5-4-3-2-1: Don’t think

Borne out of the need to preserve life, fear was once necessary. Now more often than not, it hinders your progress. When it becomes detrimental we call it anxiety. If you compound your values and belief systems and somehow generate the ideal version of yourself – the steps you need to take to become that person are clear. The steps are usually a mix of small changes like eating healthier and big changes like leaving your job. Yet sometimes, these challenges seem insurmountable. Worst case scenarios cloud your mind – once again waging a war between who you are and who you want to be.

Here’s an insanely simple trick to bypass these instincts for self-preservation. When facing a challenge you deem necessary for achieving your goals, start a 5 second countdown. Focus on the numbers rather than why you shouldn’t or can’t make the change. Countdowns prepare us for a necessary – almost mandatory action. We use them to launch rockets, start races, cross the new year etc. Why wouldn’t they work for you!

Can’t or Won’t: Make it a priority

There’s something you assume you’re notoriously bad at. Something you seem to always struggle with. Here’s a simple truth – you’re bad at it because you’re not interested in getting better at it. There’s always going to be more things you’re bad at than things your good at. Therefore, improving in something is a matter of priority. Narrowing down the things you need to learn dramatically decreases the fear of the things you don’t know. So instead of hilariously being terrible with names or birthdays or whatever you struggle with – recognise that you’ve not made them a priority. You can but you won’t.

The Millennial Question

Termed appropriately to reflect a common struggle within younger generations – the millennial question describes a lack of patience. The desire to see instant results in actions we’ve taken is relatable – no matter who you talk to. Our brains are notoriously wired to only show us what achieving our goals and desires means for our lifestyle. We strive to leave impactful change in our wake. What we don’t see is the difficult path to who we want to be. These achievements won’t happen as easy or as fast as we want. Practicing patience and repetition are a sure way to stay on the road to success. One sit-up doesn’t make you a body builder but thousands, over a good period of time will. Take the necessary actions but don’t expect instant results. You might not see the progress you’ve made but in time you will.

Leading not lagging

Focus on designing leading goals rather than lagging ones. Here is the distinction – leading goals are within your sphere of control and are things you can influence. For instance – how long will you read each day, what time will you wake up, what will you avoid eating. Whereas lagging goals are those whose outcome you cannot guarantee. For example how much money you’ll make, how much your business will grow and where you’ll be in 3 months. If you’ve not spotted it yet, leading goals focus on the process for achieving your ultimate goal whereas lagging goals solely focus on the outcomes of your ultimate goal.

Locked in:

Lastly, do it today not tomorrow. A recurring myth we all face and know to be false is the one where tomorrow you’ll be the version of yourself that achieves your hopes and dreams. Only for tomorrow to come and your ideal self is still a day away. To defeat this fallacy, start by recognising the only version of yourself that exists or will ever exist is the one now! Only you can do what you want to do. Progress is made with action AND time. You’ll still be the same version of yourself 6 hours, 12 hours, and 365 days from now unless you incorporate action. Next time ask yourself – what is so different about tomorrow that I’ll suddenly achieve my dreams? If time is your only answer – you know what you need to do!


Over the years, Kenya has proven to be a country thriving with economic success. Numerous Kenyan companies started from the ground up have achieved massive success in the East African economy and even Africa as a whole. One such company is the Bidco Africa Ltd. Bidco is East Africa’s leading manufacturer of Fast Moving Consumer Goods. Started in 1985 and it has continuously grown over the years to be the home of some of East Africa’s most loved brands across the edible oils and fats, hygiene and personal care, and most recently food and beverage brands.

Bidco Africa has won over 30 awards and recognitions in the last thirty-two years and is an acknowledged leader in the East African Manufacturing sector. Bidco was the first company to establish a fully operational refinery in East Africa. It was established in 1970 as a garment manufacturer in Nyeri, Kenya. In 1985, the former chairman, Mr Bhimji Depar Shah and his two sons Vimal Shah and Tarun Shah saw a growing need in the African market for soap products. They relocated to Nairobi, and set up a soap manufacturing plant. Bidco only produced three soap products; Kuku, Sabasaba and White Star.

In 1991, Bidco set up a state of the art refinery in Thika. The growth and expansion continued by Bidco acquiring various brands from other companies such as Elianto from Unga Group in 1994 and Kimbo and Cowboy from Unilever in 2002. After a rocky start, overcoming challenges with distribution and marketing, Bidco managed to break into the market and became the success they are today.

In 2013, Bidco reported an annual turnover of more that USD 500 million. In the same year, Vimal Shah was ranked as the richest man in East Africa by Forbes with a net worth of USD 1.6 billion.

Here’s how you can achieve your own success:


Bidco was started by a family and believes that all employees and partners are a part of that family; the Bidco Family. They believe in Africa, which can be seen in their commitment to using local raw materials and making quality products that are affordable to all, regardless of their income. The company truly believes in their products, ensuring their quality and safety. They also work towards promoting a sustainable business practice with the elimination of waste, recycling and use of renewable energy.

In addition to this, Vimal Shah truly believes in being motivated by the desire to grow and improve the communities around him. He speaks against using money as a key motivator in his business and believes in empowering those around him to succeed.

“Money motivates you for a certain time, but when your basic needs are met it doesn’t motivate you anymore. My biggest inspiration today is to arouse the leader inside every other human being. I want them to know that they too can achieve their dreams. I was born here. I went to school here. Even for university I did not go to Harvard, I studied here. You too can do it.”

-Vimal Shah

If you’re looking to start a business venture, ensure that your business is in alignment with your personal goals, and vision. Let it be reflected in the way you interact with both your customers and employees. Of course when starting a business one of the main goals is to turn a profit and earn decent money however, this shouldn’t be your only motivator.


Bidco’s brands are designed to enhance the quality of daily life. Their purpose is to promote a Happy Healthy Living through spreading the goodness of mother-nature in all homes. The message is communicated via extensive advertising & media campaigns including strategically located billboards, promotions and special events. In addition to mainstream media and advertising, Bidco believes in being a Socially Responsible Corporation. This is the goal that informs the company’s focus on aiming at sustainability. This has been done through social investments in education, engagement with farmers and activities aimed at environmental conservation as well.  The company also works on a system aimed at producing zero waste.

Market your business. Let people know what you’re working on. Use the resources available to you such as social media, newspaper ads and if you can buy some airtime on local T.V and radio stations to promote your business.


When trying to build your business, you may come across sceptics and naysayers. Always have your goals in mind and focus on the big picture. “If you come with something new today they will give you 100 reasons why it won’t grow. That is why your own conviction is so important. Look at the best case scenario and the worst case scenario. Be persistent, never give up,”


Work with what you have and make the most out of your situation. Starting small allows you to learn the basics and teaches you how to manage your resources. You will also be able to lay down a strong foundation for when your business takes off and begins to grow. Starting small is necessary to build the required character traits to handle growth and success. There is truly no such thing as an overnight success. Most times, when we see someone take off and achieve massive success, it is because they have spent years behind the scenes refining their craft and building their business i.e. putting in their 10,000 hours. Shah’s advice is “start small, aim big and keep at it.”


Hire people that have the Same visions and goals as you in order to ensure that your company thrives. Hiring the right employees for your business is important no matter what kind of work you’re doing. Having quality employees will help your company run and grow. Vimal says; “The best thing about competency is that you can build it by employing people who have the skills to deliver what you need. And the concept of outsourcing manpower has made it easier to acquire competency in business.”

Also see:


Vimal Shah: How to become a successful entrepreneur

productivity hacks

A lot of the time, our inability to remain consistent is what prevents us from achieving our goals.  Usually, we all have spurts of peak productivity which then either take a nose dive soon after or just plateau. It’s these drops in productivity, or rather lack of discipline that prevent us from clearing our to-do list. It’s no secret that you need to be productive most of the time, not just some of the time in order to succeed in your business endeavours. You simply can’t just have random, fluctuating episodes of productivity and expect to see results. We also know that being and staying highly-productive all the time can be challenging. Here’s some tips on how to be more productive and to maintain that productivity.


Laying down a strong foundation for the rest of your day begins by setting goals that you would like to achieve. Setting goals takes away the stress of having to juggle multiple tasks in a day which you weren’t prepared for. When you set daily goals, you’re then able to plan what you want to get done and how much time and energy you’ll expend on each task. This then enables you to focus on specific tasks and takes away the general panic and brought on by life’s curveballs.  It is important to set daily goals because they provide a roadmap for your day.


We all experience various interruptions throughout or day. Family, health and even financial obstacles can slow down our momentum. Effective time management is key in order to push past these interruptions. As you plan out your day, set time for specific tasks and set deadlines for them as well. Set aside time for rest as well as socialising. This will help you stay on track with your goals. Try to avoid unnecessary interruptions and only deal with things in a timely manner to avoid that last minute rush.


Each day, take some time to disconnect from your phone. This is especially important if you find yourself getting easily distracted by social media, news, and video sites. Switching off your phone is an excellent way to ensure productivity because it gets rid of all those distractions as well as the information overload.

For some; like myself, simply switching off the phone is not enough. There are many great apps that ensure productivity by locking you out of your phone for set periods of time. One great app I’ve been using for a while now is Flipd. Flipd is a work and study productivity app that forces you to put your phone down and get some work done. The app works by allowing you to set a time for a specific amount of time. Once activated the app then locks your phone and all access to various apps and social networks until the timer is up. A few essential apps such as the calculator, the call function and a few others are available for use. The great thing about this app is that there is literally no way to cheat the system. Once the timer starts the only way to gain access to your phone is waiting out the timer. This has helped me get so much work done over the past few months because it takes away all potential distractions.


Sometimes, when we have tasks that we’re not particularly keen on doing, we take longer to get to them and end up in a last minute rush. This also slows down our productivity momentum in an attempt to avoid the task. Well, now’s the time to buckle down and commit to getting it done.

Set aside enough time to get the task done, buckle down and get to it. Really laser in your focus and just commit to getting it done. Block out any distractions or interruptions and only get up when it’s done. Most times it’s the start that’s difficult. Once you get into a rhythm you’ll find the work flowing smoothly and you’ll be done in no time.


Making small changes in the way you do things each day is one of the best ways to become more productive. This is because you are able to build better more efficient and effective habits slowly over time. For example, if your goal is to read more, you can start by committing to reading at least one chapter each day. Over time this small habit effortlessly becomes a part of your routine and eventually you’ll build a reading habit.

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” — Paul J. Meyer


It’s wide scaling capabilities and rapid scale model, placed it in the far reaches of the country where other providers were unhurried in their approach.

Mshimba Michelle

Safaricom - Kenya's Success story

Africa is a vast continent with immense potential. This fact is often overlooked because it is also plagued by great adversity. Africa once still considered “The Dark Continent” is now a booming economic hub with growing businesses and a competitive edge in the global trading scene. There are many successful companies in Africa, one them being Safaricom. On Forbes, Safaricom is actually at the top of the list of the Ten Most Innovative Companies in Africa. In this article, we’ll look at some of the reasons why Safaricom has been so successful and what you can do to replicate this success.[1]


Safaricom has got the largest number of subscribers in Kenya. A report published by the Daily Nation stated that as of January 2017, Safaricom had recorded a whopping 25.94 Million subscribers. Airtel had a total of 6.76 Million subscribers while Telkom subscribers had dropped to 2.9 Million up from 5.2 Million. This wide margin makes it unlikely for their competition to catch-up.

It’s wide scaling capabilities and rapid scale model, placed it in the far reaches of the country where other providers were unhurried in their approach. Remember, when you’d go trekking across the country and network connections were unreliable? Even as the service bars on your phone faded, those with Safaricom always seemed to complain last? Safaricom’s “Mwanainchi First” model put a phone in every Kenyan Household and a network pole in every county. Safaricom connected people.


Over the years, Safaricom has grown to become the largest telecommunications service provider in East Africa. This is primarily due to their M-Pesa service. M-Pesa is the most advanced phone-based money transfer service globally and the brainchild of Safaricom since 2007. A  Kenyan government report published in 2012 stated that only five years after its launch, there were 19.5 million mobile money users in Kenya.[2] Banks and mobile service providers around the world have attempted to  replicate M-Pesa’s widespread adoption, but have not had much success.

Tying back to their accessibility, only Kenyans in a certain area code and certain amount of income had access to a bank account. Identifying a massive hole in the market – one which a large majority of the population falls in – Safaricom sought to solve a problem others had discriminated against. By requiring little above the bare minimum, it granted everyone access to financial tools and mobility.

Learn from this success story and build a brand that reflects the needs of your market. Do not discriminate your clientele and offer tools anyone, in any position can access. The world is advancing – quickly – don’t let classist opinions dictate your actions, lest you get left behind.


Safaricom, being the leading telecommunications service provider in Kenya has partnered with many banks across the country. Almost every bank has a till reserved for M-Pesa services. This has enabled Kenyans to transfer money from their banks to their M-Pesa accounts and vice versa. This convenience continues to put Safaricom at the centre of the telecommunications industry.

Building again on their accessible model, Safaricom has tailored options anyone would find useful. Their strategic partnerships with large financial institutions and web-based financial services like PayPal has cemented M-Pesa’s place as a first-rate ‘Mobile-Bank’ who’s success competitors have widely attempted to replicate. A big chunk of Safaricom’s relevance lies in these partnerships. They’ve learned to extend their reach through industry leaders and you should too.


With its trademark green colour and catchy tag line (Safaricom, the better option), Safaricom has established itself as a household brand that is recognisable by everyone. Safaricom makes great use of the beauty of Kenya’s landscapes to promote their services and even hire local talent to advertise their products. Investing back in the population they serve has led to the growth and loyalty of its subscribers.


Safaricom has free, round the clock customer service. This has made the service more accessible to users and driven up customer satisfaction. Safaricom is also particularly attractive because other networks such as Kencell for instance, would charge their users for customer care services and were only available during business hours.


Safaricom recently dipped its toes in the internet service provider field and is doing remarkably well. Currently there are about 4 million internet users in Kenya. Therefore, the numbers would suggest that just under 45% of ALL Internet users in Kenya are using Safaricom as their ISP (Providers). Safaricom’s commitment to being a full-service telecommunications giant has driven its focus through the years. Its strategic targeting of various telecommunication areas has allowed it to band these sectors under one well-recognisable brand. This plan of action is a remarkable display of Safaricom’s unfaltering vision and as a result its wide success in whatever fields it ventures into.

All these factors play a huge role in Safaricom’s success and ensure that Safaricom will continue to dominate Kenya’s telecom industry for a long time. Grow this success in your own field by putting up a goal and breaking down the necessary steps to get you there. Don’t be intimidated by the prospect of partnering up and investing and stay true to your vision. 







Empathy: One of the Keys to My Business Success |

Empathy. It’s one of the biggest things to which I attribute my success. It’s the reason I believe that I am one of the great salespeople out there. What a lot of people don’t understand about empathy is that it’s not just about being caring, but it’s also the ability to understand people on a…

Empathy: One of the Keys to My Business Success |



The Dangers of Being an Empathetic Leader

Excerpted from THE MIND OF THE LEADER: How to Lead Yourself, Your People, and Your Organisation for Extraordinary Results. To enhance engagement, many leaders are told they need to be more empathetic. Empathy is the skill of understanding and recognising others’ feelings and perspectives.


Why The Empathetic Leader Is the Best Leader – Lolly Daskal | Leadership

You may be wondering why is the empathetic leader the best leader? Empathy is a leadership competency – like no other skill- that can make a big difference when it comes to leadership. Empathy means being able to understand the needs of others. It means you’re aware of their feelings and their thinking.

Why The Empathetic Leader Is the Best Leader – Lolly Daskal | Leadership



Also See:

“The more empathy becomes an integral part of culture, the stronger local, national, and global communities will be. But empathy has its enemies as well, in the form of racism, sexism, classism, and ethnocentrism, to name an important few.”

Empathy! For a successful company culture

“The more empathy becomes an integral part of culture, the stronger local, national, and global communities will be. But empathy has its enemies as well, in the form of racism, sexism, classism, and ethnocentrism, to name an important few.”

(Christensen, 2003)

Of late, a lot of what is being broadcasted in the media is the sexism, prejudice and xenophobia experienced by people in various situations including the work environment. These prejudices termed as the ‘enemies’ of empathy, so inversely mean that empathy is the answer to counteract these and better people’s lives in all areas, especially the work space.

According to Carl Rogers, a humanistic psychologist, empathy is the ability to see another person’s world through their eyes. It is being able to understand things from the other person’s point of view, putting yourself in the other person’s ‘shoes’. It is an important value of society that helps avoid hatred and hostility. In it’s place, empathy promotes understanding, peace and altruism. Further, it has proven beneficial to companies’ success. This is because it is fundamental in maintaining a healthy work culture as it creates an environment that can readily foster and stimulate: stronger, more cooperative relationships, greater morale, less stress and the ability of employees to bounce back faster from tough times like downsizings.

Cognitive empathy, which is seeing someone else’s point of view, “helps teams engage with each other and allows them to collaborate and communicate effectively with each other,” states Rob Volpe, CEO of the consumer insights and strategy firm Ignite 360 (Engholm, 2019). So it prevents conflicts and misunderstandings, as well as poor morale, which subsequently enable employees to build significant and long- lasting relationships with each other.

Furthermore, this ability to see the world from the perspective of others has proven vital in bettering a company, for instance, according to the 2016 Empathy Index, the highest performing companies top the list of the Most Empathetic Companies (Ross, 2018). This is a report published by UK consulting firm, The Empathy Business, whose aim is to analyse the internal culture of 170 companies on major financial indexes, and its findings are that, “The top 10 companies – on the 2015 list – increased in value more than twice as much as the bottom 10 and generated 50 percent more earnings. Therefore, apart from improving the work culture, empathy increases the competitive advantage and market value of a company (Ross, 2018).

Moreover, empathy sets the tone that people matter (Gallo, 2019). What this does in turn is that it motivates employees to increase both their individual and group performance.  Knowing that their voices are being heard and that attention is being given to their workplace requirements makes the employees feel valued by the company, a feeling that enables them to work calmly, alone and with others.

As a matter of fact, these are conditions in demand for skilled workers. Empathy lets employees know that in the case that they are not performing as well as they might hope to, the company will first try to understand the issues behind the drop in performance before making any judgment or decision. This is important because anxiety driven performance might encourage employees to do their best,  however it quickly proves ineffective. It might derail their focus from the job and instead put it into intra-company competition.

Thus, empathy builds loyalty between employees and employers. It is not surprising then that empathy is in high demand among both employees and employers. According to the “State of Workplace Empathy” study by Businesssolver (2019), 90% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with an empathetic employer, and 87% of CEOs believe empathy is linked to financial performance (Gallo, 2019).

In a company, empathy can be practiced in numerous ways like showing respect for your colleagues and leaders, actively listening to others, and motivating workers based on their individual needs.


This goes both ways; employees have to respect their superiors and vice versa. Feeling respected makes a person more likely to be active in the workplace and take personal responsibility (Ross, 2018).

Active listening

This is important, more so for leaders, as it builds a better ground for understanding employees and having a supportive company culture. It refers to when a listener focuses fully on the speaker, and shows verbal as well as non-verbal signs that they understand and remember what has been said. So when your colleague is offering ideas or suggestions, actively listening to such increases individual engagement, team collaboration and a more positive and supportive work environment. For leaders, it shifts the mindset from a more personal and self- improvement one, to thinking of what is best for the company as a whole too, and further helping their team with their development career wise (Lucken, 2017).

Motivating employees based on their individual needs

First, as a leader, you have to let the team members know that their work is valuable through both word and action. Additionally, not everyone views financial rewards as desirable, so asking employees what they would actually like would be more effective when trying to reward or motivate them (Ross, 2018). You would be seeing things from their point of view and consequently, working together with them to find out what can work best for both sides rather than making assumptions. Employees then feel like their opinions matter, cultivating loyalty and a more empathetic environment.

Also See:

Failure is the instance of falling short of success. It is both a universal truth and an inevitable part of the human experience. No matter what time or place in history everyone has known failure.


Christensen, K., & Levinson, D. (2003). Encyclopedia of community from the village to the virtual world (Vol. 1). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Chapter: Empathy

Engholm, G. (2019, February 12). Why Empathy Matters for Your Corporate Culture. Retrieved from

Gallo, S., & Sarah Gallo Sarah Gallo is the associate editor at Training Industry. (2019, May 20). Empathy in Leadership: Creating a Culture of Understanding. Retrieved from

Lucken, S. (2017, June 15). Why You Need This One Trait to Build a Successful Company Culture. Retrieved from

Ross, M. (2018, November 22). 4 Reasons Why Empathy Is Good for Business. Retrieved from

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