In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king

There is a certain amount of power you have just by having knowledge, and context. Information asymmetry, in other words.
This is why we [should] respect masters and gurus and teachers and people with more wisdom than we have. It’s also a way to get things done.
When you have knowledge and/or connections others lack, you hold the cards. You can see, more clearly, the playing field. You can see when your competitors are playing checkers on a chess board.
You may not see when your knight is about to get taken, but you’re usually pretty aware of where your queen is at and your strategy to win.
Interesting week, last one. I was in lovely Johannesburg. The pull to this place gets stronger and stronger every time I go. It doesn’t help that the winter up there is somewhat nicer than in Cape Town. The nights are cold, yes, but the days are sunny and warm.
I was in Jozi this week primarily for lead generation. I was speaking at two conferences: one on shopper marketing, the other a telecoms conference about customer loyalty and retention. For neither of these audiences was Wi-Fi necessarily a topic they knew about, and for both it was a bit of a mental stretch, I think. But the people who got what I was saying, why, and the implications, properly got it.
So, mission accomplished. I’ve also discovered that I really do like public speaking. Especially by the Friday morning presentation, I was flying. Then again, I’d just come out of what was possibly one of the most important meetings of my career (on another, broader, business development topic), and it had gone even better than I could have expected. This is what knowledge, context, and framing gets you.
I was pondering a bit this week, again, as I was having dinners with a few different folks, whether I am more salesman, connector, or maven. The first dinner was with a guy I knew from WBA. Unfortunately for both of us, the way that dinner went was that I had to drink him under the table (make him struggle to keep up, at least). This only happened because I warned him who he was dealing with, and he didn’t listen. The second was with a gentlemen I’d just met, from Egypt. Most interesting series of conversations, that.
There’s three types of people in the world: the ones who know what’s going on and control it, the ones who can see what’s going on but can’t predict or manipulate it, and the ones who don’t know what the hell is going on. I obviously prefer the first type – these are the ones who make change. And change is fun.
To be a salesman, connector, or maven doesn’t mean that you’re not all three. In a way, my role is actually more maven at the moment than salesman. But the salesman always comes out. Maybe because the tech I’m working with is just so cool, and so complex.
Like one of the conversations this week: the telecommunications industry is a bit addictive because it’s always changing, and it’s insanely complex. How do ISPs keep from being dumb pipes? And how do mobile carriers stop from becoming a different sort of dumb pipe, with OTT companies eating them for lunch? How does one innovate before you’re on a burning platform? Especially in a big company? This is what keeps such smart, SMART people as I’ve met in this last week in the industry for 10+ years.
Speaking of titans of industry, I met one of the sharks I’d heard rumours of this week. Is it possible to be excited and apprehensive at the same time? I suppose, in my position, one must be. To be anything less would be naïve.
You really only live in your own head. I discovered, a bit to my chagrin, that I lack the sympathy gene, or at least the false sympathy gene. It goes with the filter problem: if I don’t care, I have a hard time pretending.
Sometimes I do care, but even still: I feel more sorry for myself being injured and food poisoned last year at Regionals than I do for the others that under-performed. But even still, there is a specific understanding that only athletes who have lived that specific scenario at the same time can feel, and when one of you brings it up, it just causes emotions to come to the fore, followed by other, related emotions of frustration.
It’s funny too: a comment that to one person might not have a lot of meaning, someone who is listening, and who understands, can feel the emotion behind. I suppose in a way even to reveal this part of yourself requires a bit of trust. Top athletes don’t just let out their fears and frustrations in public; you’re supposed to congratulate the ones who did well and not be mired in self-pity. But yet you feel what you feel.
Being injured sucks. And being out of control sucks, at least when it’s not willingly. And it’s a pipe dream, but sometimes I wish that I could have someone really smart and competent would take care of me, and make all my decisions for me. I’d hate that in the long term, but at times of emotional overload I wouldn’t mind a day or a few like that.
There’s a difference, I guess, between having stuff be more than you can handle, and more than you can comfortably handle. Plus, at the end of the day, you don’t really have a choice, and that’s how you get stronger. You don’t quit in the middle of a CrossFit workout. It’s just not done.
I was just saying above how I act funny when I’m a bit insecure. It’s …. Interesting, I guess, to see someone else acting similarly funny. What makes us insecure in different scenarios, and why we act as we do: no real answers of course.
One thing I don’t care for in Joburg is the traffic. I could NOT raise myself out of bed Wednesday morning and then had to drive to the gym, so I got to my hosts for the week at CrossFit Kyalami a bit later than I’d anticipated. And from there, the teasing began: “I thought you were going to come EARLY!”. I do so much enjoy travelling about to other boxes because you learn something new from each of the coaches. Plus it’s quite nice to have people about when I’m training. The loneliness of the 6am training session at Cape CrossFit is dramatic, sure, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not lonely.
Gyms do take on the personalities of their owners, and this one is fun. It’s serious, yes – technique is important. But you can’t spend five minutes there without smiling. At least I can’t. But then again it’s like Schrodinger’s cat: I have no idea what it’s like when I’m not there to observe. But the logo is pretty cool. I like the logo quite a lot. I guess it doesn’t take that much to generate a brand affinity in me.
Come Friday night flight back from Joburg I was flat exhausted. Not enough sleep, a bit too much of emotional highs and lows. When I landed in Cape Town, it was raining sideways.
I do sometimes question this almost irrational pull to Johannesburg. But it’s like most matters of the heart: the heart wants what it wants, regardless of what actually makes sense. There are some things and people in Cape Town that keep me here, and may well continue to do. But there are also people that pull me to Joburg.
So much for predicting the future. For now I will be content that I live in a place that I love deeply, and I get to travel to another place I am coming to love, and develop relationships that side as well.
  • “Logic always wins, Ellie.” – Riaan
  • “Don’t look now, but your boss is behind you.” – Ellie
  • “You know me. You don’t need to know anyone else in here.” – Lance [true]  
  • “What, are you too short?” – Ricky
  • “It didn’t work?” “No, it didn’t work because you have to pay for it.” – Ellie & Gabriel
  • “You woke up at 4 for gym and you don’t know why you’re exhausted?” – Cedric
  • “You have all the cards.” – Spencer
  • “But you do, just by being there.” – Spencer (ah, to be exotic for no good reason)
  • “And unfortunately for them, you’re also intelligent.” – Spencer
  • “Yeah. You learned your coach isn’t Jewish.” – Ricky (I learned this one the hard way…)
  • “That’s not really a fair question, because the answer is always yes, even if the answer is no.” – Ellie (this got me something closer to the actual answer)
  • “I think you just get used to it.” “I don’t want to get used to being exhausted!!” – Megan & Ellie
  • “Choose. And the status quo is also a choice.” – Ellie
  • “Oh. You’re [brand]. Of course you are.” – Ellie
  • “Those skills we can replicate. We can’t replicate the thinking behind it.” – Maged
  • “Yes you are.” – Cedric
  • “Sometimes I think it may get a bit confused.” – Ellie
  • “What, did you get attacked by a lion?” “No. An elephant trampled my guide.” – Ellie & [can’t disclose … stupid NDA!]
  • “You’re dealing with them. You must know.” – Adnan 


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