Articles Tagged Success

Dec 24, 2006
‘Guru of Joy’ advises Kenyans

An unusually dressed man passed through Kenya this past week. His flowing white robes and long hair and beard marked him out as an Indian sage. But this extraordinary man is not a religious leader. I had the privilege of interviewing him, and what he had to say is worth recording during this season of […]

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Nov 19, 2006
To succeed, put interruptions on hold

You’re working on a very important report, and you’re behind schedule. An e-mail marked ‘urgent reply needed’ pops up on your computer screen. You start reading it, and see that it does indeed need your immediate attention. You start working on a response. There’s a knock on the door, and a colleague walks in. You […]

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Nov 12, 2006
Crooked line that compromises our future

If you are in Nairobi and happen to be in the State House area, you may notice a freshly painted bright yellow line in the middle of State House Road. You may also notice another thing: the line is crooked. Why am I telling you this on a Sunday morning? No, I haven’t run out […]

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May 07, 2006
What our failures can teach us

We’d rather talk about success than failure. The human race gets great succour from tales of greatness. We like to idolise, and we habitually build up our ancestors, our leaders, our managers into mythical figures whose successes become legendary. We would do better to discuss failure, says Paul Ormerod, for failure is a more widespread […]

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Apr 30, 2006
Dreaming of a Kenya reborn

This Sunday, let’s lift the clouds of gloom that threaten to cover us completely. Just for a day, let’s dare to dream again. What lies ahead for this country? What can we look forward to for our children? Go outdoors and feel the fresh air in your lungs. Find a comfortable patch of grass on […]

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Apr 16, 2006
Time to leave the past behind

Remember the seventies? Ah, glory days! The streets were clean, and there was always parking to be found. The town and city councils actually did what we paid them to. Nairobi had mayors who were not drawn from the criminal or professional comedian classes. There were streetlights everywhere, and they actually worked. You could walk […]

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Mar 12, 2006
Career advice they never get to hear

Hi youngsters, it’s nice to have your company again. Many of you have just received your examination results, and are busy planning what to do with the rest of your lives. Careers, occupations and flight paths are on your minds. And I’m sure there is no shortage of advisors: parents, teachers, peers and a variety […]

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Mar 05, 2006
Rich lessons in wealth management

We are a little crazy about wealth in this country. It sometimes feels like every person wakes up every morning with the same wild-eyed obsession: More money! More property! More everything! A labourer can be found dreaming about when he will be able to move into a permanent dwelling; a junior executive might be in […]

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Nov 20, 2005
How much wealth are you hoarding?

Hoarders seem to attract universal opprobrium. We are all scornful of what we imagine the hoarder to be: a scheming shopkeeper who amasses essential foodstuffs while people are starving. But is that really what hoarding is? How much wealth are you, specifically, sitting on that could be serving the world around you? The BBC has […]

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Nov 13, 2005
Personal humility is a key ingredient for greatness

Once upon a time there was a teacher of business at a famous university far, far away. This teacher was troubled by the question: what makes a company truly great? Why do some stay mired in mediocrity for decades, yet others are able to outperform the market for many, many years? Why do some companies […]

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Oct 23, 2005
Why honesty pays in business

To succeed in business, you have to be a bit crooked. Or, at least, you have to be willing to cut a few “corners”, make a few “friends”, enter into some “arrangements”. That is the received wisdom about business in Kenya. It is wrong. Business does not have to be shady in order to be […]

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Oct 16, 2005
Is honest business still possible in Kenya?

There is a widely accepted model of business prevalent in Kenya today. It involves some or all the following practices: evading the payment of duties and taxes wherever possible; obtaining raw materials and equipment from the cheapest sources, “no questions asked”; falsifying costs in order to justify absurdly high prices; and colluding with public officials, […]

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Jun 05, 2005
A life free from branding

Have you heard about Mr. and Mrs. Arrowsmith of Hereford in the United Kingdom? They have been married for 80 years. Yes, eighty. Percy Arrowsmith, 105, and Florence Arrowsmith, 100, married on 1st June 1925 at their local church in western England. The Guinness Book of Records has reportedly confirmed that the couple holds the […]

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May 22, 2005
Making sense of a crazy world

Do you ever wake up in the morning and think you’ve arrived in a world gone completely mad? A place where the ridiculous is very real, and the idiotic is the norm? What is a “sane” person to make of some of the developments taking place in our modern world? China recently held the first […]

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Mar 20, 2005
Why talk is not cheap in Kenya

Are we a very poor country or a very rich one? I only ask because I find it very confusing most of the time. Read the statistics books and you will be left in no doubt: a country with one of the lowest per capita incomes in the world cannot be described as anything other […]

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Feb 06, 2005
Transformation comes from individuals

We are all getting very excited again. Kanu’s elections, political realignments in Narc, shifting alliances, third forces…Kenya is abuzz again, just like in 2002. The air is filled with new possibilities. Can Uhuru Kenyatta now revamp and revitalise Kanu again? Can there be an emphatic change of guard, and will the youngsters finally make their […]

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Dec 19, 2004
Achievement lies in work, not reward

What is achievement? When should we recognise people’s accomplishments? As a society, what do we appreciate in the work of our people? The notion of achievement in Kenya has taken on some rather strange shapes and colours. We clearly value the acquisition of great wealth, position and status above all other things. The need to […]

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Dec 12, 2004
A letter to Kenya’s youth

Dear Young Kenyans, It’s good to be young, isn’t it? The skin is vital and the eyes bright, and raw energy courses through your veins for 24 hours a day. Hope lights the road of life ahead, like a spectacular flare in the darkness. You can be anything, do anything! What is it you actually […]

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Nov 28, 2004
A focused mind brings success

We’re all very busy, aren’t we? At least those of us with jobs and businesses are. This is the paradox of modern Kenya: a large number of citizens sit idle, unemployed or under-utilised; simultaneously, a small number of workers are buzzing around like deranged bumble bees, seemingly carrying the weight of the entire economy on […]

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Oct 24, 2004
Strong values underpin economic success

What does the word “globalisation” mean to you? In the minds of most people these days, a host of negative connotations emerge spontaneously. We think about “exploitation” – that we are being stripped naked by the rich countries and their storm troopers, the multinational corporations; about “volatility” – that we are being sucked into the […]

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Aug 15, 2004
Why we are all slaves of delusion

Imagine this: some prisoners sit in a cave, chained by the neck, hands and legs. They have been this way since birth and so have no conception of any other way of life. Shadows keep appearing on the wall in front of them. The shadows are caused by jailors who stand behind the prisoners, unseen. […]

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Aug 08, 2004
Only growth will pull us out of poverty

We must grow! There is only one solution to entrenched poverty such as ours, and that is economic growth. It has been proved again and again: growth has to be the principal strategy for raising the incomes, consumption and living standards of the poor. Consider this: a recent study by Xavier Sala-i-Martin, a Columbia University […]

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Jul 25, 2004
Self-help is the only help we need

It is now widely acknowledged that waiting for the government to do anything for you is an epic waste of time. If you are a rural Kenyan waiting for services to reach you, you may well be required to wait until Kingdom Come. The government, you see, has many more pressing things to preoccupy itself […]

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Jun 20, 2004
If we fail to become authentic, we fail at everything

Here’s a story often told in management circles when discussing culture and change. It concerns an experiment involving some chimpanzees in a cage, a bunch of bananas and a hosepipe: Five chimpanzees were put in a cage. In the middle of the cage was a step-ladder with a bunch of bananas placed on top of […]

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May 02, 2004
Why we all have to learn to set high standards

Reading Kenyan newspapers these days tends to be distressing pastime. Consider the following news items that appeared over the past few weeks: Forty-one people were injured, two seriously, when a train rammed into a speeding bus in Athi River town. How did this happen? Because the bus driver approaching the railway crossing, in a mindless […]

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Apr 18, 2004
The proper role of government in our development

Successive governments since independence have, in varying degrees, been devoid of vision, devoid of ethics and devoid of competence. In other words, as they took charge of the bus called Kenya, they drove us round in circles, failed to maintain the vehicle until it collapsed, and ran away with all the passengers’ money. Given this, […]

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Feb 08, 2004
We must emphasise skills and knowledge above all else

Last week I wrote about the remarkable progress India is making in transforming its economy. India is attracting the attention of economic commentators around the world; most agree that the country has come out of an economic ‘Ice Age’ and is going into a dramatic ‘takeoff’ stage. What can we in Kenya learn from this […]

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Feb 01, 2004
India became an economic powerhouse before our eyes

This is my 50th article since I started writing this column nearly a year ago. To mark the milestone, let me take you on a trip beyond our borders. When I was a schoolboy in Nairobi in the early 1980s, we would often compare our economy with that of India. Kenya was growing at a […]

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