Optimism: A Realist’s Middle Name!

It is said that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of practice to achieve excellence in something. I have been attending career talks for way lesser a time than that but I can tell you this, after the first two, I started thinking that I could predict the message of the every session. It’s always a treat when I am proven wrong! No Career Talk is really ever the same!

On Friday evening, 20th April, the University of Nairobi School of Business Catholic Community famously known as LK3C (Lower Kabete Campus Catholic Community), invited Daniel Njoroge, Retail Manager Safaricom Ltd for one such Talk held at the campus’ famous Biashara Hall.

This gentleman is one I can describe without hesitation as ‘fired up!’ From the onset he had such energy! As he was sharing his life’s journey with us, his humility and spirituality shone through; his smile grew wider and his gestures more animated! We who had attended the Talk were about 19 to 26 years old and this 30 year-old put as all to shame! Some of us were slouching and periodically yawning and secretly wondering how we were going to get back to our rooms amidst the rain! But I assure you, 10 minutes into the session; Mr. Njoroge had effortlessly ensured that we were all in stitches whilst eagerly jotting down notes!

The absolute highlight of the evening was when he shared with us his 7 principles of a successful life:

  1. Be proactive:Are you the one who prevents a fire or the one who waits for one to start then struggles to put it out?

    Develop Synergies Like Fire Ants Do On Water.

  2. Begin with the end in mind: Drop the mentality that ‘the graph has already been drawn’ and start drawing one for yourself!
  3. Put first things first! Priorities have to be set whilst keeping in mind that as much as you are an optimist, you should be a realist as well.
  4. Have a win-win attitude: Add as much value as you take away!
  5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Humility plays a key role here.
  6. Develop synergies: Like the way fire ants adjoin to form a ‘blanket’ that floats above water so should you form relationships that strive to overcome life’s challenges!
  7. Sharpen your soul: Do whatever needs to be done to improve your life. Take up that additional course, Network in a non-discriminatory way and seek to mentor as well as being mentored.

In addition, he emphasized the importance of every one venturing into entrepreneurship regardless of how small the start may be; progress in life is never instant. He also warned against postponing happiness in anticipation of a ‘better time’ that has not been guaranteed.

With Backing From Such Individuals, No Wonder The Company is No.1!

The evening ended with him sharing a cup of coffee with all the students. By this time, the rain had subsided and so I seized the chance and dashed back to my room but not before I had thanked him for his inspiring words.

Thank you LK3C for granting us an opportunity to meet and learn from such a successful and unique individual.

Sorry, No Career Path Here!

The Human Resource Management Students Association (HURMSA) this afternoon gave me an early birthday present by granting me attendance to its inaugural  Career Talk held at the University of Nairobi, School of Business.  The speakers were none other than Christine Orono, Founder of People Insights Limited and Susan Kiama, the Managing Consultant of Three Green Apples Consulting.

These two ladies, experienced recruiters and Human Resource consultants and entrepreneurs, added unquantifiable value to my budding career and I can only be but thankful to the organizers of the event for their assertion and vision.

The first speaker, Christine Orono, was filled with infectious fire which inflamed the whole room! She had this easy laugh that though was meant to put us at ease, only made us more sensitive to what she had to say. I was strategically seated right at the front row to pick up on every little bit of information and report it back here to you, my wonderful readers!

We are, at this 21st Century, Generation Y who drive an ‘all-terrain’ vehicle through a non-existent career path, she said. Our world is globalized and unlike our parents and guardians, we do not have the privilege of job security. We leverage our skills on risk and uncertainty management, being time and results oriented, being assertive and self confident and of course packaging our creative talents in a way that creates an eclipse between our capabilities and that of the job opportunities available to us.

She highlighted that keeping in mind the dynamism of the job market, one needs to put themselves in the employer’s mind: Will you do the job? Can you do the job? Do you fit? In an interview, your fit into the culture of the organisation and its competency requirement is overtaken by your motivation! If you seem dull and lacking of optimism and positive attitude, then it’ll be, ‘Good bye, dream job!’ Attitude is everything!

At this point I was so charged, I resisted the urge to stand up and clap!

So when the calm and collected Susan Kiama came on, she did so just in time to allow me to regain composure! But alas! Her opening video left all of us perplexed! Watch it here. In addition, she had amazing facts to share: 4,000,000 job openings in South Africa went unfilled as at 2011 because no skills could match the demand. Kenyan Employers’ frequent complaint is that they can find no suitable recruits for positions (Ms Orono nodded in agreement). These facts were mauled by a question she asked: No one thought of bringing their CVs to this Talk even though you were well aware of the presence of recruiters? Jolly old me almost walked out at this point!

‘Attitude’ is a word that stood out in one of her first PowerPoint slides. That charged me right back up again! She reiterated Ms Orono’s statement by saying that only with the right attitude can we get to where we want to go, whether it is in self employment or not. She shared a story of a girl who earns 2500/- per day by making mandazi every morning for sale in local schools in her neighborhood. Informally employed, the young lady earns more than the average graduate will on their first job!

Her message was clear; as individuals, it is vital that we strive towards being well read, well researched and well versed. I think she should write a book titled, ‘From Earning to Learning’! Her presentation on that amidst constant power outages was flawless.

She kept it real by bluntly pointing out our avoidable mistakes in our thought processing, communication and networking skills and shared inspiring success stories of young entrepreneurs in Africa who have made it by simply channeling the right skills and passion in the right direction!

I must say, when I grow up, I want to be just like Susan Kiama and Christine Orono! What with their diction and easy charm bundled with experience and sense of humour? Who wouldn’t want to be!? 🙂

All in all, I bet everyone who attended the Talk walked away a tad intimidated. I know I did! I say this because that CV we thought was ‘all that’ may not be so after all! Our gut feeling that the job market could be a monster waiting to swallow us whole, suit and tie and all, may indeed be a real one. Not to worry! Thanks to HURMSA, we are pretty much sorted because from what I hear, Ms Orono and Ms Kiama will be back! This time, CVs ni lazima zibebwe!

When Uninspired, Look Down At Your Feet!

As a final year student staring right at the finish line, it’s easy to forget how far you’ve come.

From that first day on campus as a freshman or ‘fresher’ as we were popularly known to that first lecture that you may barely remember; it has been a rollercoaster!

I have a lot to be thankful for, my health for one! I have seen many dark days as a university student. The most memorable one being when I fell sick with stomach flu right as I was sitting my final  1st year, 2nd semester exams! I remember the loneliness the most. It hit me hard that I was in this alone and that I had to take care myself. Roommates and neighbors are awesome but not as reliable and constant as you are to yourself.

Enough…! This is a blog for solutions, relief and smiles! Not lamentations!

Your feet! Look down at them. Remember those flights of stairs you climbed when you were struggling to make that appointment, get that job or internship; that dirt road that you’ve had to trek to get to your future. It’s all there; toes to heel.

I have made a decision to stop the worry; jobs and other relevant money making opportunities will come when I am ready.  An article in a Marie Claire magazine issue suggests putting aside 10 minutes every day just for sitting and worrying! Should you get the urge to worry any other time, you are advised to tell your stubborn self, ‘Not now!’ 🙂 I think the purpose of this is to help you to relax albeit for 23 hours and 50 minutes.

Whatever works for you is fine as long as you leave the worrying for the less hopeful. Instead, spend your time at peace and doused in optimism. Your time will come.