The road to the Comrades Ultra Marathon 2018: Registering on impulse

On one random Friday afternoon while having coffee I registered for the Ultimate Human Race, the 89km Comrades Ultra Marathon. If you are shaking your head, I’m with you, I would do the same thing. There must have been something in the WiFi that day and some of us got it bad. Over the next few months after December, I’ll increase my training to meet Comrades Marathon levels. Not that I want to, I’d rather be siting with a whole cake and bottomless cappuccinos.
Telling the family 
After delaying the announcement and expecting fireworks when I eventually told, my sister and mom just said ‘oh’ or something even more unceremonious. I know, I know what you’re thinking. There should have been a huge song and dance, applause and cheers everywhere. They missed the whole 89 kilometers at the end of my announcement.
Instead, it became less about me and more about the picnics the family will have in Durban along the stops.

After Marathon High Knee

“We can have a roadtrip two days prior, we should organise the picnic stuff” said my sister, to which mom nodded and added something about food to include.

 

At this point, I stopped hearing them over sensation of numb thighs at the thought of passing their victory picnic in the middle of the race.

14 October 2017, the evening before running the marathon to qualify for the daunting Comrades Ultra Marathon, wasn’t the quietest night with nerves at an all-time high. It was as though the taxing ultra-marathon was that Saturday, as though the challenge only became real that evening.

Seeing my relatively slow-ish time of 4 hours and 29 minutes was a relief, because even though I like this running thing, don’t get for a second think I never feel like giving away my running shoes. It’s the gift that keeps giving numb sore legs. And yet it’s sssoooo good. There is a beautiful sense of accomplishment that I don’t quite get from finishing my dessert. Okay……finishing dessert comes with sadness. But you know what I mean.
Friends were surprised and most, like friends and loved ones shouldn’t, keep telling me how I should definitely go. “It will change your life” they say. And I appreciate it. I’m still waiting for that string of massage vouchers and training partners among them. Except Brian, Brian says I’m crazy and offers a juicy piece of steak to cure me of this long distance running thing.

You know where I’m going when I return from Durban.

Now that the qualifier is done, I’ll go for seeding times and make improvements. Much like the seasoned Comrades runner, I now nod in conversations while saying things “when I qualified for my first Comrades” and exit quietly before they ask how many I’ve completed – and other incriminating questions.

For now, before the intense training kicks off with a marathon in January, we eat (a lot of desserts), drink and hopefully convince others to give up their desserts in preparation for the change that’s coming my way. You must also go enjoy all your delectable eats these holidays, that way none of us judge the absence of summer bodies in others.

Social Media Race to the ANC Presidency: The resignation and the presidential hopefuls

This article was first featured on WordStart.

As the ANC presidency campaigns intensify, often marred by scandals, violence at the Eastern Cape Electoral Conference, renewed calls for President Jacob Zuma to step down by some corners of society and opposition parties. The question of succession is a pressing one, and it’s interesting to monitor social media chatter as it relates to the South African political scene.

Two recent events created quite a stir online. On Thursday, 21 September 2017, ANC presidential hopeful, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, was sworn into parliament, on the same day, Dr Makhosi Khoza, dropped a bomb that sent shock waves across social media by resigning from the ANC.

WordStart, in collaboration with Crimson Hexagon, have investigated, tracked and analysed the social media conversations, the sentiment and public social media perceptions, as they relate to these two events. This specific analysis forms part of a larger piece of social media research that will investigate the race to ANC presidency that will be decided at the electoral conference due to take place in December this year.

An analysis of social media data for the period 1 September to 1 October 2017 reveals just over 16 000 posts on the topic of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Makhosi Khoza, with the most mentions happening on Twitter on the 21st of September 2017. Some people on social media felt the move to swear in Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma would position her campaign more effectively in the running for the party’s top post.

The graph below shows the total number of posts that mention both Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Makhosi Khoza throughout the period and the 21 September spike is clearly evident. Leading up to 21 September, social media conversations were dominated by the public’s choice of ANC candidates. As factions within the ANC, and the public at large align with their candidate for party president, we see more linked social conversations, with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa often mentioned alongside Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Makhosi Khoza began making a greater appearance in social media mentions from 5 September, with some public mentions speaking about her redeployment from chairperson of the Public Service and Administration Committee to the Economic Development Oversight Committee. We see social media making more mentions of Khoza on the 10th and 11th of September following her non-attendance of a disciplinary hearing.

Total posts for the period: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

Total posts for the period: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

One day in September

21 September saw most of the posts being shared on social media, where 90% of the 4 954 posts that were picked up came from Twitter and the majority of these were by members of the public who watched parliamentary proceedings. The surnames ‘Khoza’ appears 3 805 times mostly from Twitter, followed by ‘Dlamini’ which makes 717 appearances and ‘Zuma’ which accounts for 760 mentions.

Zuma has overlaps between the president and Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma both of whom come up a lot in social media mentions on 21 September. When looking deeper into the social media data we also note mentions of ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa whose surname comes up in 108 mentions from the media to the public.

Top 10 Tweets on 21 September: Data made avaialable to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

Top 10 Tweets on 21 September: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon 

 

Top 20 sites with the most mention on 21 September: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

Top 20 sites with the most mention on 21 September: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

 

Twitter mentions still largely referenced media houses as they were the ones who shared most near real-time stories and happenings from parliament. The public sentiment on most social media data sourced by WordStart and Crimson Hexagon on 21 September are negative towards the ANC, while suggesting that the resignation was a positive move on the part of Makhosi Khoza, which in turn also supports her arguments and her perspective on the corruptness of the ANC.

Although Twitter was the most dominant platform on 21 September accounting for 90% of total mentions (or 4 482), there was also a general dominance of known media outlets that South Africans generally follow for daily content. It is also worth noting that most news content ends up on Twitter and other social platforms, which further adds to the overall mentions among the 16 084 for the month. Most Facebook content is kept private and not available for usage or analysis by outside platforms, as a result the numbers remain low due to the platform’s restrictions.

Most active content drivers

People on social media were vocal throughout the month, from Khoza’s public criticism of ANC processes citing that the Pietermaritzburg High Court ruled that the party’s provincial leadership was unlawfully elected to her invitation of media as she prepared for the announcement on 21 September. The most influential Twitter content was driven by media outlets which account for 15 of the top 20 most influential authors and the Democratic Alliance was also among the most influential authors over the period.

Top 20 most influential authors (1 Sept – 1 Oct 2017): Data made available by Crimson Hexagon

Top 20 most influential authors (1 Sept – 1 Oct 2017): Data made available by Crimson Hexagon

We begin to see an even split of individuals and media in the top 10 of the most active Twitter users over the period. The list below is a collection of Twitter accounts that had the most number of tweets on the topic of Makhosi Khoza and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma in September 2017.

Top 10 most active Twitter accounts

Top 10 most active Twitter accounts

 

 

 

Most prevalent social media topics

Social media data shows President Jacob Zuma as the common link in all mentions about both Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and former ANC MP, Dr Makhosi Khoza. In the case of Khoza, people make mention of the president in association with the resignation and the reason for the disciplinary hearing. It is also perceived that Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma goes into parliament as a way for the president to enable her party presidency campaign to gain momentum.

Most prevalent topics in 10 000 posts: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

Most prevalent topics in 10 000 posts: Data made available to WordStart by Crimson Hexagon

A snapshot of the first 4000 thousand posts shows Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa with greater prominence, who was mentioned a lot in relation to his campaign now that Dlamini-Zuma is in parliament. Some of the data also alludes to allegations of an affair which some people think may affect Ramaphosa’s run for ANC president.

The first 5 000 posts also show themes that include ANC corruption, the Gupta family and the ANC elective conference in December. Some earlier and less prominent themes begin to decline as more post data is included.

As the ANC pre-election campaign for presidency takes shape among various candidates, some of the big occurrences of September brought up many assumptions across social media. People are referring to strategies that are being employed by candidates that are in the running for presidency, some of which Khoza’s resignation is seen to have impact in. The president is perceived by social media as being aligned with Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign with some ANC structures also coming up in conversations.

WordStart and Crimson Hexagon will bring more data as the campaigns intensify leading up to the December 2017 ANC elective conference.

Mongezi Mtati chats with Arye Kellman about social media and influence on TouchHD

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of chatting with the inspired Arye Kellman about my personal and business journey through social media in South Africa, which brought back many memories. We discussed a few lessons from both a brand marketing and personal branding perspective, though I can’t tell you what ‘personal branding’ is if you asked.

This was one of the most fun and relaxed media interactions I’ve had in my young life [insert: as a Jedi in training]. Arye’s style is easy get engage with, without feeling like you may say the wrong thing and as such you need to be at the top of you game.

The discussion included how WordStart came about the opportunity that took existed when we started  as a digital word-of-mouth firm which in turn led growing into most things digital. It was built out of a genuine need that we had to spread the word about our own work and the work of other brands that realised that there was another way, outside of traditional media platforms.

Have a listen below and let me know what you think.

Influence, Collaborate and Lead a Community: A TEDx talk

We are sold this idea that our story is not worth telling, that there is something more important than our personal accounts and experiences. When the TEDx Vanderbijlpark team called on me to share my story, that notion is precisely what dawned on me, that I haven’t lived or experienced enough to tell anyone about myself.

 

I know, I know, it could be flawed on many levels.

 

In this talk below, I share experiences of stories that changed me. Turning points that continue what the idea of self-organising and leading.

Thanks to Mpho Mojapelo, the rock-legend at Dungbeetle for designing my slides.

Get Your Business Featured SABC 1’s on Making Moves

Last week I was contacted by the Making Moves team about entrepreneurs who would be interested in getting featured. Since I’ve got nothing but love for you, I thought you might be interested. Or least know someone who would benefit from the TV appearance.

Your Business on TV

About Making Moves

 

Making Moves, is an award winning SABC 1 television show that profiles young entrepreneurs in South Africa. The show is on its sixth season and will air on SABC 1 to a million loyal viewers on Monday 5th May 2014 at 13:30.

It offers you the opportunity to be featured on national television, gives you a profiling opportunity to potential new customers and it’s targeted at a 18 – 35 year old audience. Your story is an inspirational one and we hope that through sharing the steps you’ve taken to create jobs in South Africa, viewers will be inspired to do the same.  

We invite you to participate and show the nation the great work you are doing in your business and on your journey as a leader in South Africa.

Is this you or someone you know?

Should you make it through the selection and interviews, you’ll also receive; a business coaching session and up to R20 000 worth of business support. The appearance will reportedly give you exposure to a million viewers and radio interviews with some SABC run radio station.

Submit your company profile to makingmoves@bonngoe.tv or call 010 590 3108 and press 1 for production.

Does it sound like something that you or someone in your network would would want to participate in? Share this post with them, they may end up being that friend in high places. And we all need that friend. Plus, you don’t even need to send me shout out, unless you do.

Tech 4 Africa 2011 Preview: #Tech4Africa

Tech 4 Africa very quickly became part of the African, not just South African, technology calendar. In mid-2009 when I met Gareth Knight, the founder, Tech 4 Africa was still a concept. Although, I could tell back then it was a big idea. The kind whose growth you want to be part of.

In case you missed it, I interviewed Gareth Knight on NetwebTV about his experience in building and selling a technology startup. Tech 4 Africa aims to contextualize technology for the African continent, which is really oversimplifying it.

The first edition had insightful speakers ranging from developers to technology activists. Some of the most influential platforms online today had speakers at the conference. They came from; Ushahidi, Twitter, Yahoo and Mozilla.

We caught up with caught with some of the speakers, including Clay Shirky, and Gareth Knight after the conference. Here’s what they had to say:

This year it seems there are more African speakers than the first one, which looks promising. Most of them are familiar names in the South African tech community. It’s also exciting to see more South African entrepreneurs come to the fore and become a recognized part of the event, I think more than last year.

There are fewer speakers this year, most of whom are entrepreneurs, and this for me makes it more worthwhile. The last event was worth attending, and I’m guessing the team learned from last year and set out to create a different experience, as opposed to work off a formula.

Seedcamp was one of the partners last year, where technology entrepreneurs got an opportunity to attend Seedcamp Week in London. Some of those guys are speakers this year, which will be interesting to see.

The theme this year, seems to be more about business with speakers from Google and Simone Brunozzi of Amazon.

Have a look at what’s on offer this year at Tech 4 Africa this year and follow this hashtag #Tech4Africa on Twitter for updates.

The topless host, potjiekos and the resistance

So a friend, Philén Naidu (aka. The topless host) and his wife Kim Naidu, hosted a group of friends (and me) for potjiekos. Among the many thrilling stories shared, were the undertones of resistance.

For our non-South African readers: Potjiekos –  is a stew prepared outdoors in a traditional round, cast iron, three-legged pot (the potjie). From Wikipedia.

One soccer ball, some dirt and 14 boys Philén Naidu started a soccer club in Zandspruit, where he trains teenagers life lessons through soccer. This passion of his began just over2 years ago with a soccer ball, 14 kids at the time and a vision to help broken communities.

It was a grand social entrepreneurial vision. Well, for any number of guys with just one soccer ball that is.Fast forward from 2009 to 2011, the topless potjiekos cooking Philén Naidu (not to be mistaken with the naked chef) is still at it. Now 101 boys and more soccer balls.
Last week he received an email, which led to a meeting with large corporate – then potential sponsors and partners.

The potjiekosLike most interesting stories, this one happened over a meal. The potjiekos, our esteemed topless host (chef), had prepared.

“You see those small bubbles, you have to cook it with small bubbles” he explained to 4 year old Josh. Unlike such gatherings, there weren’t copious (bordering on illegal) amounts of wine. In fact, there wasn’t any wine at all.

The resistance

As it turns out, over the past 2 years, Philén Naidu expected meetings with his sponsors to be fruitless. Afterall, he had been to such meetings before. In the past, he had to bring proposals and paperwork. Sound familiar?

When you’ve built a project, even a business, over time you expect meetings to be similar. This was different, it lasted 10 minutes without paperwork. (A 5-minute introduction, and 5 minutes about his project.)

The time you spend creating a model, in this case a community project, reduces resistance. It may be surprising when it happens, but it does.

The small bubbles, like slow but gradual movement, cook perfectly and it could take 5 minutes for drastic change to happen. Keep at it.

Discovery Invest Leadership Summit: Raising the bar

 

 

Since its inception in 2009, the Discovery Invest Leadership Summit  has consistently challenged leadership issues of the day. This summit was the first to bring Malcolm Gladwell to our shores, and continues to engage and inspire audiences with the help of high-calibre international thought leaders as speakers. It is definitely a conference worth marking on your calendar. This year it happens on the 21st of September.

Raising the bar

The inaugural 2009 summit featured Sir Richard Branson, Malcolm Gladwell and Wendy Luhabe amongst others. In 2010, they outdid themselves again with insights from Adrian Gore, Nassim Taleb and Tokyo Sexwale. This summit transforms our ideas of what a “headline speaker” is and who to look out for.

This year, they’ll have me – in the audience – not as a speaker. (Well, for this year at least.)

This year’s draw-card speakers include Al Gore, Graça Marcel and Chris Anderson (Editor-In-Chief at Wired – not to be confused with curator of TED). It is expected to shift paradigms. And I have high expectations that it will. The idea that Chris Anderson will be there, is enough for me to go.

In addition to his role at Wired, Chris Anderson is also the author of “The Long Tail” and “Free”, both of which change your perspective after reading them. His thinking is current. He writes the kind of material that is for this time – for the ever-transforming digital age. In both books, he creates a vivid image of how any thriving business model became profitable online.

In “The Long Tail”, Chris Anderson delves into what creates a niche and how the blockbuster culture was eradicated. It demonstrates, through research analysis, why the future of business is selling less of more. He goes into how the lowest selling songs on iTunes create niche categories in themselves. How having 1000 True Fans (as first written by Kevin Kelly at Technium) is the way to go and why niche has eliminated traditional business theories of creating and developing for the masses.

That leads me to how the rules of leadership have transformed over the ages. These interesting times we live in demand that leaders focus on building communities (“tribes”) and on creating a compelling story that connects people. I look forward to hearing what he proposes the new way of leadership for niche audiences, is.

This conference comes at a time when my search for leadership ability has reached levels of obsessions. It became evident to me, that leadership is a significant way to coordinate change and create a community of people for a cause. So, they have a lot of high expectations to measure up to.

If you would like to get an idea of how Chris Anderson thinks – have a look here.

If you would like to follow the conference, search for #DILS11 on Twitter.

To become involved in the search for leadership, take a quick look at their blog or book your tickets here. The conference is on the 21st of September at the Sandton Convention Centre.

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Photo of The Long Tail by: topgold on Flickr

 

NetwebTV Tech4Africa Special

I recently wrote about the Tech4Africa Conference, which actually turned out to be amazing. More awesome than the conference itself were the organizers, who gave me an all-access blogger pass. Emerging Media and the Tech4Africa team are rockstars.

We interviewed some of the speakers, delegates and Seedcamp participants.

The Tech4Africa Special

In this NetwebTV special, we spoke to:

  • Gareth Knight, the founder of Tech4Africa, about how it was received and whether the change he foresaw ago when we spoke was achieved.
  • Gareth Ochse – the founder of iSigned and one of the competitors in Seedcamp Africa. I heard they are also one of the companies who qualified to attend Seedcamp Week in London

Speakers and delegates

We also caught up with some of the speakers and delegates who gave us their views on development in Africa as a whole.

Erik Hersman, the co-founder of Ushahidi spoke their development and how it’s changing lives. It is also one of the most talked about projects on the web.

Mark Kaigwa, a Creative Director and Entrepreneur shares his views about the conference and what it means for Africa. Kenya is 4 to 5 countries away from where conference was, so Mark came a long way.

Clay Shirky was the keynote speaker at the conference and he also took a moment to speak to us. In a nutshell – Clay is a professor, speaker, thought leader and an icon in all things economics, community and open source.  He is the author of 2 books and shares his expert views on how social phenomena were started small and grew globally.

Take a look at the video below and share some of your views with us in the comments.

Learn from the best at Tech4Africa

In the third episode of NetWebTV, I was fortunate to interview Gareth Knight. His views on building a business, I have followed since (with a bit of tweaking for context). Now, any opportunity available to hear him speak I cease every time.

The episode is more about how he built a company that got acquired and a project he was developing at the time called Tech4Africa. As he put it then, it was meant to be a conference that brings global viewpoints to the African context. The chicken in me at the time thought it was overwhelming and impossible. Fast forward to over a year later, the idea has spread online and tickets have become more coveted than a black BMW M6 convertible in Soweto.

More accessible than the shiny M6

This conference, being the first of its kind in South Africa and possibly Africa, might have been inaccessible for people in South Africa. Mostly the entrepreneurs who need to attend it. That’s one of the questions I asked Gareth off camera.

Seemingly he gave that a lot of thought to that and worked it into the package. Not to mention having tickets that are discounted to make it even more worth your while. The caliber of speakers and topics they have challenge current thinking. I find that a significant influential force in contemporary business ethic.

Is it for everyone?

No. And like all things that are really worth your time and investment, it shouldn’t.

The conference is very focused. It is about technology and how it affects you as an entrepreneur. The knowledge of speakers like Clay Shirky, is definitely for people who want to make real and rapid progress. Fortunately, not everyone is that person which means there is only a few of you out there. Otherwise there would not be such a great demand for you.

I was meant to tell you more about the learning prospects at the conference.

Tech4Africa Scholarships

One of the major things lacking in Africa is the skill needed to develop globally competitive businesses, but the conference also addresses that. The discounted tickets already make it easier to attend, but in partnership with Old Mutual, the conference also has tickets for people who need to need learn.

Below are some workshops and what they are about:

1. A masterclass in Usability and Accessibility

Gain expert knowledge from a global leader in usability and accessibility

Usability tests are an excellent way of discovering problems with a product or service.

2. Google University

A deep dive into Google Analytics and Adwords

Google Analytics is a powerful web analytics tool, AND it’s free, and Google Adwords is a great way to drive traffic to your site. However, you get the most out of them when you understand how they work, and how to customise for your needs.

3. A Masterclass in Architecting applications and Advanced Javascript

Learn best practice for developing applications that enable you to work fast and agile, whilst being robust and secure; and learn advanced features of the JavaScript language to create complex applications

4. Successful digital projects

A strategic look at the digital project implementation lifecycle, for decision makers and programme managers.

Whether you want to or not, you are now project managing a group of (hopefully) willing people to create a product that you are attempting to get done in an (un)reasonable amount of time, within an (in)sane budget.

For the entrepreneur there is Seedcamp.

Seedcamp is a programme created to jumpstart the entrepreneurial community in Europe, and now Africa, by connecting next generation developers and entrepreneurs with over 400 mentors from a top-tier network of company builders; including seed investors, serial entrepreneurs, product experts, HR and PR specialists, marketers, lawyers, recruiters, journalists and venture capitalists.

The scholarship applications close tomorrow.  Go on, signup and read more here.

Aside: No BMWs were dreamt of during the writing of this post.