In the previous part of this 2-part series, we covered how others face you. In accordance with your personal definition, people face you every day and create impressions of you simply by listening and watching your every move. Many opinions are not important to you or your career or business, but many are.

In this blog, in which we finish our series on Personal Effectiveness, we explore how we face others. In other words, what are the traits and attitudes by which we define our interactions and relationships with others?

I trust you will be challenged and motivated to change as and where required.


We have written 7 Personal Effectiveness blogs in the past few months. I do not intend to repeat all of the content which you can find on, but just state the headings:

Part 1: Perspective

Part 2: Altitude vs Attitude

Part 3: Purpose or Default?

Part 4: Focused or Frazzled?

Part 5: Passivity or Risk?

Part 6: Problem or Possibility?

Part 7: Choice or Chance?

I put to you that your response to these important foundations of character is a major determinant of personal definition. It would be very hard to display either side of these traits without having an impact on others. Fair to say, that we probably all display some of them and have a natural state which is dominant. Think of them as a continuum from 0-10 and score yourself honestly. Then take the scores, add them and divide by 7 to get a [average] picture of these foundations in the way you face others. If you’re happy with the result per trait and together, keep it up. If not, there is room for improvement so renew your spirit of self-development. You’re never too old to learn.

The only point I wish to make in totality is that we face others with our whole being, physically, mentally and spiritually. Especially to those who know you best, you cannot hide what’s deep inside. Beauty may be skin deep but it need not be – it can radiate from deep within us. We each have the capacity for personal beauty in our personal definition. The Good Book says, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” [Proverbs 4:23 ]

Here are some other thoughts pertaining to how we face others:

  1. Academic or practical?
    Some individuals are academic. Professionals have no option, an accountant or doctor need professional qualifications in order to practice. Most graduates have a broad-based degree and then work in fields of interest or skill. Others have a trade and ply it in their own business or working with an institution. Some never qualify with any academics and simply learn to be who they are by experience. In the past, apprenticeships were very popular and produced many near-engineers and technicians. Interesting now, that trades-men and -women emigrate with ease because their skills are scare almost worldwide.

    Whatever level of academics you have used to get to where you are has little bearing on your personal definition. You may not agree, but as much as it is not possible to be an engineer without the requisite qualifications, being an engineer is not your persona. The sense of importance you place on your academic qualifications and the degree to which they “make you” who you are, requires caution. Academics are nice but not necessary in your journey from human doing to human being. They help to make you competent but so does experience; they do not make you important. I often ponder the difference between qualified and educated. I have met many qualified people but education needs no introduction; the application of education that brings with it the confidence of competence is obvious. The corollary is this, do not lament that you do not have a degree just be yourself and improve what and who you are.

  1. Showing up or showing up others.
    Personal definition does not require you to be big in the presence of small. Psychologists talk of projection – blaming others to avoid blame. It is cheap and nasty, lacing in abundance mentality. Abundance mentality became well known many years ago as an acknowledgement that “there is room for everybody.”  You do not have to squeeze out others to make a space for yourself; you can enjoy your space while others enjoy theirs. We often hear of dog-eat-dog and it has become the formula for some careers. Get to the top on the shoulders of others if that’s what it takes. Show up others and you will show up.

    Rubbish! Short-sighted nonsense! If you want to lead, you need to win the hearts of followers. You can get hands and even some heads by inducement and fear, but you will never get powerful motivation in unison with a carrot-and-stick mentality. The Lions did not become a dynamic winning team with the promise of a bonus; they drove victory after victory on passion and pride and technical skills of the game. At the helm was Johan Ackerman and they even played for him in the end. Imagine if he was the “important coach” and they were the “paid rugby players”; they would be bottom on the log.

    Want people to show up? Then you show up and give them the credit they deserve.

  1. Relentlessness and resilience
    I was on a call with a friend the other day when he spoke about being relentless. He may have read it in a self-help book but knowing him, I don’t think so. He is relentless. Obstacles produce other routes, failure is a “how not to” for the future, money is spent on R&D without regret and from every failed attempt comes a new learning. I have seen positive people, but I have never known anyone this relentless. Always driving, always learning, always thinking, always questioning, always progressing. With it, comes resilience. Even if I say he should think again, he comes back with an answer – what we have got from where we have been and what we still intend to do. A night of discouragement, followed by weeks of resilience – one business life stage after another. I wish that all his desires are realised one day; someone is going to buy his business for a huge amount. And what will some say? He’s lucky. Balderdash, he’s relentless!
  1. Can you say No?
    Some of us are only learning to say No late in life. We have been “approachable” and “there for people” for decades. Even to the point that many times others had our attention while those close to us lost out.

    There is really no excuse for that behaviour in a good personal definition. There is a formula for time management:

W + F + RE + S = T, where:

W = Work;

F = Family;

RE = Relaxation and Exercise;

S = Sleep, and:

T = 24 hours.

That’s what all of us have, 24 hours. No more and no less. That’s it, and multiplied by the days of our lives, that’s really it. Time management is not optional, it’s critical if you want to maximize personal effectiveness.

  1. Adversity

You will have it come hell or high water. It’s tough, relentless and draining. It can be short, like an accident or long like a disability. It is always associated with pain, physical or emotional. And, it is no respecter of persons.

Steve Jobs dies of pancreatic cancer with all the money in the world. And somewhere in a remote corner of the town other dies in poverty and of hunger. Adversity is a condition of Man.

I am always reminded that our right to choose is our choice of reaction. Given the same malady, one will crumple and another thrives. How many have entered business and failed, some to rise from the ashes and others to collapse in despair? Both faced with similar circumstances and both only left with the power of their reaction. Personal definition is hued with the way you deal adversity. The power to empathise with others is often born from our own grief. We understand what we have personally endured and survived, we identify with what we can imagine and hear from others. Spare a thought for those nearly broken in their adversity; before you criticize be aware of your own frailty in adverse circumstances. But, always use adversity for the better.

I wrote this to someone I love dearly and trust you will find it meaningful:

My prayer for you is that you will experience hardship with dignity. Hardship is the bedfellow of life. An illness, an untimely death, an accident, a retarded child are all sent to test the mettle of which we are made. Dignity and courage raise us to godliness in the face of confusion and pain. It is in the face of opposition and hardship that we record our finest hour and demonstrate our finest character.

  1. To believe or not to believe, that is the question

Sex, politics and religion were taboo when I grew up. I’m so glad that has changed and that we can discuss these topics in the open.

Religion is often suppressed in personal definition as something private. In fact, I am beginning to find that atheism is being raised quite early in conversations. “I am not religious”, I find, is an early statement in the formation of friendships and a noteworthy part of personal definition. In turn, in this modern world in which we live with all its personal and Press freedoms we hold dear, we should be able to say, “I am Christian or Buddhist” etc so as to define an element of our humanity and therefore our personal definition.

Whether it’s faith or fancy, the point I would like to leave with you is that your belief systems matter. Whether to guide a decision to be made or to serve to beacon a wrong or right decision already made, what you believe is a fundamental driver of how you face others.

A sense of personal definition demands a sense and even, display, of what you believe. Whether you speak it or remain silent, live it or default to it under pressure, your faith will shine through and will define you. Don’t allow a default setting to define you – define yourself and provide others a degree of certainty in your inter-personal dealings.

We all face others every minute of the day. Putting your best foot forward can work for some but eventually, the real you will reveal itself. No matter what that looks like, you will self-analyse afterwards and form your own impression. Others will be doing the same, rightly or wrongly, instantly and over time. Personal definition, like I have once described for Purpose, becomes the boundaries in which you are you. Most times you never think about it intentionally but over time, you will have become known to yourself and others in a particular way. If what you and they see is authentic and down-to-earth, good for you. If there is any plasticity, you owe it to yourself to improve. At the end of the day, you were born for a purpose and no matter how much or how little greatness has been thrust upon you, you have a responsibility to yourself and to others to be the best you can be.

In conclusion, as  coach I am often asked for my opinion of a particular behaviour. Should I stand up for my rights? Should I eat humble pie? Is what I am doing right? What could I do better? Questions that require an affirmation or an alternative approach from me. My answer is always: “Is what you are going to do effective in achieving what you want to achieve?” You see, we can do whatever we want to do but unless we achieve a desired outcome, what is the use? Surely, it is better to understand what we want to achieve, what is sustainable and meaningful and how these outcomes would best be achieved? Then we advance and we manage the process as things unfold trying our best efforts to achieve what we want. In such a  case, my way or opinion is unimportant in the scheme of things. And so it is with personal definition; what you wish people to think of you and how you wish to face them is all that matters. And the questions is not whether you are right or wrong but rather, is what you are going to be defined as effective for the way you want to live your life? Will you achieve what you want to achieve?

It truly is up to you to be the man or woman you want to be.

Great success, as you drive to great success!

Yours in Property.


All good things have to come to an end. At least that’s what my Mom used to tell me. Coming out of World War 2, I can imagine such a view but it does not really have to be true.

However, this is the last of the Personal Effectiveness series that I have enjoyed the privilege of writing. This last one is unapologetically long and therefore divided into two parts. The reason is not that it’s a summary of what’s been before because that’s accessible to anyone interested in a re-read, but rather, because it’s about a topic of huge proportions – Personal Definition [which, I may abbreviate to PD]. Just page 1 of cell phone Google, gave me 13 sites and 8 related articles. The temptation is to read one and regurgitate its content as my paraphrased version. But, as I’m wont to do, I’d like to cover a few of my own thoughts coupled with 60-something years of experience, education, and travel; in short, Life. So throw your thoughts into the imaginary ring and let’s share together.

If you wondered about Wikipedia, “Personal branding is essentially the ongoing process of establishing a prescribed image or impression in the mind of others about an individual…….. [and]………often involves the application of one’s name to various products.” If you wondered, Personal Definition is mentioned as personal branding, but the reason I use the term is simply that in our minds, branding can be quite hazy. The fact is, those who know you and matter, have a very distinctive view of who you are and what you do, as it relates to them – indeed, you are defined as a person in their mind.


For some of you, thinking of yourself as a brand is strange. On the one hand, it’s not like you “to put yourself out there” and for others, it’s too “American” or simply “not something you would ever do; it’s vain”. I hear you but as we interact, sell, serve, get married, participate in sport [or not] and just go about our daily business, we are creating a brand, a way people know us, a sense of predictability [or not!] and a knowing, of ourselves and by others. Why else would your dog hide when you’re in a bad mood or alternatively, Mugg n Bean have a doily reading: “Be the person your dog thinks you are.” You see, you can ignore the heading and just think of yourself as “Me” but others, if asked to describe who you are, would have much more to say about you, good, bad and indifferent. You simply cannot ignore your brand. Call it what you like, you leave a stamp on humanity every day and over long periods of time. You are known no matter what. Silence and self-deprecation is brand building; haughtiness and know-it-all is brand building and being authentic and confident in your own skin, is brand building.

Every day, everywhere you show up, get held accountable, and get watched. You build your brand no matter what until the day you die and briefly get remembered, or lovingly get buried in the hearts of those you loved and who loved you.

What a responsibility and what a great thought!

Of course, the definition includes attaching your name to a brand or product. In our property industry, Seeff or Chas Everitt, Berry’s amazing Dad. Or, “I am Pam” to celebrate 40 years of a great lady. Many years ago, the now-late Clive Wiel, drove the concept on our new advertising media, TV, for a much smaller Checkers as it began to fight it out for grocery retailer dominance with Pick n Pay in an ad that started something like this, “Hi I’m Clive Wiel from Checkers. Trolley for trolley we will……” and the rest is history. Not an owner, but like the modern Samuel Seeff ads, my name = my brand = my company and, most of all, = My Promise.

Welcome to YOU Inc. Embrace or reject it, every moment of the day you’re being it and building it.

What does yours look like and how is it developing? Beeg question!


In 2010, we did an exercise in a Coaching class that I will never forget. We were asked to term ourselves as Dogs or Cats. The end result was good for a laugh but loaded with truth. The moral of the story? Each of us has characteristic traits and, together with their own views, others see us as they believe we are.

The question of course for personal definition, is: Do we validate ourselves in the opinion of others? Yes, I think of myself in another person’s estimation or, No, I am my own person. I believe all of us at some stage have validated through others. Just think of when you fell in love; the fact that she loves you makes you feel very good. In fact, you think, she has good taste choosing me! Hopefully, we grow to maturity from that thinking but wanting recognition and affection is very often a need for the admiration of others. Many think the human race has this basic need; just read parenting books to see it, though balanced with consistency and discipline. The opposite is also true. Criticise me, break me down and see no good and I could take on that persona. Sad but true for many.

As an aside for the latter, an anonymous quote: “What you think of me is not my business.”

From this comes the issue of dependence, independence, or inter-dependence. No better author than Stephen Covey comes to mind on the subject and you are encouraged to read his books starting with Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Dependency is fragile and very dependent on the stronger party. Dependent upon you, if you let me down, I am broken; unable to “find myself” from under your shadow. The person trapped in this state is unable to be their own person until they recognise their own worth and manage the relationship accordingly. An old book, I’m Ok, You’re Ok, covered this relationship very well. In turn, it highlighted the benefits of not being dependent, being able to be “Ok” in the presence of any company.

On the other hand, is independence. It is not freedom but rather an attitude of not requiring the other party, from government, your employer or an individual. Being “off the grid” is popular these days – no Eskom, Rand Water and even food Retailers – as we “go it alone”. Not needing others may have limited appeal but sooner or later, you need someone or something. So independence is a pipe-dream, desired but never found.

The only sustainable state is interdependence; that realization deep down that we or things, are dependent on each other. In fact, we are not only dependent but also strengthened by association. “Think team, see individuals” is an old management adage that recognises the power of people together and encourages the team as superlative to the individual – Messi and Ronaldo are good, but nothing without the ball they’re passed. So too, we exist in an ecosystem in our families, our workplaces and our communities that give as shelter, encouragement and nourishment. Alone is nice sometimes as we take the space we deserve, but extended too long, it becomes dysfunctional. Get up, pick up and show up is the mantra for success; be ready interdependently, to take the opportunities passed to you. And, pass some to others so they and experience the joy as well. Covey summarises the matter for us before we have to move on:

“Independence is the paradigm of I – I am responsible; I am self-reliant; I can choose. Interdependence is the paradigm of We – We can do it; we can co-operate; we can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.”

“Interdependence is a higher value than independence.”

And, very important…..

“Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make.”

If you buy what I’m writing, then this leads us to a few life skills or, interpersonal relationship skills:

  1. Relate or transact?
    As you build personal definition, do you relate or transact with other people. Transaction is simple – we do a thing and “no consequences”. You give me what I want and I’ll give you what you want. Take the till at Checkers for instance. I’ve shopped, you man the till, you ring up, I pay and we part. Frankly, if I never saw you again, that’s okay. Thousands of transactions occur every day in our lives and we even have a plethora of virtual transactions now occurring on WWW.

    If only life was that simple or that shallow. But my experience is that those who sustainably succeed make Relating a habit. Nobody it too “small” and the “big” are placed in perspective – respected but not revered; such emotion belongs to very few. Relationship is long-term and premised on the importance of every person as a human being. Employees are not units of labour but associates in the business, whether it’s yours or shareholders. People matter and profits are a by-product of people rather than an expectation of management. Relationship changes your perspective of significant others. As much as we realise we cannot be responsible for everyone, we do take personal responsibility for ourselves and in doing so, are able to bring something of ourselves to many in our life’s journey. Check this out as a summary:



  1. Smirk or smile?
    I’m watching MKR on most nights now and Josh is bugging me. He always has a smirk at anyone’s fault. I heard him refuse another team help in a mass cook-out whilst his co-inhabitants of the kitchen container helped with pleasure. You know Josh’s – independent, clever, competitive and correct [always] – they adorn the hallowed halls of institutions. They rise on the backs of others and enjoy the view from the 7th floor and above.

    I never forget an initiative in Nedbank where, as part of our Values initiative, we awarded monies to worthy causes of our staff. One man, 20+ years in the bank and a Grade 8 for all of it, told the story of how he coaches disadvantaged children soccer on a rough field in Soweto. He has done it for years, keeping them off the street and giving them physical, emotional and spiritual sustenance in the process. We gave him the money to buy the team their first kit of football attire. I wondered as we signed it off – who was the hero in the story, the ones who signed off the gift or the man who would have been back on that field with the kids on Saturday even if we didn’t. I later saw a picture of the handover; he was smiling from ear-to-ear. Enough said, hope you get my drift?


  1. Help or break?
    In similar vein, do we help people or break people? Breaking people is so easy. A bad word, finding mistakes, silence in the light of performance and the famous one, pointing out what still needs to be done. “Never good enough” can be the message communicated in so many ways. Just a nod of the head is often all that it takes. It is said, that we listen to words for 20-30% of communication and feel the body language for the rest.

    Help involves involvement. It is probably the main reason for not helping. “Don’t get involved” is the mantra of many. Kind, considerate and even listening, but not involved. In fairness, I would not like to take the moral high ground on this. Sometimes the need, the time and emotional commitment is just too great and we need to be supportive but, ultimately, not get involved. However, the question is is there a point to which I could be involved? We heard it said that when one hurts, we all hurt; but is it actually true? I guess the purpose of this line of thinking is about whether I am for myself or for others and where the break-point lies. If not all about me, is there a word of encouragement or a helping hand in my sense of personal definition? I know some are committed to animals, others to the poor and homeless, others to their immediate and broader families – all giving something of themselves and, certainly from a time point of view at least, even hurting a little in the sacrifice.


  1. Teach or take?
    As far back as high school I learned the principle that teaching cements learning. So my formula was learn then teach and I even used this process when someone wanted to copy my homework; I would simply offer to help them with theirs. It often worked for both of us.

    At the heart of this question is attitude. Do you take what is given and use it for yourself? Or, do you use it for yourself and teach others then learning as well? Never mind the obvious application; I see the principle so often in Corporates. Information is power and he who has the most is the most powerful. So letting go of your information, your foreknowledge, can reduce your power [by the way, called Informational power]. So you see power held and dispersed only to the “important” people. The premise is anyone not receiving information doesn’t need to know. This power is so childish but very effective. Of course, no one exercising it would ever teach; rather “need to know” becomes the practise of these people. Now, I’m not implying confidentiality is not important [remember, “slipping” something which is confidential makes the person doing it appear even more powerful and “connected”] but the sharing of knowledge is inclusive and directional; in the end, people who feel they belong are more motivated and are willing to be lead. Leaders share information.

Rightly or wrongly, we frame who we are in the perceptions of others. For some it is validation but for the mature, the opinion of others of us is tempered by our own self-worth. I love graffiti and always read the back of Hulletts sugar packets. A recent one says: “If you know yourself, then you’ll not be harmed by what is said about you.” Sage advice from what is apparently an Arabian proverb. On the other hand, if the shoe fits, wear it. Allied to this is the humbling experience of asking a friend how they see you and listening carefully to their insights. It is also very important to realise that often what we think is our truth and the same goes for others’ opinions; truth, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder so be circumspect about what you let in or ignore. A lot of “truth” especially from parents and other respected people can be the source of our self-limiting beliefs.

Personal definition involves facing others. Whether it’s a glance in a train or a long-term business relationship, others define who you are in their own minds. Is their definition to your liking? If not, change it. It is in your hands.

Yours in Property.


Some serious property news on the wires at the moment!

Wasn’t the news of the rate reduction good news? On the one hand, as is the case in America, a reduction in rate can mean the economy is not firing well but, as so in our case, we had good news on the Inflation front which convinced enough members of the SARB MFC to reduce the rate. Inflation has been just over 5% in the last two rounds and that is within the target band of 3-6% as well as indicating some stability in the Rand. Point is that the situation allowed the SARB to signal a downward trend and, goodness knows, we need it. Whilst we remain in recession and, I think, will be there for another quarter at least, we’ll take what we can get.

On the political front, things seem to be moving in the right direction. It seems some brave ANC MP’s have found their voice so let’s see. The solution for SAA by selling Government’s [read PIC] stake in Telkom is a shocker of immense proportions. PIC is the government pension fund and it has a good stake in Telkom on behalf of millions of pensioners, current or future. To sell that to bailout SAA is madness, throwing good money after bad and keeping a dying dog alive. Already our new Finance Minister has had to tuck into the Emergency Fund for R2.3bn to pay out Standard Chartered who refused to roll their bond and continue funding SAA – a good credit call for a bankrupt company if not financially, then managerially. In doing so, with hours to make up his mind, he had to do what he did. BUT, the solution for SAA is to not renew the contract of its CEO in a few weeks’ time, fire the rest of board, reinstitute good governance and then sell the company to private investors [Ethiopian Airlines comes to mind, believe it or not] and recoup all or most of the capital and sureties that government has issued to borrowers. Why is this part of a property blog? Because, if this kind of miracle cure was realised, it would mean sanity is prevailing in the State-owned enterprises and a huge economic turnaround is beginning.


As a final thought, imagine a government of President Cyril, Justice Minister Thuli and Finance Minister Pravin et al. We would be a great nation again. To full circle, the other good thing about declining inflation rate is that it gives us a snowball’s hope in a fridge, of getting some real house price growth in 2017.

On the property side:

  1. Knight Frank and Wealth-X conducts research that concentrates on high net worth individuals and is about to release its report about the world’s wealthiest people and luxury items.. Cal led the Knight Frank’s Global Wealth Report, the 2017 report will be released in South Africa in August. Last year’s report placed Cape Town as third globally in terms of the annual price of property growth. However, in 2017 it seems Cape Town may have dropped from third to the fourteenth spot globally. In 2016, the City of Cape Town was ranked third in the world for the highest housing prices, falling behind only Shanghai and Vancouver. According to FNB’s latest survey: “In the 2nd quarter of 2017, the City of Cape Town’s estimated average house price growth rate remained in a double-digit territory to the tune of 13.8% year-on-year. However, while still very strong, this year-on-year price growth rate represents the 5th consecutive quarter of slowing from a 10-year high of 15.7% revised rate recorded in the 1st quarter of 2016.” Sorry for the home owners but the news is good in my opinion – being such an outlier in the context of South Africa could simply be a bubble waiting to burst.
  2. The latest FNB house price indices have indicated that house price growth is declining at increasingly similar rates. The outliers were the High and Affordable markets. No surprise there as the one has money and the other needs housing. In fact, what I hear is that the developers have a backlog of construction for already sold houses in the latter market. I don’t think that would continue but it’s good while it lasts.
  3. What will 25bps do for interest? Very little seeing it’s only a 3.6% reduction in interest costs. But we live in a country that needs good news and this reduction is good news. Will confidence flow? No, it will take more than a rate reduction to instil game-changing confidence and for that our “good” politicians are responsible.

With a few property points behind me, a further Personal Effectiveness insight. It’s brief this time but hopefully hard-hitting. Not as direct and clear as the previous versions but written from my heart. Remember, if you are striving for the pinnacle of success in your personal effectiveness, then learning from the lowly examples is good “medicine”. So read on and between the lines to be challenged once more. The Japanese used the word keizan to mean “continual improvement”. A facetious part of me wants to say, which part of continual…improvement don’t you understand? Relentless, persevering, ongoing improvement and all held to a higher-and-higher standard of performance. If you’ve just watched Froome win his 3rd consecutive and fourth out of five Tours de France, and Spieth bail himself out of a down-and-out mess in The Open, [and the Lions beat the Sharks in the dying moments of the game…. had to throw that one in!!] then you know what I’m talking about.


Here’s the story. One week ago I stood in for my wife at our church’s soup kitchen. It was cold and, far more than normal, 40 people arrived for an orange, 2 slices of bread and the customary cup of soup. About 10 women and 30 men, some neatly dressed carrying themselves with dignity and others dishevelled and obviously hungover or even, recently drunk. All well behaved, for in this environment to misbehave is to miss out on the precious, hot cuppa soup. Perhaps though, being in a church ground also called a higher standard from each present; perhaps a sign that we are all human and in another Presence, we cloth ourselves with a higher attitude than normal. Some were old and others younger. Living testament that age and social standing don’t really bear any correlation – you can be poor young and poor old, it really doesn’t matter. Some were neatly shaven and/or their hair washed. I thought to myself, where in heaven’s name do you find the water and soap to look good when the difference between a meal or not was this soup-line? What dignity drives such cleanliness or was it just luck that found an ice-cold tap that day? And there they stood, each with a story no doubt and few with anyone to listen or even care enough to pass the greeting of the day. And once they had their first helping, they immediately joined the queue for another cup of the hot brew. Eventually, even the 4th large pot ran out and people slowly went and sat on the steps to eat their bread and orange. After one hour, everyone departed; back onto the streets to whatever they called “home”.

Fascinating and sobering that one soup kitchen in our town. What made it so was not the people in the line but the fact that I was there. Being present, I wondered if choices had anything to do with their plight or if chance had just played its hand differently for them and me.

I looked at these folk and wondered where our lives were different. If our lives are the sum total of our choices to any point in time then any chance, which in and of itself, is also a choice – to do nothing, to go with the flow, to follow wherever – got added in, how did we end up where we are? Was it good parentage, the silver spoon, discipline and education, a sense of higher purpose, the decision of a Higher Being, addiction to substances, debilitating poverty? What made the difference other than choice itself? How do two people live in the same township and one becomes a successful electrician and the other finds themself in a soup line? Surely, it is not a function of race or intellect or drive or luck. Surely the primary life skill was simply to be able to identify the forks in the road and take the majority of right directions? If you think about it, how do you travel from Joburg to Durban other than by not going the wrong way and choosing the right way? Simple, you say, just choose right and wrong never enters the equation; after 40 years the proof of the pudding is in the eating.

True, but here are some closing thoughts for your consideration:

– You may have made the right decisions nine times out of ten, but be grateful that you did. There are many times if we’re honest with ourselves, that the possibility for incorrectness was just as real as the right choice. Be humble and spare a thought for those who made a mistake.

– Mistakes are only failure if you allow them to be. Mistakes are learning and knowing what not to do is often as rich as having known what to do. Life is often complex and not binary – If, Maybe, Perhaps etc are also part of decisioning. The margin for error in some decisions are so small that a slightly different direction could cause a huge mess of the end goal.

– The two bedfellows of wrong choices are guilt and regret. We all have some and we all need to deal it. Sweeping the feelings under the carpet may feel safe but sooner or later, we need to face the issue. Our weakness, our self-limiting beliefs, our arrogance or our subservience may all be reasons for failures and mistakes but learning from them is powerful.

– In the circumstances, I describe above I am always struck by the fact that one is not better than the other. As humans we spend a huge amount of time comparing – I mean let’s face it, in the morning you look in the mirror, compare yourself to the image you have of yourself and bang! it hits you :-). Perhaps, the issue is not “better” but simply, “different”. You see, if you boil it down, that man in the queue standing for his daily bread is only 24 hours removed from where I am. In a day, if I don’t lose all my money in a bad business deal or sign a surety that sours, I could develop an attitude of supremacy and privilege because I am above him. And as I do so, I become impoverished of spirit and soul, haughty and disdainful, bereft of any humanity and emotions. Sick and tired of being sick and tired.

So, the challenge goes out without further philosophical intent. Are you making choices that are enriching and true, full of integrity and a love for others? Are you getting rich in character and not just money? Is your effort worth the reward and has the reward enough depth to weather a life storm? Are you building emotional reserves in your relationships from which you can draw when you screw up and hurt another? Are you a tree providing shade and sustenance or the root that sucks everything from the ground around you?

Pretty serious stuff but worth a thought. Choice or chance – which is you and is there any need for change?

We have come through trying times of late as we have evidence of our beautiful country having been raped by greed. HLJ continues to thrive and, I would hesitate to say, because of people who demonstrate the power of good choice without the arrogance of knowing it. For the issue of continual performance in the face of economic adversity, they have a plan and a desire to be better and, if not, only to fail trying and never by giving up.

Yours in Property


In our last blog, we asked the question Risk or Passivity?

The next day these quotes arrived in my inbox and I thought they rounded-off the thinking in the Part 5 blog:

So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservation, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality, nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit. 

Christopher McCandless

Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the danger of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. 

Thomas J. Watson

Conformity is the jailer of freedom and the enemy of growth. 

John F. Kennedy

The opposite for courage is not cowardice, it is conformity. Even a dead fish can go with the flow. 

Jim Hightower

So, without any mention of the property market as the Rand goes through R13.60 as I write, here are my next thoughts on Personal Effectiveness.


There are times when all of us have “downers” when Monday is blue, and our biorhythms are out of synch. It’s very hard at times like these to be positive and even to make good decisions. [Just an aside, the Golden Rule of decision-making is never to make a decision when you are not emotionally stable ie down, angry or upset.]. But, if your life has problems which never seem to go away, then Life is a problem. Without being trite, because I know people who live in this crisis every day for one reason or another, you need to revert to Part 1 and look at your Perspective and then proceed to read the other blogs. Think on them and allow their challenge to sink into your heart. Change is needed and only one person holds the key – yes, that’s you! I heard a lady say the other day that their marriage was on the rocks but when she “changed her attitude, things came right”. The words just flowed over her lips but how sweet they sounded and how effective they became. The looming Problem of divorce indeed became the Possibility of an incredible life. And knowing the life they now live, I can tell you her decision was perfect and her worst fears were unfounded.

“Sometimes I wake up Grumpy and sometimes I let him sleep”, the old saying goes. By the way, you can make this “her” as well!! So it is that some people are just grumpy – as a rule, for the least thing and to the ire of those around them. Problems pervade their space. They just can’t see the positive or think that anything can turn out right. They don’t delegate because “they won’t do it like I can” and they drudge along, over-worked and under-paid. The weather is too hot and then too cold with nothing in between. They live in the kitchen, bum in the oven and head in the fridge just so as to feel “normal”. And to that point, they are normal and they wish everyone else was “like them”.

When it comes to solutions the problem-seeker sees the problem. I often listen to 702 or CapeTalk and hear the problem-describers who call in. This way and that, bisected and dissected, in or out, complex or simple – they have the problem down to a tee. I find myself asking the heavens for one person with one piece of advice on How to Solve the problem. Just one piece of advice – Pleez! I often say: “Any idiot can tell you the problem; I am looking for people who can solve it.” Irreverent but true.

Possibility – ah, the word of hope. Not quite there, not all the details are in place but the thought process has begun and the eyes and shoulders are lifted up.

In their famous book, The Art of Possibility, Rosamund and Benjamin Zander have this to say about Possibility: “Unimpeded on a daily basis by the concern for survival, free from the generalized assumption of scarcity, a person stands in the great space of possibility in a posture of openness, with an unfettered imagination for what can be.”

So, rather than try to define it, let’s look at the quote and see some possible ways to build Possibility Thinking:

  1. THINK the possibility. How can you ever think out-the-box if the boundaries are so obvious to you? Money, time, people, support, and other resources are the boundaries we place on any problem. Perhaps the saddest of all is the boundary you place on yourself. I once studied to be an insurance salesman and Sanlam went out of their way to prepare me and make me believe I could sell policies. At the end of the course [2 weeks locked in a hotel], I was given a certificate titled: “Your worst competition is inside.” Who cares what the rest said, this has proven to be one of the most profound statements I have ever mentalized. So many people trapped inside their self-limiting beliefs.

The challenge is to genuinely lift the fences that bind us, see the possibility without restraint and then think it through. That’s what “unimpeded” and “unfettered” means. If you can do that, your “space” for thinking expands. Thinking from the box in makes the solution small; thinking from the box out, expands the plane of possibilities. So step back and then step in…..

  1. IMAGINATION rules your world. The famous saying of Albert Einstein. Inside your imagination, all the possibilities are just that, Possible. You can fly, dream, scream, be silent, paint bright colours and just paint white, all in the space of your mind. No neutral space is your imagination; it is the space of kings and queens, power and solutions, poor to rich and the force of human nature. It motivates, strengthens, drives and determines with more obvious impact than the Imaginer can even think. So much of modern-day positive psychology says, If you can think it, you can do it. Dwell on the reward of success and not the penalty of failure.


  1. SUPPORT is required. Some possibilities are just too big for one person. You may need support from others. Just a tiny current example: Our church is wanting to revive the Sunday School so the announcement went out that the newly-acquired building in the church property is going to be called The Lighthouse and people were asked to contribute. Well, the response amazed the organisers and right before their eyes, the little building is being transformed room by room into The Lighthouse. Each with its own theme depending on the ages of the children, chairs, tables, painting and artefacts all coming into place and ready for the new school term. What did they do? They asked – they guided – they released – they encouraged performance. Support in its purest form.

What is your Possibility? What solution have you imagined? Ask and you will be surprised as it takes place. Maybe I am being Pollyanna, but don’t ask and see what happens – Nothing. No ticket, no game – same every time.

  1. Let me tell you how you describe “a person stands in the great space of possibility in a posture of openness, with an unfettered imagination for what can be.” E-N-T-H-U-S-I-A-S-T-I-C. A “posture of openness” is the warrior at the ready, the high-jumper readying for the run, the sprinter in the blocks, not just anybody, but Somebody. Their entire purpose is focused on the task at hand and nothing or anybody will stand in their way. “Openness” of posture shies away from nothing, and the thought they imagine is bigger than themselves. Many of you reading this remember a time when you had such a posture and succeeded. Enthusiasm, in and of itself, hallmarked your attitude and confidence. Vince Lombardy said: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” But, of late, impeded and fettered in your spirit, you may have allowed yourself to drift into limiting beliefs and be overcome by the spectre of scarcity. Get Up! Get Out! and Get Going again! Like the L’Oreal ad says – You’re worth it.


  1. PLAN and EXECUTE. You need a plan to complement your vision. Don’t underestimate the “admin” in the excitement of your enthusiasm. Writing things down makes you think logically and with process. Nothing beats a well-documented plan and process when you’re actioning what you previously imagined. And, by the way, your Banker needs it :-)!!

The above all sounds so easy but it is not. When you’ve known the depths of despair that relationships, negative cash-flow or illness can bring, you realize that it’s tough. But try seeing the problem [think of our beautiful, tortured country] all the time and tell me that’s not tough. Do you dwell in the Problem bemoaning the present and remembering the good ol’ days or, do you wonder [imagine] what you could do to change something for someone. The story of the starfish upon which The Starfish Foundation was founded comes to mind. A little girl was walking along a beach filled with washed-up starfish. She bent down, picked one up and threw it into the sea. A man was walking by and asked her what she’s doing. Her answer: “I’m putting starfish back into the sea.” “That won’t make a difference” he said. “Yes it does to this one”, she answered, as she threw another starfish in the water. You see, when we write and talk big about Possibility and Warriors and Drive, we may see the concept in “massive” terms. But don’t do that – it’s often the small things that make a massive difference.

At HLJ we have problems; plenty of them. In fact sometimes they feel overwhelming. But we also have Possibility. It had to be like that for us to understand our Clients, our Associates our Consultants and our Employees. To date and from October 2003, our problems have always been overcome by our possibilities. It must have been so or we would have succumbed to the many problems that beset us. In doing so, we have become humble and empathetic, understanding where you’re at and always ready to encourage and support you in your business.

Yours in Property.


Some property news from the latest FNB Property Barometers:

  1. Foreign buyers have declined. No rocket science here as the cost of buying has increased due to the Rand strength, particularly related to the British Pound. On the other hand, confidence in South Africa is declining.
  2. As regards 1st Time Homebuyers, their proportion of the total is declining. A couple of reasons are proffered, namely, affordability and the economic slowdown. Affordability has no doubt improved as salaries have adjusted whilst the interest rate has been stable and prices have not shown any real growth worth mentioning. However, I would bet confidence again rules the roost – why would any responsible young person take on a 20-30 year debt if the economy is in recession? It would seem irresponsible to swap your rental unit for  a bought unit if your job is in question.

What we will need to understand is that little will change until the Elective Conference of the ANC votes in a new leader who carries the confidence [funny how that word keeps re-appearing] of the majority of the people and all other SA stakeholders, none the least of these being the the forums to whom Pravin was addressing our viability as an investment destination when he was [c]rudely recalled. Remember, they represented some $5tn [that’s $5000000000000, or R64000000000000] of investment funds. Flippit!

Back to our blog on personal effectiveness…..


Life is hard for many and a bed of roses for some. If you’re in either state as you read this, just wait, the opposite will be true in the fairly near future. Very few of us have lived life in one state or the other continuously and thank goodness for the break from “hard” every now and again. On the other hand, “roses” is not sustainable either as you don’t grow and learn as a person if everything is easy all the time.

But some who we know seem to take the rough and the smooth in their stride. Whether it is scheming, good luck, falling with your bum in the butter, the proverbial silver spoon or cleverness that does it, I guess we would need to understand each case. But somehow, they seem to survive and even prosper as the traverse Life and its obstacles; in the end, they seem to live “a good life”. Passivity, in this blog, refers to easy-come-easy-go with not too much effort but just enough to get you by. After all, why study to hard when 50% [well, it used to be anyway] is a pass and nobody remembers the pass-mark anyway? So I do what is necessary and don’t stress too much about distinctions. Passivity lets the dice roll or the card be dealt and then plays with the result. Oh, how often I felt the stress of performance on me and watched others “just chill” under the same circumstances. In the final analysis we all seem to get to the end in one piece. In fact, “if you worry you die and if you don’t worry, you still die; so why worry?” Know someone like this? Envy someone like this? Probably.

Enter the element of Risk.

I have shared before that there are many definitions of Success:

– Success is the successive realization of a goal that is meaningful to the individual.

– Success is the ability to endure pain.

– Success is {you name it for yourself].

But i would put to you, Success is the taking and managing of risk.

I know of no risk-free venture that ended is Success as defined by any of these definitions which are a handful compared with the universe. Just check out Google for tens more. Risk and Reward is often discussed – low risk/low reward; high risk/high reward etc.

Here are some situations:

– My Granny once told me that her marriage was her highest risk and her greatest reward.

– Enter university to study and the risk of failure looms.

– Get behind the wheel of a car and you pose a risk to others or them to you.

– Move town for adventure and things don’t turn out the way they were intended.

– Have children and one is retarded.

– Start a business and risk everything.

And so the list goes. Each of us have a story of risks taken and having to manage the fallout from the decision. Life is risky and even the most elementary of decisions can be a risk – ask my friend who cycled Wine to Whale and swallowed a bee only to prove allergic.

You can solve the problem by staying in bed every day. Don’t venture out “just in case”. Drive slow, save, eat right, don’t tempt fate – all things we’ve probably said to avoid if not evade risk. Unfortunately, you can get so good at it that life becomes Passive. In fact, I put to you that much Passivity is simply, fear of failure. You agree?

So let’s look a little at Risk. From a neuroscientific point of view, the avoidance of risk is the same as the avoidance of pain or danger. It is a self-defense mechanism by which we protect ourselves. Now when you’re crossing a road, it makes absolute sense, but when you’re deciding to leave  your employment to become your own boss, it makes only relative sense. That’s because if you walk in front of a bus, your end is certain but when you give up the perks and comforts of a paying job for a dream, the future is not so easy to define.

Just speaking to this example which many of us know, taking the risk is sometimes the easy part – not that it feels like that at the time that you speak at your farewell party and greet your colleagues. It’s a lonely time, a toggle between self-confidence and self-doubt. The knot in your stomach is real, so real you wake up with it and go to sleep with it; many times a night. Others look in and we feel their stare. Many tell you you can do it and others really give you the feeling that they mean it. Risk, at its most naked. The “taking”, to repeat our last definition above, is tough and many fail at this early stage living with the guilt of the consequences of that failure while others tuck it under their arm very proud that they at least tried – the best way to react to any lack of success.

Those of us who have failed understand that taking risk is just the first bead of perspiration on the brow of the risk-taker. Managing of risk raises its head every day from then on out. Bill Gates said, “I remain paranoid”. I would hope he’s more chilled now, but in his biography he tells of the early days of Microsoft and feeling like anyone could do what he had done in their garage. I know a successful chef who left the place where he really made his name and went into his own business. Borrowings were his capital and he has begun to battle with repayments. He is “managing” risk in the purest sense. iI have an electrician working right now in my home who sweated to buy a bakkie and then did not insure. He has just showed me pictures of a smash he had when someone skipped a robot. My first question, Did you have insurance? [one of the simplest risk-mitigators to understand but we know only 30% of the vehicles in our country are insured]. The answer, No – so guess what his cashflow looks like at the moment as he hires a bakkie daily. Frankly, whether capital or working capital, facilities refused or withdrawn, stress in the marriage because you’re working long hours, partners ineffective or even stealing from you, debtors not paying and creditors uplifting terms or, worst of all, a combination of these as you try to make things work in a Zero economy – the managing of risk is the hard part. It feels like an eternity that will never end; for some a tunnel of despair. It happens at any time. I have a brother-in-law whose 9 year old business just couldn’t get building contracts signed off to start. Two years of faithfulness has paid off but the river ran deep for this dear family. Never immune, managing risk is serious work physically and mentally.

To break away from the doldrums, if you’re in it, take heart. Many people have endured and succeeded from the depth of commercial desperation. You are not alone in your struggle and if all else fails you can boldly say, “I tried!” On the positive side, you will be richer in character at least, for having come through the heat. In these days, employees are getting caught in the mix with 48000 jobs lost just in Q12017 – the chips are truly down. The questions are: What drives people to succeed and when would you cut your losses? Just to answer the the latter question, cut your losses when you have done your best. Only you can define that point and once you have thought it through, taken counsel of trusted people and done the calculations, then make the decision and do the next best thing. Commercially you may want to be the last person on the ship but sacrificing everything also has its own risk to take and then manage.

As regards the former, some would say that luck plays a part. A big contract gets approved, a white knight injects capital for a reasonable share of the business; many scenarios are possible. But, as you know, I don’t believe in luck. One of the things I see in my own business partner and in HLJ is a sense of purpose. It may be to pay the bond, or it may have grandiose proportions but beginning with the end in mind seems to drive all creativity to do what it takes to manage risk once you’ve taken risk. Need finds a way and determination and purpose are brothers. Secondly, wise decisioning up front can mitigate risk. if I look at my business associates, they have a core income that they invest in the next area of risk – no longer are they betting the bank but the income from their core business pays the necessities and the balance is invested in ventures of different kinds. I have no advice for that initial risk assessment – theories abound and cost:benefit and DCF calculations abound all trying to create Best and Base cases for the venture. But I can tell you, once you have done your sums and presented your Business Plan, you need to take the risk and jump. I don’t play down the business deliberations, but I do play up the guts and glory that takes and then manages any risk to sustainable success. Perhaps the formula looks something like this:

Vision + Risk + Courage + Ingenuity + Determination + Management x 10 years = Success.

Paraphrasing the founder of Twitter, 10 years of  creation and hard work always looks like an instant success.

Homeloan Junction fits the bill. Track its history as I know it and you will quickly understand the taking of risk and the management of risk. Many a time the auditor was shocked by the numbers but still the business struggled and survived to be what it is today – a successful Winner recognized by award after award. And to those who fought bravely, perhaps after years of being in business, to survive Sub-Prime [for which no one has ever been convicted!] and now have to endure Zero and now less growth, we salute you. Not cheaply, not because it’s the right thing to say but because you have earned your stripes and stand tall as commissioned agents and/or business men and women who have the CIDM mentioned in the formula above. From every employee you employ and your peers in your industry, BRAVO AND WELL DONE!

Finally, personal effectiveness, I trust you have acknowledged by now, has many facets. At the heart of it is a healthy body and mind but from that vantage, Purpose, Perspective, Focus and now, Risk-taking and -management have core roles to play in our Success. I trust these blogs are inspiring you in your pursuit of  personal effectiveness.

Yours in Property.



The market remains strong and especially considering what’s going on. I guess the stable interest rates have a lot to do with that. Confidence, which frankly most of us probably suffer a lack of, seems still to be high enough to sustain home purchases. A discussion yesterday regarding a huge Joburg developer informed me that sales have dropped from 40 to 30 per month – not a bad result considering the market in which they play. In the Cape things continue to soar ahead. A recent article in our newspaper quoted some areas of Cape Town rising 7X from 2001 to 2016 – that’s 13.85% per annum compounded growth! Very interesting situation and all I can say is long may it be.

Two quotes to start off with, one for interest and the other for our blog today:

“There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work. Pleasure without conscience. Knowledge without character. Religion without sacrifice. Politics without principles. Science without humanity. Business without ethics.” Mahatma Ghandi

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing; the last of human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Dr Victor Frankl.


Know someone who is always busy, always running around? Are they effective? I have a saying: “If you want something done, find a busy person.” But is this true or just a fallacy? Does that person drop everything to get it done and then become ineffective in other areas? Or, who do they hurt, including themselves, by stretching their time for others or other things?

On the other hand, in one of my businesses we had so much ongoing simultaneously. This opportunity and that, people with bright ideas that deserved auctioning on the face of it. Do it or someone else will was almost out motto. You feel like that? Too much opportunity chasing too little resources, especially when the key resource is you. Truly, I understand the dilemma but it always demands the question, Is it right? I can honestly say that of all we tackled, only one initiative worked and worked properly.

Then comes the issue of Focus. I used to tell myself that I am focussed but there is just a lot to focus on! The question will always be what to focus on.

Let’s remind ourselves of the common-sense that we so often ignore: 


  1. Focus does not mean “one thing” but “the important things”
    I have read the book Essentialism. In it, Greg McKeown asks us to define the one inescapable thing upon which we should be focussed to the exclusion of all else. The more I read the book I became more and more engrossed with the impossibility of doing ONE thing. I don’t believe life is like that – you need to deal a sick child, bond payments, your boss and your golf all at the same time. Which you will do with what prioritisation is the key to focus. Understanding what deserves the top priority is key and then the rest kicks in right behind that. Often, as any Mom will tell you, you need to multitask especially in the home. So the necessity is to be aware of “everything” but to know what demands your focused attention.


  1. Important vs Urgent
    In his amazing [and I think last] book the late Stephen Covey provides a matrix of Urgent vs Important things. First Things First, he called the book and he leaves a legacy for each of us. I suggest you read it if Life means much to you. He makes the point that our emails these days often capture the first spot in our daily lives. Clearing the inbox used to mean moving the paper-mail with some written comments on the top to your PA or subordinates, into the outbox from which Internal Mail department would distribute the hard work. You’d come in early to do that before the phone rings. Little wonder that Microsoft uses the same terms in Outlook – even Bill Gates grew up with the first priority being to “clear my mail”. Be honest, doing your emails is often your daily first priority. To such an extent that you even take them around with you on your mobile phone. Instant access at a whole new level. I often receive emails timed after 11 pm at night and guess what, when I remove my phone from charge, I scan them.

    And the list goes on. Gym first thing in the morning, dropping the kids at school first thing I the morning, coffee first thing in the morning – and so the list goes on until I catch even you. Juxtapose the email example to the necessity to develop character in your child. Huh! You see, what Covey does is he matrixes the urgent stuff against the critically important stuff and then he posts something really obvious – the more important the Important things, the longer they probably take. Buying an ice-cream for a screaming child or teaching the child discipline – one is as instant as it gets, the other takes a lifetime. The problem with this “lifetime stuff” is that it gets boring, requires consistency and perseverance to know that the end result will be worth it despite short-term setbacks.

    Building your career or business, relationships with your parents or siblings or in-laws, losing and maintaining your weight or fitness, eating the right food, improving yourself academically, et al. They take time and dedication way beyond the Urgent.


  1. Your brain needs Focus to focus
    If ever there was a multi-tasking organism, it is your brain. Billions of synapses speed off per minute most of them keeping you alive. Breathing, five senses working and synthesizing, walking, thinking – all at once, always. And into that crowded space of thinking you throw in 10 other things, some more Urgent than Important, and definitely some more emotional than others. And you know what, your brain loves it. Built for speed, it can take you to worry, calm, action and passivity in nanoseconds. Throw in what you imagine and what is true and what you imagine is true and you have a cocktail of distraction. You can dream of buying a new house while worrying about the future of the country; your brain just loves the journeys.

    Bringing your brain to attention takes effort. It’s amazing how easy it is in love and hate. Just think of when you fell in love – you could only think about him or her; every SMS confirms your attitude and every rose blooms bright red. Hate focusses us in the same way but let’s not go there. That intent drives all we are, through our brains, to give attention to our goal.


  1. Zero needs Focus
    Just to remind readers, Zero was the name I gave to a series of blogs. It referred to the zero-growth scenario in which we have found ourselves over a long period of time and the tendency to ignore the signs in our lives and businesses. What has happened is that we have surprisingly slumped into recession and had the scoreboard confirm, after years of pedestrian growth, just how bad this economy is. I raise this issue because now, more than ever before, “busy” must give way to “focus” in our businesses. Being busy is not enough if all we’re honestly doing is creating the excuse for our activity and our activity stills our concerns. Action casts out fear I believe, but busyness can simply exhaust us. Focus settles us and whilst it may not alleviate concerns, it at least provides the comfort we require to do the Right Things and not just everything. Zero needs Focus and Recession only drives home the time-proven truth.

    There is so much more to say about this thing called Focus but I would like to make one comment on Frazzled before I present some thoughts for your consideration.


Here’s my one thought. If you want Frazzled and you believe that doing everything as the Go-To Man is meaningful and efficient then keep going for everything at once and all the time. I really have nothing more to say.


Some thoughts on Focus:


  1. Nothing beats deep breathing to calm you down. “Take a deep breath and count to 10” demands the answer, “Yes Granny!” How often we “let rip” in our tension and then take the time to say sorry. Breathe 10X, deeply and intentionally, and feel the difference. And by the way, this is exactly what Exercise does for you.
  2. Keep notes. Don’t burden your brain with remembering and your conscience with saying sorry when you forget. Keep a note in your pocket, in your Tasks, wherever and then do what you can every day.
  3. Keep a 2Do List and split the Important from the Urgent. I used to have a page and a half on an executive pad of stuff to do. I hammered myself for not doing it all every day and properly. I know Frazzled! Split your 2Do List into I and U first thing in the morning and then do the “I’s”. At least then you stretch your brain and energy doing the stuff that cannot wait. Your efficiency blossoms and your confidence grows.
  4. Yes, you….who believes that you’re the only person who “can do the job properly”. If that’s truly the case, you have the wrong people on the bus or you have the right people and they are not fully trained. Delegation involves Right Person – Right Task – Right Expectation. I have never been disappointed when giving a delegation to a person
    1. who is trained and equipped for the task;
    2. having had the task explained in sufficient detail and;
    3. informed of what I expect from them;
    4. who has failed to deliver pretty close to the perfect performance? Style and nuance may be different but what they come up with is more than reasonable for completion or continuance of the work.

If you are not delegating, you are failing yourself and others.

  1. Set goals. I understand the commerciality of goal setting. Turnover, expense cuts, NPBT etc. But why not set some goals that give you enjoyment and some hope – where you’re going to go on holiday next and when, when you’re going to retire etc. Good goals with good thoughts driving them.
  2. Have a quiet time every morning. If you disagree with the morning, then have the quiet time when it suits you. But please don’t disagree with the notion of a quiet time no matter what you prefer to call it. This time with you and yourself brings home more than you will imagine. Sifting, for the sake of this blog focus, the stuff from the important stuff, the essential/s from the peripheral and just reminding your brain and heart what you really want to achieve in the day and in the years ahead. You see, the lovely thing about your being is that you become what you think about most – if you believe that, then take the time to focus your thoughts with wisdom and consideration.

Lots more to say, but more importantly, consider what you have read. If you’re frazzled then un-frazzle. You can! If your Intentionality has been lacking in the heat of life and business, take a quiet time and breathe some new areas of Focus into your being. You are after all, not a Human Doing but a Human Being.


Yours in Property.


Personal Effectiveness [Part 3]

The best news thus far is the holding of the Repo rate at 7 %. We know the SARB could cut it but they are hamstrung by politics, none the least of it, being our own. The Rand is hanging in and we’re about to get a Fuel decrease. If I couple that with the best Maize crop for 40 years, I would love to say we are on our way to 1+% growth. What a pleasure that would be just to heighten our sense of normality with global trends and give us a bit of Confidence in our country and its future. Never lose hope that we can change and be aware that, at this stage at least, a great President could turn this ship around quickly and efficiently. There is resource and intent in this country like nothing on earth if we created Vision and Hope in the future.

We continue with our series of blogs on Personal Effectiveness. So far we have spoken about physical aspects [EDES] and the mental perspective that Altitude and Attitude bring. Today we deep dive into a question that may be too serious for some, too much information for others and for yet others, life-changing.


I was in conversation with a man the other day and I mentioned the need to have purpose in life. He stopped me and asked me why I thought that was important – why not just live each day at a time, think ahead for obvious things like retirement, but let the rest work itself out? I was flabbergasted especially as I was speaking to a very successful man. I guess I have become so used to speaking to people individually or in groups, to whom purpose is natural. Perhaps it is natural to talk about it but for many, they give very little thought to its outworking in their lives.

Purpose for me is critical. It gets me up in the morning, energises my day and gives me direction, focus, determination, and meaning. A few comments:


  • A Purpose needs to be written down so it can be read, considered, altered when required, memorised, referenced and affirmed. I cannot see how purpose which drives a person can simply be “remembered”.
  • A Purpose is a statement, crafted with care and melded over the years, to indicate an intentionality to our lives and to those whose lives we touch. Such a statement is not definite; not a SMART [Specific, Measurable, Agreed/Accepted, Reasonable, Timed] goal. Something which is almost unnegotiable and “the only way”. It is more like a dart board. In the middle is the bullseye, and around it, the segments of higher and lower scores. Often we hang a dart board on soft board. Why? – because we miss! So it is we start out playing darts and battle to hit the board. Just like Life, we set out to win, stumble and sometimes fall, but we always get up to press on. In darts, we practice and play and improve. One thing about hitting the wall, or the soft board or better still, the dart board is we know where we are. Just our ears make that clear J. Thus, a Purpose Statement need not be the bullseye but it needs to let you know where you are expending your energy and that would enable you to win the game of Life. It can be broad but it needs to be stated in order to be effective.
  • A Purpose creates boundaries. Like a horse racing track has white fences on either side, purpose boundaries our decisions and actions. Imagine a thoroughbred racehorse, shiny and muscled, reined in and ridden by a highly skilled jockey – what need is there to control its race? From start to finish it knows where to go and how to win. So why the fences? Surely they provide more than just a safeguard “in case” the horse decides to bolt? Surely they contain the energy of the race and purposefully direct all the participants to the end goal? How much more the need to direct and channel a person’s energy to that which is meaningful to them and only them; to raise the bar, to channel a person to the outcome for which they were uniquely destined?
  • A Purpose energises focus. Our brains are like heat-seeking, ground-to-air missiles. Sourcing the target like the back of a jet fighter, the missile locks onto its target and takes it out. In 1967, Israeli jets dropped phosphorous balls and the missiles blew up harmlessly. Distractions confuse our brains and diffuse our energies. Even more frightening is that if a missile misses a jet, it self-destructs before it hits the ground. The reason is simply that it could be headed for our own forces. Similarly, old age homes are full of people who have given up and become disillusioned by life. Yet, I know 80+ people who are energetic, determined and aware; driven by the sense that life is to be lived to the full and it’s not over yet. Purpose energises focus and energised people know what they want from life.
  • Purpose blesses others. Perhaps the most contentious of these thoughts but I would simply leave with the naysayers that a life without purpose is inward-focussed and self-centred. Purpose raises the bar. It satisfies the individual who, whilst aware of what he or she needs, also knows that from their strength others are nourished. A sandwich to a beggar or a company that employs thousands – both come from the vision of purpose. I have been at the funerals of highly successful businessmen and lowly Moms. Listening to the stories of the deceased, one is struck that Purpose is neither big nor small, neither important nor unimportant. A business person who makes millions or a Mom who holds a family close together with little, both have this one thing in a common – a life of purpose.

So much more can be written but let’s have a quick look at Default.

You wake up in the morning, rush for coffee, shoot off to work and come back tired and frazzled in the evening. The good news is that tomorrow is totally predictable; it’s just the same. Ten and forty years later, the default position has either been the result of “luck”, being “the right person at the right time” or, is simply “someone else’s fault”. Success or failure, all is in the hands of the gods.

Default deserves some comment:

  • We have spoken before of Locus of Control [Google it for more insight]. Essentially, our locus of control is the way we view the world and how we impact on it. An external locus results in us being impacted by what happens “outside” of ourselves. I get an increase, I’m happy. I miss a promotion, I’m sad. Etcetera. An internal locus implies that we can influence our world and life circumstances. We can study, work hard and self-develop so as to get the increase or the promotion. We live in a sense of self-preparedness and are attuned to opportunity; we believe we have impact and influence. Default says “Que sara, sara, whatever will be will be, the future’s not ours to see, que sara, sara” like the old song.
  • “Life happens while we make other plans”. The saying of John Lennon is simply true for Default. In fact, why stir the pot when stuff happens anyway? Just let it be. Purpose never guarantees success or breakthroughs but Default leaves such triumphs to chance or others. Theodore Rooseveldt’s quote always comes to mind:

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though chequered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither endure nor suffer much as they live in the cold twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Default looks to others and circumstances to make us happy. In short, imagine a world in which every war was simply permitted to be won by the one who starts it and every country left to its own devices to develop by mediocracy.

  • Default is not bad. I put to you that we all know Default people. Some have given up on themselves, some have had hope and confidence knocked out of them by life’s trials and some have just never considered anything else. I would be the last person to denigrate such people. Purpose and Default both have their victims and neither implies success or failure in and of themselves. However, living in default leaves our self-belief in the hands of others and circumstances and perhaps, to chance. Jack Welsh of General Electric fame said, “Take control of your life or someone else will.” At least give yourself the chance to be all you were intended to be and even more, rather than to be a victim of circumstances.
  • Default is probably the majority status. You see, like factory settings, we come with DNA that enlivens us. What we do with it, how we tap into our personal uniqueness largely depends on us. Most people, I would surmise, do not have a purpose statement or a radical, driven sense of purpose. The absence thereof is a Default position. Frankly, not bad for the greater majority of us on this earth but, unless seriously “by chance”, such a position has probably seldom achieved greatness, whether Penicillin, a bread toaster or a skyscraper.

The wonderful thing about personal effectiveness is that it can be developed and enhanced over time. Whether it is weight, fitness, business success or relationships, we can all become more effective. I would put to you that a sense of purpose, backed by goals and mentors and role-models, could drive effectiveness to higher and higher levels. Purpose resets our factory settings and whilst you may never hit the bullseye of your life, you will surely live a life that scores whilst it loves to play its own game.

Homeloan Junction was born of Purpose. Not flashy, not overstated, maybe not even written down but always there. The grit and guts that make it [and each of you in the team] a winner was planned and purposed from the beginning. Defeat was not an option and success never went to its head. Stedfast and focus, it has grown into one of the leading originators in the country.

Yours in Property.

Personal Effectiveness [Part 2]

My customary property comment before continuing with the blog…

I woke up this morning thinking about the Western Cape drought. The Cape property prices have bucked the trend, in my summary opinion, because “people want to live here”. However, if that is true, will people want to live here if we have no water? Cape Town City has been lax in the way they have handled this impending crisis. They have ignored pleas for water restrictions from the time they seemed irrational [“because we’re a Winter rainfall area and things will be okay”] to a few months ago when they were only beginning to fight abusers who were using up to 300000 litres a month. Now the City is on Stage 4 [100 litres a day per person and only for washing, cooking and drinking] but finally acknowledging that even if the “as yet unlikely” rains come in time, they will be too little to fill the reservoirs. There is, apart from a miracle rainfall, little doubt that taps will run dry in the next year [and longer, even with average Winter rainfall]. So, what does this do to tourism and residential investment and semigration? Will the current overdue water-sourcing initiatives actually keep the taps flowing or will it be impossible to stay and farm here for the next few years and therefore property prices will perforce, subdue? Remember, as I have reminded many people in the dark, old days before Brain Molefe [ah, but now he’s back!!], electricity is not a Constitutional right but Water is. What a pressure our government is under to supply it to the Western Cape population at this stage!

In my last blog, I expressed Personal Effectiveness “as an equation: input vs output; that we challenge our efforts to ensure they are exactly what we need to achieve what we desire.” In doing so, I raised the fact that our bodies are the earthly vessels in which we carry out this effectiveness in our personal lives. EDES – Eating, Drinking, Exercising, Sleep – are core to that body doing its job well for short sprints of exertion and in the long-run. Some would say, “Your health is your Wealth’, and the sick would say, “Absolutely!”. But now, with this matter dealt, albeit simply, I wish to move on to issues of the mind and/or soul, whichever is your bent………

Altitude and Attitude

I know you have heard of this before. Sometimes the topic would be Altitude vs Attitude, or Attitude vs Altitude. I trust you will find the expression I have used really informative after this read……

Altitude speaks to height and height speaks to view. Both, speak to Perspective. I remember when the saying, “How can I fly like an eagle, when I work with turkeys like these?” was on posters everywhere. Apart from its possible humor, I remember thinking how arrogant the saying was. Are you telling me I’m a turkey – groveling, short-sighted and being prepared for the feast? Or, are you saying you’re the only eagle around here – soaring, aware, informed and capable? Either way, I struggled with the notion but did find one thing obvious in it – PERSPECTIVE. Many years ago I ran a series of lectures on the concept of Worldview. In the beginning, I asked what people thought of Yassar Arafat [make that Donald Trump, Putin or Nelson Mandela these days], and then, without mentioning your view, think about how people in Palestine think about him. Radically different views for most people but the one thing in common is your worldview. Like or dislike him [them] – it’s all up to you. The way you see the world sums up your opinion of many, many things.

As a consequence, your opinion may be your truth. So you end up being right while in fact, you may prove wrong. On the other hand, you may be wrong when you end up being right. I know I’m being painful but think about it. “The country is going to the dogs” – heard that one, or any derivative of it, recently? Have you heard that before – 1987 after the Rubicon speech by PW Botha? 1992 after Chris Hani was assassinated? During the TRC when Tutu was in tears and the truth, we hope, was being told? In 1994 when we went to the polls and half the country had baked beans stored? December 2015 when Nene was fired and the Rand shot through R18/$? 2 months ago when Pravin was fired and the Rand went to….well it has surprised everybody!!….and at R13.10 we would have taken it if we were told that’s where it would be after two Agencies downgraded us to Junk status. We [especially those of us who were at the HLJ/ooba conference early in may] know there is a special set of circumstances in the Investment world at the moment that is helping us and Trump’s allegations are not helping the Dollar, but let’s see what Moody’s does by end-May. The point though is that the worst case scenario of our catastrophization often is ill-timed or simply wrong and this applies to everything in life, not just to South African politics. The further point is that our Perspective rules our worldview in many cases. This thought always leaves me humble in my views. I am not wishy-washy and can be dogged when I believe I am right, but I do always try to leave a fringe of tolerance and acceptance just so that my perspective can be challenged. That way I find I am flexible enough not to be dogmatic.

This whole saga has been beautifully portrayed in a book called The Book of Joy, written by Douglas Abrams. It is the record of a week’s discussion and displays of friendship involving two famous men of religion – Desmond Tutu and The Dalai Lama. Two men who could have a very negative and cynical worldview but who both seem to have replaced that possibility with Joy. My narrow Christian view of Joy and how you cultivate and keep it was stretched as I read and learned of a template of elements of not just how to have Joy but how to sustain it and live it out under any circumstances. That’s always the trick, isn’t it – “any circumstances”? Here’s the template of 8 elements:

From the mind:






From the heart:





Isn’t it amazing! Two men who have endured, and seen the people they are supposed to serve and lead to practical truth in the most dire, unfair circumstances, both start their Joy journey by agreeing PERSPECTIVE as the genesis of their Joy. To quote: “A healthy perspective really is the foundation of Joy and happiness, because the way we see the world is the way we experience the world”. In a sense they’re saying you can’t ever have Joy if your perspective is warped by negative emotions.

Altitude or Perspective, call it what you like. It is a prerequisite for success in anything, material or immaterial. A positive self-expectancy may not always work but, I can tell you, a negative self-expectancy, driven by limiting self-beliefs, works every time. Or, you’re one of those people who simply “got lucky” and there my patience ends as I just don’t believe in the stuff.

Attitude needs less explanation, I think. Deep inside of us we have an approach to the world, her creatures, and her circumstances. Norman Vincent Peale, famous for his book, The Power of Positive Thinking, says it this way, “Change your thoughts and you change your world”. So we speak from our mother’s mouth when we say we have a positive attitude. I often say a positive attitude is 50% of the task done. It drives your activity and raises your spirit. It puts a smile on your face when your head or heart is hurting. It lifts others who have no need to see the “sweat” on your brow. It gives us the expectancy of finding good in others and often confirms itself accordingly.

Your attitude can take you forward or your attitude can take you down. The choice is always yours!

Catherine Pulsifer

 A positive attitude enables us to learn. A negative attitude teaches us nothing. And with the following thoughts, I end this blog……..

Think about it this way, we role model much of our behaviour. It is the substance of “nurture” that we learn from others, not everything but much; teachers, parents, sportsmen, and women, friends etc. Positivity opens the mind and allows thoughts to nest and form understanding. Positivity is the bedrock of learning – just think how you became an homeloan originator or estate agent over years of positive attitude and learning.

However, negative attitude cripples learning and let me demonstrate how this happens. I see a senior person always comes late for a meeting; every time. Resentment rises as they “are disrespectful”. Others in the meeting mumble under their breath “he is wasting my time”, openly discussing the person and their “attitude”, even finding other faults to criticize. The person effectively becomes “an idiot” or even worse. In fact, I posit that the “worse” your negative attitude of any person or circumstance, the less you learn. A negative attitude smashes the ability to learn, creativity and problem-solving ability.

This is therefore my closing message, that a real Positive Attitude is one that can learn from the positive AND the negative. In the case of the senior person above [who I happened to role model diligently in many of his other characteristics], I learned not to be late for meetings – rather early than late – and especially now we have phones in our hands to apologize if we’re going to be over time. What is the negative thing that you “hate”, “dislike” or find intolerable? – that is the thing to which you need to reverse your negative attitude into self-development. In short, you must learn to learn from the positive and the negative in order to mature over the years. The retirement villages are full of miserable people who have enjoyed the positive and seldom been able to see anything good in the negative. Let us guard ourselves.

Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.

Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

The above is not easy. Homeloan Junction faces harsh situations many times. To remain creative and solution-orientated is our commitment to you. We will strive to always be positive in every negative circumstance and the question that will pursue our heads and lips as much as possible will be, “What can we do about it?” Our perspective will be dynamic, hopeful, and upward thinking.

Yours in Property


Personal Effectiveness [Part 1]

Before we get into the purpose of this blog, a quick word on the property market.

Given the economic turmoil through which we have gone and which has been brought on by nothing less than Politics, the property market has been surprisingly resilient. Prices are subdued in the country other than Cape Town. This is simply a factor of the Cape’s prices being inflated by a perceived quality of life. Magnus Heystek anecdotally says that 45000 families a year are semigrating here. Not sure they can last, the price increases and the semigration, as it is simply a reflection of the unpleasantness of life in other major cities. We trust that things will turn economically, crime and grime will decrease and these demographics return to a more normal state over time. [Right now there is just not enough water in the Cape dams to go around!]. In short, we can expect a deterioration of house price increases this year owing to our poor economy. However, though we probably will no longer have an interest rate decrease, we surely should have stable interest rates even if Moody’s downgrade us by 2 notches. Finally, to that point, hopefully they just do one notch. How different the narrative would have been if not for one arrogant man.

Let’s turn our minds to the subject of this blog and be challenged to be better than we currently are. Personal effectiveness, if you Google it, is actually a branch of positive psychology, and is contained in the works of that, management, leadership and positive thinking. I found that interesting and to be honest, never thought of it in such illustrious terms. With that in mind, I would like to express personal effectiveness in the simple equation of input vs output. Effectiveness is often expressed in terms of doing the right thing vs doing things right. That doesn’t mean we can shortcut many things, but just rather that we challenge our efforts to ensure they are exactly what we need to achieve what we desire. In presenting this series of blogs, I pass no judgement on your effectiveness nor do I stand as the rolemodel. But what I do intend to do is challenge each of us to be better than we have been especially if I hit a nerve that requires your personal development.

Everything has a genesis. Personal effectiveness starts with our bodies. I heard of someone who is “cracking up” recently. Not unusual at my age, but if you want to win the Formula 1, the car needs to be in pristine condition. How much more the race of Life! Key to this is EDES – Eat, Drink, Exercise, Sleep.

Eating and Drinking: I can almost hear the “here we go again” sigh. But these two aspects really affect our personal efficiency and they are probably the ticket to the game. I was talking to a guy the other day and he mentioned a shredded lettuce and kale, carrot, cinnamon and water-based tuna salad. Just before I began my bad thoughts, he said the obvious, “you won’t believe how good you feel 30 minutes later”. Hard on the ears but nonetheless, a hard fact. Rathan Tata has this to say: “ If your food is not your medicine, then medicine will be your food.” And a quote that I received today by Maimonides says, “No disease that can be treated by diet, should be treated with any other means.” He died in 1204 – a seriously long time ago and before Type 2 Diabetes was even known. Unfortunately, and me included, we cannot duck the fact that our food and what we drink has a major impact on how effective we are as human beings and multivitamins and Essentiale don’t do much to help if the fundamentals are not in place. In turn, please don’t diet; just divide your plate into quarters and eat one protein, one starch and two portions of vegetables. Simple advice at which I could come from many angles, but if you want to cut out anything, then cut out the starch. You may not have a “kale and tuna” experience immediately but you will feel better for it.

Exercise: There is no doubt in my mind that exercise covers many areas. Discipline, first of all, especially the one prefixed by “Self-“. Self-Anything is a powerful effectiveness tool – self-control, discipline, development, motivation – when it comes from within, they’re powerful. That feeling that you get when you have woken up, gone for exercise and showered, cannot be beaten. And it’s not important what you do but that you do it. Exercise de-stresses. Not sure about you but I endure stress and I can literally feel the hormonal effects of that. Exercise releases powerful substances, like dopamine, that elevate you. And the good news is that you want more as dopamine is habitual. Crazy but true, that exercise and sleep spur creativity. That thought that you get on a spinning bike could be the breakthrough of the day. And then of course, exercise is good for your heart and bloodflow. Pulsing through you and causing sweat on your skin, blood flow cleans and heals while your muscles strengthen. Make room for this daily spurt of natural substances and you will raise your effectiveness to new levels. It doesn’t take that long but it does take that spoonful of discipline to get it down. Have a Nike moment: Just Do It!

Sleep: Introducing her book, The Sleep Revolution, Ariannna Huffington of Huffington Post fame, says: “We are in the midst of a sleep deprivation crisis and this has profound consequences on our health, our job performance, our relationships and our happiness.  Only by renewing our relationship with sleep, can we take back control of our lives.” I quote her because she is one unbelievable lady and no doubt has experienced both insomnia and the peaceful regeneration, of sleep. So why sleep? Well, it is the place where we fully relax and where even our brain replenishes itself. Having a good sleep naturally also says volumes about our state of mind when we’re awake. Work pressures, relationship issues, overeating and drinking, too little or too much exercise, negative cashflows [need I mention more before I get your issue?] are all the demons of our daily lives. Nothing is perfect, but if these things stop our sleep, they worsen. Ever laid there and wished the sun would rise so you can reaffirm your perspective? I have – and how horrible that worry becomes as it persists in destroying your sleep patterns. Irritable, demotivated, emotionally drained, catastrophizing and just a pain in the backside is what we become to ourselves and those around us. Stop it! Go back to a sound perspective. Reinvent your sleep and cherish it again. Try this for a thought from Karen Salmansohn: “Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You’re strong. You got this. Take it day by day.” Shew, if only I had mentalized that when I was younger! All the cold sweats, panic, sleepless nights, pent up anxiousness….WORRY that stole away my SLEEP. [Don’t you also just love that word “Breathe”?].

Initially, we have covered EDES. Each of us has a story to tell in some or all of these areas. Be careful of reasons and excuses and while you’re there, be careful of Guilt. Like it cousin, Fear, guilt is only a short-term motivator. Sustainable self-motivation, call it Change if you like, does not come from knee jerk reactions. A sense of dignity, coupled with a few habits changing continuously over time, leads to progressive self-growth and sustainable improvement in self-worth. But begin the journey in your area of self-development and allow fun and desire to be bedfellows. There was such a lovely saying when I was young, “Be patient with me, God ain’t finished with me yet.” So begin the journey of a thousand miles with that first step.

In summary, personal effectiveness starts with the human vessel in which resides your being. All the technology in the world cannot do what your body does. It is not the sine qua non of human effectiveness but it is a grand and grandly designed gift to each of us. Look after it and it will no doubt look after you for as long as it is able.

Property is not an easy game. Having the right tools to play is a prerequisite to play.

Yours in Property.