Lincoln Dahl

Managing director, African Energy

Nobody’s perfect. What quality or ability do you wish you had?

There are lots of things I wish I could do better! Everything from eye-hand coordination to mathematics – the list is long. I often have a hard time being nice and it seems like I could be more patient with people. The ability to relax would be nice too…

What is the best business book you have ever read, and why?

Probably something by Og Mandino, or The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. They lay out simple concepts that explain a lot of the world. I am a simple person and I can understand and apply simple concepts. I think that if you can’t explain something in a paragraph, you might not understand it or it might not be true.   

Someone you would most like to have met, living or dead, and why?

In relation to business and economics, it would be Benjamin Franklin or Milton Friedman. Both were very practical men who seemed to know the difference between things that were fashionable and those that were sensible.

What do you consider to be your major achievement (in life or business)?

That’s easy, being a successful husband and father (so far) means much more than anything I do at work. It takes a different set of skills and it can be a lot harder than running a business profitably.

Who or what do you think is overrated?

So many things. Almost anything riding high in the news cycle at the moment. The media seems dissatisfied with mere good things and needs to make them better than they are. In our industry, IPOs and private equity usually disappoint, and get disappointed themselves, due to over-rating on both sides. Whenever a web site or presentation looks too slick in this industry, we have learned to watch out!

What mistakes have you made (professional or otherwise), and what did you learn from them?

This could be a long list. I guess I have only learned if I changed my behaviour. I have learned to trust my instincts when I find a good deal, but paradoxically I have also learned not to trust people when it really seems easy and convenient to do so. Also, the older I get, the more I realize that we really can have an impact in the world – it just might not be immediately apparent.

Which one piece of wisdom would you pass on to your successor?

Don’t weaken! If this was easy, everyone would be doing it!

Who has been your inspiration professionally?

My dad – we are in totally different industries, but I spent a lot of time working with him as I grew up. Much of how I deal with people and situations is based on how I saw him do it. I hope to be as good as him someday.

How would you like to be remembered after your retirement?

What’s retirement? I’ve heard it is surprising how much a person can accomplish if they don’t care who gets the credit. Even so, I’d like to be remembered as someone who created opportunities for others and encouraged them to grow.

Do you have a quote or motto you live (or work) by?

“Men are that they might have joy.” If you are not enjoying life as you live it, then something is probably wrong.

Lincoln Dahl is managing director of African Energy.

For more information visit http://www.africanenergy.com/