Housemate | Playmate required

Guys and gals, I’m looking for a new roomie for 2011. The playmate from 2010 has had to leave the mansion and I’m taking applications for those looking to stay over from January 2011 for at least the next year.

I live in a very secure complex in Dennis Road, Atholl. It’s a huge 3 bedroom spot with a garden and a garage. There’s a pool in the complex and have friendlies @mikesharman and @pdphilip who live a few houses down. It’s 2 minutes to Sandton, right near Atholl Square and with easy access to the M1 and Grayston. I have a lovely lady that helps out on a Friday.  There’s DSTV and fast internet too. (I mean how’s this for a value proposition?)

Ideally I’m looking for someone who is a non smoker, of a similar age and profession. Rent is R4000 per month plus electricity.  If you’re interested, hit me with an email on me[@]murraylegg[dot]com

Who is your business backing as its intellectual venture capital?

The buzz words around the entrepreneurial space are “venture capital” and “private equity”. It’s every startup’s dream to have an investor put funding towards their new idea, or recently launched venture. The money provided sees ideas take flight, the original inventors or entrepreneurs successful, and the PE or VC business making a killing. I’ve been wondering about this divide that exists. There are the smart thinkers, the “intellectuals”, who see a market gap and devise a phenomenal solution. If it’s scalable, IP protectable, and offers some reasonable form of a barrier to entry, it could be a target for funding. In the PE/VC space, a few guys sit with a balance sheet and wait for an incredible idea to pass over their table. They’re not the ones doing the problem solving – they’re just waiting at that bus stop and are keen to take a joyride.  Sure, they’ll through in a few connections and clever derivatives along the way, but you’re not going to meet many private equity big dogs having been the ones with the idea they made money on.  So my view on it, for the most part, is that the great ideas, and the financiers able to see it grow, exist as two separate biosystems. Where they do overlap, and deals are done, friction exists. Perception and risk appetite weed out I’m sure huge numbers of great ideas. Ideas that can change our economy. Ideas that can create jobs for our country.

So does your business pull these two facets together? Does it create the environment where the dynamic thinkers have access to a bit of capital and those that release it are hungry for a bit of risk? Even that, I suppose, is a conundrum in itself. Normally the riskless, measured accountants squirrel the money away and only play it on safe investments – definitely not on ideas thought up round the water cooler.

However, the upside of getting this right is quite amazing. The intellectual property of the idea remains under ownership of the firm, so there’s no need to sell out equity to an investor. The company and shareholders in turn get an opportunity to grow in scale and profits, and the employees feel that they work in a space that promotes active idea generation. Without paraphrasing from Bullshit Bingo, it’s perfect for synergies..

An incredibly tough challenge, this. It starts from the hiring process, and bringing in staff with the ability to look at the world, and your business, differently. The people within the organisation should also be keen to accept new views, incubate ideas and develop solutions unlike any of your competitors. All elements of an ideal circumstance need to be present for this to happen. But it does. Somewhere, someone is doing something that’s going to change the way your industry operates next year. I hope that keeps you up at night, not just the usual suspects of minor bumps in the operation road.

How’s your #Mo bro?

It’s half way through Movember and it’s great to see so many men (and the occasional portuguese woman) taking part in this fund raising initiative.

Sometimes a bit of growth on the upper lip makes all the difference. Cant say I’ve seen things too differently though. I have just noticed when I smile at young children they scream and go crying to their mommies..

Bill’s first week

Bill Billionaire has had a fairly busy week the last week or so. He’s been out and about loving Joziwood and spreading the vibe about the I Give a Duck campaign. For those of you that dont know, #igad is an initiative to help raise awareness of local charities during the month of Movember. If you’re not sporting a Mo, you should have yourself a little duck and sponsor a charitable cause.

Catching an indoor footie game

Discussing the downhills after a MTB ride

What a seDUCKtive car!

Manning the braai

Just chillin'

Hanging with friends Salt and Peps

Rocking the Mo's Bro's!

So start giving a duck. Or sporting a mo. Send us pics and I’ll share-share with the readers!

General IntroDUCKtion

Tomorrow marks the start of November – oh my greatness it can’t be here already! I’m sure you’ll all notice the Christmas decorations now adorning the shops and that shoddy Boney M that plays in the background. One escape from this is for you to use the month to raise awareness of local charities and promote cancer awareness.

Movember is when you’re finally allowed to go unshaven, build up a bit of facial hair and then start sporting a moustache. By taking bets against your friends that your Mo will be better than that of your Bro, you can raise money for awareness of cancer, specifically testicular cancer. Read more here, and watch out for the Mos making an appearance in your hood. Vida’s got them on all their coffees and Kulula’s even got Mo’s for a few of their fleet.

I Give a Duck is an initiative that hopes to raise awareness about local charities, specifically Bobs for Good and Learn to Earn. Best you duck down to Giles in Craighall Park and pick up a little shower mate and take them with you on your daily activities. Tell your buddies about the awesomeness of the feathered friends and challenge them to get involved through donation or by buying their own pet.

Almost a Curried Cup of Duck - Day 1

Meet Billionaire Bill – my very own pet duck. Over the next month I’ll be blogging about some of the adventures he embarks on and some of the good (and bad) conDUCKt he’s responsible for. Yesterday he caught up with a few frosties and watched the Currie Cup Finals.  Be a pal and go and purchase your duck, make a donation through the website or come and leave a few spare buffalo drinking vouchers on my desk in good faith for Bill.

Chief Sitting Duck is Bill’s buddy. You can stay tuned to some of his WILD nights out by watching the happenings on Mike Sharman’s blog.

Love your work!

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Where do astronauts hang out?

Think he’s running a “tab”?

Or when his friends arrive he’ll start “shifting” it?


When I was five years old, dinosaurs were my life. I’d spend every afternoon in the marshy part of our garden playing with the little toy beasties that my mom had so kindly bought for me. It was epic. I got to know them all so well that once a competitive friend of my dad tried to compete against me for the know-it-all award in the dino space. But I took him down – quicker than Allosaurus would bring down a sauropod!

The problem was that playing dinos with my friends was not something I enjoyed. They’d let dinos from the Jurassic period mingle with those from the Cretaceous. Srsly. One friend was known to bring plastic deer and bears and throw them into the mix. Come on dude!

A very favourite dinosaur of mine is Velocirator. Bring back into mental visual the scared Americans running around inside the kitchen on the Amber island whilst the pack of Velociraptors are tap-tapping their big claws on the stainless steel surfaces, salivating at the thought of human hors d’oeuvres.

So some interesting info on this vicious little critter that you might not have been aware of, but were not entirely portrayed correctly by the movie, Jurassic Park. Velocirator was about the size of a large turkey and weighed about 10-13 kilograms. Paleontologists believe that Velocirator sported feathers, although they were not used for flying. The only geographical region that Velociraptor populated was central Asia, specifically Mongolia – it didn’t come anywhere close to living in the US. There is no evidence that suggested these creatures hunted in packs, either. The movie most probably took some creative genius from the pack hunting and bigger sized Deinonychus and applied this liberally to the speedy little chap, able to run at 35km/h.

Interestingly, the bone structure and remains found of this dino suggest that it was warm blooded. Unlike a crocodile that would lie and wait for it’s prey, Velociraptor would run after it’s prey, and then slash and jab its curved, 10cm claws on its hind feet until the victim bled to death. Killer!

So say for instance you were tied to a bunk bed (I guess some of us are lucky like that) and a velociraptor popped in to say goodnight. Take this test to see how long you’d last. I’d be a snack in just over a minute.

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Jacarandas in Joziwood

Anyone from Johannesburg knows that at the end of October, if a Jacaranda blossom doesn’t fall on your head, you’re out of luck for your exams. That said, I’m far happier running around in the streets headbumping falling petals than studying.  Who’d want to be inside when the Jozi summer is on its way? Here’s a snap of the Jacarandas outside my house.

I guess it’s also time to look back on the year that flew past. To think through all the events, all the challenges and all the growing that took place. To learn from these and begin a new season. Of growing, of learning, of loving. Of living.

Enjoy it. Because before you know it, the Jacarandas will be in bloom again next year..

If – Rudyard Kipling

An old man shared this poem with me when I was 8 years old.  He said I should learn it off by heart and use it as guiding principles whilst I grow up. I’m still growing, and I still find explanation in it.

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

The Paradox of Success

Painting in broad brush strokes, I will generalise and say that humans are wired to seek out success. The rat race inspires us to strive for the corner office, the latest model car, the smart and good looking partner, the 7 digit bonus, the flight in seat 2A. The hypothesis I’d like to test is:

“Winning at work means losing at life.”

Each day we’re elbow to elbow jostling to get ahead of the guy next to you. But if you surveyed a cross section of the South African workforce, I’m quite sure you’re sure to find some pretty unhappy people. And I’m guessing that this could be for two major reasons – they’re either unhappy in their job, but have bills to pay and the Jones’s to keep up with. Or, they could be successful, but be disheartened by the paradox that is interconnected with being “successful.”

To really earn your pound of flesh in a work environment, to lead a business ahead of it’s competitors, and ultimately stand out as a “success” in the stereotypical sense, you’ve got to be sacrificing something.  This could be the balance in your life, leading you to walk down the road of being a workaholic. You could be letting life pass you by, as you doggedly commit yourself entirely to research and delivery. Performance realised by your peers and seniors drives further responsibility, leading to more demands on you and your time, and raising the bar at even your own game.  People now expect you to constantly succeed – a new pressure.  So where does that leave the rat race? Working ten to twelve hour days for the year, and then taking their pale skins, dark eyes and new Range Rover Sport off to Trouteng or the Western Cape for their 20 days of leave? Sounds a little sad.

My take on it? I guess with a little bit of guilt in the department of over working and letting life slide past, I’m of the opinion that the perceived success factors of society do not lend themselves to leading a balanced and happy life. Life, as I’ve recently been clearly reminded of, is short, and it is precious. It can literally change entirely in 24 hours. So is it worth spending entirely focussed on one particular aspect?

Helping others less fortunate than me is something that gets me very excited. I would be comfortable to say that for the money I’ve earned in my life, that which has been best spent is on others. But helping a community doesn’t feature high on society’s list of ways to be successful, does it? Or would you feel in perfect balance if you drove your Aston Martin into Diepsloot and go and teach maths to a class of Grade 10 learners?  The more I think about the topic the more intricate and difficult it becomes…

So where I’m at is trying to figure out a new balance for my own life. Where work and mental challenge is important, but so is everything else we’re able to enjoy during our time on earth. I do think that those blessed with an ability to think bigger owe it to society to really contribute to human knowledge and drive upliftment.  But I don’t want to miss out on friends, family and seeing and experiencing the pleasures, fears and amazing sights of nature and human creation.
So the three ways I’m looking at “achieving success” are through these main areas:

  1. Align my goals to my passions, where work is fun. To my mind, it’s a good thing to get up and enjoy what you do every work day.
  2. Cultivating charismatic optimism, ultimately looking on the bright side of life. I’ve only ever really seen optimists get better results because they remain passionately focused on finding solutions in the face of appalling odds.  People who are full of excuses normally end up fat and grumpy.
  3. I want to keep learning, keeping an inquiring mind and getting a better understanding of the world around me.

So I might not subscribe to the stereotypical success measurables. But if I think I’m successful – then hell – I’m successful. Who cares what everyone else thinks.

I’ll keep you posted on progress. But I’d love to hear how you keep balance in your life.