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Like every genre in art, Self-Help/Self-Improvement books, attract their own kind of followers. It’s hard to understand why anyone would get life advice from an author they barely know, in a different life station, with values of their own. It didn’t seem compelling to me. But as we know, when life hands you lemons? 7 habits of highly effective people, first published in 1989, is a business and self-improvement book by Stephen Covey. Written more than 50 years ago, its teachings, applications and practicability are still applicable. Here’s 7 lessons I learned:



You have a natural need to wield influence on the world around you so don’t spend your time just reacting to external events and circumstances. Take charge and assume responsibility for your life.


Don’t spend your life working aimlessly, tackling whatever job is at hand. Have a vision for the future and align your actions accordingly to make it into a reality.


To prioritise your work, focus on what’s important. These the things that bring you closer to your vision of the future. Don’t get distracted by urgent but unimportant tasks.


When negotiating with others, don’t try to get the biggest slice of the cake, but rather find a division that is acceptable to all parties. You will still get your fair share, and build strong positive relationships in the process.


When someone presents us with a problem, we often jump right to giving a solution. This is a mistake. We should first take time to really listen to the other person and only then make recommendations.


Adopt the guiding principle that in a group, the contributions of many will far exceed those of any individual. This will help you achieve goals you could never have reached on your own. As the saying goes; if you want to walk fast, walk alone, but if you want to walk further walk with others.


Don’t work yourself to death. Strive for a sustainable lifestyle that affords you time to recuperate, recharge and be effective in the long-term.

This book not only gives us the steps to succeed in this hyper-competitive world, but it also provides very realistic ideas on how to win in our own lives.

The first three habits for self-development are inspiring and realistic that anyone can realise the best version of themselves by practicing them.

The next 3 habits focus more on public victory, and our relationships with the people around us. They teach us that we should always strive to be compassionate and understanding when dealing with the people around us. And that a win-win mind-set is the best way to live life. 

The last habit teaches us about how we can renew our physical, spiritual, mental and social dimensions of life for an improved quality of life.

If you’re searching for a single book that can inspire and motivate you to do better and improve various aspects of your life, then this is the book to read.

Mshimba Michelle

5 things magicians can teach entrepreneurs

Have you ever watched a magic show and thought to yourself ‘there’s no way that’s possible.’ Then before your very eyes the impossible is made possible time after time. Have you ever seen a magician wave his hand and say “This is where the magic is happening” whereas, the real trick is happening somewhere else? Misdirection.

It’s a lot like what great entrepreneurs do on a recurring basis. Harry Houdini was once lowered head first into a glass tank filled with water with his feet manacled. After dropping into the water via pulleys, the top of the tank was secured, a drape thrown over the glass, and Houdini had two minutes to escape. Just as in 1903, people doubted Wilbur and Orville Wright would get more than foot off the ground in their pursuit of flight. In the end the Wright brothers did the ‘impossible’ and flew, and Houdini ‘escaped’. Commonly, magicians and great entrepreneurs are expected to make the impossible happen.


Harry Houdini – arguably the most famous name in the world of magic launched his career from a tent in 1894 and was met with little success. He finally gained notoriety for his feats of escape in 1899 (5 years later) when his act caught the attention of Martin Beck, an entertainment manager who got him booked at some of the best Vaudeville venues in the country, followed by a tour of Europe. Houdini’s feats would involve the local police, who would strip search him, place him in shackles and lock him in their jails. The show was a huge sensation and he soon became the highest-paid performer in American Vaudeville and today his name is synonymous with the word magic.

Most entrepreneurs will tell you that the easiest but scariest part of entrepreneurship is starting out – rattled by the fear of failure. Great entrepreneurs push past it, not worrying how long it takes to reach ‘success’. Great entrepreneurs  understand  that it’s better to try and fail than not to have tried at all.

-Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming

Mandy Hale


While your ideas may not always  pan out like you planned, don’t let this deter you from your goal, consider the story of out magician – Houdini. A small town in the British Isles built a new jail cell. They were quite proud of the quality of this particular jail cell. ‘Come give us a try,’ they said to Houdini, and he agreed. He walked into the prison cell, his chest brimming with confidence – after all, he had done this hundreds of times.

Houdini had secretly hid inside his belt a special lock pick he had designed. Once the cell was closed, Houdini took off his coat and began to work with his secret lock pick. But he discovered something was unusual about this particular lock. For 30 minutes he worked diligently and got nowhere. His confident expression soon disappeared. An hour passed and still, he had not been able to open the door. By now he was bathed in sweat and panting in exasperation, but he still could not pick the lock. After two hours of tireless work he literally collapsed against the door in exhaustion. The door then swung open, and to his astonishment he discovered it had never been locked in the first place! It was locked only in his mind.

This story resonates with every entrepreneur. Just as Houdini threw everything he had at trying to open the door, entrepreneurs do the same thing with a product and its target audience.

Entrepreneurs spin their wheels trying to find new channels to unlock explosive growth. It’s typically the most challenging and frustrating things to solve for. Sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, the solution is usually less complicated than think it is – and it might just change your plans.  Unlike Houdini who literally collapsed in exhaustion trying to find a way to unlock the door with his pick, consider other solutions.  

– no matter what you’re doing when things don’t go as planned you need to persevere –  


A cheap trick brought at a local magic shop can become a miracle if a magician puts his personal, innovative touch on it. Thanks to popular talent oriented TV shows we have the chance to see some of the most breath-taking magic performances.

Nothing new in particular, but still breath-taking, why? Because they’ve taken a cheap magic trick and made it awesome by adding an innovative and personal touch to it.

Entrepreneurs have to embrace this mindset too, they need to constantly think about the future. Great entrepreneurs think about the next big product, they don’t just copy the most popular idea at the time. Do you think the iPad was the first tablet ever? No, it was the first time a company executed on how to give people a functional and easy to use tablet. By prioritising what users wanted, Apple was able to dominate the tablet market. The crucial aspect is prioritising the endless list of features and other things you have to maximiSe the effectiveness of what you’re doing. Staying ahead of the curve means nothing unless you’re doing things that will actually have positive impact.

-It’s not impossible just highly improbable-


Your customers are your priority. A magician’s goal it to entertain their audience while bringing about a sense of wonder. The means for accomplishing this goal involves the use of any combination of some tools including misdirection, psychology, sleight of hand and storytelling. They know that the only true measure of their performance is how loud the crowd cheers. If a magician does their job properly, the audience doesn’t feel tricked – they welcome the spectacle.

This same principle applies to entrepreneurs. Great entrepreneurs always put their customers first, even if it’s not the most profitable decision. It’s all about addressing their needs and  making them happy.

– if you’re not making your audience or customer happy, then you simply won’t have one –

Drawing parallels between magicians and entrepreneurs is not a hard thing to do. If you want to step up your entrepreneurship game, put on a great show but also solve a problem.


-beginners practice until they can do it right once, professionals practice until they can’t do it wrong anymore –

This is true for magicians but not completely for entrepreneurs – even with the different metrics, the idea is still the same. It’s okay to make mistakes once in a while, many entrepreneurs attribute their success  to learning from failure.  Failure isn’t your enemy – don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character. If and when you fail remember to be mindful of your customers and their reactions. Keep tabs on the feedback you receive  – customers provide valuable and actionable insights.

– Failure is success in progress –

Great entrepreneurs and magicians are the same in a multitude of ways aside from making the impossible happen on a consistent basis. It’s their goal to create something to benefit their audience in some way.

A magician embraces showmanship and creativity in telling their stories. They stay multiple steps ahead of their audience, to deliver spectacular performances.

Entrepreneurs work hard to find a great product- market fit, they emphasise stories through their products, they choose their steps carefully based on data and they put their customers ahead.

In the end both magicians and great entrepreneurs make the world a uniquely better place.

Amanda Nyabila


Horrible bosses have a way of siphoning the satisfaction of even the most rewarding jobs. Matter of fact, HuffPost reports 3 out 4 employees cite their bosses as the most stressful thing about their workplace. Considering you as an employee spend ⅓ of your waking hours working, having a bad boss can hugely affect your mental as well as your physical wellbeing. Don’t believe it? According to a report in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, employees with bad bosses are 60% more likely to get a life-threatening cardiac condition or a heart attack.

Quitting would be the obvious choice but maybe you worked hard and are really passionate about your job. Maybe you are in a tough spot and quitting would leave you financially unstable. Maybe you don’t have better offers on the table. If so, try and adapt to see if things can get better at your workplace by learning these 6 tricks of dealing with a bad boss.

1. Identify Their Trigger Points and Prime Motivations

Take some time to observe your boss. Study what makes them happy or angry. Understand how they like to operate. Do they like updates in person or over email? What do they care about? What’s their measure of success? Do they have an incessant need to look good in front of people? What causes them to meltdown or foam at the mouth? By understanding your boss, you can align yourself with how they work and avoid doing things that trigger a tantrum. You can also better frame your opinions and asks, basing them on your boss’s values and priorities.

2. Stay a Step Ahead

This is especially efficient with bosses who are notorious micromanagers. Anticipate what your boss will need before they even need it. This could be as simple as a cup of coffee or an update on an ongoing project. You minimise the need for reminders and reassure your boss you can work without them standing over your shoulder by meeting their requests before they even have to ask. Make a point of having personal belongings he or she considers essential. Also, have with you their contact information and important documents including their calendar.

3. Don’t Fan the Flames

Your boss might be dismissive, abusive or prone to show favouritism. Never ever let this affect your work. If he shouts, don’t shout back. If he dismisses your ideas don’t act out. Don’t take longer lunches, come in late, be disrespectful or work slower just to stick it to the man. This will work against you and give them more ammunition to use against you.

At the end of the day, your output and how you work is what builds your personal brand and opens you up for promotion. You might be thinking you are getting revenge but you end up making other colleagues and supervisors think of you as lazy or incompetent. Never go to war with your boss publicly. Even when you are angry, learn to control your emotions, take the higher road and meet all your objectives. You should never let anyone’s behaviour affect yours.

4. Set Boundaries

Distance yourself from your boss’s unpleasant behaviour in whatever way you can. The responsibility of setting boundaries will fall on you. Avoid face to face meetings when you can. Let them know what you expect or need from them in order to work properly. Don’t cower in or run away from difficult situations. Stay confident, stand tall when dealing with a bully and reduce contact with them to the bare minimum.

5. File a Complaint

44% of employees are usually physically, verbally or emotionally abused by individuals in superior positions. If this happens, don’t go about bad-mouthing your supervisor especially in the workplace. Save it for your partner or friends over drinks. Believe it or not, rumour-mongering will in some way affect how your colleagues perceive you. Instead, file an official complaint with either HR or other people with senior managerial positions. Please make sure to document every single step of this process. 

6. Explore Other Opportunities

If you have filed a complaint, tried adapting or even talked to your boss but see no changes in how he or she treats you, start considering other options. Now, these could be opportunities in the same company under a different department or a completely new job. Do not feel bad about this. Knowing when to leave is important. And there is no shame in it. Infographics by OfficeVibe indicate 50% cite bad bosses as their reason for quitting. It’s natural to want to leave an environment you don’t feel valued in. Before you do this though, ensure your other option is rock solid. Only then should you give a resignation notice. 2 weeks should be enough. Don’t forget to write a proper resignation letter.

Checking your boss’s mood before delivering bad news or making requests can also make your life way easier. Support your supervisor’s weaknesses and instead of criticising them, clearly articulate what you need from them and how that will play a role in the company’s overall success.  More importantly, find things and people in and out of work to boost your feelings of satisfaction if your boss is difficult. Before leaving to work for another company, please find out the nature of the boss there just so you are not transitioning from one bad boss to another.

If you happen to own or run a business you realise the complexity of employee relations and the impact it has on company productivity. The Manpower Company (TMC) HR services not only benefit your employee retention, experience and productivity but decrease your company liability and compliance risk. We speak people so you don’t have to.

Ruth Kimani


In 2012, as Malala Yousafzai was headed home from school, she was shot in the face by a Taliban gunman and remained in critical condition for several months.  She was 15-years-old, and had already been advocating for girls’ right to education in her home country of Pakistan. One year later, on her 16th birthday, Malala gave a speech at the UN that cemented her position as one of the most inspiring and influential people alive today. In 2014, at the age of 17, she became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In the years since that speech, Malala has turned her personal passion into a powerful international movement working to transform the future of girls and women the world over. Today, the 22-year-old student of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics at the University of Oxford is a household name in the fight for women’s rights. In this article, we’ll look at some of the lessons we can learn from Malala.


If you don’t raise your voice, it is unlikely anyone will hear you.

It’s easy to back away from the spotlight and lead a quiet life when things get difficult.  However, it is important you acknowledge that you have a voice and that you use it. Speak out against injustice, let people know how you feel, tell someone that you love them and share your opinions, thoughts, and concerns. Remember, inaction is a choice.


We live in a world of over 7-billion individuals. Each person is different. Each person on earth has something unique to offer the world. What’s your gift? What wonderful things do you have to offer? Don’t ever doubt for a second the power you have to make a difference.

Malala became a voice for girls’ education at the tender age of 10 years old. At 11, she began writing a blog for the BBC about the realities of what life was like for girls living under Taliban rule. She didn’t wait for anyone to begin making the change that she and her peers needed. If you are unhappy with certain aspects of your life, instead of waiting for someone else to come and fix the situation, take initiative and do something about it. After all, who understands your problem better than you?


Brave are the people who fight for what is true and just. It’s not just limited to politics or social work. In every field of life, we find brave people. Bravery has no limit.

Malala put her life on the line to fight for what she believed to be right. As a child, she was surrounded by war and destruction; bombs lit the night sky around her home. When she went to sleep at night, she thought about the very real fear that she would wake up surrounded by Taliban forces. But each morning, she started her day with hope of a better future. She stood firm in her beliefs and had the courage to become the face of a movement. Fighting for justice doesn’t have to be about taking to the streets and marching for a cause. Every day we are faced with instances where small acts of injustice occur; be it a co-worker taking credit for someone else’s work or seeing someone getting blamed for something they did not do etc. In these instances, you have the opportunity to do the right thing and speak up, take it.


They thought a bullet would silence us, but they failed. Nothing changed in my life except this: Weaknesses, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.

For the love of all that’s good in this world, your beliefs and your passions; please never give up. If you care about something, or someone, no matter what happens, refuse to quit. Don’t allow yourself to lose hope and always seek motivation to fuel your drive. Surround yourself with people and messaging that keeps you inspired and passionate about your goals and dreams. If a bullet to the head and the force of a notorious terrorist group did not falter Malala’s willpower, you have no excuse to give up.


I tell my story not because it is unique, but because it is not. It is the story of many girls.

Despite her many achievements, awards and fame (she is the youngest person ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize) Malala always speaks and acts with kindness, grace and humility. It is an admirable quality and one we should all strive to replicate.

Kindly visit https://malala.org/malalas-story to learn more about Malala and all her amazing work.

With that I’ll leave you with my favourite quote from Malala;

One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.


The dictionary defines design as: to prepare the preliminary sketch or plans for (a work to be executed) — definition by dictionary.com. The word ‘design’ has many applications but here are the most important ones – solution driven design or artistic type design. Both renditions propelled the human species into the modern world we know. Our ability to use design as an expressive system as well as process to develop solutions is evident all the way to our evolution stages. It surrounds us and can bet found in the tiniest of places and items.

Design is also a vital component in creating a successful business, product and service. While successful entrepreneurs play multiple roles in their company, I’d argue that the most important one is chief designer. We hear a lot about ‘design thinking’ from successful founders and business leaders because, as a culture the know that taking a design-driven mindset shapes the vision for successful products and businesses. Here a few lessons entrepreneurs can learn from designers:

Designers talk to customers early and often.

Interaction with customers is a vital ingredient in creating a successful product. Often times the root cause of introducing a flawed product or service into the market is not talking to customers. Waiting until the product is in beta and over relying on data analytics which is important in decision making but cannot replace actual human input from customers. Designers serve as conduit for ensuring that the voice of the customer is represented in each stage of development. They keep in constant communication with customers to ensure they don’t create products based solely on their personal assumptions of what customers want. But use information gathered from consumers and try to adopt their point of view to provide a product or service best adapted to those needs.

Getting input from customers in the early stages of your company won’t just inform the product, it will be a compass for you market strategy. After all, if you don’t have customers you don’t have a business.

Designers focus on solving customers actual pain points.

A product isn’t necessarily successful because it marginally meets expectations – a basic product excites no one and you cannot expect elements of delight to distract from unmet expectations. You’re not impressed when you walk into a hotel and find hot running water conversely, if there were no hot water, no number of free cookies in the reception would make up for it. Using the ‘early and often conversations’, designers synergise basic and delight – creating a masterpiece that can compete and succeed in the market while meeting customer expectations.

Design is diverse, your team should be too

Creativity comes from a conflict of ideas

Donatella Versace

To successfully create a product to suit the majority, you must be able to brainstorm and sort through the options effectively with a diverse team representing multiple functions and interests. Where companies largely go wrong by pushing a product into the market that supposedly caters to a large majority but only functions for a small minority or – is insensitive to another. A prime example are make-up brands that preach inclusivity but rarely cater to a diverse group of races or facial recognition software’s which are less effective for darker skin tones.

The flawed designs are the result of  a ‘uniform’ production team that draws solely from their own experiences thus create a product that disproportionately serves customers. This highlights the importance of a diverse team with varied ideas and experiences – allowing for a variety of voices and representation to create a prosperous product or service. An excellent example of would would be Fenty by Rihanna whereby, her company has garnered fame and success by selling access to beauty for ‘every’ kind of woman. Diversity is king.

Stress kills productivity

Undoubtedly, running a business is stressful – harsh deadlines, difficult customers, ever-changing technologies and more obstacles find a way to destress a critical part of its performance. The first and foremost step in leading a less-stressful business lifestyle is to identify what is stressing you out. After identifying the problem, you can begin to take action.

It’s important that you personally identify your triggers and make changes. Be it improving your time management skills, facing challenges with a more positive outlook, outsourcing projects, changing environments, taking time off etc. But remember, if you don’t get enough sleep all your changes mean nothing. When you’re rested you optimise your performance and make less mistakes.

Be creative, Designers are

It’s not about thinking outside of the box but what you can do with the box. Being creative is an obvious trait but probably the most important thing you can learn from a designer. If a product like the one you are producing or thinking about producing exists, make sure your version is better performing and stands out.

Conclusively, designers have managed to become essential in any and every industry that serves customers. Their diverse knowledge base is founded on the same basic principles outlined above. Whether you’re an employer, employee or budding entrepreneur – there’s lessons to be learned. Paul Rand simply says, “The public is more familiar with bad design than good design” – so work to change that.

Amanda Nyabila – Fashion Designer

What does it take to be CEO

The fastest and easiest way of becoming a CEO is attending a prestigious and expensive school, and getting an MBA right? Wrong. While most people have the same idea, even with an MBA, you only have 1 in 135,000 chances of becoming a Fortune 500 CEO[1]. Make no mistake, expertise and education is important especially if you are not a founder. So is experience. Besides the aforementioned attributes, there are other skills that will significantly boost your chances of becoming CEO. Here they are:

1. A CEO is a Risk Taker

All CEOs make decisions that significantly affect the operation of the organisation they lead. While it is important to maintain stability,  if you play it safe you have minimal chances of excelling as CEO. A great CEO is courageous enough to take risks that bring their organisation big payoffs. These risks should however, be calculated and strategic.  Before making any big decisions, whether you are an entry level employee or a high achieving executive, learn to anticipate challenges. Don’t get over excited about ideas, this can affect your ability to accurately assess the likelihood of failure. Instead, use lessons from the past and current trends to take educated risks. In the words of Mark Zuckerberg, “The biggest risk is not taking any risk… In a world that changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

2. A CEO Produces Results

Always ensure you achieve results in whatever position you’re currently at. Not occasionally but continuously. The ability to produce results is ranked among the most guaranteed ways of being considered for the coveted CEO spot[2] according to a 10 year Study dubbed the CEO Genome Project. You should be able to navigate challenges, achieve your objectives and hit your targets regularly. Be proactive, find solutions and create a way where there seems like none is available.

3. CEOs Learn To Communicate Well

For a company to excel, its CEO must not only produce results but, they must be able to inspire employees. Something that’s virtually impossible if you do not possess proper communication skills. Learn how to sell your vision and inspire those working with or under you to bring this vision to life. Try your best to build trust filled relationships with your coworkers and employees. Demonstrate empathy. Listen. Work on your storytelling skills. Do all this because it’s the easiest way to get people behind you is by appealing to their emotions. Additionally, CEOs who communicate and interact well with their employees enjoy greater work satisfaction -something that highly contributes to a company’s performance. Proper communication increases one’s chances of being CEO by 36.9% as per a study by Glassdoor.

4. A CEO Is A Perpetual Learner

Some of the world’s top CEOs have one thing in common – they’re always learning. These include the legendary Oprah Winfrey and Bill Gates. You need to put yourself in a position where you can learn by repeatedly facing different professional challenges. Be curious. Don’t just stick to a particular skill set. Learn and master various aspects of the business you’re in . Be completely committed to improving yourself.

Pursue higher education, volunteer for leadership roles, and take on challenges. Read books, take classes and find community projects that are looking for people that can lead. According to the New York Times, the quickest way to become CEO or get a highly sought after position is to be knowledgeable in various things. You need to perform a variety of roles and deliver results. Apart from adding to your experience, it will get you noticed by the people who are in a position to make you CEO.

5. CEOs Forge A Strong Network

“Show me you friends, I’ll show you your future.”

Any CEO worth their salt has a solid network to fall back on. Surround yourself with people who can make your vision come true. This doesn’t necessarily apply to other movers and shakers but, to your employees as well. Learn to be self-aware. Identify the strengths and skills that you lack. Get a team of employees who complement your skill set. This will ensure optimum performance.

Other key characteristics to bullet-proof your chances of being considered for CEO include thinking ahead, being curious, and being emotionally intelligent. Your ability to make decisions in the spur of the moment is also very important. As you work your way up, be confident but don’t dismiss others. Be respectful. Be proactive. More importantly, put yourself out there for whatever opportunities come up.

If you’ve got any open positions, post them up now and let The Manpower Company (TMC) find you the perfect fit!

Ruth Kimani

[1] https://www.onlinecasino.ca/odds-of-success

[2] https://ceogenome.com/

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