Thank You For The Great Experience in Kenya!

September 21, 2014

– updated December 16 with revised “UBC SSE 2014 Video”
– updated November 28 with “Final Day Presentations”
– updated October 29 with “UBC SSE 2014 video”

I’d like to give a big “Thank You” to Frances Chandler for putting on a great show in Kenya this summer. I hope that all future trips are as successful.

My trip to Kenya with UBC Sauder Social Entrepreneurship (UBC SSE) this summer was fantastic.

Below is a summary of the trip — Photos, Blog Posts, Partner Links, And UBC SSE Links.



What Happened in the Classroom?

  • Final Day Presentations — A collection of all the “Final Day Presentations” — Business Model Canvas, Plan-of-Record, and Financial Summary.


Favorite 5 Blog Posts

Partners in Kenya

UBC SSE ( Sauder Social Entrepreneurship )

First Ten Days in Africa With UBC Social Entrepreneurship

August 5, 2014

Kenya is not a simple place.

It’s beautiful.

We went to the Nairobi National Park to see incredibly beautiful animals. We saw Lions, Wildebeest, Giraffes, Secretary Bird, Heart Beast, Elan, Thomson Gazelle, Wart hogs, Rhinoceros, Hippo, and more. It was wonderful. Way better than on TV or photos. The smell was unlike anything I’ve experienced. Over the top beautiful.

2014 08 03 Lion 3

It’s a mess.

The slums are a collage of garbage, rubble, corrugated metal, rope, and “mystery materials”. It is hard for a Canadian to actually look at it. It is also very hard for a Canadian to listen to the slum people talk about their beautiful home neighbourhood (especially Mathare). I’m getting used to it and beginning to see the features they love. It’s kind of like a beehive where they need all the people around them. They love the sound and smell. I’m still exploring this and don’t really understand it.

It’s densely populated.

There are tons of people and cars. The traffic is bumper to bumper. There are times when our drivers turn off the car and we wait for 15 minutes to get going. The people density is thick downtown, it gets denser in Kibera, it gets even denser in Mathare, and then we went Korogotche (ultra-dense) which was a mind altering experience. To help you understand, Mathare rents are around $12USD month and Korogotche is less. The guys from the Kibera neighbourhood were wary of driving thru it.

It’s well dressed and groomed.

Everywhere. We are teaching in the slums of Mathare and the contrast between the people and the landscape is shocking. The people are all dressed, pressed, and groomed. Even as they navigate the garbage. The sight is disorienting, well dressed people and slum buildings in the same place.

Kenya is friendly.

Everyone has been extremely nice to us. Our program has helped many business owners in Kibera, Mathare, and Dandora become more successful and they want to talk to us about it and train more of their neighborhoods.

Kenya is security conscious.

We went to Safaricom House for a student show and went through a process like at the airport. Metal detectors for bags and personal search. We’ve been shopping at the Nakumatt General Store and security is a bit lighter, but still it’s there. There are security people working at every store downtown and at every hotel. The locals expect it.


Here is a link to my photos.


Branding Immersion for Engineers (It’s About People )

April 6, 2014

What the !@#$ is modern Branding?

Brand Thinking by @debbiemillman is very useful for Engineers. thx @brainpicker

I keep meaning to write up a deeper post on this book. I really like this book because it is a collection of interviews from Brand experts over a wide range of experiences and applications. It has modern guys; like Dan Pink, Seth Godin, and Malcolm Gladwell and business examples from guys at Starbucks, Nike, and Coca Cola.

The key insight for me is that Branding is about “People and Problems they have” —

Page 210. Bill Moggridge. It’s interesting that as so many things change around us, the evolution of technologies, social relationships, and so on simarly change very fast. But that basic principle of human centered design — “start with people” — you can rely on it.

R.I.P Bernard Daines. I’m so sad.

April 3, 2014

R.I.P Bernard Daines. I’m so sad. He was a courageous leader. He showed us where we needed to go.

Five Great Posts on Mentorship From Five Great Mentors

December 15, 2013

Here are 5 great posts on the topic of being a “mentor & advisor” from some pretty good sources.

and a bonus collection of career advice posts — Career Planning With pmarca, Seth Godin, & Steve Blank (and Ben Horowitz)

Christmas Reading List For *Fifty Something* Dad’s

December 2, 2013

Here is a quick review of my 2013 Readings. The lists are in priority order.
These may be good gift ideas for *50 something dads*


Fun — Fiction

Fun — Non-Fiction

Business — Must Reads

Business — Startups & Innovation

Business — Stories and Attitude

Self Help


Health & Spirituality

HowTo — Customer Discovery Requires Humble Inquiry

October 23, 2013

humble inquiry

Ed Schein’s new book Humble inquiry is fantastic! It dives deep into the topic of Humble Inquiry that was introduced in his previous book Helping. There are lots of examples and detailed discussion of what is and what isn’t Humble Inquiry. In Chapter 3 he describes the differences between four styles of Inquiry — 1) Humble Inquiry 2) Diagnostic inquiry 3) Confrontational inquiry 4) Process-oriented inquiry. This helped me understand how my attempts at Humble Inquiry often get derailed. I can start by being curious and humble, but I often want to get something done and lose my curiosity in the other person.

I really liked the 3 chapters that tackle the “impediments”, “inhibitors”, and “resistances” to the use Humble Inquiry. Often the technique of Humble Inquiry seems obvious when one wants to develop a relationship, but it is rarely used. It is good to know why it is rarely used. In terms of “impediments” I particularly like the observation that American culture stifles the use of Humble Inquiry because we don’t value relationships. Relationships are not a high priority, they’re a nice to have. The high priority is Individual Doing and Telling. If a relationship is required to do something then we’ll develop it minimally. Otherwise we’ll blow people off.

Our own society was built on rugged individualism, and that’s the number one principle and ideal that we will not give up under any circumstance. If that requires occasional relationships and team work, then we will do it, knowing that really, it is the star that counts. » Ed Schein (Look below for full Question)

Why Is Humble Inquiry Important to Entrepreneurship?

It is my view that the most important skill in Customer Discovery is Humble Inquiry. That is developing a relationship with ones customer and their eco-system via the use of Humble Inquiry. Be curious, learn the market space, and serve it.

I find it interesting that Schein does not mention Humble Inquiry in an Entrepreneurial context. Most of his examples are based on leaders needing to be humble in order to get their underlings to speak openly to them. He says that leaders need to be sincerely curious to earn the trust of their underlings. The leaders own this problem. If the leaders are not humble then the underlings will not communicate openly.

In my view this is exactly the challenge of the entrepreneur marketing & selling his products. He believes that he is a leader and thus has the right to “Do and Tell” how great his product is. But the customer is just like an underling, he wants the entrepreneurs to take a sincere interest in him. The customer wants the entrepreneurs to really understand him, to solve his problem without asking. He doesn’t want to be sold. The entrepreneur needs to earn the customer’s trust.

This customer relationship building is much easier to execute on via the tactics of Humble Inquiry. All the Customer Discovery Interview HowTo’s from Cindy Alvarez, Steve Blank, Eric Ries, etc are written in the context of Humble Inquiry. This is why Customer Discovery is so challenging for most people. Few people are good at, or practice, developing relationships.


Edgar H. Schein outlines the Leadership Lesson on his new book: ‘Humble Inquiry’ – YouTube

Interview Notes

Impediments to Humble Inquiry – The Culture of Do & Tell
RCRC Connect – Ed Schein Speaks About His New Book – Humble Inquiry « rcrc connect

full question below.

Bill: In Chapter 4, “The Culture of DO and TELL,” you note the incongruence in American culture between espoused values and the deeper cultural assumptions that are manifested in actual practice. One example you cite is that we “value teamwork” and yet assume rugged individualism. How can we carry two dichotomous values that are often in conflict and expect to be effective?

Ed: Such seeming inconsistencies are the characteristic of cultures in all societies, everywhere. The fundamental rules by which we operate are often in conflict with each other. But we have to do both for the society to function. In every society, there is a system for getting ahead and a whole bunch of denial about how that system disadvantages a bunch of other people. How can a society based on “royalty” function, when it is obvious that there are all sorts of problems created by a few people being rich and powerful, while a whole bunch of other people are poor and powerless. So societies create myths and live with their hypocrisies.

If we confront it and say let’s redistribute everything like communists tried to do, we have already learned that biologically we cannot live in an egalitarian way. The one thing that anthropologists who have studied status systems find is that we have built into us biologically a need to get ahead. This means that there will always be a status system in every society. Our own society was built on rugged individualism, and that’s the number one principle and ideal that we will not give up under any circumstance. If that requires occasional relationships and team work, then we will do it, knowing that really, it is the star that counts. But we sometimes have to be a team, and we then rationalize and claim that we can do both.

But if you look at reward systems, and how our society functions, it is fundamentally rugged individualism all the way through. That societies have mixed motives and inconsistent assumptions operating is one of the great truths of human societies. Not just ours; all of them


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 216 other followers