Dr. Vincent Kituku's Monthly Newsletter - May 2012
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Dr. Kituku's Commentary:
Integrity Matters - Don't Remove the "Three Long Hairs"

My Last Dog — Reprinted from Overcoming Buffaloes at Work
& in Life


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Issue Number:
Volume XI No. 7
Kituku & Associates
Date of Issue:
May 2012

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George Washington is credited with saying, "Your honesty influences others to be honest." Following his thinking, then your dishonesty influences others to be dishonest.

As I reflect on these wise words of the first president of the United States of America, I think of a story about a preacher who, while walking in a public park with his two sons, found a lost puppy. They took it to their home. Days passed by without any one claiming the puppy. Meanwhile, his children had become very fond of the puppy and took it with them everywhere.

After several weeks, the father heard an announcement by the puppy’s owner asking for help finding it. The owner described his black puppy and said that it had three long hairs on its tail.

pic2When the preacher informed his children about the announcement and saw their sad faces, he knew he had to do something to make his boys happy. He asked them to bring the puppy and assured them that they could own it if they would help remove the three long hairs on its tail. They did.

According to the story, the boys grew up and became criminals. The father would later say, "The day I asked my boys to help remove the puppy’s ‘three long hairs' is the day I lost them."

The challenge for parents, teachers and leaders is to know that the most effective sermons are not in the form of lectures. Lessons learned through observation in mundane activities are the bedrock of our future character.

The culture of integrity in any organization starts from the top but it but must be every employee's business. The leader lays the foundation of integrity and shares the core moral and ethical principles of the business with all employees on a continuous basis. He/she teaches integrity by example. When a leader cuts corners, employees do the same.

Integrity Mixed With Mother's Day.

Please allow me to wish a Happy Mother's Day to all women who have raised children and/or contributed in any way in preparing generation after generation. There would be no heroes in this world without the sacrifices of mothers who remain unknown.

My mother taught me a lesson on integrity…
with a puppy I had "changed ownership."



Mathina was the only name that fit my last dog. Mathina means "troubles" in the Kikamba language and trouble was what I got into to eventually own the dog. My action was considered unethical by my mother, even though I maintained that it was a moral move.

Little did I know that the smallest of seven puppies would have a chapter in my life's ebb and flow that time could not erase. When Mathina's mother was pregnant, Maria, a nurse in my community and owner of an exotic bred (not native) dog and I agreed on what I was to do in exchange for a puppy. I was to provide her pregnant dog with food that I salvaged from butcheries and corn mill factories. I religiously kept my promise, rain or shine, as I dug through trash bins.

pic2Exotic-bred dogs barked with power and confidence that kept robbers at bay. When I was in fifth grade, I wanted an exotic dog to protect the rabbits I kept as part of my 4-K (same as 4-H) project. But I could not afford the ten Kenyan shillings (about 76 cents in 1970) that dog lovers were paying for a puppy.

After feeding the nursing dog for about eight weeks, I humbly asked Maria if I could take my puppy, the smallest of all, home. She skillfully asked me to come another day. After two other visits and no puppy to take home, I convinced myself that I was entitled to the puppy. While Maria was inside her house, I took the puppy and went home.

My mother was happy to see me come home with the puppy. She knew that I had been providing the puppy's mother with food. Two weeks passed by with nothing said by Maria. Then one day my mother, who was supposed to have gone to the local market, showed up unexpectedly. When she said, "Muli, I need to talk to you," I knew the days of silence about how I took the puppy were over.

Even after my detailed explanation, my mother could not let me keep that dog. She made me take it back. This was double punishment. I had sweat enough planning and executing my plan to own the puppy. Now I had to sweat again to disown it. That trip to Maria's home, about a mile and a half, still remains one of my life's longest walks.

pic2From the way Maria looked, I could tell she felt guilty for not honoring our agreement. The drops of sweat and my lack of words to explain why I had taken the puppy without permission betrayed the depth of my guilt. The vow I had made, to stand my ground of moral purity, was not evident. After what seemed like eternity, Maria saw the situation from my perspective and let me take Mathina, my dog, home.

Mathina lived up to my expectations. We played together. We grazed the family cattle together. Mathina, unlike the rabbits that had to stay in their cage, provided companionship during moments in my life when I felt the world was against me. This dog was part of my life during the time I spent four years in two grades. Mathina never denied me friendship, even when my grades were bad and I had been rebuked in the presence of my siblings.

My father had a shop that sometimes needed two watchmen at night. Mathina became the sole protector of the premises that provided our family's upkeep. There was a river with a swimming area near our home. My grandfather had failed to stop youngsters from using it and as a result, crops in the nearby gardens were destroyed. However, Mathina's presence was enough. Barking threateningly, he would rush to the swimming area as the scared youth hastily picked up their clothes and disappeared.

In early 1975, I left home for high school. My absence led Mathina to develop a close relationship with my grandfather. As grandpa sat near the fire, keeping himself warm to reduce the chance of asthma attacks, Mathina would lie down next to him, almost looking like a participant in what was happening.

In September of 1976, my grandfather passed away. About two weeks after grandpa’s funeral, Mathina died. Troubles (Mathina) was, and probably will remain, my last dog.

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Words From Past Participants

"Vincent…So interesting to read about the Kenyan "three things" tradition that parallels the Yiddish story. It must be a reflection of the universal desire to be useful and leave something that endures. Also the fact that "story" has such an important place in your culture. I think we're only now realizing the power of story here in the West. I do wish preachers would understand that concept and employ story and imagination more readily in their preaching. Most preaching is too pedantic and touches only the head. Stories touch the heart."

Stories inspire people to improve their lives. They inspire people to give to humanitarian causes. Stories provide reason for hope and expectation of a better tomorrow in tough times. Stories inspire people to believe in themselves, go the extra mile and work with team members to achieve an expected outcome. Stories don’t have to be long to make people think and act.

I received another email with the following message:

"Vincent...I wanted to thank you for speaking to our son Preston and three friends. They mentioned you spoke to them about the BSU Oklahoma game. They discussed your story several times; and whenever an 11 year old repeats something, you know the story had an impact on them."

Preston's team did play for the Optimist Junior Championship Saturday night and they won 36-30 in triple overtime.

The losing team had never lost a game in three consecutive years.

The strange thing is that I was walking to my car when a mother of one of the boys told me they would be playing for the championship game in the morning and asked if I had words of wisdom to share. I carry a small prop in my wallet that I use to illustrate the power of focus. I removed it and told them the story about it and how I used it to help the BSU Broncos focus on the game against Oklahoma. I closed with "stay focused and you will win."

In December, 2006, before leaving for their 2007 game against Oklahoma, several BSU football players had teary eyes when they heard the story and five others that I customized for that moment.

"…Just want to let you know we received a $1,000 online gift yesterday in response to your article in the Idaho Press Tribune."

"…Your story of the man walking in the desert and other thoughts that you shared really put things into perspective and gave me a strong desire to find more balance and joy in my life. I gained a renewed excitement to finish my education in psychology so that I can one day help others, as I feel that is the path I am supposed to travel…" Diana Ridgeway

"…His humor and storytelling were second to none. But what really impressed us was his ability to capture in our hearts and minds the relevance, morality, virtues and applications of his African Folktales into our own lives and situations of today." Denton Evans, Counselor, West Jefferson School

"…When you talked of how monkeys were caught and how that related to drug use, I was amazed…but those two or three sentences you said were more impacting than any hour long speech I had heard before…" Jennifer, Student, Caldwell High School

"…what sets you apart is the unique way that you weave your stories from Africa into the material, forcing the audience to visualize the points in a different way than any other speaker they have ever heard." Dirk Koetter, former BSU football head coach

The story used must be relevant to the point being made and how it is told matters. Here are a few things to bear in mind:

  • Don’t be obvious. Let your audience think.
  • Your story needs to have an emotional appeal.
  • Life has ups and downs and so should be your story.
  • Explain how it relate with your main point(s).
  • Give the audience the opportunity to reflect and make decisions.

Mark Twain, speaking of pausing when telling a story said, "The pause is an exceedingly important feature in any kind of story, and a frequently recurring feature, too. It is a dainty thing, and delicate, and also uncertain and treacherous; for it must be exactly the right length--no more and no less--or it fails of its purpose and makes trouble. If the pause is too short the impressive point is passed, and [if too long] the audience have had time to divine that a surprise is intended--and then you can't surprise them, of course."

In short, learn how to tell stories.


vincentNative of Kenya, Africa, and resident of Idaho since 1992, Vincent has been a featured speaker and trainer at numerous Real Estate conferences and training programs. An award winning speaker and writer, he is one of the less than 7% of all professional speakers to earn a CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), the highest award for professional speakers.

Dr. Kituku has worked with championship sports teams and trained leaders on how to inspire productivity all the time. What sets Vincent apart is his ability to weave life experiences in Africa with corporate America and culture in providing solutions for personal and professional growth.

Dr. Vincent Muli Wa Kituku is known as a research-based motivational speaker. He presents motivational keynotes and training programs on leadership, employee motivation, overcoming buffaloes at work (change), customer service and living and working with cultural differences. Vincent is the founder and president of Kituku & Associates, LLC, a business that is dedicated to developing leaders and employees in business and in life.

What has set Dr. Kituku apart is the ability to use his experience in research to evaluate/assess client needs and then tailor his keynotes/training presentation to meet their objectives. Harold G. Delamarter, President/CEO, Prestige Care Inc. said, "Before the Retreat, Dr. Kituku gained as much information as possible about our company and the industry we are involved in. He made telephone calls to management team members to tailor his seminar very closely to the needs of our employees and the circumstances they face each day in the present economy. Dr. Kituku was so widely received in July, the decision was made to ask him to return to again present to our company in October."

Vincent's clients list includes Cisco Systems, Micron, Hewlett Packard, Genworth Financial, US Fish and Wildlife, US Air Force, Women Council of Realtors and National Association of Mental Health. He has been the motivational speaker for the successful Boise State Football Team since 1998. Dr. Kituku works have been featured by numerous publications including the Presentations Magazine, SkyWest Magazine, National Speakers Association Magazine and many newspapers which publish his weekly columns. Vincent holds the Certified Speaking Professional designation that is earned by fewer than 7% of all speakers worldwide.


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