End Poverty: Innovation precedes development


When Henry Ford came up with the Model T, it was a revolutionary product because it was an accessible and affordable product to thousands of people.

Prior to that, cars were the domain of the exclusive elite few.

Cars were expensive, took long to make and as a result could only be afforded by Kings, Queens, politicians and other elites.

Through mass production, standardased process, interchangeable parts and interchangeable people, Henry Ford and his team managed to produce too many cars at cheaper rates.

As a result, ordinary people could afford to buy a car.

It was not black because it is his favorite colour, it was black because black dried quicker.

If you are going to produce cars en-masse, the painting need to dry quicker.

Henry Ford democratized access to car.

Suddenly cars became affordable to thousands of ordinary folks.

Henry Ford’s ultimate goal was to achieve total self-sufficiency by owning, operating and coordinating all the resources needed to produce complete automobiles.

His Ford Motor Company once owned 700,000 acres of forest, iron mines and limestone quarries.

Ford mined covered thousands of acres of coal-rich land.

Ford even purchased and operated a rubber plantation in Brazil.

To bring all these materials to the Rouge, Ford operated a fleet of ore freighters and an entire regional railroad company.

Ford’s ambition was never completely realized, but no one has ever come so close on such a grand scale.

At no time, for example, did Ford have fewer than 6,000 suppliers serving the Rouge plant.

At some point Ford employed about 80,000 people.

As a result, as more cars were manufactured and bought:

  • It meant more people were employed to meet the increased demand;
  • It meant more need for petrol stations [a new industry, employing more people];
  •  It meant more mining of coal for make petrol [more jobs];
  • It meant more roads needed to be made for more cars to drive on [more jobs in the road construction sector]
  • It meant that we can trade with our next city because it was easier to move products between cities.

From one invention, an affordable car, new and more industries were created.

Innovation precedes development, not the other way round.

Innovation leads to development, not the other way round.

For us to end poverty, to create jobs and eliminate inequality we need more innovations, innovations that solve people’s problems and are affordable and accessible to them.

Poverty will be end through innovators and entrepreneurs, being supported by an enabling environment created by other stakeholders.

It starts with innovators and entrepreneurs.

As you enjoy your Sunday afternoon drive or a road-trip with your friends or family, remember that it was made possible by an innovator and an entrepreneur.




End Poverty: Unleash more entrepreneurs


According to new data released by Stats SA, poverty is on the rise in South Africa.

The latest “Poverty Trends in South Africa” report shows that, despite the general decline in poverty between 2006 and 2011, poverty levels in South Africa rose in 2015.

More than half of South Africans were poor in 2015, with the poverty headcount increasing to 55,5% from a series low of 53,2% in 2011.

It is worth repeating: More than half of South Africans were in poor in 2015. More than half.

The figures are calculated using the upper-bound poverty line (UBPL) of R992 per person per month (pppm) in 2015 prices.

This translates into over 30,4 million South Africans living in poverty in 2015.

30,4 million out of 55 million South Africans are trapped in poor conditions.

While the recent increase in the headcount is unfortunate, the country is still better off compared to the country’s poverty situation from a decade earlier, when it was estimated that close to two-thirds of South Africans (66,6% or roughly 31,6 million people) were living below the UBPL in 2006.

We hardly talk about poverty… because it is not a sexy topic.

We hardly write about it because those who can and should are too detached from it.

Poverty is like a plague that is to be avoided at all costs, those who escape it, don’t want look back to pull those they left behind out.

As Mokokoma Mokhonoana says:

“Most poor people do not really aspire to end poverty; they merely aspire to escape it.”

A life lived in poverty is a struggle, an everyday struggle.

Imagine spending a day without shoes, just one day. Not at the beach during your vacation. People spend years without shoes.

When we write or talk about poverty, those who don’t want to hear about it reacts by saying we are romanticizing it.

Poverty is real and is a serious problem.

But how do we solve the issue of poverty?

How do we get rid of it?

In his TEDxGaborone talk, Efosa Ojomo, a research fellow at the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation:

“The eradication of poverty is not the same as the creation of prosperity.”

Basically encouraging us to focus on the latter.

He gives an example that you don’t to school not to get an F, but you focus on getting an A.

Changing how we frame the problem, changes how we approach it.

How do we then approach this problem.

Firstly we know what South Africa doesn’t suffer the lack of resources. I mean to hosted a successful World Cup, *Phillip was here in 2010.

The problem is not the lack of resources, the problem is how we use the resources we have.

We can use the resources we have to give out social grants, which will make poverty bearable to millions of poor South Africans, but not solve it.

Or we can invest in innovations, disruptive innovations that will result in solving social problems, providing affordable, accessible goods and services to the people and creating jobs.

Giving out social grants, even though noble, does not eradicate poverty, it maintains it. 

Investing in innovations that creates industries, creates jobs and these jobs gives people resources [wages and salaries].

You can give people resources [social grants] or you can create an environment where they can invest their limited resources in their businesses and innovations so that they can provide their own resources [profits, salaries, wages].

The focus on the latter process leads to developing innovations that people can pull into their lives to help them make progress.

The question that we should focus on is: How can we create and support more entrepreneurs and innovators in poor communities, how to eliminate the stumbling blocks in the process?

Creating and supporting more entrepreneurs solves local problems, results in jobs, creates prosperity and eliminates poverty in a society.

There is a positive correlation between having more entrepreneurs in a society and the prosperity of that society.

*Phillip is slang that came out of “Feel it, it’s here” The slogan that the FIFA World Cup has arrived in South Africa, it is here.

If I ruled the world…


…. and If I could remove one thing from the world and replace it with something else…. I would erase politics and put art in its place.

That way, art teachers would rule the world.

And since art is the most supreme form of love, beautiful colors and imagery would weave bridges for peace wherever there are walls.

Artists, who are naturally heart-driven, would decorate the world with their love, and in that love, poverty, hunger, lines of division, and wars would reduce from the earth forever.

Children of the earth would then be free to play, imagine, create, build and grow without bloodshed, terror and fear.

The problem started when we empowered politicians to be at the centre of handling the future of humanity.

As the Godfather, Don Vito Corleone said:

“I don’t trust society [politicians] to protect us, I have no intention of placing my fate in the hands of men whose only qualification is that they managed to con a block of people to vote for them.”

Suicide and the battle to live


When is person is sick from flu, there is physical evidence.

The reason some people think depression is not a serious illness is because they don’t get to see the physical symptoms.

Imagine saying to somebody that you have a life-threatening illness, such as cancer, and being told to pull yourself together or get over it.

People don’t kill themselves because they can’t pull themselves together.

Killing oneself is, anyway, a misnomer.

People don’t kill themselves.

They are simply defeated by the long, hard struggle to stay alive.

When somebody dies after a long illness say cancer, people often to say, with a note of approval, “He fought so hard.”

And they are inclined to think, about a suicide, that no fight was involved, that somebody simply gave up.

This is quite unfortunate thinking.

People who are suicidal also fight so hard for their lives, while others overcome this illness unfortunately others succumb to it.

Wanting to die [or ‘suicidal ideation’as the experts would have it] goes hand in hand with the illness.

It is a symptom of severe depression, not a character failing or moral flaw. You are not bewitched, eish black people.

Nor is it, truly, a desire to die so much as a fervent wish not to go on living.

All depressives understand that distinction.

If you are feeling down more often lately, consider the following:

  • Open up.
  • Ask for help.
  • Accept help.
  • Accept yourself.
  • Be completely honest.
  • Pray more
  • Take a daily inventory.
  • Whenever you are in the wrong, make amends.
  • Face reality.
  • Reach out.
  • Communicate.
  • Show kindness.
  • Share your concerns and your worries with another human being.
  • Help another human being, on a daily basis.
  • Count your blessings, not your failures.
  • Forgive yourself but never stop trying your best.
  • Don’t live in regret or in yesterday.
  • Don’t project your fears into tomorrow.
  • Take action, when action is needed.
  • Deal with your feelings if and when they arise.
  • Don’t sit on them.

If you happen to know someone whom you suspect might be suicidal, I would quote Kevin Briggs in his TED Talk on suicide:

“In my experience, it’s not just the talking that you do, but the listening. Listen to understand. Don’t argue, blame, or tell the person you know how they feel, because you probably don’t. By just being there, you may just be the turning point that they need.

If you think someone is suicidal, don’t be afraid to confront them and ask the question. One way of asking them the question is like this: “Others in similar circumstances have thought about ending their life; have you had these thoughts?” Confronting the person head-on may just save their life and be the turning point for them.”

I pray that you shall live and not die.



To be calm is a revolutionary act


“The world is increasingly designed to depress us.

Happiness is not very good for the economy.

If we were happy with what we had, why would we need more?

How do you sell an anti-ageing moisturiser? You make someone worry about ageing.

How do you get people to vote for a political party? You make them worry about immigration.

How do you get them to buy insurance? By making them worry about everything.

How do you get them to have plastic surgery? By highlighting their physical flaws.

How do you get them to watch a TV show? By making them worry about missing out.

How do you get them to buy a new smartphone? By making them feel like they are being left behind.

To be calm becomes a kind of revolutionary act.

To be happy with your own non-upgraded existence.

To be comfortable with our messy, human selves, would not be good for business.”

Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

Pathways: Understand the critical path


How we do things often gets to be more important than what we do.

How you say something and when to say it, gets to be more important than what you say.

This means learning tactics is important.

I want a garden in the certain area, means I need grading, a bulldozer, a permit, seeds, fertiliser, irrigation, weeding, planting, maintenance and time for everything to grow.

Do those steps in the wrong order, nothing happens.

Try to grow corn in a week by giving it a bonus or threatening to fire it, nothing happens…

Critical path analysis works backward, looking at the calendar and success and at each step from the end to the start, determining what you will be waiting on.

For example, in your mind’s eye, the garden has a nice sign in front.

The nice sign takes about a week to get made by the sign guy, and it depends on nothing.

You can order the sign any time until a week before you need it.

On the other hand, you cannot plant until you grade and you cannot grade until you get the delivery of soil and you cannot get the delivery until you have got a permit from the municipality.

Which means that if you are the person in charge of both the sign and the permit, do the permit first.

That is obvious, right? And yet…

And yet most startups focus on shiny objectives or contentious discussions or get sidetracked by emergencies instead of honoring the critical path.

Once you are aware of who’s on the path, you understand the following: delaying the critical path by one hour at the beginning of the project is the very same thing as delaying the entire project by an hour at the very end.

Rush early, not late. It is cheaper that way, and better for your peace of mind, too.

Pathways: Listen more…


The thing with your calling is that it will never stop calling you.

You may ignore your calling, but it will not ignore you.

It may not shout to you in desperation, but your calling has a way of reminding your soul that whatever else you are doing, is not what you are meant to do.

Your path will always throw signals to you.

If you quieten your busy self down, your soul will be audible enough to let you know which path to follow.

…the universe…sets out little signposts for us along the way, to confirm that we are on the right path.

The path itself changes you.

So the path is to find the path.

If we can just listen and follow our own heart, our own inner voice, if we can follow love, we will find our way through anything, through everything.


Pathways: Getting lost


The thing about finding your path is that you will get lost at the beginning.

The path to our destination is not always a straight one.

We go down the wrong road, we get lost, we turn back.

Maybe it does not matter which road we embark on.

Maybe what matters is that we embark.

Maybe what matters is that you embark, and look for your path, instead of doing nothing hoping your path will find you.

Your path will not find you, you have to go in search of it.

When you embark and eventually find your path, you must ignore fear.

You need to have the courage to risk mistakes. But once you are on that road… run, run, run, and don’t stop until you have reached its end.

Pathways: …. not followed


A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives.

Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives.

She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.

There was no mention of more sex, more money or bungee jumps on the list.

Number one on the list is:

I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Basically our number one regret is following other people’s paths, not our path.

Steve Jobs puts it this way:

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Often we follow paths that are set out for us, even if they are not true to who we are or our souls.

It is all well and good to look back after the fact and see what we should have done, but we rarely know what path is best when we take that first step.

The best advice I received is to not settle, but keep on seeking my path.

People settle for a path for a number of reasons:

  • Because it pays well,
  • The prestige that comes with the path will make me look good,
  • The people I associate with on this path is good for my profile etc.

It is easy to settle for a path that looks lucrative. Do as you are told, follow the rules, and you will be fine.

There is nothing wrong with a lucrative path as long as at the end of your life you are not going to say, I wish I followed my path.

It is important to stay true to your calling, because your calling will never stop calling you.


The confusion


We frequently confuse internal biochemistry [caused by habits and genetics] with external events.

If we didn’t, marketing would not work nearly as well.

Marketing preys on our internal weaknesses.

We buy unplanned material things [and on debt] because we feel depressed on the inside and we call it retail therapy.

Our brains are busy processing chemicals that internally change our moods, but find a way to rationalise those mood changes based on events and purchases in the outside world.

We often act as though money can buy joy, but of course, it works better when we are joyful in the first place.

We don’t say: “I’m genetically pre-disposed to mild depression,” or “I have not exercised in a while and I spend a lot of time watching TV,” instead, we say, “I’m disappointed because I don’t make enough money and my boss is mean to me.”

And yet, someone in the very same circumstances seems much happier than we are. And somehow, nothing ever happens in our career that makes everything all right forever.

We don’t say, “I’m moody and grouchy because of hormones.” Instead, we say, “He deserved that outburst. He was being a jerk.” Of course, he was the same guy last week and you sort of liked him.

We don’t say, “When I dress and act like the people around me, I can feel safe as a member of their tribe.” Instead, we think, “I feel good when I’m with my friends.”

We don’t say, “I have a very complex relationship with money because my parents spoiled me.” Instead, we say, “Hey, the bank gave me a credit card so it is okay to buy things that I deserve.”

We don’t say, “I eat to drown out the way I feel about my mom,” instead we say, “Hey, if it is on a salad bar, it must be good for me. And anyway, next month is my birthday.”

The external world is remarkably consistent, and yet we blame it for what is going on inside of us.

Products are remarkably similar, yet we use their marketing stories as an extension of our self-image and self-esteem.

Should a new phone really make you that happy?

Marketers spend billions identifying common biochemical events, and then they launch products and services with stories that align with those events.

As a result, we spend money on external forces in an attempt to heal internal pain.

You don’t solve what’s wrong internally by acquiring things externally.

Marketers want the equation to be: “if you buy this, everything will be all right.”

I wish it were so easy.

Pathways: the unknowable ones


So you arrive at the intersection of two paths.

The one path is paved and well lit, the other path is gravel and no trail.

Often our inclination is to choose the well-lit paved path. It is a safer path.

We then assume that because it is paved and well lit with a trail, it leads to the correct destination.

Turns out that the unknowable gravel path without a trail, might also be the right one.

The fact that your path is unknowable may be precisely why it is the right path.

The alternative, which is following the well-lit path, offers little in the way of magic.

If you choose to make art, you are no longer following. You are making.

I have not always chosen the safest path.

I could have chosen the path of a safe job, by now I would probably have been a partner at an audit firm, but instead I choose the less travel, trail-less path of being an entrepreneur.

I have made my mistakes, plenty of them.

I have gotten lost on this path.

I have lost possessions on this path.

I sometimes jump too soon and fail to appreciate the consequences.

But I have learned something important along the way: I have learned to heed the call of my heart.

I have learned that the safest path is not always the best path and I have learned that the voice of fear is not always to be trusted.

When you set down the path to innovate, to create art, whatever sort of art it is, understand that the path is neither short not easy.

That means you must determine if the route is worth the effort.

If it is not, dream bigger.

Nothing comes without a price. Our paths are not mapped; they are made.

Ps: the entrepreneurship path is not the easiest. A lot of people have burned their fingers on this path. Some have decided to go back to the path of employment. I’m by no means saying entrepreneurs is for everyone, I mean if it is for you, follow it, even if there is no path or trail to follow.

Your strategy is not what you say it is…


In the words of Andy Grove, former chairman and chief executive officer of Intel:

“To understand a company’s strategy, look at what they actually do rather than what they say they will do.”

Real strategy, in companies and in our lives, is created through hundreds of everyday decisions about where we spend our resources.

The question is as you are living your life from day to day, how do you make sure you are heading in the right direction?

Those small acts, small decisions, random immaterial things that you do repeatedly  everyday are your strategies.

Your strategy is not what you say it is. It is what you do everyday.

If the decisions you make about where you invest your blood, sweat, and tears are not consistent with the person you aspire to be, you will never become that person.

As you continue on your life’s journey, allocate your resources wisely, at work and home.

Your strategy is what you do.