Before yesterday, I spoke to Lazarus just once. Sometime this year we met briefly, say hello and passed. That’s what you do when you meet your Facebook friend, right?
But I’ve been hoping to speak to this guy. To ask him questions. We all know Lazarus is the guy who runs the popular “Current Job Vacancy Repost with LT”, a Facebook group that has 202, 000 followers. The guy who was awarded the Young Man of Honor by Digicel Foundation in 2018, and won the 2018 Commonwealth Youths Award from Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, and had a chat with Prince Harry, and the United Nations Youth Champions for Sustainable Development and some that we probably don’t know about.
But when I come across people like Lazarus, I ask them “how do you do it?” or “how did you do it?”
Cameras love the grand stage. Newspapers sell papers covering award nights and TVs have high viewers during grand finals. But there are no cameras, no journalists, and no coverage of the toils that leads to these grand moments.
So when I walked past him for the second time, and realized he was alone, I acted as though I just stumbled across a long lost friend. High-fived and invited myself to the empty seat opposite him. We had more than one hour chat. And I began with the question: “how do you do it?” Every time I go online, I see a post on “Current Vacancy Repost with LT”: either a vacancy, a story of how someone got a job using tips from Lazarus, scholarship information, and Lazarus replying to these people. How does he do that? I teach approximately 400 students at UPNG every year, and it kills me! 202, 000? How?
This guy replies to about 500 messages per day, using his own resources. Messages from people from all walks of life. Messages from PNG and the Pacific region. Questions range from seeking assistance from Lazarus on how to develop their CVs. Questions about how to prepare for an interview. Questions about a job application he shares on his Facebook group, scholarship, etc.
I asked him questions like: how do you manage your time; has it ever crossed your mind to monetize a large following of 202 thousand; where does your motivation comes from; how do you manage criticisms; why did you start such a time consuming voluntary job; how many people have gotten jobs because of your help; how long are you planning to keep this thing running?
Below is a summary of our chat.
Why and how did you start?
Lazarus was one of the first among his friends to get a job right after the end of his final year of studies in 2014. Thanks to an internship the previous year with Australian Awards office in PNG. After securing a job with Awards PNG (he’s now with US Embassy – PNG), he started helping his friends to find jobs. He would do their photocopies, scans, fix their CVs etc using his own resources. He then realized that not everyone can develop a good CV, or better sell their skills, or even prepare for an interview. He thought “if this is a problem faced by people I know, then there must be many more who face such challenges.” This gave birth to the now popular “Current Job Report with LT.” He also runs trainings o weekends and holidays on these same topics.
How many people have you helped secure jobs so far?
Lazarus says that in his honest estimation, he has directly helped more than 700 people get jobs. However, I think this is a conservative estimate. His estimate is based on how many people send him a message to thank him, or post on Facebook and tag him after getting a job with his help. We know the story about the 10 people that Jesus Christ healed, right? Only one came back to thank Jesus. Lazarus (coincidently Jesus’ friend’s namesake), may be dealing with the same. I think few come back to say thank you – after all, if they did it to Jesus, they could do it to anyone 😂.
Has it ever crossed your mind that you could monetize (make money out of) your large followers?
I know he wouldn’t, but asked because this seems to be a trend with the so-called “influencers”. Have you ever come across a video on how to invest in stocks, and the guy tells you the benefits of stock market and then tells you to sign up for a two weeks course to the secrets of becoming a millionaire through stocks? Or a pretty lady tells you how to loose weight but you need to sign up for personal, customized, coaching? So I put it straight to Lazarus. I figured the question made him uncomfortable. He has never monetized his followers, and will never do.
So why do it?
He said he does it because it gives him joy helping another individual get an opportunity in life. His reward for using his own resources, time, and peace of mind? When someone gets an opportunity in life because of his interventions.
He told me: “we could walk out right now (from Cuppa Coffee at Vision City) and walk to the front gate. And before we reach the front gate, we will be stopped couple of times along the way, and people will thank me for helping them get a job, or scholarship etc.”
We didn’t do that because I had someone to meet at the same place. And he left because he had someone to meet. It was Valentines you know.
How do you respond to 500 messages? How do you manage your time?
This invoked a long discussion, but it’s a combination of effective strategy, and efficient use of time. He has developed sample answers for the most popular questions he receives. So if you asked for tips for job interviews, he would copy and paste a detailed response and email it to you. Or send you a pdf. file he designed before. For details about a job vacancy he posts, he’d send you details and contacts he prepared before posting.
But even with a pre-planned responses, you still have to manage 500 of those.
Lazarus uses a strategy I also use in my personal life. Something called ‘incremental gains’ or incremental use of time. You do not have to wait until the last minute and do everything at once. Do it in five minutes sequences if you can. Commit five minutes for every half an hour. So in 30 minutes, you have 25 minutes to do other things. Spend 5 minutes to replying to emails and get back to your work. You can do the same for reading. Try spending 10 minutes out out 60 instead every hour, instead of whole weekend. If you’re consistent, by the end of the day you have done more than if you spent 5 hours straight at night.
However Lazarus does spends his lunch hours and after work hours replying to messages sometimes. He ensures that he doesn’t do his voluntary work helping Pacific Islanders to new opportunities during his work hours at the US Embassy in Port Moresby.
Do you plan on stopping, or what is the future of “Current Job Vacancy Repost with LT”?
Lazarus said he will do it for free, for as long as Lazarus Towa is alive.
Finally, how do you manage criticisms on Facebook that you do this for your own gain?
This was a silly question but I had to ask it anyways. Because I do read such negative comments and accusations. Lazarus’ responded: if you have a clear conscience, and you know what you’re doing, that is all you need. Criticisms have been, and will always will be, a cousin of any good intentions.
Lazarus is one normal Kerowagi kid, who uses his time, energy, and passion to help another human. If we set aside 5 minutes to help another countrymen, a stranger, we will have helped PNG in a great great way.
If you see Lazarus, give him a high-five. The guy has a huge smile.
About “My Sons Are Coming“ series
In 1961, Kondom Agaundo, member of the first legislative council, was invited to give a speech in Canberra. With very limited English, he stumbled before an all-white, English speaking audience. He then went off script, and said the following:
“I am a chief among my people, but now I stand here before you like a child. And when I try to speak in your language, you laugh at my words. But tomorrow my son will come, and he will speak to you in your own language. This time, you will not laugh at him…”
Lazarus is one of many sons. Sons of Kondom Agaundo.
Lazarus’ story is the first of a series of blogs Academia Nomad will run. Celebrating the coming of Kondom Agaundo’s sons and daughters. The young elites of PNG doing great things.
If you know of someone we could interview, comment below.