Stuff a Stocking: Bring the Magic of the Holidays to a Kenyan Child

At Be Leadership, we are passionate about creating a better world through the development of social leaders. To support this, we have developed the Beautiful World Campaign, whose goal is to create connections between communities, organizations and individuals for greater impact.

This holiday season, as part of the Beautiful World Campaign, we are sponsoring a project to bring the magic of the holidays to some children in Kenya. This Stuff a Stocking campaign will provide stockings filled with books, toys,  crafts, sweets and hygiene products to 100 Kenyan children who are attending pre-school at The Karibu Centre in Thika, outside of Nairobi.

The Karibu Centre is a community program that offers pre-school, after school programs, and job readiness training for underprivileged families in Kenya. Their programs help children who may not otherwise be ready for state education prepare for school through high-quality, interactive learning. We are proud to partner with The Karibu Centre to offer some holiday love to the kids at Karibu by stuffing a stocking to be donated to each of their pre-school children.

If you are interested in supporting this project please get in touch today! If you would like to learn more about The Karibu Centre and their amazing work, or make a monetary donation, please visit:

About the Beautiful World Campaign

The Beautiful World Campaign creates positive connections between communities, purpose-driven organizations and individuals. We work with selected people and organizations to establish meaningful connections, then support these relationships through clear contracting between the parties, through coaching, specialized training or consulting services from experienced members of the Be Leadership team, and through selected financial support.


What is Your Side Hustle?

Last week I had the privilege of being part of a team delivering a leadership development experience in Nairobi. As part of the program, we visited many local non profit organisations and met with Kenyan entrepreneurs. In one of the earlier conversations, a local leader mentioned her “side hustle.”

My last visit to Kenya was in 2010, and this term never came up during that trip. In fact, I had never heard the term at all before last week, but it quickly became familiar: As the week went on, I noticed that people brought up their side hustles in nearly every conversation I was part of. People were as likely to talk about their side hustle as they were their primary jobs, their families, or their education.

Kenya has quite an established gig economy and much of the population works in relatively short-term, simultaneous parallel contracts. Many others are looking for a second income stream to support a better lifestyle. According to a recent study, more than 40% of the Kenyan youth have a hustle, the second highest in Africa after Nigeria. However, what I learned from my conversations is that frequently side hustles are more than just a second source of income. I met people with side hustles as diverse as mobile phone repair, graphic design, hiring out tents for weddings and corporate events, selling crafts at a Maasai Market, and farming. Some people even mentioned their master’s degree or volunteering activity. Immediate income wasn’t necessarily a prerequisite – but passion seemed to be.

People’s eyes would light up when they talked about their side hustles. These were projects that people chose to spend time on. They were passion projects they made time for on the side, which often gave them energy as well as income. I heard about the number of acres a senior manager was farming and how she was distributing her produce. I learned about the techniques used to weave baskets being sold at the market. I heard about the number of hours a volunteer worked with the Kenyan Red Cross, and the number of phones repaired in a standard week. I heard all of these stories and left inspired.

I think we all need a side hustle.

What is yours?




(If you want to learn more about Kenyan side hustles, check out this list of side hustle ideas, or these inspiring women who have established successful hustles based on their hobbies and interests.)

Running in a Headwind

For the past couple of days, we’ve had really strong winds in Southern England. As a runner, I have noticed.

As a population, we spend so much time in the protection of our offices, homes or cars, we aren’t always aware of the changes in weather. But in the past few days, we’ve had gusts strong enough to rattle the car when you’re driving on an exposed part of the motorway. Winds this strong are hard to miss, so you can imagine that running in them isn’t easy.

On the first day of this weather, I came back from a run exhausted and discouraged. I had gone out to run a 5K and had come back missing the mark by almost half a kilometer. I was so hard on myself. I gave myself no credit for the fact that the weather wasn’t cooperative. Instead, I assumed I was just more tired than normal or that I needed to be more fit.

Later that day, I was at a client meeting and a strong gust picked up an outdoor table and blew it over. I only then acknowledged that my difficult run wasn’t entirely my fault.

As leaders, we sometimes work on projects where we feel like we’re running in a headwind. Things just aren’t going smoothly, we are not on schedule, and people aren’t delivering. Our energy lags, and we get discouraged and down. It’s easy to project this onto everything else and decide we don’t like our jobs, we aren’t happy in our work, or we aren’t successful. Or we blame ourselves for not having the skills or the smarts for the job. In actual fact, a change of project or environment can bring us renewed energy and allow us to perform at our best.

What headwinds are you running in? How can you find ways to turn around?

Day 26 Connection Challenge: Smile More

Smiling lowers our heart rate, reduces stress levels and boosts our endorphins, putting us in a better mood and eliciting smiles from those around us. #begiving #connectionchallenge

Day 17 Connection Challenge: Share a Hot Drink

Yale University psychologists have found that people judged others to be more generous and caring if they had just held a warm cup of coffee. Invite a colleague for a cup of tea or coffee and strengthen your connection. #begiving #connectionchallenge

Day 15 Connection Challenge: Have a Laugh

Sharing a laugh with your colleagues exposes vulnerability that can increase trust and subsequently improve productivity, learning and team effectiveness.  #beauthentic #beinclusive #connectionchallenge

Day 12 Connection Challenge: Get Active

Just 20 minutes of moderate daily exercise can make you happier and more productive. If possible, squeeze a walk, run, cycle ride or other workout into your schedule today. If not, add something active to your diary for the coming week. #bepresent #connectionchallenge

Connecting For Happiness

[This post was originally published on The Happy Manifesto website in April 2016]

Eighteen months ago I left Microsoft, where I had spent 17 years. It was a huge decision for me and one I struggled with. I was really scared of the change. But do you want to guess what I was most afraid of? It wasn’t loss of income, it wasn’t status, it wasn’t instability.

I was afraid I’d be unhappy.

Throughout my years at Microsoft, I felt a really close affiliation with the company. I was proud to work there and it was a significant part of my life. Life and work were very blurred at Microsoft – and I liked that! My workday bled into my evening and my personal life mixed with my work. I was close friends with my co-workers. I even met my husband there – and he still works there today. Microsoft was a large part of my identity and I was afraid that if I left, it would impact my relationships and overall happiness.

Fast forward a year and a half and I know now my fears were unfounded. I love my business, my clients, the diversity of my work. I’m excited about the company I am building. I still feel a strong affiliation with Microsoft and am proud of the successful years I spent there. And – perhaps most importantly for my personal happiness – I still have really strong relationships. My new business has been great for my life fulfillment: Not only do I stay in contact with dozens of past colleagues from Microsoft but I’m building relationships and creating new connections – in different sectors, industries and places.

Joy is Connection
Connection is essential to happiness. In fact, some researchers argue it’s the corner stone. In 2013, Harvard released the results of the Harvard Grant Study, a 75-year longitudinal study that explored the secrets of a happy and fulfilling life. The study, which was far reaching, had 5 key findings, 2 of which relate directly to relationships:

• First, it found that love is an essential foundation for a happy life. George Vaillant, the psychiatrist responsible for the Grant Study for 42 years, said the most important finding was that relationships are the only thing that really matter for a fulfilling life: “Happiness is only the cart; love is the horse.”
• Second, it found that the more areas in your life you can create connections, the better. Relationships, including those we have at work, are far and away the strongest predictor of life satisfaction.

Connection matters.
Connection definitely matters, and it’s no wonder I was scared of losing it. In addition to our happiness, it affects our broader business success. Gallup research has shown that close work friendships lead to higher employee satisfaction, with a claim that people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be motivated and productive. Other studies show that more work connections lead to better health and greater sense of fulfillment.

According to neuroscientist Matthew Lieberman, our need to connect with other people is more fundamental and basic than food and shelter. In his book Social: Why our Brains are Wired to Connect, Lieberman shares his finding that even connecting in the most basic ways makes you happier—especially when you know other people need your help. His research shows that having a friend that you see daily at work brings the equivalent happiness to $100,000 increase in salary.

Now that’s a lot of happiness.

Stay connected.