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  • Notes: leadership and innovation at 2010 World Business Forum

    Posted October 29, 2010 By in Business, Events, Featured, General With | Comments Off on Notes: leadership and innovation at 2010 World Business Forum

    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.

  • European, Asian, U.S. business schools launching Africa campuses

    Posted October 4, 2010 By in General With | Comments Off on European, Asian, U.S. business schools launching Africa campuses

    Businessweek reports on the growing trend of Asian, European, and American business schools establishing campuses on the African continent.

    Over the last few decades, Western business schools have increasingly turned their sights on Africa, with dozens of leading schools launching faculty-exchange programs, sending classes on tours of sub-Saharan Africa, and forging partnerships with local schools. Now a handful of European, Asian, and U.S. schools are taking their involvement in the African management education scene a step further, setting up their own campuses, helping the continent’s emerging economies develop executive MBA and other degree programs, and setting up academic research centers. The efforts come at a time when the management education scene in Africa has started to heat up, spurred by a growing middle class that is demanding a more Western-style business school experience, says Guy Pfefferman, chief executive officer of the Global Business School Network, a nonprofit formed by the International Finance Corp. to improve the quality of business education in emerging markets.


  • Wal-Mart plans Africa debut with $4.2 billion buy of S. Africa’s Massmart

    Posted September 27, 2010 By in General With | Comments Off on Wal-Mart plans Africa debut with $4.2 billion buy of S. Africa’s Massmart
    The Guardian reports that USA-based Wal-Mart , the world’s biggest supermarket, is planning into Africa with a $4.2 billion bid e to buy South Africa’s third-largest retailer MassMart. Massmart has 290 shops, mostly in South Africa, with 24 stores in 12 other African countries including Botswana, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Nigeria and Ghana. It manages eight wholesale and retail chains under various brand names. The group reported sales of $6.1bn last year.

    Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is planning a major move into the fast-expanding African market, announcing today that it is in talks to buy South Africa’s third-largest retailer, Massmart.

    The move, which would be worth $4.2bn (£2.65bn), will be overseen by Asda’s chairman, Andy Bond, who is responsible for operations in Africa. Wal-Mart is offering 148 rand (£13.40) a share for Massmart, which is nearly 10% higher than its last closing price.

    The acquisition would be Africa’s biggest deal in more than a decade, and Wal-Mart’s largest since it bought the UK supermarket chain Asda in 1999. In May, it agreed to acquire 194 stores in the UK from the Danish discount chain Netto for nearly £800m, although competition regulators are forcing it to sell 25% of the shops.


  • Join me at the 2010 World Business Forum

    Posted September 13, 2010 By in General With | 1 Comment

    This October, I’ll be attending the 6th Annual World Business Forum, an annual global business summit held at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The World Business Forum brings together an incredible lineup of speakers, specifically tailored to provide you with the latest insights on three overarching areas critical to the success of any organization.

    Economy – Trends – Change  

    Leadership – Performance – People

    Strategy – Innovation – Communication

    The yearly summit brings together over 5,000 attendees, consisting mostly of senior executives, from over 50 countries to hear the debate and discussions of top political and business leaders as well as renowned intellectuals about the current issues and challenges of the world business environment and global economy.

    This year’s speakers include Jim Collins (Good to Great), Jack Welch (GE), Charlene Li (Groundswell), Vijay Govindarajan (Ten Rules for Strategic Innovators), Steve Levitt (Freakonomics), former Vice President Al Gore and others. The two day conference will be held October 5 – 6, 2010. You can register to attend the World Business Forum at the website. Hope to see many of you there.

  • Trailer: Warner Bros’ World Cup-inspired film ‘Africa United’

    Posted September 8, 2010 By in General With | Comments Off on Trailer: Warner Bros’ World Cup-inspired film ‘Africa United’

    “Africa United” is the extraordinary story of three Rwandan kids who walk 3000 miles to the Soccer World Cup in South Africa. Using a sack load of ingenuity and sass (and a World Cup wall chart for a map), our pint-sized protagonists set off through the endless horizons of Africa in pursuit of an unlikely dream. And as they walk they gather a tribe – a ragamuffin team – of broken and brilliant characters who help them negotiate a way through a series of glorious, dangerous, hilarious and often bizarre situations. Through these kids, we will encounter an Africa few people ever get to see; experience the hard reality of an epic walk through seven countries; as well as the joy, laughter and hope – ‘the ubuntu’ – that comes from making an incredible journey together.

    Director: Debs Gardner-Paterson
    Writer: Rhidian Brook
    Studio: Warner Bros Pictures
    Cast: Roger Nsengiyumva, Sherrie Silver, Eriya Ndayambaje
    Release date: October 22, 2010 (UK)

  • Bob Geldof to front $750 million private equity Africa investment fund

    Posted September 6, 2010 By in General With | 2 Comments

    Mr Geldof, who has long campaigned against poverty in Africa, has been planning to launch the fund for several years but his efforts were delayed by the onset of the financial crisis. He is expected to use his knowledge of African development to source deals for the fund, although sources close to the situation insisted that the venture will be entirely commercial rather than charitable.

    Philip Pritchard, a broker with Credit Lyonnais in Asia who is a friend of Mr Geldof, and Simon Hall, a London-based headhunter, are thought to have helped pull the plans together.

    The team have already secured backing from the African Development Bank and the International Finance Corporation. Several other investors are set to sign up.

    Mr Geldof’s foray into private equity follows in the footsteps of U2’s Bono who co-founded Elevation Partners in 2005.

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

    Posted July 1, 2010 By in Events, Featured, Games, General, Sports With | Comments Off on Ghana’s Black Stars celebrate World Cup push (video)

    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

  • Why Africa aid campaigns FAIL (free ebook)

    Posted May 19, 2010 By in Books/Magazines, Business, Charity, General, Politics With | 6 Comments

    On April 27, 2010 the popular website Mashable ran a post titled 1MillionShirts Leverages Social Media to Help Clothe Africa. The post was about a new charitable campaign launched by a pair of US-based social media marketing professionals whose goal was to get everyday consumers to “Help us send one million t-shirts to the people of Africa”. As the Mashable author wrote

    The 1MillionShirts project, launched this month, is asking for used (but decent) T-shirts to be sent in with a one dollar bill to help with container costs. The shirts will then be shipped to Africa to help clothe folks in need.

    The mis-guided campaign team set out to use social media tools to spread the word,  encouraging supporters to use the #1millionshirts tag in comments about the campaign on Twitter. Within hours of the #1millionshirts tag appearing on Twitter a heated debate ensued between the marketers and the African development and aid professionals with both sides writing online, talking on Twitter, and even getting on an international conference call. In 24 hours what started out as a typical American-lead Africa aid charity campaign had fueled a full blown debate on the merits of such efforts, and how campaigns such as these negatively affect African communities and the aid industry.

    To further the open discussion, and educate other would-be Africa aid campaigners, I have tapped the wisdom of the crowd to produce a case-study document titled “No Tees Please: Why Africa aid campaigns #FAIL”. The contributors to the eBook have shared their perspectives on this and other Africa aid campaigns and the hard lessons which can be learned when they miss their mark.

    Feel free to download and distribute the eBook embedded below freely to anyone you feel can learn from the diverse perspectives on smart aid and foreign-lead African development initiatives. A special thanks to the numerous contributors and my co-editor Raquel Wilson for helping get this project out the door in a short period. Leave your comment below or follow me on Twitter (@GKofiAnnan) to join the ongoing conversation.

    No Tees Please: Why Africa aid campaigns #FAIL

    If you can’t see the embed above go here to view or download

  • Do we need an African version of Vogue Magazine?

    Posted May 18, 2010 By in Books/Magazines, Business, Fashion, General With | 5 Comments


    Recently, Paris-based Cameroonian photographer, Mauro Epanya, created a layout of what a possible African version of the trend-setting fashion glossy, Vogue Magazine would/could look like. The images, though creatively done, have sparked a debate about the merits of an African version of Vogue. In a well thought out analysis, Uduak at Labybrille Magazine, outlines the reasons why an African Vogue is not a good idea:

    • VOGUE Does Not Need to Validate Africa Before Africa Becomes Fashionable
    • The Internet has Created an African Fashion Media Revolution, So Why the Continued Need for Validation with a VOGUE Africa?
    • VOGUE Africa is Bad Business For Africa
    • VOGUE Africa Will Not Eliminate Racism in VOGUE’s Fashion Pages

    For her part in the debate, Vanessa Raphaely, editor of Cosmopolitan South Africa and editorial director of Associated Magazines (Marie Claire, O, the Oprah Magazine, etc.) also writes an insightful commentary on her blog.

    Then there’s the nuts and bolts of the business: Magazines generally follow where the cosmetic and fashion industry lead. On this continent, there are only two Vuitton stores. They are in Jozi and Cape Town, not in Gaberones, Brazzaville, Dar es Salaam or Libreville.

    There is no High Street to speak of in Africa (not even in South Africa,) there is not a proliferation of shopping malls and high end international clothing giants littering the Sahara, North, Central, Western or East Africa,  ergo, little demand for advertising pages.

    In South Africa, the powerhouse of the region, local manufacturing is floundering due to a failure to compete with Asia and The Far East with regard to price.

    That is why there is, to date, not even a South African Vogue. While fashion magazines like Marie Claire and ELLE are both well-established in the country, neither has the advertising riches to thrive that their sisters in the more developed parts of the world enjoy.

    Both, it can be argued, require less very high-end advertising than Vogue to achieve the expectations of their European principals.

    It’s not rich pickings here on the wild frontier.

    So, even though it irks me to be so pedestrian, I have to ask: who would advertise in this Pan-African Vogue?

    In the short term, a Vogue Africa would get many people excited and even generate a bit of revenue. Soon enough though, the novelty will wear off and the realities of organizing, producing, and shipping an African glossy in a global economy which has not been kind to print media will take hold. From platform (print vs. digital) to talent (African writers vs. Western writers) to business strategy (South Africa headquarters or not), there are different factors to think of when planning Vogue-type content for Africa; and corporate accounts will not ease the pain. That’s not to say an African fashion and style magazine cannot exist, but rather the strategy to launch and maintain one would need to take into account certain factors which aren’t an issue in the West.

    One of the side-effects of the marketing and advertising activity around the upcoming World Cup is that in an effort to  cash in on the African renaissance multinational corporations are again attempting to transplant their business models to a continent that lacks the same context that made those strategies successful in the West. They are looking to what their western experiences dictate and overlooking the unique opportunities that Africa has to offer – mobile  proliferation being one of them.

    If major publishers like Vogue/Conde Nast want to enter African markets they should look to partner with “local” businesses who have already dealt with the challenges and figured out what African audiences want and need. As I said in the comments section of the Ladybille Magazine blog, there are many many African media and content creators whose efforts are still being overlooked because their success is judged by Western perspectives. It’ll do Africans and global partners well to recognize and capitalize on what makes African stories, contexts, and perspectives unique.

    Read more on the debate:

    VOGUE Africa? No. Thank you Very Much I’ll Pass!

    Is the World Ready for an African Vogue?

    Fashion Enthusiasts Ponder Vogue Africa

    Vogue Africa Creator Mario Epanya Responds to Critics

  • ‘Fela!’ musical lands 11 Tony Noms; Chiwetel Ejiofor cast as Fela in biopic

    Posted May 5, 2010 By in Art, Business, Events, Film/Television, Music With | 2 Comments

    Fela_highres 2.1

    A BIG congratulations to the cast and crew of ‘FELA!’ The musical as they have just received 11 Tony Award nominations including Best Musical. The Tony Awards is the leading awards which honor Broadway productions that opened during the 2009-10 season. Along with the musical ‘La Cage aux Folles’, ‘Fela!’ has received the most nominations. ‘Fela! is nominated in all major categories including Best direction, Best performance by a leading actor, Best performance by a featured actress, and Best choreography. The 2010 Tony Awards show will air June 13 on CBS.

    In related news Golden Globe nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (Kinky Boots, American Gangster, Inside Man) has been cast to play Fela in the feature film biopic about the iconic Nigerian musician/activist. Deadline New York reveals:

    (The) Focus Features movie about the African musician and activist Fela Anikulapo Kuti now officially has its leading man. Chiwetel Ejiofor is formally attached to play Fela in the film that will be directed by Steve McQueen, the British artist who made his helming debut on Hunger, the drama about the Irish hunger strike that starred Michael Fassbender.

    When I revealed the project last year, Ejiofor seemed the obvious choice, but Focus Features wouldn’t confirm. Ejiofor sure has been taking it seriously on his end. In between his work on the upcoming Angelina Jolie-starrer Salt, he has been learning to play piano and saxophone to prepare for the role. I’m told he’s gotten quite good.

    When I first heard about the biopic some months ago many people on Twitter, including myself, put in their vote for Ejiofor in the lead role. It seems the producers were thinking as we did. Though the two projects are unrelated, I can’t help but think the musical helped solidify production plans for the film. I, for one, am excited for both projects. Go see Fela! The Musical.

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