cocktailBy age 30, it’s not unusual to find folks who have studied, lived and worked in at least three countries. Also, it’s easy to find organizations where the CEO is Turkish, the CFO American and the COO Kenyan. Diversity in the workplace cannot be ignored. In this case, how do you lead in a cultural mix?

Be Interested. Genuinely seek to add value to the lives of your team members without letting the cultural differences put you off. In certain work places, people keep contact at bare minimum due to racial or tribal differences. Not cool!

Anticipate Difference Views. It is wise to expect a difference in ideas, methods and beliefs in a multicultural work space. Expect it. This way you’re better equipped to absorb the culture shock. I wonder why people expect folks from different cultures to be just like them…beats me.

Agree on One Focus. A clear, shared vision is powerful enough to bring all kinds of people together. When the vision is clear, then there’s greater room for flexibility when it comes to methods. Despite the challenges, once folks agree, the effect is powerful.


French Wine

frenchwineOne day I went to visit with a good friend in Dakar. I was greeted with a glass of Bordeaux red wine and some cheese. Dinner was an all French cuisine. The background music was…you guessed right…French.

The Senegalese young man was born in Dakar, but raised in France. He got his PhD there before relocating back to Senegal. My friend is very French, but also Senegalese. He beautifully moves in and out of each culture.

The ability to be whoever you want to be per time is one of the luxuries of the 21st century. Any culture can be home at any time. You can travel the globe, building on your person and personality as you go. It’s a great opportunity to be more than what one’s root culture dictates.

This era offers us the chance to live with different people. We have an opportunity to share in their insight into life, to walk in their shoes and to share in their story. I think that’s a good deal.

Mountain Tricks

junky2I’ve heard folks compare cities and argue that people from one city are ‘slower’ than people from another. In that case, I proceed to ask a few questions about each city’s dynamics and try to reveal the fault lines in the ‘slow’ theory.

Every location has its wisdom based on many factors at play. The thinking required to thrive in Boston is different from the one required to succeed in Nairobi. The mix of history, commerce, traditions, ancestry, climate, etc…come together to affect the rhythm of any place. Hence, people develop mechanisms to adapt to each location.

This is clearly a debate.

My point: every place has a significant lesson to teach and an inherent advantage…its unique signature. The survival skills needed for the mountain is not the same for the valley.

As you wade through cultures and where they exist, it is important to keep an open mind. Expect it to be different from what you’ve always known. It’s near silly to expect the same experiences from Mombasa as you would from New York. Probably won’t happen.


junky3I’m a culture junkie. I relish difference. It hit me as I enjoyed a chat with a young lady from Bosnia. A few weeks ago, I found myself in a gathering that was practically the ‘United Nations’. By the end of the night, I had an Italian ‘cousin’. It was brilliant!

Every culture is a new world; an aspect of humanity that’s worth exploring. The way people think, what they eat, how they dance, how they talk, etc…all paint a vivid image of a rare scope to life. It’s a ‘banquet’ of meaning and every time, without thinking, I dig in.

This ‘condition’ makes me want to live everywhere, know everything about every people group and participate in every cultural flavor. Restlessness is usually the result. But that’s OK! It keeps me hungry for more.

In my view, life’s richer when you venture out into the ocean of cultures. Should you have the chance to experience a different angle to life? I suggest you take it…may not be comfortable at first…but I guarantee, you’ll learn something new.

Everyday People

everydaypeople4Business is shark waters, even more so in the 21st century. The levels of uncertainty are high. With this in mind, how do you advance despite the obstacles? One way…

Love People!

Life is business.

People-loving is a long term strategy. You don’t have to like everyone, but loving them is essential. What does this mean?

Respect people. In my view, this is one of the best ways of showing care. Regard for a person’s views, thought patterns and choices, is a good start. Acknowledge their difference. They’re not you. Accept it.

Forgive People. If you lack the forgiveness ‘software’, life can be very stressful. You may have to get mad all the time because people constantly make mistakes. Find a way to let it go!

Encourage People. Find ways to make people feel good about themselves when they come around you. We generally avoid those who constantly put us down. Life is tough enough and no one is perfect. So at least, acknowledge the effort that folks make and let them know that you truly appreciate them. People find it refreshing.

We’re On Fire

wereonfire2The combination of ignorance and confidence is scary. It’s a component of the ‘fake-it-till-you-make-it’ concept.

During Nelson Mandela’s Memorial, a man who was supposed to be the sign-language expert, confidently stood before a global audience and gave us the wrong signs. We just didn’t see that coming. It was embarrassing.

Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, the first deaf woman to be elected to the South African Parliament tweeted, “ANC-linked interpreter on the stage with dep president of ANC is signing rubbish. He cannot sign. Please get him off”.

Was he confident? Yes! Did he deliver? No! His zeal was irrelevant and ultimately annoying.

In entrepreneurship, it’s common to see folks with raw passion for what they do, but have no clue about the fundamentals. This is the case of ‘hunger’ overriding enquiry.

Now, when I meet passionate people, I quickly look past the excitement and dig for how much they really know. Enthusiasm is only fuel. It powers knowledge and produces action.

It’s OK to dance in excitement, but please know something!

Good Stuff!

goodstuff2I love my job. What I do is exciting. Writing, thinking and speaking thrills me. I love strategy; making ideas come alive. I thoroughly enjoy making people’s lives easier.

I derive insane pleasure from great delivery. Problem solved and you see that smile of satisfaction on your client’s face…priceless!

It’s the joy of work.

Getting here was not a walk in the park. It took time, sweat and a good fight. I encountered the struggles that you face when you refuse to conform to social norms. We know the script: go to school, work hard and get a good job; but how about your true path?

Life is meaningful when you’re on your path or in the process of discovery…the key is to always have your path in focus…no matter the detours.

If you’re stuck in a job that you hate, working for people you can’t stand…don’t worry! There’s a way out. Simply discover what you want to do and plot your exit over time.

When you wake up daily to do satisfying work…now, that’s the good life!