Meet Matt Mielke

Welcome to my blog!  First, a little history about me.  I received a doctorate in pharmacy (PharmD) from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 1997.  After I worked as a pharmacist in multiple settings for almost 10 years, I learned about a different career path, a LIFE path if you will, related to leadership development.  Since learning about this both my wife, a former pediatrician, and myself have transitioned to become stay-at-home parents, living a life of purpose and helping others pursue those same results if they choose.  My goal with this site is to share the thinking and decision making that lead to our freedom and to challenge the common man or woman to discover new answers in the 8 fundamentals of life – Faith, Family, Fun, Finances, Friends, Fitness, Following and Freedom.

It is not my intent to convince anyone against their opinion, but to foster discussions to help all of us challenge our current assumptions, to sharpen why it is we believe what we believe, and to draw us closer to a life of pursuing excellence.

15 responses to “Meet Matt Mielke

  1. This is wonderful – if only more people out there saw these things as achievable.

  2. Christo Vermeulen

    Matt,

    Great stuff – keep up the purpose, faith, hope and example!

    Christo

  3. Pingback: Success stories in LIFE Team « Dan Hawkins Leadership and Life

  4. Larry Wieberdink

    Matt,
    Came across this on a Christian Linked in site and thought of you.
    LinkedIn Groups
    • Group: Christian Professionals Worldwide
    • Subject: Business in God – Passion at work
    “Then His disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures, ‘Passion for God’s house will consume me”. John 2:17 (NLT) “The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5: 41-42 (NLT)

    These two verses describe the passion that Jesus and the apostles expressed in their work as they spread the Good News. This word, passion, is a familiar word to many Christian Professionals who day after day, carry out their worklife roles running businesses, serving as employees, managing in various levels of corporate enterprises, and even seeking new work opportunities. Leadership authority John Maxwell describes passion as ‘the fuel of persistence’.

    Passion is what each of us needs to truly excel in our endeavors. Passion for God’s house drove Jesus. Passion to preach the message, “Jesus is the Messiah” drove the apostles. What passion drives you Monday through Friday? We NEED passion in our work. Passion is what other see in our roles and responsibilities. Passion is what our employers see when we carry out our tasks. Passion is what prospective employers see when they consider us to join their team. Passion is what customers see in us to know that they are making a good decision in procuring our products and services.

    Nothing can replace passion Monday through Friday. John Maxwell counsels us, if our passion is low, to do some soul-searching to recapture enthusiasm for our work. Find ways to reignite your passion to drive you to greater accomplishments. While we want to always be passionate for Jesus, don’t forget that people we work with want to see our passion in our worklives as well – a great way to reflect God working in our lives, Monday thru Friday.

    What are you doing today to display the passion for your work, your customers, your employers, and your employees?
    Posted By Aric Resnicke

    Larry G. Wieberdink

  5. Jesse Hernandez

    Matt,
    thanks for all the words of encouragement in the past. Life in general is a huge struggle at times and now for my family and I to have the Team community and the Life products it has become alot easier. Theresia and I are reaching new highs in our marriage and with our parenting skills.

    I personally have been inspired to follow God and to do His work thru His word. I have reached out to many since joining Team. I volunteer to teach Sunday Bible School and also have taken on child mentoring thru our Big Buddy mentoring program here in Minnesota. I truely enjoy speaking with people and helping them in areas that i have grown in. I know that to give advice in a subject you better have some fruit on the tree, sort of speak.

    I’ve had such deep struggles in the past that one day i reflected on WHY? And thru bible scripture one day while reading with our good friend Jeff Ulrich the story “Jesus calms a storm” Luke 8:22-25. As i read alongside with Jeff my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ spoke to me so clearly. And as if to hear these words spoken to me directly i heard Him question me “Where is your faith?” I tell you, never had I heard such a question rock my faith foundation! In that moment I knew that God was with me more so now than ever. He made it so clearly to lift me up I knew that i was a child of His and forever will I be and I made a commitment that day to follow Christ even more. Not only has my life changed drastically but He shows me the way everyday. I have been more open to steer away from temptations such as anger, drinking, impure thoughts and flirty women. I respect and love my wife and family that no one not even Satan himself can distract me from my faith in God.

    Sometimes as a man you have to take a few steps backwards to truely see where you are going in life. As a man you have to accept responsibility of father, husband and head of household. It’s alot of roles that the man carries but thru faith in Christ it gets easier. Another thing that helps is the Life products in my case these are my favorite: Marriage pack, Parenting pack, Maximize your Finances pack, The 5 Love Languages book, and Personality Plus book. Another huge one is the Magic of thinking Big, but the main source for all inspiration is The Bible.

    I hope this helps somebody out there. Keep rocking it Matt see you at the major!!

    Your pal,
    Jesse Hernandez

  6. Matt,

    I want to thank you and Michelle for all of your great leadership with the Reg-Eagles, you both are truly leading by example. Thanks for being that firm foundation for others to lean on while they build theirs :)

    Alicia Johanning
    First to serve :)

  7. Make a difference!!! Way to go Matt & Michelle!!! RED EAGLES-FIRST TO SERVE!!!

  8. christo vermeulen

    Friends,

    Matt, actually Michelle asked me to give an account on “South Africa’s identity” basically, who are we?

    My position on this matter ought to be more cryptic, but, here it is and this is how I see it – please read it!

    *Disclaimers

    First – my opinion on this topic is only on target until my own shortcomings and lack of experience, education and understanding corrupt the focus on hand.

    Second – I don’t know what I don’t know

    Third – we are all products of our environment… South Africa J

    Dictionary on “identity”

    The word identity was coined in 1570, ironically the same time in history when this identity search started. The word came from M.Fr. identité (14c.), from L.L. (5c.) identitatem (nom. identitas) “sameness,” from ident-, comb. form of L. idem (neut.) “the same” (see identical); abstracted from identidem “over and over,” from phrase idem et idem.

    “Sameness” in South Africa “over and over” again – identity – that’s what this writing is about.

    Understanding the complexity of a life lived in South Africa before and after 1652 is a daunting task. Modern day living is a multipart extension of mixed culture, economic, religious, and social belief systems dating back – probably over 2000 years. It is critical to study history cautiously in order to understand “the peoples’ identity”.

    Here follow a brief background and overview portraying modern day South Africa – 1579 to 1652 and beyond.

    1579-1652

    While the Dutch (back in Europe) was claiming their independence from Spain in 1579, the native inhabitants (Bushmen and Bantu expansions) was slowly moving South, it was in fact a millennia-long series of migration – a southward onward spread throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. The Dutch and native inhabitants were on the move – South – the Dutch was establishing trade posts while the natives were on the surge for greener livestock pastures. In the Netherlands, the Dutch Golden Age (roughly spanning over the 17th century) produced a global expansion of trading posts.

    1652-1806

    The year was 1652 when the first Dutch traders landed at the southern tip of modern day South Africa. The city of Cape Town was founded, establishing a stopover point for the “spice trade” route between the Netherlands and the Far East. For the next hundred years or so, early settlers were colonizing in the now called Cape Province area. Trades of land, livestock and various other articles, as well as conflicts among these groups were in the order of the day. The British marched onto the scene in typical fashion. After the British seized the Cape of Good Hope area in 1806, many of the Dutch settlers (the Boers) moved north to found their own republics.

    1806-1887

    The diamond and gold rush was next best thing – a well stop oasis for Europeans. The discovery of diamonds in 1867 and gold in 1886 spurred wealth and immigration and strengthened the suppression of the native inhabitants – also the first signs of what was eventually coined as segregation (apartheid).

    1899-1948

    In the meantime, the Boers fiercely resisted British invasions but were defeated in the Boer War (1899-1902). The paradox at hand was that despite the defeat the British and the Dutch (Afrikaners/Boers) started to rule together. The “European” coalition rule started in 1910 under the Union of South Africa, which became a republic in 1961 after a whites-only referendum. The National Party was voted into power in 1948 – apartheid was instituted.

    1948-1994

    The silent majority (at the time) natives The African National Congress (ANC) led the opposition to apartheid and as a result many ANC leaders (including Nelson Mandela) spent decades in South Africa’s prisons. A series of domestic protests and revolts led to the regime’s eventual willingness to negotiate a peaceful transition to majority rule. Apartheid was brought to an end by the first multi-racial elections in 1994.

    1994-today

    Since the 1994 elections the ruling ANC party has struggled deeply to address imbalances resulted from the apartheid-era. I will use John Kane-Berman (Chief Executive of the South African Institute of Race Relations) explanation in 2011, as a springboard to further depict and understand the “South African identity” as well as the rooted challenges the country faces. Here is his open letter in which he answers three basic questions.

    1. Which way are we going?

    2. Why?

    3. Can we find a better way forward?

    It was inevitable then that when the ANC came to power in 1994, people asked us why South Africa should not become just another African disaster.

    I gave the usual list of advantages: a greater pool of skills, good infrastructure, a resilient private sector, our strong international economic linkages, a tradition of political pluralism, independent trade unions, a free press, and the vigor of our NGO sector. Since then the country has won golden opinions for macroeconomic policy management, reflected most recently in a heavily oversubscribed 30-year government bond.

    Despite this, we now learn almost daily of things that prompt the question once again: are we headed for the list of African failures. Recently an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease occurred because a vital border fence with Mozambique had been neglected.

    Such problems are not isolated. We have slipped further down global tables as a destination for mining investment, police behavior seems to be increasingly lawless, maternal and infant mortality rates are rising, millions of schoolchildren have started another year without textbooks, and the country’s commercial capital is run by people who are out of their depth. We also have much higher rates of youth unemployment than countries to the north that recently chased away their rulers.

    Specific problems aside, among the main reasons we are going wrong are the following:

    • Affirmative action, which has denuded the State of both skills and institutional memory

    • Labour laws which protect unionized workers at the expense of the jobless

    • The cadre deployment policy, making loyalty to the party a key criterion for appointment to offices of state, and

    • Use of a model of government, which makes elected institutions more accountable to party headquarters than to voters.

    Apart from policies and practices, the problems confronting us arise in part from assumptions and attitudes that affect the policy environment. These include:

    • Limited understanding of what entrepreneurship requires

    • Ideological hostility towards business

    • Poor appreciation of how markets work or even antipathy towards them the belief that the pockets of our small number of major taxpayers are bottomless, and

    • Too much faith in the efficacy of the State, leading to more and more regulation

    To these harmful factors must be added others:

    • Corruption said by the deputy president to be “worse than anyone imagines”

    • Lawlessness on the part of the State

    • A love of the grandiose, such as new bullet trains to Durban while we can’t fix commuter rail services

    • The callousness towards ordinary people found all too often in service departments, and

    • No accountability even for preventable deaths of mothers and babies in public hospitals

    Then there are two key problems in the way policy is made.

    One is a habit of putting the cart before the horse – for example, embarking on ambitious education or health schemes without first fixing the basics such as training enough teachers and reversing the decline of public hospitals.

    The second is failure to apply the lessons of admitted mistakes. To its credit, the Government has admitted the failings of outcomes-based education but the ANC nevertheless plans to forge ahead with a national health system without considering the State’s capacity constraints.

    These various aspects of our problems show that we are facing not just a few wrong-headed policies, but a challenge arising from the very nature of the Government and how it runs the State. Most of them have a direct impact on business.

    Part of that challenge arises from the fact that the ANC is not a normal political party. When a party with a two-thirds majority in Parliament is still committed to a “national democratic revolution,” we must ask what it is that they wish to stage a revolution against. The economic system? Probably. Democracy? Perhaps. The rule of law? Very likely. The Constitution? Possibly.

    The Press pays little attention to the national democratic revolution, but the ANC is committed to it. This is one of the risks we face. Another is that tougher affirmative action requirements lead to a drain from the country of the most skilled segment of the population.

    Yet another is that public spending gets out of control as the ANC promises more free things to more people and puts more of them on to the public payroll, including now members of Umkhonto we Sizwe. We might also see a more rigid labour market, destructive interventions in agriculture, attenuation of property rights, damage to private health care, more malfeasance with mining licences, further corruption of the criminal justice system, and more local governments collapsing.

    It is ironical that we are expanding our social security commitments at the very moment when rich countries are having to cut back. It is also ironical that we are seeking to extend controls of the labour market while Europeans are trying to make their labour markets more flexible.

    A further piece of irony is that we are lengthening the arm of the State at the very time when China and India are continuing to liberalise economically, when parts of Africa are liberalising, and when even Cuba is showing signs of liberalisation.

    I have painted some dark clouds and the challenge now is to find the silver linings. Like a contrarian investor, we must look for signs of change that may not be obvious. One of these is the very fact that the Europeans, the Chinese, the Indians, and the Cubans have been here before and are having to reverse thrust.

    The international context in which we make policy has changed. Africa is also having to pay more attention to good governance than in the past. Already, some African countries are more attractive as mining destinations than we are. If we don’t look out, we may find that our lead as the most important economy in Africa is shrinking.

    Despite the ANC’s close historical ties with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, it was unable in 1994 to follow a communist path because the USSR had in the meantime imploded. As welfare and dirigiste states elsewhere come under pressure, so will the ANC have to recognize that those role models are also unworkable.

    Despite this country’s achievements since the advent of democracy in 1994, we are pursuing an unworkable political model. This model will have to be abandoned just as communism and apartheid had to be abandoned. How long this will take I do not know. The evolution of liberal democracy can be a slow and difficult business. But we need to find ways of helping the process along, while also trying to minimize the fearful human and economic damage that may be done in the interim.

    Among the reasons why apartheid disintegrated, two are relevant today. One is that its contradictions – notably the belief that you could run a modern economy without exploiting the skills of the whole population and granting them political rights – became unsustainable.

    The second reason was that, as the policy crumbled under the weight of critical scrutiny and its own contradictions, the ruling elite began to lose faith in it. Disillusionment spread from the Dutch reformed churches, to the Afrikaans Press, to academia, to business, to the ruling party, to the Cabinet, and not least to the Broederbond. This made Mr. FW de Klerk’s bold actions on 2nd February 1990 both necessary and possible.

    Parallels between the last 25 years of National Party rule and the first 15 years of ANC rule are becoming quite striking.

    The most obvious is on racial policy. The NP thought it could run a successful economy without fully exploiting the skills of the black population. The ANC thinks it can run a successful state without fully exploiting the skills of the white population. The evidence that this cannot be done is apparent all the time at all levels and in all branches of government. And it is beginning to cause instability at local level and hurt the party.

    Unfortunately, however, one of the parallels with our past is that failed policies are sometimes intensified rather than abandoned. This happened with the pass laws, for example, before PW Botha finally repealed them in 1986. It may also happen now with the Employment Equity Act, with its provisions for heavier fines to enforce racial quotas upon all employers – when the Government cannot even get Denel, or Eskom, or SAA, or Transnet to meet its racial targets at management or skilled levels.

    But there are other parallels. Just as the National Party steadily lost support among the intelligentsia, the same is happening with the ANC. Some black newspaper editors and journalists are at least as critical of the ANC as their white counterparts. In discussions with black business leaders over the past few months, my Institute has been struck how some of them have become very critical of the government – more so than most of their white counterparts. Moeletsi Mbeki probably speaks for more people than we think.

    Some of the squabbles in the ruling tripartite alliance are about spoils and patronage, but others are about policy. There are divisions over whether “decent” jobs should be placed above the need to generate more jobs. A growing minority is beginning to question the deployment policy. Others would like to have a professional civil service instead of one subject to ministerial whim. Racial policies are now also becoming a source of division, as we saw last week with Trevor Manuel’s public attack on Jimmy Manyi.

    This spat is causing the ANC to tie itself into knots. When my Institute pointed out that forcing employers in the Western Cape to conform to the national racial breakdown would necessitate the (illegal) dismissal of thousands of coloured workers, President Jacob Zuma said companies would have flexibility to conform to national or regional demographics.

    This, however, is not what the proposed amendment to the Employment Equity Act says. Now the general secretary of the ANC, Mr Gwede Mantashe, has weighed in to the effect that national companies will have to use national demographics and provincially-based companies provincial demographics. This is the opposite of the flexibility of which Mr Zuma speaks.

    In November last year the minister of finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan, told an audience in London that economic empowerment policies designed to improve the standard of living of the black majority after 1994 had not worked. After all the employment equity, labour, and land reform legislation, not to mention hundreds of billions of Rands in BEE deals, this is quite an admission. In the short term it may lead to intensification of failed policies, but in the long term these policies will have to be abandoned.

    The new constitution ushered in democracy in 1994. Ironically, however, the ANC’s model of government – based on the Leninist idea of “democratic centralism” – in terms of which party headquarters dictates to local communities whom they must elect – is causing growing dissatisfaction at local level as the municipal election on 18th May approaches.

    Though many officials are hostile to white farmers, others recognize that no one else has the expertise to reverse the failures of land reform. Despite antipathy to the private sector, some of the ruling elite see a growing role for it in getting our ports working more efficiently, in electricity generation, in the rescue of local government, in AIDS testing, and in sorting out the problems of further education and training colleges.

    Indeed, as the failings of the State become more and more apparent, thanks in part to a critical media, more and more people in government will turn to the private sector for help. Even Cosatu wants private sector involvement to be mobilized when Postbank gets a banking license.

    These inconsistencies will multiply as the ANC continues to pursue mutually contradictory policies. Promises of creating millions of new jobs are incompatible with key components of official policy, among them affirmative action, the deployment strategy, restrictions on immigration, tightening up the labour market, and adding to the regulatory burden on business. Eventually the contradictions will become unsustainable. Either some of these key policies will have to be jettisoned, or the quest for millions more jobs will fall by the wayside.

    In the meantime, what do we do? The first thing is to keep exposing the contradictions, so providing arguments for those in the ruling alliance who wish to see more realistic policies. Arguments for the liberalization of our damaging labour laws need to be refined and intensified. The climate to do this is now more favorable than at any time since 1994.

    I suspect that affirmative action and cadre deployment policies have also done more damage to this country than most people care to admit. Can you really run a modern industrial state if you would rather leave posts in the public sector vacant than appoint whites to them? The major victims of this folly have been blacks rather than whites.

    The connection between these policies and lost growth and investment, high unemployment, shoddy RDP houses, inability to obtain social grants or medicines, preventable maternal and infant deaths, high crime rates, perilous roads, poisonous rivers, mismanagement of flooded dams, fraudulent passports and IDs, and a great many other problems needs to be repeatedly pointed out.

    The ANC’s economic objectives simply cannot be achieved while everything is subordinate to racial ideology and the imperatives of the “national democratic revolution”. This message needs to be hammered home without reservation or apology until a critical mass of opinion within the ruling alliance comes to recognize it.

    Secondly, it is necessary to stand firm in the defense of vital practices and institutions as they come under increasing threat, not only the rule of law but also academic freedom, independent civil society, a free Press, an independent legal profession and prosecution service, and independent courts. It is also necessary that organizations other than business come to the public defense of the free market system, private enterprise, and entrepreneurship.

    Not for a second should anyone in the ruling alliance be allowed to forget that the money the Government spends on education, health, housing, child support grants, and everything else – including its lengthening list of promises to its constituents – arises from taxes extracted from the private sector and private individuals.

    This is a point that needs much more emphasis than it gets. Business might wish to think of ways of getting the point across more strongly in public as well as to parliamentarians, civil servants, and other members of the ruling alliance.

    Thirdly, keep proposing alternatives to present policies. Business may not necessarily see a direct role for itself here, but it is nevertheless essential that alternatives be put forward. Here is my list of a dozen:

    1. Cut back on the size of the State 
2. Put inspectors back into schools 
3. Systematically extend private education 
4. Radically redesign land reform 
5. Democratize Parliament 
6. Liberalize the labour market 
7. Make economic growth rather than redistribution the topmost priority 
8. Change our welfare state into one that promotes entrepreneurship 
9. Direct all state interventions at helping the poorest of the poor regardless of race 
10. Replace the deployment system with a professional civil service 
11. Increase our global competitiveness as a destination for foreign direct investment 
12. Repeal all racially discriminatory laws

    Some of these may seem fanciful right now. However, given growing contradictions, policy failures, and paralysis in government, the climate is in fact auspicious. Detailed policy work on alternatives will of course be necessary. But the main point at this stage is to undertake a tenacious campaign to change ideas, preparing the soil, as it were, for new policies to be planted. This will be a long haul and a hard slog; so the sooner it is stepped up the better. The ruling party must be a prime target, both direct and indirect.

    Don’t forget that ideas predate policies and that their power, for good or ill, should never be underestimated. It was after all, that great incendiary journalist and armchair revolutionary, Karl Marx, who produced some of the most powerful ideas in history. Despite their murderous consequences some of these ideas still have an iron grip in South Africa.

    They need constantly to be countered by the ideas that underpin liberal democracy. In particular, we need to keep on propagating the idea that the real alternative to apartheid is not another form of social engineering designed to promote an impossible equality of outcomes but an open society committed to equality before the law, political and economic freedom, corruption-free and proper democratic government, and rising living standards for all.

    Social and racial engineers failed in South Africa last time around, and they will fail this time too. That is cause not for despair but for eager anticipation.

    My observation on the “South African identity”

    “South African identity” 1579-1652

    At the time to my best recording the identity of the Dutch people could be coined as “highly personal” “traders” “urbanized” and “religious” (reformed Christians). The Bushmen and Bantu expansions at the time to my best recording could be coined as “skilled hunters” “active herding practices” “spiritual ritualization” and “local chiefdoms”

    “South African identity” 1652-1806

    This time was a time of “world-view expansion” for both the Dutch and native inhabitants (Bushmen and Bantu expansions). Pure (before 1652) traditional culture, economic, religious, and social belief systems were deeply challenged which resulted in a change the way life ought to be.

    The average Dutch family at the time might have had a tent, wagon, Bible and a few guns. The Bushmen was still living in hunter-gatherer societies with relatively low social structures. For the Bantu expansions relatively powerful chiefdoms on a scale larger than local chiefdoms began to emerge.

    “South African identity” 1806-1887

    “Immigrant influx” “colonization” “complex wars” “growth of independence”, “rebellion” “diamond and gold rush” coined this era. In 1867, diamonds were discovered in Kimberley, prompting a diamond rush and a massive influx of foreigners. Gold was discovered, prompting a “gold rush” in 1886 – South African gold production went from zero in 1886 to 23% of the total world output in 1896.

    “South African identity” 1899-1948

    “First World War” “Second World War” “Anglo-Boer War” “union of South Africa” “rebuilding” coined this era. The primary focus during the immediate post-war years was on rebuilding the country, in particular the mining industry. In addition, in 1910 the Union of South Africa was created. The National Party was voted into power in 1948 – apartheid was instituted.

    “South African identity” 1948-1994

    “Apartheid” a system of racial segregation enforced by legislation coined this era in every aspect of society – culturally, economically, religiously, and socially. As a result “internal resistance”, “raids” and “international isolation” were on the rise. On 31 May 1961 South Africa was declared as a Republic. “Apartheid” was brought to an end by the first multi-racial elections in 1994.

    “South African identity” 1994-today

    “Return to power” “reconstruction” “alleviating poverty” “corruption” “crime and rape” “rugby” “2010 FIFA world cup Soccer” coined this era The ANC returned to power in the subsequent elections in 1999, 2004 and 2009. The current ethnic breakdown – Black Africans represent 79%, whites 9.6%, colored people 8.9%, and Indian/Asians 2.5%. Daunting economic problems remain from the apartheid era – especially poverty, lack of economic empowerment among the disadvantaged groups, and a shortage of public transportation. South Africa’s economic policy is fiscally conservative focusing on controlling inflation and attaining a budget surplus. The current government largely follows these prudent policies but must contend with the impact of the global crisis and is facing growing pressure from special interest groups to use state-owned enterprises to deliver basic services to low-income areas and to increase job growth. In recent memory – this moment in time – “inability” “policy failures” “paralysis in government “growing contradictions” “high-unemployment” “educational collapse” and “blame” position center stage.

    Current identity

    Following and projecting certain trends in different categories: society, government, economy, communication, transportation, military and transnational issues.

    This is how South Africa weighs in on percentage scale.

    Society

    · The percent of the total labor force ages 15-24 unemployed during a specified year – 48%

    · Life expectancy at birth – 49

    · Public expenditure on education as a percent of GDP – 5.4%

    Government

    · Legal system a mixed legal system of Roman-Dutch civil law, English common law, and customary law

    Economy

    · Gross domestic product (GDP) – $562.2 billion (2011 est.) country comparison to the world: 26

    · GDP – PER CAPITA (PPP) – $11,100 (2011 est.) country comparison to the world: 105

    · Total labor force that is without jobs – 25%

    · The population falling below the poverty line – 50%

    · Annual percentage increase in industrial production – 2.5% (2011 est.) country comparison to the world: 112

    · Labor force by sector of occupation agriculture: 9% industry: 26% services: 65%

    Communication

    · The system is the best developed and most modern in Africa

    · Main telephone lines in use – 4.225 million

    · Mobile cellular telephone in use – 50.372 million

    · Access the Internet – 4.42 million

    · The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) operates 4 TV stations, 3 are free-to-air and 1 is pay TV

    Transportation

    · Number of airports – 567

    · Railway network – total: 20,192 km

    · Length of the road network – total: 362,099 km

    Military

    · Spending on defense programs for the most recent year available as a percent of gross domestic product (GDP) – 1.7% of GDP (2006) country comparison to the world: 84

    Transnational issues

    · Includes a wide variety of situations – South Africa has placed military along the border to apprehend the thousands of Zimbabweans fleeing economic dysfunction and political persecution

    · Refugees or internally displaced persons (IDPs) – refugees (country of origin): 12,970 (Democratic Republic of Congo); 15,186 (Somalia); 5,808 (Angola) (2010)

    · Illicit drugs – transshipment center for heroin, hashish, and cocaine, as well as a major cultivator of marijuana in its own right; cocaine and heroin consumption on the rise; world’s largest market for illicit methaqualone, usually imported illegally from India through various east African countries, but increasingly producing its own synthetic drugs for domestic consumption; attractive venue for money launderers given the increasing level of organized criminal and narcotics activity in the region and the size of the South African economy

    Final comments

    Diversity galore – South Africa represents culturally, economically, religiously, and socially “ a world in a country. The last chapters on the South African identity are still in the making. I hope and pray that words like “overcome” “together” “us” “progress” “ flourish” “employment” “growth” “stability” “free market” “innovation” and in “In God we Trust” will depict the future.

    By His grace Striving to Life for Excellence!

    Christo B. Vermeulen

  9. Not sure where else to post this, but thought you’d appreciate it as much as I did! I saw some phenomenal values being displayed by many people surrounding this basketball game :) http://www.viddler.com/embed/70d1d214/?f=1&offset=0&autoplay=0&secret=48017121&disablebranding=0

    Blessings,
    ~Jen Ulrich

  10. Larry Wieberdink

    Thanks for sharing this basketball game Matt,

    Incredible—this brought tears to my eyes.

  11. Thank you so much for your CD, the Mielke Way. Sometimes I feel I just don’t fit in: a rascal among rascals, but your story is so much like the one we are starting, that it makes me believe that a 61 year old intellectual like me can get over it and succeed! I have up lines “just out of diapers too” – hilarious! I’m old enough to be Claude Hamilton’s father! Even worse, I almost moved to Madison as a child when my father was offered to leave University of Chicago to teach at U of W! It makes me want drive 1000 miles from my home in Ottawa, Canada to see you at an open and I just might! You are the proof for me that “successful” 95%-er can change. Next to my Kaizen family, Dan is my favourite too!

    • Thanks Andy! I appreciate your courage to step out away from the pack. Thank you for the feedback and may your leadership journey continue to inspire others to do the same. God speed on your adventure toward your goals and dreams!

  12. Amazing LIFE changing opportunity! I am, at this very moment, listening to audio CD “The Mielke Way” ..Matt & Michelle Mielke; So many truths and personal experiences. The information provided is TRULY LIFE Changing and anyone CAN do this! Your LIFE is worth it!!!!

  13. Steve Davanzati

    Matt,
    I just want to say thank you for the CD of yours State of the Union for the 8F’s. I’ve listened to it many many times since it came out a while back and just listened again yesterday. So many great nuggets and such a powerful message. One I will be sharing with as many people as possible.
    Thanks and God Bless,
    ~Steve Davanzati

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