Rowan Spazzoli

Strategist. Lecturer. Consultant

And life goes on

In April 2016 I had a week where my life seemed to fall apart. So many bad things happened to me in quick succession that it was difficult to keep track of them all. I was overwhelmed and scared and anxious.

I handled this by shutting out the world. I hid in my bed. I wallowed in self-pity. This was the only way I thought I could make it through that patch.

This week has also been really diffiult for me, both professionally and personally. And it’s been draining. But I feel like I’m handling it a lot better

This is probably the combination of many factors. Seeing my therapist was vital. Being on antidepressants has kept me stable. Having a routine means I have something to fall back on.

In addition to this, I understand myself and my emotions much better, and so do my friends. This means that I’m able to sooth myself and my friends are more easily able to step in.

As a child I often wondered how adults managed all the ups and downs of life, while balancing careers, families and friends. But now I know that this comes with experience and an acceptance that sometimes things are out of our control.

No one is able to handle anything the world throws at them. But we can choose to get better at managing the curve balls. We can actively learn, reflect and make changes to be able to deal with problems as they arise.

It’s a difficult journey. But in the end, life goes on. And the sooner we are able to learn this, the easier it’ll get down the line


Image was taken on the prom this afternoon ūüôā there was some weird cloud cover but the whole scene was pretty spectacular

Blog: 354/365

Song of the day: Paper Wings – Rise Against

Bonus song of the day: Memory – Sugarcult

Pitching perfect

Tomorrow I have one of the biggest pitches of my life. We’re asking a major corporate for some major funding so that we can have a major impact on South Africa.

Today was exhausting, but we managed to:

  • Complete and polish our slide deck
  • Make our pitch perfect
  • Buy me new clothes (for anyone that knows me, this is a major accomplishment)
  • Buy foods and snacks (v. important)
  • Rework a component of our strategy
  • Design a mock-ups of our final product
  • Design pamphlet to go with the final product
  • Print the mock-ups and pamphlet
  • Reprint them because they needed to be perfect
  • Cry
  • Cry again but a little more gracefully
  • Take selfies
  • Draft a letter of intent to be signed in by the corporate after our meeting
  • Clear out emails and messages we ignored during the day
  • Eat
  • Sleep

Tomorrow’s pitch is the culmination of years of work.

And yet we still don’t feel ready.

But for a moment like this, you can never quite feel ready.

It’s time to take the jump, let’s hope like hell our flying contraption works.


Image is from a lookout point in Citrusdal, while on a weekend away there with some of my favourite people.

Blog: 353/365.

Song of the day: Illenium – Crashing

The Last Mile

Two years ago I ran a marathon. A full marathon.

And the most difficult part of the whole event was the last mile.

There were hundreds of people cheering on the route. A friend waited at the last corner to shout my name. There were giant banners, cheerleaders, a brass band and race marshals all egging me on.

And yet it was on that last mile that I was closest to giving up.

Knowing that I was near the end was part of what made it so painful. The finish line seemed incredibly close and impossibly far away at the same time.

I made it over the line.

And I stopped.

And I burst into tears.

The last mile has always been a struggle for me. The last day of studying before an exam. The last bit of work to complete a goal. The last few blog posts in my blogging challenge.

It’s the last bit that is the toughest.

So after a lengthy break, and lots of time to reflect, I’ve become determined to learn to finish what I started.

My new resolution is to get better at reaching the finish line.

Welcome to the last 14 posts of my #365of25 journey.


Image is of a beautiful midlands escape that I got to experience with one of my favourite people

Blog: 352/365. Click here to read about my #365of25 journey 
Song of the day:  BORNS - Electric Love

Thesis draft submitted!

My first complete draft of my thesis has been submitted. Many pages and many, many words.

I’ve been working for 20 hours straight so I think it’s sleepy time.

*yay*


Image¬†of¬†my¬†face¬†and¬†my¬†thesis. Yes¬†I¬†have¬†a¬†man¬†bun. No¬†I¬†don’t¬†care¬†that¬†you¬†don’t¬†like¬†it¬†<3

Blog: 351/365. Click here to read about my #365of25 journey
Song of the day: Major Happy - Fred V & Graffi

P.s. thank you to everyone for getting me this far <3

Pause. Look up

I often get overwhelmed when I’m working. I have a sudden realisation about the volume of work that needs to be covered. Or I can’t get through the complexity of something, which throws me off course.

My normal approach used to be to double down. To force myself through. To sit in my chair and stare at the screen until something came to me.

The issue is that this made me more anxious. And compounded the problem I was facing.

But I’ve started something new.

When I first get overwhelmed I stop what I’m doing. I leave my computer. I go outside to my favourite bench.

I pause.

And I look up.

I allow myself to sit in that spot. And look up at the trees, across to the yachts in the dock or into this distance at Table Mountain and Signal Hill.

For as long as I want.

I pause until I get clarity. Until I am able to calm myself.

Once I feel like I have managed to do so, I get back up and go inside. And I am able to tackle the problem or overcome the obstacle.

Sometimes you don’t need brute force.

Sometimes you just need to pause. And look up


Image¬†was¬†taken¬†looking¬†up¬†at the tree from¬†my¬†favourite¬†reflection¬†spot¬†at¬†the¬†business¬†school¬†ūüôā

Blog: 350/365. Click here to read about my #365of25 journey
Song of the day: Stars Fall Down - The Parlotones

P.s. thank you to everyone for the kind words after my last post <3

Leverage your position, change the world

I remember getting to Grade 8 and feeling like a tiny ant compared to the staff and older students. I remember getting to my first year of university and feeling very small and insignificant compared to the lecturers and senior students. And I know that since finishing my undergrad I’ve felt like a tiny speck compared to the grown ups in the working world.

But I also remember being in Grade 12 and feeling like I could get anything done at the school. I remember getting the assistant lecturer position and feeling like I had access to the whole university. And now I feel like I’ve gotten roots in the working world.

There are many situations where a group of people will have significantly less power in their environment. This could be because of age or work experience…. but it can also be along race, gender or sexual orientation lines as well as other imbalances caused by the past.

When you’re in a position of power, whether as a Grade 12 student, a lecturer or someone higher up in a work environment, you can leverage your position to help those with less power. This might be as simple as introducing them to the right people or advocating for them when necessary.

The same applies to situations of historical imbalance.

It’s easy to say “there’s nothing I can do about the past.”

But you can.

Leverage your position. Help change the world.


Image¬†was¬†taken¬†at¬†the¬†prom¬†yesterday¬†ūüôā

Blog: 349/365. Click here to read about my #365of25 journey
Song of the day:Matthew Mole -Have I told you

P.s. I know I’ve been a bit slow on the blogs. But I’m still determined to get them done soon ūüôā¬†

Tie the habit to the addiction

The process of building habits fascinates me, which may be because I struggle to form good habits and break bad ones. I even got a book on the topic, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, which I would highly recommend.

I’ve also written about things that help me form habits. These include announcing your goals so that social pressure can influence you and committing to pay an amount if you fail to implement a habit.

Recently though, I’ve found another useful way to maintain a habit. And that is to tie a habit to an addiction.

This came about from my love of a certain smoothie store at the Waterfront food market. The smoothies are quite expensive, so I’ve been trying to ease up on buying them. However, I realized that I could use this addiction to my advantage. I’ve decided that I’m allowed to have one on any day, as long as I have completed 2 hours of thesis work before hand.

The obstacle to getting my smoothie isn’t massive (I considered making it 4 or 6 hours of work). Instead, it’s just the right amount of time for me to setup my work for the day and get some momentum. But not too much for me to completely stop my addiction.

So if you’re looking to start a new habit, look at something you’re hooked on. And tie your goals into that.

Use your addiction to your advantage.


Image¬†was¬†taken¬†at¬†the¬†waterfront¬†in October¬†ūüôā

Blog: 348/365. Click here to read about my #365of25 journey
Song of the day:Tie me down - Gryffin with Elley Duhe

P.s. I know I’ve been a bit slow on the blogs. But I’m still determined to get them done by the end of the year ūüôā¬†

The Follow Through

Over the past few days I’ve hit a bit a slow patch with work. Nothing too serious, but it feels like I’m wading through thick mud. So I took some time off this afternoon to walk to the promenade and reflect.

On my walk I realized that one of my key weaknesses was starting to show again. And that weakness is my inability to follow through. I’ll start projects that really excite me, and pursue them with a great energy. But I get distracted when the project has been going on for too long or if something new comes along.¬†

I know this is an inherent part of my personality. It’s a trait that I’ve been aware of for quite a long time. And I know that something like this doesn’t change overnight. But I’d like to focus and follow through on my three existing projects.

The three projects are:

  1. My masters dissertation (yes, I know this has been dragging on)
  2. The Matter Innovation report
  3. The #365of25 project

In an ideal world, I’d like to have these done by the 7th of December, before the summer holiday season begins. This would give me two weeks to get through as much as possible. However, I know these things take longer than I expect and that putting myself under pressure isn’t the best way to be effective.

So I’m setting myself a deadline for the projects of the 14th of December. Before the christmas parties and before the holidays are in full swing.

I’ve had a phenomenal year. And it’s time to end it off in style.


Image is from my prom walk this afternoon ūüôā

Blog: 347/365. Click here to read about my #365of25 journey
Song of the day: Lady Zamar - My baby