Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Track Santa..WHAT FUN!

This is very cool for those of you that have kids [and for some of those that dont!].... All you do is download Google Earth in fact you can download it from the actual site...Track Santa on the 24th December on Santa Tracking.

Sunday, 09 December 2007

Call off Christmas...?

Has Christmas lost its message? My mother-in-law went on today about how kak Christmas is, because it's lost it's value. I agree that it's so easy to fall into the trap of rushing and thinking only of what gifts to purchase or what we will get..

My thoughts of this time of year are generally about giving and family...BUT I don't deny that the gift issue is alot more pressurising with all the Marketing in your face and a 6 yr old hanging on your leg.

So a question, 'What Christmas plans do you have to teach your children about giving this year?
Have they cleared out their cupboards [not just removing the broken toys], visited an orphanage or spent time with someone that is lonely? Surely at least one of these should be part of a child's memories of Christmas? I thank my mother for making these part of my memory bank. The materialist child knows nothing more than 'what's coming for me', this makes Christmas temporarily exciting sure, but this needs to be balanced with the understanding of giving to form a deeper connection with this time of year.

We all want the world to be a better place and as parents we can assist with making that happen. We need to take any opportunity we get [should really be constant] to teach giving otherwise all we are breeding are a group of uncaring takes..and we are doomed... in that case I say call off Christmas.. whats the point?....
[I understand the religious context for this time of year, but this needs to be brought to life so that children can understand and experience meaning]

Sunday, 02 December 2007

ANC [political] Womens League....?

I could not have said it better myself...

Monday, 26 November 2007

Zuma zooming ahead...Eish!

Ok, I am going to admit it... I am not a Zuma fan. For many reasons, but mainly because I question his ethics. Sadly, I am also totally frustrated with Mbeki's inability to communicate to our people and deliver on important promises [I am not saying that delivery is easy BUT it would always be better to communicate realism rather than political crap]. Not really a political approach however [ I tend to be a little of a idealist]. In my view South Africa needs a mix of Zuma’s people personality [not sure if I would go so far as saying charisma] and his ability to gather the ‘troops’ on the ground mixed with Mbeki pragmatism and diplomacy [questionable at this point as he seems to be battling to communicate with his own country]. That mix would make an interesting presidential candidate.

It was pretty alarming for me to see that Zuma is leading
the ANC nomination race…. not just by a few points BUT by an enormous amount…. How can this be so? What the hell is going on? Have the voters got their eyes and ears closed…? I may be missing something [please let me know if I am].
What is a frightening prospect for me is having Zuma running the country [stands to reason that the newly elected ANC president will become the next Country president] when he has had so many brushes with the law. Perceptions are in some cases more powerful then reality and it worries me that people would cast aside certain legal realities that Zuma is facing and still vote for him? Where are the ethics in that? I am sure many believe in the so-called conspiracy ‘theory’ which is meant to 'defame' Zuma as a chauvistic and fraudulent money-grabbing politician. This may or may not be the case, but the fact that so many people are even discussing it brings his credibility into question. That is my issue....

I still see the value in bringing a credible business person in as a presidential option. Someone that has made money and been successful at running a large business. Running a country may be a little more complicated than running a business but in the end its all about Leadership, something that both existing candidates seem to be lacking… [Mbeki clearly more than Zuma]. This whole story reminds me a little of the Bush and Kerry ‘race’. It is dangerous for a country when there is a lack of clear leadership. People sadly feel they have no choice but to pick the ‘best’ of a bad bunch… and in America's case that lead to an extension of a war and many more dead bodies...Sad.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Izzy's funny catering clip

Right... !...Time for some laughter! This is without doubt one of the funniest clips I have seen for ages....


Thursday, 15 November 2007

Zero Tolerance my backside!!!

After listening to the oke from the Metro police on 702 going on about zero tolerance this morning [even applying to taxis] you would think the heavy handed approach would be 'general' festive season standard...RIGHT? WRONG! These images are from the same spot that the arrest incident happened .. these are from the morning of the court case 15 November 07!

Images not so good, 2 many and 2 big... but you get the drift..In Image 7 the Metro police stand an look on whilst this whole affair takes place under their noses... any arrests???NOT!

Thanks Paul for your post!

JHB Metro: "To serve, protect" and arrest

Hold onto your seats this is a long one...

A friend of mine was arrested yesterday, see the link for turning left in an area of the road where she should have used the slip road. She said she had indicated left up till the end of the road and no one let her in so she simply went forward and indicated to turn left once the traffic light had turned green and it was clear of no other vehicles. Once she had done so a Metro cop stopped her and told her she was under arrest! Yet surprise, surprise could not tell her what she was arrested for.

This is frightening for many reasons but mostly because, a more law-abiding citizen you would not find!

She was arrested at 6.50am [thrown into the back of the metro police 4 x 4] and was only released last night after 9pm…to appear in court at 8.30am this morning to be told at 11pm by the Prosecutor that all 17 charges have been thrown out!

Her experience is horrific to say the least. 17 People altogether were arrested and they were humiliated in every way possible from things like:
• Getting thrown into a cell with real criminals (not to mention puppy size rats).
• Police were totally disorganized, arguing with each other completing the documentation incorrectly etc.
• Doing things like full body searches, for what?
• Laughing at them and saying things like 'you people just think you can pay your fines and get away with it, we are going to teach you a lesson’??
• One cop even said 'you are lucky you are in a group as we would have tortured you if you were on your own'.
• They were not offered food and drink from 7am-9pm. Is that what we call dignified, humane, democratic treatment..?
Ironically, not once in the whole ordeal did anyone ask to see her ID/license? What bothered me the most about her story is the horrific power trips and revolting bully behaviour of the police and how we as civilians can be treated like hardened criminals and these so called ‘protectors’ get away with it.

Is this what we are going to accept as the norm in this country? I feel more afraid of the police now than ever before…

Some of these people are now laying a civil claim, but why should this kind of thing happen in a country that already has such limited policing resources? It almost feels like the police targeting regular people to make an example…? We are sitting ducks and the poor are in a worse situation I am sure. Some of these people are now so traumatized they have to seek physiological help. Sadly those that could not afford a lawyer had to stay longer... Why should people have to spend money fighting the country’s public servants for insignificant things, when it is really real crime and HIV/AIDS we should all be fighting together.

Surely police resources would be well spent actually catching people that are harming others? It is interesting though when you hear of how the police seem to try and cover their tracks when the journalists arrive and how they try and change the story making up what the charge is... like not wearing seatbelts which is a total lie.
To me, when I hear things like this it sounds like we are a lost and lawless society where civilians are not protected from their own police force.. is this sounding familiar to anyone?

It is really depressing and we need to stop this apparent God complex happening within the Metro police [they are clearly doing nothing to help their PR] they also need to remember that they are really servants of the country. I am also tired of hearing that this is an 'isolated incident', how many of those do you need before you have a state if emergency??
No person deserves the kind of treatment these people got, that could have been your wife [with your children], daughter, son, mother or father.

It’s so sad that these kinds of incidents give the country such a bad name. Good luck to us all for 2010 arrives…. Can you just imagine it? Lets hope we have our act together by then and the Metro police are actually protecting and not arresting civilians for ridiculous things. I agree that we need law on the roads but come on! Lets have some balanced policing 2!

[UPDATE: This morning 16/11/07 I heard 702 talking to one of the senior JHB Metro people about this 'incident'. As someone listening from the outside I agree with zero tolerance see my post its a looooong road BUT from the outside the 'operation' looks 'clean' and organised and it was far from that. I simply don't agree with the inhumane way these people were treated- only when experienced by someone you know do you realise the extent of the treatment. If you also checked out the reason that some of these people where arrested you would afraid.....like in this case - the cops themselves didn't know - wrong place, wrong time. There was no driving on a white/yellow line here! Excessive in my opinion and totally unacceptable. This round up and arrest strategy is not at all democratic and ruins peoples lives. I hope the Human Rights people do an investigation on this one and then 702 can bring that Metro okie back for another round.!]

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Time Casuality...

It would be interesting to throw this one ‘out there’ and see what the response is….

I think its really difficult to maintain friendships in this day and age…..I mean real friendships…not the shallow surface kind... The time problem has not just been noticed by me …..everyone seems to be just as busy…. Pressured.

For me, the reality is with what little spare time I have nowadays, I would rather spend it with my family, as I don’t see them as often as I would like. I am also a little bit of a recluse outside my normal working day, I like quiet reflection time whenever I can get it [which is not often, as the silence is often shattered with the word ‘mommy’]. Don't get me wrong, it’s not that my friends are not important, because they certainly are, it’s just that fitting it all in is a problem….

At one point actually, I thought the problem was 100% me. I have NO doubt that I am a contributing factor, but it seems to be that way for almost everyone I know. One of the reasons I like Facebook is the speed you can check up on your friends etc, but the downside is the lack of direct human interaction.

In my head I keep hearing the word balance…and in the end that is what I am aiming for, but I feel like I am at constant war with myself! On the friend front I feel bad all the time that I don’t see my friends as often as I would like [driving distances at night in JHB on my own is not my thing], but then again… they have time issues 2. So what is the solution?

My mother would tell me to ‘make time’ and say things like ‘if they are really true friends they will understand’, that may be the case, but in the end every situation is relative I suppose. The world is sadly becoming a more insular place, as people pull back from the ‘noise.’ We shouldn’t forget that we are all social beings and that we need friends… that's what makes us different. [Note to self: Candice… are you listening!?]

Wednesday, 07 November 2007

I need the blog...

When I first started blogging people kept saying 'How do you find the time?'.
What is fascinating is that I have become so used to it, its just not an issue. Nowadays I contribute to my company blog as well. Its fun and has become part of my daily [ok..nightly] routine. I'm not bored, sad or lonely [which tends to be the first thought in people's minds about bloggers]! Its a cool hobby..

Thursday, 01 November 2007

Bryan a banner!...

This is very clever [and funny]! Kudos to the BDDO team!

Monday, 29 October 2007

THE Terminators.....

OK. I am really sorry that California is having such awful fires.
Its really bad, but I could not help but giggle the other day when I heard that George W Bush (aka The [democracy] Terminator) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (aka The real Terminator) where doing a news conference together to chat about the awful fires. Lets be honest these 2 have caused a few fires of their own in their time...

Does anyone else think that there is something surreal about this..? [Only in America I tell you].

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

The company blog [don't fight it]...

It seems there is a trend that the business world is moving towards.... uploading blog sites rather than 'traditional'*yawn* corporate *double yawn* websites... I am sure its not harmful to have both!
My company, Funk that, now has a blog site... check it out ...

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Rugby and me..

Ok. Its a known fact that I am NOT a rugby fan [broadening that a tad…. I am not a sports fan]. So imagine my total horror last night when [in a bit if an out of body experience] I found myself screeching like a banshee [complete met green and gold stripes painted on my face] and even worse…. refereeing from my armchair about forward passes [it sounded good when I said it] and ‘up and unders’ [which I have to say I find enormously irritating]. So the lesson in this whole affair is as follows.. I am South African and I am proud of that fact… no matter what we are doing as a country.. at that level, I will become interested and to be frank.. hope we ‘crunch’ the opposition. I am nervous for 2010 as I think I will have to buy a new wardrobe [green and gold version]…. Here’s hoping our soccer dudes can kick some seeerrrreeouss butt otherwise I may have to increase my intake of heartburn tabs!!

Lucky... no more...

I am totally devastated that Lucky Dube was murdered this week...shocking... I’m so sad for his family, especially his small children who will now have to grow up without their dad…

How incredibly senseless. The question WHY comes to mind at times like this…..
His music has left a legacy though and as sad as this is, no amount of violence can ever take that away…VIVA LUCKY!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

USA...All shot up....

What is with the American kids shooting up their teachers and friends at their schools/universities? This is clearly becoming a trend.
The lastest....a 14 yr old boy who seems to have been suspended, arrived back with 2 hand guns and started shooting at people at his school. 5 injured [at the moment] and counting...
Why do these kids turn to violence? Is this now the new way of becoming a celebrity [even if you end up dying]...? How desperate does this kid have to be? What a sad society we live in....

It may be time to ban guns? Huh?!

Thursday, 04 October 2007

Ignorance is bliss in the USA....!

I cannot believe that this is real... are these people serious?

Wednesday, 03 October 2007

'arry Potter the last outpost?

I think we need another Harry Potter series! Its the first time since my teens [and Nancy Drew or Famous Five] that I have even heard kids [and some adults] taking about reading.....[not to mention queuing for books!]
The problem with reading in the world we now live in is time and the other choices people now have. Who has time... there are so many other ways to spend your time, if you are a teen or tween... TV, mobiles [MXIT], Facebook and XBOX/Playstation to name a few... Why read!? Its sad really.
Reading in my view really does work a different place in your brain. I hope that some other brilliant author comes along and gets kids reading again, it would be really regrettable if Harry Potter becomes the last outpost for reading worldwide....

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Manto loses Face[book]

I was totally flabbagasted to see that there are 3 profiles built for our Minister of Health in Facebook. They are certainly worth the read. Especially since they catch you off guard and at first I thought the government was just being really pro-active in the PR arena..[until I saw the other 2 profiles].
What is scary is how quickly you can lose face [in this case on Facebook] nowadays and how the technological world is aiding this. It really brings freedom of speech to A WHOLE NEW LEVEL! I wonder if Manto has seen her profiles?? Visit the link to check it out... if you are not on Facebook yet.... SERVES YOU RIGHT for not being proactive!

Monday, 17 September 2007

The Lion King lesson

We were fortunate enough to see the Lion King [at Monte Casino] this week. WOW! I was totally blown away. I have never really seen anything like that and I have seen a few theatre productions. It would be great if every South African was fortunate enough to see it.

We took our daughter (who is under 10) and she was very well behaved. She sat as quite as a mouse, captivated. Sadly the experience had a kak lesson and confirmed my assumptions about how truly bad some parents are.

Let me first say that, I believe, in this uncaring, dangerous world there are 2 very important things you now need to teach your children [along with everything else] caring for others and giving. This counteracts the external messages of ‘its all about me’ and ‘take, take, take’ that are surreptitiously lurking in every corner, especially in advertising and the celebrity 'role models' that kids grow up with today.

During the show, there were children that were talking loud, jumping on their seats, and in some cases standing and knocking the seats in front of them. At R375 per ticket that is a little more than annoying! Take a guess what all three sets of parents were doing…. Nothing. Not even once did I see one of the parents turn their head to reprimand their children. They have become so good at ignoring and ‘switching off’ that they do it with ease in these situations, this whilst the rest of us are left to be irritated by their children. Manners seem to be the last thing they are taught.
I ended up actually telling a little girl behind me to keep quite, which I didn’t particularly enjoy, but she was virtually shouting at her grandmother whilst her mother sat idly by enjoying the show.

What is happening in this world?… what are people breeding? It is pretty scary to watch and I must say this kind of thing does bother me, especially since I am teaching my daughter to be caring and giving. I just hope this ‘lot’ don’t end up hurting her! I hope I am not the one that has got this all wrong and in fact I should be teaching my child to 'protect herself from the world'!
In reality, there is simply no way I would be able to teach [even if subconsciously] my daughter this kind of 'new age' behaviour…..I think someone should start a 'children with manners club' to remind parents of what they were taught as children…..! I am sure there are kids out there that are caring, giving and have manners, but by the looks of things, they almost extinct!

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Mr Price...not so nice

Mr Price has always been one of those shining SA brands for me…. You know the ones that you are extremely loyal 2! That is until my recent experience.
I recently had to purchase office furniture and someone suggested I try Mr Price Home, the ‘Super Store’ on corner of Hendrik Potgieter & Nic Diedrichs Boulevard Wilgeheuwel On The West Rand. Very far for a Sandton chick [had to take my passport] but they apparently had loads of stock! Something Sandton was clearly fresh out of…..

To cut a very long story [not so] short :
1. I spent over R20 000 on office equipment. A LOT of money for a small company (money I don’t just have lying around). Even with that large spend, I still had to actually ask them for a discount and I was made to wait for ages for managers approval [felt a little like they were doing me a massive favour].
2. Whilst I was waiting, two of their staff asked me for jobs?? Slightly unprofessional.
3. I requested delivery and was told it would cost me R150….. ON a R24000 bill you would think delivery would be free?? That also felt like a tall order, especially when I threw a curve ball and asked for it to be delivered on the day that suited me not the store! Eish!
4. I paid in full [had a few issues with the credit card payment courtesy of my other ‘favourite’ Standard Bank]. That was finally sorted.
5. I got a call the next day from a staff member ON MY CELL for a job. So much for privacy!
6. 4 days later I called to check that my delivery was on track and I was told they would not be delivering on ‘my’ day as they have stock take? I asked to speak to the abrasive manager and she informed me of that same fact. To which my response was that does not suit me and why I was not told that when I chose the day. The manager promised to come back to me…. A whole day later but I beat them 2 it.
7. The delivery arrived, once again I was made to feel like they were doing me a favour by telling me that I was the only one that was getting a delivery on that day!
8. The delivery was wrong [partly my fault for not checking up on a bunch of people that clearly did not know their head from there backside]. I had checked the ‘shopping’ list but it was so long and I was so irritated I rushed stupidly. I was missing my 5 office chairs.
9. I called about the chairs, luckily they still had them [I was very irritated now]. I chose to go into the store to collect them just to be safe. I got there, they were not ready [surprise surprise!]. Lots of people standing around holding up counters and a few more doing a stock take.
10. I once again asked for a measly 5 % discount on the chairs as it was part of the original order. I had already been inconvenienced by driving back to get something that should have been delivered if they had of listened and included everything in the beginning! The cashier simply laughed and ignored me. Ringing up the chairs without a thought. I told him I was not joking. He then looked and some other guy, spoke in Sotho and the guy ran off. [My thought at this time was how sadly disempowered these people were]. 15 min later the guy comes back and has no news. The floor manager [not the real ‘big’ manager] just says no discount, to quote him “we only give discount for orders over R15 000” [something that was NEVER offered to me on my first purchase!]. At this point I am so mad I just paid the R3500 to get out of the Store.
11. Whilst this is going on the floor manager speaks to at least 3 customers making their stock take day the customer’s problem. I am fascinated at how low the Mr Price Home customers are on the food chain.

So what has happened? The staff and customers seem to be a means to an end and although the store concept is great, that particular store seems to be totally mismanaged. Maybe this BIG CORPORATE Mr Price no longer cares for its people or its customers [shareholder value now hey guys]? Well good luck on that one without customers you ain’t got no value. There is such potential for Mr P to support small business in the country BUT I will not be referring anyone to them. I realized it just takes one experience [ok a very expensive one for me] to change the fragile face of brand perceptions. I dont think Mr Price will be placing a [red] cap in hand anytime soon for their customers....

So sad and damn frustrating.

[Update:17 Sept- I subsequently found out I should have been offered the option of assembly which infuriated me even more -but briefly, after a call to the Head Office, I managed to get this whole mess sorted. Today Mr Price sent people to assemble the furniture. I am thankful, but saddened that such a fuss had to happen before any real service was given]

Thursday, 06 September 2007

Get your gnashes into Tashas!

OK, it really is not often that I punt a place [Vida being the one exception] BUT I have to say for brand consistancy Tashas Cafe in Atholl Square [Sandton-Jozi] is so ahead it is scary......

The food is the freshest around and no matter what you order you are sure to get a great good quality meal, and the service is very good. I realise that some see it as a place to 'be seen' but I can tell you that it is also a place to see! If you are a people watcher Tashas is heaven!

If anyone has been, please give me your feedback...I have been over 40 times this year and had only one marginal service issue...nothing that I would not go back for! Give it a bash!

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Behold the Corporate Sloth!

I have wanted to write this for ages but never got around to it. Now running my own business, I am painfully aware of this ‘animal’s’ existence within the corporate environment. It’s the corporate sloth.
If you review the Wikipedia definition of a sloth you will see that ‘they move only when necessary and very slowly. They can move at a marginally higher speed if they are in immediate danger from a predator’… [or boss]. ‘Sloths are among the most somnolent animals, sleeping from 15 to 18 hours each day’…..

Yip a perfect description for these people. They are the type that lie dormant hoping they are not noticed. Their aim seems to simply be to collect a salary at the end of the month and they try their best to remain as anonymous as possible… a kind of shadow. They 'thrive' within the massive corporate layers of bureaucracy. No-one notices them until they have to deal with them that is! It will then take so long to get them out of the system that people sometimes work around them.. They feel no guilt! Who are these people, how do they sleep at night?

Think hard…..I can guarantee you will quickly identify someone in your company that appears to fit the slothlike profile! [That’s if you work in a corporate – small companies are less likely to carry them]…I just hope that I don’t bump into to many of these on my travels…they are not my favourite!

Monday, 27 August 2007

The unhealthy state of our nation...

I can’t help but comment on the unhealthy situation in our Health Dept. I have until now, attempted to be balanced when it comes to my view of Manto but surely NOW she should just be graceful and step down? The list of faux pas seems to have become too long and the reality is that health is one of the key challenges we face in this country. Is this lady physically [or mentally] fit for the challenge? We need passion, energy, commitment, logic and action in the health department.
The moment the nutrition vs anti-retros came up 2 years ago, the president should have realized that there was a problem. The deptartment is clearly in crisis when it comes to meeting expectations/objectives. Does gov. not have performance criteria?

There is now enough scientific proof to favour anti-retrovirals [nutrition is of course very NB in the fight, but not alone!]. I was pretty shocked to see that there actually is a site called Sack Manto. Does this not indicate the desperation people are feeling? This is now no longer funny. What makes me a little irratated is that Manto is a public servant that clearly no longer has mass credibility [unless I have missed something?]. She should step down until an investigation proves otherwise [can perceptions be changed here though?]. I personally feel like my taxes are paying for a 'bad employee' to sit on the payroll. It seems that no matter what facts are presented no action is taken? Why? Does anyone know another side that is not being reported?

You just have to read a few of her comments to see there is some truth to what is being reported by the media. Why does the president stand behind her? It seems he has developed a pattern of stubbornness [or dictatorship?] that is odd to say the least (Mug-abe is another one standing under Mbeki’s umbrella). I just wish I could understand his logic here? If the president would communicate, we may understand this story for his side? BUT then again, who are we… the simple minions that dare have a say when it comes to the future of this country… why listen to us…?

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Shuttleworth's a cool geek..

Ok… I know I have been scarce on the blogging front!!! Sorry.. had a really busy 2 weeks…..
I was fortunate enough to meet Mark Shuttleworth recently. I have to say I was impressed. Not sure what I expected [from a famous oke], but in reality he seems to be a friendly normal dude who is more interested in you than talking about himself! He was keen to share what he had learnt in life and I thought I would share some of what he chatted about. He recons that curiosity and perseverance are 2 traits he has seen in successful people he has met worldwide. He mentioned that from space the earth looks very populated and the atmosphere very fragile. [SO BLOODY LOOK AFTER IT..!] He still professes to be a ‘geek’… lets be honest geeks are cool nowdays! His favourite magazines are The Economist and some other science mag I have never heard of…….
He wants to make heros out of talented SA kids by inspiring them and showing them the importance of maths, sciences and technology using his brand HIP2B2 …..

So in a nutshell this is one cool ‘geek’ and the best thing is he is South African!!!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Cool coffee places...

You know me and my quest to find cool places to eat and hang out! Well there is a very cool new centre on the corner of Third and Seventh Ave (Parktown North - JHB). If you like food and cool coffee places you have to go and visit this centre! It even has a Vida!

Sunday, 05 August 2007

A modern day Da Vinci?

There is an architect/sculptor/designer [not sure what to classify him as] in the UK called Thomas Heatherwick. It is not often that I am blown away by talent but I cannot believe that this guy has such a diverse range of talents in the design fields. I would go so far as to say he reminds me a little of a modern day Leonardo! [OK…OK he is very talented across multi-disciplines similar to Mr Da Vinci]. Icon wrote a great article about him and I have a feeling that he will end up being a legend in the design arena. There is simply something about him, he just seems so normal. For all those interested in design… watch this space this guy is making waves.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Groovy FREE speech mon...

There is an interesting book out called 'The Cult of the Amateur' written by a guy called Andrew Keen. Love him or hate him he has thrown oil on a debate that has been raging for a while. It’s the [snore…snore] same old discussion about the internet and all its ‘woes’ and I just HAVE TO SAY SOMETHING!

As I am a Libran I tend to constantly try balance things. This book [its worth reading the comments on the book link.. some are hilarious!] is his opinion [which needs to be respected] and some of what he says is valid HOWEVER no matter how much people go on about the net and social media it aint going to go away. No matter how many books anyone writes, the whole ‘democratised media’ thing has hit a nerve with more than a few people and nobody can argue that.

In a way I see shades of what the ‘hippy movement’ did in the late 60’s early 70’s to change the social fabric worldwide. Some good, some bad but the world has never been the same since. Different time, similar debate?
I am grateful that things like blogging have given consumers a voice to challenge service delivery in the business world. I am not fond of using any medium to hurt others [I don’t think most people really have that intention- maybe its that old story of a few ruining it for the rest]. I like free speech… my view is if you don’t like it don’t read/watch it. Companies that are using blogs for ‘spin doctoring’ purposes, as Andrew mentions, will soon be caught out and the damage could be enormous. I think that real bloggers hold integrity and authenticity above all else and would not sell their souls… [yip I am a little bit of an idealist]

This is an out there question but is the web not really a reflection of life, in all its glory and ugliness? You tend to find what you want to see…

We live in a fast paced, ever changing world. The Internet is probably assisting with entrenching a degree of anti social behavior but we need to be aware of that and try work our way around things by using it as a tool for connecting differently. I love the freedom of my ‘little space’ [no pun intended] and I would hate to have to 'conform' BUT a few rules may not be a bad thing? Just not sure in reality how they will be enforced [yuk word…].
Interesting topic… not sure if I would buy the book… I would borrow it though! Anyone brought it yet???

Thursday, 26 July 2007

England's melting...

England's melting, England's melting.... quick someone call Al Gore!

No really, I watched the Inconvenient Truth last Sunday and then the rain fell... and fell.... and fell.... in the UK! Coincidence? I think not.
I really do not believe that Global Warming is simply hype anymore and to be honest I get a little miffed [angry -for those that have no clue what that means] when people try and play it down.
I find the whole thing very scary and I have to say I do feel a little powerless to do anything about it. It seems that Africa is 'only' 2.5% of the problem BUT that does not mean we need to continue contributing to the problem...

Visit The Inconvenient Truth site and see what you can start doing to make the change!

Monday, 23 July 2007

What are you reading..?

I think I read too many books at once. At the moment I am reading - THE SECRET (self help book about the law of attraction) worth the read for those needing a positive boost. I strangly had one or 2 'spooky' things happen whilst reading the book...eeeeaarrrryyyy.... and of course...HARRY POTTER and the Dealthy Hallows. I totally love Harry... I do however have an awful backlog of [what some may call real] books to read that I need to get cracking on... BUT since I have started writing this blog I have fallen way behind (OK, not the only reason).
So the bottom line is.....at the moment I am confusing controlling my thoughts and magic...hold on... whats the difference???

What are you lot reading?

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

It's a looong..looong road

Has anyone noticed that the lawlessness on the roads has got so much worse over the last few years [particularly in terms of people’s driving abilities]? I cannot believe how many people break the road laws in this country and I am not only talking about speeding. Being a mother, I am very conscious of driving well as I have precious cargo. It does however seem to me that a large number of the driving population have started driving like bad taxi drivers….and THAT is bad. It appears to be a kind of ‘they can do it, so can I’ approach.
Every morning and afternoon, without fail, I see taxis breaking the road laws. Whether it be by driving into the on-coming traffic to get ahead, racing up the inside lanes and then trying to push in over a solid white line or jumping a BRIGHT red traffic light. I am in awe of how often I see this and I am more frustrated at the absence of police to manage the situation. In fact I have often seen the metro police watch as taxis blatantly break road rules. I would love to have a ‘copper’ in the car with me some mornings just to point out the regular occurrences at the same places every morning…and to ask why are they not there.
In all fairness I have come across one or two polite taxi drivers, and they have really made my day. This morning however, was one of those days when I was unfortunate. As I pulled off from a traffic light, a taxi jumped the intersection, I hooted, he slowed down and then wound down his window and proceeded to shout drunken verbal obscenities at me [my daughter was not in the car… thank heavens]. To be honest I normally ignore this kind of driving [I learnt that a long time ago-I was getting so upset it was not worth it], but this morning I got such a fright my instant reaction was to hoot. I was actually a little afraid and then I got angry as I feel that my rights relating to safety on the road are being violated every day and if I attempt to ‘fight back’ the chances are I will be injured or worse [how do the actual passangers feel!! How awful to put your life in the hands of a bad driver every day]. Is that democratic? Is that fair? Surely, good policing is the only way to sort this out? BUT the reality is that taxis have been the same for ages, what is worrying me more now is the normal passenger cars that are jumping on board with the same practices… following suit.
What is your opinion… what can we do about this? Is there really a solution? Is it something the police need to work on? AND do you really think the average driver has any voice in this whole sad, dangerous story....... as a woman on the road I feel pretty powerless.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Happy Birthday Madiba!!!!

Tomorrow Madiba turns 89. Here is a man that is often a positive personal reference point in my mind. In fact the very thought of him makes me emotional. I once (back when he was president) had the privilege of meeting this giant of a man. I even got to shake his hand (I didn’t want to wash my hand after that!) I will never forget that, but being younger I don’t think I fully understood how special that moment actually was. In fact if I had to choose one person that I wanted to have a ‘coffee chat' with it would be Madiba. Understanding this great man a little better, I am sure would teach me some life lessons. We can all learn from him and I am unashamedly a fan! HAPPY BIRTHDAY MADIBA! May we be graced with your magnificent brain and heart for years to come!

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Can you change the world?

Heres a question...
Can one person really change the world? I mean, sure it seems obvious that people like Gandhi, Bill Gates, Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and of course Madiba have clearly been leaders in the social/business/political sense and they have influenced and aided change. But did they really do it all alone? Didn't they have support teams? I know that sounds odd!
I have often been told by people that I can't change the world. My thought process around that has always been...'that may be your opinion but I would rather die trying'. Lately however, I have really started to wonder whether I actually can... is this really a one [wo]man job? Is it simply about leadership, taking risks, blind passion/ focus or being able to give selflessly without expectation OR is it more about providing the right 'thing' at the right time and place? What is the common denominator amongst 'world changers' in political, social and business environments? I would love to hear your views on this.... I just know that I would feel very unhappy if i stopped believing that somewhere, somehow, I could change the world even if it was one tiny step at a time....

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

South Africa's newest province?

Robert MUGabe never ceases to amaze me. The last few weeks have seen a sadder picture unfold in Zim. Watching people suffer is something that most people cannot handle, it is soul destroying especially so close to home. Lets recap a few of the things I have heard over the last few weeks [I am sure there is way more but this is just what I have heard]. Zim government is attempting to control escalating prices and have arrested business people for not complying with price reductions. People have no food, work, petrol or basic amenities and in some cases government has kicked people out of their homes and smashed them to the ground. The reason? Who really knows but my money is on total control.

So how long can this human rights abuse last? Our South African government is supposed to be mediating some sort of resolution to the economic crisis [as well as the human one I am sure] and talks were supposed to take place in SA yesterday… guess what….the Zim government didn’t pitch! Taking the soft approach is clearly not working, somehow though we just don’t seem to get that. The real change may only come when the people stand up in vast, hungry numbers against the man that so many years ago promised them a liberated and free Zimbabwe. MUGabe seems to have ‘claimed’ Zimbabwe and its riches for himself, forgetting his first role, is not to fill his Swiss bank account, but rather to serve his people.

You cant help but feel sorry that Zim has no Mandela leading a surge against human rights violations. A lack of competitive leadership has really hindered any people driven change. Word on the ‘street’ is that some Zimbos are having a debate about becoming SA’s newest province! That would be pretty cool, but scary, as we have problems of our own that we are still trying to sort out after nearly 13 ys!

Well, over the coming months we will all have to sadly watch the situation getting worse [inevitable]. Sometimes a dire situation can end up being catalyst for a positive result, like flushing out old governments and welcoming new leaders. One thing is for sure... Zim can forget being ‘rescued’ but an oil seeking ‘knight in shining armor’ [a.k.a. George Bush], they simply don’t fit the oil profile [they qualify on the madman leader front though]. In the end they will have to fix their problems from within. Let’s hope SA can help somewhere though.

Thursday, 05 July 2007

WINK and you are there!

Check out this site! For those of you that think you are anonymous or have a 'unique' name in the world! Think again... check out WINK.Type in your full name and this site searches the dark edges of the web for you!! YOU CAN RUN BUT YOU CAN'T HIDE!!

'Great idea' these soggy cots!

There are some really cool sites like The Cool Hunter that showcase some really odd but cool things. As a mom I am often blown away by the size and expenditure in the kiddie market.
This idea is proof of how far people actually can go and still have a 'market'.. honestly! If people are making money off things like this what the hell are we doing?? I am not sure if this is cool or stupid but check it out! Offering customisation in a retro arty kinda way.... A CARDBOARD COT! (Sad thing is I would buy one!)
The site says 'It comes with the implicit invitation for creative mums and dads to paint it, graffiti it....um, decoupage it. It's an assemble yourself story and I am sure it looks cool until, presumably, a small child decides to suck on it. Cute, simple, chic....and soggy. ' Now there's a business idea for someone!!

Monday, 02 July 2007

Mac or PC funny...

I thought this was very funny... I am such a MAC fan that I could not resist! Plus seeing white okes with no rhythm trying to rap is even funnier!!

Thursday, 28 June 2007

What you think you become..

A friend asked me today how I manage to ALWAYS stay so positive. I was blown away, because I think I have been doing a really lousy job at being positive over the last few weeks! I have been particularly frustrated and I know I have been letting it show.
So once again…that comment got me thinking…maybe I put too much pressure on myself to be constantly positive. Isn’t that, in reality, a little unrealistic?? I get frustrated when I can’t control my negative thoughts, but we all have them. As humans we dip in and out of positive and negative thoughts all the time. Some of us tend to display dominance in either one or the other, but that may be inherent, or part of who we have allowed ourselves to become. Positive thinking has been well documented and does seem to improve life holistically, you can also apparently train yourself to reprogramme your brain.

There is a theory that explains negativity’s origin in humans as a survival instinct [driven by the primal base of the brain]. When the first humans wandered the earth, the survival part kicked in when they had to recognize, in an instant, the danger they faced when dealing with certain prehistoric animals. They had to know when to run and being all warm, positive and fuzzy about the encounter would end in them being eaten!

In the end it goes back to balance and how we need to be conscious of finding it!

Mahatma Gandhi sums it up for me, “A man is but the product of his thoughts what he thinks, he becomes.”

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Generation Why?

Ok. I am back on the issue of moral ethics, this time the spotlight is on what 'they' are calling Generation Y – or rather Gen Y.
The Fortune 500 magazine recently published an article that really hit home for me. Its worth a read.

Owning a small business I have noticed its becoming increasing difficult to find young people with any kind moral ethic, commitment, basic manners or loyalty. BUT what is more frightening for me is total lack of passion and direction that most exude even in a job interview [this last point seems to contradict the Fortune article on the ambitious Gen-Y’ers]. They certainly don’t seem to be trying to impress, its almost as if they are expecting you to impress them! [I am basing this off over 100 interviews with early 20-somethings over the last 9 months]. I am now convinced that this behaviour is a result of a few things but mostly I think it’s a result of: indulgence, guilt & lack of quality mentorship/time.

More cash flush parents [more so than the industrial age lets say] indulging their children over the past decade [or more] because they feel guilty about the time they are able to spend with them in this fast paced world. Many families now also have different structures, they are made up of all sorts of different layers, all coming with their own issues and morals. This new age family often has split parenting complications that fuel the guilt that parents feel when dealing with their children. Sadly, this is only part of the problem, schools are not able to discipline as they did in the 'old days' incase the children’s rights are ‘infringed’. Advertisers greedily see children as a hugely important target for their products, further feeding the indulgence [or 'me'] epidemic.

Don’t believe me…. do a test, ask any teenager or 20-something where they want to be in 5 years and see what the answer is. Very few have even thought about today never mind tomorrow! Sure the business landscape is changing very quickly, and it is difficult to keep up, but what happened to 'following a passion'?? Technology has been an channel that has aided these ‘All about ME’ kids enabling a secret community that excludes parents & mentors…. fueling the growth of the communication canyon [or disconnect] between generations.

Understanding & providing opportunities to this generation is important, of course, but it should not be a one sided affair. I realize that I am generalizing here [always dangerous] but I am trying to illustrate a very strong trend that needs some discussion.

I am personally not sure how to deal with people that are not passionate about anything [is this because they have mostly never felt what it is like to really want anything ?] AND I believe that you have to be taught to care and give to others. So where do you begin, how do you reason with this lot? Just to complicate this further, being a parent of a small child, I am conscious not to fall into the same give, give, give parenting trap BUT that is not as easy as it sounds with such massive external pressures [peer pressure being a main one]. Teaching manners, empathy and caring is key BUT will that be enough…? Maybe for my child [she is still young and impressionable] but what happens to the Generations Y’ers floating out there in their-own-space???

UPDATE: Since writing this I stumbled across this article BizComArticle

Half full...not empty

A good friend of mine mentioned to me the other day, that although she loves my blog, I need to try balance the positive with the negative. That really got me thinking…

By nature I am a positive person (glass being half full rather than empty), BUT her comment made me realize that I am using this blog to do 2 things: vent and share. I have mentioned it’s therapeutic to ‘put it all out there’ AND it is really cool to hear from you on the what I write especially when it comes to what we face as humans, families, communities and businesses. For me open dialogue is what has so often saved the world from the scourges of war and many other negative confrontations. I know that my parents may not see a blog as a dialogue [face to face is how you conduct dialogue] BUT this is really a platform for a new type of open, dual communication that is different..... and very much the future.

I would love to know your thoughts on this, but the reality is I write [as selfish as it sounds] more for me than for you.

Zapiro my hero...

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Media fois gras is coming...

About 2 months ago I went to a ‘Reshaping Media’ conference where there was a discussion about how people’s cell phones are the next BIG advertising platform for agencies/companies. I queried the legality of sending ‘spam’ [otherwise known as unsolicited crap] to people’s phones, noting this was a step 2 far, as a phone is really personal. The ‘expert’ replied - as long as there is an ‘unsubscribe option’ it is not illegal. NOW today I got a multimedia MMS (‘song and dance’) spam message from a company called Mahindra Finanicial Services. This message ‘presentation’ told me about a product I WOULD NEVER buy, showing ugly cars and urged me to visit a dealership. I was given an option to ‘unsubscribe’ at a 50c fee!!!!!

So welcome to the future then…. FORCED MEDIA [media foie gras- yuk]. We will have to pay for rejecting messages that were illegally sent to our phones…. Huh?
I certainly never gave this company the right to send me such a large file and the very, very LAST THING I would ever do is ‘visit a dealership’. A REAL branding faux pax.

I get the same feeling that I think I would get if someone robbed my house. Violated and very angry. So how did they get my number? The cell phone companies would clearly benefit from passing on my details (just add up all the 50c unsubscribe responses they are going to get!). But who knows! Our details are being traded freely for large sums of cash without our permission daily - cant see how that is legal. CHARMING.

The most ironic part of all [and the biggest slap in the face] is one line in the MMS …. “Mahindra subscribes to strict anti-spamming policies. In you do not want to receive any further MMS messages from us, please SMS the words ‘OPTOUT 1658’ to 31234. SMS charged at R0.50.” I rest my case.

Monday, 18 June 2007

Band-aid for AFRICA!

You know when something is so obvious that it hits you right between the eyes and you go....'why the hell didnt I think of that'. We have a country of diverse skin tones, YET when shopping for plasters (band aids... whatever) I havent seen any offering different skin tone options. Why the hell not? Then I came across Ebon-Aide. Has anyone seen anything like this in SA? Please let me know if you have.....
It strikes me as odd though that on the whole, European/USA type product ranges are still 'forced' [sure we buy them, its called limited choice] into African countries by suppliers ['a buying strategy' I am sure], with a seemingly below the line kind of arrogance and no-one says anything...or do they? Children play a huge role in the plaster target market (Scooby, Cinderella you name it!) BUT brown toned plasters??
Whilst on the subject of children...check out the doll section at your local toy shop...these are generally still not weighing in Africa's favour [I can hear the Marketers going..target markets..aimed at LSM Blah blah]. Sure I have seen the odd brown toned doll here and there but generally, out there on the shelves, it's still very much 1993. What are we saying 2 our children?

Media circus?

zapiro is one sharp oke.

Thursday, 14 June 2007

The death of tolerance...

Sorry been a bit quiet. I’ve had one of those weeks…..

The public servants strike has really tried and tested people, politics, patience and moral ethics generally. I am not getting into the strike in this post as that has had enough coverage, BUT I have to address the issue of moral ethics.

In JHB a headmaster was murdered during the strike and on the same day he openly questioned (on Radio 702) an incident of alleged police mistreatment of suspects (I am not sure if these suspects were strikers?). His death has been called ‘a suspected robbery’. Anyway the point of this post is not so much the incident (which was tragic of course), but to question the few people that called or smsed 702 and said things like, ‘I am happy he is dead, he was a troublemaker’. Who says something like that? The scary part is that it was not just one person, but a few with similar harsh comments. Luckily the minority, BUT one comment like that is bad enough in these circumstances! No matter who or what this man was, who would wish that on anyone for such a minor thing as ‘troublemaking’. I would expect that kind of response for something like child abuse BUT such vicious comments for a differing opinion? HUH?

What does this kind of reaction say about our society and how numb we are to the finality, tragedy and pain of death. Have we forgotten to care for others not to mention the feelings of the family and friends left behind? Have we forgotten to think and reason? Have we forgotten that we are supposed to be proud of our diverse country with differing opinions? Is this a S African thing or a global problem? How have some people become so openly ugly? I really hope that this kind of hatred is not a growing trend, but rather a sad bunch of individuals that may one day understand the impact of their words...

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Watch out Oprah...here I come!

The web is providing so many platforms for people now it is really difficult to keep up. Can you believe there is a website that actually enables your to set up your own talk show? Check out Talk shoe. You can browse a wide variety of topics.
It really begs the question.. how long does TV have in its current form? In so many ways the web is giving consumers the visual choice (in excess sure), in pretty much the same way that the IPOD changed the way we see music. Has the revolution begun? Need more proof… see Joost
Sadly we will be a little slower here in SA as we still have the small issue of broadband. BUT once that is sorted, all we will need is a connection and we can watch what we want through out TV sets (via our computers)! Whoohooo..bring it on!

Wednesday, 06 June 2007

What a WOP!

You know when there is a day that you hear something and it bothers you…something that just plays on your mind ? Well that happened to me today. I love Radio 702 and this morning whilst caught in the traffic [bear in mind it was pouring with rain], someone called in to say there was a guy [white] in a double cab [2 rows of seats like a normal car – for those that are not ‘bakkie literate’] that had 3 guys sitting IN THE RAIN in the back [open section] of his bakkie huddled around a small blanket!? In the freezing cold and wet and there was no-one but the driver in the car! HUH??

The caller mentioned that driver was ‘from a construction company’ and that the guys in the back of the car were in fact black. He went on to say that he simply could not understand the mentality of someone that would do such a thing. Well bud that makes 2 of us! Racism is clearly alive and well in the minds of some. I was totally horrified, what a total WOP! Some people need to move on in this country [or move out]. Terrible really, I can’t actually stop thinking about it. Sorry for posting such a sad story but this kind of behaviour needs to stop.. geeee wizz....

Monday, 04 June 2007

The Face[ache] Community

I belong to a few online communities and one of those, that is without a doubt a lot of fun is Facebook. There is however only one tiny problem… I am battling to find friends my own age [that I know]. I didn’t think that I was that OLD! I am 35 for heavens sake! In a way I can understand it, my generation [in SA at least] is the ‘lost’ generation of the IT era!! No personal computers and cell phones for us when we were growing up unless of course we had rich parents [which I didn’t].
I would love to see the age stats for the Facebook community. What finally brought this age thing home to me was finding my 17yr old step daughter on Facebook AND the fact that one of my more junior friends told me I was ‘hip for my age’…what does that actually mean??

I would love to use this tool to meet up with old school friends but alas I have no idea what their married names are! One little kink in the Face[ache]book armour! But then again [I remind myself] they are not catering for ‘us’ married lot…they want the unmarried under 25’s to join and share. SHARE…now that is something that takes getting used to. I have to say I battle a little, especially the 'add picture' part! AHH! There are spaces to fill in your whole life history, even to upload..or rather dowload a urine sample [no only kidding..coming soon though]. So right now my profile is up in ‘lights’ with a particularly bad picture, so I’m told. Who cares though, its such fun! "You can't be on FACEbook without a picture of your face!"

Well one thing is comforting my friends are older..cause they ain’t on the fab Facebook!!!

Sunday, 03 June 2007

Ice brains...

We must be the dumbest bunch living on this planet. I have just watched a show on BBC that was worse than watching Freddie in Nightmare on Elm Street (ok. I realize that I show my age as that is the LAST horror I ever watched!).

Can you believe that there are currently a few large countries (up North..you know the first world ones with all the ‘brains’ that should really know better) that are fighting for the rights to the Artic Circle in terms of the moral poison….oil and fishing! To make matters worse they are also fighting to open the sea passage (through the Artic) to get to Asia, which could never been done before as the area was 2 frozen! NOW SADLY the ice has melted so badly over the last 3 decades that a few ships have in fact made their way through! This was really the final frontier until now… real virgin land. Something in the pit of my stomach is screaming NOOOOOO! Can you imagine if this already naturally degraded treasure suddenly becomes the new ‘road’ or rather right of passage to the east?! We are fishing the seas to death, blasting and polluting the land & sea to find oil and trailing our filthy dirty ships through the North Pole. In reality this world belongs to us all. I say stuff the treaties between countries and companies, ask the people what they think!!! Is global warming evidence not enough… when will we learn???

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Do you know...Zola 7?

Do you know Zola and his show Zola 7. If not, I would suggest you check your passport. Are you in fact South African? Where have you been?

Zola is one of my biggest heros, I have spent many hours crying over his show [in a feel good kinda way… and yes I am a chick and I do cry]. In fact he falls just behind Madiba in a healthy 2nd place on the herometer. He ain’t new, BUT I have noticed that when I have mentioned his name in conversation to a few people, they give me an odd side-on blank stare. It is interesting to note that most of the ‘confused’ happen to be white. I am simply fascinated by how siloed our society still is.

Here is a guy that is [mega cool] and is seen by the poorer households as a modern day Robin Hood and lets face it, we have A LOT of poor people in this country. It has been said that in the popularity/awareness stakes [amongst LSM 1-5] he is 2nd only to Madiba. Almost EVERYONE in the country seems to know who he is, he has built one of the strongest personal brands in SA!

So this post is a wake up call to ANYONE that has not heard of Zola and his show Zola 7. A simple search on Google for Zola 7 will yield a staggering 1.8+million results! Not bad for a guy from the Ghetto. We need more hero examples like him in SA! Real rags to riches!

So turn on your tele and check out the work he does. Zola 7 on SABC 1 at 20h30 – Thursday evening.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Cheese with that Whine?

I have to say I am concerned… AND if I were a wine farmer in the Cape attempting to leave a legacy, I would be even more concerned. It seems that global warming is a little more than a little problem for the SA wine industry . And this is a HUGE problem for me [LOVE wine]…. Sadly this ain’t the first time I have heard the rumblings of ‘mad scientists’ predicting a future of dry barren grounds down south.

This is one confused planet... and we made that happen [more so our friends up North, but we are 'helping']! Fortunately, the right questions are finally being asked, BUT how serious do people really think this problem is. How seeeereearse do you think it is? The seriousness becomes crystal clear [no pun intended] when I tell you that in a bizzare twist the poms….yes I said POMS…..are beginning to win wine
awards! What the hell is going on??

So lets cast our minds to the future...Where have all the SA ‘whiners’ gone [sure we could lose some.. but not these]!? Eish!! We ALL have to move quick and Save the World! now! OR face the consequences and import wine from the UK!!
(Pic: Groote Post Winery- my favourite sav blanc wine)

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Toilet Marketing..mmm

For those of you that are tired of advertising in your face 24/7 check this picture out! It was one of those ‘really helpful’ ads at the back of a toilet door [the ones I normally totally ignore] at an Ultra City on the JHB-DBN route. I giggled when I saw it [don’t agree with graffiti] BUT I kinda get the sentiment of the ‘artist’.

In the real world… thinking like a practical person… who would want to think of buying Fruit Juice whilst precariously hanging over the Jazz getting rid of the last lot?! I dunno, I would love to see stats for the loo ads to see if they are all what they are flushed up to be!

Monday, 21 May 2007

A Re'cup'...

Just to give you all an overview of the comments on the mini coffee shop ‘test’. It seems that Vida e Caffe, Seattle, Woolies came out strong amongst those of you kind enough to comment. What is sad, and something that I had pretty much predicted, is that there seems to be a serious lack of little boutique coffee shops worth noting? Is this a gap in the market for a quality niche product...? There was only one post from Durban that had a few names that weren't national...

Sure there are many coffee shops out there, but very few could challenge the strong brands mentioned by all of you as far as experience goes. Lets hope that changes soon……. niches are important!
Keep me posted if you find anything worth noting as an experience. Cool!…. [Hot..whatever!]

Friday, 18 May 2007

Authentic Age

I simply couldn’t resist this one especially as I consider myself a consumer activist! We all know that there are now HUGE trust issues between companies and consumers and that the Ad/PR Agencies have become the spokespeople for companies who have essentially forgotten how to conduct healthy dialogue with their staff and customers! This has resulted in a large canyon of mistrust and cynicism with only a few authentic brands breaking through.

Being authentic and caring has never been more important! This video clip for me has really captured the essence of the problem, it boils down to the cold business transaction vs the neglected needy child! You be the judge!

Murky water...!

Being in Durbs today it is interesting to see how Shark Fever has hit! Originally being from Durban, I am trying to get into the swing of things, but I am not really sure that I would go as far as branding myself in the Sharks gear! When I was younger [hard to remember way back then] I am sure it was NOT COOL to wear rugby sports gear [as a girl anyway]….. or if in fact it even existed?! [Didn’t everyone just wear black and white?]
It seems that whilst I've been growing up [in a sports slumber], a massive marketing industry has grown with anything from shoes, bedding, toys and clothing [for all ages/genders] with the shark logo on it …..AND it actually seems to be COOL to buy! How American!

It just made me ponder on the age-old issue of brand loyalty. In the end it could be that I am simply just not a BIG rugby fan… or heavens forbid… a Sharks fan! Eish! [did I actually write that?]! Rest assured however, if I had to support SA in anything [World Cup etc] I would join the gang for sure with some kind of CLEVER SA kit! Oh well, it will be interesting to watch the game [not a normal occurrence] and see how many people have parceled themselves as Sharks (or Bulls) for that matter! I ain’t gonna be one…. the thought makes me feel itchy somehow!

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

The Woolies Debacle!

Woolies is a strong SA brand but EISH! so many people lately have been asking the question ‘what the hell is going on with stock, or rather the lack of it!’ Woolies is one of the few brands in SA that I think verges on encouraging a MSP-Me Selling Proposition these are brands that are so trusted they become community owned. In my mind it was the one brand that was least afraid of its consumers, that’s until this communication debacle. Their local site communication has clearly not been good on what appeared to be a ‘stock shortage’ in many areas. I was somewhat relieved to see that the ‘problem’ is a logistical change to a new warehouse, as reported by The Star (Edition 6, Monday 14th May) – Woolworths unveils new, state-of-art storage.

I was tired of hearing the moans from people with comments like ‘typical SA’ and it’s the ‘Engen store roll out’ that’s the problem. It confirmed my belief that consumers simply do not trust companies anymore. I am disappointed that Woolies nearly fell into the cold transaction trap [hey customers won’t notice…wrong!]. Communication is key people! Talk to us! We prefer that! We want to know that Companies are human and make mistakes at times 2!

Monday, 14 May 2007

In the name of Coffee....!

Wouldn't it be great to have Starbucks in SA!?

I love Jozi right….BUT I love coffee even more!

So I thought it may be cool to conduct a little survey amongst all you coffee lovers reading this blog. Please comment on your favourite coffee place/shop whatever! I'm on a quest for the grooviest coffee experience in Jozi…. You are welcome to add your comments from anywhere though… Cape/Durbs wherever!

Once you have commented I will try visit the place and give you all feedback…! I love Vida e Caffe but I would love to see if there is anything out there giving Vida a run for its money! Let me know!

Friday, 11 May 2007

Bring Madeleine home...

Its Mother Day here in SA on Sunday and I can’t stop thinking about the poor mother of missing three-year-old Madeleine McCann. She was abducted a week ago and its her 4th birthday tomorrow - can you even begin to imagine how her family must be feeling? I can't... As time goes on I feel sadder for them.

For any mother the fear of just thinking of this kind of thing is paralyzing. I simply do not understand how anyone could do this.

So for Mothers Day I am dedicating my most positive thoughts and wishes to Madeleines mom and I am sure you all feel the same way… Eish! Not nice at all.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

David 'Blog'ard reports...

Ok, so I have been sitting back silently watching the storm regarding David Bullard comments in last weeks Sunday Times [I know…it took me a while to respond..it’s old news now- 5 days!.. BUT I am unveiling my new reflective unemotional side.. YA right!]
I have read so many different sites on the topic and Davie is now famous! I, on the other hand, am astounded by the power of this communication tool! I am pretty sure that David underestimated the blogosphere on this one… or maybe its ‘us’ being played and its all a test!? What’s amazing is that this news has spread across the globe with comments from journalists being tagged thick and fast!

I really have just one question on this. Is freedom really freedom when there are ‘rules’? Is this not the lure of blogging….the fact that it aint elitist? Via free speech!
I do, however think I understand the confused message in his article about being offensive and I actually agree BUT believe it or not some people don’t want to be journalists! Don’t stress Davie, your job is safe from me! I just like freedom… you can have your rules and your papier… the blogosphere is for me!


Tuesday, 08 May 2007

Second Life anyone?

For the real ‘geeks’ (whoever those are these days – I think the geeks of today are now the jocks) the concept of Second Life is old news. I have to say though, that I have been fascinated since I heard about it a few months ago. What a clever concept, might not be your thing but you cannot deny its clever! To quote the site Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents. Since opening to the public in 2003, it has grown explosively and today is inhabited by a total of 6,193,781 people from around the globe.”

It’s an online game where you can be who you want to be and unlike normal games you don’t interact with ‘false/manufactured’ characters or figments of a programmers imagination BUT rather with other people who are also into ‘escapism’ and have redesigned themselves. DON’T LAUGH! It is no laughing matter, visit the site and look on the right hand side and how much revenue it has clocked up… AND big brands are clamoring to advertise in this new space, it already boasts over 25 big names like Virgin (of course!), IBM, BMW to name a few. These sites are also creating cross over platforms back into the 'real world'. Example: You walk into Pizza Hut in the ‘game’ and you order a pizza, 35 minutes later your real life doorbell rings whilst you are building you house in Second Life and WOLA! the pizza is delivered – already paid for through your credit card [as you use that to play the game]! HOW COOL! Can you believe it!!! To illustrate this a little more, I found this clip on YOUTUBE that shows this guys entrance into Second Life and how he has rejected his real life…Shame is it loneliness or boredom [I hear you say]….. Check it out!

Monday, 07 May 2007

Totally toothless !

Lets talk teeth…. Yip I said teeth.
I have just had an amazingly frustrating experience and it would be interesting to see if any of you have had a similar one, because if you have we are in trouble! I really get nervous when there is a service issue like this, that feeling of helplessness is not very comfortable.

I have no dentist. Long story… but she went on sabbatical (who blames her looking at peoples mouths all day ...can’t be cool).
Last week I developed an ache in my tooth that got worse and worse. Eventually, by Friday I was desperate, phoning around to find a dentist that would take me in! Found one and she referred me to a specialist (Surprise! Surprise!). I had a ‘REALLY BIG abscess’ in the bone cavity from someone that didn’t do a root canal properly! I cannot put words to the agony! (They would be X rated if I did!)

I was given antibiotics and pain killers and 2 referrals to specialists. When I called these specialists the first date I could get was end May and June!! I started to panic! I eventually went to my family doc on Sunday for a pain injection and he said he would do his best to help me on Monday. Which he did, he managed to ‘get me in’ somewhere this coming Friday….! So now I just have to wade through one week and not a whole month in total agony! I still think that is bad!

I cannot believe the whole experience not to mention how uncaring and rude the people were at the specialist rooms, they really didn’t care. You may be busy but you don’t have to be rude!! I even thought of ‘checking in’ to hospital just to get someone to help!! How ridiculous! Do we have that much of a skills shortage?? In the process (ironically) I met a cool dentist that has her Masters in Dentistry but is going to London to specialise as some health board (presume its government) only took 3 people into their specialist programme? Apparently a political thing…. I know she doesn’t want to leave, she had to go to further her career!! So much for being a country of opportunity! The last thing we need is to lose more skill because of some strange bureaucratic process! So blogging this story hasn’t really helped the pain go away, it is however a BIG WARNING…whatever you do…. Don’t lose your teeth!!!

Thursday, 03 May 2007

The art of parenting...

You know one of the hardest things in life is being a parent. I mean, how do you ever know if you are doing the right thing.
It kinda reminds me of one loooong pottery class. You start off with a lump of clay that you have great intentions of moulding into something grand and placing proudly on your mantle piece. You clearly do not set out with the intention of creating a mangled twisted piece of 'stretched' clay that will only ever see the inside of a dustbin!!! The risk is however there.
Is parenting really that different? Not all of us get the opportunity to practice on lots of lumps of clay in real life!

We all virtually kill ourselves to create the perfect vase (not only on the outside but on the inside as well nogal!) Once it takes its rightful place on the mantle piece, we hope that people will take care of it and make sure it is not too close to the edge, incase it gets knocked off onto the floor and shatters into millions of little pieces. In effect we spend our lives trying to teach our children how to navigate through life relatively unscathed but at the same time how to shine! This kak is certainly NOT for the faint hearted! Eish! Wouldn't change it for all the tea in China!

Monday, 30 April 2007

Unispired. Demotivated and far from Involved.

Talk about putting more distance between customer and company! Standard Bank is an expert at that one lately! There is simply no way that their new telephone system was designed to improve customer communication - not matter how it was sold to the board! For those of you that are unaware, there is a new telephone system in place that takes long distance calls to a whole new level!! 

This new 'customer friendly' system has been in place for a few months now (as far as I know) and using it reminds me of another 'fun/efficient' call centre experience.... Vodacom. So I call in and the central person redirects my call to my branch, I am lucky of course if the central person even knows who my business banker is! I have tried to mention his name every time I call, and I get an .....'Er....I'll transfer you to your branch'. Now... not sure what happened at the branch BUT it seems that whoever was answering the phone before [the mass centralisation], no longer thinks the phone is their job, or they are the efficiency! Today I waited 10 mins before someone picked up the phone and I got a really professional 'hello'. For a split second there I thought ' where the hell did I call'....Lets think...... do you think the customer or internal efficiencies were the drivers for this corporate change? 

Ah well, that’s what I call standing up to your brand promise of 'Inspired. Motivated. Involved'. Real authentic.... 
You JUST GOTTA LOVE OUR BANKS, a really empowering lot!

Sunday, 29 April 2007

Country Marketing Woes...

So I’ve been reflecting this long weekend…. Not to harp on the Italian trip, but it got me thinking about the topic of Marketing and my endless quest for a positively consistent consumer experience. Although I think each person reacts differently to every experience, I believe there are common elements making up a positive experience for most people. Whether they are subliminal or conscious.

Lets take Italy…. In my previous blog I said I might have romanticised the idea of Italy BUT like a typical researcher I did my homework on each city (even if I had been before) and all the visual info looked fantastic….(I even read blogs!) It all looked just like a well-conceived marketing plan. So I purchased the goods.

Marketing the essence of a country is pretty easy from a distance using all the usual mediums…. Delivering on the experience is far from easy! Sound familiar!? A small example, we arrived in Venice (airport) and caught a water taxi to our hotel. We were the only ones on the taxi and as any traveller normally does, we all started soaking up our surroundings via our senses….. The boat driver oke was playing ‘guns and roses’ pretty loud and it was early in the morning. So the feeling was..er… well a little odd. Delicate mist had settled eerily on the water and the romantic Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute (church) was floating silently at the entrance of the Grand Canal, we had Axl Rose screeching his heart out. I appreciate that not everything can be controlled and I am substantially anal when it comes to details BUT to really have the complete Italian experience would have required Axl singing to a vastly different tune! This may be one small example, but these added up make up one BIG confusing experience!

My primary business value is to make a difference, and I am more often than not categorised in the marketing/ad agency arena especially, because I work with strategy. I never want to be in a situation where I assist a client that has no intention of ever being authentic, yet wants me to assist with building a strategy that communicates authenticity to a base of consumers.…that would be like selling my soul.
So what business am I really in? Do businesses really want to make a difference in the lives of their customers? Do they really care and are they really trying to be authentic? These days consumers are far from stupid.
Does Italy really care? Will we really care in 2010 and will we provide an authentic experience (excluding the crime of course!)… mmm… can you train a nation to provide an experience? Sure the cultures make up a large part of the experience, but its more than that. Lets hope visitors to SA don’t feel cheated. Would be nice to know what the gov's plans are…..

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

Final Italian Chapter...

I am back home.... YAY! Sorry, the signal was so bad in the Southern mountains, I battled to blog.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love my country!?

Not sure if Europe is a place I would like to visit in a hurry again, so here is my final take on a 13 day trip.
The final leg of our trip was to a little fishing village (sounds romantic- we thought it would be) on the Amalfi coast in Italy called Massa Lubrense . We had to drive through Napoli, and that was interesting, it’s probably the most condensed, visually poor looking cities I have seen in Europe. Like a large shanty town at the foot of a very large active volcano. There is certainly a polarised economy there. I am convinced that there will be a large disaster when Vesuvius does blow, the city is so congested that it would take more than a week to evacuate! Went to Pompeii (city built and covered by lava and ash in 79AD) that was something I was glad I could tick off my ‘life to do list’.

So, we hired a villa in Massa Lubrense and hoped to have a relaxed time, cooking, drinking and vegging......The cost of the villa was high so we obviously assumed to get what we paid for....YA RIGHT! You DO NOT get what you pay for in Europe, you need so seeeerious cash there.... we're taking mooocha bucks, but no matter how much cash you have its still very overcrowded! Eish! I battled with that.

The villa was in a beautiful remote surrounding with a fantastic view, but it was filthy dirty, and falling apart. I couldn’t help but feel that the owner’s thought process was ‘hey they will accept anything because the view is cool’. They made NO effort to prepare that house before we arrived. It smelt like one large dusty cupboard, it had been closed for winter. Not to mention that the first day we didn’t have hot water!!! I sooo don’t do icy cold water. We were assigned a 'chef'....this lady was as dirty as the house and told us she actually couldn’t cook, so we didn’t use that option. Trying to buy food was the next ‘joy’....there were only a few very little obscure shops (nothing like the North of Italy - where there are fantastic deli shops) These shops were on narrow windy coast roads and took us a day to find! Nerves were frayed as these people make SA taxi drivers look like they are the cast of Driving Miss Daisy!! I have NEVER seen driving like this…

We finally got hot water and things improved. The Isle of Capri is situated just off the coast near the villa and that was very pretty (see pic above), BUT I cannot honestly say that we got what we paid for. In the end you would expect clean as a minimum when you are paying Sun City Palace prices, so it was very disappointing.

All in all I still love Italy, there is an essence about it, Venice and Florence were great. The South was not great and I do think I have a tendency in my own mind to romanticise things a little, the last time I was there I was a student camping. Being all grown up and paying grown up prices I feel the cost of the trip did not equal the actual experience we had. Maybe we are just too fussy! We will be doing more S African trips from now on...

Chow for now.... or should I say Hambani kahle!

Monday, 16 April 2007

Firenze - Day 3

Come va!

The weekend in Firenze has been noisy but great, people here are NOT aggressive at all.... they are truly ‘lovers, not fighers’.

We have eaten so much I actually think I may be bursting, luckily we walk a lot so I suppose I could feel worse! We saw the Boticelli painting ‘Birth of Venus’ yesterday at the Uffuzi Gallery. One walk around that gallery (Leonardo, Michelangelo etc) and one starts to wonder……where have all these masters gone (wasn’t there a song like that…. on no.. that was ‘where have all the cowboys gone’) same thing I suppose? Do we really have any artists in the new world that have made such a vast contribution to the world as a whole…..?
Maybe I have just missed them or maybe they just come in different forms/applications?

This city oozes culture….once again don’t come here if you are not into art, food, wine, people and great design. We drove out to a ‘little’ town called Lucca on the outskirts of Florence, but I think everyone was disappointed that the town wasn’t very small at all. I was outnumbered so we made the fatal mistake of driving on, in search of the elusive undiscovered Tuscan village. It kinda reminded me of chasing the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow….. Town after town of industrial kak, we managed a little deviation into the hills that was great BUT when we found a place to eat it was closed because it was Monday!!! So although I am 100% sure that the little elusive Tuscan village does exists, we haven’t got a week to find it!! I realised (after a day stuck in the car) just as we relented and finally stopped to eat somewhere for lunch…. looking at a menu we could not understand…..trying to converse in a foreign language…..at a roadside place that looked just like a truckers stop… that….. I have no patience. I may have to seek help!

So we are back in Firenze again going out for dinner…..I am looking forward to moving on to the Amalfi coast and some fresh air.. and more food (it fascinates me that the human condition is such that we are bored so easily) And some call this progress!

Tomorrow is another Tuscan day… beats work that’s for sure!