Dede Drives the Discourse: Episode 4: The Value of Perseverance


In the sweltering heat of a typical Friday afternoon traffic jam in Accra, I could feel the air from the air condition vents of her car, Suzuki Presso, suddenly begin to blow warm air.

“Shucks!” I said before apologizing profusely. The air-conditioning unit in my car had been giving me a bit of trouble, and this was my last trip before heading to the auto shop to have it looked at. I would have probably used a much stronger expletive. Still, the massive size of the book that my passenger was reading left room for the possibility that he could be a religious man, and I was not interested in offending God at this point. It had been years since I last stepped in a church, but I was always raised to have reverence for whatever deity may have been responsible for the creation of this marvellous universe, and I was not about to press my luck with my current state of misfortune.

My passenger, a neatly dressed bespectacled man with perfectly coiffured grey hair, must have been at least 60 years old. Even through the discomfort of the unforgiving Ghanaian sun, his demeanour remained cool, calm and collected.

“I am really sorry, but I will have to turn off the AC. I think it’s making the car warmer”, I said.

For the first time in the ride, he lifted his head from the book he was engrossed in and said in a low, assuring tone, “Don’t worry about that. This is just a part of life. It is probably what would make this ride memorable”.

“Thank you for your understanding..Mr.…” I responded sheepishly. “Asare, Jeremiah Asare!”

In the distance, I saw a street hawker run at full speed for about 50 meters to catch up with a car whose passengers he was attempting to sell some newspapers to.

Noticing my gaze, Mr. Asare said, “We often underestimate how important perseverance is in determining success”.

“I’m sorry, what do you mean?” I said, confused.

Mr. Asare continued, “I’m reading the biography of Elon Musk, written by Walter Isaacson, and it’s astonishing how driven and somewhat stubborn he is. I can argue that it is the most important factor in ensuring success.”

“For instance, we all know business is filled with challenges and obstacles. The biggest error that smart people usually commit is assuming their ideas will be immune from challenges. This can make them unprepared when the inevitable happens. Perseverance enables entrepreneurs and business professionals to navigate through difficult times, learn from failures and find solutions to the problems they know they will face. It allows them to bounce back with optimism from setbacks, adapt to changes and keep moving forward. For Elon Musk, this is evident in the three failed rocket launches that threatened to collapse SpaceX and how he always found a way to keep pushing and ultimately succeed in revolutionizing the space industry.”

Utterly astonished, I asked, “Are you a lecturer or something?” I was not sure if Mr Asare heard me. Before I could repeat myself, he continued.

“Perseverance contributes to the development of resilience. Resilient individuals and businesses are better equipped to handle stress, uncertainty, and adversity. They can more effectively weather economic downturns, market fluctuations, and other challenges. By pushing past our pain points, even the mental ones, we teach ourselves that most challenges are surmountable. Elon’s ability to do it successfully with, which later merged with Paypal, and subsequently figuring out a way to successfully navigate the global economic downturn of 2009 with Tesla and SpaceX probably makes him one of the most resilient men of our times.

“But is what Twitter is now, isn’t it?” I responded, trying to keep up with the conversation.

“Yes,” Mr Asare said, “But he had a pseudo-banking and payment platform that joined forces with Paypal and formed the basis of his initial wealth. Unsurprisingly, he was able to withstand the scrutiny and pressures of taking Twitter private. He is a resilient fighter.”

“If experience comes with knowledge, then I can imagine the wealth of knowledge he must have from putting himself in positions that others rarely have”, I retorted.

Taking in my words, Mr. Asare was silent for a few minutes and then responded, “You’re absolutely right. Persevering through various situations provides valuable experience and insights. Business leaders who persevere through different scenarios better understand their industry, market dynamics, and effective strategies. This knowledge can be instrumental in making informed decisions and adapting to changing circumstances.”

“Do you think perseverance affects company culture?” he asked.  “I would imagine so. Perseverant leaders set an example for their teams.” I said.  He nodded silently as if asking me to continue.

 “When employees see their leaders overcoming challenges and staying committed to goals, it fosters a positive and determined organizational culture,” I replied. “This can lead to higher morale, increased motivation, and unity among team members”.  Mr. Asare finished.

“..and let’s not forget the effect it has on credibility. Perseverance is often associated with determination and commitment. When customers, clients, and stakeholders see a business consistently working towards its goals despite challenges, it builds trust and credibility. This can enhance the reputation of the business and attract more opportunities. Simply put, clients want businesses that will work hard for them and never give up on them.”

I noticed Mr. Asare was writing all these things down as he said them. “Are you a motivational speaker?” I asked

He burst out in laughter for a second and said, “No, I don’t take them seriously. I am a lecturer at the University Of Ghana Business School. I’ll use these points in my next lecture…but let’s not get distracted.

Being stubborn is not the same as having perseverance. Perseverance is not just about sticking to a predefined path but also about adapting to changing circumstances. Businesses need to evolve and adapt to stay relevant. Perseverance with flexibility allows for adjustments in strategies and tactics without losing sight of the ultimate goals.”

“Wonderful”, Mr. Asare said. “This has been a pleasant ride. I think we’re onto something with this whole perseverance story”.

“Not so fast,” I said. “We can’t forget about innovation. The ability to persevere through challenges can stimulate creativity and innovation. When faced with obstacles, businesses may need to think outside the box and develop new solutions. This can lead to developing innovative products, services, or processes that give the business a competitive edge.”

As Mr. Asare wrote down my final thoughts on his notepad, he smiled and added, “…you should come over and give a talk to my class sometime. You’re sitting on a wealth of knowledge.” He handed over his business card, which had “Professor Jeremiah Asare” boldly written on it.

Oh, Prof!” I exclaimed, “But why didn’t you correct me? I have been calling you Mister for the entire duration of this ride”.

With a wry smile, Professor Asare stepped out of the car without uttering a word. I flipped the business card over and saw the words written in the Professor’s handwriting: “Keep persevering, my daughter. You are destined to win!” In his way, Professor Asare, as much as he may hate to admit it, was my motivational speaker for that day.


Hello, my name is Dede Nyansapo. I am an entrepreneur who also participates as a driver in Accra’s burgeoning gig economy. My love for meeting fascinating people and my curiosity about how they think usually place me in the midst of some very entertaining conversations. Invariably, these conversations lead to some key learnings that may be useful to anyone on their business journey.

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