One man's comments on everything

Friday, May 22, 2015

Spiders, Snakes and Heights

Now what on earth am I on about?  What has spiders snakes and heights have in common?  These are the 3 top phobias in the world.  That is things that people are afraid of.  There are some lesser ones and the one that did not reach the top 100 is called Gerascophobia.
This is the fear of growing old and is the one no-one can escape if you do not die young.
I would like to redefine this phobia by calling it the fear of the knowledge that you cannot turn time around

Once you get to a certain age and you know you cannot turn time around the phobia seems to disappear.  I have not been able to define this certain age in any way.

This morning I interviewed a client who has lived alongside a large open space on a race course facing the course and loving the openness. The time is coming that they will have to move off this beautiful spot and buy something else - the property is not theirs
They have bought a unit in a retirement village and the husband at 65 is not ready to move there.
He might never be ready
Does he have Gerascophobia ?  Probably not - or maybe he does not realise it
Growing old (older) implies a lot of different things to different people.  This change is not an immediate thing - it creeps up on you and one day you are old. That is if you have not planned for the consequential changes this brings on

But the reason for this post is that when you do get old ( and if you are still alive you are on your way there or have reached that dreaded stage called ELDERLY!) the brothers and sisters of the Gerascophobia tend to come visit you and here is some of them that did make it to the top 100 list:

  1. Claustrophobia – The fear of small spaces  If you are used to a massive house make friends with the smaller one in the retirement village .
  2. Carcinophobia – The fear of cancer.  new diets seem to creep in 
  3. Thanatophobia – The fear of death.  Those guys in the rugby club in the retirement village has a way of starting conversations about this bringing on panic attacks
  4. Monophobia – The fear of being alone. This is a fact of life - one partner is due to die before the other.
  5. Enochlophobia – The fear of crowds, which is closely related to Ochlophobia and Demophobia. The irony is that there are nearly 700 people living in our retirement village and their are NEVER crowds.  You make your own or join one - the choice is yours
  6. Aphenphosmphobia – The fear of intimacy. Involves the fear of being touched and fear of love. Bound to happen with 700 people around you
  7. Trypanophobia – The fear of needles. If this is a problem - don't grow old !
  8. Anthropophobia – The fear of people. People tend to want to make friends with you in a retirement village - so it should not be a problem if you end up there ! 
  9. Autophobia – The fear of abandonment. This phobia will also soon disappear in a community where everyone has made peace with growing older.  Just watch the 5 o'clock dog walking club......................

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Fun on the farm-Busisa family adventure farm Apr 2015

Die plaashuis - 

Inni bos 

waar is my appel?

Opm pad huis toe - watter huis?

Hier is nie vis nie !

Waar is my appel ?

Jy moet vir my ook een gee

Nee loop nou - die appels is klaar !

Gedra jou nou !

Fun in the sun

More fun in the sun

Hamburger time !

Breakfast ( at last!)

Skool werk

Oor die rivier

Swing along

This is the life !

More fun and this is the life !

Hier gaan ons !

Pa-krag

Sussie-krag

Skaap oppas

Hier op die plaas wil ek bly!

Ma en seun




Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Life lessons : From Mediocrity to Greatness


I have been contemplating writing this article for a while and suddenly this morning I woke up and knew I had to write it today.
There are a few things separating these concepts:

  •         Mediocre says   “Do it Someday” Greatness says “Just do it and do it Now”
  •         Mediocre says  “There are Things to do and They must do it”   Greatness    says:"This is what needs to be done and I will do it.  
  •          Mediocre says “Wow, hat guy is a massive success, I wonder how he does it?” Greatness says " Wow.That guys is a massive success. I am going to find out he does it!"

Now what can be done to move from Mediocre to Greatness ?  
This is simple and it just might be the key to the next great thing in your life.  You can act on it.......or you don’t ...The choice is yours.

A practical guide to go from Mediocrity  to Greatness. These are the top 9 things you must do NOW:

(I know a lot more can be said about this but bear with me - the rest will come later)

     
1.       Shift from uncertainty to total Certainty.

We all want something in life.  Most of the time we are not certain what this is.  That is called uncertainty.   To move to certain requires from you to do something. You have to sit and write down a few thoughts and the thing you need most is to focus. You first must know what it is that you are uncertain about. You cannot draft a road map if you do not know where you are going
    
2.       Shift  from ‘Them’ to "Me."
You hear this often “Something must be done.”  “They must do something” Back to point number one: Define “something” Define “What must be done” Define “what needs to be done”
Change “them” to me.  Do something about it – this implies that you ACTUALY ACT ON IT


3.       Shift from sometime to now
If you decide to do something about something you have to decide when you are going to do it
If is in the future it is most probably not going to be done. This is called procrastination. You have to do  “it” now

4.       Focus. And do not get sidetracked
I have two role models in my family.  They are both financially insanely successful. The one thing they do very well :  They focus. Just yesterday the one pitched at a meeting where serious – and I mean serious challenges had to be addressed.  He pitched without any notes, notepaper or pen.  Someone asked: “Where are your notes?”  His answer” I know what the problem is and I know the answer and it is not going to take long to sort this out.  Focused – Not going to get sidetracked.   Short and sweet – Done and over!

5.       Redefine your definition of “success”
You will not be reading this if you are already insanely successful.  Most motivational speakers have a few clich├ęs they always use.  Their favorite is “ Defining success – it is not about money”  I am going to burst your bubble right here and now.  “It is all about money” If you do not believe me stop reading this and go somewhere else – It is not open for discussion.   Everything else you can define as “Success” flows from this.  Fundamentalists have this vague concept of success. They will and cannot define it more definitely than what I am doing right now. Show me some one that is insanely successful and living in a shack and I will show you the exception that proves the rule.........................

6.       Simplify.
Again I will be using the two family members I quoted before:  They both have very simple systems:  The one run his insanely successful business from anywhere in the world on two iphones. No office , not personal assistants.  Hands on and knows exactly what is going on in his business.  Having a simple daily feedback system and getting basically a few answers EVERY DAY; Here are just 2 of them  “What problems could not be solved without my intervention?”  “How much money did the business make yesterday?”  
7.       Do not be too impressed by the “best” – The “best” do not walk around telling you they are
“The best”.  Their lifestyle and  simplicity tells you that.
I am ever so often invited to events where the ”best” is going to tell you how he did it.  The world’s  “best business coach”  The world’s “best Entrepreneur” “the secret to success”
If he is the best why is he wasting his time to tell you that?  If it is a secret......Why is he telling the world – Then it is no secret anymore and everyone will be successful!

8.       Find your Niche and find out what they want and how you are going to give them what they want.

Linking up on focus is this:  What are you good at? What are you BEST at?  What can you deliver to a Niche market that is totally different than what everyone else is doing ?  What will you do that is “Great” and not mediocre ?  And to whom are you going to do it ?

9.       Be the genuine article –

Most people can spot a fraud easily.   You have be genuine in your service offering and here are just a few things you do to be just that:    Under promise and over deliver.  Never promise something you cannot do.  Always follow up and deliver on your promises.  Always call back. Always follow up.  Be the “go to guy”  Be the one everyone knows the you are the BEST in what you do.


If you apply   one of the above you have moved a 100 kilometers from where you were.  If you apply at least 3 of these your head will be spinning because of the change that will be happening.   If you apply them all you will most probably be the next ‘BEST’ and insanely successful person you know. 


Thursday, December 25, 2014

Facing the unexpected..............The parable of the broken cars...................

And so Christmas day 2014 is drawing to a close...............And the end of another year is only 6 days away.   Nothing new - it happens every year on this day............
And yet every year has something to reflect on that is different.  
I am always amazed at why some things happen when they do.   We started off by having to take my wife's mother to her other daughter for a 3 week visit during which we were going to enjoy a 3 week holiday with  2 of our children and their families.  On our way we were nearing the off ramp to where our son lives and what do you know? The car decided that it is not going on holiday this year and we had no other option as to take it to our son's home and borrow his other car.   At least there was a car to borrow.
They went on holiday with us for a week and everything worked out fine. We left them and went on to start another week with our other children.  As we booked in we received a telephone call from our son whose second car we borrowed.  His car has decided to join ours in an unprotected strike - it broke down and now this family was sitting at home on Christmas day without a car.
Luckily our daughter that was with us on holiday offered their other car to them and after quite a fishing expedition (they had to fish the keys out of the house with a fishing rod) they were back on wheels.
The sequence of events cease to amaze me - I believe that nothing happens by chance.........Our car could have broken down hundreds of kilometers from home, yet it broke down 1 km from our son's home.  His car could have broken down any time during our holiday with them yet it did not. It broke down practically on their doorstep.  The last borrowed one was available yet the only way they could get it was to fish the keys through an open window.  In the sequence a lot of things could have gone wrong , yet it did not.
Somewhere, sometime we might still get the answers as to why these things happened and specifically in the sequence that it did.   It was not just "by chance"  Everything has a purpose.  There is a purpose behind this but maybe we will never know what it was.
We can plan everything in life to the nth degree yet the final outcome is not ours to manage.  And this type of thing just reminds us again.  Always be prepared for the unknown- do not let it out of your sight that Someone bigger than you are looking out for you.......................

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Credit , the scourge of society and the socio-economic effect of debt

In my quest to alleviate the effects of relentless persecution of debtors by Creditors, Debt Collectors and the likes I have come to some conclusions that needs to be discussed and solutions found.

I have always said that my views on the payment of debt in some instances  are a bit radical but there are reasons for this.   Let me explain.   I have been there, felt the pain when you cannot pay for your daughters wedding. When you sit in a house with no electricity for 2 years. When you.......let me stop there.  I have been there................And only a small portion of that was my own fault.  The portion where banks finance you to the extend that you have to pay them R50 000 per month when you only have disposable income of R30 000. Why did I not stop it ?   When you have mouths to feed you will take any credit you can get.  That is why it is called reckless lending and not reckless borrowing.............

For the purpose of this discussion I am referring to banks in particular but this includes any other creditor.   A Bank makes an informed decision on who they lend money to and how much and for how long based on information supplied and proven  to them. Their decisions (should) also take into account the state of the economy, the ability of certain types of people to repay them and the industry in which they operate. They should not lend out money based on "reckless lending" principles.
Banks receive and approve home loans for a  sector of the market based on what I just said.  During a period roughly 7 years ago the property market had a rough time and so did the economy. Yet the banks did business and granted loans based on their criteria. Or no criteria at all.  This was a calculated risk. It still is.

Life goes its normal way. People loose their jobs. They loose their businesses. They get despondent and cannot pay their debts.  The government in its wisdom gave birth to a thing called Debt Counseling.  This is just another debt collection system and have nothing to do with counseling.

This is a dismal failure. It does not address the real problem of over indebtedness in any instance
It does not address the plight of those that lost their income due to losing their jobs or businesses.

What does debt counselors do ?  They just distribute the available money after living costs have been taken off as well as their fees (of course their fees)  to all the creditors.   This is just another debt collection system and have nothing to do with counseling.

The problem with the system is that nothing actually changes.  It is only available to people that have a job. These people should never have been given credit to the extent that they end up here in the first place.  A whole new industry has been created to no end at all. Creditors will now avoid you like the plague and they will sit like vultures to see when you are going to default again.  And you will. Because now the debt has increased with the fee of the so-called counselor !  And because you have not been counseled to apply more discipline you will default again.

Back to normal life : Those that did not get to hide behind a debt counselor in time and those that lost their jobs or businesses.

The banks start collection procedures and at  the end of the initial collection actions of the banks when the client has no way of paying anymore and the banks have either repossessed the property they financed or attached the other loose assets people need to survive  the debt is usually sold to unscrupulous debt collectors who make a living out of people's misery.  Let me state without blinking an eye. I have no feelings or respect for debt collectors. Full stop. If you ever thought I am going to give a hoot for their loss, sorry to disappoint you , I am not !

I think it is time that we have a total rethink on the question of old and sometimes  prescribed debt.

A debtor has to make decisions based on priorities - this is where the socio-economic issue comes in. You have to look after the well being of your family first and foremost.  But should you have unresolved debt the system will not allow you to do this.   This is why debtors resort to all sorts of methods to avoid the phone calls and other methods employed by the vultures.And this is also the reason why I wrote the guide to handle debt collectors - legally.(link here)

We already have the system where you could be sequestrated and it is not called the new beginnings law in the United states for nothing  It allows you a new beginning in life.  But that is only if you have assets that can be divided between the vultures.  Why can't we devise a system where a debtor can be measured as to his capacity to repay debt when he has no work , no business, no income.   And not pursue him again when he is able to find work  again ?

I am seriously pursuing ways and means to help people out of the corner they have been chased into .

To be continued...............................




Tuesday, October 14, 2014

That thing called Debt and why banks do that thing called reckless lending.



 A South African perspective - Calculations might differ with other currencies but the end result is the same - Income might be lower or higher but you live according to your income and the banks are just helping to compound the problem.............

A lot has been written and spoken about the subject and various ideas and words have been added to it.  The fact is that Debt and the application thereof has been the undoing of people since time immemorial . 
Debt is like any addiction:  It is very hard to let it go or to get rid of.  There are all sorts of methods employed to rid you of the illness. But like everything else people get addicted and nothing helps.
The exception proofs the rule: The few that do eventually get out of it shows that the majority never will.  There is only one way to get rid of debt – permanently – and that is to never get into it.
It should be a compulsory subject in schools – “How to survive without debt” or “living life free of debt”.  A name for it is irrelevant – the outcome is all that matters.
Let us have a look at debt:  In today’s world it means to borrow money from a bank or other willing money lender. It is to be repaid over a specific period in the future and you will be charged a fee on it called “Interest” This can be  a specific amount or a percentage calculated on the original or outstanding amount – normally regulated by some law.    If you are late with payments or skip a payment additional interest is added and as a rule this accumulates.  (Or is compounded) That and the method applied initially to calculate the interest is why it is called compound interest.
Now enters the banks – They have to lend out money to survive – there is no other way.  They will lend you money based upon a set of rules which not even they understand – the following example is based on these rules.
It is absolutely essential that the reader understand the basics of this and I am going to explain it with a simple example.
Family of 3 – one child going to pre-school
So .......you earn a salary of R20 000 and clear after tax R 18000
The bank has decided to give you a home loan of R 600 000 over 20 years at an interest rate of 10.5% per annum. Your repayment is R 6000 per month of which R 5250 is interest 
They also finance a car for you costing R150 000 over a period of 60 months at an interest rate of 14.5%.  Your repayments are R 3526
Interest portion is R 1812.50
Total interest portion of these two purchases is R7062.00 (Month one)
This is just over 39% of your Nett monthly income after tax.
( Oh yes actually 41.5% if tax is calculated correctly)
So between the taxman and the bank you have spent 50% of your income on interest and tax.  And you still have to live.
Cash flow of course is another story – debt consists of capital and interest.
Your monthly debt repayment on these 2 debts alone amounts to R9526 per month which leaves you with on R8474 per month to live on.
What else do you have to pay for ?  That is the big question – and I am going to be very lenient in my calculations:
1.     Medical aid   R2000
2.     Telephone     R200
3.     Fuel              R 1200  (About 1200 kilometers per month or 40 per day)
4.     Clothing        R 300
5.     Food            R3474
6.     Gym             R 200
7.     Dstv              R800
8.     Eating out      R300
Total of   R 8474
The following has not been provided for :   Life assurance, Car insurance, Emergency fund , school fees, and a few others.  The only place where this can be deducted from is food – and a family of 3 will not be able to survive on R3474 per month. 
Corrections to be made : Tax for this bracket is R 2940 per month – oops another 
R 940 to be deducted somewhere
Medical aid : Chances are that this will be in the region of R 2500 Plus  - oops another R500 to be deducted somewhere. 
Pre-school fees R 500 per month – Oops Oops .............
Suddenly this family is left with less than R 1500 per month and no insurance has been paid for and there is no emergency fund and ...wait for it no food yet.
O yes and then there is rates and taxes, water and lights. 
The problem is that when the bank considers these loans they accept the figures clients give them and they recklessly approve the loans and will not have one sleepless night about the consequences.................
I dare any bank to differ with me.  And yet they will finance these people if they have a clean credit record to more than the amounts I am quoting here .
Here is my final verdict : No matter what banks say they are recklessly endangering the financial future of  consumers especially those that do not do their homework on their finances before signing on the dotted line.  And the wolf is waiting patiently – sometimes not so patiently.


















Monday, October 6, 2014

Retrenchments - A solution for HR Managers



Redeployment, Restructuring and Lay-offs
One of the challenges facing companies when restructuring or during amalgamations is surplus staff that has to be accommodated, redeployed or given separation packages.    Most companies have strategies in place to assist affected staff members obtaining new employment.  Some of these strategies are to assist them in drafting professional CV’s.  Some are also assisted and given the options to start their own businesses.
These instances can come about through internal restructuring, mergers and acquisitions, affirmative action due to complying with laws like the employment equity act and BEE requirements.  No matter what the reasons are our offering might just be the solution the company might be looking for in those instances.
We have done extensive research into the latter group,  that is starting an own business and have found that they have a major drawback in that the programs we have seen all focuses on giving them some background on how to start a business and some do give them business ideas.   But once they have left  the company they are on their own.    And they invariably become part of the statistic that has been proven over and over again: More than 80% of new businesses fail in the first year.
We have developed a program that turns the probability of success around in that it contains all of the following elements:
1.        A Saqua aligned 10 day course that encompasses the following :

a.       Understanding the Entrepreneurial profile.
b.      Basic financial understanding.
c.       Choosing a business idea and doing viability /feasibility studies.
d.      Marketing.
e.      The Business plan.
f.        Roll out of the program.

2.       As part of the course up to 100 business ideas are discussed and the candidates are assisted in choosing one that he/she feels comfortable with and fit their profile.
3.       They are then assisted in drafting a business plan for the chosen business.
4.       They are matched with a mentor that will be available on an ongoing basis via telephone or email to assist with problems arising in the process.
5.       Part of the course is an accountability process where they have to report back to us on their progress.
6.       Follow up short courses encompassing fields like: cash flow management, management reports, human resource management and discipline, Legal and tax aspects of companies, the new companies act etc.  are presented on an ongoing (monthly) basis.

What makes our program so unique?  Because of steps 4 to 6 which is the core of a successful program like this.
Because there is a real live person available to Mentor and guide the new Entrepreneur.
              The accountability part creates a feeling of urgency in the candidate to start and succeed.
 Part of the Human resources strategist /Manager like you in any company is to manage the process of redeployment as seamlessly as possible. And helping affected staff still feel wanted.   We are offering you a very effective tool  to do this.
We would like to discuss the program with you should it fit anywhere in your plans for the foreseeable future. Give us one hour of your time – It might just be the most important one this year.
John Brandow  082 222 5002   - johnbrandow@mweb.co.za  -  owner Centurion study centre