Article Written by Ian Kilbride and Published in BizNews.
In January 1990 I stepped off a ferry in Ceuta Morocco and started a love affair with Africa that has lasted 25 years and one I hope will last another 50 years, as long as I still have my wits about me as I will then be 102 years old.
What then followed was a six month journey covering fascinating lands, lakes and rivers and took in over twenty African nations, all varied, challenging and fascinating in their own way. The memories from that adventure will live with me forever, but it will remain uniquely the only six months of my life about which I can recall, even a quarter of a century later, exactly where I was and what I was doing in any particular month. A truly amazing experience and virtually impossible to repeat today, as many areas of Algeria, Nigeria, DRC (Zaire as it was then) and several other nations are simply no go zones and or completely inaccessible.
So finally, on 1st July 1990, I arrived by bus in Hillbrow and my life in South Africa began. Although so much has changed for me over the years’ two simple New Year rules remain. Firstly, I go to my new diary now unlike then electronic, to the day that I know will be the final working day of the coming year, the Friday just before Christmas, and I write on that page, “Be in business!”. Then I go to the first working day of the New Year and I write, “Never be penny wise and pound foolish!”
Those two simple lines sum up what I feel, from a business respective, are the most important elements of life. “Be in business”, means simply that I have survived another year and anything thrown at me during that year, and thus I have built on the successes achieved the previous year. I thank God that to date I have always been in business on that last day and thus always had a fabulous Christmas, New Year and holiday with my family and friends. The other line, “Never be penny wise and pound foolish” characterises my business philosophy, as I personally believe there are only fundamentally two types of people.
The first of these two types are those who adhere to the opposite idea and they think, “Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves”. They take no risks, they don’t have a go, they are cautious, careful, and very sensible. They will never fail at anything, or have to fight adversity and or criticism, as they will never do anything new, daring or original, they will stay under the radar, safe, secure and conservative.
Then there is the group I belong to, they say, “Never be penny wise and pound foolish.” It is that simple, this group have a go, take the hits, get knocked down, get back up and challenge the norm. They will be creators, entrepreneurs, investors’ of their time, their lives and if required their own last penny.
So each year I hope to do this second group, my group, proud and by so doing also still be in business at the end of the year. By living by these simple little rules of life, I feel ensure that I have not just made the most of the year but also my life, and that I have maximised this precious gift called life and made the very best of it in my beloved Africa. So bring on 2015, it will be yet another adventure and I welcome all its challenges and opportunities.