The Transformative Power of Education

by Onyeka Nchege on April 16, 2014

FOT8EF0Education is something that you either believe makes the difference or you are indifferent to it. As for me, I knew from the time I was born that education was not optional. My parents made it clear that I was going to college well before I was old enough to understand what going to college even meant. Any other decision after high school that did not include going off to college that Fall was not an option. In hindsight, I am appreciative of the fact that my parents pushed the way they did. They knew and understood the transformative power of education on their lives and wanted the same for their four children. Since I am a creature of habit, I absolutely come at my 4 children the same way. No other option is acceptable. I want them to experience the power of, and be transformed by education.

Recently, I attended the 2014 Coca Cola Scholars Banquet honoring 150 scholarship recipients with the Coca Cola Scholars Award in Atlanta, Ga. Two days later, I was privileged to attend the Bethel Enrichment Center Scholarship Foundation Awards Dinner honoring 9 deserving students with the Volunteerism, Community Impact, and BEC Core scholarships in Concord, NC. During the course of both scholarship award events, while listening to both keynote speakers, Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Kevin Alan Henry respectively, I came away with a hardened belief that leveraging the opportunities education offers needs to be deliberate and strategic to ensure success. In fact, being deliberate and strategic with any endeavor you undertake requires 7 essential requirements to ensure you reap the benefits of transformation.

    Never take for granted what you have – appreciate what you have and every opportunity you have been given and determine to make the best of each opportunity. Everyone does not get the opportunity to be transformed, so do not squander your opportunity.

    Find your passion – it is said that your passion will make room for you on this earth. All too often we spend too much time looking to be what we believe others want us to be instead of pursuing that which we know is important to us and that which we have passion about. The reality is, if you are looking to step into your passion, your passion will find you.

    Stay off the beaten path – it is a fact that “easy street” does not always lead to success. Don’t be afraid to try something hard – don’t be scared to go down the road less traveled. You may find your passion lies down that road.

    Find a mentor – it is a true asset to have someone in your corner who will advocate for you and to guide you on your journey towards success. When seeking a mentor do not force the process, simply look for the following, consistent characteristics: honesty and experience.

    Learn about other people – connect and reconnect with people; make no weak links. You never know who you will meet or cross paths with again later.

    Don’t be entitled – having the attitude of entitlement will inhibit you from working hard towards your goals. An entitled person feels deserving despite the fact whether they have earned anything or not. Do not allow this attitude to stifle your progress; give it your all at all a times.

    Give back a measure always – God has blessed you with opportunity, as you make strides on your journey to success, give back a measure of what God has given to you.

Transformation manifests in many ways. How it manifests to you and for you, especially for the students reading this post, has everything to do with how invested and vested you are in your own journey through life. Be it education or any other pursuit or endeavor you have, you have to be committed to make it happen. As for me, and our 4 children, my parents’ methodology of “no other option” is still the right one.

Take Action: Which of the 7 essentials do you need to commit to today? Make it your mission to see yourself transformed positively.

Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N



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Competition Breeds Innovation

by Onyeka Nchege on April 1, 2014

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It’s that time of year again, when that one shot at greatness grips most in the nation and leaves half us exhaling a victorious sigh of relief. It’s March Madness time; a time when college basketball teams battle to become National Champions. Each game during March Madness can be a team’s defining moment for the year. In forty minutes, a team can escalate from underdogs to victors and send all-time favorites home with the weight of defeat on their shoulders until next season.

Along with the competitive nature that accompanies this tournament comes the innovative effort it takes to win. Throughout history, the March Madness tournament has introduced the basketball world to signature moves like the slam-dunk and the alley-oop. The introduction and honing of these innovative moves has helped in propelling many teams into the championship game.

Many of us who work in corporate settings can understand how a competitive environment often leads to more innovative practices. When competing against other businesses, the frequent goal is to capture more share of the market than your competitors. To accomplish this, usually means product improvements and/or an increase in marketing, both of which require some form of innovation.

An organization can also have internal competition to stimulate innovation. Within the IT organization that I am fortunate to serve, we have an annual awards ceremony where individuals are nominated by their peers based on their contributions and performance throughout the year. The Most Valuable Geek Awards celebrate the innovative practices implemented by the “winning” individuals that contributed to the overall success and strategic alignment of our organization as a whole.

Our IT organization is one that is different from many other IT organizations. In every IT organization there are servers, and databases, and workstations, and programmers, and analysts, and support specialists. And in every IT organization there are goals of getting projects completed ahead of time and under budget, keeping support calls as low as possible and growing as technology changes. Our Information Systems & Services (ISS) team shares these characteristics with other IT organizations in addition to strategic focus areas that enhance these characteristics. The ISS strategic focus areas are: Collaboration, Continuous Improvement, Relationships, Speed-to-Market and Value. Aligning innovative practices to these strategic focus areas helps with maintaining and achieving the goals of our organization.

    Collaboration – Often it is a single idea or a collection of ideas that starts the manifestation process of a delivered solution. The key to that process being successful is the joint cooperation of project team members working toward the common goal of delivering a sound solution upon completion.

    Continuous Improvement – To be better today than we were yesterday is a common phrase that we often talk about at our ISS meetings, but to prepare to be better tomorrow and the days that follow is a rare trait that only a few individuals possess.

    Relationships – Understanding the business functions of our overall organization and implementing the best technology to support those functions is our primary role as a department. In that process of gathering our understanding, we often perpetuate our findings to other departments to enlighten them as well.

    Speed-to-Market – It is a gratifying challenge to implement sound technological solutions within the timeframe of our business users’ expectations, and to deliver those solutions ahead of time through extensive coordinated efforts compounds that gratification.

    Value – Respecting the vitality of the technological systems we build and maintain is a key consensus in our organization, and there are several of us who research and propose fixes or enhancements so that our systems continue to provide that vital support to our business users.

It’s often said that necessity is the mother of invention. Similarly, it can be said that competition is the mother of innovation. Competition breeds innovation and teaches powerful, positive lessons, and nudges people to pursue goals they might otherwise not be inclined to pursue.

Take Action: When it comes to winning, the presence of competition forces all of us to raise our game and strive for that edge that pushes us past the competition. Determine today to find your competitive edge and pursue your goals.

Leadership on the GO…..It’s O.N



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Mentor or Mentee – 5 Compelling Reasons to Join the Ranks

March 18, 2014

jesuscm / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND One aspect I love about my current position in life is the opportunities to mentor others. Mentoring is most often defined as a professional relationship in which an experienced person (the mentor) assists another (the mentee) in developing specific skills and knowledge that will enhance the less-experienced person’s professional […]

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IT Career Change & Crisis: Rapid Lessons

March 5, 2014

Recently I was invited to share an article on the IW Strategic CIO site in advance of my participation in the InformationWeek Conference later this month. IT Career Change & Crisis: Rapid Lessons (via InformationWeek) InformationWeek Conference – Register Now After a dunk in a raging river, a CIO offers advice on coping with the […]

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What Does My Team Need From ME?

February 28, 2014

marsmet546 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA He who knows his enemy and himself well will not be defeated easily. He, who knows himself but not his enemy, will have an even chance of victory. He, who does not know himself….., is bound to suffer defeat in all battles – Sun Tzu, “The Art of War” […]

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