My new world of podcasts

My new world of podcasts

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I am cutting back on news. Instead I have started to listen to podcasts, especially when commuting. Podcasts have become “the new radio” according to Wired. For me, podcasts hark back to the old days of radio before radio became ‘talk radio.’ This may sound snobbish, but modern talk radio has lowered the level of conversation.

Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular, reports Mashable:

There’s a new thirst for great audio content … Now, podcasts have hit the mainstream, and those of us who prefer them to traditional radio have a very different perspective on what kinds of voices we expect to hear.

I’m finding that radio these days is ‘junk-filling’. Verses from the Christian Old and New Testament point out the importance of keeping junk out of your mind.

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts – Proverbs 4:23 (Good News Translation)
Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace – Romans 8:6 (New Living Translation)

I listen to a range of podcasts to learn, to gain insight and ideas, to be inspired, and to help and deepen my faith.

These are the podcasts I follow.

Ideas, and business and tech news

BBC Radio podcasts

Curious Minds
FT Tech Tonic
Freakonomics Radio
Solutionist Thinking with RMB
Tech Central
The Economist Radio


The Business of Story
Everyone Hates Marketers
National Public Radio How I Built This
Openview Build

Personal improvement

Getting Things Done
Inspire Nation
The Kevin Rose Show

Christian thought

John Piper Sermons
Joyce Meyer Enjoying Everyday Life Radio – on
Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram – on
Pastor Rick Warren’s Daily Hope
Your Move with Andy Stanley – on

Looking at the list makes me aware of the need to carefully select the podcasts I should listen to. I don’t listen to all the podcasts from everyone, for some I have only listened to one or two. The danger of not being highly selective is that there might become so many that I don’t get to listen to the episodes I want.

My commute takes 25-30 minutes and by listening to podcasts during the commute, I believe they put me in a better mood, give me new ideas to try out, and provide encouragement and affirmation that I need.

Have you dropped radio for podcasts, and if so, what is your experience? Tweet me if you want to recommend a podcast.

An open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and economic adviser Trudi Makhaya

An open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa and economic adviser Trudi Makhaya

Mr President and Ms. Makhaya

This letter is prompted by a some recent articles from international organisations relating to the future directions of industry. My concern is that the ANC government’s Industrial Policy Action Plan doesn’t seem to factor in those forecasts.

The initial spark for this letter was the BBC program Saudi Arabia: After Oil, which went into the plans of Saudi Arabia to diversify away from oil dependence. Relating more generally to fossil fuels, a World Economic Forum article discusses how the future of energy is moving away from fossil fuels. This obviously impacts countries like Saudi Arabia, but it will also affect South Africa as a major coal producer.

The current status

South Africa’s economy is slipping between recession and low growth. The manufacturing sector is stagnating or in decline, due to many factors including labour relations, regulations and being uncompetitive compared to other developing countries. The education system is not keeping up, with The Economist stating that it was “one of the world’s worst“. Related to both of these, the jobs situation is also in a terrible state, with the unemployment rate at over 25%. Finally, the country’s ratio of debt to GDP is around 55%, not bad compared the countries like Greece, but not good.

The ANC government’s plan for economic growth is flawed because they haven’t thought about what Einstein said about solving problems.

You can’t solve them by using the same kind of thinking you used when they were created.

The government seems to believe that industrialization is the answer, but it ignores where the world is going.

Where the world is going

South Africa has some of the world’s biggest reserves of platinum and manganese, and of course it also has significant reserves of gold, iron ore, coal, chrome and zinc. However, it seems likely that the minerals the world will need in the 21st century are different the ones it needed in the 20th century.

Take coal, one of the main non-oil sources for power generation for over 100 years. But Bill Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Coalition wants to do something even more ambitious, and that is to bring free (or very cheap) energy to the world.

Where South Africa is

South Africa has large reserves of coal, but views on the trend of fossil fuels is contradictory.

According to one article:

  • the renewables superpower – the shift from coal, oil and natural gas to zero-emission energy generation and transport means a new set of elements will become key
  • “A country that creates green energy infrastructure, before political and economic control shifts to a new group of ‘world powers’, will ensure it is less susceptible to future influence or to being held hostage by a lithium or copper giant.”

Another article tells a different story:

  • the world invested more in solar energy than coal, gas and nuclear combined in 2017

A chart in shows growth in world’s coal power plants.

As we are now well aware, employment in the SA gold mining industry is falling and is below 100000, according to Mike Schussler.

After Gold

My recommendation is that what we need is an “After Gold” policy, in the same way that Saudi Arabia and Qatar have announced plans for a post-oil world by 2030.

We are waiting to hear about your Digital Industrial Revolution Commission. In the meantime, there are other things you can start on.

Rather than focus on industrialization per se, let’s look at alternatives.

  • Encourage agriculture to ensure food security and bring in younger people.
  • Develop policies and actions to protect water security; the Western Cape has been learning that.
  • Focus on the infrastructure that is really needed. That means spend money on replacing decaying infrastructure.
  • Consider re-constructing the education system away from a 19th and 20th century curriculum towards one that will be useful for the 21st century.

There is no shortage of recommendations – about policy direction, and actions.

Please just get started.

Cutting back on news

In past centuries, getting news was a source of interest as isolated communities were keen to hear what was happening elsewhere. But in the 21st century it seems we can’t get away from news – on the radio and TV, in print, on the Internet, and now via mobile apps. It was a growing personal feeling of depression and anxiety whenever I heard or read a news item that made me think about cutting back on news. And then I started seeing articles that said too much news was not good for you. Continue reading

Is the nuclear family still appropriate?

Is the nuclear family still appropriate?

For a single person, or for DINKs (double income no kids), the role of the nuclear family doesn’t factor too much. But as someone who recently became a grandfather, I have started to wonder whether the nuclear family is actually a limitation and anachronism in the modern world. Continue reading

How relevant are Gartner and other tech analysts really?

How relevant are Gartner and other tech analysts really?

I was at an event recently organized by Sage software in Johannesburg. This was an event to promote Sage’s independent software partners to other consultants and customers in it’s large community. I spent a lot of time talking with various people, many of whom operate fairly small businesses but are very knowledgeable of their area of business. It was only afterwards that I realized I was never asked how analysts rate our platform, rather we were asked what we did and how we might help. In other words, none of the attendees cared, or even knew, about Gartner. Continue reading

B2D marketing

B2D marketing

For about twenty years, my focus on marketing and selling enterprise software was on business decision makers foremost, and technical people second. The software I was involved in was large-scale, on-premise applications with a high initial license purchase. That has changed in the last two years. Continue reading

Slack vs Facebook Workplace – an initial comparison

Slack vs Facebook Workplace – an initial comparison

You may have heard that Facebook has launched a version of its flagship product for organizations, called Facebook Workplace. Facebook’s challenge, and opportunity, is that there are already other business collaboration and communication offerings on the market. The best known one is Slack. My company has been using Slack for a while, but we got an invitation to Facebook Workplace, so I have been checking out its features. My exposure to Workplace has been brief, but I thought I would share some of my initial impressions about the differences between Slack and Workplace. Continue reading