The African Enterprise (02/08/2021)

Let your flowers bloom, Gall's law, The Penny Problem Gap, Scrub off your windows.

Hello my friends,

Greeting from Abuja.

Last month I completed a year of writing on Substack. I didn’t remember at first, but I was invited to a mixer with a couple of other writers who’ve hit similar milestones. It was exciting to engage with other really smart and committed writers. 

I have an essay and a podcast episode to share with you this week.

As I thought about the changes I have worked to make in the last year and half, I realized that some of the ones that never materialized had significant impact on the ones that did. Some didn't work out because I lost the energy for them. They weren't turning out the way I wanted or in my desired timeline. So I just crushed them underfoot. I left no room for them to happen.

With this in mind, I wrote an essay: Let your flower bloom. The changes we want to see are like flowers. Their beauty, fragrance, and elegance are clear to see and admire. But we're ignorant of how they become so. The tussle from seed to flower. Until they bloom, a lot of work goes into the ground. A lot of unnoticeable work.

Similarly, to experience the beauty, fragrance, and elegance of the changes we want, we need to see it through from planting the seed, through germination to flowering. We'll never see the beauty if it's crushed underfoot.

Read Full Essay


Podcast Update

I recorded a conversation with Adetola Adesanmi. He’s the CEO of proptech company, Spleet.

Spleet provides access to easier living in Africa with flexible subscription-based rental and lifestyle services. They're on a mission to build a future where everyone gets a fair chance at efficient and affordable living spaces.

It was a very enjoyable and informative conversation in a space I had no prior knowledge of. We talked about Spleet's mission and the experiences that led to starting the company; how property technology is being used to improve customer experience in Real Estate; Making property management hassle-free; and how he believes the space will evolve across Africa.

Listen here, Show notes


Coolest things I learned this week

Gall's law

According to Gall’s law, Complex systems invariably evolve from working simple systems. Complex systems designed from scratch never work and they cannot be simplified to work.

When I got my first game console and started playing FIFA, I used to take the difficulty all the way up to the top. The idea was: I only improve by playing in the most challenging condition.

I can vividly remember how frustrating and unproductive that was. I only got to win the hard games after I started winning the easier ones.

The same is true for some of the systems we build or the approaches we take. The best isn't always the hardest. The most challenging ones arent always the most productive. Simple systems evolve into complex ones. Simple approaches make it easier to get past the challenges.

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The Penny Problem Gap

This always happens to me: When I first come across something, I may be interested. But that interest dwindles if and when I see the monetary commitment.

Once an action or a product costs money, we inherently think about it differently. An example is the paid newsletters I come across. When I first see them, I am interested in the content and the value; but when I see that it's paid, I subconsciously reassess the worth.

This is the penny problem gap. It's a term coined by Josh Kopelman to describe the gap between something being free and something having a price - no matter how cheap it is.

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Scrub off your windows

"Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won't come in." - Isaac Asimov

In a previous email, I shared an essay: Get Off your Island - Our views, opinions, perceptions, and ideas are our Island. It can be scenic yet Insular. The views we form are limited to what's on the Island; so it's important to get off sometimes. This Asimov quote closely ties to that essay and the title could easily have been scrub off your windows.

Dirty windows are contaminants for the views we develop. As long as windows remain dirty, assumptions remain underformed.

Scrubbing off is a subjective process that includes openness to other ideas, views, and opinions. Openness doesn’t mean acceptance.

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Personal-Professional life gap

What do you think about the dichotomy between your personal and professional life?

The idea of a work-life balance implies that they're mutually exclusive. Maybe it has been, but does the current and evolving age of perpetual interconnectedness not blur the line?

Let me know what you think.


That’s it for this week.

If you have any thoughts or questions, hit reply and we can have a chat. And if you enjoyed it, share it with friends.

Till next week,

Kelvin