Getting to know the CEO – Part 1
1) What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Highest energy wins. Business is all about creating momentum, fair exchange and energy. By remaining constantly curious, open minded, remembering to be passionate and feed energy into whatever you do – then you will create momentum and that is how we create opportunities for making deals. People don’t say no if you get them excited about the chance to be part of something great!
2) What was your first job?
At the age of 15 in Canada, I was allowed to start working. The only place that would take me was a restaurant called “Swiss Chalet” – and they hired me to wash dishes. I stayed in that position for a year and a half before graduating to “fry guy” and eventually became head chef.
3) How much was your first paycheck, and how did you spend it?
I worked Friday night shift and all day Saturday and Sunday. I came from a single income family so there was never any money for luxuries and new clothes. My mother didn’t know I had been working. So on the day I got my first pay check I felt like a millionaire even though it wasn’t much. But to a 15 year old boy with money in his hand that he had earned, I had learned the most valuable lesson in life – and that is if you work hard you will get paid and can do what you want with it. I was living in Canada at the time so I bought an awesome pair of snow boots to keep me warm.
4) What was the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
I don’t need to wish, I can tell you the secret they told me: Think with your feet and not with your head. What they meant was you can spend all your time thinking and no time doing. We get in our own way and we fear failure or exposure that we don’t know what we are doing. Want to succeed? Want to be your own boss? Then get walking! Maybe you walk 100km in the wrong direction – but the you will know what way not to go and will be closer to your goal.
5) If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
The education system – because having access to information is everything. I cannot stress the importance that one should place on self empowerment, self improvement and continuous willingness to learn.
The world is a competitive place and the walls are coming down, making the job market even more competitive. You need to know how to learn, adapt and grow. There are no jobs for life – and in your life time you will need to develop yourself and your career several times. Education teaches you about the fundamentals and gives you the basics on which to survive. How to start, organise and finish a project. When we hire people, it is their attitudes which get them across the line – but without the basic education you can’t even get out the blocks. Always be learning!
6) What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I love meeting new people, hearing their stories, what drives them, their failures as well as their success. Everyone of us is different – but we are all human beings and similar in that way. We have wants, dreams, desires – and for different reasons. I have lived and worked all over the world and the most interesting thing about people are their stories.