Ken Njoroge Finding Impact

FIP 37: The Key to Success is Knowing Your Why with Ken Njoroge

This is the second part of my interview with Ken – co-founder of one of Africa’s’s exciting homegrown multinationals – Cellulant. In this episode, he shares some of his hard learned lessons, including how he got through one of the darkest times in his career. Listening to this interview will make you ready for what’s to come in your social enterprise, and forearmed is forewarned.

On this episode you’ll learn (bullets while editing)

  • How Ken realised he wasn’t connecting with his management team, and how he knew that if they were going to grow, he had to solve the problem. He brought in management consultants who told him how he had to change to be a successful CEO. This meant he had to be more patient, more consultative, taking time to explain strategy and why the company was going in a certain way.
  • When as a founder, you may be used to sprinting across the ‘valley of death’, trying to get to profitability, when you and those around you are putting in everything. But this is unsustainable, and you’re going to have to change as a founder once the urgency has passed and you’re switching to longer term goals of 3-5 years.
  • Choose your goal – pluck it out of thin air if you need to – before working out your process. How will you know the process and those on the team are right without a goal?
  • WHY? is the most important thing, above all else. What is your mission? Why do you wake up every morning to do what you do? If you don’t get this clear in your mind, then you’ll fail when you’re finally tested in the darkest times. For Ken, this was when he didn’t know if he was going to be able to pay his employees’ salaries. He was tempted to take his eye off the prize, and seek temporary reprieve. He was given the chance to earn some money by consulting on the side, to bring in some money for his new family. But Ken turned it down, as he knew he’d be tempted to do it again. Then, before he knew it, half the time he’ll be doing other things instead of making the company work.
  • Doubt will come, such as whether it is the right mission for you, and is it the right path for the mission?
  • To help you through a dark period, you need to find someone to bounce your ideas off. Not your board or your investors – you’ll just worry them. And you can’t turn to your management team. A peer will be important. You need to develop them early. People who understand the context, the stage you’re at, and what you’re doing. Someone who believes in your well being.
  • You need to invest in the why – where you want to go in life. Understand why is that goal important, why it fits into your world view. The why is personal. It’s important for your emotion balance. How well you understand yourself – deeply – is a determinant of whether you’ll succeed.

Links to resources:

Connect with Ken:

What was your favourite lesson from this episode? Let me know on Twitter by clicking here!


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