I met Blake Dyason in 2008, shortly after we had started Etana Insurance. My good mate Michael Kaufmann from COSA Media (publishers of, amongst others, leading publications RiskAfrica, InvestSA and LandRover) introduced Blake as the newest member of the COSA sales team. With their growth and increased opportunities, they needed to expand their sales capabilities.

I immediately told Blake that, as a new brand, Etana didn’t have money to waste on traditional magazine advertising and that he had better up his game. I also made it clear that his smile and good looks would not help him with getting our business (I’ve learnt a lot since then!) Alongside Paolo Cavalieri, Etana chairman at the time, we then played a game of foosball against Mike and Blake for a free ad. I’ll leave you guessing who won.

My parting words to Blake were my traditional “don’t fuc up, have fun, and good luck.” He didn’t need much luck and over the years he has had more fun than most, while contributing so much to so many that nobody could accuse him of anything other than making the world a better place.

Blake malawi

Learning to play a local game in Malawi

Since 2008 I have watched with great pride and enjoyment how COSA has grown, and with the company, Blake. Stalwarts in the insurance industry, they have played a huge role, and continue to do so, in moving the industry forward. Many initiatives, not least of which is the annual Insurance Regatta coming up soon, are events they have given us.

On the personal front I count my PutFoot trip with Andy (COSA chairman), Michael and Blake (a few African countries in a Landrover with these okes …) and our trip to Andy’s Oudsthoorn farm (where I met Christelle Colman – at the time she was still Christelle Fourie) as personal highlights. Although, that time in euphoric World Cup 2010 South Africa when Blake and Michael “dressed-up” in speedos and patches of an old football superglued on is also pretty much up there. As is Blake “agreeing” to be auctioned off for charity in his Etana speedo at the Insurance Institute of the Border annual dinner (we made good cash to #FUcancer that eve and Blake was still finding money in some “crannies” the next day …). So, in short, I have known, worked with, loved, debated, argued, dreamt up plans and made a difference with Blake and the COSA team for a long time.

And so it is with great excitement that I welcome Blake to the CN&CO team. COSA and Blake’s relationship in its current form has run its course. And, like me and the CN&CO team, we all believe in individuals moving to other ventures when the time is right. Blake has decided his time is now.

Blake joins CN&CO in a full-time capacity from 1 October, based in our Cape Town office – but I suspect we’ll see him popping up all over! Like all members of the CN&CO team, Blake will report to himself and work with the whole team to add value to all our partners and clients.

CN&CO grew from the financial industry (where Blake is a well-known personality) and still has many diverse financial services clients with whom Blake will work. His initial focus will be with the Purple Group and their Cape Town initiatives.

blake3In addition, he will develop our “travel & lifestyle” clients including Contiki, STA Travel and Club Med.

Finally, focusing on the third leg of the CN&CO business, Blake will spend a large portion of his time on our charitable initiatives. These include the Power Team Trust, PinkDrive, Mad2Run, Love Our Trails and Sustainable Cycling in Africa. This leg of the business also sees us supporting numerous small-business initiatives, some of which see us playing an investor role. With our shared passion for empowering people and making SA an even better place, I am extremely excited to see what comes from this part of our business.

In Blake’s own words: “I am not very money driven, I’m driven by relationships, opportunity and value. Using my gut instinct, morals and values, I deliver value to my team, clients and the broader community. Simply put – I just want to have fun, be part of a team and make a poistive difference.” As you all know, what better place than CN&CO to support that?!

When I started CN&CO, along with a bunch of supremely talented people I have known for a long time, I was clear that our business was and would remain focused on people and relationships. Our team of nine has made me proud by living that, daily. Our intern Neo Matsei has pushed that number up, and with Blake joining I am beyond delighted at how our business continues to challenge the norm by simply believing in people, supporting them, challenging them, guiding them and allowing them to be the very best they can be – for themselves, our team, our clients and our world.

To read more about Blake, check out:





To Andy, Chantal, Mike and the whole COSA team a personal thank you for the support you have and continue to give Blake, myself and the CN&CO team. Our brand building, work, fun ventures and big dreams remain as our companies continue to grow and flourish.

I leave the final word on CN&CO’s Blake Dyason to the rest of his team:

Blake Dyason, life enthusiast:

“I am truly grateful for the past nine years at COSA Media. Who would have thought I’d have so much fun in the insurance world? Andy was more than a boss; he is like my second dad. We have spent many Christmas days together, travelled across Africa, shared laughs, tears and made countless memories. Andy is an incredible entrepreneur with high family morals and has taught me so much about business, relationships, leadership and chasing dreams. For the rest of the COSA team, it’s not easy to leave a small team of seriously talented, passionate and loving individuals, but our friendships will last forever.

“It’s time for me to chase my dreams. I am super-excited to join the CN&CO team with a focus on relationships, inspiring and empowering others, and making a difference in the world around us”

Gianluca Tucci, MD and project champion:

“What an addition to the team. Not only does he bring an abundance of energy, but also a mind and heart built around people. Welcome, Blakey.”

Josie Dougall, brand and strategy guru:

“Blake was one of the first people I met in the insurance industry seven years ago. I was sent off to CT by my then boss, Carel, to go and meet the COSA Media team. I was nervous and slightly unsure as I was two days into a new job and new industry. Blake’s warm smile and personality completely disarmed me and I made a friend for life that day. He took me out for a milkshake and I can’t count how many times I have counted on him for valuable insights into our industry and its people since then. Welcome to the family Blake!”

Kurt Solomon, communications boss:

“Blakey, Blakus, Champion! Welcome to the family, bud. I will never forget our first-ever introduction at the IISA insurance conference, when you were going to bed and I was going to “network”. You  gave me some advice that I didn’t listen to. Alas, I learnt my lesson. I look forward to continuing life’s adventure with you!

Colin Ford, word nerd:

“Blake has amazing energy and smarts. He just gets it, and he gets us as well. He’s going to have an amazing influence on our business. Can’t wait for what comes next!”

Rob Christian, engineer:

“Blake. He is a cool guy-can’t think of a better human than him to help take CN&CO to new heights and strip me of my ‘fittest member of the team’ title-but I will claim it back soon”

Gabbi Brondani-Rego, PR aficionado:

“So very excited to have Blake joining the team! No doubt he will bring a unique kind of magic to the CN&CO mix. Welcome to the gang, Blake!”