Being a true leader is not for the faint-hearted. The journey to the top is tough, but with focus and perseverance, it is possible
It took South African actor Ivan Zimmerman four extremely tough and arduous months to cycle 12 000 km through ten African countries to demonstrate that Leaders Never Quit. He did it, and we are proud of him!
The South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) and SAGE Pastel were Ivan’s proud sponsors for this, the 13th edition of the Tour d’Afrique cycle tour. The journey started on 9 January in Cairo and ended with Ivan’s homecoming, which took place on 9 May 2015 at the V&A Waterfront Hotel.
SAICA sponsored Ivan as part of a campaign to encourage CA(SA) trainees that although the journey to becoming a chartered accountant – just like the Tour d’Afrique – is a physically and mentally demanding one, it can be done through hard work, staying positive, and being focused.
Cycling through countries like Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia, Ivan says that at times it was beautiful and at times it was ugly. He met friendly people and aggressive people, and had to cope with very hot or very cold weather – it was nothing like he’d expected. At times, he said, it was literally hell.
But he soon realised that if he wanted to make a success of the expedition, he would need to be disciplined and focused without forgetting to enjoy it.
Throughout his trans-African crossing from Cairo to Cape Town, Ivan motivated CA(SA) trainees by tweeting leadership messages using the hashtag #LeadersNeverQuit to 9 000 SAICA trainees, encouraging them to stay committed to their CA(SA) path. Similarly, trainees were asked to send messages of support to Ivan, cheering him on to complete the gruelling tour. Trainees who supported Ivan were awarded prizes sponsored by USN, Supreme Beauty, and Epic Sports. At the end of the tour, Ivan selected Gerhard Myburgh as the person who motivated him the most. Gerhard took home the grand prize of a solar power system worth R85 000 courtesy of Gliimo.
Vital lessons Ivan learned were:
- Learn to listen to your body – stay healthy.
- To enjoy the journey, make sure the little things are taken care of – prepare.
- Never quit. NEVER, EVER.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Always be aware of the beauty that surrounds you.
- To succeed, establish your own pace and rhythm.
- If you want to be successful, surround yourself with like-minded and successful people.
- Sometimes you have to work alongside your competitors.
- However slow you go, NEVER, EVER stop.
- Focus on the task at hand.
- Reward yourself.
SAICA also gave one SAICA trainee an opportunity to travel to Cape Town to attend Ivan’s homecoming on 9 May. Tsietsi Mohale, a trainee from Kimberley working in the AGSA office, won this prize and had this to say: ‘I want to say a special thanks to Mr Ivan for giving us hope as trainees to never, ever consider quitting.
‘Having met someone who has travelled so many kilometres across Africa without having a single doubt on giving up was reassuring. From now on I’m going to put so much if not more effort in qualifying as a CA(SA).’
Among the 200 guests who attended Ivan’s homecoming event were nine-time Comrades Marathon winner Bruce Fordyce and adventurist Riaan Manser, who both spoke fondly about Ivan’s determination in completing the race.
The 12 000 km mountain bike adventure was also a platform for Ivan to raise 12 000 tins of foods for the Can-a-Kilo initiative: one tin of food per kilometre cycled. Ivan managed to raise 5 000 tins of food, which will be distributed by the Hanna Charity and Empowerment Foundation in Pretoria.
‘I haven’t had a chance to rest, as the campaign has been such a huge success – which I am happy about, as it is exactly the outcome we wanted,’ said Ivan in Cape Town.
Ivan will end off the Leaders Never Quit campaign by visiting SAICA training offices to meet trainees and talk about his adventure.