Why Venezuela right now, is a fight for all of us . . .

It’s funny, as a generation who saw the birth of social media, Wikipedia, WikiLeaks & Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and so on we truly believe we are free from oppression of freedom of speech. We believe civil rights are generally kept in check by the fact that one photo on twitter can cause the Egyptian president to be ousted, Gaddafi to be beaten to death in the streets or show us what a nuclear reactor leaking looks like and what devastation the earthquake in Haiti caused. We know everything, we see it all in an instant! We know whatever events happen either big or small in each and every deep dark corner of the world, that’s the power that social media has given us.

What a dream world we live in. The truth is we all serve at the feet of the respective governments that rule us. If and when a time arises for those governments to feel threatened believe me they will shut your freedom of speech down so fast you won’t believe it. I’m no anarchist, I’ve got no complaints about the government that rules the country I live in (my home country is a different story however), in fact I’m pretty sure I could make a powerful argument for why socialism / communism is the best way to rule a country for all its people but I do want you to acknowledge the sick truth is we are not free, not one of us.

Think I’m joking? Try and tell me what’s going on in Venezuela right now?

venezuela protests students government

Millions of students across the country have taken to the streets to protest a corrupt dictatorship and through government ordered death squads they are being beaten and killed in neighborhoods and streets all around the country. The videos seem like something out of Apartheid South Africa, funny, another place and time state controlled media allowed atrocities to take place almost daily.

You think you and your country are so different, cling to your false sense of security.

Right now in Venezuela the people who are supposed to keep order and protect its citizens are the ones that killing innocent young students for peacefully protesting against corruption and theft by the government. What a fucked up reversal of roles. Where is social media? Where are the tweets, the Facebook messages to the rest of the world to swoop in and help? Where are the camera crews that are watching every corner of the earth for a story? Where is the rest of the world to step in and intervene when human rights atrocities are being committed against the innocent? It’s almost amusing the fairytale we all live in sometimes.

venezuela protests

The truth is the state owns the media, they kicked out all foreign journalists and they have banned Twitter and Facebook. There’s your freedom of speech and while the country is in an independent news blackout, they are oppressing and killing their own people to continue their governmental rape of the country, fuck at least the students have the balls to fight and die for a future they believe their children deserve. In South Africa we have all the news and social media we could ever want and our president stole $20m to build himself a new private home.

These kids fighting on the streets across Venezuela are heroes risking their lives for honesty, truth and above all just behavior from their ‘elected’ leaders and we sit around the world with our collective power of voice doing nothing to stop it. There’s your freedom of speech!

venezuela protests

You want to make a difference, you want to believe that we no longer live in a world where governments can be run as corrupt and immoral as they want with no consequence? Then do something! Share a story, post a statement, and share the pain of those kids who are not being heard. Don’t allow this madness to continue just because it’s not happening to you or your family. Feel the desperation of knowing that no one is coming to help but yet have no alternative to keep fighting.

Help free Venezuela, because regardless of how much or little you think you can do, we, collectively do have the power, we collectively can, every now and again when the situation demands it, stand together and use our voices to say enough! Enough disgraceful behavior, WE will not take it. It’s time to help the youth of Venezuela push back.

Just have a look at the video below and go see the incredible images as always from Boston Big Picture.


STM is moving to Shanghai . . .

Yes strangely it is true, come the end of March STM (well only half of us for now) will be settling in, hopefully, HERE! The details remain to be negotiated but the move is done and dusted and ‘the relocation’ is on.

A lot of people have asked me what the hell I was thinking and I guess when you are a few G&Ts in on a weekend the response is kept short and mostly innacurate so I think its about time I told you all why, even if this post may be for my own reasoning process.

You see life is an interesting amalgamation of stages, there’s the school stage, the 16th stage, the 18th stage, the 21st stage, the varsity stage, the first job stage, the engaged stage, the wedding stage and so on and so on.

What you find is ‘generally’ and I use that term loosely, groups of people will follow the trend within a time frame of a few years and so generations progress through life’s stages. Some part of that is accepting certain limitations about life, so for example in school we accept we cant drive and so our world is limited, our first job shows us we need to work rather hard to be able to buy our first car and so again we face limitations – you get the vibe of it!

As we grow so our world grows, we travel, we experience new friends, new foods, news cultures and we step out of our comfort zone in order to grow as people, but at some point that stops, well for the absolute vast majority it does. You see most people get to a point where life is ‘big enough’ for them and so they stop challenging themselves and accept the world that is now created. It can be your community, it can be your country it can be your school or your job and the truth is that’s OK, if you are one of those people who is satisfied and happy with the world you have experie nced up to a point then chances are you have found something the bulk of the world is searching for. The point of this is not to prove that I’m right in my decision but rather to explain it.

I’m different, I’m not sure if it was how I was brought up or if my environment has influenced me but I cant accept the size of my world knowing how much of it is still out there! I cannot stop exploring and learning at a stage in my life when hopefully I’m relatively green in the ways of the world. I still want to be out of my comfort zone so I can test how far I can go.

A year ago I did a course through a company called WPP (they probably own the bulk of any marketing company you’ve heard of – and a part of us) and the course is essentially for executives to spend an intensive week learning through world class facilitators. Being the youngest person there didn’t faze me as its generally the case (spose I make up for it being the loudest too often)  but I thought it a good forum to test myself seeing as these were global individuals running or helping to run massive businesses. At the beginning of the week, as is usual for this sort of thing, you put down what you want to achieve over the week.

My objective was to be evaluated on a global scale.

You see as South Africans far too often we get could up in this tiny little pond and fail to realize that if we want to measure ourselves (in an economic sense) we must go much broader. I said to my group that I was very comfortable in the world I was in at home and I wanted to know whether I could compete with the world’s best.

Now you may think this was a nice little hold hands and sing kumbaya session. The truth is we spent the next five days watching each other and tearing each other to pieces – for our own good of course! In the final session we were allowed to give overall feedback, mostly harsh because it’s supposed to push us more. I got told that I could without question compete in any of their global roles and businesses and be as successful as I wanted to be.

I’m not writing this for some kind of self-appreciation session but rather so you understand the context.

Did I allow six other individuals move me so far out of my comfort zone that writing this gives me chills just because I thought I could make more money or have more power?


For all I know they could have been speaking absolute crap and just trying to appease my hangover! But they planted a seed . . .

In South Africa I’ve spent the last three years building a field force of about 3500 people, it’s probably the ceiling of what I can do here for now. While it is a commendable effort I guess I’ve been given the chance to go run a ‘startup’ of 14 000 in China and that’s just the beginning hopefully.

You see I wanted to go to the biggest market in the world with the most difficult conditions as far out of my comfort zone as I possibly could and try and prove that those six people I met a year ago were right, not only them but I want to prove it to myself.

I believe I can create something astonishing given some time, hard work and a little luck but as with so many dreams we create them over a few drinks and then they disappear as our hangover grows, this one I want to catch and I want to build it piece by piece until I can rest knowing that in this big world I can compete, succeed and along the way grow as a person, a professional and continue to learn about the world we are a tiny grain of sand in its proverbial desert.

I guess to sum it all up I described it like a break time activity in primary school.

“I’m tired of playing marbles with the young kids, I want to go play soccer with the big boys!”

A lesson in socialism Mr Obama (and more importantly for the SAn public)!

I was sent this by a South African friend living gin Sao Paulo of all places. The point Is not to comment or disagree with Barack “I still think he is the world’s savior’ Obama but rather to understand the impact of a decision like this in our own context.

What’s important is to read the experiment and then to read the questions for South Africa at the bottom!

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before, but had recently failed an entire class. That class had insisted that Obama’s socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. 

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on Obama’s plan”.. All grades will be averaged and everyone will receive the same grade so no one will fail and no one will receive an A…. (substituting grades for dollars – something closer to home and more readily understood by all).

 After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy. As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy. When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

As the tests proceeded, the scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

To their great surprise, ALL FAILED and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great, but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.



Remember, there IS a test coming up. The 2012 elections in South Africa.  These are possibly the 5 best sentences you’ll ever read and all applicable to this experiment:

1. You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.

2. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.

3. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.

4. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it!

5. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that is the beginning of the end of any nation.

From the rise of a potential dictator to the fall of another . . .

If you are a bit confused on the heading – read the previous post!

Libya is both a tremendously happy and a desperately sad discussion for me. It’s happy for obvious reasons and I don’t think I’ll go into those but the sadness is perhaps not a topic that is paid much attention.

I was watching the news channels, as we all were, over the last few weeks,and hoping that the rebels would take the capitol and allow the very long and very bumpy road of democracy to begin. While I was watching the overriding question was “where is Gadhafi hiding?” and I started to wonder why the hell these government fighters were still at their posts after they had been abandoned, not surprisingly by their leader? I mean the war is clearly over dudes, you lost, and it’s time to jump ship.

This is where the sadness started for me.

Sure there are those big burly narcissists, (you know them as white South African Police reservists mostly) who joined Gadhafi’s crew to be able to beat up innocents, run the streets and pretty much show off their small penis syndrome as often as possible. But as far as I’m concerned that’s the minority. The rest were merely civil servants who really were not given a choice. Their families were probably threatened or worse killed and if not they were pretty damn sure they would be. To put it into ‘normal’ perspective, they lived in a place where human life only meant something if one man thought so and sadly they were forced to oppress their own people!

I have to believe we live in a world where people in their hearts know the difference between good and evil and even though the latter may be drummed into them through every kind of unspeakable act, they would still, if free, choose the former. So as Gadhafi was no doubt being snuck off in a jet to a place where his type of leadership would be celebrated (Think Venezuela or Zim or probably North Korea or Limpopo) these poor men and woman who had been indoctrinated had to stand on the streets and fight against their own people. They had to kill those fighting for freedom.

I’m desperately happy that Libya has been liberated but I fear that no one will spare a thought for those who did not want to fight over these dark decades, those who put their lives on the line fighting to keep Gadhafi in power only because their alternative was certain death at his hands.

In all your most justified celebrations Libya, I implore you to think of these people because they probably suffered the most in life and in death will go down in history as the worst of the worst villains, yet in reality they had little choice than the one they were forced to take.

The saddest thing perhaps is the jackals who are waiting at the gates (in this specific case Donald ‘the hair’ Trump and his army of Yanks) to pick at the bones of a country left on the verge of death in every possible – but hey if Trump can make a quick buck why not?  #FAIL

For the amazing and trying pics of Libya go HERE and HERE

Remembering the wall . . .

Most of our generation won’t really give a crap about this post, and if I told you the subject split families, ended careers, created poverty and suffering and ended lives for THIRTY YEARS you would be amazed that we don’t give a crap, but it still won’t change your mind!

The reason is The Berlin Wall is glossed over in schools (we have more important shit to teach nowadays I guess), it didn’t happen really in our lifetime (anything not in our life doesn’t exist to us) nor did it happen in our country – so why should we give a crap?

Well, sometimes in life it’s important to hear the pain of the past, it’s important to remember wrongs we as a ‘civilization’ (and I used that word loosely) have committed no matter how far away they may seem. It’s important so we learn from the past and we never make the same mistakes again!

Ill paint you a scenario in a context closer to home.

You wake up one morning in JHB, get into your car and switch on the news. You live in Sandton, as I do, and work in Pretoria (as thank the fictitious spiritual world I DON’T but play along) and you hear on the news that there has been a blockade put up just after Woodmead and you can’t cross it.

You panic as you try work out how you are going to scramble to move your meeting to ‘this side’ of the blockade. You manage to make a few calls until you realize there is NO CROSSING from either side. As the day ends and a fence is now being erected around what used to be Joburg you start to panic about your family in Pretoria, your sister living in Polokwane and your sick Grandfather who lives in Nelspruit and just as you convince yourself that it’s not real and what they are doing isn’t possible you start to see this . . .

Your worst fears come to life when the wall just grows and grows!

Before you know it landmarks that you used to drive past every day, barely paying attention as you zipped past on your way about the city freely are now behind thick concrete blocks of prison . . .

The only gap between you and your friends, family, job and freedom lies a barren waste land affectionately termed the ‘death strip’ (no prizes for anyone guessing why)

For almost 30 years this continued. At first no one believed it could happen (much like Julius Malema becoming pres-o-dent) then they felt how difficult it was to live with it and finally they fought their pain everyday as life moved on, on either side of the wall, they were now just separate lives!

The reason I’m writing this post is not to make you so sad on a Friday that you go out and drink yourself into a stupor (I’m going to do that regardless) but it’s because in this month in 1961 the wall went up and like I said before sometimes it’s important to remember mankind’s worst mistakes so we know never to make them again

For the pics go HERE!

London’s burning . . . and I don’t mean the riots!

The London riots have sparked some seriously interesting reaction in my local circles (I include Facebook, Twitter, oh and the old school physical circles of friends)

Normally when violence and rage overtakes a city there is an outcry and a public damning on all fronts by people, if the cause is not just. If it’s to remove a dictator that’s one thing but for shooting a suspected gangster that’s more like a Wednesday in Africa! In this case though it was bizarre to see South Africans with their mouths slightly crinkled up a the sides, taking some pleasure in the slight downfall of our previous occupiers. I must confess I took only the slightest of pleasure, but pleasure never the less, seeing someone else’s city in turmoil especially after being looked down upon for so many years!

Do we get that its wrong? Absolutely! Do we wish it on anyone? Certainly not, but when you have been the ass end of the ‘unstable African country’ joke for as long as you have been alive, you start to think it’s a bit of an attitude adjustment for one or two smug Englishmen!

The riots are one thing but something entirely different to the underlying bigger issue here. In the 80s when people rioted it was for a cause, for freedom of oppression and persecution. Today it’s from boredom, anger, dissatisfaction and disillusionment – none of which are really reasons to tear a city apart but sadly are massive aggravating factors!

London’s burning people and I’m not referring to the streets, I’m referring to a 12 year old girl saying ‘I’m getting my taxes back by looting’ live on news channels piped around the world. The youth is angry! They don’t see a future and all they need is a militant leader to bring them together, organize them and we may see something we never thought possible in the epicenter of decorum.

London’s burning and I hope dear David sees this as it is – a warning shot rather than an isolated incident. If he doesn’t we may be in for the creation of more and more of the below members of society which will mean chaos and carnage like it’s sodom and gamorrah all over again!

US debt in pictures

I’m sure you’ve heard something about the levels of debt that the USA’s in at the moment. I’m sure you’ve heard some pretty big numbers being mentioned – one’s that are probably a little difficult to comprehend. Well, the old saying that pictures tell a thousand words may help to put it into perspective and in this case it’s pictures of stacks of dollah.

A good old $100 bill

$10 000

$1 million – doesn’t look like that much, does it?

$100 million

$1 billion

$1 trillion – the US borrowed 1.7 times this in 2010 to run itself

$15 trillion – the amount of debt the government could be in by the end of the year

$114.5 trillion – the amount of money the US doesn’t have to fund the Medicare, Medicare Prescription Drug Program,
Social Security, Military and civil servant pensions.

I’m not really clued up on these issues so haven’t really commented but fcuk, that’s a lot of money! With the amount of shit going on across the globe at the moment I think we could be in for some tough times ahead.

From here.

I want to go on holiday to a Norwegian prison

There’s an island that lies in the tranquil clear waters off the Norwegian coast, just South of Oslo. It’s an island filled with trees and surrounded by a pebbled beach. Pathways wind through the forests, linking up bungalows, tennis courts, a football pitch, library, spa and cinema.

The inhabitants of Bastoy spend their mornings doing some work and their afternoons walking, fishing, playing sport or simply relaxing in a sauna. Sounds like a place I wouldn’t want to leave. Well the guys on the island don’t – you see they’re in a prison. There may not be any cells, or bars, or guards carrying weapons, but some pretty hardcore prisoners serve out their sentences on this “paradise”. And the kicker? It has the lowest rate of re-offense in Europe. To put in perspective the average European re-offending rate is between 70 – 75%. At Bastoy it’s only 16%.

That dude’s a murderer

Their “holiday retreat”. The whole thing sounds like a holiday!

You gave him a knife? Clearly the only shanks here are of the lamb variety.

You can read the full story here – it’s really quite interesting and makes you question the role of prison systems. Is punishment more important than rehabilitation? If you remove the emotion from the debate, is reintroducing someone into society as a productive member not a better outcome then keeping them locked up at the taxpayer’s expense?

While I do think there’s merit in the concept, there are certainly cases where punishment seems like the better option. The horrendous bombing and shooting that happened in Norway last week is a case in point. It also highlighted another strange thing about the Norwegian penal code. Under their law, a crazed extremist, right-wing, religious fundamentalist (that’s a whole mouthful of horrible!) who blew up a building and then single handedly shot and killed over ninety kids (ironically also on an island) would be subject to a maximum sentence of 21 years. They’re now considering trying Anders Behring Breivik for crimes against humanity as the sentence is longer. But still only 30 years. W.T.F??!?!??!?!

Testament to a work ethic

Seems like not so long ago that Japan was hit by the tsunami that devastated the country, killed a whole lot of people, and made even more homeless. That’s because it wasn’t – just over three months ago. This was the same event that put nuclear power back in the spotlight and while it may have taken longer than everyone would’ve liked to contain the radio-active leak, the rest of the clean up efforts are nothing short of extraordinary.

Here’s one such example, although you really should check out the others in the full glory that is Boston Big Picture photography.

We’re back. Well, one of us is…

What a wedding! Beautiful venue, beautiful ceremony, beautiful people and a huge party afterwards. The reason only one of us is back is that the other was the groom – so congrats to Mike and his new bride. There was a lot of curiosity around where they were going, so without going into too much detail, mainly because the detail makes me fcuking jealous considering I’m back in the office in a pretty miserable Joburg, here’s a sneak peak:

Ponta dos Ganchos in Florionapolis, Southern Brazil. Looks ok.

Insolito Boutique Hotel in Buzios.

A little more urban with the Fasano in Rio.

And the Faena, Beunos Aires.

That’ll do.

Inspired by…

I’d never considered Iceland as a destination I really wanted to see. To be fair, I’m not that clued up on the country and if for some obscure reason, the thought of it popped up, it was usually of a desolate place covered in snow, with people who don’t really talk much (very peculiar, I know). I guess “sterile” would sum up my perception.

This was just changed by a two and a half minute clip of the place. As they said on the Cool Hunter, tourism offices around the world pay attention – this is how you promote a country.


I’m inspired.

Egypt scares me . . .

At first i declined to write about Egypt because, well, it really didnt affect me at all i guess but a few nights ago after meeting the man who I think runs organised crime in Istanbul, having far too much Raki at dinner and Grey Goose Vodka at the W bar while ‘Tony Soprano’ told me that I have to let him know in advance when I come back to Istanbul (I think he may want me to smuggle in drugs for him) I saw Mubarak step down, in four languages on two W suite TVs on 7 news channels, in Egypt after ruling for 30 years.

His rise to power was similar to most African dictators, he led a revolution or was part of one, became a favourite of the people and those in power and then when he got his moment he seized it. He just never worked out when the correct time was to move on from it and so the hands that held the Egyptian people aloft became an iron fist that held them by the throats and ultimately were the reason his reign came to an end.

The problem I have, and I assume Ill have many disagreements about this, is the way he was deposed. I guess if I were completely honest he would never have gone had the people not taken to the streets, but my concern is the way the masses are starting to control politics of countries. What should happen is the democratic process should allow the majority of any country to have a voice in its leadership and while I agree in this instance that was not allowed to happen, my point is what if it was? What if the masses just were sick of a leader and decided to march, riot, loot and pillage until the leadership stepped down?

What’s stopping the people from throwing a country into chaos as they have done with Egypt? (Although in this case with valid reason). Is it the army? The police? Are they any match for millions marching on a town square? That is assuming they are in fact against the masses because as in Egypt the army merely kept the violence to a minimum rather than stopping the protest!

Egypt is certainly not the first time a leader has been deposed by the people but, for me, it just seems like a frightening realisation that the masses hold the fragile balance of any nation in their hands and who’s to say that if they are not happy with their share that they will take to the streets?

I rejoice with Egyptians and applaud their bravery and courage in finally taking the most important of stands but I cannot help but think that they have opened the eyes and ears of the rest of the dissatisfied people around the globe who want to emulate their ‘victory’ even if the intentions are not as noble!


Leaders are born . . .

I love speaking in public, the bigger the audience, the more emotional the message the better. I love to speak whenever I can, probably because as the youngest child I never got a chance to talk growing up, but more likely because I’m a slight narcissist. Whatever the reason, it means that I enjoy watching great orators speak. I enjoy listening to how they command an audience and capture them merely with their expression and emotion! In fact Id go as far as to say the delivery is far more important than the message itself in most cases.

This speech is one of the greatest I’ve ever seen and surprisingly for me it has absolutely nothing to do with the delivery. In fact the story that this man tells is one of the most captivating and intriguing ones I’ve heard!

If you listen to the life he lived (or survived rather) you can understand why I believe leaders are born and not created. I’m talking about true leaders, those who can lead people. There are millions that are smart enough to lead business etc but very few who can really connect with people, and enough people to be able to lead them and change their lives in some way. I find it hard not to believe that this man was not destined for greatness (and I’m not a massive believer in destiny as it is)

When you watch this video you will come to appreciate just how often things didn’t go his way and how many times he had to start over both in life and business.  You will also realise just how much he has impacted on our lives (if you didn’t know already).

I’ll give you an example that he gives but he doesn’t quite go into the ramifications.

When he failed varsity he decided to drop the courses he didn’t like and start doing some he did of which one was calligraphy. Now when he developed the first Mac computer he used this to create something called ‘Fonts’. Now if he hadn’t gone into that class we probably wouldn’t have the 1000s of different fonts we have today. It’s a tiny example which seems insignificant but just think for a moment when you click the drop down of which font to choose (and the millions of corporate who have their own fonts) those are there because of him!

If you haven’t seen this speech I suggest you watch it, it is truly one of the best stories given on one of the most interesting lives I have ever heard!


Put some TP in the freezer…

A New York Indian restaurant is serving up brave customers a seriously spicy curry dish that they claim is the hottest in the world.
Named the ‘Phaal Curry Challenge’, the Brick Lane Curry House in Manhattan’s East Village invites customers to chow down on a fiery hot meal containing ten of the world’s spiciest chillies.

The phaal curry is so spicy chefs have to wear GAS MASKS when preparing it.

The curry also contains the bhut jolokia chilli, which the Indian military is preparing to use in their famed ‘curry hand grenade’.

The curry measures one million Scovilles on the Scoville scale – used to measure the heat of chillis. In comparison Tobasco sauce measures 5000.

Read more.

The kid is sharp!

Having just been looking at well designed schools we came across quite a clever young dude. “How clever?” you may ask. Almost as smart as me before I came across the permanent mind numbing effect associated with binge drinking.

Not quite, but anyway…

Arran Fenandez is going to Cambridge University. Quite a lot of people do that, but not at 15 and a quarter years old.

Fernandez, a math prodigy, will study the subject at Fitzwilliam College, the youngest person to be accepted into the notoriously difficult course since 1773, when William Pitt the Younger got the fat envelope. Pitt went on to become the British Prime Minister at the age of 24. Isaac Newton and Stephen Hawking are also alums. So, you know, no pressure.

Fernandez, who says he wants to study more English literature and go bird-watching while at university, is not breaking any molds as far as brainiacs are concerned. He’s been tutored by his father and his main ambition is solving the Riemann hypothesis. He wears T-shirts with Shakespeare on them. He speaks three languages including Latin. He plays the violin and the clarinet. He has memorized and can recite 2,000 digits of pi.

From here.

Killer jersey little clever man.

Thanks Suzie