Articles Tagged Success

Aug 10, 2018
Lessons in customer experience from a trillion-dollar company

I often look at how badly so many companies do this thing called “customer experience” and I wonder. Do you guys understand the power, the unique value of having customers who take joy in the experiences you give them – instead of feeling frustration and anger? If you did understand, why would you regard your […]

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Aug 05, 2018
Who grows the beans, who eats the chocolate?

Chocolate is one of the world’s most beloved sweet treats. It is consumed pretty much everywhere. You are probably a chocolate lover. So where does your favourite brand of chocolate come from? A recent white paper from data provider Gro Intelligence gathered the facts: Europe dominates the production, consumption and exportation of chocolate – and […]

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Jul 22, 2018
Another World Cup, a familiar set of lessons

It’s time again to dissect what just happened at the FIFA World Cup, and see what we can learn for our own lives. Regular readers of this column will know that this is something I do every four years. In 2010 I wrote that to win in football (or any collective, team-based endeavour), four ingredients […]

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Jul 15, 2018
My 800th Sunday column: the importance of writing well

This column records my 800th appearance on this page. It’s been a great ride, for more than 15 years now. I thought I should commemorate the milestone by focusing on something that seems to be losing its importance in the modern world: good writing. By this I mean good writing coming from you. We all […]

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Jul 08, 2018
Are you playing corporate snakes and ladders?

Do you remember Snakes and Ladders? Back in the day when board games were pretty much the only indoor games we had, this one was a favourite. You tried to progress up a board by throwing dice; in your path lay ladders (that helped you jump up several levels); and some nasty snakes (that brought […]

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Jul 01, 2018
Bricks or clicks, those who play for distinction win

Retail seems to be a tough business to be in right now, anywhere in the world. Consumers seem to prefer the convenience of online browsing and buying. They get things delivered to them rather than venture out into inclement weather and frustrating traffic; they curl up on couches rather than brave public transport. As online […]

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Jun 24, 2018
The WHY and HOW of reading books

Half the year is gone. How goes the book-reading? I’ll soon be opening book number 35, so I’m well ahead of schedule. How are you doing? I hope you’re still up for the #50BooksIn2018 challenge. A quick recap: why a numerical target? Because humans respond to quantified challenges. Why 50 books? That’s the stretch target […]

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Jun 17, 2018
AI is right here, right now

I recently received an email from the folks over at Medium, an online publishing platform I subscribe to. Here’s what it said: “Hello! It looks like you’re into artificial intelligence, so we rounded up a few of our favorites for you this week. Because you’re a member and an avid reader, we want to make […]

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Jun 10, 2018
Have the greatest respect for other people’s time – and your own

Dov Frohman was a legendary CEO of Intel Israel. When he was a young manager, he sent global chief executive Andy Grove a five-page proposal for shifting the Jerusalem production line from memories to microprocessors. The proposal came back, unread, with just a stamp on it that said: “Please respect my time.” This is recounted […]

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Jun 03, 2018
Two footballers, a winner and a loser

(Photo via fourfourtwo.com) The UEFA Champions League final took place last weekend. The team expected to win, Real Madrid (a record holder in this competition) won 3-1. The challenger to the throne, Liverpool FC, was vanquished with some ease. No news there, so why are we discussing it this Sunday? I want to zoom in […]

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May 13, 2018
Hail the monomaniacs!

Photo credit: EPA Pep Guardiola lifted the English Premier League trophy last Sunday on behalf of the club he manages, Manchester City. I think we should all applaud, regardless of team affiliation. For me, the most interesting part of Pep’s season came during a game in November. He began berating a player who just been […]

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May 06, 2018
Are you holding on to obsolete knowledge?

London has a unique way of licensing its official ‘black cab’ taxi drivers. They have to pass the ‘Knowledge’ – a test that requires you to memorize every street and landmark in central London, so that you can navigate between any two points in the city entirely from memory. This might require several years of […]

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Apr 29, 2018
How to understand introverts (part three: in the workplace)

Let’s conclude this short series on introversion and extroversion with how it all plays out in the workplace. If you’ve been following the series (this is the third part; part one is here, and part two here ), you’ve understood the essentials about introversion vs extroversion. Here’s a beautifully concise summary, from Concordia University’s Dr […]

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Mar 18, 2018
Are you succeeding, or just looking like you’re succeeding?

When Jeffrey Immelt, long-time boss of giant conglomerate GE, held his annual address to investors last May his corporation’s stock was trading at close to $30. He painted a rosy picture of his long tenure, and retired as CEO soon afterwards. Today the stock price is around $15. His successor decided to bare all and […]

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Feb 25, 2018
Kindness, the underrated virtue

Why are some people so important in our lives? Who is it we remember with fondness long after they are gone? What counts when we measure a life? When my grandfather passed away, I was living overseas. I returned to Nairobi for the funeral, and when the body was brought home for final prayers, a […]

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Feb 18, 2018
Are you teaching your kids to cheat?

In the game of cricket, there is an honour system. A batsman can be officially ‘out’ (sent back to the pavilion) in a variety of ways; but he can also choose to ‘walk’ if he feels he was out but no one noticed. A parent recently recounted an experience in this regard. Her young son […]

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Feb 11, 2018
Here are some of the invisible mentors who have shaped my life

Last week I told you about invisible mentors – those inspirational figures who are present in our lives and prominent in our successes without ever mentoring us formally or practically. Sometimes we meet these people; sometimes they never know we even exist. And yet they leave their indelible imprint. Think about it: invisible mentors are […]

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Feb 04, 2018
Who is your ‘invisible’ mentor?

Mentorship is all the rage. As young people struggle to come up in the world, they feel they need someone of accomplishment to take them under their wing, guide them, open doors for them. Success, they feel, is much easier to achieve when someone successful shows them how. We grow up being guided by parents, […]

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Jan 07, 2018
How many books will you read in 2018?

How will you measure your achievement in the year ahead? Will it be in terms of money earned? Promotions gained? Holidays enjoyed? Friendships made? Learnings achieved? Kindnesses imparted? I have a simple measure for you to aim for in 2018: books read. Believe me or not: for many people that simple activity – reading books […]

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Dec 31, 2017
The lifelong lesson of sunk cost

It’s the last day of the year – always a good time to reflect on the months that went before. We all do this: we look back, we reminisce, we try to learn from the past. Except, most of us just don’t. We let the past enslave us, not teach us lessons for the future. […]

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Dec 10, 2017
Which pain are you willing to embrace?

An alum of my leadership programme recommended an unusual book to me earlier in the year. Its title was a deterrent: it is called The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A ****. As this is a family newspaper, I won’t spell out the bleeped letters, but you get the gist. It’s a strange book. The […]

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Nov 12, 2017
Are you doing something, or just posing?

Grace Mungai, a reader of this column, sent me an impassioned email recently. She asked: why are we reducing important occupations or undertakings or positions to ‘brag words’ – things we pretend we are doing, rather than actually doing? Her practical analogy: you can read about, discuss or look at treadmills and rowing machines all […]

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Nov 05, 2017
The invisible issue haunting our elections

And so Kenyans trooped to vote again in a presidential election for the second time in three months. Or not. This election, held against the backdrop of a deeply divided country and the withdrawal of a key protagonist, ultimately yielded a turnout that was a record low. Because so many voting stations stayed empty for […]

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Oct 29, 2017
There are many kinds of silence. Try them

For many people, a silent person in their midst is a cause for concern. Why is he quiet? Why does she not say anything? What’s going on in that head? Why not just come out with it? Quiet people make them queasy. Or they dismiss the silent ones as having nothing meaningful to say. Perhaps […]

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Oct 15, 2017
Does your brand understand customer experience?

I was looking for footwear in foreign climes recently. I walked into a promising-looking store, and noticed something interesting: the shop assistant attending to me was wearing a bluetooth earpiece. What that was for soon became evident. You have all had this experience when buying shoes, I am sure: you choose some possible pairs; and […]

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Oct 08, 2017
What matters on your CV these days?

Seen this week on Twitter: I have become a mosquito-killing expert. Does that count on my CV? No it doesn’t, I replied. Not around these parts. Given the sustained attack the local human race has been under over the past couple of months from mosquitoes, we’ve pretty much all become experts in mosquito extermination. Some […]

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Sep 24, 2017
How old businesses must reinvent themselves

Every business in the world faces overwhelming uncertainty. The explosion of new technology shows no sign of abating. Indeed, we may only have seen the opening chapters of the book of technological disruption. The later chapters – containing plot twists, deaths, rebirths and the like – have not even been written yet. We only have […]

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Sep 17, 2017
The madness of believing in charlatans

A rapist was found guilty. The rapist had supporters, though. Millions of them. A mob of thousands, upon hearing the court’s verdict, went on the rampage, attacking journalists, setting vehicles on fire, attacking train stations and government buildings. Dozens of people were killed in the mêlée. The army had to be called in to quell […]

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