6 LESSONS FROM SCREW BUSINESS AS USUAL BY RICHARD BRANSON

If I had to summarise this book in one word I would use the sentence, ‘Just do it, but do it considerately.’  The book issues a serious challenge and warning to entrepreneurs which is that business is not all about profit and that going forward we all need to work on balancing the equation of profit and both environmental and social responsibility, otherwise we are just selfishly creating a long term mess of this beautiful earth for everyone and everything in it, at the cost of a short life time of profit. While I thought the book would be a medley of financial tricks and clever business negotiations, it took my mindset on innovation in a completely different direction! When we think of innovation, we tend to think ‘new, faster, slicker, more sophisticated’, however this book redefines it (for me) as ‘creative means by which we benefit ourselves, those around us and the environment.’ It’s quite an inspiring book really. Richard Branson definitely has his finger on the pulse of socially and environmentally conscious businesses and shows his efforts to model his Virgin business along this line . The book is riddled with narrations of people he knows personally making a difference in ‘sustainable ways’ around the world.  I am blown away by the details of his involvement in social enterprises across South Africa and Asia. We know there exists a high level of poverty in these parts of the world but the book also shows that there also exists a high level of creativity and opportunity in these areas and this perspective is what offers an opportunity to create the shift in purpose of entrepreneurship Richard is talking about. It offers behind the scenes stories of several sustainable initiatives, from concept to fruition for example; Grameen Danone, a social business enterprise in Bangladesh that was the brainchild of Franck Riboud, CEO of french multinational food production corporation, Danone, and a social entrepreneur and later, a Nobel Prize winner, Muhammad Yunus. An idea conceived during lunch at a restaurant that has gone on to change the lives of adults and children in Bangladesh. It makes a fantastic case for responsible entrepreneurship. It’s not just a just about profits any more a.k.a business as usual.

Here’s six lesson I learnt.

  1. Business is not just about money or profits. Rewards can and should be much bigger than money. It is about the people between the money and the product or service, in one case in the book, it was about giving a great employee who is dyslexic  an opportunity to  be manager at a very lucrative restaurant and shifting responsibilities about to make things work.
  2. Entrepreneurship is more of an answer to poverty than aid handouts. He narrates a different vehicle all together for doing charity. Which is by equipping entrepreneurs to kick start the economy and also utilise their creative talents. Through finance, support and guidance, we read of several individuals in South Africa achieving self sufficiency this way. 
  3. Together is better. When I read how he is involved in some 400 companies and manages to have enough time for family and fun, my immediate question is, ’How?’ Does this guy have 72 hours in a day?! Upon reading through the book, I realise he cleverly makes use of partnerships and collaborations. It’s amazing that for almost every idea he mentions in the book, he manages to almost serendipitously connect with someone with a similar idea, or a close enough idea for them to work together on, birthing another venture.
  4. Just do it. The number of times he has agreed to an idea at early stage of the concept in the book is shocking. People at this level tend to be overly pendantic. Hello Dragon’s Den. Lol! According to Richard, ‘Being overly cautious doesn’t make for a good business man or woman. You have to be bold while not being foolish. Quickly weigh up the odds , but don’t gamble is the best advice I can give to a new entrepreneur.’ 
  5. Innovation in business is not just about how we can provide the latest and sophisticated. It’s also about innovating ways to deliver in the most environmentally friendly way and disposing of waste. Take that Silicon Valley and Fast Fashion Chains! Currently, there is a huge furore (apparently not huge enough) about the damage fast fashion brands are doing to the environment. I watched an eye opening documentary on BBC (Stacey Dooley Investigates Fashion’s Dirty Secrets) two weeks ago that showed factories that  big brands use for production in Indonesia, are pouring chemicals in a river that locals rely on to bathe their children and cook food. Pollution in this particular river is causing incurable skin diseases so much so that a local said she has to buy water to bathe her baby. Further more, it revealed that a staggering amount of water, over 15,523 litres of water is required to produce one pair of jeans! Currently, our British High Street alone churns out a new season almost every three weeks. Imagine the impact of a  number of stores worldwide and the number of products involved in this ridiculous level of unnecessary production.
  6. Use your ‘business voice’ to speak up. One of the several inspiring moments in the book, is when Richard Branson speaks out against then president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki’s stance on the HIV/AIDS endemic in South Africa. At the time, Virgin had several ongoing ventures in the country and doing so could have caused a shutdown and excommunication of his various teams from South Africa. Instead it opened up a dialogue with Thabo Mbeki.

The book is very much an interesting portfolio and in the hands of an entrepreneur will inspire some serious ‘business soul searching’. Incase you feel overwhelmed by the current state of events, Richard Branson also shines a light on other fantastic initiatives and business leaders making an effort in various sectors such as; Shell (Oil), Ben & Jerry’s(Ice-cream), and Innocent smoothies who trace their water footprint and work with farmers in Spain were they source strawberries and Kenya where they source mangoes to reduce the amount of water used. There are in fact, entrepreneurs at every level all over the world, working to use their businesses as avenues of community and worldwide contribution in many innovative ways. You could be part of them or you could join the business as usual for profit squad. Entrepreneur, you decide! 

It also means we have to question the businesses we interact with in our day to day lives. More on this later. 🙂

‘You can let the overwhelming odds defeat you, or you can see it as a challenge with a solution’- Richard Branson.

 

DO 4c NATURAL HAIR GIRLS REALLY NEED TO COMB

This is probably a dodgy question for anyone outside the 4C natural hair curl, but for us 4C girls, it is a valid question! Must you really comb your hair?

Several years ago during my senior secondary school days, I had a bad case of ‘over combing’! Over the two year stretch my hair never moved past the afro phase. My daily routine was comb before bed, plait to keep it stretched and then wake up in the morning take out the plaits and comb again. Me and my girls did this to our heads twice a day, seven days a week. What were we thinking?! Needless to say no one ever made any serious length gains. The problem of course was over manipulation.

Fast forward to my current natural hair journey, shortly after I arrived at afro length, my friend said to me, ‘you know you really don’t need to comb that much’. A natural hair journey requires self discovery. One needs to think about why they do the things they do and whether they are suited to their individual curl pattern. ‘So I asked myself why do I comb so often?’ I decided to stop and I have never looked back. Now, I probably comb once every two months, may be less.

Firstly, combing is not easy on knots at all. A comb is not sophisticated enough to pull strands apart to prevent knots or untangle them before they tighten. When combing the motion is upward and leads to tightening of knots. At this point, the temptation is to pull the comb ever further to remove the knot, sometimes we imagine that the comb magically undoes the knot (this never happens by the way) when in actual fact its ripping the knot from the rest of the strands.

Secondly for 4Cs, in my opinion is that our hair will never really be 100% detangled, so the attempt to get to that 100% point leads to excessive combing for something that will not happen. We tend  to keep combing until the comb can smoothly run from root to tip, only for the strands to do their thing again. Think about the hair coils lying next to each other. By default they will intertwine. So to keep combing really is counter productive.

Lastly, as an up-do person who rarely rocks an afro, I really don’t have the need  to have my hair arranged like the keys in and on a piano. Not any more. So therefore the case for combing is not strong enough for me!

So how do I get by? Finger detangling. I make sure my strands are well moisturised with some coconut oil, part into four sections, and gently pull my strands apart, carefully detangling any knots. When I find that I can easily manipulate it into protective style, or ran my hands through during a wash, then my job is done!

Something to watch out for is shed hairs but between washing and protective styling, those tend to move to the end of the strands, at which point they are removed.

Think of your 4c coils as fine silk, requiring some serious tender loving care. A comb does not possess these qualities.

Please watch my youtube video on the subject and let me know your thoughts.

 

6 LESSONS FROM LIVING BEYOND YOUR FEELINGS BY JOYCE MEYER

This has to be the most relevant book I have read this year. For this reason, I took my time with it. If you have feelings this book is for you! Lol. If you have read any of Joyce Meyer’s books then you know something she always brings up is her attitude and outlook on life in earlier years. I have read her best seller Battlefield of the mind and Never Give Up and in both there are chapters and stories that give a little insight into how she struggled with her emotions  and how this affected all her relationships and especially her marriage, but in Living Beyond Your Feelings , she really lifts the lid on where the negative emotions all began , what they cost her and how God has transformed her ‘emotional life’.  She flat out writes that although she loved her son, she did not like him! This is not one to summarise or even pick out the relevant bits because there’s something for everyone’s emotions from stress to guilt to anger to grief to depression to ungratefulness, etc. 

Here are a few lessons I learnt.

  1. Recognise the biblical perspective of one’s current being. If we have received Christ as Lord and saviour, then biblically we have received  a new nature and the Holy Spirit who helps us bear fruit such as a sound mind, discipline and self control lives in us. This forms the basis of the book and the difference between self help, new age books and the biblical perspective of the soul. As a christian, God has equipped you to overcome all manner of emotions. (See 2 Corinthians  5:17, 2 Timothy 1:7)
  2. Understand your personality. This one was new for me. Although I am aware we all have different personalities, I don’t immediately make the connection that personalties and emotions affect each other greatly. It turns out that a person could be more prone to discouragement than another because of their personality. For example people with melancholic personalities ‘may tend to be easily depressed or  discouraged.’ Phlegmatic personalities tend to be relaxed and easy going etc. Understanding your personality helps you understand the root of your emotions. (Obviously, there tends to be a mixture of personalities in one person). Are you discouraged for an extended period time because your lost your job or because you tend to be discouraged as a result of your personality. In Joyce Meyers’ case she found the origin of her negative emotions in childhood abuse and her choleric (easily irritable) personality. 
  3. ‘Don’t get stuck in a moment’. Whether the origin of your negative emotions is an event or part of your personality, its is not a place to park. Which takes us back to the first lesson. We have been equipped by God to navigate our way to positive emotions. Though the events preceding these emotions are often out of our control, God has gone ahead of all these things put together and provided a way out so that we need not wallow. We have an ever present Helper to help us get into gear again.
  4. Do not make any big decisions or respond to situations at the height of a particular emotion. Yes, emotions will rise to the surface and can often be an indicator of a certain direction but they are fickle and the least trustworthy indicator. How many times have we said ‘yes’ to a serious commitment out of excitement or given someone a piece of our mind out of anger. Think James 1:20. Anger will not yield the desires of God.
  5. Check your thought life and have a chat with yourself. Remind yourself of God’s goodness, His promises, how far you’ve come, your hopes and goals, etc. If any Christian tries to disqualify this concept or say it’s a new age concept , point them to the King David and Psalms. ‘Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.’ Psalms 43:5
  6. Most importantly, pray! Invite the Holy Spirit to in to help you sort through your circumstance and emotions. In the book Joyce shares that she was completely blind to her state and it was God who ultimately shined an inward light on the state of her inner brokeness. When she complained about a person or a situation, God usually pointed out an area within her that was part of that problem. God encouraged her to focus on her inward man and leave outward circumstances and people to Him.

I have already recommended this book in several conversations. I think if this is an area of concern for you, get this book! At the moment this is a hot topic for self help and new age genres, so I was excited to find a comprehensive Christian outlook.

AIN’T I A WOMAN

On May 29, 1851, Sojourner Truth, a woman born into, but later freed from slavery gave this speech at the Women’s Convention.

‘Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?

Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?

I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.’

To be black, to be a woman, to have been born into slavery, to have been recently freed from slavery, to become a prominent anti slavery speaker and consequently ‘a women’s rights activist’, all in that era, was and is nothing short of extraordinary.