You know, my business partner just showed me a video of Seth Godin, a man who deeply inspires him and I marvelled at how simpatico I could be with a man (Seth) who is in most respects, the direct opposite of who I am. Right now, at this present moment, I have a deep appreciation for my business partner – one of the FEW people on the planet who truly get me.
I have known my business partner since I was 16 years old. For the better part of my teens, I was “young, dumb and out of control”. Fortunately, I also had a deep interest in computers and coding. Fast-forward a few years later, I’d become a slick-talking (outside the confines of academia that is) architecture student in Johannesburg, South Africa and I did some side-work for young guys in their early 30s who had BEE contracts. BEE is short for Black Economic Empowerment – a South African solution to rectify their unequal economic history and to create a freer society. It doesn’t really work but, hey, I was a college kid getting some money on the side so I didn’t really care that much. My moment of awakening was when my then girlfriend, out of concern, told me that “these contractor people” were teaching me that I could talk my way through life and that was not the case – I had to have skills, not just a big mouth. Through a series of accidents I ended up coding again largely because of her encouragement. Once I realised how far technology had progressed and how little I knew, my big mouth was very tightly shut. i started walking a path that would eventually lead me to my business partner and friend Mohau Mpoti.
Fast-forward another 9 years later to now, the 28th July 2015, I have learned a few lessons that I hope will resonate with those who have been through what I’ve been through or an inexperienced kid who’s about to fall into the deep chasm I almost fell into if it wasn’t for a woman who loved me dearly:
1. The false myth of the formulaic road to success – I think Joseph Campbell’s hero myth has been largely misunderstood by writers on success and been repackaged as a set of rules through which “great men” are reluctantly dragged into greatness. To be honest with you, I think successful people (not politically connected government contractors) largely didn’t know what they were doing in the beginning but eventually figured it out through grit – they probably had a general idea of what they wanted to get and chipped away at the problem over YEARS until they became really good at what they do. They read a lot, learned a lot and stayed positive – I think.
2. Life is filled with endless disappointment and failure but has a few successes that make it all worth it – Life is about failing and failing man. That’s just something I’ve gotten very realistic about. A failed relationship, a failed product or tanking at school – that just happens to everyone. I can assure you though that if you try to take it all in without too much bitterness that when you win (regardless of how small the win is), the high is unlike anything you ever felt in your entire life. There’s a reason why grown men cry when they win an Oscar or a football World Cup. Winning is an amazing feeling – be patient, you will eventually win.
3. Surround yourself with people who truly get you – To truly enjoy life, you have to surround yourself with people who understand how you think without a manual and accept you for who you are and what you’re trying to achieve. Trust me; there’s nothing more exhausting in life than “friends” you have to explain yourself to every time you decide to grab a pint at the bar. Find people like you and NEVER LET THEM GO.
4. Just work hard buddy; BREAK YOUR BACK. There are no shortcuts.
Above all, I believe it is truly important to be your truest and realest self – would judging or resenting others for not understanding you. I believe that is also very important to rejoice in other people’s success because if people around you start succeeding, in all likelihood, you’re gonna start eating too. Above all else, enjoy your life – one thing that I now know is that life is a journey not a destination; I know that what I just said sounds like a trite platitude to a fast-talking kid but I’m telling your from the bottom of my heart: IT IS THE TRUTH. BE YOURSELF. Later.