History is people

I am a student of people. I’m an extrovert, I like people, and I like to read about behavioural psychology. I started this as a way to understand myself better, which is always important, but between this and maybe just growing up (??) I’ve developed a pretty decent instinctual understanding of people.
I have a new … geez not at all sure what to call him. Not quite friend … not at all sure what to say. Guy I may be doing business with will do.
Interesting character. Fascinating, in fact. He taught me a few lessons in just a few days. Mainly he taught me that he scares me because he’s one of the smartest, and most lateral thinkers I think I’ve ever met. Now this is a compliment from someone who considers herself pretty smart, a pretty good lateral thinker, and a pretty good piecer together of puzzles.
I often see myself in other people but this time … it was weird. Same sense of humour, same filter problem, same ability to see implications beyond what most others see, same ability to read other people.
He said it best, and I quote: “Every time I see you, I learn more. And I get more and more scared.”
I’m scared because this man sees things in me that most others don’t, and faster than most other people who figure me out. He gets that I’m flexible, and understands the value in that I see complex relationships between people, politics, organisations, etc.
many of the quality quotes from this blog post were generated here. thanks radisson blu.

Many of the quality quotes from this blog post were generated here. Thanks Radisson blu!

It’s not enough just to see value. Getting things to happen requires people, and knowing what people want, what are the realities on the ground, etc. I’ve learned my sales pitch for my target markets, and it’s getting better and better every day.
But heck enterprise sales takes so long sometimes I wish for the simple joys of product management: make it so. Yeah. Once you go broad it’s hard to go narrow. This damn job is ruining me for life.
Back to my friend. I won’t say I underestimated him. But I underestimated his EQ.
My first clue was that he does his homework. By the time we arrived at dinner a few days ago, I’d discovered that he had me at a disadvantage because he not only knew that I did CrossFit, but he’d checked out some of my competition results, and learned enough about the sport to draw certain conclusions about me, all of which were pretty well true. I’m persistent (stubborn), I’m strong, but most importantly – I am always trying to push the limits of what I’m capable of. It’s not enough just to compete, it’s that drive of always getting better, always lifting more weight, etc.
There’s other things, but it’s the offhand comments that give away the insight. If you know what to listen for.
So here’s what I learned. He’s a student of history; history of many countries all over the world. He knows more about American history than I do, and that’s just sad.
But by understanding history you understand people. Why leaders did what they did, why people reacted as they did, why, say, Ethiopia, is so resistant to foreign ownership in key sectors. It’s a funny thing to be in the presence of such a personality, who is unassuming and yet has the most gravitas in the room. Fascinating.
Anyway. Crazy week at work as it was a short week for me. Everything from meetings about a big deployment to playing a strange sort of matchmaker to an internal reorg to a product planning meeting to various different business development lunches to giving product advice to a potential vendor to a meeting with one of my favourite vendors where, I kid you not, the trigonometry came out. Well, I guess angles are important in this game. Not my job. I just sell solutions.
I had no idea this job was going to take me to the places it’s now taking me. But it is. I’m not complaining.
Nor am I along for the ride. As Jax Panik put it so well: ‘I don’t roll with the punches. I hand them out.’
Speaking of … I LOVE my coach. OK I hate him too. But wow am I loving this programming. It’s a great mix of strength, technique, and metcon (you know, classic CrossFit), and variety. I can see how it builds better athletes, and very rapidly, because I can see the logical structure behind it. My gymnastics have always been a weakness but I actually got a compliment this week on my chest-to-bar pullups while out playing with the coach at CrossFit City Bowl.
And, it turns out I’m pretty good at kipping handstand pushups if forced to practice them. It’s just a matter of being forced to do what you don’t necessarily want.
Being comfortable being uncomfortable: that is CrossFit, and that is my life across most levels. But as I said the last post, there are things that scare me, sure. CrossFit is funny. You can be lying on the floor writhing in pain and an hour later be at work like nothing happened. Very little that happens in the board room can scare me. You win some, you lose some, the worst thing you can really lose is face.
Evil Jackie? That was emotional. I feel like we have a ‘get on the rower and die’ every week.
the scene of where of where we died.

Where we died.

But hey, if you can face that you can face anything.
  • “That’s nothing!” “I know.” – my Sunday night date & me
  • “But how can they do that, when they’re losing so much money?” “I don’t know! But they are!” – my date & me
  • “Yes. I would love to see that email. And I will be very careful what I do with it, I promise.” – Ellie
  • “A bottle of brandy and two 4Mbps lines.” “Wait. Who’s buying the brandy?” – Rudolph & Ellie
  • “Well played.” – Rudolph
  • “So… I believe you’ll be breaking our toys on Thursday. Can’t wait!!” “YOU can’t wait?” – Nicol & Ellie (seriously, I’m the one being pushed to metabolic failure. I fail to see why others could be more excited than I am)
  • “The trick is to outrun everyone else. As quickly as possible.” – a very smart man
  • “This has real momentum to it.” – same guy
  • “This is so bloody exciting. But let me tell you:” – same guy and I forget what he said next
  • “I feel like we’re selling cocaine. But it’s only Wi-Fi.” – Ellie
  • “They’re the ones that could upset the apple cart.” – Rudolph
  • “The better you play that the better it will be for everybody.” – Jeff
  • “I think he’s one of the most well connected people in Cape Town.” – Rudolph
  • “Metabolic failure … definitely not muscle failure.” – Riaan
  • “Avoid asking questions to which you don’t want to know the answer.” – Ellie
  • “And if your credit card company doesn’t have fraud protection, you should get a new credit card.” – Ellie
  • “LA is a highway. Joburg is a shopping mall.” – a fan of Cape Town
  • “I made a mistake.” “What was your mistake?” “Alcohol.” – me & anonymous friend
  • “Every time I see you, I learn more. And I am more and more scared.” – a partner
  • “What we’re trying to do, no one has done anywhere else in the world.” – same guy (maybe this should scare me but it doesn’t)
  • “You’re more than a competitor.” – a student of people
  • “I wondered why you were so calm.” – Adam
  • “So many bills. Can’t we just stop buying some of these things? I’m going to go book a flight to Joburg.” – Ellie
  • “How do I phrase this, now?” “Carefully.” – Rudolph & Stefan
  • “Why is that going to be a problem?” “I don’t know. I just have a feeling.” – Ellie & Stefan
  • “We’re going to need 20,000. For Cape Town alone.” – Rudolph (at this point, Stefan dropped his pen in shock and it rolled across the table)
  • “The areas I think we can sell to is –” “All of them.” – Adam & Rudolph (love my boys!!)
  • “Force them. That’s a good idea.” – Tamas
  • “I told you I wanted one for Christmas.” – Ellie
  • “I’m always drinking.” – Elizabeth
  • “I have learned one thing. If you close your eyes you’re never going to see anything.” – Peter
  • “Nothing much, just an orchestrated attack on churches, police stations, government buildings, and civilian property.” – Maged
  • “Air can be bad any time. But hard to turn down an AK-47.” – Mom 
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