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March 7, 2017

Article Written By Mike Abel

Developing a true culture of sharing lies at the core of our country’s potential turnaround and success.


It’s as simple as this: for South Africa to thrive more people need to have more. More opportunity to own things of importance, like homes and businesses, in order to educate their families and to grow a viable and achievable future worth striving for.

To get us here, we need a radical paradigm shift that takes people out of a current protectionist and dare I say, greed mentality, into one of sharing and possibly even having less, whilst still doing well – but taking others on the journey of success with you.

Too few people have far too much because they don’t believe in sharing and vast wealth accumulation becomes the game versus actually using that profound ability to create wealth for a wider group of people.

I’m not remotely referring to socialism here but a better view on responsible capitalism.

I am, unashamedly, a capitalist, but I believe we have a responsibility to redress the past in this country and wherever possible, to help create opportunities which create more jobs and for other people to be taken along the journey with ones’ own success.

I’ve always believed there is a huge difference between can and should. One can potentially make a fortune out of a particular deal/s but the question is should one – or should many.

Our country is currently on its knees because of both greed and corruption.

There are people in South Africa with hundreds of millions, even billions who don’t truly believe in sharing their wealth to the betterment of society and thinking beyond their immediate family. To those people, this observation of a sharing culture would appear as naïve, lefty, idealistic mumbo-jumbo.

I am not a lefty and as I said before, I’m an ambitious capitalist who believes in doing well and living well. But imagine if more people believed they could still live well (with just a little bit less) and to directly funnel those funds and equity into the hands of others who too, could do well.

Of course wide-scale corruption is a massive problem for South Africa with over R40 billion of our country’s money being lost to “wasteful and fruitless expenditure” according to the latest Auditor General report.

Many of us pay over 40% tax and then need to buy in a whole lot of services that the tax money should cover, so we get stretched even further. Until those holes in the bucket are fixed, there will rightfully be huge resistance to contributing more of one’s personal ability to generate wealth to help others.

So I’m just planting a seed with others out there, that instead of owning 100% of your company, you could own a half of that – or even a quarter and still do brilliantly – and then to allocate those funds/equity to take a whole lot more people directly or indirectly on the journey of success with you and thereby to create a more balanced society – and a better and sustainable future for not only our kids, but for others too.

Some of the wealthiest people I know, are also the unhappiest. The root cause could be the insight found in a Kabalistic belief “in life you get because of what you give, not because of what you take”. A life of purpose, is often found in giving.

Over the years I’ve come across many successful men and women who are miseries. Loaded, but unhappy. They remind me of that old Jamie Uys movie “Beautiful People” where he shows us how to catch a monkey. You fill a small hole in a tree with peanuts, the monkey puts his hand into the hole and grabs the nuts, but his fist now closed around the nuts is too big to pull out the small hole. Even when approached by danger, the monkey wont let go of the nuts – and gets caught.

A lot of people and companies are like that with “wealth”. They worship the accumulation thereof versus the profound “wealth” of opportunities it creates for them to lead meaningful lives through “giving” versus just cossetted ones. There is a also massive difference between charity and sharing. The one doesn’t offset the other. It’s both – not either or.

I have chosen this journey for myself in business and the reward I get from watching many people do well as a result, is infinitely more rewarding than simply having a larger number on a balance sheet.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. March 7, 2017 12:11 pm

    Hi Mike.
    I like your blog – but you make the point that you are a unashamed capitalist – but one who’s happy to share. However, I believe that the more appropriate paradigm here is not capitalist versus socialist but rather liberal versus conservative (as in the the core division between the Deomcrats and the Republicans in the US). In this sense, you are clearly a liberal – as am I. The sad fact in my experience is that there are many people who are liberals ‘morally’ but conservatives ‘fiscally’. I.e.: happy to espouse the needs of justice and equity in society but not really willing to contribute much to that themselves. This is a common problem of the ‘tragedy of the commons’ where self-interest so often overrides the longer term perspective of what would be best for all society but ‘sharing’. That in turn is typically driven by mankind’s understanding that ‘you only live once’!
    Best wishes Tim

    • mikeabel permalink*
      March 7, 2017 1:37 pm

      Hi Tim : thanks for the build : I used to consider myself a liberal until the word was stolen, in my view, by dishonest people who reinterpreted it to mean reinventing & reframing the truth so as to sell in a toxic agenda under the guise of decency and kindness. So I don’t see myself as one. Just a guy wanting to do good whilst still doing well.

  2. Bongani permalink
    March 21, 2017 6:06 pm

    Mike, you are one of a few successful people who look at wealth as a river and not a pot. Wealth needs to flow through society and everyone dives in to create their own channel from it.

    What I have experienced is my short time as an enterprenuer is that there is a huge trust issue. The haves (white mostly) blv the have-nots (blacks) don’t want to work for their success. On the flip side the blacks think the whites opening their hands are out to screw them. So we all remain is the land of show me urs and I will show u mine – lack of progress.

    Trust will move us forward.

    • mikeabel permalink*
      March 23, 2017 3:36 pm

      Love your metaphor of a river vs pot Bongani 👍 True : trust lies at the center of all successful relationships.

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