Monday, June 22, 2015

10 things every man should do in his twenties (advice to my younger self)

About four years ago when I started this blog, I was a sophomore at University pursuing a degree in mass communication. At the time of my first post, I was taking a class in creative writing and thought that starting a blog would be a good way to get better at writing. When I scroll through the fifty four posts I have written since then, I must say that I have done well to get better at expressing my ideas.
When I take a closer look at the content, I realize that it represents a journey of sorts that I have taken. In truth, I am little overwhelmed by how much I have evolved as a person and yet remained the exact same in; my purists, definitions of happiness and values.

On that note, I also realize that I am two years away from my thirties which means am about to go through another learning curve. Growing into another decade of your life is much like being promoted to another class.

Yes, I will look back at my twenties  with a smile but it is becoming more imperative to plan for the future than it is to decipher the past. But before I head off to get busy inventing the future, here is some advice that I would pass along to the twenty something Patrick if I could go back in time.

1.Move out of Home

It will be one of the scariest thoughts you will have to entertain but sooner rather than later, you should leave your parents’ house and venture out into the world on your own and stand on your own two feet. And there is a likelihood that your first apartment will not be the ideal place which might make you miss home for a minute but in order to grow and to be taken seriously, you will have to be on your own at some point in your twenties.

And yes, there will be days where you might go without a meal but that should not deter your focus for moving forward. And related to that, learn to cook a meal or two. Not only will this score you some nice chicks in the process but will save you tons of money on food, which you will come to realize is the most expensive thing about being a bachelor.

2.Fall in love

Another scary thought you will have to entertain which carries with it, the predicament of a heart break. Scary, I know and even worse, it does not get any easier. Falling in love is a scary thing for anyone of any age. So, for what it is worth, you might as well fall in love and see what happens. Of course, only do so with a girl that is worth your time so that even at the end of it, you will be grateful for the time you spent with one another.

And when you do, go all in. Do all that romantic shit you watch on T.V. Write her poetry, cook her a good meal, take her to the movies, pay for her salon session or go for a picnic (women love that shit). But in whatever you do, have the purest of intentions and genuinely love and care for her. It will teach you a lot about women.

3.Fall out of love

Do not hate yourself for falling in love with the wrong girl. It’s okay for things not to work out between you and the girl you thought was the one. Happens to the best of us. And sometimes it might not even be your fault. Some people are just naturally really shitty people and you just might not notice at first. But the most important rule is not what the other person is doing or what they want but rather, what you want! And should you ever find yourself in love with someone but still feel something is missing, then there is a likelihood that you are with the wrong mate, and never hesitate, even for a moment to walk away if something does not add up.

It might take meeting a few people before you realize what you want out of your love life but when you do, purse that direction. If you are still not sure of what I mean, rent a copy of “How I met your mother.” You’ll get the drift.

That way, when you do decide to settle, you will do so without a speck of doubt and for some reason you will always know when you have found her. So don’t give up if you haven’t found her yet, its worth every minute of your wait. Trust me on this one bro.

4.Make money

Freedom is great but it comes with the responsibility of bills, gas for the car and dinner dates. To enjoy your twenties, you will need to have a little cash in your pocket so learn how to make money in any way you can learn how. You will soon realize that money solves a lot of problems and like many things in life, its better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. There is nothing glamorous about being broke and I reckon you will experience this for yourself and hopefully you will come to the same conclusion.

5.Pay your debts

There are two things that can drive a man insane, women and debts. Have both handled and the cardinal rule in your twenties is only acquire business debts and only from family and friends. Not banks, loan sharks or shady characters. For a simple reason that, it is very difficult for legal institutions to give out credit to a young, inexperienced chap like you and seeking alternative sources like the sharks is just a stupid idea because should you fail to pay the debt, you are likely to lose far more than you borrowed.
But before you take any investment from whatever source, ensure you can deliver on paying it back plus interest. Even family and friends want to make some money on the side which means, if you have a legit plan to make people richer, then go ahead and take the risk. This is what your twenties are for.

6.Be open minded

It is f^ckin* retarded to be closed minded and when you get to university, your values, perspectives and theories will be challenged by other intellectuals, whom you might at first consider, cocky, arrogant or even perhaps a little pompous. But through this, teach yourself to listen and entertain ideas from other people however radical. You will notice that by doing so, you will have significantly more friends who think nothing like you and with a bit of luck, this will get you to meet some pretty awesome people, whom otherwise you might never have met if you took people who clashed with your own notions seriously. Chill a little bro. Your friends are equally as confused as you are. They too are trying to discover themselves. Cut them some slack.


One day, you might receive a call from Brian Aine at midnight inviting you to travel with him to Mbarara at six in the morning for his introduction. And even though, you might not have money on you, if he is willing to take care of your expenses, there is no reason why you should not be on the next taxi to Kampala from Mukono.

Yes, traveling will take you out of your comfort zone and there are many justifiable reasons that will fly into your mind as to why you should not travel when an opportunity presents itself but brash all the negative energy aside and get packing.

For what it is worth, you will realize that the journey is always the reward and a camper that breaks off from camp will always have a story to tell. Be that guy. Not only will you learn a lot about the world but it is a great moment to learn certain things about yourself you didn't even know you should know.

8.Stop putting up with shit from anyone 

Well, not entirely. I read something that I think you will find helpful. “A scientist hired an actor who was put in an isolated room. In the observation room, he invited regular people whom he gave a device with a dial that increased the amount of current electrocuting the paid actor. The scientist then asked the civilians to keep increasing the dial. When the current was increased to certain levels, the civilians would express concern about the safety of the person being electrocuted. But the scientist would then encourage them to increase it anyway, that it was perfectly safe. With this assurance from the scientist, the civilians, against their better judgment carried on.

 Luckily, it wasn't actual current being transmitted to the paid actor but imagine if it was.”

9.Mend fences

Knowing you, I am sure you are going to get into a few fights with people when you are in your twenties. It’s perfectly normal to fight with partners, family or friends but this does not mean that you are a bad person. The important thing isn't about who was right or wrong but rather, whether the relationships can be fixed.

Every once in a while, you will get a second chance at fixing things with people in your life. When this opportunity comes, take it and sometime it might come at a point where you do not even need the other person, but always remember, if a relationship is worth having, it’s worth fixing.

But sometimes you will mess things up so bad that no matter what you do, it won’t help and in some isolated incidences make matters even worse. In these rear cases, remember something’s cannot be fixed. Move on and do you best next time not to f*ck things up so bad.

10.Throw epic parties

Call it a rite of passage to bachelorhood but you have to throw an epic party which you will look back at with fond memories. Yes, you possibly could get into a whole lot of trouble and there are probably better ways to spend your money but nothing can replace the memories you will create with your friends.

And if this is not convincing enough, remember that this will make you look awesome which in turn will make you more popular among your peers and this comes with loads of associated advantages.

You only need three things for an epic party; drinks, hotties and lots of meaty delicacies.
You’re smart enough so I guess you’ll figure out the rest out on your own.

But before I head off, remember old friend, that above all things, have fun, worry less and meet as many people as you can because when you grow older, you will not have the same luxuries as you do now.

Responsibility, commitment and all the other boring adult stuff can wait a little while longer. Your twenties only come once; you might as well enjoy your very own fifty shades of awesomeness.

I am glad I had a chance to talk to you and hopefully you will turn out to be the man I know you can be. Take all the chances that life throws at you because you know what, you sure as hell deserve it and even when life feels as lonely as walking all by yourself on a rainy day, it will get better someday. That I can promise.

For now, do all the shit I have mentioned above and get it out of your system because you might not have a chance to do them again.

Yours truly

Future (awesome) Patrick

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How to fall in love

In earnest truth, falling in love is by no means an easy ordeal. Much like the other things we aspire for in life like happiness and wealth, it can be equally as illusive and unpredictable.

So, when you do reach that point where you feel like you are ready to fall in love, here are some guidelines to help you make the right decision.

Bet big or go home

Speaking from a guys perspective, sometimes we think that it is better to "settle down" with a woman who is of average inclination because we some how think that they are easier to maintain. Here is what I have found, if you are to settle down, you might as well get the girl of your dreams because when you think about it, expensive though it might be to maintain a Benz, somehow when you own one, you will find a way to look after it.

Temperamental, sensitive and demanding though it might be, the driving experience will always make up for the frustrations it costs to look after something as delicate as a flower.

A happy and mutually respectful relationship starts with two individuals who both believe that by being together, they are by extension admitting that they are much better people with their partners. You have to fall in love with someone who will always inspire the best in you and encourage you to reach for the best because they too believe the same for themselves and in turn want the same for you. Don't settle "down."
Settle "up."

Get your head in the game or get off the court

Many people fall in love with caution, often afraid that the current relationship they are settling into might just as well end with a broken heart like the previous ones. And because life is lived forward and understood backwards, its easy to constantly see a relationship or partner through the eyes of previous experiences. If there is an express ticket to unhappy-ville, this is your best bet.

If you still have thoughts about your ex, then clearly you should not be in a relationship, doing so will always come at the cost of your partner who might not be pleased to learn that the reason you are not fully committed is because you might have feelings for your ex.

To enjoy the full experience of falling in love, you have to embrace it whole hardheartedly, holding nothing back. Basically you have to love until it possibly cannot hurt any further. The more you put into a relationship, the more you will get out. Same laws of investment.

If patience killed the cow, then hesitation surely shares the same predicament.

Grow up

You will realize that when you meet someone worth spending your time with, things are going to start to change (real fast). At some point of getting to know each other, two adults have to conscientiously decide where they see the prospective relationship heading which makes it imperative to constantly communicate expectations to each other to ensure that they both see the relationship the same way. You definitely do not want to find yourself in a situation where you are all in for someone but the other person does not see you the same way.

The thing with a relationship is that it is constant work and both partners should never slack off otherwise the partnership will cease to be as romantic and exciting as it was when the two initially madly fell in love. It is very important to keep your partner engaged and excited about you and about life.

Doing so might mean having to grow in certain respects like financially to be able to give more into the relationship. You do not want to be the couple that plans vacations but never goes because the "money" is quit never there for it. If your happiness and that of your partner is important, you will find away to put in extra effort to deliver on your end of the partnership.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Why MTN can afford not to give a hoot (*if it wanted to)

Promoting MTN marathon 2013 with former CMO Ernst Fonternel

Every now and then, customers of MTN Uganda take to social media their complaints of the bad service that the company provides. The last social media field day happened towards the end of last year under the hash tag #occupyMTN. The complaints touched a wide spectrum of short comings in its service delivery like customers being charged double for transactions and of course slow internet. 

As usual, the company issued a statement in which it claimed to have fixed the problem and reimbursed customers who had erroneously been double charged while processing a transaction. Believable though it seemed, I suspected it was nothing more than a PR stunt intended to calm people down.

Indeed in the weeks that followed, customers were at it again. I personally was neither able to withdraw mobile money nor purchase data bundles or get through to customer care for that matter(I am sure you can relate with my frustration). 

I made a funny tweet about it and that's about all I could do about the situation. If it was in the cards for me, I would gladly go with the other guys but I need my phone number and the other telecos are probably just as bad or even worse to a certain degree. 

But despite the ‘questionable’ service and negative publicity, figures indicated strong numbers for MTN last year. Which begs the question of why people are still so loyal to a network they claim to hate so much, in turn has given the network a competitive edge over its customers and competition.

Hopefully this article will paint a picture of why, 'big business' can afford to sit back, relax and provide a shitty service (*if it really wanted to).

Uganda Telecom's costly fumble

In 1977, Uganda moved away from the regional shared services model in which Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania collectively provided communication services, to establishing the Uganda Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (UPTC), a state-owned monopoly providing telecommunications.

After the passage of the communications act in 1997, UPTCL was divided into four entities among them; Uganda Telecom. By this time Celtel was the only other telecommunications operator that had received an operating license by 1993 and started operations in 1995. At the time, Celtel had already attracted close to 5,000 customers in the urban corridors of Kampala, Entebbe and Jinja.

The minister of Works, Housing and Communications at the time went further to sign a 15-year long none competitive close for the fixed line business to protect Uganda telecom’s monopoly. But that was the fumble itself.
Uganda Telecom did not realize that the future of communication was not in fixed lines but rather mobile. It was not until after MTN set up shop to give Celtel a run for it’s money that Uganda Telelcom finally realized its mistake but, it was already too  late, the two foreign companies had already dominated the mobile market and the rest is history.

it is arguable that, had Uganda Telecom moved fast enough to introduce mobile services to attract an initial critical mass, it is possible that a widely used state telecom service would translate into more value for money for customers and a wider tax base for government coffers.
But because Uganda Telecom failed to capture a sizable market share, customers prefer to stay on MTN to avoid the exorbitant inter-network connection tariffs. Which explains why, despite recent out rage over the 

Xenophobic attacks in South Africa, Ugandans cannot afford to boycott South African 

products because our home grown brands do not have the skill and financial muscle to go 

go against foreign 'big business'

The MTN brand is in a good position

MTN is leading in subscriber base with 10 million customers. A search through my phone book will reveal that 90% of my local contacts are on the network, which makes calls in the long run cheaper. Switching networks will not only cost me my phone number that I have had for the past 10 years, but my mobile expenditure will increase as well as a result of inter-network tariffs.

MTN interim financial results for the six months ended 30 June 2014, revealed that the company's year-on-year revenue growth stood at 6.8% and data revenue grew by 54.7%! In Telecommunication revenue mathematics, one data user is equivalent to 8 voice subscribers. Which means contrary to what peeps on Twitter think, MTN is growing it's data uptake.
MTN also recorded 28.5 million Mobile Money transactions per month.

Airtel is disadvantaged financially due to the acquisition of Warid last year and I suspect it spent a good chuck of ad revenue promoting Trace Music star which I imagine did not yield much in return of investment . Acquisitions can be messy business.

Orange was acquired by Africel, indicating its operations were not as profitable.

Lap Green, Uganda telecom’s holding company has been going through major restructuring to make up for the lost time incurred during the Libyan civil war in 2012, which saw temporary seizure of their 69% stake by the government of Uganda as part of sanctions against the regime of former leader, Muammar al-Qadhafi.

New kids on the block, Smart telecom and now Vodacom do not stand a chance against MTN’s total investment over the past 16 years into infrastructure, people and marketing.

In the end, it becomes apparent that even though we hate to admit it, that MTN did its home work. Touche.

The Celtel Paradox and the two of the less evils

When Celtel had a monopoly in the mobile cellular business, the service was considered a luxury and for the affluent class because of the exorbitant initial costs of buying a phone and the monthly service fee. It was considered elitist.

I remember watching an old MTN ad when the company had just launched, where an office man stopped by his usual shoe shiner station. As the shoe shiner worked to make the boss’ shoes spotless, the boss was busy bragging about his conquests in the corporate world. When all of a sudden a phone rung. Delighted as ever, the boss reached into his brief case to take the call. To his surprise, it wasn't his phone ringing. The shoe shiner, almost as though having forgotten he owned a phone, opened his equipment box to pick up his call. Which stunned the boss, seeing that his shoe shiner owned a phone.

Through lucrative advertising, MTN was able to position itself as the people’s network of choice, as opposed to Celtel that was perceived as oppressive. MTN was the first network to drop the service fee charge, which made the maintenance of a phone line on their network possible for many people who were not able to afford owning a phone line prior to this due to the monthly service charges.

Many years later, it’s ironic that now MTN is seen as the oppressive and elitist network that Celtel once was. It further does not help the situation that Celtel was later acquired by Zain which sold out to Airtel who in turn bought out Warid telecom.

Airtel’s inconsistent brand history has had serious implications on the network’s reputation and brand image which has translated into more leverage of brand equity for MTN. As proof every year MTN attracts 20,000 runners to its Kampala marathon that it has been running for the past decade, indicating its popularity, thus giving it an upper hand in the Telco business.

So in the end you can see why I am stuck on the MTN network. Thanks UTL.

Monday, May 4, 2015

How to be profoundly sad (or happy) - A users guide

Growing up, I had a wonderful childhood. Loving family, cool friends and a reasonably good 
standard of living. However over the years, different things have happened in my life that naturally left me feeling sad and sometimes down right depressed.

Looking at my life, I can say with a certain level of certainty that I understand what it means to be profoundly sad, which in turn has made me a happier person because I am now more aware of what to and not to do or think about, in order to avoid the viscous cycle of unhappiness that can become a plague.

Placing a higher focus on family and friends over work

The older I grow, the more I realize the harsh reality that people really like us for what we can offer. So, contrary to common belief, family and friends do not come first, our work does. You see, our work sets us apart from every body else and the change that we are able to bring into this world is what we will ultimately be remembered for.

I have noticed that during the low points in my life when I have either lost someone in the family or a friend, work has consistently been the consoling factor for my existence, because after all is said and done, no one can take away what you have achieved and the lives you have touched.

Family and friends are of intangible value but their role is limited to providing context to our existence but the rest of what we get out life essentially depends on our endless dedication in pursuing a higher purpose of existence than merely living life itself.

Holding a grudge

In this TED talk, a Buddhist monk had this to say about inner peace, "very often while looking for happiness, we look outside, we think that if we can gather all the conditions that would constitute happiness (we are good). That very sentence bares the very doom of happiness; to have everything. If we miss something, it all collapses. And when things go wrong (like they often do), we try very hard to fix whats outside so much but our control in the outer world is limited, temporary and often illusive. But looking inside, isn't it the mind that translates the outer conditions into happiness or suffering and isn't that stronger?"

I have realized that we often do not have control over what other people do and in turn what happens to us, but our inner state of mind will determine how we handle it. I have fallen victim of harboring anger, rage, envy and grudges and I can say that nothing good comes of it. When I find myself deeply unhappy, I like to examine my inner feelings to determine if I am harboring any hate towards someone or something and the moment I let it go, I often feel much better like a load has been taken off my back.

Working at a job you hate

If you find yourself having drinks with co-workers after work and you are complaining about your jobs, its a clear sign that you should purse something else. Around this time last year, I was working in advertising at a top agency and I remember this one instance, as I walked home from work at 4:00 am after a fourteen hour brain storm to image the brand identity for a new product, I was struck with the fact that I was no longer enjoying what I was doing. And it had made my life very sad, because I thought of all the things I could have been doing but couldn't and the predicament of living life like that seemed stifle.

A month later, when my documentary film came in second at a film festival in Washington D.C, as I shared the exciting news with my immediate supervisor, she could tell how lit up I was about it. She then bluntly advised me to ditch advertising to purse my passion because she could clearly notice that advertising was sucking the life out of me.

A year later, I realize that she was very right and even though at the beginning of this journey it was difficult, primarily because I did not have a plan, I now see that waking up every morning to work on exactly what I want to work on beats a corporate job, ten fold.

Having a poor self image of yourself

How we treat others is really a reflection of how we feel about ourselves and when you have a poor  image of yourself, you will find settling for less in all aspects of life natural. From the jobs you apply for, to the friends you make and even how you treat your children. 
This is one of the surest ways to find yourself constantly under a dark cloud.
You might wake up one day and wonder why good things are happening to everybody else but you.  and the answer might be that you hold yourself in low regard. You cant attract good things your way until you start holding yourself in higher regard. 

Staying in an unhappy relationship

"Divorce isn't such a tragedy. A tragedy is staying in an unhappy marriage(relationship), teaching your children the wrong things about love. Nobody ever died of divorce." -Jennifer Weiner (That pretty much sums it up)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Smart money: 4 places to invest your money this year

The second quarter has officially began and I am already feeling the economy speeding up. Around this time of year, I like to take time off to think of where to invest my money for that year. I am sure you can appreciate that amassing wealth happens over time and you have to continuously make the 'right moves' in order to witness an incremental growth every 12 months. By all means I could be wrong about some things because there are scenarios that we cannot foresee however when you analyse the current trends, you can also extract insights that can give you an image of what is likely to happen the following year on the money market. Below is where I am investing my money in 2015.

Real estate

In the previous article 'my top three predictions for 2016' I mentioned that next year is going to see a lot of change in structural distribution of wealth which hinges on the rise of the Y generation or millennials as the baby boomers (above 50 year old) will be looking to retire. Many baby boomers have empty nests because chances are, all their children have grown up and moved out of home. With some baby boomers deciding to migrate out of the city to the quitter parts of the country, this creates a good opportunity to buy their real estate because they will be looking to sell. A real estate boom is not only experienced when people's incomes increase but also when numerous homes are suddenly available on the market simultaneously.

Delivery services

This year, we are likely to see an incremental growth in smartphone usages which can only translate into abundant availability of internet based services, like Hello foods - where you can order food online for delivered to your address. What each of these companies will realize is that Uganda property is not well documented and available online. The only way to offer someone direction is by giving details of land marks, not addresses since we are still using the postal system. This increasingly makes finding places and people difficult. The company that will invest in digitally land marking areas, to offer definite directions will reap big by selling the information to the highest bidder.

Export business

The Uganda market is saturated with similar products or services and companies will start realizing the need to trade in other markets other than the home land. This also provides the advantage of earning foreign currency which in most cases is far superior to the Uganda shilling that is likely to decline drastically for the period leading up to the election season as a result of increased government spending. Keeping in mind that a  company makes profit when selling a commodity from a low concentrated market to a higher concentrated market. Think China to America.

Automated smart systems, research and development

When I started out as an entrepreneur in 2012, I realized that there was a lot that was going to happen with in the following years. So I started following the paper trails. It soon led me to start Xibra digital which develops mobile applications and smart system mainly for big corporations that are trying to reach the new consumer who has a growing fondness for singular tastes. In other words, individualistic products. This means that companies are realizing too, that they can no longer rely on the old model that preached putting out an Ad with a lucrative proposition for customers which would translate into sales and eventually profit.

This calls for reinvention of company procedures to achieve maximum leverage off technology which is helpful in making delivery of services convenient and more accurate because essentially, a smartphone's essential task, through the many apps installed, is to collect user information and patterns. This raw data is precious to companies that are looking to understand how their customers tick.

By following the money, it also led me to start Xibra capital which will raise seed money to fund some of these projects because I realize that ideas ride on the money train and this is an inescapable fact.

I hope this gives you an idea of where to invest this year. Good luck in your ventures and do give me a call if you have an idea worth embarking on.


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why organizations are going to find it increasingly hard to raise money

Kony 2012 made by the invisible children's charity organization which is advocating for the end of the LRA war, became the most viral video in a short period of time with 100 million views in just a few days. According to their financial records, the organization raised $26 million. However the film was criticized for overly simplifying a complex story and in turn, donations in 2013 amounted to a merger $4 million out of a budget of $15 million.

The organization which was started by Jason Russel and his two college mates announced recently stated that they will be closing down their operation. At their peak, they employed 300 people but now they are down sizing to 5 staff who will mostly work remotely on  advocacy work.

The invisible children is only one of the many organizations that are facing difficulty in raising funds to sustain their programs. Here is why I think organizations are going to find it increasingly hard to raise money.

Everything now has to be quantifiable

In the past, organizations received funding for their projects and in turn submitted a report that appealed to peoples emotions rather than their rationale. Which made sense because sometimes change cannot be quit quantified but the donors were happy as long as they knew their dollars were making somewhat of a difference no matter how vague that might have sounded. However, now days, donors are like investors, they like to see the return on their investment and an organization has got to be deliberately outline what their targets are, so that when they present an accurate report (hopefully), it clearly reflects against how they performed.

Priority in expenditure

About ten years ago when organizational work especially in this part of the world (Uganda) was high, it was a normal thing for an organization to buy cars, pay for high end offices and payout large severance packages to their staff, which made sense at the time because, for an organization to be credible, you must do all the above. However after the recession, it has become increasingly important for organizations to ensure their money goes the extra mile therefore any organization will understand that the only reason people give towards their cause is because it will benefit the end benefactor (usually victims). Therefore, now, organizations need to closely consider their expenditures, focusing most of their resources on their main purpose of existence which is their work because its what will speak volumes. Not the cars or well paid staff. And since donors are more stingy with their money (blame the recession) an organization has got to have its act together if it hopes to keep those dollars coming in.

Reinventing the story

Initially when an organization start out, it has a core cause to which they call upon people to be apart of and for the start it is exciting, however 5 years down the road and countless newsletters, it is not as exciting. Also keeping in mind that the people who would have supported the cause are like every other consumer who are bombarded with tons of information a day. An organization has to take on a business approach to marketing, to cut through the clutter to assure the donor why they should care about their cause, even after a few years. This will require organizations to create captivating and high impact media essentials that will resonate with their target audience.

For what it is worth, Invisible children is the perfect example for reinventing the message. Kony had been talked about for over 20 years so much so that all major world media houses had carried the story at one time or another. However IC was able to reinvent the message to reignite the fight against the war lord, using a modern day approach; social media. Other organizations should pick a leaf from this.

And good luck fund raising.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My Top 3 predictions for 2016

Shift of wealth and power to the millennials (20 - 35 year old's)

This group of people who have steadily be rising in management positions and growing their own businesses, is going to be the new middle class where the wealth is going to be highly concentrated. The explanation is simple. Millenials grew up in the era of technology which makes them the most tech savvy generation. Over time, millnials have been reinventing products in the market like Mobile mobile money to meet the e-commerce objectives. Eventually what is happening is that millenials have made solutions for their own generation and since they are currently make up majority of the working population with a disposable income, they are creating an ecosystem of their own that is going to warrant the rest of the population to leverage off their knowledge. Having the purchase power to propel a product to the top seller list is what's going to empower this generation.

Companies will therefore will need to figure out how to capture this market segment of customers, otherwise, ideas off the mill are going to hit the fan. The rise of the millennials also means that more baby boomers (60 -80 years) will be heading into retirement and this means companies who market products exclusively to this group of people will experience a hit at their revenue because of their clients dwindling disposable income.

On the political front, if the news is anything to go by, the youth are going to run the show. Finding the right message that resonates among them is going to be the key to winning the election. I am currently aware of  four of my friends who have made their political agendas known.

Increased expenditure will augment the incomes of young creative minds who have products that will put candidates ahead of competition. Let the games begin.

This is going to be the most fair election (So far)

Last year, through a partnership with United Nations Populations Fund (UNFP), Uganda finally carried out two major exercises that had been stalling; National ID card issuance and a National census. Which were both done in a space of two months, yet they had previously stalled for as far back as five years. 

But not this time. My assumption is that it is very important to President Museveni for Uganda to hold a free and fair election because it will play a pivotal role in defining our international and donor relations. And being able to account for citizens is the first step in that.
I reckon government workers will have to up their game to get complete pending projects because the president is clearly focused on legacy.

 The gay issue is going to dominate the agenda. The government will use it as a spin tactic and the opposition/independents will use it as the basis of their campain. This election will not be won by the the man with a plan (clearly we now know how that pans out) but rather the man who has a proven track record in being helpful to his community, which is going to pose an uphill battle for incumbents who are going to be put to the test to account for how they spent their term.

Explosion of the app industry

Great strides are going to be made in e-commerce this year which in turn will grow the number of people who opt for online payments. Factoring in the projected exponential growth of smartphone and internet uptake, companies are going to realize that they need apps in order to provide a refreshed online experience for their products and services. And if the app built for president Museveni is anything to go by, politicians are going to look to the tech industry to develop products that will put them ahead of the contestants. 

And since app are a technology mostly used and built by millennials, you can understand why this class of people's income is going to exponentially grow.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Falling in love with the Internet of Things (The Xibra story)

Growing up, I was always fascinated by machines. I spent hours to an end dismantling whatever electronic I could get my hands on to figure out how it worked and often in the process destroyed it. This created some tension at home because my parents were always taking appliances to the electrician for repair.

Then in my fifth grade, I bugged my dad to enroll me into the Wiz kid's computer training summer program. To which he finally agreed to because he realized that there was nothing he could do or say that was going to capture my imagination quite as much as a computer had. At the time, I was in between Uganda, where I studied and Nairobi where we lived as a family.

After my P.L.E (7th grade), I was given my very own desktop machine. Remembering back to that moment, I experienced complete exuberance. The following week, it was at the back seat of Dad’s Peugeot as we drove to downtown Nairobi to Wananchi telecom, which was the more affordable ISP option to Africa online, to have the necessary software installed so I could dial in. From the first time I was connected and logged onto, I was hooked to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Later that year of 2003, my parents and I moved to America where we lived for the following year and a half before eventually settling back to Uganda where we have been ever since. It has been a huge learning experience to live home again. Especially for my parents who had been away for close to thirty years (they fled the country during Idi Amin, the dictator’s reign because they felt their lives were in danger).

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors and connectivity to enable it to achieve greater value and service by exchanging data with the manufacturer, operator and/or other connected devices.
Think of your entertainment system in your house. It is now possible for a smartphone to stream music directly to the system wirelessly via Bluetooth and hence giving the stereo a higher value because it changes a consumer’s entertainment experience.

In May 2013, I was fresh out of University and already running a media company with my former classmate Carlos. At the time we had just done some decent work for a few clients and I was feeling pretty optimistic about the future. While surfing the internet late night one night as I usually did, I was frustrated at how one of the local daily’s website had a poorly organized library. Then the idea hit me.

I realized that the experience of a reader could greatly be improved if he had an application that could predict stories he would be interested in and go ahead to notify him via alerts. That way, people would be able to read more relevant content.

I had a eureka moment. I immediately sent my older brother, a programmer, an e-mail to see what he thought about the idea. As I thought about it more, I realized that I did not have the necessary coding skills to write the code for the application, so I looked for someone who could.

Frank and I were classmates in O’level. We hadn't talked much since then but when we met again, we immediately clicked. He was a quiet fellow, however when the conversation was about robotics, hacking and anything else awesome, you had his attention. From the many brilliant ideas we brainstormed, developing and marketing a student management system seemed to be the one thing Uganda needed.

It was almost a joke to imagine that more than 90% of schools managed their data on paper. Not only was this a danger to the lives of the people in the school (fire hazard) but it also seemed illogical as to why schools had not moved to data systems. After talking to Geoffrey, a school accountant, I realized that the software that was often available and affordable on the market was not tailored for our structural systems and worse; schools were not educated on e-commerce tools to enable them to purchase the needed software online.

Frank and I got to work right away and two years later, we finally have a smart student system that aggregates various data to provide foresight for administrators, which in turn empowers them to better plan for their schools.  Our solution may not solve all the developmental challenges our country faces. However, empowering Head teachers with information to make informed decisions is a good starting point.

How do schools benefit from this? With our system, it is possible for the caterer to determine how many students on average actually eat lunch during the week, which can lead him to reduce the portion of rice cooked by 3 kilos per meal. When you multiply the number of kilograms over the course of the term, the school saves. But this is only possible if a system by design accounts for the structural setup of society.

It is becoming increasingly important for companies developing solutions for Africa to first understand the people and their needs before rolling out products. Mobile money is an example of an innovation that solves a real socio-economic problem. Africa needs more innovations like that.

I fell in love with the Internet of Things because I saw a real opportunity to be part of something bigger than my own ambitions by developing solutions that make people’s lives a whole lot easier. When I started out on the Xibra venture, I thought to myself, “who am I, an arts major to create a solution that will solve a real problem?”

After many hours of reading tech digests and countless studies of observing how people respond to some of the solutions we have created, I now understand that with enough determination you can teach yourself just about anything. The secret is in learning to give yourself every opportunity to improve and get things right.

The the answers to Africa’s problems like poverty and healthcare are among us, the rising generation and all that needs to happen is for opportunity to meet preparedness. And I believe that with the amount of digital data available, developers should take advantage to design solutions that are more afrique-centric.

That is my story of falling in love with the Internet of Things.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The music video I never finished and what I learnt from it

In 2012, I partnered with my cousin Cmo (Simon) to shoot a music video for an upcoming gospel artist, D-best (Duncan). We had a few meetings leading up to the day of the shoot and when the day finally arrived, I met up with Simon early in the morning to drive to Bunga to pick up the shooting equipment from 'Ninja's studio.

Because we were literally doing it for nothing, we cut many corners so that we could get everything on a cheap. Hiring equipment from Ninja was the best offer at the time since he was also coming a long with us to help setup the jib, which proved to be helpful, however we soon discovered that having an extra person on set cost more when feeding and transportation was factored in.

Duncan showed up with Sami - K around 10 am in a mini-van with his friends, who were to be set extras. Simon was tense the whole time because he was the producer, who was charged with the responsibility of raising every single penny. I was focused on art direction. I had assured both Simon and the talent that I was qualified to shoot the video and I had already sold them on a concpet that had captured their imaginations.

As the camera rolled on, I started to realize what a horrible mistake I had made by taking on the assignment. Somehow, it sounded a better idea in my head than in reality - a reality where things were starting to go wrong and fast. The first challenge we faced was with we location, Watoto church, which we hadn't booked in advance. After a standoff of some sort with security, we were granted only thirty minutes to use their parking lot which wasn't nearly enough time to get all the shots I needed to but non the less we proceeded, hoping for the best.

The second challenge I soon discovered was that the single battery for the camera that  Ninja had given us was half empty which meant I did not have the luxury to call for different takes in an effort to save the little battery we had left.

Once it was a wrap on the first set, we headed over to the the second one - Hotel equatorial rooftop. We lost a significant amount of time while Simon, who was had tenancy in the building, negotiated with the custodian. Once we got permission, we setup quickly and started shooting right away. It was around 2 pm and the skyline of Kampala looked exactly like I had imagined in my concept. At least something was going right. My excitement did not last long because I soon discovered that the battery had given way completely, just fifteen minutes into the shoot.

In our moment of disappointment and blame sharing, Ninja came up with a brilliant suggestion. He offered to get us a second battery but that meant going back to his studio in Bunga, a 20 minutes drive and that meant we would miss our dusk shoot. We eventually decided to load everyone into the small Raum Simon had hired, to head over to that side of town. I suggested finishing the rest of the shoot from Gabba landing site. I had no idea whether we would even be allowed to shoot from there but we went either way.

When we reached Gabba, we simply set up the set without asking anyone for permission. We figured that if we acted like we were supposed to be there, it wouldn't be a problem. 'And cut,' I shouted an hour later after the second battery fired as well. Even though I acted like we had recorded everything we needed to, I knew that we had only covered a third and there was no way I could ask Simon to raise a budget for a second day shoot because clearly, he couldn't.

Back in my dorm room, I struggled for days to put it together and the video in the link is the result. However it was never quite finished because I was unable to get a graphics guy to color grade it and with time we all eventually forgot about the project. But looking back at it now, I realize that even though it was not a successful project, I learnt just as much from it about directing and funding a film. Below is a quick summary of the lessons I learnt.

  • Always be willing to try. The only thing worse than failure is never trying at all.
  • Finish you work. I procrastinated a lot and that perhaps cost me the entire project. Even when you think that what you are working on is the worst piece of art you have ever created, work on till the end because you cannot possibly understand the value of a creation unless it is complete.
  • Own up to your mistakes. I should have been straight with everyone from the start that I had messed up and that my projections were slightly off. It would have saved both of us a lot. Own up to your mistakes early on.
  • Understand your worth. In truth I could shoot an award winning music video however because I was not confident of my skills, I under valued the project which in the end did not serve either of our purposes.
  •  Partnerships are important. This venture was the first I entered with someone and working with Simon helped me realize the importance of going into ventures with other people.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Four truths I have realized about life (so far)

Photo Credit: Patrick Seruyange


Work defines a significant part of our lives so we are largely shaped by how we look at it. Some people know exactly what they want to do right from the start. And for some others, it takes a little longer to figure it out. There are also those who just never figure it out.

What I realized about work is; it takes time to finally settle down and say, you know what, this is it and I’m not letting go. What matters is making a decision at some point in time. While you don’t want to be too harsh on yourself for not getting it right on the first try, it is also dangerous to continue being indecisive. So, in whatever you choose to do, Godspeed mate and be the absolute best at it.


There is no formula for this and like they say, love lies in the eyes of the beholder. This is very true in many respects. As human beings we want to feel a sense of love, belonging and some sort of value and these are the same set of values we look for and expect in a potential soul mate.

Because we become dependent on other people for love and support, it gives the other person an overwhelming amount of power over our emotions, which can be ecstatically rewarding yet consequential. 

Every now and then we are bound to wind up with people who do not  deserve us which often momentarily blurs our vision of what it means to selflessly care about another human being. In the absence of an absolute formula on how to love, I have realized that best we can do is love the other person anyway, believing the best in them because it serves no purpose to say you are in love yet you’re constantly worried over your heart being wronged.

Sure, it’s a likely outcome but your relationship could also be the start of something great but will be doomed by your paranoia that is unfounded. If you fall in love, you may as well experience your own 50 shades of happiness.

Family is where we are accepted, loved unconditionally and genuinely cared for. But, sometimes that’s not how it plays out and there are moments of conflict, anger and hurt that make us question our position in the family. I have however realized that through it all, at a basic level, family provides a certain level of security in our lives, making it an important aspect of who we are.

We may not all have families that resembles that of the Hustables (from the Bill Cosby show), but in one way or another, we all have people we regard as family and that is where our loyalty belongs because when all is said and done, they will still be by your side when the world turns against you. Family comes first and other relationships are secondary.

The past

We all have one. It’s a total collection of life’s experiences, ranging from glorious to shameful to downright sad. The most important lesson I have learnt is; it is comforting to know that I am only human and therefore not perfect.

2011 was an enlightening year in my life. A series of events knocked the wind out of me which started with theft of my dad’s laptop that I had been using for my work and Uni. At the time, I had been designing a magazine and editing a wedding video. With the progress, I had anticipated to make a sizable amount of money in the weeks that followed. Everything was looking bright. Against my better judgment, I went out with a few friends the night before handing in the wedding video and when I returned, the laptop was gone.

For the eight months that followed, I had to deal with the lawlessness of being a failure and being a beginner again. And on top of that, I had debts. It was tempting to live in the past because it seemed a more comforting version of life because I was afraid to see beyond it. I still had an idea of where I wanted to be but couldn't quite get myself to get up and start working towards it because I somehow feared I would fail again and I found that petrifying.

It all hit me when my dad sent me a month’s notice not to return home after my final exams. It blurred life even further and the uncertain I had to live with almost drove me to give up but in the midst of it all I realize that growing up is nothing but a series of moves an individual has to take at different stages. Scary though it is, we cannot possibly grow by staying in the same place. 

Moving forward is  and has always been the best course of action even in the darkest of days and my past has proved that. It’s okay to indulge in the past every now and then but it is certainly unacceptable to stay there and anyone who is not willing to stop making excuses for where they are, may consequently never be able to get over an incident. Which is downright sad, given that happiness is simply what lies on the other side of fear.

We all have a past, the best thing we can do is move things along.

Monday, January 19, 2015

The art of turning tragedy into triumph

Towards the end of 2014, I fell severely ill to the point that I was admitted at Mulago national referral hospital for a period of two weeks, the longest I have been in a hospital (so far).
As I went through the painful process of being pricked over and over again, the doctors discovered that my kidneys were performing at about 5%, which earned me the diagnosis of Kidney failure. 

It was rather depressing news to receive, for me, my family and friends. Going through the counseling sessions which educated me on the implications of the diagnosis, I kept reminding myself to find the silver lining, which I believed existed.

"Its been a tough few weeks with my health. I am grateful for my parents that have been exceptionally caring, loving and patient. Thanks to dad for driving me in and out of hospital at wee hours of the night. And mum who is nursing me back to recovery. I’m also overwhelmed by the love and support I received from family and friends who have demonstrated through deed and words that no man is an island. I now realize I am a very blessed man because through this low point in the stillness of my thoughts I have reached a deeper understanding of myself and the world around me.‪#‎grateful‬" - Facebook status update January 2nd 2015.

Waiting for my dialysis session early in the morning. I do that a lot now (waiting)
Undergoing a dialysis session which I religiously attend twice a week.
Its almost coming to a month since I was discharged and to be honest it has been a bit of struggle to adjust to the new lifestyle which I have to live by in order to stay healthy but through it all I have experienced moments of happiness and joy, thanks to my supportive family and friends who are taking this journey with me.

I realize that, in the end we must play the hand that life deals us and that our life experiences make us who we are. Call it life.

      Wake up. Suit up. Show up. That’s how you turn tragedy into       triumph. ‪#‎Keep‬-Waking

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

5 tips to work your way out of a dark place

It’s true what they say, that life is not an upward trajectory. Every now and then we find ourselves living in dark places; mentally, emotionally, spiritually and in all other aspects of life that can possibly go wrong. As an entrepreneur, I find myself there every so often. 

Sometimes in the middle of a risky venture, I am at my worst mentally and emotionally. One study I read described entrepreneurs as one of the most mentally unstable people. Its like riding a killer whale; Onlookers commend for your confidence for taking the risk but in truth, the entrepreneur is terrified to death, wondering how on earth he got there in the first place.

In May 2014, I walked out on my PR job to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams; to build  Xibra Digital & creative. Soon I found myself in a dark place because I was wondering if I had made the right choice after weighted what my PR career could have panned out to be. It wasn't until after three months that I knew for certain it was the best decision of my life (so far). Looking back on what I went through to get here; a better place, below are the five lessons that I can pass on to help anyone who might be in a similar position. Cheer up, things will get better.

Keep calm and call dad or a mentor or anyone older
While most of my peers believed that I had made a wrong bet, talking to my mentor Mark and my Dad proved that even though at the time, it didn't seem like it; the decision I made to leave my job was the right one.
The adage that older is wiser holds true and I have found wisdom in sharing my fears and disappointments with older people I hold in high regard. You will be surprised how calm they will be as you narrate your ordeal. Their nuggets of wisdom that usually follow are usually reassuring. Talking to someone who has probably been where you are is one of the first places you want to try as you try to answer the question of 'what next.'

Take time off
I quit my job late May and I decided to take the summer off since I had not gone on a vacation since graduating from University two years earlier. It’s hard to take vacation days when you are busy working to earn one pay check to the next in order to keep up with the bills. I realized that, to take time off without worrying about bills, I needed to move back in with my parents, which was not the best place in the world I desired to be, however the idea of a couple of months of no work and hustle free rent outweighed the desire for freedom. And that’s what I did. But before did, I spent three weeks in my apartment planning the entrance and exit strategy, which gave me a sense of how much harder I had to work each week and month in order to move out in the time I had set for myself.

Just a word of advise, getting back in the game may prove to be a lot harder than you may anticipate. So think long and hard before you make the decision to take a long period off because there might not be a job or work to come back to when the break is over. In my situation it worked well because I was changing direction in my career all together,so the break proved more helpful because I got the time to re-educate myself and create a new network of people I needed in order to accomplish my company's goals.

Your twenties is the best time to take a few risks and if this means taking time off to rethink your life's plan, you owe it yourself to search the depth of your soul to find out what makes you tick, what gets you out of your bed each morning and everything else in between.

Let go of the notion of who you are and reinvent yourself
When one door in life closes, it is natural at first to stare at it for far too long that we fail to recognize the opportunities that are right in front of us in our current situation. This is usually caused by the fear of letting go of the known while trying to embrace the unknown. But you possibly cannot discover new lands without the courage of losing sight of the shore.
A month after quitting, unemployment and depression soon became very real that the thought of calling my former boss to request for my job back crossed my mind several times because I was suddenly scared of what life without an end of month Golf tournament was going to be like. However I started accepting where I was and focused more on who I wanted to become by the end of my break.
Growth is inward-outward so I started a re-brand of myself, starting with my mental attitude, reading everything I could about how to be a great entrepreneur. I realized that if I reached the end of my break and I hadn't learned a certain amount of new skills, I would be a failure by default because I would still be the same person.
Reinventing yourself made accepting who I was, easier each day. I Identified areas in my life where there was opportunity for growth and work towards achieving them. Soon the notion of entitlement to who I was slowly fade away which made life more interesting again.

Surround yourself with people who love you no matter what
The world is a cold harsh place and like Sylvester Stallone said, “No one hits harder than life.” I have found that when I am going through a dark period, I am not as fun-loving as when everything is okay with the world because difficult times are  a wake up call of sorts to remind us of just how cold and shrewd life can really be, which in turn makes us develop a cold outlook to life.
But going through this period made me realize that its far better to be a fun loving person than a judgmental jerk who complains about whats wrong with the world, regardless of the difficult circumstance I may be facing because I possibly have no clue to the kind of ish the other person may be dealing with.
By letting my family and friends be there for me, I have rediscovered happiness and I honestly feel like a very lucky guy to have people who have loved and accepted me for who I am at my worst.

Get up, Suit up and show up (get back on the horse)
The final step is no matter how shitty you feel, always dress well and show up to where you are supposed to be on time, which is the key to true reinvention. In the first two months, I took on every opportunity that came my way irrespective of the pay, and as a result I soon saw incremental improvement in work output for my company. Diligence pays off and when you do it often, opportunities present themselves. Two guiding quotes on this
“You cannot connect the dots looking forward. You have to trust that your dots will connect somewhere in your future” – Steve Jobs
“The harder and smarter you work, the luckier you get.” – Neil Gaiman

The most important thing is to get out of the dark place, as soon as you can because the longer you stay there, the harder and longer it will take for life to start happening to you  again.
Finally, Take time to reflect on why you got there in the first place and how you can avoid it in future; write your own blue print of advice. I was able to rediscover my passion for writing again through this blog and given a choice I never would have chosen to go through what happened  but like they say, “what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.”
The bottom line is that  I hard times helped me grow into a better business man and a better person altogether which is more important than everything in between. #Keep Moving and growing. It’s the secret to happiness.