This is my 2nd draft, and will be continuously refined.
1st January 2019 – Reported by I Am Possible
I have flown down to Nelspruit to meet businessman, entrepreneur and philanthropist Martin Tobias. It is a hot humid day, and the temperature is already 32 degrees Celsius and its not even 11 am yet.
I am sitting in a meeting room of BVK Training Academy in Murray Street in Nelspruit, it is an impressive looking 2 story building, and there is much bustling around and activity. The room is modernly furnished, with 2 laptops, and the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, thanks to the coffee machine bubbling away.
At exactly 10.58, Martin comes bounding into the room, looking cool, fresh, and incredibly healthy. “I hope I haven’t kept you waiting” says Martin, “I’ve just had a meeting with one of our main sponsors of the academy, and secured a R500,000 sponsorship for the academy for the 2nd half of the year. This will enable us to increase our total enrolment from a current 35 students, to 50 in July” He is slightly flushed, and clearly very pumped up.
Martin pours coffee for us, and I start my interview. Can you tell me when this started, I ask. Martin gets a wistful look on his face and says, this started as a vague idea in 2015, and gained momentum in November 2015. I always wanted to make a meaningful contribution to my community, and as business training to people older than 25 didn’t exist, I decided to make it happen. With the massive unemployment challenge in our country, coupled with a shortage of skills, I found a way of addressing these problems with me and my staff from BVK Chartered Accountants skills. Together with contacts and generous contributions from small and large businesses in the area this dream became a reality.
In 2015, I had been in my business BVK Chartered Accountants for 25 years, I had achieved much success, which enabled me with the help of some dedicated colleagues to build the practice to what in Nelspruit’s terms would be a medium sized practice of 16 staff, with an established and loyal client base. However I was stuck in a rut, not sure what I wanted in life. I had lost my spark and drive.
I have always been passionate about self development, and improvement, and although I was still reading the books, I had stopped living it. I had joined BNI, and here I met Reenen, who told me about a course a friend of his was doing called Master Keys, Master Mind alliance. I had recently read Napoleon Hills “Think and Grow Rich”, and was familiar with the concept of the “Master Mind”
I “attracted” to myself a master mind of Reenen and Tobie.
Martin had been speaking for some time, and I stopped him. What do you mean you “attracted” yourself to a master mind.
I’m glad you asked that question, most of us say we believe that our thoughts create our reality, but do we really get it, I mean to we really believe it in our gut, he says pointing to his stomach?
He continues, after my BNI meeting with Reenen, I said to myself, I am going to join a master mind. It was about 2 weeks later and Reenen told me at a BNI meeting that he had spoken to Tobie, and they invited me to a meeting the following Monday We met, that Monday, and as they say, the rest is history. That morning was the start, which has created all this.
I was confused, but Martin just smiled.
After joining the MKMMA course, and defining by definite major purpose, I was able to start working on goals that were aligned with my needs. With the techniques taught in the course, I re-focussed on my business. I actively networked, and by attending networking events, and being a member of BNI, I increased the reach of our business tremendously. Within 6 months I had together with my enthusiastic and eager staff increased our productivity by one third. I was continuing to empower and develop my staff, and that gave me tremendous satisfaction. I have always thrived on people improving themselves. Knowledge and skills, once developed can never be taken away, and by giving that gift, I was enabling them to catch their own “fish”.
Due to me focussing on my client’s needs, and the networking effort, we were able to grow the business by33%, and needed to employ more staff. This allowed staff to further develop, by moving them into managerial positions.
By March 2017 my managers were running the practice and I was able to decrease my input to only 12 hours a week, which I worked on Monday’s, Tuesday, and Thursday’s, and I took off totally from October to December each year. I continued to manager key areas of the business, and focused on client communication and satisfaction. I managed to reduce my input, and in the beginning maintained my drawings from the company, and in fact, have increased them significantly year on year, as my managers and staff have grown, and taken more and more responsibility, They weren’t just fishing, he says smiling, they were now catching whales. When you empower people, and give them responsibility they will surprise you.
I was stunned to hear how Martin was able to let go, after holding on for 25 years.
With this I was able to mobilise my network that had grown tremendously since 2015, and with the help of many people was able to sell the concept of adult, management and business skills education. For our 1st 6 months course we raised R200, 000, which covered our rental costs and purchase of basic equipment. All tutors including myself and certain BVK staff offered their time free of charge. We enrolled 15 people for our 1st course. This was one of the most enjoyable parts of my life I have ever experienced. Seeing on a day to day basis how unemployable, unskilled people developed and embraced the opportunity given to them was extremely emotional, and tremendously satisfying. I often had to leave the “class” with tears in my eyes. After 6 months we were able to get all 10 people placed on a permanent basis with companies in Nelspruit. These people are now earning good salaries, and providing for their families, and making valuable contributions to their communities.
Due to the success of the first 6 months, the interest from local businesses snowballed and we were able to raise R300, 000, which enabled us to enrol a further 20 students. The other 5 from our first course showed such great potential and it was decided to offer them additional skills, over a further six months.
We have continued to grow this on an ongoing basis, and as mentioned when I came in we will now be in a position to cater for 50 students in July. I consider this the most important thing I have done is my life, and I am humbled by the opportunity I have been given to make a difference.
As Martin pauses long enough for me to get a question in, I ask him, what he does from October to December each year.
An even bigger smile crosses his face, my wife and I travel, he beams. We live in a large country, with spectacular beauty, and we had travelled very narrowly in the past, re-visiting favourite places over and over and not exploring. With the time we now had available, and my drawings increasing even though I was working less, and my property portfolio running smoothly we were able to travel extensively. We visited parts of the country we had never been to before. We started with the Eastern Cape, and spent 3 months in that area, some times staying in guesthouses for 3 weeks on end, and other times, being in and out in a day or two, depending on how we felt. We had no programme, nothing chasing us, just taking things as they came, and how we felt. We got to meet some wonderful people, and in many cases, had people invite us around for meals and visits. We got to see and experience things that only the locals know about.
I was impressed, whereto from here, I asked? Martin, got all serious and said, I don’t know, will have to see what life has in store for us. As I got a puzzled look on my face, Martin started laughing, just kidding he says, and from everywhere small, large and huge posters appeared. They looked like vision or dream posters to me, which Martin answered with a yes and a no. This is called my movie poster, which aligns with my intentions as per my definite major purpose, which is continuously refined, and adjusted. These however have shapes on, which bombards my sub conscious with information, ensuring that this movie is a non fiction movie, which comes to realisation in the future.
I thank Martin for his time, and leave the interview slightly shell shocked. It was all a bit surreal, but as they say the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Martin seems to be shovelling it in, at a great pace.