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Speakers of Note Blog

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Backwards and in high heels - a woman in a businessman’s world.
Chantell Ilbury - best-selling business author, renowned scenario strategist and speaker - guides the strategic conversations of executive teams (still almost exclusively male) around the world, and it has given her surprising - some would say controversial - opinions on women in business.
In this talk Chantell speaks candidly about steering the strategic decisions of executive teams - still almost exclusively male; dealing with physical threat, controversy and reputational risk; and the dangers of a woman travelling the world alone; and she also provides refreshing perspectives on entrepreneurism, balancing the demands of family and business, and on women in the corporate working environment.
In her latest book A Fox’s Tale: Insights from one of Africa’s most creative strategic thinkers, Chantell says, ‘I don’t think women should “be empowered”. The term suggests a helping hand, as if women should be “allowed” to do what they want to do, or that they be given an opportunity while others stand aside. That’s not an opportunity, that’s getting a hand up. An opportunity isn’t presented on a plate. An opportunity is something seen that others miss – or created where others see obstruction – and then seized upon while those others stand back in wonder. Foxes look around for opportunities; hedgehogs follow a path to its end point.’
A Fox’s Tale is also a story of heartache and loss, hard lessons learned and bequeathed to her children. 
In the talk Chantell will also touch on:
  • How she approaches the fact that she is a woman entrusted to steer the strategic thinking of still almost-exclusively male executive teams
  • Some of the challenges of being a woman travelling the world alone on business.
  • If woman shouldn’t ‘be empowered’, how can they make their mark in the world of business?
  • How women in business should develop their leadership potential.
  • The importance of partnerships.
  • Some the more bizarre things that have happened to her.
  • Balancing family and business life.
  • Dealing with tragedy and loss.
It is a talk loaded with strategic insight, but also rich with humour and entertaining anecdotes; such as when she had to walk a stretch of the Gautrain track during a heatwave, wearing high heels: ‘I finally staggered into the French ambassador’s residence just before the session I was to facilitate was due to start, looking utterly bedraggled: hair matted and plastered to my brow, silk blouse stuck to my skin, and feet bleeding and blistered. I took a moment to catch a breath, pulled myself together, tucked my damp hair behind my ears, put my shoes back on, and started facilitating.’ And when her career as a speaker almost crashed before it took off: ‘As I moved towards the lectern I stumbled, missed the edge of the stage, and before I knew it, I was over the side… After embarrassed apologies, and assurances that I was alright, I got up, adjusted myself, stepped back up to the lectern and presented my talk. I don’t remember if it was any good, although I was assured it was. Whenever I think back to that occasion it evokes that famous Elizabeth Taylor memo to womanly stoicism: ‘Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together’.
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 "Stop the World I want to Get Off"- by Tony Leon

Tony Leon, well-read columnist, sought after speaker, former SA opposition leader and Ambassador offers key, well-honed insights into the post -Brexit, pre-Zuma departing political and economic earthquakes that have shaken our globe and country. The road ahead is paved with uncertainty but can be navigated. Find out more … 


"Brexit was the blackest of black swan events and I see a potential flock of black swans flying over Europe right now" , in the words of a global chief investment officer after the shock UK vote to exit the European Union became known. Trillions were wiped off global markets, the British Prime Minister's reckless gamble cost him his job and the left-behinds and the losers from the 2008 global financial crisis wreaked their revenge on a new world order in which they feel displaced and insecure. 

And all this happened in the oldest democracy in the world and a powerhouse economy like the UK, fifth largest in the globe. What are the implications for us here in less settled South Africa, on the eve of momentous local elections, an economy on the verge of recession and with fragile democratic institutions and a difficult economic path to navigate. 

Tony Leon, who is an acclaimed speaker, well read columnist and consults to UK and US hedge funds and financial institutions, led the political opposition here for 13 years and then learned global perspectives as a successful SA Ambassador in South America. Making sense and cents of the new global order post Brexit in ‘Stop the World I want to get off’ is a compelling talk tailored for business audiences.

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What do you think is the most important take home message audiences get from your talks?

There are various key take home messages based on which talk I deliver, but the underlying thread in all my talks is purpose and possibilities.

 What message do you think needs to be told to motivate the youth of South Africa?

To understand why their exist, their purpose in life. This will then give them a sense of direction in terms of what they would like to pursue in terms of a career or business.

When did you realise that speaking and facilitating would become your main career?

At a young age I already enjoyed the stage through drama, public speaking, and singing, so I became very comfortable on stage. All I needed to develop was authentic content and inspirational messages for my audiences.

How do you keep up with current business trends?

I constantly read articles, publications, watch news online, attend seminars and conferences, and generally keep myself occupied with what is going on globally.

What part of your job do you love most?

Being on stage speaking and inspiring my audience. That is my most happiest place.

And what part of the job do you wish you could avoid?

Being away from home too often for extended periods.

What do you love to do in your free time?

I enjoy writing and performing music, travelling with my family on holiday, and spending time with my wife.

And even more personal, tell us about the socks?

Hahahahaha! Okay, I believe the socks that I wear (happy socks) reflect my colourful personality. I even have funky laces that come in various colours too!

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Business, politics, the economy, corruption, leadership, society, the World – So What’s the Future, South Africa?

Nkandla, the Gupta’s, the Spy Tapes, unemployment, low growth, ratings agencies, protest actions, elections and Pravin Gordhan – who could ask for a more volatile mix of issues all buffeting South Africa at present?

In his latest presentation WTF South Africa? acclaimed Political Economy analyst & Keynote Speaker Daniel Silke delves into South Africa’s troubled times. He analyses the context of all these events and the possible impact on business and politics into the near future.

Silke does not hold back. It’s a hard-hitting, yet ultimately positive and highly entertaining account of a troubled nation in the midst of some very serious domestic and global challenges. 

From volatility in China to the USA; from a dip in emerging markets to similar dips in commodity prices. From falling GDP and rising unemployment to political factions, the future of Jacob Zuma and looming elections, Silke covers it all.  

It’s fast-paced, its informative and its real. Book Daniel Silke’s latest WTF South Africa keynote now!

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