We question Johan van Zyl, CEO of Stonehage Fleming.
Nominate your eighth wonder of the world
What was your first job?
I worked as a ski instructor ... for kids.
How do you deal with stress? What are your top tips for handling stress?
Any discipline such as yoga, mindfulness, exercise or sport helps us detach from the events that cause stress in our lives.
Which talent would you most like to have?
The ability to read minds.
What’s the worst airport you’ve been in?
Boston Logan International Airport not long after 9/11. The security was terrifying.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Bluntness. While speaking one’s mind and being direct can be admirable, used insensitively it can also be hurtful.
On what occasion do you lie?
To protect someone from embarrassment or hurt.
What is your biggest indulgence?
What is your most treasured possession?
What is your biggest regret?
Not learning to speak French fluently.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I was a member of my primary school’s medley relay team (under-12, I think) that broke a Western Province school record.
What are you reading at the moment? What’s the one book everyone should read before they die?
I am currently reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Every aspiring business leader should read Good to Greatby Jim Collins.
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Alignment. When all parties are aligned, great things can happen. The reverse is also true.
Which living person do you most admire?
Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for initiating the Giving Pledge.
Is there such a thing as "enough money" and, if so, how much is it?
This figure is different for everyone, but I believe it is linked to having enough choice in life to be fulfilled and to not be envious of those who have more.
Who is your favourite hero of fiction?
Most recently, Benny Griessel, the unsung hero of Deon Meyer’s crime thriller novels, which I like reading on holiday to relax.