A WORLD IN LOVE


In just a matter of days (hours, minutes and seconds, for those counting down), the occasion defined as “the wedding of the century” will be taking place in Westminster Abbey in London. With an estimated million spectators expected to be lining the streets in London, and billions watching on television screens across the world, the long anticipated Royal Wedding of Britain’s future King and his Bucklebury princess will be underway.

Global excitement and media coverage is reaching unprecedented levels. Quite unbelievable really, considering the rather exclusive nature of the occasion. Still, the hype is inescapable, the countdown globally audible, the expression of emotion uncontrollable, the falling unstoppable…

As the big day nears, it is interesting to look back at the process of the world falling in love.

First, there was the introduction. The world outside of the Commonwealth was introduced to a prince and a future princess through the announcement of an imminent royal wedding. Suddenly images of the beautiful Brits started appearing on grocery aisle magazine racks from the U.S. to the U.A.E. Her beauty, his throne and their fairytale romance swept the world. Royal watchers or not, it was hard not to take a little look at the couple causing all of the excitement.

Then came the courtship. As the months ticked by and details around the royal wedding were carefully shared with the world, slowly slowly slowly the royal couple started to make their way into the hearts of hundreds of millions of people across the globe. The butterflies were busy stirring up pre-wedding ideas, images and insights. Without warning they caught our eye, captured our interest, won our hearts. It was not love at first sight – it took time. But, ultimately, it did happen. The world fell in love.

It was love at first hope. For the first time in a long, challenging time, there was something happening which made our hearts feel hopeful, feel happiness, feel warmth…even if it is for someone else.

Now, it is an all-out love affair. The world is intoxicated by the emotion of the moment. The royal wedding has become a global event, an Olympic size celebration of love, romance and promise…and a magnificent Olympics 2012 warm-up for the city of London.

Interestingly, with the growth in momentum of excitement, there also seems to be a growing momentum in justification of why, exactly why, we care.

Why has the marriage of a young couple within a single monarchy, a world away in lifestyle and geography for most, taken hold of our attention, our hearts, and our plans for April 29th in such a remarkable way? Why, by latest account, are over 600,000 people now believed to be travelling to London on wedding day, many sleeping on the wedding route to be able to catch a glimpse of the newlyweds on their way to Buckingham Palace following their vows in the magnificent Abbey? Why will over 2.5 billion be watching the wedding through global media feeds of over 7000 credited journalists and 40 global networks all camped out in the global media village? Why are fashion designers across the globe waiting to see the future queen’s wedding dress, knowing that the much-anticipated creation will define the next decade of design for women across the globe? How did wedding take on literally epic proportions?

Rationale is being articulated in a myriad of creative ways. For some it is a romantic heart. For some, lineage. For some it is a life-long affection in the idea of royalty. For others it is simply an appreciation for history in our modern times. And for many, it is a curiosity in what all the fuss is about.

Ultimately, why we are interested, why we will be watching, does not matter.

What does is that for once the world is being united by the concept of love, the reigniting of hope, the belief in happily ever after.

Media and mementos aside, even the most cynical of royal subjects across the UK and the globe, those still shunning the value of the Royal Family, will be raising a glass in their local pubs on the forthcoming public holiday, proposing a toast to the newlyweds.

Some things need no rationale. The fact that we feel joy is reason enough. Especially joy for others – wherever they may be geographically, socially, royally.

To William and Kate. Long live the power of romance.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2011

DETERMINATION: A FORCE OF HUMAN NATURE

The first quarter of 2011 has been nothing short of gripping. From political uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East, to earth and life shattering natural disasters in Japan, the new year has provided a series of events which have given a whole new meaning to the word “resilience”. How much can a human being endure? How much can be taken before one calls out “enough!”? At what point does the level of the water, be it political or pure H2O, rise too high?

Remarkably, as the challenges have grown in frequency and severity, the people of our world have learned to swim stronger, fight harder, stand taller, and dig deeper, all as the world watches more closely in awe. And often, in inspiration.

When pushed into a corner, be it physically or emotionally, the human response can often be beyond expectation and even comprehension. Some struggle to survive, reaching their limit, ultimately feeling no alternative but to let go – to let go of the struggle, let go of the cause, let go of the life raft. They let go of the fight for life.

But then there are those who simply will not give up. Despite all odds, all logic, all reason, they will not, absolutely will not, give up. This is when the human spirit becomes a force far greater that the physical size may reveal.

January 2011. The year began with scenes of escalating turnout and tension in the centre of Cairo began to define the growing spirit of the region. As emails and alerts heated up the screens and frustrations of protesters across Egypt, the region and the world, the force demanding change grew. Its strength elevated to such a level that, with the earth shaking, a societal and political tsunami occurred. The image of Wael Ghomin speaking to a foreign with tears quietly rolling from his tired eyes, expressing the fierce determination of the people of Egypt to take their country back even at the cost of their lives, will forever be etched into Egypt’s modern history. The force was alive. It was unstoppable. And ultimately it was successful.

And now another tsunami occurs, literally, caused by a beyond-fiction earthquake in Japan. Lives of millions of its people have been dispersed across the broken and battered landscape. Once again the world watches, this time broken hearted, as a nation fights to survive. Through the devastating loss of loved ones and location, across the country the Japanese people patiently and politely start to take burdened steps forward to make sense of the ‘what now’. At the same time, united by a force fueled by a distinctly Japanese show of resilience, teams of technicians put themselves directly in harms way for the sake of national (and international) safety and security, knowing full well that their efforts to contain a nuclear crisis could cost them their own lives. Risk is irrelevant. The force is at work. The result is super-human.

To see the human spirit jump out, and above, adversity with a sense of conviction and determination is remarkably inspiring. And it is infectious. At these moments, there may be onlookers nearby, they may be completely alone. Neither matters, because the entire space is taken up by the almost visible strength of spirit.

Such a moment occurred recently in Berlin at the UNWTO’s press conference at the 2011 ITB global travel and tourism trade show. The stage was as seen before: a convention centre meeting room set up theatre style, all 200+ seats and eyes facing forward towards a length of tables and row of name cards revealed a panel of leading tourism figures. At the helm, Dr Taleb Rifai, Secretary General of the UNWTO.

The backdrop for the stage was, however, entirely new. While the global tourism community was reuniting to discuss the long-awaited rebound of the sector, a handful of tourism destinations reliant on the industry for national growth, development and stability were in a state of upheaval. Most notably, Egypt and Tunisia.

And so, with tourism leaders, professionals and media looking on, in an act of unprecedented tourism community solidarity, and statement of personal conviction, the Secretary General invited Minister Mounir Abdul Nour and Minister Mehdi Houas, the newly appointed Ministers of Tourism of Egypt and Tunisia respectively, to join him on the panel. Respect for their positions and political circumstances left the room silent, waiting to hear something, anything, to fill the void around the ‘what next’.

Expressions of effort and destination promotion were expected from the Ministers of Tourism. What was not expected, and what had those present listening in absolute silence and with intensity of focus, were the remarkable expressions of faith, determination, resolve and vision spoken by both Ministers. Their warm smiles, personal tones and simple words initially disguised a fact that became clear very very soon: within them, within their homelands, the force was growing. And that force was going to create the future that all of their people had always dreamed of. Starting right now.

As expressed by the Minister of Tourism of Egypt, “Let me tell you that since the events started on January 25, Egyptians have regained their freedom, their pride, and their confidence in themselves, their confidence in their ability and capability to regain a democratic, secular, and unequivocal system.” As for the tourism industry, the nation’s lifeblood economically, socially and competitively, the message was clear – his homeland is: “determined to do whatever it takes to regain the confidence of the travelers. We will advertise, communicate, visit, give incentives, we will preserve and defend to keep [Egypt] a golden destination for tourists.”

With similar passion and conviction, the Minister of Tourism of Tunisia made his personal commitment clear to all, later revealing that as soon as the government was overthrown he was give two minutes to decide if he wanted to be Minister of Tourism. He took thirty seconds.

The dramatic force of determination shown by both Ministers of Tourism not only powered their invitation to all to be a part of creating the future of two exceptional tourism destinations – it put tears of inspiration into the eyes and hearts of all present, enabling faith and solidarity to transcend doubt and the demand for supporting documentation. Greater meaning was given to the sector beyond arrivals, receipts, REVPAR and RPK.

Importantly, it reignited the feeling of the pure wonder, joy and need for people to come together, tightly joining arms, around something they fundamentally believe in. This feeling, this flame of determination, must never be extinguished.

These are the moments that turn the mere act of living into a fiery, infectious feeling of being alive. They can happen anywhere – in a press conference, in a peace march, on a public website, at a private dinner table. They are powerful. They are purposeful. And they are unforgettable.

They are a force of human nature.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2011

TO OWN A COUNTRY

11.02.11, the day Revolution 2.0 and seventeen days of protest brought three decades of dictatorship to an end. The day the world watched another brick of the Arab world’s Berlin Wall fall to the ground. The day tens of thousands of people in Tahrir Square, watched by tens of millions of people around the world, cried out “Today the people own Egypt“. Such a dramatic time, such an incredible achievement. Time to stop, stand still, shut feel the moment, and think of all that is now past.

Because when the people of Egypt open their eyes again and look to the future, a future that starts right now, the concept of owning one’s country will have turned into an active responsibility.

But what does that really mean? How do a people, eighty million in this case, ‘own’ their country?

Importantly, it means that the people of the nation must not just feel a euphoric sense of love and loyalty to the flag, they must demonstrate absolute commitment to the process of rebuilding their nation, working to build a new nation. One by one by one.

For any nation, the start of that process is picking up the fallen bricks of where the wall collapsed. Infrastructure of past regimes needs to be dismantled. New systems, structures and principles of social unification and transformation need to be defined, setting the foundations for the new vision and spirit of the people. And new leadership needs to be identified.

All of this, each new brick, takes time to be put in place. Care is needed to ensure that each new brick connects to the others, sitting firmly, adding strength, joined with shared purpose.

The mortar, the material that holds it all together, determining whether the bricks of the new system and structure will stand firmly to serve its purpose, or will weaken and fall, are the people of the nation. Only the purest of materials can create a mortar strong enough to endure the task ahead: honesty, determination, vision, commitment, confidence, sincere and selfless love of country and faith.

At first, the mortar must find its rightful place amongst the bricks, and then, with time, allowed to solidify and make a meaningful contribution. Brick by brick by brick.

The process of rebuilding will not work unless there is absolute commitment, by each and every national, towards collective creation. And towards collective, ongoing ownership. Ownership will demand not just strength to build, but strength to keep the new structures strong, serving their purpose in serving the people, for now and for the next generation.

To own a country is work, hard work. And unending responsibility.

But for those who have fought for their right to hold a brick in their own hands, and then place it in a position that will connect them to their future, it is the epitome of a labour of love.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2011

THE WAY WE SEE THE WORLD IN 2011


As soon as a new year begins, suddenly it can feel as though the world is once again opening up. Budget cuts, careful management of the bottom line both at home and in the workplace, were events of 2010. With a new year has come a new freedom to think bigger, think wider, think more feel, especially as economic crisis of 2008/9 (with its hangover in 2010) is now past.

And so the question arises: how will we see the world in 2011?

On the surface that question prompts an answer of travel to places one dreams of visiting on holiday. Or places to explore for new business opportunities. Thoughts turn to planning the where/when/why/with whom.

The year 2011 is, however, already proving to be about more than that. How we see the world is not about plotting itineraries. It is actually about pausing to look closer, look deeper. Because the world which we have always known is changing, dramatically, ever second of every day, everywhere.

Even in places we thought would always stay the same, because they always have, and there seemed no reason for that to change.

At this very moment the streets of Cairo are filling with protesters demanding a future of freedom, fairness, liberation and life deserved. An echo of events in Tunisia just over a week ago, Cairo may also be the precursor of events elsewhere in the Arab world, where the ground feels like it is shaking. Revolution is turning from noun to verb. In Egypt, in a matter of days a 30 year + government has been shaken at its foundations. The DNA of a nation, and region, is changing, politically, economically, spiritually.

And with it, the way we see the world is changing.

At the same time the nation of South Africa has had its foundations rocked with news of the hospitalisation of President Mandela, “Madiba”, “Tata”. The father of the nation, now 92 years of age, was officially unwell. Across the country over fourty nine million South Africans, along with the rest of the watching world, held their breath and whispered prayers for more time. South Africa and the world were not ready to face the future without the leader of their hearts, their conscience, and their belief in miracles. Thankfully the President left the hospital, mercy allowing him more time. Still, a foreshadow of the imminent new reality was felt. The way South Africans would have to see tomorrow, and see the world, without their beloved Madiba, was changing.

And in Davos, as the leaders of the world’s economies and corporate ambitions gather for the 2011 World Economic Forum, together they work to understand and navigate the “New Reality”. The past three years have shaken the foundations of how we see the world as a place of power, place of presumed security, and presumed financial comfort. But the way we see the world has changed. Profoundly.

With that change has come a shift in where we now look to for inspiration. As shared with CNN’s Richard Quest in an intimate one-on-one interview in Davos, Klaus Schwab, founder of the WEF confesses that the speakers he is most looking forward to hearing from are “the religious leaders whom we have here, not necessarily the politicians. Because if you want to get inspired I think it has to be based on a kind of change of values, (sic), and we need a kind of reform of our classical approach to what we have responsibilities for.” http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video/business/2011/01/24/qmb.davos.klaus.schwab.cnn

The way we see the world in 2011, and beyond, is not about where we travel, where we visit. It is not about stories we share about what we have seen.

Instead it is about where we stand, here and now, and how we look at the world differently. The difference is not just in how the world around us reshapes. But how we open our eyes, and minds, and hearts to look at the same sight with different meaning. It may be with greater compassion. It may be with greater understanding. It may be with greater curiosity.

Whatever it is, it is in our hands. And in our eyes.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2011


DRUMBEATS TOWARDS 2011


There is something about the last moments of the last hours of the year. Seconds pass like beats of a drum, their sounds heard and deep vibrations felt across the globe. Each strike of the drum soon represent as a reflection for each and every one of the millions for whom the drum beats, a moment of immense importance which occurred over the twelve months past, moments which for many will define 2010.

The closer we get to calling out “one!” the more the feeling of excitement grows for the year just seconds away from beginning anew. The excitement may be filled with hope, it may be filled with relief, it may be filled with promise, it may be filled with prayer.

And finally, it is here!

May the last seconds of your 2010 tightly and lovingly embrace your first of 2011.

Happy, healthy, heart-smiling New Year!


Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010

HEROES: STARS ALIGHT IN THE NIGHT’S SKY

The occasion of ‘Thanksgiving’, celebrated at the end of November in the USA (October in Canada), has taken on a greater significance this year. Global significance. 2010 has been a year of surprising challenges, surprising stories of triumph, surprising heroes. So much to reflect on, so much to give thanks for, so many heroes to express thanks to.

Heroes are single stars in a dark night’s sky. They make us look up…and they make us look for more stars through the faith they bring with their light.

Most importantly, heroes remind us, clearly and vibrantly, that it’s about so much more than just ‘me’, ‘here’, ‘now’. And that it is for each of us to inspire others to look up. Through acts of goodness, kindness and purpose. Because we can.

CNN’s annual search for ‘Heroes’ once again uncovered a world of truly inspirational, ordinary people doing extraordinary things. And in so doing they have re-sparked the night skies:

http://edition.cnn.com/SPECIALS/cnn.heroes/

May 2011 be a year when the word ‘hero’ evolves from noun to verb, from a single star to a glowing constellation, keeping us looking up with fingers pointing to ensure others also see, and feel, their power.


Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010


PHOENIX RISING: THE WORLD’S HUNGER FOR A MIRACLE


October 13th, 2010, the day a miracle occurred, thirty three times.

Following sixty nine days of prayer at a place known as Camp Hope, hope became visible as the Phoenix capsule rose to the surface of sun-parched Chilean ground and the lives of thirty three trapped miners were set free. Thirty three heroes, celebrated one by one by crowds of anxiously waiting family, by heads of national leadership, by teams of medics and media, and by the watching world.

Online, on-air, on the front of newspapers, on mobile handsets…the world held its breath, held its focus and held its hope that each and every miner would re-emerge, hearts beating, healthy. Even now, days on, images of the San Jose mine rescue in Chile continue to fill the world’s airwaves. Stories and scenes of miners celebrating a life re-captured. Celebrating a miracle.

A remarkable time. In Chile, and everywhere else. Today these thirty three miners now stand tall as heroes. But they are heroes not simply for having been trapped down in the mine for over two months. It is because of their enduring determination to live. Through the darkness, both physical and psychological, they looked for the light. As expressed with rawness and realness by miner Mario Sepulveda: “I saw the devil, I saw God. God won!”

Their strength, their spirit, their story, their solidarity now form the DNA of their miracle.

And together, these men and their miracle, fed the world – at a time when feeding was desperately needed.

The past two few years have been exhausting on the spirit of the world. Global economic crisis seeded a global emotional crisis, all at a time when global concerns regarding safety, security and sensibility continue to grow. While technology seeks to bring people closer together, underlying fear of the person unknown continues to push us apart. Differences become defining and dividing.

As a result good news has become a precious, rare commodity. Through our day to day life it can often feel that reasons to believe in the goodness of mankind need to be mined from all that exists to prove otherwise. Increasingly scarce – reasons for the world to connect through a pure spirit and determination, around something positive, something which reminds the world of the priceless value of life, of one more day, of hope.

And then last week, for the first time in a very, very long time, the world was able to come together, quietly and calmly, with one single shared emotion: HOPE.

Hope, a single heartbeat beating softly and patiently deep underground in a Chilean mine, gaining in strength as days of human drama increased in count. Soon the heartbeat began to beat with extraordinary strength, turning the hope of the world into one body, one spirit, one prayer and one joy.

The Phoenix capsule travelling up the Plan B rescue shaft to the waiting world was, in so many ways, a journey up a (re)birth canal. For the miners now rejoicing life, renewing vows, reaffirming faith and repeating prayers of thanks, it was the start of life anew.

For the watching world it was a powerful force which swept across the globe, breaking down borders both political and personal, feeding a vital part of the human spirit.

Most importantly the miracle in Chile was a powerful reminder of a fundamental human truth: sometimes to find hope one has to dig deep…but it is there. And it is waiting to see the sunlight again.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010

THE INVALUABLE INVESTMENT OF COMPANY CONFERENCES

As the recent global economic crisis tightened its grip across the globe, the business travel segment found itself grounded. Business trips cancelled, conferences cancelled, incentive trips cancelled, exhibitions downsized, meetings re-e-engineered, hopes for making targets cancelled.

There was simply no budget, no justification, no nerve, no hope. Too many black ink cartridges were being replaced with red. It was a clear situation of black and white – until the crisis was over travel was suspended. There was no grey area.

Understanding the logic, e-alternatives were found. ‘Skype’ became both a noun and verb. Expectations were adjusted around movements of the bottom line and the business cycle. No one was going anywhere.

But making sense of it all did not make it any easier. We are not a generation comfortable with prolonged restrictions to comfort of lifestyle. The crisis of 2008/9, and its hangover of caution throughout 2010, has been the first time such financial strain of this degree has ever been felt by billions across the globe.

But the crisis has not just been financial, it has been emotional. The fear generated by the world’s fastest spreading, widest reaching and deepest penetrating economic shutdown has rattled the spirits of people across the world. A bankruptcy of faith and confidence occurred, causing a crash in the energy required to perform.

And, importantly, a crash in the value of business culture.

The arrival of Q2/2010 has, however, brought with it a return in business confidence levels. And with that a return of people on the move. The seats in the pointy end of the plane are warming up again. As are meeting rooms, conference halls and spirits. Justification of un-suspending spend is now all around. Clearly being grounded hurt business. Now is the time to get back to 35,000ft to get back into the black.

Supporting this hypothesis, a study undertaken by Oxford Economics in 2009 revealed, painfully, that over all the average US business would be forced to lose 17% of profits (28% of revenues) during the first year of suspension of business travel. This loss would require a three year period to recover. Bottom line.

But intuitively businesses across the globe have also known that the losses were not just at a commercial level, they were also at a cultural level. The freezing of budgets which froze internal activity, company conferences in particular, froze spirits.

Which is why visionary leaders, truly holistic leaders who put into practice the adage of ‘our people are our greatest asset’, are remaking commitments and rebooking venues to reconnect their people. Instruction from the C-suite is seeing hundreds of people being removed from their offices, relocated (often at enormous cost and logistical complexity) to places which allow the start of a strong tomorrow to start today.

Importantly, effective conference programme design is not only about sharing business plans and prophecies. Of equal importance, if not greater, is sharing of the process of rebuilding faith, rebuilding a future vision, and rebuilding the fundamental bonds of the organisation.

It is about cultural reconnection. And creating that reconnection may require letting people let go. Safely. It has been a long time of holding one’s breath. Now is the time to exhale deeply. Together.

This process, whether it unlocks laughter, tears or fears, will ultimately unlock the spirits of those present. And in so doing, create an energy of renewal, recovery, rediscovery and release – a release which will raise the level of confidence, conviction and commitment of the company culture.

There can be no greater fuel for future impact, no greater feeling of achievement for a true leader.

This article is dedicated to the courageous leaders across the globe who, with their visionary eyes and open hearts, recognise investment into their people at this fragile, faith-rebuilding, future-redefining time as invaluable.

To you a glass is raised with thanks, with immense respect, and in confident anticipation. Not only do you know the above to be true, you feel it… and you live it.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010


THE NEW BUTTERFLY EFFECT – HONOURING THE RESPONSIBILITY OF HAVING A GLOBAL E-VOICE


The world in which we live today often feels as though it is moving at a speed far faster, and fired up with far more energy, than ever before. Events are unfolding with seemingly greater intensity. And having a greater global impact. Extreme situations are becoming extremely familiar. The drama of daily life is appearing everywhere, every day, every time one looks at a TV, computer or mobile screen.

How has this happened?

One of the reasons for the hyper-acceleration of happenings is the hyper-activity of social media commentary.

Where once news networks were relied on for information and insight, public opinion has gained unprecedented power. Immediately, as an event occurs, it is captured, analysed, shared. Through images and text the simple flapping of the wings of a butterfly on one part of the world can cause an immediate storm a world away. And a flurry of commentary around what happened: why the butterfly chose to flap his little wings at that precise moment, in that precise location. Precisely what did he mean by it?

Connections are being made, between people, places and points in time. And voices across the globe are sharing their opinions with global audiences.

All it takes is the click of a ‘SEND’ button and thought can become thought leadership.
It is truly remarkable and empowering that one is now able to share ideas, information and opinions across borders, across cultures and across ideologies across the world. For millions it is life changing. Enablement has occurred through e-connectivity. And with it has come social and economic freedom.

The power which comes from the SEND button can, however, be overwhelming. The temptation to ‘tell us what you think‘ and know that the world is reading can be too great to pass up. Particularly when one holds a position of leadership, be it political, private business or as a recognised personality. Fifteen keystrokes of fame.

And how seductive the invitation to engage when it comes to sharing opinion in open e-forum when voices are united in critique, with growing numbers of followers and growing flames of fiery opinion.

Sadly, often, momentum of opinion sharing takes on a life of its own. Words shift from helpful critique to hurtful criticism. A common enemy breeds heated commentary. The messenger and the message become confused. The need for a moment of pause and consideration of impact is lost.

SEND.

And before you know it your name is sent into cyberspace, attached to words which will eternally appear in any Google or Bing search ever conducted on your name…

For all the possibility which has been created through the global connectivity which now characterises the times in which we live (and share), the responsibility of this power of opinion must never be forgotten.

To hit the SEND button is to leave an e-fingerprint in history. Together these fingerprints can build unity of community of thought and positive impact. Sadly, however, so too can it create ever-embedded negativity.
The butterfly effect has taken on a whole new meaning in our new world of global opinions.

Importantly, however, just as the butterfly never loses sight of the effect the flutter of his wings can have on the world around him, he maintains a healthy perspective regarding his place in the world. Tiny, beautiful, essential…and potentially powerful.

So too must we never lose sight of the impact of our opinions. And responsibility we hold for the impact of flapping our wings each time we hit the ‘SEND’ key.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010


MAJOR EVENTS – DEFINING THE ‘WHAT NEXT?’

In a matter of days the world’s largest sports event will come to a close. 2010 FIFA World Cup champions will be crowned, fans will blow their vuvuzelas in unison of tens of thousands one last time, stadiums will empty, the media will switch channels, athletes and travellers will go home. The FIFA World Cup lens will move to Brasil. South Africa, the host nation, will resume regular programming.

And the hangover of 30 days of football festivities will set in.

It has already started, actually. Following the first of two Semi-Finals in one of the nation’s three major host cities, the morning after the night before for Cape Town is still, silent, sad. There is a feeling of it’s over.

The hang-over is being felt not just by fans celebrating Holland’s success in securing a place in the Finals (or commiserating Uruguay’s not), but by the people of the host city. It is time to turn the lights out in the city’s new, iconic stadium graced by the backdrop of Table Mountain and encircling sea. That feeling of sadness will soon take over Durban as the host city braces itself for their hosting of the second Semis this evening, and then the moment of turning off the lights in their beautiful new stadium.

Magnification of this feeling, this sadness, will hit a crescendo as the Finals are played. While there will be (already is) immense pride felt by South Africans across the country and world in the successful hosting of the Games, tears of good-bye will fall for not only departing fans, but for closure of a dream.

The man has landed on the moon. The vision has been realised. And whichever team takes home the FIFA Word Cup, the people of the host nation would passionately argue that it is South Africa which won.

But what now? What next? What after the moon?

What can we expect?

Hosting of major events come with them immense expectations – expectations of delivery, expectations of accountability, and expectations of transformation. Especially economically.

But the reality is this: 30 days of sport cannot transform, sustainably, a national economy. It is simply not possible.

What is possible, and more meaningful, is the transformation which can occur in national confidence.

There is no question that through successful hosting of this mega-event the confidence which exists in South Africa has grown exponentially across the people of the world and across the people of the nation. And of great importance, of potential investors.

Confidence is a currency, especially for nations emerging as new forces of social and economic development on the global stage. It is a critical fuel for the growth and development of nations. And it is this currency which must be sought out as a key deliverable when mega-events are executed by nations.

By showing the world ‘we can do it‘, nations taking on global event challenges (ie. Beijing with the 2008 Olympics, South Africa with the 2010 World Cup, India with the 2010 Commonwealth Games and others), are able to showcase proof of delivery and strong ROI.

But this confidence needs to be channeled, with absolute clarity, towards a ‘what next’ – the new vision, the next planet to reach. Because to conclude a mega-event with simply good-byes and a headache would be to shortchange a dream.

So important to sustainable mega-event success is the host nation having ready a ‘what next’ – a post-event development plan which uses as capital all that has just been achieved, qualitatively and quantitatively (and naturally aligns to the long-term national development strategy).

Developing a ‘what next’, and overtly communicating it to the nation immediately following completion of a mega-event, ensures ROI of host nation/city investment is realised through
leveraging, long after the event concludes, newly established:

  • memory of success,
  • confidence in delivery,
  • unity of national spirit,
  • commitment to building the nation,
  • participation on the global stage, and
  • desire for investment into hard and soft infrastructure of the future

towards fulfilling a new vision.

To look up to the moon is not only about setting one’s eyes on a place higher and brighter, it is about holding one’s chin up with pride. And powerful conviction. Every single day.

Copyright: ANITA MENDIRATTA 2010