18 Nov 2020

Seeing Pic Picot in a Different Light

Pic Picot and Peanut Butter are synonymous. Pic also likes doing good deeds. He is an Ambassador for Macular Degeneration New Zealand.

Pic was diagnosed with dry Macular Degeneration (MD) in his 20s. His loss of central vision was so gradual it was barely noticeable. Recently he noticed a rapid vision deterioration. He promptly made an appointment with his Ophthalmologist. He was diagnosed with wet MD. It is treatable if you get in quickly.  

For many years Pic did his own thing working independently. When he worked with others, he wanted to do things his way.

Losing his sight forced him to delegate to others. He attributes the phenomenal success of Pic’s Peanut Butter, top selling NZ brand with expanding overseas markets, to giving others more responsibility. Budgets and spreadsheets were easy to give away. Graphic design was harder to relinquish. He learned to trust others to do the work differently.

Pic loves meeting and talking to people and being the face of Pic’s Peanut Butter. He is the visionary captain of Pic’s ship, steering it in the right direction and keeping the crew fully engaged. 

It took a while to accept not being able to drive. Nowadays Pic is more chilled and says 'it takes a bit longer to get places'. So much time is wasted behind the wheel, he reckons he 'gets half his work done in taxis'. 

Pic really misses sailing, yet has turned this into a positive. He enjoys being out on his 'fizz boat' with his partner, Anthea. They work as a team. He can still be the captain as she had no prior boating experience. He asks ‘how deep are we?’ and she can tell from looking at the instruments. 

Sometimes losing sight can enhance other senses like smell and touch. Pic’s nose tells him when there’s a good coffee shop around the corner. 

Pic is learning to play the piano. It’s something creative he can do instead of sketching and layouts. He gets his music teacher to show him a few licks (a portion of a riff) at each lesson instead of trying to read music. 

His book "Pic: Adventures in Business Sailing and Love" was published in March 2021. He types text on a maxi sized iPad, selects what he has written, then zooms in and out to decide if he likes, or does not like the wording. As he says 'it is arduous process'.

During our conversation Pic shared some tips for people coming to terms with macular degeneration or vision loss.  

He recommends getting to grips with technology and learning to touch type. Using voice recognition like ‘Dragon Speaking Naturally’ or Siri, a voice controlled personal assistant for Apple users, can be useful aids for directions and getting things done.  

Pic’s Mum, aged 90, also has MD. He introduced her to the ‘Be My Eyes’ app which pairs volunteers with blind and visually impaired people needing help with simple everyday tasks, like reading instructions. She loves it! On the phone with his mum a few days ago she told him she had been talking to a lovely woman in Dunedin who was able to help her.

He also recommends taking photos of objects and enlarging them on a digital device, like checking if a thermostat needs adjusting. If he is interested in a magazine article he zooms in to read it.

Having a sense of humour helps. As Pic says, ‘life could be so much worse if you have an unattractive nose!’. 

So who inspires Pic? Helen Keller, the blind and deaf American author. His friend, CP Lin, a winemaker who lost his eyesight at 2 years of age. Another mate, who is a paraplegic, is more concerned about him losing his sight. 

He is very lucky with his dog. Fido makes friends everywhere he goes so Pic never feels isolated. When he is giving talks he 'just imagines everyone nodding and hanging on to his every word'. 

He doesn’t see much difference between work and leisure. Neither has limits for Pic. He is not obliged to do ‘worky’ things at work. He travels a lot with work and can visit places he likes to be.  

Pic is proud of Pic’s Peanut Butter World, a community hub which is a fine legacy to leave. 

Pic is living his vision. As Helen Keller says "The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” 

Click on the links to find out more about Pic's Peanut Butter World or Macular Degeneration



Mary Somervell

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