Executive Editor of Business Report.
CAPE TOWN  - Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. - John F Kennedy.

Have you ever heard of a group called “Fellows of Fire”? I suspect not.

Fellows is a group of like-minded professionals pooling knowledge and resources to assist in meaningful initiatives, thus making a difference in the lives of those with whom it interacts.

I was invited to join this group five years ago, before I was appointed as Editor of Business Report (BR). I've met amazing people since then, with the likes of retired judge Willem Heath, Satish Roopa, former executive mayor of Potchefstroom, Buyani Zwane, lecturer in Leadership at the Gordon Institute of Business Science, Professor Louis Fourie, former deputy vice-chancellor: knowledge, information and technology at Cape Peninsula University of Technology, and James van der Hoven, founder of Leaderless, a disruptive education platform designed to help educate people about the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4iR) technologies, to name but a few.

“Fellows of Fire developed out of a desire to collaborate with like-minded individuals in all parts of South Africa, building alliances and pursuing opportunities as a collective. The idea is to both build on the skills and knowledge of a network rather than allowing them to go to waste and plough back what we can to a country that has given us so much.

“South Africa is sitting on wealth second to none. What the country needs is people with the enthusiasm and energy to put it to use. Fellows of Fire hope to be a catalyst in such an agenda. If you want to stand up and be part of the change, we’re waiting to hear from you.

“Fellows is a community of highly-skilled people, each with their own networks and experiences. We promote the building of associations, the sharing abilities, expertise and provide occasions to explore business prospects, establish think tanks and offer a platform to create and exploit opportunities together,” said the founder of Fellows, Satish Roopa, at the weekend. Roopa’s philosophy is: “Be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”

James van der Hoven discussed the challenges around the 4iR on Saturday.

“As we move into the 4iR where robotics, automation, AI and Blockchain will replace many jobs, how can we educate and teach people to use these technologies to create decentralised societies that are self-organising, transparent and collaborative?

“In essence, how do we leverage technology to buy us time in order to return to our core values and principles? Leaderless is designed to help educate people about the 4iR, and for them to take ownership of their own lives. They teach about social entrepreneurship, blockchain technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT). Everything will be connected; how do we build products that connect through the Blockchain, AI and IoT that serve the growth of another human being?" Van der Hoven asked.

“Our first goal is to train 1000 Blockchain developers to return trust. Some of these developers will go on to building their own projects or work with other companies, but of these developers we will choose the team that will build out the next phases of the Leaderless platform. All the revenue we generate will build decentralised innovation hubs for 150 social entrepreneurs - the number of people one can have meaningful relationships with and who understand that the 4iR requires collaboration. The eco-system of young entrepreneurs in South Africa is still young and it is here where these entrepreneurs will be able to live, work and be supported to create new jobs of the future,” he said.

If you consider that the entire financial world is being disrupted, that the words, “money makes the world go round” is slowly starting to evaporate right before our eyes when Millennials no longer buy into home loans backed by the banks, they take Ubers and no longer buy cars backed by the banks and as they become aware of technologies like Blockchain that no longer requires the banks, the outlook looks far brighter.

Robots will build the infrastructure; software automation and AI will do the calculations and remove accountants. Overpaid movie stars will pass on, but 3D versions of themselves will live on through the ever-improving mathematical equations of software rendering and the actor's consciousness will be uploaded and attached to their 3D replacements with every tap of a mobile keyboard we feed into Google and Facebook, making them come alive and live on forever. The world will be networked like never before, releasing a tsunami of knowledge that will show people how to do just about anything.

Buyani Zwane concluded the Fellows gathering with an inspirational discussion about leadership. “The L is Love - love the people you work with and love your job; E is for Equipment - equip those that will come after you to be better than you; A is for Amplifying - look out for the people that are doing the work in the backroom; D is for Destiny - know where you are heading towards; E is for Excellence - life is about habits, excellence should always be the standard; R is for Relationships - it is not about business-to-business, it is about people-to-people relationships; S is for Sustainability - think and implement business strategies by keeping the future of your children's children in mind."

I agree with Roopa, get off your butt and go and make a difference, wherever you are. Let’s get back to basic values: trust, meaningful work and making a difference. As Tom Bokaw said: "It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference.”

BUSINESS REPORT