Human beings, businesses, and our skills all adapt through time. As the journey we are on through life progresses we adapt to change – growing, learning new skills, and embracing what lies ahead on the horizon.

Big businesses like Apple and Microsoft, have shifted, grown, and changed (just like humans if you think about it). These giants certainly didn’t start out at the scale that they are at today all those years ago.

I have spent some time recently reflecting on the transition CN&CO is going through and identified some of the lessons that I have learnt. As Christopher Lochhead said when talking about life and business, “the journey is the destination” and I grateful that my journey crossed paths with the CN&CO team in 2014.

When I met Carel in 2014, he was putting the finishing touches to conceptualising CN&CO along with the other shareholders. He describes the vision for CN&CO 1.0 as creating “a platform/enabler – for me and people I rate; and also for us to enable companies/brands/products we believe in/share our values to make the world better a place”

In 2016, CN&CO’s lifestyle business model was featured in an article in Fast Company titled Work = Life = Work. In the article Carel shared insight into the thinking behind the people and brand consultancy. The same piece also featured CN&CO’s friend Christo Crafford, founder of Martha’s Mojo.

“Setting up and maintaining a healthy lifestyle business requires a major mindset change for traditional managers, and a massive culture change for big corporates. But in time, businesses that can’t make the change won’t attract the best talent.”

Having worked with Carel on different projects, one of his best sayings to articulate micro management is, “why keep a dog and bark yourself”. A business or platform that is built to enable individuals requires them to stand up and apply their minds. It is different to the traditional model, which at times is bureaucratic and hierarchical.   

There is a lot of the CN&CO 1.0 vision that the team got right, but as with everything we also failed at somethings. Failure isn’t negative and the lessons that I have learnt have made me a better person both personally and professionally. Here are some of the successes stories from the broader CN&CO network.

  • The EasyEquities retail revolution. One of our founding partners are a big player in the fintech space, driving access and ownership in the investing environment.
  • We drove change within the insurance industry – AIE2019 and the FIA are better, some way still to go, but these examples highlight the nature of a partnership. Partnerships are a big part of what we do (and the future), mutual benefit, collaboration and contributing to things far bigger than just ourselves.
  • 1.0 enabled businesses like Nuttman, and Dragon Risk – enabled and provided a platform for entrepreneurs/small businesses.

One of the biggest things is that the CN&CO associates view clients as partners, this is driven by our emphasis on relationships and people. We work with brands until the partnership no longer makes sense or the services that our partner requires can be better fulfilled by someone else. When we part ways with our partners, we stay friends and always keep track of what people are up to in our network. 1 plus 1 can (and should) always equal more than 2.

The Future of South Africa is bright and with businesses like Imagined Earth providing a platform for individuals to contribute to our collective future, we are excited to see people working together to build a better environment for us all.

As CN&CO 2.0 officially gets under way on 1 September 2019, I checked in with Carel and asked him to summarise what the future holds – “we are going back to our roots. We are an enabler, but it is up to each of the CN&CO associates to determine the direction. We think big and bold, nothing is impossible. We trust in people and believe in relationships. We value our ability to make the world better”.

So, as I close out this blog here are a few thoughts. Let’s be more open to difference, consciously make an effort to learn from others, travel, continue to grow and challenge ourselves, and most importantly remember the value of people in the ever expanding digital age.

Here’s to CN&CO 2.0.

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