10 Things I Learnt from Dr. Naomi Ngwira

I recently discovered I have a terribly high affinity for wisdom and an even higher zeal to share it.

Recently we had our Economics Symposium for Chancellor College Economics Class of 2016.

Dr. Naomi Ngwira, an Economist holding four degrees in Economics, an Entrepreneur and a Billionaire, and The Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi; was the Guest of honor and I was absolutely captivated by her speech on “5 Things about Success” as she dissected success into four scopes of ambition.

Dr. Naomi Ngwira, Left

A few things caught my attention and of significance were these:

1. Be ambitious.

To achieve success, you must have ambition.

“A dream without a plan is simply that, a dream.”

She asked “how many of us have a 5 year plan for our lives, where we want to be in the next 5 years?”

Almost all of us raised our hands up.

In all you do, make sure you do not have an ambition gap. Do not have standard goals.

Study your environment and extend your dreams and goals out of your scope. Challenge yourself.

She dissected ambition into four scopes; Career, Financial, Social and Spiritual.

She asked again, how many of us have plans in all these aspects our lives. I knew I did. However, I was not confident enough to raise my hand as no one else raised their hand.

2. Get a good job.

A good job, by her definition, is one that you love doing and one that allows you to explore your interests and passions. Thoroughly consider the option of self-employment.

At a maximum, try to work for someone for 3-5 years and discover your passion and what you are good at. Then, the next 5 years should be spent investing in that passion, be it financially or training-wise. Acquire all the training and studying necessary for you to live out that dream.

In a space of 10 years from the time you graduate, you should be set and equipped enough to be self-employed and pursuing your passions.

3. Poverty is a choice – ‘Wasauka wafuna’.

When you have all the information available to you and you choose not to listen, you can ultimately say you chose to be poor.


It may seem like a complicated thing to become a billionaire, but it is not.

Four principles, Patience, Planning, Work and Consistency.

Start with, say, MK100, 000. Double this every quarter until you reach 1 Billion in 10 years. In a space of 16 months, you should be worth MK1.6 million. Beyond this, I tried to make it more practical, taking some of her suggestions. She noted that it becomes harder to double the amounts in the same short space of time. Accommodate your growth so much so that in 5 years, your money has doubled to MK100million. Then for the coming 5 years; double it every year and in by year 10, you should be worth 1-1.5 Billion.

Practice the art of financial discipline and appreciate the principle of delayed gratification.

4. Your youth will not last forever

And I quote, 

“Life does not begin at 40. Don’t let anyone lie to you. At 40, you have started getting sick. You are no longer as physically capable as you once were.”

Enjoy your youth, be successful while you are still young and enjoy life. Don’t wait till you are older.

5. Be assertive

“Pursue excellence. Be prepared to be the best”.

Pay close attention to your surroundings. Much can be achieved from training and mentoring; but as well be observant. You need to be recognised more than anything. You could have brainpower and everything else in the world; but if no one knows you; no one will recommend and promote you.

Show your competence. Show your ability to work with a team. Prove that you can deliver. Chase your dreams and do not die dreaming. Do what it takes to achieve them.

6. Stick with people who matter.

“It is partly about what you know, but more importantly about who you know” – Gift Kaputolo.

After you have attained the much needed education, found your passion and drive, it would not pay to be assertive to the wrong people. You must associate with the right crowds.

Find the people doing what you would love to be doing, chasing similar dreams to yours.

Disassociate yourself with people that seem to be on roads that are taking them nowhere. It pays to know the right people.

Stay away from people with toxic lifestyles. There is nothing beneficial about aimless drinking and gossiping. Stay away from what does not build you.

7. Marriage has the ability to mold you or break you.

Describe the partner you would love to have in life. Write it down and be patient in your quest to meet someone. Do not easily get excited by humans, as most of us have facades.

Beauty fades – find something that will last. Be sober about who you marry. There is literally no reason to rush into an unhealthy marriage.

Discuss real issues with your partner. Discuss all aspects of life; be it financial, family, spiritual and work. Be clear about what you want to become and discuss how you can help each other achieve that.

Be clear about expectations and what you have no intentions of compromising your values on.

8. No man is an island

be a good neighbor to everyone around you. Be the first person to initiate interaction. If you have moved into a new neighborhood, bake a cake and go over say hello to your neighbors.

Your relatives and in laws are your assets. Keep close the best ones. Keep good relations with those around you.

Being antisocial comes at a cost.

9. Have a positive attitude towards life

Not everything in life has to be an investment. At times just be good, and God will reward you. It is always not about what someone or something can do for you. At times, think of what you can do for someone or to better a certain situation.

Remember, every problem has an expiry date; even if that is your dying day. Nothing will last forever, so do not waste the present worrying away your life when you have so much difference to make in the world.

Be grateful for the little you have, someone wishes they could have that little. Even in sickness, there is someone in bigger pain that you are now. Be gracious, God has been good. 

Explore in life. Read a lot. Pursue wisdom and understanding.

10. Choose a successful lifestyle.

Lifestyle is one of the most important yet forgotten aspects of success. Success must be cross-sectional. You must be successful in all you do. This includes health, fitness, mentality, the food you eat, your spiritual life.

It is the little details about us that make us who we are. Learn all the healthy lifestyle principles and adopt them. Things as simple as ‘drink 2l of water everyday’ or ‘eat your fruits and greens’ or ‘work out once a week’ prove to be beneficial in the long-run.

Be spiritually connected. Commit your plans to God and he will prosper you. There exists a spiritual dimension in everything that you do.

Choose moral uprightness every time. Resist evil. Hold on to your integrity. Be careful with your life choices especially between the ages 20 and 30 as these are defining moments in your life.

“Life is interesting. You can make it good, you make it bad. The ball is in your court”.

Dr. Mazalera, Economics Lecturer, Chancellor College.

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