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

Apr 16, 2023
Why do you ask for customer feedback?

You’re familiar, I’m sure, with the guest feedback survey that hotels send out to those who have stayed with them. You click a link, provide some ratings based on your experience of the hotel, and perhaps some more detailed points if you have the time or inclination. That opportunity, however, is typically provided soon after […]

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Apr 09, 2023
Nairobi’s unending rain dance: prayer without preparation

More than a decade ago, before Nairobi had governors, I wrote here that we need a governor that makes rain the blessing it is supposed to be, and not a curse. Many governors have come and gone, but the rain still beats us. I wrote then: “In this city, rain is anything but a blessing. […]

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Apr 02, 2023
Learning from street hustles

Last week I discussed the Netflix series Street Food Asia. The foodie in me loved looking at the origins and excellence of various dishes: chaat in India; tom yum in Thailand; jajan pasar in Indonesia; putu piring in Singapore. But the student of human endeavour in me was even more impressed. Street food, you see, […]

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Mar 26, 2023
What a father advised his son

Have you watched Street Food Asia on Netflix? If you’re interested in the human being at work, this series is worth a peep. It’s only ostensibly about food; more about the human hustling to eke out a living—and about what it takes to survive and thrive in very difficult environments. One episode, set in Delhi, […]

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Mar 19, 2023
Why do we still tolerate bullies in our organizations?

We all know about bullies at school. They seemed to be ever-present when we were being educated. The kids who were bigger and more aggressive than others, who then intimidated and tormented their smaller and milder-mannered schoolmates. Bullying was rampant when I was in school, and it led to some severe issues in those unfortunate […]

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Mar 12, 2023
What does your customer actually buy?

I am always very interested in long-lived companies and brands. It is not easy to live long as a business, and most do not. What special things do the venerable ones do? This week I cast my eye on a set of products that are always in our kitchen and pantry shelves, and never seem […]

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Mar 05, 2023
Should we be afraid of the new AI?

Is artificial intelligence (AI) finally coming of age? If computers start reasoning and working more like humans, what should we be excited—and worried—about? The world is currently agog trying out ChatGPT, the newest kid on the block. ChatGPT is generative AI: it isn’t intelligent as such, but it has a huge trove of data that […]

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Feb 26, 2023
Learning the difference between cost and investment

There is something my father once told me that has never left me. I was a big book-reader as a boy, and much of my meagre pocket money would go towards buying books, often from Nairobi’s two second-hand bookshops of that time. I was once worried about the spend being incurred, and wondered out loud […]

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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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Feb 12, 2023
No, essential government deliverables are not “goodies”

For as long as I can remember, some Kenyan editors have insisted on calling essential government deliverables “goodies.” They are fond of telling us that some high-ranking functionary “announced goodies” for a particular region or group of citizens. What are these “goodies”? Oh, just things like feeder roads, port facilities, schools, clinics, and the like. […]

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Feb 05, 2023
The big reveal: here are the secrets of success

A question that keeps popping up: what are the secrets of success in business? Every new generation seems to ask it—these days on social media. I am asked the question often, and I wonder: why do people think it’s about “secrets” in the first place? I guess because true business success is rare rather than […]

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Jan 29, 2023
A tap-and-go world is already here. What now?

If you have visited an advanced city in any country with high labour costs recently, you will have noticed a peculiar phenomenon, post-COVID. The digital acceleration in ordinary life is very, very real. Supermarkets in those cities have very few people deployed to receive your payment. Self-checkout counters are the norm, where you scan your […]

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Jan 22, 2023
This airline’s recent meltdown has lessons for us all

Southwest Airlines has been the business-education world’s poster-child for the longest time. It started life half a century ago as an upstart low-cost disruptor, and grew steadily to become a huge airline—and a hugely popular one. It now has more than 700 aircraft, and it is also, in an industry dogged by regular downturns and […]

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Jan 15, 2023
Reminder: why you should read more books

Another year, another set of books to look forward to! That thought is what adds buzz to my New Year, every year. Good for you, I hear you say. You do you—enjoy! But wait, you know what’s coming. I’m about to holler one of my periodic reminders telling you all to read more books. Why […]

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Jan 08, 2023
Morocco played long. So can you

Team Morocco were the sensation of the recent FIFA World Cup tournament in Qatar, were they not? They not only made it out of a brutal group, but they took the successive scalps of some of the biggest European nations: Belgium, Spain, and Portugal. They became the first team from the African continent to make […]

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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 19, 2022
My best books of 2022

I didn’t read as many books this year, just sixty or so. That’s a large number by many standards, but it’s much lower than the 100 or so books I read in each of 2020 and 2021. Those were the pandemic years, though, when both the opportunity and the need to read more became very […]

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Dec 18, 2022
What do your organisation’s core values actually say?

Let me apologize in advance: I am about to upset a bunch of people this Sunday. If you are part of a large corporation, I want to discuss your core values. You know, those lofty things on your walls, your computer screens, your office mugs. They are supposed to be your guiding lights; your noble […]

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Dec 11, 2022
Why learn-as-you-go is the only way to do complicated stuff

I have a lot of time for Michael Bungay Stanier. This author and coach in Canada is invariably honest, authentic, and sincere. So open is he that he once wrote out an entire long note on Medium outlining exactly how he self-published his best-selling book, The Coaching Habit. He provided step-by-step guidance on how to […]

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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 27, 2022
Who innovates, and why?

Last week I discussed some examples of rapid and effective innovation, highlighting the “YO!” chain of sushi restaurants. That business could have taken a fatal hit from the COVID-19 pandemic, given the high-touch nature of its business; but lo and behold, it’s still alive, still kicking, still growing. Others didn’t experience that fortunate an outcome. […]

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Nov 20, 2022
How one business overcame a major setback

I’m a great lover of sushi, and many years ago I came across my first kaitenzushi restaurant, in Hamburg of all places. This involves a conveyer belt snaking through an eatery, winding its way past diners. Chefs prepare their offerings in advance and place them in little containers on the belt. Diners look at what’s […]

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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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Nov 06, 2022
What your customer experience fails can teach you

I’ve been having a rough patch as a customer of late. Organizations whose customer-service excellence I have appreciated, and even praised, have been falling surprisingly short. Some have sent me damaged goods, then retreated from providing suitable redress. Others are unable to maintain even a rudimentary online communication system. Yet others are stuck in old-world, […]

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Oct 30, 2022
Want to join a board? You’ll need to be able to think in these three ways

Lots of people want to join boards. Who wouldn’t? To be a member of the board of directors of a reputable organization bestows great esteem, does it not? It’s an impressive line in your resumé, an eye-catching feather in your cap. Of course you want that. Wait, do you really? Being a board director is […]

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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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