pain medication for osteoarthritis

— ejieme

Attending business school if nothing else has afforded me the opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurs, the current state of many different types of startups in varying industries and the entrepreneurial process. I must admit that entrepreneurship (or at least working in an exciting and fast-paced startup environment) is an awfully enticing and glamorous proposition for me and for many MBAs. When I look to these entrepreneurs and hear their stories of success and failure, I’m not too surprised that there is a lack of people that look like me – black, African, female – and not even that specific combination but any of those individual traits. The entrepreneurship game (and even those working for startups) looks very homogenous – male, white, asian.

I can say that I was not very surprised that in my Foundations of Entrepreneurship class (albeit the focus is on technology startups which can skew the representation as well) that out of a class of 30, I was 1 of 3 females and the only under-represented minority.

Here are some things that I want to know:

  • What percentage of current and new businesses in the US are owned/started by underrepresented minorities?
  • What is the breakdown of funding type (bank loan, VC, personal) for these businesses vs. white owned businesses?
  • What is the success rate of these businesses vs. white owned?
  • What role are Africans across the world playing in the VC/PE action in Africa?
  • How many African MBAs return and start ventures on the continent?
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Some quick notes from a chat with someone who is slowly becoming a great mentor:

  • Determine what you value and how you will define your own success and happiness.
  • Determine what you are passionate about and be 100% confident in it. No, “I think, I’m interested in, etc.” Speak with confidence.
  • Do you want to take control of the path your life goes or do you want to let things continue to fall on your lap? Know and accept the type of person you are
  • Where will you be 5 years out of business school? Stuck or moving forward?
  • A “generalist job” may undermine your potential to start developing your skills and credibility. Think about how you can counter this.
  • If you want to know how to run a business, run a business.
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After I read this article I have yet another reason for me to wish more African leaders were like Paul Kagame.

Key Points:
1) Align university education programs to address the challenges of the country
2) Call to African youth to develop “values of integrity, honesty, and a sense of duty”
3) Train African entrepreneurs to be responsible, accountable and committed to service
4) Private sector should become more active in sharing the costs of the education system

Yes, yes and yes. I’m interested to see how his plan plays out in his own country.

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During the 3 weeks in India I could not help but compare it to other developing countries I’d been to; my biggest source of comparison was with Nigeria. I’d always been drawn to India because of the many similarities with my own: the strong bright colors of traditional clothing, insanely spicy/savory foods, various religions/cultures/languages, a history of colonialization and more recently corruption.

But while there, I also noticed stark differences in the progress of both nations. I found myself asking: Why has India seemed to have progressed much more than Nigeria?

I don’t have a clear answer for that but here are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind:
Pre-colonialization: I believe the history of the region and how society was organized in kingdoms/empires must have caused long-standing frictions between ethnic groups. While India also has a myriad of ethnic groups, their transition to a single country was (and has been) less contentious than that of Nigeria. Old tensions die hard?

Colonialization: It’s been said that colonialization in Africa was a lot more brutal and destabilizing than in other parts of the world. I can’t quantify this but I would have to agree (Belgian Congo?) and that due to the manner in which Britain managed both empires, India was left in a better state to manage itself.

Black Curse: While both countries possess many different types of natural resources, the blatant and disabling dependence on oil has stymied its economic diversification and ultimately progress. India has not had to rely on a sole commodity. In fact, a focus in building and maintaining institutions of education built an army of the educated right as the service industries in developing markets were looking to outsource. Win-win.

I’ll have to come back to this and try to validate my initial thoughts.

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Up next on the travel schedule: India!

Specifically: Goa, Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Ajmer, Pushkar, Kerala, Mumbai (and a few smaller cities in between)

Hopefully I can get some time to write.

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A few years ago I decided to quit New Year’s resolutions and to more often reassessing my goals and how well I go about achieving them but the beginning of a New Year just always naturally brings out self-reflection in us all.

Honestly it’s been easy for me to undertake this periodic self-assessment in the past 3 years. Applying to business school and subsequently completing the MBA process is supposedly all about self-assessing your experience, strengths/weaknesses, interests, passions, hobbies, etc. The path and logical steps have already been paved for me. All I needed to do was execute, execute, execute.

Impetus….??? (Professional and personal drivers)
Step 1: Apply to business school
Step 2: Study for the GMAT, research schools, prepare essays, gather letters of recommendations, etc
Step 3: Complete Applications
Step 4: Wait patiently
Step 5: Select school
Step 6: Start school
Step 7: Choose career path
Step 8: Recruit, recruit, recruit
Step 9: Land internship (kick butt and get an offer)
Step 10: Sign offer letter and start the rest of your life

While there were many chances to stray from this path, it’s a whole lot easier to follow it in its structurally sound safeness. And then there’s the effect of group think in business school. This video on the Psychology of Conformity, Groupthink, & Wikileaks prompted these thoughts (in addition to the general New Year sentiments). It discusses the pressures to conform and developing the ability to cultivate a healthy skepticism within groups we identify with and then challeneges us to actively change our behavior when the time calls.

Now that I am nearing this end of this brief junction in my life’s journey, I will have to master the skills of self-assessment and more importantly of action to achieve my goals. I’m excited to begin Step 11.

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I woke up this morning to over 16inches of snow but also to the exciting news that South Africa had been invited to join “the big four.” Big news not only for South Africa (which has Africa’s largest economy) but also for the entire continent.

I’ve always taken the whole BRIC phenomenon a bit lightly. There are probably other countries that should be part of this “economic labeling” (Mexico, South Korea) but I am happy to see some selectively in this grouping. It ensures that these countries slowly and effectively work together to initiate change that is best for their countries’ interests economically. Although they have also cooperated to swing political pressures in their favor they do not intend (and probably could not succeed) in being a true political alliance (i.e. EU).

It’s interesting that China would invite South Africa and overlook Mexico and South Korea, just as more recently some “experts” have been self-including these countries with the BRICs. Perhaps the BRIC is concerned that Mexico and South Korea are a bit more developed than their countries and may not align on the same economic goals? Perhaps it was South Africa’s great PR from the World Cup this summer? Or it could be that China wants to improve it’s image of its dealings with Africa. I don’t know for sure but oh Happy Day for Africa!

South Africa is Asked to Join as a BRIC Member to Boost Emerging Markets

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On Christmas, a friend shared with me William Deresiewicz’s “Solitude and Leadership” a speech he had given at West Point.

It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise.

Many ideas within his words resonated with me as I had struggled to articulate his main ideas. As a 27 year old, soon to be MBA graduate from an “elite” institution, I have had very little time to actually think for myself; to develop my own thoughts and voice. This sums up my desire to create this space for myself. This space is selfishly for me to write down my thoughts and reactions to things I read, see and hear. It will be by no means perfect. What it will be is a chance for me to start thinking about the things I care about.

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