Category Archives: mindspeak

Of Lavish African loving.

“And remember, as it was written, to love another person is to see the face of God.” — Les Miserable

I’m fascinated by writers. African writers specifically, even those with the charm of a corpse always manage to stir deep feelings of passion within me, anger or even regret, depending on what time in history they wrote. Because the African writers’ calendar dates back to when the colonialists came to Africa, perhaps, when Africans began to write in languages that foreigners could read ad understand.

I’m constantly peeved by the books written about Africa on my humble bookshelf, but my anger, unless countered by a new book written by me or other Africans that scoff at Englishmen of old or backpacking American journalists turned African experts, then I could as well tell it to the birds. It really is our fault that we do not have many African writers who can pen our own stories and help bring to life that now famous line, ‘The African narrative’ which in all fairness has evolved and transformed over time, and Africa, in many ways is rising. Numbers don’t lie, the economists say.

So, I’ve recently stumbled upon one Dunduzu Chisiza, he is described as a Nationalist and early agitator for independence in Nyasaland, now Malawi. Reading about him introduces you to an African that would not be stopped by class, colour or creed. His publications and style of writing literally tug at my heart.

He writes:
” In Africa, we believe in strong family relations. We have been urged by well meaning foreigners to break these ties for one reason or another. No advice could be more dangerous to the fabric of the society. charity begins at home. So does the love of fellow human being. By loving our parents, our brothers and sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces, and by regarding them as members of our families, we cultivate the habit of loving lavishly, of exuding human warmth and compassion, and of giving and helping. But I believe that once so conditioned, one behaves in this way not only to ones family, but also to the clan, the tribe, the nation and to humanity as a whole.”

Dunduzu goes ahead and talks about insubordination of national loyalties to international loyalties, referring to foreigners as Individualists who cannot foster internationalism.’

For me, Kenya is at the point where cynicism is the the order of the day. The days of women laughing heartily and young men and women celebrating each other has tapered down to wanton criticism, gossip, negative ethnicity and a uniquely high breed of hatred. We hate everything and anyone that’s Kenyan. The National Football team, The Rugby players, Public personalities, Kenyan firms. Everthing and everyone that’s Kenyan is constantly on the chopping board, it is everything that constructive criticism is not about.

Does this, after reading Dunduzu say something about our social fabric? Is there any more lavish loving that seeps beyond our nuclear family units and into the family next door? Have we tightened the rope too tough to allow cultures that are individualistic in Nature to wear out the African fabric that’s laced with respect and universal love. Deep lavish love.

For many, this may appear simplistic, but I’m student of this assertion, that Maybe, it is all about love.

Lessons from a White African

After a beautiful Friday night, I woke up at 9.00am (with lots of trouble!) to catch up with AlyKhan Satchu’s Mindspeak monthly event at Westgate. Ushahidi creator, Erik Hersman (who I have followed on twitter and blogosphere for a while; was the man with the Mic and top on my agenda was to know more about Ushahidi, their newest kid on the block ; Ihub, and just the person behind his better known blog name “white African”

( I think Erik ironically is more African than most of us!: will tell you why in a bit)

Eric did a great presentation and introduced us to his world, and while we know of all the success stories with the Ushahidi model being taken as far as Haiti; I mostly enjoyed how he openly shared some of the failures they face and how they go around it:

He also said something I think most entrepreneurs need to engage in their day to day: Eric follows the 80:20 rule, where 80% of his time is spent on normal work: daily routine) and the other 20 % working on edgy stuff, projects that have a high likely hood of failing: That way you expose yourself to an environment that forces you to learn more, I sort of feel that this is kind of stuff “doers” are made of.

The presentation was followed by a Q& A session which turned into a very engaging conversation; with topics ranging from regulation; incubation & pre-incubation for startups, seed capital; VC and Private Equity;and even touched on media and it’s pre-occupation with politics other than a focus on development stories. It was interesting to note that it was felt that International media is doing a better job in telling good stories from the IT world; while the local media seems pre occupied with politicking.

As a journalist I tried to defend; But also gave the attendants my two cents on how to get media publicity. It’s a thin line between free marketing/ publicity and Journalism. I would be caught dead reporting on a product launch, but I may probably call the same person to comment on an area of expertise; say development of mobile applications: and my take is that entrepreneurs have to position themselves as providers of content other than product developers. If I begin to respect your name as an expert, I am sure my audience will appreciate it. Be confident in your expertise, and use that to propel yourself as a brand.

Today’s world runs on relationships; make an effort to network, meet the “right” people, identify journalists that cover your kind of stories and interest them in what you are doing. And it is a two way traffic; as white African put it; journalists may also see you as a resource if they are looking for someone in your industry, info on different subjects etc;

White African notably dressed in a TED Tee shirt talked about something I have wanted to really blog about; I have but, a full page of rant on why we need Africans who are proud enough to be Africans.

A proud, confident person usually works, performs better than one who has tucks his tail between his legs, we need a mindset change and in my words I say “we need a to raise a new culture, a culture of proud Africanism. Then we will begin to think bigger; look at the bigger picture; and begin to work with each other.

One lady raised an issue about interconnecting with tech hubs from the UK, Denmark etc; and White Africans cultured response was that “we first need Ihubs in Africa to be networked. Ghana, Rwanda, & other African countries, raise ourselves up as Africans, and then after that we can begin to look at the Ihubs abroad.

Now that’s a Proud African.

We are usually, too quick to look abroad, finding funding abroad, when right next door in Uganda for instance, or Tanzania we could partner with like minds and make the most out of what we have. It’s culture Africa has never had, and it goes back a long way. That will have to change if Africa wants to be a respected voice.

The rest of my day was spent at a Kids Easter party with Imani, left her to play and went window shopping, bought a ring which I wore on my right hand, when I got back, she look at it and said “ mum did you get married?”

That’s all folks! See you on twitter? (TerryanneCNBC)

I later set up an interview with “White African”

GIVE ME A PLAN

A couple of weeks ago I attended Mindspeak,The Business Club a once a month Saturday morning ritual that I have become addicted to. It’s usually a great networking event, and James Murua made a good note here

Caroline Mutoko was speaking on her rise to the Queen of Radio (even if she did not say so herself.) It was an inspiring morning, one that opened up my mind to fresh ideas and new thinking, in an extremely competitive market, especially in my field of work.

She spoke about the vital role that in between semester jobs and holiday internships play in forming a diligent worker out of a person.

From a clerk in an Asian’s store she learnt to be thrifty and frugal with her monies, whereas in school she learnt theories in Math’s & economics that she applies in her every day work. But what caught me the most was her views in terms of idea generation.

If you live and work in Kenya, and happen to hang around a crowd, any crowd, there’s is often talk of new business ventures, ideas of how to go about making money, and it is amazing how much of an entrepreneurial spirit is in the Kenyan population.

We are full of ideas. A friend of mine who runs one of the most successful media houses in the country told me once of how proposals hit his desk every morning, great ideas that hold immense potential, and every other new proposal outfoxes the other.

So, how do we, as young people make any impact, if very other young person thinks just as greatly as we do?

“Give me a plan”

That’s my take out from MindSpeak that morning.

Ideas are great, but, give me a plan.

Dictionary explanation: An idea is a specific thought or concept that arises in the mind of a person as a result of thinking. It is a mental picture.

Ideas are unproven.

See, a plan means a start to finish, it embodies all aspects of a business or programme proposal, or whatever it is you seek to achieve.

For Instance, if one wants to go to war, he first has the idea, but it’s got to degenerate into tangible strategies, all rounded, researched and buffered against potential risks. And that’s exactly what differentiates a winner from a loser.

What’s your going to war strategy? What’s your competition like? What are your risks? How do you manage those risks? As we all endeavor to make richer people out of ourselves, Lets cross over the threshold of thought and begin to work towards a plan, that’s the first step.

OF CAPPUCINO & CONTACT LENSES

If you have kept up with me here in my blog journey, you know this already: I have a very short attention span with things that are constant.

I know that this can easily be confused with inconsistency especially in blogosphere where brand building is not just an option, but THE mantra. I love to see things from a different angle. I have changed the look and feel of this blog countless times, because I am looking for something I am yet to find.

I get tired of status-quo, at home, at work, with my food, my look …everything. I even get tired of seeing myself in the mirror; looking the same way, everyday. Being on leave (or off duty this past week) gave me lots of time to re think, re focus, realize my potential in every way I could think of. I even got contact lenses:-). Hazel ones; that gave me a new reason to stare at myself in the mirror, I am told that can be classified as vanity, but I am a woman, it is expected under the feminine dynamics pie chart.Oh..and i drank cappucino, even if I swear by Mocha.

Well, I think my blog will remain as is…for now :-) ( little tongue out.)

This past Saturday, I went for Aly Khan Satchu’s “Mindspeak” (here) at Westgate, (and forgot to wear my contacts!!) where Graham Gilmour, CEO The Business Phone,(website here) was speaker.

I try to take a break at least once every six months to re-charge, I hate feeing counter productive, usually it gives me great satisfaction to put my heart into my work, I love giving 120% to whatever I do, and feel extremely wasted when I don’t do that. So Saturday morning, I woke up and was looking forward to the monthly event: It was in many ways a turn around for me

The 30 min session by Graham Gilmour almost got me shooting off my seat into a corner office over looking the Himalayas…..ok, that’s over stating it, but it was a chance to look at what we make out of life:

We are all in the business of selling, ourselves, products, service…if you make money, then you are selling something:

Here’s a few pointers that I’d like to share which I picked out from Grhams presentation:

Third party story:
Use the third person to sell. “When I sold this Prada bag to Caroline Mutoko, she ordered for 5 more in different designs”(example is pure fiction) but I hope you get me drift.

Never Pre Judge a contact:
Graham once sold (owned the company actually) luxury boats in Australia and almost missed a 17% commission on 2 luxury boats when a young “ginger haired” boy walked in to enquire on the super boats.His employees were out having a beer, he stayed on to listen to this “kid” Ginger bought two boats; he had just won the lottery.

Recognize an opportunity when you see one.
Always look for opportunities where everyone sees gloom:I met Graham afterwards and asked this: When entrepreneurs are starting off, should they do what they love to do or, like him find an opportunity? Graham looked for opportunities and put his all in it. He sold houses, ran a hotel that was bankrupt, and now sells the Business Phone.(www.businessphone.com)

Debt is good. (Personal debt)
Gets us into trouble, but it makes you wake up in the morning with a target in mind.

Set targets
Know what you want, a great home, great car, great family: then work backwards from there.

Do your research well:
For Instance, now that Fiber is landing in Kenya, look out for what business models made it big when fiber optic hit other continents. Countless Oportunities.

You don’t get a second chance at first impressions:
This is self explanatory. A friend came in this afternoon off to meet a potential new employer; I asked her if she was going home to change. First Impressions happens once. Take advantage of it. This is from how you dress to how to make your pitch.

Surround yourself with successful people:
You are who you hang out with & the more you communicate with people, the more opportunities you find. Period.

Ultimate confidence:
Faith, Courage & enthusiasm. These are three things you must carry with you every single day. Someone has to like you to listen to you, to buy from you, to work with you. Believe in yourself, you will either sell, or starve. You make that choice.

This may seem a writing targeted to entrepreneurs, which I am not currently, but made me re think the amount of energy we give whatever it is we work for, or work at. It made a lot of sense for me that morning, as it does now, and it will for a long time. We are who we want to be, it’s up to us to chart that way forward, whether employed or an employee, put your best foot forward, it is the first step to success.