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About Riaan Cornelius

A blank page, waiting for me to share what I am about in a few short paragraphs. That’s intimidating. How do I distil who I am down to a couple of hundred words? How do I do it without being overly egotistical or self-deprecating?

The short version

After growing up with computers and loving the freedom they represented (I could take things out of my imagination and make them real!), I studied IT and eventually ended up graduating and working as a software developer for the last 15+ years.

The remote work and digital nomad idea appealed to me and in about 2008 I started trying to build a business. I failed. I’ve failed several times since, but I’ve learned new ways to fail each time.

After being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2018 and my symptoms getting worse in 2020 and 2021 I realised it is time to stop screwing around and build that business. And I figured the best way would be to find a mentor.

So I joined John Thornhill’s Partnership to success and will be sharing my experiences here as I go through his program. 

The long version: Riaan Cornelius – a brief history

I guess I’ll start at the beginning. I was born roughly 40 years ago in South Africa. Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. You don’t need the whole history.

In primary school, I played chess and entered maths competitions and was bullied relentlessly. I eventually made it onto the provincial chess team, but that was as far as I was able to go. I’m easily distracted and just was not able to put in the focused time needed to advance further.

In high school, I decided that the bullying was over and fought back. After 2 fights, I wasn’t bullied again. I still played chess on the school team and enjoyed it, but I had discovered a new way to spend my time.

Computers!! My dad had bought a computer home at some stage and I started programming. It was exhilarating. I had the powers of a god. I could create things from nothing. I was hooked.     

I finished school and started studying for a B.SC (IT) degree that I finished in 2004. During this time, I worked as a sales assistant in a bookshop where I met my wife.

Then I spent 8 years working for a small company. Honestly, this was a pretty bad time. We were struggling financially, my wife and I were both very depressed (not that we always realised that) and my boss was blaming me for not getting enough sales of his software.

It wasn’t all bad though. I got to travel a bit for work. I saw some of Botswana, Dubai, Afghanistan, India and Costa Rica (where we eventually settled for nearly 2 years) and it was during these rough years that I started looking into online marketing and creating my own business.

Around 2010, I started experimenting with polyphasic sleep and seeing how little sleep I could still function on (not too bright in hindsight). During this time I started experiencing issues with my right arm. I just put it down to a repetitive strain injury and started taking better care of myself.

In 2013 I join a new company and everything is great. I’m getting paid a fair wage, I work with great people and things are slowly improving. But my arm is getting worse.

In 2014 my son is born. And there’s things that I just can’t do because I’m in too much pain.

2017 rolls around and I’m losing function in my right arm. I start a journey of referrals to various medical practitioners which ultimately leads to a neurologist who examines me and tells me that there’s a problem with my brain.

18/07/18 The day my life changes. I have Parkinson’s. After an MRI, Lumbar puncture, a dozen blood and urine tests and lots of prodding and poking the neurologist diagnoses me with Parkinson’s Disease.

End 2018 I move to a different company with better disability benefits and that I feel is treating me more ethically.

The next 3 years are spent coming to grips with this while I figure out how to live with this disease.

2021 is a bit of a bad start. My symptoms are worse and my deep brain stimulation surgery gets cancelled because of Covid and I’m really battling to work for a full day.

I decide it’s time for a change, so I apply for a disability benefit with the idea that working four hours a week will leave me in a much better condition.

I also start with John Thornhill’s Partnership to Success Program and that is where I’m at the moment.

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