Articles Tagged Success

Sep 04, 2022
About to give feedback? Read this first…

Feedback has become a touchstone of management practice. We are encouraged to give feedback, and to receive it. We ask for it, and we dole it out. We believe this will help us all improve our performance by understanding our strengths and weaknesses—through the views of those who work or interact with us. Wherever you […]

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Aug 28, 2022
Look for this one trait in your smartest employees

Jeff Bezos is the visionary founder of Amazon, the company that has revolutionised how people buy stuff. We are all e-commerce customers now, because of the trails blazed by Amazon more than two decades ago. Inc. magazine recently reminded us that Mr Bezos was once asked this question: what’s the most important quality you look […]

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Aug 14, 2022
What makes humans stand out?

Who were the Neanderthals, and what happened to them? Homo neanderthalensis were a group of archaic humans. They emerged on Earth perhaps 400,000 years ago, and inhabited Europe and Asia. They were the archetypal “cavemen”—hunters and scavengers who nonetheless had a culture, and advanced stone technology, and lasted 100,000 years. Then we arrived, modern Homo […]

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Jul 31, 2022
Why do we neglect the real wealth in our lives?

The rat race consumes many. There is a fevered desire to have more: more money, more belongings, more status, more power. We plunge into this race without thinking, because so many around us seem to be running ahead of us. We fear getting left behind, being shunned, being disrespected. And so we run and run, […]

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Jul 17, 2022
What kind of experience do tomorrow’s leaders need?

Experience, we know, is a good thing. Those who have encountered different adventures and escapades, wins and losses, setbacks and learnings, are useful to others. The thinking is that previous encounters build knowledge and even wisdom. Those who have done stuff before, faced situations before, are likely to be better than those who come in […]

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Jul 03, 2022
Which work are you willing to suffer for?

Follow your passion. It’s oft-repeated advice, and tells us to do the things we feel most zest, most enthusiasm for. If we do what we love to do, we will do it with unbounded energy and application, and perhaps discover the best in us. I myself gave out this advice in a book I wrote, […]

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Jun 26, 2022
It’s time to rethink the definition of VIP

This world is crazy about the VIP. Just saying the three letters causes a reaction: a hushed reverence for the creature in question—the Very Important Person. The term itself is believed to have originated in the Second World War, and was coined by military personnel to refer to high-ranking officers. It made sense to differentiate […]

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May 08, 2022
An iconic company hits a speed bump

Netflix is tanking. Or rather, its stock price is—which is a rather different thing. What should we make of this? Netflix is one of the iconic companies of this epoch, a trailblazer and game-changer. It upended traditional video, moving people away from linear television and movie theatres. It has been on a seemingly unstoppable spend-and-grow […]

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Apr 17, 2022
Where does great customer care come from?

I’m writing this sitting in an organization where I’ve had a surprisingly good customer experience. That is rare enough to make me pause and reflect. Why is it that some can pull this off, but most fail quite miserably? First, here’s what was good. It started from the front entrance, when the security guard jumped […]

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Feb 20, 2022
What you sell is not what your customer buys

If you sell something (which is most of us), here’s one of the most important sentences you’ll ever read: “People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” That was written by Harvard professor Clayton M. Christensen, who attributed it to Theodore Levitt. It probably came from Leo McGivena, originally. Whatever […]

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Feb 13, 2022
What’s your legacy going to be?

There comes an age when some us start to think about our legacy: What we will leave behind; what we stood for in our lives. This is because we are consciously or unconsciously aware of our impermanence as humans. We know we are here briefly and then we are gone. Some of us are desperate […]

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Jan 16, 2022
Why your little neighbourhood shop may be thriving

Let me tell you the story of S, who runs a little shop—a kaduka—in my hood. S started off operating from a tiny makeshift kiosk. He was the milk ’n’ bread guy for our house, and for many on our street. Every morning the regular order would arrive, like clockwork—one less thing for us to […]

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Jan 02, 2022
Three life lessons for 2022

A new year is a good time to take stock. What’s been happening, what have we learned, what should we change? What should end, and what should commence? These past two years have been highly unusual for pretty much everyone. We have all lived through a global pandemic, a first for most of us. We […]

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Dec 12, 2021
Stand out, don’t embrace average

Picture this.  You are part of a large group flying to Kenya’s world-famous Maasai Mara game reserve. Your plane is gliding down, and the vast green expanse opens up beneath you. You approach the tiny airstrip from the air, and what do you see? The four-wheel-drive vehicles waiting to receive your group have all been […]

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Nov 14, 2021
To offer great customer experience, first deliver great employee experience

Someone close to me, visiting from abroad, was left confounded recently. He had gone to one of our leading retailers in Nairobi to buy a laptop for his family here. He had chosen the model. He had the money ready. He was ready to take it home.  Oops. It turned out the shop didn’t actually […]

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Oct 17, 2021
A Nobel Prize of great meaning

Abdulrazak Gurnah won the Nobel Prize for Literature last week, and it meant a great deal. He is only the fifth person of African birth to win the prize, and the closest to our own shores—his birthplace is Zanzibar, that captivating, mysterious island across the waters from Kenya. Why is this such a big deal? […]

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Oct 10, 2021
A time of great innovation is loading. Where will it find you?

A year ago, I discussed Pret a Manger on this page. The super-successful London sandwich chain serving office workers, with more than Sh 100 billion in annual sales, had just been whacked hard by the coronavirus. It suffered its lowest footfall on record and had to make a third of its employees redundant. As offices […]

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Oct 03, 2021
Age gracefully, and leave your toys behind

A fond memory from childhood popped up in my head the other day. The neighbourhood kids were all out playing, as was the norm back then. There were no “devices” available to us other than makeshift toys, perhaps a ball or two. Entertainment was confined to a single cartoon show from the Voice of Kenya […]

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Sep 26, 2021
How much is too much? We seem to have no idea

This gentleman once had a big corporate job. He was an executive director at a large business, at global level. Finding his work bereft of meaning, however, he didn’t last. He catapulted himself out of his office chair and into a life of doing the work he actually loves—studying, teaching, guiding, advising, writing. James Suzman […]

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Sep 05, 2021
When to persist, and when to desist? A booklover’s tale

Nilanjana Roy is a wonderful columnist for the Financial Times. She is, like me, a devoted bibliophile. She revels in her love of literature and enrols many in the cause of reading. She recently penned a piece that really got me thinking about how I read books. My why, as regular readers of this page will know, is crystal […]

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Aug 22, 2021
Why I was unmoved by Messi’s tears

Lionel Messi cried. A lot. Football’s leading icon showed up at a press conference to announce his sudden departure from his beloved club, FC Barcelona, after two glorious decades there. As he stood to make his speech he faltered, his voice breaking. Then came the flood of tears. After recovering, he went on to say […]

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Aug 15, 2021
How do you fight Amazon?

If the behemoth that is Amazon enters your industry, how on earth do you fight it? Amazon has bottomless financial resources. It has remarkable strategic vision. It is the trailblazer in online shopping with decades of experience behind it. It cannot be beaten on price or convenience. What the hell do you do? Take a […]

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Aug 01, 2021
Clouds, kitchens and landlords – a lesson in strategy

I first mentioned “cloud” kitchens on this page exactly two years ago. Also called “dark” or “ghost” kitchens, these are are stripped-down operations that produce for delivery only – no service, no waiters. They use data to understand what is most in demand, where, and when – and they locate to serve that demand. The […]

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Jul 25, 2021
Less is more. A life lesson

Less is more, good people. Less is more. If you’re about to give a long speech, cut it in half. If you are presenting a slide deck, reduce it to a third of what you planned. And cut away all the superfluous text on every slide as well. Why? Because when you overdo it, it’s […]

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Jul 18, 2021
How the halo effect dumbs us all down

It didn’t come home. In one of their most hyped football tournaments ever, England performed extremely well – but fell at the last hurdle, losing on penalties to Italy in the 2020 European Championship final last week. More on that to come, but first, let’s talk about one of the curious phenomena of human behaviour. […]

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Jul 04, 2021
Here are three personal skills your children will need

I have a lot of time for Margaret Heffernan. She writes really thought-provoking books; acts as a mentor and guide to many leaders; and is a lecturer in real-world leadership. Oh, and she has also been a BBC producer and a tech entrepreneur! CV aside, Ms Heffernan is an extremely clear and lucid thinker. In […]

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Jun 20, 2021
Are you looking up and ahead?

About a decade ago I began telling bankers in this part of the world: you are probably looking at “peak bank branch” in the years to come. In which year will your branch network peak – and then begin to reduce in numbers? Ten years ago no one really paid attention. It took another five […]

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Jun 13, 2021
So you can’t find great women for your organization? Really?

A decade ago, there was a question I was regularly asked by chairmen and CEOs. It went something like this: “I need to have more women on my board and senior management team. But where do I find them?” The question was usually asked by males of a certain vintage. It was perhaps forgivable then […]

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