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Working Hard & Smart

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When I was in my first term at Starehe Institute in 2006 pursuing a Diploma in Information Technology, my brother Bob Njinju who was then in the Kenya Air-force drafted me into a network-marketing company called GNLD. I didn't object to joining the company because I had little experience in the way of the world. And the good thing is, Bob paid much of my start-up fee.

I somehow came to enjoy promoting GNLD products and convincing people to join the company under my name. Among the people I tried to draft into the company were my classmates in high school. I have to however confess that I had a bad day trying to coax some of them to get into GNLD.

Like when I invited my high school desk-mate Martin Wamoni to the company's classy ware-house in down-town Nairobi, I felt nervous on my way to meet him. And from the way I presented myself and the company, I doubt whether he was impressed with GNLD and with what I was doing. Little wonder that he didn't bother to join the company.

In May of that year when we re-opened for the second term at Starehe Institute, I decided to do away with network marketing and instead concentrate on my studies. And that turned out to be one of the best decisions I have made in life because the computer-programming skills I acquired in the institute have wonderfully enriched my life.

Although I have long since ceased to do business with GNLD, I treasure what I learnt in the few months I was part and parcel of the company. I learnt the value of health and wealth as well as picked up a love for reading motivational books.

During one session with fellow GNLD marketers back in 2006, I remember one of them informing us that 5% of the world's population own 95% of the world's wealth. While I am unsure if that is accurately true, I felt inspired by that message to be rich one day - a dream I am yet to realize, more than 12 years later.

I also recall one senior GNLD marketer advising us, "Don't work hard. Work smart!"

Somehow, I liked that idea of working smart during my time in GNLD. But later on, I came to detest the term "smart work" so much that I avoided it like plague in my speaking and writing. Instead, I strictly preferred sticking to the term "hard work."

Recently though, I have discovered some sense in the term "smart work". I now believe that success is working both hard and smart at what we enjoy and are good at. And do you know what I think the difference is between "hard work" and "smart work"?

Well, if you are clever enough to visit this lovely blog of mine, I am sure you've heard of the terms "Pure Mathematics" and "Applied Mathematics", haven't you? Counterpointing those two university course jargon with the terms "hard work" and "smart work", I would say hard work is Pure Mathematics while smart work is Applied Mathematics.

I have said so because when I was pursuing engineering at JKUAT a decade ago, I noted that a lot of Mathematics was applied in undertstanding how electronic gadgets work. If you enjoy using your smart-phone, just know some Mathematics have been put to use in its design and development.

Just as Pure Mathematics comes before Applied Mathematics, so does hard work come before smart work. That's why I have said success is both working hard and smart at what we enjoy and are good at. So in the words of Hill Harper, "believe in yourself, work hard, work smart and passionately present your best self to the world." Adieu!


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Remembering My Firsts

If you know the genuine copy-right holder of this photo, please let me know so that I can acknowledge him and link my audience to his website.

Life brings tears, smiles and memories. The tears dry, the smiles fade but the memories last forever. Today, let me share with you a few memories I have of my firsts.


One Sunday in 1994 when I was in Standard One, my younger brother Symo and I, together with our wonderful parents, visited a rich relative of ours who lived in Nairobi. During the visit, I got to use a water-closet toilet which was a first for me because before then, I had only used pit latrines at home, school and church.

I was mesmerized by the water-closet toilet. The following day, I narrated the experience to Reuben Mwaura, my best friend when I was in Standard One, only for him to inform me that he had used a water-closet toilet before.


One day in April 1996, my eldest brother Joe Kagigite, Dad and I flew to Mombasa - an experience I wrote about in a recent story in this lovely blog of mine. Flying in a plane that day was a first for me. I found the inside of the plane refreshingly elegant and heavenly compared to the public service vehicles I had been used to. And I noted most of the passengers in the plane were whites.


While on a school holiday in August 1997, an opportunity opened up for me to study piano at our hometown's catholic church. I was excited at the prospect of learning the piano which I had hitherto only seen on TV. And when I turned up for the first lesson, I felt honoured to touch a piano electric keyboard, albeit for a short time.


Some time in 1998, I, together with several other boys with whom I played piano at my hometown Catholic church, phoned Prof. Charles Nyamiti - a priest then stationed at the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) in Nairobi. Talking on a phone that day was a first for me. Mark you, those were the days of land-line telephone booths, before the era of wireless mobile-phone communication.

That evening after I talked to Prof. Nyamiti on phone, I beamed with joy all the way home. And I could hardly wait to share the experience with my siblings.


Some time in 1999, I had my first passport photo which was required by the Wildlife Club I had joined at school. Well, I can't recall ever getting excited at having a passport photo because I had already been captured on camera before. All I remember was that when I showed the passport photo to my classmate George Gitonga at school, he looked at it for a moment and then blurted out, "You look like a dead person!"

Apparently, George Gitonga had only seen passport photos in the obituary section of newspapers. That's why he remarked that I looked like a dead person in the photo.


One Saturday afternoon in early 2002 when I was a first-former at Starehe Boys' Centre, I had my first swimming lesson which was a requirement for all first-formers in the school. Getting into a swimming pool that afternoon was a first for me which I had looked forward to. All told, it was a gratifying experience.


Later on in 2002 that year while I was still a first-former at Starehe, I gave a talk to the whole school during an evening assembly. That talk turned out to be my first public-speaking experience.

Well, I was very nervous before the talk as I sat in the podium of the assembly hall. But when I stood up and began talking, my nervousness vanished like darkness at dawn. All went well for me. The following day, a prefect in the school congratulated me for the speech.


And finally in November 2005, I bought my first mobile phone with the pocket money I had saved in my final months in high school. The phone may have been primitive in comparison with modern-day smart-phones but trust me, I treasured it with the love of a mother for her child. For the two years or so when I was in possession of the phone, it rarely left my pocket even when I was in Starehe Institute despite the fact that carrying phones in the school was considered illegal.

NEW! NEW! NEW! For those of you who missed my social media update two days ago, let me take this opportunity to inform you that there is a new slide-show on inspiring quotes in the video's section of this blog. Just click on the "videos' link on the menu at the top of this blog to access the slide-show.


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