Dr Jonathan Moch: Applying Jannie Mouton’s 20 lessons

By Dr Jonathan Moch*

Jonathan Moch is a practising psychiatrist who studies the mysterious human condition from many diverse angles.

The human condition is mysterious, manifested by a variety of mind permutations. As a professional student of the mind, brain, body and relationships, there are an infinite range of windows of understanding mind maters. Psychiatry, my chosen profession, is a major entry portal. Behavior economics another. The Talmud makes deep attempts over thousands of years of observation and recording of social intercourse. Politics, economics, philosophy are bottomless pits to get a broader perspective of life.

So now I pivot my attention towards the intrigues of commerce, the invisible hands that keep economies ticking along at a nice clip. As a compulsive, obsessive reader, I now have a excel spreadsheet documenting briefly my daily readings around businesses making the news, locally as well as universally. With a few clicks on my iPad I can access streams of information on any public company. My interest is really in the unfolding narrative of the company, it’s leadership, the demand supply dance, the subtle energy and values read between the lines, the great human attribute of innovation – progress, built on contributing towards better life for all.

Every day I spend a couple of hours investigating one company: on reflection, my trained mind is irrevocably drawn to the “story”. My share portfolio is carefully researched, each stock a leader in a sector, each a dynamic narrative: BHP in resources, Sasol in petrochemicals, Mediclinic in hospitals, Aspen in pharmaceuticals, Famous Brands in restaurants, Discovery in financial services,  Richemont in upmarket retail, Bidvest in services, and Woolies in food and clothing. Bless the brains that feed us!

The past seven days focussed on news out of Netcare, Brait, SpaceX, Pioneer Foods, GSK, Redefine and PSG. The common thread: central characters who add significant gravitas to their companies, and embedded in the recent Jannie Mouton manifesto of twenty lessons he learnt along the way by growing PSG into a R44 billion investment and financial services giant in less than two decades.

If South Africa wants to develop one hundred industrialists, these twenty points must be ingrained into the genes of each. And add the biographies of Elon Musk from Pretoria, now California (read PayPal/Solar City/Tesla/SpaceX/batteries); Christo Wiese of Brait and Pepkor; Barney Hurwitz, Jackie Shevel and Richard Friedland of Clinic Holdings, now Netcare. Throw in the narratives of Marc Wainer of Redefine to understand property investment and the challenges of research and development of lpharmaceuticals facing GSK (Sir Andrew Witty) will add a key ingredient to any influential industrialist. A broad perspective of the human condition, is what is needed. Vital to sustained success and resilience to the inevitable headwinds in the journey of life in commerce.

Malcolm Gladwell broadcasted the ten thousand hour rule of focussed attention to become an expert in any field of endeavour. Reading should be central, at least an hour a day. To paraphrase Jannie Mouton: read and think more – do less. It is all in the mind.

It would be a bold idea to collect together these potential industrialists for an in-depth year of reading, writing, conversing, bonding on things that really matter for Southern Africa. PSG, are you listening?

* Jonathan Moch is a practising psychiatrist who studies the mysterious human condition from many diverse angles. Torah, science, medicine, psychology, nutrition, raising children, and marriage are deep pools of knowledge and experience that allow him to reflect, teach, write and converse to nudge people to take responsibility for their lives.