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

Masks
Apr 23, 2017
Your leader, the psychopath?

I have advised many, many CEOs in my time, but I’ve never envied them. They get a pile of money, certainly. But, as I saw Lucy Kellaway pointing out in the Financial Times the other day, CEOs are also often lonely and paranoid; the time they spend with their families is so little that they […]

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United Airlines
Apr 16, 2017
United breaks guitars. Also, people

If you’re even vaguely connected to the internet (or a television set), you know what happened. United Airlines took a passenger off a plane. And now the whole world is angry about it, and United’s brand is in ICU. On Monday, videos taken by Dr David Dao’s fellow passengers went viral all over the world. […]

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Robot face
Apr 09, 2017
Your life, with robots

Let’s continue our examination of robotics, begun here last week. Donald Trump wants to bring basic jobs back to America. He thinks assembly-line workers, coal-miners etc should be Americans. His grand idea seems to be that the jobs will come back by slapping tariffs on foreign products coming into the country. If only he’d ever […]

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Robot
Apr 02, 2017
It’s time to start preparing for the robots

This column periodically takes a look at the future of different industries. Over the past year or so we have peered at what lies ahead for the car and taxi industry, television, banking and insurance, amongst others. For the next two weeks, let’s consider an industry that’s going to play a considerable role in all […]

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Ball number 1
Mar 26, 2017
Your one thing is not your only thing

I wrote here two weeks ago that every business has its one thing – the thing it must deliver above all others. For restaurants, the one thing is the taste of the food; for banks, it is trust; for hotels, hospitality. You can think about what yours is in your industry: the one thing that […]

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Siren
Mar 19, 2017
We can’t let trust disappear from our lives

The other day I was caught in the usual Nairobi traffic jam, in a taxi with a driver I did not know. We heard an ambulance siren blaring behind us, and most cars in the gridlocked queue began making way by climbing onto the pavement. But not everyone did this. To my surprise, even my […]

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standout, special, winner
Mar 12, 2017
What’s the ‘one thing’ in your business?

The Michelin star is a time-honoured guide to excellence in the the restaurant business. Way back in the 1920s, the Michelin brothers recruited a team of mystery diners – or restaurant inspectors – to visit and review restaurants anonymously. In 1926, the Michelin Guide began to award stars for fine dining establishments, initially marking them […]

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Axe
Mar 05, 2017
Is your organization cutting costs? Do it properly

As more and more companies declare profit warnings and significantly worse results, cost containment is all the rage again. You will hear a lot more in 2017 about ‘reorganizations’ and ‘rightsizing’; ‘efficiency’ and ‘leanness’ will become the prevailing buzzwords in boardrooms. I always wonder: if you want to become the ‘right’ size now, which size […]

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referee's whistle
Feb 26, 2017
Who’s the most important person in the game?

Two football teams run out onto the field and take their positions. Who is the most important person on the pitch? Is it one team’s star striker going for a record number of goals? Is it the other team’s veteran midfield general? Or is it that agile new goalkeeper, widely expected to be one of […]

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success online
Feb 19, 2017
What young service providers must learn

Even though I advise people on digital disruption, I am not immune to the phenomenon myself. A writer and business advisor must keep up with changing times; I cannot count on the old ways of consuming business content staying relevant. And so over the past few years I have been on a personal journey of […]

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CIA SABOTAGE MANUAL
Feb 12, 2017
How to destroy an organization from within

There’s more than one way to defeat an enemy. As the best spies know, you don’t just mount external attacks; you also work to weaken your enemy’s organization from within. In 1944, the precursor of America’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), created something called the Simple Sabotage Field Manual. This […]

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suicide
Feb 05, 2017
Why your business will probably commit suicide one day

One of my favourite Nairobi restaurants just closed down. Given the paucity of people willing to make and serve food to a consistently excellent standard in these parts, I don’t have many favourites. In fact, I don’t need more than the fingers of one hand to count them. So losing even one of them is […]

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Teamwork
Jan 29, 2017
Is it you or is it the team?

You’re a star, you know you are, and so does everyone else. You have deep talent, and it’s all personal. At school, you clocked the top grades, or excelled in sports, or were the best artistic performer of your era. In your career, you’ve always been the big cheese. Success seems to surround you; you’re […]

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Obama leaves
Jan 22, 2017
So farewell, Barack Obama

Photo credit: The White House (adjusted) When Barack Obama entered the world’s most powerful office for his first term, I expressed my delight on these pages that such a rank outsider could make it to the very top. I had high hopes that he would do a stellar job of changing America for the better. […]

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mobile digital
Jan 15, 2017
What’s your ‘DQ’?

I’m pretty sure you’ve taken (or were forced to take) an IQ (intelligence quotient) test at some time in your life. You may even have have done some sort of EQ (emotional quotient) test. But have you ever taken a ‘DQ’ test? Try this quick quiz: 1. Can you accurately describe what Snapchat is? 2. […]

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Consequences
Jan 08, 2017
Things improve if the consequences are real and personal

A lifetime of observing people and societies has taught me one thing: people only behave if the consequences of their actions are visited upon them, personally. Why do Nairobi nightclub owners continue to bombard their neighbours in residential areas with music played at insane decibel levels? Because their own children are not studying for their […]

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Best Books 2016
Jan 05, 2017
My top 12 books of 2016

You keep asking, so here they are: the best books I read in 2016. If I were reading just 12 books in the year, these would be the dozen I’d wish I’d read. Reading, please note, is a very personal endeavour. I am reluctant to offer “Best Of” lists as recommendations, simply because the value […]

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reading books
Jan 01, 2017
How many books will you read in 2017?

A year ago I wrote here that it is possible to read 50 books in a year. Provided you love and value books, that is. I put it down as a challenge to bibliophiles, ardent or lapsed, to raise their game. Having thrown down the gauntlet, I found myself accelerating. At the year-end, I clocked […]

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exploding cake
Dec 25, 2016
To succeed next year, look away from yourself

The human being is fixated on itself. Since we perceive life only through our own consciousness, we place ourselves at the centre of our existence. And we spend our lives fretting about our own selves: what we have and don’t have; what we need and want; what we feel entitled to; what we should and […]

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Angry slum child
Dec 18, 2016
Societal failure looks like this

It’s an interesting photograph. In the middle there is a sparkling new Rolls Royce parked in a city street; clearly, the owner is doing very well. But wait, to the left there seems to be an open drain running alongside the glittering car. And to the right of the limousine a very young child is […]

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work, job
Dec 11, 2016
The pleasure of just doing your job well

The other day, and much to my surprise, I came across a public servant who seemed to take enormous pride in just doing his job well. In Kenya. If you’ve picked yourself up from the floor, let me continue. I encountered a thorny issue, and contacted the relevant government department to try and sort it […]

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Masks
Dec 04, 2016
You can’t force employees to be happy

An employee of Trader Joe’s recently filed an unfair labour practices charge against the company in the US. Thomas Nagle was reportedly fired by Trader Joe’s in September; his offences apparently included an “overly negative attitude” and not smiling warmly enough. In his performance reviews Nagle had been criticized for not greeting a manager with […]

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Cape Town
Nov 27, 2016
What lies behind consistently good customer service?

I love visiting Cape Town. During a recent business trip, I paid more attention to exactly what I like about that city. Certainly, it has a beautiful setting, where a raucous ocean meets the majestic Table Mountain. Certainly, it is a culinary capital and has great food choices. Certainly, it is one of the best-run […]

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Trump
Nov 20, 2016
What did the Trump ascendancy reveal?

Donald Trump is now the world’s most powerful man, put there willingly by the world’s most successful nation. There were people who saw this coming, but I wasn’t one of them. I did not believe that a majority of voters would install this man as their leader. Consider what has just happened. Americans have voted […]

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Insurance umbrellas
Nov 13, 2016
Here comes insurance disruption

I was asked to speak at a conference for insurers recently, and I decide to rattle their cage. Their old business model, I told them, is already over. It’s just that they may not know it yet, because the many changes that will upend their business are invisible right now. To understand why insurance must […]

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Universal basic income
Nov 06, 2016
Universal basic income – could it actually work?

Predictably, my column last week brought on a storm of responses. I wrote then that we might soon all be considering universal basic income (UBI) a possible response to a changing world. We might think it appropriate to give every person in the country an income to cover essential needs – without linking that income […]

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Giving money
Oct 30, 2016
Will we be paying people to do nothing?

What would you say if I told you we might soon be giving every adult a basic income – whether they work or not? You would think I’ve finally flipped and lost my marbles after coming close to doing so many times in the past, yes? Well, allow me to explain a little further before […]

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Jacaranda
Oct 23, 2016
Nature is our mother, and we must honour her

Nairobi in October is a sight to behold. It is as though a giant hand descends from the heavens wielding an artist’s brush, and paints vast swathes of the city a beautifully subtle shade of purple. I am referring, of course, to the fact that we have so many Jacaranda trees in our city. They […]

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