Attorney Michael de Broglio on: South Africa, Law, Politics, Attorneys, Sport, Photography, Technology, Gadgets, Media, Crime, Road Accidents Fund,
Divorce, Maintenance, Personal Injury, Medical Negligence
I must say one of the new trends I find very irritating is when people apply for a job and copy in the addresses of up to 100 other companies. In fact, the picture accompanying this particular article is an actual screenshot of some of the recipients, because there were actually more than are included in the screenshot, in an e-mail I received recently.
I think it is unprofessional, I think it puts people off and while I understand that people are doing it to save them the time of sending out the individual e-mails, or to save the costs at a shop where they are paying for internet time, it just looks awful. There is also a high probability, with the way that spamming filters work, that all of the people that are listed in the e-mail will have their e-mails considered as spam and being listed on spam engines. It may explain why, amongst other things, at the moment whenever my staff members send me an e-mail, from my own domain, it shows as a spam e-mail.
When people include your e-mail address, amongst a whole host of other e-mails and regularly send them out, they increase your risk of having your address listed as a spam e-mail. Quite often these are from relatively sophisticated people, you potential candidate attorneys applying for jobs and sometimes they make a bad situation even worse and what they do, apart from sending the e-mail to 5, 20 or 100 people at a time, it includes an introduction as how they would very much like to work at your company, having a high regard for it and they list you with all sorts of companies that firstly I may or may not have a high regard for and secondly, many of which do nothing even remotely in the same field or doing the same work as my firm. Ultimately, I think it is just rude and I think it is a good way to make sure that you will not be taken seriously.
I enjoyed a recent cover of Time magazine, on the cover of 12 to 19 September edition, headlined “The exercise cure”. We all know about the benefits of exercise, but this was yet another article taking this further and as they say it is the surprising science of a life changing workout. The bottom line, for those of you who have not read the article, is that we need to do at least 150 minutes of moderate intense aerobic physical activity each week and do muscle strengthening with weights or bands at least twice a week. Aerobic exercise alone is not good enough – you need weight training, although that does not have to be with weights, you can do it with resistance bands as well. Weights basically make muscles grow and the growth of those muscles put pressure on the bones, increasing the density of the bones and so it is absolutely crucial to do weights if you want stronger bones as you get older.
The rest of the article basically went on to say that essentially doctors should often prescribe, instead of actual antibiotics, exercise and tell people what specific exercise they should use. Again, with experiments on mice who are sedentary and basically don’t do much exercise, had their muscles shrivel earlier, their hearts weakened, their skin thinned, their hearing worsened and they lost their hair much faster than mice that exercised. The research again indicates what previous research has, that exercise appears to slow aging at a cellular level. They also proved that if somebody did 10 minutes of intense workout they could get the same improvements in heart functioning and blood sugar control as a 50 minute workout and so, and it is something I always believed in, they basically said that if you are willing to push hard, which I always describe as hurting yourself, you can get away with surprisingly little exercise. If you want to take things more slowly and enjoy your exercise, then you would obviously need a little bit more.
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 19-Oct-16
Some people have asked me why I write so much about the American elections. I have watched them very closely since 1992. There is a very good reason for that and what most people don’t realise is that typically what happens in the most powerful, wealthy and influential country in the world is invariably echoed around the world. In short, no sooner do you see a conservative President in America than, shortly thereafter, you get a conservative elected in the UK and in other European countries. Elect a lunatic in America and there is a good chance that many other countries will follow the same path. So, it is not just important, because it is important who leads the most powerful military and economic power in the world, it is also important because ultimately it tends, whether it is just coincidence or whatever it is, to see similar leaders elected in other major countries around the world. That of course has major implications for the world economy and international peace and security.
I must say that I was very impressed by a recent article in Newsweek magazine which laid out chapter and verse some of the dealings of the Trump organisation in countries all around the world, ranging from their dealings with criminals to Russian oligarchs and people of all sorts of political persuasions in a variety of countries around the world. Donald Trump says that if he becomes President he is going to hand over the Trump organisation to his daughter. Is that really good enough?
Could you really have a President of America, making decisions when he knows full well all the business interests of his own family, being run by his daughter through 500 different companies around the world? Isn’t there the chance that in every decision he makes he is going to be conflicted as to what is best for America and what is perhaps best for his family’s business interests in a certain country? In other words, if they have hotels in a certain country and that country starts giving America problems, is America going to issue travel advisories to its citizens not to go to that country? Is America going to consider sanctions against that country when it may have the impact of crippling the business of Donald Trump in that very country? What tax system will he support for property developers?
It is not good enough to say he is going to have his assets in a blind trust or have his daughter running the business – he knows exactly what all their interests are in the different countries around the world right now and truthfully, if he wants to run for the President, and he does not want to be conflicted, then he needs to make sure that he sells all his businesses and sells them now.
The golf at the Olympics was a huge success. In fact, let’s quote Gary Player on the golfers who decided not to show up for the Olympics, “Their excuses for missing look pretty feeble now.” What impressed me the most was the bronze medal winner, Matt Kuchar, who had after all come third, giving interviews for hours. His parents were phoned to ask how proud they were of their son winning a medal at the Olympics, etc. He has won numerous PGA events before and he would have come second and third a number of times without anybody bothering to phone his parents – in fact, they don’t phone your parents when you normally win a weekly PGA event, even though the prize money is typically about $1,2 million. It just shows you how important the Olympics are in that regard and there is no doubt, as I wrote in a blog some weeks ago, before the Olympics, that those who missed out on the Olympics now feel pretty stupid.
Some of them of course will not be good enough, or highly enough rated in four years’ time to get a chance again and so for some of them it is a once in a lifetime opportunity that has gone missing. Three South African golfers who would have qualified this time were Brandon Grace, Louis Oosthuizen and Charl Schwartzel and it will be very interesting to see, because guaranteed one or two of those will miss out in four years’ time, who it is going to be that will now never get a chance to take part in an Olympics, to represent their country, to take part in opening and closing ceremonies and to mix with the superstar athletes of the world, from a variety of different sports. In fact, Jordan Spieth, the number two player in the world, took all of about 1 hour, after the men’s Olympic golf finished, to tweet that he will be working hard to make sure he gets to go next time. That does not exactly reflect any confidence in those who advised him not to go or his own decision to accept that advice and not turn up. At the end of the day, irony of ironies the gold medal was won by Justin Rose. The British National Anthem played, he collected his gold medal and once again, he is yet another athlete, although he left a long time ago when he was a small child, born and bred in Johannesburg.
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Thursday 13-Oct-16
I was going through the comments on an article in the New York Times, and invariably it was about politics, but the person’s comment, which was selected as one of the best picks of the comments, related to more than just the issue being discussed.
It was just a reminder, and it is one of those kinds of stories that need to go in those books about not stressing the small stuff. They said that years ago, when they have just moved to the suburbs from a city, they were planning an elaborate house party, so that they could introduce themselves to all the neighbours and make a good impression and a local advised them, “Don’t worry, your guests will find something bad to say about you anyway.” It is always good to remember that, no matter what you do, and sometimes in spite of your best efforts, and just because you have actually made the effort, people will find time to criticise you, they will find time to say things about you and however hard it is to accept the advice, you must always appreciate the fact that there is something threatening or worrying to them about you, that they continually have to make such stories.
If there is one thing I would like to change about South Africa, and I am not talking about the State President right now, it would be our culture of excuses. We live in a society where, and I think it starts with the CCMA, that there are just excuses for everything. One can learn a lot from economies that don’t accept excuses on everything or indeed sports that don’t accept excuses.
If you want to play on the PGA Tour next year, you have to be in the top 125 money winners this year or otherwise, no matter how many tournaments you have won in the past or how famous you were, you will have to go back to the qualifying school and be one of the top 50 there. It is interesting to watch the qualifying tournaments, which are not televised or given much attention in South Africa, because you will find, amongst other things, a lot of South Africans playing in it, and lots of golfers that have won major events, but have not done well enough in the past year are now basically back to qualifying. In South Africa we seem to like a lot of sports where you can have a tied result – whether it is soccer or rugby – and to share the spoils between two teams rather than have a sudden death shootout and have one winner only, which is what golf basically provides. It does, unfortunately make everyone a little bit softer in some ways.
I was just thinking if one applied the principles of golf to a business, how it would work. The best example would probably be to take the attorneys in my office and say out of the 8 attorneys each year the top 4, who average the best results for the year, will be allocated cases the next year. The bottom 4 will go into a qualifying event where they get given 5 or 6 small cases each and the top 2 of those top 4, in terms of what results they get, will have a job the next year and the other 2 will not. That is pretty much how business and sport works in America and one cannot say it does not work when you see the size of their economy and their collection of Olympic golf medals! It is not exactly what we are used to and it would not be our way of doing things, but I do think South Africa will be a lot more competitive when people who don’t pull their weight are moved aside far quicker and there are not people to listen to their excuses.
When it comes to sport, on the PGA Tour, nobody is interested that on that last hole of the qualifying, that you got a bad bounce, the ball ended up in a bad position and as a result you could not make the shot you needed to make to qualify for next year. That’s it, you are gone – there is no special “excuses” column where those with the best hard luck stories get another chance. In South Africa if we started talking about the averages, as with my attorneys example, people will start doing the normal discussions – one case is different to another, they got unlucky here, they had a bit of misfortune there, etc. We need to move away from a culture of excuses, but you can rest assured that I am sure most of you probably will not agree with me and those that do will usually be the top performers. We have to decide whether we want to be a nanny state, where we look after everybody regardless of their performance, or whether we want to push people to work harder, to achieve more and to be more and the bottom line is that truthfully, it starts in every family and in every business and while in a family you can look after those who don’t do as well, in a business you should not have to carry those who get the worse results in the tests and who get the worst results in cases. It does not matter if they are nice people, friendly and wonderful – if they are not delivering they should get their marching orders because that is the only way to build something better and stronger.
I’ve had quite a few people tell me about how well they expect the DA to do in 2019. I hope that they are right, but I think people get too enthusiastic as a result of the municipal elections. I don’t believe that the turnout of voters is the same when it comes to the national elections and while I expect the DA to improve on their previous national election results, I don’t think they will improve that much on the municipal election results they achieved this year, on an overall percentage basis.
I’ve had people go so far as to tell me that when the DA comes into power in 2019 the RABS Bill will not be put into place and while I love to hear things like that, I do not, for one second, believe that the DA will be in power as soon as 2019. If you ask me for an optimistic scenario for 2019, from a DA perspective, I would imagine at most they will grow 3% to 4% from their current municipal election results of 26,7%, but personally I think that is pushing it somewhat. One should bear in mind in the last national election in 2014 they got 22,2% and so I think about 28/29% would be a more reasonable percentage now – and that’s an optimistic scenario – a very optimistic one in my opinion. They got that 22,2% after the 2011 municipal elections where they received 23,8% of the vote so there is a trend that they do better in the municipal elections and then when the national elections come they don’t improve much, or go backwards on the results in the municipal elections. They are certainly a party with momentum, they are growing, and the areas that they control seem to be far better run than most other municipalities.
A growing threat however will also be the growing popularity of the EFF and their policies are not particularly exciting for anybody who is really serious about the economic future of South Africa. It is so easy to appeal to the disaffected youth, with pipe dreams, when you don’t actually have to rule and put your policies into play, and most of the EFF’s policies, when tested in other countries around the world, particularly in Zimbabwe, have ended in absolute ruin. One hopes that they do not grow too much, even though they will ultimately contribute as well to a weakened ANC.
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 05-Oct-16
I must be honest and say that I am somebody who orders probably a book a week, but only actually finishes 5 or 6 a year. I don’t stop reading, and I never really feel bad about the purchases because I feel that if I only read one or two chapters, particularly in business books, because I don’t really read fiction, and learn something from it I then got value. I don’t have to read the entire book and all the explanations and motivations behind some of the business principles, etc, or read through some business person’s childhood, before getting onto the crunch chapters.
That having been said, The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston is a book that I have read from cover to cover and finished recently. He is the winner of the most prestigious award you can get in journalism and writing and that is the Pulitzer Prize for investigative journalism previously and he has covered Donald Trump for most of his life. He had access to a movie, exposing Donald Trump’s business dealings, which could not be released a few years ago due to legal threats that Donald Trump brought as well as various court files and papers and I don’t really know where to begin with what the book exposes, only that some of what it exposes comes out every second week from other media and the book is clearly being designed to encourage other journalists. He provides all the source materials, all the links, all the court case details for one to obtain any of the information that one needs.
He makes frequent references to the fact how Donald Trump always says on television that he has “the greatest memory of anyone he knows” but yet in court case after court case answers basically every question with “I don’t know” or “I cannot remember”. When asked about people he knows, has had business dealings with and has been photographed together with, his most common reply is, “I would not be able to tell you who he is if there were only two people in the room and he was one of them”. He said that in particular with regard to many of the mobster members that his family did business with. The book details chapter and verse as to all the Polish workers, some of whom fought for 20 years to be paid for building the Trump Towers where he now resides and who were all working illegally and ripped off on top of it and he explains that many people don’t want to cover many of the stories involving Donald Trump because, “his threats helped take the edge off most journalism about him. Donald Trump is not a man who tries to understand how others perceive him. Rather, he dismisses those who do not see him as he sees himself. In this he is a world-class narcissist.” He goes on to say that, “… Trump’s relationships with criminals were often profitable, sometimes gratuitous, and never properly examined by those whose duty was to investigate.” This of course ties in with his often made statements that he has made donations to politicians over the years and then called them in for favours later and that they have always delivered.
He is quite happy to make statements like that, but when it has now surfaced that his alleged charity foundation donated $25,000 to the election campaign of the Attorney General of Florida, Pam Bondi, 4 days after reports surfaced that she was investigating Trump University, he now says that the timing is just unfortunate and of course had nothing to do with trying to influence her! A few weeks later she announced that she was not going to be joining in any cases on Trump University.
It is easy to watch somebody on TV and decide that you like them because they are a reality star, but how would you feel if you were one of those people who paid $30,000 to go to a few lectures at “Trump University” only to discover later that in fact it was not a University, but they were warned not to continue using the word “University”, that the lecturers in some cases were people that were insolvent and have no experience in property and that the notes had been copied from elsewhere!
It is perhaps why Michael Blumberg, a well-known Republican, who has said that this time he cannot support Donald Trump even though he is a Republican candidate, gave a major speech at Hilary Clinton’s convention and said to the convention that Donald Trump is a conman. I enjoyed this part of his speech which has relevance to any business “Most of us who have created a business know that we’re only as good as the way our employees, clients and partners view us. Most of us don’t pretend we’re smart enough to make every big decision by ourselves. And most of us who have our names on the door know that we are only as good as our word, but not Donald Trump.”
I believe that we have the craziest pedestrians in the world in South Africa. I have not been all over the world and I have not driven in places like Pakistan and India, two of the few countries in the world that are apparently worse than South Africa when it comes to driving. I will say though that it never ceases to amaze me when I am driving around Johannesburg that pedestrians seem to feel it is safe to cross the road at any point. That includes running across major highways dressed all in black in the middle of the night and crossing busy roads at all times of the night wearing the darkest clothes imaginable.
It is no wonder that about one-third of fatalities and accidents are pedestrians and that there are so many pedestrian claims against the Road Accident Fund. We really need people to be much more educated and disciplined about crossing the road and crossing the road at a safe place. I know even some of my staff take a chance crossing Jan Smuts Avenue, which is actually easier to cross than some of the roads, at the wrong place. Personally I would walk down to the robot 100 metres from our office and get to the shops that way because you will reduce your risk of dying by doing that. The pedestrians are absolutely crazy and we have to get the death toll down, not only for actual car accidents, but for those involving pedestrians as well.
I obviously knew that ghost writers were used by some people to write books, but I really did not know how prevalent it was. I did not realise, for example, that James Patterson, whose books I don’t read, but who is a well-known author, simply puts his name to a variety of books written by others. It makes you wonder, together with what we often see in big business, how often we are essentially misled or lied to. In that regard, we have the author of the book, ‘The Art of the Deal”, which we always understood to be Donald Trump, now coming out and saying that he always said to his wife, based on his dealings and time with Trump, that the book should have been called, “The Sociopath”. He has apologised for making Donald Trump seem like a good guy in the book, saying that he wrote the book on behalf of Donald Trump, which he regrets, and that the book made Trump a household name. Trump has announced that it is his second favourite book, after the Bible, about which there must be some doubt with some of his incorrect citing of Bible verses, and said that it is one of his “proudest accomplishments”. The publisher of the book said Trump wrote so little of it that “Trump did not write a postcard for us!” Ultimately, the author, Tony Schwartz, said that he “put lipstick on a pig”. It just makes you wonder how many of the books that one reads are not written at all by the authors named on them.
The irony of this is the producer who approached Donald Trump to be on The Apprentice said he did it on the basis of Donald’s “book”. In short a book he didn’t actually write made his name famous, he got a TV show out of it and as a result before we know it he may be the man pressing the buttons that could lead to the next global war!
Posted by Michael de Broglio on Wednesday 28-Sep-16
Tonight is the first of the Presidential debates of Donald Trump vs Hilary Clinton. Debates have always fascinated me, although I completely understand that for the average person they are one of the most borings things under the sun. It might be that it was probably what led to me becoming a lawyer and although I don’t actually argue anything in court anymore, I do have to decide on tactics, stances and positions to take on a daily basis in a variety of matters. I always enjoy debating and very seldom lost debates, best speaker competitions or any of those types of events that I took part in.
Having said that, I imagine the dilemma facing Hilary Clinton ahead of this debate, where she is debating against somebody who is so regarded by so many people as such a fool that almost no matter what he does will be deemed to have been relatively successful, compared to the low expectations that they have of him. In addition, Hilary finds herself in a very difficult position, because she wants to talk about the facts and most of Donald Trump’s arguments have nothing to do with facts. For example, he has been asked in an interview before that Hilary Clinton says she wants to spend $250 billion upgrading America’s infrastructure and his answer was simply, “I don’t think that is enough, I would double it”. In proper debating you can’t just take whatever the other person says and say you will double it, cut it in half or do whatever – if your facts, or in this case your budget do not actually provide for that.
Trump does not actually worry about the facts, the cost or anything else, he just says whatever he thinks is good at any stage and so, if he is put in a court room, the Judge would very quickly tell him to shut up, or to answer the actual questions, but in a debate all he has to do is cater to the expectations of most of his supporters, insult Hilary Clinton and make a few dramatic or funny wise cracks. As long as he does that he will not be deemed to have lost the debate. In short, she is up against somebody who knows very little and is going to avoid that by simply not really getting into the details of any particular issue and if she shows too much knowledge and to a lot of people she will come across as a “know-it-all” and that also puts people off. I must say, when I was at school one did not invariably debate against the school idiot who had no knowledge of any topic, and in a court case as well one is generally restrained to the actual facts, so I think the cards are very much stacked against Hilary, where everybody knows he is an excellent debater, we all expect her to do well, while she comes up across somebody who has no actual policies other than making everything great and blaming everyone for the alleged “mess” that America is in.
Apple has a policy or an offer, available for the last year only in America, and now moving to the UK and China which I would really to see them bring to South Africa. In terms of the offer, for a nominal extra monthly amount, you get the right, every single year, to exchange your iPhone for the latest iPhone! That guarantees that you will always have the latest phone and it will not cost you much extra.
The first thing that I think about, when thinking about a company offering such a product, is why would they do that? To me it is obviously a signal that we are getting to the end of the dramatic, “have to have” improvements each year and the company wants to tie people in and keep them away from their competitors. It is a great value feature, but I just don’t see it being replicated in South Africa yet, particularly considering it has taken them one year to expand it from one country to now just three countries. I suppose, amongst other things, you need to be able to considerably ramp up your production before you do that, because once enough clients have taken advantage of that sort of monthly deal and tied themselves into your company on the long term, it guarantees that you will need to produce millions more for the first few weeks of the launch because a lot of your clients become automatically entitled to the latest version.
I don’t know the finer details such as whether you become entitled on the first day or how long you would have to wait, because I am sure most companies will try and give preference to new, cash paying clients, however unfair that is to the people who have taken the deal and I can only imagine the howls of protest if in 2 or 3 years’ time they suddenly start releasing a new iPhone every 18 months and then after that every 24 months, etc which would make such a programme more affordable for Apple, but it is certainly one to watch with interest and see whether or not this policy comes to South Africa. The extra amount in America that you pay, to have the free upgrade every year, is fairly nominal at about R70,00 a month and one struggles to do the maths as to how then it becomes viable for Apple to do this unless the phone that you are handing in still has a high resale value – which seems to be the case with most second-hand Apple products. The bottom line is it has been for a number of years, and still is, a premier product that every other company has tried to imitate, invariably at lower prices.
Johannesburg based attorney specializing in personal injury matters including Road Accident Fund claims and medical negligence matters. My interests include golf, reading and the internet and the way it is constantly developing. I have a passion for life and a desire for less stress!