Articles Tagged Sunday Nation

Feb 28, 2021
Would Messi qualify for your team?

If you have worked for large organizations, you will have come across the competency model. You will have discovered that humans are ranked according to a pre-set group of competencies, or qualities that you are meant to demonstrate in order to excel in your job.  What are these competencies? Things like customer focus, teamwork, goal […]

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Feb 21, 2021
Before starting your own business, ask: Why will customers choose you?

Many people on this planet dream of starting their own businesses, and some of them bring those dreams to me. My key first question is usually: “Which business are you thinking of?” I’ve lost count of the number of times the answer is this: “I want to open a restaurant or a farm, because everyone […]

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Feb 07, 2021
The way to learn to write better is to write more

One of the most frequent questions I get is this one: I want to be a successful writer; what advice/tips/help can you give me? Let’s answer that question once and for all. The best response is given by a writer writing about another writer. I sometimes think it’s impossible for Seth Godin to put out […]

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Jan 31, 2021
It’s Team Biden, not Biden…

So America has a new president, and wherever I look, I see news about the new administration’s plans and programmes. The Biden immigration plan. The Biden climate policy. The Biden antitrust approach. The Biden anti-COVID programme. The Biden economic stimulus. What’s wrong with that, you ask? The word BIDEN! For some reason we humans just […]

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Jan 24, 2021
What my grandmother knew about business success

My late grandmother, as those who knew her will confirm, was quite a character. She was feisty and bold and well ahead of her time. She told you what she thought of you, right to your face. I recall one moment as a teenager. I was sitting with her waiting for the evening news to […]

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Jan 17, 2021
Are you successful – or just lucky?

Pick a successful person you know. Ask them this question: to what do you attribute your success? The first answer you get will reveal a great deal about the character of the person before you. If your high achiever talks about hard work first, you should be a little circumspect about what you are hearing. […]

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Jan 10, 2021
Some timeless lessons in building a good business

You may have come across Shake Shack during your travels. It is a very successful restaurant chain, known for outstanding customer service. I recently listened to its founder, Danny Meyer, on a podcast with NPR’s Guy Raz. What I heard was a masterclass in entrepreneurship, so I thought I should share some key lessons. Shake […]

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Jan 03, 2021
Let’s go back to school – but let’s do it differently, please

After a blighted year, the children are going back to school in 2021. Never before have so many youngsters stayed away from school for so long. The pandemic year should be seen as a petri dish in which we conducted a long experiment about the nature of education. The results are in – and there […]

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Dec 27, 2020
The real lesson of 2020 is about your mother

My last column of 2019 was about respecting nature. Little did I know then what the natural world was about to unleash on us in 2020. But I did know this: “Each and every day, a beautiful sunrise occurs. The birds strike up their orchestra to herald another day. The light streams through the leaves; […]

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Dec 20, 2020
As this unusual year ends, let go of the search for more

I recently gathered some of the alumni of the leadership programme I founded, to reflect on this craziest of years. My question to them in this virtual congregation was this: yes, we were all caught napping by the pandemic; yes, we all achieved some remarkable business pivots; but what are the lasting lessons of this […]

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Dec 13, 2020
The man with the hammer is about to disturb you

The man with the hammer is ready to start work. He is employed on a construction site. His job is to attach metal sheets to steel girders. It is a very noisy job. A high-decibel racket is about to ensue. The site is on a quiet residential road in Nairobi. The time is 12 midnight […]

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Dec 06, 2020
Let’s record the heroes of the global pandemic

When there’s a crisis on, sometimes you just have to laugh out loud.  The best cartoon I have seen depicting the pandemic situation (by Arghxsel) showed a hungry wolf facing a herd of sheep, and looking perplexed. “You know that I am a wolf,” he asks the sheep. “Why won’t you run away?” Because “there […]

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Nov 29, 2020
Stand up to be counted during this global crisis

There’s a global pandemic on, for crying out loud. I say this because some of us seem not to understand the gravity of the situation. Some of us seem to regard this thing as a minor irritation, a temporary encumbrance, to be ignored or wished away, so that something called “business as usual” can continue. […]

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Nov 22, 2020
Why the pandemic won’t kill globalization

A Brazilian visitor uses his Uber app to hail a Toyota taxi in Nairobi.  You watch a German series on Netflix, sitting on your Kenyan sofa, using a Korean TV, while eating takeout food from a local restaurant, ordered via a delivery app. Which country benefits from these various transactions? All of them.  The coronavirus […]

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Nov 15, 2020
We are at our best when we give without receiving

Amidst the drama of the US presidential election last week, a significant development may have escaped your notice. The Fox News Channel turned on candidate Trump. Fox News and Donald Trump have been kindred spirits for a long time. Fox’s anchors and opinion leaders have supported Trump through thick and thin, backing him to the […]

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Nov 08, 2020
Is your board stuck in yesterday’s successes?

Have you heard of Nokia? Had I asked that in 2010 it would have been an impertinent question. At the time Nokia was the dominant global mobile phone company. In my seminars of those days, perhaps nine in 10 of those present would be sporting a Nokia device. Today, asking if you know Nokia is […]

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Nov 01, 2020
We are in a world where everyone needs high-speed internet

There’s a joke that says if you want to call a family gathering in your house, just walk to the main internet router, switch it off, and wait. Everyone in the house, young and old, will be there in the next few seconds… A few years back I heard a senior executive recount the following […]

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Oct 25, 2020
The two deadly viruses working with corona

The coronavirus is the worst virus most of us have encountered in our lifetimes. It has killed more than a million people worldwide; it has brought entire economies to their knees; it has changed the everyday lives of billions. Even as we thought we had a grip on it and managed it and flattened its […]

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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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Oct 04, 2020
Which way for the university degree?

It’s almost an article of faith: if you want your children to be something in this world, you have to do your level best to get them a university degree. That’s how we’ve been brought up; that’s how we’ve all been pushed by our parents and teachers; those are the standards we’ve set for ourselves […]

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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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Sep 06, 2020
How the virus masked and unmasked us

Face-masks? Who apart from a few knew about them before 2020? Now they are a daily necessity, a wardrobe item. Most of us may think we never put on a mask before this pandemic, but actually we did. I refer not to the triple-layer protection we now sport, but to the masks humans wear by […]

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Aug 30, 2020
The future of work is all about offering choices

When my son was in his first year of formal schooling, I asked him which of the subjects he was being taught he liked the best. He answered without hesitation: “Golden Time.” It turned out Golden Time was that hour of the week when the young kids were allowed to choose what to do. They […]

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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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