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Changing the Odds

"Circumstantial good fortune and serendipitous timing tied to the cultural legacies we inherit all play a perpetual role in our path to success."

Time is the Great Equalizer of Men

If there’s one thing that’s true, it’s that life isn’t always fair. Some people are born rich, some born with Greek god like genes, some with the gift of the gab and some with higher order intelligence.

What it means to be a man.

When you die, it won’t matter if you drove a Lamborghini, lived in a mansion or became a big business mogul. What will matter is if you were a good father, a good son, a good brother and a good friend.

For the Love of Coffee

It has been equated to magic in a cup, the nectar of the gods. My close compatriots are familiar with my love for the sinister fluid.

The Magnifying Glass

TMG is an online magazine that gives up and coming bloggers a collective voice. Check out my contributions.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Be Better!

Where did all the jobs go?

In the 60's and 70's you could walk into firms and ask for a job! There were few retrenchments and one would work their way up the ladder and serve a tenure of a few decades.

These days however, we're always having this conversation:
John: How did she get that job!?
James: She knew somebody on the inside. 

Many of the best jobs are not even advertised and between the rising costs of looking for a candidate and strict deadlines, its easier to work with referrals.
There is a very real need to network and sometimes we need more than a college degree for our cv's to get a second look! 

The cost of qualifications and training has skyrocketed and job security is a rare commodity. 
Companies are continually restructuring and downsizing while labourers are continually changing jobs. Loyalty from both parties still exists but each party's individual goals, aspirations and visions take precedence.

Are you the best? 

We have to become better than everyone else. There is little differentiation between job seekers in terms of qualifications and experiences. How then do we set ourselves apart? We get so caught up in adopting the identities of our employers that we often lose sight of who we are as individuals. I'm all for company allegiance, vision and living its values but we must not lose sight of the simple truth that we are still individuals. Especially when we can leverage that individuality by providing our employers with a wider range of skills!

At the core of our corporate relationships, just like any two businesses working in synergy, we exchange our skills for a monthly salary and other job related benefits (such as location, decent working hours and other perks that play a role in this exchange). As such, we need to see ourselves as individual businesses that operate in a larger realm and treat ourselves as our very own business.

We are all our own brands!

...and like any brand, we need to develop, market, and grow our personal brand equity. 

But to do one better than this definition let that 'perception' be based on reality. 

Decide on what your 'personal brand' represents and work on building onto those strengths.

In the last four years I've gone from:
- working in a local gym to living abroad; providing me with unique life experiences.
- starting a blog; thus honing my writing skills (hopefully).
- becoming a lecturer; improving my presentation techniques.
- studying a Bcom degree; expanding my knowledge.
- Changing industries and moving to a large corporate; learning about business dynamics.

Every thought, every decision and every action has been an investment that increases my brand equity and provides my employer with even greater returns! Each of these campaigns have come to fruition with the long-term crusade of self-improvement in mind.

Commit yourself to constant self-improvement and be the person that a company hires not just because of a cv but because you're an individual with a plethora of skills, contacts, diverse experience and thinking with a high value personal brand equity.

Build your brand!

On a side note, here's some food for thought:
The only real dating advice that I can give anyone is: self-improvement.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Let’s keep in touch

How many times have we said to people “Hey let’s go out sometime” or “We must keep in touch”, but never really do? Life always seems to get in the way and we all get caught up with our daily activities. We watch long-time friends become acquaintances and relationships slowly fade into distant memories. With the advent of the new technological age and instant messaging, keeping in touch should be much easier than before, our relationships should be richer and more in tune. Yet somehow, our friendships still manage to gather dust.  Technology has left us sitting behind a screen, watching the world move around us without actually participating in its events

Life is busy
Having spent the last 8 out of 10 weeks as a recluse, working all day and studying all night, it irked me every time I had to decline a friend’s invitation for a catch-up session. Starting a new job and choosing to take on an extra part-time study load took its toll on my social life. My life was out of balance and something needed to change.  I made it a point to let friends know that I’ll be free after a certain date and then actually follow-up and say hey sorry about the last time but let’s get together this weekend.  The best of my mates have been a patient and understanding lot!

If you’ve ever played The Sims you know very well that a friendship, no matter how intimate, will wither away and break under the weight of neglect. Ever had an awkward encounter in a shopping mall with someone you used to be close with? Let’s stop that.

I’ve started making lists of all the people I need to see in the coming weeks. Like a sculptor chipping away at a block of marble, I intend on returning many relationships to their masterpiece status.
I have a good friend who drops me a message every couple of months to see how I’m doing. The one day I thanked her for the gesture and she replied with, “Life gets busy, the least one can do is send a message to check up – gotta keep friendships alive.”
I immediately added that to my list of goals for 2014. Keeping friendships alive.

Trimming the excess fat
 Sometimes, no matter how much of an effort you put in, some relationships still deteriorate. Like any business man would tell you, that investment has no returns and may need to be written off as a liability. By no means is this a permanent decision. Sometimes we’re able to breath new life into relationships. You have to weigh your relationships; decide who adds value and which ones have become dead weight and manage them accordingly.

The next time someone crosses your mind, drop them a message. We always ‘intend’ on doing many things but lack the follow through.
“What one does is what counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.”
― Pablo Picasso

If you’re reading this and wondering why I haven’t visited you yet, don’t worry. Just get my coffee ready, I’m on my way!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

The Offside Rule for Women

With the English Premier League off to a flying start, I thought I’d take a moment to explain a fundamental rule of dating- The offside rule.
Why is it a rule of dating you ask?
Cos if you can explain this one to your man, he’ll know you’re marriage material!

Ok. Imagine you’re standing in the queue at Aldo, second from the front.
There’s a brand new pair of… I don’t know, red heels? And they’re 80% off. Of course, being a woman, you don’t need these shoes, so naturally, you MUST HAVE THEM.
The trouble is, the lady in front of you in the queue also doesn’t need these shoes, but like you, she too has an unexplainable urge to have them.

You’ve both left your credit cards at home and without it you cannot attain your goal! Your friend at the back of the queue sees you eyeing these red heels and knows exactly what’s up! You both know that it would be kinda rude of you to cut in front of the queue and grab those heels unless you have the money. Your friend throws her credit card at you and while its still in flight, you slip around the girl in front, catch the card and grab the shoes!
BUT, until the credit card has actually left your friends hand, it would be wrong for you to be in front of the other shopper because then you’d be OFFSIDE!

…And that’s the last time we talk about red high heels on this site.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Who is Sergio Ines?

The 'What My Boyfriend Wore' duo. (Picture courtesy of WMBW)

A man that has cost me exactly R5140 in the past few weeks. Luckily for him, turning me into a pauper is not his only job.
 Sergio Ines is also the face behind the fashion blog: what my boyfriend wore.
He may be the front of house Dapper Dan, but credit must be paid to his girlfriend Misha Coetzee who is the brainchild of the operation, also with her very own thriving blog doing the rounds.

With their humble Instagram beginnings moving into the tumblr sphere then into a full on Dapper Diary, they have become the go-to blog for the fashion conscious gentleman.
Sergio’s ability to put together contrasting patterns, outrageous colours and instantaneously pull it all together has caught the eye of the fashion fraternity. Having featured in the July issue of GQ he is in the running for The Style Blogger Start-Up. A worthy accolade for an intuitive dresser.

Picture courtesy of WMBW
Not only will he show you how to exquisitely craft each outfit, select the right compliment of colours, he’ll also tell you where to get each item. Keep an eye on his blog and in no time you’ll be totting up your favourite pieces with equal sway.

I believe in giving credit where credit is due, so I’ve voted for ‘What My Boyfriend Wore’ . If you like Sergio’s style, feel free to add your gentleman’s gesture to the vote page.

Duvane out.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Changing the Odds

 "Circumstantial good fortune and serendipitous timing tied to the cultural legacies we inherit all play a perpetual role in our path to success."

 Over the last two years I have become increasingly aware of peoples rise to glory, or some form of it. We always hear the rags to riches success stories. Most commonly, people are convinced that success is self-made; that blood, sweat and tears are the keys to success. This truth has to be challenged.

We are told tales of the hard work and determination that got people to where they are but not very often do we hear about the path they took due to circumstance, the doors that were opened for them and the opportunities that were afforded to them. Bill Gates is one of those people who humbly state, “I got lucky”. In a best-selling book ‘Outliers: A Story of Success’ by Malcolm Gladwell, he explains the highly fortunate circumstances that were afforded to Bill Gates during his youth. The author asks Gates himself how many other teenagers in the world had as much experience as he had by the early 1970s to which Gates replied, “If there were 50 in the WORLD, I’d be stunned. I had a better exposure to software development at a young age than I think anyone did in that period of time, and all because of an incredibly lucky series of events.” Gates’ talent and drive were unquestionable but his opportunities may have been even more privileged

If there were a million other high school students who had the same access to the resources that Bill Gates had., how many Microsofts would we have then?

Through anecdotal evidence, the author reveals the underlying workings of a number of similar success stories including The Beatles infamous rise to fame and the timely circumstances that got them there.
 Bear in mind this book is not based on scientific evidence, rather, joining the dotted lines to find an alternate, more encompassed approach to success that is not as publicized and glamorous. Although, it is not entirely without merit.

When I look at all the business opportunities that were afforded to South Africans after the apartheid era before the turn of the millennium, the up and comers of that time have done exceptionally well. With the fall of apartheid and international sanctions terminated the South African economy opened up to international trade. This coupled with the new age of the Internet, which was in full swing, and a rapid expansion of the technology bubble, allowed a most pristine boom in the economic climate. Our GDP tripled between 1985 and 1995. If you were fortunate enough to be of the right age, with access to capital and an entrepreneurial spirit, it was a time to make your move.

It has become evident (less now than previously, but still distinctly) that some cultures were better adapted to cope with corporate culture, its lifestyle and the related cognition it required, than others were. In some cultures children are brought up to be liberal, to question authority and to voice their opinions and know that their opinions held merit. In others, children are taught rigid subservience where you wouldn’t dare question authority and you kept your opinions to yourself. As adults, these mindsets are taken into the real world with a far-reaching personal impact. It profoundly affects the way we interact with each other. I’m no social scientist but it’s not hard to see how the former might benefit from their more liberal worldview, a fact that’s not easy to disagree with. Circumstantial good fortune and serendipitous timing tied to the cultural legacies we inherit all play a perpetual role in our path to success.

Case in point. While I was in Qatar I noticed that every Filipino and Sri Lankan employee called all their superiors “Boss”, mainly spoke about work related stuff and rarely joked with them. “Good morning Boss”, “Yes boss”, “No boss”. It seemed archaic at first but then you realize that they stem from cultural roots that lie deep in traditional respect, values and meek conventions. Then the South Africans arrive, Indian, Black and White, almost the whole rainbow nation shows up. We kick it off calling our superiors by their first names, much to the bewilderment of the staff that have been there for years. This is the culture that we were raised in, especially in the fitness industry. Liberal, autonomous and assertive. We related to them on a different level that allowed friendships to cultivate and there was often a healthy jesting between the “Bosses” and ourselves. Whether it was advantageous or not could be disputed but our cultural roots certainly didn’t hinder our circumstances.

You may think you’re not smart enough to achieve exceptional amounts of success but intellectual genius does not determine a person's success. Christopher Langan, a man with an IQ of 195 (way above any estimates of Einstein’s IQ), being well read in philosophy, applied mathematics and physics, who had a series of misfortunes during his critical college years and ended up working as a bouncer in a night club and eventually went on to run a horse farm in rural America. Langan never reached monumental success because of the environment in which he grew up. Langan never had well connected friends and family, his background was a melancholic mix of misfortune. Nothing to help him nurture his intellectual gift, he had to find success by himself. "No one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone," writes Gladwell.

A study, conducted in 1921, by a professor of psychology named Lewis Terman that tracked a group of intellectually gifted children from 1921 until 1955, a period of 34 years and found varying results. Although over fifty of the subjects became college and university faculty members. Surprisingly, most of these intellectually gifted children with astounding IQ’s lead more mundane lives. Terman had noted that as adults, his subjects pursued common occupations "as humble as those of policeman, seaman, typist and filing clerk" and concluded:

“At any rate, we have seen that intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated”

Many studies have constructed the absolute amount of time it takes to master a skill, that number has been projected at 10,000 hours. Even the smartest of people need 10,000 hours before they can master a skill. Mozart’s childhood symphonies were a mix of borrowed works but by the time he was 21, he was head and shoulders above his peers and would be termed a musical genius. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and even The Beatles were fortunate to have unique opportunities, fueled with resolute passion and a stupendous number of hours of practice in their specialities, which allowed them to become successful.

As much as I agree that success is a product of being born in the right era, growing up with the correct culture, to the amount of hours you put into your work and to gratuitous circumstance, I would unequivocally state, that hard work and sheer grit is the key that opens the door of opportunity.

Without putting their skills into practice, without seizing their windows of opportunity, successful people would not be where they are now.

Every single thing we do, from working incessantly, studying rigorously and expanding our knowledge doesn’t guarantee success, as we’re led to believe. All these factors merely increase our ‘odds’ at succeeding. They say, the harder you work the luckier you get. This couldn’t be more true. In order for opportunities to present themselves, there needs to be considerable input from the individual - an increasing of the odds.

Keep adding to your skills, sharpening your intellect and refining your character to increase your odds at achieving success.

When life breaks down, you need to tell yourself that, it doesn’t always matter how hard you labour, what you sacrifice, the steps you take to improve or your level of commitment to a task. It’s all a matter of timing. Through perseverance and determination, either it will happen to you or you will happen to it. The key is to be relentless, adaptive and unwavering in your pursuit, taking time to shift thoughts, plans, strategies and outcomes.

Taken from the text: “Nor is success simply the sum of the decisions and efforts we make on our own behalf. It is, rather, a gift. Outliers are those who have been given opportunities — and who have had the strength and presence of mind to seize them.”

If I had to give you a formula for success I’d say: Success = 99% hard work + lots of prayer.
I’ll let you know how that goes.