I had the honour of being the keynote speaker at the UCT Excellence Awards on the 4th of October 2012.
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Thank you for this amazing opportunity to speak to you this evening. “I never did a days work, it’s all been fun”. Thomas Edison said these iconic words which has now become my mantra. He never attended any tertiary institution, but if he had he would have been in the humanities faculty. Good Evening to the honorable Dean, UCT staff, graduates, students and guests. I am a proud UCT humanities graduate. That title encapsulates its own list of stereotypes but most of all we are the faculty that has too much fun. Passion and desire for arts is something we are born with. and we should never compromise this in the work space.
Here is a little background of my life and what got me to where I am today: When I was a kid, there was a show on tv called “The Pretender”. The protagonist was my hero – he could change jobs because he had all the qualifications. Right then I knew that, I can never be tied down to one career path. In high school, I choose matric subjects that gave me a broad set of degree options once I graduated. My parents also did not limit me- they rule was “do whatever you want, as long as you get a degree.” I graduated from UCT in 2008 instead of 2007. I failed English by 2%. I was doing 3 majors, tutoring second year production students and overcommitted in general. Excuses aside and looking back, I am glad I did not graduate then. Due to insufficient junior credits, I had to take up a first year course; so I chose something in Fine Art. At this stage, I had already accepted a job offer from Evo Media. Luckily the CEO allowed me to attend lectures during my lunch breaks and the secretary typed up my assignments. It was a very exciting time.
At Evo Media, I started off as the Flash Designer and after a quick two years, I found myself as Creative Director of the agency. Life is too short to stay in one place, so… On the final of the Soccer World Cup (it was a Sunday), I called up my boss. Met with her and explained to her that it was time that I started my own company. She somehow saw this coming. I have learnt everything I needed learn and it was time to move on.
Tip number 1, Do not ever burn bridges. My previous boss, Emiley Vollmer is now one of my clients and business mentor. Fast track 2 years, Endor Media and Events is a successful graphic and website design agency with clients such as Islamic Relief SA, the Cape Business Connect, Milla SA, and Patchi to name a few. We also run fun social media workshops targeting small business owners in South Africa. Recently I facilitated workshops for the Cape Craft and Design Institute and The Cape Tourist Guides Association. I was in the states earlier this year on the Young Entrepreneurship Programme hosted by Sierra Nevada College and IBA Global. I was one of 8 selected from 3000 applicants. Learning business development in an international space, helped me develop a sense of global thinking. The common phrase is think global, act local. I say Think Global, Act Global. South Africa is an amazing pond to swim in but there is a whole world out there.
Tip two; do not limit yourself. Keeping The Pretender in mind, I am currently a graphic and web designer, developer, marketeer, social media facilitator, multimedia lecturer at UCT and 2ko International, band manager and most recently, wannabe comedian. And all thanks to my B.A in Film and Media Production. Given that a humanities degree does not automatically give you a career. It is what you make of it.
During my undergraduate years, I found myself despondent that I did not learn anything. Of course this is not true, and it takes looking at the bigger picture to realize this. But there I was, in my strip socks, black shorts and other hippie-punk items feeling sorry for myself. One of my partners in crime, Dan Neville who is also a successful humanities graduate, said to me “Varsity does not teach you anything, it teaches you how to think”. We learnt how to think. And that is all we need to succeed in life; think our way around a situation, analyze, adapt and survive. I won’t paraphrase any more Darwin. But I will quote you my favorite quote or rather mantra for 2012: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
We all have that will to succeed in us. The greatest mistake we can make is to allow others to convince us otherwise. We all do not have the ability to climb trees. We should embrace our strengths and overcome our weaknesses. The idea of what makes someone a success, is whatever you want it to be. To me success is the ability to be happy. To others, it is to be wealthy. It you can achieve both, at least your parents will be proud of you.
Let me leave you with a few of my guiding principles: – Learn something new every day. – There is no issues, only solutions. – Never hesitate. Trust your gut. To quote a TV commercial, “If you have to think about it, maybe it’s not for you” – Set a goal. and then commit to the milestones to achieve that goal. – Be flexible.
Humanities graduates are the all-rounders, passionate, hardworking and the best person to have on your team while playing 30 seconds.