Bon Voyage – an open letter to CN&CO partners

Most of the CN&CO team leave for Val Thorens in the French Alps tomorrow. We have all been looking forward to this trip for a long time and owing to Rand volatility, we are deeply grateful for our all-inclusive, pre-paid Club Med package! And after our snow experience, a few of us will be hitting the streets for the Paris Marathon to run with our client Europ Assistance to raise awareness and funds for organ donation. I thought it an opportune time to share a few thoughts with you, our partners, before our departure.

CN&CO prides itself on being a lifestyle business. That simply means that we take what we do very seriously, not ourselves. We acknowledge people work in different ways – and that clients need and want to be serviced in a bespoke manner. We are therefore always very clear on working with people and brands who share our values, get crystal clear clarity on outputs and then empower various team members to get on with and make magic (whilst not fucking up and having a lot of fun!)

A lifestyle business may seem glamorous and with the amazing team that make up CN&CO (I am slightly biased!) who are a good looking and smart, glamour comes easily 🙂 However, a lifestyle business requires discipline and focus as you are working 24/7. Whilst our company is paying for the team (all our profits are invested in our team and in other people investment opportunities to build and grow talent) many of the team have had to sacrifice to make this trip happen – and for that I am deeply grateful.

Since our life is our work is our ski holiday is our marathon run is our life, we have either made plans to ensure you don’t need us while we are away, or we’ve arranged to work on your outputs every day after a day on the slopes, before party time, or you’ll be looked after by the team keeping our physical office open – Neo, Allan, Josie and Emi (thanks to you four and we’ll return the favour, soon!)

As many of you know, when I travel – like so many of you – productivity soars 🙂 I’d encourage you all, during the busyness of life, to remember that your health & spending time with family and friends, must always be a priority.

We are being joined on our trip by our chairperson Colleen Magner from Reos Partners (who is right in the thick of helping our country through challenging conversations) as well as various clients and business associates – from our recruiting and PR specialists to a bunch of Purplistas to RMB and more. I can’t wait for the new ideas that we’ll generate and the memories we’ll create. In between I turn 43 which is a privilege and joy – especially to share it with the CN&CO team.

Fresh from concluding our board meeting last week, I am invigorated by what a small group of people have done in a few years – largely as a result of our focus on relationships, PEOPLE! We have no intention of becoming a big agency and are continuing our focus on a mixture of quality clients that we are passionate about. Some of you have been with us since we started in 2014 (and in fact have worked with some of us since 2000!) whilst others like Satrix, the FSB and Plantronics are new. All of you, however, are special to us and we are honoured to be entrusted to work with you on your brands.

In conclusion, on a day where South Africa is again experiencing political turmoil and economic uncertainty – which makes life for many a major challenge – I want to restate my belief that it is during these difficult times that we all need to show our real strength. Blaming others and being angry is understandable but not useful. Talking, trying to understand other points of views, listening, role-modelling values-based leadership, displaying integrity and steadfast morality – all with a touch of a smile – is what will get us through this. The human race has for millions of years faced near unimaginable horrors and, with resilience, made it to the next level. Our time is now to grow a pair of balls and/or tits, to double down on “doing the right thing”, “being good”, knowing that “long-term” is way better than corrupt self-serving short-term actions and to, together, make a difference. I know the CN&CO team will in Val Thorens. And I know we all can, every day.

Bon voyage to all of us as our life journeys continue.


Carel is an investor in people and businesses, believing that 1+1 = (at least) 22. Working with a few basic concepts – best encapsulated in his believe that unless we are dead, anything is possible – Carel aims to build long-term sustainable value with like-minded individuals and companies, while having (a lot of!) fun.