Sam Floy

Interesting posts about start ups, East Africa and fried chicken

Category: Philosophies (page 1 of 2)

How to find (and keep) a Significant Other

I’ve had a few conversations with people recently about how it’d be nice to have a boyfriend/girlfriend.

There were lots of similarities in the conversations. We brainstormed some ideas, and so I thought I’d share the essence in the text below. For those in long-standing relationships, there’s a link for you at the bottom.

Anyway, off we go…

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Conversation starters

There are a few lists out there of expansive questions you can ask people beyond “What do you do?”. E.g. here.

One I always like is “Are you more like your Mum or your Dad? Is it 50:50, 70:30..? Why?”

Recently I’ve enjoyed asking the question “What’s the story behind your [Whatsapp/ Facebook] profile picture?”

It’s almost always a fairly interesting anecdote which people get happy talking about, and can be a springboard into lots of other interesting topics about a person (travels, hobbies etc.).

Do you have any questions you like to ask?

Note this initially featured on the weekly newsletter, to see more and sign up, see here

2018 in review

As this is the last newsletter of the year it feels like I should at least make some attempt to write something thoughtful.

Rather than a chronological run through of what’s been happening, I’ll instead share some things I’ve been thinking about, which you might find interesting to read.

Article I’ve shared the most
The Tail End. Essentially how things which we may take for granted because we can “always” do them later actually have a very real finite number attached to them.

E.g. books you’ll read, elections you’ll vote in, times you’ll visit your parents.

“You’re not thinking; you’re just being logical”
I recently came across this quote through the Thought Cages radio programme. They’re great little 15 minute episodes which each look at one aspect of how the world is (largely) constructed on the premise of people acting logically. And how that’s not always the best thing to do.

For someone who has a bias for being logical, this “don’t be logical” mindset is something I’m trying to adopt more.

How to make time for the important things?
I’ve been having a recurring sense that I’m missing out on doing the important things, and instead getting caught up in the busyness of life.

Getting perspective on what I’m spending time doing has been playing on my mind a bit, and I’m conscious that I’ll need to think about this more come May 2019 when I finish a contract with a company I’ve been working with full time for the past year.

This means I’ll “lose the crutch” of going to the office every day and feeling productive about my life, and instead have more of a blank canvas about what I want to be doing.

The best advice I’ve read on getting into good habits is the concept of Goals vs Systems, which says focusing on a good practice (i.e. system) has a much greater pay off than trying to achieve a “goal”. Another take is captured here.

Is this prime time to make money?
I know there are endless advice articles saying that it’s important to “do what you love” and “live in the moment” but I’m also conscious that late 20s into 30s is the time when you’re most likely to have the energy and (somewhat) skill to make a decent chunk of cash that could set you up for the rest of your life.

Whilst there is short term benefit in reading lots of books, taking long walks every day and pursuing some niche hobby, it may not be the best course of action when I theoretically would be best placed to get out and set up something.

Anyway, I don’t have an answer for this one, but it’s a conversation I’ve had with a few people recently. 

A date to move back from East Africa
Most likely November 2020. 

Work permits in Kenya come in multiples of two, and my girlfriend recently received a new permit which means two years is a natural end point.

I’ll be thinking about this more throughout the year once I have more time to properly commit the headspace but either way, I’m confident I’ll want to continue having involvement in the region, despite not living there. 

Quote I’m thinking on
“In any situation, the person who can most accurately describe reality without laying blame will emerge as the leader, whether designated or not.” Susan Scott, Fierce Conversations.

Enjoyable GIF
Aren’t animals great

Thank you
To everyone who takes the time to read these posts each week, or on occasion. It’s always nice to hear how people are getting on, and any of the links which you found particularly interesting (and why).

I also know that each email can be a bit random, but I appreciate you sticking with it! 

Hypothesis on sugary tobacco vs sports betting in Kenya

There’s a concept in economics of substitute goods. Basically if the demand one for one product goes, demand for another goes down.

If pasta becomes super popular then you might see sales in couscous go down (substitute good). Other products though, such as tomato sauce, may instead go up in demand (complementary goods).

Anyway, two conversations last week made me think there might be such a relationship going on between two slightly contentious products in East Africa, which could have some interesting implications…

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What is your normal?

A friend has just quit his job and started travelling. This week he told me a story of an Italian guy he met living on the Kenyan coast who is currently building a boat.

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Disaster Planning: what to do before you get robbed

Last weekend my wallet was stolen.

Nothing violent, my girlfriend had her bag taken from the back of her bike whilst we were cycling in Copenhagen and in it was her phone, wallet and my wallet etc.

Anyway, this isn’t a sympathy cause, but instead an opportunity to reflect on what measures one can take to prevent such a situation turning into a logistical nightmare.

Below are some thoughts. The idea is ever we never think about this sort of stuff until it’s too late, and so by taking 30-60 minutes this weekend, you can ensure you at least have some things covered.

I should note that the great irony here is that literally that morning I’d been in conversation with a good friend who had some things stolen and was saying how, now that he mentioned it, I was not that well prepared. Oh karma.

Include numbers to call on your lock screen
If an honest person finds your phone they can easily see who to dial in case of emergency. Also consider including email address/ Facebook name

Turn on “find my phone” feature
Google has Find My Device app. Apple has it in-built, I believe

Have back up cards at home
To avoid not being able to withdraw money whilst your bank cards are being replaced. Consider even opening a separate bank account (obv with no fees) for such a purpose.

Hide cash money in your bag
If only your purse is pinched, then at least you have some back up there to get home

Save copies of your important docs “in the cloud”
Handy if you need to know your bank account number or ID information. The key is for it not just be saved locally on your phone, but somewhere where you can access it wherever there’s an internet connection.

I have a devoted folder in Evernote, though Google Drive/ Dropbox works too

Examples of “important docs”
– Bank account numbers
– Passport/ driving licence copies
– Record of vaccinations
– National ID number
– Screenshot of the About section of your phone (for if you need to disable it)

Have Whatsapp chat automatically back up
It’s in the Settings. It’ll auto-sync to Google Drive. Means you don’t lose all of your chats when switching phone.

Keep your phone number when replacing your SIM card
When you get a new one you can switch the default number to your old one. Easier to slip back into things.

Use Google Drive/ Dropbox as your default place to store files
More of a laptop thing. Rather than saving in My Documents, be in the habit of computer stuff being in the cloud. Means it won’t be lost forever.

Get insurance!
Sounds simple, but can be overlooked.

At the more extreme end of the spectrum (mainly if you’re travelling in areas with a high chance of getting mugged) you could also consider:
– Having a “throwaway wallet” to give said muggers. Include a bit of cash and a few credit-card-looking store cards so it looks legit
– Have a “safety phrase” to say to someone to communicate you’re in danger/ under duress
– Hiding cash in your shoes/ bra (if you’re inclined to wearing on)

The Economist Africa Innovation Summit

On Tuesday The Economist came to Nairobi to host an event on innovation in Africa. I went along (as part of the sponsorship deal for the podcast) and wanted to share some of the key things covered.

Unlike other conferences I’ve been to, there was a refreshing level of debate between panellists which facilitated getting to the crux of a number of issues.

Here are some key aspects:

1. Will Africa take a different development sequence?
Europe/ US/ Asia developed through ‘industrialisation’ i.e. building factories. Africa is developing in the time of mass connectivity and so will digitalisation side step this pattern?

Yes: many more opportunities to cheaply connect globally, especially regarding the gig economy
No: some things require “old fashioned” value creation i.e. you can’t smelt minerals with solar power alone

2. What is AI’s role in Africa’s development?
More than just an internet connection, Artificial Intelligence and robotics are developments that take jobs ordinarily fulfilled by humans.

The paradox: “AI may take jobs, but there are no jobs to take in Africa”

3. Kenya is an innovative tech hub?
Internationally recognised as a leader in FinTech through M-Pesa. However the founder of Bitpesa (interviewed here) argued:

“M-Pesa was 10 years’ ago. What’s happened since then? What’s next?!”

Her answer: Kenya needs to embrace blockchain technology

4. China’s role in Africa
On the whole China felt underrepresented from the conference. The country has a deep presence on the continent which may seem strange given the infancy of domestic markets.

Crux of the relationship: China is de-localising manufacturing of low value processes as they focus on AI

On the whole it was a thought-provoking day with considerate people discussing the development of the region. If you’re interested in other events, take a look here.

 

This post originally featured on the weekly newsletter, click here to subscribe.

Taking the initiative

This week I’ve been on the receiving end of what happens when people take the initiative.

We’re hiring someone at work and I had some applications sat in my inbox to be reviewed at some point which, in honesty, may have taken another week to get to.

I then received a phone call from someone enquiring about the position which suddenly got my attention.

She was polite and made the most of the opportunity on the phone “here’s why I’m interested in the position” etc. and before I knew it we were arranging a time to meet next week for coffee to discuss more.

Needless to say, those who haven’t called aren’t getting an interview just yet.

This got me thinking how my default setting is to not be too pushy and to view at as “impolite” to “hassle” people when trying to get something done together.

This is a very negative way to think about it, and if anything it’s impolite to expect the other person be wholly responsible for managing the scenario when they have other things on.

It shows a few things:

  • Taking action progresses the conversation even if it’s not “your turn”
  • Taking action is a great signal to the other person that you care about what you’re discussing (if you sit in silence, they are none the wiser)
  • So long as you’re polite, it will likely be seen as a positive move
  • If someone is still not interested, this is great info to realise you shouldn’t waste your time
  • Talking on the phone > email

So my takeaway is when I think of needing to follow up with someone is to just crack on and do it straight away. Speaking on the phone, where possible.

 

This post originally featured on the weekly newsletter, click here to subscribe.

Radical candour

I’m now back in Nairobi and into the swing of things. It’s ~25 degrees, and so quite a change to get some Vitamin D.Anyway, this week I thought I’d share the concepts of a recurring conversation I had with friends over the festive break. Namely, the topic of speaking bluntly.

For the previous 12 months I worked solo, and before that always shared a physical space with teammates. This changed drastically when I started working with the Kubicle team: communicating via electronic means with my colleagues.

The biggest difference though has been the style of communication.

It’s very direct, and requires a level of emotion to be left at the door in order to not be affected by what, in other social contexts, would be considered as harsh or rude.

Getting over the weirdness of the words sounding accusatory, it then becomes (I’ve found) a lot more liberating to speak in a way which gets to the root of an issue quickly.

Such as below…

In any case, if you’re interested in reading a bit more on “radical candor”, this article is the best I’ve read.

 

This post originally featured on the weekly newsletter, click here to subscribe.

 

The benefits of sharing too much online

This week I’ve been doing work for a client and have somewhat reversed my scepticism on companies putting effort into their “online presence”.

This post then circles round to how I’m seeing people in East Africa use social media, and how it’s being used here.
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