“If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” – Maria
The boys were having a Monday morning bad joke contest and I was asked to judge. The options:
- “I need coffee.” “Download Java.”
- “I went to go watch the new Liam Neeson movie but all the seats were taken.”
Obviously I opted for a) because it was significantly less creative (we are in IT after all).
Then, a few minutes later:
- Me: Marnus’ neighbour is Duane Vermuelen
- Adam: Awesome
- Neelay: Who is he?
- Me: http://bit.ly/18iMlwv
So I lost the bad joke of the day contest by having the best joke. Figures.
We have this kind of dynamic; and I wouldn’t have it any other way. A recent metaphor that was used by a wise old man of industry is that a tidal wave of change is coming and I’m one of the ones embracing it or even pushing for it, because it’s in this inevitable change that I see opportunity. Yet nearly everyone else is holding their fingers in the dike. I was explaining how not only that, but I was busy arranging powerful people to organise cracks because as much as the inevitable will come, timing is everything.
What he said next was that in this maelstrom I would keep my moral bearings. He said this without doubt or irony. I found his faith one of the most flattering things.
Faith takes many forms. There is religious faith, faith in your ability to lift the weight, faith in the other cars on the road not to leave their lanes and drive into you, faith that you’re on the right path.
Like a rose by any other name, call it what you will sometimes you just must have faith.
A leap of faith is when we take a step, embark on a path, or ask a question without knowing for sure what will happen next. Fall down the cliff, drown in the river, win the lottery, make the lift, or take a risk and it pans out.
The best predictor of future success is past success but just because you haven’t done something before doesn’t mean you can’t do it, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. Repeating the same path over and over again is dull and everyone has a first time for everything they do.
One of the things I have learned over the years of being a Patriots fan is never lose faith. Not all the time will it go your way, but on any given Sunday anything can happen and the game is literally not over until it’s over. That Ravens game a few weeks back was case in point – team down 14-0 not even halfway into the first quarter. Not a great start. Team comes back to tie, great. Team falls down by another 14-point deficit, and this time with under half the game to go.
Count them out at your peril. But the same goes for the other team.
The Super Bowl was an emotional experience for me. For one thing I didn’t quite appreciate the degree to which I cared about the outcome, and, for another, this NFL season has been especially meaningful to me now that I know another NFL fan. I didn’t quite appreciate the degree to which I missed the sport. When I was at Cal I was quite the ice hockey fan and I used to read The Hockey News cover to cover every week, so I knew everything about the sport – I knew Hasek’s stats by heart; I knew exactly how many concussions Eric Lindros had had, I could tell you five reasons why I preferred Rod Brind’Amour to Jaromir Jagr, why the trap was the work of the Devils (I hated them and the Red Wings SO MUCH), and I knew who Vincent Lecavalier was before he was famous.
Now granted I had a bit of a crush on Brind’Amour (when the Flyers traded him to the Hurricanes was one of the sadder days of my life!). But now? I actually had no idea Jagr was still playing or that Lecavalier has now been on the Flyers for two years. And I say this as a Flyers fan.
In California for a while I partly defined myself by my affinity for ice hockey in the land of football and basketball. Then I fell hard for football and hockey was relegated to second place.
This playoff season has made me nostalgic for New England. I think part of it has been the strange feeling of going from sprinting to stationary over the holidays and then getting back into the swing of things. Momentum is a hard thing to turn, and timing is everything. I’ve got issues in that I love Johannesburg so much, but I also love Cape Town.
I was watching my friends at a CrossFit competition in Camps Bay at the end of January and I was sitting under the tent staring at the Twelve Apostles and thinking just exactly how stunning it is. Cape Town’s business culture drives me nuts and I like being where the money and action is.
I suppose what I’m saying is that I’m a bit conflicted. I miss Boston and I miss living in a culture where a lot of my friends like football, and I feel a bit inadequate that my knowledge of football and hockey pales in comparison to what it used to be.
But then again, I’ve been directing my energies in other directions. Dominic called me a policy wonk, which to me is a huge compliment. I remember when I first met him and he didn’t give me much of the time of day (nothing personal, but he’s Dominic and I was the new CEO of Skyrove). That was at iWeek in 2012 and he was talking about how he’d included an image of a warthog in a submission to the Department of Communications.
Now here I am offering commentary on policy that I, at least, am proud of. What happens with this commentary is another matter but it’s been a learning experience for me to even be able to offer feedback about the proper role of government vs the private sector, carrots vs sticks, how to promote collaboration between incumbents and SMMEs, promotion of access to information, the balance between regulation and red tape, and things like infrastructure-based competition vs services-based competition.
Similar to not being able to understand my own Africacom presentation two years ago, I’m not sure I could have even understood the WAPA submission a year ago, let alone been responsible for thinking into some of the principles and specific feedback. The best part was when Dominic’s drafts accidentally left in some of my comments verbatim (images of warthogs are one thing but some of my raw commentary is not especially politically correct).
That was, however, a big and very stressful work package, and it came right at a time when my commercial life has been getting stupid busy and stupid stressful. The new year finds me re-evaluating literally almost everything. Sleeping with the enemy takes on another meaning when your allies and enemies shift, sometimes unexpectedly and dramatically.
January ended with some signs that it’s time to change course, some very interesting new opportunities presenting themselves, and of course, two trips to Cape Town. So many people I care about that side – from the extended Ballistix crew to Riaan, Craig & Caryn, Lara, Anita.
My new friend Candice I love because she’s got this childlike energy and glee, and it makes me relax and silly to be around her. Normally I am so serious all the time but she just makes me laugh and tell her things I normally don’t tell anyone because I like to keep my private life very private. But the most priceless moment of the last few weeks was the look on her face when I told her the stupidest thing possibly ever to come out of my mouth.
The weekly City of Cape Town meetings are becoming more and more of a soap opera. Donovan had it right in calling it Days of Our City. I remember that first meeting many moons ago; giving sideways glances at MWEB and Internet Solutions. Now we’re almost buddies. It’s weird.
My inner politician means that it’s rarely that I say exactly what I think, while at the same time I can’t not answer a direct question, even answer with too much information most of the time. Strange combo, that I’ll play some cards close to my chest and others I’ll put out on the table.
Reminds me of Aiden on the Tailgate32 RV where after the Raiders game we’re having a bit of a party on the RV as Matt’s driving the thing towards Minnesota, and I’m asking him all these questions about this girl he likes and eventually he says: “Who ARE you? I don’t even know you and I’m telling you all this!” Mike of course just laughs and says “It’s Ellie.” That’s what I do to others, not what they do to me. Usually that is, which is why it’s strange to meet people who can ask me very personal things and I’ll actually answer them.
It’s true though, if you don’t ask you don’t get. I’ve been playing some cards a bit further from the vest by necessity. It’s interesting what happens when you do that. Nothing ventured, nothing gained I suppose. But on the other hand, to have no idea what’s going to happen next is not easy. I know the future is none of our business but sometimes I wish I could divine more things than the results of football games.
So those Patriots! When they were down by 10 points I was picking at all the callouses in my hands and Richard asked me if I was nervous. A few minutes later when Brady had the ball and had to score a touchdown or the game was lost I was sitting in the arm of the couch grabbing a pillow between my knees for dear life. And it only got worse when the Seahawks’ drive converted a third down into the Pats’ red zone. This is me nervous.
Faith: I’m not sure it’s faith or just evidence of the determinism that I so reject but sometimes I just know something is going to happen. Or not happen. But somehow deep inside me, I knew the Patriots would win the game. When they were down by 10 points I was slightly doubtful but I was watching with some curiosity to see what would happen.
When the Seahawks had the ball on 2nd and goal with 25 seconds to go; I was frankly baffled. How could something that I knew couldn’t happen be about to happen?
And then it was all over in an instant thanks to a rookie called Malcolm Butler (well, ok and a play call by Bill Belichick who anticipated a pass on 2nd down, of all amazing things!). The play before he’d made as good a defensive play as one can make, but the Hawks player got a lucky bounce and made an amazing catch while down on the ground to get the first down near the Patriots end zone. This interview is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen; can you imagine the feelings that must be running through that man having felt somehow guilt for being involved in a play that could have set up the opponent to win and then managing to get a game-winning interception?
As for me, in Somerset West, South Africa, at 5am, I was in my knees also in a combination of disbelief and amazement that my certainty had been correct, despite all evidence to the contrary.
It always manages to surprise me how emotional I can get over sports. The “next morning” I was reading my Facebook feed and I kept tearing up.
I had gone from faith to disbelief that the end I believed in could fall apart in front of my eyes like a mirage, to disbelief that it wasn’t a mirage after all.
You know what? If something’s going to happen it’s going to happen.
Sometimes you can just wait, sometimes you have to make it happen, and sometimes you have to set up that deflection that tips the ball where you want it to go.
I’m busy trying to figure out how to do that. It can be a bit confusing, and I can’t quite see how to get there from here.
But if there’s one thing I don’t lack it’s faith. I’ve pulled a lot of rabbits out of hats in my life, or been saved in the nick of time.
I guess this is why the Patriots suit me as a team. Love them or hate them, they don’t win all the time but they sure as hell do have a lucky streak and they win more than they lose.
I may finally be over 2007 now. And you can tell yourself something 100 times but you can be lying to yourself. I think there’s a couple of things I am finally over, come to think of it.
Time to get things moving, then. The amount of potential awesome in my life right now is huge – even my shoulder is on its way to being fixed, after just about two years. I bet that’s a metaphor for something too.
One last one for the road – “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky
So, hello, February. Let’s make stuff happen.
- “I’m sure you don’t actually have cooties.” “Don’t believe everything that you read.” “Oh, have you been in the press a lot lately?” – Ellie & Robbie
- “We accept that, sir.” – Mark
- “We’ve heard that before, IS!” – MWEB
- “We wore orange just for you.” – Robbie
- “I didn’t just hear that.” “Well I’m telling you.” – Ellie & Enrico
- “So you are not so much asking stupid questions as telling me what to do?” “Yeah pretty much.” – Ellie & Richard
- “See, Candice, that’s what I mean by an advisory stop sign.” “There was a stop sign?” – Ellie & Richard (yes there was a stop sign; we were entering a national highway…)
- “It’s for padded wimps.” “I think we can agree to disagree on this point.” – Marnus & Ellie
- “He’s a fan of my team. He’s a good employee.” – Ellie
- “We love the same things.” “No. You’re a Seahawks fan. We do not love the same things!” – Riaan & Ellie
- “Part of being the good guys is to identify and take down the bad guys.” – Ellie
- “They probably think I’m crazy. Little do they know it’s their fault!” – Candice
- “This would not be a good time to make up a reference number, or my bag might wind up in Outer Mongolia!” “Hehehe. Yeah.” – Ellie & Kulula check-in guy
- “Not if you win and they are Seahawks fans.” “They’re from Mountain View. They won’t be Seahawks fans.” “So they will be fans of the Bears?” – Adam, Ellie, & Neelay
- “I just need to check that the rack setup is the equipment that they actually sent us. I doubt that it is.” – Neelay
- “We’re such opportunists. It’s great!” – Neelay
- “Company X?” “Do you want me to punch you?” … a few minutes later … “Company Y?” “OK now you must really want a punch!” – Neelay & Ellie
- “They got bought by a company in Somerset West.” “Somerset West? What the heck is in Somerset West?” – Jalal & Ellie
- “Exchange has no power. FML.” “TIA.” – Ellie & Neelay
- “Don’t hate the player. Hate the game.” “Change the game.” – Ellie & Paul
- “If we don’t get the Regulator right, nothing’s going to happen.” – Dominic
- “It’s hard to dumb down the multidimensional nature of spectrum.” – Dominic
- “Doable.” – Richard
- “You fly too much.” – Kulula staff member at Lanseria
- “What else are you not seeing?” – Dale
- “Probably the same way the submarine got plugged into the power grid.” – Ellie
- “He just says: ‘It’s not good.’ And if you ask him how you can fix it he says: ‘You can’t.’” – Craig (the subject was Eskom, and he was quoting his grandfather who was very senior in the energy field)
- “We’re not last, we’re third.” – Mark
- “I wore your colours today. Did you notice?” “I did, actually.” – Ellie & Robbie
- “We eventually did get it to go down.” – Robert
- “It’s not AlwaysOn.” – Mark (what he actually said was ‘It’s not always on’)
- “Should I minute that?” – Anton
- “Why is everyone looking at me?” – Robbie
- “Freudian slip?” – Frits
- “I won’t say it but you know what I’m thinking.” “That’s the same as saying it!” – Candice & Ellie
- “Some people don’t like bread. Bread is pizza.” – Dennit
- “You said *that*? That’s worse than me!” – Candice
- “I’m not rationalising. I’m explaining how I would rationalise if I was going to rationalise.” – Ellie
- “I love it when you’re here. Even if you’re working and I’m …. Stalking people.” – Candice
- “That’s epic. True. But epic.” – Sam
- “I have literally been crying tears of joy.” – Craig
- “As with the internet you’ll just route around it.” – Dominic
- “There’s only so many times you can bash your head against a brick wall before you realise your head is taking more strain than the wall.” – Ellie
- “James please brew up some elixir of enthusiasm for me.” – Dominic
- “They need all the help they can get. As I said I think you’re on the right track.” – Dominic