- the EFF
- President elect of the United States of America – Donald Trump
- the rand
- global warming
- red tide
- fluoride in the water
- lil Wayne
- China’s slowing economy
- North Korea
- is my kid a Tik addict?
- rising sea levels
- the Woolworths checkout area
- that idiot that cut me off in the traffic this morning
- how many drinks gets you to a 0.05 blood alcohol volume?
- what’s the meaning of Lemonade?
- the shrinking of the Great Barrier Reef
- the weird art in the Denver International Airport
- load shedding
- will a robot take my job?
- how do you calculate BMI?
- when will the US Fed raise rates again?
- the size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch
- the 1%
- Kim K
- are e-cigarettes safe?
- Spanx or no Spanx?
- the Crowbar Gang
- the Guptas
- the iPhone 7 launch
- gut bacteria
- sock marks
- religious fundamentalists
- the Panama Papers
- did I lock the front door?
- the drought
- Fikile Mbalula
- the dentist
- climate change
- artificial intelligence
- should I become a flexitarian?
Time away from South Africa is wonderful.
Apart from the obvious joys of international travel, time away allows you to get an alternative perspective of your home country that’s all to often clouded by the day-to-day experience of actually living within its borders.
Perhaps it’s the result of years of boarding school, but I never miss home when I’m abroad.
The excitement of meeting foreign people, being in unusual places and tasting exotic food is way too alluring to allow for a moment of homesickness.
But on this most recent trip, I did stop (just for a slight moment) to consider what Australia allowed me to realise about South Africa.
Here are some of those thoughts:
1. South Africa is a cheap place to live
The cost of living in Australia is crazy.
A take-away coffee and a toasted cheese & ham sandwich from a drive-thru – will cost you R100. Middle-class houses in Perth go for around R20 million and a pint of craft beer will easily cost you R150.
On the day that I arrived back in South Africa, I bought a good bottle of local wine at a beachfront restaurant for R159 with a big smile on my face.
2. South Africa has some world-class talent
As a nation we lack confidence, but in many individual cases, we have some of the brightest and most talented people in the world.
Perhaps its genetic – a spirit of creativity and innovation passed on from our forefathers, or maybe the challenging business environment breeds people with drive, determination and mad talent. But South Africans can be proud of the work that they do when compared to their international counterparts.
We have some top schools and universities that are on par with revered global institutions and a strong private sector that together produce graduates and working professionals that punch way above their weight division.
What isn’t as good is what South African talent gets paid. Compared to their counterparts in developed countries, skilled labour in South Africa is dirt cheap.
3. South Africans are natural hustlers
Maybe because making money in South Africa is tough, we tend to be natural dealmakers and problem solvers. In comparison, most Australians are laid back and, in a work environment at least, happy to stick to the status quo.
As an emerging market and ‘the gateway to the African continent’ – now is the time to turn up the volume on that hustle. Cause when you hit ‘first-world status’, a lot of that ‘street energy’ will dissipate.
4. Crime and corruption are the main reasons we are not growing
It’s an infinite feedback loop and for some an obvious point, but the scourge of violent crime in South Africa has killed vast quantities of business growth.
When the streets are unsafe, good people and the business they would be supporting, flee to expensive shopping malls.
Rent in those malls is a prohibitive cost for smaller business and as a result the economy is squeezed into the pockets of a few well-capitalised corporates. When would-be entrepreneurs lack viable opportunities to start new ventures because of unsafe streets, you have an economy in terminal decline.
Jobs disappear and the situation continuously just goes from bad to worse as a result.
The answer to the problem is a co-ordinated policy approach, which lies with government. But the money we pay in taxes to help them to fix this exact issue, is being stolen by the very people who have pledged to be the guardians of that growth.
Why those people, who are responsible for this theft, are not charged with a criminal offence of the highest degree, is completely beyond me.
As a society, we should be demanding justice on this issue, which is at the heart of many societal problems that we worry about everyday. The real criminals here are the ‘leaders’ that are stealing from all of us. It’s our duty to make a lot more noise about it.
5. The South African economy is tiny
When you drive around a city like Perth, you are struck by the sheer number of retailers that operate in that economy. You literally can’t drive 300m without passing yet another business park filled with ‘big box‘ warehouse stores.
They have specialist ‘supermarkets’ the size of your average Pick n Pay for random things like pets, fishing gear, rugs and kitchenware.
It’s really is depression when you think that Perth has a population of less than half of the city of Cape Town (1.8 million vs 3.7 million), but has a GDP which is more than double the size (US$138 billion vs US58 billion).
It’s not that having loads of shopping outlets should be the ultimate nirvana for a society, but at least having more participation in the economy of the country by its citizens should be a goal.
6. South Africans are a spirited bunch
Get onto a plane where you are in the presence of South Africans for the first time in a week – and you’ll realise how full of energy and stories we are. We’re also not afraid to share that energy with everyone in earshot of us.
It makes me think that we’re all extroverts and probably why we are so good at music, dancing and protesting.
Australians in general are older and more stuck in their ways – the vibrancy of a young population in South Africa is encouraging.
Australia has 26 million people living in it and almost all of them are in the middle class. They have 26 million people who are able to participate in the economy. That’s 26 million people who are making a tax contribution and growing the economy.
In South Africa, just 2 people have more wealth than 50% of all South Africans.
25% of the South African population is unemployed; and probably another 25% is radically under-employed. Because of this – we just don’t have the market to sustain opportunities for small business to flourish.
There’s sadly very little point in promoting small business growth if there is no market for goods and services to support it.
Once again, a proper policy framework from government is needed to rectify this. There is more than enough money to do that, but as you know, that money is either being wasted or stolen by the public servants who are tasked with managing it.
Tackling the inequality issue is the only way you are going to jump start the economy and create an environment which is small business friendly. There are only just so many small businesses that the DTI can help to become competitive exporters, the real growth must come ultimately from domestic demand.
8. South Africa wine still has some way to go
A two-hour drive from the city, Margaret River is the wine growing region south of Perth.
It’s beautiful there.
I really didn’t want to like Australian wine, but try as I might – I couldn’t help closing my eyes and questioning reality itself after tasting some of their Chardonnays.
Even though most of them are oak-aged for 9 months, they were fresh and crisp and ridiculously well-made.
The tasting room at Vasse Felix looks like the bridge of The Death Star and when you get tired of drinking good wine, there are craft beer breweries peppered around every corner.
There are hundreds of wine farms down there and on the Saturday that we visited, every single one of the estate restaurants that we phoned for a lunch booking, was full.
It felt like the region was a co-originated tourist destination that took every opportunity to make money from visitors. The product was good, the service from everyone was warm and they were not shy with their prices.
It’s like Disneyland for adults armed with tastebuds.
I’m still the biggest fan of South African wine, but there is a doctorate to be earned by researching some of the business ideas from the Australian industry.
One of the reasons South Africans are so resourceful is that there are few rules to kill our innovation. In Australia you can’t do anything without putting up a safety warning sign, donning a bright-orange bib or applying for a licence.
Even allowing customers to take food home from a restaurant in a doggie bag is against the health and safety laws there; and as a consequence, lots of great ideas are killed before they can be considered.
Consider yourself lucky that you still live in a place where the blue-rinse brigade aren’t ruling the roost just yet.
It seriously dampens the creative mojo.
It’s pointless to look at Australia and somehow compare it to South Africa. Although the two countries are similar, they are at totally different stages of economic development.
For me, the major difference between the two is grit – South Africa has heaps of it. The country is like a young kid reluctantly sulking his way to school along a dusty road, the potential is that he could one day be ‘the next Nelson Mandela’, but right now his school satchel is very heavy and the sun is blisteringly hot.
He’s determined to learn, fall, try again and eventually hopefully, to get there – even though the odds right now are seemingly stacked against him.
But it’s the collective ‘beginning’s mindset’ of this young, hopeful country that is so compelling about living in South Africa. Something you just don’t get anywhere else in the world.
When we first started writing a blog way back in 2004, there were very few official rules as to how ‘content marketing’ (in those days called ‘online publishing’) ought to be done.
There were however some unspoken guidelines, which steered all independent content producers at that time. Today, there are far more people / brands adding to the content library than ever before, but are these ‘old-school’ guidelines still relevant today?
As the foundation of modern-day content marketing, could they be considered as The 10 Immutable Laws of Content Marketing?
Here’s a summary of those ‘unspoken’ guidelines:
- Always credit and link back to your source: Online publishing is based on the principle of open sharing. It was – and still is – frowned on to steal work that is not your own without due credit to its creator.
- Do not write to other bloggers / producers and ask for a link back: It was very uncool in 2004, and is still pretty lame today, to ask for a link back from a content producer. In 2015, for some reason, PR companies have this weird idea that if you are an independent content producer you should be publishing the stories they send you, as a favour. It was rude back then and still doesn’t sit well now.
- Don’t lie to your audience – they are much smarter than you: Your readers can smell if you are being dishonest with them. Published content and opinion you were paid to write with a positive slant will not go unnoticed by your audience. Rather label something as ‘paid for’ than run the risk of losing your credibility. Lying online will always be found out.
- Keep a publishing schedule: If you’ve decided to post something once a day, stick to it. Your audience will lose interest quickly if you don’t abide by your own publishing routine. This point is almost more important than the quality of what you are producing.
- Contribute to the conversations of others: One of the best secrets to building an audience, is to take part in the conversations of other publishers. Comment on their blogs, updates, posts – in a meaningful way. If you are making a contribution to their contribution, often the favour is returned.
- Share the value of those you admire: Share the love by highlighting publicly the producers that inspire you. Back in 2004 you would post a public ‘blogroll’ on your side. It feels like the spirit of that open sharing is less prevalent today, but the sentiment and value in it, is still profound.
- Be courteous: Courtesy is the grease that lubricates society. The online environment is no place to forget your manners. If somebody asks you a question on Twitter – answer them. If comments are posted on your blog, YouTube video, Instagram post – indicate and acknowledge that you appreciate their input. It often feels that today social media channels are just ‘portals of distribution’ rather than ‘lounges of conversation’.
- Package value: Online publishing is not about spamming your audience with your opinion, it’s about making some kind of contribution to the collective voice of society. If people see that contribution is a valuable one that resonates with them, you will be granted an opportunity to carry on. Use hashtags, sweat the SEO, build an audience on multiple channels – make sure that your voice can be easily found.
- Develop your own style: A lot of the value you can project with your content is not only in what you say, but how you say it. By developing and crafting your own style of content production, you are subtly branding your contribution with your signature style. Make sure that your style is authentic and try not to deviate from it.
- Focus on what you are passionate about: Don’t just produce content because you feel the need to fill an empty space. Just because a plethora of social media channels exist, doesn’t mean that you need to fill them with stuff just because you feel obliged to ‘be there’. If you feel that your life, and the world at large, would be poorer if you do not share your thoughts – then you have good reason to go ahead and share them.
In a way, online publishing has gone through what feels like a decade long cycle. After the initial denial and belittling of its existence in the beginning, content marketing has gone through an intense period of popularity and overhyping to emerged on the other side – more mature and settled.
What doesn’t seem to change however, are the basic principles of content marketing – the 10 immutable laws of content marketing that should never be broken.
In the new idea-intensive global economy, opportunity is everywhere.
Innovative idea-driven start-ups are disrupting entrenched industries and business models overnight. So in this time of unprecedented potential upside – how can you find opportunity?
To find opportunity – forget about what you think you know
There is a saying in the investment trading world that goes: “there are old traders and there are bold traders, but there are no old, bold traders.”
Time, education and experience can turn even the most enthusiastically reckless of us into cautious hermits. Having seen all the patterns before, there is no more real appetite for ‘what-ifs’ and ‘maybe’s’. The childlike belief in the supernatural and randomness is replaced by the calm calculating foresight of ‘the expert’.
But the world of an ‘expert’ mindset is a very small one. It is caged by procedure, process and rules – many of which simply just don’t apply anymore. Ironically then, the opportunity lies with those that seemingly know absolutely nothing about what they throw themselves at. But with ‘hacker’ skills and belief in their own creativity, there is a growing legion of creators who find opportunity by having a beginner’s mindset.
“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.” – Shunryu Suzuki
A beginner’s mindset is the way you approach life as an amateur, a newbie, a novice – without fear of failure, perfection or judgement; just the potential upside of improvement with perseverance.
It’s looking at the world with fresh eyes everyday and constantly questioning why things are done in certain ways. It’s being open to new ideas, new suggestions, new thinking. It’s accepting that you will never know everything, but being happy and comfortable to always be learning.
It is a state of pure potentiality, which is open to the curious and the humble.
If you want to find opportunity, think of yourself as a beginner and go exploring with reckless abandon.
Do you think of yourself as more of a right or left-wing marketer?
Let’s explain that idea a bit.
In politics, we talk about right or left-wing ideological bias.
If you believe the laws of natural selection and are more prone to side with the idea that the free market economy is the best system to order social differences; then you would consider your beliefs and philosophies to be leaning towards the right.
On the other hand, if your viewpoint is in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality and are concerned for those in society who are perceived as disadvantaged relative to others, then you would consider yourself to have a left-wing political bias.
In reality, most normal people wouldn’t necessarily find their political beliefs to be radically on either one- or the other side of this polar spectrum, but rather having a bias somewhere in-between.
Considering this example of right and left-wing tendencies, why is it that in marketing terms we do not actively consider a similar bias then when it comes to our core beliefs and intentions?
Much like politics, marketing is a profession that relies heavily on a combination of social and economic sciences. And in a very similar way, it produces social engineering, which can be viewed as having a bias towards either a social elite, or for the good of all of humankind.
What’s lacking, however, is a recognition of these biases and ultimately an awareness of self, towards which one you feel more comfortable contributing. You’re either going to be happy working for Goldman Sachs and drooling over your annual $1 million bonus; or building the Patagonia brand while hiking sustainably through the Andes.
Right-wing marketers are trying to extract as much profit as possible from an asset, while left-wing marketers are trying to affect as much positive social impact as possible from an opportunity.
Once again, it’s not that you as a marketer will find yourself necessarily on the bleeding edge of the spectrum, (you’ll most probably fall somewhere either side of the line). But the fact is; you can save yourself a hellava lot of time and stress by just acknowledging, that at your core, you are either mad about making a maximum profit at just about any cost; or you believe that you can save the world with your skill…and that is just about payment enough.
So – do you consider yourself a right or left-wing marketer?
I started this blog in 2004.
Back then there were a handful of bloggers around.
It was the beginning of what was called Web 2.0 – the second wave of the Web after the 2000 ‘dot-com’ bubble burst.
The gathering of the renegade band of independent publishers that existed back then, felt like the beginning of a revolution – and as it turned out – that’s exactly what it became.
On the wave of this revolution, this blog became very popular. At one stage, around the year 2010, it hosted around 125 000 unique visitors a month and was ranked in the Top 100 Marketing Blogs in the World by AdAge magazine.
The momentum for Cherryflava.com was at a peak.
Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize it as such. And didn’t have a plan to ride that wave out and generate new momentum on the next wave.
As if by fate, a perfect storm of disasters then severely hit that momentum.
The website, which was hosted on a rather dodgy server, got hacked. And it resulted in about 90% of our content being lost. For months we tried just about every trick in the book to find the parasitic code that had invaded the site and caused so much damage. But in the end, we failed.
Nearly a decade of work and all of our momentum was gone.
With no forward plan, I missed the next wave and had to start all over again.
But here’s what I have learnt from this, and hopefully you can take something away from it too.
You start small, grow rapidly, hit a high and the momentum dissipates over time. If you don’t have a plan to jump onto the next rising wave as the one you are currently on starts to lose its momentum, you will squander all of the energy that you’ve managed to build up.
• Know where you are on the curve – Being sensitive as to where the world is heading will give you an idea of where you are in relation to that change.
• Spot the next wave early – Proactively plan your own exit from your present momentum a few months in advance.
• Never be arrogant enough to think that you don’t need to adapt – Change is inevitable. You can make it happen; or let it happen to you. The biggest danger is not being humble enough to recognise that you will need to jump at some stage in the future.
In catastrophic failure comes learning and with it wisdom. I know that this isn’t the last mistake I’m going to make, but thankfully I took a lot out of this one.
It hurt, but it’s getting better now.
Technology is a wonderful thing. We are living in an age where technology is totally rewriting the rules that we once all thought were set in stone.
Companies like AirBNB and Uber have dismantled established global business systems, in less than 5 years.
Please take some time to think about that for a second…
In a blink of eye, a startup founded by a couple of punks in a garage armed with a laptop and a crazy idea, have changed the rules of industries that have been around for centuries.
And this is just the beginning.
An unthinkable shift is happening right now, right in front of you.
But here’s the thing though – this kind of radical disruption isn’t just affecting global industries. It applies to you and your future on a personal level.
Without warning – your own world, and your place in it, is being disrupted as well.
It’s a scary thought, but luckily, there is something you can do about it.
Sure you can remain calm, do nothing different and see where the current spits you out; or you challenge yourself, reinvent yourself, critically try and disrupt yourself.
If you are fully aware of where you are vulnerable, you can do something about it.
Far too many people hand over the responsibility of their welfare to a government or the company that they work for. And then, when the rules change and they are negatively affected, they’re left powerless to do anything about it, with no options.
The solution? Innovation isn’t something that big companies alone should be thinking about. You should be obsessing about it too.
Upskill yourself by doing an online course, get healthy, start an investment portfolio, build your network, go to a seminar, learn a new language, meet new people.
These are just a few things that you can start doing today to take more control of your own future.
So the one question you really should be asking yourself right now is…
How am I investing in myself today, so that I can make a profitable contribution tomorrow?
One thing is guaranteed, and that is that change is coming and it will affect you. You can either be a passive spectator or take spectacular advantage of it.
Cherryflava is an opinionated commentary on trends and innovation - as well as the people and thinking that are shaping the future of our world.Published from Cape Town, South Africa since 2004.
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