IRAQ―Preemptive Love Coalition provides lifesaving heart surgeries for Iraqi children in pursuit of peace between communities at odds. By training locals, they are committed to giving Iraqi doctors the tools and expertise they need to serve their own children. This is about dignity over dependence, hope over handouts. For years now, Iraqis have been trained to believe help comes from outside the country, but Preemptive Love is committed to making Iraqis the ultimate heroes as they become the solution their children so desperately need. Journonews caught up with Preemptive Love Coalition’s Communication Director, Matthew Willingham, currently in Iraq.
How did you personally become involved in Preemptive Love Coalition?
I followed their work while in college and admired their ethos and approach to caring for people. I also admired their desire to work where few others were willing to go, so my wife and I visited in 2010 and moved to Iraq shortly thereafter.
What are the biggest challenges facing Preemptive Love Coalition right now?
Working in Iraq is a pretty big challenge in-and-of-itself, even when extremist groups and sectarian militias aren’t destroying the country. Navigating security, partnerships, finances and just dealing with culture in an ever-changing climate like this one can be exhausting, but the vision keeps us going. Of course, for many of our staff there’s also the day-to-day challenge of living in Iraq, which is obviously much different from our home countries.
What keeps you in the job?
Yesterday, I sat with a family who fled ISIS militants in northern Iraq. Their story was harrowing, but they told me they have hope for the first time knowing their son is about to get surgery after 13 years of waiting. He should’ve gotten his operation before he turned four years old. Seeing the family tear up and then sitting with them in the ICU after their boy’s heart was fixed—moments like that keep me going.
What difference is Preemptive Love Coalition making in Iraq?
Great question. There is significant quantifiable impact, like nearly a thousand heart operations for Iraqi children provided, tens of thousands of hands-on training hours logged, and over 3,000 children treated, but it’s the personal stories that get me most excited. There are people here who felt a certain way about another group, maybe considering them an ‘enemy’, but a lifesaving surgery for their child resulted in a new perspective. Watching that happen over and over again is perhaps the most exciting impact for many of our staff. That’s why we intentionally have Shias serving Sunnis, Muslims serving Christians, Americans and Iraqis serving one another, and so on. I absolutely believe we’ve made an impact in countless communities across this country for the better. I’ve seen it many times.
How do local Iraqi doctors and medical staff get to hear about Preemptive Love Coalition and apply to be trained?
How severe is the current heart surgery backlog and what is being done to alleviate it?
It’s severe. The international doctors with whom we work estimate it’s massive, though I’m hesitant to give a number because we don’t have any concrete lists. There is debate over whether or not Iraqi children are born with heart defects more often than in other countries, but the fact still remains: Iraq has almost no pediatric cardiac care to speak of, which means the backlog is growing. The government can only send so many children out of the country for surgery. The real long-term solution (which the government has now recognized through our programs) is training for Iraqi doctors. There are other groups—Italians, Indians, Turks—who are doing something similar to what we started with training. I’d say that’s one of the best things being done to alleviate this problem.
What is the profile of your average patient?
It varies a lot. I’m in a hospital down in southern Iraq right now, and the ICU currently has three infants, a 9 year-old, a 10 year-old, a 16 year-old, and a 2 year-old. Many of these children should have received surgery much earlier, but they’ve just had to wait.
Can you relay a touching success story relating to the type of surgery you perform?
I’ve attached a photo of Zahraa. This little double-chinned beauty is our miracle baby. After being rejected by several other surgeons, our doctors decided to take a chance on her. Zahraa has two very complex heart defects. Just having one of these defects would be difficult to repair, but our partner surgeon, Dr. Bill Novick, successfully operated on her after a 12 hour-long procedure. Local doctors are still in awe of it because they assumed she had no chance. She still needs another operation, which will be risky, but several here call her ’the fighter’ because she just keeps defying the odds. She’s lived in the hospital for most of her life now, and she’s become like family to many of the ICU staff. But we still look forward to the day when she can finally go home.
In what ways can someone reading this article practically help Preemptive Love Coalition to continue its work?
Donate. I know that’s blunt, but it’s just reality: surgeries continue happening here because people around the world chose to give. Iraq is in a crisis, and with the government reforming and figuring out finances, we’ve made an urgent appeal to our supporters for donations to supplement what the government hasn’t been able to provide. There is still a lot of need. If you want to be a part of remaking Iraq one child at a time, please donate.
MARY-ALICE BRADY is CEO and Founder of mosaicHub,a dynamic business community connecting entrepreneurs with the pieces necessary to create great businesses. She was recently elected by The Boston Business Journal as one of 2012’s class of 40 under 40 honorees. She spoke with JournoNews.
JN: What inspired you to start mosaicHUB?
M-AB: My inspiration came from several sources and gradually built over years of practicing law. While at a law firm and then at a financial services company I saw many smart, driven people slowly lose their passion and become complacent. I am not saying everyone loses their motivation as a corporate employee but there are many people sitting behind desks miserable because they don’t like what they are doing and don’t see any other options. They think they are too old or have too many responsibilities to do something different or they just don’t know where to start. I then spent several years at a venture capital firm working with early stage entrepreneurs.
I saw their excitement and vision, but also saw many wasting time on things that shouldn’t be that time-consuming. I wanted to see these entrepreneurs succeed, as well as encourage more people to explore entrepreneurship as a way to follow their true passion.
JN: Love the name – mosaicHUB – How did you come up with it?
M-AB: Choosing a name is hard. I wanted a simple, easy to understand name. But, these days, so many names are taken. I spent a lot of time trying to find the right name. As soon as I had something I thought was perfect, it was either taken or my friends gave it a thumbs down. When I was travelling in Greece and heard how the early mosaics were made by incredibly resourceful people from tiny bits of clay and other scraps, I immediately thought of today’s entrepreneurs, the most resourceful people I know. It just fit. And the hub is where it all comes together. Because so many people have asked about our name, I put the story on our About page.
JN: Take us through the types of Start-up Tools mosaicHUB provides.
M-AB: Here are our primary tools:
Answers: Our Answers feature provides a venue for rich content-driven discussions amongst entrepreneurs, service providers, mentors and investors.
Resources: Our Resource Center contains articles, videos and other valuable business resources to obtain more in-depth information on a particular topic.
Service Provider Search: Through our Service Provider Search members can quickly find service providers to help them with various business needs.
Exchange: With our classified ad and listing feature, members can easily request help with a project or offer a deal, job or other item.
Pitch-It!: Members can promote their startups (video examples below) to potential customers and investors and get valuable feedback from other members through our Pitch-It! feature.
JN: mosaicHUB also provides free advice and support for aspiring entrepreneurs. What do you find are the more common types of advice that members tend to post on the site?
M-AB: The great thing about our community is that we bring together entrepreneurs, service providers, mentors and investors so our members can get advice from different perspectives. For example, I recently asked a question on web hosting platforms and received great advice from other entrepreneurs on what worked best for them. These are real people who have dealt with this exact struggle so I really value their advice. We also have questions around social media, legal matters and other specialized topics and many of our members who are experts in these areas have provided very helpful and reliable advice.
JN: Best lessons learnt about starting an online business?
M-AB: To start with a minimal viable product (MVP) and listen to your community.
I get tons of advice and suggestions, from users, my team, casual visitors and potential investors, but the best advice is from people’s actual behavior. What people think they want and what they actually use can be very different. At first, I would go off and build something because I thought it would be useful or because people told me they wanted it. I recall one feature a potential investor told us would make the product much more valuable. Well, we went off and built it and our members didn’t use it much. I also have been surprised by features that we didn’t spend much time on being very popular.
JN: Describe the typical profile of a mosaicHUB member.
M-AB: There really isn’t a typical profile. We have entrepreneurs focusing on technology startups, consumer product companies and service businesses. We have experts from large law firms, accounting firms and advertising agencies offering their expertise. While a majority of our members are currently from the US given we launched here, we are attracting members from around the world.
JN: How does the Community-driven ranking system work?
M-AB: This is still a work on process. The challenge with an online community as it grows is to maintain the high quality. To help ensure great content we have implemented a voting system where our members can vote up or down questions, answers and resources so that the best materials are at the top. We believe that the community is in the best position to help drive good content.
JN: Why do you think entrepreneurs love to help others succeed?
M-AB: Because entrepreneurs are a very special breed. We are passionate people and are always looking to the future. We see possibilities and get excited to think creatively. Most of us decided to start our own businesses because we saw that things could be done better, more efficiently. Because we focus on tackling new problems or new ways of doing things we see reinventing the wheel as a waste of time, so if we can share knowledge to help others get on to bigger things more quickly we are eager to help.
JN: Your team comes from different business backgrounds. How does this mix of skills contribute to mosaicHUB’s success?
M-AB: We are diverse in age and skills. Having a range in age is valuable since our community includes members from a broad age range. People in different age groups interact differently online. It’s important to develop a site that caters to this broad age range and having team members with different ages helps tremendously with product development. I also come from a more structured, professional background and tend to be more formal online, but having team members who come from a less formal background helps keep the site both professional and fun. Again, it’s all about striking a balance to appeal to a broad range of users and having a diverse team helps with finding this balance.
JN: Aside from financial gain, what success-factors do you value the most when leading a business?
M-AB: Creating value. The best thing about being an entrepreneur is that you can create something amazing. Building a community where people share knowledge and make starting and growing businesses easier is incredibly satisfying.
If we can share knowledge to help others get on to bigger things more quickly we are eager to help.
JN: How do you and your team spend your free time outside working hours?
M-AB: For me, I am usually running, biking, skiing or doing some other fun outdoor activity, usually with my husband. Stephen is usually long boarding, Chris likes biking and they both like watching sports, which leaves me clueless when they catch up on the latest sporting events in the office.
JN: What business book has impacted you? Why?
M-AB:The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber. The balance between the entrepreneur, manager and technician really resonated with me. I started my career as a technician, then became a manager and finally an entrepreneur. You need all three personalities when running your own business and I sometimes find it hard to strike the right balance. This book helps remind me to keep rebalancing, as well as to work “on” the business, rather than “in” the business.
JN: When are you at your most creative?
M-AB: When running. It’s time when I can really think with no distractions. I also tend to think more about the possibilities as opposed to obstacles when I am running.
JN: What character traits do you admire in a leader?
M-AB: Patience and perseverance. As a leader you have a lot of responsibility to tackle big problems as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s easy to view everything as a sprint, particularly in today’s fast paced world. I admire those leaders who can see through all the day-to-day fire drills and keep the big picture in mind.
JN: Favorite food and restaurant?
M-AB:Toro Restaurant in the South End of Boston. It’s a fun Spanish tapas bar. I love trying a variety of foods and it’s easy to order a lot of different things at a tapas bar.
JN: Best holiday destination?
M-AB:Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii. My husband and I love to travel and we’ve been fortunate enough to have visited many amazing places, but Hanalei Bay is my favorite thus far. I love this quaint little village, the people who live there and the local traditions.
JN: What’s the next BIG thing for you and the team at mosaicHUB?
M-AB: Our focus is to build a large, valuable mosaicHUB community where entrepreneurs connect from around the world and share their knowledge, advice and experiences to help more people launch and grow successful ventures.
JN: Favorite Quote?
“Life is a journey, not a destination” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
GRAPHIC DESIGNER, VANESSA ROWE, is the founder of The Low Flying Duck, a blog that captures her everyday experiences living with Coeliac disease. JournoNews spoke with her.
Why the name, The Low Flying Duck?
The name of the site originates from the very Australian and irreverent saying: “Iʼm so hungry I could eat the crotch out of a low flying duck”. It was suggested by one of my best friends after a couple of cocktails during a Japanese degustation meal. I now privately refer to her as Mother Duck. I donʼt think she minds.
What prompted you to set up the blog?
I set up the Low Flying Duck to share my new experiences of living with Coeliac disease, which I was diagnosed with in 2009. Initially I found the diet left me feeling quite sad and frustrated – particularly when I was eating out. Iʼd eaten whatever I wanted for my entire life – so to remove some much loved parts of it was difficult. The moment I started writing about the experience and enjoying the creative process of taking interesting food pics, my perspective on being Coeliac changed. Also itʼs provided a welcome break for my partner who was hearing way too often and too much about my insides and diet.
What sort of response have you had? Were you surprised at the interest?
Iʼve had an amazing, positive response to the site, and yes, I was surprised at the level of interest. People are sharing such great stories, recipes and ideas with me – itʼs brought a whole new depth to my own life, and hopefully I can inspire and share in return.
What inspires you?
Creativity. A desire to learn. Motivated people – in any profession. Passionate people. My family. Eating simple fresh stuff. Eating complicated stuff. Music – every kind everywhere.
Have you ever had a really bad restaurant experience?
I consider myself very lucky, as Iʼve yet to have a really bad restaurant experience. And the number of ʻbadsʼ could be listed on one hand. Over the years Iʼve kept something akin to a food diary/sketchbook – where Iʼve done quick food reviews. Either after an amazing, or in a few cases – amazingly average experience. I just found an entry in one of these diaries that just said DINNER DISASTER, with the word ‘disturbing’ after it. Followed by ʻnot even worth describingʼ. I canʼt recall what I ordered or where it was – but thinking about it – it must have been really bad to warrant that damning review.
What sublime meal comes to mind?
This is such a great question and has me mentally leafing through the years to pull out memories of sublime meals. And there have been many. The Char-grilled salt-crusted rib eye at the Icebergs in Bondi is up there in my top special occasion meals. Itʼs the kind of meal you starve yourself for all day, so you can dedicate your full stomach to it. The meat was melt in your mouth tender, and served with their luxurious mash – definitely equating to sublime. Iʼm not sure if itʼs still on the menu, but the recipe is in Maurice Terziniʼs cookbook ʻSomething Italianʼ. I will always have a permanent food memory of this dish.
Favourite things to do?
Projects. I love projects. Creative ones. The usually involve photography, design or food. I also love feeling healthy and fit. I’m a late bloomer runner – I started when I turned 40. I figure just go for it whilst the knees and body can hack it. Actually a run followed by a jump in the ocean is pretty favourite. I also love great coffee, watching my kids do impromptu dance performances in my high heels, reading, a good chat, watching sunrises/sunsets, being in the ocean and my regular weekly social rituals with my beautiful buddies and family.
Your photographs are beautiful – photography is clearly a passion?
Thank you! Yes – I have loved photography since I was a teenager – which was back in the dark ages I mean dark room age. My interest in photography gets greater every week – there is so much to learn and so much great material accessible now. I am lucky to have an amazing photographer as one of my best friends – who has helped and inspired me. He also has secretly managed to guide my partner towards great camera gear as birthday and Christmas presents – something I am very grateful for.
Holiday destination wish list?
• France (some hopeful planning underway)
• The Nordic countries – never been but always wanted to.
• NZ – also never been (itʼs so close and beautiful) and need to go.
• New York – I might have a mid-life crisis soon if I donʼt get there. Being in transit there doesn’t count.
• Hawaii – I’ve been told I need to go. Sounds good to me.
• Bali – I’ve been so many times but for complete relaxation, beautiful surroundings and shopping, I always love it.
Run, swim, draw, read, shoot, cook, eat, dance. Oh and sustained, unbroken sleep is a hobby Iʼm working towards as my kids get older.
Where to next?
Short term Iʼm focusing on learning as much as I can about gluten free cooking, food photography and blogging. And eating outside my postcode. Long term – wherever the Duck will take me.
JournoNews chats with Chris Griffiths, CEO of ThinkBuzan and author of ‘GRASP The Solution’, a refreshingly pragmatic approach to making decisions and solving problems creatively.
What prompted you to write ‘GRASP The Solution’?
Essentially, it was a lifelong study into modern brain based strategies that, bit by bit, led to my desire to write the book. Over the years, I’ve applied strategies based on how the brain works in all the companies I’ve been involved in.
For instance, at Birchfield, where our educational products were in 80% of UK secondary schools, we didn’t focus just on the content, we focused on the delivery of the content to students and the impact it had on the brain.
The more I delved into the subject and tried out different strategies, the more I came to realise that, while there are lots of tools out there that can help you be more creative and productive, if you happen to use them in the wrong context or frame of mind, they aren’t anywhere near as effective as they should be.
I liken it to a world-class chef. A great chef can have all the best utensils and equipment in the kitchen but without the right ingredients, they aren’t going to be able to create something special. So ‘GRASP The Solution’ came about as a way of putting things into a context and looking at what stops people being creative as well as what makes people be creative.
Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t realise it’s the barriers they impose on themselves that prevent them from coming up with really great ideas and no matter how many tools they use, if they’re using them in the wrong way, in the wrong mindset, they aren’t going to work!
Describe the essence of the book.
The whole spirit of this book is about providing both the context and application for thinking creatively. You need both elements to solve problems and make decisions innovatively using optimal brain processes.
In brief, the book is there to help you deliver what I call ‘practical creativity’. It’s about putting a system and process behind creativity so you can come up with the right ideas and solutions to your challenges, and actually make them happen in the real world.
Give us some examples of how a company can sadly be left behind by ‘insisting on doing things the way they’ve always done them’.
Well, if you do things the way you’ve always done them, people say you’ll get what you’ve always got. But today this no longer counts. I believe if you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll actually get left way behind. The fact is – innovation doesn’t come from doing things the same way.
When people and companies base their forward direction on previous experience, and experience that’s worked well, they’re not necessarily innovating. If they solve a problem in the same way that they solved it before – that’s great, they’ve solved the problem. But have they moved forward? Have they innovated? Have they created something new?
Real success in business relies on you doing things differently in a way that customers like and respect. A new design, a new product, a new initiative doesn’t come from doing things the same way. Look at how Apple was able to use its creativity and design to become the largest capitalised technology company in the world. Apple didn’t follow the norm, it went after the ‘new and different’ with spectacular results.
In your engagements with business owners around the world, what are the main challenges they face in successfully getting their message about their products and services ‘out there’, especially now that society is saturated with multi-channel media – online, in print and TV.
Creativity is fundamentally about doing things differently so that you stand out from the crowd. I believe the main challenge that companies face today is a standardisation in pricing and product worldwide.
For example, if I’m going to buy a television, I can choose from hundreds at the top range of pricing and I can choose from hundreds at the bottom range of pricing. So, pricing itself isn’t what will dictate what I buy. Even if I’m aiming to buy one of the lowest cost TVs, because I’ve got a lot to choose from, I’ll pick the one which stands out, for whatever reason that it happens to stand out.
Pricing won’t differentiate you, but good design will. Good design comes through creativity and creativity comes through applying an effective system and process, such as the one I put forward in my book – the GRASP The Solution system.
Which industries, in your opinion are using multi-channel media to spread their ideas and messages successfully? Why?
The industry that immediately comes to mind is technology. Technology companies are doing a great job of using multi-channel media, especially the internet to get their messages across. Again, Apple stands out as an example of a company which uses different forms of marketing – TV, websites, social media etc – in a simple yet strikingly innovative and coordinated way.
Do you reckon most companies don’t devote enough time and energy to coming up with fresh ideas on how to do things differently?
There are lots of surveys coming out that reveal creativity and new ideas as a top priority in business. For instance, in a global IBM study of 1,500 CEOs and senior executives in 2010, creativity was identified as the most crucial factor for future success.
Another survey by the Boston Consulting Group in 2009 showed that two-thirds of senior executives placed innovation as one of their top three strategic priorities. However, when asked to rank the initiatives they were most happy with in terms of return on investment, innovation didn’t figure anywhere! It was one of their top priorities but they couldn’t deliver on it.
I think this is because executives have this idea that they can just be innovative, they don’t actually have a system or process in place to structure their innovation approach. They’re not actively committed to it.
Over the years, as you’ve worked with teams from businesses around the world, how much time on average do the successful ones spend brainstorming to come up with that ‘killer idea’?
An interesting question and the answer is simply ‘not enough’. In a lot of businesses, people aren’t allowed the freedom to think or daydream. They’re not taught how to be creative. They’re not taught how to get rid of the barriers that stop them being creative.
They’re focused on productivity and speed nearly 100% of the time. It’s all reactive thinking. Many business strategies at the moment are about speed, reacting to events, fixing problems and not actually strategising. I don’t think this is right.
Is business a sprint or a marathon? I personally think it’s more of a marathon. You’ve got to pace yourself and think things through, figure out where you’re going and how you’re going to get there. Most people in business spend their time sprinting, yet one thing’s for sure – you’ll certainly never win a marathon by sprinting!
Give us an example of a group of people you know who totally transformed their thinking to come up with a totally different way of doing things – what did they do before that wasn’t working and what steps did they take to change things?
A while ago, we consulted for a really successful PR and Marketing company, one of the larger ones based in London. I found it fascinating to observe how a group of very different kinds of people actually operated. You had some people who could come up with ideas really quickly – they wouldn’t do any analysis, they would just go with their gut feel and in the end they spent a lot of time backtracking.
There were others who struggled to generate any ideas. And there were still others who were mis-matchers, all they could see were problems and obstacles. It was a very varied group but by putting together a system to help them facilitate their creativity based on GRASP principles, they were able to successfully and easily create new strategies, not just for themselves, but for their clients and customers.
The individuals who attend our ThinkBuzan Licensed Instructor (TLI) courses often have many realisations as they go through their training. There was one particular person who really wanted to set up his own business but he was becoming frustrated because he didn’t know what kind of business to start up. Within two days of working with him, he pretty much created a whole business plan and was beginning to move it forward.
What keeps your own thinking fresh and stimulated?
Focused daydreaming. And making sure I’m in the right environment at the right time to do my thinking. If I want to come up with really good, useful ideas I pay close attention to how I’m thinking, taking care that I’m not being reactive or selective in my thoughts.
You travel a lot, consulting and speaking across the globe, what do you do to maintain a sense of ‘balance’ whilst you’re on the road?
Exercise, exercise, exercise. And I do a lot of thinking. I like that I get time to think when I’m travelling. I tend to travel in silence – my phone is always switched off. It doesn’t matter whether I’m on a train, a plane or a car, I like to use that time to think.
As CEO of ThinkBuzan, what do you believe are the crucial qualities required to lead teams effectively?
To lead teams effectively you’ve got to have several different qualities. I think the leaders of the 21st century are those that can really innovate, therefore they can be stronger leaders with respect to taking a company forward in its strategy. I think a good leader has to be a good follower too. How can you lead effectively if you don’t know how to follow?
A good leader has to gain the respect of their team. One of the things that many business owners or senior managers don’t realise is the positive power of thinking about their team’s thinking. At ThinkBuzan, we try and make the environment for people as enjoyable and relaxed as possible.
We want people to feel not like they have to come to work but that they want to come to work. The more you do to create a better environment for your team, the happier they are, the more productive they are, the more efficient they are, and the more successful your company will be. It’s common sense, but sadly common sense isn’t all that common.
As a leader, I like to work with friends and it goes without saying that people enjoy working with friends. At times a leader has to be dictatorial but most of the time I think they shouldn’t be. You get better results by treating people like people and letting them run with the ball.
Things you love about Cardiff Bay, where ThinkBuzan is based?
Being near the water. I like the fact that Scott Harbour where we’re situated is where Captain Scott of the Antarctic set off on his expeditions.
Favourite overseas city to work in or visit?
I love visiting Singapore. It’s a great example of how a creative and innovative mindset leads to the success of a nation.
One thing people might not know about you is …
That I’ve studied various martial arts for 23 years. I find a lot of commonality between the study of martial arts and the study of business and the mind.
Work aside, what do you love to do to unwind?
Family, food, exercise, martial arts and learning.
The United States. I was born there so I love to visit whenever I can.
My on-going goal is to help millions of people stop to think about their thinking and help them become more productive.
We are what we think and if I can do my little bit to help people think better, then they will be better. The more we can innovate, the more we can progress. This is something we need to get across in our schools and to our children. It upsets me that schools still don’t teach children how to innovate or how to create.
We see creativity continuing to diminish with age and this doesn’t have to happen. I hope to play a part in changing this.
JournoNews caught up with born-and-bred Durbanite and well-known cricket coach, Andrew Shedlock, who runs the highly successful Shedders Cricket Academy in Durban North, KZN, South Africa. The Academy specializes in cricket coaching for all age groups from beginners to Club and even Provincial Players.
What does Shedders Cricket Academy do?
Shedders Cricket Academy caters for age groups from six years old onward. With the school boys I mainly concentrate on one-on-one coaching and this is for all ability levels, from beginners to boys that are more advanced. Another branch of my Academy is for boys who have left school and they spend a year with me. Here the emphasis is to improve the cricketing skills with the ‘hope’ of going onto play provincial cricket. They complete a Level 1 coaching course as well as an umpiring and scoring course. During cricket season they also coach a team at the school where my Academy is based, Northwood High School.
What major lessons have you learnt running your own business?
Major lessons I have learnt in my profession is that although the youngsters are different in character, ability, skill etc., they all require the same amount of attention, motivation and encouragement. Coach or teach each boy with passion and always remember the ones with less skill and ability are as enthusiastic as the better ones. My motto is that after each session that a boy has with me he must go away with the feeling that he cannot wait to come back to ‘Shedders’.
How do you manage to balance family and business commitments?
Balance between family and work commitments is sometimes difficult because of the hours I work. I also coach the 1st team at Northwood High School and a Club. During cricket season I can have a seven-day week with a school game on Saturday and Club game on a Sunday. During the week bar Friday, I sometimes only get home after 7.30pm. I make sure that during the week I have a time slot available for my son Ross because sometimes in my profession one can get caught up so often in other peoples’ children and you forget about your own. One thing I make sure of is that I try never to miss any of my kids’ school activities. I have a very understanding and wonderful wife (she is also a teacher by profession) so I am very fortunate that they understand my work.
You’ve seen Durban grow over the last few years, what do you love about living there?
Durban is a wonderful place to live, close to the sea and the mountains (although I don’t spend enough time at the mountains) Summers are warm and winters are mild. Always been a Durban boy!!
Favourite holiday desitnation?
We are ‘locals’ at Pumula Beach Resort, down the South Coast of KZN. It’s such a relaxing and enjoyable place to be on holiday – the kids love it as they are entertained 24/7. One can just relax and get away from the hustle and bustle of work. The management and staff are friendly, the setting is stunning and the food is unbelievable.
What restaurants would you say are ‘a must’ in Durban? Why?
Scoozi’s because they cater for the kids. Gabby’z – for the food and the vibe. These two are my favourite – I am a funny guy – find something I like and stick to it. My wife always says I must ‘experiment’ more.
What’s a normal ‘day at the office’ for you?
Normal day at the office for me is: take kids to school first thing in the morning, then I go to gym. Start coaching at 9.30am and usually have about an hour break between 12.00pm and 1.00pm. Back to coaching usually around 1.00pm and finish anytime from 6.00pm -7.30pm in the evening, depending on the season i.e. summer or winter. Summer is cricket season, so the hours are longer. During winter I also coach on a Saturday morning but in summer, my weekends are taken up by cricket matches, for school and club.
What or who inspires you?
My love and passion for my work inspires me. I can say this with all honesty – there is never a day when I wake up and not want to go to work because I don’t enjoy what I do. To work with young children and teenagers must be the most rewarding profession anyone can wish for. When it involves sport and being active, there’s nothing better. To see youngsters improve and perform gives me the greatest thrill. I just enjoy working with kids, no matter what age, ability, skill etc.
What do you do to keep fit and healthy?
I try and train every day before I start coaching – used to enjoy my running but injuries have finally caught up with me. Now I enjoy my spinning.
Any hobbies, things you enjoy outside work?
I have always enjoyed my horse racing from a very early age but have never been a gambler, in fact I don’t gamble (which a lot of people find strange with my passion and knowledge of horse racing). I have always enjoyed the thrill of the sport; I think the horse is an amazing animal. I am a huge Sharks follower. Other than that being involved in sport all my life, I am a big follower of all sports.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I am very happy and content with my work at the moment. I would like to see my Academy grow but that will come with hard work. I have a lovely family, a great job and would not change it for anything at the moment. If the opportunity did arise for me to coach at a higher level, I would definitely jump at the opportunity.
Jeremy and Kim Barty took time out of their schedule to chat with Journonews about the on-line launch of MyCube4Change.
How would you describe MyCube4Change?
MC4C is a life-skills tool that helps you change, learn and grow. It is an easy to use framework that can be used in all types of change. The framework is relevant whether you’re changing what you do, such as creating a new habit, to deeper forms of change, like changing who you are.
What’s your biggest challenge in the business right now?
We have completely changed our strategy, from a traditional consulting business using the MC4C methodology to an on-line business. It’s wild out there. Biggest challenge is to get to know the internet landscape – might be easier if we were 18 year old geeks, but we’re 40-something non-geeks.
In the past we have used the product successfully in corporate change. We are now making the tool available on the internet to everyone. So new business strategy to new markets – that’s today’s challenge.
What industries/backgrounds do your clients come from?
The thing about MC4C is that it’s relevant to any change situation and any industry. It is used at work and in life. We have clients from the financial services, mining, medical aid and sports sectors and individuals who come from all walks of life and industries. In the past we’ve used it specifically in corporate change (mergers, culture change and large-scale change management projects) and now as we expand to new markets, we choose to use it in the contexts of marriages, personal growth and practical spirituality.
Can you give some practical examples of how people have been helped through using the MC4C system?
We have some great stories: one of the biggest realisations for many people, is what you value is what you do so:
– one woman used the grid to stop smoking
– an over-ambitious entrepreneur sold off some of his business interests and focused on what was important to him
– another woman used the grid to manage an abusive marriage. Thankfully the tool helped her set boundaries and they are back together in a different space
– an in-house consultant increased her productivity significantly and went on to win an award for making the greatest contribution to the financial success of the business
– many working mothers have reviewed their business hours and altered their schedules to accommodate more time with their children.
What sort of feedback do people give after attending your workshops?
The incredible thing about the grid is that it is so broad and robust that almost everyone has a realisation, an ‘Ah-a’ moment, or is challenged to do something differently. What people really enjoy is, once they have learnt the basic content, they can use it again and again, in any change situation.
You recently launched MyCube4Change on-line. What’s the response been like?
Great thanks to Google Ads and our newly forged adventures into blogging. We have a vision to have a million people using the website to assist them with change in all spheres of their life. We have some way to go.
How well do you think South African companies manage change in general?
Change is difficult wherever you are in the world. In business, change is often forced on people, so the level of choice and engagement is often diminished. Because of the political change in our country in the early 90’s, change has been an ongoing and prevalent theme in SA. How successful we are is debatable.
What lessons have you or business associates learnt in leading others through change?
We have learnt that change is painful and we live in a pain avoidance society, where it’s easier to take a tablet than embrace your change. People are under incredible pressure to perform in a global market. We have learnt that choosing something different takes courage.
As a couple, what BIG thing do you do to ensure work commitments don’t creep into family life?
This is a big challenge for us, we work together and we work from home. Our vision is integration, but its a constant battle. In MC4C, what you value is what you do, so daily we try and make space for family, walks in the forest, we eat together, spend time in spiritual communion. MC4C helps us to hold that – as the developers, we need to walk the talk.
Kim – I am getting better with managing my time around our daughter’s schedule. I used to be a workaholic, so working all the time is easy for me. I now have to yank myself away from my laptop to ensure we’re doing family stuff.
Jeremy – I enjoy the integration of work and home being so inter-linked. How I manage this is by making space, which is a discipline for family and recreation and personal space.
Best advice your mum or dad gave you?
Jeremy – my dad gave me the three T’s – truth, trust and tolerance.
Kim – I think my parents instilled a good work ethic and encouraged us to be generous with our gifts, talent and time.
One thing people might not know about you?
Jeremy – I’m an undercover baker in pursuit of the perfect loaf. Aside from making bread almost every weekend, I’d love to marry bread-making and change in a workshop, there are some great metaphors and parallels.
Kim – I was hi-jacked on an Air India plane in the Seychelles when I was 16. It’s great material for dinner parties.
Favourite place to unwind in Cape Town?
Jeremy – Kalk Bay or out in the ocean surfing
Kim – Kalk Bay or walking on the mountain.
Best holiday destination?
Jeremy – This changes daily, but today I’d love to go and sing taize in France. Any day I’m keen for a new surf break.
Kim – Gosh that would be difficult – just mention a plane, train or automobile and I’m on it, wherever it’s going. But if you asked me where I’d like to go now, I’d say the Cinque Terre in Italy.
What do you do to keep fit and focused?
Jeremy – I do thirty minutes of silence daily which keeps me sane. I love walking in the forest and on the beach and I surf whenever I can.
Kim – I try and run a couple of times a week and go to Pilates when I don’t forget the classes. We love walking on the mountain as a family, so we do that a few times a week with our Jack Russel Coco Bella.
What or who inspires you?
Jeremy – I am inspired by people of courage, bringers of change. I am inspired by my Artist, Gardener and Maker.
Kim – God, views, creativity and interesting people.
Where to next?
To live fully present, to take more risks and learn to live loved. PS. Get a million people onto the website.
Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
I live in Oakland, California. If I jump in my car and if there’s no traffic on the Bay Bridge, I can be in downtown San Francisco in 15 minutes. I’ve lived in Oakland for nearly eight years, in an apartment with a view of Lake Merritt, which is an urban lake that has a resident bird population and seasonally, migrating birds (flocks of pelicans right now). You can walk around the lake in just under an hour, fast pace, which lots of people do.
Before Oakland, I lived for a couple of years in Walnut Creek, which is about half an hour east. An affluent, clean little city but pretty bland. I moved there for a job (editor of a regional magazine) and left soon as I lost it. Before that, I lived in the town of Sonoma in Northern California wine country. I also went there for a job (senior editor on a glossy international wine country living magazine). Sonoma is a historic town and a tourist destination. I didn’t mind living there. You really saw the seasons reflected in the vineyards and there were a number of unique and interesting characters.
The first four or five years I was in the United States, besides two extended trips back to South Africa, I lived in San Francisco, which pretty much has everything, as cities go. Good vibe, scenic, lots going on. Out of all the places I’ve lived, I like Oakland best. It’s one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the United States with a large African American population, which is one of the reasons I think I feel at home here. As a white person, you’re often in the minority.
What made you choose the US and what do you love about living there? Dislike?
Coming here was pretty random. I arrived in San Francisco with a one year return ticket. That was 17 years ago. I had been thinking of going to London for a year for a sort of personal sabbatical, mentioned it to a friend who’d left her husband in Jo’burg for a man in San Francisco, and she said, “Why don’t you come here and we can do some work together?” I’d left Cosmo in South Africa (I was Durban bureau chief for them for five years) for a job at the Indaba Foundation, been laid off from the Indaba when they disbanded, and was seriously searching for an interesting new job or career direction.
What do I like about living here?
That I can go where I like and feel safe is probably Number One. And that Obama is President. I like the diversity of this area, racial and cultural. I like the farmers markets; the fact that I could eat at a different restaurant every night for several lifetimes; and that I’ve made friends with some pretty interesting people who like to sit around the table, eat well, drink wine and talk shit. Very South African. There’s lots to like, really.
What I don’t like?
The “hate politics” and rumor-mongering of the right. It’s scary stuff. That I am so far from my family — my mom and my daughter. That I am so far from my South African friends. Many are still in Durban; others are scattered around. Being an only child with a very small family, my friends were super-important to me in South Africa and I miss them. And 17 years later, I’m still looking for that new career direction.
You were a well known journalist in South Africa — how difficult was it to settle in a new country and how did you make inroads in your profession?
The plan to work with the friend never materialized. Before I came here, I’d been going regularly to the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo and ended up moving into the San Francisco Zen Center after about three months. I lived there, as a Zen student, for nearly four years, interrupted by two extended trips back to South Africa. I probably sewed 100 zafus (meditation cushions) and spent many days sitting on them. It was the right place to be spiritually, but not professionally.
Workwise, I had hoped to get into something broader and more challenging than magazines. But people want to fit you in a box and the first job I got, which I found listed in the Sunday paper, was as a senior editor on a super-glossy high end wine country living magazine. The magazine folded after I’d been there a year. There were subsequently other magazines and newspapers. I also worked in corporate communication for a while for a huge multinational. And I spent two years putting in sweat equity as editor of a magazine with a Nigerian publisher, who turned out to be the stereotypical Nigerian rip-off artist.
It’s been an adventure but I’ve never found the buzz or satisfaction I got working on newspapers and magazines and in other jobs in South Africa.
I trained and certified as a life coach about six years ago. More recently, I have been learning as much as I can about the web, doing lots of blogging and online work, and have started to do some coaching and consulting around social media.
I would say I haven’t settled in well professionally here. I’ve had lots of jobs but none of them have been really satisfying. I like to do work that is connected somehow with South Africa. I’ve just started writing about South Africa, along with culinary travel, for examiner.com, a national website that pays a pittance, but it’s fun being able to write and publish what I like. Yes, I can do it on my own website and blog, but I don’t have the readership.
I still find my South African friends and former editors and colleagues the people I feel closest to and most supported by. It’s funny, but I do find that friends who came to this country with partners seem to fit in better, and do better, than the women I know who came here alone.
How accepting were locals?
I guess pretty accepting. Although I’ve never felt really and truly home here and I don’t think I ever will.
What do you miss most about South Africa?
My friends and my family. Being closer to my mom and my stepdad, in Durban. I talk to my mom every week at least once, and usually for at least an hour. I miss being closer to my daughter and her husband and, would you believe (I can’t) four children. I thought she would be living overseas and I’d be living in South Africa. What happened there? I miss the support — people who knew me through thick and thin and when I did really crazy and stupid things and who still like me and accept me. People I have a history with. South Africa — I think if you’re from there, you’ve had it. You’re just committed to always being South African.
What is your favourite holiday destination?
Ideally, I would like a small apartment on the Durban beachfront and to spend three or four months of the year there. I like Durban for holidays. I also like going to new places. Any new place, really. Not ice hotels, though. I spent a night in the ice hotel in Quebec last winter. It was a nightmare. I don’t like cold. I love going to London or Europe anytime. And I love South East Asia. I like going off with a backpack and no agenda anytime at all. I loved going two years ago to Poland and seeing where my dad lived as a young man. I don’t like to go “on holiday” as in going and sitting somewhere to “relax”. I like adventures, and hanging out in places, and engaging with the people, and eating their foods, and learning about them, and taking photos and writing about them.
What do you do for relaxation? Hobbies?
I like to write and take pics and I do these things as much for hobby as for work. I like to spend time at the Zen center, either in San Francisco or Berkeley, and remain a pretty committed Zen student. I love to walk around the lake and to play tennis. I love to spend a day reading my New Yorker, my Saveur, my Esquire and my Wired (magazines). I love going to movies. I love to cook for friends and sit around the table drinking wine and eating with people I enjoy. I love to feel fit. I don’t relax much. I always think relaxing is something I will do when I’m too incapacitated to do anything else.
Any favourite restaurants?
One of the good things here is that there are so many, and so much competition, that no restaurant can’t afford to be mediocre. I love that I could go out for several lifetimes and try a different restaurant each time and I do like to try new ones. I discovered Ethiopian cuisine here and enjoy that a lot. I love restaurants that focus on fresh, local and seasonal. I like fresh, seasonal and trying the artisanal foods wherever I am. I am a Slow Food supporter/advocate. I love, best, to eat at the homes of my friends who cook, be it here, in South Africa, or anywhere else in the world.
I’m not much of a shopper. I avoid malls or department stores if I possibly can. I like to shop in food stores and at farmers markets. And I love consignment stores and goodwill outlets for clothes.
Where to next?
Next? I wouldn’t mind moving somewhere new. I am living with a musician so have got fairly settled, but if I had a good reason, I’d be up to trying a new place tomorrow. I’d love to find something really challenging to get my teeth into workwise — something big that felt worthwhile. Otherwise, I’d like enough of an income that I could spend my time doing my own writing. What I want to be writing is a memoir-self-help. The story of my five job layoffs and what I’ve learned. The story of overcoming compulsive eating and depression and chronic introversion and what I’ve learned. The story of all the funny things I see going on around me. I’d like to be able to indulge myself and spend my time writing about those things.
And — I’d like to end with a disclaimer. Ask me these questions again tomorrow, or next week, or next month, or on an especially good day, or on a day I got out on the wrong side of the bed, and guaranteed, you’ll get a different set of answers. Equally true answers. But, you know how it is, what we’re thinking, how we see things — the view — changes day by day. Thank god I’m not a politician!
One of your favourite quotes?
‘Life is either an adventure, or it is nothing’ — Helen Keller
To find out more about Wanda’s adventures, services in writing, coaching and living a delicious life visit WandaLUST
Her South African travel and culinary travel stories are captured on:
I love meeting new people and hearing their journey in life, where they come from and who they are, their families etc. I find people incredibly interesting.
There is absolutely nothing I dislike about my job – it’s a perfect fit.
You have an accounting background, why the switch?
All my clients were always telling me I was in the wrong business – I was just too much of a people person to be an accountant and I always knew there was something else out there for me.
Where did you grow up and what countries have you lived in?
I’m a country girl and grew up on a big sheep farm in Maldon, Victoria, Australia. I lived in New Zealand for 20 years and managed to pick up a Kiwi husband! I think NZ is as stunning as parts of Europe but a lot cheaper to live. And of course, there are lots of sheep! My favourite part is the South Island – mainly Queenstown. I lived in Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty and used to wag school constantly in Grade 12 to go surfing!
You’re a person who loves to laugh. What tickles you?
I love English humour and laugh a lot at myself. I find people hilarious. My animals make me laugh too – we have a whole menagerie – three cats, a dog, a bird and guinea pigs.
What is your favourite spot?
Basically anywhere near a beach! I love Coolangatta and camping on Moreton Island.
Favourite holiday destination?
Camping on Moreton Island – the beaches, dolphins, snorkelling off the wreck – it’s a great place to get away from it all.
Olive Grove, Kenmore which is basically my second office – I’m always taking people there. The food is fantastic and the prices affordable.
You’re a big fan of travel, if money was no object, what would be your ultimate destination?
Probably Europe – and Greece – I love the idea of sitting in a little taverna, sipping a glass of red wine and listening to the waves lap the shore…
Where do you live and how long have you lived there?
Milton, Ontario, Canada.
What do you love most about Canada? Like least?
Love Most: I love the seasons! You can experience all four seasons to the fullest. It feels like it resembles different stages in my life
Like least: The fact that I cannot pop in and have a cup of tea with my parents. That it takes three flights to get to them before I can actually do that!
What is your favourite time of year?
Fall / Autumn! I absolutely LOVE the intense and bold colours and the crisp bite in the air.
What was the biggest adjustment you had to make when moving to Canada?
That I couldn’t pick up the phone and chat to my Mom everyday. That it took an hour to find a couple of groceries that should’ve taken less than 10 mins. That we had to have two young singles live with us to help pay the rent. That I had to look after an 11-month-old baby to help put food on the table and then to be diagnosed and treated for depression.
What do you miss most about your country of birth?
Family and Friends! Being able to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas together. Our kids growing up without their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
What keeps you busy? (Business interests?)
Personal Assistant and an Independent Consultant for a natural Herb and Spice company… easy to sell something you believe in.
What is your favourite place?
To be able to sit under my pergola and just stop, soak up and enjoy the beauty of my garden whilst reading, having a cup of tea with friends or sipping an occasional glass of wine with dear friends over dinner and having a good laugh while you are at it!
Any favourite restaurants/bakeries/cafes etc?
The ‘Tea Room’ in Streetsville … the scones are just too delicious! ‘Starbucks’, ‘Timmies’ (Tim Horten’s) and ‘The Hill Curry Co.’ in Streetsville.
Gardening, growing herbs and veggies, canning and preserving. I actually just love pottering because I do have a creative side to me.
The person you most admire?
I have three …
My Man … for being a living example of standing firm and not being shaken by the arrows that come and his ability to put it in the ‘Lord’s intray’
My Dad … for pushing on every day during his 13-year struggle with cancer. He has certainly taught me how to persevere in spite of where one finds oneself.
My Mom … for teaching me that nothing is too much! To love and serve unconditionally.