Articles Tagged Sunday Nation

Madness
May 22, 2016
Protect your ‘madness’ – it may be your distinction

“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.” So said Robin Williams, comic genius. I read that recently and found myself nodding, then thinking deeply about it over the days that followed. It is true. You must protect your madness. Robin Williams led a troubled life and committed suicide in 2014. […]

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maxresdefault
May 15, 2016
What this club’s success means for everyone else

Photo credit: YouTube If you’d had the nerve last year to place KShs 200,000 on Leicester City Football Club winning the English Premier League (EPL) last year, you’d be sitting on one billion shillings right now. That’s right, the odds being given by the sage bookmakers were 5,000 to one. Winning the EPL was regarded […]

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Jekyll and Hyde
May 08, 2016
If you want to fight evil, start with yourself

(Photo credit: suchosch / Flickr) Microsoft recently encountered an unexpected problem online. It introduced Tay, an artificially intelligent chat ‘bot’ to the world. It was conducting an experiment to see if Tay would learn from its conversations with people online and get progressively smarter. It was a train smash. Within 24 hours, Tay had turned […]

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Cruel Killer
May 01, 2016
Arresting the evil that lurks within us

I heard of a disturbing incident recently. Some young schoolchildren came across a cute little stray kitten in their compound. Far from being enticed by its innocence, they decided to pick it up and throw it against a wall. Repeatedly. Picture the scene: the tiny, helpless animal tries desperately to escape; the children grab it […]

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Small Deal
Apr 24, 2016
The things money can’t buy

We are obsessed with, fixated on and deranged by money in this country. From the top dogs to the little mutts – all seem to wake up with just one overwhelming thought in mind: “how do I lay my hands on more money?” Money, we think, is the escape from poverty and misery and the […]

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Corporate awards
Apr 17, 2016
What do corporate awards really signify?

I wrote this in 2009: “I am about to lose quite a few friends with my next sentence, but here goes anyway. I don’t believe in corporate awards; I think they are shallow, fickle and pointless, and we should not pay too much attention to them.” I once worked for a large professional services firm […]

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Joy
Apr 10, 2016
Life lessons from a happy porter

(Photo credit: Pixabay) The temperature was more than 40 degrees celsius. Dubai in summer is no joke, and when we arrived at the airport and stepped out of the air-conditioned car, it was like stepping into a furnace. Nonetheless a porter came running up in the blinding heat to take our bags and load them […]

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Fine cuisine
Apr 03, 2016
The insanity of high standards

Alan Bobbe founded a restaurant in Nairobi that, in its heyday, became world-famous. His eponymous Bistro had the tagline “a corner of France in the heart of Africa”, and it offered outstanding French cuisine. In the late 1990s, the Bistro was located at its original site on Koinange street. As my office was nearby in […]

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Quality Street chocolates
Mar 27, 2016
Lessons in longevity from a box of chocolates

(Photo credit: Abdulla Al Muhairi / Flickr) When I was a boy, my mother always kept her sewing materials in a particular tin container. That colourful round container was from Quality Street, the producers of a famous chocolate/toffee assortment. I’m pretty sure many of you are nodding your heads at that memory – our mothers […]

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transformation, stress
Mar 20, 2016
True transformation is slow, and it’s hard

The word ‘transformation’ mesmerises us these days. So many of us seek a change that is as dramatic as it is quick. Individuals who feel trapped in a prison of low achievement imagine there is some formula out there for a personal makeover. They read the autobiographies of the rich and famous in order to […]

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calm sea sunset
Mar 13, 2016
Could we all calm down and focus on our own lives?

This country just revels in drama. Every day it’s the same. A dramatic new bunch of stories to consume. Corruption accusations and counter-accusations. Televised arrests and sackings. Campaign insults and counter-insults. Hysterical family inheritance fights. Grim warnings of trouble to come. Pleas of innocence and claims of witch-hunts. Courtroom battles. Seven-day ultimatums. Who needs pulp […]

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Family business
Mar 06, 2016
Why do people start family businesses?

Why does anyone start a family business? As a long-standing business advisor, there are days when I feel compelled to ask that question. This is one of those days. I ask because I feel sickened by the myriad court battles, protracted inheritance disputes and ugly sibling rivalries that so often characterise family businesses here in […]

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TV
Feb 28, 2016
TV wars: who wins, and why?

Last week I took you on a historical tour of the television industry. The tour was deliberately conducted from the perspective of the consumer, not the producer. We saw how the consumer’s TV experience has changed dramatically: from a poor one-channel, one-box experience of limited programming; to multi-channel, multi-format, multi-gadget experiences involving a global library […]

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TV remotes
Feb 21, 2016
The changing experience of the television consumer

What was the early experience of television like? For those who can remember, we all sat in front of one small box, and received limited programming. In most countries television started with a single channel or broadcaster, usually run by the state. The programmes ran for fixed hours, and were chosen for us. They were […]

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Uber
Feb 14, 2016
Cartels must go, not Uber

I looked out of the window, and there they were. A bunch of noisemakers riding around in a taxi waving poorly written placards and shouting “Uber must go!” Uber protests hit Nairobi last week. It was inevitable. Uber has disrupted the traditional taxi industry in 400 cities across the globe now, and the traditionalists often […]

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Superboss
Feb 07, 2016
We don’t need more ‘Superbosses’

I have spent a good chunk of my life working with well-known bosses. I noticed quite a while ago that, unlike me, an awful lot of them seem to get up very early in the morning. I often dread asking for a meeting and being told to meet for breakfast at 6.15 am… The Economist […]

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shutterstock_106984478
Jan 31, 2016
Are you a ‘dead sea?’

(Sunday Nation, 31 January 2016) One thing that’s great about social media is that it reconnects you with old friends. Andrew Blacknell and I have a shared history. We went into our first job together, straight out of university. We were fresh-faced junior management consultants in one of the big consulting practices of the time, […]

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Nairobi traffic
Jan 24, 2016
Where is everyone in Nairobi rushing to?

It’s Nairobi. There is, of course, a traffic jam. Many, many people are stuck in their vehicles. What is interesting is how agitated everyone gets. No one is calm. No one is reflective. No one meditates. No one takes the opportunity to catch up with the news headlines on the radio; to chill out to […]

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standout, special, winner
Jan 17, 2016
Our obsession with the ‘secrets’ of examination success

Every year, it’s the same. Every year Kenya’s public examination results are announced. Every year, the whole nation goes into a frenzy. Every year, we are told about “winners and losers.” Every year, there will be a newspaper article where the most successful students are asked to reveal the “secrets” of their success. And every […]

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IMG_6152
Jan 10, 2016
How to read 50 books every year

I have a target I set myself every year: to read fifty books. For those of you quick on the mathematical uptake, that’s approximately a book a week. It seems like a reasonable aim to me, and I find I usually get close to it every year. As 2015 closed, I hit exactly fifty books. […]

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Earth from Moon
Jan 03, 2016
In 2016, please start to play BIG

As 2016 opens and you trudge back to normal life, I fear you are about to do something very predictable. You are about to play SMALL. You will greet a few people and ask them the same banal questions about their holidays. You will settle down at your desk and use your employer’s bandwidth to […]

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money mad
Dec 27, 2015
What is your calling?

As the year ends and most of us spend some time away from work, we should cast an eye back. What is the actual work we did in 2015? Was it the work we should have been doing – or something else altogether? By the work you should be doing, I am referring to your […]

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Snip
Dec 20, 2015
Snip. We just disconnected you.

I was disconnected by three companies I deal with recently. All in the space of one week. All three are businesses I have been a loyal customer of for years (decades, in one case). All three know me well. I have an excellent payments history. There was no real reason to disconnect me. But they […]

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Fraud
Dec 13, 2015
There’s a fraud going on in your organization right now

“Somewhere in your organization a fraud is taking place, right now.” The venerable accounting teacher, James Boyd McFie, would say those words at the beginning of every lecture he delivered on a programme for directors that I used to lead. The sentence created a suitable chill in the audience. It is true. No matter which […]

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Prayer
Dec 06, 2015
Let us pray, said Pope Francis

During his epochal visit to Kenya last week, Pope Francis was repeatedly heard exhorting: don’t forget to pray. Whether we are grappling with tribalism, poverty, materialism or corruption, he told us, one of the answers lies in prayer. I agree. But only if we try to understand the meaning of the word ‘prayer’ a little […]

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Click ESC
Nov 29, 2015
Click. There goes your customer

I’m always curious about the world, and so I have always been a news junkie. When I was growing up in Kenya, the only source of news was the daily newspaper. I would wait outside my father’s door for it every morning. How else would I know what was happening in the world? Later, we […]

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shutterstock_164617403
Nov 22, 2015
Waiting for Pope Francis, champion of the poor

“Lombardi had served as the spokesman for (pope) Benedict, formerly known as Joseph Ratzinger, a man of Germanic precision. After meeting with a world leader, the former pope would emerge and rattle off an incisive summation, Lombardi tells me, with palpable wistfulness: “It was incredible. Benedict was so clear. He would say: ‘We have spoken […]

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vehiclesstartdriving
Nov 15, 2015
When vehicles start driving themselves – what happens next?

Last week I wrote about the phenomenon of autonomous vehicles that is on the horizon. Some futurists think that this technology will rival the smartphone in its potential to disrupt our world. This week, let’s trace out where the effects may fall. As indicated last week, car ownership will change dramatically. Consumer purchasing of cars […]

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