Articles Tagged Success

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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Dec 01, 2019
Are you working on anything that will outlast you?

A question for you: do you remember something called the ‘Zune’? Not really, I guess. Another question: do you remember something called the ‘iPod’? Of course you do. Both were MP3 music players. Here’s the thing, though. The Zune, made by Microsoft, was the far superior product, in most respects. And yet it failed miserably […]

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Nov 24, 2019
Are you stuck in a ‘BS’ job?

Last week I started a discussion here about the meaning of work – and how rare it is to find work that lends meaning to our lives. Most of us get our first jobs out of sheer economic necessity, and don’t have the luxury of wondering about the worth of what we do. Later on, […]

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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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Oct 06, 2019
To survive, lead the change – don’t deny it

Last week I warned that many large corporates were in ‘slow puncture’ mode – with their current business models deflating slowly, all the while pretending all is well. I had referenced Marks and Spencer, Britain’s once iconic, now troubled retail giant. In the days since, another icon bit the dust. Thomas Cook, a huge travel […]

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Sep 29, 2019
Is your organization a slow puncture?

Marks and Spencer, one of Britain’s venerated corporate icons, fell out of the FTSE 100 stock index this month. It is hard to describe how central M&S has been to British retailing. It is 135 years old, and when I was a young man studying in London, it was discussed as a case study in […]

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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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Sep 01, 2019
Wake up, retailers. The writing’s on the wall.

A busy schedule means I don’t get out and about as much as I used to, so I jumped at the opportunity to go around Nairobi for a whole morning recently, looking for furniture and household items with the family. It would be a good chance to look at how our retailers are doing, I […]

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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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Jul 28, 2019
Is this Facebook’s ‘M-Pesa’ moment?

Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash In every talk I have given to banking groups in recent years, I have warned them that future competition will be nothing like what they have been used to. The biggest threats to their future will not come from other bankers, because those guys are just as confused and […]

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Jul 21, 2019
Hammering your employees is self-defeating

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay Many years ago, I ran a seminar on customer excellence for a leading corporation. When my presentation was over, I began taking questions from the floor. The first question was this: ‘What should we do about bad customers?’ I offered what I thought was a comprehensive answer. To my […]

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Jul 14, 2019
Many clouds, many thunderstorms

I predicted on this page a few years ago that the home delivery business would explode. It did. We are all getting so many more things delivered to our homes now. Not just meals, but also drinks, groceries, medicines, books and much more. It was obvious that this would happen. As more women enter the […]

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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 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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May 12, 2019
Are you still sitting on your wallet?

When I was growing up, I couldn’t wait to get my first wallet. A wallet was a sign that you had come of age; that you had some money on you; that you were someone of substance. Pulling out a wallet, rather than just crumpled banknotes, bestowed status on you. That wallet, of course, was […]

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May 05, 2019
Are your customers enthusiastic about giving you their time?

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash Last week I explained: I compete for your attention against Netflix. Time spent with me on this page needs to have a higher payoff for you than switching to streaming something on your device. Netflix, too is competing for your attention. Not just against a local TV channel, but […]

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Apr 28, 2019
I am here to compete for your attention

Photo by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash I want you to read this column. I want you to stay here, not go somewhere else. Who’s my competition? I started writing this column in 2003. Back then, it was simpler to compete. Had I failed to engage your interest in those days by the time you reached […]

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Apr 21, 2019
So you sacked a manager. So what?

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay Last December, José Mourinho was sacked as manager of Manchester United, one of the world’s richest and most trophy-laden football clubs. His firing was almost universally welcomed by United’s faithful fans. A caretaker replacement, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, was appointed in his place quickly. He has since gone on to […]

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Apr 07, 2019
Are you a vanilla, chocolate and strawberry business?

Image by Andrey Cojocaru from Pixabay Q: Which flavours of ice-cream do you offer? A: Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry How often does that happen to you when seated at a restaurant, thinking about your dessert options? In my lifetime, too many times to count. Vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, it is true, are consistently amongst the […]

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Mar 31, 2019
Who created the story your group believes?

For the past two weeks I’ve been discussing the stories of the mind on this page: the stories that our narrating self propagates and embellishes, in defiance of our experiencing self – the one that records facts and stays objective. The narrating self holds sway most of the time – and that makes us vulnerable […]

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Mar 24, 2019
The fictions we create about ourselves can imprison us

Image by cocoparisienne from Pixabay Suppose you are a physically attractive person. You are known for your looks. You were the belle of the school ball, or the hunk on the sports team. Being attractive becomes your identity, your calling card, your unique position in life. It’s what gives you self-esteem. Looks don’t last, though. […]

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Mar 17, 2019
The person you call ‘I’ may be a fictional character

A few years ago I wrote here: watch out for the stories your mind is capable of spinning. You will easily believe lies are truth, and the truth is a lie. Consider the example I gave you then. You are deep in sleep, and immersed in a vivid dream. A sound from the outside world […]

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Mar 10, 2019
Just been promoted? Now stop dealing in excuses

Adam Lashinsky once provided an interesting little vignette about Steve Jobs. According to the reporter, Apple’s founding CEO used to give employees a little speech when they were promoted to Vice President. Lashinsky called it the ‘Difference Between the Janitor and the Vice President.’ Jobs told new VPs that if the garbage in his office […]

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