Articles Tagged Sunday Nation

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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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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