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

Jun 16, 2024
Why we should all be activists

Zarina Patel is no more; Kenya’s activist of renown passed away recently. She hit our headlines when she led the protests against the grabbing of Nairobi’s historic Jeevanjee Gardens in 1991. Since then she found a whole range of worthy causes to be involved in. If action was needed against a social injustice or human-rights […]

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Jun 02, 2024
Learning from two fascinating football managers

“I will miss him a lot. (He) has been a really important part of my life. He brought me to another level as a manager. I think we respect each other incredibly. He helps me so many times.” The person who said that was Pep Guardiola, manager of Manchester City Football Club, soon after winning […]

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May 19, 2024
Is it ever enough?

I never thought I would resonate with a book about money. All my life I have had a sceptical mistrust of matters mammon. I have observed the derangement it causes in many: individuals, corporations, even entire cultures. And as I have written here many a time, a manic obsession with money leads to nothing good […]

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May 12, 2024
A message from Mother Earth

I am Gaia, your Mother Earth, and today I speak to you humans with a heavy heart. I have nurtured and nourished you for millennia, and given you a great bounty teeming with everything you need to thrive. Sadly, you have abused me incessantly, and you have worsened the mistreatment over the past century. You […]

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May 05, 2024
What example are you setting for your descendants?

I watched a television programme recently which highlighted the work of a Japanese cooper—a maker of wooden barrels, casks, and tubs. A simple enough task, you might think—but you stand to be re-educated, as I was. The choice of wood, how to treat it, how to shape it into staves, how to create a curved […]

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Apr 28, 2024
Do you view people as means, or ends?

Asma Khan is quite a phenomenon. A Bengali Muslim immigrant in the UK, she is a trained lawyer with a PhD in constitutional law. Yet her accomplishment is not in the field of her training. Asma is famous simply for cooking the dishes of her childhood. She had never learned to cook when she got […]

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Apr 21, 2024
Make yourself a truth worth telling

Let me return to the subject of “fru-fru” today. Regular readers will recall that fru-fru (or frou-frou if you prefer the original French) refers to empty embellishment—frippery for the sake of ostentation, having no substance behind it. In communication and branding terms, fru-fru is feel-good look-good messaging, devoid of meaning. We all communicate, all the […]

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Mar 31, 2024
Why contentment is a state we should all hope to attain

What keeps us going? What makes us keep striving to be more, do more, have more? Is it a necessary human trait, to hanker and to grow? We could call it ambition or aspiration. But I also have other words to for you to consider: greed, obsession, and sickness. The need to have and be […]

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Feb 04, 2024
What is there to be arrogant about?

There are so many arrogant people running around. Full of themselves, cocksure, always right, always certain of their positions, usually dismissive of others. Why, though? What is there to be arrogant about, for any human being? You are arrogant because you are rich, perhaps? But how fickle is material wealth? It can be obtained through […]

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Jan 21, 2024
Pick a side. Actually, don’t

Pick a side. You have to be on one side, or the other. If you’re not for us, you’re against us. If you’re not with us, you’re with them. Pick a side, and stick to it all your life. That message is drummed into us soon after we are born, and then reinforced for all […]

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Jan 05, 2024
My best books of 2023

Here are the best books I read in 2023, both old and new. The Aosawa Murders is a chilling Japanese story about an entire family being poisoned during a birthday. There is only one survivor—a young blind daughter. A remarkably well constructed, haunting mystery. Trust by Hernan Diaz was outstanding. It’s about the world’s richest man, and […]

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Dec 31, 2023
Love your life—and your death

As the year draws to a close, let’s learn some Latin. I want to dust off three two-letter phrases that are profound meditations on having a meaningful life. They express timeless philosophies, rooted in many ancient spiritual and contemplative traditions. The first phrase is AMOR FATI. This means simply to love one’s fate. It is […]

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Dec 24, 2023
Why we must honour the ordinary humans in our lives

I was once walking through the older parts of Reading, a town in the United Kingdom. I came upon a lovely old church hidden behind the town centre, and in it a cemetery. There I found this gem: a large wooden grave marker, with an inscription in memory of Henry West. Who was Henry West? […]

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Dec 17, 2023
Why do we admire the rich?

I was once in an airport immigration queue, awaiting clearance to re-enter my homeland. The queue was long, and we were all tired after a long flight.  A very well known business tycoon came in from a different flight. He took a look at the line in front of passport control and walked right past […]

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Dec 10, 2023
Why laughter is indeed great medicine

Another Sunday Nation stalwart has left us. Gerry Loughran, the “Letter from London” columnist, is no more. I will miss Gerry’s weekly missives for two things. One was the positive human spirit with which he reported on events taking place in Blighty. He often told us about things he found disturbing or distressing, but would […]

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Nov 26, 2023
How to bring the humanity back to your business

I have been saying to businesses large and small for decades now: there’s an affection button that you must press. It’s the button that, once activated, creates the emotion: “I like these people.” That is one of the most potent feelings in business, yet it’s also the most ignored. Last week I showed how small, […]

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Oct 22, 2023
Do you have the courage to be disliked?

Years ago I was watching The Simpsons, that cartoon series with a real bite to it. Young Bart faced a moral dilemma at school, and was asking his dimwit father, Homer, for advice: “Dad, is it more important to be popular, or to do the right thing?” Homer’s quick response: “You’ve gotta be popular, son. […]

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Sep 24, 2023
Do you have substance, or are you just ‘fru-fru?’

My wife has an interesting word she uses to describe many aspects of life: “fru-fru.” Today’s column is written not with the help of my new friend, ChatGPT, but a longstanding one, Mrs B. What is fru-fru? A superficially frilly, misleading appearance. It can be used to describe people or offerings that emphasize sweet, empty […]

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Sep 17, 2023
Stop using this word, unless…

This word is everywhere. Everyone seems to be using it, without understanding it. What’s the word? Passion. Every human, it seems, is passionate about something these days. I’m passionate about protecting the planet, say some. Others are passionate about social justice. In professional circles, many will tell you they are passionate about corporate governance, or […]

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Sep 03, 2023
How engaged are the employees where you work?

Employee engagement is a very big deal. Much of what differentiates mediocre organizations from excellent ones is this very simple thing: do the people who work there care about their work? Will they give of their best, and will they go the extra mile? High employee engagement, though, is very rare! The people at Gallup […]

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Aug 27, 2023
What would you do if you faced this business dilemma?

Gary Vaynerchuk, serial entrepreneur and digital marketing evangelist, begins his new book, Twelve and a Half, with an interesting anecdote. GaryVee, as he is known on social media, runs VaynerMedia, a creative agency. He tells us he once had to attend a very difficult meeting with a leading client. This stemmed from a bad mistake […]

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Jul 23, 2023
Life is best lived in a state of wonder

Flying over our continent recently, I noticed an interesting place name on the map that was tracking my journey on the screen in front of my seat. Chad, it turns out, has a town called “Ati”—a sizeable place with its own airport. What an excellent name for a habitat of humans, I thought. “Ati/Eti” in […]

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Jul 09, 2023
Lessons in humility and humanity from a departed CEO

I learned with sadness of the unexpected passing of Sir Ivan Menezes recently. I only met Ivan, Diageo’s global chief executive, once—last year, during East African Breweries’ 100th year celebrations. I sat next to him at dinner and we shared many interesting reflections on business, leadership and strategy. I left that dinner thinking: aha, so […]

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Jun 11, 2023
What separates doers from dreamers?

A reader of this column sent me a pointed question recently, which went something like this: Many of us are full of dreams; we have high hopes for our futures, most of which end up unfulfilled. What then separates those who achieve from those who just dream? Great question! Let me have a go at […]

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May 28, 2023
To become better citizens of this planet we must overcome the delusion that we are special

I often have the privilege of being in Kenya’s many wildernesses—my work takes me there, as does my love of the natural world. Recently, in the Tsavo National Park, I came upon a fascinating scene. It was at a watering-hole, where animals of all sizes, shapes, and colours arrive throughout the day and night, after […]

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May 14, 2023
Why letting go of power and position is so hard for so many

Last week I discussed the problem of leadership transitions in family firms. Many founders are unable to make meaningful handovers to new leaders, from either within or outside the business. This problem of refusing to let go of the reins, however, is not confined to family businesses. Let’s take a wider look at the issue […]

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Apr 30, 2023
The power—and limitations—of role models

I want to tell you about a certain gentleman today. This person lived in a lower-middle-class estate back in the day, where there were many houses and children packed together, but little by way of recreational facilities for the kids. As a result, the children played mostly on the road—marking out “goals” with chalk to […]

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Feb 19, 2023
This one virtue leads to all the others

It is a rare person who can enjoy a degree of success and still stay grounded. Many will start displaying an ugly braggadocio even after making modest progress in life. So what can we say about someone who gains it all—professional acclaim, fame and renown, material comfort, strong familial relationships—but stays humble? Many years ago, […]

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