It actually doesn’t matter





A lot of questions have come up in the last few days and it always seems to come back to this answer. How did we get to this point? Why did I react in a certain way to certain situations? Why does anyone decide to leave their home country, anyway, and what draws them back? I read somewhere once that some crazy thing like 98% of the time we spend talking about either the past or the future, and from where I am sitting right now a lot of the recent past is actually somewhat unimportant. I have witnessed a number of people making a number of irrational decisions recently, not thinking things through fully. Might I be guilty of the same thing? Hell yeah … but actually that doesn’t really matter, either. It’s what I, and we, do from here on out that actually is what matters.

So, what happened the rest of this week? A big and surprising rejection, a big and unsurprising affirmation (neither of which I prefer to disclose the details of in a public forum, sorry), and as a result, an incredible number of emotional highs and lows. I think my exact quote to my co-worker on Thursday afternoon was “Dude, I am so f*cked up at the moment I’m not even sure which way is up.”

Work-wise I guess the primary thing is a significant strategic shift within heart: We are from now shutting down the incubator and the non-profit side of our business to focus on our portfolio as a for-profit entity. Actually, this is very good for a lot of reasons. Social venture capital, and instead of focusing effort on generating qualified deal flow and external social entrepreneurs we can’t control we can now focus exclusively on what I’ve been doing for months now. For now. Half of strategy is staging, as one of the best articles I ever read taught me. So for me, personally, this change is a very good thing because it means that the efforts of the rest of the management team and the fundraising that is done will be focused on helping build the part of the business I’ve been living and breathing for months now.

In the meantime, though, we hit a few bumps in the cashflow world as you could say and have had to let some staff go, and had to move some others around within the organisation. This is always a painful process, and of course took up a lot of time. HR always does, because people are the most important part of any business. This will feel a lot better in a week or so when everything is rationalised.

I also made a decision to stop the Purple Heart stipend for the next two weeks as we wrap up the vending business (another fantastic decision I’m glad we made). This was a fun one, I was discussing the pros and cons and then my boss, bless his heart (no pun intended), said something along the lines of “Look, I’m sure you’ll make the right decision, ‘kay thanks bye.” Thanks, buddy. Well, he’s right but boy is it nice to have people around me to point out the flaws in my logic, and vice versa. This is [part of] how I plan to spend tomorrow afternoon: reading through our affordable housing business case and figuring out the assumptions and risks, and what we can do to mitigate them or what additional research we must do. Nothing like jumping off a cliff when one of your ropes is not fully secured, so want to make sure that doesn’t happen!

There were a lot of tremendously exciting meetings this week, including presentations from all the design firms to the V&A Waterfront (and how cool is it to get validated parking at the V&A hahaha). Interesting to see how decisions like this are made … actually exactly as I predicted. These were not design meetings, they were sales meetings. But this is very, very exciting for a lot of reasons.

We had a meeting with some officials from government, actually the first ones in my time and from what I hear in a long time, actually to come through with some real funding for something on the ground. Impressive group of people, too, and exciting to work with them because through this process we will also get better.

Friday ended with a site visit to a community garden in Khayelitsha where we are putting up a GrowZone in the next week and a half. Well this is exciting and also somewhat crazy: these poor women who are running the site make about R300. A month. That’s about $45 folks. Made me feel a heck of a lot better about terminating the stipend for the Purple Heart crew who have been milking it for a while now, because I let them. Won’t make that mistake again; this may be social enterprise but emotion and rationality need to be balanced more than they are. Even with small amounts of money [to me] there is principle involved.

Taking this week off from training was really hard because it was an emotionally draining time. But I know my body needed it. I also didn’t eat much thanks in part to trying this intermittent fasting thing this guy at my gym recommended. Problem is I had to force myself to eat, but that may have been because a) I wasn’t training and b) this was a very stressful week! As far as the last week of the nutrition challenge goes I shot myself in a foot a bit with a bunch of drinking, but I have my reasons. Tuesday was a going-away drinks night for a very dear friend and ex-colleague. This was a particularly fun evening because a) my co-worker got to comment on some of my texts, probably more to her amusement than to mine!, and b) the bartender literally gave me a free drink that I didn’t even order. I was just sitting there and he brings me another glass of wine. And this is R10 per glass and from a box, so much better than the R31 drinks at the bloody Waterfront earlier in the evening! But those Waterfront drinks were important too: a good number of times I have wanted to ask someone out for drinks so we can talk only to have them pre-empt me, as on this occasion. Great minds think alike.

Wednesday was also a fun evening; I had the chance to catch up with a [South African] friend who lives in the UK who is in town for a bit. We started off at Pepper Club in Camps Bay because he went to school with the owner, then on to Sandbar because it was time for dinner and apparently I’m a creature of habit. But this was funny, the waiter at Pepper Club was asking us as we were leaving what we were celebrating. Apparently we looked like we were celebrating, when in fact I was spilling my guts. So all I could think of was that this was a reunion of sorts, which, in fact, it was! Well, that and I was fascinated by talking about this brain scan study they are doing.

It’s funny, the last time this guy was in town through a certain level of questioning he kicked off a bit of what might be called self-introspection, or less charitably about 72 hours of extremely egotistical behaviour and self-absorption. This time around circumstances had already kicked some of this into play, but geez there is nothing like someone asking just the right question at just the right time, or even just being there as they are, to really knock you on your figurative ass. Anyway lost track of time, again, failed to remember much of the Afrikaans that was spoken to me, again, and, again, tried to explain American football to someone too drunk to be able to remember. One of these days I’ll learn this lesson: even the people who love strategy are kind of stupid after drinking too much! Anyway after far too much red wine so called it a night surprisingly late and felt surprisingly fine the next day. “Rest week.” Ha.

Friday morning we had a great Hub event where through an activity we really had driven home the transport cost of a lot of the [processed] foods we eat. I am thinking seriously about going on a local challenge early next year and only eating things sourced from within say 150-200km of where I live. Good news is I won’t have to give up wine for this particular challenge! Aside from the poison that is processed soy, there are so many transport miles dedicated to packaging! The average strawberry yogurt in southern Germany has travelled almost 10,000km between yogurt, fruit, container, metal liner & stencil, etc. Absolutely insane. This is why humans will destroy the world if we continue like this (more wisdom from The Matrix … we are not mammals because we are incapable of living in harmony with our environment). Or, as Peter said one morning this week: “humans are the stupidest smart animal on the planet.”

Another funny thing: last night I had a dream that we would do the clean complex for Saturday’s workout and then I would have lunch at Sandbar with two particular people. Woke up and the workout was the bear complex (as CrossFit workouts go, this is a remarkable coincidence), and I did indeed wind up having lunch at Sandbar with those two people. Uncanny. Now we’ll see if the rest of the weekend goes according to the dream…

A couple other random thoughts:
• I really miss Fatapples, Berkeley, CA although nowadays the multi-grain pancakes would probably give me indigestion for hours
• I was just thinking how nice it was how few IVRs there are in this country until I called Nedbank. Speaking of which, the number of security questions was literally like 5 times as long as for any sort of American financial institution. That is definitely the last time I accidentally lock myself out of online banking!
• Knowing a certain person (to remain nameless) went white in the face when receiving some bad news makes me happier than it should. I haven’t yet outgrown my ego.
• You must always have a plan B
• I flat-out lied to a friend this week. Not happy about it, but she asked me a direct question that I wasn’t prepared to answer so I panicked and lied. Boy do I hate lying. Moral of that story? Don’t let yourself get set up!
• In vino veritas
• There is nothing like a properly-made bed
• Undying loyalty is an interesting concept
• I’ve thought a lot this week about comparative strengths, etc., etc. and actually the most important thing in the world is confidence and determination. Best not to get in the way of a confident, capable team.
• And also: you must believe you will succeed, when you are trying to do something difficult. If you think you’ll fail, you will fail every time.

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