Articles Tagged Sunday Nation

May 15, 2022
Why books are still booming in the digital era

This wasn’t supposed to happen. The prolonged global pandemic accelerated all things digital. We embraced electronic ways of doing things: digital payments, virtual meetings, online shopping, video streaming, instant messaging, web-based learning. Devices and software boomed as never before; many old ways of doing things took a permanent hit. Using cash, going to cinemas, travelling […]

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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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May 01, 2022
This footballing moment reminded us of our shared humanity

A rare moment of magic occurred at a football match recently. During the English Premier League game between old rivals Liverpool FC and Manchester United last week, Liverpool’s fans broke out in applause during the seventh minute of the game. Why? To condole Cristiano Ronaldo, whose shirt number is, famously, seven. The player had sadly […]

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Apr 24, 2022
They know what’s best for me. Or do they?

You’re a student sitting for your public examinations, one of many such sets you have endured in your short life. Recently, someone asked you a question about a subject you completed two years prior. You received a top grade in that subject—yet you can remember little about it and cannot answer the question. You briefly […]

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Apr 10, 2022
Never forget: war is horror

“The sad thing is that the people who orchestrate these wars feel no personal repercussions. They have never seen combat, have never lain under a bed wondering if the sound of the screaming missile overhead is the last thing they will hear. But they happily despatch their troops to do these monstrous things on their […]

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Apr 03, 2022
How to live, even though living is futile

To gaze upwards while standing on the silver sands of our coastline at night is to experience awe. Where humankind’s light pollution is low, the universe above comes into sharp focus; the dark expanse reveals its glittering jewels to our eyes. We can glimpse the incalculable distances; we catch a glimmer of how impossibly vast […]

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Mar 27, 2022
The business lessons of the pandemic

Picture yourself driving on a fog-filled road you don’t know too well. You suddenly realise you’re approaching a curve—and it’s rather a sharp one. Seasoned drivers will not slam on the brakes suddenly—that might have unpredictable consequences. Rather, they will start slowing down before they get to the sharp part of the curve. Then, when […]

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Mar 20, 2022
It’s time to leave the boss complex behind

Today I want to tell you the story of the boss who screwed up. In 2007, this boss was on a roll, having founded a really successful company. The business, however, faced a pivot. The boss was a visionary who had seen that the future would not be like the past. That meant that a […]

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Mar 13, 2022
If fascists are left unchecked, they will undo us

I never really paid much attention to fascism when I was younger. The notorious fascists of the early 20th century led the human race into a catastrophic world war before being finally vanquished. Given the consequences, I thought we were done with that part of our history. I thought we had all learned our lesson […]

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Mar 06, 2022
How to humanize your business as you digitize it

The heat is on. The pandemic years have precipitated a massive acceleration in all things digital. We know the world revved forward right under our feet. We know we are all doing things that seemed alien to many in 2019: buying much more stuff online; making our homes entertainment hubs; holding remote meetings; using online […]

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Feb 27, 2022
The forgotten teaching method: culture

Hidden in Seth Godin’s book The Practice was a profound observation about how we learn things. Allow me to paraphrase the lesson today. Seth observed that if you study kids of Indian origin in US cities, you may not find a huge liking for things like tandoori chicken or shrimp vindaloo. Yet, kids with the […]

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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 06, 2022
How hard do you make it for your customers to deal with you?

I wrote here recently about my savvy neighbourhood shop guy, the one who’s had a turbocharged pandemic. He’s gone from being just the milk ’n’ bread kiosk to a shop supplying a wide range of groceries to the hood. How did he do that? Just by making the lives of his customers easier. You call […]

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Jan 30, 2022
We spend so much time on leaders. What about followers?

We fixate on leaders and leadership. The people who are elected by us, appointed for us, who sit above us—these become the objects of our gaze. Leaders, we feel, can make or break situations, corporations, nations. The quality of leaders seems to be the single biggest success factor behind any collective human enterprise. Get the […]

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Jan 23, 2022
Thinking like a strategist about potatoes and chips

Many years ago I was sitting in a hotel abroad. I was part of an international multidisciplinary team advising that country’s government on its infrastructure strategy. We were about to have lunch. The order was made. We chatted. In a short while, though, our waiter was back with news. “We can’t offer any of the […]

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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 09, 2022
Three reflections from Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu is no more. You will by now have read plenty about this storied African’s manifold achievements. The always smiling Archbishop was a man of courage, wisdom—and much irreverent humour. Allow me to share three of his insights that have stayed with me over the years. The first is this very cheeky observation, coming […]

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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 19, 2021
How to be a better board chairperson

I am happy to see many good people I know ascending to the position of board chair in recent months and years. This special position needs many more people of wisdom and restraint. If you hope to be a chairperson someday, please keep reading. First, let’s clear up what the person chairing the board of […]

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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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Dec 05, 2021
How best to honour those who depart

Death stalks the human. We live, and then we die. We all know this, and yet we don’t. It is a deeply uncomfortable truth, this fact of our impending nullification. We see it, but we don’t wish to. Indeed we live most of our lives in denial of the full stop to come. We lose […]

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Nov 28, 2021
That person in front of you? Unreliable narrator alert…

Ever since I first discovered them, I have loved unreliable narrators in literature. Those folks who seem to be earnestly recounting a story, but whose narratives seem to be a little off, not quite adding up, so that some disquiet is created in the reader. And then gently it is revealed: this narrator is not […]

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Nov 21, 2021
The era of customer primacy is finally loading

What if you could get your weekly groceries—or a few impulse buys— all delivered to you in ten minutes? Not an hour; ten minutes. Founded six years ago and accelerated by the global pandemic, Getir is leading a posse of ultrafast delivery providers. It started operations in Turkey and is now valued at close to […]

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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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Nov 07, 2021
Not holding on to staff? Mind the hidden costs

You can leave this job anytime. There are many more where you came from. Hundreds out there would die for your job.  Have you uttered those words as an employer? Or had them uttered to you as an employee? They are commonplace, even right now in the 21st century. Many of those who employ others […]

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Oct 31, 2021
If you find yourself in a hateful mob, you’re being played

Here’s what those who believe in Covid-19 vaccinations believe about the “anti-vaxxers:” That they are gullible and swayed by manipulative messaging; and that they will regret their decision. Here in turn is what anti-vaxxers believe about vaxxers: That they are gullible and swayed by manipulative messaging; and that they will regret their decision. No diehard […]

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Oct 24, 2021
We strive and thrive in groups—and also fight in groups

Human beings congregate in groups. From early childhood we are enrolled into collectives: extended families, religions, ethnic groupings, nations, skin colours, sports teams, work organizations. Our parents, teachers, community elders, religious leaders, tribal overlords, and national rulers all have great interest in press-ganging us into groups. Even those of us who might resist this herding […]

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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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