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THREE THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR BETTER DIVERSITY

THREE THINGS WE NEED TO DO FOR BETTER DIVERSITY

 

We do not need a bunch of men or women pontificating about diversity. We need action.

Tip 1

If you’re speaking at a conference, ensure at least 30% of your fellow speakers are women. But more than that, make sure everyone speaking is credible and brings something interesting to the table. i.e. no tokenism. That doesn’t mean they have to be the CEO of a company that everyone knows. A different way of looking at things is great. The world needs all the fresh perspectives it can get!

 

Tip 2

Stop being lazy!

 

Great women exist, but it might take some work to find them. This is further exacerbated by the ‘noise’ of others and wrong metrics. For instance, just because someone has lots of followers on social media does not mean they are subject matter experts. It just might be a reflection of their ability to create and promote content (both of which can be outsourced). This is eclipsing great people. Dig deeper, get curious and shine a light into hidden crevices.

 

Tip 3

Leaders vs People in Positions of Power

 

This is a game changer! The word ‘leader’ is banded around to cover some of the most irresponsible and short-sighted humans on this
planet. In organisations, the word ‘leader’ is sometimes attached to those who navigated the corporate matrix to rise to the top. These are not examples of leaders. They are examples of people in positions of power. We must distinguish between the two.

 

Real leaders are:

 

  • Not necessarily the loudest in the room or the most gregarious
  • Considered and considerate
  • Reflective and think about the world around them beyond tomorrow
  • Collaborative and work beyond silos
  • Responsible with the discipline to think through potential consequences and seek better solutions
  • Able to navigate complexity and uncertainty
  • Human!

This needs to be our standard if we are to level the playing field for people from all cultures, genders, backgrounds and creeds.

 

 

N.B. There is a lot more complexity to this issue. If you’d like to know more, please send me a note, and I’d be happy to share insights, nuances and strategies.

3 SKILLS NEEDED TO HACK HYPE IN TECH INVESTING

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COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

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Ask a person the reason they love to travel, and often they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience and...

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

  There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment when people hear I love working in the Middle East, for the simple reason that I’m a woman. I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East,...

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WHY INTENTIONS & MOTIVATIONS IN TECH MATTER

WHY INTENTIONS & MOTIVATIONS IN TECH MATTER

Tech in the right hands can do some great good. One of the best examples of this is Dr Patrick Meier. I first met Patrick around 2012 when he was giving a lecture at Imperial College on the work he was doing to improve the response time of humanitarian aid. One of the cases he shared was looking at trends in social media usage in Indonesia. If a disaster hits and the pattern of usage is lower than usual, they could infer there was no power, and hence, the area badly hit and requires urgent assistance. His book Digital Humanitarians, takes you through an amazing story of a dedicated global network of new humanitarians are using mobile technologies, computer applications, and vast quantities of data to make a huge difference.

SENTIMENT ANALYSIS

It was through Patrick that I connected the dots on how the same technology could be used to pick up sentiment, and where I realised it’s the character, thinking and intention of the people behind the technology that are the real game changers. Welcome to the world of sentiment analysis.

Sentiment analysis, also known as opinion mining, uses new technologies and algorithms to collect and analyse opinions about a product, service, or even an entire brand. It’s not just opinions, though—it’s also all the attitudes and emotions expressed with each mention online. In short, sentiment analysis seeks to highlight what people mean, not just what they say. Politicians have used sentiment analysis to gauge public opinion to policy announcements and campaign messages.

It’s the character, thinking and intention of the people behind the technology that are the real game changers.

To understand the power of this, imagine two conversations with two different people. You feel one of them gets you, really understands what you’re saying and what you mean, even who you truly are. The other comes across as cold, distant, uninterested, metallic. Which one will you gravitate to? The bets are on the former. But here’s the snag – humans do this very well, only they’re in two camps: the empaths – the highly intuitive individuals with heightened listening skills; and the manipulators and sociopaths – brilliant at telling you what you want to hear. The difference is the intention – the empaths have your interests at heart, the manipulators will tell you anything you want to hear but for their gain. What people don’t realise is most of us have interacted with a sociopath without realising it. It would likely have been a positive interaction, and they are not recognised as a sociopath or manipulator until they’re caught.

So why am I telling you all this? Technologists out there have realised we have been posting our thoughts in the ether. In some cases, they have used it to sell us more stuff, in other instances to swing elections. I have come across applications that give you the specific phrases to use with someone you want to win over, language patterns that could only have been extracted from the messaging facility of a given platform. Other applications help position you as an influencer in your domain by feeding you what you should say, what you should post. There is a fine line between influence and manipulation. If these applications are anything to go by, we’ve crossed it. Of course, technology also puts tools in people’s hands, to gain access to information. But people aren’t using it enough! Whether that’s an online search to do some fact-finding on people or picking up the phone to verify someone’s claims, we have plenty of tools at our disposal not to get duped. I would like:

  • To see more people using technology wisely and develop greater discernment
  • For investors to stop backing stuff that has the power to harm humanity
  • For entrepreneurs, innovators and everyone else in the ecosystem to temper greed

Photo credit © Can Stock Photo / rolffimages

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3 SKILLS NEEDED TO HACK HYPE IN TECH INVESTING

3 SKILLS TO HACK THE HYPE IN TECH INVESTING

 

Technology can help us tackle some meaningful problems. But it’s the thinking and capabilities of the investors that will determine which will see the light of day. I have seen too many ‘bad’ projects get funded by supposedly sophisticated investors, burning their cash. This impacts the available capital for worthy founders and promising applications of technology. We need to know what to look for and how to avoid FOMO (fear of missing out).

Here’s a case in point.

Over a glass of bubbly, someone tried to convince me to invest in a blockchain project.

“There’s a great opportunity using blockchain technology in electricity.”

So, I asked how it works.

His reply? “I’m not sure, but it’s the same technology behind bitcoin, and a lot of people have made money out of bitcoin. Also, Branson, Gates and Bezos have invested $1billion in it.”

Brilliant! Yes, please take a lot of our money to invest in something you have zero clue about.

A significant injection of discernment, diligence and better decision-making are long overdue.

DISCERNMENT

Pitches are great, but it’s how people answer questions that matter. It is probably a good idea to not put your money where the promoter can’t explain it and uses other people’s names to justify you joining the bandwagon.

Pitches are great, but it’s how people answer questions that matter.

DILIGENCE

Is it true? The pandemic of fake news shows how people love to share information without fact-checking. So, have Branson, Gates and Bezos invested $1billion in blockchain for energy? No – they are part of a $1 billion fund (Breakthrough Energy Ventures) investing in clean energy technologies, not specifically blockchain technology in energy.

DECISION-MAKING

There are many potential winners out there – but there are also a significant number of potential losers. The furore of hype is often hard to resist and, like any virus, a vaccine is needed. A useful resource is a checklist highlighting the elements that matter to you. Taking a leaf out of one of the greatest investors of all time – Warren Buffet – one of the principles should be ‘do I understand it’. If you don’t, seek out more information. If it still makes no sense, it might be worth staying away.

Please keep your wits about you while others are losing theirs, and let’s make sure we’re funding innovators worth backing.

 

 

N.B. There is a lot more complexity to this issue. If you’d like to know more, please send me a note, and I’d be happy to share insights, nuances and strategies.

 

 

Rethinking Startup Success

We often hear ‘it’s a great company, they’ve raised $x’. This is the wrong metric, and recent disasters (e.g. WeWork, Uber and Theranos) have confirmed this. Thought it was time to peel back the layers on what we should be looking at. Here’s the article featured in Entrepreneur Middle East. read more

Discussion on AI & Intellectual Property

A recent article in Technology Review posed the question of whether AI can be an inventor. In principle, it’s a debate around IP law and whether AI can own ideas it generates. Check out the debate generated on LinkedIn. It’s worth a read. Additional views always welcome. read more

State of MENA Startups 2019

Following on from the recent report on the startup scene in the MENA Region (well done to MAGNiTT and 500 Startups for putting this together), here we peel back the layers on some of the issues raised. read more

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THE STORY BEHIND AMANI™

During my time in Executive Search, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing brilliant people every day. Amidst a ‘war for talent’, I didn’t experience a shortage of talent. What I found was a shortage of great companies that deserved great talent.

I didn’t appreciate the urgent need to address this until I received a link to water poverty – water poverty caused by a privatisation deal, where the tariffs set were too high for some members of the community to afford, resulting in the water supply being cut off. One of the consequences that captured me was young girls being bullied and teased at school for being dirty.

The irony was that the company leading the transaction had a link on their website to CSR (corporate social responsibility).

How can a company’s business practices cause harm, but they have a department ‘to do good’?

Many companies have compelling mission statements, well-articulated values and CSR initiatives. But what truly matters is what a company and its people do in practice.

It got me thinking about the people leading the transaction and the company’s strategy and modus operandi. Having interviewed many Investment Bankers, I knew that none of the ones I helped my clients hire would ever have been so short-sighted, so irresponsible. Moreover, my clients would never have accepted them.

So what was creating this? How was business impacting society? How can we improve things?

I explored water poverty – what’s causing it, who it’s impacting and what needs to be done to solve it. I was saddened by what I found, from questionable policies and poor principles to bad practices, misaligned performance metrics and poor decisions. The crux of it all? People and organisations – their collective mindset and motivations, their actions and inactions.

But I also found some great companies with incredible people doing a lot of good. These weren’t charities. They were profitable commercial entities (including banks). I studied these companies and profiled their people. The findings were extraordinary. These companies and their people gelled and excelled. They were principled and profitable. They are companies worth emulating and are the cornerstone of the AMANI™ protocol.

Learn more about AMANI™ and how it can help you be your best – in your life, in your business and in the world at large.

Get in Touch














By pressing send, you agree to us getting in touch with you.
You can unsubscribe at any time. More about our Privacy Policy here. ALL INFORMATION YOU SHARE IS CONFIDENTIAL.

By pressing send, you agree to us getting in touch with you. You can unsubscribe at any time. More about our Privacy Policy here. ALL INFORMATION YOU SHARE IS CONFIDENTIAL.

COMPANY CULTURE STARTS WITH YOU

Ask a person the reason they love to travel, and often they say to experience different cultures. Human beings seem to be intrigued by the social norms and ways of living of their fellow man in different cities and villages around the world. Having the experience and exposure to other cultures somehow adds colour to our own lives, a certain richness.

What we are less aware of perhaps are the unique cultures we create in these environments called workplaces. Just as a travel brochure is not the same as visiting a country, company culture is not what it says in a company handbook or website. It is the experience.

But how can we translate something seemingly ethereal into something more tangible and why is it even necessary?

The ‘spirit’ of a company

Just as any culture around the world is formed over time through traditions, cultural norms, societal needs, forms of communication, behaviours and attitudes, so too is corporate culture.

Through a combination of day-to-day interactions, we create the environments we work in, and those environments come with particular qualities regarding desired and accepted behaviours, attitudes, principles and modes of communication.

There is one main difference though – I am not aware of any society in the world that set out to create a particular culture intentionally, consciously. Instead, the culture morphed through the ages. It could be said some companies morphed in the same way, directed mainly through the attitude and conduct of the board, leaders and managers, and the behaviours that were tolerated.

But if you stop to think about it for a moment, corporate culture gives us a fantastic opportunity. Through our actions, we can shape and form a mini-society that lends itself to our highest ideals. We can enable others to step up to the plate and be their best. We can focus on and achieve a unified purpose and direction.

And quite scary in the wrong hands.

So how do we get it right?

Setting the Tone

If you want to establish the ‘right’ culture – start with yourself. Whether you are aware of it or not, your character, your conduct, value system and manner of treating others is akin to a metronome, the timekeeping device used in music to keep everyone in sync. So ask yourself some key questions:

Who are you, what do you stand for, what drives you? How do you treat others? Are you a person of your word? Can you be trusted? How do you come across – friendly, approachable, aloof, firm but fair?

How do you communicate, what is your preference – formal, structured, agenda-led, walk around the floor? How do people interact with you and react to you?

What is your business ethos and how does it translate into practice?

Your people

The people you surround yourself with and the manner in which you interact with them speaks volumes. If for instance, you are smart enough (and humble enough) to realise that you are not great at everything and surround yourself with people who are ‘better’ than you, you have set the scene for greatness. That is of course if you also create the environment for them to speak their mind and you are open-minded enough to listen.

Measuring success

What does success look like for you and your company? Is it just about profit at all costs? What milestones do you measure and reward? Does the manner in which people reach objectives matter and are they taken into account? Are certain behaviours tolerated, just as long as there are results?

Aligning vision with practice

A lofty and noble vision is all well and good, but it’s what you do in practice that counts.

Do not underestimate the impact that your actions and conduct have in setting the standards and the cultural tone. So ask yourself: Do you want to create an environment in which compromising behaviours are tolerated in the name of profit? Or, do you want to generate an environment that nurtures, develops and engages competence and character, to build great companies that add value to more than just their profit margins?

 

As featured in WorkLab

Rethinking Startup Success

We often hear ‘it’s a great company, they’ve raised $x’. This is the wrong metric, and recent disasters (e.g. WeWork, Uber and Theranos) have confirmed this. Thought it was time to peel back the layers on what we should be looking at. Here’s the article featured in Entrepreneur Middle East. read more

Discussion on AI & Intellectual Property

A recent article in Technology Review posed the question of whether AI can be an inventor. In principle, it’s a debate around IP law and whether AI can own ideas it generates. Check out the debate generated on LinkedIn. It’s worth a read. Additional views always welcome. read more

State of MENA Startups 2019

Following on from the recent report on the startup scene in the MENA Region (well done to MAGNiTT and 500 Startups for putting this together), here we peel back the layers on some of the issues raised. read more

WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP – A MIDDLE EASTERN PERSPECTIVE

There is a general look of surprise, even bewilderment when people hear I love working in the Middle East, for the simple reason that I’m a woman.

I understand how there is a perception that women are not respected or highly regarded in the Middle East, therefore making it difficult to fathom how a woman could have a successful business. However, in my experience, there is a chasm between perception and reality, especially since the traits that seem to be more abundant amongst women, such as insight, intuition and inclusion, seem to be trusted and appreciated in the Middle East, enabling us to not only contribute but also play our role in business.

What I find strange and perplexing is some of the rhetoric around women and leadership. A case in point is an article that said 15% of Senior Leadership roles in the City of London were held by women and the majority of those by foreigners. The article went further by attributing this ‘fact’ to the foreign women’s swagger. The truth of the matter is, given London is a global financial centre, there is a strong likelihood that a senior leadership role will have a regional or global focus. If the potential candidates haven’t had any international experience, they don’t qualify, swagger or not.

That said, the ‘swagger’ comment got me thinking, and led me to reflect on the great Arab women I have had the privilege of interviewing and working with. They are highly intelligent, very well-educated and incredibly insightful – ingredients which are prevalent amongst many women around the world. They don’t seek to be liked but rather have the courage of their convictions. They don’t have to speak loudly or demand to be listened to, but they still have their views be known and considered. They tend to talk less and act more. They are compassionate and kind but don’t tolerate fools. Above all else, there is a particular ingredient in their presence and demeanour, described perfectly by a dear friend from the region – “we are salty, not sweet”.

 

From Segregation to Sisterhood

It’s fascinating when you think about it. Yes, women in the region tend to live more segregated lives. Instead of competing with men, they understand and nurture the concept of sisterhood, encouraging and supporting each other. When they get older and enter the corporate realm, government or family business, they are purposeful and have a quiet self-confidence, an inner strength which is ready to come out and be deployed in a broader spectrum. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, they are welcomed in the workplace and encouraged to grow and rise through the ranks. Have they had challenges to overcome? Absolutely. Challenges have shaped their character, balancing their resilience, perseverance and determination, together with their faith, patience and belief in a higher power. Formidable indeed.

So what are some of the ingredients that help foster women’s capabilities that we could use to make our companies more balanced, diverse and better equipped to handle the changing times?

 

Vision & Purpose

If you want to attract, nurture and keep the best women, consider what difference your business makes, why it matters. Frankly, if your business isn’t concerned with anything other than profit, you are going to face challenges in finding and keeping people with character and competence – women or men.

 

Interview From the Inside Out

If you are using an interview only as a checkbox exercise to see if the person has the skills for a particular job, you are missing out on a great opportunity. A person’s CV is merely a scratch on the surface of not only who this person is, but also how far their capabilities can extend. Context is key.

As a starter, why don’t you put the CV aside and get them to tell you their story? Adopt a curious mind, seeking to learn about the person’s experiences that have brought them to the present day. This approach can open up an individual’s character, their way of thinking, approach to challenges, and the environment and factors needed to bring out their best. You never know – you could even learn something along the way.

 

Don’t Hire What You Don’t Appreciate

If you don’t see how someone adds value to your organisation, why hire them? If the person is on board, why aren’t you listening to their viewpoint and perspective? If you want yes people who go along with what you say, you are wasting your money hiring great people. A recorded message to yourself telling you “you’re doing a good job” will suffice. However, if you hire us, listen to us. We have a different perspective. It may not be what you want to hear, but we are here to add value. Allow us – there are skills, traits and natural capabilities just waiting to be engaged. If you don’t appreciate us, we’ll find or create companies that will.

As featured in Women’s Prospects