Two heads are better than one

One of my mother’s favourite sayings was “Two heads are better than one” and she always encouraged us to consult widely on any and every matter. Many times, I discounted her aice as I always suspected that mummy’s love for this consultative approach to life had more to do with her character and personality.

Over the years, I have learnt firsthand that you can save yourself a lot of heartache and money if you take your time to research, consult and use as a sound board your knowledgeable friends, relatives, colleagues and well-wishers who have made it in the areas you are struggling with. These been-there-done-that people are a great source of wisdom and many of them are humble enough to share their wisdom.

Recently, I watched a programme on television that was talking about the success of the human race and what makes us resilient and progressive. Apparently, the most successful creatures on earth are termites, ants, bees and humans. Research shows that what has made these species resilient and what they have in common is their collaborative lifestyles and their tendency to live as a society or colonies.

If you have ever taken the time to watch termites you will very quickly get impressed with their singleness of purpose and unbroken focus. When you see the anthills that they build it becomes clear that these little beings are punching above their weight.

The same can be said about the achievements of the human race. Think about our ground breaking achievements like putting a man on the moon, inventing the aeroplane, electricity, the telephone and the steam engine to name but a few. Much as we tend to attribute these great feats to one person, the truth is that every successful invention we have today is the fruit of a great deal of collaboration, consultation and teamwork.

Creating wealth
Wealth creation is no exception. From reading books on this subject and talking to people who have succeeded in getting wealthy, one thing is clear. Wealth creation is a journey not a destination. Every single book written on this subject points to the “termite approach” to life take one day at a time, be consistent, be patient and be a team player (think we not I). One particular aspect that stands out about the lifestyle of ants and bees is the emphasis on teamwork. We must remember that what these little creatures do is actually boring and monotonous.

They get up every morning and as a team do the same thing over and over again. It is dull, boring and unglamorous, until you see the completed anthill or you taste their great honey. Similarly, the work that goes into wealth creation may not be glamorous, and is heavily dependent on team work. This applies to wealth created from running a business, having a job, being in professional sports and the performing arts (musicians, actors etc). A lot of behind the scenes slogging goes into succeeding at anything.
Successful business owners the world over have mentors and a team of professionals aising them on a wide range of subjects like insurance, the global markets, financial planning, tax regulation and laws relevant to their line of business. Even actors, musicians, professional sports men and women have an army of support staff and trainers who help them perfect their art or sport.

Sadly, one characteristic for financially illiterate people is that they don’t have knowledgeable aisors and tend to consult friends who know precious little about personal finance and wealth creation. One thing I have learnt to avoid is free aice from people who are not subject matter experts and aisors who do not practice what they preach. Free aice from a novice can turn out to be very expensive

We have all see people who hope around from one business idea to another losing money with each financial aenture. You meet them in January and they have decided to invest in broilers, when you next talk to them in March, they have changed to rearing pigs.
The next time you hear from them they are contemplating mushroom growing. If you stick around long enough they will be sharing with you that they have heard the next big idea is rearing quail for their eggs.

Before you know it, they are contemplating fish farming. If you take the time to interview such a person they are getting free aice from know- it- alls who are very likely untested in these ventures.

Investing in a business you do not understand is the same as putting your money in one of the many get-rich-schemes. On the other hand, if you take the time to consult with people who have actually succeeded in doing the business you want to pursue, you will very quickly realise that behind their success is a lot of hard work, diligence, patience and teamwork.

These success stories help one to sit down and count the cost and also manage one’s expectations around how long it will take to churn out profits before taking on any venture.

The good news is that when it comes to wealth creation, there is no scarcity of sound aice if you look in the right places or take time to do your homework. We live in the information age and it is therefore such a shame if we fail to take aantages of the vast amounts of relevant information out there.

So, yes, two heads are better than one. That said, the quality of the information in that other head that you are brainstorming with can make or break you.

Grace Makoko is Standard Chartered’s head of financial markets, East Africa.

SOURCE: Daily Monitor

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