Solomon King Benge Profile picture
By day: teaching robotics to kids through @fundibots By night: Creating dope business & geek content online. Subscribe via https://t.co/sqD8te6MbK
20 Oct
Snippets from my morning read:

Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind. We live in a culture where one of the greatest social disgraces is not having an opinion, so we often form our “opinions” based on superficial impressions or borrowed ideas of others.
Do nothing for prestige or status or money or approval alone. As Paul Graham observed, “prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.”
Be generous. Be generous with your time and your resources and with giving credit and, especially, with your words. It’s so much easier to be a critic than a celebrator. Always remember there is a human being on the other end of every exchange.
Read 8 tweets
19 Oct
Snippets from today's morning read. "A Few Rules"

The person who tells the most compelling story wins. Not the best idea. Just the story that catches people’s attention and gets them to nod their heads.
Something can be factually true but contextually nonsense. Bad ideas often have at least some seed of truth that gives their followers confidence.
Behavior is hard to fix. When people say they’ve learned their lesson they underestimate how much of their previous mistake was caused by emotions that will return when faced with the same circumstances.
Read 8 tweets
18 Oct
If there's anything that "Grit" is teaching me, it's that my practice has been sub-par and unsatisfactory both in intensity and deliberateness.

It echoes a concern I recently mentioned to @joelanthony23: I believe I'm severely underperforming and not truly committed to learning.
What's increasingly standing out for me is that my goals are not as wild as I initially assumed, but pretty achievable in the grand scheme (and timeline) of things.

So what I'm lacking is the intentionality of deliberate practice, alongside a dedicated learning plan.
This summary from "Grit" lays it out clearly.

The basic requirements of deliberate practice:

1. A clearly defined stretch goal.
2. Full concentration and effort.
3. Immediate and informative feedback.
4. Repetition with reflection and refinement.
Read 4 tweets
18 Oct
Snippets from my morning read:

Even among the most ambitious individuals, learning plans are rare. Most people are reactive. They don’t plan. Like surfers in a violent ocean, they surrender to their environment.
They direct their attention towards the never-ending shouts of email newsletters, friend recommendations, and social media feeds.

We can do better.

What Should You Do?

Learn in three-month sprints and commit to a new learning project every quarter.
Even the longest projects are simply a collection of short term tasks. Knowing that, you should break down the project into daily increments, and create a series of daily and weekly goals to learn the skills required to complete the project on time.
Read 8 tweets
16 Sep
Hi.

You. Yes, you.

I know it's tough, I know you feel like you can't go another day, but - and trust me on this - it will get better.

It may feel like the world is collapsing around you, and it may actually be collapsing around you, but just hang in there. One more step.
We live in a world that is unpredictable, unfair and relentlessly brutal. A world that sucks in so many ways. And this year feels like it's hands-down the absolute worst.

But it's also a world full of hope, wonder and a dazzling beauty that will blow your mind each day.
The sun still rises with the promise of a new blessing, and the moon ethereally glows with the promise of a guiding light in the midst of the darkness.

Let this thought guide you, always, towards hope. Let this certainty renew you each long day and each longer night.
Read 7 tweets
8 Jun
A few thoughts on why, even though "all lives matter" is a valid statement, we should be mindful and empathetic and not use it to hijack #BlackLivesMatter, which is a movement literally begging for people to pay attention to the social inequalities facing black people.
I want to use a practical, very specific example that may help provide better context outside the seemingly controversial race issue.

I started @FundiBots in 2010, using robotics as a fun and practical way for Ugandan students to experience the magic of science.
As the years went on, our team and regional reach expanded and the number of students we trained grew exponentially (10,000+ to date).

But something started to show in our data: we had far fewer girls in our robotics classes than boys. For every 10 boys, we had about 3 girls.
Read 22 tweets
5 Jun
I'm very dark-skinned, even by Ugandan standards and I travel a lot, but the only place I ever feel safe is when I'm in Africa. I love Emirates, but every single transit through Dubai is a nightmare of resolutely ignoring stares, hushed whispers and pointing, sneering adults.
It doesn't help that I'm tall, so I stand out like a sore thumb in almost all crowds. I always joke with friends that if we ever get lost in a huge crowd, all they have to do is look for me.

I am, in very, very many ways, hard to ignore. Especially because I'm very dark-skinned.
Every trip comes with the mental preparation for the fact that I will be judged first by of the color of my skin.

Not by the decades of experience. Not by the skills I have acquired. And not by the impact of our work.

But judged by the one thing I have no control over: My skin.
Read 18 tweets
27 May
I wanted to share a few thoughts on working from home/learning from home, diving a little deeper beyond our Twitter comfort zones.

These observations come from discussions on extending learning at @FundiBots and working from home with our team members across the country.
Let's break this down into access levels.

Level 1: Electricity.

The primary foundation necessary for remote work or remote learning is inaccessible to a lot of people.

Our teams in Mbale and Gulu especially suffer with this; these regions are notorious for day-long power cuts.
Level 2: Fast, affordable internet connectivity. Video calls and conference calls consume A LOT of data. I saw estimates that a 1 hour zoom call uses 500MB to 1GB. Factor in about 3 calls a week, across X number of employees and you're heading for above-normal expenses.
Read 15 tweets
25 May
My biggest business lesson from 2019 starts with this:

One of the most painful things that ever happened to me was shutting down @elementaledge in 2017 after spending 12 years trying to build an international-level multimedia studio.

At the core of my failure were two things:
1. My constant inability to bring in consistent business.

Marketing, sales or business development were not within my skillset. I hated it. I was exceptionally good on the creative side, but awkward and introverted on the client side. I couldn't close deals to save my life.
Lessons:

a) Founders have to do the tough things, and the toughest of things is selling the vision to the team and to the clients. For introverted tech-focused founders like myself, this is where a business-savvy co-founder would have brought much-needed balance to the force.
Read 26 tweets
30 Mar
Working from home: A thread on how to be effective, focused and productive as you work from home.

Here are 15 tips from my 15 years of experience working from home in various stages of my entrepreneurship journey.

#workingfromhome #WorkingFromHomeLife
1. This Isn't A Holiday.

Remember that you have to perform and deliver at the same level and quality as when you had a proper full-time office to work in. It is very easy to slack off because of a lack of accountability or supervision.
2. Maintain Your Routine.

Do not change your routine. Where possible, follow the same routine as you would during a normal work-day. Wake up at the same time, go to "work" at the same time, leave work at the same time.
Read 20 tweets
24 Feb
I struggle with procrastination (like we all do). We all prioritize exciting and immediately rewarding behaviour over that which is important (and often boring).

A few years ago, I stumbled on an interesting perspective that helped me get better at getting things done.

Thread.
The Philosophy of Two Selves
--

Procrastination (or any vice that prevents success, affects health, etc) can be considered as self-defeating behaviour.

Literally, your present self is engaging in behaviour that is literally defeating your Future Self.
Research shows that most people, when thinking about their Future Self, have the same brain patterns/activity as when they think about a stranger.

This means their current self has no emotional or mental connection to their Future Self as someone they know or empathise with.
Read 11 tweets
13 Feb
Turning 37 - A Reflection on Purpose (and a tiny announcement).

It takes a very, very long time to truly become yourself.

I heard this somewhere... I think from @DaveChappelle or Miles Davis, I'm not sure. But it stayed with me, and I have thought about it a lot.
And today, as I turn one year older, it's led me to a lot of reflections on this complex life I've had.

[Sometimes, the weariness of it all makes me feel like I've lived a hundred years].
For many years, I struggled to be someone else. I aspired to be like many of my heroes, the ones I idolized, some with their genius, their grit and their passion for changing the world.

Others with their hubris and egos that ultimately led to their downfall.
Read 21 tweets
7 Feb
One of the things that inspire me about #UOT is the energy people have when supporting each other's hustles.

Especially hustles that used to be shunned, like cleaning homes, doing laundry or selling roadside food. It gives me so much joy.

Allow me to share a small anecdote.
During my high school days, my dad owned a tiny local food restaurant in Katwe, which later moved near Nakasero market. During some holidays, I worked there.

On some days I'd have to carry half a sack of millet to a grinding mill in Nsambya and then to the restaurant for kalo.
On other days, I'd have to walk from Nsambya to Katwe to take my dad home-cooked food because he couldn't afford to eat the food he was serving customers.

There's this one time I was carrying a full bucket of simsim and gnuts and it poured in the middle of the taxi park...😳😡🤬
Read 10 tweets
3 Feb
To every fresh graduate (and student) asking "What's Next?", here's the no-bullshit response.

0. Your Health. Everything you dream of is meaningless if you're unhealthy.

You're at your peak right now, so eat well, drink moderately, practise fitness. Your body will thank you.
1. Work. It's time for the real grind. The world will only reward you for the effort you put in. At this stage, you'll only be exchanging your time for money. That's it.

Work hard. Understand the job, understand the company, understand the industry.

Then start working smart.
2. Wake up. Dress up. Show up. Step up.

I don't care whether it's your own hustle, a job, a family business, etc. Always show up, always step up.

Whatever you choose to do today, do it to the best of your ability. Nothing hurts (and sucks) like regret years down the road.
Read 14 tweets
29 Jan
Somewhere between 2004 and 2006, I obsessed night and day over a product I was building called "Pathfinder".

It was the coolest thing I had ever done and I knew it was going to make. all. the. money.

A thread on life lessons from a failed project. 👇
Pathfinder was this insanely ambitious plan to digitize and map Uganda, primarily for tourism and business. The big, hairy audacious goal was to put GPS trackers on boda-bodas and set them loose, collect the data and plug it into this gorgeous mapping system I had built.
It was as ambitious as it was ridiculous. And I was building it in Macromedia Flash (the original before Adobe bought it), and I was a Flash and design guru so of course, it was really, really pretty.
Read 26 tweets
14 Nov 19
At some point in 2002, I dropped out of my first semester (Kyambogo University) and never attended any school again.

A thread on the perceived value(?) of university education versus the expected outcomes.
Obviously, my dad was mad pissed; we barely spoke after that. My relatives all thought I'd gone mad, and to this day, most of them still cannot explain what I do.

In hindsight, it was a very poor decision. In hindsight also, it was the best decision of my life.
I dropped out because education wasn't working for me. I wanted to do robotics or microelectronics, none of which was an actual course in Ugandan universities, and obviously, I couldn't afford the costs of studying abroad.
Read 24 tweets
7 May 19
Entrepreneurs have to master the art of rejection, internal and external. But let me tell you, it [censored] hurts.

We never talk about failures, yet they are more than the wins. So let me share just a bit about the tough side of my work.

Thread.
1. In 2016 and 2017, I got rejected for ALL the grants and fellowships I applied for. ALL. And those were the years I applied EVERYWHERE. Because we needed money, fast.
1.a [ The only win in 2017 was one fellowship, The African Visionary Fellowship, which I didn't even apply for but it changed me and @FundiBots . Basically one of our funders saw how much African founders were struggling to raise money and decided to do something about it. ]
Read 21 tweets