Peter Block workshop in Cape Town

At the end of February Symphonia will be hosting our very popular 2-day workshop based on Peter Block’s book “Community: The Structure of belonging”. This is an opportunity to learn the art of community building whilst experiencing what it means to be in community with a diverse group of people from across South Africa.

I have personally attended some of these workshops, and they are not to be missed.

This is an experience not to be missed by anyone wanting to learn practical ways to reenergize the quality of life in the workplace and strengthen the fabric of our communities. By identifying essential questions and actions, we can all transform the places we live, work, and play into authentic, effective communities filled with possibility, generosity, accountability and deep engagement.

If you are a business leader or community builder keen to develop your community building skills, then please don’t miss this workshop. The next opportunity to attend this workshop will only be early 2012.

Dates are below, and you can speak directly to Johleen on 021 913 3507 or email [email protected] for bookings or questions.

Thurs, 24 and Fri, 25 February 2011

Dates: Mon, 28 February, Tues, 1 March 2011

Dates: Mon, 28, Tues, 29 March 2011

Ben Zander – tickets still available for JHB

Yesterday, I saw Ben Zander speaking in Cape Town. He and his wife Ros were here for the launch of the Alive With Possibility DVD, a DVD celebrating the possibility in South Africa. Ben is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and one of the most transformational speakers that I have ever heard.

He speaks about downward spiral thinking, and radiating possibility speaking, and leaves us with the challenge of looking for possibility in our thoughts and our actions. This is the third time that I have seen him, and every time is a transformational experience.

If you are in Johannesburg, there are still a few tickets available for Friday’s presentation. Speak to [email protected] about tickets, or visit to find out more about Ben.

We are alive with Possibility

Two Peter Block workshops you should attend

Flawless Consulting workshop with Peter Block and Symphonia Leadership Development

“Flawless Consulting” is often called ‘The Consultant’s Bible’. It is the ultimate guide to getting your expertise used, whether you are an internal or external consultant!   Being a true consultant doesn’t just happen, anymore than quality just happens.  It has to be learned. Quality consulting means partnering equally with line management and clients.  Valuing the relationship between consultant and client and defining how to manage that relationship is where Flawless Consulting has found its niche!

“Block has distilled years of experience into a wise, down-to-earth, and eminently practical guide to excellence in consulting. If you are new to the practice, Flawless Consulting will chop years off your learning cycle. And even if you’re an old pro, Block’s insights will elevate you to new levels of effectiveness. Flawless Consulting is not simply about becoming a better consultant; it is about using consulting as a path toward becoming a better person.” (Barry Oshry, president, Power & Systems, Inc., author of Seeing Systems and Leading Systems)

Who should attend?

This is for anyone who does consulting, even if you don’t call yourself a ‘consultant’.  You are consulting any time you are trying to change or improve a situation but have no direct control over the implementation.  Don’t miss this opportunity to build consulting capability within your organisation and within South Africa.    This is a unique opportunity to meet and engage with the guide and mentor of tens of thousands of consultants around the world.

Workshop dates and venues:

Date:   Thursday, 4th March
Time:    09:00 – 12:00
(Registration: 08h30)
Venue:  Isisango, Midrand
Cost:   R350.00 vat excl

Cape Town
Date:   Friday, 5th March
Time:    09:00 – 12:00
(Registration: 08h30)
Venue:  Schoenstatt Training Centre, Constantia
Cost:   R350.00 vat excl

Community Building workshop with Peter Block and Symphonia for South Africa

This workshop is about the nature of real transformation and what kind of leadership is required to achieve it.

Transformation is a shift in the nature of things. It promises a culture of chosen accountability, authentic commitment, and stronger social fabric; all elements of a strong community.

Learning objectives:

  • Understand the conditions under which transformation can occur
  • Define leadership as listening, convening, invitation, and the triumph of questions over answers
  • Understand the importance of community and how it is created
  • Demonstrate in this session the principles of community being discussed
  • Ways to design gatherings so that transformation can occur
  • Learn conversations that will lead toward a future different from the past

Who should attend?

Business and community leaders and others who are committed to making a contribution to strengthen the fabric of South African Society.

Workshop dates and venues:

JHB: All Saints Church in Fourways – 2nd & 3rd March

CT: Schoenstatt Retreat & Training Centre in Constantia – 8th & 9th March

DURBAN: Saints Hospitality Conference Centre in Sydenham – 10th & 11th March

Contact details:
Person:   Johleen
Tel:   021 913 3507
Email:   [email protected]

Hope to see you at one of the workshops. By the way, these workshops in the USA are usually in the thousands of dollars, so these are really bargin prices, use the opportunity!

PowerPoint Karaoke slides

sidebar_logoOn Monday evening, I ran a PowerPoint Karaoke contest at the Cape Communicators Toastmaster Club. This is the first one that I have ran, and it was a fantastic evening!

We had about 10 people who were each given a random deck of PowerPoint slides, and they were given about three minutes to present a presentation using their slides. It was all in good fun, and we had some very interesting takes on the topics.

It is a great way to both practise your impromptu speaking skills, and to have some practise with PowerPoint.

Here is how I did it:

  1. Draw for random speaking order
  2. Draw for random topic order – I didn’t want to be too nasty and give somebody a topic that they knew absolutely nothing about, so they could select topics beforehand. I also gave them 3 minutes to prepare – basically while the previous speaker was speaking. If you are feeling nasty, give them a topic just before they speak, and let them go – much as for a Toastmasters table topic session
  3. Each speaker got 3 minutes to speak. Timing lights at 2, 2.5 and 3 minutes
  4. I used the Toastmasters Table topics contest form as a “judging form”
  5. You are basically pretty free to make up the rules, so the above is what I did; feel free to adapt and let me know what works for you.

Here are all the decks that I used:

Each deck was approximately 5 slides long. Note that they are not “real” slide decks, but made up to give the speaker something to play with. Some of the topics are a little off the wall.

Many people have asked me for a copy of the slides so that they can present the Karaoke contests at their own clubs, so here they are. Please feel free to steal and disseminate. My only request is to let me know how it goes.

Please note that I have created these slide decks from a variety of publicly available material and slides that I have built up over the years. If I have inadvertently used copyright material, please let me know and I will remove it.

Finally, thanks so much to Imation for sponsoring the event. They gave us memory sticks and  tee shirts as prized. The sticks are 1 gig, and about 1cm square – really cute. They also gave me an amazing remote wireless projector adapter. This little device plugs into your USB port on one end, and the projector on the other, and voila, you have a wireless projector!

Leave a comment and let me know how your session goes!

PowerPoint Karaoke Invite

You have heard of Karaoke

You have heard of PowerPoint

But, have you heard of PowerPoint Karaoke?

Cape Communicators Toastmasters Club

would like to invite you to a PowerPoint Karaoke Contest

You could even make the Finals,
and win a grand prize of up to $5000!

So, here is the deal:

  • You will be given a set of about 10-15 PowerPoint slides
  • You will have about 3 minutes to give a presentation using these slide
  • We will videotape your presentation, and give you details on how to upload it to YouTube
  • From then on, it is up the the USA sponsors to determine a winner from all uploaded videos

Detailed contest rules are here.

Come along and compete, or come along and watch; it promises to be loads of fun!

When: Monday 19 October, 7:00 for 7:30pm
Where: Cape Communicators Toastmasters Club, Huis Der Nederlanden, Central Square, Pinelands
Cost: R40 for non-members (cash bar, but no snacks)
RSVP: Lois Strachan [email protected], 082 859 6567 (by 16 October please)

Think of it as Table Topics for PowerPoint!

Africa Rising

Professor Vijay Mahajan (author of “Africa Rising”) will be in South Africa in June for the World Economic Forum and he has agreed to do 2 business briefings.

Date: Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Time: 08:30 – 11:00
Registration: 07:30
Investment: R 950.00 + VAT
Early Bird: R 750.00 + VAT
Venue: Market Hall, GrandWest
Date: Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Time: 08:30 – 11:00
Registration: 07:30
Investment: R 950.00 + VAT
Early Bird: R 750.00 + VAT
Venue: Vodadome, Vodaworld

Early Bird Special for bookings made and paid before 8 May 2009. 10% discount for teams of 10 or more.

To book, contact Johleen van Dyk on 021 913 3507 or email [email protected]. I will be attending in Cape Town, and I hope to see you there.

Indian-born American professor Vijay Mahajan is author of Africa Rising. He holds the John P Harbin Centennial Chair in Business at McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin, US, and was previously Dean of the Indian School of Business. Mahajan’s ten books include The 86 Percent Solution (Wharton School Publishing), which received the 2007 Book of the Year Award from the American Marketing Association. He has received several lifetime achievement awards.

For more info, go to:

Charity Gig Invite – Craig and Lois (1 night only)

Hi Friends

You have been asking us when we are going to play next, so now you have an answer, next month! I hope that you will be able to join us (more details below the advert).


Lois and Craig Strachan will be playing a selection of covers and their own songs

Saturday 25 April

1st Pinelands Scout Hall

St Stephens Road, Pinelands

Doors open at 7:30pm

Prebook your ticket for R90, or R100 at the door.
Book online

Email [email protected], or call 082 789 3899

Bookings limited to 100!

Charity Gig! – all proceeds donated to the John Whiffen Golden City Memorial Trust, promoting and supporting personal growth for disabled people through Toastmasters membership.

Download some of our tracks for free now
The John Whiffen Golden City Memorial Trust is a registered Not For Profit Organisation—NPO 47-931

For further details, please visit

So, what exactly does the John Whiffen Golden City Memorial Trust do?
Most of you know that that Lois and I have been members of Toastmasters for many years. Toastmasters is one of the best ways to develop communication and leadership skills.

A few years ago, a friend of ours, John Whiffen started a Toastmasters club in Johannesburg, to create  opportunities for the physically and mentally challenged to achieve personal growth and integrate more fully with society through Toastmasters in South Africa. John died tragically in a construction accident in 2004. As a tribute to John, the trust has been setup to continue John’s vision, providing Toastmasters training to people that otherwise do not have a voice.

About tuesday’s child
When Lois was declared blind in Durban in 1992, the first thing she did was to join a rock band. When she moved to Cape Town, she met Craig, and it was not long before they were performing a mixture of original and cover music throughout Cape Town, mostly under the name “tuesday’s child”. The music varied from a quite acoustic duo, through to a full four-piece rock band, with Mike on lead guitar, and Richard on drums.

Tuesday’s child have been played on both national and international radio, and one of their tracks even reached #1 on the SA Rock Digest music charts in 2002. Tracks can be downloaded for free off the band’s website –

Ben Zander in Cape Town – 25% discount

I had the opportunity of seeing Ben Zander speaking last year, and it was a remarkable experience. He is a world-renowned conductor and an inspirational  speaker on Leadership and the ?Art of Possibility? (he co-authored the book ?Art of Possibility? with his partner Rozamund Zander).

Ben is speaking in Cape Town on 21 and 22nd August. The kind folks at Symphonia have offered a 25% discount to tickets for the Cape Town presentations, provided your tickets are purchased before 31 July – just mention my name for the discount. Both Lois and I have secured tickets, so we would love to see you there. I promise you, it will be worth every cent!

Ben has appeared five times as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

You can watch the video of Ben’s presentation at the TED conference earlier this year. This is a short 20 minute exposure to Ben’s presentation style. The 1,600 people in attendance responded with a standing ovation and called this presentation the most inspirational talk of the conference

You can download the full details of all the presentations as well as the 4 concerts in Cape Town from Symphonia’s website


?Zander is a fairly frequent visitor to South Africa. Apart from an obvious affinity for the Rainbow Nation, he has also been “discovered” by corporates who bring him over to help articulate visions and share ideas on the New Age manager. Occasionally outsiders are invited. Should you happen upon the opportunity, grab it. After putting his ideas to the test, who knows how many shining eyes might soon greet you at the office??

Alec Hogg, Moneyweb website

Ben has the ability to ignite and inspire large groups of people in a 3 hour session ? he uses the power of music to galvanise people to action and a sense of possibility.

For more information about Benjamin Zander:

COSTS PER PERSON (before 25% discount)

For bookings received after 1st June: R1,350 + VAT

A 10% discount applies to group bookings for more than 10 people

Johleen van Dyk
for a registration form
([email protected])

Louise van Rhyn
to enquire about special pricing for large group bookings
([email protected])

Ben Zander to present Possibility Thinking in South Africa

Ben_zanderI had the privilege of seeing Ben Zander when he was in Cape Town last year. He left a huge impression on me, and I strongly recommend you all to attend. You will not be disappointed – he gives a remarkable and inspiring presentation.

For more information about Benjamin Zander please see

  • Ben Zander is a world-renowned conductor and an inspirational  speaker on Leadership and the ?Art of Possibility? (he co-authored the book ?Art of Possibility? with his partner Rozamund Zander)
  • Ben has appeared five times as a keynote speaker at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Alec Hogg (Moneyweb) saw him in Davos in January 2008:

Zander is a fairly frequent visitor to South Africa. Apart from an obvious affinity for the Rainbow Nation, he has also been "discovered" by corporates who bring him over to help articulate visions and share ideas on the New Age manager. Occasionally outsiders are invited. Should you happen upon the opportunity, grab it. After putting his ideas to the test, who knows how many shining eyes might soon greet you at the office?

– Alec Hogg, Moneyweb website

Book now for Ben’s "Art of Possiblity" presentation

  • Johannesburg: Friday, 15th August 2008 at VodaWorld (Midrand)
  • Cape Town: Friday, 22nd August 2008 at Artscape (Cape Town)

Costs per person:

  • For bookings received before 30th April: R1,100 + VAT
  • For bookings received after 1st May: R1,350 + VAT

A 10% discount applies to group bookings for more than 10 people

Please contact

Ben & Roz Zander in SA next year!

Hi all-

I just received this via email. I saw Ben and Roz when they were here in August, and it was the most uplifting and amazing experience. If you can get to see them I highly recommend that you attend.

I will post more details closer to the time.



Ben & Roz Zander have agreed in principle to return to

South Africa

during August 2008. I am currently working with them to finalise dates and an itinerary.

They are particularly keen to do work within organizations (and with leadership teams). If you would be interested to have them work with you, your management team or other people within your organization, please let me know ASAP. My personal recommendation would be to plan a session with Ben & Roz as part of the leadership development programme in your organization.

Please have a look at ? you will enjoy the blogs about their 2007 trip to

South Africa


We are also talking to Ben about working with our local orchestras. There may therefore be sponsorship opportunities associated with this trip ? please let me know if you are interested (or if you know someone else who may be interested)

Please forward this note to anybody who may be interested in this amazing opportunity!

Warm wishes


[email protected]