In Episodes 1 and 2, we were able to talk about 17 lessons to learn from a typical bus conductor in Lagos Nigeria as a business owner, a marketer or a salesperson.
A bus conductor is a good salesman finds and he knows how to market even if he doesn’t understand his methods. So this podcast studies them and finds a way to draw out business lessons to learn from them.
In this final episode, we will treat other positive lessons to learn and negative lessons to learn
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This is a detailed summary of the podcast
We will take the points one after the other and explain them in detail as explained in the podcast
1. Teamwork between a driver and a conductor
While on a bus one day I noticed that the bus driver driving us was raising his left hand above the bus roof of the bus to give a sign while driving with the other. I couldn’t understand what he was doing until the conductor was doing the same thing. Then, it dawned on me that they were communicating. They were using sign language probably because they don’t want the passengers to understand
In the business world, it is called TEAMWORK.
Effective communication is one of the most important factors of a team. If you cannot communicate the values, vision, and very well, there will be a lot of issues.
- There will be misinterpretation if you are not communicating well. The person might misinterpret what you mean.
If the person is misinformed, he does the wrong thing and causes a project not to be successful.
So, make sure the person you are communicating with understands.
- Another important factor of effective communication to aid teamwork is THE CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION.
You need to choose the right channels of communication for your business. If you are having a team, choose the right form of communication and don’t make it look like before it gets to you, they have to see like 100 people. Imagine if it’s urgent, they probably won’t get to you until it is too late.
- TIMELINESS! This is the third lesson to learn here
If there is any information you need to give right now, please give it. Don’t keep it to yourself or delay it. Timeliness is very important because it brings respect. For example; Mr A is supposed to do something but Mr B is supposed to know before Mr A does. Please, do that, it brings respect.
Effective communication is important.
Is your team on the same page with you
Aside from communication, building a team that understands the goal as much as you do is the key to the success of that goal. If people really understand your goal and they can see themselves in it, they drive results, they do well.
If they understand and believe in the vision, it will not just be about the money again or what they want to gain from it, it will be about how they can make the vision come to reality.
Get a team that also understands and believes in your vision. If they don’t believe in it as much as you do, if they don’t see themselves as a partner, you will most likely be doing a lot of work and you will be pushing them to work.
Imagine if an employee sees himself as a partner in the business, he will put more effort into doing it. But if he doesn’t, it means you’ll be the one to be pushing him to be productive. This means that aside from doing your work, you will also be pushing other people to do theirs. It’s a lot of work and you don’t want to be there because I’ve been there for a lot of time. It’s stressful and discouraging because, with that, you can also be discouraged not to do your part of the job if others’ part of the job is not working.
Anybody in the team can easily come in to refuel others because everybody is motivated to achieve something. So, if I’m weak, somebody else in the team can come to motivate me to get the thing done.
2. Mastering a skill – a bus driver is an expert in his field
Imagine somebody doing different things at a time and one of those things is very risky. How?
When you start hearing something like “driver small small oo. we are not in a hurry oo, drive small small oo” Just know the driver is over-speeding
and guess what!
He’s not just speeding recklessly, he’s using just one hand to drive. And guess what the other hand is holding, it’s either the other hand is holding corn or something he is chewing. Or even holding his phone – trying to call somebody.
A driver can do two or three things at a time and I sometimes wonder how.
In the business world, this is called MASTERY or being an EXPERT
How do you do that?
By making it an habit
Mastery! Expertise! Habit
That’s the lesson we are learning from this.
Why won’t the driver be able to do that when he is used to plying the road? He already knows where there are potholes. He has mastered the road, he is used to the road
Aside from that, he has mastered the art of driving, that’s what he does every day. It has become a habit for him.
While learning how to play the drums, it was difficult for me to use both hands and legs at the beginning. You know when you are playing the drums, you are using your whole body, you have to listen to the person singing and even dance along. All the parts of your body and even your mind is attentive.
So, when I was learning, it was difficult for me. Guess how I started learning, I started with hands only, then the kick, afterwards other things and the whole body.
That’s what mastery is about. You learn step by step, you master the act. It got to a point for me, that I wasn’t even the one controlling it, it was just flowing.
The secret ingredient to mastery and expertise is continuous practice.
You have to continue to practice and the best way to go about it is to allocate a special time for practice. I call it A ME TIME. A time that nobody can take away from me. For example, I’m recording this podcast at 11 pm.
Because a lot of things can come in the way to distract me. Friends can come around, neighbors can come around, and sounds from parties in the street too.
I’m so tired today but I know that this is one of the best quiet times I can get to record this podcast. You need A ME TIME – the time nobody can disturb you and you are sure that you can focus.
When you continue to use this time, you become a master over time. It may take more than a year, maybe 10 years but it will pay off at the end of the day.
As a business person, you need this time, a time to practice. You need to gain relevance and remain relevant.
3. Understanding systems and structures
I don’t know if it’s a criterion for a bus conductor to be a mechanic or the driver but what I know is either the driver or conductor always tries to repair it themselves – maybe it’s because they are used to taking the bus for repair, that’s where they were able to get the knowledge. I just realized over time that they know how to repair their bus
Also, there are times they know it’s beyond their knowledge. This time, they will ask all passengers to alight from the bus because it can’t go any further. So, they understand the ones they can do and the ones they cannot do.
In the business world, you can say that they understand systems and structures
They could easily detect leakage and where it is coming from.
Systems and structures in business are very important. For example, If there’s any leakage, you’ll be able to detect where it is coming from even before it could affect the business.
Someone once said,
These are the levels of change. First off, you learn to do everything yourself; how to market, how to close deals, how to follow up, how to post on social media, how to do everything your business needs.
Secondly, you know how to hire people that will do specific things for you; people that know how to do the things better than you. A graphic designer will do his job but since you have an idea, you can easily relate with him.
I once listened to a podcast about a fascinating story about how the owner of Dell laptop started.
He started by selling laptop spare parts. Those times, we have companies like IBM, Apple etc. From spare parts, he got his hands on a laptop and unscrewed everything to understand how it works. He made his laptop perform better. The best way to explain this is that he bought an iPhone X and converted it to an iPhone X pro Max.
People started asking him to help them convert theirs. That was how he got into the business and since he understands the spare parts, he started meeting the producers of the spare parts.
He found out that these big companies (IBM, Apple) are not even the ones producing the parts, they are just coupling everything. He went to the individual suppliers of the spare parts and he sealed deals with all of them.
He understands everything about the business – the supply chain, the spare parts, the coupling and so on. He can easily detect errors and leakage
If you don’t know the price rate of a product for example iPhone X, the seller might sell it to you even at a high price and you won’t even know he cheated you. He can even give you the wrong or fake product and you won’t know.
You have to take your time to understand the structure of how business works so that you can lead the team effectively and better.
4. Delayed gratification – conductors don’t wear suits
I heard that these bus conductors and drivers make more money than managers in some companies with suits and tie. Yet, with the money that they make, they will buy sachet water while that person working the bank will buy bottled water of #200 or #500 instead.
They don’t need to buy suits; they wear their tattered clothes and yet they are making more money. They don’t have to increase their standard of living for anything. Some of them are having up to 4 buses – making passive income from it.
This is called DELAYED GRATIFICATION.
Delay the expensive lifestyle that you wish to have, wait for a little.
When you start making money, that’s not when to increase your standard of living. Because you are earning more doesn’t mean you should increase your standard of living, put the money back into the business. Yes, go all in again.
Some of you spend any money you make from your business, you spend everything. That’s not how it’s being done, put it back, run ads, and use it to help your business get better. Sometimes, invest in another thing that will bring you a return on your investment.
If what you are spending right now is the income you made from your business then you are not there yet. Where you should focus on going is investing the income of your business into something that will give you the money to spend.
Let’s now talk about the negative lessons to learn from bus conductors.
5. Lack of proper maintenance
When you hear a bus driver say something like
“all these private car owners, they will be doing as if they want to sleep on the road. Can’t he move? Where are the potholes there?”
If you look at it very well, the owner of the private car is trying to avoid his car being scratched on a very bad road.
But, guess what the conductors will do.
They will rush into it and drive recklessly, if the car horn is still working, they will continually blast it just to tell you to move away from the road.
Seriously, they don’t maintain the bus; they won’t buy enough petrol, that’s the problem. They only repair, they don’t maintain and that’s not the way to go.
Even as a business owner, maintenance is very important. It is not always about money.
Don’t be careless about the health of your business. Don’t be careless about the future of your business.
Prevention is truly better than cure in the long run but people don’t see the long, they are shortsighted.
For example, if a new social media is out, or trending, some people that get there early become the influencer. It is easy to get people to follow you and to enjoy your content if you are doing great stuff.
But, when people come in very late, it becomes difficult because the whole system has been built to become different so people can run ads on the platform. That’s how it works.
When Facebook first started, if you post something on your timeline, a lot of people will see it, they will comment, they will like it but today it’s not like that. Facebook is trying to kill all those things so that at the end of the day, people have to pay for advertisements for people to see their content.
The point is
Understand what is working and make sure you double down on it. But don’t be too comfortable with it. It can get messy in the next minute. Be alert always and be proactive
6. Do business legally
A typical bus conductor and a driver have eyes like eagle’s eyes, they are all looking around, always sighting, trying to check front and back. If you are new to the system, you’ll be wondering why is this person always looking around.
They are doing this for two reasons
It’s because they are trying to check if passengers are coming. They are also trying to check if government officials are on the road trying to get them because they are always breaking rules. If a government official just stops a bus today to check his papers, be rest assured that he will be an offender. 99 out of 100bus stopped would be offenders because most of them hardly follow the rules, they break rules all the time. They are always beating the red light and doing what is not expected of them to do.
So, you can never see any drivers today on the road that are not really offenders or hardly manipulate. The only way they are still in business is to bribe government officials. That is not the way to do business at all.
As a business owner, try as much as possible to do the right thing; don’t be dubious, and don’t over-brand yourself.
- Deliver what you promise.
- Be timely.
- Don’t compromise your standard.
- Don’t sell what you are not good at.
Some people just read something online and the next thing is that they have created a course on it. How can you create a course on something that you’ve not tested or worked on? Don’t be that kind of person, be different. Let your service speak for you.
7. Bad customer service
The majority of the bus conductors always make statements like this…
“Madam, get down now, stop doing like you want to sleep here or
Mr man, are you a woman? Be sharp, this is Lagos or
Madam, I’m not talking to you. I’m not a normal person, I’ll abuse you oo. Shut up! Are you a parrot?
Or give me my money oo, get down right now!
They talk to people anyhow, that’s the typical way a driver or conductor does – even on Monday morning. They care less about where they are, they can even fight with a passenger.
They have bad customer service.
So, as business owners, if you have a good product but your customer service is bad, you might end up bankrupt because it’s not just about your product, it’s about how you treat them.
If I visit a restaurant for the first time but wasn’t treated very well, I won’t go there again – I care less if the food is the best.
Your job is to take care of anyone that shows up or shows interest in your offer even if they will not buy. As long as they show interest, make sure that you are in your best place, and you give the best impression.
You need to be prepared for that and know how to answer questions without doing the wrong thing.
This is the most important out of all the lessons learned today. Your customer service should be top-notch. Be the best you can be.
If you have a team, let them know the importance of customer service.
We have come to the end of this series. Please do let us know what you were to pick from the 3 Episodes series.
The team behind this Podcast are
- Podcast Host: Quadri Micheal (Mikelomaa)
- Video Producer: Olapade Al-Ameen
- Writing assistant: Adegboyega Oladayo
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