Friday

The Human Brain - A complex but detailed assembly

Editor's Corner

The human brain is probably the most complex but unique creation present in the anatomy of humans. It would be an understatement to refer to the brain as just an extraordinary creation as I would actually go out on a limb and call the brain the most extraordinary creation in the human anatomy. 


The human brain is home, one can say, to everything that makes us tick. In addition to the human mind as well as our various intricate personalities, the brain is the abode of human consciousness, passion, emotion and purpose.

This article marks the beginning of my attempt to find answers to some of the puzzling questions I have always had as to why people do some of the things they do and what the primary triggers for their action or inaction might be. One case that came to mind for me was that of the Vietnamese father in the news a couple of years ago, for killing his four young children. What could have motivated this man to take the life of his own children? The human brain is an organ that essentially is built to learn, hence was this man’s action as a result of some form of defective learning behavior? 


While nature may play a dominant role in our lives, does nurture (one’s environment and learned experiences) however have a more defining role in how we see, interpret and react to events or episodes in our lives? In asking all these questions and having read the details of this particular event, I started to wonder as to what part of his brain cell may have ‘misfired’ and why to lead him to ‘rationalize’ taking the lives of his own children.

In learning to become familiar with our brain, we look to understand not only how its various parts work, but more importantly how we nourish, protect and develop it. I would propose that the human brain in its most basic as well as most complex element is constantly changing and evolving with each experience we encounter. Did the Vietnamese father above therefore ‘readjust’ his notion of what was rational as a result of certain negative experiences in his life or was his action merely a projection of his own self-worth due to a defective processing of information by his brain. 


Was there a critical disconnect between the two hemispheres thus resulting in this defective ‘rationalization’ or was his behavior more as a result of systematic desensitization to what’s wrong as a result of observational learning (modeling) of deviant but admired behavior within the larger American society?

In a society where serial killers, rapists and murderers are ‘revered’ and gain notoriety even over their victims, does the nurture aspect of human brain development through information processing then cloud the Grey area between what is socially acceptable behavior and what is deviant or anti-social behavior? I would hazard a guess that in his native Vietnam, such behavior would lead possibly to immediate execution of the perpetrator or some form of punishment that aims to discourage such anti-social behavior. 


I would also presume that in his native Vietnam, serial killers, rapists and murderers would never be ‘revered’ like the Charles Mansons and Jeffrey Dahmers of the United States; people who actually had movies made about them as well as books written about them.

Therefore it seems as though the human brain, although home to everything from a nature perspective that makes us tick, is however subject to the varying complexities of an individual’s environment and how the same individual reacts or relates to varying stimuli within the said environment. So, while we may nourish our brain by eating the right kinds of foods, getting the right amount of sleep, while also engaging in physiological exercises aimed at maintaining the brain structure at optimum capacity and productivity, the environment might be perhaps the most critical deciding factor as to whether or not information is processed constructively or defectively. 


I would suggest that this might however be open to debate as there are several instances where we can probably show that although the influence of the environment might be a very strong one, how an individual actually processes information on a consistent basis as well as having the right chemical balance within the brain structure may be more of a deciding factor as to the ultimate state of our minds.

Thus, the question arises again. How well do we really know our brain? But more importantly, how do we do our part in ensuring that this most delicate and intricate part of the human ‘anatomy’ remains an asset to the human mind and ambition. The search for answers continues and we are all a part of the process.


© 2021 2CG MEDIA. Coker Confidential™

Thursday

Ten Ways to Improve Your Interpersonal Skills

Editor's Pick

Don't discount the importance of interpersonal skills in the workplace. How you are perceived by your manager and coworkers plays a large role in things as minor as your day-to-day happiness at the office and as major as the future of your career.

No matter how hard you work or how many brilliant ideas you may have, if you can't connect with the people working around you, your professional life will suffer. The good news is that there are several concrete things you can do to improve your social skills and become closer to your colleagues, all of which will ultimately help you succeed in today's working world.

Here are 10 helpful tips for improving your interpersonal skills:

1. Smile. Few people want to be around someone who is always down in the dumps. Do your best to be friendly and upbeat with your coworkers. Maintain a positive, cheerful attitude about work and about life. Smile often. The positive energy you radiate will draw others to you.

2. Be appreciative. Find one positive thing about everyone you work with and let them hear it. Be generous with praise and kind words of encouragement. Say thanks when someone helps you. Make colleagues feel welcome when they call or stop by your office. If you let others know that they are appreciated, they'll want to give you their best.

3. Pay attention to others. Observe what's going on in other people's lives. Acknowledge their happy milestones and express concern and sympathy for difficult situations such as an illness or death. Make eye contact and address people by their first names. Ask others for their opinions.

4. Practice active listening. Actively listening is a way of demonstrating that you intend to hear and understand another's point of view. It means restating, in your own words, what the other person has said. Your coworkers will appreciate knowing you really do listen to what they have to say.

5. Bring people together. Create an environment that encourages others to work together. Treat everyone equally and don't play favorites. Avoid talking about others behind their backs. Follow up on other people's suggestions or requests. When you make a statement or announcement, check to see that you have been understood. If folks see you as someone solid and fair, they will grow to trust you.

6. Resolve conflicts. Take a step beyond simply bringing people together and become someone who resolves conflicts when they arise. Learn how to be an effective mediator. If coworkers are bickering over personal or professional disagreements, arrange to sit down with both parties and help sort out their differences. By taking on such a leadership role, you will garner respect and admiration from those around you.

7. Communicate clearly. Pay close attention to both what you say and how you say it. Being a clear and effective communicator helps you avoid misunderstandings with coworkers. Verbal eloquence projects an image of intelligence and maturity, no matter what your age. If you tend to blurt out anything that comes to mind, people won't put much weight on your words or opinions.

8. Humor them. Don't be afraid to be funny or clever. Most people are drawn to a person that can make them laugh. Use your sense of humor as an effective tool to lower barriers and gain people's affection.

9. See it from their side. Empathy means being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and understand how they feel. Try to see things from another person's perspective. You can help yourself with this by staying in touch with your own emotions, since those who are cut off from their feelings are often unable to empathize with others.

10. Don't complain. There is nothing worse than a chronic complainer or whiner. If you simply have to vent about something, save it for your diary. But spare those around you, or else you'll get a bad reputation.

AllBusiness.com

Wednesday

Tuesday

Nigeria has lost close to $200 billion in investment opportunities over the last 4 years

CC™ Global News

Nigeria may have lost close to $200 billion, representing more than 92 percent of investment opportunities available to the country between 2017 and 2020.

Details of a report by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) on “Investment announcements versus FDI (Foreign Direct Investments) Inflow in Nigeria, 2017 – 2020” revealed that the actual inflows of FDI into Nigeria within the period was about 7.65 percent of the total investment announcements captured by the Commission.

This indicates that most investment announcements and expression of interests to invest did not materialize or translate to actual investment inflow.

The report shows that total investment announcements captured by NIPC during the period amounted to $203.89 billion whereas actual FDI inflow was $15.6 billion, representing 7.65 percent.

Specifically, statistics obtained from NIPC stated that in 2017, only $3.5 billion actual FDI inflow was recorded out of a total investment announcements of $66.35 billion; in 2018 only $6.4 billion FDI materialized out $90.89 billion announced; in 2019, $3.3 billion out of $29.91 billion; and in 2020 only $2.4 billion actual FDI inflow was recorded out of $16.74 billion investment announcements that were captured.

NIPC noted, however, that its report is based only on investment announcements captured by the Commission which may not contain exhaustive information on all investment announcements in Nigeria during the period, adding that it did not independently verify the authenticity of the announcements.

NIPC further reported that in 2017, a total number of 112 projects were announced across 27 States and FCT; in 2018, there were 92 projects across 23 States and FCT; 2019, there were 76 Projects across 17 States, FCT; while in 2020, a total announcements of 63 projects were made across 21 States, FCT and the Niger Delta region.

Further details of the NIPC report revealed that in 2020, the top 10 announcements accounted for $15.59 billion, representing about 93 percent of total announcements.

The details show $6 billion by Indorama Petrochemicals and Fertilizer company from Singapore; $2.6 billion by Bank of China and Sinosure from China; $2 billion by 328 Support Serves GmbH from USA; $1.6 billion by MTN South Africa; and $1.05 billion by Sinoma CBMI of China.

Others are $1 billion by Torridon Investments of UK; $600 million by African Industries Group in Nigeria; $390 million by Savannah Petroleum of UK; $200 million by Stripe from USA; and $150 million by NESBITT Investment Nigeria.

In 2019, the top 10 announcements accounted for $26.29 billion or 88 percent of total. These include $10 billion by Royal Dutch Shell from Netherlands; $5 billion by Aiteo Eastern Exploration and Production Company from Nigeria; $3.15 billion by Sterling Oil and Energy Production Company (SEEPCO) from Nigeria; $2.3 billion by TREDIC Star Core from Canada; and $1.5 billion by OCP Group from Morocco.

Others are $1 billion by Tolaram Group from Singapore; $900 million by Yinson Holdings Bhd from Malaysia; $880 million by CMES-OMS Petroleum Development Company (CPDC) from Nigeria; $860 million by China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC)/Lagos State; and $700 million by Seplat/NNPC from Nigeria.

The top announcements in 2018 accounted for $79.3 billion, representing 87 percent of total announcements captured by the commission.

The details include $18 billion by Range Developers of UAE; $16 billion by Total from France; $12 billion by Azikel Refinery from Nigeria; $11.7 billion by Green Africa Airways from Nigeria; and $9 billion by Royal Dutch Shell from UK.

Others are $3.6 billion by Petrolex Oil & Gas from Nigeria; $3 billion by CNOOC from China; $2 billion by Vitol/Africa Oil/Delonex Energy from Luxembourg, Canada and Nigeria; $2 billion by General Electric from USA; and $2 billion by Blackoil Energy Refinery from Nigeria/Niger.

The NIPC report revealed that the top 10 announcements in 2017 accounted for $43.1billion, representing about 65 percent of total announcements captured.

The commission did not, however, provide the details of the investors, sector, source and destination.

According to NIPC, the gaps between announcements and actual investments demonstrate investments potentials which were not fully actualized.

The Commission stated: “A more proactive all-of-government approach to investor support, across federal and state governments is required to convert more announcements to actual investments.”

Reacting to the situation, Director General, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Ambassador Ayoola Olukanni, noted that the gap may not be unconnected to the economic recession and COVID-19 pandemic events within the period, aggravated by policy instability.

Olukanni stated: “Numerous studies have established that Foreign Direct Investment is dependent on the market size of the host country, deregulation, level of political stability, investment incentives, openness to international trade, economic policy coherence, exchange rate depreciation, availability of skilled labor, endowment of natural resources and inflation.

“You will agree with me that the four years spanning 2017 and 2020 are characterized by struggle to exit from economic recession, a period of slight recovery, the COVID-19 pandemic, and another period of recession. These circumstances may or may not be responsible for the political and economic reaction that can be witnessed in the uncertainty in the foreign exchange market, increased inflation, increased unemployment, increased political unrest and insecurity and so on.

“What can be established is that Foreign Direct Investment is averse to risk and uncertainty, especially the kind of uncertainty brought about by policy instability and economic policy. An obvious example is the closure of the land borders in 2019, while justifiable through the lens of national security is certain to have a negative impact on Foreign Direct Investment which has a long-term planning horizon.

“In summary, to seek to increase actual FDI is to promote the factors that have been shown, empirically, to positively impact FDI. While the Nigerian economy checks the boxes of most of these factors, economic policy coherence, foreign exchange market stability and insecurity are issues that are currently the bane of FDI inflows.”

Also commenting, an economist and private sector advocate, Dr. Muda Yusuf, who is also the immediate past Director General of Lagos Chamber of Commerce of Industry (LCCI), said the development reflects low level of investors’ confidence occasioned by structural problems of infrastructure and worsening security situation.

His words: “It is investors’ confidence that drives investment, whether domestic or foreign. Investors are generally very cautious and painstaking in taking decisions with respect to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). This is because FDIs are often long term and invariably more risky, especially in volatile economic and business environments. Uncertainties aggravate investment risk.

“Investors in the real sector space are grappling with structural problems especially around infrastructure. There are also worries around liquidity in the forex market; there are concerns about the accelerated weakening of the currency. There are issues of heightened regulatory and policy risks in many sectors.

“Investors’ confidence has also been adversely affected by the worsening security situation in the country. Meanwhile, the economy is still struggling to recover from the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. These are the likely factors impacting investment decisions.

“Our ability to attract FDI will depend on how well we position ourselves. The critical question will be around expected returns on investment. Overall, it is the investment climate quality that will make the difference. We need to ensure an acceleration of necessary reforms to make Nigeria a much better investment destination. We need policy reforms, regulatory reforms and institutional reforms, among others.

“We should accelerate the ongoing foreign exchange reforms; we need to undertake trade policy reforms to liberalize trade in sectors of weak comparative advantage; we need regulatory reforms to make regulations more investment friendly. We need to create new opportunities in the public private partnership (PPP) space, especially in infrastructure. We need to see more privatization of public enterprises.

“It is important as well to quickly fix the ravaging insecurity in the country. All of these are crucial to boost investors’ confidence.”

AGENCY

Sunday

Saturday

Liverpool can't find breakthrough as 10-man Chelsea hold on for shared spoils at Anfield


CC™ Global Sports

By Our Sports Staff

European champions Chelsea, despite playing with 10 men, held on for a 1-1 draw against six-time European champions Liverpool, in a top-of-the-table English Premier League clash at Anfield. 

Chelsea had broken the deadlock earlier on in the 21st minute with a looping backward header from Kai Havertz, off a corner pick that beat Allison in goal for Liverpool.

The tide of the game then changed in stoppage time of the first half when Mohammed Salah converted a penalty kick for the hosts, after Chelsea defender Reece James intentionally handled the ball on the goal-line. James was then sent off and Chelsea was forced to play the second half of the game with 10 men. 

Liverpool could however not find the needed breakthrough as Chelsea defended well and held on to share the points with the Reds at a raucous Anfield.

Chelsea is now second, behind West Ham United, on the EPL table having won seven points in three games, while Liverpool is 3rd, also with seven points in three games.

Friday

Buhari's secret police open fire at recruitment center in effort to stop striking Nigerian doctors from taking jobs in Saudi Arabia


CC™ Global News 

Armed operatives of the State Security Service (DSS) on Thursday opened fire outside Sheraton Hotel in Abuja to disperse Nigerian doctors who were arriving for an interview for medical positions in Saudi Arabia, witnesses told Peoples Gazette. 

At least one person was injured and had been moved to a hospital in Mabushi neighbourhood of the Nigerian capital, The Gazette learnt. 

The secret police officers mounted a barricade outside the hotel to block people seeking to enter through Abacha Estate, according to one of the doctors who identified himself as Mr. Olubanjo in a telephone chat with The Gazette.

“The officers tried to block us from entering Sheraton but some of us insisted that we were on our way for an interview organized by the Saudi government,” Mr. Olubanjo said. “But we were forcibly chased away when the officers started shooting into the air to disperse us with threats that they will kill us and no one would punish them.”

The programme was scheduled for 8:00 a.m. and many of them had been arriving at the venue as of 5:30 a.m., he said.

Mr. Olubanjo said the organizers later told them the interview had been suspended but wondered why that became the case when a similar exercise held last week at a hotel in Lagos.

A spokesman for the SSS did not return a request seeking comments. A telephone line for Sheraton in Abuja did not connect on Friday morning.

Nigerian medical professionals have been on a desperate bid to leave the country following years of incessant strikes over low remuneration and generally poor welfare. They have been moving to Europe, Canada, Saudi Arabia and other countries where they hoped to get better training and practice.

It was not immediately clear why the SSS was sent to truncate yesterday’s interviews, which came barely a week after Nigerian labor minister Chris Ngige insisted that the country was not in short supply of medical doctors. The minister said the widespread claims of brain drain in the country’s medical sector was false and should be disregarded.

GAZETTE NIGERIA

Thursday

Terrorists are trying to sneak on evacuation flights from Afghanistan to Britain to commit attacks


CC™ Global News

U.K. Armed Forces Minister, James Heappey has warned that evil extremists plotting to "cause us harm" were exploiting the chaos in Kabul - where troops are on high alert for an ISIS suicide bomber. 

Security checks means UK officials at the airport are unable to process evacuees at breakneck speed.

Mr. Heappey told BBC Radio 4: "We would love to be able to just open the gates and let people in at an even faster flow but there are people right now trying to get on some British flights that we have identified in our checks as being on the UK's no fly list. 

"So the checks that are being done are entirely necessary, because there are people trying to take advantage of this process to get into the UK to cause us harm."

Soldiers helping with the rescue mission in the Afghan capital are also on constant watch for Islamist threats.

Mr. Heappey said no British squaddies were involved in a gunfight at the airport yesterday - but that it showed the "chaotic" environment there right now.

He said: "There is a very real threat posed by Islamic State and I just think one of the most remarkable things about what our troops are doing is they know that there is a real threat of a suicide bomber, or some other sorts of threats or attack. 

"That means that with one hand they have to have their finger on the trigger. And on the other hand they're holding babies.

"These are 18 and 19-year-old young men and women from across the United Kingdom, who were dealing with the most extraordinary circumstances."

Over the past 24 hours 1,821 people have been evacuated on eight British military jets, with a further nine flights planned for the next 24 hours.

British officials are racing to rescue people before August 31 when the U.S. has agreed to pull back entirely.

About 4,000 British and Afghan nationals are hoped to be airlifted before the cut-off.

Boris Johnson will use a G7 virtual meeting to lobby President Joe Biden for an extension to get more out.

The Government has ruled out continuing the evacuation mission without the Americans.

Mr. Heappey admitted that even if the leaders agree to a longer window they cannot keep boots on the ground without the Taliban's say-so.

He told LBC: "That's why we're continuing to work towards the 31. Because even if the political will in London, Washington, Paris, Berlin is to extend, the Taliban may say no.

"And whilst of course we have the military force that would be required to stay by force if we wanted to.

"I think you can probably imagine that the sort of humanitarian mission we're involved in, is not helped by the international community in fighting the Taliban on the streets."

THE SUN

Wednesday

The 7 habits of highly successful organizations

Editor's Corner 
                               
As organizations seek ways to improve functional output and operational effectiveness, it becomes incumbent upon business leaders to understand what best practices to adopt, in their quest to achieve sustainable growth and brand stability.

Many are quick to point to the "successes" of some of the world's biggest brands such as GE, Microsoft, Disney, Walmart, Apple and Google, among others. The truth however lies somewhere in between as to what exactly constitutes success beyond just the bottom-line.

A "healthy bottom-line" does not necessarily translate into being an attractive brand or ensure sustainable growth.

What organizations such as Google and more lately Apple have in fact shown, is that there are other mitigating factors that go towards determining the long-term success and brand equity of an organization.

In this piece, a prelude to a more in-depth analysis to come, we explore and profess the key habits that would seem to characterize truly successful organizations.

a) Hire well - As organizations such as Google, Microsoft and Apple (much lately) have learnt, hiring the right talent goes a long way towards building your Intellectual Capital portfolio.

b) Invest in your employees and thus your organization's future - While some of the better known brands are able to attract some of the best talent initially, holding on to that talent pool becomes even more critical. It is not enough to just pay well; in addition to that, organizations that have managed to hold on to their prized talent base, have invested heavily by way of benefits and other quality-of-life perks that are essential to keeping the poachers at bay.

c) Encourage independent thought within your organization - In conversations with peers in the business community, most believe this is one of the areas where Microsoft in particular "went wrong" (the current CEO Satya Nadella has since righted that ship). It's main competitors are said to have seized on a culture (supposedly) within the organization at the time, that did not encourage or value independent thinking.
Organizations that frown on the idea of "thinking-outside-the-box" ultimately leave little room for their business units to procreate. A resulting dearth of unique ideas will ultimately result in the natural death of the said organization.

d) Reward independent thought within your organization - In addition to encouraging a "think-outside-the-box culture within your organization, it is also equally important to acknowledge those with unique and creative ideas. Promotions, raises, bonuses and other forms of recognition should reflect this, as it will only augur well for the continued growth and development of the organization, its brand and of course, its people.

e) Be true to your founding ideals and core corporate principles - Make taking care of your customers/clients a guiding business principle. It is the best practice you could ever indulge in as it engenders brand affinity through credibility.

f) Seek strategic partnerships that complement your business model and strategy - It is important that you align yourself with organizations that share your ideals, beliefs and ideas and subsequently provide a synergistic nirvana.

g) Manage your growth while continuing to innovate - Maintain your identity and stick to a working strategy. Adapt to the pervading business climate in your own unique way and continue to deliver consistently. 

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