Scaring the lions with automation

This is a true story.

In Nairobi, Kenya, 1000s of families live in villages.

The villages are very close to the Nairobi national park.

Unlike many national parks, Nairobi national park doesn’t have any fencing.

Sometimes, wild animals like Zebras stray into the villages.

And when they stray into the villages, they bring lions with them.

The lions sometimes kill the cows in the villages.

Many families have been living under the constant threat of lions attacking their cows.

Richard, a small 12 year old boy was put in charge of protecting his dad’s farm which had a few cows.

His responsibility was to protect the cows and scare the lions.

He tried various methods.

He tried lighting a fire, but the lions were not scared.

He tried putting up a scare crow, but he later discovered that lions are a bit smart. They can differentiate a scare crow from a real human.

One day, he noticed that the lions would keep away if he was moving around the farm with a torch.

And then it struck him!

Lions were scared of moving lights.

And he was too lazy to walk around the farm with a torch every night.

He wanted to automate the process.

He thought long and hard, if there is a way to make moving lights.

Making a motorized machine with an actual moving light would be too costly and he didn’t have the resources for it.

So he took a car battery, his mom’s radio and a electronic unit from a motorcycle which helps with switching indicators on and off. (His Mom was very upset at him for breaking apart a new radio!)

He took a few torch bulbs and put it up on the fence in sequence. With the battery, circuit from the radio and the indicator switch, he made a system where 3 lights would blink through out the night on automation.

For the lions, it looked like the lights were moving.

The lions were afraid. And they never attacked again.

He slept every night instead of working in the farm and his invention helped to keep the lions away on automation.

He has setup the same system for many neighbouring farms.

And his method is now being used in 1000s of farms across Kenya to keep lions and other predatory animals away.

This small kid is a genius.

He was bold to try his ideas out and accept failure.

But he is 12 years old and doesn’t know English well.

He has never spoken in front of an audience.

Can he ever become a public speaker?

Guess what!

He was invited to TED to give a talk about this. (Not the local TEDx, but TED itself).

He was invited to the annual TED conference that happens once in a year, and he talked along with other mega personalities like Bill Gates in the conference.

He flew in a plane for the first time in his life to come to California.

He was not dressed great, nor had a great speaking style, nor had awesome English speaking skills.

But he captivated the audience and he got a standing ovation from an elite crowd.

How can someone not trained in public speaking be a speaker at TED along with Bill Gates?

Because it is not about the presentation.

It is about the idea.

The stage, and the presentation is just a medium to share the idea.

If the idea is strong enough, and worth spreading, the channel and medium doesn’t matter.

It is the same for content writing.

Many people worry about their language.

They worry about their presentation.

But they don’t matter.

What matters is the idea.

The idea that needs to spread.

Do you think you have no ideas and nothing to share?

You might be wrong about that.

Every person on this planet goes through unique experiences.

You have a life experience that is unique to you and different from all the other 7 billion people on this world.

Of course you have something to say.

You just don’t know it yet.

A job a writer is not to figure out how to present the idea.

A job of a writer is to find that idea that is worth sharing.

Once the idea presents itself, the medium will be ready to carry the idea.

I started blogging 10 years back in the same way.

I just didn’t hesitate to share the idea.

The first blog post I wrote in 2008 was just 500 words. It was boring English.

But I wrote something and published it. It got some readers.

And I’ve been sharing ideas ever since.

I’ve never made a conscious effort to write better.

The better writing came because I wrote a lot.

I shared every idea that I got. In different topics.

As soon as was started, I started writing about my unique thoughts and ideas in the digital marketing space.

Writing takes courage.

You have to put your ideas out there boldly.

Without fear of judgement.

Without fear of criticism.

And you will become better at finding those ideas with experience.

Your unique life experience will lead to new ideas on an almost daily basis, if you are sensitive enough to pick up that idea.

So forget about getting the presentation right.

Start finding those ideas.

And just start sharing them.

Like I got this idea to write to you today. The idea came because I was reading a book that mentioned about this story.

And I watched the TEDx talk and realized how much it is about the idea and how less it is about the presentation.

And I immediately wanted to share the idea with you.

I just wrote it as an email.

No fancy graphics, no design elements.

Plain raw communication.

And I’m pretty sure I’ve got your attention, for quite a few minutes.

This was an idea worth sharing. And I just shared it.

If you think more, experience life more, read more, you will discover the idea that you want to share.

And idea that will add value to other people’s lives.

It will just popup out of the blue.

And with experience, you will present it better.

If a African kid can share an idea on a TED conference, you and I can definitely share our ideas on our blog. And what applies to public speaking, also applies to writing.

And yeah, you should watch the TED talk by that kid, its on YouTube. Search for “Richard Turere: My invention that made peace with lions”

Hope this post gave you some inspiration to become a better writer and content marketer.

Deepak Kanakaraju

17 thoughts on “Scaring the lions with automation”

  1. Amazing story, Deepak. It’s really inspiring. When I started my journey of blogging, it was also about just sharing my experience of life. And that’s how it has helped me to grow as a person. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story 🙂

  2. This is really an inspiring story sir.. Thank you so much for your effort to encourage people like me who wants to write but always wonder what to write..

  3. Good one Deepak. I too have seen this TED talk by this small boy. Really, technology has enabled talents to be noticed, recognized and encouraged across the globe. So, our writings too will someday be noticed and appreciated. I would like to invite you to my blog I have articles on Dharma, FAQs on Dharma, Natural Farming, Language (English, thamizh, taelugu, hindhii and samskrutham – not much, I aim to become a language expert and help others learn these languages), social aspects, Poems and others.

  4. I am from Kenya and I have read the story before and watched it on TED talks. I am more intrigued the way you put it that “If the idea is strong enough, and worth spreading, the channel and medium doesn’t matter.” You have just given me the idea and strength to start my project which I have kept on h old for quite a while. Thanks for the perspective.

  5. Dear Friend Deepak,
    Thanks for your emails and sharing your feelings, thoughts and experiences. Your desire to help others grow and develop and writings to encourage and activate your audience deserve all appreciations. I like and respect you for your efforts.
    I’m sorry to have missed reading your several recent mails due to some unavoidable preoccupations.
    Thanks for your writings.

  6. Interesting write up and nice ideas.ive watched the YouTube video of the boy and his ideas and the way it’s s helping the village and some other places in kenya.the latter part of his interviews was what has kept withe me. When he said even though he “invented” the whole world Idea it’s now being used by everyone but he’s not making any money from it and so he’s now looking to bring in a new idea and moneytise it.
    So my question is how do U moneytise such simple ideas esp in villages in Africa.

  7. Hi Deepak,
    Thanks for this wonderful tip on “how to get content that will add value to other people’s lives” I’m also a blogger but always run out of ideas of jotting down quality content.

    This article has inspired me greatly and have bookmarked it.


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