How I made myself anti-fragile to coffee

Nassim Taleb’s book, Antifragile, was a game changer to me. The theory is to set up your life in such a way that not only are you resilient to shocks, you actually benefit when adversity strikes.One of the best examples he uses is debt. Debt makes you fragile. If interest rates go up or the…

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My conclusion after 530,000km of travelling in South Africa

A recent report by Boston Consulting Group compared South Africa to its global peers: Algeria, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Peru, IndonesiaReally? Algeria is a peer of our? Egypt?Apparently our advanced peer group comprises countries with GDP/capita 200% greater than SA and includes Brazil, Chile, Malaysia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey.Anyone who has travelled to any…

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Extracts from Zero to One: Notes on Startups, Or How to Build the Future by Peter Thiel

Start-up thinkingNew technology tends to come from new ventures – start-ups. Small groups of people bound together by a sense of mission have changed the world for the better. The easiest explanation for this is negative: it’s hard to develop new things in big organisations, and it’s even harder to do it by yourself. Bureaucratic…

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4 tips for angel investors in SA

There are two kinds of businesses you can invest in:Those with a variable cost of sale (consulting firms selling hours or retailers selling stock), and those without a variable cost of sale (IP businesses).The former brings returns that are a function of capital employed, whilst generally carrying a lower risk.The latter brings returns that are…

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Entrepreneurs know how to sell to CIOs

The central truth of selling IT products to enterprises is that procurement behavior is driven by career risk.CIO’s are agents, not principals. They make IT decisions on behalf of management and employees.As an employee your prime directive, as Keynes knew so well, is first and last to keep your job. To do this, he explained…

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Entrepreneurs do not die

Many people think that the first step after starting a business is to make a profit. That is not true.The first step after starting a business is ensuring you don’t make a loss. Making losses = going out of business = death (metaphorically speaking). Once you’re sure you can’t die, then you start thinking about making…

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Entrepreneurs don’t delegate the details

Its easy to delegate the small stuff whilst you stick to the big picture, handle relationships, make high-level decisions.It makes sense that your time is not spent doing mundane things. Your time is expensive. You’re important. You must focus on shaking the tree whilst others rake in the leaves.Famous last words for an entrepreneur: “I’m…

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What rental cars taught me about product innovation

Every time I fly to Jhb I get a new rental. Cheapest car with aircon.I’ve driven the Chevy Spark, Hyundai i10, Datsun, Nissan Micra, Peugeot, Toyota, Ford, all of them.I’ve noticed that the worse the car, the more innovative the dashboard.For instance, the Peugeot has a truly inventive aircon setup. But it’s also the worst…

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Antifragile: an excellent book on how to live life

Just finished Antifragile by Nassim Taleb. In a word: Brilliant.I found myself regularly punching the air in silent joy that I’m not alone in the world (although I don’t understand half of what he’s taling about).His main thesis is that we can find ourselves in one of three states: Fragile (you are exposed to adversity,…

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Why VOIP doesn’t work for the poor

  The recent annoucement of WhatsApp Calling got me thinking. If you are receiving a VOIP call you must pay for the data. In other words, unless you’re using an uncapped or free connection, VOIP means both caller and called-party pays, unlike traditional voice for which only the caller pays.   The average data required for…

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How to not panic in SA

I ended 2014 seriously pessimistic about SA’s economy for 2015. It felt as though we were going into a serious recession driven by rising interest rates and a weakening Rand.I was scrambling to make sure all hatches were battened down and we were ready to weather the storm.And then oil prices fell 50%. Suddenly SA’s economy…

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A dummy’s guide to starting a business

Here’s a dummy’s guide to starting a business in South Africa based on what has worked (and not worked) for me over the past 13 years:1. Find an ideaThere is no shortage of ideas out there. The trick is to find the one that plays to your strengths and that has the highest odds of not…

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