The African Enterprise (16/08/2021)

Conversations and the cube, Anatomy of words, The Sports Illustrated Jinx.

Hi friends,

Greetings from Abuja.

We've been enjoying the best of August Rain over here. In the small pockets of time I’ve had the last week, I've been reading P.J O'Rourke's Eat the Rich. A wonderful, and funny, book about Economic systems. He writes about the best and worst use of both Capitalism and Socialism in the world. Instances where Capitalism has worked (USA) and where it has failed (Albania); as well as where Socialism has worked (Sweden) and where it has failed (Cuba).

It’s interesting because the deciding factor in whether a system works anywhere is the people and the local context. When someone says Capitalism should be the standard, well here's where it didn't work so well. The same applies to Socialism.

That aside, I have an essay to share with you.

I wrote an essay a while ago that was based on a Mokokoma Mokonoana quote that Capitalism has turned human beings into commodities - To the owner of a restaurant, the cook and a bag of tomatoes are equally important.

The idea was that most of what we do are designed to make sense in a profit/loss statement.

Can we be good even if it doesn’t make sense in a profit/loss statement? If being good doesn’t confer direct value, is it even sustainable to be good?

Read the essay here.


Coolest things I learned this week

Conversations and the cube

The Rubik's cube. In Everybody hates Chris, It was called the most diabolical puzzle ever invented. Chris Rock narrated in his characteristic comedic tone that it caused nervous breakdowns, divorces, and suicides. People were so frustrated by solving it that they just tossed them for anyone to find.

It comes solved, then it's scrambled so it can be resolved.

This Rubik's cube is analogous to conversations.

Every conversation starts in a solved state. A state of understanding. The willingness to even start a conversation is testament to an understanding.

What appears to be confusions and misunderstandings are merely scrambles of the cube. It can be a challenge to resolve. It can even illicit as much frustration to those involved as the residents of Bedstuy. Sometimes, we just resort to dumping it, ending the conversation.

While there's nothing wrong with that -sometimes it's just better to avoid that frustration; with careful reasoning and an openness to the other person's point of view, scrambles are solved.

How Ironic then that it was solved by a homeless man who didn't sweat it.

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The anatomy of words

As atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons;

So are words made of experience, intent, and emotion.

When words are sounded out, so are the components of it. That's why Listening is different from hearing. 

Listening requires a commitment to those components.

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The sports illustrated jinx

The sports illustrated jinx is a claim that an athlete whose picture appears on the cover of Sports illustrated is doomed to perform poorly the next season.

On the Wikipedia page, I saw several incidences of this curse from 1954 to present. 67 years. Incidences have been recorded since before Nigeria's independence.

Besides Sports Illustrated, we tend to be more critical of Athletes and teams after a or a string of brilliant performances across Sports. Besides Sports, we tend to be more critical of ourselves after a or a string of good results. If you get a lot of engagement on a piece of work, you're inclined to be critical of the next pieces of work if they don't get the same engagement.

Well, there's no Jinx. There's no Curse. You're not floundering. Your favorite athletes or teams are not either.

Regression effects are in play.

According to Regression to the mean theory, if an incident or a variable is nearly an outlier, that incident or variable is likely to be closer to average or the mean in the future.

As Manchester United hit 5 past Leeds on Saturday, that's nearly an outlier. It surely will regress to the average result the next time. The same theory applies to other athletes and teams. The same theory applies to us.


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