I am so horribly behind in this blog that I’ve decided just to do all of September as one giant blog post in a desperate attempt to catch up. Considering that we’re now in November, ha!
I have to reconsider why I do this blog. Partly it’s so I can go back and remember what I was doing when, but partly it existed largely as a form of therapy and self-reflection. I have felt less of a need for this lately. Some days I’m crazy busy as there is too much to do, but I suspect the real reason is Neelay. Since I have someone I share most things with (even if not all of it), I wind up hashing out a lot of this stuff in a different form.
And, oddly (or not), it actually makes me more level-headed because it’s my job to be the grownup and not get too excited over good news or miserable over bad.
What happened in September? I can’t remember all of it. I know that we had iWeek and the Future Wireless Technologies Forum; I know that we had the WAPA AGM and I was then elected Chairperson at the breakfast the next morning.
I gave a plenary (in which I pointed out the myth of the golden goose of offload), co-hosted a Wi-Fi training with Ton Brand from the WBA, hosted a panel discussion, and tried to spend as much time doing stakeholder relations as possible.
The best was at lunch when I happened to be sitting with an ex-rower and he was very impressed by my 2K row time (7:42.7) and no one else at the table knew what we were talking about, so we went back to discussing point-to-point links, which no one at CrossFit would understand.
Oh either that or the best was on the night I was sleeping over so I could drink and the one set of guys ordered me three drinks in about three minutes and then proceeded to test whether or not I knew the difference between Layer 2 and Layer 3. To be fair, they are my constituents, and if I don’t know this by now I shouldn’t have any place doing what I’m doing.
We started talking to some interesting companies; our pipeline probably tripled in the month. I finally found a CRM I could stand, and we started using that. The hunt for a decent VOIP tool continues.
I complained so much about Neotel’s coffee that their secretary actually went all the way to the customer area to come back with a [bad] cappuccino. I swear. Clearly not a coffee culture. The Joburg office is better. The things I do for WAPA, I swear to you!
I was allowed to start lifting weight over my head again. I was asked and agreed to participate in my first CrossFit competition since Regionals.
Neelay and I resorted to sending each other funny cartoons, because sometimes you just can’t say what you want to say on email.
The fig tree leafed out. Whatever kind of tree with fluffy pink flowers did its thing. The wisteria came out as did the irises.
The myBroadband conference was dreadfully dreary. The only one who gave an especially memorable speech was the CEO of Neotel. The CTO of MTN was a distant second; I get the sense public speaking isn’t his thing but he does knot what he’s doing. The CEO of Vodacom said he thought we’d go back to seeing paid public Wi-Fi. It’s a good thing he runs a mobile carrier and not a Wi-Fi company. And the bar ran out of cider so the guy getting drinks brought me something bright pink.
Telecoms did its normal thing; people told us stuff and then said they’d be fired if anyone knew they’d told us what they told us. We took the information and ‘forgot’ who it was that told us.
The news that Dimension Data & Internet Solutions were acquiring MWEB was finally made public. About 10 people came back to me and said: ‘You were right!’
No, there aren’t too many secrets in this industry.
And now we get to tease the guys in the weekly meetings for the City of Cape Town project. It’s quite strange actually; what started a few months back with a lot of nervous sideways glances has turned into some genuine respect and affection. Well, at least between us and one of the other two competitors with whom we’re forced to rub shoulders on a weekly basis.
Telecoms is telecoms, and mostly we play the same sport so we can respect each other. Except, of course, the ones who don’t play the way the rest of us would like, which is what’s so great about some of our partners: we call it like we see it, and we see it the same way.
I just about lost it with a vendor, and discovered that my Kryptonite is to be antagonised. Wow I fly off the handle at a moment’s notice.
I learned the hard way that when you try and do what you honestly think is the best, you do sometimes make enemies who are more self-interested than you realise. I suppose it’s a bit naïve to think that if you act in a manner that a reasonable man would think is the best interest of the wider group, you’ll always have everyone on your side.
On the plus side, you do tend to have the right people on your side. And the right people matter more than all of the people.
I set a new back squat PB, which is quite a thing considering that it had been a while and that coach doesn’t want us to go to real max because it’s dangerous; so this was an ‘easy’ PB. And I’m now front squatting 80kgs for reps with decent ease, which isn’t bad considering that my max is 92kg.
I started training with an Olympic lifting coach, who is probably one of the best in the country. To receive proper coaching is a gift. To have to start over from scratch and unlearn what I learned improperly four years ago could be easier. But I don’t think Andrew has met a more motivated athlete because I’m sick and tired of my lifts being far below what they should be due to improper technique, and it’s an absolute blessing to have someone look at me and not try and tweak what I’m doing but honestly and openly tell me I’m doing it completely wrong and here’s how to fix it.
Now if only I could find a gymnastics coach. I’m quite coachable when I am lucky enough to get it because I like to think I’m humble enough to know what I don’t know.
I do keep harping on how far I’ve come. But seriously, two years ago I had no idea what was going on at iWeek and thought I’d never get involved with WAPA. Now, forget about industry get togethers, I’m pulling strings that I can’t even talk about because this is telecoms. I get to see how the sausage is made, and in some cases contribute to the recipe.
It’s as much fun as it is exhausting!
NFL season began, which meant the same thing it always means for me: lots of nights at home by myself watching the Patriots. I miss my days in Boston.
Speaking of I miss not my culture but I love the mixing of the things I grew up with the imagined South African childhood I didn’t have, and the childhood I did. The mix of rural Vermont, New Hampshire boarding school, old money, new money, and the college that lasted all of a year before I dropped out for the dotcom boom.
I also miss my family of course, and New England in the autumn. I miss it hard at this time of year because autumn is coming and I never cared for the winters or even the summers. But Boston on a stormy autumn day ….
Nostalgia is a funny thing. I wonder if one day I will be nostalgic for my days at Heart or my days starting up Nomosphere. Definitely I’m nostalgic already for the early days I spent at Skyrove, before I knew enough to be dangerous. I’m nostalgic for the autumns at St Paul’s, the springs in Bolton, my life before I realised I was unhappy and everything got complicated.
The days of pumpkin beer, Patriots Sundays, ‘evil’ cider, lobstah, 128&495 commutes, scraping snow off cars, Nashoba Valley wines, Dunkin Donuts, and the BH3 always come back in the fall. Even when the fall is the spring.
Well, imagine if I was to go back to Boston what I would miss? Braais and Afrikaans, Stellenbosch mountains, Table mountain from Cape CrossFit, good Sauvignon Blanc, proteas, jacarandas, crazy taxis, Jozi thunderstorms, a life that is less manicured and more authentic with its daily brush of robot hawkers, car guards, beggars, fences, security guards, firearms, and possible robbers or car jackers to watch out for at night. And my telecoms life.
I may miss New England and sometimes, California. But, no thank you, I’m not going back. Johannesburg is home and there is work to be done.
- “Talking is great. Selling is better.” – Ellie
- “I would propose you.” “You can propose that all you want.” – Jens & Ellie
- “Just because this is Africa doesn’t mean people are stupid!!” – Ellie
- “It’s not about how fast you do the work. It’s about how little you rest.” – Rick
- “Why would you though? It’s a big departure from your core.” “Side project.” “It’s one hellava side project.” – Lance & Ellie
- “You have to be in this market to understand.” – Neelay
- “I don’t normally warm up with 100 kilos. Today was an exception.” – Ellie
- “Wow, this is the most intimidating building I’ve ever walked into in this country. Do you feel tiny and insignificant now?” “I kind of do, hey.” – Ellie & Neelay
- “Uh … He went straight for the jugular!” – Neelay
- “I love Neotel.” “Are you drinking wine?” – Ellie & Neelay
- “You in a better mood, now?” – Rick (yeah, right, JUST that easy!)
- “Are you lifting???” – Rick
- “Are we lifting or are we talking?” – Rick (one track mind, apparently!)
- “Yeah why did you hire me, anyway? Oh yeah. Jens told you to.” “Yeah. That’s pretty much true.” – Neelay & Ellie
- “And to me, it shows that for the entire year, we’ve had no innovation.” – Jay
- “But how could they do that? The bar was SO LOW!” – Donovan
- “Oh, Nick you broke the Ruckus.” “Yeah, the Ruckus didn’t like that.” – Ellie & Nick
- “Where there’s smoke there’s usually fire, right?” – Craig
- “If you don’t bother to comment, you won’t be heard.” – William
- “Ellie’s a people person. She could probably get along with Jacob Zuma!” – Mohammad
- “They’re called Tweets, not Twits!” – Ellie
- “Oh you hear that, Jens? We’re celebrities!” – Ellie
- “I’m going to take a vow of silence.” “How about you start with 10 seconds?” – the best comeback ever
- “How much *does* it cost to knock someone off?” “Do you have to say that so loud?” #overheard
- “Yeah but –. Yeah. You’re right. My own behaviour is perpetuating the bad situation.” – Ellie
- “Careful of those guys. They play rough and will go all out to squash you.” – Herby
- “This is gonna be a thing, isn’t it?” “Yes.” – Ellie & Marnus
- “We can give you a cross-connect.” (MWEB to IS) “This is getting weird.” – me
- “You’re like a different person!” – Andrew
- “What? Again?” – Rick