A Man For All Seasons

A Man For All Seasons

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I get inspiration from…

… People who make the most of things against the odds. My sister has had cancer for 20 years and I am constantly amazed by her ability to overcome challenges. We are fortunate in having so many examples of this kind of spirit in South Africa. It’s particularly prevalent in the entrepreneurial community.

What most people don’t know about me is…

.. When I lived in the States I got a degree at university and worked full-time for three years in a successful property development company. More recently I took a wine making course at the University of Stellenbosch.

My most strongly-held belief about business…

… Is that you can’t strive for success at any cost. There are certain principles and ethics that are non-negotiable. Your reputation is all you have. It’s very important to me that I preserve my integrity.

My ‘pet peeve’ in business is…

… People who use my ‘public profile’ to threaten me. Depressingly, it’s not uncommon for former employees or customers to threaten to ‘go to the media’ with ’information‘ they think they have.

I have learnt to keep my head down and do what I believe in. But there are instances where I have gone to court over such threats when I felt strongly enough about it.Other times you just have to shrug it off and know that there will always be negative and malicious people out there. You can expend too much energy on them.

I struggle with …

… Trying to balance my past and my present. I have moved on from swimming but other people often don’t want to accept that. So I’ll be in a meeting about a multi-million rand deal and they will think I’m just the poster boy. It can be frustrating but I try to focus on delivering business value and proving myself.

The quirkiest thing about me is…

… That I need a lot of alone time. I’m an introvert and need time by myself, especially when I’ve been around groups of people for a period of time.

 

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The person I most look up to is …

… My father. He’s a successful lawyer but has always kept his family number one.

The biggest mistakes I’ve made in business…

…Relate to trusting people too much. It was a tough lesson for me to learn, coming from sport where most people are what they seem. In business you can’t necessarily trust everyone but I had to learn that the hard way.

My personal mantra for success is…

… The same one that my coach had. “To be successful is to be the best in the history of your body.” In other words, set your own goals and don’t measure yourself against others. I think this is as important in business as it was for me in sport. But it’s a very tough thing to get right when you’re competitive.

Bobby Skinstad opens up about his business lessons. Learn from them here.