Our life-changing lessons from the past decade

Tuesday January 7 2020

 

By Mpoki Thomson

As we've embarked on the 2020s, young Tanzanian professionals reflection on lessons learnt from the past decade

Lillian Madeje | Entrepreneur

When the editor reached out to me asking me to share my top lessons of the decade, I was excited as I usually do my end of year reflections and for the best part of the past 3 years I’ve been doing yearly lessons, this was a bigger platform and I get to share my thoughts. As mentioned these are just my reflections from my journey and yours may have a different outlook, which is the beauty of life and sharing.

Dream big and continuously chase your dream - I always aspired to be an environmental engineer but my Form 6 results did not line up to that amazing aspiration. Long story short, in 2010 I graduated from my undergraduate degree and despite not graduating with an Environmental Engineering degree, I graduated with a BA in International Business and Marketing and promised myself to make an impact with it. Your journey may not be as how you have planned it but having a bigger goal in mind always helps you to keep moving.

Seek and serve your purpose. Life has more meaning this way - Upon graduation, I had a one-year work visa to more or less practice my trade. I was one of the fortunate who secured a corporate job at the firm I used to intern with, but one thing for sure 5 months into working was the fact that it felt just that, work. It may not always be the case where one gets to select what and where they work but if you have the blessings of lining up your passion and work, there is always more fulfilment and joy at the end of the day.

Surround yourself with champions - Your company has to challenge you and want you to be the best version of yourself. 2012 was my growth year working at a startup under the guidance of Modesta Mahiga-Mbughuni and half the time I honestly felt like a phony which made me more determined to learn and ensure that I also have something to share with others.

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Take calculated risks – In 2014 I took a leap and opened Ekihya Company with my friend, but it is only until mid-2016 that I was able to afford office space and one employee. Do your numbers and continue working towards the bigger picture, don’t be swayed by others.

Travel as much as you can - It is in travelling that one gets to expand their horizon and meet amazing friends who become part of our life journey.

This lesson I still hold close to my heart and I do my best to keep on practicing every year. Be authentic in all you do - Authenticity in all you do is key to getting you to all the places you can imagine. People want to work and just do life with people that they can trust.

Listen to your body and mind - Black does crack, learn to take care of your body and mind and do take time out when need be. I learnt this the hard way when I had a nervous breakdown that earned me my first ever 1-day hospital admission. Learn to channel your inner strength – In 2019 so many things were going on from all fronts and I had to learn a) be still and b) channel inner strength to go through it all. These two things can help you navigate your way through precarious minefields. And there you have it. I hope that these nuggets will help you navigate your way through the coming 10 years ;-)

Andrew Mahiga | Public Policy Consultant

The past decade has brought upon a lot of personal and professional milestones for me; from earning 2 degrees, being self-employed and managing my own company for 6 years to becoming a father. It was the decade of becoming a man and realising (and embracing) all the responsibilities that come with it.

Like any walk in life, I have had my ups and downs. The downs have come from learning to deal with failures and disappointments. I have learnt to not be too emotionally attached and invested in things and/or people – that if something does not work out it is not necessarily my or someone else’s fault for the shortcomings but rather it may have not been the right time and place for it. I read a quote a few years ago that said, “Do not take your problems personally” and it really resonated with me.

Besides the above-mentioned milestones, the ups of the past decade include being able to develop a personal brand and grow my professional network. I became a trusted and respected voice in youth and development issues, a mentor and advisor. I am generally a confident person but a new dynamic I had to grow into was people putting their trust and confidence in me. It is a whole new level of responsibility that should not be taken for granted.

Throughout all this I have also developed a deeper interest and passion for my country, Tanzania - politically and economically - and I became more intentional about what difference I wanted to make in it.

It became less about what can people do for me and more about what can I do for us. It was a pivotal mindset shift in my life where I started seeing the potential in people and things rather than the problems in or around them. It has given me a new perspective on how I approach these so-called “problems” and improved my relationships and interactions with people. This is reflected in my current career path and the development work that I do.

What I look forward to in the next decade is building on my legacy – both for my family and country – and playing my part in adding to other people’s legacies who share my vision and way of thinking.

Edwin Bruno – Founder & CEO - Smart Codes

Over the past 10 years I have learnt the power of execution and consistency. When it comes to business, talk is cheap. It is one thing to dream all day but actually doing the day-to-day work of creating and building a successful business is more important than the gloss or glamour. I have also learnt how important it is to be consistent and always study new things, including reading books based on the immediate skills you need and implement the learnings.

Staying focused – My faith, family and ability to stay focused on what matters has helped me in my journey as an entrepreneur. I credit the support of my partners, family, friends and wife who keep me focused and strident in my endeavours.

As an entrepreneur I am proud of how far  Smart Codes has come by being at the forefront of technology and advertising.

One of the key lessons I’ve learnt in business over the past 10 years is that growth is integral to the success of a business. At Smart Codes we believe the future belongs to those who are FAST, and SPEED is the new oil for innovation, hence moving fast is important and you can see it from our OSTRICH brand culture.

Growth of tech in Tanzania – The technology industry in Tanzania has grown exponentially in the past decade with tones of new startups and companies being founded. I have adapted to the changes by always keeping my finger on the pulse of what is going on and also being part of the growth ecosystem. This has also afforded me an opportunity to let others learn from our path by sharing via our Smart Lab.

I think the future of tech in Tanzania is still mobile but we will continue to see innovation in fintech and banks, which have more opportunity to grow faster vs telco only if they put right people in their management level and “risk to be part of their investment”. Logistics in Tanzania is ripe for disruption and so is the transport industry

In 2020 I am focusing more on growing our portfolio of in-house projects and our research and development as well as supporting our clients with their goals and objectives.

Prudence Zoe Glorious - Writer & Strategic Advisor

These are my career lessons of the decade:

Understand your ways of working. I honed my skills as a features writer at a university newspaper where deadlines were taken seriously. An insight I gained about myself was that I am creative and I needed longer periods to deliver excellent work. I take the bulk of my work-time to imagine, research and design my product. Once you understand your workflow, cut out a process that works for you and communicate it effectively. Always factor your essence in your delivery and add it to your timelines.

The power of learning. I learnt that one has the POWER to read. You go through academia and what you earn at the end is not a degree but the capability and competence to read and write. Harness it throughout your career – never stop reading i.e., books, people, situations and life – use your hard-earned power!

Respect your colleagues. I learnt this at the BBC Nairobi Bureau as I interacted and assisted senior journalists to interview the high and mighty. RESPECT always makes the workload easier and working with others effective.

Being consistent. Just keep doing it. It takes 10,000 hours to become an overnight success. You got to put your head down and JUST DO IT. Consistency, as I am still learning, is a career superpower.

Manage your time well. You have 24 hours that can be divided into 3 parts of 8. Make sure you give your work 8 solid hours every day! Learn what is important and keep prioritising it.

Take your holidays. When you are tired rest, don’t quit. I learnt this the hard way during my first stint with the United Nations where I quit my job after one year of continuous working. Thank God the UN leader at the time and the United Nations Communications Group had enough sense to take me back in as a consultant. REST – you need it and the perspective it brings.

Mentorship and networking will increase your value. Get a mentor that has a temperament as you to sharpen your voice and get another to sharpen your handwriting. Then go out there and mingle with great people as you show them what VALUE you can add to their outcomes.

Be a leader. You don’t have to be a C-suite executive to make an impact in your place of work. Just make it your ambition to always leave somewhere better than you found it.

Andrew Mahiga

The past decade has brought upon a lot of personal and professional milestones for me; from earning 2 degrees, being self-employed and managing my own company for 6 years to becoming a father. It was the decade of becoming a man and realizing (and embracing) all the responsibilities that come with it.

Like any walk in life, I have had my ups and downs. The downs have come from learning to deal with failures and disappointments. I have learnt to not be too emotionally attached and invested in things and/or people – that if something does not work out it is not necessarily my or someone else’s fault for the shortcomings but rather it may have not been the right time and place for it. I read a quote a few years ago that said, “Do not take your problems personally” and it really resonated with me.

Besides the above-mentioned milestones, the ups of the past decade include being able to develop a personal brand and grow my professional network. I became a trusted and respected voice in youth and development issues, a mentor and advisor. I am generally a confident person but a new dynamic I had to grow into was people putting their trust and confidence in me. It is a whole new level of responsibility that should not be taken for granted.

Throughout all this I have also developed a deeper interest and passion for my country, Tanzania - politically and economically - and I became more intentional about what difference I wanted to make in it. It became less about what can people do for me and more about what can I do for us. It was a pivotal mindset shift in my life where I started seeing the potential in people and things rather than the problems in or around them. It has given me a new perspective on how I approach these so-called “problems” and improved my relationships and interactions with people. This is reflected in my current career path and the development work that I do.

What I look forward to in the next decade is building on my legacy – both for my family and country – and playing my part in adding to other people’s legacies who share my vision and way of thinking.

Lillian Secelela Madeje

When the editor reached out to me asking me to share my top lessons of the decade, I was excited as I usually do my end of year reflections and for the best part of the past 3 years I’ve been doing yearly lessons, this was a bigger platform and I get to share my thoughts. As mentioned these are just my reflections from my journey and yours may have a different outlook, which is the beauty of life and sharing.

Dream big and continuously chase your dream - I always aspired to be an environmental engineer but my Form 6 results did not line up to that amazing aspiration. Long story short, in 2010 I graduated from my undergraduate degree and despite not graduating with an Environmental Engineering degree, I graduated with a BA in International Business and Marketing and promised myself to make an impact with it. Your journey may not be as how you have planned it but having a bigger goal in mind always helps you to keep moving.

Seek and serve your purpose. Life has more meaning this way - Upon graduation, I had a one-year work visa to more or less practice my trade. I was one of the fortunate who secured a corporate job at the firm I used to intern with, but one thing for sure 5 months into working was the fact that it felt just that, work. It may not always be the case where one gets to select what and where they work but if you have the blessings of lining up your passion and work, there is always more fulfilment and joy at the end of the day.

Surround yourself with champions - Your company has to challenge you and want you to be the best version of yourself. 2012 was my growth year working at a startup under the guidance of Modesta Mahiga-Mbughuni and half the time I honestly felt like a phony which made me more determined to learn and ensure that I also have something to share with others.

Take calculated risks – In 2014 I took a leap and opened Ekihya Company with my friend, but it is only until mid-2016 that I was able to afford office space and one employee. Do your numbers and continue working towards the bigger picture, don’t be swayed by others.

Travel as much as you can - It is in travelling that one gets to expand their horizon and meet amazing friends who become part of our life journey. This lesson I still hold close to my heart and I do my best to keep on practicing every year.

Be authentic in all you do - Authenticity in all you do is key to getting you to all the places you can imagine. People want to work and just do life with people that they can trust.

Listen to your body and mind - Black does crack, learn to take care of your body and mind and do take time out when need be. I learnt this the hard way when I had a nervous breakdown that earned me my first ever 1-day hospital admission.

Learn to channel your inner strength – In 2019 so many things were going on from all fronts and I had to learn a) be still and b) channel inner strength to go through it all. These two things can help you navigate your way through precarious minefields.

And there you have it. I hope that these nuggets will help you navigate your way through the coming 10 years ;-)

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