Articles Tagged Sunday Nation

Banks, cityscape
Sep 25, 2016
Banks, don’t waste a good crisis

A few weeks ago I warned on this page that Kenya’s banks faced a ‘new normal’ – an era in which they would have to respond to tighter regulation, as well as innovate furiously just to survive. Well, that was before rate-capping knee-capped the industry. The recent Banking Amendment Act has ensured that banks in […]

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Brown shoes
Sep 18, 2016
Actually, I’ll wear brown shoes whenever I feel like it

“There are no circumstances in which you should be seen here in brown shoes.” Those were the words uttered by one of the old warhorse bosses in my first-ever job. He was talking to a group of us who had started out straight from university, in a global consulting firm located in the City of […]

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Facebook eye
Sep 11, 2016
Mark Zuckerberg passed through. So what?

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, was in Nairobi the other day. I thought we would note that and get on with our lives, but quite a sensation was created. I am really reluctant to add to the commotion, but I feel a couple of observations are necessary. Facebook is undoubtedly one of the most important […]

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Blah blah
Sep 04, 2016
Why do we respond to customers like this?

Image: Tenz1225 / Flickr I was using the mobile app of a top-notch global newspaper I subscribe to, and noted a prominent new feedback button. It asked for any thoughts, insights or ideas about the user experience on the app. I clicked it and shot off a quick point: that their app (unlike their cutting-edge […]

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Flag of Kenya Fist
Aug 28, 2016
What our Marathon Man taught us

At the start, it looked like a fearsomely crowded field. There seemed to be a dozen or so highly talented fellows who could win this thing. I knew we had an outstanding man in the race, but I was afraid. There were many others there who looked equally well prepared and in prime physical condition. […]

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Wallet
Aug 21, 2016
Are we heading towards a cashless society?

Many years ago I visited a European capital after a travel hiatus, and tried to rent a car from the airport. To my surprise, none of the car-hire companies would accept my money. Cash, in their own currency. Legal tender. No deal. When I asked why, I was told it simply wasn’t worth their while […]

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luxury car
Aug 14, 2016
Your show-off purchase is not your achievement

For many people, the pinnacle of their existence occurs when they rock up at the village of their birth in a gleaming new 4WD. Or when they hold the housewarming party (which, let’s admit it, is just a house showing-off party) at their new abode. Or when they place that new iPhone on the table […]

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Woman pondering
Aug 07, 2016
How to give and receive criticism

Criticism stings. It really does. When someone criticises us, our ego reacts immediately. We feel as though we are being belittled. Our efforts seem to be going unappreciated. We feel judged. We think we are being put down, made to feel inferior. For all those reasons our mental walls come up. Much of the criticism […]

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robot and human
Jul 31, 2016
Get ready to reinvent yourself for a new economy

Technology threatens to upend our assumptions about work, employment and income. Is this a real threat to society, or just hyperbole? First, the optimistic scenario. When I was a young man in an economics class many moons ago, I was introduced to the “lump of labour fallacy.” This is the idea that there is only […]

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robot
Jul 24, 2016
Will you have a job in the (near) future?

You know that the employment landscape is undergoing fundamental upheavals, right? You appreciate that the advent of robotics and artificial intelligence is going to give automation a big push, I hope? You realise that some studies suggest nearly half of all today’s jobs could be lost to automation – yes? And that it won’t take […]

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volume-949240_1920
Jul 17, 2016
A city that’s lost its neighbourliness

It starts as a pulsating thud in the evening and gets progressively louder as the night goes on, often going into the early hours of the morning. Many, many Nairobians lie on their beds wide awake because of this noise, wondering what happened to good neighbourliness. The noise I refer to is the music being […]

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banking hall
Jul 10, 2016
Is your bank ready for the ‘new normal’?

A bank is a very special institution. When you become a custodian of other people’s money, you become bound by very particular regulatory rules to ensure you do not misuse the privilege. When you lend that money out to others, society must ensure you do not use that power to bring those others to ruin. […]

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Brexit
Jul 03, 2016
What did the United Kingdom just do?

The market reactions said it all: the pound plunged to levels last seen in the 1980s. British shares endured a bloodbath, some losing a third of their value. That tells you that no one had factored in a ‘Brexit’ – Britain voting to exit the European Union. I know I hadn’t – I never thought […]

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Friendship diversity children
Jun 26, 2016
Humanity unites us; insanity divides us

This is a story about two mothers. The two women live side by side. They are neighbours. Each has a child, of similar age. The children go to the same school. The two mothers are often at each other’s houses, since they have much in common. They discuss the school, its teachers, their children’s nutrition, […]

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Fence green grass
Jun 19, 2016
Why the grass is always greener on the other side

We are constantly peering over fences and into windows. The lives of others fascinate us. We have a lifelong obsession with knowing what they are doing; how they do it; what we need to copy from them. What are they wearing? Where do they get that stuff? How do they look so effortlessly stylish? I […]

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Beach
Jun 12, 2016
Beware of being imprisoned by your past

Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man And The Sea was probably the first proper work of literature I read in school. Its vivid descriptions of ocean life and the ultimate heartbreak of the old fisherman stayed with me for long afterwards. I am always drawn to the sea, and for the past few years I have […]

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customer experience
Jun 05, 2016
Going the extra mile in customer care pays – big

When Amazon.com launched in 1995, it was the world’s first substantial e-retailer. It was a shot in the dark. Its early demise was predicted many times. Now, it is an absolute behemoth, selling everything from apparel to consumer electronics to cloud computing services. And last year, the world’s largest physical retailer, Walmart, was quietly overtaken […]

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Jobs, occupations
May 29, 2016
Peculiarly Kenyan occupations for your children

Fear of automation and disruptive change is everywhere. The traditional occupations are all under assault. The rise of artificial intelligence and robotics is expected to lay waste to so many traditional jobs across the world. Some think a third of all current jobs in the world could be rendered obsolete. Even the hallowed professions are […]

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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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