The Power of the Ask – What CEOs believe makes a successful CEO

November 25th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “The Power of the Ask – What CEOs believe makes a successful CEO”

When we started 21Tanks almost a decade ago, we had no products, all we had was perspective. Yup, perspective. Knowledge that we’d acquired over the years (that we thought was valuable) and a network of smart people to help us along the way. How’d we get work? Well, most of the time, people just asked if we could help. And we did.


Are you a Thought Leader or Thought Follower?

April 13th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Are you a Thought Leader or Thought Follower?”

Mitch Joel from Mirum explains the term ‘Thought Leader’ as follows:

A thought leader is someone who is sharing (in text, images, audio and video) their own unique perspective. That would be the “thought” component of the equation. A thought leader is someone whose unique perspective is seen and accredited by both peers or other industry experts as truly being visionary (saying and doing the things that others have yet to do). Leadership isn’t just about being first. Leadership is about how the thinking is ingested and used by the audience.


Why your #selfquote strategy should die a fast, horrible death

March 31st, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Why your #selfquote strategy should die a fast, horrible death”

I remember it like it was yesterday.


Confucius, Aristotle, Albert Einstein, Nelson Mandela, Maya Angelou and Steve Jobs sitting in their light-wood-design co-working space, plugging away on their Macbook Airs, trying to decide which of their soon-to-be-famous quotes worked best with which studio photos they’d just taken of each other.


Dolly Parton had it easy: Why 9 to 5 is not enough anymore

March 26th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Dolly Parton had it easy: Why 9 to 5 is not enough anymore”

Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 is a beautiful representation of the dull, mindless slog most people feel like they go through every single day, in order to get their paycheque at the end of the month, with no recognition, resulting in making rich men richer. The chorus is extra-specially fun…


The Indicator Dilemma

March 17th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “The Indicator Dilemma”

Indicate [in-di-keyt]  verb

1. to point out or point to; direct attention to

2. to state or express, especially briefly or in a general way; signal

In my experience, most cars on the road have indicators fitted for obligatory purposes only when changing lanes. To indicate is to share an intention with others. Therefore, when changing lanes, indicating to let others know you’ll be turning, before you actually turn, is the correct procedure. Most drivers, though, hit the indicator with their hand while they’re turning the wheel.

Did they share their intention with others beforehand? No.

As a biker riding between lanes, I know this sneaky little cage-driver trick, so my first indication of anyone turning is not the indicator, but their front wheel. If it starts to turn toward your general direction, you know they’re about to make a break for it. I’m pretty good at identifying these, however, sometimes I get it wrong.

This whole non-indicating indicator dilemma got me thinking: Is the real reason people actually don’t give enough time to indicate (set their intention) because when others see it happening, they race ahead to not let them in? I’ve seen it happen. It may have happened to you. Hell, you may have been the douche closing the gap!

Is this how people generally tend to think? Much like they hold back on the indicators until the last minute, what are people holding back on in their business or personal lives? To make it personal, what are you waiting to do/launch/create that you don’t want others to know about until the very last second, just in case they steal your idea or break it down before its begun?

Time and again I hear of people who had amazing ideas but never executed them (I’m guilty of this myself, too) because they didn’t want anyone else to know about it until it was ready to launch, but then someone else launched it before they could.

<insert sad face here>

The one thing that we never learn though (read this about learning from others’ mistakes) is the fact that their idea was, in fact, eventually executed by someone else. Which means your idea is not only in your mind. It’s everywhereIdeas are developed through experience, and there are loads of other people experiencing similar things to you right now, and will have ideas too. Probably ‘your’ idea.

So what to do?

Simple: Get that idea out there. Don’t hold it in. Make it. Own it. Tell the world. Do your idea. Stat.


(Originally posted on LinkedIn)

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was onto something!

March 8th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was onto something!”

It amazes me that in today’s opportunity to learn, grow and do better, the world is still full of idiots.

German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe once wrote “By seeking and blundering we learn.” Well, it was probably “Durch das Suchen und Fetzen lernen wir” (hat tip Google Translate), but the point remains: We seek, we blunder, we learn.

However, so many people have sought, blundered and learnt in the past, and those seekings, blunders and learnings have, in turn, been shared and taught! So I sit here and ask myself this question: Why are there still people in the world who get on planes headed to Abuja to settle the estate of Nigerian princes that they believe they might be related to (or won a lottery they never entered), or forward emails from Bill Gates thinking they’ll get a free laptop, or add friends on Facebook that are 100% fake – who are undoubtedly set up to glean information from them.

I received a request from “Susan Zimmerman” earlier today, and wasn’t shocked that not only had she made some friends already, but they’re all guys. Why Eugene, Kyle, Utit and all the others added her? I’m guessing for the hope of some more raunchy pics to hit their timeline. Have they not heard of the internet? Raunchy is on-demand!

A quick reverse-image-search on Google revealed Susan as Instagram-famous model Chantel Zales, FYI.

Usually I report/block these users to assist the many gullible/pervy gents who love these requests, but today I’ve made a stand to say “Durch das Suchen und Fetzen lernen wir.” If these guys aren’t going to learn from others’ mistakes, they’re going to have to learn them for themselves. They’re seeking free soft porn, they’ll blunder if they give information away that may harm them, and therefore learn.

Hopefully. I’m holding thumbs.

So why am I writing this? We’re running a strategy facilitation for Missing Link tomorrow, guided by the Legacide principles. In this session we’re going to look at our own business, identify what legacy thinking is holding us back and, in turn, look to the world to see who’s sought and blundered and already learnt from these mistakes, how they fixed them, and then define how we apply them to our own business.

It’s going to be one helluva ride. Thanks Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Legend.


(Originally posted on LinkedIn)

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, officer…

March 3rd, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it, officer…”

I butted into a conversation in the office last week that went something like this:

Guy 1: “Insurance is such a waste. And expensive.”

Guy 2: “I know. And the value of my bike keeps going down, but I keep paying more insurance. So kak.”

Me: “You know King Price offers paying less every month, right? That’s basically their biggest selling point.”

Guy 1 + 2: <crickets>


Now, maybe it’s because we deal with insurance firms a lot, or I have a strong affinity to people/organisations changing things up, but I honestly thought that something as ground-breaking as ‘you pay less insurance every month as your vehicle depreciates’ would be known and understood by every person who complains about insurance premiums. Seems, to me, to be a no-brainer. The story is sound.

Which made me think about other organisations and how they’re telling their stories. “Brand refreshes” – for the most part – are only real big winners for consultants and the advertising/marketing industry. Customers don’t want a big fat new promise every second year, what they want is for you to be awesome. Let me pay you money to do a great job, and we’ll be friends. Simple. One of the big lessons from Tom Peters’ “In Search of Excellence(originally published in 1982, FYI) is simply “Stick to your knitting”. Do what you do well, and keep doing it. Companies who stick to this principle in not only the work they do, but the message they deliver, are the ones who succeed.

Am I saying ‘never change’? Of course not. Better yourself, better your product, but always stick to what you believe in. Things change and need to be addressed as and when necessary (read Legacide to help you out with that) but that doesn’t mean you should lose the fundamental essence of what you’re in business to do. The way that message sticks with your customers and staff is through a solid story.

Because a great story lasts a lifetime. Ever met Aesop? Nope, me neither. Know any of his stories? Of course we do. Why? Because they’re easy to remember, and easy to share with others.

So, is your story being told enough? Are you hitting the right market? More importantly, is your story being told the right way, and are people sharing it?


(Originally posted on LinkedIn)

My choices are better than yours

February 21st, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “My choices are better than yours”

…said everyone. Since the beginning of time.

A few years ago my wife sent me an article by Mark Manson, entitled The Most Important Question of Your Life, which essentially spoke to one core message: What are you willing to struggle through in order to get what you want? In order to be happy?

This week in Jo’burg has been particularly wet, a result of the Dineo Storm affecting Mozambique at the moment. As people close to me know, I’ve been riding a Vespa as my sole means of transport for coming on 7 years now.

It’s always in the rain that I, bizarrely, am reminded how that decision to remove the weekday-four-wheeled-cage from my life has changed me for the better. Does it have its drawbacks? Sure. But I wouldn’t change it for anything.

As I was waiting at the traffic light in the pouring rain today, a guy – smoking – shouted through his half-open window, “Why don’t you just buy a car!?”, obviously commenting on my non-roofed mode of transport as the rain pelted down on me.

The answer is quite simple: I’ve chosen what I want to struggle through, in order to be happy. You see, for a small minority of days in the year, it rains. For those particular days, I – like today – wear a rain suit. It protects every bit of me and keeps me dry. I ride to meetings, events, anywhere, and I arrive as dry as a bone. Sometimes my shoes may be a little wet, but, if you didn’t notice it (no one ever does) you’d never know that I was out in the elements in the pouring rain only minutes before I walked into the room.

For the majority of days in the year, though, I am blessed with the freedom of riding my little green beast through lanes of traffic, between cars who spend hours commuting to and from work. Their choice. The path they took to struggle through.

What I find fascinating though is that, to them, I’m always the idiot.

  1. In the rain, I’m an idiot because I’m getting wet.
  2. In the sun, I’m an idiot because who am I to think that I can just ride past you while you have to sit in traffic, huh?

To people who commute: You’ve chosen your poison. Suffer through your traffic 95% of your working days, and I’ll suffer through rain the other 5%. And while you’re sitting in that mind-numbing rat’s arse that is bumper-to-bumper ludicrousness, consider this: What choices are you making in your life that are working towards your happiness? And what other choices, that you’re afraid to take on because there may be a little downside, should you be pursuing?

As Mark Manson says: “Our struggles determine our successes, so choose your struggles wisely, my friend.”


* This is a re-post from LinkedIn.

Hype: The sneaky killer

January 26th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Hype: The sneaky killer”

I wrote an article on LinkedIn earlier and thought I’d share it here too.

The basic premise is this: Last weekend I had extremely high expectations of a certain coffee shop in Cape Town, because of the phenomenal reviews I’d read about it online, and was subsequently disappointed. However, visiting other restaurants on the same weekend, which both had little to no expectation whatsoever, left me overwhelmed.

The trick, though, is how much do you hype yourself or your business up, without potentially disappointing people? How much is just enough?

You can read the article here, or read below the line. Would love to hear your thoughts.


Hype: The sneaky killer

My wife and I spent last weekend in Cape Town CBD. We often travel to the CT area but mostly spend time in the northern suburbs or the winelands, so we decided to try something different by staying in the middle of town through Airbnb.

As we’re big fans of good coffee, we did a little research beforehand. Of the multitudes of great Tripadvisor suggestions and other site reviews, the top result was Truth Coffee on Buitenkant. Also rated by The Telegraph as the world’s best coffee shop, how could we not visit!? So we saved this little gem for the Sunday morning, to finish the weekend on a high. I mean, we’d be having breakfast at the best coffee shop in the world, it had to be off the charts, right?

Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

Everything was… good. Not great, not spectacular, but just… good.

The coffee was as expected. They frown upon adding sugar or sweetener – saying it’s not necessary – so it was more bitter than we prefer. Drinkable? Of course. Enjoyable? For sure. Phenomenal? No.

Now, I’m not saying Truth needs to change their ways to suit me. On the contrary, I think sticking your guns is paramount to ensuring you keep the lovers coming back for more. However, after hyping up our potential Sunday morning extravaganza, we left feeling a little disappointed, like we didn’t get to experience the best coffee shop in the world. Truth is a quirky, steampunk-themed restaurant with good (I repeat, good) drinks and food. Just good.

So why write this?

On the Saturday morning I sleepily scuttled over to a small coffee shop across the road from where we were staying for a first-thing kick-in-the-pants coffee, and were phenomenally impressed. So much so that I couldn’t wait for my next cup the following morning! Great service, fantastic cuppa Joe, and a free little meringue. Gold! Then, later that day we were chatting to a mate of ours and he suggested a little Indian place for dinner that night. “Nothing big and crazy. Just quaint but with a cool vibe and decent chow.” As he’s vegan, we didn’t expect a lot, but took his suggestion anyway. You need to give vegans small wins every now and again, right? After smashing through dinner, we were really glad we took the suggestion. Delicious, authentic cuisine with an awesome vibe to match. Way better than we’d expected.

So the trick is this: We visited both the above with zero expectations, and loved them. We walked into Truth expecting to be blown away, and were disappointed.

So, bringing it to a personal and business perspective, how do you continue to keep clients – and potential clients – keeping you top of mind because you’re ‘the best’, ‘the fastest’, ‘the sexiest’, etc. without setting yourself up to fail? How much hype and advertising is just enough?

Seriously, it’s a question. Would love to hear your thoughts.

A global New Year

January 5th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “A global New Year”

On New Year’s eve, I did a little experiment by sending a select group of friends and family a Whatsapp message simply saying:

Happy New Year!
In this crazily connected world, and in an attempt to get as many towns/cities/countries/continents connected for New Year as possible, please send me a pin/location of where you’re celebrating New Year’s tonight? Ours below.
Here’s to a crazy awesome 2017!

I also included a location pin to where we were. I was overwhelmed by the responses, and below is a big world view of where I received messages from. Pretty cool, I thought.

A few stats from the 92 respondents:

  • 44,5% of people were at home (or nearby)
  • 45,6% of people traveled locally
  • 69% of the South Africans who traveled locally went to the east coast
  • 9,9% of people traveled internationally
  • 86,9% of people enjoyed a summer New Year’s (everyone in South Africa, and John in Equador)
  • People go to some weird-ass places
  • People share their exact locations far too freely… 🙂



Copyright Don Packett 1980-2020