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Daily Nation : February 11th 2014
14 smart company MANAGEMENT » DAVID MUTURI Deal with self doubt by focusing on what has worked for you THE GREAT American writer Ger- trude Stein told us that despite our external appearances, we are all the same age inside. Now consider this, the greatest man you ever saw was once a baby. He lived at the mercy and care of someone who might not have been as great. That was part of his becoming great. That is the background of very confident person that is your envy. This person, whose confidence you wish you could match, may at times be overwhelmed with self-doubt. There could be times when his con- fidence deserts him. Men and women alike, they are often very alone. It may surprise you that this could happen at the time you think that they are at the apex of their confidence. That is when even the great orator will approach the podium tentatively. When faced with your own doubts it is no time to sink into your soul with self-pity. Yes, it is time to find answers from deep within you. It is not time to think you are alone and the only person to experience self doubt. Everyone experiences self-doubt, sometimes. And yes, when in self doubt, everyone walks their own journey which can never be like anyone else’s. It is your own unique life and journey. How you walk it is important. You will have your own successes and failures on your journey. Walk it as best as you can. When you get that promotion or job, you might be at a moment of weakness, plagued with uncertainty. You may be wondering whether you will fit the bill and the kind of legacy you will leave behind. It helps to remember that everyone who has travelled ahead of you, regardless of how they fared, had their own similar moment. Walk your journey. There is very little reason to keep on comparing yourself with others. You cannot be those people. But even if you could, those people have their own moments. They may have made great achievements, but they know what other things have not worked for them. Reflect on the past If you are doubting yourself because nothing seems to be working for you, it could be that you are focusing on what is not working. You may do yourself a lot of good to focus, at such moments, on what has previously worked for you. When you reflect on the past and where you started, you may find many reasons to celebrate. Your successes may be many. However, in your search for conquest after conquest, you have forgotten to keep a tab on your successes. You are preoccupied with the few things that didn’t work, or are not working. It is in such moments that you may find it consoling to call on your honest cheerleaders — not the sycophants. Unlike sycophants, true cheerleaders know that there are times to win and times to lose. You call upon them to cheer you on, for you also do the same for them in their moments of need. They are not easy to find but family and very close friends suffice. You do well to trust yourself, for you are trustworthy. If you were not, you would be nowhere near the responsibility that is giving you self-doubt. You should instead celebrate your great- NOTE THIS » ALMOST NO ONE EVER ACHIEVED ANYTHING WORTHWHILE WITHOUT HELP Connecting with people is key to business success To achieve your goals, you need to be on the lookout for the opportunity to establish connections wherever you go I love bumping into people and finding out who they are and what they’re working on. You never know who you’re going to meet. Such encounters can be valuable: If you think about how your most important relationships began — with business partners, your spouse, with friends and mentors — the stories will almost all involve chance meetings. My curiosity about others and ability to connect with people have helped me to succeed. After all, if people don’t know who you are, they are not going to do business with you. Many people think that an entrepreneur is someone who operates alone, overcoming challenges and bringing his idea to market through sheer force of personality. Digital age This is completely inaccurate. Few entrepreneurs — scratch that: almost no one — ever achieved anything worthwhile without help. To be successful in business, you need to connect and collaborate and delegate. Finding ways to meet with people in the real world and build business relationships is becoming ever more important in the digital age. While in some industries it’s possible for employees to limit their communications to email and, if they wish, avoid Richard Branson ENTREPRENEURSHIP interacting with colleagues (and their managers), that’s not possible for entrepreneurs, since relationships built on trust are vital to doing business. This is why I make a point of attending the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, whenever I can. The event is ridiculed in some quarters for its sheer scale, according to The Economist, 2,622 people gathered in that small town in January, including 46 presidents and prime ministers, representatives of firms with a total value of $12 trillion on the stock market, and many celebrities and journalists. However, the very action of bringing these powerful people together makes Davos useful, even vital. Some of the events I attended at this year’s forum included discussions of: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights; the role of business in philanthropy; conservation and climate change; and tech investments of all sorts, from health to space travel. Equally useful were the ran- dom chats with acquaintances in restaurants and hotels. I spoke with the actor Matt Damon about clean water initiatives (he is a co-founder of Water.org, a nonprofit that helps to bring water to impoverished communities), the angel investor and “father of the iPod” Tony Fadell about how to grow startups, and with the Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates about overpopulation. Other such meetings at Davos will help to shape the future direction of many companies and organisations. Steve Jobs, the entrepreneur I most admire, is remembered as a talented maverick and a loner, but that’s simply wrong. The Apple co-founder turned his personal vision into reality with the help of trusted, talented teams. How did he and his people come up with their ideas and solve the technological and design problems they encountered as they worked on Apple products? By spending time together. As Steve said to his biographer Walter Isaacson: “Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.” This is part of the reason why communities of entrepreneurs can turn into creative hubs. Look at Silicon Valley in California, BoxPark in London and other areas where like-minded people have banded together. Technology allows us to connect at the click of a button, but companies will still pay premiums to be near their competitors and others working in the same industry. Creative hubs When you are thinking about launching a startup, you should always look at whether setting up in one of your industry’s creative hubs would be a good choice. If you are a business leader or entrepreneur and your team is primarily working from home or locations other than the office, keep watch to make sure that they are collaborating - your employees should not be just a list of email addresses or instantmessaging contacts. If you need to jump-start your The President of the European Central Bank, Mr Mario Draghi, during a ‘Tianjin Night’ at the World Economic Forum in Davos last month. Entrepreneur Richard Branson attends the annual event to meet people and cement business ties. PHOTO | AFP ness in your own small way. If you do not trust yourself, who will? Remind yourself of other moments when you have been trusted and you lived up to the expectations. If you are besieged by a previous moment when you were trusted to deliver but it didn’t work, maybe you now have the chance to make good. This could be your moment. When you appreciate that nobody is immune to self-doubt, you accept to live with doubts. Doubts are sneaky. They will come back, at times even when you are in your most familiar grounds. You will want to question how well you do things. This is one area you may want to agree with Gertrude Stein: Yes, we are always the same age inside. Mr Muturi is the executive director, Kenya Institute of Management business life Tuesday February 11, 2014 DAILY NATION team, events like hack days, conferences and outrageous parties can help people get to know each other and find creative solutions to problems. The businesses that make up the Virgin Group operate in a variety of sectors, and we’ve been able to turn our unusual structure into an asset partly by encouraging employees to become intrapreneurs. When somebody in one business has an idea that would work at another, I always encourage them to give it a try. Lots of our employees have transformed their own careers and started new companies within our group in the process. To achieve your goals, you need to be on the lookout for the opportunity to make connections wherever you go. Welcome chance encounters and opportunities to dream up outlandish plans. The person with the skill set you need to get your new business idea off the ground may be sitting at the next table in the cafe. Go over and say hello. Questions from readers will be answered in future columns. Send them to RichardBranson@n ytimes.com.
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