The Polar Bear is Toast, and Other Lessons from 2019

Needing a break from pandemic thoughts this weekend, I re-read my 2019 journal and excavated these 3 little insights that I hope you find interesting. You can read them here as an article published on LinkedIn.

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The 8 Best Books I Read in 2019

As in 2017 and 2018, here are my top book recommendations from 2019. Paradoxically, even though I read many more books in 2019 (35 in all), I actually have fewer ones to recommend than previous years. Partly that’s because a lot of my reading was for work (i.e. books I may not have chosen otherwise), and partly because that’s just the way things go sometimes. Still, all the ones on this list were exceptional and I’d recommend them to anyone. You can read the recommendations here. 

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Success Factors That Overcome the Talent Bottleneck Across Social Enterprises in Asia

In 2019, we at Amani Institute were honoured by a big award and associated funding from Argidius Foundation to scale up our pioneering leadership development program for middle- and senior-managers of SGBs in East Africa to India and Brazil. It was a great recognition of a lot of hard work!

In this article published by the Asia Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), I reflect on the lessons we have learned about investing in leaders to drive business growth and scale.

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Walk Your Talk

The Walk Your Talk event series is where changemakers around the world share stories of when they had to confront adversity and make a choice about how they are going to act, what decisions they take in the face of uncertainty. It was my turn in September 2018 and here I tell a story called “The Wake Up Call”, about a peculiar and dangerous day in Nairobi back in the summer of 2014 – and how the decisions we made that day changed the direction of Amani Institute’s story. Watch it here:


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The 12 Best Books I Read in 2018

I read 23 books in 2018. With some exceptions, my reading had a conscious theme. I wanted to explore, in both fiction and non-fiction, the question posed by Yuval Noah Harari in his book on this list: “What is happening in the world today, and what is the meaning of these events?”

On LinkedIn, I shared the best 12, this time in a simple – if highly subjective – countdown to the best book of the year. I would recommend every one of them.

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6 Insights about changemaking – and the difference between knowing something and understanding it

A few weeks ago, I sat watching the final presentations from our class of Social Innovation Management Fellows in India. I was struck by 2 things. First, that in each presentation there was a deep insight, one that had the potential to actually transform the nature of the problem they were addressing. Sometimes the presenter was clearly conscious of their insight and had reflected on it; other times they used it almost as a throwaway line or to summarize a slide, without conveying they actually knew the power of what they had learned. There were so many times I wanted to jump up and yell, “Wait! Do you know how powerful that is?”

On LinkedIn, I wrote about some of the more powerful insights from that day.

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Are You Having an Intellectual Debate or a Religious One?

Ever find yourself in an argument where, no matter how much you feel the facts or even justice, is on your side, you simply cannot persuade the other person towards your point of view? This may be because you’re in a religious debate, and not an intellectual one as you think. published a blog in which I explain about the difference, how to know when you’re in which conversation, and how to start to move towards common ground. 

I really enjoyed puzzling over this one, and no, I’m not necessarily good at doing this either!

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Selected as an Asia 21 Young Leader

In 2018, I was honoured to be selected as one of Asia Society’s Young Leaders of the 21st Century, and inducted into a wonderful and accomplished community of leaders across the continent. Click here to read more about the announcement!

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A Failure Playlist to Help You Sleep at Night

Failure is endemic to social impact work. Unfortunately, it’s also endemic to love. And thus, songwriters have always been able to tap into the bowels of failure to help us feel better with our lives. Published in the India Development Review, here’s a “failure playlist” you can dive into when change-making knocks you down, one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever written!


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What to do, and what not: Putting my Harvard experience to use at Amani Institute

Last weekend, I returned to the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) for my 10-year reunion. At first it felt that I had studied there in a past life; so much has happened to me (and to the university) since I graduated.

Being there, and listening again to extraordinary professors like Marshall Ganz and Ronald Heifitz, both of whose courses I still actively use in my day-to-day work and that we teach at Amani Institute, and reconnecting deeply with my classmates, all nudged me to remember what makes this school so special. (And that’s not even taking into account the near weekly visits we used to get from international Heads of State!)

My experience at Harvard naturally played an important role when we set out to design our educational model at Amani Institute. Here are 5 things we explicitly designed for, based on how Harvard does, and does not, do it.

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