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Posts Tagged ‘Sharing Your Story Series’

Sharing Your Story – Edition 4 – Sport Life with Clint Cook

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Coaching


In this blog series, ‘Sharing Your Story’, I attempt to share the stories I come across that inspire me. In this addition I interview Clint Cook, a top paddler in our Durban community, as he goes through the challenges of leaving Varsity College and finding his first full time job.

In tough economic times where jobs are few, you need to stand out from the crowd and have skills to add value to the job market. The success Clint has had, I believe is directly a result of the environment he has been involved in, as part of the Sports Life program at Varsity College.

I have known Clint since he moved from Joberg to Durban some year’s back, having seen him has grow as a paddler and a strong personality off the water too. I have had the privilege of him work for me as a coach at my Surfskischool in Durban and was blown away by his friendly nature and great people skills.

Clint recently went for his first job interviews and has been successful a landing a position with a top Durban firm. I shared some of his experiences over this time and couldn’t help feel inspired for the students leaving Varsity College.

I have had a long relationship with Varsity College, first as a student and believe that the skills I learnt there prepared me for the challenges of owning my own business. Their focus of preparing students not just to pass, but for the working world has always been a stand out, with sport and part time work off campus, always being at the forefront of this mantra.

Sport Life (Varsity College’s Sporting Clubs on campus) offer students the opportunity to get involved in sports, network and live a healthier lifestyle, preparing them for success. It is awesome to see this program has impacted so positively on Clint and others.


Here is the interview:

BL. How were you first introduced to Varsity College?

CC. I was introduced to Varsity College by Grant Van Der Walt (Sports Life Captain on the Durban North Campus). I had made a return to paddling after a 2 year gap and Grant suggested I sign up.

BL. What did you decide to study?

CC. I studied an HCBPP (Higher certificate in Business principles and practice) and a BCom in Financial management.

BL. How did you involved with Sport Life on campus?

CC. When I went for my interview with Varsity College, The Principle, Keith and Student Adviser, Jo Taylor recommended I get involved with the Sports life program as canoeing was a sport offered by VC.

BL. What skills did you pick up at VC that stand you apart from your peers?

CC. VC taught me how to be myself, be an individual and stand tall. It also taught me that hard work pays off.

BL. What did you learn from sport outside the class?

CC. Sport has taught me that what you put in, is what you get out. It has given me self discipline and a sense of purpose.

BL. What part time work did you do outside of VC to build your skills?

CC. In 2015 I worked as a part time Surf Ski coach at the Surfskischool. This was great as a means of making extra cash, as well as teaching and sharing my love for paddling with others.

BL. How did the skills learnt though your years as a student impact your interviewing for your first job?

CC. When I interviewed for my first job, I knew I had the necessary skills to face any challenge as well as cope with anything that the job may throw at me. Lucie Bouwer from the VC careers Centre was a great help and mentor and gave solid advice.

BL. What were the defining factors in you getting the position?

CC. My passion for sports as well as my achievements, and the higher education and skills I gained from studying my degree through VC.

BL. How do you believe VC has prepared you for the work place now that you are in the working world?

CC. VC offered me a platform to jumpstart my life, the amount of things that VC has taught me is completely invaluable and these things will now stay with me for life.

BL. What advice would you give students starting out at VC?

CC. For students starting at VC, I suggest you get involved, get stuck in. Work hard, make friends with the Lecturers and staff, these relationships provide you with bridges to a better future.

BL. What advice would give a student going for his/her first interview?

CC. For a student interviewing, I would say that VC has taught you what you need to know, and with that qualification behind you there’s nothing you can’t do.

Thanks to Clint for sharing and good luck with a successful career.

Sharing Your Story – Edition 3 – Olivia Taylor

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Coaching

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This relatively new blog series “Sharing your story” is really taking shape nicely now into it’s 3rd edition. As I share my story on this blog I also find other amazingly inspiring stories which really need to be shared too. I am glad to have the chance to inspire others with this addition and shed light on the amazing people around us.

I met Olivia Taylor a number of years ago and have been blown away by her conservation efforts. With yesterday being World Ocean Day I am really happy to get to interview this dynamic young women about the Four Elements Ocean Challenge.

The scary thing is Olivia is only 18 years old and has achieved so much despite her age. Her passion for the ocean and it’s conservation is infectious, a great example for us, young or old.

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Check out our interview:

Barry – Hi Olivia. Well done on your hard work on ocean conservation and thanks for allowing me to “share you story”. Where did your passion for the ocean start?

Olivia – Thanks Barry! My passion for the ocean started at a young age when my dad used to push me onto small waves on his surfboard. I think a definite turning point in my love for the ocean came when I was given the opportunity to learn to freedive. I attended a course by Hanli Prinsloo and Sara Campbell which helped me to overcome my fear of water and fostered my deep appreciation and respect for the oceans.

Barry – I met you on a shark dive a number of years ago, how were you introduced to these amazing creatures?

Olivia – I was introduced to my first sharks on a scuba dive at Aliwal Shoal and was overwhelmed by their curiosity and ease with which they move through the water. Although I enjoyed scuba diving with them I dreamt of freediving with them and finally had that opportunity accompanying Julie Andersen, founder of SharkAngels.org, on a dive trip where I had my first interaction with a tiger shark. It was incredible being in the presence of such powerful and feared creatures but, I only felt adoration.

Barry – What made you start “Four Elements Conservation”?

Olivia – I conceptualised Four Elements Conservation NPC after being dissatisfied with the apathy of lacklustre teens and realising that some environmental organisations I had come across were not living up to their public statements. With the help of my dad, Mark, and two of my directors John McCarthy and Amaresh Chetty Four Elements is now a registered company that has been acknowledged with both national and international awards.

Barry – One of the things that has really grown is the Four Element Conservation NPC Ocean Challenge after an awesome in it’s second year. Tell us about the race and how things went in the 2015 event.

Olivia – Wow, it has been an incredible journey. Last year the event started small with only 16 incredibly passionate swimmers and grew this year to 116 swimmers! The race day saw some tricky conditions really living up to its name “Ocean Challenge”. There were strong currents on the second leg but all of the dedicated swimmers completed the race! This year we saw an increase of swimmers travelling into Durban from all over the country to compete. I was stunned by the support and positive feedback about the swim was and really excited when chatting to swimmers who share my passion for the environment. I feel that the swim allowed people to engage with the environment in an especially intimate way. The swim achieved its goal in raising funding for a new venture that Four Elements is running, the Four Elements Environmental Camp. This camp is a four day scholarship adventure taking place in December where successful applicants (kids between1 0 and 18 years old) will learn essential business skills to start their own environmental initiatives as well as experiencing some really cool wildlife engagement activities. For example; swimming with sharks, bushwalks and horse riding on the beach. The applications for the camp will open on 8 June, World Oceans Day.

Barry – I see Four Elements is a NGO, what are your dreams for this awesome conservation initiative?

Olivia – Four Elements was initially a vessel through which I could voice my concerns for the environment and do legitimate fundraising but it has been evolving steadily and I am really excited about its approaching future! The new aims and direction are towards developing passionate youths who want to become positive environmental change makers. I would like Four Elements to serve as a candle who lights a thousand other candles, who inspires another thousand environmental organisations, by supporting kids in teaching them the power of their voices and that they can make a difference. These kids will be confidant, self-sufficient, green entrepreneurs. Through education I believe that Four Elements will develop future leaders who will hold the environment in the highest esteem.


Sharing Your Story – Edition 2 – Iain Campbell

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Coaching

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I find inspiring stories on a daily basis, that I think will inspire you too, so I started this little section on my blog not just to share my story, but yours as well.

Iain Campbell – Following a Dream

I have know Iain since he was a tiny grom running around at lifesaving and riding north beach. The little kid has grown up into a full blow freak on a bodyboard and is making a name for himself all over the world.

People are taking serious notice since he put out this amazing clip of his trip to Hawaii over the winter. Watch and enjoy.

There is more to this kid than big waves and epic boosts. I have dealt with many athletes over the last 10 years and there aren’t many that fly under the radar as much as Iain and get the job done with proper passion. Many have big dreams but rarely go after them. Iain is chasing that dream. I got a chance to interview him about following a dream.

B.L. – Where did it start?

I.C – It all started back when I was in primary school and was taken into the water by a family friend. It was then that I moved into North Beach and started to bodyboard with Billy Thiel through the DPHS bodyboarding lessons.

B.L – What was your first trip to Hawaii Like being a dream come true?

I.C – My first Hawaii trip was insane. It was everything that I was to expect and definitely a dream come true for me. I was able to meet some of the biggest hero’s that I had looked up to my entire life and get some of the best waves of my life. I arrived on the island not knowing what to expect and I was able to come out of the season with the cover of Movement Mag (a top international magazine). What more could I ask for.

B.L – How long have you been travelling through your sport and what have your learnt?

I.C – I have been traveling for the last 3 years. I really have learnt a lot about myself. I have learnt that I love being by myself and I am able to learn a lot from other people and meet some amazing people. These people have changed my life and will continue to be there for me through good and bad times. It is amazing how you are able to progress in your sport when you are constantly trying to ride new waves and get better. I am able to ride some of the worlds best waves and travel to unreal destinations all through my sport. What could be better?

B.L – You blew up in Hawaii this year, what was the difference?

I.C – Well it’s hard to say but I must say that having Billy Thiel there helping to prepare meals, drive me and film my riding really helped me progress. I always wanted this season to show myself that I am able to progress in the sport and produce a clip that people can watch and be really excited about. And I feel like this is something that I achieved. I really feel like having someone there to film you and show you what you are doing right and wrong is the way forward right now. I have never had this before and working with Billy aloud me to be able to watch footage and see where I am going wrong while also adjusting my riding.

B.L – What does living a dream mean to you?

I.C – Living a dream to me means doing something you love doing and getting enough money to get by at the end of the day. It’s not about earning money to me but at the end of the day, bills need to get paid and food needs to be out on the table. I have to say a big thanks to those who helping me achieve that, Thiel Board Co, Just Bodyboarding, Sun Zapper South Africa, Red Bull South Africa

For more, follow Iain on the following platforms for more.

Sharing Your Story – Edition 1

Written by Barry Lewin on . Posted in Coaching

When I started this blog, many years ago now, the goal was to share my story. I hoped to have a positive impact in sharing and it has been a lot of fun interacting with tons of people along the way.

If you follow me on Twitter you will know I went to Story Sessions 13 last week and since been inspired by many stories online and within friends. I realized I want to share not just my story, but rather all the things that inspire me.

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So this is the first post of a blog series on sharing stories and I hope to shed the light on some of the awesome stuff Story Sessions is doing as well as other stories that gets my blood going.

Story Sessions 13 featured adventurer, Davey du Plessis

If you haven’t head of Davey du Plessis then I suggest you check him out. He is very young for an adventurer but already see’s purpose in his expeditions, highlighting causes and living out those in his every day life.

Some pics of the evening supplied by Story Sessions , with Davey and the men behind story sessions, Travis Gale and Don Muller.

Here are some videos on Davey’s expeditions and his story!