Monthly Archives: October, 2013

Freedom of speech

October 30th, 2013 Posted by Uncategorized 5 thoughts on “Freedom of speech”

Dear lady event organiser,

To start, when someone says they’d be honoured to include me as a guest speaker, I wet my pants. The good kind of way. You certainly know how to get a guy’s attention!

I refer to your email dated 24 October 2013 (last Thursday).

Dear Mr. Don Packett
I trust this email finds you well. I am writing to formally invite you to be join us as a guest speaker at the (event name removed) that will be taking place from the 29-30 October 2013 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. I have attached an official invitation as well as the conference agenda for your referral.

Formally invited as a guest speaker? Snazzy!


I perused the agenda, and saw that the two potential time-slots you offered me were, in fact, taken by two other speakers. Now, I’m sure you realised that they were far inferior to what my talents would bring to your fantastical event, and decided to get rid of them to make space for me, I just hope you let them down gently. If it will help, I can totally go over to their houses, where they’re likely to be weeping into their pillows, and give them a big hug to make them feel better. I’m all about the goodness here. Really.

The one thing that was missing from your very complimentary email, however, was the speaker fee. “A minor error” I thought to myself. If attendees are all paying over R8,000, each, to attend, surely your formally invited guest speakers would be paid for their professional contribution to the event? I refer to my reply to your most graceful email:

Hi (lady name),
Thanks very much for the invite.
I can’t find any rates or costings for speakers in the documentation. My standard speaker rate is (cost here).
Please let me know if I can send through a formal quotation.
Thanks so much.

Now, I understand you probably have a few things going on right now, so I understand if you couldn’t reply right away. I had a girlfriend who was basically catatonic whenever it was that time of the month. You couldn’t get her out of bed at all! I guess everyone has their own way of dealing with things. I hear her monthly heroine binge has now changed to bi-monthly. Go Tracy!

I’m no expert (even though you refer to me as such, thank you again, you little flirt), but if I could give you a little piece of advice, I’d say not replying to emails is a bad way of dealing with these things. If I were you, I’d get right onto your little laptop computer and get typing, missy! Nothing says “If you believe it, you can achieve it” like a good old-fashioned reply to an email. It’s Step 1 in the 12-step process I’m told. You can do it, sport!

If it’s about the money, oh heck, I’ll do it for free! Freedom of speech really means I’ll speak at any event for free, right? Right? Especially the events where people actually pay to be there. You have an excellent business model, oh wise one. I’ll just get my wife to walk around with the fancy pool-net like they do in church. I know, smaaaaaaaaaart!

In the meantime, my wife and I are sitting outside the Sandton Convention Centre waiting for your reply. I realise the Day 1 slot (yesterday) that you had solely reserved for me was obviously a nightmare to control. I hope you apologised to the attendees for my absence, and offered at least a free lunch and 4GB USB stick to appease the stampeding mob.

I have, smartly, booked out the time-slot you had allocated for me for Day 2 of the event (which is in about 2 hours’ time), as well as 2 hours on either side of it, just in case your email got stuck somewhere in the cyberwebs and is on it’s merry little way. I’d hate to disappoint the crowds again. One can only imagine the trauma you must have gone through yesterday. Once, I forgot to feed my neighbour’s cat when they went on holiday. The once was on the day they left, and after 2 weeks when I finally remembered to go over, the little thing was so angry he was as stiff as a board! I tried to feed him but he just stayed put. Stubborn little bugger. He must’ve been really steadfast in his protest against me, because it smelled like he hadn’t bathed himself in days. Ah, to be young and care-free again.

Once again, thank you for considering me for the position. As you’d mentioned in your formal invitation: “I hope very much to have the honour of including you as an expert speaker at this important industry leading event”, I truly hope to have the honour, myself, of being included as an expert guest speaker at your important industry leading event. When you reply to my email, of course.

Yours in pressing Send/Receive repeatedly,

Don Packett Esq.

Extra fodder: Rich reminded me of Ben’s great line: “Whenever I do a talk for free, I always think of the guy cleaning the toilets, making more money than I am.”

Original bank statements?

October 16th, 2013 Posted by Uncategorized 2 thoughts on “Original bank statements?”

We are fortunate enough to deal with some of the biggest companies in the country.

We’re also very unfortunate to be dealing with some of the biggest companies in the country.

The former, because they have money to spend on guys like us. The latter, because the process to actually get that money paid to us is a chore beyond measure.

Every new client we work with requires a long list of “New Supplier Forms”, which consist of company registration docs, VAT docs, auditors letters, bank statements or confirmation of accounts, the list goes on and on. We’ve even been asked for copies of signed  employment contracts of the staff working on a particular project.

It’s mental.

Every document, although tedious to collect, collate and send through to the new client, is easily enough found, scanned and delivered. Copies of all documentation is accepted. The one that we can’t scan and email, however, are any bank statements. These are always required to be originals, never copies, including a stamp and signature from the bank not older than 3 months.

This requires the bank account owner (i.e. me) to sit in a branch for at least an hour (what is this, 1998?) to get an original letter every few months. I can quite honestly say that I have much better things to do with my time.

Now, back in the day, bank statements used to be free of charge. Today, you pay R11 PER PAGE. I was also informed earlier today that the bank account confirmation letters will be charged for in the near future too. Oh fantastic.

I can’t blame the bank. Paper and ink costs money. I get it. But, why has no-one found an alternative to this? An alternative that appeases the mind-numbing keyboard-junkies in corporate procurement – who love to refuse documents which aren’t signed in quite the black ink they’d prefer. Because no-one gives a shit. No-one cares about the small business who has to waste time sitting in a queue to tell big business what we already know.

So what’s the alternative? If client X absolutely needs this information, can I charge for my time to do this, including covering the costs I have to pay the bank for the prints? Or tell them to get the docs themselves?

I’d like to say no.

I’d suggest all banks create or subscribe to a system where “original documents”, or “authorised letters of confirmation” are delivered to relevant parties directly from the vault – online. Or for certain individuals to be allowed access to view the top level detail of accounts (not including bank statement, purely bank account number, owner, code, etc.), when they have viewed it, they print the details directly from the site and add to your supplier forms. It could be an addition to your internet banking capabilities.

Or let me send these details via email, authorised by the bank by password protection if you’d prefer, to stop this madness.

Modern day business should not require me to waste my time while killing trees in the process.

C’mon corporate South Africa, let’s think this through here.

Life lessons from Tim Minchin

October 3rd, 2013 Posted by Uncategorized 0 thoughts on “Life lessons from Tim Minchin”

Tim Minchin. Smart guy.

His UWA speech has been doing the rounds, so I thought I’d add my 3 big points that stood out for me the most:

1. Be pro-stuff, not just anti-stuff.

Tim: “Define yourself by what you love. We have a tendency to define ourselves in opposition to stuff. Try to express your passion for things you love.”

I love this. Everyone has that mate who’s thing is to hate something. Meat, religion, raisins, whatever. The concept of being that guy for being passionate for something appeals way more to me than the opposite. I must admit, I’m very outwardly in opposition of raisins, bad grammar and social media overshare, however, I’d love to work toward more people knowing me for being passionate about something. That’s a pretty awesome place to be.

2. Respect. Everyone.

Tim: “I don’t care if you’re the most powerful cat in the room, I will judge you on how you treat the least powerful.”

So often I have to use the line “we’re all adults here” to get people I meet with to understand that, even though they may be in a lower order of the food chain, everyone eats, sleeps and shits, just like everybody else. When you’re standing in a line-up, no-one cares where you’re from or how much money you make, they care about what you did. Do amazing things, and make sure that when others do amazing things, wherever they sit on that big fat corporate ladder, they get praised accordingly.

3. Never stop learning.

Tim: “Life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can.”

I’m a big advocate of knowing lots about lots. I was luckily always an inquisitive kid, and would watch my dad fix lawnmowers, toasters, whatever one of his 4 children broke. He was a DIY legend. His philosophy, as I understood it, was “A man without a drill and full toolkit was a man who was probably on his way to buy a drill and full toolkit.” Men fixed things. And so do it, thanks to my dad. One thing he taught me was to never give up, and figure it out. I try my best to do that not only in all the DIY around my house, but in other things too. The sense of accomplishment is phenomenal, and something I will with no doubt in my mind share with my kids one day.

Tim Minchin. Smart guy. 🙂

If you haven’t seen the video, check it out below.

Copyright Don Packett 1980-2020