Kiriza tz
Kiriza tz
Jun 10 · 6 min read

I’m not a Businessman. I am a Business, man — Jay Z.

You must have raised your eyebrows and wondered why a Rapper like a Jay Z is all of a sudden in a business post. FYI Jay Z, as of 2019, is a billionaire.

Let’s get to describe what he meant by that little phase in this post.

Many people think that their business logo, calendar, adverts, customer care, and online presence define their brands. They assume that their personal lives don’t affect their businesses as those are two separate entities as the law states.

You couldn’t be less wrong!

As much as your business has its own personality called a brand, so do you. As a CEO, COO, Salesman/woman your brand stands out like a shooting star in a clear dark sky.

You see when you are pitching a potential customer, forming a partnership with another company, trying to acquire another company or pitching investors to give you a blank cheque; what convinces them to back you in whatever you desire is not the name of your company but you. How you are dressed, time management, passion in what you are doing, your social media activity, attitude, patience among others.

Before you even meet these people, they will do due diligence on you by talking to people you have done business with, investors who have worked with you before, former employees and co-workers among others. Your brand will determine whether you close a deal or not and if you pretend to be someone you are not….they will pack their bags and leave before you even say “Good Morning” to them.

People like Jay Z, Rihanna, and Donald Trump have become masters in exploiting the art of Personal Brand in their favors. Donald Trump, being the king of Real Estate Development licensed his name a few decades ago and earns hard cash whenever a real estate condo, apartments, villas or necktie company uses his name. It doesn’t matter if that business flops or it doesn’t, his bank account smiles come to the end of the financial year. No wonder he is okay with earning USD 1 Per month as the President of the United States of America.

According to, On January 15, 2019; Rihanna sued her father for using her name without permission. The singer claimed dad booked shows without her authorization, improperly tried to profit off her name. The suit alleges that in 2017, Fenty and another man, Moses Perkins, created a company called Fenty Entertainment. The suit claims that Fenty Entertainment has repeatedly claimed that it is affiliated with Rihanna on its website and social media pages, while it also alleges that the company has used Rihanna’s name to bilk third parties out of millions of dollars.

Do you now understand the power of your brand?

Differentiate between cheap fame of people staring at you when you walk into Mlimani City, or people asking to take a selfie with you at Karambezi Cafe. That is a by the way. A by the way that will not pay your rent, or help you to take your family to Samaki Lodge in Zanzibar come the end of the year.

I want you to use your brand to make money, unless you are an NGO then that is a different cause, you will possibly use your brand to raise awareness, convince donors to keep/start supporting you or establish networks, create connections that will favor an excellent execution of your targeted goal and act as social proof to a donor looking to fund another NGO in your country.

A personality brand is highly related to what you are as a person. Your pedigree and the after effect you have every time your name is mentioned or referred in a group of 2 or more.

i) Be a person of actions and execution, not just words: Our social media channels and tv programs are full of gossip, stories and Mambo Jambo that people prefer it remains there. When it comes to work, people judge you based on your execution. Do you mean what you say? Or Are you the kind of person who postpones everything.

ii) Art of Listening: A wise man once said you were given two ears and one mouth because you should listen more than you talk. Speak only when your input ads sense to a conversation OR you are looking for clarification, otherwise, listen. You might learn something new to say.

iii) Treatment of those below you: If you want to see someone’s true character, observe how s/he treats those below them. Most people show their true characters when they have nothing to gain and hide it when they know the audience can benefit them in one way or another. If you don’t understand this point, find out why a former CEO at Uber was fired after yelling to a driver.

iv) Who are your friends: Your five closest friends define who you are. If we want to know who you exactly are, we don’t have to ask you a single question but observe those you spend time with. So, choose your friends carefully; as they define your character, behavior, what you drink and generally what your actions are.

v) Passion and Pain: Many people make the mistake of trying too hard to be liked. Like hens, they shake their heads in agreement to everything just to impress the suit or lady suggesting an idea. Draw a line to what you like or not, this will save you from headaches and blaming others when the task at hand is more demanding than expected. As Kevin Hart says in one of his comedy clips, don’t be a Yes Man to everything you see or you are told.

People will respect you for holding your ground when you aren’t really interested in something, and praise you some more when you efficiently accomplish tasks you are passionate about.

vi) Humor and Comedy: This ground is:

Ø Sensitive: be careful about the subjects you cover.

Ø Perceptive: some people just don’t have it in them.

The reason as to why I still mentioned it despite the biased introduction is this, humor and comedy lighten up the mood. In the corporate world, we are always too serious, that a smile in a corporate meeting can easily be mistaken for a brain aneurysm. Lighten up the mood with a simple joke, who knows it might make a Limited Partner not interested in your startup reconsider his decision.

vii) Don’t be a sour loser: Not everything that you set to do will succeed. Don’t get chilly and act like Mother Gaia (Earth) is a genie, obligated to respect your wishes as you cast them. Don’t throw tantrums and shout at others. As Swahili speakers say Maji yakishamwagika hayazoleki. If something has already happened, shouting won’t change the past. Learn from your failures, regroup and like a newborn Phoenix start over differently, backed by lessons from your past.

Read More: Why rewarding your employees despite failure is important for a healthy innovation culture.

In the African and Western Culture, we tend to strike the nail while it is still hot but according to the book “Who Can You Trust?” by Susan Botsman, Chinese prefer to first establish trust with you before business negotiations. They will spend time with you, eat with you among other things and once it feels right with them, then you can start speaking what you brought you all the way to Asia.

We know you are not in China, but it helps to have a strong personality especially in business interactions.

What we have just covered may not turn you into Jay Z or the King of Real Estate Development in the United States of America, but it will point you to the right direction. Take time to improve your personal brand and let it do wonders for you.

Lastly, learn to apologize when you are wrong. There will be times when your ego will want to be in charge, don’t let that happen. Accept the wrong you have done, it will not only make you a better leader but a better human.

Rihanna Image Courtesy of South China Morning Post

Jay Z and Donald Trump Image Courtesy of