Most important decisions come down to one moment; that one moment that could make or break your entire life. For Brian Rono, that decision was to either win or win the season 2 of Blaze BYOB TV Show. He says that whatever the circumstance in every episode, he knew that he had given his all and that’s what mattered to him – going beyond his limits to achieve something greater than him.
He believes that leadership starts with oneself. He believes that you first have to asess the impact of your decision on yourself before you get to other people. He is also a firm believer of staying calm during tough situations.
Having being grilled in the political heat of student leadership while in school, he believes it’s easier getting into conversations with people only when important or necessary.
Another important slogan he works with is “You don’t have to worry about the money. Solve a problem in the society and the money will follow you. Take calculated risks, don’t just take risks. And what do you do after failure, you wake up, plan and start all over again.’
As we speak, Brian is not only the winner of the GRIT edition of the BYOB TV Show, he also walks away with Kshs 5 million and business support from Blaze – and he already knows how he intends to invest that money.
Here’s his story:
Last year, I was busy farming but I was also looking for a job that could help me get capital to invest in farming. I had ran into a loss with the farm, owing especially to the heavy rains which cut down production and the political season where potatoes in the market were selling at really low prices; as low as Kshs 600. The job that I was seeking was to help me be in a position to get a loan so that I could finance my business, but a job also ties you down – no matter where you’re posted, be it in Nairobi or whichever part of the country, I also wouldn’t be in a position to regularly be in the farm.
But it got to a point where I was so broke and I remembered there was a guy who won 221 million from betting. So many people were getting money through placing their bets and my mind almost convinced me to start out as well, but I has studied probability in school and I cocluded that no matter how broke I was, I wouldn’t indulge in it because I wanted a legit way of making money.
I then remembered I had watched a young lady, valentine, who won Kshs 5 million at a show called Blaze. I didn’t pay much attention to it because most of my time and energy went to the farm. I was however curious with the process it took for her to get to where she was so I sat dwon and watched the entire 1st season on YouTube.
Fast forward to some months later an my friend told me about the pre-screening auditions that would happen in eldoret and I thought I should try. I was hesitant at first but I was pressed by one of my other friends who had walked with me an knew what plans and ideas I had for my farm.
I met Caleb Karuga and I pitched my idea to him. He really critiqued my idea because he wanted to know that I had a clear understanding of what I wanted to do. He grilled me on everything I needed to have at my fingertips; how many plants there are per acre, how much water the plants would need, how much fertilizer they would require etc. the best part is that I know everything about the business – I’ve been farming for three years now – so I was prepared.
My initial idea was to win the Kshs 100,000 at the agriculture pod but my colleague beat me with one mark. I accepted defeat and I moved on. A few weeks after, I was told I had qualified for the mega auditions in Nairobi and I was chosen to be part of the TV Show. It was an opportunity I couldn’t mess with or just let go and as I came to the city, I knew what I wanted, I wanted to win and that’s what I worked for.
This season looked at who you are as a person, not who you can be but what characters you possess, because they put us in different situations to see how we would react and handle such situations.
This season needed one to work without fear, favor or reservation. It didn’t need you to fear or obsess over what the judges or our colleague or what the crew would say. It needed you to know what was the end game and mine was to win the prize money for my business.
During the tasks we were given, I had to deal with very different people, some easy to work with and some very difficult to relate with, but I was initially prepared for this from the start. It also took me forward to the kind of situations I would deal with in my business in future.
When I joined Blaze BYOB, most people didn’t think I would go past the third episode. They thought that I was either talked too much or I didn’t know what I was doing or because I was from a small village in Baringo county, I didn’t have what it takes to win. They however didn’t take time to read the script of where I come from.
Every time I was given a task, I remembered I come from in Lembus, where we don’t have electricity or water or good roads and I knew that with every challenge I had to outdo myself, I had to prove to myself that I can have something better if I focus and work towards it.
What I am taking home
I learnt a lot about teamwork; different people bring different things to the group. As much as I am strong as Rono, there were things I couldn’t do on my own. I also learnt a lot about how to build relationships, networks and connections with people on a business level.
Another big lesson for me was marketing and pricing. We learnt a lot about how to reach different markets, how do you survive and come back even after you’ve gone through a huge loss an also how to you handle getting huge profits – because let’s face it, it’s easy to get carried away. I got to understand why people market the way they do, why people like videos going viral and why there’s no such thing as negative publicity – publicity is publicity so long as your message is reaching your intended market/audience.
I already know what I’ll do with the prize money since it was what I presented as my winning pitch. I also have a few surprises up my sleeve which are related to youth and social empowerment in my area.
I also really miss my farm and I can’t wait to go back and do what I love the most.
Thank you Blaze and Safaricom for the opportunity to learn, fail and win!