Thursday, 29 June 2017

13. Culture And Tradition

They say birds of a feather flock together. This is as  true about business as it is about friendships. Like minded staff, partners and clients will be attracted to working together more than those of a different mindset. They learn and get to do things a certain way. I think the culture at Elan group reflects a lot of my own values hopes and dreams. I like perfection, and hate getting involved in things I am lousy at. I am clear about what I am good at and though people around me are good at things I am not, they still share the same values. Hey, your whole world can’t be exactly like you are, that would be boring. However there are certain things they better be sharing  and when I look at my team I can define that as in one word – excellence. The earnest poise, energy and innovation that goes in our every project is unquestionable...

The doctor has just finished examining Elan and the babies. He seems reasonably pleased with her state of health but once again emphasizes on the rest. Elan cannot help but think that at this pace she is not likely to get back to work in another three weeks like she had wanted to. Though the organization can run quite smoothly without her, she kind of hated the thought that she was not needed. What would she do with herself? care of the babies? 

Now, that was a nice thought but she felt so helpless around them. She was absolutely happy to have them but was so terrified of anything going wrong. They couldn’t talk, all they could do is cry and she wasn’t sure she would be able to interpret their mode of communication. She was no expert in baby unlike would have been expected. You don’t become expert mum or dad just because you had babies. Now a curious thought came to her mind. Was that why Al was suddenly interested in the office more than usual?

The doctor interrupts her thoughts, ‘The babies are fine, perfect. You are fine - generally, but you need to rest for about a week. No lifting, moving around or carrying babies.’

Now what the hec was that? Elan, ‘What?!’

‘Yes Elan,’ says the Doctor, ‘Look you are tired not only from having the babies and the stress that comes with it, but you have been working hard for years before this period. You have had your children at a late age and you need to restore your health to move on and your being super excited about them even though you are not jumping up and down shows in your blood pressure in the periods they are spending with you.’

Elan, ‘But how can I not carry them? Won’t they be upset?’. The doctor laughs, more about his earlier concern than at her statement. 

‘You definitely are not having postnatal depression and, it is only for a week.’ 

After firming up the deal with nurse Kate coming to work for her, Elan feels more relaxed. At least there would be a baby expert around. She had observed her with Tunu and Mich the past couple of hours. She was meticulous in her work and very careful unlike the other nurse who had brought the babies to them the first. Nurse Kate though not smiley, was pleasant and very calm. Elan liked calm, she needed calm around the babies not someone who was overtly excited and may get as worried as she would if anything went wrong. 

There was a time she was not so apprehensive with babies. Or may be she was now more apprehensive because they were hers? The feeling was like the excitement and confusion when she started the first Elan business. She had known the theory of what she needed to do and had helped many entrepreneurs succeed, but her very own outlet made her hands moist with sweat. Dela, who knew and understood the market in Lagos gave her that calm assurance at the time. That gave her the confidence to keep going. Here was the feeling again only this time it was worse, much worse. This was human lives we were talking about, little tiny humans.

By the time Al joined them, Elan group was already having 3 businesses. He came in along the same time the talent management wing of the company was starting. Having been a footballer, he at least could drag in some interest from somewhere within and love that aspect of the business. He did not need the money, was tired of travelling and was in trouble with his dad for not wanting to work for him. 

Elan was his only interest at the time, but she could not find time for him, at least not the amount of time he wanted which was morning to evening every day. She was not going to stop working even though they both had enough to live and travel on. He felt working at his girlfriends was a far better alternative than his dads as far as he was concerned. He could keep tags on her. When the opportunity for operations came up in Elan Marketing and talent management, that was right up his ally. Though not violent, he was the jealous type and it took a lot of convincing for Elan to accept him on board.
The loss of his football career and fame had adversely affected his ego but with the help of Elan he became more confident once again. Elan provided the bedrock he needed. Someone whose support he could count on. Even before they dated, she had come out as reliable and trustworthy all great additions to the fact that she was unavailable and her level of success kept a lot of the competition away. That kept him attracted and comfortable with her. 

Most of these personal traits are what made her so successful in business and probably the reason the Elan team was so dedicated. Her culture translated to the general office culture.

For Elan, having Al around was great. He knew his stuff when working with talent. He could get anyone to deliver. Being a good looking charmer did not hurt their business at all. The numerous networks behind each talent varied from industry to industry. Performers needed different linkages from footballers, writers from  models. Yet all were important in creating credibility to the wide range of products they worked with. Being able to do this big enough under one roof required exceptional understanding of the different processes. 

Al was the guy for that. He not only understood the networks and processes, he could not only physically juggle several balls at a time, he juggled Elan operations with great efficiency though at times almost becoming a bully, he always delivered. He matched her great energy and style bringing in great fun innovative  projects, with effective delivery. And so, while he did what he had to do to be with her, they drew closer and eventually got married. Just what he wanted.

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