Kanjii Mbugua is a musician, creative entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Maisha Skills. He talked about his career, personal journey, family and more.
On regular mornings, I exercise after waking up and for the next few hours, I dedicate myself to getting big work decisions sorted. I try to get at least two solid hours of uninterrupted time.
Afterwards, I spend my time on different things that are valuable to projects I might have running. Maisha Skills is an online course platform that my wife and I created with the purpose of helping people get the training they need to improve their lives – whether it’s marriage, money, entrepreneurship and so on.
My role is to ensure we’re creating great courses and that it’s profitable. In everything that I do, from music to my ministry and every business I get into, the goal is to always help and inspire others. That’s what motivates me to go to work every day.
I’ve surprised myself by how much I’ve evolved.
Back when I was younger, I was focused on making as much money as possible. Seeing how I’ve eased off from the rat race of running after possessions and success, and instead focusing on doing meaningful things is a surprise. If I could write to my younger self, I’d say work hard, pray hard, focus on the impact you can have; and remember, it is not that serious – all the challenges you’re facing, you’ll find your way around them.
Sometimes we postpone a lot of important things.
This includes our relationships with our spouses and children. We postpone enjoyment of life; we live a pay-now, play-later kind of life. I’ve learnt that life is supposed to be lived fully in every moment – that means working hard, playing hard and resting hard. The overarching idea for me is, I was created to leave an impact on this earth, and so I strive as much as I can, in everything I do, to leave an impact.
My leadership style is about inspiring and enabling people.
I am not an in-your-face, over-your-shoulder type of leader. I came across an interview that featured Jeff Bezos of Amazon, and he said that a leader’s job is to make a few quality, high-impact decisions. That is how I view my leadership – once we know where we are going, I enable the people who are going to get us there to do their job.
The greatest challenge I face is time, how to manage it and get the most out of it.
I believe time is the truest resource we have. I always try to leverage technology, outsourcing and delegation. I realise that the clarity of thought is the most important thing I need. If I can make great decisions then I will have great results. I value thinking time.
I have always wanted to disrupt and innovate
Throughout my career, I have always wanted to disrupt and innovate the different spaces I find myself in. A few years ago, my company Kijiji Agency put together Africa’s first musical TV series called Groove Theory. It won a Kalasha Award for TV Drama of the Year. I had never done TV production at the time. It is one of my proudest achievements, and it affirmed the idea that you can learn something you have no clue about and become very good at it, even if it is just for a season.
Make a difference
The one constant advice I’ve received that has propelled my career is I have to live to make a difference, that the earth should be slightly different because I walked on it. I’ve always had that at the back of my mind. It’d tell people the same thing: as much as pursuing a great career, and financial independence and success is important, you should be focusing on the things that will really count at the end of your life. And the important thing people think about at the end of life – something we always read in articles and hear in conversations – is relationships. How do you want to be remembered? Keep that answer in mind as you go about your life.
Outside work, I love spending time with my wife and children. I love sports – I play basketball once a week, and golf a few times each week. I love listening to music and podcasts. I also love reading. At any given point, I usually have two books going. The non-fiction I’m currently reading is The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, and it’s blowing my mind. Ferris writes about how you can live more and work less. I usually read fiction before I go to sleep. I’m currently reading Fall of Giants by Ken Follet, centered on World War One. (I enjoy historical fiction.)