Give people permission to make mistakes and the obligation to learn from them.
Mistakes will happen; it is inevitable; what happens after differentiates average organizations from great ones.
When errors are made, our actions shift from doing the right thing to covering our behinds in many instances. Pointing fingers rather than accepting personal responsibility, hiding errors rather than fixing them, and allowing minor problems to become big ones because they’re inadequately addressed.
Remember that mistakes are vital to our growth; we often put way too much pressure on ourselves to seek some unrealistic ideal of perfection. As the leader, let your team know that there’s no shame in making mistakes, and most importantly, you have their back when they happen.
I have seen people in leadership positions duck and throw their people under the bus when mistakes happen, and this leads to mistrust, lack of inspiration and the fear to try anything new.
The most extraordinary people in their fields have made countless mistakes; they didn’t give up. They persevered and inspired many people to follow their example; as Albert Einstein puts it, a person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.
Try this … “Alexa, play the Zarir Merwanji Podcast …” it would mean the world to me, thank you so much.
GRATITUDE – The quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.
Did you know that Around 60 percent of the world’s people (4.5 billion of them) don’t have a toilet that properly manages human waste?
Hey, let me ask you you this please? If there were a list that ranked everyone on Earth in terms of overall success and happiness (from 1 to 8 billion approx.), where do you think you’d rank?
Got your number? Yay!
Obviously, there are too many variables to identify your exact rank out of approximately 8 billion. However, by throwing this data at you, I hope to get you to manifest what’s actually going on in the world outside your direct surroundings.
I’m completely driven by perspective and gratitude. I was born and raised in Kenya, a third world country in Africa, so I deeply understand how much worse life could be. I feel so lucky that I was able to get out when I turned 16.
Luck is an interesting word. I probably would attribute most of my success to my tenacity, ambition, and other emotional ingredients rather than luck, but the fact that I was able to escape eating tuna in the dark at a young age certainly involved luck.
People don’t understand the reality of what’s happening in the world because their communities are so insular.
My boys are 22/19 and 14 yrs old and they look at million dollars as the entry point of success based on a fake feed they saw on the gram. That’s normal by the way, I did too at first.
When I was 20
Something years old I bought huge houses, cars and shiny things to impress my friends and family members that I didn’t even like.
Many twenty-somethings are trying to “make it” before thirty. When you’re living in an apartment or a house in midtown Atlanta or buck-head because it’s cool instead of 31 miles away in Cartersville where the cost of living is cheaper and still complain that your life is miserable because you’re unhappy for whatever reason.
it’s tough to wrap my head around the fact that women from my country in Kenya and other parts of Africa collectively spend millions of hours a day collecting water.
People look upward at those who rank higher, but they don’t look downward at the billions ranked lower.
Anybody who owns a business in a First World nation is already living their best life.
I don’t think most entrepreneurs realize how blessed they are. I know I didn’t until I lost my business to the failed economy in 2008 and lost everything and started at zero after being in business for over a decade.
Even if it’s a grind. Even if it’s hard. Even if there are bad days.
Don’t forget—over half the world doesn’t even have a real toilet.
When you develop perspective, the timelines you set for your goals naturally shift.
As I write this, did you know? Life expectancy in the United States is about seventy-nine years. In 1930, it was fifty-eight. In 1880, it was thirty-nine.
As our life expectancies increase, shouldn’t our timelines for goals increase too? Shouldn’t you be OK with not having everything figured out until later?
With advances in modern medicine, I believe many of you will live to a 100.
If you’re twenty-two or 48 and hate your job after working your way up for 3 years, it’s fine to take a step backward and find another job, that takes humility by the way. One day I was the CEO of a small business and then the next thing you know I’m traveling 44 weeks per year as a sales trainer grinding and hustling and working my face off for less than 60k per year in 2008.
Listen to me, If you’re thirty-three and decide to start your own business from scratch after getting a degree in something you’re not passionate about, you’re not “too late.” You’re actually the luckiest of the lucky.
You get to be alive during an era when the math shows you probably have another sixty years to play.
Regardless of what happened yesterday or every day before that, you still have a generous amount of time ahead of you.
Be thoughtful and honest with yourself about your missteps, but don’t start dwelling on them. People beat themselves up and obsess about something that happened thirteen years ago—a business partnership that didn’t work out, a startup that failed, or a boss they didn’t like—and it becomes the jail they live in.
With all the time you have left, there’s zero value in getting bogged down there. If I ever get into that mud, I’m grabbing my “gratitude hose to wash it off.”
One of the biggest points I’m trying to make in my content this year is that positive emotional ingredients provide more sustainable fuel than negative ones. If you draw energy from gratitude, you’ll find that it lasts much longer than energy drawn from insecurity, anger, or disappointment.
Anger and resentment are heavy ingredients to carry around. Gratitude is light.
I’m fascinated that people think that gratitude creates complacency. There’s a reason why complacent and grateful are two different words.
The definition of complacency is “a feeling of smug or uncritical satisfaction with oneself or one’s achievements.”
They’re not the same.
you can be grateful and ambitious. You can be grateful and tenacious. These traits don’t have to come at the expense of one another.
Want to know where my energy and smiles come from when you see me on social media?
They come from gratitude. If I wake up in the morning and nobody I love has passed away or come down with a terminal illness, then my day starts off great. If the people closest to me are OK, I’m good. I won. Nothing else can truly faze me beyond that.
If you’re truly grateful for what you have instead of being envious of what you don’t have, you’ll be a dominant force in business and, way more important, in life.
Leaders, I am so grateful for you reading this, thank you so much and I hope you have the best week ever!
I immigrated from Nairobi Kenya in the early 90’s and came to America as a kijana, a young man at the age of 18 to start a new life filled with happiness.
I started a small business in the mid 90’s a few years after learning how to execute on the American dream I had so longed for since I was little boy, I wanted to be a business man.
In early 2000, I had the most difficult conversation with a customer that I’ve ever had to have in the course of my 30 year career.
It was with a commercial customer who owned a very large jewelery store in Atlanta owned by three South African brothers who had hired me to install a $250,000 state of the art burglary and fire system and I was the CEO of the security company.
The owner of the jewelery business called me and asked if we could meet in Midtown as he wanted to talk face-to-face.
an entry-level technician at my company had accidentally crossed a few wires against code and when he accidentally set it off one night on his way home and the police didn’t show up he was extremely upset.
It was a very quick meeting. The executive told me that he expected this not to happen again and asked me to put the proper protocols and systems in place to ensure that.
Then he said to me, “The only way our company sees that we can go forward working together is if you fire the individual who did this.”
It took me about a 1/3 of a second “o think it through.I said to him, “I can’t do that.”
I had to be able to run my own business and make my own decisions about my employees.
The executive had every ability to fire us if that’s what he felt was necessary. But it had to be my decision what the ramifications of that business transaction would be.
Not gonna lie here lol, he was surprised. His company represented about 30 percent of our total revenue at the time.
I was mentally prepared for them to fire us, but at the time, I knew that we had just enough new business coming in that we could afford a year with no profit. I also had enough saved up that, if we lost money that year, I was willing to help bridge the gap if needed. If we could weather that storm, it would be a clear indicator to our employees as to what we really value.
This conversation was one of those interesting moments when you have to decide what you’re going to stand for.
We scheduled a call the next day, and I stood my ground. Luckily, the client didn’t fire us.
I tell that story because modern society’s definition of a “smart business decision” is disproportionately predicated on analytics. Business leaders tend to find safety in the “black-and-white.” They find safety in the academics, math, hard data, and what looks good on spreadsheets.
It’s harder to gauge the 30-, 60-, 90-, 365 day effectiveness of empathy, kindness, and self-awareness in an organization, but their results will play out. When you can eliminate fear from your organization, very good things happen. If employees don’t have to spend their time trying to outmaneuver one another, trying to kill one another politically, they may actually achieve the task at hand.
My friends, I don’t know which fourteen-year-old boy in Georgia is going to invent the system to score this, but at some point, it will be mappable.
This level of common sense and human truth will play out.
In big companies especially, many decisions are predicated on ninety-day numbers. That practice comes from Wall Street and business school, where you’re being judged every quarter on performance.
It can lead to short-term behavior, even though many of us are still planning to be in business over the next five, ten, twenty, or even fifty-plus years.
Unfortunately, the bias toward short-term metrics can also make emotional intelligence a “nice to have” rather than a requirement. It creates a scenario in which a leader looks the other way when one employee makes everyone else in the office miserable, just because that employee happens to be bringing in the most revenue.
It makes people think negative behavior and a poor EQ (emotional quotient) are just side effects of being “good at business.”
“The business world I entered in the late nineties put the black-and-white on a pedestal. At that time, it wasn’t recognized that soft skills could be the key to building a successful company. I don’t recall hearing these traits being emphasized in the mainstream business community. Business was “dog-eat-dog,” an endeavor where “only the strong survive.”
Ironically, I also believe that only the strong survive. I just believe that leaning into your humanity is the actual strength that will help you survive and flourish. Not yelling at someone else in a conference room. Not being a tough negotiator with aggressive words. To this day, I think the strongest person is someone who’s able to deploy kindness in the face of the opposite.
I will describe the dirty dozen and maybe the half of one other leadership ingredients through my speeches this year (we’ll get to what the half means later) these are some of the traits that have led to my success and happiness over the years, in addition to others that I’ve observed and admired: gratitude, self-awareness, accountability, optimism, empathy, kindness, tenacity, curiosity, patience, conviction, humility, and ambition.
The black-and-white is still wildly important, but in my opinion, it’s a distant second to mastering soft skills.
I couldn’t be more aware that there are fifteen to fifty other ingredients that could’ve made it into this book.
But these twelve stood out to me after seeing other leaders fall short in deploying them and how that gap made people around them feel.
Many people in conference halls, dinners, lunches, buses, and flights would tell me stories of these twelve ingredients being neglected.
One of the sad things about human nature is that negativity is louder than positivity. It’s been one of the driving forces of my life to make positivity louder.
One of the reasons I have a podcast and YouTube channel, a Twitter and LinkedIn presence, a future book I want to write, is to cheer for these traits and put a spotlight on them in business.
My greatest challenge has been extracting these ingredients and articulating them.
They’re not tangible.
They can’t be tracked or measured on a spreadsheet.
This speech is cathartic (word of the day) for me because it allows me to do what I can’t on social media, given the fragmentation of my communication style.
I think humility is one of the biggest reasons for my success, yet if you watch a one-minute video of me pontificating with uncanny conviction around an opportunity within a TikTok environment, you might say, “Bloody hell this know-it-all.” As you’ll find, you can be humble and curious but also have conviction in your beliefs. It’s not either-or.
Over the next few months, you’ll see me combine these twelve ingredients into complete “meals” and show you how they can be used together when you face different challenges in business.
For example, accountability and conviction are often seen as opposites to empathy and kindness; they’re traits that have more “teeth.” Traits like humility and conviction, ambition and patience, and gratitude and accountability might also be interpreted as opposites.
My speeches will help you understand how many ingredients that might seem like opposites actually work together.
Developing these leadership ingredients individually is the starting point, but knowing how to cook the meal is the real takeaway.
Even if you have all the ingredients in a solid place naturally or you were lucky enough to have learned some of them by experience, you still have to know how to use them together.
You still need to be the “chef” who “cooks” them.
There’s a time and a place for chicken tikka masala, but I wouldn’t serve chicken tikka masala if I were planning a meal for twenty-five strict vegetarians. Every dish you make needs to be made in the context of the situation it’s being served in. These traits have to be used in different mixtures in every business scenario. That’s all I’m ever doing.
Let’s say that you’re a store manager or a department supervisor and you’ve just hired a kid who grew up on the other side of the tracks. He or she doesn’t know the protocols for a fancy dinner with one of our merchants, and you end up losing the deal as a result. This is where you have to pull gratitude and accountability from the spice rack. I think it’s important to remember to be thankful for even having the opportunity to be a leader or to be a business owner and learn this new account. You show accountability by realizing that you’re the one who hired but failed to properly train that person. All of a sudden, everything else become secondary.
It’s impossible for many of these leadership ingredients to work with our patients at the core. If you’re baking a pie, patience is the crust. People might think ambition contradicts patience, but I think patience is the path to your ambitions.
People often don’t achieve their ambitions because of their own insecurity. In the desperation to put wings on the board so the audience claps for them, they end up taking shortcuts. It’s hard for such people to build meaningful business because they’re so focused on making $1 million and buying clothes, boats and other fancy things without having cultivated patients.
Whatever you do professionally is normally going to be something that will make up most of your life, so patience is a practical way to get your ambition. Lack of patience is a huge vulnerability, and it has led to more bad decisions than any other factor.
As a leader or manager, you also need patience as your as you watch your employees associates develop. Many of my partners and hires didn’t start out great in the role they became best at. Most important, you need to be patient with your self as you develop these leader ship ingredients. Those who think they’re running out of time get frantic and become vulnerable to bad decisions. When I was watching the Queen’s gambit on Netflix with my wife, I noticed that as the chess timer got lower and lower, players got more frantic. So I went and watched videos of the greatest chess players, and I noticed the same thing. Their body language and decision making became more frantic when time became part of the equation.
I believe the majority of people starting in building businesses do not have a good relationship with time. They misunderstand it. They’re basing their choices and low probability events, like getting hit by a bus.
They forget that they live they forget that they may live to 90 or 100 as life expectancy increases. Patient has kept me from dwelling on bad deals that I’ve made and allowed me to work in a family business when I wasn’t making the salary I could’ve been making elsewhere. It’s what is allowed me to take steps backward in the micro and macro without getting crippled my discouragement.
I think I have a lot more time to play. Whether that’s actually true or not, I feel and enormous amount of day-to-day happiness as a result of that belief.
What do you think? Does this story have any legs? 📚
This one is for my business owners, CEOs, founders, and bosses.
How much time are you putting into your employees? How much time are you spending meeting with them one-on-one?
You need to go all in on your people. In the early days, I was really “sticky” with individual people — DM-ing them, having meetings, etc. And even now, I still do it as much as I possibly can. If you’re upset about the “revolving door” at your company and having your employees leave is really affecting you, you need to figure out how to get stickier.
It all comes down to figuring out what makes your employees tick. Is it money? Responsibility? Acknowledgement? Title? The trick is knowing that the answer is gonna be different for different individuals. Think about your own life…there have been times in your career where you valued money more. There have been times where it was about respect, reputation, work-life balance…it’s not only figuring out what those few things are, it’s about what those few things are for each employee today. It never ends.
Keeping an employee might just be about paying them a little more…or it might be about you investing in your relationship with them and taking them out to coffee. At the end of the day, it’s about knowing your people.
Being a boss or an owner or a leader is about reverse-engineering your employees, not them conforming to you.
🎉 Heri ya Mwaka Mpya! How do YOU say Happy New Year 🎊 Let me know 🙂
It’s almost the new year and it’s happy new year’s for so many around the world right now! As we get closer to 2022, I know a lot of you will be using your downtime to plan out new goals or reflect on the past year. Here are 5 things I’ve reflected on recently.
When you know you’re not “right”, you’re just sharing observations with good intent … things get so much more joyful 💜
Blind cynicism is a crushing disease 🦠
You can always be kind … no matter how frustrated you are about something, and kindness starts with being kind to yourself 💡
You don’t hear it being talked about a lot in NFT land, but NFT’s are a foundation for entertainment in a way we haven’t seen a new technology trend in a long time 🔑