Everything happens in Johannesburg


Of all the fantastic, almost unbelievable experiences I’ve had in the last year or so, what probably tops it all is the validation you get as a partner and a leader when you see that your human relationship is stronger than the other ties that bind.

The people in my life ARE my life. Now it’s true that strangers become friends, friends become close (sometimes very close), and then, inevitably, we drift apart again. Most of the time, at least.

As a leader, I have always hoped that people, whether they work for me or not, would support me and follow my leadership out of desire, not out of obligation, or fear.

In this week I reconnected with some of my most important relationships; let a very close one go, and became nearly giddy at the thought of a couple of new ones. I was also told, in no uncertain terms, that one of the things I had that separated me from a lot of other players (or wannabes) in the market at the moment was a specific relationship that I had.



It was due to another relationship that what could have been a big problem for me turned into an opportunity, all in under 90 minutes. You need something, you ask someone you trust, and problem gets sorted out. Funny how that works.

It’s a small country and a small industry. There’s certain names that come up again and again, and it’s quite funny to hear other people talking about me, and talking about others. Mostly true! I’ve found that people’s reputations precede them, and reputations are a lot like stereotypes. They are largely true; somewhat one-dimensional, and a bit unfair. But then again, the outside view is always less nuanced than the view of the insiders.

Also, the truth hurts. Rather: the truth CAN hurt. One of the things I’ve learned as CEO, and particularly in recent weeks, is the importance of a thick skin. It’s like Paul said after Regionals last year: it really doesn’t matter what anyone else thought, because I knew what I was capable of. Didn’t make me feel a ton better about what had just gone down, but also true. If you are comfortable with yourself, your work, your work ethic, your ethics, your relationships, etc., then it doesn’t actually matter what anyone else thinks.

Not entirely true – your key stakeholders’ opinions matter. But your brother-in-law? Not so much.

Rainy Midrand

Rainy Midrand

What another crazy week! The rains in Johannesburg continued and made the roads treacherous. I kid you not, the potholes were more like craters – the sort that WILL take out your wheel or your axle if you’re unlucky. Of course, all was fine in Johannesburg and I managed to knock out my power steering while off-roading in the West Coast National Park outside of Langebaan. It’s ok though; the good thing about spending so much time in Johannesburg is that I can leave my car for a few days for repairs without impacting my schedule in any way whatsoever.

Not for the first time, I am tremendously happy to play the role that I do at WAPA. It’s an opportunity to use my skills and connections to do good; and also sometimes those good deeds come back to reward you. Connections are just that: an intro doesn’t mean much if it’s not a qualified intro. Someone can make a recommendation but you still must make the sale. WAPA on Thursday also brought me into contact with two of my telecoms crushes; which is always a good thing. And two others are coming to town in just a few weeks!

These colours in Joburg are so dramatic! No filter required!

These colours in Joburg are so dramatic! No filter required!

Here’s the thing that I’ve learned – there is nothing more powerful than the ability to walk away if something isn’t working. Lose that, and you do in fact get trapped. True for many aspects of life – business, relationships, financial. A feeling of freedom is better than of obligation, and an acknowledgement of the worst-case scenario is a powerful thing.

I used to think that intelligence was the most important thing, but that’s a simplistic view. I learned that you can be intelligent without being emotionally intelligent; and that you can be intelligent without being particularly ethical. Or: you can be intelligent and have anger issues. It’s one thing to know these things in theory, another to know them in fact. Like having a company changes you in ways similar to what I imagine having kids changes you.

But yeah; everything happens in Johannesburg. My business development and pipeline are largely put on hold when I’m in Cape Town. It’s hard but true – when I landed on Friday afternoon, I went by the Skyrove offices briefly, then into town to a friend’s birthday dinner and what I felt? I felt like a tourist looking at the beautiful city but with my brain still thinking I was at Melrose Arch or Morningside Mall. And then later that night, instead of sleeping, I was on chat talking about … what else? 4G, spectrum, and service provider business models.

Land of the Lotus Eaters

Land of the Lotus Eaters

As much as the last few weeks have been a really exciting and positive time for me, they’ve also been incredibly stressful in ways that are hard to know and subtle to feel. When you are trying to learn new skills, or just work on skill development, it helps for the CNS to be rested. My coordination and even motivation in the gym have been somewhat lacking in recent weeks. I managed to move myself up from 130th place to 72nd or some such in the Open rankings, with a decent but sub-par performance at the second workout. Problem being that I just don’t care at this point, not only do I not particularly care about the outcome I actually don’t even WANT to do the workouts. Not the sort of head space you want to be in when doing anything resembling a competition.

Again, it’s ok: it’s a qualifier, and if I qualify it will be a different ball game. And if I don’t, that will be ok too. We have such a tendency to get lost in the weeds or the mud when we should be focusing on the big picture.

Far from home, yet close at the same time

Far from home, yet close at the same time

My big picture? I love Johannesburg in the evenings when the sun sets into the most beautiful clouds in the world. I love the look of the sun on the mountains in Cape Town when it rises and sets. I DO love the feeling of finishing a metcon and knowing it was a good performance. Of recognition of a job well done.

This week someone that I really like, respect, and trust, despite not knowing him all THAT well, did something that indicated just how much he liked, respected, and trusted me. That’s the sort of validation I work for in my interpersonal relationships.

At work: I’m very soon going to be at the point where my definition of failure is mediocre success. Because that is a very real possibility, but would be disappointing. Time will tell.

  • “He didn’t sound like a mass murderer.” – Anita
  • “No, we needed sugar first.” – Jade
  • “I think you need more cake.” “Yes! No!” – Ellie & Anita
  • “I decided to sink my phone in the bath last week.” – #Yesreally
  • “The proper response to ‘Parlez-vous français?’ is not ‘Yes.’” – Ellie (waiter from Zim trying to pretend he was from elsewhere)
  • “How can 15 seconds last so long?” – Ellie (stupid sh*t I say!)
  • “We’ll do the Open workout as a warmup, then we’ll get to the real training.” – Jason
  • “They’re the gift that keeps on giving!” – Sunil (he ain’t kidding)
  • “I’m not sure if we’re being really smart or really stupid. I’m leaning towards really stupid.” – Marnus
  • “People might get the wrong idea!” – Jens
  • “He did a good job of selling you, too.” – Ellie
  • “She came to see me, along with some rocket scientists.” – John
  • “Freemium; otherwise known as cocaine.” – Ellie
  • “I want to control the red room.” – Larry
  • “It may not be a big deal in terms of money. But it’s going to put you on the map.” – Benjy
  • “Right. You learn fast.” – Cedric
  • “I just said I thought it was offensive.” “Of course it is.” – Ellie & Roland
  • “And then I quote from ‘Romeo & Juliet.’” “Of course you do. Because when you have chickens you need to think of that.” – Ellie & Roland


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