The Bloodiest Friday Night in Paris: Religion and Globalisation of Security

The people behind last night’s attacks weren’t Muslims, they were extremists using religion as vindication for their cowardice.” – Leigh Matthews

Barely 24 hours after the Paris attack that killed at least have 127 peopled on Friday night, November 13, 2013, the European Union’s open border policy that has allowed free movement for refugees seeking asylum came under fire. The horrific event is the country’s worst terrorist atrocity till date as the president of French country, François Hollande, has come forward to describe the attack as an ‘act of war’.

In the wake of Paris attack, France is set to regain control of its borders permanently. Poland is also set to retain full control over its borders, asylum and immigration. For her foremost and proponent policy of openness towards refugees, German chancellor, Angela Merkel, is also increasingly coming under fire of the more conservative factions of her country, other countries and world leaders and delegates who have hitherto disapproved or opposed the allowance of free movement for refugees seeking asylum in other countries. For example, Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban and virtually all the republican governors and party members of United States are some of the people who have been loud in their position against refugees’ intake.

Donald Trump has come out to say the attacks in Paris has proven why the U.S. shouldn’t allow refugees through her borders. The Republican presidential front-runner said that Syrian refugees could be an ISIS ‘plot’ or ‘Trojan horse’ to launch a massive ‘military coup’ against Unite States. Also, over half of U.S. states governors have shut their doors to the Syrian refugees, reiterating that they will oppose any attempt to relocate Syrian refugees to their states through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program under current President Obama’s administration.

However, an open letter by Leigh Matthews, from Cardiff, where he aired out his feelings about anti-Muslim sentiments following the attack that took place in Paris that night have been about to shine a brighter light on the incident . In a Facebook post, that has since been shared over 42,500 times, he said; “The people behind last night’s attacks weren’t Muslims, they were extremists using religion as vindication for their cowardice.” The most fascinating about his post was that it was astutely designed and intended to subtly educate people on who is to blamed concerning the people (Muslims) generally behind (or believed to behind) horrific attacks across the globe. He carefully urge us each and every one of us not to ‘lay blame at the doors of the innocent just because of what they believe(religion) as they are no more to blame for ‘ Paris-like’ attack than we all are.

It is not justifying that Muslims are being blamed on one hand while the refugees are being blamed on the hand for the Paris attack. However, the real ‘who’ to blame obviously remains at-large or elusive to people of world and the world leaders, especially when considering their interests or gains in national and global politics.

Increasingly, the Paris attacks have drawn renewed attention to Europe’s growing Muslim population which has been growing steadily by about 1 percentage point a decade – from 4 per cent in 1990 to 6 per cent in 2010 populations according to US-based Pew Research Centre. However, Leigh Matthews, has carefully been able to throw more light on who is (or not) to be blamed from the Muslim perspective, especially considering the fact that in the EU, Germany and France have the biggest Muslim populations

In the same spirit, I intend to carefully draw the line on who is to be blamed from refugee perspective. Moreover, not that I would be leading you on who to point accusative fingers at but I will definitely be showing you who is not to be blamed and why. In line with what Leigh Matthews’s exposited via his post, it is debilitating that Muslims are increasingly being blamed wrongly as the people behind the Paris attack. Much more, it is lowly to hear that the reason for the Paris attack is seen to be the policy of openness towards refugees fleeing from horrific violence and persecution from their home country, Syria.

The misconception of security

Historically, security is seen as an all-inclusive or encompassing term that denotes safety and protection from variety of threats or attacks. Security is the protection of humans and their tangible and intangible assets from variety of treats posed   by other humans and other non-living and living things like technology, economy or commerce system, animals, environmental hazards e.g. global warming and so on. Security is also the protection of the tangible and intangible assets of other non-living and living things like (economy system, polices, environment, technology) from threats posed by humans.

However, we ought to get it straight that security, at the nuclei level, is essentially the protection of humans (not necessarily their tangible and intangible assets) from threats posed by other malevolent human. In other words security is the protection of human from (other) human- i.e. it is an ‘inter-human affair’ or a ‘human-to-human’ affair. In a real sense of it, security is ‘not’ the protection of humans from other variety of threats like; technology, economy or commerce system, animals, environmental hazards e.g. global warming and so on except, they are being used as instrument of harm by other humans. Security is also not the protection of the tangible and intangible assets of other living and non-living things like technology, economy or commerce system, animals, environment from threats posed by humans. Security, at the unit or embryonic level,   is essentially a ‘’human-to-human’ affair: not human-to- other living and non-living thing affair, neither is it ‘other living and non-living thing-to-human affair’.

It goes to say that we would be hitting the nail on the head in a security discuss that is about protection of humans (not necessarily their intangible and tangible assets) from other hostile or malevolent humans. We won’t be approaching the heart, but the peripheral, of security matters by discussing on the protection of tangible and intangible asset of humans from threat posed by other forms of living or non-living thing (e.g. technology, economy system, policies, animals, nature accident and environmental hazards e.g. global warming). Neither, we won’t be doing very great with a security discussion that is focused on the protection of tangible and intangible assets of other forms of living or non-living thing from threats posed by humans.

If you want to determine for fact, how secured a nation is, the best way of ascertaining that is primarily by examining threats posed by humans against other human; The United States is increasingly under threat of global warming against its people but it is believed to be one of the most secured country of the world. That is, if we have to talk in the real context – heart of security, there is a direct involvement, often in form of violence or espionage, between humans against other humans. However, the involvement could be from a distance. As such that why ‘physical security’ which is a system that to seeks to minimize threats posed by humans is said to be the Heart of Security.

In today’s language, security may be seen as essentially the protection of humans from ‘extremist’. Security is not the protection of humans from Muslim. Neither is it the protection of humans from refugees. That is, in the Paris case, it is wrong for security to be defined as the protection of the Parisians from refugees or the protection of the Parisians from Muslims. If we choose to define security in these terms, we would be adding more coal to fire of insurgency that is sweeping the globe.

More often than not, it is a strategy and nature of criminals (harmful individuals) to exploit or use a system as vindication for their cowardice. Just as some group of criminals like armed robbers and financial fraudsters may use economic system   as vindication for their cowardice, smugglers may use immigration systems as vindication for their cowardice, rioters may make use political system as vindication for their cowardice, militants like the Niger- Delta may use judiciary system (injustice) as their own vindication for their cowardice and so on.

The misconception of Religion

However, religion is increasingly been used by extremist as vindication for their cowardice. In contemporary times, religion has been the system most used by terrorists as vindication for their cowardice. The reason for this not farfetched; it is believed that man created religion having realised that the only time (system) possible for him to live or feel above his fears is the present, as the past gives regrets and future is pregnant with uncertainties. As such, religion was created by man to forgive him of what he has done wrong in the past and tells him not to worry about for the future. That is, man hides his cowardice to face the worries or uncertainties of his tomorrow by embracing religion to believe he is continually forgiven of his past wrongs or regret.

Man has found religion as; a place- a system- possible for him to live or feel forgiven of his past wrongs- i.e. no regrets, a place (system) where he can have no worry about the uncertainties of his future-i.e. no fears , and a place (system) where he can always live or feel happy- i.e. no sorrow. It is based on a wrong interpretation of this understanding that extremist –jihadist – use religion as vindication for their cowardice.

It is unfortunate that religion is increasingly been established as creation made by man instead of creation made by God. And so, religion has lost its bearing in harmonising the belief or mind of individuals unto a common love. On one side of the coin, religion is the strongest system that can be used to produce hate, on the other die of the coin, it is the strongest system that can be used to produce love. That is, religion helps to produce a psychological energy that either use to generate or fuel hate or love -as such, the extremist have been able to use it to produce hate.

The unification power of a religion system is seen from the understanding that it allows individuals –in their mind/heart- to have threefold win of their past, present and future. No other system can guarantee this win as effective religion does. That is, religion allows man to be or remain in a psychological state-of-art- where he remains intoxicated with fearlessness of his future and the freedom of past regrets and guilt. Today, religion is increasingly been torn apart and soiled by people who should uphold its wholeness and preserve its divine integrity. There has been increased irreconcilable views within one religion and between two or more religions. As such, it is because the people have made religion to lose its value by bastardizing its divine rights and nature that the world is increasingly losing her sleep to the terrorist or extremist who are using religion as a system to vindicate their cowardice.

Globalisation of Security : Refugee Perspective

What happen in Paris that night was just a token of experience of what is happening every now and then in Syria. It was a token of pestilence the refugees are running from. It was the best reality the world could use in understanding the emergency state of Syria and every region under the same form and magnitude threat. It was a show of what the Jihadist or extremist groups all over the globe stood for. It was token of the reality of Boko-harm in the north-eastern Nigerian who have internally displace over 1.5 million persons by terrorism till date. It was a token how much extremist have exploited religion as system for vindication for their cowardice and despicability.

In the broader sense, it was not Paris people who died that matters, neither was it because it happened in Paris that matters. It is the death of the world’s people that matters and the ones increasingly under similar threat all over the globe. It a tickler to the world to double their effort in helping terrorist ridden countries like Syrian, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and others. It was remainder that the state of peace a nation or the world is tied to others.   It is a call for unity and collective effort to fight terrorism effectively as the world is losing more ground to the extremist. Terrorism should be perceived as fire, if the fire doesn’t get to you, the smoke will.

As such, it is not enough for some world leaders (America and European) to blame Paris attacks on immigration policies – refugees. We ought to realise that these attackers are the people the refugees are trying to flee from before point accusative finger at them.

The attack against France is not just the retaliation of the ISIS group against the France country for partaking in fight against them but it’s an act in disapproval of the refugees being harboured by the country. Isis is at war with not only the countries involved in fight against them but with the countries showing mercies to their prey (Syrian people/refugee).

If the borders are regained against refugees fleeing the terrorist country, the refugees would be left at the mercies of extremist group. The world would be playing into the hands of terror group by locking out the hapless, hopeless and helpless refugees. It is the extremist that wins if the refugees are refused entry or absorbed by nations who have deemed it right to help. By shutting out refuges, we would helping the terrorist group to achieve part of the objectives of their strategy and we must not be blind to this fact. We would be suffocating the only or major hope the refugees have to be out of their misery as it would be more disastrous and devastating than ever. We would be freely optimising the plan of the terrorist against humans. The terrorist we will be no more to blame for Paris attack than we are.

We must be able to read in between the lines of the terrorist and understand the writings of terrorists on the wall. These groups have master planners and we shouldn’t undermine or underrate their strategy as one that is not deep or smart. In the words of Democratic presidential candidate Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders where he recently addressed questions about the blowback to accepting Syrian refugees in the United States in the wake of the Paris attacks, he said “What we have got to be is not just strong and tough, but we have got to be smart.” And that is exactly what need to know and do; that is, it is not enough to be strong and tough to win the ISIS, but the world also got to be smart.

The world will be the cowards before these terrorist if the refugees are left uncared for. In other words, the world we be the coward before the real cowards –extremist. The world would be surrendering to tactics of the vile individuals, however selfishly or foolishly. The dismissal of refugee programs due to the Paris Attacks would make things even worse for Syrian refugees, thereby making things worse for the world, either on the short or long run.

 

Way forward

The fact that security efforts generally are often a step behind the latest method of criminal or terrorist attack doesn’t mean the innocent people or policy should be accused. The saying ‘as one hole in the net is mended, the fish swim toward another ‘is particularly relevant in the case of Paris attack and the general security concerns of the world.

Generally, in security system, protective efforts are usually initiated after serious problems or damage have occurred. France is just one of the unfortunate countries who now have to initiate and reinforce combinative protective efforts after serious damage has been done to them on the heels of their openness to the Syrian refugees. The September 11, 2011, attacks on the pentagon and the world trade centre initiated substantial reforms in the federal government.

As such, the blowback to accepting Syrian refugees in the other countries in the wake of the Paris attacks is not the way forward. The argument against the refugees do not go farther than the need for countries accepting refuges to tighten their screening procedures to ensure that Islamic State infiltrators aren’t among the refugees. The needful thing to do in all countries that serve as in-let for refugees is to implement a more robust screening for Syrian refugees. A screening process for those considered for immigration to other countries should be more thorough; relying on extensive interviews, biometric screening and the combined intelligence assets of several federal and international agencies. Such countries basically have to slow down their immigration process to tighten their vetting procedures to ensure that Islamic State infiltrators aren’t among the refugees.

It would simply be heinous for the European countries, America, Canada, and countries of the Gulf region accepting refugees to turn their backs lock and their gates against the fleeing immigrants. It is encouraging that Canada is still set to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees before Jan. 1, according to their new Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In the same vein, The U.S. who has admitted only about 2,500 Syrians since the civil war erupted in that country in the spring of 2011 plan to admit 10,000 more in the coming year. It would unwise and backlashing to dismiss   more than 700,000 requests for asylum that have been submitted to European countries by refugees fleeing horrific violence and persecution in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries over the last year.

In conclusion, we ought to bore in our minds that the efforts and decision the world -world leaders- will take in honour of the innocent lives that was lost in Paris that bloody night will not only lie in punishing the extremist group but also in what happens to the refugees.  The position of world in the wake of Paris attack will go a long way in showing how much countries of the he world and their leaders mean well; not just for all the people who were murdered that night and to all the pain that their friends and families are going through, but also to the survivors and the refugees. As such, it is not resounding that the some world leaders, by virtue of the Paris attack, are now feeling vindicated in their view that Paris (western Europe) is reaping what it has sown through a ‘disastrous policy’ of liberal multiculturalism.

In the words of Isobel Bowdery, 22-year-old lady who was at the Bataclan concert with her boyfriend on the Friday night, and survived Paris terror attack by pretending to be dead the pool of blood of strangers; ‘Last night, the lives of many were forever changed and it is up to us to be better people’. I also pray for peace and comfort to every soul that perished in or survived the Paris attacks and for persons or region presently under similar threat.

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Achieving Sustainable Market Growth: Understanding the Nigerian Consumer Behaviour

A few days ago, a quite incisive article by Raheem Kingbolt caught my attention, as he wrote on the competition in the carbonated soft drinks market (where Coca-Cola and Pepsi reigned heavily for decades in Nigeria) and the hurdles before AJEAST Nigeria Limited (makers of Big Cola, Big Orange and big lemon), the new entrant into the market.

He noted that, in accordance to an article in Financial Times, a combination of low-cost operating strategy and clever marketing has enabled AJEAST Nigeria Limited (a unit of AJE Group, a multinational beverage company) to make inroads in some markets in Latin America and Asia. Accordingly,  the strategy increasingly  employed and deployed by the unit of  AJE Group  in Nigeria is the focus on consumers from the perspective or position  of offering ‘big’ for everybody, i.e. giving more for less. In clearer words, while other supreme brands of soft drinks (Coca-Cola and Pepsi) of 50cl are being sold for N100, they give an extra 15cl for the same price so that consumers can be drawn towards them.

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However, further to identifying the biggest lessons in the strategy adopted by the Big Cola, one important question for the makers of premium beverage drink (AJEAST Nigeria Limited) is:  would a cheaper price-tag be the key-driver for Big Cola’s potential growth in the Nigerian Market? In other words, is the ‘offer-more-for-less’ strategy imbibed  by Big Cola  the strongest bet  they  have in displacing the global giants(mainly Coca-Cola and Pepsi) from the carbonated soft drinks market in the nation?

unfortunately, even the experts and A-list releasers in the nation’s carbonated soft drinks market are pointing their fingers at Mr. Time to tell or give us the answer.  Perhaps, they found that any answer they may be providing in respect of this big question will be certainly dicey, either on the short-term or on the long term.

It is on this note that I have chosen to fill this gap by taking a strategic approach to give the answers to this question and deliver the solution on a solid ground without necessarily waiting for at Mr. Time to tell or give us the answer. I mean a lot is yet evasive and elusive to man about Mr. Time. For instance; we don’t when he will choose to speak, how to get him to talk, how to interpret his language without missing out or mixing-up some meanings, and others things about him.

However, the fundamentals reasons why the answer to this question may remain scarce or elusive to us is not far-fetched as many are yet to increasingly recognise that; in a consumer-based market,  that is especially predominated by ‘traditional trade’, the relationship between cost and value grows more unique. As such, this ‘traditionality’ is hugely responsible, as if an enzyme, for the stimulation of hormones that generates the increased uniqueness in the relationship between cost and value.

Nigeria is predominated by ‘traditional trade’ in the sense that our consumers are highly aspirational in their taste of brands(especially as it relates to quality) and will remain  adamant on any product or service that will satisfy their refined taste and meet their quest for brands with strong appeal,  regardless of their financial status.

As such, in a market, particularly consumer-based market, the missing link between value and cost lies in the uniqueness of our consumer behaviour as ordinarily, cost should always correspond positively with value -that is, the higher the cost, the higher the value ought to be. And ordinarily, people (consumers) should cut your coat according to your cloth –financially- but that is not necessarily the case in a typical examination of Nigeria consumers, particularly as it concerns consumer-based market and businesses.

I will be taking take our plunge at this question from consumer behaviour perceptive as it as usually advised in a mathematics class that, when going about a solution to an equation, we are told to move from known to the unknown. In this articulate, in my attempt at solving this riddle, I will be laying out some pillars of understanding the Nigerian consumer behaviour from three views; cost, entrepreneurial and patriotism. That is, by the token of this article, I hope to have contributed to understanding of Nigerian Consumer Behaviour from the view point of cost, our entrepreneurship-spirit (Nigerians go-get attitudes) and from the view point of patriotism.

How do I mean?

Entrepreneurial Perspective: In the raw words of Raheem Akingbolu, ‘Nigerian consumers are exposed and aspirational, including those at the bottom of the pyramid. They are not easily swayed by any product or service that aims to fascinate rather than satisfy their refined taste and quest for brands with strong appeal’.

In the same vein, the Chief Executive Officer of MultiChoice Africa, Tim Jacobs, said recently that thing he finds specifically interesting about Nigerian is that ‘they are focused as consumers on what they need.’ He said this while fielding questions from the editors from African countries that witnessed the grand ceremony of CNN Multichoice African Journalist Award 2015.

However, the root of this unique consumer behavior by Nigerians is not far off, because not only are Nigerian consumers focused on what (as per quality) they need, they equally have a deep passion to be entrepreneurial, to get things done and to try to make a difference in peoples’ lives. That is, they are already focused on business opportunities.

Other countries (Scandinavian, Asian) are more formalized when weighed-in with Nigeria, especially when considering the fact that more people or citizens of these other countries are occupied with formal 9-5 jobs. Unlike Nigeria, the entrepreneurship sector, i.e. the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises account for for over 80 per cent of the total number of enterprises in the country and employs over 75 per cent of the nation’s total workforce, according to the Minister of Trade, Industry and Trade, Dr Olusegun Aganga.

As such, it is this strong entrepreneurship trait in Nigerians that is being displayed in a ‘retaliating’ or activist manner when, they take the position of consumers.  It is their entrepreneurial qualities and culture that makes their taste quite exposed and highly aspirational. In other words, it is the go-get attitudes in Nigerian consumers that makes them   not easily swayed by any product or service. Simply put, it is because Nigerian consumers are very clear in their mind about what it is they are trying to do businesswise, that they are able to firmly determine their level of satisfaction, stick to their desired refined taste and quest for brands with strong appeal.

The logic behind the activist nature of Nigerian consumers under the guise of high-aspiration taste or quest for strong brand appeal consumers is better explained with a diplomatic language for emerging economies called South-South Trade (SST). South-South Trade is a term used in the circumference of import and export and it suffices that the quality of what is produced in a country (Nigeria, for example) must be acceptable locally before it can be exported. And if it is to be exported, it must to countries within similar level of development/quality or lesser as on one would want or buy wear a rag and he can make a good dress for himself. Illustratively, If Nigeria  produces doors and its local market is  not satisfied with the products, the doors cannot be processed  as an  export   product to  a countries a country like  Turkey  who may  have higher quality of doors but may be  an export product  to  Benin Republic who probably have less quality doors.

For instance, when our textiles factories were working, what Nigerians had against other countries was the quality of the yarns. If ordinarily, the quality of what is produced is not acceptable locally, we won’t be able to export it. As such, Nigerian consumers don’t take less quality on the basis that their entrepreneurial skills and passion makes them easily assess problems or flaws of a product especially when the brands are competitive.

Further, the pronounced culture of entrepreneurship in Nigerians has made the Nigerian market and the Nigerian consumer quite ‘activist’; typically, Nigerian consumers tend to react quite strongly to anything that they perceive as negative. Impulsively, they tend be embittered, confrontational, reactive or repulsive to change that they perceive is not in their best interest as consumers. Regardless of how national challenges have forced consumer-based investors or business to adjust for an increase in price, Nigerian consumers may not necessarily agree with such change, either on the short or long run. As such, the onus is on the companies to think quite deeply before they decide or implement a change that may result in a negative impact because of the activist nature of Nigerian consumers.

Cost perspective: However, although Nigerian consumers don’t like surprises or changes in system, particular increase in price, quality products will always resonate with them, even those they are financially handicapped. In other words, most Nigerians may be poor but they have a high aspiration that gives them a strong sense of entitlement to quality.  Once their satisfaction is rightly met or a brand offers them their desired strong appeal, purchase is inevitable by the Nigerian consumers regardless of his or financial status.

Patriotism Perspective: More so, though Nigerians can be very patriotic, their consumer behavior in terms of loyalty to trusted brands (however international) seems to hold more value to them at a personal level. That is, Nigerian consumers will maintain their tastiness and satisfaction of brands (though imported) even in their spirit of patriotism. Many international brands are doing well in Nigeria over the local brands because of the preference given to them by Nigerian consumers.  In an article written by Adebiyi Adeyemi inn 2013, titled ‘Economic Patriotism: A concrete factor for Nigeria’s Economy boosting’, it was held that; although Nigerians are quite patriotic in the national sense, their economic patriotism shares a contrary testimony.

Recommendation & Conclusion: For consumer-based businesses to achieve sustainable market growth, the management must be on top of their game. That is, they increasingly need to ascertain that what they do in the Nigeria is in the general interest of the consumers and not just in the interest of the business. It is in this way that consumer-based businesses are able to minimize the negative impact of consumer behavior viz-a-viz whatever changes is been made or implemented for the growth of business by the management. However, owing to globalization and the poverty of our nation, it is now equally necessary or imperative for business to also consider the interest of the general public and not just their consumers and the company’s purse. This is best described in what is called Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Conclusively, government should be increasingly strong on policy decision-making so that they can withstand the negative impact of  either local or global fluctuations of the market or economy, thereby preventing  consumer-based businesses from changes- like increasing prices of products or services-  on the ground of national difficulties or challenges.

References

Martins O. How to achieve sustainable market growth, by Jacobs, Multichoice boss: Available on http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/2015/10/how-to-achieve-sustainable-market-growth-by-jacobs-multichoice-boss/ ; 2015.

ADE O. Non-oil export business imperative for sustainable growth, says Sarumi: Available on http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/2015/09/non-oil-export-business-imperative-for-sustainable-growth-says-sarumi/ ; 2015.

Adebiyi A.J.  Economic Patriotism: A concrete factor for Nigeria’s Economy boosting: Available on https://yemilluminati.wordpress.com/2013/07/23/economic-patriotism-a-concrete-factor-for-nigerias-economy-boosting/comment-page-1/ ; 2015.

Raheem A. Some Big Lessons for Big Cola: Available on http://www.lindaikejisblog.com/2015/11/some-big-lessons-for-big-cola.html   ; 2015.

Unemployed graduates and youth: just two steps to success

What’s opportunity?

Opportunity is the one-time or a few moments when your destiny present itself before for a lifetime grab.

To be successful, you must be fully prepared when your moment of destiny, i.e. opportunity, presents itself before you.

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 Your fully preparedness + your moment of destiny (opportunity) = your desired success in life

What does it mean to be fully prepared?  Simple.

To be fully prepared simply means to be a point in your life where you know what you are good at, and can communicate it (business wise or pleasure wise) to a total stranger/public in a way and manner that will make them see you like the sort of person they would need or want around them, whether for business or pleasure, sooner or later.

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Step one & two to success

Step one: Get and put-to-use the right mind-set and skill-set you need to be at a point in your life where you know what you are good at?

Step two: Get and put-to-use the right mind-set and skill-set you need to be able to communicate what you are good at to a total stranger/public in a way and manner that will make them see you like the sort of person they would need or want around them whether for business or pleasure, sooner or later.

In conclusion, these two steps makes you always and readily ‘mate-able’ for opportunity (when it comes as your moment of destiny) to give birth to your desired success in life.