Monday, January 9, 2017

What Do You Do For A Living?

People often ask me what my company does besides publishing books. I tell them that we also do editing + proofreading, research for various projects + copywriting (and public relations) for individuals, small businesses, corporations, government departments and civic organisations among other peripheral clients. Did I also mention media training? Alright then.
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Among the follow-up questions they ask me would that astounding request for clarity: “Exactly what it is that an editor does? What do you mean editing? What is that?” This might sound like a silly question, but it is delightfully genuinely. Being the think-on-your-feet fellow that I am, I always have a number of answers up my sleeve. One of those is that I sell marinade to the chesa nyama guys. Or that I remove weeds from people’s gardens. Yet, these are not my favourites.
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The one answer that I love the most, and will share with you just now, is wrapped up in the following phrase: Consider me a domestic worker for writers.
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They ask what I mean by that. I tell them, “Imagine being invited to speak at a friend’s wedding. You buy yourself a killer outfit and when the big day comes you can’t wait to take a nice warm bath and rock the outfit. After dressing up, you rush to deliver your rehearsed speech at your friend’s wedding. When you get there, everyone is shocked to see you. As you wonder what’s going on, some brave soul takes you to the back of the venue and tells you that your outfit is not ironed. You look at your outfit and suddenly realise that it’s wrinkled and too embarrassing for you to be wearing it.
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“Not waiting for more scorn, you speed home and immediately ask the domestic worker to iron the outfit for you as soon as possible because you are next on the programme. The domestic worker, especially if it’s your spouse (kkkkk), happily gives the outfit its proper look and feel. Moments later you wear it with pride and head back to your friend’s wedding feeling good about yourself. Everyone who thought you had been hit by a bomb is now excited to see that you survived the blast. As you give your resounding speech you are not really sure if they are clapping hands for your wise words or the fact that you had your outfit sorted out. It matters little because in the end you win.
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That’s similar to what I do, except that I won’t let you leave the house in a wrinkled outfit to begin with. I make sure that your writing looks its best when it lands in the hands of a reader. You need not worry about spelling, grammar, flow or style. Those are my domestic duties, at the right fee. I have been doing this for five years and have been writing for 10 years before I became an editor. That’s me and my company. We give you the EPS Feeling: Experience + Knowledge + Sekgowa = ROYAL MINDS COMMUNICATIONS & PUBLISHING (RMCP). KINGS AT YOUR SERVICE.”
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In case you need any of our services, holla at your man on 073 635 4550 or hit me with an inbox message right here on FB. #2017WeInBusinessPapa

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

I wish you a safe journey (a WARNING to the hustlers)

An old woman once saved some money so that she could buy her grandchildren Xmas groceries. When Xmas approached, the old woman caught a taxi to the shopping complex in town. After a whole day of shopping, she then caught a taxi back with heavy plastic bags full of mouth-watering groceries for her grandkids, whom she wanted to surprise. When she got off the taxi, she needed to walk about 500m to her house. As she limped forward, some two boys offered to help her carry the heavy items home. Seeing that she knew these boys, she let them help her. In a blink of an eye the old woman realized that she was walking alone. She had been robbed and the cruel boys were nowhere to be seen. She only had one plastic bag left in her hands. Given the severity of the pain she felt for losing all her hard-earned efforts, she started feeling dizzy. It was all too much to bear. She had spent months planning to surprise her impoverished grandchildren. In one elderly heap of disappointment she collapsed and died.
I have seen such similar incidents occurring in our line of hustle. All hustlers know that having great ideas is useless if you have no one to help you turn them into cash. Unfortunately, most of the people who come to help us, bring their corporate guns to rob our asses blind once the ideas start flying, if they do. Sometimes you will only see your own idea on TV or read about it in a financial magazine. The greatest challenge for aspiring entrepreneurs is to find their own doors and keys to unlock their own futures. Those locks and doors are otherwise known as Information & Knowledge. If we don't get these keys, we will be robbed blind. Stress will kill our hustle and sup all our ambitions. I have been used in some business arrangements in the past 12 years or so. I have worked with people on some money-making projects only to hear from financial auditors that money long came in and was split among all of us, including me. I have signed deals worth more than a million Rands, but to this day I am still hustling. Chapter 11 of my book, 12 Types of People to Love... From a Distance, deals with the ruthlessness that comes with the hustling territory. I have come to know that it is not everyone who comes to help us nourish our ideas who has noble intentions. I have realized that most of the times, those who come to help us only come to eat. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there. The scavengers only arrive for a killing. Get the right Information & Knowledge. Don't go around blindly brandishing your ideas to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Trust is a rare commodity within the business world. Once you find people you can trust, then you have scored big - you have found the gold that has eluded many of us.

I wish every aspiring entrepreneur a safe journey to business success.‪#‎GuardYourHustle‬

Kgoshii Lerabela

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Are we artists okay in the head?

I have an ego, I must admit. And so do you. Ego can be constructive in protecting us from social degradation. However, ego can also be atomically destructive and cause us the worst forms of social degradation. Unfortunately, more often than not, our egos can mercilessly lead us into the unwanted evil of our self-manufactured downfall. For an extended example, if you want to see the ugly nakedness of ego, just live closer to what we shall call Musicians And Stupid Singers (The MASS). We musicians and stupid singers have such unbearable egos. And for that reason, we hate any person who has the tiniest inclination to criticise our musical products. "Don't touch me on my studio" is noisy song we sing whenever we go looking for people to approve of our half-baked musical products. Trust me, I know. I have been part of The MASS for the past 20 years.

The challenge is that this ego-ravished approach to creating excellent musical products will never work because The MASS are in their own way. Admit it or not, we are in our own way. We fear criticism so much that we won't give an ear to anyone who doesn't feel our music in their ears. You may be saying, "Yes, it is true that the fear of criticism is worse than our fear of death, but how does this work against musicians and singers?" The major challenge with this MASS Ego is that a musician or singer will approach you with their song in hand and ask you to give them your "honest" opinion about their musical product. You listen to the song and then give your opinion. What happens next? If your opinion is not complete adulation or gargantuan adoration for their musical product you are going to have an argument on why the product is good. Now, how is that asking for someone's "honest" opinion? We musicians and stupid singers are nothing but a bunch of egomaniacs and shameless pretenders. We come to you pretending that we are looking for an "honest" opinion or assessment when we are in actual fact looking for praise. How diabolic is this approach to developing our products into the best out there? Haven't we learned something from the story of Lucifer who, because of an unbearable ego, messed with his Creator because he wanted to shine brighter than the One who made him? Now, in the same way, we mess with our own creativity because we just want to ascend to the throne of praise even when we have not created anything worthy such applause. We musicians and stupid singers always pretend we are looking for an opinion that can help us improve on what we have created when in truth we just came for a standing ovation. This is madness. This is ego at its destructive best.

My solution is simple. If you really want an "honest" opinion on your musical product, just bear the criticism and go evaluate it in your personal creative space. Don't attack on spit on the honest opinions of people you approached for an opinion in the first place. If you don't want the criticism, don't ask for anyone's opinion. Just take your product to the public and they will decide whether they think your product needs some work or not. One thing I have learned in this world of music is that, hypothetically, one song can generate 10 different opinions from 10 different listeners. When someone doesn't like a song that I composed, sang and/or produced, I don't take it personally anymore. Trust me, I have heard people criticising or not even paying the slightest attention to a Tupac song that I thought was the best hip hop song in the world. Now, if someone doesn't honestly feel the legendary Tupac, or a song that I thought was one of his best, who am I to boil with rage when someone doesn't feel my song? This is too much ego and it's poisonous. It can destroy the very art we try to create. When someone criticises your song, they are saying to you, "You might want to consider this before going out there with this product." What is so wrong with considering something? If you feel the person is wrong, don't take it personally, don't argue and don't attack. Just go with the opinions of the nine others, or at least one of them. If you want praise, just play the song and hallucinate in self-praise. Only the market can judge you. If the people love you out there, there is no need for you to go pretending you are looking for an "honest" opinion when you are in fact looking for a fan. Lamentably, this is the same story you come across when dealing with fine artists, crafters, journalists, dancers, athletes, bakers, love-makers, etc. We human beings just don't want to be told anything, unless it's good to our ears. However, I feel it is fair that sometimes we should tell people what they need to hear, when it really matters.

I'm sure I have stepped on a lot of egos with this post, but I don't care because I'm still also going to approach people for their "honest" opinion about my music. And I swear to you, I will do that with my heart hoping that I get some serious praise. Mine is not to frown when someone points out that tiny room of improvement. Criticism in general is hard to stomach, but we must treat constructive criticism like bitter medicine aimed at treating an ailment. We must grin and bear it. We must be brave enough to suffer three constructive criticism opinions than to suffer the embarrassment of being told to quit music and look for a job. Like it or not, a thousand plus critics await your music out there. What are you going to do when they rubbish you in the open just because you refused to listen to advice in private. This is the sorry story we see of families banding together in support of someone who believes they will be the next Idol when in fact that person can't sing to save his or her life. We need to be honest enough with ourselves to take some criticism. Remember, criticism is not meant to stop us, but meant to highlight areas where we can become better. As an author, I have received some constructive criticism from some of my friends who read 12 Types of People to Love. It was hard taking the criticism but as time went along, with many others showering me with praise, I have seen that I can use some of the criticism to my advantage in my next offering. I can't change some of the unnecessary parts in the book now, but I sure can do better next time. English author Neil Gaiman once wrote, "I suspect that most authors don't really want criticism, not even constructive criticism. They want straight-out, unabashed, unashamed, fulsome, informed, naked praise, arriving by the shipload every fifteen minutes or so." The same can be said about The MASS.

Sadly, criticism is a controversial topic. Inspiration speaker and author H. Norman Wright once argued, "Is constructive criticism really constructive? Not really. You can't make a child better by pointing out what you think is wrong with him or her. Criticism either crushes spirit or elicits defensiveness. Constructive criticism is an interesting combination of words. 'Construct' means 'to build.' 'Criticism' means 'to tear down.' It creates defiance and anger as well." As much as I agree with him to an extent, as an author and a musician and stupid singer myself, I have to also caution against following that line of thinking. If your friend is building a beautiful mansion in a water-logged area, would you be fair to only celebrate the beauty of their house when you can see that it won't stand for long? One of our own South African products, Unarine Ramaru, a journalist and graphic designer had this to say about criticism: "Choose criticism wisely, it might help you improve some elements of what you do."

It's up to you? Are you looking for an "honest" opinion or are you looking for praise? Be clear what is it that you want; you can save all of us the ego madness.

Kgoshii Lerabela

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Are You Leading Or Misleading?

There is a difference between a leader and a title holder. A title holder is by virtue of the title expected to lead, but normally they want everybody to simply believe they are leading, when in fact that is called misleading. A leader, on the other hand, doesn't give a damn if they have a nice title or not, they simply get everyone on board and they get the job done.

Are you a Leader or Misleader? Are you more concerned with the title or with the job well done? What do the results say about your leadership?

CONFESSION: I am a title holder and I want to become a leader.

CONVICTION: I am learning about leadership and I am willing to lead through action rather than through title.

I hope this message has struck a good vein of leadership in you. If you were a Misleader, please join me in my quest to be Leader.

Kgoshii Lerabela


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Honourable Speaker, Please Recognise Me

"Please recognise me."

These are the words that have become synonymous with our 2015 National Assembly. While many argue issues around the EFF being disrespectful or the ANC house chairs being intolerant or biased towards their own, what most of us are missing is the meaning behind the words, "Please recognise me."

Listening to my favourite rapper of all time, and personal role model, Tupac Amaru Shakur, I heard the words, "You better recognise." This took me back to my embryonic years as an uncontrollable hip hop fanatic whose main sources of entertainment was music and violent movies depicting black American youths killing each other within a maze of cuss words and unprotected sex with one another's girlfriends. In one of those movies, Above The Rim, Birdie (played by Tupac) can be seen stabbing his enemy who had been sleeping when he was woken up to meet his Lord through the sharp end of an indifferent knife in the hands of an angry young black man. As he stabs the black flesh, Birdie says to him, "You better recognise."

Now, as I grew older I started reading philosophy and psychology books. Reading was a prerequisite for any true follower of Tupac, whose greatness can be attributed to the thousands of books he read. Unlike Tupac, my mother didn't have to send me to the library or have me read entire newspapers as punishment for my misdemeanors. I read because I loved Tupac's mind and he attributed it to the heavy books he read. Peradventure, among the sheets of material that I read in stacks of stolen textbooks and through my defunct Encarta computer library was one philosopher named Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, a German idealist whose works have influenced a lot of present day socio-political discourse. Hegel championed an argument that at the centre of all human life and history was what he termed, "Kampf um anerkennung (Struggle for recognition)." Through Hegel, Tupac and our parliamentary (or unparliamentary) shenanigans I have come to recognise that we are indeed in a struggle for recognition. Every human being wants to be recognised, acknowledged, respected and favoured (sometimes above others). The struggle for recognition permeates our family lives, work environments, friendships and romantic relationship.

In my work as a sub editor, I have come across a number of freelance journalists who lose their tempers when their stories are published but their bylines are not used. I would wonder why these people would be so angry at not getting a byline when everyone knows that some publications only use the news agency's name as a byline for all stories that come from us. Listening to Tupac, watching the Parliamentary Services Channel on 408 or via internet streaming and reminiscing on my Hegelian days as a rebellious youth hungry for knowledge, I have come to understand. We all want to be recognised. Journalist or not journalist, we all want the byline. If you buy booze at a round table at Orange Restaurant or Cappello, you'd probably feel bad if most of the people guzzling the liquor had no idea it was you footing the bill.  You want your byline. If you bought your lover a present using your last money and they failed to recognise your efforts, you might somehow feel dejected and uninspired to continue doing good for them. You want your byline. If your team won a big contract and everybody in the team knows without you their goal would not have been achieved, but they still failed to recognise your hard work, a resignation letter might follow suit. You want your byline. Everybody wants their byline.

Unfortunately, the struggle for recognition doesn't just end or start with genuine demands for recognition. Even those who don't deserve to be recognised still desire to be recognised. When it comes to the struggle for recognition, the mantra "Give respect where is due" doesn't matter; people just want recognition even when they have not earned it. We want to be recognised as the best child to our parents, best brother or sister among our siblings, best cousin among our relatives, best employee at work, best lover ever to our significant other, best friend amongst our acquaintances. The irrational need for recognition even prompted the writers of the Bible to depict God as a recognition-hungry idiot who'd unleash eternal fire and brimstone upon anyone who failed to recognise that he is God. The struggle for recognition is real. You can see it on our social networks when we tear each other down in various forums or comment boxes; where some of us write long post in order to demonstrate our unmatched intellectual abilities. The only people I know who don't care about recognition are resting quietly in their graves or fragments of ashes either stored in an urn or scattered abroad like the children of God in the Bible.

So, next time you see an honourable member standing up in parliament and shouting, "Speaker, recognise me, please recognise me," you must understand that this is just another chapter in our quest to educate ourselves about ourselves. Human nature demands to be recognised. Yes, it is an ego thing, but it is a real thing. Somebody better recognise.


Kgoshii Lerabela (byline)