… and why it isn’t the only way.
A few days ago, I had a conversation with a close friend who had to consider using the kickback strategy to close a few deals. I have been in this situation before so I told him: follow your conviction. I always try not to say more than that except the conversation moves forward. It did and I’d like to share a few thoughts from that.
I have been in this boat many times — a schoolmate, a church deacon, a friend, all offering deals ranging from hundreds of thousands to tens of millions with that extra “%”. In one case, we would make double our profit if we took the deal. In fact, I had to decide at some point not todo any B2B business since a request for “10%” came up too many times.
The damage is obvious and simple — We are robbed of the best (projects, people,businesses, etc)! From the private to the public sector, deals gone wrong, blackmails, over-priced products, uncompleted roads, ill-equipped hospitals, poor education facilities, all of which contribute to producing a failing, falling nation and yes, many deaths! What is worse? The next generation getting used to this. The problem is, it can look like the only option if you’re going to close the deals you need to close to “succeed”.
Things become “normal” as long as there are aren’t enough people willing to say NO. Usually, the fear is the loss of some business, frienship, some privilege, etc. This is where it gets real. This can be the difference between life and death, survival and 30 billion, 2nd hand and tear rubber…
- Be polite. Say No, but be polite. Explain if you need to.
- I recommend been clear enough — I wont like to be considered for deals like this in the future. LOL. This reminds me of 2018.
- Offer your product or service “excellently well” when you have the chance to. Try hard not be me mediocre. Do not expect customers to “manage it”.
- Network without seeking any immediate benefits. People open doors and many times without the need for a kickback (I am naturally introverted so this is hardwork for me).
- Have friends/people who will help you stay connected to your values.
- Commit to doing better (generally). That’s something I am working on too.
One of my quotes of 2020 is “the means determine the nature of the end”, a clear opposite to the popular “the end justifies the means”. I heard this first time from a video featuring Patrick Awuah Jr, founder of Ashesi University. I think Ashesi is a clear model of how we can consciously change cultures and systems by building people who think and act differently. I also think there will be many similar models across Africa in the next decade. I’m commiting to working on one of such once I’ve gotten my current work to a good point and investors are happy :)
If Nigeria and Africa is going to get better, we will have to go beyond just “skills”. We’ll have to do a lot more work on values.
Ps: My dad was known for saying no to bribes (and called Mugu a lot) and lost his job once for this. They called him back and paid him his arrears after I think, 18 months? Happy father’s day to him. Taught us well.
Now, I am a growing christian and i believe you need something extra beyond morality to make these decisions. I was watching this version of Waymaker by Sinach (sang by Darlene & Mcdowell) and realized why we sometimes think “we have to do what we have to do”. Please listen to the interludes. We forget the supernatural too easily. If you’re not trying to get money at all costs (this is a decision that cannot be helped), then I think it’s important to consider who your source is.
Who is your source? Do you believe the bible? Do you believe the story of Abraham almost sacrificing his son? Do you believe in “Just-in-time” miracles? Do you believe “all things work together for good”, both good and “bad” things? Do you believe who Jesus/God really is?
I think tests will either reduce or stenghten what you believe and I hope you find these tests very early. I pray you’ll never forget your source. I pray you’ll always realize in the midst of fear and anxiety, that We have a source and as long as we are striving to be faithful and consistently looking to offer value to humanity, our decision to stay honest will pay off in the end — many times, in ways we do not expect.
I KNOW this. I wish more people have an experience (may be tough) that makes them KNOW this. If you’re in the midst of making a decision, I hope this helps.
I’m back to doing B2B deals but I know my source will force a deal if He needs to without my hands and will provide a bigger door if He allows a door to stay closed after I have expressed and shown my complete and non-negotiable dependence on him. My job is to trust and provide excellent service when I get a chance. It may take time, but it just gets sweeter.
Ps: There is some confusion on what bribe is — finders fee? Referral? Here’s what i think
- Anything that brings in some conflict of interest and undue influence on decisions
- Anything you can’t proudly announce about how you got the deal to the whole world.
I believe in gifting and we have tried to make it a culture to gift people and organizations at the end of the year (or at any time we deem it fit) as long as we are not trying to influence something directly or indirectly. That also means we decide the gift 100% of the time.