Lessons from the Bushmen


I was lucky enough to work and spend considerable time in Namibia after I finished university. The wild emptiness of the Skeleton Coast makes it one of my favourite places in the world.

The scale and beauty of the desolate landscape only ever help me recalibrate my thoughts and focus. While there I took great interest in the writing of Laurens van der Post, particularly those on the Bushmen (the indigenous people of southern Africa).

Over 40,000 years, the Bushmen have built their culture on sharing, forward planning and sustainable living. Their way of life ensures social cohesion and suppression of one's ego so that the tribe triumphs.

Using the last few months constructively I've been able to look at what I am doing and question if there is a better way. Can I share more of what (and who) I know to help others achieve greater success? How can I better serve my clients by encouraging collaboration (rather than competition) and garner satisfaction in their success?

Without all the usual time constraints and pressure, using the lock-down has enabled me to reflect and reposition what I do critically. Aligning my business with some of these principles has helped me to lock down a 'true North'. Here are a few of the things I uncovered when I drilled down into my set up.

Why did I start my own business?

The first few answers to this opening question were all intellect led, or responses from my head. "To make money", "To apply my knowledge in a sector I enjoy", "To have autonomy" and so on.

But as I kept saying to myself "Ok, but why?" I got deeper, and the answers stopped coming from the head and started to come from the heart instead.

I spent my mid-teens observing my father being away for up to six months a year on business. I knew there had to be a more effective way to work, that I didn't have to become a white-collared factory worker.

That observation set me on a life-long quest for effective ways of working, exercising, communicating - everything! Just because something had always been done a certain way, it didn't mean that it was right!

Not seeing my dad for large parts of the year, I decided I wanted to be more present for my family. So with the growth of the internet, early adoption of outsourcing and a healthy disrespect for authority; I knew I would end up doing my own thing AND helping others do theirs.

Why do I do what I do now?

Connecting people has real value. I enjoy making connections, joining dots, to help people not only solve challenges but thrive and grow as a consequence.

Far too many people fail to look up from what's immediately in front of them. By not looking up and around, they miss many opportunities to learn and grow.

I have the luxury, experience and knowledge of being able to take a broader view and identify opportunities and engineer the introductions and circumstances to capitalise on them.

Who is my ideal client?

Within the world of property, my ideal clients are the SME developers (SMEDs) and investors with a couple of years experience and perhaps one or two deals under their belts. 

They know enough to be dangerous (to themselves) but are self-aware enough to know there's more to learn and better ways to execute.

They may even have a day job or other business, and this is in addition to that. Or they may be naturally progressing and diversifying into property development and investment.

What problems do I solve?

Most SMEDs or Investors lack a clear VISION of what their longer-term goals are.

They lack a MAP (procedures, structures and team to execute) to achieve their vision.

They may also lack experience or clarity of the bigger picture, or where they fit into the LANDSCAPE.

A lack of confidence, direction and resources will lead to FAILURE sooner rather than later.

nReal works with Small to Medium Enterprise Developers (SMEDs) and Property Investors to leverage their time and resources and make the most of their opportunities.

We look for gaps in clients' skillsets and see where to join the dots. We think people would be more satisfied with their business (and life) if they understood what was important to them and focused on that, leaving nReal to fill in the rest.

What are some of the mistakes that cause these problems for people in the first place?

I go into these in more depth in a couple of other articles I've written, "5 things that could mess up your journey to property success" and "7 mistakes people make when starting in property development" but here's a quick round-up of the most common mistakes.

  1. Finding and securing opportunities at the right price
  2. Raising funds, choosing the correct financial structure and managing cashflow - i.e. Finance
  3. Lack of strategy (we always look to reverse engineer from the exit)
  4. Underestimating the ecology of a project - how the many different people and processes all fit together
  5. Managing the exit from projects and ensuring your deal flow is healthy, so there are no gaps in cash flow or your time

What are my clients trying to get done?

They are trying to create an effective process that can replicate successful projects and deals with time after time.

They are trying to get more done with less - by leaning on nReal to help plug gaps in their skill set. By using the principles of Other Peoples Time and Knowledge (OPT & OPK), nReal's client leverage themselves beyond their actual size.

How do our methodologies help solve peoples problems and make their lives better?

By clearly defining each stage of the development/investment journey - A(cquisition) - P(roject) - Ex(it), we identify the client's strengths. But more importantly, we recognise gaps in their skills and resources.

nReal is then able to provide either directory or via third parties, the skills, services or resources to bridge those gaps.

Want to know more?

nReal's establish repeatable systems & structures. We will help you develop your own support network of professionals that will help you scale up to where you want to be. As we say at nReal, "Connecting People has Real Value".

Contact us today to find out more about our APEx program or anything else.