Into each working life a little rain must fall. For me, the first sign of the flood was a retrenchment from the big company that had been his home. That’s when he set out, like Noah, to build himself a vessel for survival in a tough business world.

Into my fifties the company I worked for was bought by a large, successful corporate behemoth. Lunchtime chats were filled with fear, trepidation and paranoia as we noted an increasing number of closed-door meetings and the persistent presence of strangers who wandered quietly among us, smiling, asking questions and taking notes.

Soon we had our first company meeting and the newly appointed CEO – a total stranger – discussed his vision of the future. We noted nervously that not all departments were mentioned, not all people were acknowledged, and not all running projects were listed on his slick PowerPoint presentation.

Sipping coffee and munching on midday snacks, we were unanimous in our verdict that the axe was about to fall. The only questions were when and on whom?

As I was driving home, I thought about Noah and his ark. Like him, I was not in control of the great big changes that were happening. And like him, I could still take action. I might not be able to stop the rain, but I could build a vessel to carry my family and me to our new beginning.

That night, I sat at my desk and made a list of things I needed to do:

  • Construct a financial plan
    Research financial and insurance options and see what could be done to minimise the impact of a sudden loss of income
  • Think about what I love to do
    Explore what I love, can do, do well, have done before, for which I can find referees, supporters and – most crucially – paying clients
  • Plan how to create a work-alternative without compromising my current position
    My rule of thumb was that all work on Noah’s Ark must be done in my own time, during lunchtime and weekends, using my own resources
  • Understand my legal rights, in case of retrenchment
    I wanted to understand my legal position so that nothing came as a surprise.

With the list completed, I slept better that night. I was ready to build my ark.

During the following weeks I put my blueprint in place. I set aside 10% of my salary to cover the costs needed to start a new business. And I reworked my financial plan so that I would be ready for the rain.

I realised that my career has been built on things I did between bouts of serious writing. I love language. I love reading. I enjoy helping people and companies communicate and express their brands and services.

In other words, I have “word smous” – a paddler of words – written all over my path. I can write all kinds of things for people: their press releases, yearly reports, AGM speeches, website content, and more. Good communication builds good reputations.

I thought of a name for my business: Afrodigiac, or Digiacs, in short. I registered an internet domain, found a cheap hosting provider and used WordPress to create my website. I had business cards printed. I uploaded my articles and examples of my copywriting. I updated and uploaded my CV.

Then I prepared my ‘launch email’, explaining what my business is about and announcing that I am ready for orders. I asked the recipients to share the email with people they thought may need my services.

It took eight more months before the rain came. By then my finances were robust, the website had grown and I had a network of potential clients.

I floated away on my ark. After some time the rain stopped, the water subsided and I found myself on a mountain looking at a rainbow thinking “That wasn’t so bad.” And look at where I am now – getting paid by clients who value my contribution while doing work I love.

Having floated away on the waves of the flood, surviving instead of drowning, having done my homework and landed safely in my Ararat of self-employment, I could look up at the rainbow and enjoy the fruit of my foresight.


True story: a friend told me how she invested a large amount of money in order to advertise her product on a fairly central website. The campaign bombed and my friend queried the veracity of the site owner’s claim that his site is a popular place of convergence: “you cannot tell me that your site is popular and charge for advertising, when in fact all that you have is a large number of visitors. This is disingenuous!” she fumed.   Read the rest of this entry »

In the beginning was Marshall McLuhan, who would have celebrated his 98th birthday these days, but more about him later.  When I launched this blog almost two years ago, I decided not to accept comments: I observed how other blogs got inundated with horrific verbiage, often unrelated to the piece the comment was supposed to reflect on. Most relevant to me, however, was the fact that the majority of comments recycle the piece instead of adding something new to the concepts, ideas and thoughts used in the original. Why waste bandwidth with comment like “I agree fully” or “this is nonsense”?  We’re here to bury comments, not to praise them. Read the rest of this entry »

Ghost: Murder most foul, as in the best it is; But this most foul, strange and unnatural. (Hamlet, Act 1. Scene V) 

According to US President Barack Obama; video games are a clear and present health hazard that is endangering the American people. While many still consider video gaming to be a geek-dominated, unsavoury fringe activity, offers in-depth analyses of the way games and digerate cultures interact.  Gamasutra is a website dedicated, as its masthead declares, to ‘The Art & Business of Making Games.” Created during the late 1990s, Gamasutra offers news, opinions, features, job connections and general information about and around video games.   Read the rest of this entry »

Over the years we have witnessed an ever-growing migration of students from brick-and-mortar universities, schools and colleges, to virtual institutions of learning online. In fact, entrepreneurship scholars Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman noted (PDF) that “online enrollments have been growing substantially faster than overall higher education enrollments” and that “[o]nline enrollments have continued to grow at rates far in excess of the total higher education student population, albeit at slower rates than for previous years.” Increased students access and degree completion, as well as “[t]he appeal of online instruction to non-traditional students” are cited as reasons for universities to offer online instruction. Read the rest of this entry »

Who are the digital children of 2009? e-Learning specialist Marc Prensky coined the term Digital Natives and used it in two major articles he published in 2001 (Part I , Part II, PDF.) Digital Natives, he says, “are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked. They thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. They prefer games to “serious” work.” ” Read the rest of this entry »

As you may have seen for yourselves, media’s ‘new e-business’ aspirations have caused quite a stir. I have ToingToing!ed about it here and The Financial Times Online offers a decent detailed assessment of the situation, both pieces are offered for free, I hasten to add.  Advertising does not bring in the money anymore (did anyone tell the agencies, BTW?) and so, content providers, such as Rupert Murdoch, CEO of News Corporation, are desperately looking for new ways to generate revenue.  In an earlier piece I ToingToing!ed about Murdoch’s conundrum: he is trying to recoup a USD 209M loss in quarterly profits incurred by his newspaper division. In what seems like an overreaction, Murdoch decreed that usage charges will be introduced to premium publications (such as the Wall Street Journals, aka WSJ) and that “users would pay “handsomely” for WSJ content.”  This is where the legendary producer Max Bialystock would quip “You keep saying that, but you don’t say how…” Increasingly, many content providers who push so-called ‘new media business models’ name micropayment as their ‘how’.   Read the rest of this entry »

A quote attributed to Albert Einstein argues that ‘insanity means doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’. Scriptwriter Bruce Feirstein, who wrote some of the James Bond movie scripts, asserted further that the distance between insanity and genius is measured only by success.  Armed with such heavyweights-uttered quotes, we can reflect on things billionaire media mogul Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corp. said about the future of online news.   Read the rest of this entry »

When one observes magic, let it be clear that the magician is a skilful human, an artist, and not a born wizard. His acts are crafty examples of sleight-of-hand, and no supernatural forces are involved.  

Beyond the wonderfully positive effects of the Harry Potter series (for example, the reported growth in the number of book readers, notably – of children, worldwide), an auspicious downside may be the diminishing in importance of “fake” muggle magic, as opposed to “true” wizard magic. Read the rest of this entry »

As a teenager, I literally stumbled upon François Truffaut‘s powerful interpretation of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 book Fahrenheit 451. I went to see the movie simply because it featured Julie Christie, the woman who invaded my pubescent dreams as a blonde Russian siren named Lara in David Lean‘s adaptation of Boris Pasternak’s epic Doctor Zhivago. On my way home from the movie theatre I stopped at a second hand bookstore and bought a copy of Fahrenheit 451:   Read the rest of this entry »