Honestly Speaking: Message from the Morning Man by Kojo Yankson

Honestly Speaking: Message from the Morning Man
by Kojo Yankson
20th July 2016
This week, I’ve been going on quite a bit about one of the greatest Ghanaians I’ve ever met, Dr Daniel McKorley. He’s a multimillionaire shipping magnate, the owner of McDan Group, and the original hustler. This man used to sell kerosene on the streets of Labadi, but, like all great men, he saw more in himself than others did. So he broke boundary after boundary, won battle after battle, and chalked achievement after achievement, leaving his competition in the dust behind him as he built an empire which provides employment and sustenance for 7000 families worldwide.
I have learnt so much in the time that I’ve known Daniel McKorley, I often quip that each of our conversations are counting towards my PhD. The truth is I usually learn something new from every person I meet, but it’s been such a long time since I learnt so much from the life, thoughts, words and example of just one person. So, to end this series of lessons I’ve learnt from The Hungry Boy Who Runs With Gorillas™, I think I’m going to tell you the one quality I admire most about this phenomenal Ghanaian.
To best illustrate this particular quality of his, I’m going to tell you two rather surprising facts about Daniel McKorley.
Here’s the first one: Daniel McKorley has two wives. It’s ok, you can lift your jaw off the floor now. And before you start judging, you know it’s perfectly legal under customary law in Ghana to have two wives, right? Why Dr McKorley chooses to have two wives is something I don’t think I ought to go into. In any case, I really don’t think the ‘why’ of it is any of our business. What I want us to concern ourselves with is the ‘how’. How does he do it? How does he keep two women happy when most men can’t manage one? How does he manage the murky minefield of matrimony with two different women at the same time?
I’ll answer that in a minute, but before that, let me tell you the second interesting fact about Dr. McKorley. In all the time that he has been in business, he has never lost a customer. Not once. From day one, none of the clients he has served has ever taken their business elsewhere. Imagine that. How many businesses in the world can boast of this? Again, it’s the ‘how’ of it that fascinates me. How has he succeeded in keeping every single customer happy all the time?
Well, the answer is simple: and it’s also the same answer to the question, how does a man keep two wives. He does it by being honest. And this is the one quality I admire the most about Dr, McKorley. He is one of the most honest people I have ever known.
I asked him recently about his rather unorthodox family, and I’ll never forget his answer: “Kojo,” he said, “If I should come back to this world, I would still have two wives”. He must have seen the look of incredulity on my face, because he elaborated further.
“You see, God gave us one important gift – the power of choice. Even Adam had the choice of saying no. He chose not to. So with all these choices available to us, I am blessed to have two intelligent, beautiful, smart women who have both made the choice to be with a polygamous man”. It’s not because I’m the best human being in the world. It’s because I am always honest with them.
I thought that was fascinating. The idea that two beautiful, intelligent women would both choose this man above all others simply because they know exactly what they are getting with him. Well, it’s certainly more than most women can say about their monogamous husbands, isn’t it?
The same principle applies to his business. When he told me he had never lost a customer, I thought it ws impossible. How can it be that a company has never made a mistake, never upset a customer and made them leave. He replied, “Oh it’s not that we never make mistakes. But we never lie about it. Our customers always know the truth. So even if we are not perfect, even if we only get it right 99% of the time, they can still rely on us a hundred percent of the time.
Friends, it is very easy to underestimate the value of honesty. It’s hands down, the single most important attribute a human being could possibly possess. It may not make you the best human being, but it certainly makes you the best choice. For everything. From marriage to business to religion to politics. We all have to choose between humans whose minds we can’t read. So in the end, we always pick the ones we feel we can depend on.
I want you to imagine this. Imagine President Mahama, or Nana Akufo-Addo, or any other presidential candidate came to your house or your office today. Imagine they sat across from you, looked into your eyes, and said this to you:
“Look. I have not done my best. You have given us opportunities to lead you, and I confess, that we have not always acted in your best interest. Leading is not easy. Every choice we make every day is a difficult one. Someone wins and someone loses. And today, even though I am fully aware that my political opponents would love to take advantage of this admission, I still want to confess to you that not every choice I have made has ended up in your best interest. This is less than you deserve. You deserve a leader who will put you first always. And that’s who I want to be for you.
Now let me warn you, I might not always get it right. But I will never try to hide my mistakes or the mistakes of my team from you. I want to lead this country on your behalf, but you won’t let me do that unless you know you can rely on me – through good times and bad. You will always know where you stand with me. So from this day forward, no lies between us – only honesty. Now, let’s go out there and face our problems together.
Tell me, would you vote for him?
My name is Kojo Yankson, and just like you, I’m not perfect. But I’m honest. You can rely on that.