It’s Not A Big Thing In Life – by Arnie Witkin

Book Review

If ever someone was qualified to offer advice on how to navigate the inevitable challenges that life throws at us, it’s Arnie Witkin.

Author of It’s Not A Big Thing In Life: Strategies for Coping, Considerations for my adult grandchildren, Arnie has achieved extraordinary success as an investment manager and pioneer in the private equity industry in South Africa. After emigrating to the UK in 1989, he consulted to a merchant bank and a South African investment company for two years before becoming unemployed for a subsequent three years. After that, at the age of 50, he returned to South Africa and started again, founding another successful private equity company.

Since retiring from active business he has been a speechwriter, public speaking coach, executive coach and mentor.

In 2001, he underwent surgery for advanced thyroid cancer that cost him all but a whisper of his voice, but regained 70% of his vocal ability with corrective surgery in 2004. In 2009 he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and discovered that the thyroid cancer had spread to his lungs. Eighteen months of chemotherapy medication muted the cancer, but in 2019 he began a second course of the same medication when the cancer became active again. In spite of all this, he lives an active life, travelling and playing golf three times a week.

He writes, “I am financially secure. I have a beautiful and accomplished wife, two sons, two daughters-in-law, six fantastic grandchildren … and a wide circle of close friends. I’ve led a most interesting life. I was a distinguished business person and was referred to as the ‘father’ of private equity in South Africa. I’ve been a confidante to many and have rubbed shoulders with famous business people, sports stars and celebrities.”

“However; the staggering reality is that, for as long as I can remember, my life has been a succession of problems, difficulties and conflicts, interspersed with successes, large and small. A never-ending obstacle course through the jungle of life. Much to my astonishment, at the ever so sprightly age of 76, it still persists. These days I am more accepting that peace of mind comes in spurts.”

We are reminded that life is not smooth sailing, and that while circumstances are not always within our control, attitude and behaviour are. This book is a toolkit to manage any situation — personal, interpersonal or business — calmly and with integrity.

Some topics covered by the book are: Principles of success • Love and relationships • Sex • Work and money • Facing difficult challenges and decisions • Taking responsibility for yourself • Humour as a coping strategy • Public speaking guidelines • Coping with illness • The power of vulnerability • Self-compassion • How to deal with sexting, cyber bullies, pornography, racism, drugs, anger, jealousy, envy, gambling, trust, etc.

With a foreword by Michael Holding, and illustrations by Dov Fedler, Arnie has produced a very user-friendly, easy-to-read and comprehensive guide to living one’s best life.

He writes in his introduction that it is written particularly for his grand-children and grandchildren world-wide, but there is much to learn from this wise, practical, kind and witty guide to life, for children, parents and grandparents of all ages.

This book can be borrowed from the Gitlin Library, bought or ordered from any bookshop, or ordered on which has a link to an online South African store and to Amazon where South Africans can buy it on Kindle.

• Published in the PDF edition of the June 2021 issue – Download here.

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