How to get from where you are to where you want to be: The 25 Principles of Success by Jack Canfield and The Defining Decade by Meg Jay

Pepsi has a passion for reading on relationships and all things ‘love-related’ and this year, has also decided to re-read a lot of books in order to be apply what she learns in real life.

How to get from where you are to where you want to be

How to get from where you are to where you want to be’ is about taking control of your life. Jack Canfield talks about an equation: situation+response=outcome. We always complain about our circumstances and the people we have to deal with every single day but we never really think about what we can do to change the situation. We allow the situation to have power over our lives. We sometimes spend time complaining about whatever is bothering us yet we never think of what is within our realm of influence. What did you do?

The book also talks about self-belief. With that comes programming yourself so that when you are in your comfort zone you are uncomfortable but when you are in your uncomfortable zone you are comfortable. This fosters continuous improvement. You can do anything you want to achieve but nothing comes easy. We also spoke about time being our currency and how especially at work, we often complain about the tasks we are given. Instead, we should always look at what value can be extracted from that task.

Pepsi’s 2nd book is ‘The Defining Decade’ by Meg Jay is about how your 30’s are not the new 20’s.

TheDefiningDecade

‘The Defining Decade’ is about the things you should do in your 20’s to set you up for life. Meg Jay, the author also touches on relationships and how in our early 20’s we tend to not be intentional about relationships we enter. This set us up for the risk of finding ourselves in our late 20’s playing musical chairs with whoever is available. We also discussed feeling stuck in careers and feeling like we can not pursue new avenues. The starting points should be your points of interests. We should not feel stuck. Our 20’s are also a time for us to spend as much time as possible with our parents. As they get older, they have also become wiser. Time, as mentioned before is of the essence as our parents get older. We should be able to communicate and share as many memories with them whilst we still can. For more on the book, watch https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=the+deciding+decade

Frank(ie) Talk: Beautiful South Sudan by Achier Deng Akol Ayay

[LATEST ARTICLE ALERT] BEAUTIFUL SOUTH SUDAN : A LOVE STORY by Frank (ie) Talk Link in Bio Frank(ie) Talk shares her thoughts on Beautiful South Sudan : The Heart of Africa and her biggest lessons from the book. Enjoy the read and share your thoughts on the article #books #bookfollow #bookstagram #ReadingMotivation #Readers #reading #bookclub #2017 #bloggers #follow #follow4follow #zimbloggers #sabloggers #naijablogger #africanbloggers #africanauthors #authors #blogpost #black #Africansread #africa #africanliterature #blackgirlsreadtoo #article #authenticity #beautifulsouthsudan #achierdengakolayay #sudan #blvbc

Frank(ie)Talk met a friend from South Sudan whose father, Achier Deng Akol Ayay, actually wrote the book, ‘Beautiful South Sudan’ and she felt she had to read the book and broaden her view of Africa. She learnt to be more intentional about seeking an alternative view on any place out there. Read http://blvbookclub.com/2017/02/16/beautiful-south-sudan-a-love-story/ for more of Frank(ie)’s views on the book.

Lerato: The Power of Habit of Charles Duhigg, Making Money out of Property in South Africa by Jason Lee and The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

Those who follow me on social media will know that I have embarked on a 30 book challenge. Given my schedule and various plans for 2017, 30 seemed like the magic number to achieve this year. I am currently on my 8th book which means that given we are in the 4th month of the year, I am not lagging too far behind. I will not go through all the books I have read so far. That is a whole separate post for another day but I will dwell on at least two of the books I have read so far this year.

[AFRICAN GIRLS READ] If you believe you can change - if you make it a habit - the change becomes a habit. This is the real power of habit - - Charles Duhigg .................... Ms. @lerato_nkanyezi in Cape Town, South Africa ................... Tag @blvbc and use #AfricanGirlsRead to be our next featured reader ................... #books #bookfollow #bookstagram #black #ReadingMotivation #Readers #africanbloggers #naijabloggers #zimbloggers #sabloggers #reading #africanblogger #Africansreaders #follow #follow4follow #africanliterature #africanwriters #africanauthors #blacktalent #thepowerofhabit #charlesduhigg #capetown #park #southafrica #blvbc

Through ‘The Power of Habit’ I learnt that for me to change, I need to understand why I do what I do-what triggers my actions? It is with that knowledge that I am able to manipulate the stimulus or that I at least become conscious enough to change how I react to that trigger. For example if you are a smoker and are trying to quit smoking, you start by analyzing and figuring out what causes you to smoke. If you realize that feeling stressed in preparation for an exam causes you to smoke, you became aware of that trigger. At this point, smoking is a way for the handle the pressure of exams. The question should now be, what healthier alternatives can you adopt that can provide a similar satisfaction. You might find that chewing gum or squeezing a stressball (the list of solutions are endless) can be your new ‘habit’.

 

Making Money out of Property in South Africa

My interest in financial literacy developed after reading Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki last year. Ever since then my interest in reading on property has become a gateway to me one day having many properties under my belt and achieving multiple streams of income. As Jason Lee states in ‘Making Money out of Property in South Africa’, ‘Only a fool treads into unknown territory with their eyes shut’. I see saving for a deposit as a beautiful hindrance as this buys me time to learn as much as possible about the Property market. Jason encourages the power of negotiation as this, he believes, has resulted in him getting making deals and making a good profit. Of course, this means, identifying the right time to purchase property. Being up to speed with current affairs and knowing the state of the economy is necessary in determining when to purchase property. It is all about the law of supply and demand. In a booming economy, people have more spending time and hence, the demand for property is a lot higher. However, in an economic downturn, negotiation becomes your greatest asset.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi WivesThe Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was a beautiful escape into fiction. It is set in Nigeria and is about a polygamous man and his interactions with his wives especially his youngest wife, Bolanle The plot blew my mind especially when we discover why his fourth wives can not bear any children. Lest I say too much, I will not go further on this book but I would definitely recommend this book especially seeing as it is an easy read.

It was only after our 2hr Meetup that we realized that we had spoken about Finance, Morning rituals, The Imposter Syndrome, Property, Relationships, Success and Navigating your 20’s. We could have spoken about a lot more if time had allowed us but we can definitely attest to the knowledge and the collaboration that the book club provides. If you are interested in joining us, subscribe to the newsletter below and contact us on info@blvbookclub.com

Compiled by Lerato.

Lerato is a Supply Chain professional in the FMCG industry. Not satisfied with being confined to her day job, Lee is always reading something different. The development of women and Africa are what fuel her passion. She would one day love to have dinner with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and pick her brain on so many issues.

Zero to One

Zero to One by Peter Thiel

I have dreamt of starting my own kickass business for as long as I can remember. I imagined that I would be doing exciting and meaningful work that would not only be fulfilling to me and the people I work with, but that it would change people’s lives for the better. I even had a timeframe for when I would start this business. I would work and learn as much as I can until I turn 30 and then start that kickass company….that is until I read zero to one.

In this book, Peter Thiel indirectly challenges any notion of merely starting a business just for just. His key point argues that while most businesses move industries from 1 to n- meaning that they do not necessarily do or bring groundbreaking innovations- what we actually need are businesses that tip the scale and move industries from zero to 1. Using Facebook as a primary example, he argues that merely creating an app that mimics Facebook does nothing but saturate the market and because all businesses that have moved the industry from zero to 1 have a strong differentiation factor, saturating the industry is a mere waste of time since you’re competing with a monopoly. With this underlying concept as his key point, most of the book is spent trying to explain some factors that differentiate innovative businesses and their blue ocean strategies.

Now as someone who has been planning to start a business since forever, being confronted with the fact that you might not really be moving the industry forward with your slightly differentiated idea but are merely saturating an industry, can be rather crippling. So after weeks of going through disappointment and then discouragement and then making a decision to give up on this whole notion of starting a business altogether since it will be mediocre anyways, a few interesting thoughts have emerged that I would like to share:

Zero to One 2

  1. Thiel is a white man in the United States of America.

Now now, before you use your high-pitched voice on me about how this isn’t a racial issue, allow me to complete that thought. And no, this is NOT a cop out or defence of mediocrity. My point is: While we need to acknowledge him for his skills and expertise, this fact makes it such that we operate in different universes and have very very different struggles.   While him, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and all his other white male friends- that have all started amazing businesses which he details in his book if I might add- have done really groundbreaking work, as a black woman in South Africa, I need to be careful not to equate our struggles. The principles of starting something new and tipping the scale are all valid ones but the things we will most likely innovate on are extremely different depending on where we are and the challenges we face. I for one am not trying to create the next PayPal, regardless of how important it is.

With financial inclusion still a huge challenge in Africa for example, the solutions we bring need to cater to these very real needs. Sometimes this might mean taking an existing first world solution and tweaking it so that it becomes valuable and useful to our context. Though according to Peter Thiel’s definition, this may not be considered as moving from zero to 1, it would be extremely beneficial to our people.

  1. We need to consolidate our networks.

One of the things that is highlighted in the book is how Thiel and his buddies have been able to link up their varying skills and create innovative things. One of the things I personally haven’t done particularly well is in ensuring that I capitalize on meeting people interested in similar things as myself and then turning those encounters into real innovation opportunities. Moving forward, we need to do better in this area because while we’re all good at something, we do not possess skills in everything and actually require others to complement our skills.

Finally, we need a creative way to integrate into existing value chains.

One of the key challenges for new businesses is to actually be integrated/absorbed and used in existing industries. For this to happen, there need to be actual customers who use the product and a growing trial and demand for it. For the sake of an honest and fruitful discussion, I would like to start with a disclaimer: my thoughts around solutions for this are not yet fully clear and I would genuinely appreciate a rigorous discussion around this area.

One of the advantages for white men in particular is in knowing that they have an expansive network base that will at least sample their new product offering and even trial it in their businesses should it seem interesting enough. This of course is crucial for any new innovation as it creates your first customer base and makes it easier for your product to be absorbed into the market. Black innovators rarely get this benefit of doubt and so they struggle to even get any meaningful client to trial their product. I am inclined to suggest that one of the ways to solve this is if black business leaders who are in industry, take it upon themselves to be intentional in supporting black innovators with at least being samplers of their innovations. Of course this only applies to exciting and useful innovations that come knocking at their doors. While it is my inclination to suggest this as one solution, I would rather leave it to our industry gurus to suggest to black innovators how they can get their products into their companies.

When it comes to entrepreneurship, zero to 1 is one of the most well-written books that I’ve read in a while. Though it became clear pretty early into the book that I am obviously not the target market given the different operating contexts that Thiel and I have, I realised that this did not mean that we throw the baby out with the bathwater. As a result, I have tried to contextualize Thiel’s content to my context. This intentional effort of stripping down work to its essence has been a huge learning for me. While it is easier to dismiss people we deem tone deaf/ non-applicable to our context, this book has taught me that we have a lot to learn even from those we have very little in common with. This however requires that we be willing to do the hard work of scraping out the non-essentials, twisting, bending and reshaping their work until it makes sense to our realities.

By Frank(ie) Talk

Frank(ie) Talk is a Development Finance Masters student at the University of Cape Town. When she is not making bracelets at Relate, you’ll find her at some coffee shop in Cape Town reading or theorizing about the World.

This article could not have come at a better time. I have seen this book doing the rounds on social media and Frank(ie) has conveniently given us glimpse of it. When chatting with friends about finances, the common discussion tends to centre around having multiple streams of income and having startups. Learning how to come up with an innovative idea is a challenge and just even knowing where to begin can be a hindrance. The only way around this is learning and reading as much about the ‘how’. Not everything we read will be essential to our context but as Frank(ie) mentioned, it is all about ‘scraping out the non-essentials, twisting, bending and reshaping their work until it makes sense to our realities.’-Lerato

 

48 Laws of Power Instagram

5 of the 48 laws of power to get you to the top!

48 laws intro

Many a time we have looked at people in positions of power and wondered, how did they get there? To which goddess did they call upon to unlock the map to the labyrinth that is the journey to the top? It always seem so elusive doesn’t it, this ability to influence, to control? Well, it certainly does for me. And that’s why I was so excited for our March read, “The 48 Laws of Power”, by Robert Greene. I’ll admit, this wasn’t an easy book to read. What I would suggest though, is go through the whole list of laws, and read more detail on those that interest you first, until you get through most/all of them. It’s the kind of book you’ll always go back to every now and then, as different aspects of the book will apply to you at different stages in your life. So many buzz words come to mind when we all plan our journey to top positions; strategy, competency, timing, politics. Do I have a game plan, can I do it, when can I start planning to do it, do others think I can do it? I think this book gives great “guidelines” of what our strategies should entail, or what we should at least start thinking about. I would review all 48 laws, but to save both you and I time, go and read the book! For now, here are the 5 laws that resonated the most with me.

  1. Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use enemies So one of the things Robert mentions is how we actually don’t know what our friend’s true characters are like, and I couldn’t agree more. People will show you a side of them that they want you to see. How many times have you heard people say “I never expected that from him/her” or “ I don’t even know who you are anymore”? Friends can be our greatest admirers, but that admiration can become infested by a lack of achievement on their end and turn into envy. And so a lot of the times, when we share plans and goals with friends, we’re actually giving them the blueprint to our path to power and success. Don’t be surprised if, by the time you get to the finish line, your friend has already crossed and taken the prize, because they found a better, alternative route, or led you the wrong way! Robert talks about engaging your enemies and turning them into allies. I don’t know about you, but I thought this was a hard pill to swallow. After all, they are an enemy for a reason!
  2. So much depends on reputation – guard it with your life What are you known for? So much depends on your reputation guard it with your lifeWho do people see you as? Your reputation is what people use to frame a perception of what you’re capable of, and whether you can be taken seriously in the hot seat. Part of managing a reputation is having one! If you just sit quietly in your cubicle and clock your hours, no one is going to think anything of you. In fact, they won’t think of you at all! So create a name for yourself, and act in a way that you would like to represent your brand. If you always cry at the office or moan about personal things you’re failing to handle, no one is really going to believe that you’re going to be able to compose yourself in a boardroom or handle much larger problems in the business environment. Do I think you shouldn’t cry in the office? Of course you should if you need to, in the office toilet! I know many people think crying shows you’re human, but if you always have a box of tissue at your desk in the event of a breakdown, then don’t be surprised when people think the only form of pressure you can take is that from a sphygmomanometer. Work hard, meet deadlines and don’t let anyone walk all over you.

3. Make your accomplishments seem effortless So this is something I struggle with, and I’m sure many can relate. Whenever someone says “Hey, nice dress”, instead of just saying “Thank you”, we explain how old the dress is, or how we got it in a sale, or how we need to lose/gain more weight so we can look better in it. The same applies to work. If we do a great job, there is really no need to explain how you spent late nights researching and working on a project, or how you got advice, which was the only reason why you knew what you were doing! God forbid you mention YouTube! Own it, make it seem like it’s the standard that should be expected from you at any given time. Don’t over explain. And because you will always feel pressure to do as well as you did previously, excellence will become a norm with you, without breaking a sweat. Always remember that if you want to get to the top, you need to manage perceptions, or your reputation, and one way is to make your achievements seem like they are all in a day’s work for you. People will want to see how you carry out more difficult tasks, and boom, you’ve been given an opportunity to step up to a more challenging role. Do it, and do it well.

4. Be royal in your own fashion: act like a king to be treated like one You know how they say “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have”? Similar concept. If you want to be an executive, you need to start acting like one. I’m not saying go stepping on toes and openly challenging the person currently holding the role. This will just backfire! But do carry yourself like you’re at that level of management, or whichever level you aspire for. Network in those circles, attend those conferences/seminars. If people in senior management are used to seeing you around them, guess who’s going to come to mind when they are deciding whom to give the senior post. Just make sure you do everything else right. Put forward strategic ideas that show you understand the business, and soon you’ll be in a position to manage the strategy of the business.

5. Do not go past the mark you aimed for: learn when to stop I felt that this applied to when we have attained a certain level of power, but we’re not in the top position. It’s so easy to think you’ve made it, and to a degree, begin to abuse that power, or take for granted that we might have attained it through favor from others. This isn’t to say don’t aspire for more; ambition is a good thing. But continue to be strategic; don’t grow your list of enemies unnecessarily, and stay on top of your game!

By Ashleigh

An avid traveler on a quest to explore Africa but my day job is in financial data services. I enjoy photography and writing. Visit my travel blog on http://thingu.com/.

The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene was our March Book Club read discussed in the April Meetup. There were quite some mixed feelings and thoughts on the book especially with it being a long read. The important part is that although not all laws are applicable, there is bound to be a law that you can relate to in both your personal and business life. Thanks Ashleigh for sharing the laws that stood out for you and for making this book relatable -Lerato

 

 

 

 

spending money

Six questions to ask before you spend that money!

Budget-Joe Biden

Of all her children, (and I of course the eldest out of 3) my mother believes I am the most Stingy.

She always says “ongame” which is a Sepedi phrase to describe my incessant need to understand where, why, and what my money is doing /going. And although I am now the butt of the family financial jokes; I have gone back to basics by unconsciously using the basics we all learn in elementary school (5W’s &H) to keep myself out of bad debt and start making better financial decisions.

The 5W’s & H is a concept predominately used in journalism to complete stories, I say “complete” simply because without an answer or understanding of all six questions – your story has a hole in it; and when it comes to money…holes lose you money.

“Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.” B. Franklin

M O N E Y!

  1. WHAT – are you spending your money on? In my second year of full employment I realized the need for a budget, and not a mental budget like I’ve always worked on but a full drawn up and maintained budget. I drew up this budget using a simple online budget template which allowed me to also review my expenses monthly and see how I tracked. I realized I spent a lot of money on takeaways and going out shenanigans – even after a full grocery trip.

2. WHERE – can I make the changes? It’s not enough to just know what you are spending your hard earned cash on, but to know where you spent it to help you consolidate. We’ve all bought into all kinds of marketing loyalty programmes profusely sold by businesses. Whether its “FNB: e-bucks” “PnP –smart shopper points” etc. our purses are shouting for mercy with the hordes of loyalty cards we have. The overabundance was not only frustrating my wallet, but it was also not lucrative. With too many cards and limited spending, you are building a little bit everywhere instead of having a carefully selected group of reward and loyalty memberships, consolidating and reaping the rewards they give you by consolidating your buying efforts.

3. WHO – should I give my money to? 

“Average people live above their means. Rich people live below theirs.”-Steven Siebold.

The guy that gives you the most value out of your membership. I travel quite often and realized the importance of great flight prices. Having reviewed where I spent my money, I triangulated my rewards with my need for efficiency in banking, travel, with perks and great grocery options. This can be done all kinds of things you like to do, whether it’s reading, going out or sports.

4. WHY – I’ve come across many people who always say “ I don’t know why I shop so much”  And to be honest, I also don’t know why… this probably where some self-introspection needs to come into the picture. A lot of ladies shop to make themselves feel better and find themselves in a cycle of debt as a result. Take a moment, be honest with yourself and understand WHY you spend (on the unnecessary stuff) the way you do. This will really help you understand your relationship with money.

5. WHEN – Can you say SPECIALS: ) Groceries are cheaper towards the end of the month (everyone is giving specials and coupons).   And finally…Look out for all kinds of specials during their relevant time (travel ahead of time and off-peak, crazy days like BLACK FRIDAY, reading month specials etc.)The time of the month you buy your goodies makes a big difference to the price you pay.

6. HOW can I make the most of my budget, increase my assets and stretch my money? 

“It’s not your salary that makes you rich, it’s your spending habits“Charles A. jaffe

There are many rich & wealthy people who are frugal and thrifty. Today’s millennial have the actions of millionaires ( fancy spending and social related purchases) , it is looked down upon to be “thrifty” but the truth is rich people stay rich by living like they are broke and broke people stay broke by living like rich people.

Recommended money read: Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu

smart-money-woman

By Nwamara Obiike:

“I am not an early bird, or a night owl. I am some form of permanently exhausted pigeon!”

African Crusader | Blogger | Foodie

I have just recently finished reading Smart Money Woman by Arese Ugwu as book 5 of my #30bookchallenge. Read Be a Smart Money Woman by Asake-Okin for more on the book. Nwamara fittingly ties in her views of money with those of Arese. The biggest callout is keeping an eye on our money. The things we do when we have little money will be magnified when we have millions and billions. Having more money does not wipe away our money problems. I personally,  have developed a new definition of what being broke means to me through making small but deliberate changes in my spending. It is never too late!-Lerato

The Smart Money Woman characters

Justice Malala-We have begun our descent

We Have Now Begun Our Descent- How to Stop South Africa Losing It’s Way

We have begun our descent. We are screwed to put it less eloquently.

Justice Malala 2

Justice Malala

Justice Malala is a seasoned political analyst, which made him one of the best people to write an account on the state of affairs in the Rainbow nation. This account was written in 2015 and outlines some of the things Justice feels have gone wrong with the country. Contrary to the stoic disposition that is often seen with journalists the writing of Justice is surprisingly emotional charged and often comes of as the frustration and subsequent venting of a normal citizen of South Africa. This raw emotion is refreshing, albeit scary. If even the usually impartial members of the press are now unable to keep their emotions in check then, again to put it no way eloquently, we are REALLY screwed.

The first half of the book is dedicated to singling out the lack of strong leadership in the country which has left the country reeling with investors losing faith and retreating their businesses, service delivery nonexistent and a tyranny of corrupt members of parliament whose sole interest and purpose is to line their pockets before the walls come caging in on them, which they eventually will. He singles out a lack of participation of the general public in the daily matters of the country, which has allowed the people tasked with running this country to be complacent. Using the example of the power outages that plagued the country in 2008, instead of making a huge noise and taking Eskom, the national electricity supplier, to task, people simply went and bought generators. This he writes, was the people of South Africa ‘saying goodbye to Eskom and South Africa. They were checking out. They had given up on the system.”

“I am angry. I am furious. Because I never thought it would happen to us. Not us, the rainbow nation that defied doomsayers and suckled and nurtured a fragile democracy into life for its children. I never thought it would happen to us, this relentless decline, the flirtation with a leap over the cliff.”

The ruling party also receives quite a tongue lashing for failing to take a country that had so much hope and opportunity after the end of apartheid to one that sees the poorer get poorer whilst the few elite continue to pilferage the country and enjoy the fruits of the bountiful resources the country has to offer. He believes that fixing the economy for all to benefit will be a “silver bullet” for the racial problems that plague the country……a statement I found myself viscously shaking my head against. As an outsider looking in, this country’s issues with race go beyond financial and economical matters, but that, is a topic for another day.

The media also cannot escape the attack of words from the analyst. They, and he implicates himself in this too, stand accused of buckling to the government’s demands of portraying them in a good light in their reporting. They are accused of not providing their audience with unbiased, factual news at all times as should be the case. The tragedy that was Marikana also gets mentioned and as per almost every other article on the events of 16 August 2012 it is outlined in detail all the shocking decisions that were made and greed that led to the unfortunate loss of life on that day. Al Bashir has a place in this book too as having turned the Republic of South Africa into a willing accomplice in aiding and abetting a fugitive of justice to evade the law and his day in court.

Heavy stuff.

Fortunately Justice is not only a man of questions and pointing out the wrong. He is a man of solutions as well. Here are some of his suggested solutions to mending a country that is on the edge of the cliff, and indeed has begun it’s descent:

Thuli Madonsela (bear in mind the book was written in 2015)

  1. Thuli Madonsela (bear in mind the book was written in 2015)
  2. Voting for delivery not history
  3. Capable, merit based state led by visionary political leadership
  4. Protection of the Constitution
  5. Pro-active tackling of inequality
  6. Value based leadership
  7. State of economy to drive accountability
  8. Back to School aka quality education
  9. No to corruption
  10. Actually putting into action all these fancy economic plans that seem to exist only on paper
  11. New leadership ethos

Pretty simple and straight forward. Right? Fast forward two years and it would seem the country is still rolling full speed ahead on that descent.

All, in all a somber take on the state of affairs in South Africa highlighting just how backwards the country has moved since the hard fought independence and rainbow nation that so many wished for.

Side note: I do not consider myself a political person. However I find myself very intrigued in finding out how our beloved African countries seem to all end up in the states that they are in. And more importantly what the way out is. it is always saddening to read the same stories coming out of all these African states, from the DRC to Zimbabwe to South Africa. Copy and paste. We need to catch a wake up call!

(All opinions and beliefs are mine. And no political party was hurt in the writing of this article.)

By Siphathi

Siphathi is an extroverted introvert. When she is not injecting a little humour into the world she is an engineer trying to pay her bills. Lover of sport, soccer and formula 1 to be exact. But most of all she is an avid reader who loves getting lost in books with a glass of wine by the side.

This is confirmation of the knowledge one gains simply by reading on a topic they are not particularly adept on. Thanks Siphathi for demonstrating that with your well thought out view on this book. I can only wonder the ominous tone Justice would have conveyed if he wrote on the same topic in 2017. A lot has happened in the last two years. A lot!.-Lerato

Beautiful South Sudan

BEAUTIFUL SOUTH SUDAN: A LOVE STORY

Beautiful South Sudan in many respects, can be viewed as a love letter to the country. Throughout the book, the author is at pains to detail her beauty, to highlight her strengths and not dwell on her flaws. With every spill of ink, you can sense the author’s anguish at the destruction of the country, celebrate with him as he describes his exquisite beloved and grieve with him for the children she has lost in the quest for freedom. While the book is littered with historical facts and images, it is not short of seductive poetry and prose to romanticize the narration. I found this book extremely important as it is not often that we get Africans telling their own stories. Often, we are bombarded with biased narratives that beckon us to write off our countries as single stories with no nuance. With this erasure, we forget to humanize our people, to honour their stories and their pride as a people. In Beautiful South Sudan, we are forced to glare at the people of South Sudan’s humanity, to see that they too have children just like the rest of us. That they dream of a time beyond the war; that they have love and poetry and beauty and way more than mere politics.

This was deeply striking for me on a personal note because I do not remember a time when I have shared anything about South Sudan outside the war. I do not remember talking about their art or their resources or their languages. I do not remember talking about their humanity. This book, while a mixture of many things is such a moving attempt to fit a country into a few pages. Ayay scrambles to put together historic memories, current realities and dreams of the future the country wants to see. Given how packed the book is, you will probably not want to read it all in one go (trust me on this one, I attempted to). This book requires time. You might get lost in the history of the country and find yourself spending endless hours on google trying to piece together the many facets. Or you might be deeply troubled by the current reality and get lost in deliberating that. Most times though, I found myself dreaming with the author. I found myself imagining what John Garang (google him!) would say or think about the current state and what wise words he would share about the way forward.

John Garang

My biggest lesson while reading this book though was seeing how easy it is as a naïve outsider to look at an entire country- a proud and intelligent people- without much context and arrogantly make well-meaning but short-sighted suggestions about what needs to be done. This book has taught me to listen more. To be deliberate in seeking out the voices of the people affected by the situation and to believe what they tell me. When they detail their abuse at the hands of Northern Sudan, to believe them. When they request the rest of us to step aside and let them solve their own issues, to grant them the request. And if they ever need a helping hand, to be ready to give one without judgement or condescension when they ask.

“Imagine a traveler walking into your cattle camp one evening; you welcome him warmly, give him milk to drink and the best bed to sleep on. He stays with you for an indefinite period and when you tell him that he has overstayed his welcome and was time for him to go, he claims that it was your fault to let him stay so long anyway and demands a share of your cattle: would you allow him to do so?”—Dr. John Garang speaking to a crowd of Dinka herdsmen in 1998 about the arrival and occupation of Sudan by the Arabs

As a caveat, I will be the first to acknowledge that this was not the type of book I would typically pick up for a number of reasons. While this may be true for you too, I would still recommend you get yourself a copy if you have any interest at all in learning more about South Sudan. This is especially true for those of us committed to seeing more authentic and balanced stories of our continent being told. This book did that for me. It exposed my ignorance, renewed a desire in me to see more and do more for Africa as a whole and for that, I am deeply thankful to the author for his courageous narration.

By Frank(ie) Talk

Frank(ie) Talk is a Development Finance Masters student at the University of Cape Town. When she is not making bracelets at Relate, you’ll find her at some coffee shop in Cape Town reading or theorizing about the World.

Thank you Frank(ie) for always urging us to identify our own biases in order to get out of our comfort zones and address those biases. We might not always have the funds to travel and see the world but it is through books that we are enlightened and forever changed. I will be travelling to South Sudan soon through Beautiful South Sudan 🙂 -Lerato 

Meetup Jan

Meetup: January

Join us at our first Meetup for 2017 on the 29th January via Skype from 2pm to 3:30pm (South African Standard Time). We will be discussing Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  We are already getting some mixed reviews from some members and so it will be interesting to share our thoughts on the book :).

Meetup Jan

You have not read Outliers yet?  Do not despair. You do not have to have read or finished the book to attend the Meetup although it would be advisable. The conversation always centres around real-life situations so you can put your 2cents in too!

Looking forward to having you join us!