Sunday 26 May 2013

The secret

"Magic" is probably the only industry where you can buy the secret to something. I mean, you can't just sommer stroll into a kitchen and ask the chef to show you how they made it. You can't take a car apart and try and learn the secret to how it works. But, you can purchase a magic trick and learn how the illusion is contructed. This is something I have been exploring over the past year.

Hang on though, before you go thinking that it is all about the secret then just stop and think of the car or the restaurant, as examples. Like magic, there is a lot more to it than just the secret. The presentation is the key. And this is all about story telling. Story telling with props as Marcel Oudejans insightfully shared with me. Humour, misdirection, deception ... these are all part of the equation.

One of the most powerful instruments is the "magician's choice". I wonder how often we fall for this conceit. Where we think we are in control, but the opposite is true. Where we are asked to make a choice, but it doesn't really matter what we choose, because the magician is taking us down a path regardless of what we say.

Another thing about the secrets of magic are in the special props that are most often used. Sticky tape, magnets, saftey pins, paper clips, and more. Yeah, there are so many magnets used in magic. But magnets themselves are magical things. How does a magnet work? They either attract or repel; but how?

I am loving learning about this special art form, and about the difference between magic and cheating. As Gus Silber pointed out to me today, the big difference between magic and cheating is that magic allows you to suspend your disbelief, whereas cheating takes advantage of it.

There is so much to learn. So many secrets. So many different scripts and presentation ideas.


Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Monday 20 May 2013

Riding a Dead Horse

A friend sent me this. It was too good not to share:

The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, says that: "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount."

However, in government (and in corporate America) more advanced strategies are often employed ... such as:

1. Applying a stronger whip.

2. Changing riders.

3. Appointing a committee to study the horse.

4. Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride horses.

5. Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.

6. Reclassifying the dead horse as living impaired.

7. Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.

8. Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.

9. Providing additional funding and/or training to increase dead horse's performance.

10. Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.

11. Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than live horses.

12. Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.

And of course my favourite ...

13. Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Tuesday 14 May 2013

The only way to eat an elephant …

In today’s fast world of easy come easy go, and of deal making and tenderpreneurship, it is not often you hear people talk about the fundamentals. This is one of the reasons the Heartlines NGO embarked on their storytelling journey with the “Nothing for Mahala” film.

I have been involved in many different ventures over the past 20 years. Some big, some small, some inspired, some silly, and some just getting started. The thing about every venture is that you need cash to pay the bills. Sure, the more modest you are, the more frugal, then the less cash you need. But there will always be accounts to settle. 

The financial objective of every business venture is to make a profit. That does not mean the mission can’t have a sense of purpose or make a difference, but profits do allow you to invest and grow. And that is the ultimate purpose: to continue.

The thing about profits is that they don’t need to be supersized. The best companies, in my view, grow organically. And they save some money for when times are tough, and they invest when things are good. One can never disrespect anyone who is doing an honest day’s work. And as for profits in a venture, well, I would rather build and struggle and make money over time than bend the rules and stretch the norms in the pursuit of inflated revenues. I can tell you all one thing: No one ever went broke from small profits.

The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Old Jews Telling Jokes

One of the most heartwarming things is when my eccentric dad calls me up and tells me a Jewish joke. I always find those moments good for the soul.

Dad, I know you are not a big computer person, but when I come down to CT next, I must show you these ... you will love them!

I had to share these links here : Old Jews Telling Jokes are magical. Check these out:

There is nothing like the old school.

Posted by Ronnie Apteker

Friday 3 May 2013

Who said talk is cheap … ?

Three weeks ago I got an iPhone. I am finally with it, well, you know. Also, I changed from MTN to Vodacom, as part of some corporate contract that was awarded or something like that. Who knows. One day I was on MTN and the next day it was Vodacom. I have been on MTN since the beginning. No jokes, I even have an MTN “212” number that only staff there received. It was given to me as a result of some IS work we did for them back in the day.

So, who cares about any of this … yes, exactly. But hang on, since I have been on the Vodacom network I have 10 times the number of dropped calls. Serious.

The iPhone thing is cool, and it looks pretty, but I have never had problems like this before with dropped calls. I am not the biggest cell phone person, and I had this ugly ‘ol Nokia for years and MTN had a few dropped calls every other day or so, but Vodacom is off the charts on the dropped call frontier.

People often say silly things like “Are you happy with you phone?” You know, if I get calls that tell me that I won the lottery then I am happy with the phone. And if I get a call to say my mom fell down the steps, then I am not happy with my phone. And yes, when I get dropped calls and can’t actually communicate then I am not happy with the phone. Of late I am battling to have a conversation because of all the dropped calls, and it is starting to cost me. It wastes time.

WTF ?!

Posted by Ronnie Apteker