In pursuit of desiderata

By Frederick Mordi

In today’s fast-paced world, which is so full of care that often leaves humanity with little or no time to stand and stare, it may be comforting to reflect on Desiderata, a popular poem by Max Ehrmann, an American poet and lawyer.

Desiderata, which is one of the greatest poems ever written, is a Latin word that means: ‘things to be desired.’ The poem is full of insight and wisdom. It is still relevant today as it was when Ehrmann first wrote it about 100 years ago. Found in many offices and homes, the poem talks about the vicissitudes of life, the perennial nature of love, and mankind’s search for God.

The full poem is reproduced below.

accomplishment action adult adventure

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.



Can a dark horse win 2018 World Cup?

By Frederick Mordi


This year’s edition of the World Cup, which holds from June 14 to July 15 in Russia, may well spring surprises as dark horses could upstage the usual suspects.

Nobody gave Panama and Iceland, which will be playing in the World Cup for the first time since the tournament began in 1930, a dog’s chance of qualifying from their groups. But both countries booked their tickets to Russia at the expense of more experienced teams.

Given this, there are reasons to believe that some countries that have never gotten beyond the quarter-finals, may progress beyond this stage in Russia and possibly lift the World Cup, in spite of the overwhelming odds. It is not mission impossible. History is replete with countries that proved bookmakers wrong.


In 1990, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun caused a major stir at the World Cup that Italy hosted, when they defeated Argentina, the defending champions, by a lone goal. Although pundits had dubbed Cameroun, the underdog, the Indomitable Lions eventually progressed to the quarter-finals before the Three Lions of England managed to tame them in a pulsating encounter that ended 3-2.

In 1994, the Super Eagles of Nigeria made their debut in the World Cup in USA, where they gave a good account of themselves. They made it past the first round, but Roberto Baggio’s goal at the dying minutes of the match between Nigeria and Italy, prevented the Super Eagles from soaring further in the tournament, which is regarded as their best outing till date.

In 2002, the Teranga Lions of Senegal, another African country, also beat France, winners of the tournament held four years earlier, and almost made history by being the first country from the continent to reach the semi-finals until Turkey put paid to their chances in the 94th minute with a 1-0 win.

In 2010, Ghana, a West African country, kept everyone on the tenterhooks when it looked set to break the jinx during a dazzling match with Uruguay. But the infamous hands of a certain Luis Suarez stopped Ghana from getting to the semi-finals.

The attention of the world will again turn to Africa’s five representatives at the 21st edition of the World Cup in Russia. The countries are Nigeria, Senegal, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. These Africans countries parade some of the best stars that ply their trade in Europe, today: Nigeria’s Victor Moses, Senegal’s Sadio Mane and Egypt’s Mo Sallah.

Apart from Africa, the other continents equally parade star-studded players such as Lionel Messi (Argentina); Neymar (Brazil); and Luis Suarez (Uruguay). The other stars to watch: Luka Modric (Croatia); Robert Lewandoski (Poland); Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal); Harry Kane (England); Andres Iniesta (Spain); and Thomas Muller (Germany).

Since the competition started 88 years ago, only eight countries from two continents have so far won the FIFA World Cup. The countries according to number of wins include: Brazil (five times); Germany (four times); Italy (thrice); and Argentina and Uruguay (twice). England, France and Spain have each won the World Cup once. Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina are South American countries, while the remaining five are European countries.


As the date for final kick off draws near, the excitement among football fans has reached fever pitch. For instance, yesterday, barely a few minutes after Nike released Nigeria’s kits, which have been voted the best out of the 32 teams that will participate in the World Cup, the jerseys sold out. This, perhaps, demonstrates the level of support for Nigeria, but more importantly, for the beautiful game.

It certainly will be a refreshing experience if a dark horse wins the World Cup this year!


Managing generational differences in the workplace

By Frederick Mordi

It was Pierre Diallo’s first visit to the company’s head office in Lagos. He had flown into Lagos, along with his country manager, to attend a meeting. Pierre’s colleagues had requested that he took a ‘selfie’ with the Group CEO to prove that he actually visited the firm’s head office.


And so after the meeting, Pierre sneaked in to see the big boss of the multinational company. He introduced himself to the female Secretary, who gave him a disapproving look. She asked if he was on appointment. Before Pierre could respond, the CEO breezed into the office. Pierre instantly recognised him from the company’s e-newsletters and podcasts. He quickly moved before the Secretary could stop him.

“Hi, I am Pierre Diallo from the Abidjan office. Can I take a selfie with you?”

This humorous narrative aptly mirrors the diversity that exists in today’s workplace. This diversity, which has different dimensions such as culture, language and age, can all influence the communication process in an organisation. These different dimensions of diversity often cause tension in organisations, particularly multinationals. Here, you have Pierre, who is about 23 years old and from a Francophone country, which has a different language and culture; interacting for the first time, with a female Nigerian Secretary, who is possibly in her late forties.

People of Pierre’s generation have an approach to work and life that is distinctly different from those of the older generation. They tend to be more relaxed, lackadaisical, and impulsive. You often find them listening to music from an earpiece plugged to their official laptops. That is the reason the matronly Secretary must have frowned at Pierre’s imprudence. People of her generation believe employees like Pierre lack work ethics. On the other hand, Pierre’s generation cannot seem to understand why they cannot be left alone to work in the way that best suits them. This often creates generational tension in the office.


Managing generational differences in the workplace can prove to be a challenge for multinational companies, which can have up to five generations of employees. For this reason, multinationals are paying closer attention to workplace diversity. Although there seems to be no consensus on when some generations start and stop, the following five groups are generally identified:


The Traditional School (1925 to 1945): This is the traditional ‘radio’ generation. Most members of this generation are retired pensioners, while a few are still working.

Baby Boomers (1946 to 1964): This generation, which currently sits atop the board and management of companies, derived its tag from the population explosion that followed the end of the Second World War in 1945. The older ones have retired, while those in the fifties and sixties bracket, are still in active service.

Generation X (1965 to 1980): This is the generation that is getting set to take over from the Baby Boomers. This generation values balance and diversity and have global mindset.

Generation Y (1981 to 1995). Famously referred to as ‘millennials,’ this generation, to which Pierre belongs, is reputed for its technological know-how. People like Pierre are much at home with their mobile phones which they use to surf the net and access social networking sites, even while at work. They are changing the face of business communication. But the older generations view them as a bunch of unserious people. That is why they do not often seem to get along with Generation X.

Generation Z (after 1996): Also called Generation I (for Internet) or the Net Generation, they are the generation born after the advent of the World Wide Web. They will be more tech savvy than the Generation Y because they are exposed to the net early in life.


In the next decade or so, Baby Boomer bosses will be preparing for retirement, paving the way for Generation X to succeed them. It certainly would be interesting to know how the workplace will look like when it eventually gets to the turn of Generation Y and Generation Z to head multinational corporations across the world.

That future is not too far away as Google, which was founded on September 4, 1998, has already started out implementing what many would describe as a ‘weird’ world culture. The ‘Googleplex’ reportedly offers employees free Wi-Fi-enabled buses to and from work, free meals, gym, 18 weeks of fully paid maternity leave and office crèche, and good pay package. Pierre would easily fit into this kind of company.

Frederick Mordi pricks conscience of Familiar Stranger

The Punch Newspapers, the most widely read newspaper in Nigeria, reviewed my collection of short stories, The Familiar Stranger and Other Stories, today.


Kindly click on the link below to access the review. Thank you.


Should FIFA increase World Cup teams to 48?

By Frederick Mordi


In January 2017, FIFA, the world football governing body, will meet to discuss the possibility of increasing the number of teams playing at the World Cup, from the current 32 teams to 48. If the proposal manages to sail through, it will give more countries from FIFA’s 211 members, the opportunity of participating in the world’s biggest single-event sporting competition. The last time FIFA increased the number of teams competing at a World Cup tournament was in 1998, when it added eight more countries to the original 24, bringing the total to 32 countries.

However, the 48-team format is not likely to become effective until 2026, as the current 32-team format will be used both in the 2018 and 2022 tournaments to be hosted by Russia and Qatar, respectively. The idea was part of the campaign manifesto of FIFA president, Gianni Infantino, who insists global football federations are “overwhelmingly in favour” of the initiative.

In Infantino’s own words: “If we can have a format that does not add any additional matches but brings so much joy to those who don’t have the chance to participate, then we will have to think about that.”

Money and politics appear to be the driving force behind the idea. FIFA research claims that by using the 48-team format, revenue could rise by about 20% to $6.5 billion, while profit would potentially increase by $640 million. FIFA, which explains that its decision is not financial, adds that the initiative will help in bringing the beautiful game to all.

However, the European Clubs Association, an influential stakeholder in world football, is not sold on the idea, over concerns bordering on ‘quality.’ While FIFA also accepts that there could be a drop in quality, it insists there is a need to give every nation a sense of belonging. This may be in line with the well-known saying attributed to Baron Pierre de Coubertin, who is regarded as the father of modern Olympic Games: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part.”

It is also not unlikely that European nations that currently have 13 slots out of the 32, making the continent the highest, will continue to enjoy its dominance. But Africa and Asia may benefit more from the process by getting extra slots.

Since the World Cup started in 1930, Europe has won 11 times: Italy (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006); Germany (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014): England (1966); France (1998); and Spain (2010). South America has won nine times: Uruguay (1930, 1950); Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002); and Argentina (1978, 1986). The other four continents namely Africa, Asia, North and Central America and Caribbean, and Oceania, have yet to win the trophy. This means that only eight out of over 200 FIFA member nations have won the World Cup, since inception.

Giving more teams the opportunity to participate in the World Cup, will benefit poorer countries and even things out a bit.


Kanu, 6 other Africans listed among 48 football legends

By Frederick Mordi


Kanu Nwankwo, the lanky ex-skipper of Nigeria’s national team, the Super Eagles, made the list of the world’s best 48 football legends that was recently released by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (IFFHS). According to IFFHS, a body that keeps an account of the records of footballers, the list is based on the positions the footballers played in the game in their heyday.

Apart from Kanu, who was the only nominated Nigerian, six other Africans made the list. They include: Mahmoud El-Khatib and Mohamed Aboutrika (Egypt); Rabah Madjer (Algeria); Roger Milla (Cameroun); George Weah (Liberia); and Lucas Radebe (South Africa).

The body rated Edson Arantes Do Nascimento, popularly known as Pele (Brazil), as the number one football legend in the world. Pele’s rival, Diego Amando Maradona of Argentina, also made the list that paraded other legends such as Eusebio and Luis Figo (Portugal); Dino Zoff and Roberto Baggio (Italy); and Zinedine Zidane and Michel Platini (France). Others include: Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Lothar Matthäus (Germany); Johannes Cruijff, Marco Van Basten and Ruud Gullit (the Netherlands); and Bobby Charlton, David Beckham and Stanley Matthews (England).

Kanu’s nomination did not come as a surprise as he boasts impressive records. The Confederation of African Football (CAF) recently named Kanu, who won ‘African Player of the Year‎’ ‎award twice, as one of the 10 best players the continent has produced in the last 50 years. In addition, Kanu featured prominently at Ajax in the Netherlands and Arsenal in the EPL, where he won UEFA trophies for his clubs. He also won the Olympics gold medal for the Nigeria U-23 football team in 1996.

His latest recognition is well deserved given his antecedents.

10 facts about Ogunlesi, Trump’s new economic adviser

By Frederick Mordi


The President-elect of the United States, Donald Trump, recently appointed Adebayo Ogunlesi, a Nigerian based in the US, as a member of his Strategic and Policy Forum.

The Forum is made up of some of America’s finest and most respected corporate titans such as Stephen Schwarzman, Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder of Blackstone; Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO, JPMorgan Chase & Co; Ginni Rometty, Chairman, President/CEO, IBM; and Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO, General Electric (GE). The team members are expected to help Trump shape his ambitious economic agenda.


Ogunlesi, the surprise name on the list, has some interesting pedigree that justifies his inclusion among America’s successful business leaders. Here are 10 facts about Ogunlesi that you may find interesting:

Fact #1: Ogunlesi was born in Nigeria in 1953, and has an impressive track record of academic accomplishments, a trait that runs in the family. His father is the first Nigerian professor of medicine.

Fact #2: He is the Chairman and Managing Partner, Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a New York-based independent investment fund, with worldwide interest in infrastructure financing.

Fact #3: He made the headlines in 2010 when GIP bought Gatwick Airport, London’s second largest. For this reason, he is referred to as ‘the Nigerian who bought Gatwick Airport.’

Fact #4: He is often described as one of Wall Street’s smartest money managers. Time magazine profiled him among 15 Most-promising Young Executives in its list of 2002 Global Influentials, while Fortune ranked him as the Seventh Most Powerful Black Executive in the United States.

Fact #5: He studied Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at Oxford University, where he bagged a bachelor’s degree with honours. He also attended Harvard Law School, where he became one of the first two editors of African descent, to serve together on the influential Harvard Law Review.

Fact #6: After leaving Harvard, he served as a law clerk for US Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall from 1980 to 1983, making him the first non-American to serve in this capacity at the nation’s highest court.

Fact #7: In 1983, Ogunlesi joined the New York law firm Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He practiced law for only nine months before he was invited for discussions by First Boston, an investment bank, which later offered him a job. It was at First Boston that he received the grooming that has today, made him highly sought after.

Fact #8: When the Credit Suisse Group acquired First Boston in 1997, the new entity was renamed Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB). The chief executive of CSFB, John Mack, once described Ogunlesi thus: “Bayo Ogunlesi is a banker of powerful intellect, integrity and innovation. He has a broad global perspective and keen understanding of complex financial transactions. Our clients worldwide have benefited greatly from his strategic insights.”

Fact#9: Despite his long years of living in Europe and America, Ogunlesi still manages to stay in touch with developments at home. He has been at the vanguard of championing African economic renaissance, which is gradually taking roots across the continent.

Fact#10: Though Ogunlesi has never had the full opportunity of working for the Nigerian government, he had served former President Olusegun Obasanjo as an adviser in an informal capacity, particularly on privatisation matters.

Ogunlesi, no doubt, is an inspiration to this generation, and his appointment by Trump, has debunked negative stereotypes about Nigeria and Africa.