Suffering And Smiling: Take Off The Veil
After purposely delaying myself for a couple of days, I am finally done reading Suffering And Smiling, by Mary Ogundimu.
Now that I’m done, a part of me is wondering “why exactly did you rush through it?” I really should have drawn out reading this, and savored every page a bit more.
Before I began reading Suffering And Smiling, I already had a bit of vested interest in it.
Firstly, I knew Mary Ogundimu personally. She is a great storyteller and having heard her talk about her career experience in the past, I was interested in getting the full gist.
Secondly, I love a good career and entrepreneurial story. As a matter of fact, the only story I love more than a career story is a love or heartbreak story.
The difference that Suffering And Smiling promised was that it wasn’t going to be an inspirational or aspirational story.
This is not aspire to perspire, acquire to Maguire. Instead, this is personal.
It is a story that if you look closely at, you can see yourself in. And if your path is different, you might still see someone you know reflected or represented.
Suffering And Smiling is so real that the companies and individuals involved are named.
Who no like better gist? Who no wan know wetin Mr. Lagbaja tell Mrs. Tamedo?
The best bit though is that it is not gossip or hearsay. It is a true account of an ex-Lagos banker.
As someone who got on the career path relatively early, I can understand the challenge of rubbing shoulders with adults. Their desperation when they sense a threat to their position or disrespect to their person.
I can also appreciate having an elder who is willing to take you under their wings and show you the ropes.
Having the right boss, or at least, the right structure is a blessing many professionals take for granted.
I have heard worse tales of abuse. The experience is not one I would wish on anyone.
When Mary narrates her staff bus ordeal, it reminded me of that clip from the BRT bus that made the round on social media recently.
More than half the occupants were asleep. Half of the rest were warding off sleep, and the final quarter probably just woke up from sleep.
If clips from staff buses on Lagos roads ever leak, I think the state government might be forced to declare a state of emergency.
The welfare of Lagos workers has been mortgaged for competitive advantage by the workers, and extra profit by corporations.
The decision to exit a place is one that is as important and impactful as the one to take up employment there. It is one that should not be taken lightly or in desperation.
The ideal situation would be to have another job that you would be resuming immediately, but that is not always the reality.
In such situations, having an exit strategy could be a potential lifesaver. And I mean that literally.
I have heard one too many tales of someone getting frustrated, depressed, and suicidal after quitting a job.
The entrepreneurial journey is not for everyone. Those with the drive, knowledge, and capital are tailor-made for it.
Ask your entrepreneur friends what their experiences of sourcing for clients, getting a deal, looking for funds to execute, then pursuing payment after delivery is like.
Maybe one day, I will share my foray into entrepreneurship with the world.
If you plan on seeking another job, first update your skillset. In the time you have been at your current job, there has likely been an evolution in your industry.
You are coming out to compete with fresh graduates and others who have resigned like you. A few who have been fired or laid off also.
You have no idea what inspiration and knowledge you are going up against. You need to garnish your “ten” years of work experience with “three” month old innovation.
It is also best you start job hunting before you send in your resignation letter. You might not have the job yet, but at least, you have a better assessment of the job market.
If you have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug though, preparation is key to your survival.
Before you tell your boss to go sack him or herself, do diligent research on your intended business.
Even if it is your money you will be starting with, and you already have more than enough to do it all, you still need a business plan.
The process of preparing a business plan will help you understand your business better. It would also expose you to options, and pitfalls to avoid.
A SWOT analysis would also be beneficial.
There are other tactical analysis that would give you a leg up on your competition. NOISE analysis, Improvement Venn Diagram, pro and con table, and opposition research.
Entrepreneurship is one of those areas where I subscribe to going in over-prepared than under-prepared.
If you live in Nigeria, please, know all the government regulations about your industry. Including those still in the proposition stage.
You don’t want to be a victim of the government somersaulting in and out of policies.
This is necessary for those in other countries, but much more for those in Nigeria.
Federal and state regulations. Then especially for those in Lagos, know which local government permits you will be needing.
And all the associations and unions that cover your industry. You would think membership is voluntary until they come and start dragging your electric generator with you.
Research on all the Nigerian factors they don’t teach at Lagos Business School.
When you eventually do leave, Mary said this, and I will reemphasize this, “do not set all the bridges ablaze.”
There is a Yoruba proverb on how you don’t go back to say good evening in a place you have already said good night. Quitting a job is not one of such instances.
I have a litany of people who either went back to a previous employer to work there again, got their past employer to become their biggest client, or got favorable recommendations from their former bosses that got them better jobs or bigger clients.
If you took “sacking your boss” literally and headed your resignation letter with “To whom It May Concern or Dear Sir/Ma: You Are Fired”. You are on your own.
Literally and figuratively.
The Yorubas say “eni ti o su le gbage, eni ti o ko o le gbage.”
This is one of the few instances I won’t be translating a proverb into English. Get a Yoruba friend or Google to translate that for you.
The summary of this bit is that be tactful and respectful while calling it quits. The bridge you crossed forward might be necessary for a tactical retreat.
If you burn every bridge you climb, do ensure there will never be a need for you or your kin to use that bridge in the future.
Having an audiobook for Suffering And Smiling would be a great idea. I hope Mary is looking into this. Although the book is an easy read and written in none complicated English.
I know a few people who finished reading it in one evening. I should have done the same, but then, I really wanted to read my money’s worth out of the pages.
If you are pressed for time and only have fifteen minutes to spare, I urge you to buy the book right away and go straight to chapter seven and nine.
“Beyond the exit strategy,” and “decisions and consequences” are the two most important chapters of Suffering And Smiling.
I have written a bit on chapter seven, but this review will not be enough to do justice to both chapter seven and chapter nine.
My advice is that you get the book for yourself, read it, internalize it, analyze it, then personalize it. That might be the best decision you make this year.
All Mary wants for you to do when done with this book is to “take off the veil and breath”.
Someone said being a Nigerian is the most frustratingly-pleasant experience in the world. Suffering And Smiling is one attempt to take some of the frustrations away.
After getting this book for yourself, I hope you get moved to get one for someone you know that needs this insight.
Get the book at Flutterwave.com/pay/SufferingAndSmilingngn
You should visit Mary Ogundimu’s website MaryOgundimu.com There might still be a few things for you there.
You can check her out on Twitter @OgundimuMary and Instagram @MaryOgundimu too.