Monthly Archives: November 2012

Today is the day!

We are packed, and ready to GO! Today is the day our 5-month Fernie Adventure officially starts today. Hopefully the flight with the kids will not be too painful, and the adjustment to the new time zone easy. But no matter what happens we will aim to have as much fun as possible.

I am really looking forward to spending time as a member of a community in another country. I am sure it will take some adjustment and that simple things we take for granted now at home will be challenged and we will need to adapt on the go.

Fernie here we come!

Today is the Day! Fernie here we come!

It is also going to be awesome to see the inner workings of a ski town, our longest ski trip before this was three weeks. But even then we wanted to minimise the time spent doing anything except skiing. This time we will get to see what happens in Fernie from opening day (1 Dec) till the last day of the season (somewhere between mid to end April).

This will be the longest any of us have been outside SA, our first time with a fulltime nanny, and many other first along the way. By the time we are back, the next season of Super Rugby will be past the half way mark, and hopefully the BULLS will be on top of the log! We will make sure we follow every game online, as I have no clue if we would be able to get it on TV.

I have not been this fit since my first year at university, and even then I don’t think I would have been able to do 80km on a mountain bike. I have lost about 15kg in the last three months so I think it is safe to say, this is the best shape I have ever been in for a skiing trip! This all means the skiing will be: (in the words of Barney Stinson)

Legen……..wait for it……dary!!

If all goes according to plan we will both be qualified ski instructors by the end of the season, which could mean we have even more reason to spend more time on the snow in the future. We might even get paid to do it!

The De Jager family will visit us not long after we arrive, but with Jano skiing ability I might learn more from him than the instructors course! Or maybe not, he assures me (after skiing for 5 days) that he is the king of the snow…. It is going to be great to have them there for 3 weeks!

When we land back in SA, I will hopefully also be able to code. And have a long list of ideas as to what to do next!

Next stop OR Tambo, Frankfurt, Calgary before eventually getting to Fernie in about 25 hours time. The memories will make it all worth it. Today is the day we will hopefully remember for a long time!

The Startup Dream

I have been reading about startups over the last few months. From Lean Startup, The Launch Pad, Venture Deals and a few more. The more I have read about the Startup eco system the more it has intrigued me. The Software and Tech startup is particularly interesting to me.

Previously I have always viewed software startups as a little to complicated. My preference has been for more Internet based businesses that used some tech, but not groundbreaking software businesses. My reading list has however started to change my mind about it, and with my new challenge to learn to code, I have been looking to potential software business ideas.

This week Jano forwarded me a link to an article I found absolutely fascinating. It is a long Essay by Paul Graham, the founder of Y Combinatory in Silicon Valley. The title “How to get Startup Ideas” was enough to get me to read through this 14 page essay and I enjoyed every moment of it.

The centre of the Startup Universe

Me and @yossihasson in Silicon Valley back in 2009, Palo Alto features in the Startup Dream of many people!

Right of the bat Graham makes the point that the very best startup ideas have three things in common:

1)     They are something the founders themselves need

2)     Something the founders themselves can build

3)     Something few others realize are worth doing

He also argues that you have to make sure you tackle a “problem”, mostly because in order to get people to start using your service early and even in its most elementary form you have to elevate some pain for them. Seeing that a small startup team is limited in what it can build in version one, he suggests that they tackle “something a small number of people want a large amount”.

One of the great traps he talks about is when you artificially try to come up with ideas for startups. In this thought process he argues that bad ideas sound really plausible. Or you convince yourself that an idea is good because you are under pressure to come up with something.

He suggests an alternative route. If you want a great startup idea, become the type of person that has great startup ideas. He reference this passage from “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig:

“You want to know how to paint a perfect painting? It’s easy. Make yourself perfect and then just paint naturally.”

He then builds on it from here to end with the conclusion that the best recipe for great startup ideas is: “Live in the future and build what seems interesting.”

I found vindication for some thoughts that I have been playing with, I think learning to code might well turn out to be a great investment of time, then it might be worth it to work for a great software or tech startup at the forefront of their field. Who knows what the future might bring, but ‘The Startup Dream’ sure looks exciting from here!

Make sure you read this Paul Graham’s Essay and tell me you thoughts below:

Why Learn to Code?

I will most likely never understand why I didn’t learn to code at a young age. My dad had a computer company and started bringing home computers when I was about 5 or 6. I was fascinated from day one and started playing computer games right away. Later in primary school I got hooked on Dune 2, from then on I only played strategy games. I still have fond memories of playing Age of Empires through the night, and then getting back behind the laptop after an hour or two’s sleep to run the business we just started.

At the tender age of 34?

Why learn to code? And is it too late at the tender age of 34?

But somehow I never got to the point of going deeper in the Computer Science world and to start programming. I had no excuse. My high school had a great computer lab and computer science classes. But high school was more about sport and chasing girls.

About four or five years ago in the heat of frustration of managing a company with teams of developers, I started to wish I knew more about programming. It turned out to be just a fleeting thought at the time, but in the last few months since I left, it has become a recurring theme.

So why learn to code now, at 34? Is it not too late? I have found myself reading more and more about software, startups and incubators. With all this reading my will to try and learn to code has steadily been increasing. And the idea of doing a software startup is really appealing! I will probably never get to the point where I can be considered to be a technical founder in a startup, but being a non-technical founder that can help code will go a long way.

So I have been doing some courses on and it is a great deal of fun! They actually go to a lot of effort to make it fun and really easy to learn. They also break it down in nice small bite sizes so you can do something with small increments of time.

They have a great “track” called Code Year, which feels like it is meant for people just like me! They start with JavaScript and them HTML and CSS! Well so far it is a blast; my aim is to learn as much as I can in the 5 months in Fernie! An intellectual adventure to go with the skiing adventure! Follow my progress on

Why don’t you join me? We are never too old to learn new things!

Doing vs. Owning

I think I am still in the middle of a cross-road in my life. I am finding it increasingly interesting assessing and challenging many assumptions that I have held for most of my life. I am still not really sure what sparked it all. Maybe being involved in one Company for more than 10 years, or just the stimulation from reading books like Steve Jobs, A Million Miles or 4-hour workweek. Or it could just be some unresolved sense of seeking a purpose in life.  It is also videos like this one that sparks these kinds of thoughts:

What do I desire? I have been watching it every day for a week or two now.

So try and follow this train of thought.

I would like to be able to tell a great life story in my old age that can keep my grandchildren and hopefully great grandchildren on the edge of their seats. As Donald Miller said in ‘A Million Miles’ living a great story requires a little more intend, and more action.

So I think that Timothy Ferriss hit the nail on the head when he says in the 4 hour work week: The opposite of Happiness is not sadness but boredom. So what I should be doing is seeking the things that would make life exciting. These would also be the elements that would make the story so much more worth telling!

These thoughts have led me to consider the contrast between doing and owning things. Let me explain.

The path that I was on looked something like this: Work very hard, hopefully be increasingly successful, and earn more money every year. As my income increases every year, I acquire more and more possessions (mostly not assets). Cars and houses get bigger and more expensive, our lives get increasingly more and more cluttered by things that serve as distractions for a little while but then quickly start to gather dust in some corner of the house.

It becomes more and more challenging to balance all the competing priorities in life, work, marriage, kids, health and my own personal needs demand escalating amounts of time and attention. If all goes well in 30/40/50 years we are financially well enough prepared to only do the things in life that we really want to. Only to find that many of the things on our bucket list is now not really within our reach.

It feels like this would be a life mostly about gather and owning possessions. I am not sure this is the story I would like to tell. I don’t want to follow in the footsteps of the previous generation and get to the promised retirement only to find that the best year of my life was spent working to pay off debt in a job or business I don’t like. It is like Alan Watts says:

“Forget the money. Because if you say that getting the money is the most important thing; you will spend your life completely wasting your time. You will be doing things you don’t like doing in order to go on living that is to go on doing things you don’t like doing. Which is STUPID?”

The crazy thing for me now looking back at the last three or four years is that I would have argued ferociously that I loved what I was doing and could not have imagined doing anything differently.  The other day I was doing my logbook for my tax return, and realised I did about 70 trips to the airport in one year. That must have been more than 100 flights in one year. What was I thinking?

Hindsight is a perfect science. I hope to one day put the pieces back together of how I’ve managed to get off that road. I think one thing is for sure, it would never have happened if I didn’t read as much as I do.

So here is my current take on the future.

I am going to strive to do more things rather than own more things. I want to show our kids as much of the world as I can. Maybe we home school through primary school to give us another 10 years to travel as much as we can, do as much as we can and write a story better than what we can even imagine now.

Allot of the details is still sketchy, I need to find how to generate income no matter where we are in the world. For now I am going to teach myself how to code while we are in Fernie and see where that leads me.

Many things are unknown, but we will figure it out over time… What do you think about doing vs. owning? Am I going crazy? Please comment below and let’s chat about it.

And make sure you subscribe to the site newsletter (on the right) to keep up to date with this adventure…

The 4-hour workweek – Review

Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich

I was just about ready for a significant life change, when the 4-hour workweek came across my desk. I can’t recall how that happened but the timing was perfect. Timothy Ferriss have become a bit of a celeb after this book, and a few others that followed.

==> Click here to buy: The 4-Hour Workweek NOW <==

While not everybody will like his American style, hard selling approach, I really enjoyed and learned a great deal from this book. Here is of the idea in the book that really resonated with me:

The old industrial era model of working for 40-50 years to retire and then do the things you like is broken. Or maybe it has always been broken, and we are only realising it now. The first challenge the model face is that most people end up having to continue working to maintain their lifestyle. More and more people are also realising that many things, mostly activities, you want to do is not possible when you reach that age.

The New Rich is a new breed of people practising Life-style design and seeking adventure, for them the old ideas of retirement is the worst-case scenario. By understanding that income is all relative to the time you have to spend to earn it. The New Rich also realize the timing is never right to make the life-style changes needed to life a fulfilled life.

Ferriss also remarks that the opposite of happiness is NOT sadness but rather boredom. So to lead a happy life you should seek excitement. Look for the things that make you excited about getting out of bed every day and no day will be a work day!

==> Click here to buy: The 4-Hour Workweek NOW <==

The biggest take away for me was the idea that real freedom come if you can successfully separate your income from you location. Ferriss estimated by doing that you automatically increase what the money is worth to you by 3-10 times. And thereby you enable yourself to seek the things that really make you happy.

I really loved this book, and it has had a huge impact on my own ideas of what I would like to do with the rest of my life. You should read it!

Here is a video of Q&A session with Timothy Ferriss on some of the other things in the 4-hour workweek: