There are times in your life when you’ve tried to help people, and it seems it all backfired. This is really the meaning of “no good deed goes unpunished.” And I’m reminded of the failure of friendships every day as I witness how people have withdrawn into themselves either through smartphones or endless downloaded TV shows.
In high school I wrote a angry poem: Nice Guys Finished Last. It was the story of my frustration with being a nice guy, and yet being a lonely guy with no girlfriend. As I reflected upon this poem, it dawned on me that being the nice guy has nothing to do with it. It was clear that I was not being nice to myself. So if I did not respect myself, how could I expect others to do the same.
No good deed goes unpunished – this is a phrase I first heard in some self help audio interviews. The guru was so confident, he almost seemed to be full of himself. I later found out he is a multimillionaire, and I’m sure it didn’t help being rich while making lofty pronouncements.
Since I moved to China in 2013 I tried to spend 80% of my time with Chinese friends. After all I didn’t move half way around the world to meet more foreigners. In my MBA class we are 11 students from all over the world. I was helpful to them as can be being older, more experienced in business. This didn’t work out exactly as planned.
As relationships with my classmates soured, I pulled back. I tried my best to maintain some real friendships until I helped one personal financially. This reminds me of another kind of life lesson: do not mix business with pleasure. In the end I don’t regret helping this particular guy, he just reminded me that no good deed goes unpunished.
You’re far better off helping yourself become the best you can possibly be. You can lead by example, and others will follow. When you help people out of their misery, be careful. You’ve offered them a finger and they may grab your whole arm. The wise among us know that doing less is more.
“There are only four questions of value in life, Don Octavio. What is sacred? Of what is the spirit made? What is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? The answer to each is the same: only love.” Don Juan Demarco
Good evening Madam Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, Ladies and Gentleman
Who here has ever been in love? Ah yes, I see most of you…
The greatest joy you can possibly experience is falling in love. I’m sure you would all agree unless you were single on Valentine’s Day 😉 This is a story for those of you who may have lost hope in love. So follow me on this journey…
Our story starts with a mysterious young man determined to end his life. Wearing a consume reminiscent of Zorro including the mask, before he kills himself, he first wants to have one last conquest. So he makes his way to a nearby hotel, and proceeds to seduce the first woman sitting alone. He claims no woman has ever left his arms unsatisfied. Later we find him on top of a very large street sign with a model wearing the same mask, where he is supposedly going to jump to his death.
The police calls in a psychiatrist, Dr Mickler, to talk him into coming down. Before the psychiatrist can even begin to talk, the mystery man almost stabs him with his fencing sword demanding to know where his opponent is. Dr Mickler assumes the identity of a aristocratic Spanish nobleman, Don Octavio Del Flores, to gain the confidence of the young Don Juan. He is asks, “Thee Don Juan?” with great surprise as to the identify of his soon-to-be patient. After gaining his confidence, Don Juan agrees to go with Dr Mickler.
Even though the Dr Mickler has been married to his beautiful wife for decades, it’s clearly devoid of passion. As he gets to know Don Juan, he realises he is getting old and does not want to extinguished the flame of love. While Don Juan is having a distracting influence on the female staff at the hospital, he is also rejuvenating the romance and passion in his Doctor’s marriage. It’s like a love transfusion from the young man to the old man.
Dr Mickler’s wife is shocked by the sudden increase in libido of her husband, who a week from retirement. He’s sessions with Don Juan leads him to question how he looks at his wife, how he deeply he really knows her. At one point he takes her on a date, gives her diamond earnings, flowers, and serenades her with guitar music. He’s wife is not exactly intimated but being a realist she tries to calm down her husband, so he may retire gracefully.
Back to Don Juan story…
After his first love affair with a married woman, he is accidentally sold into slavery with an Arabian Sultan. The Sultan’s 4th wife takes him as a lover. To make sure he is not discovered, she hides him among 1,500 concubines. I will leave it to your imagination what happened until he’s forced to escape yet again.
This time his journey ends up stranded and meets the love of his life, Dona Ana. They fall deeply and passionately in love. And after some time they commit to spend the rest of their lives with each other. Dona Ana innocently asks Don Juan if he will be wearing a mask for the rest of their lives. He recounts the story of his first love, Dona Julia and how to swore to wear the mask because he’s father died, defending him and he’s mother’s honour.
When she asks him how many other’s there’s been. He says, “Including you, there’s been exactly 1,502.” A sum substantially bigger than she anticipated. He removed his mark as a sign of his remorse. Dona Ana mocks him by taking the mask, and leaving him on the island.
Dr Mickler believes Don Juan’s story, helps him gain release from the mental hospital. Instead of watching 50 Shades of Grey, remember 50 Shades of Love this year.
In grade 12 I achieved the top marks for Mathematics HG. This was the culmination of two years of preparation, and mostly completing old exam papers from the previous three years. After seeing this TED Talk by Conrad Wolfram posted on the Facebook page of Claire Marketos, I suggested she contact Roger Layton. He told me a few days ago he submitted his Ph.D. thesis on a similar. You may read his reply below after the video…
Roger Layton: I do not actually agree with what Conrad has to say in this video. He is (not so subtly) punting his Mathematica products and others such as Wolfram Alpha. However, it is difficult to criticise him and Wolfram Research in general since they are A-list in the mathematics world – but that does not make them correct. My kids learned LOGO at school and that did not make them better mathematicians. The usage of the calculator has definitely reduced learners ability to perform mental calculations, and with calculators doing more and more this is becoming worse over time. He has a point that technology allows us to doing things better, but human understanding is compromised if we use technology too much.
My own research explored the question of what computers should be used for in the mathematics classroom and my focus is on diagnostic assessment – discovering of conceptual barriers to understanding rather than as a tool to aid conceptual development. This is different from Conrad Wolfram’s perspective here and his talk is not aligned with modern thinking of what mathematics is and what mathematical proficiency is, and this is multi-dimensional and not limited to calculations alone. I think he is out of touch. Claire Marketos: I like Conrad”s idea of using computers to spend more time problem solving. For bright maths students the primary years are tedious as they are expected to do basic computing over and over again. For them being able to use computers to solve problems would be more satisfying. What is your hands on experience with learners Roger?
Today I received this invitation from CIS Toastmasters club in Houghton, Johannesburg. This was the first Toastmasters club I joined in 2006 and where I completed my Competent Communicator level. I was also the responsible for setting up the club website, which become #1 ranked website for the keyword “Toastmasters” on Google South Africa.
Anyway I’m thrilled to be invited to join the 1,000th meeting next week. Here’s the invitation:
Compliments of the season to you all and best wishes for 2015. I hope you all had a wonderful rest and are eager to start to the new year of with a bang!
Our next meeting is a major milestone for our club as it is the 1000th meeting since the club started in 1973. As a result we have limited our speakers list to 3 prepared speeches and are very fortunate to be receiving an inspiring address by Justin Cohen, a well known, Professional Motivational Speaker.
We will also receive a general evaluation from a previous CIS Toastmasters member, Ramon Thomas. Ramon was a member of our club back in 2006 and is now living in China.
Attached please find the provisional programme for this meeting 13th January 2015. Please note the changes to this programme from our usual Programme setup and feel to contact me if you have any questions in this regard.
Please Note,there will also be a cover charge for Visitors/Guests of R30 per person.
Watching a video by business coach Shannon Waller, I want to express my sincerest gratitude before Christmas 2014. Gratitude is an inoculation against guilt or anxiety in your life. When you are grateful and you appreciate the people and things you have, you don’t feel bad about what you don’t have in you life. These are words to live by if you’re feeling lonely this Christmas season. Here’s my top 5 reasons I am grateful in 2014:
Making New Friends – When I moved to China in September 2013 it was very difficult for me to adjust to the new culture, new environment and the Chinese language. Terry Jiang has become my best friend in Ningbo. I always appreciate how he helps me with simple and complex translation with other Chinese people, especially at the first business dinner I had with the owners of a Clothing Factory. It turned out these Chinese business people were speaking the local dialect in Ningbo, and since Terry was born in the same city, he could easily understand and interpret my conversion. Thank you for being such a great friend.
Finding A Support Group – When you’re a stranger in a strange land, you can either go it alone or you can find a support group. Before I moved from South Africa to Ningbo, China I looked for a Toastmasters club and found only one. Just over one year later we now have 3 clubs and about 100 members. A special thank you to Ningbo #1 Toastmasters club and the immediate past president Vanessa Yang and new president Larry Kowk for your support.
Support From My Mother – My mother has been a pillar of support my whole life. Having raised me by herself without my father, she did an amazing job. She was the one who kept in contact via Skype with me, sometimes on a daily basis, to give me encouragement. Mom I appreciate all those early morning or late night phone calls because of the time zone differences. A special thanks to my sister’s son Caleb and daughter Payton who often talked to me on Skype even though they couldn’t always see my video.
Good Health – My father has had 4 heart attacks over 5 years; my mother has high blood pressure but no serious illnesses. So I am confident I have some good genes to keep me healthy, because I don’t exercise enough, hate jogging and never have enough time to go to the gym. Bad habits, like smoking, have returned while living in China, so I have to avoid other smokers to help me stop. Good health always includes eating healthily, drinking water and some exercise. However, I do have a good role model in the form of Uncle Andrew, who died at age 88 in 2015. He walked an average of +10km from the time I become conscious of his routines. So instead of reinventing the wheel and whenever possible, I plan to emulate his habits and daily routines which encouraged good health. Thank you Uncle Andrew!
Relationships with Women – Whenever I was dumped, I used to believe I didn’t deserve it, I was such a great guy, and so on. Well now, I can easily say to all ex-girlfriends, thank you for breaking up with me, thank you for dumping or rejecting me. All the bad relationships with women in the past, makes my new relationships better because I learned how to avoid the same mistakes. As I always encourage other people who are trying to move on from past relationships, “You cannot open the door to new relationships, unless you close the door behind you.” Why? Because the draughty wind from the past will spoil the new opportunity in front of you. And as Tom Leykis taught me, the best revenge is to become successful.
MBA Students are notoriously busy people. Either they are taking many classes or running a business on the side. In China we also have to learn Chinese language (Mandarin), the Putonghua or common language of the people in the world’s second largest economy. To truly have an advantage after graduating from MBA school, you need to have superior communications skills.
Toastmasters International is the leading organisation worldwide offering structured training through regular meetings in communication and leadership. Many complete only the basic level of Competent Communicator (CC), which is 10 prepared speeches with feedback, to ensure they have a foundation in public speaking and delivering presentations in a confident manner.
MBA students enter the business world with high expectations from their colleagues and hiring managers. You are almost certainly on a fast track to management and eventually CEO with some hard work. However, most business schools do not directly offer training in sales, persuasion or public speaking. Enter the Toastmasters Communications track:
After receiving CC recognition, you can work in the Advanced Communication Series. There are 15 manuals, each containing five speech projects. Many of the manuals are career-oriented. You choose the manuals you want to complete and the skills you want to learn. Working in the advanced manuals, you’ll refine and enhance your speaking skills and become eligible for several awards:
As an MBA student at Ningbo University (NBU) in Zhejiang province, China, I’ve been thrilled by the impact the new Toastmasters club has had in bringing together both foreign and Chinese students on a regular basis for a shared learning experience.
The Business College at NBU has sponsored for chartering of the Toastmasters club. Membership is limited to students, teachers and graduates. Of course guests from other clubs and the community are always welcome. We decided on this to ensure a feeling of fraternity among members. Students get to meet graduates, many of whom have started their own businesses. They have opportunities to practise and prepare for class presentations, oral examination through Table Topics and much more.
MBA students may apply some of theoretical ideas in a practical ways by sharing business ideas or case studies from class. Certainly entrepreneurs do pitches to investors when they start new businesses; on the other hand you may enter sales areas where you need to persuade the audience to your point of view. And when you’re the CEO you need to inspire and lead your team. All in-all is available for an investment of only $36 per 6 months.
What are you waiting for to join?
Attention: Jacques Cilliers
CEO, First National Bank
Dear Mr Cilliers
After 11 years I decided to close all my bank accounts with First National Bank. One reason is because I’ve moved to China and have no plans to return to South Africa while Jacob Zuma is president. The more serious reason is the horrendous experience of passing the buck and customer service I’ve experienced.
This was personal on so many levels. And yet I’m haunted by Don Miguel Ruiz’s admonition: Don’t Take Anything Personally. This is extremely difficult for me because I was almost born into this bank. My mother worked for FNB from the time it was Barclays Bank until retiring in 2009 after 33 years. I was also staff member in 2003 working in Randburg Computer Centre with a direct responsibility for keeping the Internet banking systems safe and secure from hackers.
My own experience working for your bank and my mother’s experience was never great. But that’s another story.
When companies think their brand is the best, they become arrogant. When companies rely on social media characters not real people to deal with customer complaints they begin a slippery slope towards self destruction. Your RB Jacobs has been a spectacular success on social media but dare I say not in the real world.
People connect with people. We all want to believe they connect with brands after doing completing our MBA degrees. But no, the plain and simply fact is that what made banks valuable, and bank managers important and esteemed decades before was the personal care and maybe even compassion shown by the bank managers and staff. When I was very young and my mother took me to the branch office in Main Street, Port Elizabeth, I felt this personal touch from her manager.
She was devastated when he resigned after a long service. So why do I keep harping on about my mother. Maybe it’s because FNB felt like family to me. I still have scraps of yellow paper she brought home for me to practise my drawing on. I had got the “BOB T” accounts when they were launched and become well versed in banking vernacular over the years.
SOCIAL MEDIA SMARTASS
Your RB Jacobs team have helped me resolve issues speedily and efficiently in the past. However, I was sure that this function was outsourced because some time ago I became aware that the eBucks social media account was given to Cerebra. So I assumed that RB Jacobs was not an internal function but being outsourced. And even though they have claimed being full-time staff, I still have my doubts knowing how bad big corporates are managing social media in general.
Trying to reset my cheque card pin was the turning point for me. It’s not the first time I was shoved from Twitter to email to call centre, back to social media and email. On several occasions I’ve tried to educate your call centre staff about the complexity of your password protocols used in online banking. FNB made over R7 billion in pre-tax profits in 2013 and you punish customers with a R50 fee to reset their password via a human being in a call centre.
When RB Jacobs tries to be helpful on Twitter, I never know whether I’m dealing with the same person on email. Clearly from the replies I’ve receive they are not the same person. And since I am social media trainer, I’ve conducted a workshop in 2012 where your bank’s social media manager was among the delegates. So I have inside information.
Suffice it to say the link between social media and customer service is so delicates because of all the variables at play. I implore you to reconsider your strategy and find a way to restore the humanity to customer service and banking. While I felt my request was simple, so many of your staff seemed incapable of treating me with humanity and civility, to the point I broke down and started screaming at a call centre agent who told me to go to into a branch to reset my pin, AFTER I told him very nicely I was in China.
The kicker is this, only after I told RB Jacobs on Twitter, Facebook and email I’m closing my account, for good; did someone miraculously emerge. Even though I told this person, Mandisa Viteka, they saved a long term relationship, I decided to go ahead and close my eyes.
CAPITEC IS YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE
When I approached them to help me regain access to my online banking account, they didn’t hesitate to respond. A real person, not a social media smartass contacted me via email and set-up a Skype call. They authenticated me and are now dispatching the dongle needed to access Capitec Bank’s online banking securely, at their cost not mine!
The biggest lesson for you from Capitec Bank is: LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS and STOP BELIEVING YOUR OWN HYPE. When you realise how easily you can address customer service issues, by simply listening, you will be surprised how much easier it is to maintain long term relationships.
Over the years I’ve had several intense arguments with your call centre staff because I’m not the average joe. As you know I’ve a +30 year history with FNB, and also worked for the company. So I dare say, I know the Hogan system and the internal workings. Your company has never appreciated people like me nor my mother, and from this day, I make it my life’s mission to help people move to Capitec Bank.
Paying interest to me of 4.4% while many of your accounts pay ZERO interest
Mobile baking + Online banking is easy and cheap like yours
Younger employees in the branch, who do not have the attitude of many older FNB branch staff
Simplicity in products you can only dream about
So it’s with no regret I bid you a farewell Mr Jacques Cilliers, new CEO, by writing this open letter to you. You have a hard act to follow in Michael Jordaan. In many ways his personal interactions with me via Twitter and at the FNB App launch, delayed the insatiable.
“ WED creates awareness for entrepreneurship and innovation as viable careers.” declares Thomas, a South African in China, and the organser of this first of it’s kind event from his temporary home in the world’s 2nd largest economy. “This is the perfect day to celebrate entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators who are the new role models in the 21st century.”
Thomas has just completed year 1 of his 2.5 year MBA on a full scholarship from the Chinese government at Ningbo University. Ningbo, the 2nd biggest port in China is located in the prosperous Zhejiang province near Shanghai. It turns out Nelson Mandela Bay, where Thomas was born (Uitenhage), is the twin-sister city of Ningbo. Mr Hong Jia Xiang, Vice Mayor of Ningbo Municipal People’s Government last visited Nelson Mandela Bay in 2013.
During #WED2014 Eastern Cape-born Thomas will interview 10 entrepreneurs via Google Hangout, and this interactive event will be live streamed via Youtube to the world from 15h00 to 17h00 GMT+2. Anyone can join via Smartphone, Tablet or Laptop with an Internet connection. Each entrepreneur will do a 10 minute Q&A on an area of expertise or experience.
World Entrepreneur’s Day 2014Among the notable guests include Farah Fortune , PR guru, who started her Celebrity & Corporate PR business on R1,000 – a laptop and cellphone in her bedroom. She was selected as one of Mail & Guardians Top 200 South Africans in 2012. Ms Fortune finds herself more and more on the front stage, as she was the only Keynote speaker at the Sanlam Woman’s Day event.
“I wish South Africans were more entrepreneural and willing to take risks,” says another guest Irfan Pardesi , who’s company ACM Gold, a forex broker, made R350 million profit on a R400 million turnover. “Most of them want to get at the end of the tunnel without the first step!” Launched in Pakistan, the business’s head office then moved to Dubai, before settling in Sandton, South Africa.
Adding international flavour, Thomas recruited Tom Leykis , an American talk radio personality turned Internet entrepreneur to the guest list. Leykis earned a 7-figure income from CBS radio before a format change forced him off the air. He started The New Normal Network LLC, which broadcasts several Internet music streams including his epic Tom Leykis Show . #MoneyMondays is the best segment by Leykis, a self-made millionaire advising listeners, “making money – not sexy, having money – very sexy!”
AIBA recommends Managers, Entrepreneurs and Government officials take their time and invite young people to teach them about entrepreneurship and innovation. A widely known fact in South Africa is that the unemployment rate among young people below 35, is almost 50% and it has had severe socio-economic consequences in the post-Apartheid South Africa .
GUEST LINE-UP for #WED2014 Google Hangout
Douglas Kruger (Kuala Lumpur), author, speaker – How to own your own industry!
Beverly Langley, jewelleyr store owner – How to leave Corporate world
Steve Banhegyi, solar energy advocate & social entrepreneur – Solarpreneur business model >> 073 698 1537
Irfan Pardesi, forex entrepreneur – Risk taking behaviour in Entrepreneurs >> mobile +92 3218292881
Farah Fortune, PR guru – How publicity helps your business >> +27 79 826 1955
Unre Visagie, social entrepreneur – Bottom up career guidance >> +27 83 663 3366
Melanie Burke, Country Manager for Common Purpose in Cape Town
Paseka Kalaku, insurance entrepreneur, author – Why do Entrepreneurs need insurance?
Tom Leykis, Internet talk radio entrepreneur in Los Angeles – Money Mondays segment on his show
Cost: FREE to anyone with broadband Internet connection
Download Google Hangouts app, or go directly to RSVP https://plus.google.com/events/c6crpfi3qqk2i7o1unfht5abke8
— ENDS —
To interview any of our guests before #WED2014 call or SIMS 087 732 8665 or Skype: ramon.thomas
After the FIFA Soccer World Cup, entrepreneurial activity in South Africa has dropped to an alarming new low. Total Early-Stage Entrepreneurial activity (TEA) in the country dropped to 7.3% from a high of 9.1%, an almost 20% drop from the previous year and the lowest in four years.
South Africa’s pool of intentional entrepreneurs is only 14% – far below the average of 27% among similar efficiency-driven economies. Of particular concern is that only 5% of South Africans in the 18-24-year age group are involved in early-stage entrepreneurial activity.
There was a time when we lived in a world without borders. In an age before the United Nations, free trade zones or countries. In those dark ages way back when, people lived in villages and often nomadic tribes. There was no clear borders and for mostly people moved freely.
Today you may think we live in a world with clear borders; you may think when border police capture illegal immigrants and take them to task for coming into “our” country is the right thing. But it doesn’t matter because the Internet makes all borders, all countries meaningless.
By extension the Internet through smartphones removes personal boundaries. At this stage in the technology revolution you have an unprecedented increase in wireless communication. At any given time there are thousands if not millions of signals passing through your room whether you want to allow them or not.
This is not so much about privacy as it is about safeguarding your personal space – between you and other – your individuality. When I studied body language with my salsa teacher, it became clear to me that how we control our personal space, forms our identity. Of course there are cultures where you do not care about this, and others who are obsessed about it. They are extremes.
Enter the post-Bluetooth world of Smartphones, the always-on generation. You live in a world without boundaries because you can have whatever you want, whenever you want. You may not always discern the consequences of this freedom.
Freedom to do whatever you want leads to experimentation. Children do this from a young ages when they try to find the limits of the world as they know it. They put things into their mouths, hit objects against the floor or table, and play with unlimited curiosity.
So in a recent news article about a teacher who was sexting with students in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, I posted this comment, “Where there are no boundaries, there are no limits. Remember this parents!”
After 10 years of research I found most parents do not set boundaries on how they children use social media or smartphones. They may not do this for various reasons like not understanding the technology, or being preoccupied with their own escape into cyberspace.
It all starts with boundaries. Parents who set clear boundaries help to make the world a better place. Fathers usually reinforce boundaries, both emotionally and physically. Dr Warren Farrell first got my attention in his book “Father and Child Reunion” on this matter of boundaries in children.
A world without boundaries is not the panacea of the 21st century. It may turn out to be your Achilles’ heal. Limits are not constraints in the sense of preventing you from doing what you want. Instead it helps your children develop step by step. It also helps you to learn how to say “no!” when it’s required.
Recently I told someone on Twitter lying is more fun than telling the truth. This was after listing to Jon Rappoport talk about one of his imagination exercises. They are meant to stimulate your imagination through story telling.
In these imagination exercises you get together with a group of people and you tell each other outrageous lies. All this stimulates the imagination to Exit the Matrix. I am confident that lying has been given a terribly bad name simply because it’s equated with deception. Deception is one of those most-human of things we do. Remember the Art of War, or the Art of Seduction?
When you think about being sold a lie, you’re attempting to push the blame onto another person for your choices. Have you been sold a lie? No, but maybe you have bought a lie.
More often than not you have lied to yourself. This is indeed a form of self-deception. You’ve made a choice, taken a decision, and it’s not had the desired outcome. What’s maybe the easiest thing to do? It is to claim you’ve been deceived, that you have been sold a lie like the promises of politicians.
So in this age of big brother government and lying politicians it’s very easy to seek a scape goat. No my friend, you’ve bought into the lie. You believed the politician, the government, the news reports, the media, the advertising, lock, stock and barrel.
What is this lie they tell you? The promise of a better tomorrow as Adam Curtis eloquently shows in the Power of Nightmares. Like the Father we never had who takes care of everything. He takes care of you from your happiness to your home. Making law after law that compels you do be happy, to be content, to be complacent and compliant really.
Whenever you think you’ve got it, you’ve figured out who’s behind the curtain pulling your strings. Step back, and try your best to clear your thinking of preconditioned responses. Maybe you have bought a lie instead of being sold a lie.
It’s easier to change yourself than to change the world. Have you been sold a lie? Think again.