United vs City and why sport is the greatest teacher of all . . .

I love sport, all kinds of sport, no matter how stupid, useless or irrelevant it may seem I love them all (well except South African cricket but that’s a whole other story). Each sport represents some kind of way for humans to excel, push themselves and achieve. It is the greatest teacher of life lessons of triumph, elation, heartache and so many more.

Tonight is one of those great moments in sport where everyone invested will be taught one of these lessons.

You see tonight, well actually at 3am my time, My Manchester United will play Manchester City in a football game that will most likely decide the destination of the Premier League trophy for another year.

The significance is special on so many levels. City have been very much in the shadow of United for decades until they were scooped up by an Abu Dhabi billionaire in his quest to play Football manager (as seems to be the trend) and they immediately used the open cheque book to buy a way to compete.

This year they may not have achieved their goals of European glory but they have certainly shown they are no longer merely Man United’s neighbors.

United on the other hand are the epitome of legacy, they have been at the top of English and sometimes world football for the past two decades and winning is not only expected but its engrained in every players brain when they pull on that shirt!

Tonight will be a great test of new spirit and its will to win and old hands trying to prove they are still on top.

Tonight out on that pitch you will see the desire to win like you seldom have the privilege of seeing and regardless of result it will be an epic clash. Either United will seal the title on the very home pitch of their biggest rivals and we will learn to celebrate and win with a level of humility or City will finally earn the chance to topple their generally patronizing neighbor and we will learn to accept pain and heartache of defeat with heads held high.

If you are a United fan the wounds will still be fresh of the last time we faced our rivals from the other side of town, home thrashings are not usually part of the United script!

I love sport for games like tonight because whichever way they go we will learn something and we will feel emotion on a level that we seldom can.

It’s always said with a clichéd snigger that ‘sport is the real winner’ but the truth is we are the ones who win, we are the ones who have the privilege of watching modern day gladiators do battle and thrive off the electrifying emotion they give us!

The Limitless pill . . .

If you haven’t seen the movie limitless yet then there are a few things you first need to do here . . .

  1. Close your browser and move your keyboard out of the way
  2. Slam your head against the desk until you feel dizzy
  3. Apologize to yourself for not having seen this movie
  4. Download / Rent / Buy or however you get your movies – the movie Limitless
  5. Once you have watched the movie open your browser and start reading

Now that you are back in control of your life and have improved it slightly by watching this movie you now get the title of this article – congratulations!

 

Now let me get on with telling what the hell it means . . .

So you see most industries have their own slang or terminology, this is true all over. You don’t realize how much of it there is until you change industries or change markets. In fact you probably have no idea but every email you send, every phone call you take or discussion you have with a colleague you are spewing out terms that, if someone on the street where to hear you, they’d think you were speaking a different language.

You know what I’m talking about, just stop now and think about words you use with clients or payroll or HR systems. Terms for processes, systems or job titles, words that have become such a part of your vocab you actually have no clue that they mean nothing outside of your working bubble!

So when you switch jobs or markets or industries or company’s (if you’ve ever done any of these) you will know how annoying it is to relearn all of these stupid names, nicknames, acronyms, systems, processes etc. etc.

So now imagine my situation. I have moved to Shanghai and so I have switched jobs, markets & companies. Not only have I changed all of this but every new term and explanation for the slang here is in CHINESE!

This is where my limitless pill comes in, you see you will never truly understand the frustration of not being understood until you live somewhere where no one understands you. Sure you’ve been to Florence on holiday and the waiter brought you the wrong soup cause you were trying out the two words of Italian you think you learnt – well this is not quite the same you waspy bastard!

You take for granted being able to work to 100% (well some of us) of your ability because you take being able to communicate for granted! When you deliver an instruction generally it is understand and executed, well in my world it was like this at least. You can understand meetings and presentations and you can actively participate, give an opinion, propose an idea or defend yourself when being attacked unfairly. You can understand the subtlety of body language, tone of excitement or anger and facial expressions that match sentences. You can send and receive emails instantly reading, understanding and auctioning. You can make phone calls to discuss ideas and be understood clearly and quickly on the other end. You can use the web to research.

Imagine all of this was gone. Imagine you do not understand a single word of anything going on around you and you cannot add or subtract anything to the processes or systems happening in every square meter around your brain. Imagine just for a moment that every single word that is sent, spoken or presented is in a language so foreign that it may as well be hieroglyphics.

You are, for now, useless!

Now do you get why I crave the limitless pill?

Sometimes I wonder why we do it all . . .

Sitting at my desk writing this while you are all probably still asleep I can’t help but wonder why the hell we do all of this, why we don’t throw in the career, the possessions and all the other crap and just go and exist somewhere out of mind and out of sight!

Well it may seem shallow and it may seem stupid but right now at this exact moment . . . these are a few of the reasons why not!

 

’67 SHELBY GT500

NISSAN GTR 2013

AUDI R8 LE MANS

Bentley GTC

’60s JAGUAR E-TYPE 

LAMBORGHINI URUS

LOTUS EVORA

LYONHEART K

MERCEDES BENZ R230 BLACK SERIES

DODGE SRT VIPER

PONTIAC FIREBIRD

PORSCHE 918 SPYDER

PAGANI HUAYRA

PORSCHE 911

and the prettiest of them all ALPHA ROMEO 8C

So when you arrive at work today as most of you will do in the next short while, don’t think about your boss or your clients, don’t think about your colleagues or your job description. Pick one of these majestic magical beauties and focus on that. Focus on the feeling when your butt nestles in the perfectly fitted leather racing seats. Think about the smell of a new car. Think about the feeling the first time you park it in a public place and get out. Think about the first time your foot hits the accelerator and you feel a charge of electric excitement surge through your body!

Think about that and tell me you are not inspired to work harder!

Have a great day STMers!

Who’s the fairest of them all?

There has been a lot of banter around the football world of late comparing Lionel Messi to every footballing great whether dead or alive. I suppose these comparisons are inevitable as he is most certainly one of, if not the, greatest player of the current era (Cristiano Ronaldo starts crying in the fetal position in the corner)

I never had the privilege of watching Pele or Maradona play really but from the limited amount of YouTube clips and statistics I’ve seen you can clearly appreciate their genius.

Maradona, with all the baggage that comes with him, won one world cup and dominated the Serie A and La Liga during his peak and as an attacking midfielder and striker his goal ratio was fairly impressive. I guess why he is so widely recognized is for goals like this at times like these!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jk-kXwjASEE

You cannot deny the level of skill and pace that this man possessed even late into his career (well not so much the speed) but, for me, if we are talking about greatest of all time I think sometimes that Maradona has the advantage of being traded in a free market football economy which Pele did not and that certainly gave alot more hype to his ability!

Pele on the other hand was devastating in front of goal, I mean I kind of new this but to achieve a goal to game ratio of 0.94 is absolutely unheard of in a career that spanned over 650 games (and even when you compare this to Messi’s 160 goals in 209 games and counting (0.74) its astonishing). He scored 77 in 90 games for Brazil and this completely destroys Messi’s 20 odd in 60 games!

Not only was his club career unquestionably the best ever but he won three world cups and it just gets better from there. At 17 he made it through to the quarters and scored there (youngest to do so), then in the semi he scored a hat-trick (youngest to do so) and then when he played in the final as the youngest player ever he scored twice and became the youngest player to win a world cup (not win but pretty much carry the team as the youngest player)

Just enjoy this!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7HFq1gKeUU

Now I’ve heard some talk about Ronaldo (maybe not in this category but I thought he is worth a mention – but a small one). No one can deny his talent – he is brilliantly skillful. His goal ratio for a winger essentially is superb and at Real Madrid where he can control the show he has 107 goals in 96 games!

But the simple fact is, he dives, he cries and he whines and while he his career is hopeful in its middle stages and he may go on to mature to an all-time great he has a long way to go – but with skill like this no one better count him out. The only reason i think he is not mentioned close to as much as Messi is quite frankly cause people just don’t like him very much!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8KYoR4TDw7M

Now onto Messi.

He has won three champions leagues, five La Liga titles and about a bijjillion other trophy’s with his beloved Barca. He has won three consecutive Ballon D’ors and is the first player in 30 years to score 60 goals in a season AND HE IS 24 YEARS OLD!

He has already broken the Barcelona all-time scoring record and he hopefully has another 8 – 10 years left in him.

He somehow manages to create space and time like no player I’ve ever seen and he almost plays football like Bradley Cooper deals with Robert De Niro in the last scene of Limitless! He is without question the most talented, most brilliant and best big game temperament player in the world but he does have an all-star team feeding him the ball every step of the way.

He is quite simply just magic to watch (except when he scores against Man United – then I want to punch him in the temple) and he certainly deserves to be in the ‘greatest player of all time’ discussion – yet he is only 24.

Just have a look!

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sppn7UFGOkQ

Now for the downside – he has won no major honours with Argentina and has failed to impress mostly in his international career (this lends itself to the argument at Barca he has the greatest midfielders in the world giving him the ball) and until he proves himself in a World Cup I don’t think he will be considered to have overtaken Pele –certainly not by me!

So to the initial question – who is the greatest football player of all time?

The answer has to be Pele quite simply from every aspect. For me Maradona didn’t come close in achievements, not in club nor international and Lionel Messi has not yet shown he is a world beater. Messi does however still hopefully have a decade odd left in him to prove me wrong!

Go beyond the expected . . .

By now most of you probably have seen this as it has seriously done the rounds.

As for me I picked this little gem up on the brilliant “Scribbling’s of Robs’ blog and could not let it go. As you know we at STM are absolutely infatuated with ADVERTISING GENIUS and I just could not help spread the word!

If you have not seen this it is probably the best example of taking advertising out of the ordinary sphere and extending the realm of creativity to a place that actually makes me want to go out and find the product just so I can be a part of it rather than the normal jam-it-down-your-throat style of marketing!

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=316AzLYfAzw&feature=player_embedded

 

All I can say is . . . please sir may I have some more!

A tale of two cities . . .

It’s amazing how one’s personal filters can sometimes be a hindrance in life. Me, being a slightly skeptical person to start with, you can imagine what preconceived ideas I had of Shanghai and China in general.

I think most people would have some presumptions about the people, the lifestyle and by most accounts the way the people are run and treated. I think you would probably have this image in your head of the culture . . .

And of the city . . .

I suppose you would think the people would be rude, disgruntled and impoverished, mostly, with a sprinkling of very wealthy people with a tremendous amount of resentment between these two classes?

The truth is actually quite the opposite. You see, when you walk through the city of Shanghai (and I’m referring to the CBD predominantly) you see an amazing contrast of concrete sky scrapers that reach so far into the sky that you would swear God sits somewhere on the top floor, yet at the bottom of them you see the most perfectly manicured gardens.

You see parks on just about every corner and magnificent tree line streets five minutes out of the heart of the CBD. The most inspiring part of which is that each tree, each flower bed and each hedge is planted and cared for as if it were in that persons own home garden . . .

The people are the next most unexpected thing. They are very friendly and very helpful even though most of the time they cannot communicate, but they are always willing to try. They do not see you as a foreigner (this is obviously a generalization) but rather someone who has come into their country to add value and contribute.

The resentment between classes is less of a bitterness and more of a respect for someone who has managed to make money and an inspiration for themselves to get there. Every person whether they be a street cleaner, school student or businessman all push themselves to breaking point and at this level of performance, they are only in the average category in China. The most interesting thing is they don’t push themselves this hard because anyone is behind them with a whip but rather because they have an unparalleled willingness to better themselves!

I guess the most interesting thing coming from a country where most people use government as a source of income through tenders, is that while the state owns pretty much everything here (banks, post, retail etc) they are not the only supplier and they also do not stop businesses from growing and profiting to further their own agenda. In essence they run a pretty good ship! People are looked after fairly well, healthcare is good, schooling is excellent, services work and to achieve this for almost a billion and a half people is a serious feat – perhaps there is something to this communist thing after all.

Sadly though you can see the creep of western attributes coming into the next generation – that of laziness, greed and instant gratification. You can almost see the generational shift from old China to new, and miserably this looks like the face of the China to come it seems . . .

To be completely fair this is my first impression in the first few weeks, I am certainly not narcissistic enough to believe I am an expert by any stretch but I will keep you posted on any change in the future :)

 

Hold fast to small victories . . .

As you are aware I have moved to Shanghai recently (if you are not click the link) and while getting used to a new city that operates in a language that sounds mostly like klingon is a little difficult, I have started to navigate the city and so I decided to put on my big boy pants and walk home.

Now if you are South African this concept will be rather foreign to you but never the less, I put my iPhone in, put on NERD- Hot n Fun (if you don’t know this song – YOU REALLY SHOULD) walked the total of 25 minutes to my front door on a warm spring evening. If you live in a city (I mean a real city) you will probably think I am quite pathetic and cant work out what all the fuss is about but the truth is I have never, ever walked home.

The small sense of pride I got when I arrived home has seldom been better and I started to wonder why we seem to let these small moments of joy pass us by.

You see for me I have always tried to behave far senior to my years and perhaps this has always stopped me from enjoying small moments that could be perceive as trivial – things like getting my first assistant, my first office, my first apartment etc

I’ve been so hell bent on acting above my age that sometimes I tend to forget the smallest joys in life which are so often the most important ones. Moving to a new country all these tiny victories seem to become magnanimous and rightly so. From now on I’m going to try and enjoy these a lot more – like setting up two outside chairs from IKEA (even though there are step by step instructions and a 4 year old could do it)

The moral of the story is quite simple – enjoy the little things. They are the things above all else that are most important! No victory is to small and no victory is not worth celebrating whether it be with a jeroboam of champagne or a small silent victory dance in the middle of the street. Life is there to be enjoyed and if you cannot do that even for the smallest of moment then you have a serious problem!

In the words of Johnny Drama ‘VICTORY!’

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=azziWE8BFUU