Getting to know the CEO – Part 2
7) What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
If my CFO is reading this, I hope he is sitting down! All successful entrepreneurs will all tell you the same thing. There is no success without the understanding of failure. And if we can use the cost of a failed investment to help point us in a new direction which enables us to win – was it really a failure or just expensive school fees? I have failed over and over again and will continue to fail in my attempts to change the game. However, it’s also important to know when to quit and start something new. Thomas Edison failed 1000 times before successfully inventing the lightbulb on attempt 1001.
8) What’s the best investment you’ve ever made? And how much of it was due to luck?
It was 2008, the market had just crashed, and the UK company I was working for had been wiped out. They paid me half of my pay cheque and I was facing a grim future. I used the money to buy a laptop, a hard phone and put a deposit on a small office and pay for some leads. I started my first Debt Management company with less the £1500. I slept in the office and ate once or twice a day for 3 months – but it turned into the momentum that got me to where I am today.
9) What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt so far?
We are all human beings and don’t take things personally. The most predictable, if not the only predictable value we can depend on in the work space – is the predictable unpredictability of people.
As human beings we all get a job with the hunger and promises to succeed, and promise to do our best – and be the best. Over time that doesn’t always work out and people end up doing things they shouldn’t do – or break things through frustration or lack or clear processes. As a coach or employer it is hard to see some of your students fail or hurt the business. Once again, we must take things in stride and try to learn from what has happened and look at how we can improve on it.
10) What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
I want to be comfortable.
Every time I hear those words I wonder if they really mean it. “I just want to make enough to survive and be happy”. Although is sounds altruistic and nice to think we can be comfortable for life – it can quickly become a career killer. Staying in the safe lane is fine for a while – until you look up and all your friends have driven way past you and have a new description of what is comfortable.
Comfort in the work or career environment is fine for a period of time, but as the world is changing faster than ever, businesses are forced to adapt. Since it’s our people who drive the business – we need adventurers at the helm, if we want to stay alive – let alone thrive. In the words of Netflix “Adapt or Die”!
11) What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
Slow down, take your time – you’re going to be working until the last day. Spend more time on education, learning to surf, making lifelong friends, travel more. But if you don’t change a single thing – you will have lived the most incredible life and have changed the lives of thousands along the way. Would be more awesome if you could surf!
12) Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career? And if so, what would that career be?
At the age of 24 I got my first desk job in a debt management firm as a lead generator spawning my career in finance. Along the way I have done every job From IT to admin and management to marketing. I can splice cat cables, talk data science, all whilst writing management protocols for new campaign processes. I guess in my 20 odd years in the financial services space, I have thought of changing careers almost every day of my life. But every day we overcome the obstacles which get in our way that cause us to doubt ourselves – and we get stronger. So now I’m trying to grow my career so I can move further into the industry.
13) If you were Cyril, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
Tough question – and I have neither the experience or foresight our President has. I also believe him to be doing the best he can be doing with the team he has. Assuming we had the full support of the party and cabinet and could change a few things, I would start with reforming the education sector and police force. I would privatise the utilities such as energy and I would certainly try to “go green “ and make South Africa an investment hub of the world like Malta and Mauritius to attract foreign investment.