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The Counterintuitive Approach For Curious Minds To Get What They Want in Life

I write these weekly newsletters to help me reflect and clarify my thoughts while sharpening my storytelling and marketing skills.

My hope is to help others do the same and it starts with empathy.

I had just quit my job in 2014.

I was moving out west. From Texas, on the way to sunny California. Put all my stuff in my blue 325, now it was time to drive to Santa Clara for 22 hours.

Just before that, I had just started a knowledge-sharing website. I was tinkering with it. I had 3 full months before business school started, so it was the perfect time to build the next best amazing thing from my amazing self.

I had figured it all out.

There was a need for an Africa-focused knowledge sharing website.

I was convinced. Everytime I worked on the design, the features, I got hits after hits of dopamine.

I had a developer in Germany. A designer in Australia. We were making moves.

I printed out T-shirts. It was time for the launch.

I launched the website a month before I started my MBA and that’s when reality hit.

Nobody cared about it as much as I did. CRICKETS.

I had built something in isolation. I learned a very important lesson, people are not going to come just because you built it.

No Influence Today, No Influence Tomorrow!

Most of us don’t know how to influence.

We have a selfish gene, deep in our DNAs. We think about self-preservation first. It’s the natural thing. But the other natural thing that has really helped us thrive as humans is social cohesion and reciprocity.

The art of reciprocity is eternal but we now put selfishness on a high pedestal.


Because it’s very visual and external, we see what people get from it.

– the position
– the salary
– the fame
– the praise

So we think…”hmmm how can I get mine?”

The “how can I get mine” mindset increases your influence in the short term, but you suffer in the long term without the right perspective.

Pain and pleasure exist in the same part of the mind.

Push too hard on one side in the short term, you get the other side in the long term.

When you influence too hard to get what you want now, you will deal with what you don’t want in the long term.

Life is all about balance.

It might sound weird, but what you want “selfishly” will only come from a place of “selflessness.”

This is very important in marketing and storytelling.

You have to think about fulfilling the desire of the customer and your audience first, before anyone will be interested in your product or story.

Influence starts with empathy.

To increase your influence, you just have to care.

Build Influence With Empathy & Curiosity:

I had to learn this through experience. Years after launching that website and a bank account that was drawing on the last few cents on my savings, I knew I had to take a different approach.

I had to get out of my own way and humility was a great counterpart. I had to learn by asking a few questions: 1) Who can pay me? 2) What are their challenges? 3) How can I help them?

Over 50+ calls, just asking these questions, it became so clear that I was completing their sentences by the 51st call. That’s when the business took off.

This applies in business, marketing, storytelling and life. You have to care about the people on the other side. When you do, you can solve interesting problems together, build a business that people care about, make a living, and find more meaning in what you do.

Here are 3 things to consider:

1. Power of stories (fulfillment of desires)

I was watching a documentary called “the power of film”

The host, a professor at UCLA, over six episodes talked about what makes iconic movies and stories memorable.

He said something that caught my attention. Every movie has a hero. The movie is about fulfilling the desire of the hero. But the reality is, it’s about fulfilling the desire of the audience.

When we read books and watch films, we want to see what the main character overcomes, because it’s a reflection of our internal desire to overcome, to break free, to make connections.

For stories and products that stick, the producer has to have the audience in mind.

You have to understand the audience’s desires, needs, aspirations. Sometimes these aspirations are yours also. To build this type of influence you need to be able to walk in another’s shoes.

Build more empathy by spending more time listening than speaking.

2. Your audience is the hero (you are the mentor)

When the movie – the matrix – came out in 99, it was a game changer.

One of my friends gave me the VHS tape. When the tape had gone around, we all wanted to be NEO. The main character in the movie.

Everyone wants to be Neo in the matrix.

That’s because the hero is fulfilling a desire in the film that you connect with. But if you want to make a shift from consumer to producer (creator). You have to stop being the hero.

Your customer and the person you want to serve is the hero.

The greatest gift you can give someone besides your full attention is the belief in their potential. Saying “I know you can do this, here’s how I can help.”

In stories, this is where a mentor comes into play.

Morpheus to Neo. Yoda to Luke Skywalker. Dumbledore to Harry Potter. Mr. Miyagi to the Karate Kid.

You get my drift.

Be the mentor.

Help your audience and customers fulfill their desires.

3. Always ask: why should anyone care?

I see people on LinkedIn announcing jobs and fund raises.

And I’m like, why should I really care?

I’ve done it myself. I rushed off to announce when I published a book or hit a milestone in my business.

The Praise.
And the Glamour.
WIth the Glitzy reactions.

Soon enough it came back: the validation void that I seeked, emptier than when I started.

These days before I post, I ask why should someone care about this? How is it helpful? Is it inspiring? Educative? Entertaining?

If I can’t come up with anything then I pause before I post. Don’t get me wrong there’s a lot of posting done just to test out what resonates. As a digital writer you have to test your ideas online.

But the compass is, “why should the person on the other side care?” “Why should they pay me with the most valuable thing they have: their attention?”

The answer to that question is the vehicle to building something meaningful.

Influence starts with empathy.

It starts with a fulfillment of desires. A yearning to overcome something. But that yearning is that of the audience or the group of people you want to serve.

Understand where they are coming from. Stop trying to be the hero in the story. Make the people you want to serve the hero.

Be the mentor, the helper, the teacher.

Be truly curious: always ask: “how is what I’m about to do helpful?”

Yours truly,

P.S. I just opened up my ​1:1 coaching sessions​, grab a free session to start crafting your own personal narrative, build your brand, and foster growth.

Who is Nifemi?

Hey I’m Nifemi of NapoRepublic

I help busy people fit in a creative practice to bring to bring order to their reality and help them live a more meaningful life through writing and reflection.

Sculpt your story

Know thyself, build a second brain, and unleash your creativity with writing. All in one journaling, note-taking, and dots-connection method that fits into your busy life.