How To Overcome Failure

failure

How do you deal with failure in life, business or professional life?  Many of us would instinctively give up and focus their energies elsewhere. Failure is indeed a scary word to many.

We were having a tee-a-tete with fellow influencers on an upcoming engagement for the youth in various fields including entrepreneurship when we discovered that one denominator ran under us: we all had failed one time in our pursuit of success.

My fist time to organize an event for nascent entrepreneurs was the first time to experience failure first hand.  We did all the necessary preparations beforehand.  The event was also oversubscribed and we were confident that it would surpass our expectations by far. Come the training day and we went earlier to set up the venue and waited for our trainees. Half an hour into the scheduled time for starting, no one came! We consoled ourselves that maybe those who booked slots would come later. However, none came. We had to pack up and leave. We agreed with my partner to revisit the event and learn where we had failed to make it even better next time we would. And that us why we met recently, to revive our dreams and see how best to resurrect it once again.

Did I give up after the debacle? Not at all. Actually after that major failure, I purposed to approach the calling using a different approach. I chose to build my brand and that is how I came up with Passionpreneurship. I did a book to disseminate this knowledge and followed it up with two others, including an online course on how to turn one’s hobby into a sustainable business. (Check out the Passion to Profit Online Masterclass via http://www.pblafrica.co.ke/individual-courses/ ). The inaugural book has opened up doors I never imagined – speaking events, opportunities to mentor others and most importantly, being a business trainer cum mentor for the prestigious Cytonn eHub Program. What if I had thrown in the towel, where would I be?

Your guess is as good as mine.

There is a famous saying that goes: if you have never failed in anything, then you have never tried doing anything. And if you are just inert, it implies that you are not accomplished. You can never achieve anything in life if you are afraid to risk it and fail.

Maybe we can examine various world renowned success personalities in their own right to best appreciate this: The infamous owner of the OWN Television Network, Oprah Winfrey, was once  demoted form her news anchor job because she was considered “unfit for the position.” Michael Jordan, the sports icon, had been cut out from his high school basketball team since his height was not up to standard. Years later, he was recognized as a top Basketball Hall of Famer, earning millions from his endorsements of sports apparel. J.K. Rowling, the infamous writer, did her inaugural Harry Potter manuscript and knocked 12 publishers’ doors and none would accept her. Her 13th accepted it but half-heartedly. He told her that she could not make serious money doing children’s books. Well, she is the only dollar billionaire purely from writing books!

Nonetheless, in the event failure happens, which is inevitable anyway, one reaps much when they choose to persist. This can only happen if you have passion for what you do. They say that passion, is more consistent with happiness and success than any other thing.

From the above examples, were it not for passion, the history makers would have thrown in the towel and resigned themselves to fate. But they chose to keep on pushing in the hope that one day things will turn out right.

It is therefore upon us, if we are serious about succeeding in life and overcome obstacles that come our way, to discover, develop and deploy passion into the world. This way, we are assured of overcoming any challenge that is set before us.

They say the when currency fails, gold becomes the standard of transactions. For success, the currency is passion. Passion, is the new black! Embrace it. 🙂

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The writer is the author of Passionpreneurship Demystified, a book on how to leverage passion for success in life. If you need a copy, visit the link below:

https://goo.gl/g4TVR3

 

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How To Thrive As An Online Entrepreneur

goldfish in cart - e-commerce concept

In the last one year, a lot has happened in the eCommerce world in Africa. Just recently, OLX announced closure of their Kenyan and Nigerian offices and would be pulling back operations to South Africa. Almost concomitantly, Konga, one of Nigeria’s top eCommerce firms, pronounced it was scaling back operations in Africa’s second largest economy.

A recent survey of fintech start-ups in Africa by Disrupt Africa established that over 70% of eCommerce start-ups are yet to break even. This, sadly, is the situation despite the enormous opportunity for growth.  Jumia is currently enjoying dominance in this field and it seems is not stopping any time soon despite suffering losses in the recent past.

Nonetheless, in Kenya, Safaricom Kenya Limited announced they were launching their version of eCommerce, Masoko and followed it up with Songa, an online music platform. Be it as it may, Safaricom pegs the success of the two entities on its strong brand and it would be important to learn how a fintech like Safaricom, has built dominance in the highly competitive sector despite being new entrants into the industry.

To best appreciate this, it would be good to revisit a book by Simon Sinek, titled “Start with Why”. Simon postulates that brands that have sustained business sales over time have formulated a way to connect with their target consumers through communicating strategically.

In this case, rather than push for sales volumes through campaigns, they start by communicating to their target audience the motivation behind what they do. This is called communicating the Why the firm exists and ultimately, establish a bond with your target audience. The end result of this is an emotional connection with the buyer and this enables the target audience to buy into the product eventually, what Sinek called the WHAT.  Dominant brands employ this technique to enhance market penetration and sustain product loyalty.

Building a relationship takes time and requires patience. In all the profiled case studies sampled for failure in eCommerce, the investors were not patient to let the business grow organically and return profit. What they failed in was to push for revenues in anticipation of profits and a quick return on their seed capital. When their expectations were unmet, they exited the scene.

A properly done brand communication strategy, borrowing from the Safaricom brand story, would start with studying the target market and getting to appreciate their demographics and culture. By aligning your corporate brand to your potential clients’, you in effect are warming up to them for a start. Secondly, it would really be important to establish what challenge the society has and thereby targeting your brand communications to be in line with providing a solution to this. In this way, the client would feel at home approaching the brand for a solution. Safaricom’s big break came during times of adversity – the 2007/2008 Kenyan Post Election violence that made financial transfers and transactions a big challenge. By launching Mpesa, its mobile wallet survive, Kenyans were able, with confidence and convenience, be able to send cash and trade freely. This is what has endeared Safaricom to the Kenyan people and mad exit to be the corporate behemoth it is today, with a market share of over 70%.

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Would you want to thrive as an online entrepreneur? Start with WHY you exist. Go out and interact with your target market and tell your story. Because so long as you will sell your product and push for sales, the revenues would not come.

Sustainable sales come about when you commit to build a relationship with your market and thereafter, enable them see the solution to the market gap that you offer.

Start with WHY then later, your WHAT!

Why Be An Entrepreneur & Not Self Employed? 


In my entrepreneurship mentorship sessions, I always float this question to my audience: why are you into business? In response, I receive an array of answers  some convincing, others not. That is normal with open forums.

In a study carried out by the Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) last year in Kenya, it was established that over 2.2 million businesses had collapsed over a five year period. Even more shocking, was the revelation that slightly over 400,000 start-ups never lasted beyond their second year of operation. 46% of these firms die off within their first year. 

Youth unemployment remains Kenyas biggest socio-economic challenge. So enormous it is that it shakes the core of the countrys dominance as an economic powerhouse. Statistics put it that one in every six young Kenyans is unemployed. In neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda, the rate stands at one in every twenty on average. 

Ask any Kenyan youth about their occupation and they would respond that they are either gainfully employed (in a job), or self-employed (taken to mean ‘business owners’). More often than not, they venture into self-employment as an option for lack of employment opportunities. They undertake business with neither the requisite skills nor passion for it.

Nonetheless, are these who are self-employed truly in entrepreneurship? Is there a line between self-employment and entrepreneurship? 

It has to be cherished that entrepreneurship is a philosophy of sorts, a lifestyle. Methinks entrepreneurship in being a vocation, one to add value to society. An entrepreneur would identify a challenge and consequently task himself to provide a solution. His main motivation is to fulfil a human need and alleviate a pain point. Despite the challenges they encounter, they keep on trudging on the path to their objective. 

Take Thomas Edison, he who invented the light bulb, for instance. Over 999 times, he failed and never gave up. He said that each time he failed, he discovered one way that he would not do it. His optimism paid off at last. Again, let us examine Jeff Bezos, he who for some days beat Bill Gates to be Forbes Richest Man alive. When he started Amazon, his dream was to provide a link between producers and the consumers and build the worlds largest online retailer! The business made money for the founder after six years of operation. Facebook, the worlds largest social media platform, took five years before it reported a profit. Alibaba took eight years while Tesla, the world acclaimed innovative automobile manufacturer, is yet to be profitable to date!

Coming closer home, Parapet, the regions leading cleaning company, took three to four years to stabilize and post profits. While it may seem business leadership translates to super profits, Business Daily too proves otherwise. The paper is the countrys leading business publication and yet, seven years after launch, it is yet to post a profit!

Did the founders of these businesses give up since they were unable to recoup their investments in the short term? Absolutely not. In fact, with the continued negative feedback on their financial positions, they persisted and got motivated by the need to fill their identified society gap until when their businesses broke even. Hence, entrepreneurship is a philosophy, a calling of sorts!

On the contrary, those who take entrepreneurship to be a profession (self-employment) look forward to financial rewards or compensation. As such, they would get into business to be free most of the time (or so they think), to express their bossiness around, and most popular of all, earn huge payoffs from the business! Some even start a business to be able to live a defined kind of lifestyle. To others, getting their hands into business is an express ticket to wealth generation. Nonetheless, this is getting it all wrong. 

Entrepreneurship is about value creation. The sanctity of undertaking business is to enrich the human race. Their mission in life is made complete by solving a human need. It therefore cannot be a short term affair as for the ‘self-employed’. Entrepreneurs go for the long haul. For instance, Coca Cola has outlived its founders, more than a century after its invention. When the firm started in 1896, it sold nine servings per day in Atlanta. The founder passed on two years after inventing the beverage. Currently, the firm sells an average of 1.9 billion bottles daily across the globe! 

In addition, entrepreneurs are risk takers and dare invest in a venture in pursuit of their objective. They would not fear failure. Failing is just but part of the process of success. Whenever they encounter failure, they keep on working their passion to fruition. A self-employed individual is risk averse, choosing to play safe with the intention of reaping big from their undertaking. Failure discourages them altogether.

However, even more interesting is the ability of an entrepreneur to flex with dynamics on the ground. He appreciates that there are constant shifts on the ground and as such, he/she is prepared to change in tandem to the shifts. This is the reason why those who take entrepreneurship as a calling do not give up. Their flexibility works to their advantage. For the self-employed fellow, their rigidity works against them. Like the dinosaurs of old, their rigidity causes them to fail due to their inadaptability. 

How else can we explain the findings of a study by CB Insights, who undertook a post mortem on 101 start-ups that failed recently? In this study, they found out that the major cause of start-up failure is lack of a human need (up to 42%). Lack of capital only came second with 29% of subjects alluding this to their failure. This is interesting since most business founders blame the lack of capital as the cause of business failure. 

The crux of the matter is the motivation for an individual to get into entrepreneurship. That is what determines whether a business will last or not. Of particular noting is the fact that all the mentioned businesses that have outlasted the times had one common denominator  their founders had the right mind set. To them, business was not a means to earn a living. It was a calling, a vocation. If we re-evaluated our motivation to get into business, we would reverse this failure rate of businesses in our country and region and reap big from the ripple effect in terms of economic growth and sustainability. 

So then, would you rather be self-employed in business or choose to be an entrepreneur? The better choice is quite explicit!

-Ends-

This article was first done for publishing in the Cytonn Investments Plc Blog by Michael Okinda,  the author.  

He is an acclaimed personal branding & business coach under his PBL Africa initiative. 

To FLY or LAND – WHY DO YOU EXIST?

Plane disused2

I was once privileged to work in Northern Kenya, in Turkana County at a town called Lokichoggio. It was my first time to serve in a hardship area in my ten years in banking and finance. The experience had its own challenges alongside merits.

For once, I could interact with flora and fauna I only read about in my Geography classes.  But the presence of the international airport as part of the town’s infrastructure is what fascinated me most.

During our time for rest and recuperation, we would use flights to and from Nairobi. The presence of many planes on the airfield, disused and in bad shape attracted my attention. So when an employee of the facility invited me over to the watchtower for a visit, I obliged.

Once up in the control tower, he showed me how they directed and managed flights in the airport. It gave me a chance to question why so many huge planes were parked on the tarmac on the fringes of the airfield, disused and abandoned. He informed me that most of those planes were left abandoned by their owners after the government banned their use in the country.

The discussion progressed on. I also questioned why, in such a short time, most had rusted and were literally falling apart. He told me that a plane is made to fly. Its life should be spent mostly in the air and not on land. As such, when packed on land, vagaries of weather work on it more than when it is in the skies. Likewise, my friend went on, a plane is safer when it is in the air than on land! And this shocked me to the core…

In Nairobi’s biggest airport, JKIA, the turnaround time for a plane is two hours on the maximum. This means, every two hours, a plane has to be in the air to minimize its wear and tear when aground.

Plane disused

It made me to start thinking: what was I created for? Was I really living the life I was meant to? Am I harnessing the potential in me to the maximum? What was my gifting? How was I using it?

In this world, many of us are like those planes on the ground – living a life they were never created to live, with unexplored potential lying idle in them. Many of us are leading lives to fit into our clichés and gangs. We do things to belong. We do things because we feel that is what society and those around us expect us to, oblivious of the actual reason why we were created in the first place.

Plane disused3

Look around social media for instance: we are literally competing against ourselves on who looks more fly than the other. But then, were we all created to be similar? Life would be very boring if all of us did the same thing, living similar lifestyles!

It is upon us to dig in and have a conversation within ourselves to find out why we exist. Unless we do that, we will be like those planes I have spoken of – wearing off and disused, useless. For we will never find meaning if all we do is sit on the ground when we were made to fly! When you time on earth comes to an end, would you look back and regret that you never lived the life you were supposed to? Would you, for instance, blame doubt and fears as some of the things that stopped you from exploiting your life potential?

So, then, fly – each in his own unique way as we were created or lie down and die disused and wasted. It is your choice. True success only comes when you live your purpose – living as you were intended to. So make the right choice!

***** Ends******

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Speaker with PBL Africa and a Cytonn Entrepreneurs Hub Mentor. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                mokindah@gmail.com

LinkedIn:             https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:             @Mokinda

Telegram Community:      https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

 

I CAN IS ALL YOU NEED

maasai2

Sometimes back I visited the Maasai Mara courtesy of an old customer of mine who insisted on giving me a complementary package for the support I gave his business. Since I was then working and living in Turkana, a desert County, I found it appropriate to take time off and so we flew to the Mara with my fiancé then.

Well, on the second day we went for a game drive in the morning and it was awesome seeing the animals in real life. All along, we had gotten used to seeing them on the silver screens and so it was awesomely exhilarating interacting with them one on one.

We passed some plains and onto the river basin of Mara River and I noticed many cows being herded by a small boy. I tried to look for another herder but funny enough, the boy took care of the animals on his own, in the vast game reserve. Maasai Mara is famed for the big five, including predators like lions and cheetahs that hunt and would not spare any herbivore they see around. Actually, a few metres from where the cattle were grazing, a pride of lions were lazing by, maybe enjoying the early rays of sunshine from the horizon.

I asked our guide if the boy is not afraid of the lions and other predators. He said the boy does not.

Ideally, Maasai boys are usually initiated into adulthood after proving their mettle. Before they are listed for initiation, they are sent into the bush and they are required to only come back with evidence of their fighting off a lion or other predator and coming back home with evidence of the conquest. In Kenya, they are required to return home with the head of a lion as trophy.

maasai

Because of this experience, the young morans (boy warriors) grow up with resilience and strong belief that they are capable of achieving any feat. Self-belief is ingrained in them.  They grow up that they can, no matter what. And it is this same spirit they venture with into the wild, with nothing but a spear in hand.

In the same vein, this is what we need in life. Most of the times we shy away from making advances in life because we are too afraid to take risks. Risk prevents us from making the ultimate step into our destinies and moving up. Like the Maasai morans, we need to train our psychologies that even if we are aware of the dangers out there, we still can overcome them. They say our dreams are always on the other side of fear. It is until we learn to conquer fear that we will win.

That interview, that business engagement, that venture you are thinking of undertaking, that girl or boy you fear saying hallo to, that one step you fear taking is the ultimate crossing point into your destiny. Gather up courage and still your heart with the ‘I can’ call and go ahead!

Do it.

***** Ends******

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Speaker with PBL Africa and a Cytonn Entrepreneurs Hub Mentor. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                mokindah@gmail.com

LinkedIn:             https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:             @Mokinda

Telegram Community:      https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

HOW TO GET THAT PROMOTION EASILY; A PERSONAL TESTIMONY

How does one earn a promotion faster than the others? How comes very few of us get those raises so easily at the detriment of others? Read on to discover this secret that very few know of and start working with utmost satisfaction.

How-to-Get-Promoted-What-the-Boss-Looks-For

Whenever I get the opportunity to give an introduction about myself to young and upcoming professionals, the audience stands in awe at how fast I rose up the corporate ladder of success. Yeah, I became a manager for a multinational financial institution at the tender age of 28, three years after joining the firm as a junior clerk!

The first question I am always asked is how I made it and if I really had “connections” to enable me ascend the ranks. But my answer is always in the negative. Neither did I work hard to earn the rising…but I chose to work smart.

The avalanche of queries led me to do my inaugural book, “Passionpreneurship Demystified” (available on Amazon and via https://mokinda.wordpress.com/2017/07/15/passionpreneurship-demystified/ where I elucidated clearly on this secret.

Well, it is common notion that for one to be noticed at the workplace, one must have the appropriate papers or be known to some authority that would prefer favours on them to rise.  Others take it that one has to really work hard to deliver and overachieve to literally earn a promotion.

When I got employed as a graduate clerk back in late 2007 (October 11th to be precise), I realized that I was not on boarded to the company because of my qualifications, but my capabilities. I underwent rigorous aptitude testing and interviews until I eventually made the cut to be a graduate clerk and posted to a remote area to start off my career. The irony of it all was that I was a medical degree First Class Honours holder yet the banking industry required educational skills in banking and finance related subjects.

I set out to learn my job well and develop passion around my job roles as a way of having an easy time in the organization. It was a choice I had to make, including adjusting attitude and putting myself to task about my expectations in the office.

Promted

Now where do we go wrong as employees? How comes many of us stagnate in one position for years?  The first misconception as I have mentioned is the notion that for one to employed or promoted for that matter, one has to be a thick curriculum vitae of academic qualifications. But then, place yourself in the shoes of the employer with several employees and direct reports with huge files of qualifications but minimal delivery….what will be your next reaction? Sack all of them, or is it not? Well, that is how useless it is to be so learned with nil skills and competencies. Employers do not employ for papers. They do because of the employees’ potential to deliver. It therefore means what sells are not the academic qualifications but abilities or competencies. It is your skills that sell you not the papers you hold!

The world has come to appreciate this fact: a few years ago, leading business consultancy firm, Ernest & young, removed the requirement that for one to be legible for employment, one has to have a degree. PricewaterhouseCoopers too have followed suit. This is a strong pointer of the importance of anyone keen on rising up the ladder of corporate success, to work on improving their output delivery ability.

How then do you go about boosting your ability to perform so that you get noticed? I will answer this question exhaustively in the second installment of this article. Keep tabs on his blog for the second part of this!

***** End of Part 1******

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ

 

The Art of Denial

I  come across this phrase of ‘burying the head in the sand’ a couple of times. So today, i made up my mind to dig it up and appreciate it better.

Apparently it is based on a myth that the ostrich, when faced by an attack from a more powerful predator, would rather than face its opponent, it would burry its head in the sand and wish the attacker would not notice it. But then, as big a bird it is, the body part above the ground would show itself. Is that an effective way to face the situation? You agree with me its not! Running or fighting out the aggressor would be more helpful.

But then it would be worthwhile to accept the fact that most of us are good at exhibiting this behaviour of the ostrich. Rather than have a stand in anything,one would gladly live and thrive on the grey zone where we are accepted and make others happy. In actual sense, rather we live our lives as we our hearts are at peace with, we do stuff to make the others happy and warm.

But then, at the end of the day, are we really doing what is right and acceptable? Is this what we were created for?

Psychologically, people who survive by sitting on the fence would lack a stand on any issue, however much moral authority demands that they take a stand. Three truths come from this:

(1)If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. 

(2) Those who stand for nothing fall for anything. 

(3) When you stand for nothing, you fall for everything. This adage is attributed to Alexander Hamilton, Peter Marshall, and other famous speakers of old times.

Fence sitters, also known as ‘sand head buriers’ are known to lack a stand and are unprincipled. In the practical sense of this all, it implies that when all we want is to please everyone, we fall for everything and lack the moral fabric or ethic to have a defined identity. When all you do is fall for everything, you lack a personal brand.

The world is made what it is today by people who chose to stop sitting on the fence and taking their positions and making them known , regardless of what those around them thought. Jesus was an example. He was labelled as the carpenter’s son, others as the King of the Jews. Others called Him the Law Breaker since He challenged the Jewish tradition. 

If i may ask: what do you stand for?  Will you, like the proverbial ostrich, be known for hiding your head in the sand when you are required to take a stand? The society more than ever needs world changers and  influencers who would stamp their feet down and plant seeds of optimism, principleness and purpose. Otherwise, you choose to fall for everything and stand for nothing, ideally, an ostrich! For nothing can be solved, neither would any solution be provided by ignoring the issue at hand and wishing it away. It would just make matters worse. 

The writer is an acclaimed business author of Passionpreneurship Demystified and Business Networking: How to maximize on your contacts for Business and Professional Growth. Both books are available on Amazon. He is also a Personal Branding and Business Coach with PBL Africa. In case you need assistance to give your business or profession a jump-start, he can be reached via the following contacts:

Email:                              pblogix@gmail.com

LinkedIn:                         https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-okinda-9652b210a

Telegram:                       @Mokinda

Telegram Community: https://t.me/joinchat/EkprBT6zCKCRUmQUaDD9cQ