Let’s discuss: The allegory of the cave

Okay so if you read that title and thought đź’­ WTF? **Let’s help you out real quick!

The allegory of the cave is a philosophical idea explored in one of Plato’s works titled: The Republic. The allegory aims to depict the impact that education/ knowledge can have on one’s understanding of themselves and the world around them. It does this by painting a picture of a group of human beings tied together inside a cave. In this cave the people see shadows and at first many of them see these shadows on the walls of the cave as independent entities. As time goes on some of the individuals realize that these shadows are actually connected to them.

The point that Plato was trying to make here was one of appearance vs reality. The way you view the world (or a situation) might not always be correct. Sometime you might be misinformed, be influenced by an unconscious bias or simply ignorant to possibility. But once you equip yourself with knowledge and understanding, your perspective will change and come from a place that is better informed.

I really love this philosophical concept because it forces you to think about all of the possibilities in a situation and not just how something makes you feel. In business, this allegory is very helpful especially when working in a team where you have to contribute to 1 project but there are conflicting ideas/ views in the room. It helps to be able to remove your emotions from a decision and actually look at something objectively by asking questions and understanding why people say the things they say or suggest. By doing this, you teach your mind to be fluid and neutral while learning how other people think compared to how you think and how to stitch some/ all schools of thinking to attain a desired and successful outcome.

And that’s it! Now you can use this topic in your next DMC (Deep Meaningful Conversation) with your fellow millennial friends or your colleague and get their perspective of the allegory of the cave that you can hopefully share with me!

**Disclaimer: I am by no means a Philosopher nor did I study philosophy. These are just my Musings and interpretations on society and literature that grab my attention 🙂

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Quote #2

The man who follows the crowd will usually get no further than the crowd. The man who walks alone is likely to find himself in places no one has ever been before.

Creativity in living is not without its attendant difficulties, for peculiarity breeds contempt. And the unfortunate thing about being ahead of your time is that when people finally realize you were right, they’ll say it was obvious all along. You have two choices in your life; you can dissolve into the mainstream, or you can be distinct. To be distinct, you must be different. To be different, you must strive to be what no one else but you can be . . .

-Alan Ashley-Pitt

Top 8 things millennials expect from banks in the future

Image Source: Businesstech.co.za
Image Source: Businesstech.co.za

So as promised, this is basically the second part from the post published last week around millennial Musings on banking, click here for a quick refresh on what went down last week.

This week though, the focus is on the thoughts of those millennials who consciously mused about banks of the future and what their present expectations were of the future state of banking.

As a very proud member of the financial institutions community, like any other committed individual, I really want to see traditional banks evolving and fulfilling their purpose in a way that makes their customers happy because customers are the heart of their business and a part of me also believes that this can be achieved by big corporates if given enough focus and deliberate action.

In order to ensure that everything from the feedback received is captured, the points will be themed, grouped and listed.

  • Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see. Basically, this famous quote by world renowned boxer Muhammad Ali sums up the primary and greatest reason why traditional banks are in danger and how they can overcome this danger. I’m not a boxing guru but I definitely this this analogy will help portray the message. Good boxers are like Fintechs, they have the finesse, speed and stamina to win the battle, but the big 4 giants have something these Fintechs don’t which is technique, experience and endurance. Now when we couple these 6 traits, that makes for a great boxer/ a great bank. So what do millennials want? The safety and stability of the old (minus the red tape and bureaucracy) but the agility and finesse of the new.
  • The future is now. This is a concept the older generations like referring to as “instant gratification”. It is a concept laden with negative connotations that relate to regret from poorly thought out decisions but this doesn’t have to be viewed that way. Let’s take the process of getting a credit card for example (even a cheque card). The reasons for why customers have to sit through hours of paperwork and credit checks only to be told in the end that their card will be hand delivered to them at the earliest of their convenience just will not fly in the future. When a customer, a millennial customer is approaching a service provider for something, they usually want end to end fulfillment there and then or else what is the actual point? Yes we could say that people must plan better for their life events so they aren’t disappointed by the wait, but what if, you as a service provider could make the future happen now for your customers by tweaking a few processes, researching the demand for credit so that branches are adequately stocked up for the demand as and when it comes? What if you were so proactive that a week before Black Friday you’re signing up customers for in-store credit cards so that they have been delivered to be used on the day? Being more proactive about knowing the customer in this case is directly attributable to sales. Customer is happy, income statements are happy, it’s a win- win you see?
  • Robotics!!!! millennials have expressed that they trust and prefer to engage and interact with technology to solve their needs than a human being. It’s much cheaper as they use data as opposed to airtime where they’re redirected to a call centre that makes them wait for 20 minutes before telling them “sorry Ma’am I don’t have the mandate to assist you with that request.” The cool thing about robotics is that it reduces headcount costs (but it does cause unemployment if not introduced and socialized correctly) on the upside thought, employees are freed up to do more meaningful and complex tasks that require actual thinking because the self service capability is actually of service, end to end.
  • Which leads me to my next point, adequately equipped/skilled online assistance… if we are to go digital, we must do so excellently. Because millennials have no desire to go to the branch, the branch must therefore be designed into a space that they want to engage in, which in this case is online. The ability to offer advice and assistance online will make all the difference from a customer service perspective.
  • However if the branch must exist, it must do so unobtrusively, in a way that allows for co- creation and advancing the economy. This way the bank achieves two things: it plays a role in fulfilling consumer aspirations and it also contributes in giving back to the community- which is very big with millennials. Purpose driven action/work.
  • Farewell NIR (Non- Interest Revenue), RIP ATMS. Millennials (and digital developments) will essentially kill this line item as business moves to and creates digital alternatives to access and transfer funds as opposed to sourcing it from a traditional ATM.
  • Staying ahead of cybercrime. With the new and fantastic era of digital banking, millennials are also cautious of cybercrime as this is one of the elements that come with the downside of digital. Their only plea with this is for banks to be proactive and engaged in the protection they offer of their assets. They want banks to be a safe and untouchable place.
  • IN-TER-GRA-TION. As mentioned in my previous post, financial institutions have a myriad of data and information on clients. More than enough to do really small but really meaningful, kickass stuff. Millennials really think it’s lame that engagements and the identification of current and future product needs are still so “banky ” and impersonal. Banks can do a whole lot more to prove they understand their clients and show up as life and business partners. Banks need to understand client lifestyles and aspirations and meet those with their data. There must be collaboration with external corporates and an ecosystem built to fulfill these needs and make it a seamless experience to attain what matters to them, irrespective of whether it’s bank-related or not.

Okay peeps so that’s the list! It was quite an eye opener for me and I learnt a few things from engaging with my amazing research sample group. I hope this perspective not only sheds some light but assists in some strategic implementations of how financial institutions cater for (not just millennials) but in actual fact, their future clientele.

If there are any other topics you’d like for me to explore and write about, please leave a comment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the read!

Why is butter so expensive?

Related image

It turns out it’s not just me being dramatic on my Facebook status but research states that the price of butter has indeed doubled over a very short space of time.

I remember buying a small brick of the yellow gold (250g) early this year for around R25 at Spar, this evening I went to stock up and found myself forking out 25% more for the same thing (in, the, same, year, HOW.). I get we are in junk status mode but there must be more to this price hike than that because over a few years I have noticed the price of butter increasing but it doesn’t quite hit you until you work and earn your own salary that you understand why your mother stopped making scones with butter and instead opted for “baking margarine”- not the same thing!

Being the millennial muser that I am, I decided to genuinely find out and do some research and investigate why my favourite staple has become so expensive so that in future I can  contribute more willingly and knowledgeably to the butter industry and instead of feeling like I am being ripped off, actually understand how my R32 makes a difference in an artisan’s life.

One of my favourite articles that I came across when I asked google “Why is butter so expensive?” was from the

and these are the 4 interesting things I learnt about this phenomenon:

  • Butter is not just expensive in South Africa, its a global trend! While we experience double digit percentage increases in a matter of months, the Europeans are facing a very serious and very possible “croissant apocalypse” *insert gasp here*
  • The industry cannot keep up with the high demand. According to NZ Herald an online news website that profiled Fonterra (the world’s largest dairy exporter), the industry has failed to keep up with the high global demand of butter and suppliers are now overexerting themselves and their resources to match the demand as stipulated in this excerpt:

“The unprecedented demand for milk fat is what dairy giant Fonterra is blaming for the global butter shortage. The fat from about 20 litres of raw milk makes up a single 500g block of butter. That’s nearly the total amount that can be milked from two cows in one day. 250 metric tonnes of butter is churned out of Fonterra’s Te Rapa factory daily. But it ‘s still not nearly enough to meet the huge worldwide demand.”

  • All your Banting buddies, are to blame… In more than two articles now I have seen it being referenced that there has been a sudden global surge (over a 3 to 5 year period) in the demand for high fat products as a result of eating trends and this has indirectly impacted the price of our beloved butter. Who would have guessed?!
  • Apart from changing consumer habits, Business Live added that the ongoing drought in the Western Cape is also attributable to the butter price hike as they are contributors of half (along with the Eastern Cape) of all the milk production for the country, and water is one of the most important inputs in dairy production.

So naturally this got me thinking…”so how is butter produced”, and for this answer, I went to YouTube; click here to watch the video.

Millennial musings on banking

The long and the short of this topic is that when millennials think about things that keep them up at night, the future of banking is not at the top of their list.

We cannot disregard the strides financial institutions have made (and continue to make) in order to cater for a younger and more tech-savvy target audience however, one can question whether these changes are drastic or fast enough.

Having interviewed a group of South African millennials (between the ages of 17 and 38) on this topic, two themes emerged which I did not expect and will elaborate on below.

Category A

This category consists of individuals who worked in industries other than financial institutions.

At first, the individuals within this category could not at first contextualize the question and after giving it some thought, did not think banking would revolutionize beyond digital and did not perceive it as an integral part in their future to drive anything forward so their emotions were neither here nor there.

This finding though beckons a deeper question I think, which is, “are banks marketing the right way to millennials?” Because remember, millennials are not just a group of hippie youngsters who like skateboarding and hanging out with their friends while they listen to music and eat ice cream. Another untapped audience within this category are those young people starting Fintechs and NGO’s, or Social Entrepreneurs really making a difference within their communities and making it onto the Forbes list under 30. They have substance. They have goals and plans and at this very moment, they view banks as a bureaucratic and archaic nightmare that sometimes helps, but most times hinders productivity/ success.

I think a giant leap in the right direction would be to sort out data and understand their clients better with what they already have (which is a lot) so as to lend more intuitively when it matters.

Category B

This category consists of individuals who who worked for a financial institution and maybe they are tainted because they are positioned right in the thick of the action so they do see what’s working well and what isn’t, or maybe, I just extended a bone for them to pick.

So this group of millennials were very vocal around their expectations of what role banks should play in society now and in the future. They understood how much data banks collect and how much they should know their clients yet do not and this shows in the cosnstsnt repetition in the processes the bank takes them and their staff through, when the information can just be pooled to one central system and funneled to where it needs to go in order to fulfill the client need.

Another quick gripe linked to manual requests is digitization- which is a primary focus for a top 4 banks yet the question I have around this is “are banks digitizing because it’s the new thing that must be done or is it being done with purpose- to actually improve lives?”

I think I’ll wrap this post up here for now. All comments I received offline were incredibly insightful, and some of the insights I want to share would be expressed better in a secondary post which will focus purely on thoughts and opinions aimed at financial institutions in order to help them to implement changes that will impact the future of banking which I will publish soon!

Book Review: Americanah (My thoughts so far)

So I have been the biggest fan of Chimamanda since we all first heard her speech in Beyonce’s music video “Flawless”.

However, being the fussy reader that I am, I have been putting off buying her books, despite the raving comments I heard. To be honest, when I think about why it took me so long, it wasn’t because I did not think she was a fantastic writer. I was just so intimidated (read: lazy) by the African names and context.

As an African blogger and avid reader from South Africa, my biggest fear was that I would pick up one of her books and just simply NOT RELATE. I thought I’d try and give Americanah a try and close it bitterly after trying to drill the character names into my head and relate to the storyline and the characters experiences. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be black or African enough to get it and the last thing I wanted was to read about the people of my land from a foreign context, I did not want to feel like and imposter. I was so terrified of just disliking liking it.

But alas! After an hour of research and debate in the bookstore I walked out (with a little reservation and confidence) on my new purchase and addition which was Americanah. Why was I never told Ifemelu was a blogger who had monitozed her blog!? People. I would have long been within this book if I knew this!

Needless to say, I cannot express how estatic I am to have one of Chimamanda’s pieces of literature on my bedside table. It is so surreal, and my love for her writing and storyline in the current book I am reading just make the novel that much dreamier. If I could compare Chimamanda’s writing style to food I’d say it smells like French vanilla and melts in your mouth like rich dark cocoa. Her storylines are extensive, and as deep as a freshly brewed pot of coffeee on a Monday morning. I’m in love! My second African author and I am simply in love!

I’m left with 1/3 of the book to go and I just cannot bring myself to finishing it. Do you have any recommendations of a book just as lovely, either written by her or other female African authors? Please swing your recommendations to me via the comments box 🙂

I cannot wait to share my final thoughts and my deconstructed version of a book review with you!

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