Who’d be crazy enough to start a humour newsletter?

Sketch courtesy of Chesney Bradshaw

I watched a wonderfully humorous film over the weekend called “French Dispatch”. It has a sophisticated humour with no holds barred and digs deep into the foibles of our humanity. It’s loosely based on an American magazine that was excellent in its day and its legendary editor.

What I really want to talk about is where do you find a daily dose of humour? Irreverent, witty, clever.

I did a bit of digging last year and I subscribed to The Shovel, an Australian humour newsletter, The Daily Mash, a British humour newsletter, and then the Onion and the sort of revived Weekly World News (“World’s Oldest Living Tamagotchi up for Adoption”). All of them revel in the idiocy of humans, especially politicians.

In this country there may be such a newsletter but I haven’t come across it. Yes, there is a lot of humour in the country but much of it is “underground”. You come across humour on the social media sites and on the quick videos (Tiktok is bringing about a surge in humour from South Africans).

These aren’t the only places you’ll find humour in the country. You hear a lot of humour on the streets and in homes where people are protected from the draconian censors (those who censor free speech). There are comedy shows galore and a few writers who lean towards the lighter side. An Afrikaans writer in one of the newspapers is probably one of the only true humourists in the country.

Interesting isn’t it that the Afrikaans language is under attack by the Minister of Ignorance. He believes Afrikaans is a foreign language. Funny that it isn’t spoken in any other country. He also doesn’t want to acknowledge that English is a foreign language. Any nincompoop will know that English was brought to the country by the British colonists.

That self same Minister of Ignorance by wanting to eradicate languages is attempting to wipe out local cultures. In this role he is the Minister of Cultural Annihilation.

Censorship of everything is high on the social agenda … in this country and others. Authoritarianism is rife especially because of the so-called Covid lockdowns. This country is introducing more censorship laws to clamp down on everything including social media and Internet websites.

It’s all about protecting themselves rather than protecting the populous. In the same vein there was a Minister of Financial Misery who raised the percentage of value added tax in the country. While he eats his tinned fish, the poor give the ruling party government 15% of any food they purchase. If you buy R1,000 of groceries from R1,000 of your government grant, the unemployed and disabed immediately have to give back R150 to the government. Now, with inflation the marauding government is raking in billions through the value added tax. It’s the same with petrol prices going through the roof and the government raking more than 30% off the top.

It’s probably a measure of democracy and maturity to allow humour to thrive. In those democracies I mentioned, mature democracies, there is a tolerance for the zany and bizarre, and poking fun at anything, especially politicians.

Ever since I was a teenager, I have enjoyed humour. The magazine to read at the time was MAD Magazine, which is still around. I forgot to mention I also subscribe to their social media feeds. The other day, they produced a template for any politician in the United States to provide a comment on mass shootings at schools and other public places. The shooting of children is a vile and criminal act, but they were able to tackle it from the banal statements that politicians make. The template is very well done, allowing anyone to tick off statements that apply.

And that’s the point, isn’t it? Even under heinous crimes, people find humour. Even when governments implement the worst policies, the people who suffer the most find humour as some sort of solace. No, it’s not about ignoring reality, it’s about showing the real reality for what it is.

Humour falls under free speech. Democracies which allow free speech are not afraid of humour. Now everybody knows that there are limits to everything. Humour needs to be bounded by good taste and not be aimed at specific individuals, unless, of course, they are politicians. But who gets to decide on what is in good taste and what is not? Some would say there should be no limits. Others would argue that decency must prevail. However, in the world of humour, anything that is sick or tasteless will get the thumbs down anyway. And hopefully, it will soon disappear.

Well, I wonder if someone brave enough or foolhardy enough will start a humour newsletter in this country under this prevailing regime. Maybe. Who knows? Anyway, as I said, you needn’t look too far to find humorists in everyone. Those who post their jokes on social media, those who make short videos and the writers who weave clever humour into their pieces (as I saw the other day in a serious journalistic offering).

Street humour and humour in the home will probably remain unsuppressed. Thank goodness. But with the liberal agenda trying to push itself into the home through various means, it’s probably wishful thinking. It’s a funny old world, and people who can endure the lunacy of avaricious governments and crooked politicians can still reach out to humour as a salve.

PS: On dubious authority, I see that the oldest Tamagotchi is said to have lived for 145 Tama years.

Blah blah fish paste

Many consumers are searching for alternative spreads. Photo: Photo by Mariana Medvedeva on Unsplash

Fish paste lovers were shocked to see the decision by a large international food conglomerate, wipe out fish paste spreads manufactured in this country (and also delete a vegetable spread, which seems for good).

Just a few points I wish to make:

1 One of anything is a dangerous number. One supplier means that there is a monopoly. However, why no one else manufactures fish paste in this country is puzzling.

2 Consumers will seek substitutes. Already, other fish pastes are appearing on the market, albeit in small quantities. Many consumers are searching for alternative spreads (not jams and cheese only).

3 Dependence on certain products is a folly. A dermatological product I use has also disappeared from the market. Fortunately, there are better substitutes.

I’m hoping to see new entrants in the spreads market from small, local companies.

Why should we allow the giant corporations with obscene profits to decide what is good for us?

Can business continuity plan templates work for your company?

Recently, someone on LinkedIn asked about business continuity plan templates to understand the level of effort required to come up with a plan.

I think this is a good question because it brings up the issue of using templates for business continuity plans.

There are many templates that you can download on the Internet, and, of course, some are good and some are inadequate. However, by downloading them, you do get a good idea or reasonable idea of the requirements of a business continuity plan.

What are the main elements of a business continuity plan? 

There are usually about five. These include risks and potential business impact; planning an effective response; roles and responsibilities; communication; and testing and training.

Planning is a key component of the ISO 22301 business continuity standard. 

In brief, planning includes: actions to address risks and opportunities; business continuity objectives and planning to achieve them; and planning changes to the business continuity management system. 

There also needs to be operational planning. This involves implementing and controlling the processes required as a result of a disruptive incident (of whatever nature).

Included in the plan should be the business impact analysis, the risk assessment, and the business continuity strategies and solutions.

So essentially, it’s not just a plan that is required but also a response structure that will, to quote the standard, “… enable timely warning and communication to relevant interested parties. It shall provide plans and procedures to manage the organisation during a disruption. The plans and procedures shall be used when required to activate business continuity solutions.”

Business continuity plan templates are good when they cover all these elements key elements. However, templates only take you so far.

It’s important to bring on board subject matter experts and outside consultants to ensure that your templates are filled in with accurate, quality information, says Richard Long, a practice team leader for Technology and Disaster Recovery related engagements.

It requires expertise to ensure that your business continuity plan template is completed correctly in respect of your particular organisation. 

It’s equally important that your business continuity plan is updated and tested regularly. Last but not least, you need to ensure that your business continuity plan is accessible to the team and is communicated widely in your organisation.

In a future newsletter, I will cover a simplified process flow that should be followed in planning a BCP. 

Chesney Bradshaw

New business threats continue to emerge and keeping track of all of them is arduous. Grow your business with a tested continuity plan that saves you time and lets you focus on taking your business to the next level.



Overeating can lead to all sorts of health problems for loved ones with mental illness

Image: Undraw

Mental awareness and food – struggling with disordered eating

If you’ve been caring for a loved one with mental illness, you will know all about binge eating and overeating and how difficult it is to control it.

Most overeating is blamed on medication and I think it’s well known for those taking clozapine, for instance. We know, for instance, that serotonin deficiency has been found to lead to carbohydrate cravings and weight gain. Those who lack serotonin seem to be self-medicating with food.

Overweight and obesity are major risk factors for several chronic diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

To read more click on this link or the link below.


The sharper your words, the less you cry

Credit: Undraw

I was thrust into cooking meals at home and suddenly had to take on the responsibility of putting meals on the table.

Now I didn’t need to go to cooking school to learn how to cook basic meals. I began by cooking some of the meals that I know how to cook. I found out from family and friends how they prepare their meals. I went online and researched recipes, but I found that often they are too complicated, include too many ingredients, are expensive, or take too long to prepare.

This is the thing isn’t it,? You don’t have to go to cooking school to prepare family meals. A little bit of knowledge will get you a long way.

However, when the stakes (not steaks) are higher, then you need to equip yourself with the best you can afford.

You can’t work in cuisine, in restaurants, or in other catering roles, unless you’ve had proper training. Try it. You won’t get very far.

I love the story of Kathleen Flinn, who went to the Le Cordon Bleu School in France to up her culinary game. Her gruelling training is documented in her memoir “The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry”. It’s a good read. She wanted to learn from the best.

Now the same thing applies to business writing. You’ve learnt the basics at school or university and now you can write. A little also goes along way.

However, if writing is one of your key skills in your work or your business, then you have to up your game. Why? Well, the answer is obvious. If you’re not getting results, not advancing your career, or attracting customers, you are failing.

The Better Business Writing Course comes from my 40 years of earning a living as a writer and a deep interest in writing for business. I’ve written for newspapers, magazines, company magazines, websites, advertising, public relations, corporate communications, and even written comic book scrips, long fiction, short fiction, and poetry. Some may laugh at poetry, but it’s one of the secrets to persuasive writing.

If you aspire to reach higher levels in your writing, then my course will take you through everything you need to know, and more, about being a professional writer.

Thank goodness I learnt what I did along the way. I was able to go far further than my peers and for a much longer time. Business writing helped me help me reach the summit of my career in a field that, you guessed it, required excellence in writing. Remember, writing also helps with your public speaking skills.

Now if you are worried about who I am, why not look at my LinkedIn profile. There you can find out about me and see all the facts. One thing I can say to you is that when you look at my career progression remember that my writing has been critical to my success.

When you’ve got a family to feed, when you’ve got no backdoor, no other options, you have to learn your trade backwards. It’s a matter of survival where nobody is going to give you a break, pat you on the back – rather they looking for an excuse to kick you up your butt.

If you want to succeed in business writing, then the better business writing course may be for you.

Before you decide, go look at some of the courses available. You’ll find most of them are written by academics who have never had to write to put food on the table.You’ll find other courses concocted by those spat out of media jobs and now trying to make it in training. Look at those courses, 

That might sound harsh but writing, professional writing to make a living is hard work. My father who was a journalist all his life warned me but I went ahead anyway. I  knocked my head against the wall and had to learn every trick in the book to become professional.

If you are serious about improving your business writing, then let me know if you iare interested and I can share the course with you.

You won’t get a certificate for this course. If you need that kind of recognition, you’ve come to the wrong place. But you will know how to write after you finish this course and make writing an important skill for your career or make a bigger impact on your business.

It’s not a course for everyone. Rather, it is for those few who understand that writing is going to help them or their business and they need help to learn how to do it. It’s this commitment I want – nothing less – because if you don’t have it, you’re not going to benefit from the better business writing course.

Let me know in the comments below if you are interested. We can arrange a quick chat to see if it’s for you.

Who is responsible for someone’s mental illness?

Credit: Undraw

You know, this is a difficult subject to deal with. There are many different views, and each view is probably correct, or not far off.

Let’s start by looking at a seemingly straightforward example about medication. Now, you might say that the person who has the mental condition is responsible for their medication.

But it’s not always that straightforward. Sometimes the person with or in a psychotic condition does not see the need to take medication. Or won’t take medication. However, medication is the only proven way to reduce and manage psychosis.

As a caregiver, and in my work coaching caregivers, I have found one of the most difficult situations is when a loved one with a mental illness decides to self medicate or go off the medication. This is a problematic area because, in most cases, it leads to readmittance to a psychiatric institution for at least three months to stabilise the loved one with a mental illness.

So it’s not so clear cut. However, ultimately, isn’t it the responsibility of the loved one with a mental condition to ensure their health? Some may say it is the responsibility of the person with a mental condition to take their medication. Others may feel personally responsible for their loved one and may say that the person with a mental illness cannot take responsibility for themselves.

There are many other areas where the person with a mental illness needs to take responsibility. This includes personal hygiene, neatness and tidiness of their living space, significant relationships, activities during the day, livelihood pursuits and many more.

When a person with a mental illness has stabilised and irresponsible behaviour continues, then it is time to make them aware that they are also responsible for their lives. They have full loving support from their loved ones, but they also need to meet the caregiver halfway and recognize and acknowledge their personal responsibility.

In the OCD workbook : Your guide to breaking free from obsessive-compulsive disorder / Bruce M. Hyman and
Cherry Pedrick. — 3rd ed, the authors offer the OCD Enabler’s Declaration of Independence. It is a tough-love approach, but realistic.

Here is a quote from the declaration:

“As someone who has been involved in your OCD symptoms, I have come to realize that by participating in your OCD, I have not only hurt myself, I have also contributed to your OCD problem without meaning to do that. Here are some of the ways that I’ve been enabling you:”

This statement has relevance for any mental disorder in that it clearly indicates that the caregiver can only go so far in assisting their loved one with a mental illness even though they love them dearly.

If you have different views, please let me know. It’s a difficult issue as I mentioned  in the beginning and any suggestions that make this easier to handle deal with responsibility are welcome.

Are you doing enough to protect your business against cyber security?

Credit: Undraw

Experts around the world are warning about the increase in cyber attacks on businesses. In this country, some of these cyber attacks have been reported, but how many are not reported? The Cybercrimes Act, however, does require companies to report any cybercrime offences to the police within 72 hours and retain all information related to it. 

It appears that companies are doing their upmost to protect themselves from cyber attacks, ransomware, and other forms of cybercrime. These are often the larger companies that have more resources. The large international companies represented in the country can lean on their parents for systems, software, and hardware as well as knowledge and information.

Moreover, what are small-to medium-sized businesses doing? I’ve been told that many of their employees aren’t even aware of emails with ransomware. This is worrying.

Many IT and IS departments are doing their utmost to prevent cyber crime. It’s on the table at their weekly and monthly meetings. They send out emails about forms of cybercrime and provide training to employees.

But how often is cybercrime tabled at management meetings? Is it an issue to be discussed at weekly and monthly management meetings? How often does the company’s board deal with the issue of cyber crime? Is it tabled once a year or quarterly?

It seems that while IT and IS departments are working hard to prevent cyber crime, within the organisations, management is perhaps not addressing it as vigorously. I don’t want to get anyone’s dander up, but although they may say that they do, the reality is often different.

It’s important to have a recognised information security standard in a business. The ISO 27001 is a framework that helps organizations “establish, implement, operate, monitor, review, maintain, and continually improve an ISMS”. A standard like ISO 27001 provides a business with checks and balances, regular testing, and third-party auditing.

The ISO/IEC 27001 standard provides requirements for an information security management system (ISMS), according to the ISO. It enables organisations of any kind to manage the security of assets such as financial information, intellectual property, employee details, or information entrusted by third parties.

Adhering to a standard such as ISO 27001 is not a cut-and-paste exercise. It is a management system that requires continual and proactive management, much like the business continuity management system ISO 22301. 

From the messages and queries I have received, I wish to point out that ISO management systems are not a template exercise. Companies that can afford these management systems should have their own information security and business continuity plans in place. They should ensure that their systems are audited by external third-party auditors who can help them close the weaknesses and gaps in their business.

One thing we can be sure of is that cybercrime is on the increase, and vulnerable businesses without effective systems and measures in place stand to suffer in various ways, especially financially.

Moreover, on this last point, something to bear in mind is the difference between ISO 45001 and ISO 27001. When it comes to the safety standard, companies and their management can be held legally liable (with fines and jail time) through negligence. However, what sanction is there for companies who are hard hit by cyber crime? The losses that are suffered because of cybercrime impact everyone who has an interest in the business, including owners, investors, top management, employees, suppliers, and last but not least, customers.











Grinding it out

Courtesy of Undraw

I’ve been grinding it out for so many months now with so many changes. We are living in difficult times and there are all sorts of issues that we have to deal with. Problems and challenges that we need to solve and the adjustments we need to make as we change and things change around us.

Yesterday morning I suddenly had a flash that I’ve come a long way since last year. There were many things that I needed to change, and looking back, I realised that I had accomplished more than I thought.

A good feeling came over me when I realised this. The position I was in a year ago put a strain on me and I had to go about changing things one at a time. This feeling of having gotten somewhere without even knowing it brought about an inner strength in me that I thought I had lost.

It’s not to say that there won’t be problems, challenges, and difficulties ahead. There certainly will be. It’s just that I have a different perspective now that I realise where I am on the road.

Grinding it out for so long, dealing with problems day in and day out, month in and month out, gave me little joy. Yes, of course, there are times where you feel up, but these are fleeting little lifts.

In these times, under difficult economic and living conditions, having to deal with high prices and putting the squeeze on costs is challenging. On all sorts of costs, is challenging. Then there is the important area of trying to develop sources of income. It’s hard to start from the bottom again and push yourself day after day.

An entrepreneur was saying the other day that many of the top business people slept in their offices while building their businesses. It’s not to glorify hard times but to know that you can put up with a lot while on your journey, whatever that may be.

Resilience, inner strength, and perspective are important qualities when the chips are down, but what are the other options?

As Ray Kroc said in his book “Grinding it Out” when flying back to Chicago in 1954 with a freshly signed contract with the McDonald’s brothers in his briefcase,  “I was a battle-scarred veteran of the business wars, but I was still eager to go into action.” He was 52 years old, had diabetes, incipient arthritis, lost his gallbladder and most of his thyroid gland. But he was convinced that “the best was ahead of me”.

If we want to live the life that we have always longed for, then we have to simply knuckle down and do what it takes. We know things take three times longer than expected and cost double what we thought.

Some ignore history at their peril

Roderick Lovesey’s painting of the air raid on the Rolls Royce Factory in Derby. See article from the DerbyTelegraph.co.uk here https://www.derbytelegraph.co.uk/news/nostalgia/air-raid-rolls-royce-full-152526

From our UK correspondent Shaun Hollick, who muses on growing up in the aftermath of WW2 and lessons learnt

The legacy of WW2 was my school friends initially. German, Polish, Yugoslavian, and Hungarians fled the USSR as it was Europe’s deathbed.

Growing up we could tell that our future would be greatly different to that of our parents.

During the war, countries such as the US and Russia stripped technology from the UK and Germany. For example, the US got hold of RAF and Luftwaffe technology.

In a broad sense to this day it could be said that we are indebted colonies to these major global forces. By the indebtedness of the smaller nations I mean loans/policies imposed by the International momentary fund (USA) or direct control by Russia.

UK industry at home was run by the aristocrats. Badly in my view. It seems with taking all our expertise to America.

The UK struggled globally to export it’s technology, goods and professional expertise. Unfortunately, in my view its trade was fuelled by corruption and ineptitude.

In the past decades we have seen UK industry deteriorate. After the war, the Empire came home to the flattened rubble of bombed industrial Derby. Rebuilt in the 1960s, it’s now rubble again courtesy of corruption.

The wartime generation is now largely dead. And it seems to me that very little has been learnt. Power and the corruption that comes with it continue to erode many facets of society, hampering growth.

It seems to me that the smaller nations have been sidelined in the interests of the larger countries – for resources such as energy, minerals, capital, technology and so on.

Perhaps technology and robots will have the last laugh. And the loudest. Technology is reaching such a point that it can play a destructive role even for the present giant nations.