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Wednesday, 19 February 2014

INSIDE OUT, UPSIDE DOWN, SUCCESS!

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Last week I had the wonderful privilege of meeting and chatting to two exceptional young people who have through sheer hard work and unfaltering determination qualified for educational bursaries.  Both these young adults have just completed High School despite many odds stacked against them and are about to embark on further tertiary studies.

What really struck me about this exceptional pair was their incredible wisdom and understanding of the benefits of commitment and determination. 

We all know the deal; you need to decide what you want to do and see it through. However, that’s relatively easy when things work in your favour and everything goes according to plan. 

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The question that begs answering is ‘What happens when it seems that absolutely nothing is in your favour, how do you go about commitment then?’

The answer I'm assured is that you ‘commit from the inside’ and then you let that commitment work its way out towards your goal.  You need to internally motivate yourself, because no external motivation can ever compare to the blazing inferno of internal passion and drive.

External influences and factors may light some sparks, but ultimately it’s YOU and YOU alone who stoke the flames and keep the fire raging.

I found this insight particularly powerful coming from two youngsters (well really still teenagers) who had actually put this to practice and delivered astounding results despite really difficult circumstances.

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Another pearl of wisdom I was given is that you need to take your ‘upside’ and use it as a ‘down payment’ on your future.  Instead of focusing on what you don’t have or can’t do, focus on what you do have and can do.  This sounds simple enough, but when this principle is consistently applied, you hold in your own hands the golden winning ticket!




I’m a great fan of ‘rags to riches’ tales.  Having spent my childhood in the glorious company of fairy tales such as Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast and The Princess who kissed the Frog, I have to say, I do believe that fairy tales really can come true.  The twist in the tale however is that nobody is going to make it happen for you – you hold the power, you have the authority, you are responsible and you must account for your own life. It is undeniably, undoubtedly, undisputedly UP TO YOU.

I’ve been told that in order to succeed you need to:

  • Want it REALLY badly
  • Take stock of everything that you have going for you (no matter what it is). 
  • Don’t ever think about what you don’t have, that will extinguish your fire.
  • Don’t count finance OR funding as a negative or a positive. Finance alone won’t keep a dream alive or propel you to the finish line.
  • Use the assets you have to begin your journey and get you going.
  • Invest in these assets and grow them (whatever they are) - make them work for you!
  • Be on the look out for new assets and strengths you may develop along the way.
  • Understand from the get go that you’ll have setbacks and disappointments. 
  • Make up your mind from the get go that these won’t deter you.
  • Wake up everyday and ignite your own flame – never wait for someone else to do it. 

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Dreams come true, but it really is up to you to make it happen.


Here are examples of well respected, successful people who started off with nothing more than a dream and a willingness to work and commit, in the end that’s actually all they needed!



  • NELSON MANDELA – Cattle Herder to first democratically elected President of South Africa and internationally adored Statesman and Elder.
  • HOWARD SCHULTZ came from the Brooklyn Projects to be the CEO of Starbucks.
  • LI KA-SHING had to quit school at 15 to work in a plastics factory and is now one of the richest men in Asia
  • LEONARDO DEL VECCHIO was an orphaned factory worker who became owner of the Ray Ban and Oakley Eyewear Empire.
  • SAM WALTON, the man behind the Walton’s success story, once milked cows and flogged magazines.

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There are many, many more such success stories where focused and committed dreamers have made their mark on society, Oprah Winfrey, JK Rowling, Richard Branson,  a list that could go on and on …….

My parting thought is that we, each one of us, have a wonderful future if we’re prepared to believe in the power of our dreams, put in the heavy lifting and keep our eyes on the goal.

And of course, NEVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP!!

Monday, 3 February 2014

Do you know what it takes? Have you got what it takes? Can you make it ... LONG TERM?



My parents

Today is a great day for my family; we celebrate my parent’s 46 wedding anniversary.

I had not kept track of the date and my sister reminded this morning to wish them happy anniversary. At first I thought to myself: “Oh yes, let me quickly phone to say congratulations” ….which I did. But then I got to thinking about the 46 years that they’ve been together and I realised that this is not the norm, this is not the standard and this is in fact extraordinary.

By today’s standards this is rather exceptional. This defies the odds. This is a “wow” accomplishment.

46 years ago, on this day a beautiful, radiant Rosemary Walker and a strappingly handsome
My dad and mom and daughter with me
John George Meyer walked down the aisle and promised to love each other through thick and thin, for better and worse, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health. They made these vows to each other, on a really rainy Saturday, in February in Johannesburg.

Having witnessed 45 years of their marriage (I’m the first born), I know that there have been amazing times and there have been terrible times.  As a family we have certainly navigated the landscape through richer and through poorer. There has been sickness, there has been trauma, there have been difficulties, there have been hardships, but there has also been joy and laughter (lots of it). There’s been togetherness, there’s been fun, there has been frivolity, there has been abundance and there has absolutely, undoubtedly been incredible love.

However, what I most admire about my parents is their steadfastness. They made vows, they meant them, they committed to them upfront and they’ve stuck with them.

Thinking about this I realised that this level of commitment to purpose is something not
Dad, Mom and myself
often seen anymore. You see, we live in a ‘ME’ world. Our first thoughts are usually “what’s in it for me?” “What do I get out of it?” Whilst this sentiment may assure short-term reward and protect the individual’s immediate interests and rights, it certainly doesn’t guarantee long term success and fulfillment.

Winston Churchill wisely said: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give!”  Never has a truer word been spoken!

Long term achievement requires some serious ingredients:

  1. Belief – a real deep knowing that what you are about to embark on is real, is right and is worth the effort – forever!
  2. Commitment upfront – a come hell or high water type of commitment! 
  3. No opt-out clause – a stubborn, dogged, unbending, steely resolve to make it work!
  4. Selflessness – in order to make it work for the long haul, there will have to be sacrifice, there will have to be compromise, there will have to be selfless giving (not give and taking).

The bottom line is that long term winners have a completely different mindset to those who are in it for short term gains. Long term winners;-

  1. Take their time to make a decision!
  2. Are 100% convinced that it is the right decision!
  3. Know that they will have to ‘work at it’ forever!
  4. Have the courage and stamina to go the whole way!
  5. But also know that journey will be real and it will be worthwhile!

They know that the journey won’t just have one or two small quick wins, but will be filled with beautiful moments, big and small victories and wonderful accomplishments. These joys will most likely outweigh the hard times; however the act of totally committing and remaining steadfast is in itself a reason for celebration! This act in itself makes you victorious and a way-above-average winner!

I have witnessed firsthand the sacrifices and concessions my parents have made (for each
John and Rosemary Meyer
other and their family). I have seen them walk through dark spaces and bright spaces, I have seen them despondent, I have seen them victorious, I have seen them irritated and I have seen them compassionate. I have witnessed them live through 45 years of being human, HOWEVER, the delight and admiration I feel today, knowing that they’ve have walked this journey together, is both inspiring and reassuring. Long term is possible!


Congratulations mom and dad! You are exceptional and I love you!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

THE MOST PRECIOUS COMMODITY FOR 2014?




I have had a bit of a tardy start to blogging this year, not because I have nothing to say, but because 2014 has got off to a cracker of a start; it has sprinted right out of the starting blocks and promises to be an altogether grand year provided I work hard, keep up the pace and never run out of energy. 

That said, I delighted to have managed to steal a gap and to have before me a blank piece of paper (or should I rather say a lovely clean white screen).


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Over the December period I had the luxury of quality time; quality time with my darling child, my wonderful family and quality time to think. As we all know, ‘thinking time’ is precious.  So often we are compelled to react to life rather than be proactive about life. I guess this is purely as a result of the volume of ‘life-stuff’ that comes hurtling at us, with great speed and rapidity, every day. Consequently, we seldom have a gap long enough to breathe properly; let along think, plan, do soul searching and constructive self evaluation.

At the beginning of my December vacation I was somewhat annoyed at myself that I hadn’t booked a holiday. All my friends were off on exciting adventures and I hadn’t got my act together in time to orchestrate a wonderful getaway. However, as I relaxed into my down time, I stopped holding my breath and I started to breathe easier, taking deeper and longer breaths, I started to unwind and then something amazing happened…..I began to think, not fleeting or hurried thoughts, but long, slow, worthwhile thoughts.

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At first my thoughts bounced all over the show (as they usually do) and then once I realised that there was no need to rush, my thinking rhythm changed and I was able to have wonderful, continuous long thoughts, that began at the beginning and went right through to the end. I had a chance to think things through properly, without haste and without any looming deadlines or pending disaster.  What a glorious treat this was.

I had many thoughts, none of them extraordinarily profound but what I did manage to achieve through all this thinking (and relaxation) was a much clearer focus for my life. I managed to get my thoughts, and dreams and goals to all point in a similar direction.  And, I became acutely aware of how rushed thinking has actually compounded so much of the pressure and frenzy in my day-to-day living.  Rushed thinking had in fact not bought me more time, but ultimately cost me time.

Having realised this, I have decided to take the following four principles with me into this new and promising year:-

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More haste less speed – take the time to think things through properly beginning to end. Invest in quality thoughts upfront. An investment in thoughts and planning up front will inevitably shorten the in between stages and save time and frustration overall.

Procrastination does not buy time, it devours time. Adding another level of discipline to life in the form of timeously addressing tasks and issues and not putting things off, ultimately frees up time, not only to do things, but for constructive thought as well. As the age-old saying goes: “A stitch in time saves nine.”

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One step back can yield a few steps forward. When making decisions always take a step back and look at the big picture, keep the ultimate goal in sight. Make sure that the little decisions that are made en-route also direct you to your desired destination. Often decisions made in the heat of the moment patch up a small problem but steer us a little off-course. The little off-course decisions soon add up and we may find ourselves 90 degrees south of where we need to be. We are then faced with the difficult task of re-routing ourselves back on-course. This can be quite soul destroying.

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Time is precious, don’t just randomly spend time rather invest it wisely.  Time spent can’t be regained, it’s gone. Decide what is and what is not important and then appropriate your time accordingly. And, most definitely don’t sweat (or over think, or waste time) on the small, trivial or inconsequential stuff!

Remember, your life comprises of time – how you spend your time is ultimately how you spend your life!

Time is one of the most precious commodities. The duration of time is uniform across the board, however how time is invested will ultimately decide the value that each individual's time yields.


Here’s to a brilliant and productive and well invested 2014!

Friday, 20 December 2013

Is there magic in the language you're speaking?





As most of the world knows, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, South Africa’s beloved Madiba passed away earlier this month (5 December 2013).  His passing has not only left a great void for his family, friends and fellow South Africans, but has also sparked a nationwide reflection on his life and his incredible character.

Madiba will be remembered as an incredibly wise man and much of his wisdom has recently been recalled and contemplated.  Many of the things he said have resurfaced and been quoted in the media and through social media platforms and being an avid, unashamed, unapologetic ‘quote-a-holic’, I have thoroughly enjoyed remembering Madiba’s wisdom, wit and sometimes mischievous utterances.

There is however one Nelson Mandela quote that stands out, one that I believe is the brilliance on which the legendary Madiba Magic was founded; -

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“If you talk to a man in a language he understands that goes to his head. If you talk to him in HIS language that goes to his heart.”


Whilst this wisdom has much value in a literal sense, it bears exceptional significance when applied conceptually as well.

Think about this …

You are trying to motivate an English-speaking child to tidy his or her bedroom.  You communicate ‘the facts’ in English. You discuss the importance of tidiness; that a tidy environment facilitates a tidy mind. You discuss getting rid of dust and germs; you even go as far linking discipline to future success in life. My guess is that even though the child may have understood every single word you said, he or she is no where near motivated to get on with the job at hand. 

However, if you take the same task and communicate it as a favourite past-time of the child’s personal super-hero or you break down the whole task into a game of small ‘secret’ missions, you will not only have the child’s captive attention, but you’ll probably also have a child who is far more likely to get stuck in and do what has to be done.

What you in essence are doing, is talking the child’s language.

This same principle should be applied across the board to all your communication efforts.

So often one hears people say: “I explained myself so clearly yet no one understands what I’m saying / what needs to be done.”

The fault more often than not lies in “I explained myself”, whereas effective communication would be shifting from ‘your communication style, frame of reference and requirements’ to the recipient’s ‘communication style, frame of reference and requirements.

Effective communication is not only an exchange of words, it encompasses a far greater field: -

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  • Start any communication by listening before you speak. In other words, get to know whom you’re communicating with before you begin.  Often we are so hasty to say what we have to say that we miss out on the most important pillar of communication – making sure we really know whom we’re talking to.
  • Make a real effort to understand what motivates the person or audience you are talking to and adapt your message accordingly.
  • Think about the tone you need to use. If you are looking for agreement or buy-in, don’t be aggressive, arrogant or condescending; rather be warm, engaging and motivational.
  • Engage your thoughts before you engage your mouth.  Speak from your heart but don’t let your own emotions cloud your judgment; make sure that the emotion you are conveying is aligned to the end result you require. Practice self discipline – it pays off handsomely in the long run.
  • Finally, a good acid test is to honestly test what you are saying on yourself or someone you trust. If someone else said the same thing to you, in the same way, how would you really feel?

So much reference is made to dialogue and discussion, but real engagement and true communication takes more than just exchanges of words and thoughts.

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Nelson Mandela was a master at adapting his communication style to win over various audiences.  He was a real friend to the children of South Africa, yet he was a powerful freedom fighter, an extraordinarily successful negotiator and a trusted peacemaker.

He also believed in getting to know ‘your enemy (and his sport)’ and then befriending him so that you could make him your partner.

I have asked myself many times how one man could so successfully play all these roles, and the truth of the matter is that he understood and religiously put into practice the true principles of communication. He was a master communicator.

So, if you’re looking for real magic in your relationships, Madiba’s wisdom is a sure fire way to succeed.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Beautiful Tribute Poem for Nelson Mandela by Dr Maya Angelou

His day is done.
Is done.
The news came on the wings of a wind, reluctant to carry its burden.
Nelson Mandela's day is done.
The news, expected and still unwelcome, reached us in the United States, and suddenly our world became somber.
Our skies leadened.

His day is done.
We see you, South African people standing speechless at the slamming of that final door through which no traveler returns.
Our spirits reach out to you Bantu, Zulu, Xhosa, Boer.
We think of you and your son of Africa, your father, your one more wonder of the world.
We send our souls to you as you reflect upon your David armed with a mere stone, facing down the mighty Goliath. Your man of strength, Gideon, emerging triumphant. Although born into the brutal embrace of Apartheid, scarred by the savage atmosphere of racism, unjustly imprisoned in the bloody maws of South African dungeons.

Would the man survive? Could the man survive?
His answer strengthened men and women around the world.

In the Alamo, in San Antonio, Texas, on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, in Chicago's Loop, in New Orleans Mardi Gras, in New York City's Times Square, we watched as the hope of Africa sprang through the prison's doors.

His stupendous heart intact, his gargantuan will hale and hearty.

He had not been crippled by brutes, nor was his passion for the rights of human beings diminished by twenty-seven years of imprisonment.

Even here in America, we felt the cool, refreshing breeze of freed.

When Nelson Mandela took the seat of Presidency in his country where formerly he was not even allowed to vote we were enlarged by tears of pride, as we saw Nelson Mandela's former prison guards invited, courteously, by him to watch from the front rows his inauguration.

We saw him accept the world's award in Norway with the grace and gratitude of the Solon in Ancient Roman Courts, and the confidence of African Chiefs from ancient royal stools.

No sun outlasts its sunset, but it will rise again and bring the dawn.

Yes, Mandela's day is done, yet we, his inheritors, will open the gates wider for reconciliation, and we will respond generously to the cries of Blacks and Whites, Asians, Hispanics, the poor who live piteously on the floor of our planet.

He has offered us understanding.

We will not withhold forgiveness even from those who do not ask.
Nelson Mandela's day is done, we confess it in tearful voices, yet we lift our own to say thank you.

Thank you our Gideon, thank you our David, our great courageous man.

We will not forget you, we will not dishonour you, we will remember and be glad that you lived among us, that you taught us, and that you loved us all.



Friday, 6 December 2013

A HERO LIVES FOREVER - Nelson Mandela

NELSON ROLIHLAHLA MANDELA, 18 JULY 1918 - 5 DECEMBER 2013
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I think it only fitting to dedicate this page of my blog to TATA, MADIBA, NELSON ROLIHLAHLA MANDELA - my hero!


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There are not enough words to describe the man we know as the Father of South Africa. He touched all of our lives in a very real way.  With his beaming smile, his wonderful wit, generosity of spirit, kindness, incredible sense of humour, unique Mandela shuffle dance, his fabulous sense of fashion, his love of simplicity, his sincerity, his all encompassing forgiveness, his humility, his wisdom, his connection with children, his selflessness, his ability to share real joy and his purity of heart, he impacted all our lives and gave us wings!


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Your long walk is now over.  Rest in peace - Lala Kahle - sleep softly and peacefully! 


What a beautiful life! Thank you Tata!



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Thursday, 28 November 2013

A FLING WITH GASTRONOMICS – fifty shades of food




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Of late, I have found myself watching more and more of the ‘cooking channel’ on television. It‘s not that I have purposefully sought out cooking shows, but somehow my television seems to remain tuned to gourmet cooking.

As many of my friends and family know, I’m a well-documented, domestic failure (particularly when it comes to cooking).  I have three (yes 3) tried and tested dishes that I can whip up with culinary flair, but for the rest, I fail miserably and for the most part, I’ve given up trying all together. I have accepted my lack of domestic talent and focused my time and effort on other creative outlets such as writing, music and gardening.

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That was until recently, when somehow cooking and the talk of glorious food have connected with me (on a deep emotional level).  I have to admit that this is perhaps a subconscious reaction to the rather strict, self-imposed diet I have committed to (well a commitment of sorts).

The visual presentation and the colourful gastronomic vocabulary that is used to describe the wonderful cuisine on these shows is so tantalizing that I find myself virtually tasting and smelling the glorious preparations.

The talk of rich, ripe bursts of flavor, aromatic spices, dark and indulgent mixtures, creamy comforting foods, bursts of exotic sweetness, earthy goodness and smooth heavenly blends, just keep me coming back for more.

The way in which these super human domestic gods and goddesses prepare, present and then seductively taste their creations, is just so appealing to me (in fact rather irresistible) that I keep retuning to this most pleasurable sensory smorgas-board.

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There definitely is a very specific art to gastronomy and the communication thereof.  The verbs and adverbs used in the preparation of these mouth-watering dishes are in themselves so delicious and eloquent. You can slowly and tenderly sauté, or can you quickly burn and sear. Perhaps you’d prefer to gently braise or even parch or wilt?  You can whip or fold, you swirl, drizzle, rub, crush, scald or bruise. 

What’s really evocative about the verbal preparation of food, is that you can attach cooking verbs to any descriptive or seductive adverb and in so doing create a decadent, delectable palate of linguistic, emotional and taste-bud-pleasing faire.  You can gently fold, you can vigorously whip, you can luxuriously blend, rhythmically stir, or lightly crush.

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Words such as extravagant, mellow, woody, juicy, flamboyant, smooth, voluptuous, robust, spicy, decadent, zesty, tart, picante, smoky and luxurious, pepper the vocabulary of celebrity gastronomes. Food and the preparation there-of has been elevated to a new rank and standing.  

No longer is food-and-feeding a necessary, practical activity; it is as if a whole new art form of ‘glorious food meets tantalizing words’ has been born. This new art form appeals across an array of senses and ultimately tugs at deep emotional strings too.

The final gourmand presentation on these delectable shows also yields handsomely on a psychological level.  Phrases such as ‘rich and satisfying’, ‘sweet and seductive’, ‘cool and refreshing’, ‘fragrant and uplifting’, ‘warm and comforting’, ‘hearty and soulful”, “tantalizingly tangy’ are often to be found on the chef's saucy lips.

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These are all mouth-watering phrases and combinations that are gloriously appealing and provide generous emotional reward.

And, so having divulged my current delving into this fabulous food foray, one would, I
suspect, imagine that I am now about to embark on some culinary skills’ enhancement.


Well, unfortunately I am not.  I am however going to use luscious lingo to describe my three standard dishes.  I will continue to serve, spaghetti bolognaise, potato bake and fillet (all with salad of course), however I will present these meals with rather more appetizing aplomb; -

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I will now prepare a deliciously hearty pasta dish bursting with traditional Italian flavour; freshly picked mediterranean herbs and a wonderfully rich bolognaise sauce in a ripe tomato jus.  This will be presented together with warm, crusty, bread and a fresh, tender, garden salad drizzled in virgin olive oil and sweet, tangy balsamic reduction, topped off with crumbled cheese and picante mixed peppers.

Alternatively I will prepare a rich and satisfying potato dish, perfect comfort food, filled with earthy goodness and a heavy handed slathering of indulgent herb-based cream.  This will accompany, medallions of tender succulent beef fillet, seared in a full-bodied red wine and bourbon flame and seasoned with rock crystals, green peppercorns and a hint of mustard seed. 

Bon appetite, here's to indulgent food meeting delectable words!