Friday 28 January 2011

How is Nora?

A doctor friend of mine sent this to me - the subject was "medical fraternity & communication" - this is proper funny!

A sweet grandmother telephoned St. Joseph's Hospital. She timidly asked, "Is it possible to speak to someone who can tell me how a patient is doing?"

The operator said, "I'll be glad to help, dear. What's the name and room number of the patient?"

The grandmother in her weak, tremulous voice said, "Norma Findlay, Room 302."

The operator replied, "Let me put you on hold while I check with the nurse's station for that room."

After a few minutes, the operator returned to the phone and said, "I have good news. Her nurse just told me that Norma is doing well. Her blood pressure is fine; her blood work just came back normal and her physician, Dr. Cohen, has scheduled her to be discharged tomorrow."

The grandmother said, "Thank you. That's wonderful. I was so worried. God bless you for the good news."

The operator replied, "You're more than welcome. Is Norma your daughter?"

The grandmother said, "No, I'm Norma Findlay in Room 302. No one tells me anything!!!"


Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 23 January 2011

Laughter is the best medicine

We just heard ... the good doctor won the award last night!

What great news this fine Sunday. Riaad, you are an inspiration and a role model to so many.

Have a look at

I met Dr. Riaad Moosa about 10 years ago, and now, after 7 years of collaborating and conspiring, we are going ahead in March with the "Material" movie. This is all about purpose - Riaad is a man who knows why he was put on this Earth - he follows what is in his heart.

I read something very stirring in December: "Your talent is God's gift to you. How you use it is your gift to God." And then I read this: "Do what you do best. If you are a runner, run; if you are a bell, ring."

Riaad is a doctor who figured out that laughter is the best medicine, and he captures your imagination when he does his thing. He is graceful, humble and talented.

Riaad, a big journey awaits us all soon!

Congratulations on your victory last night!!!

PS - check out

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 22 January 2011

Being there

Woody Allen once said that "Eighty percent of success is showing up."

You know, the most simple truth about success is this: just keep your promises.

When you watch a film like The Social Network, and you think about all these communications technologies and how the world is changing, you wonder what chance does anyone have of showing up, or keeping their promises, when cellphones ring all the time, and emails bombard us constantly, and instant messages interrupt us, etc. How does anyone stay focused in this modern era. You have to be strong, and you have to show technology who is in charge!

Yes, you may be an online wizard, and you may have your own stunning web site, and you have a zillion Facebook friends, but one question will always be fundamental: Have you done your 10,000 hours?

I often get calls on my cellphone from people trying to sell me stuff. We all do. One week it is insurance, the next week it is some high-tech online service, and then it is the cellphone company, trying to get me to try out some new package they are promoting, and so on. We got to get these callers off the line, and fast! When you are youngster though, wasting time is pretty much the norm. An 18 year old getting calls about insurance and banking services makes for lengthy distractions. Ask a high school graduate why they spoke on the phone to that stranger for so long and they will tell you they didn't want to be rude. Or they will tell you that they were curious. You got to love the curious, and the clueless.

Yes, to succeed in life you have to be there. Wherever that is. But, one thing is for sure, you won't be able to keep your promises, and you certainly won't be able to show up, if you don't get on top of all these high-tech distractions. The Internet, mobile technology, the Web ... these are all fantastic, but don't let them be a handbrake.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 15 January 2011

Why, how and where

I watched this video on the Web and I was blown away - you must see this :

Here is an extract:

Here's how Apple actually communicates. "Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user friendly. We just happen to make great computers. Want to buy one?" Totally different right? You're ready to buy a computer from me. All I did was reverse the order of information. What it proves to us is that people don't buy what you do; people buy why you do it. People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it.

This explains why every single person in this room is perfectly comfortable buying a computer from Apple. But we're also perfectly comfortable buying an MP3 player from Apple, or a phone from Apple, or a DVR from Apple. But, as I said before, Apple's just a computer company. There's nothing that distinguishes them structurally from any of their competitors. Their competitors are all equally qualified to make all of these products. In fact, they tried. A few years ago, Gateway came out with flat screen TVs. They're eminently qualified to make flat screen TVs. They've been making flat screen monitors for years. Nobody bought one. Dell came out with MP3 players and PDAs. And they make great quality products. And they can make perfectly well-designed products. And nobody bought one. In fact, talking about it now, we can't even imagine buying an MP3 player from Dell. Why would you buy an MP3 player from a computer company? But we do it every day. People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everybody who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.

This is all about purpose - something very close to my heart.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Sunday 9 January 2011

The Social Network

I saw the movie The Social Network recently and I was blown away. A movie where nothing really happens, and it was stunning! In my view, it broke all the rules of storytelling - for example, the hero you feel sorry for, but you don't really relate to him, and he is not likable, and yet, when the film ended, I could have watched another 2 hours of it - I wanted more! Also, there was something very personal for me here - this film reminded me of "Purpose". I knew we were on the right track 10 years ago, we just didn't nail it, but The Social Network hit it out the ballpark!

Over a decade ago we had American Beauty, an award winning movie, which highlighted dysfunction in American families. It touched on the idea of excess and it showed how greed is the new value system. I feel that The Social Network, which I believe will win many awards too, demonstrates dysfunction in America's youth, and once again, it goes to show how greed is the norm.

I asked a friend of mine about this film and he said to me "Don’t you think what Mark Zuckerberg is amazing?" and I responded with "I think what happened is amazing." Mark Zuckerberg, in my limited perspective, sounds like an intense and driven youngster who is a brilliant computer programmer. For the rest of it, he is very very lucky! He was trying to do, what all American youth are aspiring towards, and that is, to do something cool. As for integrity and leadership and character, well, those are old values - it is all about doing something cool online. And, if litigation and backstabbing come into play, well, that is just how the new world works.

Yes, Mark Zuckerberg wrote some software. Lots of people write software, just as lots of people write music and books. What happened with JK Rowling and her Harry Potter books, for example, is also amazing! But I don't see her getting the same kind of attention as Mr. Zuckerberg. I am not taking away from the phenomena known as Facebook, but is Mark Zuckerberg an entrepreneurial genius and a great leader - well, it is way too early to tell.

Time Magazine has billed Mark Zuckerberg as their man of the year. I looked at the cover of Time with his face on it, and it looked like they were actually trying to make fun of the new world order, and of Mr. Zuckerberg. It was the most unflattering, pubescent looking photograph I have ever seen. As the world's youngest billionaire (and there will be more and more in years to come, gunning for this title) I could understand a profile in Fortune Magazine, but to feature as Time's man of the year just doesn't click. I mean, don’t you have to have shaved before making it on to the cover of Time? I really do think they are taking the piss to some extent. This is always something I have admired about America - they don't hide their dysfunction - they embrace it, and celebrate it, highlighted by films like American Beauty and The Social Network. They exploit it!

As for the main premise in the movie, that the idea for Facebook was stolen, it is a bunch of nonsense in my experienced view. Ideas are cheap. Execution is what it is all about. As Einstein once said "Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration." Sure, Mark Zuckerberg may have got fired up by someone else's ideas, but as for stealing it, I think this line in the film sums it up "A guy who builds a chair doesn’t owe money to everyone who ever built a chair. They came to me with an idea, I had a better one."

I was recently in Eastern Europe, and there, like in China, as another example, they have their own localized clone of Facebook. The old Soviet countries, where the Russian language is prevalent, have - how many users do you thing this thing has? Take a guess. No, you are wrong! When I looked now it had 107 million users and on the site's home page it says "and counting". Now, did they steal the Facebook idea? Absolutely! Are they being sued. No ways. Because, again, ideas are cheap - it is all about execution!

That one stunning scene in film summed this all up, when the Winklevoss twins go and see the president of Harvard, and he says to them "Everyone at Harvard is inventing something or starting a new business in their dorm room. Harvard undergraduates believe that inventing a job is better than getting one so can I suggest again that the two of you come up with a new project."

I found the original screenplay online - I think in the final film they changed the word "project" to "idea". In short, he tells them to go get another idea.

And the part about getting a job sums up the gist of what is damaged in the Western world. Yes, it is all about doing something cool. In my view, no one wants to work anymore. Leadership is not part of the equation - being cool is.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Wednesday 5 January 2011

The importance of capitalization

Now this is proper funny - it had to be shared:

Those of us who fall into the world of hi-tech should take note of the importance of correct grammar.

I have noticed that many who text messages and emails have forgotten the "art" of capitalization.

Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Saturday 1 January 2011

The ticking clock

Story telling is a wonderful thing. We all love a good story.

All stories have some basic principles, like a beginning, middle and an end. And all stories, well, the compelling ones, have a ticking clock. Because without a race against time there is nothing to invest in. If we had all the time in the world, then the story becomes never ending, and that isn't something we can then follow.

Time is what gives a story its grounding. Time is what the race is against. Time is what we need to beat in order to make it to the summit in our lifetime.

Yes, the clock is ticking, and the direction is clearly on target. 2011 has begun ... bring it on!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker