The year was in 1942.
Come in Please, said the young man sitting behind the desk. It was a large desk, wooden, elegant and showed distinction and class. Behind it the man was wearing a suit and tie. He seemed kind but hard working.
In came an elegant tall African man. He was wearing old clothes and looked quite ragged.
“Please take a seat, Thank you for coming. Please tell me about yourself.”
I have come from the Transkei, I was working as a night watch men for Crown mines. I lost my job as a night watchman as I didn’t have a pass book.
“I see. What is it that you want to become?”
“I would like to become a lawyer, Sir. I am struggling with funds at the moment?”
The young man sitting across the table looked intently.
Times are bad in this country. Do you know what I think?
“An educated man cannot be oppressed because he can think for himself.
I want you to work for me.
"It was a Jewish firm, and in my experience I have found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice."
The South African attorney Lazar Sidelsky, who has died aged 90, made significant breaches in the colour bar in South Africa's legal profession. And by employing and mentoring the young Nelson Mandela, he contributed to more widespread change, grounded in the rule of law.
Sidelsky's firm of Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman pioneered the employment of black people, enabling them to be articled and qualify as attorneys, in defiance of practice at the time. In his autobiography, Long Walk To Freedom, Mandela noted that "It was a Jewish firm, and in my experience I have found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice."
Mandela was introduced to the firm in 1942 by Walter Sisulu, with whom he had been working for a real estate company. Sidelsky was 30, a lively, slender, bright-eyed, courteous man with a pencil moustache. He took a genuine interest in his welfare and his future, Mandela recalled, and preached the value and importance of education, arguing that only mass education would liberate the African people.
An educated man, said Sidelsky, could not be oppressed because he could think for himself. He was a patient and generous teacher. The law could be a tool to change society, Sidelsky believed, but he warned Mandela that politics was to be avoided, as a source of trouble and corruption. Yet, at the firm, Mandela was compelled by his senior colleague Nat Bregman to consider what communism had to offer when they went together to mixed-race political meetings.
Mandela considered Bregman his first white friend, but Sidelsky had been the first white man to treat him with respect. When Mandela and Oliver Tambo set up the country's only solely black law practice in 1952, Sidelsky lent them money to do so.
Sidelsky was born in Johannesburg, the son of immigrants who had fled Lithuanian pogroms. The family bought a farm in the eastern Transvaal highveld, and Sidelsky went to school in the town of Ermelo. His father died as Sidelsky was about to begin law studies at the University of the Witwatersrand. So Sidelsky paid his way through university playing the violin and leading Skoenie and his Connecticut Yankees, a jazz band. After daytime lectures, Sidelsky would change into a borrowed tuxedo and walk 10 miles across Johannesburg to a rather rough part of town, where his band performed nightly.
He obtained BA and LLB degrees, and began practising as an attorney. He developed a large practice that granted mortgages for Africans at a time when few firms were prepared to do so. He was a member of the Law Society of the Transvaal for 60 years, continuing to practise until he was 88 years old.
Last year, when Mandela was honoured by the Johannesburg press as "Newsmaker of the decade", Sidelsky was at his side at a banquet in Sandton, Johannesburg. Both men were presented with engraved walking sticks to mark the occasion. Sidelsky is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
Lazar Sidelsky, lawyer, born October 7 1911; died May 17 2002
Think of a grain of rice.
Think of a chess board.
Put one grain of rice on the first square of the chess board. Then put two grains of rice on the next square of the chess board. Keep on doubling the grain of rice for every square of the chess board. By the time you reach the end of the chess board all the rice in all the world will not be enough.
In 1973 Steve Sasson created a camera.
It was the size of a toaster.
It weighed 4,2 kg.
It had a resolution of 0.01 megapixels.
It took 30 black and white images.
It stored pictures on a cassette tape instead of a spool.
Steve took his new camera to the board of Kodak. They were not impressed. They were in the business of people taking pictures, then they go to a shopping centre to have the picture developed using a chemical system.
This camera they said would cause them to compete with themselves. The board of Kodak pushed the technology aside and ignored it.
Fast forward a few years, 2008 to be exact. A tourist is walking along Golden Gate Bridge in San Fransisco. One of the Kiosk’s is a man selling camera’s. Kodaks.
“Would you like to buy a camera?”, He asks
“No, Thank You, the camera in my phone is taking excellent pictures.”
The kiosk salesman rushes to his phone to make a call.
“They are putting camera’s in phones.” He screams
Kodak rushes to try develop the new technology in time, but it is too late. A company with 140 000 employees and worth $28 billion dollars filed for bankruptcy.
The Heat was ferocious. The Sun was beating down relentlessly. It hadn’t rained in months.
Brutus the lion was fierce and aggressive. No-one crossed his path.
Shelly the sheep who was a mellow, meek and mild sheep.
She looked after three little lambs and stayed out of trouble. She always kept out of the way of everyone and didn’t dare cause any harm.
The drought was getting worse and worse.
Shelly walked up to her usual lake to drink a little bit of water and opened her mouth but there was no-water only sand. She spat out the horrible dry sand and went to search for water for herself and her little lambs.
She walked and walked in the furious heat for days and days. She came across a small lake. She gently put her mouth into the water and drank.
Brutus was irritable, angry and hungry. It was hot and he hadn’t eaten in days. He slowly got up and started walking to his pond, his pond. Everyone in the animal kingdom knew to stay away from it for they knew the trouble they would be in.
He looked ahead and couldn’t believe his eyes. A sheep was drinking from his pond. The rage built up inside of him and he started running and running through the bushes as fast as he could.
He ran straight into Shelly who go knocked off her feet. He growled a mighty roar and lifted his paw for the killer blow. For how could a Sheep drink from the pond of a lion?
Out of the glint of his eye he saw something, Vultures.
Circling above looking down at the spectacle. Waiting in anticipation for the hearty meal he was about to enjoy.
Brutus realised even if he killed Shelly he was too exhausted in this ferocious heat. He would also die and become a meal for the circling vultures above.
If he insisted on the Lions share he would have nothing.
Something amazing happened in the animal kingdom. Brutus let Shelly go and together side by side two animals drank the precious water together.
A few kilometres away on Farmer Brown’s farm there were two donkeys.
Adam and William. Adam was lazy and slow. While William was hardworking and did everything he was asked.
One day the farmer asked Adam and William to accompany him to the market to drop off the farms precious fruit and vegetables to sell. It was a long and treacherous journey.
Early in the morning the farmer with his two donkeys left the farm. William carrying the heavy load and Adam the light apples.
Along one of the rocky paths William took a step and a nail cracked his hoof. He cried out in pain.
“Adam! Please help me I can’t carry this weight with my sore leg.” William pleaded for help. Adam just ignored his fellow donkeys plight and continued the journey.
A few minutes later there was a loud crack and William came crashing to the ground. His load flew all over the road.
William had broken his leg.
The farmer got out and with tears in his eyes took out a gun and shot William to release him out of his pain and misery.
Adam the lazy and uncaring donkey now had to carry his load and William’s load. His burden was now so much greater.
These maybe stories from the animal kingdom but these have huge relevance in our lives today.
There is story that Nelson Mandela stopped his motorcade to pick up a woman who was carrying heavy parcels in the rain.
Every day I see people like William the donkey working hard and I see people like Adam the donkey hiding away from hard work.
Without Team work humans, cannot achieve anything.
Every one of our greatest achievements have been done through team work.
My call to you is to create a culture of teamwork so that we can all achieve wonderful things otherwise we will all, be left with nothing.
This past week there was a truck protest against the government changing coal suppliers and insisting on independent contractors. The truck drivers obviously didn’t like this and have organized a “drive slow” along the highway which has caused a lot of aggravation for the public.
The government has stated that coal power is unsustainable and needs to be phased out in the near future. This I agree with.
The truck drivers don’t like this and don’t understand that there are other opportunities. Instead of blocking the highway and frustrating and harming other motorists why don’t they see the other opportunities that may come available to them?
Life is all about change. Experts are saying that in the next few years 47% of all human jobs will become obsolete in the next few years and will be taken over by computers or robots.
Almost every working human being will be forced to change jobs and thus learn new skills in the next few years.
The ones that are prepared to get out of their comforts zones and work hard but most importantly learn are sure to succeed. It is not possible to stop technological progress.
120 years ago, it was moving from the horse and cart to learning how to drive a car. What did people want back then a “horseless car.”!
I wonder if the horse and cart drivers blocked the entrance to the car companies 120 years ago, to protest that they would soon be unemployed?
Accountants had to move from the manual calculator to Microsoft Excel, nowadays there will be a move from coal to renewable energy. The truck drivers will have had to start learning how to transport solar panels, inverters and fragile cable in a responsible manner.
It is not possible to stop progress and technological advancement. Coal is outdated and will stop being the used to power, Power Stations.
Google is developing driverless cars which surely will also mean driverless trucks.
What are the truck drivers going to do then? Protest outside Google because they are not needed anymore? Because computers have taken over their jobs and computers can drive and deliver goods.
In conclusion protest is a fact of life and if you are being attacked or persecuted then protest.
You are not going to be able to stop progress or change the course of the future. People need to learn new skills and competencies in order to be prepared for the future.
The new Mayor of Johannesburg fired one of his employees due to a difference of opinion recently.
I won’t go into details of the case but I would like to offer tips to other people who are in a similar situation at work who feel strongly about something important.
Taking a stand at work is brave and shows strong character but there are risks. If not done in a professional manner you risk losing your job or worse having your reputation damaged.
Protesting and disagreeing is a part of life. In South Africa we live in a democracy which means we are allowed to speak freely on issues that are important to us.
Here are some tips to making your point in a powerful, professional and productive way.
State your case in writing - Whenever there is something important that you feel is not going right. Put your concerns and misgivings in writing. This way you can take away the emotional issues and put your thoughts down on paper in a clear and logical order.
Stick to the facts and only the facts - When you are writing stick to the facts and the relevant issue at hand. You need to be addressing the issue that is important to you only and nothing else.
Do not make negative personal statements about people. People don’t like to be personally attacked. They will not respond well and will only become defensive and aggressive.
Your important issue will be relegated to bottom of the list and in its place, will be personal insults and accusations. This will not be productive and the original issue will take a back seat to possibly a shouting match or worse a fist fight. This is not the route you want to go.
Can there be a compromise? Could there be a way to find middle ground on the issue?
An example could be that the company is organizing a big end of year party. Finances are tight. Could the company organize a smaller gathering at their offices or with less food so that it doesn’t put as much strain on the company’s finances. The objective of giving people a good time and getting people to connect with each other is being met as well as reducing the cost of the function. This would be a win-win situation.
People like to feel that they are making a difference and adding value to the company. They also like to feel that the company is also looking after their interests and well-being. The fact that they feel the need to stand up to their boss or the board shows that the issue is important to them.
Disagreements don’t need to be the end of a promising career or the destruction of a relationship.
Mahatma Ghandi often organized powerful protests through his silent and peaceful protests against the government.
Rosa Parks made one of the most powerful, protest statement’s in 1955 because she didn’t give up her seat on a bus.
As mentioned, it is important to be professional when taking a stand on an issue that is important to you. You want to make your point clearly, concisely and consistently to be the most effective, especially in the work place. Many people might have had the same issue and you have just done them a huge favour and helped many people who could not have taken the stand you did.
A true story about Dr. Howard Kelly a distinguished physician from John Hopkins University
One day, a young boy was selling goods from door to door to pay his way through school, he found he had only one rand left, and he was very hungry. He decided he would ask for a meal at the next house he came across. However, he lost his nerve when a lovely young woman opened the door.
Instead of a meal he asked her for a drink of water. She thought he looked hungry so brought him a large glass of milk instead.
He drank it slowly, and then asked, "How much do I owe you?"
"You don't owe me anything," she replied. "Mother has taught us never to accept pay for a kindness."
He said, "Then I thank you."
As the boy left the house, he not only felt stronger physically he felt mentally stronger and rejuvenated, he had been ready to give up and quit school.
Many years' later that young woman became critically ill. The local doctors were baffled. They finally sent her to the city, where they called in specialists to study her rare disease.
The young man who had now grown up and had become a doctor was called in for the consultation. When he heard the name of the town she came from, a strange light filled his eyes. Immediately he rose and went down the hall of the hospital to her room.
Dressed in his doctor's gown he went in to see her. He recognized her at once. He went back to the consultation room determined to do his best to save her life. From that day he gave special attention to the case.
After a long struggle, the battle was won and she was finally healthy. The doctor requested the hospital office to pass the final bill to him for approval. He looked at it and then wrote something on the edge and the bill was sent to her room.
She feared to open it, for she was sure it would take the rest of her life to pay for it all. Finally she looked, and something caught her attention on the side of the bill. She began to read the following words:
"Paid in full with one glass of milk"
This past weekend the annual Comrades Marathon event was held. There are approximately 20 000 people that participate in the race, the race is approximately 90km long and is run between Durban and Pietermaritzburg.
I remember reading an advert once describing the race and it went something like this:
Up the longest and toughest hills
Running through rain and mud
Getting up before dawn every day for six months
Going through pain and suffering
.....and that is just to get to the start.
This was quite a motivating and powerful statement.
In order to just get to the start you have to put in so much hard and difficult work. Usually alone without anyone to help you.
Life is a lot like this statement, most of our hard work is done behind closed doors and alone. Practicing a new skill or working on something, usually alone slowly getting better and better.
Running the Comrades Marathon requires a huge amount of hard work and commitment to achieve the goal of finishing.
People can learn a lot from the commitment, dedication and perseverance it takes to finish the race and use it in their personal lives.
The hunter slowly crawls through the bush. Arrow placed in hand ready to pounce. Then suddenly. Attack!! He runs and kills the animal he was trying to hunt.
This is how people thousands of years ago used to catch their food. Then one day someone came up with idea of planting seeds in the ground to grow food and look after animals in order to eat them later on. It must have seemed a strange idea.
You plant seeds and then six months later you have food? You catch small animals look after them and then when they are older and bigger you eat them, instead of running around trying to catch them.This is what we know as farming.
Fast forward a few thousand years in the busy offices of the 20th Century. A new magical machine is being born. A machine that can do mathematical calculations, process data, communicate with each other. I am talking about the computer.
It was billed as a machine that would transform the world. It did transform the world. People were able to work faster and more efficiently, people were able to communicate with each other despite being overseas and thousands of kilometers apart.
Nowadays I am finding that computers can supposedly do more but in practical terms do less and less.
This past week I needed to get a Bank statement, usually this process is quite quick. I duly arrived at the bank and requested a statement from the teller but the bank has recently had a new computer system installed, so instead of quickly printing out the statement and leaving quickly. I had to be put through to the call center in the bank which was a frustrating experience. Eventually after not getting anywhere with the call center the teller tried to help me herself.
Since the new system has lots of new changes the teller was unfortunately not able to help and she didn't understand how to use the new system. I watched around me almost all of the people in the bank were having a similar experience, being frustrated by not getting what they need from the bank, mostly because of the new computer upgrades.
The future was meant to be a place where people's quality of lives were so much better. As these types of experiences are becoming more and more common. I ask myself where is the future going? Computers are more powerful than ever but seem to be able to do less and less because of security, complexity or slow systems.
Are we heading backwards or forward in making the world a better place?
Top ten financial Habits you can do!
1. Check your bank accounts every day.
Make it a habit to check on your bank accounts at least once a day. It will only take a minute to see if anything has changed or if something has gone wrong. With modern computers and technology it is easier than ever to be aware of what is happening with your money.
2. Set up an automatic Debt order
Set up a debit order from your current account, so that a percentage of your money goes directly into a savings account or investment. This will ensure that you are able to start building up sizeable savings to buy more expensive items like a car or a house.
3. Adopt a spending plan
Plan on what you would like to purchase in the next few months and change your spending habits to accommodate your goals.
4. Share your goal with a friend
There is nothing better than sharing and achieving a difficult goal with someone you care about, which will motivate you and encourage you.
5. Try to stick to your goal.
Once you have your goal insight try to stay on course to achieve it.
6. You deserve more
You are allowed to improve your life and make your life better. The only way you can do that is by working hard and being smart with what you have. Small steps end up being giant leaps forward.
7. Make a list before you shop
Before you go out to shop. Have a plan of what you would like to buy, this way you are more likely to stick to what you intended to buy and not buy unnecessary products.
8. You are allowed to buy something that brings yo happiness
Just becuase you are trying to save money doesn't mean you have to live like a pauper. you can still buy things that you enjoy but just in moderation.
9. Stop Impulse Buying
This buying products on a whim. If you see something you really want but haven't planned for, wait a little bit. Think about it and if after a while you still want it then decide if it the best purchase for you.
10. Plan long term
Every purchasing decision you make must have your long term vision and goal in mind. Sometimes it is hard to give up something in the present for something better in the future.
Ferrucio was originally a farmer who made tractors. His business was very successful and he was among the wealthiest men in Italy. He owned a Ferrari among other super cars. His Ferrari used to give him constant trouble. As he was a mechanic, he tried to fix the problem and found out that his Ferrari had the same clutch as used in one of his tractors.
“All my Ferraris had clutch problems. When you drove normally, everything was fine. When you were going hard, the clutch would slip under acceleration; it just wasn’t up to the job.”
Ferrucio went to the Ferrari service dealership regularly to have a clutch rebuilt or renewed, and every time, the car was taken away for several hours and he was not allowed to watch it being repaired. The problem with the clutch was never cured, so Ferrucio decided to talk to Enzo Ferrari himself, the owner of Ferrari.
‘Ferrari, your cars are rubbish!’ Ferrucio complained. Enzo Ferrari was furious. “Lamborghini, you may be able to build a tractor but you will never be able to build a better car.’
This was the point when he finally decided to make his perfect car - The Lamborghini