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

Jan 01, 2023
The best advice helps its recipients to think for themselves

Sometimes knowledge arrives like a smack in the face. After understanding what you have just absorbed, nothing is quite the same again. This happened to me way back when I learned that no two human brains are alike; that they are in fact as unique as fingerprints. Each brain begins in a certain way, affected […]

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Dec 25, 2022
Let us learn to be good guests on this planet

How would you regard a guest in your home who trashed the place carelessly, tried to take it over, or generally made life very difficult for the original inhabitants? Human beings are guests, and planet Earth is our host. None of us is a long-term tenant; we are all on short-stay contracts. Barely any of […]

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Dec 04, 2022
Pour some praise, not just cold water

You are a young child, nervously taking your report card to your parents. You have done quite well, a few ‘A’ grades; some ‘B’s; one ‘C’. Your father looks at the report. He scans down with his finger, stopping at the single ‘C.’ He frowns and puts the piece of paper down. He admonishes you […]

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Nov 13, 2022
What’s your net human worth?

Kenyans recently became fixated on the idea of net worth. Those nominated to join the new cabinet had to undergo something called vetting, and it seemed like the most interesting part of that process was the nominees’ declaration of their net worth. The cabinet in toto declared an eye-popping sum in excess of Sh. 15 […]

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Oct 23, 2022
The most valuable currencies of our lives

The financial world is fixated on foreign currencies right now. The current turmoil in international markets has led to a dollar appreciation against most leading currencies, leaving many wringing their hands in worry about all-time lows, as the euro, the pound, the yen and many others continue their steep plunge. A little history lesson for […]

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Oct 16, 2022
The comfort revolution has already happened

Soon after landing my first job located in London’s financial district, I found myself being indoctrinated in the dress codes of the day. Shoes, in particular, were a bugbear of the ruling classes. A gentleman, it seemed, had to be shod by a traditional British shoemaker, one that crafted traditionally handmade leather shoes. Brands like […]

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Oct 09, 2022
It’s the feelings, stupid

A lifetime of keen observation and participation has left me somewhat blasé about politicians and democracy, and so I am often dispassionate at election time. This (occasional) ability to be nonpartisan allows me to become a relatively neutral observer of the tumult and shenanigans of the polling season. When one is not unduly invested in […]

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Oct 02, 2022
Our future success comes from our past missteps

A memory flitted across my mind—something that happened a long time ago. I found myself cringing with embarrassment. Why was I like that? Why did I think behaving like that was acceptable? Why could I not have had the wisdom then to do things differently? If only my older self could take my younger self […]

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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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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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Jun 19, 2022
Why the extreme election drama, Kenya?

I have witnessed more Kenyan general elections than I care to remember. Every time I think I am numb to the experience, I am jolted again. In most countries, elections are a necessary, episodic event to facilitate leadership transitions. They are quiet, well-run, uninteresting affairs. Even if governments change dramatically, the life of the citizenry […]

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Jun 05, 2022
My 1000th column: the ride so far

Today marks my 1000th column on this page. That’s quite a ride.  I still recall my first few columns in early 2003. I had finally left paid employment, and was ready to let my opinions rip, without fear or favour. I was uncertain of my focus, though, and tentative in my approach. With encouragement from […]

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May 29, 2022
How to reclaim this lost power in our lives

The renowned American social reformer Frederick Douglass was once travelling on a train, and was asked to move to the baggage car because of his race. A white supporter was mortified by this. He said: “I am sorry, Mr Douglass, that you have been degraded in this manner.” The response by the great abolitionist is […]

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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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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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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 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 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 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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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 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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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 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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