About a month or two ago I saw a random facebook post by a friend asking ladies to apply for a Microsoft Employ Mentor workshop. I saw the post a day before the deadline and I have to admit that I applied by mistake. I was really keen on getting a job (as I still am) not attending mentorship programs, but I applied anyway.
A few weeks later I got an email saying that I had been accepted, there was an online link for registration that I did not look at and the deadline for registration passed. Weird enough my laptop got spoilt during that weekend and I assumed that my chance had passed me by (bursts into the hymn “do not pass me by” hehe). I got a call insisting that I should apply and that they had extended the deadline for me, sijui I should call that grace, because I stopped believing in luck.
Anyway back to the program, the workshop was not what I had imagined, I wasn’t really enthusiastic about it because I thought we would have some people who work for Microsoft coming to tell us how to succeed, plus give talks and all that boring stuff but these people were focused and strategic, they had everything planned out, a full four day program, a huge manual with different topics to be covered, workshops divided into 11 groups, it was all so magical in a business type of way!
Each of the 11 groups got a mentor, we got a cool Brazilian guy called JP, whose role was to teach us the nitty gritties of business, how to come up with an actual business plan from scratch, work on the financials and build an actual windows app. Now all these may sound pretty basic for people who have studied business or IT (as I also thought) but their mode of execution was beyond natural.
The best part about coming up with a unique business plan and a subsequent app was being forced to think outside the box. Now this is what I realized, as Kenyans we are afraid to think big, literally, we want what man has already done, we rarely want to venture out into what no man has done already. This is what holds us back as Kenyans. When we decided to challenge each other as group members we were able to bring a simple concept into a complex being, making sure that we were going to be as unique as possible. This meant creating a unique logo, coding an app from scratch instead of using shortcuts, and creating an elaborate but precise business plan, plus the financials had to be realistic and on our fingertips.
At the end of the week, our mindsets were changed, my mindset was changed, I came out of that workshop believing in myself and my abilities, (not that I didn’t before) but that sense was now heightened. Maybe because the CFO and the country manager gave me a personal recognition after I presented on the financials (humble brag) with guidance from JP, but such recognition doesn’t go unnoticed, it builds a fire within enough to light up your future. At that point I came to realize that every rejection letter I got did not mean that I was not worthy of those positions, but that they did not take time to evaluate and harness the potential within me.
Now a week later I posted on twitter seeking for a cross platform app developer who could partner with me to create an app whose idea I had thought of during the workshop. I didn’t specify the type of person I needed, but here is the most disappointing part, 3 days later, I have received replies from strangers from so many countries but none from Kenya. I am still waiting for a Kenyan to reply before I consider any other option. The reason is simple, we have so much talent in this country, but people are reluctant to expose their talents, their expertise and their skills, they prefer to have security in employment ( which is perfectly normal) but they rule out the option of taking risks. (Big risks = big returns). I am really trying to challenge Kenyans to think out of the box, to think like there is no box in the first place, to work on inventions that seem absurd to people, to really maximize on their gifts.
If you are up for the challenge, (cross platform app development) for a unique product hit me up. If you have been thinking of taking risks but you have been skeptical, stop thinking and start working on it. Your best kept secret could be the very thing costing you a huge deal or that priced promotion. And next time you see a random post on a workshop, apply for it, I am glad I did.