The Buffalo Hunter

There’s a story told about a professional hunter who had a friend that always wanted to go with him on one of his hunts. So one day he said to his friend, “I have a permit to to go into the Zambezi Valley and hunt for a buffalo. Would you like to come with me?”

The friend was ecstatic at the opportunity.

“When do we go?” he asked.

“In about six months time, but before then I have to train you about hunting.”

For the next six months, the two men met every day, and they discussed and planned for the trip. The hunter’s friend was surprised by how meticulous the hunter was about everything.

He taught him about the bush, and how to survive in it. He taught him everything about buffaloes.

“You must respect the buffalo,” he said, “because it’s a very intelligent animal, and it is also extremely dangerous.”

He gave him lots of books to read, about hunting and buffaloes.

During that time, the friend also trained every day at the shooting range. He understood by then the different types of guns used to hunt buffalo. He also had to do fitness training, which surprised him.

“You can die out there if you are not fit,” his friend explained.

He was totally astounded by what he was learning about hunting.

“Until now, I thought all you do is just go out and shoot, but now I know there’s more to this than meets the eye!” he exclaimed.

When the day came, the two men set out into the wild bush of the Zambezi Valley, one of the most beautiful places on the earth. It is also inhospitably hot, and the terrain is tough.

They’d been tracking one single animal for 5 days, and the hunter’s friend was totally exhausted. He watched as his friend patiently made meticulous plans every single day. The hunter seamed to take forever, from the point of view of his friend. Sometimes they would walk, and sometimes they would sit for hours. The hunter was always looking around, scanning the bushes, not even (it appeared) always paying attention to the surrounding areas more than the buffalo.

“Why can’t he just shoot and we go home!?”

He was getting tired of this, as they walked almost 50 miles a day.  He was also hungry most of the time, as they only ate rations of dried meat and fruit, most of the time. The hunter looked at the animal through his gun sight over and over every day, but wouldn’t take a shot. Sometimes they appeared so close, but he still did not do anything.

It was the fifth day:  The animal was in sight again, but the hunter was going through his routine again. The friend sat in the bushes, when suddenly a rabbit appeared in front of him and he thought to himself, “At least if I shoot this rabbit, we can have meat tonight. I’m tired of dry rations.” So he pulled out his gun and fired once. The rabbit disappeared, as he had missed anyway, but so did the buffalo, and with it, the entire herd.

The hunter looked at him in total horror and disbelief!

Then he shouted, “Run, or you die!” as he took off.

They almost got stampeded by an entire herd that seemed to appear from nowhere. Also, suddenly there were lions everywhere that he had not seen before! But for the skills of the hunter, who led them both to safety, they could have died.

The buffalo was gone.  The hunt was over.

They had to return home, empty-handed.

There are at least 5 business lessons I want you to extract from this story.

Your turn:  List 5x simple (one line) responses, if you are interested. No essays.

[By the way, I don’t approve of hunting. So remember, this is a business story. Don’t write me stories about animals!]



by 49 Replies

About Strive Masiyiwa

Strive Masiyiwa is the Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet, a diversified global telecommunications group with operations and investments in over 15 countries. His business interests also include renewable energy, financial services, media and hospitality. Masiyiwa serves on a number of international boards, including Unilever, Rockefeller Foundation, the Council on Foreign Relations’ Global Advisory Board, the Africa Progress Panel, the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board for Sustainable Energy, Morehouse College, Hilton Foundation's Humanitarian Prize Jury and the Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council. He is one of the founders, with Sir Richard Branson, of the global think tank, the Carbon War Room, and a founding member of the Global Business Coalition on Education. Masiyiwa took over the Chairmanship of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) from Kofi Annan. He is also Chair of the Micronutrient Initiative, a global organization focused on ending child hunger and improving nutrition. In 2012, Masiyiwa was invited by President Obama to address leaders at the Camp David G-8 Summit on how to increase food production and end hunger in parts of Africa. In 2014, Masiyiwa was selected to Fortune Magazine’s list of the “World’s 50 Greatest Leaders”. As a philanthropist, he is a member of the Giving Pledge, and his contributions to education, health and development have been widely recognized. Masiyiwa and his wife finance the Higher Life Foundation, which provides scholarships to over 42,000 African orphans. In 2015, he was the recipient of the International Rescue Committee’s Freedom Award and was presented with a UN Foundation Global Leadership Award for the work of the Africa Against Ebola Solidarity Trust, which he chairs and helped establish to fund the deployment of African healthcare workers to combat the outbreak in West Africa.

49 thoughts on “The Buffalo Hunter

  1. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 1.
    When Cyril Ramaphosa, the South African Deputy President, was in business (before he went into full time politics) he had a nickname for me: “The Buffalo Hunter”!

    • Augustine Ezeobidi

      1. Planning is a vital point in any business.
      2. Critical understanding of your business environment is important.
      3. Know where your target customers are.
      4. Know who you are in competition with and where they are.
      5. Be patient and know when an opportunity is ripe for exploitation

    • Tinashe

      1. Patience is key
      2. Submit to a mentor
      3. Understand the environment
      4. Stay focused on the main vision
      5. Be prepared to sacrifice your normal life

  2. Tinashe Mudokwenyu

    Buffalo hunter what an inspiring story.mostly what i learnt is to be patient in whaever we do or what we are being taught.nothing is impossible if you just have courage.

  3. Chawe P Mpande Chuulu

    Five Business Lessons:(1) Planning (2) Knowledge of your sector(3) Read about your market including the consumers (4) Understand the business ecosystem and rules of operation (5) Resilience and Patience (6) One slip up and you can lose it all

    Dear Sir i am student at WITS Business School and would like to do a Corporate Entrepreneurship Assessment of Econet Wireless please provide me with an email address i can use to contact the Company i am inspired by you

  4. Olivia

    1. “Pause” and learn as much as you can before you begin.
    2. Plan meticulously, nothing significant can be achieved without a proper plan.
    3. Time spent learning relevant information is not wasted.
    4. Be patient – you may lose all your sacrifice and hard work over one pre-mature move.
    5. Don’t be distracted by your “hunger/frustration” stay the course!

  5. Loice Chigodora

    good day doctor Strive, below are the lessons i found in the story:
    strategic planning
    read/study your field of interest
    teach/share with others what you know
    have a fallback system
    thank you sir for your time. i always look forward to your email

  6. Loice Chigodora

    goodday doctor Strive, below are the lessons i got,
    strategic planning
    study/research the field of interest
    share knowledge
    have a fallback system.
    thank you for your time sir,i always look forward to your posts.

  7. Loice Chigodora

    goodday doc.below are the lessons i learnt,
    strategic planning
    study/ research your area of interest
    share knowledge
    havea fallback system

  8. Tipa

    1. learn about the “environment”
    2. be well prepared
    3. stay current
    4. be patient
    5. timing is very important for execution

  9. Joel Chipendo

    1. Always prepare for every business venture
    2. Knowledge on the area of speciality matters in business
    3.Take time before closing any business deal
    4.Never allow anything to take your eyes off the bigger goal i.e the buffalo is worth more than the rabbit
    5.One should be careful in every business venture because he is not the only one going after the buffalo invisible lions are too.

  10. Abraham

    My name is Abraham from Nigeria, read about you today sir. You are my role model. I hope and pray to be like you someday. Thank God for me reading about you.

  11. Ibuodinma Somtochukwu

    From the story I learned that every business that will succeed requires the following:
    1. Skill
    2. Preparation/careful planning
    3. Patience
    4. Proper timing
    5. Insurance against risk.

  12. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 2.
    The mission of the hunters was not only to kill a buffalo, but to bring it back home with them. Hunters tell me that bringing it back is the toughest part of the mission.

  13. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 3.
    Whatever you are trying to do in business, you must always be acutely aware that there are competitors out there, these are the “lions” of our story. The experienced Hunter knew they were there. He had to choose a moment when he could get the job done in such a way, that he would not have simply fed some hungry lions. This is what you call “the wisdom of the hunt”; it’s much more than an issue of timing.

  14. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 4.
    The “friend” here could be a member of your team, or staff. You must choose people who not only understand that you are on a buffalo hunt, but also what it takes to secure the prize. More often than not, you will find that whilst people will understand the vision when you start off, once the going gets tough, they replace that vision with their own narrow vision of the rabbit hunt. These are the people who start to moan and question your strategy behind the scenes. It takes great leadership to keep everyone in the buffalo hunt.

  15. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 5.
    When I was about 14 years old, I persuaded a captain in the Zambian army to take me with him on a trip to the Zambezi Valley. He had to swear on his life, to my mother that he would bring me back alive!
    He was from the area.
    We were there for two weeks. We had no guns, and we walked on foot. 41 years later, I still remember it like it was yesterday!

  16. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 6.
    Don’t forget the herd:
    The Hunter was interested in a particular animal, and not just any buffalo in the herd. He never lost sight of that particular animal, once he had selected it. He also understood at all times that the greatest protection of a buffalo comes from the herd (the other Buffaloes). The “herd” could be the environment, or the regulators, and all those who want to protect the status quo. These are those forces that the buffalo can call on for protection. The experienced Hunter knew that the “herd” was there and had to be navigated. If it was spooked, the unintended consequences could be disastrous.
    Every major new business initiative has to face the “herd” at some time: Uber is at war with taxi operators around the world. Google faces regulators in Europe.

  17. Strive Masiyiwa Post author

    Afterthought 7.
    If you really want to understand the story of the “Buffalo Hunter”, go study the struggles of Moses, as a leader. He had to deal with “rabbit hunters”, and others who thought they were also good (if not better hunters). Some simply wanted to go back!

  18. Abayomi Ogunro

    Business Lessons:
    1. Every Business ventures requires at least 6months of intensive research/planning.
    2.Research/planning don’t cut it, perseverance and consistent action cut it.
    3. All action in a team requires the assent of the team,especially the Technical head of team.
    4. An irrational/irresponsible action triggers a flurry of disasters.
    5. Experience navigates the way out of most disasters.

  19. Innocent Mupandasekwa

    Hie Dr Strive ,you are my inspiration. The story of Buffalo hunting has tought me a big lesson, I am a former soldier with the passion in Corporate Security business . I am thinking of forming a company. Thank you for your unrivaled ideas. Hope you may advise me on how best i can do it. Im only 38yrs old.

  20. Alieu Thomas

    Inspiring Indeed!
    My lessons:
    1.Understand your field well
    2.Be very attentive when you get in;stay focused and zero in on your opportunities.
    3.Be patient and diligent to ensure operational efficiency for success.
    4.Strategy is die or live;don’t ignore it.The action and responses of your competitors should always be in perspective.
    5.When the going gets tough, stick with the wisdom of the game:wisdom is vindicated of her children don’t get distracted.

  21. Mwenda Jesu

    well, if you are going hunting,always carry a silencer.
    1)dont rush to hunt: so invest in knowing exactly how the business works: just because it seems simple doesnt mean it is
    2) always carry a silencer: dont go telling everyone what you want to do: protect your business ideas
    3) be keen and understand the business enviroment: numbers,skills needed,research and the right tools
    4) understand well ,the rule of cause and effect in business: knowing when to to rush and when to sit back and be patient & what
    5) invest in knowing your business patner& and always better yourself,skillwise and knowledge wise

  22. Trevor Moyo

    1. Be patient
    2. Understand the field of the business you are in
    3. Dont be distracted by competition as well as frustrations
    4. Acquire enough knowledge of the business ecosystem
    5. Strategic planning is also a virtue

  23. Ephraim

    What a story Five lessons i’ve learnt are
    2-stick to the practice(the guy who had been taught never apllied his training,he complained of hunger when he was taught to be strong enough)
    3-learn from your teacher’s experience
    4-always know(have knowledge)what you are after
    5-planing leads to a pleasing result

  24. Lombe Ng'andu

    business lessons from the story.

    1. Do a thorough study of the business, the environment, the numbers, the risks.

    2. The ability to keep everyone in line with the vision is key. The hunter forgot he carried a student.

    3. Know what you are out to get; know the market and your product well . Vision!

    4. There are always competitors out there..

    5. It won’t be a walk in the park.

    6. Patience will always need to be exercised.

    7. A rookies mistake could cost you years of work.

    8. A startup has those already in Business to worry about…

  25. Garikayi

    Thank you for the wisdom and inspiration Dr Strive. You are making an immeasurable contribution to millions of lives around the world.

  26. Clem

    1. Training is important but does not replace experience
    2. Trust the expert
    3. Ask before you act
    4. What you don’t know can ruin you
    5. Going after the small result (rabbit ) may ruin your chance of getting the prize (buffalo)

    • uzama osemudiamhen


  27. Niyi Bakare

    1. Training, acquire every relevant skill for the job.
    2. Planning
    3. Focus on the objective (eg customers) and a regular reminder of these objective.
    4. But also understand that their are competitions, and other barriers while been careful, take calculated risk as quick as possible.
    5. Have an exit plan if it doesn’t work, you don’t die there, dont ruin everything there.Go back, re train, replan re strategize, learn from your mistake and go for the hunt another day.


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