What SA Needs Now?
In what will be a series of events co-hosted by John Vlismas and Henley Business School Africa, dubbed Likemind, speakers were asked to comment on five topics: What is needed in SA right now; the questions one should ask oneself; where solutions should be sought; skills to be prioritised; and what lies down the SA road.
The aim of Likemind is to provide a platform of engagement with each speaker, limited to a 10 minutes presentation, on topics that are motivational and thought provoking.
There is scope for the audience to be involved in shaping the event as it unfolds by having input into the panel element at the end. Interaction is welcomed, especially as audience members are encouraged to disagree with speakers.
Erik Vermeulen, who conducts climbing expeditions on Kilimanjaro, said that playing a sport for the sole purpose of winning is exactly the reason why people don’t win. “For climbers we don’t sell the summit of Kilimanjaro, we sell the process of getting there. We never sell summits,” he says.
“For people wanting to achieve goals and succeed in business, they need to focus on purpose and process. This takes the pressure off to win. If the process is right, the correct results will be achieved. This is what is needed in South Africa,” he says. However, he adds, challenges should not be boring, but also, not beyond what can be realistically achieved.
He believes that participants also need to have perceived control and to be able to perceive progress. “When a person finishes one task and two more are loaded on them, they perceive that their task is never completed and tend to loose motivation,” he says.
In addressing the question of what is needed in SA, Vermeulen believes that a different energy is needed, not with what we say but in what we don’t say. “We should never verbalise quitting. This gives others around us an opening to agree with the negativity. People climbing a mountain are not allowed to verbalise their feelings. It gives everyone the opportunity to join in and verbalise negative comments which can destroy an expedition. However, this is what we are doing in South Africa,” he says.
He believes that the question we as a country should be asking is ‘In what way can l assist in solving a particular problem’ rather than complaining about it.
“In addressing this, we need to look at our own environment and provide solutions that relate to our own communities, in other words, how we can add value to our immediate community. Complaining hasn’t helped up to now and won’t help going forward. South Africans need to stop complaining, stop verbalising the problems and start speaking solutions and putting them into action.”
Vermeulen believes that one of the solutions to SA’s problems lies in pre-primary education. “This is where the gap begins. Focus needs to be on education at this level. Good education needs to start at a young age,” he says.
In Vlismas’ presentation he explained: “l have spent many, many hours at events that purport to be insightful and innovative, but the structure and format doesn’t change. We hope to show the value we bring as curators of top speakers is as much about the delivery mechanism as the content. Great staging isn’t just about video walls and huge logistics budgets – it’s about the right chair, at the right time, and flow of events. The Likemind sessions are designed to be comfortable, engaging and easy to consume.”
“The future of Likemind is to grow digitally, not physically, so getting into the 50 seat live event is going to become difficult and sought after,” he says.
Vlismas believes that in solving SA’s challenges we need to reflect on our own ethics. We are all judgemental but need to turn this in on ourselves. We need to move away from judging others. There are rules of engagement, one of which is treating others with respect.
Puleng Makhoalike of Henley Africa explained: “At Henley, we encourage people to disrupt their own lives, meaning that, bringing people into a team who all have similar skills will always produce the same results.”
“We have enough diversity in South Africa to bring different people into our teams from other fields of work. It is proven that teams have a better chance of unleashing their creative potential when there is diversity.”