Chicken Little


People are strange. I was telling one of my favourite people in Joburg about my latest cause of unnecessary (in my opinion) stress and drama.

He told me just to remember that people are crazy, then it all makes sense.

Thing is, people are not crazy. They are predictable. Oh. How. Predictable.

And sometimes, highly unethical. In this particular case, I was saying that I understood the behaviour. As a human being, I found it deeply offensive. Some people just make me embarrassed to be in the same species! But I did understand it.

It’s hard not to be somewhat amused when you call someone out and they freak out. Well, if you aren’t comfortable with your grandmother or the rest of the industry knowing what you’ve done, maybe you should think twice about it?

It’s weird how on two separate occasions I’ve been told the metaphor of not blaming the dog/snake that bites you. Because it’s a dog or a snake. But I reject that premise, too. My cat thinks she’s a dog, and Cat’s dog thinks she’s a cat. So why must a dog and a snake necessarily bite? And to say that a person or company that’s not acting according to a desired ethical code can’t really be blamed because of its nature is a somewhat strange argument to take. It’s ok though: the market figures everything out in the end. Produce sustainable value or die. Not complicated.

All clouds have a silver lining. This particular drama cloud brought me a series of compliments from one of the people I most deeply admire, and it showed us that the sky is not falling.

Just another shit day in Kalk Bay

Just another shit day in Kalk Bay

Most people that I know more than in passing, I know how to push their buttons. I normally don’t [at least not on purpose], because that’s just not very nice. But it’s not too hard to figure out.

Me? How you can push my buttons is also not too hard to figure out:

  1. Make me repeat myself (repeating myself once is ok – five times is not) or otherwise waste my time
  2. Pretend you’re an authority at something I know more about than you do; especially when you deign to condescend
  3. Refuse to compromise or listen
  4. Demand my attention at a time that’s inconvenient (this is why the mobile goes onto airplane mode when I’m in meetings, and why I do not answer it while driving)

Same conversation, I was discussing how my whole career I’ve had some bosses that I’ve absolutely loved, and some that I’ve hated. The difference? The ones that I’ve loved are the ones who’ve trusted me and given me autonomy. The ones I’ve hated are the ones who want to step on my toes and tell me how to do my job. You know, when you’ve had ten years of product management experience and lots of positive peer & customer reviews, then tell me what the product should do or how the UI design should work. I sure as heck don’t try and tell my guys where to put APs. Usually. Heh.

There is really nothing better than to follow a good leader. Like Coach JJ, whose programming I understand and follow (to the degree that injuries allow) without question.

Another subject of discussion this week was information asymmetry. There are so many amazing products & services in the world, and people and companies have no idea they exist. My friend Sam has all of these great connections; but how to systematise that? Is it even possible? Well, she’s probably ‘just’ a connector. We should all be so lucky as to be one of maven, salesman, or connector.

This salesman spent quite some time connecting people this week.

Sunsplashed Stellies where I had a blissful Sunday brunch

Sunsplashed Stellies where I had a blissful Sunday brunch

What goes around comes around, though. Speaking of going around, the time is now here when we’re formally building our channels. I feel kind of like Athena right before she was born and it was one of those trips too when my ears were unintentionally burning. People are talking; which is good, but time is short. For many reasons.

But: how cool. I am loving this combo of product manager, business development, salesman, and marketer. If only I had more hours in the day.

That was one of my biggest problems this week: not enough time to sleep. On Wednesday morning I was doing one of my efficiency drills of burpee box jumps, that I scale up because 50cm just isn’t high enough. But on this day I was so uncoordinated I missed the box on two occasions, and kicked it instead with my toe!

I really hate box jumps, so much so that I’m doing them not only in my warmups and efficiency drills but also in my metcons. Open prep is just that, and it is SO much fun to be doing metcons at altitude and not really feeling the altitude. A metcon is a metcon is a metcon, and it will suck no matter what. Burpee pullups this year; I’m calling it!

I remember a time when I couldn't do one of these!

I remember a time when I couldn’t do one of these! OK yeah I could hang from the bar like anyone. Ha!

I’ve got a few things that still need some significant work before the Open but I must remember as I was telling Jon-Pall: the Open is just one thing. Shoulders not 100% healthy; I’ll maybe do one muscle up. Not going to rip them open trying to “win” a non-competition competition.

Pick your battles. Smack down your weaknesses.

Try not to worry too much that you can’t do everything at once. I have this issue, absolutely. Sometimes less is more with CrossFit; same with work. One cannot do everything at once. And goodness knows this last few weeks has not been entirely good due to some stuff happening with some of the staff outside of the office. But, we will get there.

My other big news is that this week I acquired a roommate! I maybe should have started there. My Canadian friend Katharine, who I met in Cape Town, visited in Durban, visited in Joburg, visited in Brighton, and is now back to Cape Town, had posted on Facebook a few months back wondering if anyone had a spare room. As it turned out, I did.

I haven’t had a roommate in a very long time.

But, it’s kind of nice. Especially cuz she’s kind of awesome (like most of my friends!).

The one single most important thing to remember? It struck me when I was sitting in the boardroom of a sworn enemy, with a guy I really respect and like who happens to work for said sworn enemy. We see each other about once a month and he happened to be checking the news, and there’s some hectic stuff going on. American politics is one thing; South African politics is an even more fascinating spectator sport. But sitting there, like we were, drinking branded sparkling water … Joburg may be the centre of the universe (maybe I should start calling it The Hub of the Universe and see how many people get the reference!), I realised that our little navel-gazing one-upmanship was all a bit silly.

It's a nice bubble

It’s a nice bubble

But then again, business competition is like sports competition. Competition is good because it pushes you to be better. Collaboration and learning is good, because teamwork can help you win.

Let’s also not forget that the world runs on silly and one-upmanship. It’s all a status game. Hierarchy matters. What have you done for me lately matters. Where the puck is going matters.

They say nice guys finish last. I don’t think that’s true. I’m nice. And I don’t finish last. It’s interesting when the tables turn though, and to understand leverage.

And then there’s taking things to extremes: I’ve been so avoiding sugar to the point where I actually got a bit ill eating some very dark chocolate on Valentine’s Day.

Well, like it or not, focus and dedication does lead to the desired result, even if you sometimes must be patient waiting for that end result. Life is a game of chutes and ladders.

Don’t get too attached to any one outcome; don’t be upset when the dog bites you (but be prepared to bite it back, if needs be!).

  • “It’s not ‘Big Data.’ It’s ‘Data Intelligence.’” – Ellie
  • “Every story needs a good villain.” – Riaan
  • “That pyramid is bullshit. Stress management is the base.” – Roland
  • “That’s some hectic shit.” – Doug (his version of hectic is my version of mild!)
  • “You bought Jungle Oats. That’s not paleo.” “I knew you were going to say that.” – Ellie & Katharine (see? Predictable!)
  • “The last time this happened to me I walked into an electric fence.” – Dominic
  • “I really don’t have time to be holding peoples’ hands.” – Dominic
  • “The fact that he says he would have done pretty much exactly the same thing as I did makes me feel …. I don’t know. Justified?” – Ellie
  • “This week it’s ‘The Notebook’ so you’re not missing much.” – Katharine
  • “A braai will do. The City of Joburg is paying for it.” – Ellie
  • “You have a fox with its tail on fire running through your fields.” – Tristan
  • “You must move your chin out of the way!” – Jason
  • “His coach says sprints are bad for cardio.” – Rick
  • “Cape Town, Johannesburg? Where is that?” – Ellie
  • “I feel sorry for whoever it is that’s tussling with you!” – Mark
  • “I’m exaggerating.” “Not by much.” – Ellie & Vincent
  • “I feel like I’m selling cocaine!” “Well. You kind of are!” – Ellie & Johann
  • “I think people don’t listen to anyone. They’re stuck in their own heads.” – Johann
  • “I have no doubt that you’ll succeed!” “Well, I’ll definitely give it my best try. THAT I can guarantee!” – Cindy & Ellie
  • “People will get duped.” “It’s already happening!” – Raj & Ellie
  • “One day when it’s drinking season.” “I love that you know that it’s called drinking season!” – Sam & Ellie
  • “We live in a bubble. I mean, there are people playing cricket on the lawn, and there are five protests a day.” – Ellie
  • “If you were dressed up, I’d be worried.” – Paul
  • “You couldn’t live without your phone for one day, so you bought a new one??” – Ellie

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