Life is full of people. It’s sounds obvious, but when things get frantic in this high tech and digital world we live in it can be easy to forget just how important the people we meet along our journey through life are.

A week ago, I was sitting in the Eastern Cape in South Africa watching the sun rise over the bush. To be precise it was the last day of my 27th year. I am not someone who makes a big deal about birthdays, but I do try to take the time to reflect and thank the people who have helped me grow during the year.

The last year has been an interesting one, if I am honest it feels like 3 years have been crammed into one. The learnings have been steep, sharp, challenging, and good. The lessons learnt have helped me to grow enormously as a person.

Sitting watching the sun come up over the horizon and break the first light of the morning, I was reminded of a saying in the intro of the Company We Keep series on the CN&CO blog.

“people truly are at the heart of everything that we do”

With much of the world being forced to physically distance in response to the global pandemic, COVID-19, we have been asked to find new ways to stay connected and the tech sector has definitely come to the party. Helping to keep businesses running and people connected.

If you have been reading the CN&CO blog through the years you will know that a number of portrait walls were created by the team for a few clients and some are still hanging today. They are often the first thing that you see when you walk into one of these companies, emphasising how important people are to a business.

This afternoon I hosted a TED Circles get together and we watched a talk about the power of altruism. The theme for the month of May was “Risk Taking”, so how and why did I decide to speak about altruism? The reason was people. COVID has driven the world into protection mode, some people have become very selfish and self-centred. This is natural when faced with a threat or a risk, but we can learn a lot from the practice of altruism and giving.

I am deeply grateful the people that I have met on my journey through life so far. The crew at CN&CO have played a massive role in helping me become who I am, so a special shout out to each and every one of you. Many people and companies have played a role and a part in my development over the last year, here’s a quick story about a few of them. I asked them to send me a self earlier in the week, but I didn’t tell them what it was for.

Rob.

I met Rob in 2015 on a dirt road just outside of Modi-Moli on the way to a weekend at a bush camp. Despite locking me out of the room we were sharing in Bintan, while on a trip to Indonesia in 2018, he has provide much advice and guidance. He is off to the Netherlands soon and I look forward to planning a trip to visit in the near future.

Joise.

One of the best brand strategy brains I know and a phenomenal mother. I met Josie through the CN&CO crew while she was consulting to one of the brands I was working for at the time. I will also remember her ability to think big (big events, numbers, and activations), which for me at the time was daunting.

Rikus.

An inidivudal who is incredibly humble, hardworking and a super talented performer. Give him a drink and you will fit out. I met Rikus for the first time in 2015, the same trip to the bush where I met Rob.

Kurt.

I met Kurt in 2014 in Franshoek while he was on his way to Afrika Burn with Carel. I am pretty sure the last thing he felt like doing was going for dinner and having to chat to a kid still as varsity. Fast forward a few years and we have done some great things, including running from Joburg to Cape Town for charity.

Carel.

We met in 2014 in Franshoek while drinking a bottle of Morena, a story for another day. Carel is an enabler of people, a connecter and a big thinker. He has a saying of “why hold a dog and bark yourself”. In 2015 he gave me an opportunity to join a business that in many respects threw me in the deep end and taught me lessons way ahead of my years.

Jens.

We’re yet to meet in person yet, COVID permitting this may happen in September, but we have spent many virtual hours together thinking, planning, and building. Jens is a master innovator and an enabler, I met him in September of 2020 when he connected with a number of young thinkers from around the world to engage in a project around reverse mentorship.

Justin.

I met Just on a bicycle in St Francis Bay during a December holiday in 2018. Since then we have spent many hours together working on and building out a solution to make recycling convenient, easy and rewarding for South African’s with Imagined Earth.

Blake.

An individual with a passion for nature and the environment. We have planned some cool adventures that didn’t quite go to plan, but we will get one right in the near future and remember to train a bit beforehand.

Gianluca.

Fashion, design, golf, whiskey, and sneakers. Just a few of Gianluca’s passions and he’s recently engaged so I know Keshia sits at the very top of his priorities. G has become a good mate through the years and his attention to detail has taught me loads.

There are many other people who I hope to mention in other stories in time to come. These are just a few of the individuals who I owe much to. My parents and extend family have also played a pivotal role in my development over the last year.

So, in summary. Life may be busy, frantic, challenging, daunting and exciting all at once. But always remember to make the time to connect with the people in it.