For many professionals, turning our potentials into profitable applications is a tall order. A good number who are well educated and trained do not really know who they are, let alone know what they can do. They have not taken time out to take stock of their abilities, strength and weaknesses.

Do you blame them? In school, they were trained to pass examinations, acquire certificates, and after graduation, to look for jobs. Only then would you they think of the application and benefits of what they have. They were never trained to tell stories of what they can do, and do them. They were trained to think like employees not as entrepreneurs.

There is a difference. Employees have this mindset. “I am a qualified engineer, film director. I need a job, an opportunity to perform.” That is a tall order. We all think that way. Ask the engineer, can you execute a project to control erosion that is threatening many communities, or can you produce a  film documentary on child prostitution, he will hesitate before answering: “Well, I am good at producing soap operas or constructing buildings, but quickly adds; you see I am getting married and my wife will not really be pleased if I cut short our honeymoon to do this job.”

This is the mindset of an employee that is job/career oriented, not task or project oriented. But what does the marketplace need now? Is it those who want jobs or those who create jobs? This is where entrepreneurs have the advantage. Their story is: “I can do this; I know the pains of my clients, my customers. Despite the odds, I will take action to offer solutions. This is the language of entrepreneurs.

The difference is clear. The entrepreneur creates solutions and offers them in the marketplace for his customers. Their story is “can do,” not “I am.” It may not be easy; disappointments and setbacks stand in the way. But they think more of their assets/abilities than their liabilities/inabilities. What can you do?

Not so for the employee. He waits for others to create solutions, then he desperately tries to adapt and adopt. The market needs the two classes of professionals, but the question is; who do we need more? Entrepreneurs who create jobs, or employees who clamour for jobs. What is your story in the job market? “I need a job, or I can create jobs.” And so what can you do? There is always a story in what you can do, and you are willing to do it. And if you don’t have any, then you are not in business. You need “can do” story, to propel you in your career or business. What is your “can do” story?

“I am a medical doctor.” That is not specific. “I can cure AIDS.” This one is a winner because you will have a long line of patients waiting for your consultation.

And so, dear professional, what is your story in the marketplace now? I am, or I can do. Begin to change your story from what I am, to what I can do. When you do that, your marketplace story will change to: “I can, and I will.”

Eric Okeke is a storyteller, editor, business writer, motivational speaker and author of the best selling book: I Want a Husband. He is one of Nigeria’s most experienced financial journalists. He has published several articles in local and foreign publications and in websites such as, and He is currently running Infomedia Company, a media consulting and information marketing company. Visit his blog at

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