The “Safari Cup” – Kenyan StarCraft 2 Tournament

This is a follow-up to the recent article on “E-sports“. is organising a small StarCraft 2 tournament, the Safari Cup. In their own words:

“We’re very pleased to announce that we shall be hosting our very first StarCraft 2 tournament, the Safari Cup.

We intend for this to be a fun event whose primary goal is to bring Kenyan StarCraft 2 players together in competitive play. Let us not let Kenya be left out of the StarCraft frenzy that is currently sweeping the world – ama aje? Sign up and lets have some fun while gaining some skill & experience.”

So, well, go ahead and sign up.

The Money System and Eternal Debt

How does money work? Many people know that money is “printed” at the Central Bank so that we can use it in our economy. But how, exactly, does this process work? How did we go from using gold and silver to paper as our money?

“Paper” money was invented due to necessity. At the start of the industrial revolution, businesses were expanding at rates never seen before and they needed money to finance their expansion. At that time, people used gold and silver coins for money. So if it cost one million gold coins to build a new factory, then you had to actually find one million gold coins. But gold and silver are rare so there was not enough gold to satisfy the demand for money.

A man named John Law solved this problem by inventing what would later be known as the fractional reserve system. He invented a new type of money to replace the use of gold coins. It is important to note that his invention created the mechanism to finance the industrial revolution and, indeed, our modern technological world.

Law’s solution was to create “paper” money, a.k.a banknotes, and use it instead of gold coins. The banknotes would then be officially recognised as “real money”. The advantage was that paper money could be expanded infinitely (unlike gold) and was much cheaper to make. To get and keep initial public confidence (people questioned why they should stop using gold and start using paper), Law suggested that a fraction of gold always be kept on hand for the few people who wanted to redeem their notes for real actual gold. Through trial and error, it was found that gold reserves could safely “back up” up to ten times their value of paper money. That is, if a bank had Kshs 100 worth of gold, they could safely print up to Kshs 1,000 bank notes.

As stated above, at the start, banks had to have real gold reserves roughly equal to 10% of all the paper money that they printed. However, in the 1930s, the ability for people to convert their paper money into gold was dropped. This removed the need for central banks to have gold reserves in their possession and, indeed, virtually no central bank in the world today has gold reserves that can fully back up all their paper money. John Law’s method of money creation is still the dynamo that powers our present world.

However, there exists a grave problem. Let’s imagine that the Central Bank of Kenya wanted to print Kshs 100 today. They would print it and then would lend it to the government of Kenya or any one of the local banks. Naturally, the Central Bank incurred some costs while printing the money so it has to charge interest to whoever takes the newly printed Kshs 100. That is, if the interest rate is 10%, the Central Bank will expect to be paid back Kshs 110 for every Kshs 100 that it prints. Think about this. Who prints the Kshs 10 to pay back the initial amount? The answer is no one. This money is created out of thin air.

When presented with this scenario, there is often a tendency to think:”Ah, but the borrower can always make the extra Ksh 10 somewhere else, through hard work or a deal overseas.” However, although we frequently interchange the two sayings, earning money is not the same as making it. Earnings are simply a transfer of money from one ownership to another and neither increase nor decrease the total money in existence. Making money actually does increase the nation’s money supply but no-one can do that but the central bank itself.

The result of creating Kshs 100 but demanding Kshs 110 in return is that the collective borrowers of a nation are forever trying to repay an amount that they will never be able to repay: the mythical Kshs 10 that was never actually printed. This debt is, in fact, unrepayable and every time more money is printed, the nation’s overall indebtedness increases by the amount of interest due to the Central Bank.

Many economists know about this problem but pass it off as irrelevant. The idea is that if the economy keeps expanding, it fuels an increase in the total money supply in which case there is no problem with meeting interest payments on an increasing debt load. It is important to note that when John Law lived, the need to continuously expand to meet growing debt repayments was seen as a minor problem. Today, however, we are faced with the reality that our world cannot support infinite growth. In spite of this, we have to grow consistently forever or face total economic collapse due to the eternal debt inherent in our monetary system.

This “eternal debt” creates some interesting problems which I will cover in a later article.

A Tiny Computer That Costs Kshs 2,500

2500 Computer

2500 Computer

The Raspberry Pi is an amazing little device that is actually a fully functioning computer. It is not much larger than a persons finger and consists of not much more than a processor (CPU), a USB port to connect a keyboard, and a way to connect it to a TV. Simple enough? The best part is that the device will be sold for about $25 (Kshs 2,250 at today’s rate).

Now you can buy 20 computers for less than 50,000/- bob. I think this device has massive potential in Kenya. You can spread computer literacy to even the remotest parts of Kenya with a device like this – ama? A really, really good feature of this device is that it can be connected to a TV. TVs are abundant in Kenya so if a family wanted a computer all they had to spend was 2,250 and they have one!

Learn more: A 15 pound computer to inspire young programmers.

Safaricon Uncovered!



Look at the above image keenly….introducing! This is a whole website dedicated to nothing but the bashing of Safaricom. Notice the close similarity to Safaricom’s own website It seems the big green giant has really annoyed some people…

What do you think of this? A stroke of genius, or just misguided miscreants?

“How much can I get away with?”

There are two ways to look at that question.

Seth Godin writes:

The usual way is, “How little can I do and not get caught?” Variations include, “Can we do less service? Cut our costs? Put less cereal in the box? Charge more?” In short: “How little can I get away with?”

The other way, the more effective way: “How much can we afford to give away? How much service can we pile on top of what we’re selling without seeming like we’re out of our minds? How big a portion can we give and still stay in business? How fast can we get this order filled?”

In an era in which the middle is rapidly emptying out, both edges are competitive. Hint: The overdelivery edge is an easier place to make a name for yourself.

Are you looking at how much you can give your customer and still be in business, or how little you can give them without them noticing? Which side of the divide do you fall on?

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Have you ever given thought to the idea of giving free gifts to your customer? How can this help your business? We aren’t talking about just any other gift, but gifts that are of real value to your customer. For example, what if you give your customers a complimentary iPod? Let’s se how this will work for you:

As everyone knows, the iPod is probably the hottest consumer product of the last few years. They are just cool to have. And because they are relatively expensive, they become an even more valuable item. It’s not like getting something that costs Kshs 100 – this is a pretty nice item that you’re not going to get every day.

You could give any product away but when you give an iPod away, you’re taking advantage of the product’s marketing power.

You could just give away Kshs 5,000, but that’s not as special to someone. If you giveKshs 5,000 back, it feels to them like they’re saving money, which is good, but not as fun. But if you give away an iPod, that person feels like they’re getting your product AND an iPod. They’re getting an iPod for free.

If you had given them Kshs 5,000 back, they’re not going to spend that Kshs 5,000 on something fun or anything that they’ll remember in a couple of months. But if you give away an iPod, it’s something that they’ll remember for the years that they have it.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving
There’s one more indirect advantage of giving away an iPod – you’ll get some free marketing. When someone gets an iPod it’s usually a story. A Dad tells his friend that he’s now just as cool as his kids because he has an iPod just like them. And now that story is going to include your company. When someone asks Dad why he finally got around to getting an iPod, he’ll brag how he got it for free… from your company.

So that’s good and it might help bring you some new clients but there’s a way to really help your clients, who will become your biggest advocates.

Let’s say that you sold some sort of marketing service to dentists. For every new client that your service brings in for the dentist, you will give that dentist an iPod to give to the patient.

Now the kid who got braces from your dentist is bragging to his friends at school how Dr. X gives away iPods to his new patients. All of a sudden, you created a brand new marketing and sales program for your client. You only had to give away that one iPod to his client and he can continue to give away other iPods. But you created a real incentive for that dentist so that kids who wouldn’t normally want to get braces, would be excited because Dr. X gives away iPods.

Just Give Something Away

While iPods are one of the best products to give away, you can use this type of strategy with a lot of different products or services. If you’re worried about the price, you’ll probably make up the difference with increased sales. If that still doesn’t satisfy you, just increase your prices a bit to cover it.

Sometimes you have to give to receive and giving away iPods is a great way to receive a lot more clients.

What KFC never told you about Colonel Sanders’ Secret Recipe

Maybe you’ve heard the story of 1000 restaurant owners who rejected Colonel Sanders’ Fried Chicken proposal,and Prospect #1001 who finally said “yes.”

BUT… did you ever hear the story behind the story?

This is a good one. An old photocopier salesman, who called on Colonel Sanders back in the 60’s, passed this along to me.

The real story is:
The Colonel had a restaurant in Corbin, Kentucky, which had been doing very well. A new interstate highway was planned to bypass the town of Corbin. Seeing that his business was about to dry up, the Colonel auctioned off his operations. After paying his bills, he had nothing to live on except his $105 Social Security checks.

In 1952, confident of his chicken recipe, he began crisscrossing the country in his car, making an offer to restaurant owners: He would walk into a restaurant, announce to the owner,”I bet my chicken recipe is better than yours” and propose a cook-off.

(The chicken provided by the restaurants he visited, using his recipe, was part of his plan for feeding himself during those lean days.)

If the owner was favorable, he would “franchise” his chicken recipe to them at 5 cents per chicken.

In all, just over 1000 restaurants turned him down, without one successful deal.

Then one day he was having his daily cooking duel with a bar owner, who said to him, “Sir, I’m trying to sell beer, not chicken. This stuff needs to be a whole lot saltier so customers will get thirsty and buy beer!”

So he grabbed the salt shaker, poured some salt on, and took another bite. “Now THIS is GREAT,” he said. “If you’ll add salt to this recipe, I’m a taker!”

The Colonel took a bite and spit it out! it was terrible!

But Colonel Sanders had been on a NO SALT DIET for 30 years, so his tastes were obviously different than everyone else’s.

The Colonel wasn’t stupid! He might not like the salt, but it was better than poverty. Thus began the Colonel’s enormously successful Kentucky Fried Chicken legacy.

Here’s the kicker: At one time, if you bought a box of Kentucky Fried Chicken, here’s what it said on the side: “When Colonel Sanders added the 11th spice, he instantly knew it was the best chicken he’d ever had.”

Of course they didn’t tell you what spice it was.

This is so instructive.

First of all, Colonel Sanders could have made 1000 MORE presentations, driven his car until the transmission fell out, spent every dime of those $105 Social Security checks, prayed for success and recited positive affirmations every morning in front of the mirror. But he still would have come up empty handed, had he not been willing to change his recipe!

Secondly, although the recipe he so passionately believed in was the best recipe for HIS taste buds, it was not the recipe that his customers really wanted. Without a recipe that the customers wanted, no amount of effort or persistence would make it work.

With the right recipe, he was unstoppable.

Third, the recipe he had before he added salt was ALMOST right. It was VERY, VERY CLOSE to what it needed to be. Adding salt to a lousy recipe wouldn’t have helped much. So all the effort he expended developing the original recipe was worthwhile.

Fourth: Persistence DID pay off, but not the way we might expect it to. Sometimes we’re looking for the magical day when our persistence, and the sheer number of people we talk to, leads us to the RIGHT person who will say “Yes” and open wide the doors to success.

But for Colonel Sanders, playing the “Numbers Game” was not the key. The real key was bumping into someone with the audacity to suggest something different, and for the Colonel to be eager enough for a breakthrough to change his recipe.

Fifth, the magical ingredient was ordinary table salt. Salt, all by itself, is worthless as a food item. Chicken, all by itself, is pretty bland, and may not even do the trick with 10 other perfectly good spices. Put them together, though, and you’ve got a real winner!

Never overlook the possibility of combining very ordinary things to create something “entirely new.”

Finally, motivation and hard work alone are rarely (if ever) enough to accomplish a challenging goal. Innovation, flexibility, careful listening, endless experimentation, and the setting aside of egos and old paradigms are all equally important.

In my own case, I worked for several years in both corporate and direct selling. I had essentially two priorities in mind: motivation and people skills. I was enamored with these two virtues, and spent the majority of my working time pounding the phone, making cold calls, working very hard to get in front of anyone who could fog a mirror, and all that other drudgery that entry-level salespeople normally deal with.

Despite all of the effort, the motivational tapes and the people skills books, there were still too many days of heroic effort and no reward. My wallet was still, inexplicably, full of hungry moths.

But then things started to dramatically turn around. It was the result of two things:

  1. I started to learn how to use marketing, low cost advertising and the web to assist my sales efforts;
  2. I found some people who were more able and willing to support my efforts from a “customer service” point of view, than the group I was working for previously.

Great marketing almost always includes the addition of some 11th spice. An ordinary ingredient that makes everything come together.

It’s right under your nose, waiting to be discovered and shared with the world.

The whole of this article is based on an email received from Perry Marshal.