Get A Professional External Team Around You And Listen To Them

This week, Aunty Carol, Aunty Jane, Lucy and myself took a day trip to an animal rescue and rehabilitation centre called Moholoholo – a wildlife reserve that has become a haven for the rehabilitation and care of abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife.  This place is beautiful, with a backdrop of an impressive mountain range, but also so very, very sad.  The guides talked us through the plight of so many of Africa’s wild animals, and highlighted the fact that while the “big guys” – like the rhino – get all the air time, the small and the not-so cute are equally, or more so, in danger.  We then went with our guides and met some of the residents of the reserve, including the irascible Stoffle, the Houdini Honey Badger. Make sure you check him out on YouTube – this little guy could give any entrepreneur a good lesson in persistence!

As with all tourist attractions, there is always a family with small kids – who talked amongst themselves all the way through the presentation by our guide – and then continued to talk as we went to visit all the animals. The kids whinged, but were ignored by the parents – disrupting the wildlife experience for everyone else.  You know the situation – you’ve all experienced it!

Our guide, obviously highly knowledgeable and experienced, walked us through the reserve, explaining the circumstances that brought each of the animals to the refuge.  The stories were heartbreaking. Some caught in snares or traps that badly mutilate or amputate limbs, some poisoned, many birds with amputated or broken wings from power lines, and so the tales went on.  This was very confronting stuff, but the stories do need to be told.

As we visited the different animals, the guide was very careful to point out which animals we should stay away from. Stoffle, the Honey Badger, for instance.  We were warned not to stand too close to the enclosure as his strong claws and jaws can do real damage.  What did the aforementioned kids do?  You guessed it – fingers straight through the wire – then there were screams as the Honey Badgers raced straight at the intruding appendage.

Stoffle the Honey Badger

Stoffle, the Houdini of Honey Badgers

One would have thought that that experience would be enough to “tune them in” as we say in Australia.  But no.

We proceeded to the section where the big cats lived – lion, leopard and cheetah.  Again, the kids were right next to Saturn the cheetah’s wire fence, and being very noisy.

What happened next just blew me away.

This cheetah is totally accustomed to humans.  Saturn can be led on a leash, and is taken to information days to help educate groups (such as farmers groups).  But the screaming, small child obviously flicked the “I am a hunter” switch on in the cheetah – the child was the equivalent of a baby impala – looking vulnerable and ready for eating!  The cheetah immediately went into a crouch and rushed at the fence where the kid was standing.  More screams and crying.  But did the parents get the kids away?  No.  All 3 kids remained next to the fence, and the cheetah kept going into a full-on hunting crouch and making noises that clearly weren’t friendly!

Saturn the cheetah getting ready to hunt

Saturn the cheetah getting ready to hunt



Saturn the cheetah running

Saturn rushing at the fence – and the child



Saturn the cheetah at rest

Saturn back at rest, but still on alert for another chance

Eventually, our guide asked the family to move the kids away because the cheetah was getting so upset.  Once that had happened, the cheetah moved away from the fence and lay down, but kept the kids in her line of sight – ready for another go if the opportunity presented itself!

Our next stop was the hyenas.  Again, these animals are accustomed to humans, and the largest hyena came immediately to the fence to get his neck scratched – which made his back leg twitch like a dogs’ leg does when you scratch it.  A comical sight indeed!  The hyena were also attracted to the small, vulnerable, noisy humans and started growling.  Eventually, the guide said to the hyena “I know they look delicious, but you can’t have one”.

Next stop was another Honey Badger – a walled area where you could look over the top.   Again, we were warned that there was an electric fence, and to not get too close.  The mother dropped her mobile phone into the enclosure, so the poor guide had to climb in to retrieve it.  The poor guy must have been fuming by this stage!

My business lesson from our day at Moholoholo was:

When you engage a trusted expert to help you, listen to them!

I talk with small business owners about the importance of their Internal and External Teams. We are all familiar with the Internal Team – your employees – and we know that we have to put considerable time and effort into getting and keeping the right team.

But we often don’t pay enough attention to our External Team – the Accountant, Lawyer, Insurance Broker, Banker, Business Coach and other professionals we need. They are the experts in their field, and can be critical to the health and success of your business.

At Moholoholo, we had paid our entrance fee to hire an expert guide, with the knowledge and experience to make our visit informative and memorable.  He made recommendations to the group – like don’t poke your fingers where Stoffle could get them, and don’t annoy the cheetah – but the errant family obviously chose not to listen.  In the end, they must have left early, as we didn’t see them again after the mobile phone incident.  Simply doing as the engaged expert suggested would have resulted in a much more pleasant experience for them as a family (and for the rest of us!).

Consider your External Team. Are you listening to their advice, or ignoring it, and are about to be stalked by a cheetah?

By Bronwyn Reid

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