"CEOs can't wait to read Sunny Bindra's articles every week."

Dec 25, 2016
To succeed next year, look away from yourself

The human being is fixated on itself. Since we perceive life only through our own consciousness, we place ourselves at the centre of our existence. And we spend our lives fretting about our own selves: what we have and don’t have; what we need and want; what we feel entitled to; what we should and […]

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Dec 04, 2016
You can’t force employees to be happy

An employee of Trader Joe’s recently filed an unfair labour practices charge against the company in the US. Thomas Nagle was reportedly fired by Trader Joe’s in September; his offences apparently included an “overly negative attitude” and not smiling warmly enough. In his performance reviews Nagle had been criticized for not greeting a manager with […]

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Nov 27, 2016
What lies behind consistently good customer service?

I love visiting Cape Town. During a recent business trip, I paid more attention to exactly what I like about that city. Certainly, it has a beautiful setting, where a raucous ocean meets the majestic Table Mountain. Certainly, it is a culinary capital and has great food choices. Certainly, it is one of the best-run […]

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Nov 13, 2016
Here comes insurance disruption

I was asked to speak at a conference for insurers recently, and I decide to rattle their cage. Their old business model, I told them, is already over. It’s just that they may not know it yet, because the many changes that will upend their business are invisible right now. To understand why insurance must […]

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Sep 11, 2016
Mark Zuckerberg passed through. So what?

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, was in Nairobi the other day. I thought we would note that and get on with our lives, but quite a sensation was created. I am really reluctant to add to the commotion, but I feel a couple of observations are necessary. Facebook is undoubtedly one of the most important […]

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Jul 10, 2016
Is your bank ready for the ‘new normal’?

A bank is a very special institution. When you become a custodian of other people’s money, you become bound by very particular regulatory rules to ensure you do not misuse the privilege. When you lend that money out to others, society must ensure you do not use that power to bring those others to ruin. […]

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Mar 27, 2016
Lessons in longevity from a box of chocolates

(Photo credit: Abdulla Al Muhairi / Flickr) When I was a boy, my mother always kept her sewing materials in a particular tin container. That colourful round container was from Quality Street, the producers of a famous chocolate/toffee assortment. I’m pretty sure many of you are nodding your heads at that memory – our mothers […]

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Mar 06, 2016
Why do people start family businesses?

Why does anyone start a family business? As a long-standing business advisor, there are days when I feel compelled to ask that question. This is one of those days. I ask because I feel sickened by the myriad court battles, protracted inheritance disputes and ugly sibling rivalries that so often characterise family businesses here in […]

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Feb 28, 2016
TV wars: who wins, and why?

Last week I took you on a historical tour of the television industry. The tour was deliberately conducted from the perspective of the consumer, not the producer. We saw how the consumer’s TV experience has changed dramatically: from a poor one-channel, one-box experience of limited programming; to multi-channel, multi-format, multi-gadget experiences involving a global library […]

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Feb 21, 2016
The changing experience of the television consumer

What was the early experience of television like? For those who can remember, we all sat in front of one small box, and received limited programming. In most countries television started with a single channel or broadcaster, usually run by the state. The programmes ran for fixed hours, and were chosen for us. They were […]

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Dec 20, 2015
Snip. We just disconnected you.

I was disconnected by three companies I deal with recently. All in the space of one week. All three are businesses I have been a loyal customer of for years (decades, in one case). All three know me well. I have an excellent payments history. There was no real reason to disconnect me. But they […]

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Oct 04, 2015
CEO: how many “small” people does your company bully?

Kenyan CEOs are always busy giving away cheques to worthy causes, speaking noble words at gatherings of luminaries, and championing the agenda of good corporate citizenship. Here’s a question for them, though: why is your company so virtuous for the cameras, and often an outright bully when it comes to the “small” people it deals […]

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Sep 20, 2015
A tale of two businesses

Someone I’m close to recounted two very different customer experiences to me recently. The first concerns a well-known shop in a well-known mall in Nairobi. This shop is operated by its owners, and customer care does not appear to run in the bloodline. I myself have only been there once, and once was enough. Sub-standard, […]

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Sep 13, 2015
How to tell if a company is heading for trouble

Last week on this page we discussed the “dead-horse strategy.” There is only one sensible strategy to follow if your horse is dead: dismount. Many of us, nonetheless, don’t do sensible strategies: we try to fund, motivate, whip or imagine the dead horse back to life. The column raised many a laugh, but also a […]

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Aug 30, 2015
Leadership lessons from what the waitress told me

I was sitting in a restaurant looking at a sushi menu recently. There were many delectable-sounding options on offer, and I wondered what to choose. I decided to ask a waitress for advice. Here’s what she said. “Please try the chef’s signature sushi roll. He thought long and hard about it and experimented with various […]

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Aug 16, 2015
There may be much more corporate distress to come

For years now, I have been warning of many a corporate collapse to come, on this page and elsewhere. We have been seeing unprecedented speed of change in technology; the far-reaching impact of demographics; and gradual handover of power from producers to consumers. Globally, many a dominant company has been laid low. Japan’s giant Sony […]

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Jul 05, 2015
Where do you find good people?

I am often asked: “Where do I find good people for my organization?” Good employees are scarce, and employers seem to struggle to find them. They imagine there is a secret to this process, and they want to uncover it. You can’t blame them, for an organization is a collective endeavour: without excellent team members, […]

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Jun 28, 2015
You want to charge a high price? Justify it

Walmart, with a strategy predicated on low prices, is the company with the highest revenue in the world. But Apple, with a strategy predicated on high prices, is the world’s most valuable company. Volkswagen fights for volume leadership in vehicles with Toyota globally. But recently, an interesting thing happened: Porsche, a part of the VW […]

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Jun 21, 2015
“Where are you calling from?”

I called a hotel to book a table for lunch last week. The conversation went something like this: Me: “I’d like to book a table for lunch, please.” Hotel: “Where are you calling from?” Me: “My house.” Now then. Why should “where I’m calling from” be a matter of concern to the hotel? I think […]

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May 31, 2015
Are you handling customers, or mishandling them?

Why do so many of our companies not know how to handle customers? Why do most of us fail in this elementary test of business? Imagine a customer lodges a complaint about your business somewhere: comes in person, calls, emails, tweets, messages, posts an update on Facebook – whatever. Here are the typical responses. First: […]

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May 24, 2015
Innovation is all about connections

The year was 1970. A man was with his family at a busy airport, lugging two very heavy suitcases. An airport employee walked past, pushing a heavy piece of machinery fairly easily on a large wheeled trolley. An “aha” moment occured. The man, Bernard D. Sadow, looked at the trolley, looked at his suitcases, and […]

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Mar 29, 2015
No, don’t cut the serviettes in half

You’ve probably been in those joints. The ones where the serviette is surprisingly small and thin. And you’re only given one. How does that happen? A member of staff sits down with a whole packet of normal-sized serviettes, and proceeds to cut each one in half. That’s how. After that, the same person will probably […]

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Mar 22, 2015
So, how’s the smartphone revolution treating you?

What does losing weight have to do with smartphones? Five years ago I wrote on this page that the future of your business lay in the palm of the hand. Not in the lines of fate supposedly embossed there; but in the device that I expected to be ever-present in most palms by today: the […]

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Feb 15, 2015
Moving your business in new directions? Do it properly

Nairobi is a madhouse. Getting around is a real pain these days. A simple trip can take a couple of hours out of your day. And if you look at the willingness and competence of the people in charge to solve the awful traffic problem, you have to conclude that it will be jam today, […]

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Jan 04, 2015
Everything you enjoy today was created by a trailblazer

Most of us tread on well-worn paths. We live in places where we are connected to electricity and running water. We acquire received wisdom from orthodox institutions. We take up familiar occupations, and follow traditional career paths. We start businesses in conventional industries with established competitors and known rules. We take the road most taken. […]

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Nov 23, 2014
Don’t just hand your money over to bad businesses

I often state something like this on Twitter: “Don’t give your money to businesses that despise you.” I will keep repeating a version of this for as long as I can. Interestingly, every time I do this, several people will reply with: “So what should I do with Kenya Power?” In other words, how is […]

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Oct 26, 2014
Employ human beings, not human resources

Here’s a thing. It was reported recently that an elderly lady fell down on an escalator at Leeds Railway Station in the UK. Staff of Northern Rail who saw her fall failed to come to her aid. Why? Because they had not been trained in “people handling.” Northern Rail later confirmed that the staff had […]

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Oct 19, 2014
Poor customer experience? Here comes disruption

You must have heard of Uber. The mobile-app-driven taxi service has taken the world by storm. In just a short time it covers 45 countries (200 cities), and has even entered Africa (Lagos and Cape Town). Why this phenomenal expansion? Here’s how it works: You go to the app in your phone. It picks up […]

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