Monday Musings 14 August: People make the place

As the Good Things Guy keeps reminding us, South Africa is a very special place. Reading Brent’s post this week about how his website started, got me thinking about our one-of-a-kind people, including my precious group of “forever friends”, all born and raised here.

These are friendships forged “a hundred years ago” – in primary school, varsity, and my early career days. We’ve grown up together, marked life’s milestones together, and been both the lighthouse and the anchor to one another.

But sadly, half of these incredible people now live in other countries. They left to raise children in Canada and the UAE, offer better prospects to their youngsters in the UK, enjoy middle age at a less stressful pace in Oz or become “swallows”, returning to SA periodically. And this year, my best friend in the whole world left – my brother – and he will never return.

Of course, no one is really “lost” to me, and thanks to FaceTime, Zoom, and WhatsApp, our conversations continue. But it’s very different to being together. Call me old-school, but I’m awkward over tech, and my best is a one-on-one: sharing a comfy space, a glass of wine, and seeing the eyes and facial expressions of my favourite humans up close and personal.

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There’s not only sadness in this mass exodus of friends; there’s irony in it, too. When I left for Europe in my early 20s to “find myself” (as one does), I remember people saying: “Good for you!” Many were convinced I’d never come back, and, in fact, many urged me not to.

I spent four years in the Northern Hemisphere, visiting 13 countries, living and working in some of them, growing into the free spirit I’ve always been at my core. I grabbed every opportunity to travel, whether around the corner or cross-continent and immersed myself in as many experiences as possible. But I always knew I’d go back home. And that I’d know instantly when the time was right.

That moment is as clear and emotive today as it was then. I was in Graz, Austria, and Vicky Sampson came on TV, performing our iconic, unofficial national anthem, “African Dream”. The homesickness hit hard in the pit of my stomach, and yes, there were tears.

I’d created a second home in Austria; I spoke the language and was surrounded by wonderful family members who’d been instrumental in helping me build a life there. I had a bank account and a job. I’d acclimatised to the culture and feasted my eyes on this spectacularly beautiful country.

But I missed the South African people so much – that signature combination of warmth, caring, friendliness, humour, and salt-of-the-earth-ness. Home is where the heart is, as the idiom goes, and my heart had stayed in SA.

Returning to Joburg after a 10-year absence (six years in the Cape, four years overseas), already within the first week at a new job, there were invitations to braais and coffee, and I was back in touch with the friends who were still in Jozi. Like I’d never left.

Saffers are cut of the cloth that makes forever friends.

Things have changed a lot since my time overseas. There are pockets of our people everywhere. The EU has emerged, the global village has broken barriers, and cultures continue blending.

For some, the grass has proved greener on the other side, but for those of us still here, let’s be proud of our wonderful people, keep our passion for this country burning, and continue forging forever friends.  

Mindful Musings

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Marketing Musings

by Roland Müller

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The Journey

The Big Ambitions team recently created a complete product marketing journey for a specific product one of our clients is launching. We had to start at the beginning, from introducing the brand to explaining the product benefits. We had a select group of people to which we were marketing the product, but we also knew the test case would need to be scaled or replicated down the line.

As such, we implemented various types of interactions and touchpoints between a prospective buyer and the brand/product. Here are a few pointers that helped us along the way:

  1. It’s a good idea to create a QR code that leads to your website (that’s mobile-optimised, as most browsing takes place on mobile devices these days) with a popup for a quote, a call-back, or to subscribe. This QR code can be used on all your branded material, from flyers to banners and billboards.
  2. Consider creative branding ideas that make people take notice and think, “That’s quite a cool idea!”. Brainstorm new ways to bring your message across. 
  3. Research your target market’s lingo to ensure you’re on point with your taglines and messaging. There’s a radio station that I listen to that has the slogan, “Radio that sounds like you”, and it’s such a perfect way of describing who they want to be – they want to resonate with their listeners to such an extent that they’ve actually become part of their own audience.
  4. Consistently analyse results to determine the success of everything you do.
  5. Remember, the journey doesn’t stop where you are. If you do it right, there’s always an opportunity to scale or aim the product campaign at a different target market.

What the world was musing over this past week

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Losing Sugarman

His music was the soundtrack to our youth. Played on campus, at house parties, and on road trips – we knew every riff and lyric. His songs resonated deeply as we came of age, loved and lost, and battled our own establishment blues. In return, we loved him as our own. A humble, anti-rockstar-poet, he was our Dylan. And just as we found Sugarman, we lost him. RIP Sixto Diaz Rodriguez.  

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Massive piece of space debris lands in Oz

Not a UFO, but the remains of a rocket landed off the coastline near Perth. And it seems Australia is a hotspot for space junk…

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Dog saves toddler from bear

In Connecticut, USA (where bears are as common as family dogs), a Golden Retriever saved a four-year-old boy from a close encounter.

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And in more bear news…

Dominating headlines this week, bears were literally everywhere. Even loose on a plane!