Anthony Muiyuro's Zen wisdom for parenting and life

Deloitte Partner, Risk Advisory, Cybersecurity leader Anthony Muiyuro

Deloitte Partner, Risk Advisory, Cybersecurity leader Anthony Muiyuro poses for a picture after the interview at Capital Club in Westlands on February 21, 2024. Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

By the time one is done with Anthony Muiyuro, it feels like a religious experience, his theology of relentless focus converting even the most ascetic of atheists. He is the ultimate evangelical missionary—at once an apostle of hard work, and simultaneously, its staunchest disciple. Isn’t it a wonder then that he made partner, Risk Advisory and Cybersecurity Leader at Deloitte East Africa?

Even listening to him you can pick up his unshakeable belief. He speaks in Zen wisdom, dropping nuggets of ‘put-it-on-a-sticker’ bytes: “Become the light that lights up the tunnel.” “Knowledge is a reservoir.” “Some things are taught, and some things are caught.” It’s the kind of detail that a man might drop about himself but would be less likely to point out about another man.

He would make for a great motivational speaker—you are either getting inspired or offended. But people much wiser than me would tell you it’s not bragging if you can back it up. His business card reads: MSc, CISA, CRISC, CDPSE, CSXF, ITIL, are you still following? At the chic Capital Club in Nairobi's Westlands, he talks of how he met his wife, his trans-generational library, and picking up the latest gossip...from his children.

How is it being a young father?

Learning process. I drive my children to school every morning unless I am out of the country or I am travelling.

What’s a fun thing you like doing with them in the car?

We sing and make declarations. I am a big believer in confessions and so we have a car routine, commanding the morning and speaking into existence things we want to see. I get to catch up with them on their week and get the latest school gossip.

What’s your favourite song to sing in the car?

Haha! We have quite a number but it’s always a new song. Do we have a favourite song? None that I can think of.

Were you raised the same way?

Yes, I grew up with my parents. They raised us quite well and we had an amazing childhood. We didn’t have much but there was so much love in our home. My parents supported me and my four siblings, teaching us the value of hard work. My mother was very clear about faith, I used to serve in the church and that gave me grounding. She taught me how to have a balanced view of life, to protect, love each other, and be aggressive.

Is there anything you would change about how you were raised?

Creating more opportunities for exposure. My parents did well at their level then. Maybe I would add more exposure for my children, to think and live as global citizens so their minds are open to the vast opportunities the world has to offer. I wouldn’t leave them to the de rigueur career options—doctor, lawyer et al. There are more opportunities as long as it is aligned to their natural gifting. That’s what I am intentional about.

What do you miss about your childhood?

A sense of community. Visiting each other wasn’t procedural, we would play late into the night. In today’s world, we are a bit more cultured and structured. Back then the community raised children. It wasn’t unusual to find yourself watching wrestling with the estate children. Wrestling was my favourite, every Tuesday…

Who was your favourite character?

Stone Cold Steve Austin. He is theatrical in how he enters the stage and fights.

What was your nickname during that time?

Oh, my goodness. Tosh. Tony Tosh.

What is your favourite childlike thing that you still do?

Interesting question. I love cars. I still watch racing and buy my son very nice-looking toy cars but sometimes I think they are more of mine than his haha! One of the things I have successfully battled is to not buy PlayStation 5. That thing would consume me [chuckles]. I am a big F1 fan, a Lewis Hamilton guy; safari rally, Rhino Charge, and anything that has wheels that can move fast gets my attention.

Anthony Muiyuro

Anthony Muiyuro likes good things in life - designer suits and shoes, and buying books. Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

Do you have a special childhood memory that you keep going back to?

Yes. My dad and I over the weekend would travel upcountry and have conversations. He would take me to the farm, and we have been very tight since then. We would go to a nyama choma joint to just talk. He was very intentional and instilled solid values. He has always been a very honest man, to a fault. And on our trips to the mechanic, he’d always carry me, and I would be the guy cheering him on to overtake all the other cars. I do the same with my son.

What do you think your dad has learned from you?

Determination, resilience, and faith. I have been helped by God. I live by this life mantra of laser focus. You will only achieve results to the extent that you focus on what you want. We live in a distractive world, with everything else demanding our attention. You need that laser-like focus. I am still learning that you also have to be intentional in fatherhood. My father thinks things through, and he has taught me the same.

With such a laser focus—as evidenced by your career path—how do you let your hair down, despite not having any?

Haha! Having fun with my family and getting into my children’s world and understanding their politics. I love taking walks in Karura Forest in Nairobi, it helps me still my mind and meditate. I have picked up working out to keep my body and mind active, but meditation and prayer time are where my soul speaks. It quietens your spirit and gives you calm control. Sometimes, I’d just get on a highway and drive fast haha!

How do you quieten your mind?

That moment of stillness. I read a book once that taught me the art of meditation; releasing negative energy and infusing positive energy.

You look like someone who has it all figured out. Is there a part of your life that is a mess right now?

Interesting. If I am honest, I have yet to meet a parent who has got parenting in control. I feel that is an area I want to be more intentional about because a career can be quite demanding and that could easily fall through the cracks. I am purposing this year to mentor and give back more. The challenge has always been time and balance. And my health too, I have some friends who keep me on my toes. I walk more and I am frequently at the gym.

A friend of mine, Frank, once told me there is no such thing as work-life balance or work-life integration balance. What is there is work-life rhythm. One beat is work; the other is life. If you can infuse these and there is a congruence, one will not be so far apart from the other.

Which one is easier, being a father or a husband?

None! Haha! I think it is all about intentionality. It may not be as perfect but we have very good examples. Anything you want to achieve, someone else is living that. My philosophy is to identify who that person is and what I can learn from them. Success will always leave clues, and if you are humble enough, you can learn from them. You do not have to be a giant but you can walk in the footprints of said giants and you will arrive at the same destination. I have mentors from as far back as 20 years ago, and they can speak wisdom to me. Some things are taught, and some things are caught.

Speaking of things that are caught, how did you identify your wife?

We met through a mutual friend at university. One thing led to another, and now we are married with two children. Trust me, I was that random campus dude, just existing, saw this beautiful girl, we became friends for six months and I shot my shot. Now we are here.

What is one thing she complains about you?

I am a gadget person and so she tells me to learn how to disconnect. So now I leave my phone in the office. My CEO, amazing boss, Anne Muraya, told me I am not a doctor and that no one would die if I didn’t send a report. Sometimes, just unplug so you come back re-energised. That is our fight haha! But I think she has won and we have collective success. I don’t even wear smartwatches because of that, it’s too much!

Do you have a special ritual that you do just between the two of you?

We have conversations. We plan and talk about the future, what we want to do, and how we want to raise our children. We always agree because we are two similar people just different personalities. We are very clear about our values and goals.

How do you show yourself love?

I invest in myself heavily. From the books I read and the programmes I attend so that I can add value to myself. People will always pay a premium to the degree of your mental transformation. This is how I make myself future relevant, and that’s the best investment you can make.

I will go on holiday too, and I treat myself quite nicely. I like good things in life. I like designer suits, I like designer shoes, and buying books. I am building a transgenerational library because men are made by their mental transformation. Right now, I am reading four books at the same time, because knowledge is a reservoir. Two things: colognes and watches. Those are my weaknesses.

What does your cologne say about you?

Depends on which one haha! Today is conservative, mild enough to smell nice. Fresh, crisp, and sharp.

What is one book you read that challenged the way you think?

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. She speaks about fixed and growth mindsets. A growth mindset about how things can be possible. I learned how to make a very small statement, by adding the word yet. I cannot do this…yet. It opens up a new realm of possibility.

The other book is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It talks about how the mind is expanded by a new way of thinking and can never go back to its original form. You need to have a definite purpose and be very clear to take action toward that goal.

I love the Bible too, ancient wisdom. As a man thinketh, so is he. Your thoughts define your reality. What am I doing today that will matter tomorrow? If you are thinking in terms of one year, grow wheat. If you are thinking in terms of 20 years, grow trees. If you are thinking transgenerational, build men. I am passionate about mentorship and helping people grow in my way.

What matters way less than you thought it would?

What people think. We live in a world where everyone is seeking external validation. But you cannot control people’s perceptions. We grew up needing social acceptance, but I think it does not matter. Just be true to yourself. Every time you dispense value, the reward system may not be in your control, but there is a law that states that the reward system will find you. Sometimes you also need to increase your success by letting people know what you do. It just takes one opportunity to redefine things in your life.

What is a mistake people often make about you?

That I am very uptight. I take my work very seriously but I don’t take myself too seriously. I like being approachable, at home, at work and in my community at church.

What’s making you happy now?

Watching my children grow. I can see their talents and giftings and they are amazing children. I love mentoring an individual and seeing them turn out very well. It gives me fulfilment. I have mentees working at Google, and Microsoft—some whom I met as interns.

What’s the soundtrack of your life right now?

It’s been a life of ‘emerging.’ No matter how deep that pit is, as long as you can see the light emerge. And then you no longer see the light in the tunnel but become the light that lights up that tunnel. That is the mantra. Put it into a song haha!

What will the boy you once were tell the man you now are?

Don’t lose yourself. Maintain your conscience. Many of us are looking up to you. God has been faithful.

What’s a weekend hack that can make mine better?

Identify good books and a nice movie series. I like things that can make me think, like "Suits". I am on my third rewatch.

Who do you identify with in "Suits"?

I like Harvey Specter and how bullish and aggressive the money maker he is. But I identify with Mike Ross, someone who had a dream and the odds were against us. And someone took a chance on him, and he took it. When life gives you an opportunity, kimbia nayo (run with it). Proper.

Which reminds me, who do you know that I should know?

Do you know Jesus? You should know my mom. She is an amazing human being and has great human skills. She loves genuinely, is very patient and fights for the people she cares about. I am always grateful to the people who took a chance on me and invested in me, and they are my biggest impact, people, the salt of my earth. But I would like to have honourable mentions of Strive Masiywa (Econoet Global); Wangari Maathai, Nelson Mandela, Tony Elumelu (United Bank for Africa, UBA) and Dr James Mwangi of Equity Bank.

What did your first heartbreak teach you?

Haha! I once had such a serious heartbreak, because after that I started getting episodic ulcers. The evidence was there, but I ignored the truth. It was hard for me but it taught me to always accept the truth. Pick up your pieces and go, you’ll be fine.

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