The suited-up windscreen cleaner vs the cardboard lady. And Frank Donga.
I would not lie, I have been struggling with what to feel about these two stories that came up recently. You see, I'm a complete romantic for sheer hustle and grit. When I see examples of this, it just makes me all inspired and whatnot.
First there was this...
Image screen grab from Reeletv.com
Then there was this...
Image screen grab from pulse.ng
Both stories kind of had happy endings of sorts. The lady went on to meet the Vice President of Nigeria and I gather got quite a few offers including the promise of time at Andela or so. The man, I believe got to meet a few powerful people too, and got a ‘style doctor’ position with a menswear brand. I love it! All is well that ends well.
So what's my internal conflict about?
You see, (I stand to be corrected), but the most prominent qualification for consideration the lady put up was "BSc. Computer Science.". I have always been a guy who screams at people for not learning something tangible in school beyond the default degree that the school offers. I often take the position that "if you have not learnt something else, you have not hustled hard enough". But just seeing her in that picture spoke volumes. She's either taking advantage of a trend she sees has worked recently (there's the London guy and the PH lady, remember?) and that makes her smart enough to spot what can potentially work; or she is so strong that she can swallow the "shame" of standing on the road to announce that she needs work. These are both good qualities. I want to clap for those, and yet I struggled with, "wait, all you have is a Comp. Sci. degree? How did you get that second class upper if you can't code"? You see, I don't know of anyone who can code and doesn't have something to do.
With the suited windshield cleaner man, I just thought, "Wow!, How does he get up every morning to do this?". Resilience to constantly repeat the same sequence everyday till something happened. And in his words, he was doing it till he could save enough to start his own business. Just wow. But then, the judgmental jerk in me still wanted to ask why he chose to drop out of the University instead of employing that same grit to hang in there to the end and at least get himself to the base of the ladder. Yeah, I can be an a'hole at times. Okay, often. Alright, alright, a lot!
In the final analysis
I think they both represent something inspiring about the human spirit. The hustle. The effort and reward that may (or not) come with it. And I respect them both for giving us such a modern day reminder that the world is more than the Kardashians, pop music or politician money.
The cardboard-at-a-street-corner formula though, may be getting overused and I suspect my Nigerian brothers (Frank Donga I'm looking at you!) may come and mess up that market soon. I still maintain though, that if you can code, you'd find something to do. A job. Freelancing. A business. Learning something beyond your degree, can help you put your destiny better in your hands.
The response to my question below by Kunle Bamigboye (@kunlebamigboye), really helped summarize what I think I should feel about both cases.
The combination of these two people would make a guerrilla marketing team to beat. Selah.