Archive for December, 2014

It’s lonely at the top. See how SA’s CEOs deal.

Posted on: December 20th, 2014 by Rob Opie No Comments

Napoleon Hill was quoted as saying the ladder of success is never crowed at the top. There’s good reason for that. It’s tough at the top, and a lonely place to be. Recently we have witnessed a spate of attacks on CEOs with game plans crammed full of the wrong stuff, and even those with game plans crammed full of the right stuff. Our CEOs are under attack, and there can be no doubting that it’s getting even tougher at the top .The speed and openness of our internet era opens up the information highway. Very little remains private and taking a balance in finding fulfillment in one’s professional and personal life, can prove near impossible for today’s new age of CEOs.

Faced with all this, how does the CEO avoid becoming a heart attack statistic, when next accepting a rare-air golfing invite? More vitamins? Less carbohydrates? I doubt that will do the trick. But CEOs, who reach the pinnacle of their careers, have their own ways of dealing with the loneliness at the top. The competition commission has not made it any easier. Most of the industry forums are long gone. Internal discussion seldom ventures beyond how to take the company to the next level .So who does a CEO turn to when one needs to ‘come back to the fire’? It can be lonely! The most recent buzz word in America is mindfulness. The mother of mindfulness, Ellen Lange, was recently in the county to address audiences, but few South Africans pay much attention to such softer concepts, often choosing the far tougher ‘school of hard knocks’ road to success and significance .But is it sustainable?

On the world stage, our CEOs are only getting better and better. So, they must have a few enlightened tricks up their sleeves. Here are just three ways they apply leverage to keep themselves on top of the ladder – and healthy and happy.

They ‘take heed’ of trusted opinion

CEO’s, as captains of industry, often take on the role of mentorship to many others. But, what about themselves? What about when they themselves need to reboot? South African CEOs are not known to take personal advice easily, as most prefer to forge their own paths. They never fall short of paying good money for professional advice, but most steer well clear from paying for professional personal opinion. Instead they choose to build inner circles of trust to provide scaffolding. But even this can be a lonely path. And can also prove self-destructive. In American things are changing fast. Tony Robbin’s role as ‘CEO whisperer‘ has literally exploded into action. His coaching genius lying in how to help highly successful people reach the next level, and at the same time find personal fulfillment. He helps CEO’s marry complexity and simplicity. He helps CEOs deconstruct complexity and add authenticity and synchronicity – to stay on track when things start to get tough. He helps them reboot, and to make even better professional and personal decisions, that both lead to more profit, more prosperity. For sharing esoteric knowledge and collective wisdom with captains of industry, he gets paid seven figure fees. After all, CEOs are only human, and they know that no one ever succeeds alone .It’s just too lonely – and rarely sustainable.

South Africa CEOs are getting it right with ‘inner circles’ of professional trust, but are they getting it right on the personal front like their American counterparts?

They get their ‘geographics ‘right.

Inner circles do create a professional and personal environment where one can ‘come back to the fire’. It’s no secret that Stellenbosch has become the place of choice for South Africa’s business brilliance. A clustering of SA’s most brilliant brains. Not far behind, is the exploding aerotropolis being created by King Shaka International airport .What’s it all about? It’s about coming back to the fire. Like minded fiercely loyal SA business champions who want nothing more than to see our country prosper. To leave a legacy .A burning desire. Individual and collective ingenuity, driving our country to the next level. No longer only on a national scale, but now on a global scale. It’s a move beyond success to significance.

Stellenbosch has become the geographical home to many strategic ‘inner circles’ of unity, trust and loyalty. Geography plays a key role when it comes to retreating, refining and rebooting. Away from the hustle and bustle of Gauteng, the CEO’s build ‘haciendas and havens’ to plan their next moves – on the professional and personal fronts. A camaraderie exists.

And they pump up their ‘resolve’ with passion, purpose and priority

Great CEO’s all have unwavering FCB – Faith, Confidence and Belief. Faith comes with a powerful multiplier effect. Firstly with faith in one’s own ability to deliver, which is then backed by the universe. 1 + 1 suddenly becomes 3. They know that the universe conspires to help those that conspire to help others. Making a difference is what counts and South Africa’s new breed of globally successful CEOs are the ones getting it right. New age companies, which get the ratio just right between corporate governance and entrepreneurial spirit. It’s driving a new global game of inventiveness. And it’s this ability to impact and change the world for the better, which keeps South Africa’s CEOs both inspired and fulfilled on the professional and personal fronts. An unrelenting pride and ‘never say die’ resolve to build a greater South Africa. It’s a unique ability to see the bigger picture, and power of purpose. The ability to focus on ‘the one thing’. For instance a CEO, like Whitey Basson of Shoprite, is not selling food, he’s busy building Africa – one life at a time. Adrian Gore of Discovery, is not selling medical aid, he’s making people healthier, and enhancing and protecting their lives. Stephen Saad of Aspen, is not selling pills, he’s saving lives worldwide. There is a growing list of South African CEOs with growing ambitions, now impacting on the global stage. They all upping the game to the next level, while remaining fiercely loyal. And contributing immensely to South Africa through job creation and tax revenues. Building a nation. Building family foundations .Men and woman on a mission where passion, purpose, priority, performance and prosperity become one. Indeed South Africa is blessed to have some of the greatest CEO’s in the world. There can be few economies of a similar size that have produced the effort and entrepreneurial ingenuity that South Africa has. Loneliness at the top does get rewarded – it’s the advantage of knowing that one is impacting on millions of lives. As SA’s new age CEOs step on the gas, the future is bright, as we speed towards 2015.

* FREE eBook offer: THE GAME PLAN. Explore your Greatness. Email Rob to request your copy: robopie@the
*Robert Opie is a human brand coach, business/brand consultant, key note speaker and author of the Game Plan, a groundbreaking book that embraces potent game-changing methodologies derived from the great champions of life and health .He helps people to achieve sustained success and significance in their professional and personal lives .Visit

Unleashing your potential. Three champion tips.

Posted on: December 20th, 2014 by Rob Opie No Comments

Paulo Coelho once said that the secret to life is to fall down seven times and get up eight times .The problem with this thinking is that it might leave you wondering if your game plan is actually ‘made of the right stuff’. After all, who really enjoys ‘the school of hard knocks’, when there are far easier ways to move from good too great to greater. To fully unleash your potential professionally and /or personally, it’s far wiser to ’take heed’ of what the great champions know, what they do, and most importantly what they do not do. Here are three tips derived from the great champions of life and health. Surprisingly, many of the most powerful learnings come from when the great champions get it humanly wrong!

The great champions focus more on ‘the why’, than on ‘the what’.

One sure fire way to remain average in life, is to focus one’s primary energy on what one does in life – called ‘the what‘. The great champions do it differently. They choose to focus on ‘the why’. It’s the difference between being motivated to work, and being inspired to do. If you want to bounce out the bed in the morning and ‘tap dance to work ‘, it’s vital to articulate ‘the why’. Otherwise, you will be constantly seeking extrinsic motivation, or the next Christmas bonus. Intrinsic inspiration helps one to find significance and fulfilment in what one is doing, by asking the right questions. Why am I here? Why do we exist? Great brands are built by focusing on ’the why’.

The Coca Cola Company does not sell cold drinks – the what, they sell happiness – the why. Their purpose is to create happiness. Discovery does not sell medical aid, they sell vitality. They create vitality. Woolies do not sell food, they sell ‘the difference’ .Stuttafords do so sell clothes, they sell ‘success’. Landrover do not sells SUVs, they sell ‘beyond’ .BMW do not sell cars, they sell ‘pleasure’ .

Vodacom do not sell voice and data, they sell ‘power’. MNet do not sell programmes , they sell ‘magic’. Biznews does not sell news .They sell ’insight’. The list can go on and on , but the point is that a brand like Apple did not become the most valuable brand in the world by focusing on selling I Phones and I Pads , they focused on selling a concept called ‘think different‘. In a world of near product parity their customers buy ‘the why’. And it’s ‘the why’ that helps them to continually ‘up their game’. Microsoft is a great company because they empower people ‘to do more’. Starbucks became great through nurturing the human spirit one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time.

Personal brands are no different. Mandela sold ‘freedom’. Churchill became great by selling ‘hope’. Branson by selling ‘passion’. Great champions invest in their brands – ‘the why ‘– and then the world invests in them. The World buys ‘the why ‘, as great champions go beyond motivation to inspiration. They do more.

Let’s take an everyday example. An estate agent may become good by selling houses – motivated by earning more commission .But, a great estate agent is inspired by helping to elevate, enhance and enrich people’s lives. And sells more! Greatness is about shifting the focus onto the why! And it often boils down to just ‘one word’. What is your ‘one thing’? What will your ‘one word’ be in 2015– professionally and personally?

The great champions do not fight, they choose to conquer.

When faced with an adverse situation most people choose ‘to fight the good fight‘. Well, surprisingly this is the exact opposite of what the great champions choose to do. They do not engage in ‘the good fight’ per se. They know that it’s far wiser to seek to conquer. On Everest, nobody ever succeeds by ‘fighting the mountain’. Great mountaineers conquer Everest. They work with the mountain. They intuitively avoid turning challenges into constraints. However, many of us as emotionally driven human beings, often unwittingly turn challenges into constraints, and our game plans start to fill up with all the wrong stuff. Things start to go wrong and then we ask why? Conquering is all about ‘taking heed’. Any adverse situation carries with it ‘a universal message’ .The great champions never shoot the messenger ‘. They stay humble. They listen. They learn .They make the necessary changes to stay firm-footed on the road to human greatness. Sometimes, it may be to ‘simply do nothing’, sometimes it may require strategic tweaks, and sometimes it may require a radical tactical shift. The great champions are never adverse to change.

Many many years back a very wise Julius Caesar said ‘I came I saw I conquered ‘.

The great champions create life balance.

After injury lay-offs, American golfers Tiger Woods and Steve Sticker both attempted to reboot their golfing careers this past weekend at the Hero World Challenge. Speaking with experience, Steve Stricker summed it up aptly, by saying that golf is a game that is nearly impossible to play when one is not feeling 100 %.When you’re injured it derails your preparation and knocks your confidence down a peg or two. Closer to home this past weekend ,Welsh golfer Jamie Donaldson arrived at the Nedbank Golf Challenge (Million Dollar) running on empty. At the 2013 NGC he had played stellar golf to narrowly lose out to Thomas Bjorn, so he must have been ultra-keen to play again this year. But, it was not to be. On day two he pulled out with a severe migraine. After an energy sapping and emotional Ryder Cup performance as ‘anchor man’ on the final day, the NGC was one step too far for him in 2014. Last Friday, his physical symptom, in the form of a migraine, proved to be ‘the tipping point’ – a bodily message to push the stop button. A wise move by him to withdraw, considering the next step is called ‘burn out’ – which is a far more difficult scenario to bounce back from. This we have seen with other sporting greats this year alone.

Steve Stricker has it spot on, as one needs to be fully ‘at ease’ to perform in the game of golf – and the game of life. It’s called being in sync – in form – in balance. The great champions understand the unwritten universal law of life balance, which will always seek to restore life balance .It’s a potent life force that is seldom comprehended, often resulting in under performance, right through to many forms of mild to severe ‘states of dis/ease’. It reads as follows ‘ too much or too little of anything for too long – creates imbalance. Beware, as balance is what creates wellness (hence a state of ease), and imbalance is what creates illness (hence a state of dis/ease). A bodily symptom – ‘a universal message’ – will come to the fore when one knowingly or unwittingly creates any form of ongoing imbalance .So it’s always wise to ‘take heed’ before that symptom becomes a serious warning bell. Thankfully, Jamie Donaldson ‘took heed’ and withdrew from the tournament. And luckily, as the other players went out to face 40 + degree heat at Sun City on Friday.

Creating life balance is therefore vital if one wants to fully unleash one’s potential. Every one of us has one, and only one, human energy well. It’s an energy well filled up, or drained, from the three realms of life and health, namely physical, chemical and emotional. Most of us are pretty good at the first two, but what most people do not fully grasp, is that the emotional realm, is by far the most powerful life force. It’s the danger one where one can get it humanly wrong, as it often comes disguised. It can leave you wondering why this, why that, why me, why now? It can leave you mentally drained and with little chance of unleashing your full potential. Jamie Donaldson made a very wise choice not to drain himself physically, after having drained himself emotionally through the gripping Ryder Cup year. It’s the same energy well, whether one depletes it physically, chemically or emotionally.

If you want high emotional energy levels for 2015, here are the vital emotions to grab hold of, and importantly those to let go of .Firstly the six primary energy disrupters, that if allowed to stay in to play for any protracted period, will certainly drain you , and highly likely make you ill. They are Guilt, Resentment, Criticism, Fear, Hate and Futility/Self Pity. But, thankfully the six primary energy givers are far more powerful, as they are responsible for creating life balance. They are Unconditional Love, Gratitude, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Joy and Happiness. Focus on them and 2015 will be a breeze.

Gary Player, whilst commentating at Sun City this past weekend, highlighted the importance of gratitude in life. Gratitude is the force that champions use to unleash potential and achieve fulfillment in life .As Melody Beattie once powerfully wrote, ‘Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, hate into love, chaos into order, and confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace joy and happiness for today and creates a vision tomorrow.’

December is a magical month with a smorgasbord of choices to do whatever you like. It’s the month of well-earned reprieve, retreat, recreation and relaxation. Then come all the other R’s as in reflecting, refining, refueling and then rebooting for 2015. Make sure your game plan for 2015 is crammed full of more of ‘the right stuff ‘. Stand on the shoulders or the great champions of life and health, and reach for your own dreams. Here’s to wishing you a great festive season and a 2015 packed with performance and fulfillment.