“He thought about his people without sentimentality, with a strict closing of his accounts with life, beginning to understand how much he really loved the people he hated the most.”
― Gabriel García Márquez
Ages ago, Carl Paoli posted on Twitter, apropos of heaven knows what “I love my haters!” Then earlier this week, someone posted something along the lines of “You know you’ve made it when you’ve got haters.”
I guess if everyone is happy with you, you’re probably not being disruptive enough. I do remember a time when other people’s opinions would matter to me. Now: the opinions of some people matter to me. A LOT. Others? Not so much.
One thing about telecoms is that everyone talks, and there are very few secrets, actually. You may not know the exact details of who are on your customer’s prospect lists; but yeah my competitors know much of what I’m doing, and I know much of what they are doing, including some of their upcoming pilots.
What you also find out? What people say behind your back. The [large] competitor that hit the wall when hearing my name mentioned (what are they afraid of?), and refer to me internally as an ‘enemy,’ the [small] competitor that freaked out at the notion that I might have caught wind of their strategy (same question).
Although, to be fair, I consider certain players to be enemies. Why? Competitors are there to innovate and scrap and make you up your game. Enemies play dirty, or don’t obey the same rules as everyone else, or behave unethically, or just don’t play nicely with others.
Speaking of playing nicely with others, some partnerships are coming together very nicely. Some of the people I work with (or am trying to partner with), just make me laugh. That is always what you want!
And without going into too much detail I must just say that I am so VERY happy with my choice as CTO. Of course I know whose ass to kick if there are ever problems. But the man’s got a very good strategic mind and quite the list of interesting connections, in addition to a collaborative ‘can-do’ attitude, and apparently he knows what he’s doing technically, too. Great partner in crime.
I was writing a few months back about what felt, once I was busy recovering from it, like a massive mental breakdown in late November and early December? Well, I was reading this article about the importance of sleep for athletic performance and I figured out why. Apparently getting insufficient sleep for too long can cause an impairment equivalent to a blood alcohol level of .1 percent. That honestly sounds about right. December was a blur, and so was the period from late February to mid-March.
Yeah. I lose my sense of humour when I’m deprived of sleep. I get deprived of sleep when over-worked or over-stressed.
Speaking of stressors, I had forgotten the impact of altitude on my oxygen uptake. I think I forget sometimes that if my head and heart is in Johannesburg but my body is not then I can still become re-adapted to sea level. Ha! Tuesday night tried to train and Redlined very quickly and from there it wasn’t so much mental as ‘why won’t my legs jump over this bar?’ Heh. I’d recovered a bit for the next morning’s fun with the Rogue axel bar, heavy kettlebell swings & heavy wall balls.
Not a stressor per se, but a button of mine you can push is on this whole subject of men & women in the workplace and in tech. It was actually the prior week that this particular opinion piece on the 3 worst and 3 best things about being a female CEO. I read it and was mildly horrified, because essentially 2 of the 3 bad things boiled down to “men hit on you a lot and that can make things awkward” (true, and unrelated to being a CEO!), and 2 of the 3 good ones were “women go out of their way to help you.” Oh really now? Well, sure, Tyra Banks invested in her company.
All I could think when I read that was “this poor girl has NO idea what she’s gotten herself into.” And also, Tyra Banks should not be investing in tech startups unless I missed something and she understands technology now.
I perhaps shouldn’t be so scornful of ignorant investors. I suppose people can buy publicly listed companies without understanding the first thing about their businesses. Or lottery tickets, for that matter. But early-stage investors tend to want to get involved to safeguard their investment. Which makes a tremendous amount of sense for both parties … if the investor knows what the hell he or she is doing, as opposed to looking at numbers and asking ignorant questions. Not that I’m suggesting Tyra Banks is necessarily doing any of that. But it could happen.
My $.02 about being a female CEO? I can’t compare it to being a male CEO. So why try?
I suppose it’s true that people may make assumptions about you before they meet you. But then they meet you. If people are actually sexist, or racist, or ageist, or whatever … that’s life. Deal with it. I don’t particularly feel like my age, gender, or nationality makes that big of a difference at the end of the day. Then again, I’m still in a country where my native language is the language of business. I’d surely feel a fish out of water in, say, China or Russia, but that would be a cultural handicap not a gender-related one.
Three days in Joburg (not counting the public holiday, Family Day, in which I was so sore I could barely move and no work or training occurred!), and the most memorable things were the autumn colours, a fascinating woman called Lauretta, the aforementioned killer workout, and the Jeremy Loops show.
I remember nearly as well as if it were yesterday, the first time I saw this guy perform. I had no idea that this guy I knew as Jeremy could turn into the character he becomes when he performs. I like Jeremy because he’s one of the genuinely good guys out there: he likes goats, and kittens, and trees, and surfing, and you absolutely can’t fault the guy’s ethics in any way. He’s teased me before for eating so many eggs, and once made me demonstrate handstand pushups for his friends, in the Woodstock Exchange before it was renovated. We haven’t seen each other much in recent years but every once in a while we do run into each other, usually in some random place like in traffic. Small town.
Jeremy just released his first album, and Kirstenbosch was the launch. This was the Joburg launch, and since I happened to be in town for it I thought I’d go buy myself a ticket like a normal fan, and surprise him & the similarly-charming and incisive Motheo Moleko by showing up.
The surprise worked! That actually made my evening, if not my whole week. Fantastic show, fantastic venue, and I’m admittedly biased because although I haven’t had the patience recently to brave the crowds of crazed fans, I was an early fan, and so there is history. I know how they used to sound, and can compare to how they now sound. In all seriousness, every minute is an actual treat. Very few times in my life am I so wholly present in the moment as when I’m enjoying artistry of this sort. Jeremy’s not the only one, but he’s one.
Somebody I used to know once said that the worst way to feel about someone is indifference. Love is one thing, hate is another. In between on the spectrum are a variety of other things, of course.
Quite over-simplified, but a conversation I had after the show left me thinking: if people care enough to have strong feelings about you one way or the other, that’s one thing. Not a value judgment you should attach your ego to.
But what he said about Jeremy was interesting and got me thinking: we love or like people who we find interesting, who we look up to, who inspire us, who we feel are nice people. Also: people we don’t find personally threatening.
We normally hate (by hate I really mean dislike, as hate is quite a strong word) people who we think are bad people in some way: mean, unethical, have hurt us or ours, sleazy, sneaky, etc (you know, all those behaviours that monkeys ostracise others for).
Or: people who we would otherwise look up to but who we consider to be a threat or a challenge. It’s often not OK to look at a competitor and think: ‘This is a legitimate competitor. They have a good offering, they play open cards, they are a worthy opponent.’
Of course, business is business and life is life. They say all is fair in love and war, and I love the closed RFP as much as the next guy …. So long as I’m on the list. Give me a chance to throw my hat in the ring in a situation where I care and I can do well, and that’s enough. You won’t win ‘em all, but play the game hard and well, and you’ll do well.
It’s like that moment when you hear a song lyric that reminds you of your life.
And she says to me / you’re pretty cool too
I said / I rap baby / I sorta have to be
It’s ok to be in my shoes, thank you very much.
- “People have more realistic-looking potted plants in their houses!” – Lauretta
- “I think you’re right. Get in there first and it’s all over.” – Wayne
- “You alive?” – Rick
- “They trying to make a point. Just not sure what it is.” – Neelay
- “Sometimes you paint people a colour, and they become that colour. Sometimes they already are that colour.” – Graham
- “At first I thought ‘not so bad.’ That thought lasted 10 seconds.” – Ellie
- “They called me ‘the enemy!’ You don’t normally do that for people you have warm feelings towards!” – Ellie
- “Oh. Hi, Ellie.” – Jeremy (wasn’t what he said, it was when he said it)
- “That’s like science fiction!” – Kevin
- “No, man, I’m past anger. I’m onto scorn & condescension.” – Ellie
- “True colours are out!!! Like the autumn leaves!!” – Ellie
- “So that was strike two. Strike three-“ – Ellie
- “But in happier news, Selina Lo is now following me on Twitter.” “Who’s Selina Lo?” – Ellie & Kate
- “Really? Ruckus Wireless is way up there with the Patriots? Why?” “Well …. You know, they have this dog as their mascot…” “I’m familiar with the Ruckus dog. I still think he’s real sometimes.” – Kate & Ellie
- “I’ve seen more detail on my grocery bill.” – Neelay
- “Oh, f*ck you and your enthusiasm for life!” “It’s great to see you, too, Dominic!” – Dominic & Ellie
- “I didn’t actually anticipate that – what now?” – Ellie
- “Not everyone likes me. But not everyone matters.” – Megan