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Activating that financial genius in you

Note: We will get practical in this journey to financial education. For now we are just dealing with basic but very important concepts. We’ll also be relating to the Kenyan scenario(s) so as not to sound theoretical. Just to caution readers that I have a bias to real estate and most of the topics will revolve around it in future. However, other important topics like financial planning, chamas, Life insurance, leveraging on borrowing amongst others will be covered in due course.

Back to the topic of the day. All of us have financial geniuses in us irrespective of our levels of formal education. That is why one Njenga Karume (RIP) made it despite not having much to show in terms of formal education; he had a financial genius and business acumen. The biggest problem is that we are not bold enough to activate the financial genius in us because of lots of reasons but the biggest is the fear of failure. It is not the fearful who are rich but the bold. We must therefore overcome the fear factor.


At some point, you had a wonderful business idea. You kept thinking, suppose I try and I fail?? Learning to manage risk is far more important than playing safe when it comes to investments. My first major business venture was farming wheat in Narok. I was employed and relied heavily on a farm manager whom we had employed together with other investors. We used to make trips every weekend to check out the farms but as fate had it, rains failed and we lost everything. Second season, we invested in the same venture and the wheat did well and we were awaiting a bumper harvest, then again the rains were too much at the time of harvesting. Of course we lost again. In total I personally lost 600k and u can imagine the feeling especially for a young man earning 40k per month coz even raising that money was quite something. We never lost hope but learnt very important lessons. We did a third season and recovered all the losses of the first two seasons. It is extremely important to understand the business and whenever a failure comes (it is usually inevitable), learn the lessons and move on. But how do I start, you may ask??


You need a reason greater than reality. The power of spirit, what I’d loosely call great conviction. The reality will tell you that the road seems too long and too many hills to climb. It is just easier and comfortable to work for money than to make it work for you, after all that is what they taught us in school.

You must choose daily how the shilling that lands in your pocket will be utilized in future to either be rich, poor or middle class. That is the power of choice. Cumulatively these choices determine your destiny. Do you ever wonder why two people employed at the same time and earning the same amount never progress in parallel as far as achievements are concerned?

Choose friends who reflect what you want to be in the future or people who share your vision. Don’t listen to poor, frightened people who think that money is a preserve for some people. Have a critical look at your closest friends. Do you know they are a reflection of who you are? What do they feed your mind with? Today is furahi-day, are they calling the whole day in excited tones waiting close of business to go on a drinking spree the entire weekend. I am not against drinking coz some deals occur in those places, but if you were to analyze how you spend your time, then you’ll have a clear indication of the effects friends are having on you. The power of friends.


Pay yourself first as in set aside some cash for savings / investments before you deal with all other bills. Personal discipline will ensure that you pay yourself first before paying others like government, rent etc. If you pay everyone else first then there may be nothing left for you. Keep expenses low; ensure that your assets column keeps rising. By the way an asset generates income, so the house you are living in is not an asset (a story for another day), neither is that car that you use to go to work (this is rather obvious).


Pay brokers well. These are people who give you good advice. Pay them better than others and they’ll always offer better advice and will consider you first. This is very practical in real estate. I have a network of brokers who will always call me first when they come across a good deal.


Assets buy luxuries. Strive to buy assets that generate money and they will buy you luxuries. Never buy luxuries out of your ordinary income, say a monthly pay check.


Have heroes. People you want to emulate. Learn how they think, do their stuff and learn from them. Personally, I like those guys who have made money honestly through hard and smart work, shrewd investments and are street smart.


Give and you shall receive. Be charitable. Give free information and teach other how to make money. It’ll become a part of your life. Giving back to society can give a lot of satisfaction and of course, God will bless you a hundred fold.

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