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22 Questions with Thomas von Zahn

Daily Maverick’s financial manager Thomas von Zahn takes a break from counting the coppers at DM to answer
22 Questions for Maverick Insiders. Enjoy Thom’s 22 questions below

Saying with a hundred words what can be said with five. Verbal economy isn’t my strong suit and ADHD is a frustrating variable. I’m working on it.

“I tumble outta bed and stumble to the kitchen, Pour myself a cup of ambition…”

Greece. Mostly that one island where the people all live to a hundred years old through a combination of the olive oil diet and a stress-free lifestyle. Too much cortisol will kill you people. The greeks get this.

The inimitable Kevin Kelly – co-founder of wired and certified outstanding human – just turned 70 and published this list of miscellaneous bits of wisdom he has collected over his many years travelling, writing, and thinking. We are almost two whole generations apart – but I feel like Kevin gets me more than most people I actually know.

The innate opportunity presented by challenge and crisis. I’m anxious by nature and my focus tends to go to the downside, as opposed to the subtle art of turning shit into sugar

“Fat, ugly, lazy, stupid and ungrateful: how to go out every day and keep proving the world wrong.”

Rent: the biggest barrier to the creation of limitless personal wealth that I could be frittering away on take-away cappuccinos and avocado toast – you know, the stuff that matters.

King Mob from Grant Morrison’s “The Invisibles.” I imagine that we’d throw down on our common obsessions: Chaos Magic, baldness, having too much shrapnel in one’s face, and rebelling against the status quo of reality itself.

Re: above answer, five small stainless steel loops poked lovingly into my left ear by Liezl at the Body Architects. They helped me rebuild a previously non-existent sense of identity and they really tie my face together. The heartwarming compliments by shifty gay men on the street are an added bonus.

My intellectual crush, Daniel Kahneman. If you are unfamiliar with this name, get educated. Start with the time he was awarded the Nobel prize in economics (as a psychologist) and delivered the foundational address “maps of bounded rationality,” or Michael Lewis’ “the undoing project.” The why will become clear.

Reese Witherspoon. Before I finished reading the question her face was in my head.

French nu-disco/pop band L’imperatrice (The Empress) – youtube “Peur de Fille” and be transported by some tantalising visuals. Seriously. Do it now. Thank me later.

The ability to deadlift 400 plus kilograms beyond the age of thirty. Watch this space.

Hands down Rebecca Davis – most comedians think that taking cheap pot-shots at someone with follicular dysfunction passes for humour. Rebecca’s secret sauce is a titillating blend of humility, sincerity and charm. Klapping her on stage would be a one way ticket to universal vilification.

I guess another way of phrasing this question is “”who is the world’s greatest deceiver” – and that question my friends, has only one plausible answer. And it is Nicholas Cage.

Not being loved and being alone. What can I say…

Take a short anxiety-riddled holiday. Live in the simmering existential dread that my life has no meaning outside of my work. Remember quote by Marcus Aurelius (paraphrasing) that human beings are created to work. Undo retirement. Glad I can work through this hypothetical now, not when I’m sixty and stuck at home bothering my spouse all day.

Myself. And this actually happened while we were working on the GuptaLeaks. I’m not a conspiracy theorist or anything…

“What are you not doing or saying enough right now?” the right question is better than the right answer.


Thomas von Zahn

Financial Manager

A frustrating non-presence of mind – what to do about adult ADHD

By Thomas von Zahn | 23 March 2022

By the time I landed on my therapist’s chaise, I was at the point of desperation. I was dissolving into panic attacks at my desk at work and I had recently contracted shingles, a painful viral infection that generally afflicts people in their fifties and sixties. I had just turned 26. Read more