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

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 12, 2022
1000 columns later: what I have learned

I continue the commemoration of 1,000 columns on this page, with some personal learnings. It’s a long time, a thousand weeks of anyone’s life. My son was not yet born when I began writing here; he’s now beginning his adulthood. It has been a time of many personal ups and downs—as all times are. There […]

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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 22, 2022
How companies get to celebrate their 100th birthdays

Large corporations don’t really have long lives. It is estimated that the average lifespan of a large American company is under 20 years these days. Many enjoy short-lived success, and then just fail and go bankrupt. Others get merged or acquired. Why should this be? As I wrote in my book The Bigger Deal, corporate […]

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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 17, 2022
Where does great customer care come from?

I’m writing this sitting in an organization where I’ve had a surprisingly good customer experience. That is rare enough to make me pause and reflect. Why is it that some can pull this off, but most fail quite miserably? First, here’s what was good. It started from the front entrance, when the security guard jumped […]

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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 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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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 30, 2021
My Top Books of 2021

  I read 95 books in 2021. I didn’t quite make it to the heights of 2020, but that’s OK. Still way more than my annual target of 50. Here are the best books I encountered, new and old. The usual caveat applies: which books we love is very much a personal matter. This is […]

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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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