Walk About Love

After quitting University rather impulsively and flying to Israel I found out about the Walk About Love. An amazing 100 day journey of a 1000km across Israel. We slept on the shore of four seas, went to the lowest point on earth and conquered the highest mountain in Israel. Above all I made life long friends.

Luckily I kept a journal and tried to write down everything that happened. Reading through all this again afterwards I realised that is doesn’t nearly to the real deal justice, but at least I will remember some of the incidents that changed my life. Here is a full account of my experience from Day 21 when I met up with the Walk About Love up to my return flight to South Africa.

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StayFocusd: The key to having more time

Like most people I struggle with time management. I have all these plans and ideas for learning new skills or launching new businesses (or to study for the upcoming exam).  Somehow I always end up on the ‘dark side’ of YouTube or on one of those terrible blogs full of “…you wouldn’t believe what happened next” articles.

One of my best friends had the same problem and just decided to delete his Facebook account altogether, as Facebook is usually the start of the downward spiral.  For me that was a bit drastic as I had to run business pages on Facebook, or that’s my excuse at least.  I believe I found a better solution: StayFocusd.

What is StayFocusd?

StayFocusdStayFocusd is a browser extension available for Google Chrome that will do exactly what the name suggest: It will help you to stay focused.

What StayFocusd does can best be explained by themselves: “StayFocusd is a productivity extension that helps you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.”

The extension is highly configurable. I just used the default list of time-wasting websites including the likes of Facebook, 9Gag, Twitter, CollegeHumor, YouTube, etc.  I however changed the default 10 minutes per day for time-wasting sites to 20 minutes, which is actually more than enough.  I’m considering moving back to 10 minutes per day.

The extension will also keep counting down on sites you visit by clicking on a link from a time-wasting site, even if it is not on the blocked site list.  This is great for all those sites that you go to from Facebook that you’ve never heard of before. The extension has quirky pop-up messages and other great functions to keep you from screwing yourself over. You can for example make it really difficult to change any settings so that you don’t just end up giving yourself more time whenever you almost run out.

Nothing gets me back to work faster than my screen suddenly going white with the text, “Shouldn’t you be working?” written all over the screen.

How to StayFocusd?

  1. Add the extension to Chrome
    From Chrome click on this link and then click on Add to Chrome.
  2. Set it up
    A new icon (an analog watch) should appear on your taskbar (top right corner). Click on the icon and then on settings. Changing the settings is really straight forward. Go through the sections on the left and follow the instructions to change things like the Max Time Allowed, Active Days, Active Hours and most importantly the Blocked Sites.

If you are not using Chrome this might be a good time to switch…  If you are however a diehard Firefox fan there is an Add-on called LeechBlock. I haven’t used it myself but wikiHow provides an easy guide to using LeachBlock and avoiding distractions online in general.

Over to you

How do you stay focused online? Let us know in the comments below.  Feel free to share this article with your Facebook or Twitter addicted friends using the buttons below.

Making money is as easy as sending a “WhatsApp”

M4JAMI’ve searched high and low for a company that provides a way of making money online, most companies are either fraudulent, offer worthless points or are only available in the US.

You can thus imagine my surprise when a friend told me about M4JAM.  According to their website Money for jam “takes big jobs from reputable companies and breaks them into smaller jobs, allowing Jobbers to complete simple tasks using their phones in exchange for cash, while going about their daily lives.”

My experience

Armed with a lot of scepticism I followed the instructions to become a Jobber.  At first there were no jobs available and I thought to myself: “I knew this was too good to be true.” The next day however a quick 5 minute survey was made available for R10.  And the day after another survey for R20.  I also went to Canal Walk to buy shoes and upon checking M4JAM for jobs near me I found Le Creuset posted a job. It took me 10 minutes to find their shop and rate my experience, earning R25!

My hope is that when this scales up you could be earning more than R100 an hour by just completing small jobs or surveys while watching TV or doing other unproductive work (like shopping).

How to become a Jobber

  1. Download WeChat.
    M4JAM currently works through WeChat. You will thus first need to download WeChat. It’s available on most platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows, Symbian and BlackBerry
  2. Add Money4Jam as a contact.
    This differs from platform to platform, but basically click on ‘+’, ‘Contacts’, ‘Add Friends’ or ‘Add Contacts’ (depending on which platform you are on). Search by ID for Money4Jam and tap on Message.
  3. Register your account.
    You will be asked to allow M4JAM to access your location. Tap on OK. You will then need to accept the Terms and Conditions by Entering 1. They will then asked for your name, phone number, email and ID. This is necessary to be able to legally earn money.
  4. Find your first Job.
    On the bottom of the screen there is a button “Find Jobs”, simply tap that and choose jobs “Near you” or “Without location” (such as surveys). Bear in mind that if you live in a remote area there will probably not be jobs near you for now.
  5. Cashing out.
    You need a minimum of R15 in your wallet to cash out. Simply go to your wallet and enter 1 for cashing out. You will receive a 12 digit code, that you can use to withdraw the money from any Pick ‘n Pay or Boxer store.

For more thorough instructions you can visit the M4JAM FAQ’s.

Over to you

Would you make use of a service like this? If you have used it what was your experience? Tell us in the comments below.


How I knew I was going to win R10 000, twice

I’ve won quite a lot of things over the past few year’s using more or less the same technique. I’m going to focus on the two instances where I won R10 000 cash.

My first R10 000

In my first year of University I was in Eendrag Men’s Residence at Stellenbosch. The then CEO of Naspers, Koos Bekker, an old boy of Eendrag decided to start an Entrepreneurship competition.  The competitions aim was to stimulate Entrepreneurship in Eendrag. He pledged to give R10 000 to 5 Eendragters every year for ten years.

I’ve always seen myself as an Entrepreneur, but at that stage I didn’t have any ongoing initiatives.  I immediately started to brainstorm, trying to come up with an idea. At the same time I tried to find out how many other people were thinking about entering. To my surprise there weren’t that many students interested in the competition. Most students immediately gave up, thinking there is no way that they will win an entrepreneurship competition.

This gave me more confidence that even a simple idea would be able to land me the prize.  Finally after about two weeks of brainstorming and going over ideas with friends, I came up with the idea for ActiveSquirrel. A community platform for students to share fun activities that you can do in and around Stellenbosch.  I had limited website knowledge at that time, but in about 2 weeks I learned enough to register and design the basic site. I uploaded a few activities that I’ve done and also asked a few friends to do the same.

When the time came for nominations I asked three people to nominate me, highlighting different positive aspects of the platform.  I kept asking around to see who else was in the run for the competition. There were about 8 other students with initiatives, but some of them weren’t very exciting or good. I thus had a very good feeling that I was going to win. At the prize giving only 3 projects won, including me and my roommate.

My second R10 000

Three year’s later a friend sent me a link to a competition by our local student centre, the Neelsie. Again R10 000 was up for grabs.  In order to win you had to make a video featuring every single shop in the centre and it had to be under 80 seconds.  The only videos I’ve made so far was timelapses and slideshows.  Somehow I knew not many people were firstly going to see the competition, as it was only advertised on their website. And secondly most students would think that it is too much trouble to make a video for a small chance of winning. For this exact reason I knew I had a big chance of winning, even without good video editing skills.

The finished video had to be uploaded to YouTube, so I kept checking to see if others have done so. Only one video of a guy running through the centre was uploaded. This gave me the final confidence to put in more effort. I waited until a week before the deadline and then took all the shots with the help of a friend.  I sat glued to the computer for the last 3 days before the deadline to acquire the necessary skills while making the video.

After submitting the video I constantly emailed and phoned the centre asking when the winner will be announced. Finally after almost three months I received the phone call to inform me that I won the competition.

See my amateur attempt below:

Lessons learned

Find competitions where few other people will enter and give it your all so that you know that you will win before you even started. I’ve only entered 6 competitions (to the value of R37 700) that took more than half an hour’s time and I won every single one of them.  Each time I first worked out my probability of winning by checking out the competition and then I gave it my everything to secure the prize.

Even though I was very confident about winning each of these prizes, it wouldn’t have felt like wasted time if I didn’t win. I acquired many skills that is arguably even more valuable than the prize money.

Over to you: Have you won a competition? Were you positive that you were going to win? Tell us in the comments below.


How I made R70 000 selling summaries

When I sold my first summary to a classmate I had no idea how much money I was going to make over the next year.

The beginning

Back in 2011, when I was a first year a friend and I  tried to get our fellow Actuarial Science classmates two make the ultimate collective summary.  An online google document was made where everyone could add to the notes. The idea was that collectively the best possible notes could be compiled to everyone’s benefit.  Unfortunately only 9 or 10 people actually contributed to these documents while the rest benefited from it for free.

By the end of the year I was so fed up with this competitive anti-sharing culture that I quit University in 2012 and took a sabbatical.  Upon my return in 2013 I switched to Investment Management and didn’t know anyone in my new course. I thus started making summaries on my own for myself, but it felt like such a waste to spend so much time on a summary and then be the only one to benefit from it.  Initially I didn’t think of making money from my summaries at all, but I also did not want to send it to everyone without getting something back. At that stage I was running a blog about things to do in and around Stellenbosch and was in need of facebook likes to promote the page.  So I sent out an email to all my classmates stating that I will send them a summary for free in exchange for liking my Facebook page.  Later on I did the same with Copy gigabytes.  Soon afterward however students started to ask for more summaries, saying that they are willing to pay for it.

Turning it into a business

R10000The demand got so intense that I had to find an easier way of keeping track of who liked what and what summary needs to be sent, that I started to look for an easier way to sell my summaries.  One day on campus I saw a poster of Stuvia.  Stuvia is an online marketplace for buying and selling summaries.  I immediately uploaded my summaries and sent an email to my classmates saying they can now download it from there.  This worked to an extent, but Stuvia took 30% commission and a lot of people didn’t want to sign up for yet another website or simply didn’t have a credit card. So I ended up having to ‘manually’ sell most of my summaries.  At this stage my summaries were priced between R50 and R70 for a summary containing all the work needed for a test or exam. By the end of the June exams I made R5000 through Stuvia and another R5000 from people who did EFT’s or met me in person to pay with cash.

The next semester I sent an email to 1800 first year Economics students about a summary that I was going to sell for R100. I saw this as a crazy ‘experiment’ and didn’t expect a big turnout.  In the email I said that I would be in the Neelsie, the student mall, for 2 hours accepting cash payments after which I will email the summary to them.  When I went to the Neelsie I took a book with me thinking that I’ll just be waiting around for most of the 2 hours. To my surprise there was a line of people waiting for me. I started taking their cash and emailing the summary from my iPad. It felt like there was no break for the full two hours. I just kept throwing the money into my backpack not taking in how many summaries I’ve sold so far. At the end of the 2 hour period I quickly walked back to my flat where I threw the money on the ground. I couldn’t believe my eyes.  There before me laid R10 000 in hard cash.

The birth of StudentSummaries

I realised how big the market for summaries was, but also that I can’t spend all my time selling summaries in the Neelsie and then walking with that amount of cash in my bag.  That’s why StudentSummaries was born. I didn’t have to pay commission to anyone, users don’t have to create an account to be able to download a summary and there are plenty of payment options.

Over the next few months until September 2014 I made more than R70 000 selling summaries.  I even featured on the frontpage of Die Burger for this. You can read the article here: Matie rol in geld na hy met notas smous.

Over to you

Have you sold something casually that later turned into a profitable business? Tell us in the comments below.


Why quitting University was the best decision I ever made

In 2012, after only three weeks of class, I impulsively decided to quit University.

I was busy with my second year of Actuarial Science.  I chatted to a school friend over GTalk and she told me she was going to Israel in two days. I joked and said that I want to come with, as one often does.  In all seriousness she asked me: “Why don’t you?” These three words struck me and I realised that I’m not on the path that I want to be. There really were no reason for not quitting University and enjoying my life.

Of course there were lots of things to consider. I had a bursary that I would potentially have to pay back, I was on a lot of committees, I didn’t know how my parents or friends would react, etc. After thinking carefully about all of these ‘problems’ (well, at least as careful as one can think about it in a few hours) I found quitting University to be the most logical decision. The next morning I went to the travel agent a booked a plane ticket to Israel for 2 days later.  After that I went home to tell my parents what I’ve done. They took it surprisingly well.

My parents even helped me to get everything ready. I sent an email to all the committees I was on, as well as my bursary, notifying them of my decision.  The time flew by and before I knew it I was in the air on my way to Israel for three months, with no plan.

The time of my life

For three months I had no worries whatsoever. I ended up hiking a thousand kilometers across Israel, with people from all over the world. I got a unique perspective on life and learned a lot about people and myself. You can read all about it on my travel blog.

Welcome home surprise

The day I arrived back home from Israel, I was sitting in our kitchen when the most beautiful girl that I’ve ever seen walked through the door. My parent’s introduced her as Caro, our latest renter. Needless to say, we are getting married in December.

Back to school

After taking the rest of the year to help my parents move and doing odd jobs like freelancing and graphic design. I decided, with the help of my then girlfriend and parents, to go back to University. I enrolled in a much easier course with much more general subjects like Marketing and Economics.  I really enjoyed the course work, but more so all the free time I had.  I ended up using this time to make summaries of all things.

Getting paid to study

I was fortunate enough to get my bursary back, which covered all my study fees, books and accommodation as well as most of my food. With the money I made from selling summaries I was able to make a net profit for just being a student who studied hard.

Looking back

There were times when I wondered whether it was worth it to ‘delay’ my life with a year.  These thoughts however only occurred when I saw some of my friends graduating. Then I realised how much unhappier I would have been if I continued to suffer through Actuarial Science for 3 years and started working as one.

Looking at the people I have in my life right now, my financial position and my life experiences I couldn’t have made a better decision.

P.S. I have nothing against Actuarial Scientists. It’s just about finding your passion and living it.

Have you done something impulsive that turned out to be one of the best decisions of your life? Tell us in the comments below.

Week-long 21st Birthday celebration

21stHugoAlthough my birthday was only on the 4th of March the ‘celebration’ already started on 1st of March.  Upon arriving at my girlfriend’s place, she gave me a set of clues that lead to gifts that was hidden all over the rather big plot. With some clues as vague as: “white as snow, green as grass, red as blood, sugar sweet”.

The gifts that I had to find by solving clues.
The gifts that I had to find by solving clues.

With some of the gifts came a inspiring, loving short story of how the gift is related to our relationship or life in general.  Afterwards she made huge homemade Burgers (meaning she made the patty from scratch, except for actually killing of a cow or donkey or kangaroo or whatever it is that is really in our meat).

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Timelapse – Cupboard painting itself

Ever since I saw the first timelapse of something being built or painted in highspeed without actuall seeing people do it, I wanted to make one myself.

I had quite a few ideas such as building a sand castle or assembling something. It would however take a long time as I don’t have any special equipment or friends (just kidding) to press the shutter everytime I exit the frame. So I had to do this myself.

I finally found the perfect opportunity. My girlfriend wanted to paint the back of their kitchen counter with chalkboard paint, but it was too expensive. So I broke into her apartment and surprised her with this video.

After watching the movie I realised it would have looked much better if the brush was in every frame on or in the paintbucket, so as to make it look like the brush is dunking itself and then painting again.