Daily Nation Newspaper - - FEATURES - BY MUYANGWA MUKUNI Share your views: muyang­wa­

THE road to suc­cess has got to do with am­bi­tion much as it has to do with com­pany.

I have said it a mil­lion times be­fore that no one, and ab­so­lutely no one in this life makes it alone. We all have peo­ple help us, know­ingly and un­know­ingly, along the way. The role that other peo­ple play in our jour­ney to achieve our goals must never be un­der­es­ti­mated. There is a say­ing that goes some­thing like this: if you want to move fast, move alone, but if you want to be suc­cess­ful, work with other peo­ple. I have also heard peo­ple say that it’s im­por­tant to be care­ful how you treat oth­ers be­cause the peo­ple that you meet when your star is on the rise are the same peo­ple that you will meet when you are fall­ing. Of course de­pend­ing on the at­ti­tude that you had, they may choose to catch you or leave you to fall hard.

Keep­ing good com­pany is some­thing that we are al­ways en­cour­aged to do. We are told to so by our par­ents and teach­ers in our early days in school. We are told by the Bible that bad com­pany cor­rupts morals. We are also told to do so by our se­nior man­agers at our em­ploy­ers so as to avoid fall­ing into a trap of join­ing syn­di­cates of fast money through wrong­do­ing or un­eth­i­cal be­hav­ior. Com­pany tends to mean a great deal when you want to rise in your ca­reer be it busi­ness, for­mal em­ploy­ment, clergy or oth­er­wise. Now let me take a mo­ment to give cau­tion. Hang­ing around the cor­rect peo­ple that can add value to your ca­reer pro­gres­sion is not the same thing as be­ing a hanger on and chief bootlicker feed­ing off of the crumbs from your so called role model’s ta­ble. There is a se­ri­ous dis­tinc­tion to be made here.

When you are placed in the hang­ers on cat­e­gory, you may never be taken se­ri­ously. Your des­per­a­tion and hunger will be smelt from a mile away and the com­pany that you force your­self on may never give you the op­por­tu­nity that you are look­ing for. For in­stance, if you are a young and as­pir­ing en­tre­pre­neur and you hap­pen to find your­self in the com­pany of some well-con­nected peo­ple that are do­ing fine, it’s very im­por­tant that when­ever there is a so­cial gath­er­ing, you try very hard to hold your own. If you find your­self in a fancy res­tau­rant or bar, do not sim­ply tell your­self that since you are mov­ing with so and so , then he will au­to­mat­i­cally set­tle your bill. As dif­fi­cult as it is when you are com­ing up, you must fight hard to re­move your lit­tle money and set­tle your bill. It is only when the per­son you are with of­fers to take care of things, that you can breathe a sigh of re­lief (in your heart) and save your ng­wees. Your com­pany will re­spect you more when you take such an ap­proach.

I have also seen peo­ple mis­un­der­stand the con­cept of mind­ing the com­pany you keep. There are those peo­ple who want to get to high places and there­fore they pro­ceed to start break­ing into some of th­ese elite gath­er­ings with a view to lever­ag­ing their po­si­tion in their new com­pany to help them achieve their goals. This is nor­mal and is part of busi­ness. How­ever, some stupid peo­ple be­gin to toss aside cer­tain per­sonal re­la­tion­ships they have had with peo­ple that they have known for the long­est time per­haps be­cause th­ese peo­ple are not do­ing too well. This is fool­ish and ex­hibits a se­ri­ous lack of the con­cept of link­ing up with the ap­pro­pri­ate com­pany to ad­vance busi­ness in­ter­ests. One of the re­la­tion­ships here is a busi­ness one and the other is per­sonal. It’s never clever to throw away loy­alty of per­sonal re­la­tions span­ning years be­cause you think you have ac­quired new friends in busi­ness. Any­body that does this will soon find out that hav­ing the right com­pany to ad­vance your am­bi­tion does not make that com­pany your per­sonal friends.

Ear­lier, I talked about hold­ing your own when you are in a cer­tain gath­er­ing in or­der to con­tinue to ad­vance your agenda. I’d like you to con­sider this ex­cerpt writ­ten by Chris Bishop – the Man­ag­ing Edi­tor of Forbes Africa magazine – in his ed­i­to­rial col­umn pub­lished in the Septem­ber, 2017 edi­tion: “……. Jo­han­nes­burg be­came too small for the am­bi­tious BC Forbes and in 1902 he jumped on a ship for New York. He took the risk of trav­el­ling first class even though, on a jour­nal­ist’s pay, he couldn’t re­ally af­ford it. His idea was that you had to mix with the right peo­ple. When he ar­rived on El­lis Is­land, in New York har­bor, along with the hud­dled masses of Europe, BC Forbes had USD 50 left in his pocket. The au­thor­i­ties let him in say­ing he was un­likely to be a bur­den on the state.

“BC Forbes strug­gled to find a job in New York, few cared about his ex­pe­ri­ence in Scot­land and South Africa; when he struck lucky he made the most of it. The stri­dent, diminu­tive Scots­man swiftly made a name for him­self as a sharp and par­si­mo­nious writer on busi­ness. ‘I don’t lend money,

I just write about it,’ he used to tell col­leagues sharply if ever they doubted he was care­ful with his dol­lars. This par­si­mony paid off; true to his be­liefs of mix­ing with the rich and in­flu­en­tial, BC Forbes rented a small room that he also couldn’t af­ford, at the back of the Wal­dorf Astoria, in New York, one of the most lux­u­ri­ous ho­tels in the world. It meant in the evenings he could hob­nob with the most in­flu­en­tial names in New York in the bar. He paid for his room by walk­ing ev­ery­where, on as­sign­ment, in New York and sav­ing the taxi money given by his em­ploy­ers. It took a lot of walk­ing to pay the ho­tel bill; he was no stranger to strug­gle.”

This is the story of Ber­tie Charles Forbes – the founder of the world renowned Forbes magazine. There can’t be too many sto­ries that il­lus­trate the value of a dis­ad­van­taged young and as­pir­ing in­di­vid­ual seek­ing the right com­pany as that of BC Forbes. He trav­elled first class as a poor man seek­ing the right com­pany. He rented an of­fice that he could not af­ford in a high end area in or­der to min­gle with the right com­pany. How many of us will go to th­ese lengths to de­velop our­selves? The price he paid to have an of­fice in a high end area was walk­ing ev­ery­where in or­der to take his trans­port money to­wards rent. In the end, he built a world renowned magazine whose very essence is to cel­e­brate in­ge­nu­ity, hard work and the glam­our that it ul­ti­mately brings. On 19th Septem­ber, Forbes magazine turned 100 years old and peo­ple around the world are in awe of what the magazine has be­come. I wish the magazine a Happy be­lated birth­day.

So there you have it dear reader, the value of com­pany is worth more than gold be­cause it of­ten is the ac­cess key that takes us to the heights of achieve­ment that we have al­ways dreamed of. It is im­por­tant to know that com­pany can make or break you so choose your friends and pro­fes­sional ac­quain­tances wisely.

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