Njuki Moments

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Nairobi hangovers!

This post would have a better title if only I have been even remotely sober every time I visit this City.It's not my fault by the way.Contrary to popular belief, I don't drink much. In fact I am polite,and one you would describe as a social drinker. I know what you are thinking.Stop now. Bell while at home and Tusker mkubwa the other side of the border.

I still remember my first visit to Nairobi a long time ago. Like all first visits you observe a lot.Trying to acclimatize with the new environment.Our hosts met us at a pub(you remember I told you it's not my fault? Now you believe me?),and I was trying to decide what to order.I decided,what the heck, I will take the first thing I saw as I entered the bar,it must have been Hooters.I mean the bar,not the drink.That problem out of the way,I order for Tusker,unlike here where Tusker means the malt,there ,malt is called malt and Tusker is Tusker...eeish.How easy is that! Any way,I order. Then this waiter chick decides to complicate things ati moto au baridi? I looked at her.Obviously I did not know what she meant,even if I had known I did not know how to answer.So I looked at her, confused.She was not letting. She asked her question again. Now,while in Nairobi the town seems to be on a marathon of sorts,no,not a marathon a dash, I think. Everything from walking to speaking are done at a fast speed,more like to get them out of the way and do other things.Not enough time.Not like home where we speak slowly,walk like we are on holiday,the taxis(matatus) reverse to pick us up.I suspect in the near future they may even help those six -inch -heel- trotting bu-gals cross the road. No hurry in Uganda. Sorry, I got carried away.Eeer we are at Hooters... yes..waitress looking at me wasting her time. So I seek help from my right hand neighbour who happened to be Ugandan too. She had noticed my predicament and she tells me, just say Baridi. I ask her,but what does baridi mean,and she simply insists just say baridi.So I say baridi and the waitress chick goes. I later learn that was my first Swahili lesson and it was to serve me well during the numerous visits to the Nairobi and to the bars too.

Then we go sight seeing. The safari walk,the Sarit centre,mbu to shop,well I managed to buy a book.The museum..yeah I think it was the museum,but the name could be different and then the Panari Sky centre. This is where my second lesson was waiting.Kenyan money. Let me take you back.When my bus arrived at River Road,it was early morning,and they warned me to stay in the bus till day light.Nairobi is not as friendly as Kampala by night.So I waited.But I wanted to buy gum,so I called this hawker around the bus terminal to get me gum. Good thing,he had gum,and I had money.So we exchange. I give him a Ksh 1,000 note. He stares at me. I wait for my change. Back home,chewing gum goes for Ush 200,or Ush 100 then.So just give me back my 900. The guy politely asks me if he can go to the bus office and find change. I say yes. He comes back 10 minutes later and tells me ,we may have to wait till the bus cash office opens before we can get change. I say no problem. Then someone notices our exchange and asks me.
"Do you realize what you are asking the man to do?"
I ask,"What? I am just buying gum"
So he breaks it down for me.Gum is like Ksh 5 and you have just given that guy Ksh1000. Then it sinks in.

Now to my friend who goes 'shopping' at Panari centre.She gets into the clothes' boutique and notices this really nice sweater. She asks the price and they say 7,000. She goes,
"Wow,you guys really are cheap.Pack me two sweaters please"
They start packing. Then it hits her,that the 7000 was Ksh. She gets out her phone,gets the calculator application and she mumbles an apology to the attendant. We head to the bar. You see,if you were from Nairobi and came to Uganda,such a scenario would not arise,because our money is 'more' it sounds an alert when you are told the price.Then you compute.On the other hand,if you are handling Kenyan money for the first time,it seems so little,till you realize after conversion.

Anyway,my hosts were so nice they took me to a three course dinner,at that place Chillers.They even asked my friends and I to be a tad formal,and we enjoyed the dinner.So we go upstairs where the bar is.You know how you can be after a hard day's work or walk when you see your first beer being poured into a glass?It's very very relaxing,and that first sip! Aaah! You can feel it wash down all the day's dust down the throat. We were thus occupied when my friend seated right by the counter feels something on his forehead.Something smooth. He looks up to see a stripper right there on the counter looking down on him and her foot on his forehead. I hope now you realize why I chose to just be drinking throughout my trip.

Oh.I had forgotten. There's is this guy who decides to buy us all beer. We have since become friends...and dude whenever you get to read this,know it's a warning.I almost turned into an alcoholic since then because of you and your turn to be drinking Nile beer non-stop every time you visit has not even began. That marked my first visit,of course not mentioning F1,F2,is there an F3?

I missed church at my host's home.Actually walked in as they returned from first mass.Just because some dude decided to run out of cash and go use the ATM at K street. Of course now that he had the money,we had to drink it.

how to sell your way through life

I write this for the foot soldier.Constantly dusty shoes,perpetually knoted tie,sweaty-bag in hand,some times khaki envelope. You are the sales man. You bring business to work.You are the weather- beaten guy.You make it rain,you earn the commision.
I write this for the Librarian.You work in an institution,probably academic. Glad you escaped the life of sales where you constantly hussle. You make your peace with shelves and books and knowlege and deal with those who invade your privacy like you rule the intelligence world and you swear you will never sell anything till you die. You don't even have the talent,or skills, you claim.

I write this fo the accountant.Stripped short sleeved shirt.Rarely smiles.Constantly in tie. May be you are the bursar.Thick rimmed reading glasses. You collect and balance the money, and books but never quite ventured into 'sales'. It's not your job to know who 'causes' the money you count. You just do your job.

I write this for the entrepreneur.At some stages called the shop keeper or the bar owner sometimes, the barber.We always start with a tag like that. Entrepreneur by then is such a big word we don't fit its description.

As long as you live,you live a life of negotiation,may be in traffic may be in church for a seat may be at a job interview.You convince people to let you through. You sell yourself constantly. The good news is that when you learn the art,you live a joyful life. The constant is,that no mattter who you are,you never escape this reality.You must learn sales. The art of selling yourself to others. The even better news is that as a business owner.This skill is indispensable. You live to sell, and sales will sink you if they just are not enough. You must always constantly attract people who believe in you,your product,your service.Why do I allude to the almost always isolated librarian? because you may never know that your progress is entirely dependent on how many people or situations you handle with a smile and pleasantly.Knowing how to win people over your way gets you results,it earns you money; it lifts you high.No matter the position you occupy or the job you do,the highest posts are occupied by people with the art of selling.

A pleasing personality is priceless ,and so is planning and a knowledge of your and the client's business. In my life, learning from the street, I have picked up some street-wise ways.
Smile always.
People love smiling people. Be they strangers or friends or children. Sales people therefore need to smile more than anyone else.But don't over do it.People can detect a fake or forced smile. Make it genuine. Have you noticed how people smile back when someone smiles?They also open up.Don't worry about the uneven teeth,they won't notice.But they will notice the smile.

Always know that no matter the price you quote,it will always be negotiated. Present your best price.Act surprised when your prospect challenges your idea or price. Surprise makes people take a double take. They ask themselves whether they were right in the first place.

Know when to leave, or stop or take a break. Nothing irritates more than a sales person who wont take a hint.

Appear friendly and more of a customer with the client's interest in mind more than yours. Once I was a bottled water sales man,and I went to boost my sales at a Health Club.The client instead made a complaint about our service. I did not complain back or defend myself or our product. I listened. I also paid over the counter for a sauna session. Twenty minutes later,sweating from the sauna and mixing with the rest of the patrons, I asked him what he wanted me to do about his initial complaint. I did not seem to him like a salesman who takes money from him,I was a client who supports his business. He gave me the best terms possible,and my order was bigger by the time I left, despite the initial complaint. Ofcourse I had to fix the problem too.

If you forget every thing else,remember this,how well you sell yourself to other people will determine how fast you go through life and how high you climb. For the entrepreneur,excuses of shyness (or you know me Iam not good with people)are of no consequence here.This is one skill that will make or break you .Learn it and perfect it.
I did not mean this 'selling' yourself!!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Will you be my valentine?

Good night boys and girls. Is n't that how they greet when it is at night? Because in the morning we said,good morning,we can't be repeating ourselves.

So the question has been popped.Quick.Your heart begins to race. No.It doesn't. Its your feet.You run to the nail.You unpluck your favourite red shirt.You whip it out once,.Whoosh.Dust flies. Some saliva on finger tips.You reline the moustache..slowly turning bushlike. You tap tap that overgrown kaweke hair into an almost perfect afro. Hah. Now  shoes. The red ones have dust,you get the nearest rug to wipe off the sweat,or is it soup oba dust(whatever it is,you wipe) and you are ready,two minutes after the question was popped.

That is how Valentine's day will be from now on.A high class committee meeting sat. Don't say ssha! oba msweww..I was there.I took the minutes. High impact decisions were taken. I give you a sneak peak.You thought you were my friend for free? Here.

I am here today, to tell you  what will happen tomorrow,or is it the other day,whenever that Holi-day will fall. Valentine holiday.
A great day has befallen us(the Chairman whispered with fear),without warning,and all the calendars of the world are this moment re-shading themselves in red. Yes,if you were inquiring where the red theme comes from;from the calendars.

                                            Diagram 1:example of first date kiss
Minute 1:Girls.It will be your turn to carry flowers to the boys and pay for dinner too.The rewards are that even if you forgot to bring flowers,now you will know why it 's not such a big deal. He won't throw you out...and I hope you stay long enough,when you drop him off to know that kissing on a first date is actually o.k. We(meaning aforementioned high profile committee) heard your complaints and we have decided to give you a chance to lead the celebrations.Dont mess them up.

Minute2: The new official colour will be yellow and green. Red and Black are overused.So let me see me some green shoes boys.

Minute 3:No chocolate people. The factories want their people to have holiday also.Since its going to be different this holiday,buy rolex instead.Rolex people can work instead.

We are done here. See,it's not a big deal. Now go.

P.S. Iam not sure it will be a holiday,but not to worry,plastic flowers can be cut several days before. That is why you have a desk drawer at work.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dear customer,you are fired.

Business exists for the customer,right? Very right. We need to do whatever we can to attract more customers while we hold onto those we have ,right? Wrong. Much as it is true that we can never ever survive or come into being if we do not have customers,it is also important to know that not all customers are the same,and hard as it may be to appreciate not all customers are suited for your business.
As employees,we are used to this happening,where you get fired.It's rumored some employers even get satisfaction firing someone.However,the same is not a common occurrence with customers, after all we say customer is king,and it would be a fool who 'fires' his own king! Imagine that.

I had been in business for a while and getting clients is not the easiest thing that happens to you when you are doing business.Actually you have to happen to the customers,if you like, for them to notice you and even give you business. I had    this new  client who was doing wonders to my world. The biggest at that moment,and biggest I mean,his weekly orders were about double my other clients'. My product seemed to be flying off his shelves. We were a match made in heaven. I mean,when I went to collect my cheque, I would never leave without tea with the boss. I was happy. I was living the business dream. I wanted and even prayed for more clients like that,and he was even good enough to recommend other institutions that needed my services.

This was the agreement. I will deliver whenever you call, and I will pick my cheque after a week. Agreeable. However,if you ever order for the week is out,that would indicate that all my stock has been sold and therefore,arrangements shall be made for my payment to be made after the next delivery is done. No need to wait the week.Still agreed.

So we happily did business. My other clients could have suffered. We concentrated on this client.When he ordered,we jumped. He was our priority. There are challenges though with depending on one person for business growth or even survival. After a while,payment was not as regular,but hey, we were friends,or were we?
So I did not ask too many questions. Then we got to the interesting part where suppliers we re required to pick payment for Kampala supplies from another branch.The problem with that kind of arrangement is that no one knows you when you go to collect payment,you could just be another messenger,so they can even ask you to come back another week.Just like that. I did not ask or complain about the arrangement till ironically our initial order size tripled. You can still argue this was huge business and he would pay eventually,right? May be. The credit was killing the business. You see when you do not get paid when you should be and yet you need to produce more you need to find another source of financing to fill the gap. At your cost of course,what did you think. One of the skills I have picked up in this business game,because it is a game,is to trust my instinct.
One morning I woke up,with a huge smile on my face. I even wore a tie that day. Yes. I camped at my 'favorite' client's  office,and nicely asked to see the boss. Tea was served. Yes. I saw boss and we chatted a while and I asked for full payment for previous deliveries. "Is this necessary",he asked. "Yes" ,I responded,and kindly reminded him that we have also considered stopping supplying till all balances are cleared.

I did get payment in about five installments in a period of five months and our relationship came to a close. You could say,it had already suffered the day we disagreed on interpretation of the agreement. When the business was sold a few months later, I must have thought I had psychic abilities.