Articles Tagged Life & Society

May 03, 2020
To be ready for the new normal, start working on these 3 things

9/11. Most people know what those numbers mean. On September 11, 2001, a series of unprecedented terror attacks took place right on American soil. Four passenger airliners were commandeered by terrorists; three of them were deliberately crashed into buildings. As you would imagine, air travel volumes plummeted, throwing airlines into crisis. But after a raft […]

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Apr 19, 2020
Here comes the Low-Touch, High-Friction world

So many of us feel imprisoned in our own homes, staring at the same walls, missing contact with others, tired of dealing with family issues. So many of us are just waiting to be told that the coronavirus pandemic is over, that lockdowns and shutdowns are over, and that we can burst out into the […]

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Apr 05, 2020
This problem is everyone’s problem

We are, all of us in the world, deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Some more than others, though. Consider a first group. The members of this small but privileged category fled to safety once the dangers of the coronavirus were clear. They were the first to work from home, because they can. They have […]

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Mar 15, 2020
Three reflections on the coronavirus

The coronavirus has upended the world. A few tiny dudus that seem to have emerged from a market in China have taken over our daily discourse. One country (Italy) is in complete lockdown; many others will have to follow. Wherever you look, airports are empty; airplanes are grounded; hotels, malls, stadia and public squares are […]

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Mar 01, 2020
Your calendar reveals who you are

Time, we can all agree, is really precious. We have very little of it; and we don’t know how much. So where do we expend it? Let me continue the discussion about the time of our lives, begun here last week. As time marches on, and when we have had our fill of trying stuff […]

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Feb 23, 2020
Are you still answering the phone all day long?

If a telephone is ringing, it must answered. If you are of a certain generation or earlier, that was just a fact of life. The phone rang, we answered it. Did we want to receive the call right then? Were we expecting it? Did we feel like talking to a random person? Were we busy […]

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Feb 02, 2020
Focus on your three feet of influence

It can all seem too much. Perhaps you have problems in your extended family. Perhaps people are squabbling, disagreeing, agitating. You do your best to intervene, but there are entrenched positions and big egos in play. Old grievances are being nurtured. You want this to end, but there are too many variables. It feels easier […]

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Jan 19, 2020
How will you use your new superpower?

Your landline telephone. Your fax machine. Your dictation machine. Calculator. Watch. Timer. Notebook. Filing cabinet. Calendar. Music player. Camera. Photo album. Map. Alarm clock. Key. Newspaper. Scanner. Camera. Library. Dictionary. Encyclopedia. Translator. Weather forecaster. Wallet. Flashlight. In 2010, I wrote here that the future of your business would be in the palm of your hand. […]

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Jan 05, 2020
Do you shoulder blame, or dodge it?

Perhaps you know the old joke: there are two types of people in the world – those who believe in dividing people into two types, and those who don’t… For the purposes of today, this columnist becomes one of the first type.  What happens when things go wrong around you, mishaps occur, problems arise? When […]

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Dec 29, 2019
Are you honouring your mother, or defacing her?

There is nothing more awe-inspiring, breathtaking or majestic on this planet than nature itself. Nothing created by humankind even compares. All our achievements – the targets we hit, the numbers we clock, the reports we file –  are mere pastimes. They don’t touch the soul.  All our material wealth, our accumulated riches and trinkets, our […]

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Dec 22, 2019
Those who lead for the few cause perpetual turmoil

Every so often you have to look at the world around you and wonder what on earth is wrong with human beings. There seems to be turmoil everywhere. Massive public demonstrations, often turning violent, are occurring in every corner. Hong Kong, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Lebanon, Spain, Iran, Iraq, India, Thailand – is that a long […]

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Dec 15, 2019
Education needs a reboot

Last week’s column about the ‘Education Express’ raised some questions – and some eyebrows. I made the case, obliquely, that our education system is in severe need of an overhaul. It functions like an old-fashioned train service: it runs the same way it has for decades on end; it runs on fixed tracks; and not […]

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Dec 08, 2019
Welcome aboard the Education Express, kid…

Hurry up, kid, don’t look so nonchalant. You nearly missed the train – and that would have been catastrophic for you. You must take this very, very seriously. Your entire life is at stake. I am your ticket inspector. Show me your ticket, please… Very good. It seems you have been getting good grades so […]

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Nov 17, 2019
How meaningful is the work you do?

Our newly released census results show that Nairobi keeps growing. With nearly 4.4 million people, this is one huge collection of humans. Not on the global scale, of course; there are several megacities with more than 20 million people; one of those may breach 40 million soon. Revered scientist James Lovelock thinks we follow the […]

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Nov 03, 2019
No, it’s not ‘just business.’

‘It’s just business.’ I’ve lost track of how often I’ve heard those words, uttered by businessfolk to justify bad behaviour. Also: ‘business is business.’ It’s as though there is something magically wonderful about being in business that gives you a free pass. Businesspeople are so heroic that we must give them some leeway, allow them […]

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Oct 27, 2019
Two words to carry around with you

The History of Love by Nicole Krauss is just one of the finest novels anyone will ever read. I picked it up again after many years and found myself mesmerised all over again. It has two words that are repeated over and over, acting as a motif in the life of one of the main […]

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Sep 22, 2019
To recognise yourself, look down

Customer: ‘I need a rope.’ Shopkeeper: ‘What’s it for?’ Customer: ‘Suicide.’ Shopkeeper: ‘That will be two hundred shillings.’ Customer: ‘What? That’s too much. I’ll buy it elsewhere.’ Shopkeeper: ‘What does it matter to you? You’re about to die anyway! That was a scene from a movie I watched decades ago. I laughed at the time, […]

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Sep 15, 2019
Why do people keep selecting bad leaders?

Let me tell you about a certain country. A century ago, this country was regarded as one of the most promising of the future. It was richly endowed with a very diverse trove of natural resources, and had a GDP per capita higher than that of France or Germany. It attracted immigrants from far and […]

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Sep 08, 2019
Give your brain a little workout today

How are you doing with my annual book-reading challenge? I found, somewhat to my surprise, that I have already clocked 50 books this year with a full four months left in the calendar. I’m not quite sure how this happened. Perhaps pushing all of you to read more books has spurred me on as well. […]

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Aug 25, 2019
Who owns your data? Do you care?

Photo by Rishi Deep on Unsplash You upload a photo from your holiday (click). You search for a product (click). You like someone’s post (click). You add a new friend on a social network (click). You make a purchase on a website (click). You receive an emailed receipt (click). You express your opinion in a […]

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Aug 18, 2019
Institutions don’t educate you; you educate yourself

A troubled young man came to see me recently. He had just completed his first year at a world-famous college, and was sorely disappointed. He recounted his many disappointments. Crowded lectures attended by many hundreds of students for the flagship courses. Classes also too big to provide any meaningful interactions. Aloof teachers paying little attention […]

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Aug 04, 2019
How many things do you take for granted?

Photo by Lee Scott on Unsplash A recent mishap with household plumbing brought home an oft-forgotten truth; it is only when you lose something that you realise how important it is to you. In this case, lugging buckets of heated water around brought home the value of being able to have a shower when you […]

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Jul 07, 2019
Don’t stay too long; it will end badly

The history of nations and organisations is replete with examples of leaders who just won’t let go. Even when their time is emphatically and visibly up, too many just can’t detach themselves from the habits and trappings of power. These stories usually end badly. I explained here last week: there is a time and a […]

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Jun 30, 2019
Knowing when to change your life

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay ‘To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…’ Ecclesiastes conveyed it so well in the Bible. But who is really paying attention? Do we […]

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Jun 16, 2019
Who is paid NOT to understand?

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay Do you sometimes wonder why a perfectly reasonable position is often rejected by very intelligent people? You might lay an argument out, back it up with solid facts – and still encounter vehement opposition. Surprisingly, this resistance often comes not from the ignorant or the uneducated, but from those who […]

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Jun 09, 2019
The tyranny of exams and grades

Image by Pexels from Pixabay My son will be doing his ‘O’-level exams in the near future, and I was recently discussing his subject choices with him. I was trying to understand which subjects he enjoyed doing, and which ones he just had to get through. The aim was to pinpoint what his future might […]

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Jun 02, 2019
How to say no. Nicely

Last week I discussed JOMO – the Joy of Missing Out. You should live your life on your own terms, not caught up in the priorities of others. Many of you then asked me: but how do I say no so often? It can be considered rude to decline invitations. I may lose my friends […]

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May 26, 2019
Embrace the Joy of Missing Out

Image by Eak K. from Pixabay FOMO, we all know, is a thing. In the digital era the Fear of Missing Out is driving lots of behaviour. Social media allows us to keep looking at other people’s lives and activities, pretty much all the time if we wish to. This creates an insidious feeling: the […]

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