THE STEVE JOBS MOMENT: Govts and Businesses need one..

January 24, 2011 Leave a comment

The thing that comes to most people’s minds at the mention of steve jobs is the famous catalogue of Apple products. This is a man that  has transformed a couple of fields (Mobile phones with the iPhone, Music with the iTunes and the iPod, Laptops the Macbook pro and Macbook air, PC’s with the iMac and lastly created a new category of tablets with the iPad) he has also brought about the idea of something close to self sufficiency- while companies like Microsoft made the Windows operating system that was then carried in computers made by Dell, Hp and others, Apple made both the operating system and the hardware. But the most important thing in this whole setup is the way Steve Jobs came back to Apple led it into becoming one of the world’s most valuable companies. That is the thing am talking about, that one person that comes with a spark of genius into a company and drives it through a period of tremendous growth. All companies and ecspecialy countries need that person at some point in time. But these people shouls not be at the helm for long, this is because their style of leadership is different and as much as we agree to their steller performance, they are more of visionaries that managers or stewards of the companies they are leading. In short we need somebody to lead a company through some seriously innovative products for like 10yrs and then we get a manager to be a good steward of the already introduced products because as much as its important to innovate, there is also some serious need to manage the innovations:

GOVERNMENTS

The famous BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) have come out as very strong competitors in the global markets. A short while ago, kids in America were being told this “Think about a starving child in India, that will be impetus enough for you to study”, well these days the things are different the sentence is “you either study or some kid in India will take your job”. The Americans would have wanted to teach the Chinese what democracy is, today they are more scared of china’s influence in Africa than the so called democracy. All this have happened over a period of like 10yrs. Apart from SA, the other countries have some really big populations, this means they provide such a big market for foreign Investors, but they also provide big markets  for indigenous companies, this means a start up in brazil can have 100million customers without having move to a different country, for China its even better. But a country like Brazil had to wait for the spark of genius by the former president, Lula Da Silva, for such tremendous growth to come about. Sometimes it takes a long time for such a leader to appear but once they do, their influence is felt many year later. Who thought Rwanda would be where it is today, but the spark of genius that is Kagame has helped the country move to a new frontier interms of development. We can talk about many other countries that experienced tremendous economic growth during the rain of a particular leader and the same foundations that the laader set are being followed up to today

COMPANIES

Its a definite case that companies have flourished well under a certain CEO but plummeted south on the departure of the CEO. Apple is just one of the many companies that went south with the departure of Steve Jobs and only bounced back with the presence of the same guy. Techcrunch did a feature as to why Larry Page was coming back as Google CEO, www.techcrunch.com. Localy, safaricom grew tremendously under Michael Joseph, EA Cables grew tremendously under Mugo Kibati, Equity is growing at a phenomenal rate under James Mwangi and many more. The whole steve jobs effect as i want to call it focuses more on innovation, new products, PR, New Markets, out of the box thinking, serious brand presence and almost unheard of  financial reports. At some point a company need this kind of leadership, that leadership that will push people out of their comfort zone, the leadership that will shake the long held traditions and ways of doing things, one that changes the whole outlook of the companies and lead to a growth that is almost unprecented. But there is a downward side to all of this, and its what am going to talk about.

Time to Replace the Steve Jobs with a Manager

After a certain period of time, the company or the country find itself at a very interesting place, in the spirit of growth, the innovator may not focus so much on dealing with the supply chains, the financial records and also they may focus on only the innovations that are doing well. You see even the innovations that don’t perform well at first might end up doing much better in future if well taken care of. This means that the company might spend lots of money on products but not really follow them to completion because of their CEO is not really focusing on that particular product. After a long time of growth, there comes a plateau-period of profitability without much growth. At the plateau stage, most companies will need to have a manager more that a visionary because though the company is seriously profitable, there is a bigger need to manage the finances and market growth of the current products that introducing new products.

For governments, the issue is even more critical, most of the of the Steve Jobs kind of leaders are not known for the democratic freedom. Russia and China are not known for democracy, Closer home, Rwanda is said to be killing democracy under the leadership of Paul Kagame and as much as we applaud the economic growth of some countries, continued stay of such president’s might be detrimental to the growth of democracy.

Its agreeable that we need a Steve Jobs kind of CEO at some point in time for Governments and companies ecspecialy when the company is going down, stagnating or in need of some push into profitability. For countries its need in times of deep financial crises, this kind of leader will provide the spark that will lead the country to new frontiers, but frankly speaking, this types of leaders are only needed for a certain period of time, that balance between innovation and management should always be observed.

 

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized

7.5% MOTOR INSURANCE: THE CURSE, BLESSING MIXED & FORTUNES

October 15, 2010 5 comments

Let me start by some thing weird, some times back somebody said this to me

 

Person: I think you have a big ego

Me: I have a big ego? I actually have two big egos.

Person: no it’s not ego, I think you got lots of pride in you,

Me: yeah I got lots of pride; the problem is my pride is too big to recognize comments like the one you just made.

 

“I have learned the best way of staying out of debt, simple and fool-proof, just never get into debt, if you can manage your debt too, do yourself a favor and keep away from debts”

 

The reason I spend some years in Maseno being taught by guys who had egos bigger than themselves is because I loved insurance- or so they thought-. Since my departure from the lands that rains daily but still has water problems, I have interacted quite a bit with the industry and I know quite a few things that might be worth sharing. Well though this is PERSONAL OPINION I will state that I will desist from using well known names here just to avoid the obvious bias which I might show to the companies I have interacted closely with. Well its common knowledge now that the new rates of insurance 7.5% have not gone down well with most Kenyans, well that’s expected given that some organizations like NHIF are trying to get more money from us for services that we don’t even know they offer. But just like any other business, these new rates come with big loopholes for some people to cheat their way into low rates and also for others to be milked dry and clean by the usual suspects.

 

THE CURSE

If you are a new driver, straight from college with an habit of showing off by buying the new Range Rover for 7million, then your goose is cooked well and proper. You see the new rates come with discounts for the number of years you have been driving and also the Sum Insured-value of the car- comes down with time so if lets say you have a 7million car without any discount, at the rate of 7.5%, the premium will be 525,000. this is like the price of some Toyotas, if the value is like 1million, then the premium will be 75,000 which is still a high amount given that incase of an accident you will have to pay an excess amount for the car to be replaced incase it’s a write off. The other problem is that most people don’t read the policy documents and for some companies, the premium goes up incase the car is being driven by your wife/husband or a son, this small details that most people overlook come back to haunt them incase they are involved in an accident, if you have a car read the fine print, I would have analyzed a policy document that has issues but its better people read for themselves, it might be classified information.

 

The other curse is when you have a lazy broker or a rogue one. Let’s look at it this way, you have been driving for sometime with company A, then your broker tells you to switch to company B. the next renewal, company B will charge you the whole premium without taking into consideration the NCD (no claims discount). If your broker is good, they will follow up the discount from company A, if not, then you will end up paying the whole amount even though you qualify for a discount of even 50% which would change premium from 50,000 to 25,000. This is something that people need to check before they engage a broker because some will be too lazy to work for you. If you think a lazy broker is bad, then you haven’t met the rogue one. This one will hide most of the information from you, tell you that’s the rate is 7.5%, then they will go ahead and get the discount from your insurer, they will then charge you the whole amount, but when it comes to remitting the same to the insurer, they will deduct the discount, that means maybe you pay double what you are supposed to pay, next time you go to that broker, just ask for discounts- and they can be transferred from one car to another- because that might be the reason you are paying so much for cover, enough with the curse, lets look at the blessing.

 

THE BLESSING

The new rates have some good news for our older folks who have been driving for quite sometime, unless you are a drunk or careless driver who has been involved in accidents all over, then this quite a good thing for you, the more you have been driving the more the discount. Imagine somebody has two cars, if they have insured them for 5yrs, then you get 50% for each car. This means you can buy one car for whatever amount, then you are guaranteed a discount of 50%, you can keep the extra 50% from the second car and use it later. The interesting thing is that some people will use the same Discount for different cars. If for example you got two cars under different insurers, then yu can present the same Discount certificate to the different companies and get your discount, well it should not be happening, but this is Kenya and things happen.

Another interesting thing is this guys that come with cheap rates, lets say the industry rate is 7.5%, some people will promise a 4%, you take it happily, the problem come sthe day you have a claim, there will so many hidden costs such that it will be almost a wast, more like you never insured the car in the first place.

This rates also present an opportunity for the big brokers to negotiate different rates for their clients, some will even force companies to come up with special rates for their clients, well if someone is bringing more than 100million in premiums you had better listen, the fact that some brokers issue certificates from their offices, makes it easier to negotiate special rates for their clients, that’s why having a good and trustworthy broker helps a lot, even incase of a claim, the broker will push the company to pay it, this is because if the company doesn’t, the brokers will be saying to their clients- some of who listen to them 100%- that such n such a firm doesn’t pay claims so keep away from them. In most cases companies will invest in enticing brokers more than even marketing because this is a sure way of getting clients. There are even more benefits from this rate, but for now, this will suffice.

 

MIXED FORTUNES

This the weirdest part of the whole thing, if you have been driving for long, but were involved in an accident you loose the 20% of the discount, if it was 30% then you might have to wait for longer because you accrue discount for years of consistent driving without a claim, even more weird is that when you are involved in an accident, whether you are to blame or not you loose the discount, if a matatu driver hits you when they are driving on pavements to avoid the jam, you loose the discount, if some idiot hits your car in parking, you don’t even know, you also loose the discount, well that’s a bit unfair, its like they discourage those small claims to protect themselves. For example if you notice the damage for your car is 15,000, but the 20% discount you are loosing is like 50,000, then you will definitely abandon the claim, it’s a world of insurance I tell you..

 

A FEW POINTERS WHEN GETTING INSURANCE

  • Find out the history of the broker you dealing with, you might pay premiums but they are not remitted to the insurer, once you have a claim, those guys wont pay
  • Make sure you go to a solid firm, some might go under before the policy ends
  • Read the policy document well, read and ask for the meaning of those clauses because that right there is where the issue is.
  • Avoid that last minute rush, unless your broker is big enough to get credit facilities, if you don’t pay on time, you open more loopholes for your claim to be declined
  • Lastly being insured doesn’t mean you wont get an accident, just that when you have one, you will be compensated, drive carefully

 

Well if you thought motor insurance is tricky, you haven’t heared about life insurance, better still, medical insurance, I will do that next.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

M-Pesa VS Google wave: WHY SOME BRIGHT IDEAS SUCCEED, and others fail

October 1, 2010 11 comments

“people who think it can’t be done should not stand in the way of those already doing it ”

As a statistics student in campus, one of our lecturers told us we should embrace statistics in totality, but the same guy made a comment that i have never forgoten, he talked about the type of lies in the world, from the smallest to the biggest….Small lies, Big lies and statistics; well this guy was a sadist but he urgued out that statistics is based on precision, the confidence level and not on the exact(which is true actually) but statistics is the best tool for analysis i have seen, well the problem is that they can still be manipulated to show the result people want. Enough of statistics, lets me voice my two cents wisdom on this two products. there differences are so glaring, but there is one that stands out, while one is a success, the other is about to be closed down.

With M-pesa being introduced in a poor African country, not many people would have expected it to be a success it is today, am sure even safaricom was a bit shocked at the success, i can picture MJ saying “damn, this bloody thing is actually working,  don’t i love Africa”. On the flip side we have google wave, when i watched the launch of Google wave by the famous google engineers, i was overwhelmed, with the best minds in the world, a cash chest that can buy out a few African countries, a network that encompasses the whole world, everybody expected the wave to be a big hit, the technology was amazing check out the launch video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyfdVU7qIAk

Time and again the success of African mobile markets M-pesa has been mentioned adversely in all media the world over, even the people who don’t like Africa had to agree that something good came out of Africa. There has been talk that m-pesa transactions are more than those done by western union in some countries. But i got a question that has been in my mind for long.

IF M-PESA WAS IN A DIFFERENT PLACE, WOULD IT BE AS BIG AS IT IS IN KENYA. A month ago, one of the world’s best technology blogs http://techcrunch.com/2010/08/27/kenya-a-land-of-endless-mobile-possibility-techcrunchtv, wrote a very intresting piece on the mobile industry in Kenya, the post was titled “KENYA : Land of endless mobile possibilities”, in the post,  www.mocality.com founder, Stefan magdalinski made a case for why he chose to launch his business in Kenya, one of the comments was that the 3G in Kenya is better than in capetown, this in addition to the fact that- according to him- Kenya has one of the most sophisticated mobile phone industries in the world, this was to put Kenya in the same league with countries like S. Korea and Taiwan. I was not ready to agree with these sentiments until o took a closer look into this phenomenon. The mobile phone is a statement in many countries, but in Kenya its a very important gadget, just check this out

  • Send money to people just like sending an SMS
  • Pay for utilities like water, electicity
  • Deposit and withdraw money from a bank account
  • Purchase items online
  • Pay insurance premiums and many more.

The above functions just go on to underline the importance of the mobile phone. If i am in Nairobi and somebody in the countryside is very sick, i can send money from the comfort of my bed to the doctor and the patient get treated, this happened once. Lets look at some of the reasons why M-pesa succeded:

Kenyans are open-minded; this right here is the reason i think the mobile money grew so fast, in this country, the sheer willingness of the population to adapt to new technologies is the main reason ehy m-pesa grew, its not the 1st time such an idea like M-pesa has been introduced into a country, but the world believes that this was project that has become like the pride a nation, fellow blogger bankelele.com said that in effect, the covt might be forced to protect companies like safaricom and kenol kobil because they are a source of pride for the whole country. I agree with statement because am even sure safaricom was also shocked at the success of M-pesa.

Lack of internet services; it’s not every day that a people take a weakness and turn it into a strength, it might have been the point the world used to laugh at Kenya because internet wasn’t readily available, somebody used that weakness and transformed it into the biggest strength this country will see in years, lack of internet was a reason people took up M-pesa. Does it matter that they took up M-pesa because they lacked something better like those online payments? NEVER

Lack of banking services; this is a perfect example of taking a weakness and transforming it into a success. The fact that the growth of banks was not fast enough was really crippling to some people in some parts of the country, but M-pesa was the answer they had been waiting for, now even banks are trying to ride on the success of M-pesa to get customers from the same customers they once thought were not bankable.

Cyber crime is not yet caught up, or M-pesa is just good; this might just be the lowturn of the M-pesa revolution. If there seems to be any sign of insecurity in the M-pesa transaction i can bet the same speed that Kenyans took up the service will apply to abandon it. With the advent of social media like twitter and facebook, only one complaint posted on these sites and things will be different. If you don’t believe me, check the story of the red calls..http://www.theonlinekenyan.com/2010/09/killer-red-phone-numbers-death-calls.html

On the other side, the famous, iconic and revolutionary idea from a company that claims to have some of the smartest people in the world, Google wave, had to be pulled down a short while ago because it wasn’t going as good as expected. Let me say this, Google wave was the best inventions in terms of social media, check out some of the things it could do, from http://mashable.com/2009/05/28/google-wave-guide/

– Real-time: In most instances, you can see what someone else is typing, character-by-character.

– Embeddability: Waves can be embedded on any blog or website.

– Applications and Extensions: Just like a FacebookFacebook application or an iGoogle gadget, developers can build their own apps within waves. They can be anything from bots to complex real-time games.

– Wiki functionality: Anything written within a Google Wave can be edited by anyone else, because all conversations within the platform are shared. Thus, you can correct information, append information, or add your own commentary within a developing conversation.

– Open source: The Google Wave code will be open source, to foster innovation and adoption amongst developers.

– Playback: You can playback any part of the wave to see what was said.

– Natural language: Google Wave can autocorrect your spelling, even going as far as knowing the difference between similar words, like “been” and “bean.” It can also auto-translate on-the-fly.

– Drag-and-drop file sharing: No attachments; just drag your file and drop it inside Google Wave and everyone will have access.

I ask the same question, if they had waited for some time, would the idea of wave have succeeded, will the wave make a comeback in the future when the right time for it comes… I THINK GOOGLE WAVE IS AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS NOT YET COME, people are still stuck in facebook and twitter and it will take time to time to grow out of this. Google should have noticed that even as much as new technology was coming up, sometimes you grow new companies by using the already existing ones, foursquare is a less complicated invention that wave, but its actually doing well. Google should have taken cue and built something that would fit into twitter and facebook and maybe in future, with new inventions they would take a clients from the two, but it would take time..

Two serious inventions, two totally different companies, but glaring differences in success, even as we wait to see what happens, i will not be surprised to see the wave make a comeback, or better still, a different companies packages it differently and makes it a success.

P.s … end of one month and the start of another, make this month count for you

Categories: Inspiration

MINDSPEAK: Learning from JEFF KOINANGE…

September 27, 2010 3 comments

“Unless it’s the four D’s (Death, Disease, Despair and Destruction) Africa has never been seen as a worthy news story by the west”.

Starting with such a comment provided grounds on what Jeff was to going to talk about. And what a truth this is, not long ago the Promulgation of the constitution in Kenya was overshadowed by the presence of El Bashir in Nairobi. The life changing document did not mean anything to most other people as the apparent mistake done by the Kenyan Government.

My take is very simple here, yes, there are many things that are not pleasing to us as Kenyans, but that does not mean we focus on negatives only. We can either decide to rant about them or do something about them. On Saturday 25th Sept, an event at Nakumatt west gate stood out for doing something different. MINDSPEAK was an event like no other, though events have their own shortcomings and would always do with an improvement, this one quite  a good direction and the people who attended can attest to this.Let’s just take a look at what made this event stand out.

The crowd

The type of crowd at Mindspeak was different from your usual crowd. From the type of questions asked to the tweets tweeted, this one a group of Kenyans that’s a bit more enlightened than usual. I also noticed that the type of gadgets available here was a statement to how tech savvy most of these guys were, from blackberry smart phones, iphones, ipads, laptops and other high end gadgets, this was a meeting of some of the best minds we got around, the question and answer session proved this point even more clearly. My twitter timeline was full of #Mindspeak tweets; it almost looked like a meet up of tweeps. The discussions that went on after the event were also as good. Somebody made a comment that in such events there happens to be lots of interesting accents, whether the accents were real or not ,I don’t know, but they were quite a number of accents.

The presentation

With Jeff Koinange on stage, the expectations were high. The last time I saw such an engaging presentation was from Caroline Mutoko, Jeff did not disappoint and went on to prove just what CNN saw in him. Instead of engaging us in long lectures and explanations of what he did and how he did it, Jeff Played video clips from his time at CNN. From rape in Congo to the rebel soldiers in Niger delta, from the child soldiers in Darfur to the big famine in Niger, Jeff played video clips that just showed how powerful a tool the TV is. He also did select clips from capital talk and it was a really good seeing the growth of TV in Kenya. Jeff did more in the question and answer session and it’s this part that gave lots of meaning to this event, people got answers to questions they had waited for long to ask, and as for the answers, I guess Jeff Can give answers as well as he asks the questions.

Publicity

Sometimes the success of an event depends on how well it is publicized; the publicity of this event wasn’t done in a big way as other events. The best publicity was on twitter and the big presence of tweeps in the event just showed how good a medium twitter is. I knew about Mindspeak from a friend that I respect a lot, and then I introduced it to three of my friends and now its always part of our calendars. This last way of publicity really works, word of mouth is one of the most respected ways of publicity and it’s worked for many other events including capital talk on K24. Here is a type of publicity that that Mindspeak has embraced and it will go far in not getting many people, but getting loyal people.

Best moments

One of the best moments of the event was when Jeff asked, “anyone who has never watched capital talk?”, and nobody raised their hand, then he goes on to say “ what a crowd, what a show”. It was moment that broke the ice and the silent crowd becomes very lively all over sudden. The clips and the questions also provided a nice opportunity to learn more from the guest.  When asked what his best moment on the bench was, Jeff talked about his interview with Wanyoike- the blind runner. That right there was a moment to cherish. The hospital of women affected by rape in Congo and the hope they still had after such an ordeal was also a moment that stood out. The strength of the human spirit was at best displayed in that short clip. When asked whether the bench will be wider, this was Jeff’s reply “No, the bench will never be wider, I need to look straight into the eyes of my guests, they cant lie when am looking them straight in the face, and if they do, I can see it in their eyes”.

Most outstanding comments

There was quite a good number of really good and smart talk but a few struck me because of their sheer brilliance in articulation. The comments were made both by the audience, the guest and also from the clips played:

Nelson Mandela “I have cherished the dream of a democratic SA, where people will have equal opportunities irrespective of race, it’s a dream that am willing to not only live for, but to also die for”

Jeff Koinange “if I had a son then, I wouldn’t have gone to meet with the rebel soldiers in the Niger delta, it was too risky”

Jeff Koinange “In journalism, you are only as good as your last story”

Nigerian Rebel soldier “we don’t know how many pieces Nigeria is going to break into if the people are denied their rights and we don’t care, but we are sure it will be in pieces”

A guy in the Audience: when live give you lemons, just ask, what about tequila and some salt”

Jeff Koinange “when you have been to Nigeria, you never complain about any other country, rent is so high you pay way in advance so that it doesn’t go up by your next payment, the equivalent of KPLC is called NEPA, but Nigerians call it Never Expect Power Always”

Former Nigerian President “God lives in Nigeria and sometimes he visits Kenya- very weird joke that was”

Jeff Koinange “You look at the Thika superhighway taking shape and wonder what that guy was doing for a whole 24years”- its common knowledge who that guy is.

Jeff Koinange “Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it”

These comments from both the man himself and the clips played felt so real for me, many people got different comments but for me these ones stood out.

Weird moments

In each and every event there is that moment you wish never happened or happened differently. The weirdest moment on capital talk was when Jeff told Matiba “look into that camera there and say – ALL THE TIME”. Then the guy says “No! No! I don’t do what am told, then he said his own thing. Another moment was when somebody talked of how disappointed they were because in Kenya it’s who you know, they hadn’t even tried out the field of journalism but they were talking of giving up. Jeff did not look pleased with the question; I too wasn’t pleased coz a defeatist mindset is a bigger weakness than an empty one…sometimes. But as he gave his answer and other people talked about it, It was clear that many people have been in similar situations including Jeff himself and they came out of it even stronger.

Lessons from The host

Aly khan Satchu through his www.rich.co.ke has developed an idea into reality, this is an event that is set to be bigger and better with time, Aly Khan succeeds in something that few people do, getting the right guests for an event, it might not be a big on the outside but everyone who goes there, will surely make time for another and another. Truth be told, some guests may not be as good as expected, but this is the reason we appreciate people for what they do and in all of them, there is something that really stands out and a lesson to take home.

Opportunities presented by such an event

For attendees: This is an event that connects people from various backgrounds, in the few times have been attending this event, I have met some of the people I look up to in my career and also prospective clients of my current and future business ideas. This is a minefield of talent and brilliance and casual acquaintances from places like this can lead to far reaching benefits in future. Sometimes you grow more knowledgeable by associating with people you are at par with mentally or who are better then you and an event like this provides a perfect opportunity to meet and network with a group of people whose strength is not in the number they are but the influence and knowledge they posses.

For the Host: hosting an event like this provides one with a sphere of influence that is unmatched by many. It’s an event that people attend not because there was a serious campaign but because they trust the host enough to expect a good show from him. Its more like a meet up of young and middle aged professionals whose grasp of current affairs (based most on conversations and questions asked) is really good. The power that comes with influencing people who have influence is great and should be guarded well and its also an encouragement to other people who have similar forums be it in poetry, music or entrepreneurship that it might be huge now, but in future if they keep at it, they will contribute greatly to growth in the particular field.

For sponsors and Marketers: After taking some nice coffee courtesy of Going Places magazine, it got me thinking into the opportunities provided by such a forum. If you are into mass marketing this is definitely not your type of crowd because the people aren’t that many. But if you are into niche marketing, then this is your place. A pal of mine sat next to a lady who had an ipad. This guy is one of the firm believers that Google is better than Apple. Those few minutes he spend looking at the ipad were enough to change his hard stand. The most well suited sponsors of such an event would most be tech companies, internet providers, web magazines, software developers, investment and financial advisors and any other related field.

P. S like Jeff said, these days you can become a celebrity through the internet – his interview with Esther Arunga got so many views on the www.youtube.com and was widely blogged about- but the same thing can spell doom to your career. People will think that you are not asking hard enough questions or just think they are better then you. The pressure that will come from maintaining your cool is immense, but you got to keep doing your thing. Reading the story of Wamathai http://wamathai.blogspot.com on the daily nation www.nation.co.ke 24th Sept 2010 and how he went on to launch the poetry website was an eye opener. He would have chosen to give up during the journey, but he persevered to the end. Be ready to separate hate from constructive criticism because its in criticism that most people grow. Above all, you know what you are good at, keep at it and always strive to be better then your previous record.

Mindspeak was clearly an event worth attending.

Categories: Uncategorized

LESSONS FROM BUSINESS LEADERS: Kenyan Vs American

September 21, 2010 12 comments

It’s not everyday that a comparison between the United States and Kenya is made because such comparison are few. The GDP of the two countries can’t be a source of comparison and certainly our politicians are just not in this league. The ‘O’ in Obama and the several O’s we have in the names of some of our politicians is the closest we get to the similarity so on this side I got nothing to write about. But when it comes to our business leaders, there are quite a few similarities that might be worth sharing.

Michael Joseph vs. Steve Jobs

One of the things this two guys share is the sheer arrogance that they use against competitors. While Jobs used the famous quote of declaring that a notebook is not good at anything on TV, Joseph has been known to hit directly at competitors and accuse them of not doing what he did to succeed. The main thing that stands out, is that they both lead there companies through serious innovations and lead the race into new frontiers rather than dwelling in markets that have been defined by other people. Google has more than once found itself playing catch up to apple on smart phones and traditional makers like Nokia have had to catch up too. The same thing about Safaricom where other companies have to play second to them in mobile money and the like. Key lesson from this two is the basic believe they have for the products they make. That they define frontiers rather than markets, and that the willingness to try new things might the ultimate winner of the market battles.

S.K Macharia vs. Rupert Murdoch

Two media owners who have had a reach that is far more than anticipated, Rupert Murdoch is one of the biggest media owners not only in the US but also in the world. He has gone out of his way to develop an empire that is an envy of many. Closer home, Macharia has built an empire that has a wide coverage than anticipated. A trip to the rural areas will show you how people listen to vernacular stations and given the many that belong to the Royal media, S.K has a reach that many can only dream of. Both known for splashing good money to get what they want, it’s never easy going into battle with the two. Key lesson from this two, while it’s good to target the rich with your products because of sheer purchasing power, most of the time it’s the majority that will drive the economy, and S.K knows this very well

Stella Kilonzo vs. Nancy Pelosi

The main reason this two are in this category is the high expectation that come with their positions. As much as both may come out as political appointees of people whose appointment involved political goodwill from the leaders, the expectations on them not entirely political. Nancy Pelosi has been on many occasions a key figure in votes that had a big impact on the economy of the states. As house speaker, she guides the congressmen through voting of bill whose effects are usually felt far and beyond. She is a speaker at a time when the US is recovering form one of the worst financial crises ever. Stella Kilonzo on the other side is CEO of the Capital Markets Authority. She came in at a time when the financial markets were facing confidence crises after the fall of Nyaga stockbrokers and Discount securities. Both have apparently performed beyond expectations and shown that taking things coolly despite expectations will win even your worst critics

Chris Kirubi vs. Donald Trump

Two leaders who have fortunes that spans a number of industries, from consumer products to major buildings, from big hotel to the media, this guys have shown diversity that few can much. While most people like the ones mentioned earlier have emerged as kingpins in particular industries, this two are the proverbial Pine tree that does well in whichever climate you plant it. The wide knowledge that leads to make good investment decisions and the resilience to withstand the storms of the financial markets have helped these two gentlemen to come out still standing strong, Key lesson here: If you can diversify your investments into as many industries as possible, get the correct knowledge to do so.

Wanjiku Mugane vs. Meredith Whitney

As founder of First Africa Capital, Wanjiku Mugane has stood out as one of Kenya’s best investment advisors. She has been on various boards for some of the regions best companies and recently her company was bought out by Stanchart Bank. Meredith Whitney on the other hand has grown to be one of America’s best financial advisors under the company that goes by the same name. One of her biggest achievements was making correct predictions during the global financial crises. Wanjiku has made a name for herself as an advisor during the previous mergers between companies and also the numerous IPO’s we have had. A key lesson here: always be ready to take opportunities that are presented before you, you don’t know when your moment will come, but it pays to be prepared for it.

Aly khan Satchu vs. Richard Quest

Described by tedex Nairobi as E Africa’s first celebrity financial advisor, Aly Khan has a zeal and optimism that will give hope to even the most hopeless investors. While the comparison with Quest might be a bit out of line, Aly khan appears in more media stations including international ones like CNBC, Aljazeera, BBC etc. than some reporters do on the stations they work for. He also runs one of Kenya’s most informative website www.rich.co.ke , Quest on the other side is the man who clearly puts world business into perspective and seems to have fun while at it. These two guys have optimism about business and markets that make them very interesting to listen to. Key lesson: you can make the best out of every situation, even when markets are down, you can always make decisions that will transform the financial failure into a massive success

Terry Anne Chebet vs. Maria Bartiromo

As part of the worlds best business news channel, CNBC, Terry Anne literary put E Africa on the map. With a deep combination on brain and excellent journalism skills, her show was a must watch for any Kenyan who loves business. Maria Bartiromo is the lady who rules the business reporting world. Any one who saw her hosting the show “the meeting of the minds” that featured some of the best business leaders in America, it was clear that she had a good grasp of the topics at hand. She has also done profile for so many companies including Wal-Mart but the inside story from Google was a clear winner. Both ladies have turned the whole jargon of business form hedge funds and annuities to Call and Put options into a language that their viewers can digest. Key lesson: even the hardest jargon can be translated into a viewer and listener friendly language that everybody can understand.

Mugo Kibati vs. David Axelrod

Quite a combination here, Mugo is one of Africa’s young business leaders and as a political appointment into the great position as chair of the secretariat for the attainment of vision 2030, he is in an advisory position to the president that hold so much clout at the moment. David on the other hand was a political advisor to Obama in the campaigns that were a test of wits and fighting one of America’s biggest political families. He is currently an advisor in the Obama administration and like Kibati, is well placed to influence decisions taken by the president. The biggest similarity between this two their position of influence to the political class regarding decisions that will have huge implications in the financial planning of their countries, Key lesson: we are placed in some positions to make an impact because our decision will affect not only us, but generations to come

Caroline Mutoko vs. Oprah Winfrey

They might not be similar in style or personality, but they have both excelled in what they do and created a following that is the envy of every politician. They are their own brands and the trust they get from their listeners is a recognition that every advertiser will want to get their product on. Oprah is perhaps the most philanthropic media personality ever. Caroline has done her part too though in a rather local not but her support for the girl child is outstanding and goes a long way to endear her to many listeners. These are two ladies that are the best at what they do and have defined their stand on issues affecting the masses. Key lesson ; not everyone will agree with your stand especially on issues that have a political effect like Hurricane Katrina but if you keep at it and hold one to what you believe in, then even your foes will eventually support you.

Categories: Uncategorized

10 things 10 Kenyan companies don’t seem to learn

September 8, 2010 5 comments

over time i have wondered why some companies still hold on to products even when we know they are as good as dead. in this post I want to look at some of these companies, well albeit in a funny way but we all know the truth behind the facade we see in press conferences. here we go and in no particular order

1) Kenya/ Rift valley Railways: they never seem to learn “WHEN ITS OVER”, if there is a company that has property in this country it will  have to be RVR, i have seen areas marked ” this property belongs to Kenya railways staff” and so son. But from the time this rails were laid in colonial times, how many metres have they added, its the only monopoly that has failed in all quarters, some of their pensioners houses look even more weird than slums muthurwa , i seriously don’t think anything will help them, maybe a miracle will do, but we know Christ went back with most of the miracles and the few available ones are sold expensively, too bad if they are brought by a Nigerian.. he he but for real Kenya or Rift Valley railways, its over!

2)Safaricom: “unless you are Steve jobs, cut us the arrogance” when launching the ipad, Steve jobs said this ” for any device to fit between a macbook and a smartphone, its has to be really good in some functions like browsing, multimedia and portability, some people have suggested that a notebook is that device, problem is a notebook is not good at anything ” then he went on to launch the ipad. there are a couple of reasons why he could afford such arrogance: he revived apple form its deathbed, he revolutionized the world of animation: think pixar, he changed the way we access music: think itunes, he was the only guy smart enough to make a smart phone (iphone) the others have gotten smart too and made their own smart n not so smart phones, then he recently launched the ipad. But above all he has a cult like following from his customers. lets look at our own safaricom and their version of Steve, MJ. Safaricom has had the longest time, lots of money and goverment support( econet had been denied licence enough times, Zap could not get central banks greencard despite M-pesa thriving) yes, safaricom had a whole 10 or so years to build loyalty among its subscribers and to kill off the competition. What did they do, they called us peculiar people with peculiar caling habits, and overcharged us even when they did not need to (we all know supaongea was an hoax). now its payback time and they still dont seem to have learned to stop the arrogance, fine we will show them how to learn it soon

3) Zain: When you have a Cake, swallow it immedietely. the last time safaricom had the good will zain has today is more than 7yrs ago. well its your time now and you got the cake, forget about enjoying it, just swallow the cake once and for all. This is why,any chic who leaves another guy for you, will definately leave you for another guy who might not be as goo as you are (or so u think), in kenya we dont do loyalty and even if we did it would not be mobile operators, maybe hospitals. So now that you have the cake swallow it before another vulture pulls a zain on you, you pulled it on safaricom so it can still be done to you too so eat the cake while you still have it

4) Kenya Posta: “You can’t sell a name only”, truth be told, apart from the name, what else do this guys have. i have to big up this guys for existing for years with a name only, i would have said they got real estate but noticed that will be an insult to the word estate and in anyway they got nothing real. I read a post that said if companies adopt cloud computing, that will be the end of email. If email is about to die, then posta in dead and buried R.I.P( rotting in pieces).the situation here was so bad that they had to get Ali -a former police commisioner to run it, our police have never run anything smoothly when they got trained for it, its then definate that for things they have no idea about they will drive them to the ground. Posta keep us posted on the funeral date..am sure it will be soon

5)Equity Bank: “the odds are always against you”. when venturing into business, chances of failure  are higher than success, if you succeed once, the odds dont change. i admire equity bank because they have shown that you can bank on poor people and still make money. But somtimes back equity closed their Investment arm and sacked a few senior managers, now this shows that if you have succeeded in one thing, keep at it and leave the rest to the experts who know how to do it.

6) KPLC: “if hate speech were bombs, you guys would be worse than baghdad”. Where does one start describing this  thing, as in the only company that does one thing well- piss people off. is it me or does KPLC switch off the lights when we really need them. anyway this is a sorry state and am not seeing it improving soon so we just hold on there. the bills will go up and even though we will complain, in kenya monopolies are mono in many other places including their minds so somebody help me describe KPLC..i lack words for this one.

7) Bidco: “In kenya, what we apply on bread is called Blueband, in america its called margarine” on this one i will be straight to the point; in kenya margarine has been replaced with blueband. kids will go to the shop and ask for the blueband called biddys  or prestige. with due respect please keep to  Chipo and the rest and leave kenyans with their blueband. but you can try your luck too. i just hope my kids will learn how to say margarine because i personally wont.

8) Orange Kenya: “the goverment is responsible even for men who abandon their wives, we are just smart enough not to call press conferences about it”. yes i also agree that you guys bought telkom from the goverment with when it was the proud owner of one thing – debt. you said you would get 2m subscribers in 2yrs. what happened is none of our business, if you failed- do like the rest of us, suck it up and move on. I have an idea though, Orange should just pull a zain on zain itself, they pulled a zain on safaricom so it would be a fair game. but i guess you still want to blame a goverment that has more failures than successes so all the best.

9) NHIF: “what is it that you guys do, help me understand” have never seen a system where you pay money for something you dont understand, then when you ask for an explanation, you are told to add more money but still you are not guaranteed and answer, yeah thats NHIF for you.if you cant manage 300sh, 1000sh will surely kill you. chances of getting services from NHIF are fewer than winning a lottery.so as much as you guys have good buildings, just tell us what you do. we are paying 1000 for an explanation not even a service so just man up nad explain. most people who are charged the money have their own medical covers so you can enjoy our money, but one thing here, explain what you do..

10) South African Companies.. “in kenya we call it work, not wek like you guys” yeah you guys are the biggest economy in Africa courtesy of gold and white people and yourselves too. too bad in nairobi we are where we are coz of being dragged backwards by senseless leadership. East Africa magazines and Nandos have already closed shop and if anything, most others might go the same way. its definate that kenya is one of the most sophisticated mobile markets in the world so suck up to it and focus on mining or recycling gold because soon you mught need it. this focusing so much on competing with a country that has no minerals is not taking you anywhere, just invest in other countries coz here the work, not wek.. well some of you succeed but from the look of things, its getting tougher..

in conclusion, there are many more companies that have everything not even a lot to learn, but I have focused on the ones that affect a lot of people..i would appreciate knowing the other companies and what they need to learn, and better still leaders and what they need to learn..

Categories: Finance

Talking Straight: Give kenyans a Break

August 31, 2010 1 comment

this is one of those posts i do not to please or displease but to say things as i see them..yep before i start..

“this  days credit is so cheap that, flashing or please call me should be considered hate speech”, infact Safcom should give us one more of replying and say “go buy credit”

nway this few days Kenyans have been moved from the joy of a new constitution to that of one man called Bashir. yep he came to our country n am wondering whats wrong with pple overlooking our major achivement and focusing on a mistake which is not ours. truth be told he might be wanted for war crimes, but us kenyans were not the ones who killed pple, infact we gave the refugees shelter n some of them have very big houses in Nairobi. so before they make alot of noise they should give us a break to celebrate a new kenya coz we are in a good mood now to give a damn what some people who always say bad things about africa think. one of ma friends said that we should even have invited Mugabe and Gaddafi…i agree the reason being that they might never be invited anywhere else, even in Uganda though am sure Museveni is tha same as the two if not worse.. with is mind, i think the folloing people should give us a break:

US, UN, ICC…this abbreviations can stand for anything as far as am concerned, US- U Silly, UN U Never learn, ICC…this ones has so many bad meanings so lets leave it first, this organisation have been on the forefront in many things including the bad ones..the war in Iraq is a crime against Humanity, with a sophisticated- or so we are told- federal system, this guys could not apprehend Bernie Madoff who ran an investment bank from his bedroom n stole money enuf to buy out some african countries..yes when BP spend more money on buying the media n PR instead of stoping the oil leak, well this was a crime against the ecosystem of the world n God’s creation, did we wake up n shout that they should be sanctioned…too bad, some pple believe by making other feel bad, thay will stop feeling guilty bout their crimes. sorry this time round we are not buying that crap  U Silly n your folks can concerntrate on stoping the war in iraq which you started and leave us to enjoy our constitution coz we wont feel bad anyway…P.S Homicides in US sometimes back were more than the soldiers killed in Iraq, well CNN does know that, and we did not expect them to know when big stories like Bashir in Kenya were happening..hows that for the world’s prefect

CNN, Aljazeera, BBC… post election violence in kenya was covered by all media house including the ones that dont broadcast outside their studio..now when we get a new constitution nobody cares until one Bashir show up.. i bet there was breaking news somewhere that “Bashir in Nairobi”, one thing we have to learn is that for this media houses they got better names.. CNN- constantly Negative News.. BBC..Boy Broadcasting Crap…for aljazeera,i thot you were better off but the celebrity thing seems to have entered your minds too.. nway can you wake up and smell the coffee… this days social media say more than you so as much as you think you are setting your own agenda and calling it the news agenda.. i think Twitter and Facebook are doing a good job than you so shape…

NGOs n Human Rights Activists… it was a shame seeing this guys on the streets carrying placards a short while after the promulgation day, whats wrong with some pple, while the rest of us were celebrating and singing “Taunet Nelel”.. some guys were somewhere busy working on placards…you should have let us celebrate first..yes we know you dont work..-i dont consider running on the streets work- but thats was off..well the rest of us work our backs off to pay tax and the only day we get to rest our limbs you are busy shouting on the streets..you think we are giving  a damn about that.. not realy. how can we care when a certain thing called NHIF..which same as the city council dont do anything alse apart from collecting levies.- i dnt even have an NHIF card- is threatening to deduct 1000/- of my hard earned money to offer me services that i already pay Britak for..yes if its running on the streets you want, you can do this for us and ask NHIF to think for atleast once coz most of the time they dont…as in if when we give you 300/- per month you cant manage, what will giving you 1000/- do, turn you into a spoilt brat who will be more focused on arresting those who havent paid than give us service..most of this NGOs are funded by foreign groups so you can please them and get beaten by the men in blue but frankly speaking..thats not a battle you fighting for kenyan…last nyts poll on Citizen showed that 80% of lenyans supported the govt on this idea.. so you give us a break..better still coz of lack of something better to do.. continue running on the streets.. one you grow up you will stop..

The Kenyan Media.. you too should get a life..for how long how going to feed us with stories of our own country like we are strangers..yes how many storms have been brewing in the political scene and none ever rains..how long will you give us expert advice on what can happen to kenya when we got bigger issues like the constitution… the media should be balanced..and although they sometimes do a good work..we still need to hear both the good and bad side so balance your news for heavens sake…

P.S.. this whole crap will not make us change our attitude..we gonna be happy no matter what the U silly thinks and what the cousins of alshabab think..

Categories: Finance