The Story Behind AMANI

The Story Behind AMANI

From the Founder

The Story Behind AMANI™

Previously in Executive Search, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing brilliant people every day. My challenge wasn’t finding talent – it was finding great companies I wanted to find talent for. I didn’t appreciate the urgent need to address this until I received a link to water poverty. This wasn’t water poverty caused by a drought. It was due to a water privatisation deal where the tariffs set were too high for the poorer members of the community to afford. The result? The water supply was cut off. One of the consequences? Little girls being bullied and teased at school for being dirty. What confounded me? The company leading the transaction had a link on their website to CSR (corporate social responsibility). I ask you, how can a company’s business practices cause harm but they have a department ‘to do good’?

It got me thinking about the people leading the transaction and the company’s strategy and modus operandi. Having interviewed many Investment Bankers, I knew that none of the ones I helped my clients hire would ever have been so short-sighted, so irresponsible. Moreover, my clients would never have accepted them.

So what was creating this? What impact is business having on society? How can we improve things?

I explored water poverty – what’s causing it, who’s impacted by it and what needs to be done to solve it. I was saddened by what I found, from questionable policies and poor principles to bad practices, misaligned performance metrics and poor decisions. The crux of it all? People and organisations – their collective mindset and motivations, their actions and inactions.

But I also found some great companies with incredible people doing a lot of good. These weren’t charities. They were profitable commercial entities (including banks). I studied these companies and profiled their people. The findings were extraordinary. These companies and their people gelled and excelled. They were principled and profitable. They were companies worth emulating. The findings were translated into the AMANI™ protocol.

AMANI™ is a work in progress, strengthened through the thoughts, actions and interactions of our community. Join us.

Previously in Executive Search, I had the privilege of meeting and interviewing brilliant people every day. My challenge wasn’t finding talent – it was finding great companies I wanted to find talent for. I didn’t appreciate the urgent need to address this until I received a link to water poverty. This wasn’t water poverty caused by a drought. It was due to a water privatisation deal where the tariffs set were too high for the poorer members of the community to afford. The result? The water supply was cut off. One of the consequences? Little girls being bullied and teased at school for being dirty. What confounded me? The company leading the transaction had a link on their website to CSR (corporate social responsibility). I ask you, how can a company’s business practices cause harm but they have a department ‘to do good’?

It got me thinking about the people leading the transaction and the company’s strategy and modus operandi. Having interviewed many Investment Bankers, I knew that none of the ones I helped my clients hire would ever have been so short-sighted, so irresponsible. Moreover, my clients would never have accepted them.

So what was creating this? What impact was business having on society? How can we improve things?

I explored water poverty – what’s causing it, who’s impacted by it and what needs to be done to solve it. I was saddened by what I found, from questionable policies and poor principles to bad practices, misaligned performance metrics and poor decisions. The crux of it all? People and organisations – their collective mindset and motivations, their actions and inactions.

But I also found some great companies with incredible people doing a lot of good. These weren’t charities. They were profitable commercial entities (including banks). I studied these companies and profiled their people. The findings were extraordinary. These companies and their people gelled and excelled. They were principled and profitable. They were companies worth emulating. The findings were translated into the AMANI™ protocol.

AMANI™ is a work in progress, strengthened through the thoughts, actions and interactions of our community. Join us.

3 myths fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials

3 myths fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials

Gender and millennials

3 myths fuelling the narrative
three myths fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials

Over the last year, I have taken an interest in people’s ability to separate spin from substance, and how these fuel narratives. Narratives that are not necessarily true and hence not helpful. Here are the top three myths I have found fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials.

Millennials need purpose

You’re sitting in a conference organised by a very reputable organisation. Subconsciously, you assume there was some level of diligence in finding and curating speakers. You listen intently to the content. You see someone in the audience grab onto a good soundbite and you see it pop up on your twitter feed. Others like it, share it. But did the soundbite have any substance?

I saw this happen at a conference when one of the speakers said, “Millennials are different, they need purpose.” Is that true? Is purpose unique to millennials or is it a human need? So, I put my hand up to explore the speaker’s view. One of her fellow panellists jumped in, a futurist no less and said, “Millennials are different because this is the first time they are creating movements.” I was floored by this comment. Did Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi not create movements? Emily Pankhurst’s movement seems to have been forgotten too – ironic considering both these speakers were women. I think the futurist would do well in studying some history. For the record – humans do best when they have purpose. It doesn’t have to be grandiose – being a decent human being will do.

Millennials are tech-savvy

I was chairing a panel at a banking and finance conference geared to university students. The topic of the next generation came up and one of the panellists said, “Oh the next generation are impressive, they’re very tech-savvy.” Really? Let’s test it. I turned to the audience and asked, “I’m curious, who here has heard of blockchain”. There were around 150 people in the room. Not a single hand went up. “Ok, who’s heard of cryptocurrency or bitcoin?” This time, half the hands went up. I explained blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies. I turned back to the panel. They were speechless.

For women to progress, they need female role models

Role models are important. But does the gender matter? Is it women that need the role models or men? In interviewing men, I discovered a pattern amongst those who support women – they have a positive relationship with a female relative. Typically a mother or grandmother, who is oftentimes seen as a role model. Alternatively, they have seen a positive and respectful interaction between their parents. Interestingly, the significance of this is not in their conscious awareness and is only identified through a different style of interviewing. A style of interviewing which seeks to understand the person, not just the fit for the role. So, what can you do going forward? When presented with information or a data point ask:

  1. Is this true?
  2. Based on what evidence?
  3. What evidence is there to the contrary?
  4. What therefore do I choose to think, believe and share?

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

Over the last year, I have taken an interest in people’s ability to separate spin from substance, and how these fuel narratives. Narratives that are not necessarily true and hence not helpful. Here are the top three myths I have found fuelling the narrative on gender and millennials.

Millennials need purpose

You’re sitting in a conference organised by a very reputable organisation. Subconsciously, you assume there was some level of diligence in finding and curating speakers. You listen intently to the content. You see someone in the audience grab onto a good soundbite and you see it pop up on your twitter feed. Others like it, share it. But did the soundbite have any substance?

I saw this happen at a conference when one of the speakers said, “Millennials are different, they need purpose.” Is that true? Is purpose unique to millennials or is it a human need? So, I put my hand up to explore the speaker’s view. One of her fellow panellists jumped in, a futurist no less and said, “Millennials are different because this is the first time they are creating movements.” I was floored by this comment. Did Martin Luther King Jr and Gandhi not create movements? Emily Pankhurst’s movement seems to have been forgotten too – ironic considering both these speakers were women. I think the futurist would do well in studying some history. For the record – humans do best when they have purpose. It doesn’t have to be grandiose – being a decent human being will do.

Millennials are tech-savvy

I was chairing a panel at a banking and finance conference geared to university students. The topic of the next generation came up and one of the panellists said, “Oh the next generation are impressive, they’re very tech-savvy.” Really? Let’s test it. I turned to the audience and asked, “I’m curious, who here has heard of blockchain”. There were around 150 people in the room. Not a single hand went up. “Ok, who’s heard of cryptocurrency or bitcoin?” This time, half the hands went up. I explained blockchain is the technology behind cryptocurrencies. I turned back to the panel. They were speechless.

For women to progress, they need female role models

Role models are important. But does the gender matter? Is it women that need the role models or men? In interviewing men, I discovered a pattern amongst those who support women – they have a positive relationship with a female relative. Typically a mother or grandmother, who is oftentimes seen as a role model. Alternatively, they have seen a positive and respectful interaction between their parents. Interestingly, the significance of this is not in their conscious awareness and is only identified through a different style of interviewing. A style of interviewing which seeks to understand the person, not just the fit for the role. So, what can you do going forward? When presented with information or a data point ask:

  1. Is this true?
  2. Based on what evidence?
  3. What evidence is there to the contrary?
  4. What therefore do I choose to think, believe and share?

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

Take nothing for granted, assume nothing and be the best you can be.

A Founder to Back?

A Founder to Back?

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back?

We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present.

  • He was technologically sound
  • Had built a robust platform relevant to the market
  • The market opportunity was significant with little competition at present
  • Was strategic in building relationships with potential customers
  • No paying customers on board to date
  • Was modest in his projections
  • Ran a tight ship
  • Knew his subject matter well
  • Was open and transparent about the challenges and setbacks faced

So, the market opportunity was there. The platform was sound. But the current configuration was not going to work. To penetrate the market and build the required scale at speed, a new team would need to be on board, including a new CEO. But would the founder’s ego get in the way?

His reaction was ultimately what made those gathered decide to back him. Positive and genuine, he knew this is what was needed to succeed and saw it as an opportunity to focus on what he does best – building and strengthening the platform.

He now had the backing and support of the right people vested in mutual success.

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back?

We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present.

  • He was technologically sound
  • Had built a platform relevant to the market
  • Was strategic in building relationships with potential customers
  • No paying customers on board to date
  • Was modest in his projections
  • Ran a tight ship
  • Knew his subject matter well
  • Was open and transparent about the challenges and setbacks faced

So, the market opportunity was there. The platform was sound. But the current configuration was not going to work. To penetrate the market and build the required scale at speed, a new team would need to be on board, including a new CEO. But would the founder’s ego get in the way?

His reaction was ultimately what made those gathered decide to back him. Positive and genuine, he knew this is what was needed to succeed and saw it as an opportunity to focus on what he does best – building and strengthening the platform.

He now had the backing and support of the right people vested in mutual success.

A Founder to Back?

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back? We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present. He was technologically sound Had built a robust platform relevant to...

read more

Harmonising Co-Founders

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more

Friction when Scaling

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging. A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working....

read more
Harmonising Co-Founders

Harmonising Co-Founders

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a cohesive team.

Conducting one-to-one and group sessions we:

  • Mapped out their backgrounds, experiences and geographic exposure
  • Profiled their styles of leadership and communication
  • Explored their drivers and ambitions, as well as their personal values and principles
  • Studied how they interacted and the shift in dynamics depending on who was present
  • Translated their experiences into their outlooks, standards, capabilities and expectations
  • Identified and aligned divergent perspectives and mindsets
  • Facilitated debates on how they should conduct their business and ironed out arising conflicts
  • Formulated agreed principles and modus operandi in delivering on their vision
  • Identified appropriate board members with the right balance of experience, credibility and affinity
  • Created institutional framework equipped to attract and safeguard 3rd party investor capital

 

Behind any successful venture is the dynamics of the people. In this particular case, there were three individuals who came together to form a new investment company. On the face of it, they shared a common vision and belief system, but coming together and delivering something tangible and sustainable is another matter.

The three individuals had different professional backgrounds and experiences, two from a corporate background, the other a serial entrepreneur. In addition, they had different geographic exposure. These factors meant they each had different perspectives and standards on how things should be done. We also had to factor in personalities and levels of dominance, whilst ensuring they all had an equal say, especially since they were equal partners from an equity perspective. So the challenge here was how to align them and shift their mindset from being sole operators to creating an institutional framework equipped to attract and safeguard 3rd party investors’ capital.

The work consisted of one-to-one sessions with each of the partners, along with combined sessions to create a cohesive way forward. Helping them shape and articulate the vision, values and methodology, we went a step further to ensure they could deliver in alignment with what they proffered to stand for. We tested their values and thesis on potential target investments which provided much debate and ironing out, without the complexity of outside shareholders. This gave them the opportunity to come up with solutions and align themselves as a united front prior to dealing with outside influence. We also identified appropriate board members who provided the right balance of experience, credibility and natural affinity to help foster and drive the mission and purpose of the organisation.

A Founder to Back?

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back? We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present. He was technologically sound Had built a robust platform relevant to...

read more

Harmonising Co-Founders

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more

Friction when Scaling

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging. A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working....

read more
Friction when Scaling

Friction when Scaling

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging.

A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working. The speed and rate of change was further amplified with additional acquisitions that needed to be merged with the business. The core team was under increasing amounts of pressure to provide stopgap solutions whilst other parts of the business were integrated. This had a snowball effect on morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting on results.

Conducted individual and group coaching sessions encompassing a number of areas including:

  • Identification of core drivers, strengths, aspirations and areas they wanted to develop
  • Personal reflection on events and interactions – perception, reaction and subsequent influence on relationships with their colleagues
  • Awareness and adjustment of personal behaviour and communication to improve relationships with colleagues
  • Exploration and development of ways to tackle rifts with colleagues (e.g. identifies areas in which they could be each other’s mentors and role models, playing off each other’s strengths)
  • Realignment of roles with functions playing to strengths and areas of competence as opposed to titles due to length of service

 

The work resulted in:

 

  • A team consisting of committed, competent and collaborative individuals operating in a more positive environment, with less friction and positive results.
  • A more collegiate and collaborative work environment, with improved communication, transparency and higher levels of trust
  • Realising they were not in the right role or company, some team members resigned – some went on to become founders of their own startup

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging.

A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working. The speed and rate of change was further amplified with additional acquisitions that needed to be merged with the business. The core team was under increasing amounts of pressure to provide stopgap solutions whilst other parts of the business were integrated. This had a snowball effect on morale, diminished team spirit, lack of personal performance, all ultimately impacting on results.

Conducted individual and group coaching sessions encompassing a number of areas including:

  • Identification of core drivers, strengths, aspirations and areas they wanted to develop
  • Personal reflection on events and interactions – perception, reaction and subsequent influence on relationships with their colleagues
  • Awareness and adjustment of personal behaviour and communication to improve relationships with colleagues
  • Exploration and development of ways to tackle rifts with colleagues (e.g. identifies areas in which they could be each other’s mentors and role models, playing off each other’s strengths)
  • Realignment of roles with functions playing to strengths and areas of competence as opposed to titles due to length of service

 

The work resulted in:

 

  • A team consisting of committed, competent and collaborative individuals operating in a more positive environment, with less friction and positive results.
  • A more collegiate and collaborative work environment, with improved communication, transparency and higher levels of trust
  • Realising they were not in the right role or company, some team members resigned – some went on to become founders of their own startup

A Founder to Back?

An investor was considering backing a payment platform. But was this the right founder to back? We assembled a cohort of sector and geographic specialists and invited the founder to come and present. He was technologically sound Had built a robust platform relevant to...

read more

Harmonising Co-Founders

A new venture had three founding partners all sharing the same vision. However, in trying to deliver on that vision, it became rapidly apparent they had different views on how that vision should be executed. We had to figure out if and how they could best work as a...

read more

Friction when Scaling

Growth is great. But growth can also be challenging. A start-up was acquired by a private equity firm. The people involved from the inception of the company were still with the organisation and were experiencing a change in culture, direction and method of working....

read more