Take a page out of a young celebrity’s life

Originally meant to get the younger generation reading, the Youngsters Series can also double up as a young person's road map to success.

If you haven’t decided on what your next read will be, then why not try the Youngsters Series? The Pan Macmillan set consists of five humorous but socially enlightening books penned by columnist Khaya Dlanga, radio presenter Anele Mdoda, philanthopist Shaka Sisulu, singer Danny K and comedian Nik Rabinowitz with Gillian Breslin.

Edited by the author of Killing Kebble, award-winning journalist Mandy Wiener, the books are a source of entertainment and fun juxtaposed against the current social landscape and personal lives of the authors.

Released just in time for Youth Day earlier this year, the series is an effort by publisher Pan Macmillan to get the younger generation reading. But on close inspection, can also be used as a guide on the road to success. Set to be released on Mxit, the Youngsters Series can be found at Exclusive Books, CNA and Amazon.com.

DESTINY had a sit-down interview with each author during a mock speed dating session at the Fire & Ice hotel in Melrose.

Khaya Dlanga
How do you make use of social media in your career?
I try to avoid using any social media for my business. I keep my personal social media use completely separate from my business work. I don’t want everyone to know about my business life.

You speak about “towning” (unprotected sex) and its influence on the youth and its direct result of HIV and teen pregnancy. What are your thoughts on the notion that “sex sells” and the promotion of sexualisation in the media?
People don’t need media to be sexual. Since ancient civilisation people have been sexually explicit. In Rome there would be murals depicting sexual acts and orgies of the time. Media couldn’t take the blame then and it can’t now. Media simply reflects what's happening in society, same with advertising. It amplifies what is happening now.                                                                                                           

When you joined Twitter did you ever think that you’d become a highly revered and quoted Tweep?
(Laughs) I joined in 2008, and I was like, “What is this?” It was confusing so I ignored it. Then a friend convinced me to try it again, which I did for a week. I never thought that I would get this far (laughs) but I wanted to be quoted. (Khaya has a whole chapter dedicated to his best Twitter quotes.)

Shaka Sisulu
In one of your chapters you mention that African leadership is not what it should be. What type of leader would you like to see lead SA?
I also say that it's a collective responsibility. There are no definitive qualities – leadership differs depending on the time. Sometimes a charismatic leader is needed for society. The most important thing is for the elites, corporates and leaders in society to not abdicate their role.

You say in the book that you had the privilege of attending Oxford and being one of the Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellows. What did you take from that experience?
I didn’t want it to end. The energy and dynamism was 'wow', it was a great experience and I got the opportunity to think about African leadership with like-minded thinkers.

What would you say is the most important thing you have done to get to where you are today in your career?
Every time that I go into a new industry, I seek out the best person there is in that industry and ask them to help me. I get advice from them and learn as much as I can from them.

Anele Mdoda
How do you decide, from a business perspective, what opportunities to take and what to say no to?
I have actually said no to a lot of things. I guess it’s a kind of gut feeling. If something requires me to be heavily prepared and guarded then I’ll say no to it. I will also never do anything that doesn’t allow me to be me. If it’s an extension of me and gives me freedom then I will say yes.

You speak about not giving up on your dreams. Do you feel that you have reached the peak of your career?
No, I don’t feel that way. It's like a continous journey. When on your way to Bloemfontein you may think it's far but then you get there and finally you see Cape Town. One’s career should be a never-ending street; there should be no cul-de-sacs. The fact that I still get nervous before a radio show, shows that I don’t think I’m there yet.

You touch on women not leaving men when they’ve had affairs, based on the notion that most women stay because of the lifestyle they have acquired. If you were in the same postion and your husband cheated, would you forgive based on the lifestyle you two have at the time?
I will not leave my man if I love him. Sorry for you Miss Mistress but I’m not going anywhere. It would have to be a serious clash of morals or illegal stuff to have happened for me to leave my husband.

Would you say you are a feminist?
No, not really, I’m pro people and pro humans. Every person has rights. I mean what happens when a feminist gives birth to a son? It’ll be like I love you, but stuff you because you’re a guy? I mean if feminists made sense then why don’t they change their surnames to their mother’s when they have come of age? I can’t wait to get married and have a new surname!

Danny K
You speak about rejection and what it has taught you. Would you encourage your kids to enter the world of music someday?
I would never discourage them. One thing I must say is that my parents were very supportive of my career. A lot of kids are influenced by their parents – their support is a direct cause of whether you become a success or a failure. So I woud definitely support them.

You touch on your relationship with Lisa. How is married life and when can we expect little Dannys and Lisas?
It has brought a sense of direction to my life (smiles). I am now more focused and realise that I now have more responsibilities. I am focusing on being a good hubby to Lisa, and working on divorcing “Danny K”. I know I can’t take work home (laughs). I've just got a dog, so I need to learn to look after him first before any children come along.

You have coped with the death of your brother, although you say it is a never-ending process. What tips can you give someone struggling to cope?
I gave myself time, was honest with my pain and mourned my brother heavily. It's better to mourn now rather than later. I allowed myself to heal and kept his spirit alive by talking about him.

What would you say is the most important thing when protecting the brand of Danny K?
Being a high-profile person it is important to remember that you can be great for 10 years and then do one thing wrong and it all disappears. I have had to be very conscious of every decision that I have made, and need to have a certain amount of filters. In this business nothing is a certainty. I have definitely had to turn some people down in order to keep up a good reputation, especially with regards to the SHOUT charity initiative.

Nik Rabinowitz and Gillian Breslin
Why the title, A Long Walk to a Free Ride?
Rabinowitz: Do you think it's disrespectful? We don’t, because we wanted to capture the feeling between the time Mandela was released and now. It’s a feeling that’s not necessarily positive – many of our leaders were heroes, but now we get the perpective that they aren’t heroes.

What was the writing process like?
Breslin: We enjoyed watching cricket together. We’d write for 20 minutes and then back to watching cricket (laughs). It was difficult because Nik is in Cape Town and I’m in Joburg.

How do you separate the "funny guy" comedian Nik from the business-savvy Nik?
I can be quite a serious guy when I need to be. Not everyone finds me funny, especially my wife.