Thank You!


For those who read this blog daily and seek to use its stories, experiences and sometimes rantings in order to change the world, whether globally or locally, thank you:

Thank you:

  • For the difference you are making;
  • For the courage to stand out and not fit in;
  • For consistently disrupting the status-quo;
  • For caring and sharing ideas that matters;
  • For reflecting credit when it is easy to hog the spotlight and embracing blame when everyone would have easily dived for cover;
  • For starting that movement of elites, not the elites of class or wealth, but the elites of curiosity, passion and taste;
  • For imagining a better world and doing work worth making a remark about;
  • For having the humility to say “It’s okay, its not for you” to non-believers;
  • For letting people see your more vulnerable side and learning that you don’t have to maintain a superhero image;
  • For standing up to insurmountable forces;
  • For having the guts to say “This might not work” but we will do it anyway because it might work;
  • For sharing your story of courage and being loyal when it is very easy not to be loyal;
  • For never hesitating to teach, to point something out, to lift someone up;
  • For teaching us that if you don’t require the journey to be easy or comfortable or safe, you can change the world; and
  • For caring enough to stand up and say, “here, I made this.”
  • For embracing the notion that popularity is not success.

My wish for you in 2016 is to continue doing work that matters, work that touches people for the better, not because you expect anything in return but simply because you can.

All the best and God bless.

Being on this journey with you is the reward.

Surefire predictions for 2016


by Seth Godin

I’m betting on the following happening in 2016:

An event will happen that will surprise, confound and ultimately bore the pundits.

Out of the corner of your eye, you’ll notice something new that will delight you.

You’ll be criticized for work you shipped, even though it wasn’t made for the person who didn’t like it.

Something obvious will become obvious.

A pop culture emergency will become the thing that everyone is talking about, distracting us from the actually important work at hand.

You’ll gain new leverage and the ability to make even more of a difference.

We’ll waste more than a billion hours staring at screens. (That’s in total, but for some people, it might feel like an individual number).

That thing that everyone was afraid of won’t come to pass.

Some people will gain (temporary) power by ostracizing the other, amplifying our fears and racing to the bottom.

And the long-term trend toward connection, dignity and possibility will continue. Slowly.

Opportunities will be missed. Lessons will be learned.

You’ll say or write something that will shine a light, open a door and make a connection.

Nothing will be as perfect as we imagined it. Many things will be better than that, though.

Leaps will be taken.

You will exceed expectations.

The project you’ve been working on will begin to pay off in unexpected ways, if you’re open to seeing them.

You will start something. And quit something.

That expensive habit that you don’t even enjoy that much will continue to be expensive.

We’ll forget some hard lessons but we’ll also learn some new ones.

A pretty safe list, because, of course, this always happens.


My 2015 Lessons: “It’s okay, it’s not for you.”


A couple of years ago, I was invited to give a talk at an event in Port Elizabeth. I spent hours preparing and practicing my presentation. Woke up early to catch the plane to PE, so that I can get there early, refresh and mentally get ready for my talk.

When I got on stage, I felt prepared having worked so hard. 10 minutes into my talk, there is the gentleman sitting on the second row who started to yawn several times. So I’m asking myself, after working so hard to prepare for my talk, woke up so early to come here and this guy is yawning, I asked myself why he came to the event. So I was a bit shocked. But as I was talking, I realised the lady sitting next to the yawning gentleman actively taking notes on her pad, she was listening attentively, following the talk and nodding. I then concluded that I should not take the yawning gentleman personally, my talk is not for him. He didn’t get it, the lady next to him got it.

I then took a conscious decision to focus on people who get it. No matter what you do, there will always be people who don’t get it and that’s okay.

The famous comedian is killing it at a club that seats 400. One guy in the back, though, is not laughing, he is just not impressed, he doesn’t find the comedian funny. He doesn’t get the joke, he doesn’t get it.

Miles Davis was shunned by a few people in the audience, even at his coolest.

The theater critic at the Pretoria State Theatre might not like this play, the one that made people cry and was sold out for the entire period it was in circuit.

And just about every blog post and book collects a critic comment from someone who did not like it, did not read it or did not agree with it (or all three) and is not shy about speaking up with a sharp tongue.

Social media has amplified critics, people are good at playing angry bird on social media. We have become experts in criticism, at trolling at other people. Criticizing comes very easy for people now.

For those people, the message from the creator of the work is clear: “It’s not for you.”

If critics troll at your work, it’s okay, it’s not for them. There will be people who will find it very interesting.

The biggest two myths I have learned this year is: “Everybody will like it” and “No one will like it.”

It is not true that everyone will like what you do, and it is also not true that no one will like your art.

“It’s not for you,” is the foundation for creating something brave and important.

You cannot do your best work if you are always trying to touch the untouchable, or entertain those that refuse to be entertained.

“It’s not for you” is easy to say and incredibly difficult to do. You do not have much choice, though, not if you want your work to matter.

As soon as you are willing to say ‘it’s not for you’, you have freed yourself to make your creative work. Not everything you make will be for everybody, nor should it be.

Even more to the point, if you are trying to make something that’s for everybody, then you may be compromising your art, which means you are sacrificing possibility on the altar of pragmatism.

When you are first sharing your work with the world, critique stings. You have very few data points by which to judge whether or not your work is reached and impacting its intended audience. However, as you share more broadly over long periods of time, you begin to see patterns emerging within groups of people who resonate with your work, those who don’t, and those who are indifferent. (As your voice becomes more refined, the indifferent crowd often grows smaller.)

The key is to be willing to listen to critics and incorporate valuable feedback without allowing their comments to stall your progress and growth.

It’s easier to tear something down than to build something new. 

“The best way to complain is to make things.” —James Murphy

In those areas where you have discretion over the kind of value you create, have the courage to follow your instincts, to take risks, and to stand up for your work. If you want to see something change, then make something.

Most of all, when a critic arises have the courage to say “it’s not for you.”

Haters gonna hate.

Do your work, your best work, the work that matters to you. For some people, you can say, “hey, it’s not for you.” That’s okay.

If you try to delight the undelightable, you have made yourself miserable for no reason.

In 2016 if you want to write, write, if you want to sing, sing, here is the microphone.

My 2015 Lessons: The Escalator is Broken, Fortunately Not You

Last year I saw the above video clip played by Octavius Phukubye at an entrepreneurship bootcamp in Polokwane.

The video clip is about two “important looking people” on an escalator when it stops moving. Insisting that they cannot go anywhere, the two people start calling for help and wait for someone to fix the escalator. Instead of walking up the stationary stairs to where they need to be, they cannot see past the original function of the piece of equipment.

The commercial is not providing social commentary of the inability to walk up stairs, but more of a commentary of how people see success. Here are two people who obviously have gotten to high places in their industry and they are unable to see the determining factor between them and their goal. To the outside viewer, the escalator readily functions as stairs. Easily, these two people could put one foot in front of the other and quickly reach the floor they intended to get off on.

So why didn’t they?

Because someone told them that you could get on an escalator and not put in any effort and still get to the desired floor. Because they learned that they did not have to put in any effort.

So the question is: what if they decided to start walking? What if they put in just a little bit of effort to continue toward their goal?

Well, one might say, “They would start to sweat.” And yes, they most certainly would, especially if they had multiple flights of stairs to go up. I think this applies to our every day lives as well.

We can continue to go thorough the motions and get by or we can choose to take initiative and see growth in our lives.

While it seems obvious what the folks above should do, the reality is that many of us are indeed stuck on life’s broken escalators, unable to see that all we have to do is walk right off the escalator.

So instead of waiting for the escalator to stop and having to make the decision then, why not be proactive and walk when the escalator is moving.

Break a sweat, and when you reach your goal, keep going. Whatever it is that you want to do, just keep walking up the steps. While there are outside determining factors that are independent from you, its a decision that you have to consciously make.

It is always odd to me how once you notice something it seems to start to appearing everywhere. Its always been there and you have always interacted with it but because your attention has been drawn to it, it stands out more than it did before.

The escalator demonstrates the necessity to decide when to choose between waiting on things to pan out or to be proactive about our endeavors. When your escalator stops, you can choose to start walking or you can choose to wait until someone comes along and fixes it for you. Hopefully you are among those who choose to keep walking.

The escalator is broken, but that does not mean you are stuck. Fortunately it is the escalator that is broken, not you. You just have to walk up yourself.

Many of us have been trained to wait our turn, whether it’s for the bathroom, a sandwich at the restaurant, or our promotion at work. But the world has changed and the structures that used to propel us forward are now breaking down.

When you have been an entrepreneur long enough, you get used to doors being shut on your face to the extent that you don’t waste time being emotional about the closed door, instead you move on to the next possible door… until one door opens or you decide to create your own door and open and close it as you wish.

There is not point crying over spilled milk, in essence the world owes you nothing… Dust yourself off and move on.

But unlike the executives on the escalator, we have to learn to move under our own power.


My Top 20 Books for 2015


“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea within us.”― Franz Kafka

Books inspire me and have always been my refuge to conflicts in life. Books have changed my life and they continue to…

In 1999 or so a friend (Tebogo Segola) recommended a book I should read and that book changed my life about business. From then I recommend books to friends with the hope that they will change their lives for the better.

The following are some of the books I read in 2015 and they are the top 20 that I highly recommend to those are obsessed about reading.

1. Marikana: A View from the Mountain and a case to Answer – Peter Alexander, Thapelo Lekgowa, Botsang Mmope, Luke Sinwell and Bongani Xezw


This has to be one of the most challenging books I read not only in 2015 but throughout my life. Franz Kafka talks about a book being the axe for the frozen sea within us. This is book is that axe.

Here is a detail review of the book:


Thanks Lolo for this book.

2. Kgalema Motlanthe – A Political Biography – Ebrahim Harvey


I’m not a fan of politics, but I’m a serious fan of good and quality leadership. Comrade Kgalema, (affectionately known as Mkhuluwa, meaning the “Elder One” or “Grandfather” in Xhosa and Zulu. ), is one of the few remaining leaders of integrity and honour. This book gives us a glimpse of what the man is about from a political view.

Here is a detail review of the book:

3. Dead Aid – Dambisa Moyo


Very provocative book. Dambisa Moyo is very brave to have written this book. She not only talks about things Africans are afraid to talk about but she offers solutions.

This is a detail review of the book:

4. Zero to One – Peter Thiel


I have two rules about books:

4.1 Read as widely as possible; and

4.2 Don’t read books that you only agree with

Zero to One is one book that will challenge your approach about life. Peter Thief wrote an entrepreneurship book but fused it with his life philosophy. He believes that instead of giving a student funds to go to university and get a degree, he would rather give him money to start a business because he believe nothing beats the school of hard knocks.

If you are an entrepreneur who is passionate about innovation, you have to read this book.

Below is a detail review:

5. A Man of Good Hope – John Steinbergy


This book about the plight of refugees, Somalians who fled their country due to civil war and seeking a better life in another country, in this case South Africa. It is about Xenophobia, about entrepreneurship and about a man surviving in a foreign country.

A Man of Good Hope tells one man’s extraordinary and moving story, revealing the reality of life at the bottom of the world’s worst pile.

Thank you Tebogo Segola and Nanny Alidah Kabini for the recommendation. You guys were right, I won’t regret reading it.

6. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind – Yuval Noah Harari


Firstly saw his TEDxTalk titled Bananas in Heaven and then thought to myself, this dude is crazy. But then I googled him, I watched other talks he gave and I really liked what he was talking about. Then I bought his book and read it. I then later discovered that even Mark Zuikerberg read his book.

Humans beings developed language, anthropologists tell us, tens of thousands of years ago. Presumably the first spoken utterance was something practical, like “Lions are attacking!” or “Your hair is on fire!” But not long after came, “Who are we and how did we get here?” Homo sapiens, that congeries of narcissists, has been contemplating its journey ever since.

Here is my review of the book:

7. Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear – Elizabeth Gilbert


I didn’t read her most popular book “Eat, Love, Pray” because I found it too mushy. But I somehow I stumbled across her TED talk about creativity, then I followed her on twitter to discover that she is about to release a book on creativity. As part of her launch build up, she would release excerpts from her upcoming book on creativity. I knew I had to read it.

If you are a creative person or are into to creative stuff, Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic is a must read. I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

“Big Magic” wants to help its readers live creatively, which does not necessarily mean “pursuing a life that is professionally or exclusively devoted to the arts,” but “living a life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear.” If you want to write or act or paint, this book wants to help you do that.

8. Disrupt You – Jay Samit


The business leaders of our future must anticipate change to create their own opportunities for personal satisfaction and professional success. In Disrupt You!, Jay Samit, a digital media expert who has launched, grown, and sold start-ups and Fortune 500 companies alike, describes the unique method he has used to invent new markets and expand established businesses.

If you are an entrepreneur and a game changer, please get this book.

9. We are all weird – Seth Godin


Seth Godin remains one of my favourite writers. We Are All Weird is a celebration of choice, of treating different people differently and of embracing the notion that everyone deserves the dignity and respect that comes from being heard.

The book calls for the end of “mass” and for the beginning of offering people more choices, more interests, and giving them more authority to operate in ways that reflect their own unique values.

10. Talk Like TED – Carmine Gallo


Being a fan of TED and also involved with the brand, Talk Like TED is an amazing book about how to communicate your ideas in a modern connected economy.

For me this book is more than just about speakers and speaking, it is about (as Ithateng Magoro would say) how to transfer an idea in your head into other people’s heads. It is about ideas worth sharing.

I love the storytelling part of the book. I also love the fact that it uses amazing and inspiring TED talks as practical examples on how to transfer ideas.

11. The State of Africa – Martin Meredith


I didn’t know that there was a conference in Berlin

The Berlin Conference of 1884–85, also known as the Congo Conference regulated European colonization and trade in Africa during the New Imperialism.

The Berlin Conference ushered in the Scramble for Africa. It is interest to learn how Africa’s borders were drawn, who drew them and how Africa was conquered by Europeans. Its actually not interesting, it is sad.

I love this book, I’m still reading it, but I highly recommend it.

Thank you Gomolemo for such an amazing gift.

12. Being Warren Buffet – Nic Liberman


One of my favourite books I have read this year. I always believed that there is so much power in humility and this book has confirmed my belief.

Little is known about what really makes Warren Buffett, the business magnate, investor and philanthropist, so extraordinarily successful. So, the author of this book, private investor Nic Liberman, set out to uncover what makes Warren Buffett tick. Through an analysis of Buffett’s letters and talks, Nic Liberman discovered that the essence of his genius may just be his unique combination of character traits.

Buffett’s lack of narcissism and envy, for example, are unexpected characteristics in a man of his magnitude, as are his qualities of loyalty, love and humility. On paper, his financial success may suggest he is a man of mercenary drive, yet he is modest, generous and patient.

This is not a guide to Buffett’s investment strategies. It is a thought-provoking investigation into the way his self-awareness has enabled him to forge a path to success, and that pairing our personalities to our endeavours may ultimately lead to fulfillment in all aspects of our lives.

13. Capital In the Twenty-First Century – Thomas Piketty


Watched his TED talk about New thoughts on capital in the twenty-first century, battled to understand what he was saying due to his heavy French accent, but read the transcript of his talk and his book and got him first time around.

This is a VIB – a Very Important Book.

It is important because it is a big book on a big subject: a book of grand ambition about inequality, written not by the latest “thinker” but a respected academic economist with real numbers to go with his theory. We hadn’t had anything like that in ages.

This has to the “Piketty as rockstar” phase, when the book is an “improbable hit” and people write breathless articles about the modern successor to Marx who could crunch the numbers but also quote Balzac, The Simpsons and The West Wing.

14. Anton Lembede: Freedom in our Lifetime – Robert Edgar and Luyanda Ka Msumza


When a group of young political activists met in 1944 to launch the African National Congress Youth League, it included the nucleus of a remarkable generation of leaders who forged the struggle for freedom and equality in South Africa for the next half century: Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Ellen Kuzwayo and AP Mda. It was Anton Lembede, however, whom they chose as their first president.

Lembede, who had just begun practicing law in Johannesburg, was known for his sharp intellect, fiery personality, and unwavering commitment to the struggle at hand.

This is an intellectual book and people who are passionate about history will enjoy it. I enjoyed it.

15. Sometimes There is a Void: Memoirs of an Outsider – Zakes Mda


The last Zakes Mda’s book I read is Black Diamonds.

Sometimes there is a void is memoirs of Zakes Mda. Zakes initially finds freedom from close parental discipline irresistible and becomes a hard drinking frequenter of shebeens and an exponent of fast living and lascivious loving, but he also becomes politicized during this time. Here is a fascinating insight into the growth of development of both the PAC and the ANC in exile as well as contemporary social history. He’s made a number of powerful people unhappy with his views.

Although he ‘resisted the centre’ and ‘stayed on the periphery’ and sees himself as an ‘outsider’ who has been sidelined in many aspects of his country’s society, his contribution to the social and cultural advancement of his fellow South Africans remains undiminished.

Thanks Sibs for this book, I’m enjoying it.

16. The Goodfather – Mario Puzo


Saw The Godfather triology more than 100 times :), the read the book again, more than 100 times. This is one of the best books I have read and continue to read. This is a masterpiece. This is one book a person must read at least once in their lifetime.

I think part 1 and 2 of The Godfather triology are the best, I’m not sure what they were doing in part 3.

17. Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future – Ashlee Vance


The next best book to read after Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson has to be Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk.

Jobs was a one-of-a-kind phenomenon, as was the book, Steve Jobs, but Ashlee Vance’s thoroughly researched, thoughtful Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future has come along to provide the next serving of techno-utopian fantasia.

Musk, coming off an occasionally brutal South African childhood and an abortive stay at a doctoral programme at Stanford, was a traditional dot-com baby millionaire, rich from having been forcibly cashed out of his first two companies, PayPal and Zip2.

Where most Silicon Valley nouveau riches would be content to bask in the reflected glow of their money, Musk chose to invest his in a series of new, quixotic concerns: US$100 million (Dh367m) in SpaceX, a company working to overhaul Russian dominance of the commercial-rocketry market while planning for a future attempt to colonise Mars, and $70m in electric-car maker Tesla.

Musk boldly chose to invest the overwhelming majority of his resources into his companies, and Vance’s book is a compelling tick-tock of the ups and downs of SpaceX and Tesla over the last decade, both of which approached insolvency on numerous occasions.

18. Creativity Inc – Ed Catmull


The book also up a fascinating story about how some very smart people built something that profoundly changed the animation business and, along the way, popular culture. Think “Toy Story,” “A Bug’s Life,” “Ratatouille” and “Finding Nemo.” Mr. Catmull’s narrative is seasoned with lessons he learned in the course of building an American icon.

Its about creativity in a work environment.

19. New Need New Names  – NoViolet Bulawayo


A remarkable literary debut, the powerful story of a young girl’s journey out of Zimbabwe and to America.

Darling is only ten years old, and yet she must navigate a fragile and violent world. In Zimbabwe, Darling and her friends steal guavas, try to get the baby out of young Chipo’s belly, and grasp at memories of Before. Before their homes were destroyed by paramilitary policemen, before the school closed, before the fathers left for dangerous jobs abroad.

20. Eat, Drink and Blame the Ancestors – Ndumiso Ngcobo


If you enjoy Ndumiso’s Sunday Times columns and also enjoyed his books “Is it coz I’m black?’ and ‘Some of my best friends are white’ you will enjoy his new book: Eat, Drink & Blame The Ancestors. He is as funny as always. He has to be dubbed the best local comedian of writing.

Eat, Drink & Blame The Ancestors is a collection of his’s most memorable columns in that time, edited and reworked for maximum effect, providing the perfect overview of his unique and wonderful insights. Whether he’s consuming fermented beverages and communing with the ancestors, describing life with his terrorist children and skollie dog (RIP Spiderman), or dissecting dung-beetle philosophy with the Men of Thurst, this is the finest and funniest writing in the land.

My 2015 Lessons: This Might Not Work


Anything worth doing might not work. You might fail. You might announce your project to the world and then have to admit that it did not work.

All the rewards, all the satisfaction, all the interesting things that happen in life go to those who are willing to play in the unknown, who are willing to do things that may or may not work.

At some level, “this might not work” is at the heart of all important projects, of everything new and worth doing. And it can paralyse us into inaction, into watering down our art and into failing to do important work, work that matters.

If all I’m doing is pursuing ideas, projects, and tasks that are guaranteed to work, then I’m doing it wrong. Creative and innovative work entails the risk of things that might not work. Breakthroughs, meaningful work, and genuine connections come from acknowledging the reality that they might not work.

In doing projects and work that matters, I have learned to be comfortable with “this might not work” mindset.

This is really the idea that risks and rewards are linked. If you create something really out of the ordinary, you increase the chances that people will ridicule or reject your work, but you also increase the chances that your work is massively celebrated.

Of course, trying to control what other people think is a trap.  Not only is it exhausting, it is counterproductive. Sales (of concepts, of services, of goods) don’t get made because you have spent a sleepless night working on your adverts. They truly happen because you have made something worth buying, because you have outlined something worth believing in.

Entrepreneurs and other people who do interesting projects and deliver products to the world are usually very aware of the fact that their hard work may or may not have the impact they want. But the best entrepreneurs don’t let that uncertainty water down their ambitions or scale back their designs to something they “know” will work.

If you are sure it is going work, where is the tension. Doing work that matters, doing work that might not work is where vulnerability comes from, and the fascination.

“This might work” is the twin sister of “This might not work.” They look alike, they dress alike and they are always together.

Of course we want what we do to be successful, but the only real way to be successful in the long run is to do things you are not sure will be successful, over and over again.

“This might not work” is either a curse, something that you struggle with, or it’s a blessing, a chance to fly and do work you never thought possible.

It turns out that I don’t just write my blog or book(s) just for you. It turns out I also write to remind myself of what I’m hoping to become as well. Hearing myself, months later, reading something I didn’t remember writing or reading, I shed a few tears. Yes, this is work worth doing. Yes, being out on a limb is exactly where I want to be.

That is where we are needed… out on a limb, out of our comfort zones, doing work that might or might not work.

I looking at the manuscript of my second book and I’m thinking to myself this might not work…. but…. that’s okay, I will do it anyway.


The world owes us nothing


One of my all time favorite quotes comes from the great American writer Mark Twain: “…the world owes you nothing; it was here first.”

Even when you make your art, your best skill, even when you have exerted your most and best emotional effort into a project – the world owes you nothing.

There is nothing worse than going through life feeling like the world owes you something. They don’t. But you need to do what you do anyway.

It is important to step into the unknown and offer us your gifts, but have the humility to know that  no one owes you anything.

I get to see entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas, set-up shop, do the packaging, the look and feel and the interiors are perfect. But having done all these does not mean that you are entitled to customers’s money.

Entitlement is the joy killer.

Divas are divas because they have tricked themselves into believing that they are not getting what they are entitled to, and that they are worth more than what they are getting.

The universe, it turns out, owes each of us very little indeed. Hard work and the dangerous commitment to doing something that matters does not get us a guaranteed truck full of prizes and likes… but what it does do is help us understand our worth. That worth, over time, can become an obligation, the chance to do our best work and to contribute to communities we care about.

When the work is worth it, make more of it, because you can, and because you are generous enough to share it.

Sure share that brilliant idea, set-up that shop, do the packaging, perfect the look and feel. Do your best as far as you can, but understand that it is the client that decides what is worthy to her.

If it is worthy, she will appreciate it and pay for it.

Keep on doing your best, if certain people don’t get it, that’s okay, it’s not for them. Move on to those who get it, it’s for them.

There is no product for everybody, there is no category called everybody, everybody is not a customer category or segment.

Work hard to delight the true believers.

Do your best, don’t do it because you expect much from others, don’t do it because you expect applause, do your best because it is important to you.