Into The Rush Of Horseracing

Racing. It's A Rush.

There are certain events on the South African social calendar that seem to be as much (if not more) about hype than the actual event. I have always felt the Durban July and, to a slightly lesser extent, the Met in Cape Town are two such events. The excitement around these occasions is often focused on marques, fashion and partying. I’ve never had the opportunity to attend either and I have often joked that the first time I attend will probably when I own a horse running in the race.

Growing up in Lesotho, I’ve been exposed to horses – including riding up and down mountains when the snows are melting (as one does) – and have been fascinated the story of the Basotho pony. Learning about the history of the Basotho, I also learnt a bit about the cross breeding of horses – in the early 1970s, the Irish setup a cross breeding project in Lesotho.

I then had the chance some years back to write an article on the breeding of race horses and was given even greater insight into the world of horseracing. But, to be honest, there are a number of stereotypes around the sport, and those who support and are involved in it, that have often created a block. The irony is that the two main ones are on opposite ends – it is elitist and it involves less than savoury characters, particularly on the betting side.

In early August, the horseracing fraternity had the Equus Awards which are the premier awards for horses, jockeys, trainers, breeders and owners and the room was visibly filled with many who have probably been in the space for a couple of decades. This doesn’t bode well for continuity and the growth of the sport, particularly within context of an evolving country where there is a vast array of experiences vying for our time. To work to ensure that horseracing’s evolution is a lot more reflective of us all, the fraternity has brought everything together under the banner of one brand – Racing. It’s A Rush – which was launched mid-August with much fanfair in Joburg at an event hosted by Maps Maponyane.

The reality is we consume experiences. We want to be told, and share in, stories. We want to be able to experience life deeply. We want to be entertained. Any brand that seeks to maintain the status quo will be left behind. Interacting with the people from Racing. It’s A Rush, they do seem to get that their future will depend on turning horseracing into an inclusive and authentic livestyle brand, sport and experience. With races running nearly every day of the year, it is about making the experience compelling enough for you and I to spend our days at the track as a form of entertainment, a place for business interactions and networking, an environment for not just individuals, but families, as well.

Being a liker of things of sorts (depending on what the things are), I’m giving it a shot. I’m going to go out and experience the horseracing world in its entirety from going to races (and not just the major ones) to interacting with owners, trainers, breeders, jockeys and the track. I will share that journey on this, and other platforms. I have a friend in Lesotho who has decided he wants to breed stallions – definitely dragging him along. If you’d like to join me on various days at the track, watch this space (and my Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & LinkedIn profiles).

To Print Or Not To Print?

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What’s your relationship with printers? There was a time when they were purely office devices for those with funds. I remember having an argument with a business partner, many moons ago, about whether it was worth getting a printer that could also fax, scan and make copies, because of the cost, plus we already had a fax machine and making copies using the printer just wasn’t cost effective (and that serves as my last word on that argument, although we did actually buy the one he wanted).

A decade later, I was giving printers away because it was cheaper to buy a new printer than buy an ink cartridge. When I worked from home, I had a printer but printed infrequently and only for really important stuff. Still found it cheaper to go to a print shop when I needed to print high volumes. One way around spending what I considered too much on cartridge was by refilling the ones I had.

In the last couple of years, I’ve generally had at least one good office-type deskjet in my home in the desire to be a bit more self-sufficient. Plus you never know when you need to print a document or something. Being traditionally brand agnostic, the decision around which printer to get was usually by how much I could afford at that time, and perceived value for money, when it comes to consumables.

HP has, over the last year in particular, gone on a drive to re-emphasis the importance of not just the printer but the quality of the print. They even brought through an ‘inkologist’ from their lab in the US to talk about what goes into making ink and the differences, in quality and value for money, between different types of ink. You can see his videos HERE.

I have also been mainly using HPs recently and the one thing that I love most about it is wireless printing. This dependency on a cable is out-dated in a mobile world. I am easy to entertain so I take great joy from being able to sit on my couch and send something to print or even emailing something to print on my home printer while out and about. Now you can even get the e-print app and print directly from your phone or tablet.

Living in a different city from my father, he’s always admonishing me about not getting enough pictures of his grandchildren. Being old school, to a certain extent, he wants printed pictures as opposed to my emailing a gang as and when I remember to. I recently participated in a little campaign with HP to truly explore the printer’s ability to print out photographs, using the HP Ink Advantage 4645. As a result, the last time my father came to visit, a printed a couple of pics for him, and have also printed some family pics we took early this year. Another thing I have been using it for is printing out images from the ‘net for my kids.

The biggest issue for me with printers is I already have a paper hoarding problem. I don’t know that it will be good for me to start printing stuff. But, I’m also using it to scan bills and other documents, and getting recycling the papers.

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Get A Free Office Efficiency Assessment

I’ve been involved in Nashua’s Saving You Time campaign for a couple of weeks now. I have been using it to add impetus to my own drive to become a bit more efficient on a personal level particularly because I have never been a person who has been able to do only one thing. Before, during and after university, I was working in family businesses, in management consulting, IT (in particular identification technologies, biometrics and specialised software), retail (a shop supplying hair products and cosmetics to hair salons) and a weekly newspaper, all in Maseru.

Currently, while my work life is devoted to Destiny Man magazine, I always seem to have a number of projects on the go from this blog, a book, a poetry album, and some consulting stuff. The need to be efficient is to allow me the space to maximise my attention when engaged with something and this includes time with family and for myself. And, ironically, I often spend time with friends looking at their operations to see how I can help them find that sweet spot as well – kind of a “mechanic driving a scrap’ syndrome. I console myself that I am, at least, working at it.

Obviously Nashua, with this initiative, is positioning itself and working to build awareness around how it is able to facilitate and assist businesses especially. They have created a business efficiency test and will send in consultants to help business improve their efficiency. I recently took the test for my business although it operates on the move, without a fixed space, driven forward by my partner. I don’t if I passed by I got 61% which I will take as a good start. I would be curious to find out if anyone would be interested in getting a free business assessment, going through the process and letting me know how it went. A real life case study, so to speak.

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If you do have a business and would be interested, drop me a message in the comments section and I will try put in a good word but also would like to document your process.

Battle of the Football Ads

Battle of the Football Ads

It is the FIFA World Cup in Brazil and, in addition to there being the opportunity to be absolutely gluttonous with football, but the different brands attempt to put their best foot forward to capture our attention and pockets. Football is big business and companies pay millions of dollars to be a part of the spectacle. For the sports brands, the competition is to adorn the bodies – and feet – of the football players in the hope that, if my favourite player is wearing their brand, I will be more inclined to interact with it.

Last world cup, in 2010 in South Africa, I posted on Nike Football vs Puma Football vs Adidas Football and, this year, none of them has disappointed, coming with a new ad to anchor their interaction with the tournament, although Puma seems to have focused solely on the football boot (evoPower and evoSpeed) they have provided to Italy’s Mario Balotelli, Germany’s Marco Reus and Spain’s Cesc Fabregas, all of whom I assume they sponsor. I must say, seeing that they sponsor Ghana’s Black Stars, I was a bit disappointed they didn’t include anyone from that team.

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Adidas, who have been making the official World Cup match ball since 1970, have centred their campaign around Lionel Messi and players from the other national teams they sponsor, including Germany (Bastian Schweinsteiger), Brazil (Dani Alves), The Netherlands (Robin van Persie) and Spain (Xavi). Directed by Fernando Meirelles, the director of the legendary Brazilian film City of God, Fernando Meirelles, it features a track from Kanye West and is called The Dream.

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In their words:

What happens when Messi wakes from his dream? As he steps onto the biggest stage in world football will his wildest dreams or worst nightmares become a reality? He has a simple choice — all in or nothing. To win the 2014 FIFA World Cup™, there is only one way to play: all in. The battleground is no place for the unprepared. Dani Alves, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Suárez, Xavi, Jordi Alba, Mesut Özil, Robin van Persie and David Villa know that boundaries must be pushed. They know there’s only one way to play with the whole world watching.Destiny is not fate. You have a choice. Fear or be feared. Hunt or be hunted. Evolve or die. Now or never. It’s black or white. all in or nothing.

 Nike’s The Last Game is animated and features Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Neymar, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Andres Iniesta and Franck Ribery, amongst others. Not specifically tied to the World Cup, it is the story of a world where a scientist has created clones of real players to create a stale football and it is wonderfully made.

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Nike’s Risk Everything ad for the World Cup is dope but, with a couple of days gone already, and the ad being around Wayne Rooney, Ronaldo and Neymar Jr, the only one who, sa far, seems to be holding up to the pressure is Neymar.

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Other ads shot for the World Cup include Pepsi Beats For The Beautiful Game, shot by Spike Lee:

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And even Beats By Dre have jumped into the fray with The Game Before The Game, centred around Neymar Jr but also featuring an array of people from football players like Daniel Sturridge, Mario Gotze, Luis Suarez, Jozy Altidore and Bacary Sagna to other prominent personalities like Serena Williams, LeBron James and Lil Wayne.

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Which ad wins? The one that is able to tap into our emotions best. And it is different for each of us. How we feel about the game, the players, etc will determine which we feel is best. It’s all about the content. The story. The feeling.

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Things My Father Taught Me (Win With Chivas)

Life is about example. Having example and being an example. My father has been my main parent since I was about one. My mother died in a car accident. Everything I have learnt about being a man, a professional, a husband, a father, etc has stemmed from my father. I started working for him in the family businesses from a very young age so I learnt how to work and gained skills directly from him outside of school but, more importantly, watching him over the years – I am now 42 and he is 79 – has shaped who I am.

Whenever I am asked about my role models, my father is always the first I name but it is more than that for me – he has been the ultimate example. None of us is perfect but he has been perfect, even with his imperfections, because he provided a foundation, a template of sorts, from which I could, and can, build a life I can be proud of. I continue to learn from him every day, and it is impossible to break a lifetime of lessons into a couple of words but, through his example, he has taught me:

    • about responsibility and duty,
    • about sacrifice,
    • about hard work,
    • about living completely,
    • about respect for self and others,
    • about pride,
    • about perfection and excellence,
    • about dreaming without limit,
    • about compassion,
    • about humility,
    • about love,
    • about legacy.

My love for knowledge, and reading, and writing, and music, and sport, and creativity, and expression, comes from him. Every time the teams we both support – Ghana, Germany, Bayern Munich, Liverpool and Kaizer Chiefs – play in an important game, I know I will get a phone call afterwards either to celebrate or to check that I am handling the disappointment of a loss. And I reminded of the importance of thinking beyond oneself.

As a father myself now, I understand him a lot more. I understand how he has been able to get up every day and go out to change the world because there is no other option when you have the responsibility of raising children and living a life of legacy.

I hope that I shape up. I strive to do so every day. And celebrate the privilege I have of being his son. On this Father’s Day, Chivas Regal, as part of their My Father Is A Gentleman campaign, have provided me with two bottles of Chivas Regal 18 to giveaway. When I was growing up, my father’s bottle of Chivas was always the one that you weren’t allowed to touch. The most important lesson for me from my father is that being a gentleman is about living authentically and positively. A quote I try to live by is: A truly rich man is one whose children run into his arms when his hands are empty.

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To enter, please leave a comment on what fatherhood means to you. The two winners will be randomly selected by my 7-year old son. The competition is only open to South African residents. The winner will be notified by email. The closing date for the competition is Wednesday, June 18th, 2014.

KOJO BAFFOE'S realm – editor of destiny man, man, father, husband, poet, writer, content producer, media consultant, dreamer

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