Building the future
Global speaker tells local businesses to work together
There was a great deal of anticipation and a full house at the latest Port Alfred Business Forum meeting where global conference speaker and consultant to major international companies, Michael Jackson, spoke of revitalising the local economy by thinking outside the box and collaborating.
Jackson said the past was not an exemplar for the future, and the old ways of doing things no longer worked.
“Businesses should get together,” said Jackson to the full house of attendees.
“You have so much to offer. From the new brand of the Sunshine Coast, to the 2,400 beds that are full most of the year, to the game reserves with the Big Five, the sandy beaches, you have so much going for you in this area,” he said.
A dynamic speaker, Jackson pointed out that property sales were on the rise and confirmed that the demographic was changing to younger upwardly mobile couples and families.
But he warned that doing things the same way as they have been done in the past was not going to lead Port Alfred and its environs into the future, and explained that a new ethos was required.
“You need to work together, to market your businesses and complementary businesses. You are stronger together,” he said.
Jackson pointed out that newly elected chairman of the Port Alfred Business Forum, Marius Claassens, had asked him to address the forum and, at first he had been reluctant.
“But when I heard that Marius wanted to approach the forum like a company, by tackling small projects and quick-wins first before taking on the big projects, I was impressed and said I would come.
“I have spoken to groups before and this community is a group and should all be working toward the same objectives,” he said.
The first projects are around making the town look neater to visitors and include “adopt a pavement”, the dustbin art project, the Christmas light competition and East Beach revitalisation.
“These are all small projects and the right way to go. Later projects will include pavement landscaping, gardens through Port Alfred, car-guard accreditation and shop-front signage,” he said. “These will take longer to get results.”
Jackson spoke of thinking better business and finding new ways to work.
“We need a software upgrade [in our brains]. The old industrial era methods just don’t work anymore. We are living in an age where the world is changing faster than at any other time in our history and the old ways will not take us into the future.
“The successful businesses change with the times.”
To emphasise his point he made the observation that, in the last 50 years, 450 of the Fortune 500 companies of 1968 no longer existed.
He suggested we listen to what ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius said 3,000 years ago: Deal with issues that are important and eliminate everything else. Then deal with the problems that are important and urgent. If you cannot do something then delegate, automate or get help.
Jackson also pointed out that the nett balance of people dying in the world versus those being born was a positive 1.4-million per week.
“That means that every week there are another 1.4 million people on the planet. There is enough room, and by 2050 it is estimated there will be 10 billion people on the planet. The old MBA-way of measuring the past and the present to project the future does not work.”
He suggested a new paradigm in looking at the difference between the past and future was a better approach and could help in predicting the future.
“I am disappointed to see that there are only a few people of colour in the audience,” he observed.
“A successful future means we must become more inclusive and the demographic must change.
“I challenge you to bring a person of colour with you to the next business forum meeting. We need to be a far more inclusive society.”
MAN WITH A MESSAGE: PA Business Forum chairman Marius Claassens, left, with the ‘other’ Michael Jackson, who has consulted for international business in 44 countries and spoke at the Port Alfred Business Forum meeting held at the Halyards Hotel on Tuesday evening