Why did the chicken cross the road?

…because it was a personal decision, that’s why!

A friend and I were discussing how haphazardly people at times cross the road. It was really idle chat as we made our way across town. But she mentioned something that I thought was insightful: crossing the road is a personal decision.

It truly is. At that moment when you decide to cross , you’re physically and mentally ready for it. You’ve balanced out your weight and acceleration and you know that should anything unexpected happen, you’ll be set to take it on. Therefore that person who grabs you and says. “twende!” before you can prepare yourself does you a great disservice! You can only go when you have made that personal decision.

I extrapolated this statement to put meaning to things we do in life. No one should compel you to do anything you are not ready for no matter how much they think you look ready. So should you encounter such “twende” people, may be you can do what I normally do:

  1. Ignore them: Silence works every time! But remember to be gracious and respectful.
  2. Tell THEM to go! Encourage them to take that route that they so desperately want to take and wish them well!
  3. Shake them off!  Sometimes you cannot really ignore them or talk to them so try and ‘lose’ them in the crowd! Unless you wear really heavy scents, they will not be able to track you! 🙂

So whether it concerns doing that Masters degree, quitting your job to start that business or even embark  on that seemingly fairy-tale – like relationship, such major decisions almost always need you to be the sole initiator and executor.

p/s Remember to look right, left and then right again!

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Got time? No? Then say so!

I have friends and acquaintance approaching me everyday asking for input on various projects and advice on various dilemmas and my biggest challenge is turning them down. So I rarely do and I end up with a lot on my fragile plate and with just a tiny spoon (a metaphor for time) to scoop the tasty tasks with.

As a solution, I have developed a simple and honest way to take a pass at some of the requests. Below is a typical scenario.

I have just met my friend Taylor  for coffee and he/she has just told me about this brilliant business idea he/she has. Then he/she drops the dreaded request!

Taylor: Please  help me draft the business plan! You are so good at these things!

Me: Your idea is brilliant Taylor. Thank you for the compliment. All I do is my best. I would love to get involved as you would wish but unfortunately, I have committed myself to a host of other projects and I cannot apply myself as effectively as I would at this time. I am confident that you will maneuver without me and create an outstanding business plan for this one-of-a-kind venture!

Taylor: Ok. I wish you could write it up for me but since you are committed elsewhere, I understand. Can I then send the finished draft and get your feedback?

Me: Of course you can.

Note that I have not not cut off my dear fictitious friend completely. I have just excused myself from the heavier task using honesty, respect and grace.

What do you think of my technique? Do you have one to that works? Do share them with me.

Teleportation At Equity Center!

“What are the ingredients of expertise? Intelligent commitment over time.” – Wale Akinyemi. Chief Executive Officer of Powertalks Corporate and personal development consultants.

I discovered these ingredients in a group of individuals who are the contributors and editors of the Equity African Leadership Program (EALP) Journals. This website and soon to be published hardcover journal, is the station for all things spectacular. You only need to visit the site and  sample the articles to get blown away by the literary prowess of these young and creative minds.

As I sat through the inaugural public reading session of the journals at Equity Center (the Equity Bank head office), Nairobi on Friday 22nd June, 2012, I was taken on a magical journey filled with intrigue, sadness, excitement and whole other jumble of emotions that were more than clearly colored by the words that were used by the writers. Getting to hear the writers’ own voices bring alive the assortment of sensations left me feeling a little light headed actually. It was like I had been teleported into another realm that only I and the narrator could see and feel. So deep and vivid was the teleportation that by the time the story ended and I was forced to raise my bowed head and open my lazily shut eyes, an automatic raising of my hands in applause was the only thing left to do!

Kenya is gifted. Expert writers are in our midst. The EALP Journals have proven that. All that is left is to continue stirring the pot that contains this delicious simmering broth of African literature; stirring it in the gentle and deliberate motion of intelligent commitment whilst carefully adding healthy and well measured portions of time.

Mentor Much?

Regardless of how old you are, you need a mentor. Mentors are not godfathers or people you use to get favors. They are people to simply look up to and who are meant to add perspective in your life and work. They should best double up as friends for full value. But just how do you get one? Here is how I have been able to get myself valuable mentors who have continued to play vital roles in my life:

  • Seek family: I believe no one knows you better or loves you more than your family. So make the most of their experiences and engage them as you try to make your own way in life.
  • Use social media groups: Get mentors through Linkedin by simply starting genuine and relevant conversations in groups. Be sure to flaunt your strengths in a subtle way for full effect.
  • Ask friends: Fear not of asking your friends whom they can directly connect you to for guidance and networking.
  • Offer to mentor: Reach out to someone you feel may be in need of your time and advice. As you remain present in this person’s life, you will discover a lot about yourself and learn from them as well.

What else can be a way to get a mentor in your life? Do share them here with us.

The STAR factor!

The Human Resource Management Students Association (HURMSA) did it yet again on Friday 25th May! It brought to the University of Nairobi, School of Business Tom Shivo, Head of HR Relationship Management & Reward, Kenya Airways! If you didn’t get a chance to read about this spectacular association’s previous stellar event, read it here.

In this cold Friday morning, all of us were leaning in to catch every bit of what Mr Shivo was so concisely addressing: Appropriate job application techniques, CV writing and handling of interviews. Right off the bat, his experience, skill and knowledge was apparent. He stressed the importance of self assessment and how it opens the door to one’s full potential. How do you self assess? By simply looking at the things that make up your daily activities. Are you a player of a team sport or individual sport? When in a group, do you speak your mind or would you rather let others go first and then contribute? These factors tell of your introvert or extrovert traits. He mentioned this in the context of CV writing. A balance of the extrovert and the introvert in you is vital. Once you analyze yourself in these and many other scenarios, you will be able to know where you need to improve and how.

This brings me to what I think was the highlight of this tremendous session. Mr Shivo introduced S.T.A.R – Situation, Task, Action and Result. This is the technique that should be used when answering those interview questions that we think are really challenging. He gave an example of  questions asked to two HR candidates in an interview, “Have you encountered a challenge in your work life?” Candidate 1 simply answers, “Yes. I had two differently ranked employees and I found it really difficult to discipline them!” Candidate 2 on the other hand is asked whether he has any weaknesses and keeping in mind that he arrived 30 minutes earlier, is composed and taking steady deep breaths to relax says calmly, “Indeed I have had a weakness of smiling a lot! When it would come to disciplining employees, I would smile and they’d often take offense thinking that I am mocking them! So I decided to approach my mentor for advice and I have since learnt how to keep my facial expressions in check and so far no employee has brought forward a complaint!” In this second answer, you can trace out a situation that occurred in a certain task and for which action was taken and the result was positive! Neat, isn’t it? 🙂 For those who haven’t started doing so, do apply this S.T.A.R factor in your responses!

A warm thank you to Mr Shivo for taking time to visit and share his knowledge with us. Salute to HURMSA for the continued effort in adding value to the lives of students in the University of Nairobi, School of Business! Two thumbs up!

The Dwelling That Was

YAY!

I’m clearing from campus in a matter of weeks and graduating in December! My time at the University of Nairobi, School of  Business has been awesome. I have made friends and even more friends. I have also grown and grown…! I’ve loved it!

This is what has been keeping me going all through:

  1. Prayer: I am those 10 minutes of prayer and reflection in my day.
  2. Family: I am fortunate enough to have a brilliant support system. My confidence comes from them.
  3. Vision: I have something I want and aspire to and that is a having fulfilling career where I can apply myself fully and go home a ‘good kind of happy’!
  4. Business: I will have my very own startup by the end of this year. One based on making the Kenyan citizen (student and businessperson) a global competitor. It’ll be all about value addition! Stay tuned!
  5. Be the one: I have a growing obsession of being 100% value adder wherever I am! I may miss the target on occasion but I believe it’s the effort that counts. Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?

I wonder what keeps you going in life.  Keep at it, won’t you?

Be The Change That Is Needed

ASA*, FISA*, PSSA*, HURMSA*, BISSA*, NUISA*, MSA*, ABS*, OMSA*….! I strongly advise that you work together and create opportunities for yourselves. Here are my simple suggestions that come from 12 months of experience in association affairs. They are pretty simple:

  1. Team work. Posts do not make you a leader. It is unfortunate that a majority of students mistake posts as a leadership positions. Taking charge and being an effective team player is what makes you a leader; it is what gives you the right to use words like Spearheaded, Motivated, Worked, Managed, Instituted and Participated and so forth to describe your achievements and acquired skills.
  2. Create a comprehensive sponsorship list! I cannot tell for sure whether that is what is being done by all the aforementioned associations but the habit of approaching companies each time you need sponsorship is not constructive. I recommend that you create a comprehensive 12 month calendar of events, package it effectively whilst identifying probable sponsors and then approach them in a total manner! You can easily use this as a way to get needed support from your patrons, board of advisors and other stakeholders. They are sure to respect your senses of vision and strategy. Make a further step and publicize this proposal in all professional social media sites (this should be done with a particular targeted partner in mind). Further still, why don’t you all create another joint proposal? Conferences and Forums are more effective when done as a conglomerate! Think about it, huh?
  3. Research, Research, Research! In the NSE listed companies, a good majority of the board members are University of Nairobi Bachelor of Commerce Alumni! These are individuals who can be approached for long term planning and networking (for attachments, permanent jobs and Angel Investing for the entrepreneurs).

I believe ones time in the University of Nairobi, School of Business should be spent learning and perfecting skills in communication, coordination and organization. Going about this is quite easy only that you must be assertive.

I wish you all the best.

ASA* Accounting Students Association;

FISA* Finance Students Association;

PSSA* Procurement and Supply chain management Students Association;

HURMSA* Human Resource Management Students Association;

BISSA* Business Information Systems Students Association;

NUISA* Nairobi University Insurance Students Association

MSA* Marketing Students Association

ABS* Association of Banking Students

OMSA* Operations Management Students Association