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I am proudest of marrying the smartest woman I know

By Caroline Okello | Aug 25th 2019 | 4 min read

Derek Bbanga, Managing Director at Public Image and Genos International Emotional Intelligence Practitioner

I love early mornings, particularly when dawn is breaking. The best place to see this is at the coast over the ocean as the sun and sky change colour from pink to yellow and deep blue.

I try to do three things every day: write, read and test my brain or body. In the morning or evening, I’ll put my thoughts and emotions (particularly strong or negative ones) on paper. I’ll also write things down during a meeting or when I am training a client. I practice some mindfulness or meditation, again either in the morning or evening depending on how busy my day is. It’s usually guided meditation from an app like Headspace or using my Alexa device. I concentrate my attention on a part of my body to stop my mind wandering and help develop focus. Finally, I believe the physical condition of my body affects my performance at work every day, so I try to get in some form of physical activity in the gym or if pressed for time it could be banging out 20 pull-ups or press-ups at home. I believe physicality equals mentality.

I work with organisations and professionals to increase their earning potential through better soft skills and emotional intelligence. I help them be seen, heard and remembered for the right reasons.

My must-haves every morning are a large glass of water, a vitamin pill, and listening to an inspirational podcast. At the conference room where I will be doing my group training, I’ll put on some mood music to increase focus and motivate the participants. Training begins with an ice breaker activity and or team-building exercise to kick-start the session. Then a quick mindfulness activity to shut out the rest of the world, create an open mind and increase focus.

My maxim in life is to approach every day with a constructive attitude, meaning I look at every situation as an opportunity for growth or learning. Every day is an opportunity to be wiser or stronger than yesterday

I’m in a position now where opportunities have opened up on another continent so the challenge will be dividing my time between two parts of the world and trying to keep a balance on both sides.

Professionally, my proudest achievement so far is moving the needle of soft skills from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’ in this market. Personally, it’s getting the smartest woman I have ever met to say yes to marrying me and having a mini-me with her; our one-year old son.

Outside work, I enjoy spending time with my family in the US, particularly during the summer. Where we live,  there is a tradition of visiting different farms and orchards on the weekends which have activities for the whole family, from picking all kinds of fruits and vegetables to enjoying farm fresh food and wines. We also enjoy visiting and seeing new places and getting prime seats at our favourite restaurant. 

I listen to audio books and last week on a drive to and from Naivasha, I finished an oldie but a goodie – Dale Carnegies’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is one of the best books related to the key relationships of human beings.

The podcasts I listen to daily on my phone are The Daily from the New York Times, the biggest stories of our time told by the best journalists in the world; HBR IdeaCast, a weekly podcast featuring the leading thinkers in business and management from the Harvard Business Review; and Fresh Air from NPR, hosted by the world’s  greatest interviewer Terry Gross. It features in-depth conversations with guests from different industries and backgrounds.

I heard this on a recent podcast: the first hour of your day sets the tone for the rest, and the last hour of your day sets the tone for the next. Begin and end your days well. The best career advice I’d give is to look at your health, environment, and social circle and see if they need changing or at the very least adjusting. Lastly, even in an era of get rich quick schemes, get comfortable with zero. All businesses start from zero. You don’t make a profit right away or have a salary or customers to begin with. You start from nothing. It goes without saying you have to put in the work to be successful.

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