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The Upside Of Down: How Chaos And Uncertainty Breed Opportunity In South Africa – Bruce Whitfield


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The Upside Of Down: How Chaos And Uncertainty Breed Opportunity In South Africa – Bruce Whitfield

Bruce Whitfield unpacks his book 'The Upside Of Down: How Chaos And Uncertainty Breed Opportunity In South Africa' (Editing: Nicholas Boyd)

12th May 2020


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Next time you go to a conference or hire a consultant to be told, ‘We live in a VUCA [Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous] world,’ leave the room.

You are wasting your time.


In a world of fake news, deep-fakes, manipulated feeds of information and divisive social-media agendas, it’s easy to believe that our time is the most challenging in human history. It’s just not true. It is a time of extraordinary opportunity. But only if you have the right mindset.

Fear of the future breeds inaction and leads to strategic paralysis. We put off decisions until we can have certainty. We look for signals. We wait. And while we do that, the world moves on around us. Problem-solvers thrive in chaotic and uncertain times because they act to change their future. Winners recognise that in a world of growing uncertainty, you need to resort to actions on things you can control.
And the only things over which you have absolute control are your attitude and your mindset.


These, in turn, determine the actions you will take and that will define your future. A robust mindset is the one common characteristic Bruce Whitfield has identified in two decades of interrogating how South Africa’s billionaires and start-up mavericks think differently. They are not naive Pollyannas. They don’t ignore risk or hope that problems will go away.

They constantly measure, manage, consider and weigh up opportunities in a tumultuous sea of uncertainty and find ways around obstacles. If, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller suggests, the stories we tell affect economic outcomes, then we need to tell different stories amidst the noise and haste of a rapidly evolving world.

BRUCE WHITFIELD has won more awards for financial journalism than any other working South African media professional. His daily Money Show on 702 and Cape Talk is compulsory listening for anyone who wants to know what is happening in the political economy. Whitfield presents Taking Stock on eNCA and is a contributing editor at the Financial Mail. He is a sought-after public speaker who thrives on challenging audiences to think differently about the risks and challenges posed by the complex South African environment.

The Upside Of Down: How Chaos And Uncertainty Breed Opportunity In South Africa is published by Pan Macmillian South Africa


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