"Africans are not born to be poor. Our problem is we don't use our talents and we don't think hard enough. We've got to work hard! Don't say there are no opportunities. You create your own opportunities!" ~ Chris Kirubi
If you do a simple search for Chris Kirubi's name, you'll find plenty of searches about his family, his net worth, Brioni suits and Mercedes Maybach - he being one of only 2 other owners.
It is what we are all usually fascinated by, the vast wealth, influence and power these individuals enjoy,
But the reason for writing this blog post is not to focus on his riches as so many others have chosen to.
The aim of this article is to try to understand his mindset and what turned a 7 year old orphaned boy into one of the richest people in Africa today.
A candid interview done in 2015 titled Person of Interest by KTN, is available below where Dr. Kirubi talks about his life and business.
In the interview, he described himself as a self professed "workaholic" who spends almost everyday working till midnight.
"I am hardly ever in the country, as I have many business obligations to attend to in other parts of the world" he said matter of factly.
His interviewer asked, "What drives you? Is it the fear of losing all that you have "
Bio and Early Life
His Wikipedia bio describes him as a Kenyan businessman, entrepreneur and industrialist.
Born in 1941, Kirubi came from very humble beginnings.
By the age of 7 he lost both his parents and the cards he was dealt forced him to grow up quickly.
He had not only to take care of himself, but his siblings as well.
Kirubi does not divulge too much about this part of his life, except to describe many days in his childhood where all he could eat were boiled beans that were half eaten by weevils.
Like many of his peers growing up under severely impoverished conditions, he realised the only way to overcome his adversity was through an education.
"I was always top 3 in my class," he beamed.
He disclosed that it was because of his success in school that he was sponsored by missionaries to attend school in Western Kenya.
Journey Into Entrepreneurship
He was able to take care of his siblings by earning Kshs. 5 a day dusting and arranging files for the Railways Corporation.
He reminisces on those early beginnings ,"This is what got me by and kept me going."
He eventually managed to get his first job as a salesman at Shell Corporation, likely in the 1960's.
However, 2 years into employment, he realised he could be the General Manager of the company.
"My superiors constantly reminded me that I had to crawl before I walked, which frustrated me."
He realized quickly enough that employment was only going to stifle his already burning ambition to do and achieve more, and he made the decision to quit and become his own boss.
Dr. Kirubi didn't divulge how exactly he got started in real estate, except to say that he managed to get a small loan to purchase dilapidated houses which he would spruce up and sell.
It was this ingenious idea that allowed him to get more access to loans to purchase more houses and rent out.
Eventually, he was encouraged to get into the manufacturing industry by a friend who was renting out one of his houses. "This is how I started Haco Industries" he said.
As at 2011, Forbes Africa listed him with a net worth of $300 million which is roughly over Kshs. 3 billion.
A Billionaire's Mindset
Chris Kirubi hardly focuses on his past.
"I believe that life is about where you are headed, not where you have been."
One might wonder why a man as wildly successful as he would still wake up earlier than most people who are jobless and go to bed late at night as though he still has so much to prove.
"I get worried when I do not achieve the goals I have set for myself. "
The painful hardships that Dr. Kirubi went through as a child fuelled an eternal fire in his belly to never ever go back to the level of poverty he came from.
Also, the enormous achievements he has created in his life have greatly expanded his vision of possibility, which enables him to constantly push the envelope, explore new opportunities and break down barriers that he may have once thought were impossible to crush.
As at the interview with KTN, he talked about his worry about what he should be doing, whether he is pushing himself hard enough to work harder, better and faster.
He is also very involved in the community of young people he inspires. "How can I help other people to achieve what I have achieved" he asked in his interview.
One can access his #AskKirubi Youtube Channel via Capital FM where he drops gems on entrepreneurship, success and mindset.
Battle With Cancer
in 2018, Dr. Kirubi bravely came out to disclose that he has been fighting cancer.
His weakened frame is a testament to the battle he has been facing, though he has not disclosed when he was diagnosed or how far the cancer has developed in his body .
In a video on Youtube, he encourages his peers to get checked for the potentially terminal illness.
"Do not allow cancer to get to the third or to fourth stage because it becomes very difficult for the doctors to cure us. I am appealing as one of the victims, I appeal to you to make sure that you do not have to undergo a major attack of cancer." - SDE
I am sure his current status has significantly diminished his working schedule.
It could be that he has made the choice to slow down and take life one day at a time.
Alternatively, this hurdle may have strengthened his resolve to live his already incredible life as fully as he can while he still has air in his lungs.
Either way, Dr. Chris Kirubi has come, seen and conquered, from extremely humble beginnings to standing at the top of the world.
Best Chris Kirubi Tweets
In conclusion, here are the 10 best tweets from his twitter feed where he uses the hashtag #AskKirubi to offer advice:
Those around you learn the best and worst traits from you and like it or not, those younger than you will mirror your actions. As a leader, always take responsibility for your actions and remember, your juniors are always watching. Be ready to lead and lead by example. #AskKirubi
— Chris Kirubi (@CKirubi) November 21, 2019
Your dreams get you through the worst days. They are the reason you wake up in the morning and try again. Without dreams we're nothing. The more you chase & accomplish your dreams the more the boundaries in front of us fade. You can achieve anything. #FridayMotivation #AskKirubi
— Chris Kirubi (@CKirubi) November 22, 2019
Remember that failure is just an opportunity for you to learn and grow. If you’ve never failed at something, then you’ve never put yourself out there to see if you’ll succeed.
The trick is to take calculated risks and know when to go all in.#WednesdayMotivation #AskKirubi
— Chris Kirubi (@CKirubi) November 20, 2019
Sometimes you need to down your tools and re-focus. Take days off to be in the best mental shape. Yes, I don't refute you have to work hard, but don’t work yourself into the ground. Value your rest as much as your work. Ensure you keep your work-life balance in check. #AskKirubi
— Chris Kirubi (@CKirubi) November 18, 2019
Successful people know that life isn’t fair & they’re not entitled to anything. They also know that wallowing & making excuses only zaps their personal power. Never blame external factors you’re giving your power away. You're not what happens to you but how you react. #AskKirubi
— Chris Kirubi (@CKirubi) November 17, 2019
Failure is about perspective; there is no such thing unless you deem it that. When successful people chase after a goal, two things can happen: They achieve desired result or get feedback.
Falling short of your goal isn’t failure, it’s a lesson learned for next time. #AskKirubi
— Chris Kirubi (@CKirubi) November 17, 2019
Success is going to cost you something. It will cost you way beyond money, friendships and time. It comes with a price bigger than what most people want to pay.
So if you want to be successful, you can't afford to think about what it will cost you. #ThursdayThoughts #AskKirubi
— Chris Kirubi (@CKirubi) November 14, 2019