My Real Life Hero: Dominic Desousa, Big banana is no more
‘I’m not eccentric; I’m just different’ In Iain Ackerman's post from 2005, he describes "chatting to Dominic de Sousa is like talking to a human whirlwind. No matter how hard you try to resist, sooner or later you’ll be sucked into a vortex of enthusiasm, energy and hyperbole". And he was right. We used to (I think some still do in his office) refer to this as being "Dom"-ed.
Dominic Desousa died last Wednesday. Suddenly in the middle of a performance on stage at the BBC Good Food Awards. I'm still trying to get my head around that. No more sad jokes texted on Whatsapp. Mad meetings in his office. Daft overnight drives to Muscat. No more being "Dom"-ed.
I was going through a phase of inaction after the Gulf War and, David Neil (a mutual friend, don't know where he is these days), introduced me to Dom. I started off writing for Dom, doing news stories on his various magazines and because I had a marketing head, he slowly took me under his wing and show me how to sell (more market the magazine) as well as manage it. I used to manage RAM (what has since evolved into Reseller Middle East). That was around 1993.
Several years later, I was offered the chance to work with one of the clients I managed. I asked Dom for a reference. He refused on the grounds that I was wasting my talent. So he encouraged me to set up on my own. While still working for him. And Market Buzz was born.
One of the highlights during the period I worked for him was setting up THE Gitex closing party. Everyone that was anyone came to the CPI party to close Gitex; finish the event to his singing. Because it epitomised him in a way. Unadulterated fun. It was a party with strictly NO presentations. And at every one of them, he would come to me and say, "Mits, no one is going to come. Where is everyone?" And every year, I would say, "its early Dom. They have to pack up, remember?" And then the trickle of people would start. And he would relax.
Over the 23 years I have known him, we rarely had arguments considering how strongwilled we both were. But he was always encouraging, always full of ideas, and open to new ones. Encouraged individualism like no other employer I have ever known. He was daft and loved it. He was so firmly in my corner when it came to business. People were frustrated with him sometimes but no one ever, EVER, doubted his sincerity and his generosity. Don't just take my word for it. Here is McNabb's tribute.
It is not surprising (and yet it is) to see how many lives he touched. The tributes on social media are flowing in. My phone hasn't seen so much action.
I just want him to call me "Mits" one more time.