It’s My birthday – I am one of those old people!

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So it’s my birthday today and I turn 43. I remember being 23 and meeting people who were 43 and thinking, “Crap, you are old”.

The upside of course to being 43 is that, being 23 once, I know how much I have to be grateful for.  Not that the 23 year olds are not grateful, it’s just the extent that is different.

I am grateful!

I am grateful to God for His provision to me, for His guidance and help. I am grateful that He has blessed me with an amazing wife, who cares for me, and our beautiful children.  I have the two best kids a dad could ever hope for.  They make me laugh and cry. They already care for others in ways that are awesome to see!

I am grateful that I have a dad who is there for me, who gives advice and is generous. I am grateful for my mother, for all of her quirks, she did her very best to raise me. I am grateful for my sister, who despite being younger than me by almost 12 years is a great example to me about caring for others.

I am grateful for my extended family, for my late mother-in-law (Ma) who cared for me as if I were her son and always saw the best in others.  My father-in-law (Pa) who has more energy at 67 (I think that is his age) than others have in their forties. His generosity is amazing! My brother-in-law and his family, who are awesome and a real blessing to me! My sister-in-law, who is always around and cares so amazingly for our children.

I am grateful for the many friends I have, too many to mention by name! My phone, sitting next to me, is buzzing with messages from all of them.  My FACEBOOK stream is being populated with messages and I feel blessed. I am grateful!

My work colleagues, who make my time at “the grindstone” awesome!  I have been blessed with a new adventure, two years in the making now and these guys are helping to make it really a real ride.  To Adrian, Barry, Lindsay, Stef and Rav thank you!

As my eyes water thinking of all of these things, let me finish by acknowledging that I am still a work in progress. All of you have and will continue to have a part in building me. Thank-you for taking the time to do this – I am grateful.

Immigration v Unemployment

Immigration

I recently attended a talk, hosted by The Jewish Board of Deputies in Cape Town.  The event was a panel discussion on immigration and featured Naledi Pandor (Minister of Home Affairs); Dr Mamphela Ramphele (Leader of Agang SA); Professor Brian Kantor (Chief Economist and Strategist, Investec Wealth and Investment); Chris Whelan (CEO Accelerate Cape Town) and Rapelang Rabana (COO Tomplaygo).

The most interesting thing for me was that in essence, all of the panelists support the concept of immigration, albeit with varying degrees of implementation.  Fundamental to all of the input, was that the importing of skills leads to a positive impact on the South African economy.

What was of concern to me though, was that the debate seemed to just revolve around business, or at least that’s what it felt like to me.  It struck me too that the elephant in the room was largely ignored.  Mamphela was the only contributor who braved the topic of the rampant influx of unskilled labour into South Africa.

It is my contention that this is the “immigration” that most South Africans see.  They don’t see the likes of Rapelang (an immigrant herself) who is successful and has brought much good to the economy.  They don’t see the “high net-worth” individuals who enter the country, the scientists and the business people.

The average South African only really sees their livelihood being taken away by people who are not even South African citizens.  I had hoped that this point would have been discussed in more detail.  All we heard was how porous our borders are, yet what was lacking was what we’re going to do to halt this.  In fact, I’m not even sure this was dealt with.

We seem to have the mentality of “we’re working on it” but the reality is that this issue has been around for too long now.  I think that addressing and limiting the influx of unskilled labour is critical and that the failure to do so will be a significant motivator for turmoil for the average South African.

We are often referred to as a country with much promise and opportunity. Although I agree with this, I also feel that we need to ensure that there is a healthy balance between attracting skills and how we choose to address the issue of rampant unemployment.

Struggling, Business and Focus

BalanceRocksSea

On struggling, business and focus

Clear thoughts evade people in times of struggle, the pre-occupation of the situation that they are facing, often robbing them of the good things that are around them.

Running a business can be like this at times, I am learning.  Sometimes the focus on meeting the short-term operational requirements leads one to lose sight of the bigger picture.

Staff, Cash flow, deadlines, suppliers and customers all demand attention, each of them rightly deserves, indeed requires, your urgent attention. Building the capacity to deal with all of these is challenging. Oh and by the way, while focusing on all of this, there are also the very important aspects of family, friends, personal growth and hobbies.

I am learning more lessons each day about juggling a very different set of circumstances, to the one’s I was used to just 15 months ago.  I feel like I have learnt more about business in this short time, than the 19 years, combined, I spent in corporate life.

The biggest lesson I am learning though is that in all of these challenges, there is a much bigger picture.  This picture will be different to everyone and will probably be based on your personal value system.

The story about getting the big rocks into the jar first has never been more important to me than it is right now.  I am also guessing though that this story is going to get more important as life continues.

What are you big rocks? Have you identified them? Have you put mechanisms in place to protect them?  I have not done this sufficiently yet but I am working on it.

Interyellowbumps…….you suck!

yellow-lines

Open post to all of the Interyellowbumps out there.

Let me start by helping you understand who the Interyellowbumpers are, they are the motorists who:

1) Drive into the traffic light intersection area, on an amber traffic light signal. They stop there because they thought they could get through despite the already backed-up traffic on the other side of the intersection.  This action causes the rest of us, the crossing traffic, to have to stop. Instant traffic jam, instant anger, instant rage.  They turn to look at you, throw up their hands, as if they couldn’t help it.

2) They stop their vehicles on yellow lines, to drop off their precious bundles at school.  They don’t care that the rest of the traffic is unable to pass by.  They think that we should all be happy to wait for them.  It is only going to take them 30-45 seconds to do this.  PS. They are also the one’s that hoot like mad hatters at their fellow Interyellowbumpers when they do the same thing.

3) Finally, when they make it to the freeway, they assume their position in the fast lane, at the posted speed limit and become a rolling chicane or speedbump.  Completely ignoring the fundamental rule of the road that says “Keep left, pass right”.  They believe it to be their civic duty to fulfil this role.  PS. They also slow down to below the speed limit when passing speed cameras, as if they might earn extra credit for doing this.

In short they are the worst form of road user know to man.

To you Interyellowbumpers out there, I would like to say……Stop It! #thatisall

365 days done!

365.001Exactly one year ago today I embarked on the next phase of my business journey, that of a business owner.  After serving the corporate sector for 20 years, I needed to see whether I could succeed as a business owner.

In my case I decided, after much deliberation and advice seeking, that joint business owner was the preferred route.  I joined Adrian in Brandesign.

In a just 365 days we have changed the face of this business significantly, for the most part ensuring that our customers never felt the change.  We formed Brandesign Group (Pty) Ltd, despite what felt like, at times, the South African government not wanting us to achieve this.

We opened a new bank account, appointed an accountant, employed a management account, moved into bigger premises, decorated these, employed a new member of staff, sorted out equipment, got our VAT number, got our tax clearance certificate, became compensation fund compliant and many more.

We installed a foosball table, courtesy of a good friend, on which we have developed our internal foosball league (and skills dare I say). We have had a staff party, we have been to Hudson’s a couple of times, had a few fines evenings, played beer pong (with wine) and more.

We have grown up a bit, yet stayed young, we have gained one or two clients and we have seen some of our clients grown significantly.  We are blessed to have these, they all support us with an amazing array of work and we are given much latitude to practice our skill set.

We have been disappointed too.  Been shortlisted and not winning a pitch is like a punch in the gut, we have had one or two let downs on delivery, and suppliers not getting it right, but this is business.

I am confident the next year will be busier and I hope filled with as much stuff, actually maybe a little less on the compliance side!

What a rush!