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!”

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