Articles Tagged Success

Oct 18, 2020
Why do big, successful businesses freeze?

Two entrepreneurs sat nervously. They were at the headquarters of a business one thousand times their size, with an audacious proposal. It had taken them months to convince the big man to even meet them. The meeting did not take long. The answer was a flat no. Goodbye. The year was 2000. One one side […]

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Oct 11, 2020
Is your product too useful to ignore?

Google Maps has more than one billion active users. Nine zeroes. I use it every day. You probably do too. It’s just too damn convenient to ignore, isn’t it? It maps the city out perfectly, tells you where the traffic is and which roads to avoid, estimates pretty accurate arrival times, and allows you to […]

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Sep 27, 2020
If your business takes one in the face, get back up quickly

The British love their sandwiches. Ever since the 4th Earl of Sandwich popularised the idea of fillings placed between two slices of bread (supposedly to allow him to do other things like work at his desk, or play cards, while eating) the sandwich has been a phenomenon. When I was studying and working in London, […]

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Sep 20, 2020
The year I (re)discovered podcasts

2020 has become the year of podcasts for me. I know what you’re about to say: dude, they’ve been around for a while. Indeed they have. And of course I’ve listened to many since the time they entered the popular culture. But 2020 is the year podcasts popped for me. Why? Pandemic, naturally. I read […]

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Sep 13, 2020
Are you adding great accompaniments to your main offering?

A confession: I love chilli sauces. All types. I always have. They add zing and spark to many meals. I’m an aficionado. I like ‘em sweet, I like ‘em savoury, I like ‘em unusual.  It’s not the heat of the chilli that’s important, though. Too hot is not fun. A bit of kick is a […]

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Aug 23, 2020
How good is your team? Here’s a different way of looking at it

FCB vs FCB was supposed to be one of the interesting matchups in football this year. FC Bayern duly faced off against FC Barcelona in the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League recently. It ended in a debacle. The Germans took the Catalans apart, beating them 8-2 – an unheard-of scoreline in the upper echelons […]

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Aug 16, 2020
How I travelled around the world in a pandemic

A confession: I have been travelling far and wide in 2020, even though there is a global pandemic on.  For example, even as that city locked down amidst one of the most challenging periods of its history, I was in New York, in the company of a troubled teenager who went on a 48-hour drinking […]

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Aug 09, 2020
Talent isn’t what you have, it’s what you can do

What is “talent?” The word has been on everyone’s lips for a while. CEOs use it all the time; Human Resources folks drop it into every conversation. The talent advantage. The war for talent. But what is this thing? Does it refer to innate skills? Acquired knowledge? Expertise that comes from experience? Knowhow? Street-smarts? Knowing […]

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Jul 26, 2020
Software is indeed eating the world. Will it eat yours?

Marc Andreessen made this visionary statement nearly a decade ago: “Software is eating the world.” Most people above a certain age, or wedded to certain traditions, did not really pay attention. I deal in solid, tangible stuff, they said. Machinery. Food. Classrooms. Newspapers. Surgeries. Software can’t do that, they said. Hoax. Fake news. 2020 has […]

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Jul 12, 2020
Where do you go to learn how to be successful in business?

So your life’s aim is to run your own business. You want to be an entrepreneur and a founder and create a hit corporation. Where do you go to learn how to do this? There are two main paths many people seem to follow. The first is to study business or entrepreneurship as a subject. […]

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Jul 05, 2020
Meet a leader truly focused on others

By December 2019 I was pretty sure I would be writing this particular column in May 2020. Then a certain virus arrived… Jürgen Klopp just took Liverpool Football Club to its first English Premier League (EPL) title for 30 years. Anyone interested in leadership should take a close look at the unique qualities this particular […]

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May 31, 2020
Businesses just got reminded of some old wisdoms

Some businesses have really suffered in this coronavirus pandemic; others are weathering the storm quite well. That might seem obvious, since some industries as a whole are better placed in this crisis. We can’t compare the fortunes of airlines and hotels right now with those producing home entertainment, say.  My point is a little different. […]

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May 24, 2020
Why most of us didn’t see the pandemic coming

I didn’t see the coronavirus pandemic coming. I’m a strategy advisor, someone who sifts through the signals the world throws up to discern what might be about to change and what needs a response. But I didn’t see this one coming. Did you? In January many of us were looking forward to a rather different […]

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May 17, 2020
Remote working is here to stay, so learn how to do it properly

Are you all Zoomed out yet? If you’re a busy executive, I bet you are. I bet you have had WAY too many virtual meetings in the past few weeks. Social distancing has forced so many of us to work remotely from each other, and to rely on the video conferencing products of Zoom, Microsoft […]

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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 26, 2020
Life after coronavirus begins now

Last week I suggested here that because of the coronavirus we may all be staring at a ‘Low-Touch, High-Friction’ world for quite a while. Such a world would have two key characteristics. The first (the touch part) would be that folks would be reluctant to gather in person and in public as freely and easily […]

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Apr 12, 2020
Get ready for ‘uncomfortable innovation’

The comfortable don’t innovate. I’ve been saying that to businesses and writing it on this page for years. Now I have my words ringing in my own ears. My business depended on gathering people – to teach them, advise them, provoke them to think and do things differently. Suddenly (thank you, coronavirus) no-one can gather […]

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Mar 08, 2020
Respect those who listen, not those who bluster

Like many of you reading this, I grew up in the tumult of a large extended family. The social milieu was complicated; many uncles and aunts and cousins and family friends were always milling around. Many diverse opinions on pretty much anything under the sun were on offer, all the time. I was a quiet, […]

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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 16, 2020
Try this for your business – no goals, no comparisons

Let me tell you about a company that does not set any goals or targets. None. Don’t rub your eyes; you read that right. No customer-count goals. No revenue goals. No retention goals. No profit goals. You don’t believe me, do you? Oh wait, this company also doesn’t analyse its competitors. It has no market-share […]

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Feb 09, 2020
Radio cassette? What’s that?

Do you know what a ‘radio cassette player’ is?  I ask because it really depends on what age you are. There is a large chunk of young Kenyans (and, I hope, of the readers of this column) who have never experienced such a thing. Even if you do know what it is, when was the […]

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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 12, 2020
Wait – did I read TOO many books last year?

I read 80 books in 2019. That was surprising. My standard target is 50, which I always hit quite easily. But 80? That’s a lot of books, by any measure. Was it worth it? Could that number now be in the realm of TOO many books? But first: reading any number of books is no […]

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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 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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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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