The Company We Keep profiles some of the most interesting people in our networks. Here we share the details of the lives of people we know, showcasing the extraordinary diversity of our society and proving that people truly are at the heart of everything we do. This month’s blog is written by Carel who – unsurprisingly some may argue – didn’t follow the brief.
As many visitors to the CN&CO blog will know, everyone in the team gets a chance to contribute to all our blogs – and so I have been thinking a lot about whom I would choose for my “The company we keep”. The challenge I have is that I know many, many, MANY amazing people – so it is hard to choose. I therefore decided it is in fact impossible, and I would rather share a little of the diversity of a “typical” week in my life.
What follows is a taste of how lucky I am, always. And I think that if you are open to it, everyone in the world can be this lucky. Most people, in my experience, are nice. Most people, if you expect the best, deliver the best and can make a meaningful impact on your life.
Most mornings I drive out of my driveway, past my rose garden with loads of roses (including the Double Delights – so called for their look and scent – that are affectionately known as Elsa’s roses because many people at my mum’s funeral got a rose bush of her favourite rose … when I get photo of these roses, my heart is filled with love and happiness).
Turning into my road I often past Vincent my neighbour. He is also known as the mayor of Woodburn. We wave and smile at each other. Often he stops to smell (my) roses 🙂 And once or twice a year he comes to house for a drink (me wine, him juice) and shares some of his latest poetry. So over the years, via his poetry, I have learnt about his time in the army, his divorce, his professional life as a financial advisor. And shared some of what makes me tick.
I have a short drive to gym where I am greeted by friendly staff at reception and on Tuesdays and Thursdays I train with Justin (yep, fat but fit and getting thinner – that’s me!) Justin is an exceptional trainer. And a brilliant DJ. And he has his sister’s name as a tattoo on his arm – in memory of her. We don’t talk much – which is how I like it. But over the years we have learnt lots about each other – and Justin has spoken at a CN&CO confab, played at insurance industry functions and – in his latest career development – massaged me and loads of my mates (he’s brilliant – you should try him if you are in Joburg).
In gym I sometimes have a passing chat to Stuart McIver – a fellow Saints alumnus. Or John Holley, Josie from CN&CO’s cousin. If in Melrose, it’s Anthony Crichton (CN&CO handled the event for his firm’s centenary and they assisted me in settling my mum’s estate promptly), or Hannon and his partner Julius (great entrepreneurs and well-known from the eponymous show on KykNet). Sometimes it’s Potlako. Or Dot whom I met in spinning class and at age 60-something got her PhD as a physio. Or Paddy – he also met Dot in gym and they are now partners.
I usually have a meeting at St Stithians early morning or late afternoon most days. And on a campus of over 1 800 families, more than 6 000 alumni, 450 permanent staff you cannot but help to be confronted with superb company. Over the years, I have met servant leaders, role models, intellectual giants, a creative genius or two and much else besides. The Saints community truly exhibits why schools can be – and should be – huge contributors to making society a better place. Check out www.stithian.com/news for some more info on just a few of these incredible people. Or go the Higher Ground and have a drink with the owner Mark – definitely good company!
Most of my work day is spent with the team at Easy Equities – a diverse bunch of people who keep me on my toes. Young – and less so! But all changing the face of investing in South Africa – and beyond. Our results are out mid November – let me know what you think!
The past few weeks I have been lucky enough to have dinner with Kate Capshaw, David Whyte and Esther Perel. To interview a dozen or so educational leaders applying for the post of rector at Saints. Flew to Durban to see my mate Josie and her family. Watched Karen Zoid perform. Listened to Maxine Waters (looking way younger than her 81 years) deliver the annual Oliver and Adelaide Tambo lecture. Had tea with the Saints Junior Prep staff. Enjoyed great coffee with my mate Julia Cavalieri at her new studio (her work is selling so well overseas!). Drank a toast on the life of Jeffry Melnick post his death with my (and his) great friend Michele Sparkes (at one of the restaurants we have a share in – Wang Thai). Had cool landscaper Karin meet Edfren and me in our garden as we wanted her advice (and some new plants). Attended a presentation by CEO of Satrix Helena. Attended the quarterly BASA marketing committee meeting. Had my Cape Town friend Niël Rademan over to my house for a braai (he was in town for a show). Had a CN&CO shareholders’ meeting at my house (love those people!) Spent time with Rikus planning our American trip. Had fun with Michele Katz drinking champagne and laughing about the past – and future.
Apart from the “physical” people I meet, new and those who have been a a part of my life for a long time, I also love “meeting” people via reading. Biographies, autobiographies and obituaries are my favourite – especially when they are about people I know nothing people. I am always astounded by what one can learn from others’ lives and the past. Give it a go. Read more.
As you can see – my life is diverse. All our lives are. Far fewer than six degrees of separation. And so many people to learn from and contribute to. And all are interlinked in some ways. I work hard, as a white man, to have women and black people in my life. Diversity – in all its forms, not just race and gender – makes me very happy. And makes me realise that there is amazing company we all have to keep. Amazing!