Strategy is 10%. Execution is 90%
“The key to success is being able to take an idea and execute it.”
- Ivan Epstein is the founder of Softline, which was acquired by Sage Group in 2003.
- He is currently CEO Sage AAMEA (Africa, Australia, Middle East, Asia).
“Even though I can admit that I work six days a week, it’s still about the quality of your time, not how long you work. Never procrastinate, it’s a complete waste of time.
“The key to success is being able to take an idea and execute it. Strategy is only 10% of it. The other 90% of success lies in your ability to execute your great ideas. I’ve made a point of always surrounding myself with highly intelligent people who get the job done.”
“We don’t waste time. The art is in the execution. As a company we have always moved quickly. My MDs report directly to me, but they also have ownership of their autonomous business units, which gives them a sense of urgency.”
Read more: 10 SA Entrepreneurs Who Built Their Businesses From Nothing
Start every day with a fist pump
“I’ve always believed that the first person you need to build a reputation with is yourself.”
- Marcel Klaassen is the Executive Head of Growth for FNB Business Banking.
You can’t project outward confidence if you’re trying to fix what’s inside. Your foundation is self-belief. I give myself constant affirmations that I’m doing well. I start the day with a double fist pump. It might sound silly, but try it one day. It’s an instant boost to your mood and confidence. I also make a big deal of my personal victories. I’ll even high five myself. It’s important to celebrate being true to yourself.”
“I’m also a big believer of the ‘crush it’ philosophy. Instead of trying to do everything well, give one thing your absolute all. Be the best at it and always be taking what you do to the next level. Focus on what you’re really good at and crush it.”
Read more: Marcel Klaassen’s full story here
Rigorously debate big business decisions
“Some of the most amazing people I work with give me a sense that ‘it is possible.’”
- Adrian Gore is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Discovery Group.
Adrian Gore always draws on the collective input of a strong team.
“Discovery’s Exco meets on average for seven hours a week every Monday. We go through everything. Sometimes it’s a bun fight. We don’t stick to the agenda. Some things we’ll spend three hours on, other things we won’t get to. There’s rigorous debate and arguments, but it means that every week 20 really smart people are all thinking and providing input.”
“No one is making buy/sell decisions. Everything is debated until consensus is reached. Reaching consensus is the path I prefer, even though I’m actually an impatient and frustrated person. I’ve got a thin skin. I don’t take criticism well. But because of that, I don’t like to command because I don’t like the push-back that I get. So I far prefer consensus.”
Embrace organisation – even if it’s not your natural inclination
“I’m naturally an extremely disorganised person. But I’ve had to learn how to be organised. You can’t run a business if you procrastinate or you’re disorganised – ever.”
- Asher Bohbot is the founder of EOH, which has an annual turnover of R5 billion.
“I’m naturally an extremely disorganised person. I’m the kind of person who would put off doing things until tomorrow, or do them at the last minute. But I’ve had to learn how to be organised. Being disorganised in business causes you stress and embarrassment. It’s something I had to work hard at because it isn’t my natural inclination, but having structure to my day reduces my stress levels and enables me to be maximally effective. You can’t run a business if you procrastinate or you’re disorganised – ever.”
“This carries through to everything I do. I even try to respond immediately to as many e-mails as I can. I don’t like leaving things hanging. In my experience, queueing things in my head only causes stress. So if I can reply with a definitive answer, I do. Then that item is out of the way and off my plate.”
Read more: Business Lessons from Asher Bohbot, Founder of EOH
Tech and multiple screens maximise productivity
“I have four screens on my desk, both at the office and at home, and I find it’s a huge time-saver.”
- Kumaran Padayachee is the CEO of Spartan Technology Rentals.
“One screen is my calendar: It lists my appointments, reminders and lists, and gives me a constant perspective on my day, week and month. The second screen is Outlook, and the third is Explorer, with multiple tabs open, including our Intranet, Google and LinkedIn. The fourth screen is my current tasks screen — anything I’m working on.”
“No one device can do everything. Once you realise that, the decision to have multiple devices is an easy one. For me, productivity is key, and so I want to always be working with the right tech for the job. Desktop PCs, tablets and smartphones all have their place. Microsoft Exchange links them all together, and so anything I do on one is automatically updated across the rest.”
Read more: Kumaran Padayachee’s full story here
Work during your most productive times
“I’ve learnt my most productive hours are from 05:30 to 08:30 in the morning.”
- Divan Botha is a corporate veteran, the owner of popular coffee shop The Whippet, and presenter on KykNET’s Winslyn.
“Everyone is different and experiences peak productivity at different times. Some people are night owls, others get loads done at the crack of dawn. Be aware of when you’re getting different kinds of work done. Do you think best earlier in the day? Are you able to concentrate the longest late in the afternoon? Do your neurons only wake up when the sun goes down”
“Develop a work routine that works around your peak productivity, rather than trying to force your productivity into the traditional eight-to-five workday.”
Read more: Divan Botha Believes the Key to a Healthy Business Starts with a Healthy Entrepreneur
When it comes to e-mail management, it boils down to three choices
“Keeping on top of your emails with a one-touch policy.”
- Adrian Gore is the founder and CEO of Discovery.
- In 2013 the company listed operating profits of R762 million, and his worth was estimated at R2,2 billion.
Adrian Gore has a one-touch policy when it comes to e-mail management.
“Rather than browsing through your mails and becoming overwhelmed by the pile by the end of the day, week, month or year, do one of three things with every new mail: You either respond to the e-mail so that it’s dealt with, you delegate it to a person who will be able to complete the task, or you delete it.”
Read more: SA Dragon’s Den Judges here
How to keep time on your side
“I have a daily seven-minute huddle with my team, and each day someone different presents the brief.”
- Yossi Hasson is the co-founder of Synaq, a company listed as one of Forbes’ Top 20 Tech Start-ups for 2012.
- In 2011, Dimension Data bought a 50,1% stake in the business.
According to Yossi Hasson, a fortune can be done in a small space of time, but tasks will extend to the full time allocated to them.
“Seven minutes can cover a lifetime of information if the structure is there. The time limit isn’t about being obsessive about time-keeping, but forcing people to be more concise and structured in their thinking,” he says.”
Read more: Yossi Hasson on Mastering the Art of Productivity
Everyone is different. Don’t fight it, leverage it
“Getting the most from your staff is about working with what you have, and leveraging it.”
- Miranda Isaakidis is the co-founder of high-end spa supplies company Indulgence Spa Products, and she is the Johannesburg Chapter Chair for The Women Presidents Organisation.
“I once had an assistant who possessed none of the skills required to perform her job. I complained to my manager, but rather than receive sympathy, I was told I was responsible for her non-performance, and that I should look at my management skills. That was a huge shock.”
“I went back to the drawing board and re-assessed her skills. She never learnt to spell-check properly – I had to keep doing that myself – but I discovered she had this extraordinary ability for getting me any appointment I wanted, which was far more valuable and useful for my position at the time. Had I stuck to insisting she brush up her word-processing skills, I would never have been able to take my work to the next level by booking the right meetings.”
Read more: The Win-Win Mindset Of Miranda Isaakidis
“If someone hasn’t left their desk in days, I tell them to get up and get out. Go see what’s happening in the world and do something different.”
- Mandi Fine is the CEO of multiple award-winning Fine Healthcare Group, a strategic healthcare marketing and advertising agency.
At Fine Healthcare Group (FHC), they believe that award-winning marketing ideas form everywhere except at your desk.
“We have a philosophy of ‘white space’, which is essential for good ideas.”
“We give our staff the time and space they need to be rejuvenated and creatively energised, so that they bring their best ideas and energy to the office. It doesn’t matter where your work gets done, so long as you’re meeting your KPIs.”
Read more: Mandi Fine On Why You Have To Make Some White Space
Six Fundamental Business Lessons Every Entrepreneur Can Learn From Walt Disney
His success is all the more amazing when you learn how many times Walt Disney failed.
Everyone knows Walt Disney. Almost everyone has been to a Disney park somewhere, seen a Disney movie (live action or a cartoon) or knows some Disney character. Some people even go on Disney cruises.
Disney the man
I think in some ways people know more about Disney, fewer people about Disney the man. Walt Disney, the man, has somewhat faded into the background for many people. It is understandable since he died fifty-one years ago, in 1966. Walt was a visionary, an entrepreneur and a creative genius. There are some invaluable lessons every entrepreneur can learn from what he was able to accomplish in his life.
1Never give up
Many people don’t know that Walt Disney was not an overnight success. He started several companies that went bankrupt. He started a commercial art studio, and it tanked. He tried to create advertisements, and they also failed due to lack of revenue. Instead of giving in or giving up, Walt always just tried the next thing.
As Walt said, “All the adversity I’ve had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me. You may not realise it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.”
2Be a problem solver
Walt Disney was the consummate problem solver. He was very observant and was always looking for ways to solve a problem and how it could be an opportunity in the marketplace.
He took his daughter to a park to ride some rides, and he noticed the rides were dirty and in bad shape, and the people operating the rides were rude.
Walt thought about this problem – and it became Disneyland. He wanted a place that was safe and clean, where parents could take their kids.
As Jason Kilar once said, “When I was 10, we drove to Disney World. When we arrived, what impressed me most was the meticulous attention to detail; there wasn’t a gum wrapper anyplace.”
3Be willing to reinvent yourself
Many people don’t know that Disney’s first major cartoon star was not Mickey Mouse – it was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. He had signed a contract with a distributor for the short cartoons and was thrilled with their success.
When he went to renew the contract, they fired Walt. The distributor said (unknown to Walt) that they legally owned Oswald, and that Walt Disney didn’t, as outlined in the contract.
Even worse, all of Walt’s animators left Walt and went to work for the other company.
Walt went home having lost his biggest success. He had to start over. As Walt said, “Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad 20 years ago on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when the business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at lowest ebb and disaster seemed right around the corner.”
4Surround yourself with talent
Walt Disney admitted he was not the most talented at drawing or animation. As he once said, “I started, actually, to make my first animated cartoon in 1920. Of course, they were very crude things then and I used sort of little puppet things.” He was brilliant at knowing what he did best and was able to hire the best artists and animators in the world.
The person who animated Mickey in the early was not Walt but an animator named Ub Iwerks. Walt didn’t have to have the talent for drawing, but he had the vision. It’s like being an architect – you don’t have to be the general contractor. You just have to know what you want the project to look like when it is done.
Walt was an inquisitive soul and always wanted to learn new things. In animation, this led to some stunning developments in the early years.
He is famous for making the first sound cartoon, the first live action and animation mix film, the first full-length cartoon movie. Until then, Walt’s cartoons were fluffy, short, mindless entertainment people watched that came on before the main feature.
Here is the point and don’t miss it – he didn’t know how to do any of those things. His curiosity led him to investigate how to do these things and figure out how to get it all done. Walt said, “We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
Walt was smart enough after building a successful animation studio to get into live action movies, documentaries, television, amusement parks and tons of products. He could have just been an animation studio, but that would not have created the kind of success his company had.
I think Walt said it best: “Times and conditions change so rapidly that we must keep our aim constantly focused on the future.”
Every business needs to keep looking at ways to grow and diversify.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
20 Crazy Things We’ve Learned About Alibaba Billionaire Jack Ma
From getting kidnapped to dressing up as Michael Jackson, the Alibaba founder has a lot of wacky stories to tell.
As someone who rose from being rejected from Harvard 10 times to becoming the second-richest man in China, Jack Ma’s rags to riches story is inspiringJack Ma
Through persistence and experimentation, Ma built one of the most successful, record-breaking companies to date, the ecommerce giant Alibaba.
Of course, his success didn’t happen overnight, and his story is full of lessons in failure. Growing up, Ma struggled in school, constantly failing tests. When he finally got accepted to college, after he failed the college entrance exam twice and was rejected from Harvard 10 times, Ma eventually became an English teacher. However, once he was introduced to the internet during a work assignment in 1995, the rest was history.
Motivated to help the internet catch on in China, Ma launched Alibaba, an ecommerce site for small- to medium-sized businesses, in 1999. From there, it took years to build the site into the massive online wholesaler it is today, powered by Ma’s motivation and passion. Today, Ma is worth a whopping $39 billion, and since he stepped down as Alibaba’s CEO in 2013, he’s devoted much of his time and money to social causes.
There’s much to learn about the Chinese billionaire. Here are 20 interesting facts about Ma you probably didn’t know.
He wasn’t a great student
While one might assume Ma was a straight-A student, quite the opposite was true. Ma admits that he actually failed multiple times in school: “I failed a key primary school test two times, I failed the middle school test three times, I failed the college entrance exam two times.”
He began learning English when he was 12
At 12 years old, Ma was committed to learning English. Every morning for eight years, he would ride his bike 40 minutes to a hotel in Hangzhou, where he would volunteer as a tourist guide for visitors just to practice the language.
He was rejected from Harvard University 10 times
It usually takes only one rejection for someone to give up on getting into an Ivy League, but this wasn’t the case for Ma. During an interview at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in 2015, Ma admitted to being rejected from Harvard 10 times.
He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life after college
After graduating from Hangzhou Normal University, Ma applied for 30 different jobs, and he got rejected from each one. During the process of applying for these jobs, he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, so he submitted his resume for a variety of unique positions, one even being a police officer.
He was rejected from KFC
One of the 30 jobs Ma applied for after he graduated from college was a position at the fast food chain KFC. Out of a pool of 24 applicants, KFC hired 23 – and the one person who didn’t get a job was Ma.
He loves “Forrest Gump”
Jack Ma’s fictional idol is Forrest Gump. Like Gump, Ma also struggled in school, then went on to achieve success. “I’ve been watching that movie about 10 times. Every time when I’m frustrated I watch the movie,” he shared with CNBC in an interview. “I watched the movie before I came to New York.”
He became a teacher and made $12 to $15 a month
After graduating from Hangzhou Teachers University, Ma’s luck – and career – turned around. Ma was the only student of 500 to be chosen to teach at a university. Teaching English, Ma said he made what was then the equivalent of $12 to $15.
He was first introduced to the internet in 1995
In 1995, while on assignment as an interpreter in Seattle, a friend showed Ma the internet for the first time. His first search was on Yahoo for “beer.” However, it was through this search that Ma discovered there was no data about China, so he decided to launch a website called China Pages.
He was kidnapped and threatened with a handgun
During that same trip, which was his first time in the U.S., Ma also was assigned to go to Malibu, Calif., to collect debt from an American businessman on behalf of a friend. The businessman ended up locking Ma in his home and threatening him with a handgun. After a few days, the man brought Ma to Las Vegas with him when he was due to meet with a group of Chinese businessmen. Still without the money at this point, Ma won $600 on the slot machines in Vegas, bought a plane ticket to Seattle and left the scene.
His first entrepreneurial venture ended in failure
After borrowing $2,000 from friends to launch China Pages in an attempt to popularise the internet in China, Ma’s venture didn’t quite go as planned. It ran on a server with a dial-up connection in his small apartment, which made pages take more than three hours to load. At the time, his direct competitor was China Telecom, from whom Ma accepted an investment of $185,000 for a joint venture. In the end, however, Ma found he did not have much say in the business. Eventually, he left and took a job with China’s Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation.
He announced Alibaba in a videotaped meeting from his small apartment
By 1999, Ma was on to his next business idea for bringing the internet to China, and he had raised $60,000 from 18 friends to launch his ecommerce platform for small- and medium-sized businesses. Through a videotaped meeting that took place in his small apartment in Hangzhou, Ma introduced Alibaba.
The name “Alibaba” came from a children’s story
Ma got the name Alibaba from the folktale series One Thousand and One Nights. He was inspired by the story of the poor carpenter Ali Baba, who came across an abundant treasure.
While growing Alibaba, Ma and his team made mistakes along the way
Ma’s journey wouldn’t make for a true entrepreneurial story if mistakes and hardship weren’t involved. He attributes three somewhat counterintuitive factors to the success of Alibaba: having no money, no technology and no plan. He’s said that having limited resources made his team more diligent – especially when it came to money, because they had to use their limited funds carefully.
Even as Alibaba grew, Ma admits the company tried to expand too fast, was stretched too thin and had to lay off a lot of people. By the end of 2002, Ma said the company had made just $1 in profits.
Alibaba holds the record for most money raised in an IPO
When Alibaba went public in 2014, its $25 billion IPO broke records for the largest IPO in history – beating both Facebook and Visa.
But Ma wishes Alibaba never went public
In 2015, Ma admitted that if he could do it again, he would keep Alibaba private. “Now, after the IPO, it’s much worse,” he said in a speech to the Economic Club of New York. “If I had another life, I would keep my company private.” After Alibaba went public, it entered the spotlight and faced some scrutiny from investors, regulators and the media. Ma was playing on a bigger stage. “It’s not only our people that watch us,” he said, “the globe watches us.”
He says he doesn’t know much about technology
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Ma admitted that he actually doesn’t know much about technology, despite owning one of the most successful tech companies in the world. “I know nothing about technology,” he said. “The only thing I can use my computer [for] is [to] send [and] receive email and browse.”
He loves to perform
Ma loves to put on a show. In 2009, during Alibaba’s 10th anniversary party, Ma threw on a blonde wig and performed The Lion King onstage. At the 2017 anniversary party, Ma went all out and dressed up as Michael Jackson from the Dangerous World Tour. With a group of hired backup dancers, he performed “Billie Jean” and Beyoncé’s “Formation.”
He’s the second-richest person in China
As of September 14, 2017, Ma is the second-richest man in China, according to Forbes. He has a net worth of $39 billion.
He stepped down as Alibaba’s CEO because he felt he was too old
In 2013, Ma stepped down as Alibaba’s CEO, saying, “I’m 48. I’m no longer young enough to run such a fast-growing business. When I was 35, I was so energetic and fresh-thinking.”
After stepping down as CEO, Ma refocused his efforts on social issues
In an interview with the Financial Times, Ma shared what he planned to do after leaving his executive position. “In China, because of problems in water, air and food safety, in 10 or 20 years, we will face a lot of health problems, like increased cancer. So that is one area where I will invest my money and time.”
Alibaba bought a stake in Citic 21CN in 2014, changing its name to Alibaba Health Information Technology Ltd. Since then, Ma has spent much of his time and money attempting to bring hospitals and pharmacies online.
That same year, Ma launched the JackMaFoundation, which focuses on education, the environment and public health. In 2015, Ma was recognised as China’s biggest philanthropist, having donated a total of $2.4 billion (after share options) to his foundation.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
How To Build A Top-Class Reputation In The Competitive World Of Media And Agencies
Darren McKinon’s clients and colleagues love him, as evidenced by his winning the Media Owner Rising Star Award at this year’s MOST Awards. Entrepreneur chatted to him about putting clients first, focusing on achieving your goals, and always staying positive.
The MOST awards are voted for by the media industry. What does it mean to you to be voted Rising Star?
This was a goal I set for myself three years ago. To achieve this accolade is confirmation for myself that if you set your mind on something, anything is possible. It’s particularly important to me that my clients voted for me, because it means I’m consistently delivering on my promises and commitments.
I’ve built up long-standing client relationships over many years and at all levels. I believe you need to be willing to put your client’s challenges ahead of your own agenda, and to understand what really matters to their business. This is the key to building partnerships and trust.
What is your business ethos, and how has this impacted the way you operate, and how your industry, clients and colleagues view you?
Teamwork, humility, perseverance, and a whole lot of fun along the way. Whether I’m in a client meeting or at the office with my team, I’m the same guy. Being real is crucial. In business and life, people see through the BS.
I’ve always believed that you can get absolutely anything you want by going about it the right way.
Winning should never be at the expense of something or someone else. You should always have a sense of humour. This has worked well for me – if you’re having fun, not only does your best work come out, but people relate to you that much more.
If there’s one key lesson I’ve learnt, it’s that making people feel at ease is an important part of any negotiation and a crucial start to building a real relationship.
But the real magic lies with your team – surround yourself with the most dynamic people you possibly can, give them the tools to do what they do best, and then get out of their way. I have the best team in the industry, and I’m privileged to work with them on a daily basis.
What is your productivity mindset, and how does it promote effective and efficient work?
Make time for yourself and be selfish about it. This comes at a price as it means unplugging, switching off or tuning out. Work never ends, so manage yourself and your time in order to commit 100% of your focus to the task at hand.
Being connected has massive advantages, as everyone has access to information. This greatly benefits productivity as long as it’s used responsibly.
In general, my mindset is extremely positive – even on bad days. Having a great attitude is a fundamental force in driving productivity and achieving positive results. It’s also infectious. I surround myself with positive people. Time is too precious for negativity.
How important is a personal brand?
It’s a double-edged sword. Your personal brand is everything, but should never be the driver or reason for why you are doing something. It’s the by-product of doing something meaningful and being honest and real.
Building your personal brand takes time, and time means consistency. If I could sum it up in one word, your personal brand is trust. And be humble in your wins – it’s almost never a solo effort.
What does success mean to you?
Balance. It’s not a destination. You’ll never arrive at ‘success’. Instead, I focus on being resent in everything I do, and enjoying the ride.
If I’m at work, I’m committed, driven and focused. When I’m with my family, they get all of me. Put everything you have into what you’re currently doing and you won’t go wrong.
What’s the most exciting thing currently happening in the advertising and media world?
The fact that everyone has a voice. Consumers have taken the lead and brands are being forced to listen, change and adapt. I get to be an important part of that for a variety of different brands. Every day is new, challenging and unpredictable. I love it.
Out of Home (especially Digital OOH) is changing the media landscape, and allowing synchronisation and synergy between all other media types to take place. It’s forcing everyone out of their media bubble, to understand what clients are needing in the bigger media picture, and ultimately connecting with consumers on a more meaningful level.
I’ve witnessed huge innovation in the OOH space during my time in the media industry, from classic to digital OOH, mass reach to activations and experiential marketing. OOH has become both a mass reach, high impact media platform, as well as an interactive, experience-building opportunity for all audiences.
What big changes do you see on the horizon that you believe your industry peers should be keeping an eye on?
The answer has to be digital, but it’s in the way it’s applied. Digital allows for a more relevant, in-the-moment interaction that should lead to more meaningful connections, but I don’t yet see enough brands using digital for these reasons.
Some brands are getting it right, and understand the synergy between platforms in order to engage with their consumers at various times throughout the day and in the right way. They understand consumer mindsets and plan their campaigns and communications accordingly.
Digital has played a big role in the fragmentation of media, which is often used as a negative term.
Instead, this fragmentation, or niche opportunities as I’d prefer to call them, has allowed for far more meaningful and personal connections.
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