Who you do know is more important than what you know and what you do with what you know is more important than what you do know and where you practise what you know may be more important than what you do specifically.

This morning, I got a message from someone.

It read,

I Am Looking For A Rainmaker For Xyz – A Business Development Person. Someone Who Can Turn Our Immense Goodwill Into A Steady Stream Of Cash Inflow.

Paper Qualifications Don’t Matter. Ability To Deliver Is All That Counts.

This is a multi talented person who has struggled over the years to turn his multi faceted skills into strong cash inflow, with very limited success.

Someone responded,

This is exactly what we were discussing yesterday. It’s like a skilled professional that doesn’t have connections. Who will give him jobs?

The two challenges of any business are being equipped to render sterling services (talent / expertise), and then having patronage for the expertise. Wink all you want, if you are in the dark, or nobody is looking your way and noticing you, you are wasting your time.

Why do we have so many technically competent people barely making ends meet, while lots of technically inept people swim in abundance? For every successful technical person like Bill Gates of Microsoft, or Mark Zuckeberg of Facebook or Soichiro Honda of Honda Motors, there are numerous other highly skilled individuals who have tried hard and failed in turning their knowledge and expertise into a steady flow of cash.

I have thought hard and long about this issue (off and on) and have narrowed down this phenomenon of “translating personal competence into financial success” to a couple of reasons:





Knowing you stuff cold. This is the least important characteristic as technical talent is abundant and can generally be hired (often, for a song).


Knowing the right people opens numerous doors. This includes being born with the right spoon in your mouth, having attended the right school, belonging to the right religion / religious organization or political (group), being born into the right family.

With any / all of these, you have an unassailable headstart over your peers (even if you lack the first point above) in almost any endeavour you decide to make foray into (all other things held constant).


Being literally able to predict what the (business) landscape /trend would be, before that trend is apparent to others, is a vital talent. A short sightedness, or sixth sense of spotting opportunities and acting in those opportunities would be a great addition to the repertoire of any individual.


The environment in which you operate highly affects your level of success in any endeavour. A medical doctor located in Canada would likely earn more that another working with poor folks in Kigali or Dafur.

The specific sphere of profession is also very important. If your skill set is not hotly in demand, no matter how good you are in that field , it would not fetch you truckloads of cash. If you are a brilliant Criminal Lawyer in a small community where crime is almost non existent, your dream of the good time may just remain exactly that…dream.

A situation where a bus driver in a metropolitan city like Lagos may earn more than a fresh Accounting Graduate shows the fact that what you do is sometimes amplified by where you do it


Often, people give up at exactly the point where they should just hold on a little bit more, after years of perseverance. However, knowing when to hold on and when to give up requires great wisdom. The line between goat like (stupid) mentality and dogged persistence is truly tenuous.


In the world of technology that we operate in now, what you know today could be irrelevant to the market in one year or less. Technology is making it mandatory for us to perpetually learn and relearn all the rules (business, social, economic rules). Numerous companies (and individuals!) who were leaders in their field have lost relevance because they failed to upgrade their skill sets and adapt (quickly enough)

These are some the reasons I believe determine the level of professional / financial success.

What do you think?


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