Season 4 Episode 3 with Rob Burnet of Well Told Story: Connecting Young People In Africa to Big Ideas

In a really stimulating conversation, my colleague Lutz Ziob talks about all kinds of futures with the CEO of Kenyan-based training, media and communications leader Well Told Story, Rob Burnet. Sitting not in his usual office in Nairobi, but in an ‘unusually sunny Scotland’ while on a short family trip back to his native country, Rob tells us about how the power of storytelling has helped shaped so much of his life and work, his understanding of what ‘social responsibility and social good’ is, as well as:

  • balancing the excitement of building a successful commercial entity that also improves the lives of young Africans; highlights of an eclectic career: from Big Game hunting to African contemporary art dealer, from philanthropic funding to media, arts and culture to launching a comic book brand to help young people;
  • the concept of ‘hustling’ in an African context, and what an MBA for such ‘hustlers’ needs to offer;
  • his ‘Shujaaz’ project; the importance of measurement in what he does, from SMS sentiment to predictive analytics;
  • what it looks like when your education system is effectively broken, as only 5% of school-leavers will ever get a conventional job; the concept of ‘cruel optimism’ and the ‘broken promise of the 20th Century’ and how it links Brexit, MAGA, ISIS and other major social phenomena;
  • the power of mixing Big 5 leaders and young, young people inside some ‘guide-rails;’
  • and much more.


Rob’s main platform, including his research, many thought-provoking blogs and articles, is at the main Well Told Story website.

Learn more about the paradox of cruel optimism in Lauren Berlant’s book here.

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