There are not many people who can rival the vast and impressive career Jo-Ann has carved out for herself over the past two decades. Both locally and abroad she’s known for her seamless ability to integrate her unique, witty charm whilst taking the audience on an entertaining and insightful journey whilst hosting events. She sits on the boards of Media24, M&C Saatchi Abel, Village n Life amongst others and is a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Her list of accolades is endless.
Congratulations on baby #3 – how is it all going?
My daughter was born on the 4th of July- America’s Independence Day. She’s already Ms Independent. It’s going very well. It’s almost as if she understands the lifestyle we lead is a little unconventional. She’s already been to Paris fashion week and the Ryder Cup for instance and has 3 stamps in her passport.
I see you’re an avid supporter of, and advocator for, breastfeeding.
I’m constantly travelling with my breast pump. I do believe ‘breast is best’, but I don’t judge. I simply feel that if you are able to, then you should.
How do find a bit of calm in the storm?
I switch off the internet in the house at times. We live in a world of hyper connectivity. Arianna Huffington recently spoke about how we live in a world where we applaud people on the verge of burn out. I see how we are surrounded by a lot of leadership that’s emotionally drained. I want to be physically and emotionally healthy, so I can be there in the best possible way for my children.
Do you have any rules for yourself in terms of ‘unplugging’ from technology?
It’s not structured as such. There are of course unavoidable deadlines. For instance, my husband and I ended up having a cup of coffee at 1am in the morning to catch up. But we are also trying to plan for more calm in our lives and to try work smarter, not harder.
How will you navigate this path with your children to ensure a healthy balance?
Technology is something I want them to embrace. However, tech shouldn’t engulf them. They should be the consumer rather than the other way around. We can’t beat the machine trying to be a machine, we need to be people. The machines can’t outdo our children’s creativity. I want them to remain human and as unscathed as possible.
What are some of your current goals?
My over-riding goal is balance. Living consciously. Being more present. We do read a lot but would like to read more.
Whilst working for Top Billing, which inter- view stands out for you the most and why?
George Clooney was one of my favourites. I’m such a fan of his work. I love how he’s managed to use his influence for such good. He’s married a very intelligent woman which shows that he’s not intimidated by strong, intelligent women. At the time he was doing the movie Syriana. It was very interesting discussing politics with him. I was try- ing to keep my wits about me. I could feel that at first he was testing me and then we had a really great conversation. Secondly, it would be inter- viewing Charlize Theron on my birthday in Berlin. She sang happy birthday to me in Afrikaans!
If you had a magic wand what would you change about South Africa?
I would create more meaningful employment. As humans we all have a deep need to make a meaningful contribution. Unemployment drives so much despondency, a loss of self-worth and ultimately, more crime.
What’s the most important life lesson you’d like to teach your children? It comes from a quote: “If it’s to be it’s up to me.” It’s a wonderful way to say that you have to take responsibility for your future and your own dreams. Another
is, “Umntu ngumntu ngabantu,” which translates into “A person is a person through others.” In the pursuit of success and one’s dreams, one should never lose sight of the fact that we’re all human. Be kind.
How do you stay neutral on social media and not get personally affected?
I try to not engage in fights on social media. I don’t display my children’s faces online. I’m very mindful of what I post. People can get the wrong impression. Instagram is a curated version of your life. People think that’s how you live. I try to be responsible.
What is one of the ventures you’re involved in that you’re super proud of?
I sit on the board of Village n Life. I’m passionate about tourism and developing people. www.villagenlife.com