When it comes to extreme, nothing beats Riaan Manser. Cycling through Africa? Kayaking around Madagascar and Iceland? Starting a charity? Winning a few awards? Riaan has done it all. And now he can cross hosting an Ogilvy “How To Friday” off his list. But first, let’s get to know him a little better…
Q: When meeting someone for the first time, how do you explain to them what you do?
RM: “With great difficulty. I mean, when you meet someone and they say they’re a doctor you think “Great, this person is doing good, they’re intelligent, and so on” and you can create an image. Where for me, it’s difficult because I don’t know where to start. If I’m at an immigration office I tell them I’m an author because, well I am one, and it just makes life easier. When I’m meeting more creative people, like the guys here at Ogilvy, I like explaining to them that I travel and make money in other ways. I like to think of myself as an explorer. If I’m travelling or going through tough times, that feeling of discovering new things, even for me, just blows me away.”
Q: How do you like to spend your free time when you’re not courting danger?
RM: “I love sport, so I like to get out to surf, mountain bike – anything outdoorsy really. I must say I do have ADD so I definitely have a lot of energy. I sometimes sit and think to myself ‘What the hell is keeping you going, Riaan? Sit down. Calm down’. I honestly wish I would relax a little bit more.”
Q: Are there every day activities that you still find daunting?
RM: “I do have a phobia of going to any shopping mall the day before Christmas. I am definitely guilty of last minute Christmas shopping. Also, I was with a group of boy scouts a couple days back, and I must tell you, I was so nervous because these boys idolize me and I just had to keep telling myself not to stuff it up.”
Q: How many languages can you speak?
RM: “I have a grasp of quite a few and I mix them up quite a lot. I can speak Afrikaans, English, some Xhosa, Malagasy, I speak a bit of Arabic and French, also some Portuguese, and I know a little Swahili. Other than that, I can say please and thank you in many countries.”
Q: What would you like your tombstone to say about you?
RM: I don’t know if I’ll have a tombstone but I would just love it if there was even just a handful of people that will walk past my little jar of ash and smile and say “Shucks, that guy did try to live his life”.
Q: What does an average day in the life of an extreme adventurer look like?
RM: “Quite pressurized. For example, if I’m just doing some grocery shopping and someone comes up to meet me, I always hope that when they leave I haven’t disappointed them, and instead, I have taken their idea of ‘Riaan Manser’ and added to it.”
Q: What local and extreme fun do you suggest the Ogilvy crew get involved in?
RM: “I love abseiling off Table Mountain, but you need to go a few times to get the hang of it. The first time I went I was too cautious, but now I have fun with it. Tandem paragliding is also great. You’ll see everything differently when you are up there. And of course, if you haven’t had a soft serve along the Green Point promenade, then you have not lived.”