The storm


There’s the calm before the storm. And then there’s the storm before the calm.

I’m so incredibly behind on the blog it’s not funny, and I’m actually struggling to remember what happened  a month ago in mid-June. Well, I remember one thing quite vividly: I was sick. Started in Joburg as a sore throat, turned into a fever, then I went to Cape Town where it turned into a sinus thing … I was properly sick, as in unable to train, for 10 days. TEN DAYS. That’s a long time.

Among other things, this messed up my ability to enjoy the Outlaw Training Camp taking place in Cape Town. There is this American coach who, as one of the guys put it, “talks a lot of kak,” but does indeed know what he’s talking about. I am the sort of person that doesn’t mind a little arrogance so long as it’s deserved and it doesn’t cross the line into RUDE. Or NASTY.

Jozi life

Jozi life

This last week before we went to France was a bit of a blur. It marked the start of the World Cup, the first meeting with a kingmaker I hadn’t even known existed, the first phone call with an ex-telecoms entrepreneur of remarkable success, and the beginning of what I always affectionately call “tender hell.”

It reminds me a lot of my MBA days: here’s some information. Not everything you’d need, but about 80%. Now, figure out what you want to do, why, how you price it, how you position it, and who you bring along with you. Thanks very much, have a nice day.

Luckily for me, I have some awesome partners and relationships to draw on when necessary. Even when I’m out drinking with my ex-colleagues, while sick.

The things you see in government buildings...

The things you see in government buildings…

That training camp was interesting from what I learned, and horrible in that I couldn’t practice anything. I tried, the first day, to snatch. That was a disaster; my body was stiff, I had a minor fever; I couldn’t even hold myself in position with the empty barbell. So I gave it a miss and watched, and mostly just worked on my laptop over the weekend. What a bummer.

Mostly, the week was crazy because we’d just had our PR launch and everyone and their brother wanted a piece of me. One of the things I’ve most liked about this country, ever since I moved here, was that you could have a coffee with pretty much anyone. I think in my first year I had a meeting with a Member of Parliament, and was rubbing shoulders with various Cape Town celebrities. Which is as cute as it sounds.

But now I’m in a state of feeling like I’m nowhere near famous (and thank heavens for that) but yet oversubscribed. Lots of people want jobs. Lots more people want agency relationships of some sort.

But always a good excuse to go to Starlings

But always a good excuse to go to Starlings

It’s good to be wanted, and it’s good to be the focus of some attention. But not all attention is created equal. All I wanted, around February, was a nice long holiday after Regionals. I had been through a tough few months; everything from November was kind of a blur of stress, or crazy, or burnout. Then my whole world kind of exploded (or imploded?) and before I really knew what had happened I had hired a very good CTO, moved to Joburg, started one company, negotiated a joint venture with French partners which, in hindsight, was a bit of a leap of faith on both of our parts, formed the second company, and was now sitting discussing strategic partnerships that I could never have imagined earlier.

It’s quite interesting just exactly how much we do live in boxes: I might think I’m a big picture thinker, but I am still constrained by my constraints, whatever they may be. Time. Energy. Money. Shareholder approval to take certain actions.

But what I sometimes struggle to come to grips with is that this is the new normal. And in this new normal, I must find time for my CrossFit life (which requires lots of time, sleep, and nutrition), and the work that must get done, and not getting cross because I’m feeling stressed and put upon.

When real life is prettier than the paintings!

When real life is prettier than the paintings!

At the same time, man, I wish we had a way of communicating clearly the urgency of certain things relative to others. I’m sorry but your top priority is not always mine; and my top priority is not always that of someone else.

I get cross when I’m over-committed. Or sick. The best solution?

Prioritise more. But it’s sometimes not possible. You sometimes do need to do four things, urgently, before 5pm.

Hey, it beats the alternative of boredom and irrelevance.

My Jozi office park.

My Jozi office park.

My last few hours in South Africa were spent literally fighting off a helpful “porter” in O.R. Tambo who wanted to carry my bag (and I had no intention of tipping him, especially not for trying to wrest my bag out of my hand), and watching the first half of the French group stage match from the airport restaurant. Apparently “do you have a TV, I want to watch the World Cup?” was not a question often heard around the airport.

What a difference four years makes.

What a difference four months makes.

Sometimes I wonder where I will be four months from now but hey; the future is none of our business.


  • “In a very real way, we can play God.” – Clive
  • “If we continue on our current path, you’re going to have me using Apple and I’m going to have you doing CrossFit.” – Ellie
  • “You throw a stone in Cape Town and you hit a social media consultant.” – Ellie
  • “You don’t have to break the procedures. You just have to fast-track them.” – Lester
  • “You really do have balls, don’t you, Benjy?” – Ellie
  • “The spider’s fine. It’s the crickets.” – Wendy
  • “I think we just met a different faction.” – Ellie
  • “I could have sworn I clarified that a minute ago. They must not be used to signing NDAs with companies that don’t exist.” – Ellie
  • “There is no doubt in my mind that you’ve got a monster on your hands.” – Anthony
  • “DTPS? That’s awful. It’s like something from Office Space.” – Ellie
  • “You know who Greg Glassman is? Coach? If not, go shoot yourselves in the head.” – Rudy
  • “There was an ex-Special Forces guy pushing it, a bergie pushing it, and a dog.” – Adam
  • “You’re not South African. You don’t count as BEE.” – Ellie
  • “The snatch is a dance.” – Rudy
  • “You can’t lift a bar that you can only pull. You’ve gotta catch it.” – Rudy
  • “The lower you go below the bar, the easier the lift gets.” – Rudy
  • “You can’t tap if you’re loose.” – Rudy
  • “This is magic, right? And to be honest, it’s not that hard to do.” – Rudy
  • “You’ve had a crazy couple days. You have a crazy life.” – Kate
  • “There’s a bunch of police cars around me.” “Oh. So you’re the dangerous-looking guy in a blue BMW. Got it.” – Rey & Ellie

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