I've been traveling these past 10 days – working with my new crew at The Poker Room. Without going into it too deeply: we use the techniques, tools, strategies, and people-reading skills required in poker as a business training tool. And then we play poker.
It's said you're never too old to learn something new – and I've been thinking that a lot this week. Apart from learning the game, I've realised that I miss being on the road. I miss airports, and hotels and room service and being exhausted.
I've also missed the huge cast of characters you get to meet when you travel.
Highlights for me these past 10 days have been the Durban 4 – Indian men of various backgrounds who shared two qualities – they are all implicitly decent and they are all dreamers. We had a wonderful lunch talking about ourselves and this country of ours. They reminded me of the men my Dad used to work with and of my Dad. Roy was an insurance salesman who hardworked his way up through the ranks. I remember the long absences from home, the stress about meeting targets and the exhausted entertaining. These chaps have all done the same. Providing for the family, keeping their faith and having a good laugh along the way.
Then there were the good old Joeys boys – the solid Boereboys who still speak Afrikaans as their first taal, but who share the many of the qualities of their Durban colleagues. They laugh hard, drink hard and go all in at the first sign of an ace. Roaring their disapproval at the cards as they flop a beat hand. Focusing intently as we teach them about communication and body language. Practising it diligently in groups. Lovely stuff.
And finally the Zimbabweans who work at the venue in Johannesburg. Bringing a level of excellence and sweetness to their service that is world-class. They arrived, early, stayed late and smiled the whole way through. Professional to their core. Despite being a long, long way from a home that offers no immediate chance of a future.
Folks – whether we are ready for the World Cup or not (and I think we will be): we already have a lot to be proud of. We have us. And we're pretty bloody fantastic.
**(actually all five of the men in my family are decent men: Roy, Mark, Chris and Justin. And Jasper is our little man.)
(If The Poker Room intrigues you – check us out at www.thepokerrooom.co.za)