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A few minutes with Justin Cohen

Published: 9 February 2010

Author and keynote speaker, Justin Cohen, takes time out to speak with Media Update about his newspaper deliveries, aged 11; Jacob Zuma’s first wife; and social media.

A few minutes with Justin Cohen
Author and keynote speaker, Justin Cohen, takes time out to speak with Media Update about his newspaper deliveries, aged 11; Jacob Zuma’s first wife; and social media.

1. What was your first job/ where did you start?
Delivering newspapers when I was 11-years-old.

2. What made you want to build a career in your profession?
I didn't know the speaking profession existed - like many interesting careers, it's not something they teach you about at school - but I had a message, so I started writing a book. At the same time, I worked as a producer for Summit Business Channel, and did a documentary on corporate training. That's where I discovered that if you've got a useful message that you can share in an entertaining way, people will pay you large amounts of money. An HR person I interviewed for the documentary asked if I knew of anyone who could do a motivational presentation at his company. “Sure,” I replied, “I can.” That was the start of my speaking career.

3. Describe a day in your life at present.
Typically, I wake up at 07:00 and, after a short meditation, I spend two hours in bed with my laptop writing articles or my latest book. Then it's off to gym for about an hour. This is not just for my health it's for where I come up with some of my best ideas. And it's a natural high. If you want to boost serotonin (the brain's happy chemical), you can take Prozac; Ecstasy; or you can go for a good physical workout. I prefer the latter. I come back to my home-office where I email; make calls; and do administrative work. I may have a briefing meeting to attend. Of course, a conference can happen at any hour of the day in any corner of the country, so anything that I've described could be interrupted by my core business - speaking. Although I do the odd half- or full-day training session, I mostly do one-hour keynote presentations, so I have a lot of free time where I can research; write; or market my services.

4. How do you unwind behind the scenes?
Reading; writing; and camping.

5. Who would you most like to meet - dead or alive, and why?
God. To confirm his existence.

6. What has been one of the most important lessons you have learnt?
Failure is the greatest teacher on earth, if you're prepared to be taught.

7. What is your secret indulgence and your three 'can't live without' items?
Books; women; and a great view.

8. Who is your alter ego?
Catch me at Vortex over New Year's Eve.

9. Which car would best personify you, and why?
It hasn't been invented.

10. What is your favourite reality TV series?
Life.

11. Who is someone you truly look up to, and which qualities do you most admire about them?
Jacob Zuma's first wife, her stoic tolerance.

12. What's your stance on social media?
Haven't managed to stomach its banality.
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