Category Archives: Origin and Identity


Have you ever thought about what anchors you? The people, things, habits, thoughts, smells and tastes that make you think, “yes, I feel secure. I belong here.”

Yes, it’s important to move forward, to look ahead and not back. To allow the winds to fill the sails of life and propel you forward to new adventures.

And it is also important to know when it is necessary to drop anchor in a quiet cove, enjoy the slow pace, relish the security and recharge for the next adventure.

My varied careers have taken me to different places, many of them to other countries. It’s adventurous to be able to do that. With each new place I visit, I learn something new about myself. The things which drive me forward, the things which render me stuck, and what anchors me.

When the adventure is over I return home, to Che, to my family, to the familiar smells, routines and tastes of what anchors me. On deeper reflection, what anchors me is also what allows me to sail forward in search of adventure. I wouldn’t be able to do one without the other – the balance between forward-momentum and the sheltering coves of my life’s journey.


Embracing Melancholy

Embracing melancholy as part of my nature, not something to be denied or relegated to the dark stifling depths of who I don’t want to be is probably the most difficult thing to share.

This is the area from which my style of writing comes from, the most authentic tone as I ponder life’s vagaries. It is this part of me that writes passable prose and the rare poem or two. It is this part of me that keeps those poems private feeling shame of the voice within me. It is this part of me that paralyses me, faced with a blank page, the unformed thoughts, unable to put them into words raging within me, never seeing the light of day to be forever locked away by my inner critic.

Embracing melancholy is what enabled me to write this piece, without stopping, allowing the words to spill from my consciousness to my fingers to this page.

I haven’t yet found a language for my melancholy.

It’s not a sadness it’s not depression. It’s a stirring dissatisfaction with the present, the status quo, of things that could be different, of my role in changing them and the eventual acceptance that I’m not able to change everything…


Find Your Voice Instead

For years I was told to build my brand at work, my professional one. This was new because I had never thought it applied to me. I equated brands to products and companies, not people. I thought people had to work hard and be known for their contribution.

Building my brand

Without knowing anything better I set about building my brand. At the time I started working for a competitive and entrepreneurial company where networks were the currency of the culture, and having a brand was important for how people perceived you.

Feelings of anxiety

This led to heightened feelings of anxiety for me. One of the unintended consequences of this type of culture was that you were only as successful as your last project. But what if your last project wasn’t successful? The halo-effect was alive and well which was mitigated by having regular performance assessments.

All was not dire though. This company had some great aspects too, like encouraging autonomy, mastery and purpose – both professional and personal. Performance reviews were driven by the employee and not the manager which meant that I could have one as soon as a project was completed.

I think I built a good brand, I was told many times this was so. But when it came to moving upwards or even sideways to new opportunities it didn’t help me much.

General or local brands

That is the thing with brands – most are localised and only a few are generalised. Everyone knows Coke, MacDonalds and KFC. But not everyone knows Mugg and Bean, Liqui Fruit and Mrs Balls Chutney because they are localised to South African culture.

The same applies to people as brands – I imagine that the whole world knows Elon Musk but that only South Africans know Richard Maponya. Both are business visionaries, leaders in their field and respected widely for their accomplishments. And they changed or are changing a bit of the world.

Find your voice instead

Leaving two-dimensional brand building for people behind, Sheryl Sandberg proposes to find your voice instead.

The idea of developing your personal brand is a bad one, according to Sandberg. “People aren’t brands,” she says. “That’s what products need. They need to be packaged cleanly, neatly, concretely. People aren’t like that.” (Source).

People are multi-dimensional and more than what the world sees. Often our voices are drowned out by the cacophony of multiple other voices louder than ours, divergent voices, angry voices, dissenting and contrarian ones. But they are voices nonetheless.

“Who am I?” asks Sandberg. “I am the COO of Facebook, a company I deeply believe in. I’m an author. I’m a mom. I’m a widow. At some level, I’m still deeply heartbroken. I am a friend and I am a sister. I am a lot of very messy, complicated things. I don’t have a brand, but I have a voice.” (Source).

Focus on developing your voice, she says. Figuring out what’s important to you and being willing to use your voice for that purpose is incredibly valuable. “If you are doing it to develop your personal brand, it’s empty and self-serving and not about what you’re talking about,” she says. “If you’re doing it because there is something you want to see changed in the world, that’s where it will have value and depth and integrity.” (Source).

After years of so-called brand-building, I now am exploring what my voice is. The idea is more in tune with what I feel to be true, without the clouding aspects of money and status, and open to making a real difference to the world, no matter how small. This blog is playing a role in this exploration, much like a trusted travel companion, comforting at times and challenging me to go outside of that comfort at others.

I would like this piece to open up a conversation on what is a voice, what does it mean and how it can be expressed. Please accept this as an invitation to have the conversation and let us see where it takes us.


Kinni, T. (2017, July 17). Sheryl Sandberg: Develop Your Voice, Not Your Brand. Retrieved August 09, 2017, from


Infused With Excitement

I spent the last two days on a training course, this time as a delegate. For the introductions we had to interview another person and write key attributes on separate stickie notes. As I look on how the other person interpreted what I said, I saw something unexpected, surprising and pleasant reflected back at me…a gradual and gentle shift awakening to a new version of me infused with excitement. Take a look at the photo below.