I have been receiving Peter’s Carruthers’ weekly newsletter for over five years. He originally started a forum called Business Warriors which helps local South Africans with their marketing and selling. This morning’s newsletter was so inspiring that I emailed him and asked him if I could post it on my blog. He agreed. This is what he had to say.
South African Business Culture
A country is not about the space, the sea, the views, or the wildlife. A country is about its people. The average South African is so used to being crazy-friendly that he has no idea how strange it seems to the reclusive folk who live in lesser climes.
I thought this as I boarded the plane from a chaotic OR Tambo airport, with bongoes blaring in one corner of the departure lounge, and some fellow close by straining his lungs to be heard on his 850 watt PA system as he extolled the virtues of buying Givenchy gifts for Mothers Day, please.
Fourteen hours later I landed at the Oslo interpretation of an airport. Cleaner, colder, and almost silent. Just as Frankfurt had been a few hours earlier. Frankly, I am in favour of the vibrancy.
Ask any foreigner what they most like about SA, and they will tell you it is how easily we smile.
As I left Sandton City, en route to the airport, I passed a FASA convention. It occurred to me that I had never seen such a thing in Norway, quite possibly because no sane Norwegian wants to work for himself. It is too risky. (This is what happens in socialist countries.) I loved the noise inside. I loved meeting old friends. But mostly, I loved seeing so many people desperate to do their own thing.
I have found that the toughest aspect of living in the UK and Norway has been the utterly different cultures; both as far from our SA culture as Baileys is from yaks milk.
Someone very wise told me a few weeks ago that when I left SA I left behind most of my capital. He pointed out that my real capital was not money, but the knowledge gained over many years about the way we do business in SA, and business networks that I was part of. Neither of these travel well. The way people conduct business overseas is a reflection of their culture. And nobody is anywhere nearly as enthusiastic or optimistic as South Africans are.
It is that optimism and enthusiasm that gets us up each morning, knowing that today will be better than yesterday, no matter how bad the outlook might otherwise be. We are not a glass-half-empty nation. We are a glass-and-half-full crowd.
With wonderful weather, great scenery, and the Big Five, nogal. Which is why I am coming back.
The only thing that differentiates closure from survival, and survival from prosperity, is how many sales you make. Business Warriors will help you sell a heck of a lot more.