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Friday, August 30, 2013



We all begin life's journey together in a family, church and school with friends and relatives. As we go through life, it is easy to float and ride the tide. Some people ride the tide throughout life and end up where everyone else is going. However, some people don't do what everybody else does. They don't settle for average or do things because everyone is doing it. These people make a choice to do things differently in life. They make bold decisions and apply themselves at every opportunity with determination and skill. It is easy to tell these people apart from the rest because they do not behave like a school of fish caught in a tide. They actually swim against the tide.

If you have been to Mombasa, you will know that the tide goes out in the morning and comes in in the evening. Sometimes in the month, it is the other way round. The tide is fun to watch but it is really going nowhere. As soon as it gets to a point, it turns around and comes back to the same place it was before. There are people we know like that who are really going nowhere and really have nowhere to go so they drift off to school and then drift back home again. They go to school in the morning and go home again in the evening. Having accomplished little more than nothing. They move from shore to shore – the same shore. The tide will never take you anywhere.

 It is a sad thing, but many of us don't do enough with what we have. There are millions of children who have no opportunity to go to school. Those of us who do go to school waste it chewing gum, playing Kati and just riding the tide. If you live your life like a fish in the ocean tide, it may be fun but it will also be fatal. We know what happens to fish that are swept by the tide. So why go against the tide? We need to go against the tide because we know where those who ride the tide end up and never achieve anything in life. They and get caught in things that are going nowhere in life like drugs alcohol & sex.  Life is as broad as the ocean and we should all strive to see what is on the other side of the ocean.


But there are tides in streams too. The way I see it you have three choices in a stream.

1.       Join the main stream which means you will end up downstream or

2.       stay in mid-stream which means you won't move very far in life or

3.       Go upstream and give birth to new life.

The salmon is a fish that swims upstream.  In school, the tide to do nothing is strong. To be able to develop the courage to go against the tide is one of the most difficult things you will do in life, but if you manage to develop the will, skill  and courage to go against the tide, you will not only be successful in school, you will also be successful in life.

I train employees of big and small companies to develop themselves and create wealth. One of the most astounding things I find happening again and again is that employees just swim with the tide. Many have not developed the will to save or become entrepreneurs. They just go to work, go home, and complain that the money was too little. If you don't swim against the tide in school, you are likely to be carried by the tide throughout life. I can tell you from fifty years on earth, that that is not an exciting journey.

The defining mark of these people in life is that they have goals. They are going somewhere. If you don't have goals, it is easy to float down stream with the rest of the crowd. The rest of the crowd floats down to the bar, the disco and the latest phone. It is easy to join this crowd. All you have to do is have no goals. However, it is also important for you to know that only dead fish float downstream. Most fish are happy with mid-stream but only a few dare to make the journey upstream.

So there are three kinds of fish those that float down stream, those that stay mid-stream, those that hide in the Mud in midstream and those that swim upstream to give birth to new life.  In life you have a choice; you can either be a dead fish – in which case you won't have anything to worry about the tide will take care of you and you will be dead anyway. Or you can be a mudfish, do nothing special and yes, hide in the mud. BUT WHY SHOULD YOU SWIM UPSTREAM? You can choose to be a salmon, swim upstream and give birth to new ideas, invent new technology, give hope and new birth to millions of people around the world. To swim upstream you must have a goal. A serious goal which you CAN pursue ALL your LIFE. Like a career or a calling.

So what is the key to getting up stream?

1.       Goals are what you do for yourself

2.       A career is what you do for others

3.       A calling is what you will do for God

Some people think that you don't have to make this decision today and that since you are young you can postpone the decision until you grow up. By the time Jesus was 12 he was sure of who he was and where he wanted to go. He attended university (the temple) while his age mates, and family attended celebrations and went home. Jesus swam against the tide. His friends and relatives came to Jerusalem for a party, he came to study. He swam against the tide. If you want to make a difference, you must swim against the tide.

When I was 12, I read a book by Legson Kayira, I WILL TRY. Kayira was born in Mpale, a village in Nyasaland (now Malawi); the precise date was not recorded (1942). Soon after his birth, his mother threw him into the Didimu River as she could not afford to feed him. He was rescued and acquired the name "Didimu". He himself added the English-sounding name "Legson" when he was in school. At the age of sixteen, he decided that the only away to achieve a college degree was to go to the US, and he set out on foot to do so. When he reached Kampala in Uganda he saw the name of Skagit Valley College, Washington State, in a US Information service directory, so he applied and was awarded a place and a scholarship. Kayira then embarked on a journey of over 3000 kilometers and walked to Khartoum, where he obtained a visa, and people from Skagit Valley raised the money to bring him over to Washington. He arrived at Skagit Valley two years after setting out. He went on to become a graduate student at Cambridge University, and subsequently a probation officer and the author of several novels. He swam against the tide. When I was 16, I read another book by Norman Vincent Peal – The Power of positive thinking. After I read those books, I began to swim against the tide. I was determined to make a success of my life. I began to swim against the tide.

All of us are in the ocean. All of us are in a school; our challenge in life is not how much we have, but how much we will give to humanity! This is a choice we must make early in life not because we are rich and not because we are poor, but because each of us has a choice of goals, a career and calling in life. You may be poor and perhaps your education is sponsored, but don't worry, when you get an A- grade nobody will care whether you are rich or poor. It will still be an A-Grade!


Why am I telling you all this?  It is because I want you to understand the tide that that is working against you and I want you to overcome and win. There is a great tide in education, which if you will succeed will require much, much more than the bare minimum. It will require courage; it will require great will skill and determination for you to reach the end of the journey in the education stream. Nevertheless, when you do it may just be the greatest moment of your life and the fulfillment of your dreams. Let's look at some statistics that will help you understand what I am talking about

1.       Primary 7.5 million children in 2006,

2.       Secondary 2.49 Million in 2010

3.       University 182,000 in 2011

Less than three people out of every two hundred who join primary school in Kenya ever make it to university.  Only 3 out of every 200 ever make it to get a college degree.  The truth is the tide is very, very strong. It is vicious and merciless. It sweeps aside those who do not have Goals, a Career or a Calling or the courage to go against the tide. Education is a mighty river that throws many more people out of its path, while millions find themselves downstream. Education only rewards those who make it upstream. There is no way you can make the journey unless you make a commitment to go against the tide!

God Bless you

©Allan Bukusi, August 29th 2013



Dont say I

Don't say "I"; say "we". It saves you from having to say, "Me, us, you, they and them".

 Allan Bukusi

The mind of Africa has not been tapped in such a way as to create value for the rest of the world.

The mind of Africa has not been tapped in such a way as to create value for the rest of the world.

Allan Bukusi

I wish all men were enterpreneurs

There are entrepreneurs and there are employees. In my view, I wish that all men were entrepreneurs for the employee must be employed, but the entrepreneur employs himself.

Allan Bukusi


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Appreciate your friends. .

Appreciate your friends. They are the only ones who put up with you and yet do not have to.

Allan Bukusi

Monday, August 26, 2013

Master of Arts in Leadership Class Graduation Speech - PAC University

Honored guests, university staff and fellow graduands,
MARK 10:45 "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
It is an honor to share a few words with you on this august occasion as a member of the graduating MAL class of 2013. We are eager to go out with power to serve the people God has placed in our path. The journey to graduation has been a test of courage, strength and no small battle of wits. The university is a great place to be. Alongside the church, the university is the most transformative social institution outside the family. The university renews your mind, allows you to ask questions and allows you meet people who think differently from you. However, people come to the university for many other reasons as well. For some, it is a good place to find a husband or a wife. Others collect certificates and disappear in a cloud of dust. Others come to grow up, and some just come to graduate. Whatever we come to get at the university, the day comes when we must carry away what we came for and go back to the real world. That day is today. 
Dear guests,
Most students on the MAL program worked full time jobs as we read the books at night and tried to find the internet travelling in between work assignments during the day. We have come to know which internet service provider works best at what time of day and in what geographical location. The MAL experience explodes the reality of routine daily life into book reports, term papers and class debates. Sleeping hours are suspended as the program causes a major conflict of interest between employers, the faculty and the family. The balancing act can only be achieved by much grace and excellent communication skills.
On a light note, most of my colleagues will agree that the program would have been more manageable if three days were removed from the calendar; Friday, Saturday and Monday. While most people celebrate with "Thank God it's Friday", MAL students wake up to the fact that "Oh no its Friday". Friday is the day MAL students hand in the week's assignment by the end of the day. However, after extended reasoning and passionate argument students usually stretch that day to well past midnight or the next day. Saturday is another day that dawns with fear and trembling. After almost two years of giving excuses every Saturday for not attending birthdays, outings and weddings using all the University lecturers' names, students have to be very creative when explaining to their spouse and children that reading assignments are of great personal importance to the Vice Chancellor of the university. The third day is Monday. MAL students dread Mondays not because it is the first day of the week. MAL students never have Monday blues. Monday is the day the boss finds out that last week's work was not completed on schedule!  Going back to the real world then does spell academic relief, but there are three things that my colleagues and I will also be taking back to the real world.
First, the education class has empowered us to see teaching from a new and different perspective. It will involve us coming to meet students at their level of understanding and growth. It means that we may not be called "servant leaders", but we will be "servant teachers". The process has been humbling and changed our whole approach to life. Being a boss up there is very different from being a servant. A servant must be good role model to the kids, identify with the challenges of high schoolers and be more friendly to students. The word is servant. Servant teacher. 
MAL can be said to be a "key opener" to the pastoral ministry on three levels. It has made us better leaders, having developed our capacity and competence to lead as leaders should. It has also empowered us to develop human resources in the church to serve the Lord, and equipped us to raise up other leaders in the field. The course itself has been a transformational process in itself calling for sacrifice at the personal and family level, not to mention the faith required to meet fees commitments and for international students the requirement of travel quite apart from the demanding academic schedules. However, if one is searching for excellence, quality, personal growth and the power to transform society, the MAL program has them all.
While in the Business and Enterprise class, I had the privilege to interview a highly respected leader. I was surprised that I was able to get an interview with a man who had held conference with presidents. He had led a company from near bankruptcy to a market leader within four years. I thought he would tell me about vision, strategy, marketing and financial planning as keys to successful corporate transformation. I must admit I was a little disappointed when he began to tell me about his high school teacher. He told me that his teacher taught him integrity.  His teacher taught him the value of hard work, service and character. He told me that Kenya does not need leaders. We have too many of them. What we need is values. He told me that transformation is the result of values and character. What we carry away from Pan Africa Christian University is not just high-end business strategies for success, but the power of the values of hard work, ethics, integrity and leadership in the fear if God to make transformation possible.
Fellow graduands,
The power to serve will come from the values of service, character and the miracle of transformation. The power to serve will not come from our professional and technical competence. The difference will come if we surge forward and use the power we have gained here to serve. However, an electrical power surge can very easily damage valuable equipment. As we leave, we must be careful not to overwhelm those we serve lest they become discouraged and destroy the work that has already been done. Our deepest fear is not that we are few or that there is much work to be done. Our deepest fear is that we have power beyond measure. Power to turn the world upside down. This fear can only be tempered by one other fear. The fear of God. We have been commissioned to take a stand like Josheb, Eleazer and Shammah and not to leave the field until the battle is won. By the grace of God, it will be done.
Finally dear guests,
I believe I speak for all the MAL students when I say that every university graduate should experience the MAL program. We sincerely thank our teachers who walked with us and helped us cast a new vision for the future. We thank God for the grace to complete course and pray that many others will come to live the MAL dream. We also thank our families who stood by us, paid for us and prayed for us and want you to know that we love you and that though it was, tough, inspiring and wearisome; we did it for you, for God and our country.  We ask you to pray for us that all we have learned from this beautiful place will be of service to you, to Kenya, to other nations and a great ransom for many generations to come.
God Bless Kenya
Allan Bukusi 23rd August 2013
MAL Graduation speech

Saturday, August 24, 2013

There are things in life you will never understand until you get more education.

There are things in life you will never understand until you get more education.

Life is full of challenges and many people talk wildly about things they do not understand and have no clue about how they work. The ones who know the truth, humor those who don't. They tend to keep quiet and pledge to find out. Those who think they know, shout the most, complain the most and are not willing to work the most.

Allan Bukusi

Friday, August 16, 2013

Running a successful business is common sense

Running a successful company is not rocket science; it is more common sense than complex business jargon!
On the 30th June 2013 the Sunday Nation Newspaper published a pull out titled, “Transformative CEOs with Golden hands”. The pullout featured 37 CEOs and the businesses they lead. The report covered 30 men and 7 women. Eight of these CEOs held doctorate (PhD) degrees while the organizations ranged from billion dollar corporations to SMEs and successful startups in both the public and private sector. Industry categories included Public service (4), Retail (1), Property (1), Education (5), Finance (11), Technology (3), Regulatory authorities (3), Manufacturing (6), NGO (1) Agriculture (1) and Insurance (1). Our study showed that successful business leadership is more common sense than complex business jargon.

This study covered 37 corporate profiles, written by different authors. The word study counted the frequency of transformative words used in the reported profiles to describe the success of each CEO and their organizations. Our objective was to identify the key concepts that led to the celebrated success of the CEOs and their organizations.  Out of a list of 60 transformative words, the top word was “business” while at the bottom of the list was “loan”. While important words like mission, profit and capital did not rank as highly as expected, the words that made the top twelve contained more pedestrian words than complex business jargon. The words, independent of industry bias, reflect the thinking and common approach used by CEOs to ensure the success of their enterprises. Business leaders should focus on the following twelve words to facilitate their own and company success.
1.       BUSINESS
Apparently, the most important competence of running a successful business is to understand the business! This sounds like common sense, but is that sense really common? We all assume we know what business is, but do we? We think we understand its purpose and know how to run it, but do we? Do we actually understand the businesses we run? Many an entrepreneur will tell you that in the beginning, they ran the business but once a business becomes established, it takes on a life of its own. At the start, the entrepreneur is the driver, but once the business grows, other forces take over like customers, weather, cash flow and other powerful business factors. Only those who can master the business have any hope of leading it to success. Successful business leadership requires specific, not generic, business mastery. However, CEOs are often hired, more for their previous success than, for their understanding of the new business and thus fail to make a transformative impact. A successful cricket coach may not succeed in the game of tennis. To transform an organization or successfully lead a business you must understand the business in entirety; its origins, purpose, management and politics. After all business is the nature of the “beast”.

 2.       SERVICE
“Service” and “business” are nearly equal. Presumably the two may be very much the same thing or very much of the same thing. It seems one should not exist without the other. If you like, service justifies business. This thinking supports the concept of “servant” leadership. Successful CEOs seek to serve and ensure their organizations do the same. Jim Collins observes this kind of leadership that elevates a business from average to greatness. A business that serves the public is a business that leads the market. If you want to be great, you must be the servant of many. However, we must consider why service outranks profit as the object of enterprise.  Service implies other (customer) benefit rather than company benefit. An organization must not “tax” customers but serve them and then be rewarded for that service. This is a hard lesson for the profit driven, hard-nosed, bottom line business executive, but service is the key to greatness.

3.       DEVELOP
The free dictionary defines “develop” as, “To bring from latency to or toward fulfillment:” Transformative organizations are not static but in constant search mode. They maintain a state of searching out, digging up, exploiting and realizing their potential. Transformative organizations are in the business of mining and extracting the value of their potential in a continuous state of growth. These organizations are more concerned with exploring latent gifts, talents and potential than harping about past success. Transformative organizations are concerned with organic growth rather than physical expansion. They exploit the corporate DNA. Successful CEOs concentrate on making the organization what it could be than what it is. The way to do that is to extract and install its full potential.

Leadership is the “facilitator in chief” of a business. The role of leadership as the custodian of corporate success is to make sense out of the business, its service delivery and realize its potential. The leader’s role is to strategize for success. Dr. Ridgley talks of strategy as imposing order over chaos or entropy. He argues from the third law of dynamics that the natural order of things is entropy unless a “strategos” or army general (business leader) makes sense of what is going on. Much as one would like to glorify the leader for the success of a campaign, leaders are usually very keen to share the glory with their leadership teams. Effective Leadership teams are carefully selected, deployed and directed. It is not the number of leaders an organization has that matters it is their quality that brings success. The finger of success points to the quality of an organizations leadership.

5.       WORK
It is amazing how often the simple word “work” appears whenever business discussions and success stories are told. However, the word is far from simple. Work is at the complex core of business success. A loose comparison to work is productivity. However, productivity measures the output of initiative in spite of the effort put in. Work on the other hand incorporates effort, initiative, creativity, innovation, attitude, discipline and courage. Work is much more than results. Results are only part of the outcome of work. In successful organizations, work creates far more value than the same work produces in non-transformative organizations. Successful leaders and CEOs find ways to maximize the outcome of work efforts, they do not just measure performance, they also do not waste effort or initiative. Successful CEOs find ways to ensure the smallest amount of work amounts to great corporate value. Efficient and effective work habits are good things, but these in themselves do not achieve success. All work must be a multiplier to leverage and achieve the strategic intent of the business. Successful organizations may not work harder than other businesses, but they are certainly able to produce greater value than the average business.
6.       MANAGE
To “manage” is clearly related to leadership, but to manage is to “follow through”.  Successful leaders are always supported by good managers. While leaders work out the goal, managers have to work out how to best to achieve that goal. Managers manage performance, process, and solve problems to achieve the goal. Collin Powell says,   “Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.” Management is essentially a science, the science of achievement. The power of science is its ability to improve the quality of our lives by discovery, research and constant development of new ways of doing things.  The duty of management is to, “always, relentlessly push forward the frontiers of possibility and bring about new reality”.

7.       TEAM
The “Teams is a significant corporate investment quite apart from equipment and technology. staff, personnel or people did not achieve as high ranking as the word “team”. This shows that a team is an independent and unique powerful organization quality. Virtually all CEOs give credit to their teams and not necessarily “staff”. Unfortunately, team or “teamness” does not seem to have any academic qualification that easily measures its availability. However all games team coaches demand it and spectators know it when they see it. The essence seems to be in the assembly of the persons making the team and not the persons themselves. The great teams the CEOs refer to suggest a sense of literal joy in sacrificing for success.  Team members consider it a privilege to share in the business of success. The only reward is the success of the team. It is possible to have people on the team that do not share in the success of the team. Successful organizations have people (teams) that serve beyond the call of duty. Teamwork cannot be achieved by people who do only what they are supposed or  paid to do.

 8.       Market
The market holds a magic wand and a guillotine to the head of every business. The market responds with gratitude, embrace and reward when a business meets a market need or a market yearning. However, the market can ruthlessly cut off the life of a business even though the service may be sorely needed. Organizations that focus on organization improvement at the expense of the market will not be rewarded. The market rewards organizations that facilitate the transformation of the market. Your product may be good but the market must agree to do business with you. Markets govern business success. The lesson here is that transformative businesses and successful CEOs look for market nooks, needs, niches that need to be satisfied. Finding these market openings is like striking oil. All transformative organizations seem to have struck oil. Unsuccessful leaders tend to antagonize the market rather than satisfy it. Worse still, poor leaders exploit and destroy the market that feeds the business. A business without a market is unsustainable.  

This word has three forms; organic nature, noun sense and verb use. Successful organizations are organic. They evolve, and set goals to transform themselves every year. Transformative businesses are comfortable with change, look forward to change and create change. In the Noun sense, successful business has a “name”, a clear sense of identity or brand. The name is a label of integrity worn with pride.  The verb sense of the word indicates that a transformative business is known by its action and activity and vocation. A successful organization is a dynamic hive of activity. A dormant organization cannot be transformative. An organization is a culture, a process, a way of doing things that is unique. The lesson from CEOs is that a successful organization must live up to its name. A successful business is organized to fulfill its promises.

10.   VISION
Vision is said to be very important in leadership theory, but this study shows that other mundane elements like “work” and “service” far out rank “vision”.  The question we may ask is who is, to whom is the vision important? Vision may be important for the leader and perhaps the leadership team, but not necessarily to everyone else. It is possible for an organization to function without a vision or worse still ignore the vision all together. However, all such business will eventually fail.  Though the vision is critical to the leader, it is more important for the people to know what they should do in the short term, than whether they believe in the long-term vision and goals of a business or not. The leader needs vision in order to help him steer the ship. Nevertheless, the leader must also have the ability to break that vision down into individual tasks that enable the people to participate in the vision. Vision is like the North Star, way up in the sky, that successful leaders use to guide the ship to shore. However, everyone else on board the ship is happy to do all they need to do to keep the ship afloat as long as the captain promises to get them to shore. The lesson for the successful CEO is “break it down” into things people can do like “work” and “service” rather than what they should see like the “goal”.    

In this study, Finance is ranked far higher than capital, profits, funds or money. This shows that finance is more of an instrument rather than a resource. Finance it important for pursing and progressing ideas and plans. However, finance may limit the scope of implementation of an idea but it does not limit the idea or the essence of the plan. The strategic use of resources is more important than the availability of resources. There are organizations that have abundant resources but lack the strategic foresight to achieve success. Finance is therefore not the money, but the ability to marshal resources to fund a specific idea. The lesson for organizations is that success is not in the accumulation of funds, talent and resources, but rather in the strategic use of those resources to ensure the success of the business.  

12.   PEOPLE
“People” rank ahead of human, skill, passion, commitment, education, training, staff shareholder, society and customer all of which derive their value from “people”. This ranking may reveal that people in successful organization are first treated as PEOPLE. “People” is such a vast entity and yet such an easily accessible quantity, that it is easy to overlook the power people contribute to the success of a business. The question then is, "what is the value of people?" For the answer, we have to travel to Gettysburg.  Abraham Lincoln (CEO) entrusted the government (organization) to the people when he said, “a government of the people, by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth”. Lincoln knew that if the people were behind an enterprise it cannot fail. People have the power to sustain a dream they believe in. Lincoln’s statement gives business leaders a clear sense as to where the success of any enterprise lies. If the business is owned by the people, driven by the people and works for the people, there is no way it can fail.

©Allan Bukusi, 2013.

Allan is the CEO of the Management Decision Information and author of How to lead corporate transformation


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Knowledge is useless

Knowledge is useless if you can't use it or if it does not make you better.

Allan Bukusi

Keys to problem solving

There are three approaches you can use solve a problem. Complain about the problem. Identify the problem, discuss the problem or develop a solution to the problem. The ultimate of course is to resolve the issue, but that is not problem solving.

Allan Bukusi


Strategy is to impose order over chaos.

Strategy is to impose order over chaos.

Stanley Ridgley, PhD

Monday, August 12, 2013

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Leadership is not developed by theory,

Leadership is not developed by theory, knowledge or even long hours of labor. Leadership is increased by acquiring concepts, values, approaches, skills, techniques and methods that help you understand, advance and resolve issues.

Allan Bukusi


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

To start small or to start big

My daughter asked me, or rather told me, "starting small is okay, but starting big is not bad". I agreed. Starting small is not important, but you do learn more than when you start big. Starting small keeps you humble. Starting big can make you proud, but – it is not bad.

Allan Bukusi

Saturday, August 3, 2013

There are two people you will meet in life...

There are two people you will meet in life; those who will lead you and those who will mislead you.

Allan Bukusi