Life, Business & Coffee #23: Leadership, BBG and Recovering


I bumped into a number of people during the last two weeks, and all of them mentioned that I’ve been noticeable by the absence of my newsletter, so here, one last time before the end of 2017, is the last Life, Business and Coffee for 2017, and it contains some great money saving offers at the end, just for you.

I hope this finds you well.

“The superior leader gets things done with very little motion. He imparts instruction not through many words but through a few deeds. He keeps informed about everything but interferes hardly at all. 
Continue reading “Life, Business & Coffee #23: Leadership, BBG and Recovering”


Life, Business & Coffee #22 : New Releases and lots about Value

A lot of people have asked me what happened to my newsletter, as there hasn’t been one for a while. Truth is I’ve been writing a lot, but just not the newsletter. So this edition is a bit of a catch up. I hope you enjoy the brief update.

Imagin8 has gone through some significant changes and I’ve been rewriting our management systems over the last 8 months. You know my mantra in business is all about efficiency, growth and delivering customer value. The last 8 months was no exception. Next, our focus will be driving growth through delivering exceptional customer value.

Customer value is a fascinating topic, and I could go for hours talking about this. We often forget why we’re in business. A new product or service was once of great value to your customer, but over time, what was value now becomes routine. What was once revolutionary now Continue reading “Life, Business & Coffee #22 : New Releases and lots about Value”

A few good men (and women) or #FeesMustComeFromSomewhere

I was going to call this 44 good men, like the movie, A Few Good Men, but this is for the good men and women out there.

I started mentoring a bright, young, ambitious entrepreneur at the end of last year, just as he finished writing matric. He came to me with an idea that I thought was viable, and I guided him through the first steps of getting this concept off the ground.

He messaged me excitedly when the matric results came out – 4 distinctions, and a university entrance. A few days later he was accepted into 4 universities.

Today he messaged me and I could just feel his disappointment. He can’t register for the B.Comm Accounting degree because his mom, a single mother, still has to settle his school fees, and they don’t have the money.

How easy would it be for 44 people to pledge as little as R150 a month to put this deserving kid through university. I’m in. That leaves 43 places to fill to give a child a university education and a future. If you’re in, message me. If you’re not, please forward this to 10 people you think might be.

This isn’t a scam. I’ll introduce you to the candidate, and send you his matric results. For the purposes of the mass email, I’m keeping his name confidential. I need 43 more good people by Tuesday 10th January. You’ll commit your support for one year, and if the kid gets great results you can choose to sponsor his second year.

If you’re in Jo’burg and want to offer vac work in business, accounting, or anything entrepreneurial, please le me know too.

** Since publishing this post on Saturday 7th January, enough funding has been raised to pay registration fees (paid on 12th Jan).  8 people have committed their support, and one more has interviewed the candidate for vac work in the accounting field. That leaves 36 places to fill.  Please circulate and share. I still need to raise the balance of the year’s fees plus text books. 

Thanks in advance


Adam Rabinowitz

email: /

Cell: 0824624468

Life, Business and Coffee #20: Closing the year with a bang

I’ve been absent from your desktop for a while, not because I haven’t wanted to be there, but I am what I write about – an active Entrepreneur – and in the past few months, Imagin8 has been incredibly busy. Too busy to allow me time to write, which means that it’s been way too busy. But that seems to have finally changed.

Earlier this year I consulted to a business owner whose life was pretty much what mine looked like over the past few months – too busy to do anything at all except work. I looked for ways he could carve out time in his business to focus on the business itself instead of trying to keep his head above water just doing what needed to be done.

Most small business owners fall into the trap of doing just that – spending all their time doing what must be done in order to keep the business going. Continue reading “Life, Business and Coffee #20: Closing the year with a bang”

Dealing with crisis, and a bit about dogs.

Something I don’t often experience or write about is dealing with crisis, mainly because, for many years, things at Imagin8 have been so brilliantly organised that the very word ‘crisis‘ was about as foreign as a BLT at the local Shul. But in a fit of sheer genius and ambition that appears to have been in the heavyweight category, about three above my own weight (figurative, of course), I took 4 businesses online, launched 3 new ventures, and encountered a bit of a speed wobble along the way. They call it crisis. When the fan spatters your pristine white shirt with stuff that’s spelled very similar to shirt but is by no means pristine.

It’s unrealistic to believe that anyone is immune to crisis. Not even if you unplug your fan and change the colour of your white shirt. Continue reading “Dealing with crisis, and a bit about dogs.”

Life, Business & Coffee # 18: That call centre…

This story I’m sure everybody will have experienced in their own way. It started off with a bill from City of Jo’burg.

Ordinarily, a bill from the City of Jo’burg would have been as uneventful as pouring a cup of tea, but this week, my bill featured a balance from last month that wasn’t there before. I checked and double checked, and just as I thought, there definitely wasn’t any leftovers from last month’s use of the City’s services. If anything, there should have been a credit for the non-service of Piki-tup, and some money back for the idiot who drove into my bin as it stood, alone and unattended outside our gate for weeks.

So I steadied myself for the call. Surprisingly, I only waited three minutes to get through to a human person, but he soon hung up because my new cordless phone somehow managed to get itself on mute and none of the children were home to help me figure out how to unset it so the guy could hear me. On the second call, which I made using my cell phone because iPhones are just easier, albeit 5 times the cost, I got through to a guy to whom I explained my problem. He asked me a whole lot of questions to verify that I wasn’t a criminal who had been overcharged (for what exactly, I wondered? The hourly rate of having the cops chase you?), and then he spent a long time trying to open my latest statement, but said he couldn’t. 

I offered to send him my one but he said that one had been deleted and replaced with a new one. A very long one. One which he couldn’t open. I asked him if the City of Joburg owned a printer, but he said he wasn’t allowed to print anything. Useful, I thought, wondering why they’d even bothered to print the call centre number on top of the statement they sent me which even I could open, but which apparently had been deleted and replaced with a new, more top secret one which the guy on the phone couldn’t open. He even tried on another computer, which took about fifteen minutes not to happen while he played me the same 30 second music loop that has since become an ear worm and the reason I lie awake at night trying to think of anything else unsuccessfully so I can fall asleep.

I asked to speak to his supervisor hoping he would have a computer that would be able to open the top secret document. “He” turned out to be “she”, and she turned out to be as ineffective as the first guy, but a lot more officious.

Me: “So what you’re saying,” I said to her, “is that I must just pay the extra even though I settled everything on the last statement, or you’ll cut off my services?”

Officious one: “Yes.”

Me: “But you won’t tell me where you got this surprise extra bit from?”

Officious one: “No. You’ll have to go to a walk in centre to get them to give you a print out.”

Me: “You’ve just magically drummed up an extra charge, and now you’re expecting me to write off an entire morning to drive to a walk in centre to get a printout of how you got this extra charge? You’ve never heard of email?”

Officious one now turning defensive: “We can’t help you here, you’ll have to go to a walk in centre.”

Apparently the officious and defensive one was also deaf.

Me: “Have you ever eaten in a restaurant?”

Deaf, defensive and officious one: “I can’t say.”

Me: “You’ve never eaten in a restaurant??”

Deaf, defensive and officious one, who now also appears to be ignorant and deprived: “I’m not at liberty to say.”

It appears that there’s a lot more that’s top secret than just my bill.

Me: “Just imagine that you were one day to go to a restaurant and after eating your meal they brought you the bill, which you settle. But just as you get up to leave, the waiter takes your keys and says, ‘sorry, you can’t leave, you owe us for something else, but I can’t say what that is. To find out, you’ll have to take a walk fifteen blocks to the owner’s house and he can tell you'”

Deaf, defensive, officious, deprived and ignorant one: “As I say you’ll have to go to a walk in centre …”

I hit the red button, which was the only color I was beginning to see, and I now understand why they make that particular button red.

I went to calm myself down by pouring myself an uneventful cup of tea.

There’s a lot to be learned from this.

  • Don’t give your customers a number to phone when they have a problem if you’re going to tie the hands of the people you leave to answer the call. If you offer a call centre to your customers, staff it with the most highly security-cleared people who have the keys to everyone in the organization and have the power to do everything for the customer
  • Don’t change anything on your customers bill without closing the communication loop. Most customer dissatisfaction can be avoided not only by sending out a communication when things change, but by getting your customer to respond too.
  • The City of Joburg doesn’t have email, and  they employ deaf, defensive, officious, deprived and ignorant people who can’t even say if they’ve been to a restaurant or not.

Life, Business & Coffee #17: Did They Miss Us? Lessons from a Hand-Roll.

Every family has its traditions, and ours has one or two that we’ve slipped into, the most notable being Takeout Tuesdays. It started a few years ago when my wife and I discovered our favorite Indian restaurant, and we both love a good curry. So began the tradition of Takeout Tuesdays.

Our kids only joined the tradition about a year ago, partly because they don’t all share our love for spicy food, and partly because we never know who is home from one day to the next. But things have settled, and we now regularly have one of the girls with us on Takeout Tuesday’s, and her favorite is sushi.

For the last three years, every Tuesday, Continue reading “Life, Business & Coffee #17: Did They Miss Us? Lessons from a Hand-Roll.”

Life, Business and Coffee #15: My Theory of Nothing

I’ve been absent from your inbox for the last two weeks because I’ve been busy preparing for the London Book fair, and while I was engaged in these preparations, I was persuaded to bring the launch of my third novel  forward. So I’ve been busy editing and proofing that one too.  Apart from that, I’ve been working on a non-fiction about something I’m very passionate about – starting and managing your small business.

My book launch has been postponed to 12th May, and will be a combined launch of not one but two of my books: Continue reading “Life, Business and Coffee #15: My Theory of Nothing”

Life, Businss & Coffee #14: More BMW, Less Telkom

I’ve rebranded this newsletter “Life, Business & Coffee”, having had some time to engage with readers, managers and entrepreneurs. I hope you like new branding.

I recently had an experience with two very high profile brands – Telkom and BMW. They couldn’t have been more extreme.

I had to apply for a new telephone line for my daughter who moved into a student accommodation near TUKS. So on Sunday afternoon I googled how to apply for a new line, went onto Telkom’s mobile site, and filled in the application, which was long, tedious, and not easy on a mobile device. The end result – a confirmation screen saying someone would be in touch with me. That all seemed to work.

The next day I was lucky enough to be included in a tour of the BMW plant in Rosslyn. It was mind blowing. The Rosslyn plant is one of 10 manufacturing operations for BMW, and has been awarded the highest accolade of all the plants across all countries (including Germany) for production quality. They produce one custom built, made-to-order zero defect car every four minutes, and they export to 8 countries including Canada, USA and Australia.

What impressed me most about BMW was that, although the brand is German, the South African plant has been able to surpass German engineering when it comes to zero defect manufacture. Each car on the production line is pre-sold, which means that every vehicle coming off that production line is made to order. That’s the embodiment of mass customization right there. The same production line produces left and right hand drive, with or without sun roof, every engine spec, every available factory fitted add-on, and every colour combination, both inside and out. When you do the permutations, there probably aren’t even two identical cars coming off that production line in a day. Every one is made to a specific customers specification.

When I arrived home that same day, I saw an email from Telkom:

“Dear Customer

Thank you for your online application. We have tried contacting you, however were unable to get hold of you.

If you would like us to contact you again, please visit, to reapply.



I think there was one missed call on my cell, and no voice messages. Not even my name was personalized on their generic, standardized rejection letter. Clearly they send these out often. If only they adopted to the 20 Rule.

Telkom sells even less of a product variety than BMW, and they couldn’t care less whether they gain or lose a customer. Where BMW make it extremely simple for customers to get exactly what they want, Telkom makes it impossible just to do business. Where BMW is all about the customer, Telkom is all about Telkom. The contrast paints an interesting picture. Both have taken technology that originated outside SA, but one has surpassed its creator and put SA on the global map as a force to reckoned with, and the other has rested on its monopolistic laurels and left the door open a tiny crack just in case customers can squeeze through.

The lesson? To survive and excel in business, be more like the customer obsessed BMW and less like the Customer Comes Last Telkom.

Begrudgingly I’m going back online to redo an application I’ve already done once which the geniuses at Telkom have discarded. I thought Telkom had the word “business” in one of its tag lines.

A visit to my Almer Mater

This past week I’ve been sharing a lot about the power of vision. I’ve shared my story in previous newsletters, and I spoke on the Cliff Central show about the powerful part that vision has played in the growth of Imagin8, and my own personal achievements, but the most rewarding was to talk to a group of Matric boys from my old school, KIng Edward VII. 

The session was hosted after school, and was entirely voluntary, so I really expected a handful of boys to attend. But the room was packed full of young men at the threshold of a critical point in their lives. What they decide to do next year makes a huge impact on their lives. 

After the talk, A number of boys said that my story had inspired them, and some stayed afterwards to ask questions and chat. One or two emailed me about their hopes and dreams in the hours after the session, and some of their questions and comments inspired me.