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Top 100 global thinkers of 2010

December 2nd, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Books/Magazines, Business, Charity, Featured, General, Politics

Foreign Policy Magazine has named their top 100 global thinkers of 2010. The list, which I’ve outlined below, is a mix of policy makers, advocates, and media professionals among other global influencers. A special congratulations goes out to Rosa Whitaker (#53), Ory Okolloh (#59), and Ethan Zuckerman (#81), all of whom  I’ve had the pleasure of connecting and sharing ideas with. View the full list below, and read the full story on the Foreign Policy website:

Beginning with Warren Buffett and Bill Gates (1), who teamed up to prove that even in tough times great new ideas can emerge, to forecasting economist Nouriel Roubini (12) to political leaders Barack Obama (3) and Angela Merkel (10), FP presents more than just their big ideas. Once again we took a unique survey of this very smart crowd. Nearly two-thirds participated to give you insight into their thinking on everything from how Obama’s doing to their preference in new-age reading device (iPad, by a lot). But don’t take our word for it — take the same questionnaire we sent to our FP 100 and see how your answers match up against theirs. – Foreign Policy Mag.

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Notes: leadership and innovation at 2010 World Business Forum

October 29th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Business, Events, Featured, General

Recently I was honored to have been able to attend The World Business Forum, an annual business conference featuring some of today’s most influential business and leadership luminaries. The event, held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, featured 18+ speakers – including Al Gore, Jack Welch, Vijay Govindarajan, and Charlene Li – covering a range of business topics from social media to innovation to government. As a featured blogger – along with writers from The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post – I watched and listened for two days as global business leaders shared their insights on stage. I’ve outlined portions of my speaker notes for you to read below. You can also read through the archive of on-the-spot tweets from myself and fellow attendees in the #WBF10 Twitter stream for more context.

Jim Collins on sustaining great results

- The 5 levels of leadership

  • The highly capable individual
  • Contributing team member
  • Competent manager
  • Effective Leader
  • Level 5 executive

- Leadership only exists if people have the power to not follow

- To much opportunity can kill a company more than a lack of opportunity

- Good executives must have the abiity to pick the right people for the right seats

- Most overnights success are 20 years in the making

Bill McDermott on winning in the new reality

- You need compelling vision for business

- You can tell everything about a CEO by their executive secretary

- The best run businesses have connected enterprise (IT)

Jack Welch on management

- The team that owns the best players wins

- The internet is the Viagra of big business

- Companies spend too much time with the bottom 20% achievers than the top 10%

Carlos Brito on building a performance culture

- Great people = Great companies

- Great people like meritocracies

- Without meritocracy, great people will leave because they have opptions, and weak people will stay because they don’t

- Create a culture of owners

Charlene Li on social networks

- You can’t have a strategy about Facebook

- Social technologies are about relationships

- We overvalues things we can measure, and undervalue what we can’t

Martin Lindstrom on marketing

- Removing a logo is just as powerful

- 83% of brands communicate with only one sense

Joseph Grenny in influence

- Grenny’s law of leadership: No strategy is so brilliant that people can’t render it useless

- Culture and behaviour are a good way to influence business success

- Influencers succeed because they overdetermine success

- Six sources of influence

  • Influence of pain or pleasure of behaviour
  • Influence of skill
  • Influence social networks
  • Influence with power of crowds
  • Influence of cost and incentives
  • Influence with environment

David Gergen on leadership

- Blogs make it harder on Washington

- General Petraues is a good leader; combines accessibility with a chain of command

Steve Levitt on freakonomics

- The Best ideas are the simplest

- Regression analysis help economists see patterns

- Microeconomics in business can be important

- In a complex world, if you set up complex rules, people will game it

- If you want to succeed and you have no special talent, find the most niche topic and become an expert in it

Joseph Stiglitz on the economy

- During economic downturn, the poeple who needed to fix the economy probably too vested in maintaining it

- The White House doesn’t hate business, see the bank bail-outs

A.G. Lafley on customer centric growth

- Inventions are not innovative until it becomes commercial

- Essence for creative innovation

  • Openness
  • Curiosity
  • Connecting
  • Collaboration
  • Courage

Renee Mauborgne on strategy

- Management should spend more time on creativity rather than productivity

Vijay Govindarajan on innovation

- The 3 boxes of management

- Manage the present

- Selectively abandon the past

- Create the future

James Cameron on creativity

- His creative process

  • Do story treatment
  • Get graphic designers to visualize story
  • Write script
  • Cast actors
  • Produce and edit movie

As I mentioned before read through the The World Business Forum tweets archive for more context to my notes. You can also view some video highlights of the conference and read what some of my fellow bloggers wrote at the official Bloggers Hub. Hope to see you at the 2011 edition of the World Business Forum.

Ghana’s Black Stars celebrate World Cup push (video)

July 1st, 2010 | No Comments | Posted in Events, Featured, Games, General, Sports

I’m quite proud to be a Ghanaian right about now.

The Black Stars haven’t just made Ghanaians proud.

Being the only African team left in the cup, they are being cheered on by fans across the continent – all wanting the dancing to continue right through to the final. – BBC

Video: The Black Stars, Ghana’s football/soccer team, celebrating at their hotel after the win that sent them into the World Cup 2010 Quarter-Finals (via Pearcesport)

Video: Ghanaians celebrates World Cup win over US

If you can’t see the videos above, go here

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Africa in vibrant technicolor, Paul Sika talks to CNN

One of  the most dynamic, engaging young creative talents coming out of the African continent recently is Ivorian photographer/creative director Paul Sika. After being introduced about a year ago by a mutual friend, I was impressed by his creative vision and passion. Paul’s use of color and juxtaposition of characters in his photo and video creations expose a new way of looking at contemporary African life, culture, and style. A true entrepreneur, Paul has put together an upcoming book titled “At The Heart Of Me …” featuring his intricate work and concepts. As I mentioned in my earlier post “Top 6 African business and culture trends to watch in 2010“, Paul Sika is one of the African creative class making an impact this year. For more about Paul Sika and his upcoming book, visit PaulSika.com

paul_sika_hamac-3

Trailer for the book “At The Heart Of Me …” by Paul Sika

CNN Inside Africa’s Isha Sesay talks to Ivorian photographer Paul Sika about his vibrant images, filled with eye-catching colors.

If you can’t see the videos above, go here to view

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African youth and the African brand (presentation)

A few weeks ago, I was honored to be invited to Harvard University to give a short talk and participate in the  Rebranding Africa through the Youth panel as part of their Africa Focus series. The panel was a lively, collaborative one with both panelists and attendees providing perspectives on the topic. As a follow-up, I’ve put together a slide deck of my prep notes and am sharing here. Hopefully, the presentation embedded below will allow those who couldn’t attend the event a chance to join in and continue the conversation here and elsewhere. Feel free to download and share the presentation. You can contact me here or on Twitter (@GKofiAnnan) for further info or to discuss. Thanks to the Harvard team, especially Essie Yamoah and Julia Mensah, for having me up.

The youth and branding Africa

If you can’t see the presentation above go here to view
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Top 6 African business and culture trends to watch in 2010

Africa_fireworksIf, like me, you’ve been watching people and events surrounding Africa in mainstream and non-mainstream news, you’ll know that 2009 was a big year for Africa, From President Obama’s visit, to the new fiber-optic cable in Kenya, there was a lot of president-setting efforts going on in Africa. While there were the instances of political unrest, in all I think African countries had one of the better years. Looking forward to 2010, Africa seems in line to be put through some vigorous tests, From politics to agriculture and technology, in 2010 Africa will be challenged to show the world what is brewing under the hood for the next decade. Here are a few trends I think will greatly influence how Africans live and work in 2010:

1. Trickle-up innovation/reverse innovation

In 2007 C. K. Prahalad, author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits, highlighted five ways that developing nations are often ahead of the curve and how multinationals can adapt to the the changing product development lifecycle. In 2010, though some analysts say the global financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 is in recovery, we’ll continue to see an increase in businesses looking to developing nations, including Africa, as ground zero for new product and service innovation. Organizations will not neglect consumers in developed nations though. Rather, developing nations will take precedence in business development, with markets in the west getting re-targeted efforts already proven elsewhere. The big question is will African nations also turn their innovation sights into Africa to bolster African business and gain a home-field advantage against foreign businesses.

Watch: Google, GE, Microsoft, Nokia

2. Mobile and connectivity growth and standards
At this point, mobile technology is synonymous with connectivity in Africa. From government to industry, Africans are growing more reliant on the mobile phone for all aspects of life. 2010 will see a continuance of this trend within communities, and more importantly, governments will increasingly begin to use the mobile phone as a way of reaching African civilians. We are already seeing that in Kenya’s Obama-inspired mobile campaign to educate Kenyans on public policies. Beyond mobile technology, we’ll also see a surge in government-funded connectivity efforts and legislation around Africa. With the new fiber-optic cables launch in Kenya and other regions moving more services from analog to digital, Africa’s connectivity will be a priority for forward-thinking leaders. Case in point is the Kigali government’s recent launch of a $7 million wireless hot spot facility. We can expect to also see a lot of foreign investment in development and organization of the African mobile sector. I, for one, am looking forward to the growth of mobile innovations by African entrepreneurs. Hopefully African private and public sectors can engage the independent developers to accelerate the mobile industry in 2010

Watch: Government data centers,  2010 Fifa World Cup mobile marketing, Netbook market growth, M-pesa, Fiber-optic cables usage, MTN, KenyaAirways on Twitter, Zain, Safaricom

3. Rise of the African creative class
For the past several years, young Africans have been struggling to define a new identity for the themselves in the connected global community. As political stability has solidified in many African countries and African youth have begun to exert their influence at home and abroad, a community of independent creators have strengthened their voices and come to the forefront to re-define Africa for the 21st century. Fueled by connectivity, voluntary repatriation, international travel, and the growth of African cities, Africa’s creative class will be at the center of shaping Africa in 2010. In 2009 we saw African blogging reach it’s peak and a surge in African style and design multi-media channels. From Arise Magazine, to BHF Magazine, to Design Indaba, the exploration of what it means to be African in the 21st century continued to influence all areas. In 2010, with the debut of the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa, we will see Africa’s creative class flexing their influence on everything from technology, to government policy, to international business. With so many African and foreign private and public organizations hoping to capitalize on the event, Africa’s creative class will be at the center of it all. As the core drivers of Africa’s urban areas, the creative class are the ultimate influencers. 2010 will be the year when they will be thrust into the limelight internationally. Let’s hope they (we) are ready.

Watch: Arise Magazine, Fela on Broadway, Design Indaba, Maker Faire Africa 2010, The Blk Jks, FESPACO, African Gay & Lesbian groups, Paul Sika, African Avante Garde

4. The Africa brand and tourism
The 2010 Fifa World Cup will have a major impact on Africa whatever the end result is positively or negatively. Most importantly, the World Cup will challenge African tourism, marketing, infrastructure and related industries to develop and maintain a consistent African brand identity. With the advent of high-profile global events like this and a need to share resources, African governments will have to re-visit and form cross-border alliances. While we have already seen regional groups like the East African Community strengthen their intergovernmental ties, 2010 will be the year when all African countries will have to answer the cross-border alliance question at the behest of foreign political engagement.

Watch: 2010 Fifa World Cup, African government summits, Cross-country tourism packages,  ICT sector, “Made in Africa” labeling

5. Africa and African-Americans
Not much has been said about the growing relationship between Africans and African-Americans. By and large there is still a communication rift between the two groups. But slowly, the relationship between the two groups is becoming symbiotic. While I don’t see a major shift in opinion between the two groups happening in 2010, I do expect a continuation of the rapid growth of African-American wealth to playing a part in African development. Resourceful and wealthy African-Americans will continue to invest in African culture and politics both on the continent and abroad, while Africans borrow from African-American history for lessons on developing an international identity. Particularly, a growing number of African-American entertainers and business people will see Africa as an extension of their life in the United States. some will even maintain plans to buy and move to the continent seeking a more personally and financially fruitful life. Africans will also begin to formally recognize this trend and capitalize on the brain gain. As more African-Americans look to Africa, African will become more high profile in African-American press pushing Afropolitan culture further into American pop culture.

Watch: Fela On Broadway, African real estate development, Africa correspondents in urban media, African-American foreign invetment groups.

6. China..and India
In November 2009, China pledged a multibillion-dollar package of financial and technical assistance to African governments over the next couple of years.  This was among one of the many efforts by Chinese government and business to form a tight alliance with Africa. China’s relationship with Africa will continue to dominate Africa news in 2010, with support and objections from many diverse groups as we’ve seen in 2009. The new year will also see an increase in Indian alliance with countries within the continent though it will continue to pale in comparison to China’s efforts. India and Africa will strengthen their ICT development relationships as African countries continue to push themselves as outsourcing destinations.

Watch: India-Africa learning trips, Chinese import export from Africa, Sino-African cultural conflicts.

What do you think? What other trends will influence Africa’s growth and development in 2010? Please share your comments.

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FELA! musical hits Broadway with rave reviews

December 7th, 2009 | 2 Comments | Posted in Art, Books/Magazines, Business, Events, Featured, General, Music, Politics

FELA! musical

If you haven’t already heard FELA! The Musical has opened on the Broadway in New York City. For many people, myself included, this marks a milestone in African culture’s rise to global recognition. Nigerian musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti has been an major inspiration for many young Africans looking to re-define what it means to be African in the West. Ever the African icon, Fela’s music and ideas have been at the cornerstone of the growing Afropolitan culture in New York and other metropolitan areas around the world. He has inspired many creative expressions of African culture including my own early foray into Africa-influenced business. After many years as an Afropolitan lifestyle inspiration, now the essence of what Fela has defined for modern Africans has brilliantly been captured in this new musical.

In it’s glowing review of the new musical The New York Times writes:

There should be dancing in the streets. When you leave the Eugene O’Neill Theater after a performance of “Fela!,” it comes as a shock that the people on the sidewalks are merely walking. Why aren’t they gyrating, swaying, vibrating, in thrall to the force field that you have been living in so ecstatically for the past couple of hours?

The hot (and seriously cool) energy that comes from the musical gospel preached by the title character of “Fela!,” which opened on Monday night, feels as if it could stretch easily to the borders of Manhattan and then across a river or two. Anyone who worried that Bill T. Jones’s singular, sensational show might lose its mojo in transferring to Broadway can relax.

FELA! The Musical features the Afrobeat music of Fela Anikulapo–Kuti, a book by Jim Lewis and the direction and choreography of Tony® Award winner Bill T. Jones. The musical is co-produced by Jay-Z, and Will and Jada Pinkett Smith among others.

Watch the opening night and behind the scenes videos below.

If you can’t see the videos above, click here

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President Obama on Africa and upcoming visit (video)

This week President Obama will make his first visit to sub-Saharan Africa as president of the United States. The visit is greatly anticipated by Africa as a whole and Ghana specifically. In the videos below he talks to allafrica.com about Africa now and to the future.
Part 1

Part 2

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Prada space captures rural Congo experience

January 12th, 2009 | 1 Comment | Posted in Art, Charity, Events, Fashion, Featured, General, Travel

Influx Insights points us to an interesting marriage of Congolese and Western culture in the form of an art and entertainment experience space. The Double Club, a 6 month project collaboration between Fondazione Prada (Prada’s art foundation), and German artist Carsten Höller opened in London. The space, which is literally spit in two – is a “bar, restaurant and dance club where the Congo meets the west; A bar,
restaurant and dance club where the west meets the Congo.” The project is meant to spark dialogue between Congolese and Western contemporary culture and will feature. All profits are slated to go to The City of Joy charity, which provides
shelter and services to women who have been targets of violence during
Congo’s long running civil warIf you’re in London before May 2009, check out this culture mashup.

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