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The other day I swelled with pride when a trusted and respected associate of mine mentioned the name of someone who had once worked with Youth Media (a not for profit we founded long time before Media 365). It’s always so rewarding to have others talk fondly and with equal respect for someone you helped shape. I guess this is how mentors feel about their mentees.

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A few days later, I had another entrepreneur I know well visit us – we like having like-minded people come to the office where we engage in conversation for hours (I try to keep these visits to Saturdays for obvious reasons!), and we spoke about the role of stewardship in our respective businesses.

The principle of stewardship is very much linked to Christian teachings (if you google it). But in general it really is about shepherding and safe guarding something that is valuable. One of the things we set out to do from the very beginning – when we were still a not for profit, non-governmental organisation – was to bring up young people as we came up, being that they really are the most valuable thing in your organisation. It wasn’t just about paying it forward, but it was about empowering others to help them achieve their potential. We didn’t just want them to compete, but to truly stand out in the market.

This could be another reason I’m so passionate about mentorship. It’s not enough to be the best that you can be, you have to help bring up those coming behind you. I know some people are scared of that approach, scared if you teach people what you know, then you become redundant and they can take your job, your career etc. But to us that is a myopic view. If anything it helps better the environment we operate it. If you have a lot of like minded people, able to work efficiently, and professionally, with relatively similar skill and ambitions, ethics and other quality attribute, isn’t that just the greatest environment to operate in?

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I think it also speaks to our own beginnings. The people who believed in us and were willing to teach us what they knew to up our skills and make us compete competitively and on a broader platform than the Zambian landscape helped instill that value in us too. And that’s what we always strive to do with our own staff and the younger people we come into contact with, make them better today to compete tomorrow. And it’s deeply rewarding as I said before. I think that’s what can be said about all aspects of giving back, because it’s not just about you (though it is kind of selfish to want to have that rewarding feeling… maybe in a small way it is about you!), but a social initiative.

This is one of the ways our business will always differentiate. And it is my hope that the people who have worked with us, whether at Youth Media or at Media 365 will take that principle of stewardship into their own careers and professional environments as well. Some of Zambia’s brightest (in my opinion) and recognized young people cut their teeth with us, and it’s great to see them succeeding and really making their mark. Allow me to highlight a few:

Kachepa Mtumbi who owns and runs KPR Consulting. It is one of the few PR agencies in Zambia and his client base boasts one of the biggest brands in the world, Samsung. He is not only one to watch but giving the other more established PR companies a run for their money!

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Masuka Mutenda is an accomplished communications specialist working with international organisations making a difference in Zambian people’s lives across the country. She also founded Zedhair a business targeted at the ever growing natural hair industry, a space few (if any) operate in.

Masuzyo Matwali not only does multimedia designs for all sorts of businesses and recording artists alike, he also runs his own design studio, Graphic 404, and is probably one of the most talented designers in Zambia right now.

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Janice Matwi now the Brand and Communications Manager at Airtel, also founder of Corporate Heelz, a business that aims to inspire and motivate career focussed women to achieve their potential.

Muchemwa Sichone (I knew him as Robert!) now runs his own company, Global Link Communications. They can be credited with various of communications work, not least the simplified (i.e. people friendly) version of the draft constitution.

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Magg44 – not so much from Youth Media days (he’s probably too young :)) but from our early start with Media 365 he did some great score and sound engineering with us and just to see him, as an artist, and his business with IM Studios really flourish is also inspiring.

I could do a laundry list of all the people that came up the ranks at Youth Media/Media 365 and continue to inspire me with their personal and professional success but there are too many to mention – some who were here when I wasn’t, but are spoken of fondly by my other co-directors.

But just the few examples I’ve given above really speak to the importance of stewardship, mentorship, and investing in young people – when they are still young too. That’s one reason we will not stop.

Just recently we had a young guy who came to us as an intern, more or less straight out of high school. He left after two years as a competent video editor, with skills in sound and lighting techniques.

I see businesses today scared to invest in their staff, worrying (as is the norm in Zambia, where loyalty is such a coveted asset) that their staff will leave to work with their competitors or start out on their own, taking their client base, which are all real possibilities. The principle of stewardship is not just about training on hard skills but advising and mentoring with soft skills and advise. And that is far worth more than worrying about something that may or may not happen in the future!

Anyway, this is something I’m passionate about so I could speak about it for ages, so I’ll stop here and hope it gives you pause to think about how you can apply stewardship into your own life.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and Galaxy Gear India launch-1

Last month, or maybe it was the month before, I was lucky enough to be given the Samsung Note and Gear to test for a 10 day period by KPR Consulting.

This seemed like an exciting opportunity, I mean who wouldn’t want to test out a phone that costs like K6,000 (circa $1,000) before committing to it?

The packaging was bliss. It seems silly to get excited by packaging but definitely in Zambia, retailers underestimate the value of packaging. I remember when I bought my Beats by Dre earphones, it was the packaging that spoke to me – it was a hell of a lot of packaging for the small dinky thing, but it made it all that more special, more treasured.

So this box that looked like an actual wooden box was pleasantly starring at me, I couldn’t wait to open it and marvel at the beauty that was to be contained within it. With that packaging, it had to be a beauty inside right?

And it was. Ok I’m getting my head round the fact that we’re doing a 180 (or is it 360?) and we’re moving away from the smallest phone ever to these big things again that don’t fit so nicely into my evening clutch. But how else can you take great selfies if not on a nice big screen?

I was excited to try it out. Just a few problems occurred. I didn’t have a micro sim (being a blackberry die hard) and all my contacts were on my blackberry (I had yet to discover intouch – thank you to my geeky bestie for telling me about that great app!).

So my user experience with the phone was limited, there simply weren’t enough hours in the day for me to go and get a micro sim. So I sent my driver, but then I couldn’t inserted it properly… sigh. But finally I focused and went to Manda Hill myself and had it properly inserted!

Still after that, I didn’t find myself using it. There was the odd occasion that I left my blackberry in the office – very strange for me – so then I got to use the Samsung and that was pretty cool – people thought I was pretty cool too for having one. It seems our phones are still an extension of who we are as people!

I’m also a bit rubbish in that I hate reading manuals so need to have an easy learning curve for me to use any gadget. So while I was excited taking notes at a meeting I went to with the stylus and all, I couldn’t figure out how to find the note again! Doh! But I loved the idea of a handwritten note in my phone! (The little things excite me).

To be honest the only thing I got round to using the gear for was to count my steps.

It was a handy gadget in that respect, especially if you’re trying to keep healthy, ok lose weight. I’m sure it had other great things it could do, but it was too bulky for me to use as a watch and using it for making calls and taking pictures just seemed a bit too James Bond esque for me. I’m a simple girl really.

So while I didn’t get to test everything that is great or not about the Samsung Note, the ease of using it made me question whether I really should stay team blackberry. When I found a phone in my swag bag at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards I was thrilled. It wasn’t a Samsung, but another Android phone.

Thanks to my minimal experience with the Note, I’m totally team android now!

p.s. Samsung, KPR Consulting, I’d be more than happy for you to gift me a free phone too 😀

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