I just returned from an amazing 2-week trip to the land of my birth – South Africa. To sum it up in a single word – profound. It was the first time I have returned since 1992. There are many changes – some for the better, other’s not.
Since I am about ongoing improvement, there are several key learnings:
1. Never forget your roots. Makes no difference how much money you made along the way, how many houses you have, how much fame you acquire. Remember where you came from – because if you forget, you’ll have no idea where you’re going. And losing you way, is frightening on a good day, disastrous on any other.
2. Wake up early. I noticed Africa starts early (perhaps it’s the early sunrise or the searing heat – makes no difference) but get up before the others do. The first few hours of the day tend to be one’s most productive. Just ask my friend Peter Shankman – he’s up at 4am – accomplishing stuff. I see waking up early as an increasingly important part of my regime.
3. Quit wasting. Fact: 60% of all food prepared in North America is not consumed. Whether it’s water, food, hydro, time or anything similar – use just what you need. Show respect: don’t waste. Much of what we waste is irreplaceable – pay attention to the environment.
4. Keep things simple. I work with people and money --- two of life’s most complex elements. There’s a remarkably strong correlation between simplicity and happiness. In Africa, things are far simpler than in North America and despite service issues in Africa, people are generally very happy.
5. You don’t just have to blend in … aka celebrate and (more importantly) respect your differences. I’m no politician, but there are few places I can think of that are more racially divided than South Africa. As many races as there are in South Africa, each one seemingly respects each other’s traditions and customs and while I know there is racial tension – each race co-exists – and it kinda works.
In closing, happy 2019.