Place of books in family businesses

Monday August 02 2021
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The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley. PHOTO | POOL

By Business Daily Africa

Thomas Njenga,Communications Assistant - VIVO ENERGY KENYA

What kind of reader are you?

I consider myself to be a diverse reader, with reads ranging from business, spiritual, topical, autobiographies and novels. I treasure knowledge and intellect. This shapes my world view when it comes to making informed decisions and interacting with people at different levels.

What is your current favorite book to read?

My current read is “The Personal MBA” by Josh Kaufman.

How did the pandemic alter your reading habits?


The pandemic meant more time indoors. As an introvert it was an opportunity to read books that have been on my bucket list. Also, slowly I am morphing into a digital reader. Initially, I only used to read articles, newspapers on digital platforms. The pandemic also opened me up to a new whole world of podcasts; the dilemma now is balancing the time that I spend listening to podcasts with that of reading books.

What do you think about the Kenyan reading culture, the literature scene, and how that plays into the reading culture of young readers, compared to seasoned readers like yourself?

Technology advancement has revolutionised the Kenyan reading culture; technology has expanded the variety of reading content. I disagree with the notion that the reading culture has eroded in Kenya. I believe it has drastically changed with the advent of technology. We have kids nowadays who are more exposed and are literate compared to our times. Content reach to different audiences has grown in bound and leaps through availability of tech reading platforms such as kindle, Apple Books, phones, tablets, computers, and the internet. This has bred neo storytellers who are using technology to advance their literature to a larger audience.

Authors and publishing houses have to package Kenyan and by large African books in accordance to the changing technological trends to reach the respective target audiences. I believe it is the duty of every reader to promote the reading culture to peers, colleagues and families.

Is there any book on your shelf that speaks to your personality, who you are or the person you aspire to be?

The Bible speaks to my personality since I am work in progress when it comes to my faith and values. I treasure autobiographies of different people; I am able to learn from their successes and failures as well.

What is your philosophy on books?

Buying books, creating a time schedule and being intentional on reading them. When you buy books, you will tend to treasure them and eventually read them. I also have some friends who love reading as well and we keep each other accountable on our reading goals.

Would you pen a book? If so, what would it be about?

Sure, I am planning to pen down one; I believe the catalogue will eventually grow with time. By virtue of having taught Bible study for a number of years, my first book will be a Christian devotion book. I will also pen books on business, and other subjects.

How can literature aid in the mentorship process in the business world?

Literature can allow people to open up themselves to various world perspectives on how to conduct businesses differently, with the ever-changing customer preferences and tastes. Apart from that, literature can assist in building emotional intelligence and make people understand the market needs and themselves more. It also helps people understand the human aspect of business.

Literature has been playing a major role in the mentoring of business practices in the world. Companies that have documented their business processes usually have a smooth business continuity plan. You will find millions of small and big businesses that are family-owned, where the same kind of business has been passed down to scions via age-old documented business occurrences and practices throughout generations. Most of these businesses are multinationals and corporates of repute, for instance Ford Motors Company that has lasted several generations

Given life can be busy, and your different life roles, how do you carve off time to read?

Every day of the week, I have to allocate at least two hours to reading, mostly in the evenings and early mornings. Trust me, when you are intentional on reading, you will always find time. When it is reading time, I try to minimise some of my distractions such as social media.

Which books would you recommend to our readers to read at least once in their lifetime?

"The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals" by Chris McChesney, Jim Huling, and Sean Covey "The Millionaire Next Door" by Thomas Stanley and William Danko, and "The Personal MBA" by Josh Kaufman

Nekesa Wafula, Communications and Knowledge Management Specialist

Which book are you currently obsessed with?

I am into self-care and self-improvement books. The content in this genre of books acts as life–saving drug. They help me see things from a different perspective. For instance, the dark shades of life suddenly appear grey and, when probed further, begin to reveal hidden colours.

My current read is "After the Rain: Gentle Reminders for Healing, Courage, and Self-Love" by Alexandra Elle. After the Rain is a soulful collection that will have you prepared for everything, no matter what life throws your way. The author delivers 15 lessons on how to overcome obstacles, build confidence, and cultivate abundance, lessons and self-discovery.

I am also obsessed with Shonda Rhimes’ "Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person." The book talks about the power of yes and how you can use it to impact the world by shedding off your fears, standing up for what’s right and speaking it out in love. The book sheds light on how difficult conversations are sometimes necessary for personal growth and the health of your relationships.

In this book, Shonda Rhimes teaches you how to learn to say ‘no’ to things and people that are sucking the life out of you. When you understand that you deserve good things, saying ‘no’ to toxicity becomes so much easier. In addition, Shonda Rhimes encourages people to say yes to love and genuine friendships, say ‘yes’ to help when it is offered to you because you no longer judge yourself for not being a superhero who can do everything. When you open yourself up to love, the universe responds in kind, and you’ll be “standing in the sun” in no time.

What do you make of the Kenyan reading culture?

It has greatly improved. There are currently many book clubs spaces (physically and online) where readers choose a book to read every month, ranging from memoirs, biographies, historical and fiction, thrillers and dystopia, and politics. When they meet, they review books, exchange books, talk about the latest books and where to find them, etc.

What was your first interaction with a book?

At age 6, my dad introduced me to books. He would buy us storybooks and give us deadlines to read and talk about the book. To date, even in his retirement, he still reads and is obsessed with historical books.

Do you have a philosophy with books?

I love self-improvement and relationship building books. Personal and business relationships thrive and die based on who you know—and how well you connect with those people. Strong relationships can get you in front of a key investor and win the bet. Therefore, you have to know how to relate with people, be it in business, family or friendships.

Is there a book that speaks to your personality?

"Winning Words, Winning Life: Fast Track to Life Success" by Victoria Draper. I have learnt the art of speaking life to myself, not judging myself harshly, letting go and just living. Those who know me say I have positively influenced their lives by encouraging, uplifting, and inspiring them. I aspire to live a winning life!

How do books make you emotionally intelligent

What you read has a significant impact on your personality. Reading helps me to see things from other’s points of view, which makes it easy to understand and relate to them. In a nutshell, reading opens up your worldview!

Which book would recommend to readers?

"Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person", by Shonda Rhimes. This book is something!