Saturday, 24 November 2012

#Change ... Start With Yourself

When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

But, it too, seemed immovable.

As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it. 

And now as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed my self first, then by example I would have changed my family.

From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country and, who knows, I may have even changed the world. 

The above words are said to be written on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in the crypts of Westminster Abbey in London, England.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Call to Action #Catalyst4Change

What is a Catalyst 4 Change? How can I become a Catalyst 4 Change and what difference can I make?

Active citizens make the difference because you do things and don't wait for the bureaucracy to slow you down, in fact you move so fast they don't even realize you are out there.

Quality Education for South Africa is about partnerships, focusing on supporting the principals in the 22000 schools that are struggling in SA. A business leader partners with a principal to support the principal of the school in areas such as the management, community engagement and general upliftment of the moral at the school. More information on the Partners for Possibility can be found at the website.

We then realized that not everyone wants to or has the time to commit to the year of partnership at the schools, and realizing that there are literally millions of South Africans that want to do something we created the #Catalyst4Change project.

The vision of #Catalyst4Change is to create a database of people throughout South Africa who would like to be involved in making a difference, not by simply giving of your time and doing odd jobs but actually by giving of your time in the area of your strengths.

Here are a few examples of how we would utilise your strengths: 

You are a Chef and you would like to give of your culinary skills, we will find a opportunity to give of your strengths, you just need to tell us how much of your time you are willing to volunteer.

You are a frustrated accountant, but you love to teach children, we could involve you in giving extra lessons at a local school.

You are a frustrated corporate lawyer and it is not really your strength, you would of actually liked to be an artist, you let us know and we could get you to collaborate on a mural at the local community school.

The possibilities are endless and the needs are many, however we only want you to give of your strengths the talents that you are highly passionate about, and in this way we know that you will not only make a difference but a truly dramatic difference to your life and the lives of those you touch in the process.

You will notice that this is not a call for money but real active citizenship, because I believe that when you are doing what you are passionate about the resources will follow you.

And to my American and international readers, if you would like to be involved please drop me a line, we will found a creative way to engage your strengths because the children of South Africa are also the children of the world.

Forgive me if you think I have not given enough detail but perhaps you are the person who writes up these type of policies and your strength would be more than welcomed by me.

Interested and would like to find out more? 

Please mail me at, I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

The Social Rules of Engagement - Facebook, Cats and Twitter

Facebook, LinkedIn, Blogs, Pinterest, YouTube (video blog), BBM, WhatsApp and Twitter are communication platforms we are faced with daily, but how do they all fit together and why are there so many different platforms one may ask?

Lets start with Facebook, it's original intention was to connect communities and families together across the world. And if used for this purpose it is extremely effective. So if you have a small group of friends and you would like them to read your brain, know what you eating, who you are intending to sleep with or which cat is your favourite today; Facebook is definitely the platform for you, and your friends can even see a photo of the subject in question. 

With this in mind Facebook should be kept personal and do remember that although we think it is personal it is still on the internet and remains there indefinitely. So your next cat may just be jealous if you posted too many photos of your old cat.

Staying with Facebook it has been said that we actually regressed as a human race by using Facebook, as we have gone back to the time of the Egyptians by writing on walls and worshipping cats.

Okay this is a Blog so I am mindful that it should only have 350 words so I will quickly go through the others before getting to my personal favourite Twitter, remember that if you are not on Twitter you are not on Social Media or so say I.

LinkedIn - is a great site for connecting to all those old business colleagues and the only way to really boost your brand via LinkedIn is to actively participate in the online forums and LinkedIn has millions of them. A word of caution is that LinkedIn is quickly becoming the email platform of Social Media with a good serving of spam from your friends, actually it is permission marketing but your friends have not really cared to find out what you are interested in. Perhaps the name of LinkedIn with change to InterestedIn (hope I get royalties for that advice).

Blogs - are great and they are where you can honestly check out your friends and the people you follow to see if they actually are the type of person whose book you would ultimately buy. Blogs can consist of words, poems and their are a lot of stunning photo or travel blogs out there and this is where Pinterest have captured a good segment of the social platform.

Pinterest - photos, photos, a few infographics and more photos. Pinterest is the site that enables visual sharing, it is voyeurism on steroids and it works for the right brainers in this world like myself. If you need to say something it can be said visually and Pinterest is the place to say it, the more sublime the better. 

You Tube - the video blog, get creative honestly ... We have cellphones with great video cameras in them, oh and remember there is also a microphone - it is not a 8mm Cine movie from the 70's. Include yourself as the commentator, say something interesting, say something controversial but make a movie your friends, not your family would want to watch.

BBM, WhatsApp and Messenger - we live in a fast social world, don't waste your time have endless conversations to friends about things you could actually be telling the world and if you tell enough people you will find those who find you more interesting than the friend who is just humoring you, so shout it out to the world on Twitter.

Twitter brings together all the social platforms and tells the world what you are interested in and not so much what you are doing, Twitter is about giving others a glimpse into your life, a glimpse big enough so that they can read your blogs, see which forums they can collaborate with you on and find out your dreams through the photos you posted on Pinterest. 

I often get asked how do you get followers on Twitter, well be interested in others, there is an old saying "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care" and this rings true for Twitter. So follow the people who are interested in what you are interested in and follow their friends. And then follow people who have followed you back and you will soon find that you have more followers than you ever thought possible. 

People are looking for you, the subjects you are interested in and what you have to say about the subjects they are interested in.

If you think you are being a celebrity by just gathering followers and not following people back, you are just a smuck - that is old school rude, so please respect yourself first and show some courtesy to those who have taken the time to follow you.

Oh I know what you thinking ... The answer is put different interests and categories into lists, that way you only have to read about the traffic before you leave and you only have to find out about a movie before you book your ticket, you get the picture.

See you in the Twittersphere.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Do you have a right to be offended?

Probably the simplest thing we can do is get offended. The question is do you have a right to get offended ?

The simple answer is yes of course you have a right to be offended because no one gets hurt in the process of you getting offended, unless you decide to get even or retaliate, but in the process of getting offended you have every right.

Now we sit in the situation of knowing we right, because we have the right to be offended (we established that in the last paragraph).

But deep down we know that we are wrong, so we often realise that it is a waste of thought processes. Of course if we release it at this stage and forgive ourselves we can continue happily and experience the true victory that comes with releasing these negative thoughts.

But this is when our enemy (yes you guessed it - our very own Ego) jumps in and says No, you can't be weak you need to stand up for your rights and get even.

Stand up for your rights is another interesting concept, because in the first two paragraphs we have determined we are right anyway.

Okay I am having a play with words but can you see how easily we can take things out of proportion?

We have not dealt with why you even got offended and if the other person even knew they offended you. 

Know that in every situation you have the choice to either get offended and journey down that self destructive route called hatred, or simply choose to forgive and move along happily!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Twitter Guidelines

  1. Say everything in one Tweet, if you can’t say it in 140 characters - DON’T Tweet 
  2. Think before saying anything.
  3. Think of the consequences of the message.
  4. Remember the truth can hurt even if it is the truth.
  5. Think about the message you want to convey.
  6. Ask yourself is this my opinion or the opinion of someone else.
  7. Ask yourself if your opinion is valid?
  8. Communicate simple messages, try avoid ambiguous statements. 
  9. Give praise where praise is due, but don’t use flattery.
  10. Remember your spouse, children, friends and family will also read your Tweets.
  11. Avoid culture, race, religion, politics and profanity.
  12. Avoid saying what comedians say, if that is not what you normally say.
  13. Remember things can’t be deleted.

QUOTES ... If you are using others people’s quotes, please use the name of the person who originally quoted it, BUT know that you have shared the opinion of the person who originally quoted it and you will need to substantiate and be accountable for everything that person said as you are in agreement by using the quote. People will often think it was your quote regardless of who said it.

Monday, 12 November 2012

#ThinkBeforeTweeting ... Freedom Of Speech

First and foremost thank you for the incredible response my last blog article called ‘Just another reason you should (not) be on Twitter’ has received, so on the strength of that feedback I have decided to continue this topic which has now become a # Hashtag on Twitter.

The real question is do we actually think before we tweet? Remembering that Twitter is only 140 characters and if you can’t say it in one Tweet you cannot say it on Twitter.

In reality I am probably a lurker of many people on Twitter - some say great things, others have points of view that are not my own and some are not consistent and that makes following difficult, but in some cases I soldier on.

My story today goes around a young lady entrepreneur in the fashion industry, she is hip and happening, one would consider her an A-lister in the social circles, she is inspirational and has a blog that is as diverse as it is fresh. She never fails to come up with the goods and I am sure her following is both young and old. 

Then last night during the St Francis Fires a few people were Tweeting messages similar to this - “St Francis Bay inferno - our thoughts are with the whole community!” and her response to this was as follows; “As if the people whose houses are burning will have time to worry about your thoughts - Idiots”

I respond by “Saying that your Tweets are great but, I am sure that your Tweet about St. Francis Fires will not do wonders for your brand - you should apologize before its too late! 

As I expected I got no response, okay it was late and she could have been in bed already, but I did get the following Tweet from her brother or someone with the same surname who is some corporate lawyer at some large firm in Johannesburg saying “Who must she apologise to? You? Freedom of speech, accept it and deal with it ... “

Needless to say the corporate lawyer deleted his Tweet by the morning.

I had to ask myself could this be the same lawyer that might of advised our two South African friends who were suspended last week; that it is okay to say what you want cause we have freedom of speech. 

No it is not okay to say what you want regardless of what you think your rights are to freedom of speech or what your lawyer says. 

Simply because we are dealing with people, the audiences have disappeared and we need to be accountable not only to the people who listen but also to ourselves. We need to ask what is the authentic message we say when we are insensitive to others - making others feel less at our expense is not freedom of speech it is just downright rude.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Just another reason you should (not) be on Twitter

I chatted to a parent at my sons' school today and he had the need to tell me about the two South Africans who were suspended for Tweeting insensitive remarks this week and were subsequently suspended from their postions of employment. 

His comment to me was 'Richard just another reason you should not be on Twitter', of course he has some idea that I am involved in some way with Social media and he happens to be the CEO of a rather large company in the service industry.

My response was when will people start to realise that your private, social and work life are not three separate parts and that we are living one life and that we remain accountable for what we do at all times.

Social media only amplifies what we are saying, so if you have said it you have said it. As we rapidly move into a world that demands more and more transparency, we must realise that we can no longer hide away and hope things go unnoticed.

Unfortunately being the proverbial Ostrich and putting your head in the ground actually draws more attention to your actions.

Should you ever say something that is out of line or even out of character; don't apologise by saying you we're asked or told to apologise as this week perpetrators did.

The advantage of social media is that you get almost instantaneous feedback. Monitor this and when you start receiving negative feedback that is relevant and will potentially damage your personal brand. Move as quickly as possible to authentically apologise as errors do happen and people are sometimes willing to forgive.

What normally happens is that people normally say things that are offensive and then arrogantly hold the opinion with no intention of apologising until the real damage has been done, then coming with a weak apology that is not authentic will never help.

Social media is extremely effective and simple when you apply  basic manners and realise that we deal with real people and not audiences.

As we move into the more transparent world my advice is always to treat everyone as if they were in a relationship with you, think of them as your spouse and how you would communicate with them; as the old adage goes 'think before you speak' and try to imagine the response before you post or say something.

No one said that the journey would not have challenges along the way, but I can promise you it is exciting - see you in the social arena, called life!

Image courtesy of jscreationzs at

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

#QE4SA Partners for Possibility Information Sessions

We are very excited to let you know that there are now 79 business leaders across South Africa working in partnership with school principals as part of a mutually-beneficial leadership development programme. The programme is life-changing for both the business leaders and the principals and we are constantly surprised by the impacts of these partnerships. This is truly an example of “Walking Together” to achieve change in Education.

We will be launching various Leadership Circles around the country during the next few months. In response to many requests for more information, we will be presenting in Bloemfontein, Johannesburg  and the Helderberg area (Somerset West, Strand & Gordons Bay) during the month of November, and hope that you will be able to join us at either of the sessions below:

Date:                     Tuesday, 13th November
Time:                    15h30 – 18h00 (Registration at 15h30, the session will commence at 16h00)
Venue:                 TBC, Tshwane
Facilitators (in case you are interested but cannot attend the session): Louise van Rhyn ( & Stephanie Dawson-Cosser (

Date:                     Wednesday, 14th November
Time:                    15h30 – 18h00 (Registration at 15h30, the session will commence at 16h00)
Venue:                 Worldsview Academy of Organisational Change, Worldsview House, 150 Kelvin Drive, Woodmead (Tel: 086 133 3262)
Facilitators (in case you are interested but cannot attend the session): Louise van Rhyn ( & Stephanie Dawson-Cosser (

Date:                     Thursday, 15th November
Time:                    12h00 – 14h30 (Registration at 12h00, the session will commence at 12h30)
Venue:                 St Michael's School for Girls, Klerck Avenue, Brandwag, Bloemfontein
Facilitators (in case you are interested but cannot attend the session): Louise van Rhyn ( & Herman Veitch (

Helderberg area (Somerset West, Strand & Gordons Bay)
Date:                     Monday, 19th November
Time:                    15h30 – 18h00 (Registration at 15h30, the session will commence at 16h00)
Venue:                 Somerset House, Drama Street, Somerset West (Tel: 021 851 7164)
Facilitators (in case you are interested but cannot attend the session): Louise van Rhyn ( & Heather de Beer (

If you would like to attend any of these sessions, please book with Melissa at or on 021 913 3507.

5 Minute video about the School @ the Centre of Community Initiative:
For more information about this ground-breaking initiative, please watch this video (it is only 5 minutes):

12 Minute video about Louise van Rhyn’s personal learnings from being a Partner for Possibility:
For an insight into the kind of value that business leaders derive from being a partner to a school principal, please watch this TEDxCapeTownED video: 

We would love to hear your feedback once you have had a chance to watch it!

Please forward this information on to other business leaders who may be interested to get involved in this amazing initiative. We will also be launching Leadership Circles in Pretoria, George, Mossel Bay, Knysna, Hout Bay, Stellenbosch & Durban early 2013 so please let us know if you know people in these cities / towns who may be interested to get involved.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Authentic Legacy

What will people remember you for?  What will they say about you at your funeral?

Frankly they will have nothing really to say about you if you did not live your life authentically, they will only say the things people might think are nice to say about you and what will make others think kindly of you.

No ... No a thousand times no, that is the life of the proverbial grey person, and you were created with millions of exciting colours;  get out their for your own sake and do the things you are passionate about, break the boundaries, challenge the norms and live the unique life you were intended to live.

Become impatiently urgent and passionate about the legacy you will leave ... Don't wait for something to happen, nothing is going to happen unless you make it happen.

See you on the journey ...

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Quality Education 4 South Africa

The School @ the Centre of Community (S@CC) project was founded in 2010 when Louise van Rhyn, became the first business leader to partner with a principal in an effort to improve a school's education outcomes.

Quality Education for South Africa’s (QE4SA) vision is Quality education for all children in South Africa by 2022 through mobilising business, government and civil society.

This project has caught my attention and I have decided to invest my time and commitment into this project.

The schools do truly need to be the centre of our communities, as the focus and our hope for the future is with the children of today - our leaders of tomorrow.
We need to improve and drastically the way we think about education and as South Africans we need to collaborate around a system that will bring us a world class answer and not simply just another catch up. It is my feeling that a new education system needs to be a leadership system preparing children for a future and not some antiquated system that measures performance based on tests.

We need to lay down our own selfish goals that no longer serve us and the communities we live in, each of us needs to realize we are incredibly unique and we each have a very special part to play in changing our beloved country.

I urge you to ask yourself the following question ... ‘What is your dream for education?’ and then engage in the process of change. And if you perhaps asking what is my dream ... I am a RuleBreaker so I would love to see the goal reached by 2017, and I believe we can do it through the power of social media.

Quality Education for SA will be holding info sessions in November and I urge attend to see how you can become involved in the biggest change we will ever see in South Africa. Please visit their website and follow us on Twitter @QE4SA.