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Archive for the ‘educational’ Category

Like it or not, there’s is a part of your brain called the hippo-campus that upon instant “optical facial collision” with someone, it tries to determine familiarity to someone stored in memory. Next, to reserve energy, he brain will group them based on similar appearances and experiences. The hypothesis here is that similar appearances produce similar experiences! Synapses then fire with a familiar pattern that had been placed in memory. Mark you, this process happens in less than 20 seconds!

So as an effective communicator, your first statement should “shock” and disrupt this process so quickly that the brain has no alternative but to allocate resources to paying attention.

Now this is done by being “fresh” , new and vibrant. Short of doing this, you are just another__________!

Ok you have the attention. What next? There are two main opposite and competing hormones at work. Dopamine( the happy reward excited drug!) and Epinephrine(the adrenaline combative fight or flight restlessness drug!) To maintain that same level of enthusiasm and interest you must grab their attention by giving them something new fresh and vibrant then, you must take something away so that the epinephrine is activated!(Fear of loss!, Panic mode!)

This is very very manipulative!

Now here is the kicker! Every piece of communication is manipulative! Some are more powerful than others in the sense that they illicit a faster response. For the record, if you are saying or doing something to illicit a verbal response or an action, then you are manipulating and it wouldn’t be communication then. It would be banter where you talk for the sake of vocal chords vibrations!

Steps to make communication Meaningful

  1. Start with a controversial statement or question! example :” Did you now that you are now trying to figure out if you should allocate your resources to listening to me?”
  2. Open a loop and don’t close it yet! Example: “More on that later…….”
  3. Start a parallel conversation by admitting something you wouldn’t tell anyone random but not scary enough yet!..Example ” I have been having issues with boosting my productivity for years! In between marriage,work and finances, i cant concentrate to get my projects of the ground…” (The sole intention here is to build trust!)
  4. Then ask a question (handing power back to them!) example: Do you experience the same challenges too?
  5.  Share a quick tip of how you were able to solve the problem! Make sure the focus is on the issue! NOT YOU!
  6. Ask them how they were able to resolve the issues!(trust and sharing!)
  7. Inspire them with words of encouragement! (Everyone desires validation!)( Just don’t get cocky and tell them…”I’m validating you…”   fastest way to create an enemy.)
  8. Close the opened loop in 2.
  9.  Activate the epinephrine by cutting short the conversation as you have to go because your time is limited!

Depending on intensity and depth of the conversation, there is a trade of between interest and memory activation with the dependent variable being time. You can have someone’s attention for maybe 45 to 90 minutes if your really good!(average time for a good movie) Know your trade off and pay attention to the subtle times. The above steps may deviate depending on individual and topic, but your best strategy will be to adapt to the feedback being provided in real time from gestures,facial expressions and body language!



Lee Kariuki


He was a project manager. It didn’t mean much other than he was going to run a team of developers to create this amazing web application that would be used by……what does it matter! It took 2 years to work on the project and the launch was finally in sight! The engineers had worked extremely hard day and night to complete the project and they were ready to pop open bottles of champagne! The caterer had prepared a beautiful red velvet cake and the champagne was chilled at the optimal temp in the office refrigerator.

5,4,3,2…….1 Hip Hip Hoooraaaay! They finally launched and there was a huge frenzy! It was finally done! Go home and spend time with the family you need it! This calls for a celebration!

Then a huge epiphany was realized! The website was as lonely as the champagne bottle they drank before the launch! Not even one user who could have accidentally landed by mistake! Zip!The end users were never interviewed! In fact none of the coders even knew who the end users were going to be! It didn’t matter. They were on a mission!

Investment bias is where people work on something that they have invested so much time and money on and are terrified to cut their losses because it is more “sensible” to “never” quit even when continuing makes no sense at all!

The janitor who had never written a line of code walked in and asked them one fundamental question. “Why are you in the building when your users are out there?” He asked!


Leave the ego alone. Get Out Of The Building! “Steve Blank” style! It’s not what you want, it’s what your end users need!

Maybe they should have been the janitors!

Enjoy the weekend.


Lee Kariuki

A picture is worth a thousand words! A metaphor is worth a thousand pictures! Pictures are effective and get the attention of your audience but metaphors get the audience transformed and there is a difference!

A true linguist receives a standing ovation, an effective orator incites action! Which one would you rather be? The true linguist or the effective orator? There is a simple three step formula that you can incorporate right now in your communication to inspire action.

Mindest and strategy! Mindset covers the why, strategy the how!


  • They must internally understand what you are talking about without you having to explain too much! In short, the message must already lie within them! It’s so amazing how people forget this fundamental requirement! You could have the best most inspiring speech on earth but if your talking to a bull, you are wasting both your time and the bulls who would rather chew the cud!
  • You must see their  world through their current  filters and inspire them on what they could see if they changed their filters! In short you must paint the picture on their behalf after acknowledging their current picture  so they can see the same picture you are seeing.
  • The message must be simple to follow! If it is complicated no one will follow! Martin had a dream and all he was asking is for you to have a dream first! It’s very easy to dream! If Martin said i have a strategy that word may have scared some people! He had a dream!


  • Questions-pattern interrupt! When you ask a question, you throw the brain in to a loop that will force the person hearing the question to look for an answer! Kids get it by asking one simple question….Why? and the funny thing we always try to answer the question forgetting the kid (a lot of times!) doesn’t really care for the answer, they just want to delay/distract the instruction given.
  • Metaphors- connection. When one says hard that has no value in our frame of minds. It doesn’t mean anything but the minute you say hard as Jemima’s hair or hard as steel, now we can visualize! We paint the picture ourselves which is way more effective then when you paint the picture for us!
  • Story- This activates the right side of the brain and you can’t resist it! We are inherently suckers for a good story! There is not enough stories for the demand that exists! Once upon a time will always get attention! You have to use this at every turn you get!

Enjoy The Friday!


Mutume was a warrior living in a village in the heart of the jungle of Central Cameroon. Surrounded by dangerous animals, Mutume’s reflexes were as sharp as a Samurai sword. He was responsible for training males between 18 and 25 years of age to become stealthily fast and efficient when it comes to the skill of hunting. On his second son’s birthday, he decided to celebrate the occasion by drinking and sharing the lethal aged fermented tapped wine he had been storing under his shrine for 6 years. He passed on the gourd and made sure everyone took a gluttonous swig of the frothy potent beverage. By the grins of their faces as the men took a sip, it wasn’t hard to tell this was not a drink for virgin livers! It was barely dark and the fine warriors were already intoxicated.

As a sign of their manhood, Mutume and his group decided to contest in a rare extravaganza event of hunting exotic dangerous animals  as a display of their hunting prowess. The men that followed him were all  trained by Mutume therefore trusted Mutume’s lead. As they leaped quietly camouflaged in green to match the leafy environment, Mutume thought he had seen a lone tanned antelope! Without thought and barely seeing clearly from the palm wine effects,Mutume pursued the antelope based on the signal he was receiving! Only problem was that it wasn’t an Antelope but a 12 pack of enormously gigantic, hungry looking lions prowling for dinner!

Mutume’s group of 6 was no match to the 12 lions. Soweto (the 4th  member of the 6 man group) was as sober as a mountain climber on this particular night! Usually he would be the most drunk as he had the capacity of a whale and the tolerance of a grade school teacher! He had though, celebrated his cousins circumcision ceremony three nights ago and was still recovering from a piercing hangover hence thought it wise to participate  lightly in the debauchery!

Being the sober one of the 6,he thought he had seen lions rather than the lone Antelope in Mutume’s vision! Doubt checked in and due to the science of this thing called social proof  he thought otherwise! Besides if Mutume see’s an Antelope everyone in the village better see an Antelope! Follow the masses! In addition, majority wins and one out of five is a risky statistic despite the fact that the other 5 were painfully drunk!

That was his downfall! With spears drawn to 9 O’clock the men lurched in to combat only to be mauled to pieces by the outnumbered out prepared sober lions! Their screams could be heard by the women of the village who thought it was a celebration of their hunting accomplishments! Only person that was able to survive was Sebekule who was the youngest and the fastest of the group. He ran for help right after his hand had been bludgeoned by the canines of the hungry beasts! If only he had done it much sooner, he would have been the one typing this story! At least he lived to tell this story!

Which reminds of the wisdom in the statement by W. Somerset Maugham

“If fifty million people say something foolish, it is still foolish.”


Lee Kariuki

Yesterday i saw the news about a building that collapsed in Philadelphia that killed 6 people including a 35 year old woman who was shopping at the Salvation Army thrift store within the vicinity. Now several people had noticed that there were huge risks involved in the methodology being used to bring down the building. They were manually knocking down the bricks!

The problem is, no one said something until this catastrophe happened.

After reading this, i thought to myself, how many times do you do “work” that you know makes no sense and defy’s logic but you do it anyway because management asked you to? Work by definition learned in physics is when a force is applied to through  a certain distance. That’s the tangible work. The one we can measure. The one we can bill!

In all foresight, the real work is never tangible at first. It always happens behind the scenes and it’s the work that matters.

When everyone goes home and your left wondering how your project will impact the recipients, that’s meaningful work! When you sit down and determine which story you will tell that will resonate and change the way we do X, Y or Z, that’s meaningful work! Before we start tearing down a building, the real meaningful work should be can it be done with safety and budgets involved. Before we start a business, the real work is what is the mindset we need to be in. Before we start a procedure the real work is to make sure it will have an impact and it will matter and make a difference.

No one will pay you a premium for doing regular work and the greatest premiums are paid for insight which determines what work should be done and what works needs to be avoided.

My heart goes out to the 6 people who died and the 14 injured as a result. Maybe we can all borrow a leaf and start doing work that really matters.

Have an industrious day.

Lee Kariuki

It’s not what you pay that matters, but the opportunity cost of what additional value you could have received if you purchased something else! Everything has a price. The question is how much is it worth it to you.

There are millions of reasons why people buy.

  1. Pleasure
  2. Need
  3. Peer Pressure or association
  4. Emotion
  5. Desire

The after effect of a purchase is justified by the way you feel!  Good or bad ,now or then will all be determined by the metrics of the buy. If the answer is no….then maybe the buy is questionable. As time passes by purchases have little to do with the item in hand but more with the justification of the buy and the mental state at the time of the buy .

So when you intend to buy something a cup of coffee, a 32nd additional  pair of shoes,a $ 5.oo lunch special or stock with a company  ask yourself these series of questions.

  1. Do i absolutely need to buy it now?
  2. What am i foregoing to buy this? What is the opportunity cost?
  3. Will this item/service add to my overall experiences in life?
  4. How will i feel 5 months then 5 years after the purchase?
  5. What is the character and intent of the person influencing me to buy relative to my interests?

In the end whether you justify your purchase with these series of questions or not, you will still buy what you want to buy and find compelling reasons as to why it was a necessary absolute must. The idea here is to start training the psyche to eliminate waste and try and make purchases that will make you feel good today and years later. Feeling “good” starts from the inside and no purchase can have an everlasting good feel like the one you manufacture from your  own physiology of being content. IT IS AN ACT OF MEMORY!

Now that’s something to ponder on!

Have a fabulous Monday!

Lee Kariuki

We have all experienced a time in our lives when we were sharp, brilliant witty and smart. With time,there is a natural deterioration of our skills, wit and sharpness and we wonder what happened? I’ll tell you what happened, job’s economy,marriage,children, the global economy, the recession, pep talk and everything under the sun.

The real reason though is that none of these caused the loss of consciousness of who we were or are! None of these factors are even responsible for  the person we are today!

See we tread along life wondering if we are making the right choices, choosing the right partner, working at the right job, heck wondering if we have even discovered who we are supposed to be.

The reality of the matter is that our main purpose is not to discover, it is to remember. Yes remember. Discovery has too much pressure. What if what you discover is the wrong thing? Is there a guarantee that you will find that satisfaction from your new discovery? Why are most discoveries short lived? The reason being that discovering takes a toll on you. It’s not even guaranteed that it will give you that fulfillment you are seeking and like a wise man once told me, once you reach a certain age, there is really nothing new under the sun, just new efficient ways of doing the same thing.

So rather than embarking on discovering, i heed you to embark on a journey of remembering what it was like and how it felt to be…….happy fulfilled and excited. When you were born you beat over 6 million potential sperms to connect to the egg that got you here. Does that remotely even describe how bad you wanted to be here? Not in words! Now that you are here what are you going to do about that? Your work as a child was to experience everything by observation or touching or even tasting and now that you are older, your work is to remember why you came here and prepare for the grand exit by leaving something greater than you behind!

On that note, depending on the direction headed it may be easier to push than to pull. Use the natural forces of nature, that is where your strength lies. Struggling is an indication of misalignment of what is natural and pure. Just BE….and an awesome transformation of becoming happens but all must start by first and foremost remembering back when….and of course..The Why!

Enjoy this Monday.

Lee Kariuki


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Lee Kariuki
1-888-MY-ETHER ext. 04466282

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