Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Google Chromebooks

This cloud based pc will hit the industry hard like a hammer in my view.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Michael Shikuku

Michael Shikuku is a young man of 16 years. He sat his KCPE last year and came tops at Uringi Primary School. Quite quick in Mathematics, English and Business studies, he has again topped his class at St. Mary's school Yala during  at the end of the first term examinations. St. Mary's School Yala is one of THE schools in Siaya county , in Nyanza region and indeed in the country. Its a school full of history  and promise. I remember that as a young man, I had dreamed of going through this school but had to settle for KB (dalawa) due to tough competition. It is therefore easy to understand why Shikuku's joy was great when he got the calling letter from the great school. One problem existed though, Shikuku had lost his dad when he was quite young and his mother, a frail looking, peasant with no formal education having been left with 4 children to bring up has reached the end of her tether. I met Shikuku last February when I had gone visiting in the village. And I met him due to his sheer determination to better his situation. He literaly smoked me out hoping and believing I could bail him out. The young man doesn't talk much but what he told me melted my heart.

First some background; Well Shikukus mother's only economic activity is crafting payrus reed mats. It a back breaking job that involves going to the nearby Raombo swamp, cutting down semi mature papyrus and spreading them to dry. You then make small ropes using sisal fibers and use the sisal fibre to 'saw' together the mats. The swamp itself is a very dangerous place since many African pythons live there as well as leopards which target the monkeys in the bushes around it. Each mat which takes about a day to finish would go for about 50 shillings.

So what melted my heart was that Shikuku's fees was about 34000, he was also required to carry with him 2 towels, a spoon, eating knife, a mattress, pair of shoes, pair of sports shoes, metal box, dictionary,scientific  calculator (kids these days carry those to school! no more log tables) etc. not to mention a full school uniform which was to be bought in pairs for everything. the cost came to just over 10K shillings before you factor in pocket money. Now the young Shikuku had been accompanying his mum to the swamp and working his heart out and between the time he got his results and the time he was being called to join form one he had raised enough money to buy all those things required by the school. All he now needed was 34K for his first year in his dream school. That's where the A student wanted me to come in. A number of people often ask for support but I must say very few if any normally has a proposition as compelling as Shikuku's and so even though I was neither prepared nor ready I was won over. Now the hard part. Will I be able to sustain it for the next four years now that the fees keeps on going up? The Principal has already increased the second terms fees by 7000!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Marketing and Selling your Skills.

Last year I read a review about the brands that fill up our media year in year out. It emerged that they were some of the most recognised brands eg Safaricom, Raila Odinga, Mwai Kibaki, EABL, OMO, Coke etc. You would wonder why those very well recognized and loved brands would still care to spend so much money on advertising and product placement. You would ask why, if they were that good would they bother to spend so much. Well for the simple fact that competition is high and the field for selection is very wide. So it gets down to the basic question. If you all offer the same thing in terms of content, why should I choose you and not the other? The basics of human intelligence just goes down to presentation beauty, novelty, package etc. We do this with most other things. We even dress to kill in order to be ahead in the dating game, we apply make up and lotions etc. 

What of the resume. For most professionals, the resume is often a quickly done just before the application. Sometimes its the same resume spammed to thousands of employers. And you cant blame them really. Most times they are professionals in their own fields, say IT, engineering, HR, Finance, name it but they are not resume writers. They are not skills or human resources marketers. No wonder no call ever comes. But not with everyone. Career Pitch ( ) headed by Mr. Charles Adhola has started a very targeted marketing and product placement specifically targeting professional skills. The company works closely with the professional and creates a customized CV and cover letter directly and accurately targeted at the exact job. 

In fact they go further and try to bring out the whole person, market both the obvious and the hidden attributes. What the company would need now and what they would benefit from and which the professionals personality and traning provides.
The whole thing actually includes Resume Review and Cover Letter Designs; Interview Drills/Preparations; Career Coaching; and design of relevant Career documents (application for salary review, promotions, conflict arbitration etc). Mr. Adhola even has  two columns on Daily Nation - Get It Right on DN2 on Monday and Ask Charles on Friday.

In my view its just what the present busy and result focused professional needs for his career advancement. We seek professional help for such simple stuff as changing oil in a car, how much more do we need an expert to change careers and accelerate growth?!