Ideas Are as Good as When They are Done

Recently, I decided to assist our church youth office to raise money and facilitate their trip to the conference at the Kenya School of Government in Embu County, Kenya. To get things rolling, I decided to explore new ideas of raising money before proceeding . One idea I had was to try and raise money for the youth conference without calling for a funds drive. The ideal method for effecting  this was to issue church members with small priced business like cards with an additional honorarium or small gift of yoghurt to accompany them. This is because  I believe in ideas that provide service to people and not ones that seem to disservice peoples of their hard earned money and resources.

I thought my idea was great to share with some of the church members and in that sense got a bit of applauds from one or two people who concurred with me. But for the pessimists, my idea was just that, an idea, as the only method they knew of fundraising was to stick to the old fashioned way of drawing up letter to invite people to come and help raise money for the conference.But my strong urge to practice novelty pushed me to want to do things differently. I therefore thought through my idea, and decided to shut out the pessimists and test the  idea.

And so I  kick-started the project by giving out the priced business like cards to the church members; of course with an accompaniment of either a yoghurt or airtime or cake.The least card went for 100shs and was supplemented by a 20shs airtime advance; the 200shs card was complemented by a 250ml yoghurt or 50shs airtime in advance, while the 2000shs card went with and advanced airtime of 200shs or 5000ml yoghurt.

My initial target was to surpass the eight thousand shillings that I had previously garnered the last time I tried the project. Thanks to throwing in the gift idea, at the end of the first month I had made about 15000shs. Two months later I had 30,000shs in my pocket and that was it. I had enough money to take the youth to the conference.

So what made my idea work?

I Completely Believed in My Idea

From inception, I never doubted whether my idea would work. Why? Because I practiced Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner’s “Think Like A Freak” premise that” Never leave experimentation to the scientists” test it yourself. I believed that people would buy into the card and yoghurt idea because I first was confident enough to try it; and second because I could visualize the positive impact and results  it would have on  both the project and my target group.

Secondly, I built my concept around my target audience needs, and not so much on maximizing profit. Because of this, my target group enjoyed supporting my idea. They knew that my idea fulfilled one of their needs and thus they participated fully without fear of manipulation.

I Anticipated the Problems
Robert Shuller once said that “Every idea comes with its inbuilt problems”.

The first challenge I had to overcome was getting money to print the cards and buy the accompanying gifts. I therefore had two choices to make, to either borrow money to start the project  or use my own money which would hopefully be refunded upon the success of the project. I picked on the latter idea and used the amount I had to print cards and buy the gifts.Consequently, I started issuing out the youth cards to specific individuals whom I knew would payback instantly. I then took the money I got from them and re-invested it back to printing more cards and gifts and at the end, it paid off.

The other challenges I had to overcome was to convince my target audience that my idea could not only work, but provide a solution to the extreme hot summer conditions that was being experienced at that time. This was easy for me because the weather was hot and I knew they would love a good drink of yoghurt to calm them down.

Thirdly, I had to really work hard to follow up and ensure that my target audience make the the payments in time. This was easier as through drinking the yoghurt or getting airtime in advance, supporters of my project had indirectly committed themselves to paying. They simply couldn’t say they have forgotten to pay for what they happily consumed.

I Shipped My Idea
I believed in my idea no matter how ridiculous it sounded to some people and stepped up and did it. A wise man once said, if you can dream it, you can see it, if you can see it, you can believe it and if you can believe it, you can achieve it.

The youth project idea was successful because above the pessimists and negative comments concerning it, I believed the only way to test the success of my idea  was to actually do it. I knew that having an idea and shipping it is actually what differentiates leaders from followers. Followers are good builders of other people’s ideas, while shippers are good effectors of both their own and other people’s ideas. Therefore, my idea would not have passed infancy stage if I didn’t believe in it enough to ship it.

I Ignored My Critics
There’s nothing in this world that doesn’t have use; even critics are good for building your success. They (critics) can give you a zero on your idea, but a lot of zeros makes up a good paycheck.

That said, had I listened to the critics, I would have immediately abandoned my idea and conformed to holding a fundraising which would actually have fail because initially, our church had undergone a series of funds drives and people were just tired of fundraisings.

Therefore if you have an idea, do not dismiss it or say it can’t work, start working on your idea by asking yourself “what can I do to make it work?” and do it. Remember, it costs nothing to have ideas, but everything to lack ideas.

Three Money Laundering Myths On Financial Freedom

If you have poor money management skills then all the money in the world cannot save you.

(Robert Kiyosaki)

The above book quote is from “The Business of the 21st century” by Robert Kiyosaki.  It’s quite an interesting and informative book for those individuals interested in securing their financial future, and avoid financial debt . The subtle truth in the book is that a fairly good number of graduates and non-graduates lack the basic financial knowledge on how to handle their personal finances . This is because most learning institutions teach students how to handle money in organizational settings and not so for their personal growth and development. This has resulted in the formation of myths concerning money ,richness and financial freedom namely:

If I Get a Masters ,PhD, or a Better Job, I Have a Good Chance of Becoming Financially Stable
Having an advanced certificate, or better job might increase your chance of having a a high salary, but will not make you rich or financially stable. According to Kiyosaki et al, Financial intelligence is the compass that bears on your financial health status regardless of your level of education or paycheck; not academic intelligence per se.

As Kiyosaki puts it, richness is a result of long term Investment in assets that generate money for you. Wealth on the other hand is a result of re-investing money generated from your assets into acquiring further assets to the point of those assets becoming independent money making machines.The latter part of creating wealth is what most of us fail at. Those who succeed at it no longer have to work everyday to make money as their assets make enough money for them.

If you want to know how rich or wealthy you are at the moment, ask yourself “How many days can I survive comfortably without going to work or without a job?” the answer to this is your Wealth status at the moment.

Money Is More Important Than Pursuing My Personal Dreams
Despite the shift from an industrial driven economy to an information world economy, dreams are still the key drivers to success. The only difference is that there are fewer individuals with the stamina and will to steer the turbulent waves of life to their destined dreams. As Donald Trump says, real dreams are only for those with a diehard entrepreneurial spirit. Gold, money, and real estate business will therefore not make you rich, but having knowledge on how they work is what will make you rich that is according to Kiyosaki.

If I Work Hard, I Will Eventually Become Rich
It is true that the Richard Bransons of today have a lot of money because of hard work. The only difference is that they worked hard specifically to build their dreams, not to just to pay the bills. From talking to a number of working individuals there is a further realization that making money is a good thing if you’re determined to learn how to invest it in you dream, but a self-defeating process if you set it as a life target or goal.

I would like to go on and on about financial myths, but I am no financial guru or “know it all”. So that is enough information to get you and I moving in the right direction

For Those who Really Care about Kenya’s future ………….

Thanks for reading!

First congratulations to all the 63 Kenyan universities for being ranked among the world’s  best universities in the recent 2015 global report. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change much on the May 2014 Ministerial Conference Report that places Kenya at an appalling 67% unemployment rate. It actually brings to question the effectiveness of the current system of education and tutoring culture amongst learning institutions.

I believe that for the rate of unemployment to reduce, the government and learning institutions must come together and support innovation and self-employment initiatives through changing the current teaching culture used by our very own learning institutions from an early age.

Why so?

Since the adoption of the British 8-4-4 system of education in 1985 in Kenya, our learning institutions have always produced graduates to wok in  industries. Primary, secondary and Tertiary education were therefore established to provide enough competent workers to work in industries thus grow the Kenyan economy. The prime objective of education was not to develop scholars to challenge  and redefine the current industrial status quo  , but produce a competent workforce that would maintain and optimize it.

Fast forward 2015, there are few emerging industries, more graduates, and still our learning institutions continue teaching students to respect the old system of looking at things, expecting a different economic outcome. That is why after completing education, the first thing most university graduates think of is looking for a job and not creating one. Is this really what we need?

What we Need

Seth Godin’s 2012 book/manifesto “Stop stealing dreams” challenges the current teaching culture as outdated. He recognizes that the needs of the post-working economy have changed. No longer do industries need more workers to enhance productivity,  but more artist and creatives of new ideas and industries. Therefore, the government, lecturers, teachers and institutional unions need to note this imperceptible fact immediately and change the mode of teaching in schools, because no longer is there adequate room to absorb the backlog of university graduates.

Parents must also, at an early age start encouraging their children to have more self-reliant dreams than industry-reliant ones.

Our  education system also needs to change its core culture to match that of the demands of the 21 century economy, and not the other way around. We no longer need to comply with the pre- teaching methods that centered on obedience, compliance to facts, and passing exams because though important, compliance and shear competence in systemic processes in today’s world is simply economic suicide.We must realize that our responsibility is to raise a new generation that is restless and ready to take on the county to a new course never been explored before.

Students must therefore be encouraged from an early age to want to challenge facts thus come up with more effective and dynamic ways of solving problems. Because the current economy dictates a need for more inventors, scientists, explorers and artists for this are the people that open doors for others. President Uhuru Kenyatta has in fact realized this subtle fact and thus invested more in the youth enterprise and Uwezo fund among other self sustaining initiatives , though this wouldn’t fully solve the unemployment problem.

To the Education Ministry

The Kenya Ministry of Education needs to change  teachers, and societies outlook of schools as factories of producing competent students that fits particular job groups, to providing transformational education that is centered on leadership, passion, ethics and inquisitiveness. This will encourage students to want to learn not because there are exams, but because they are passionate about providing leadership and innovation in their respective careers. In the the long run, children will acquire the verve to make their personal dreams come true and bolster economic growth ans sustainability as needed.

From an early age, children must be taught the purpose of learning as not to get good jobs, but to provide more dynamic leadership than exists in humanity; to be artists and leaders of new non-existent industries. This will encourage children to have self-reliant dreams that are not solemnly focused on what is there, but what might be there.

I am sure if you knew why you were learning subjects like chemistry and mathematics at an early age, you would invest more time and effort in learning them yourself thus provide more leadership and contribution to whichever field you are in now. Your life  would be better off by now as you would be in a better position to contribute  to the current evolutionary challenges of the 21st century economy.

That said, Its  still not too late to change the teaching culture as we a;; need to ask for more from our learning institutions.

Learning to Regenerate Your Talent like the Salamander

In a rather unfamiliar television escapade this week, I decided to explore one of the animal channels to unwind and think of the next educational article up my sleeve.  True to that I came across one small and unique amphibian that inspired me with one unique quality that is fundamental in surviving today’s life as a career person; the salamander.

With over 700 varied world species to its name, and in all continents except Antarctica, the salamander is truly a unique animal that we can learn a lot from. Its appearance is lizard like and habitats in water. But one stark characteristic that separates it from other lizard types and newts is its ability to regenerate limbs and organs that had previously been cut off, or lost due to injury.

For instance, when a salamander loses its limb to a predator or in injury; its body cells adapt to the situation by quickly re-directing white cells to form around the affected wound thus immediately stopping it from bleeding to death; and within weeks, the lost limb start to reform back to its original state. This is practically impossible for human beings as once a human body loses a limb, it can never regenerate the lost limb back to its original state.

But according to Wale Akinyemi’s 2011 book “Help! My chocolate is melting” and Seth Godin’s 2010 book “Linchpin: are you the indispensable”, this is practically possible. How so?

When you don’t have the opportunity to fully express your unique talent in society, one tends to feel discouraged. It seems like you no longer have your “magic powers” or use for that part in yourself that makes you unique.

But according to Wale, this is the opportune time to learn how to make chocolate out of the cocoa situation. It is time to accept the situation you are in and use the ashes of the situation to find a way to regenerate that unique power that you once had. It is what Wale calls “Making cocoa out of a melting chocolate”.

Similarly, Seth Godin’s book  “Linchpin: are you indispensable”, spells  the road to becoming indispensable as not defined by how well you can use your exceptional God given ability to make something out of yourself. , but by how artistic you are in regenerating your unique talent amidst predominant situations like job loss, limited wok opportunities….etc.

As a graduate, being a linchpin equates to showing your artistic ability to display your unique talent in the society you are in amidst congestion of professionals in the same field. Godin confirms this as the key to staying abreast in the 21st century of heightened Job competition.

Personally, I have had to regenerate my talent a couple of times.  Like after clearing my Bachelor’s degree in communication in one of the local universities, I realize that I had lost one of my limbs; and that is the platform and ability to influence student blog readers through peer mentorship and counseling articles.

Now as a new graduate who is done with campus life, I had to find a way of doing what I used to do while in university but now in the outside world, hence began this educational blog. As an artist in your own feat, you must be determinded to recreate your own map and desist from following other people’s maps.

Therefore, whether you are in college/ university or not, don’t complain that there are no jobs. Find ways of regenerating your talent because in today’s world economy, being educated is not equals to getting a good job or a job at all. Your ability to regenerate your unique talent in whatever situation you are in is what will make or break you career wise.

Education is Not the Only Key To Success; Faliure too is

Has anyone ever congratulated you for failing to accomplish a task or goal? I guess it’s because we are all pre-conditioned to associate failure with feelings of discontent. Maybe that’s why we all love our countries heroes because they are the prime image of success. But aren’t heroes successful failures per-se? How many heroes in your country do you know that never faltered on their way to honor? I am sure a few. Let us now look at how failure, just like education can equal success:

  1. Abraham Lincoln
    He can easily be referred to as the father of failure. Why? All stacks of life were just against him namely:
    • He was born into poverty
    • Lost his mother in 1818
    • Lost his job in 1832
    • Tried his luck in business twice and failed
    • Run for seven elective posts between 1832 and 1960 and failed.
    • Having generally fought and lost all battles of life, he figured, “what was there to lose if I try a shot at the presidency of United States of America? He therefore tried and successfully became America’s  16th president in 1860.
  2. George Crum
    Ladies should love this guy. He used to be a Chef at a resort in New York in 1953. One day while on duty, he received a complaint from a disgruntled customer who claimed that the French fries he was served was too thick, mushy and lacking salt. This angered Crum and as a form of payback, he decided to slice the potatoes into thin slices, frying them into burnt crisps and top it off with a pinch of salt. He served the customer and surprisingly the customer loved it. That’s how crisps were discovered.
  3. Pfizer Laboratory
    The above laboratory is famous/ infamous for the discovery of Viagra. It all started out in 1991 when a number of scientists under the guide of Ian Osterloh coincided to conduct trials on a test drug that would hopefully provide cure for high blood pressure patients. The tests conducted by the scientists on Sildenafil Citrate (the high pressure drug) revealed that the drug had minimal to no curative effect on high blood pressure patients. The drugs simply could not cure high blood pressure.But despite this, many high blood patients were not returning the drug to the chemists, but prescribing for more. Reason being that the drug side effects was solving another problem, that of erectile dysfunction. To cut the story short, the drug was subsequently improvement, rebranded and approved as the now known Viagra in March 27th 1998.

So in life, how do you define failure? Is it an unfulfilled goal, lack of basic necessities, loss of Job, failure at a project or loss of hope? Because from what I know, in business failure is defined and seen as customer feedback, in medicine it is a basis for further research, in communication and PR, it is an opportunity to re- position and rebrand and in religion it is a precondition for success and hope in life. Therefore don’t fear failure because failure narrows in on the path to success and increases your breadth to maintain it. Good Day.

Choosing A College/ University: What you need to know?

I recently sat down to listen to a distressing conversation in the media on the gap between job requirements for employers and current graduates credentials in the Kenyan job market. Listening in, one of the panel of employers said that the major problem employers of today are facing is the increased number of half-baked and incompatible professionals across the board. More and more companies are now being forced to bear the cost of re-training graduates to meet the job market demands.

As a believer in taking personal responsibility in decision making, I wish to assess what you as a student need to know to ensure that your current course meets the job requirements of the 21st Century?

Before enrolling for a course in a college or university here are a few things that you need to know. These include:

1. Is the college officially registered to offer the courses it offers?

As a prospective university student, it is imperative to not only check on the academic reputation of the institution, college ranking or how many graduates of their institution get good jobs but to compare the general skills that the institution provides with the current job market requirements. This information is nowadays available thanks to Google.

2. Is career counseling/coaching integrated into their student enrollment process or is the college just interested in your money?

Fresh college students hardly pay attention to this and this comes to bite back once you graduate as some do not know how to assert their talent after school.

3. How business savvy is the course you plan to enroll for?

Please confirm that your course has some units that touch on the business part of your career. Remember, no employer wants to hire someone who lacks the financial literacy to handle money. You will also need the financial knowledge when you decide to start your own business.

4. What is their examination body?

From experience, each course in university has its own locally accredited examination body or professional body. Do yourself a favor by also checking on this as some students have ended up graduating with result slips that are not locally accepted.

5 Challenges of Being A University Graduate

Year after year, public and private university doors open for new students to begin pushing the career wheel of academic achievement. As this happens, another door closes in for graduates who now step into the world of job seeking. A sneak pick into the employment dynamics reveal that today’s competitive job market tends to favor more flexibility among graduates than academic qualifications.

As a fresh graduate there is a list of challenges that you will need to conquer in order to curve out a name for yourself and stay relevant in this world of professionals. These are:

1. Unrealistic expectations
They say there is no substitute for hard work. But what I say is that there is no substitute for unrealistic expectations. Why? Because as a fresh graduate, your family friends, and society will at most have bigger expectations of you than usual. After investing a lot in your education and time, they will expect you to job search and get the best jobs, take on more responsibility and basically bring home more value income.
If you manage to get a job, you will be expected to prove your qualifications and in so, work for equally long hours as veteran employees do; traversing new work territories as professionals do, and find ways to deal with the resulting mental strain and minimum wage.

2. Job Inexperience
Once a graduate, you will have to compete with your fellow graduates not only based on your academic qualification, but also on experience qualification. Therefore, to boost your employment chances as an inexperienced graduate, apply for both jobs on the market and internship opportunities available. For those that are not graduating, minimize the chances of rejection by applying for more internship opportunities while in University. If you do this you are guaranteed of graduating as a more experienced graduate than your predecessors, thus placing you in a viable platform to equally compete with veteran graduates on job opportunities.

3. Financial Adjustment
Aside from graduates with families, graduates who have previously been dependent on their parents for food, clothing and entertainment will need to search for new way of generating personal income. From experience, your will now be expected to be your own parent, capable of handling the numerous checks and balances of life. No longer will you be getting that pocket money that you so fervidly enjoyed, or ask for money as you did. Internal conflicts may arise at this point as you try to balance between autonomy and maintaining family and friend relationships.

4. Unpaid Internship
You have just got your first internship or job opportunity as a fresh graduate and are hopeful of translating it into a permanent job. After three months, your internship is extended, of course under new promise of pay. Unfortunately, you get frustrated from the broken promise of non-payment. If or when this happens to you, don’t give up. Take the recommendation letter as an added experience that will propel you a step closer into getting the job you’ve always wanted; or better so, congratulations for acquiring an added skill that will in the near future reap dividends over other job applicants.

5. Lack of Jobs
Let’s face it, in today’s world, being a degree, certificate or master’s holder is not a direct ticket to your dream job. On the contrary, the job market has become adversely competitive as illiteracy levels continue to diminish within the urban sectors. This does not mean that there are no jobs left for you out there. People still apply and get jobs, though the absorption is low.
Therefore, make sure you squeeze every opportunity you get, whether linked to your profession or not; remember “flexibility is key”. In case work opportunities become evasive, take on Milton Berlie’s principle that dictates : “If opportunity doesn’t knock at your door, build one for yourself.Good Day.