Sarah Munyi is a life transformational coach, an international corporate trainer and speaker. She spoke to Saturday Magazine about what makes her tick.
“I knew there was something great about me. I was more brilliant and intelligent than people thought. I just did not know how to bring it out,” Sarah Munyi said as we sat comfortably on the blue couch at CJs, an alluring restaurant on Koinange Street that demonstrates her value for excellence.
“Guyz, finish up your food. Jupiter is about to pop!” That was an everyday order from her father to his three children.
They would take dinner quickly and head outside to watch the stars. That was in a remote village in Kirinyaga County.
It is possible that neighbours heard their excitement at the galaxies every night and labelled them a crazy family.
Being a science teacher, her dad knew a lot about stars. This intrigued Sarah, and initially, she wanted to be an astronomer.
Brought up by parents who were church ministers and teachers, she learnt to speak Kikuyu at a tender age.
As a Standard Two pupil, she would fascinate the parade as she read the Bible perfectly in mother tongue.
“I would lose my composition books a lot, not because I was careless. Upper class teachers and pupils took them. They would scramble for my books to better their writing,” she says with pride.
After joining high school, she decided she wanted to be a journalist. But by the time she was in Form Four, she wanted to be a lawyer.
Interestingly, after completing high school, she no longer knew what she wanted to do. No one had mentored her.
Her mother wanted her to become a nurse or a teacher like her but neither profession appealed to her.
Her mother resorted to buying newspapers to give her career ideas. Then one day, Sarah saw something she had never heard of - information technology.
She was mesmerized and enrolled at Dedan Kimathi University of Technology for a diploma in IT, and later studied for a bachelor's degree in the same field.
After college, she found a job. But working in server rooms configuring machines was not her cup of tea.
She has always been a people person, so she moved to sales and marketing, which was more tolerable.
“I worked from 2008 to 2016 with no satisfaction. I had subscribed to mediocrity,” she says with a deep sigh.
She saw these elderly men still working and it bothered her. This old engineer was being lectured by a younger client for failing to deliver. Disrespectful, right?
Then there was the accountant who looked like he would die the next minute trying to balance the books. Sarah hated such a life. Would she want to end up like that? Certainly not!
One day, she travelled to her village. It happened that there was an event at her former school, to which her mum invited her. Important guests were attending.
The deputy principal was excited to see her alumnus. On the spur of the moment, she told Sarah to give a talk to the candidates. After all, Sarah appeared to have made it in life.
So Sarah spoke to the candidates, and it went very well. The deputy took her to Standard Seven, then to Standard Six, and she ended up inspiring the whole school.
She experienced immense joy as she meditated on the happenings of the day. She started getting a feel for her purpose .
“Giving back has a way of birthing something in you. Go back and inspire the students in your former school,” she says.
She had to travel back to Nairobi to work but invitations from other schools started trickling in, thanks to referrals from her former teachers.
“I would just work to pay the bills from Monday to Friday, then leave on weekends, haha... School talks gave me life,” she recalls with amusement.
THE FINAL BLOW
A friend told Sarah that motivational speaker Pepe Minambo would be giving a talk. She was the first one to arrive at the event.
She saw the room fill up. All the speakers spoke to her heart. She saw herself on stage doing the same thing.
She now threw herself into finding her purpose in life. She would borrow money to invest on trainings and books. She became a resource to herself and others.
Invitations grew from schools to corporates. Even half-hour talks would earn her good money. She felt an urge to grow by inspiring change and excellence to people.
Fear of not having cash to pay the bills kept her postponing her resignation. Still, she would skip work to give talks.
One day she got this engagement to speak to government employees on managing change. She applied for leave but it was rejected, so she ended up faking a migraine. The two-day training earned her four times her salary.
When she came back, the HR department demanded a letter from the doctor. Seeing no way out, she decided to quit.
One morning, she went to her managing director's office and told her, “Madam, thank you for the chance. One day, I want to be like you. However, I cannot be while I am working for you. I need to leave. Here is my resignation letter.”
AIMING FOR STARS
She could now focus on personal development. Her objectives were to learn, build new networks, and gain exposure.
She lost friends on the way and needed new ones who understood what she was up to.
“The more I worked on myself, the more I appreciated other people, and the more I wanted to help others,” she says, then pauses.
“Personal development is your net worth,” she adds. She read a book every week in 2019. In 2020, she intends read one every fortnight.
Sarah is very passionate about Africa. “Africa needs rebuilding. And you rebuild a nation by building its people and its systems. That's my African agenda!”
She has conducted corporate programmes in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Africa, the Kingdom of Eswatini, Benin and Nigeria.
“I am aiming for the stars, going to the stars; I am a star,” she concludes, confidently.