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25 Leadership Lessons From Millionaire Business Owners

Build your team with the employees who just want a leader that helps them excel.

John Rampton




Despite your expertise, skills and education, nothing can prepare you for becoming a business leader. There’s a lot of trial and error and on-the-job-training that you’ll experience as you grow your business.

I’ve been a business owner for almost 10 years now. Over the years I’ve made my fair share of mistakes including several that cost me actually running the business in the way I wanted. Lucky for me, I don’t have to make those same mistakes again.

To help you run your business a lot smoother, here are 25 leadership lessons from millionaire business owners so that you don’t have to make the same mistakes we have.

1Believe in your business


“Give your venture everything you’ve got. A passionate commitment to your business and personal objectives can make all the difference between success and failure,” writes Sir Richard Branson.

“If you aren’t proud of what you’re doing, why should anybody else be?”

“And don’t get suckered into blindly pursuing profits and growth. If you stay focused on being the best at what you do, it’s more likely that the rest will follow.”

Related: 5 Leadership Secrets Stolen From Famous People

2Prioritise and delegate

As all entrepreneurs know, you live and die by your ability to prioritise.” suggests Jessica Jackley, co-founder of Kiva and later co-founder and CEO of ProFounder. “You must focus on the most important, mission-critical tasks each day and night, and then share, delegate, delay or skip the rest.”

3Hire people with superior skills


Jack Ma, co-founder and CEO of Alibaba, says that, “A leader should never compare his technical skills with his employee’s. Your employee should have superior technical skills than you. If he doesn’t, it means you have hired the wrong person.”

4Give employees expectations and training

In his book “Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, Part 4: A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business,” Ari Weinzweig, CEO and cofounder of Zingerman’s gourmet food company, writes that, “Clear expectations and training tools are all about a better future.”

Ari adds, Small training success build confidence. People are more hopeful when they know what’s expected of them and feel they have the tools they need to do the work at hand.”

5Set the tone

“You can go through thousands of dollars in consultants to shape your culture, but it will still come back to the owner’s approach,” says Kristi Hedges, leadership consultant and coach at The Hedges Company.

“If you’re motivated and happy in your role, then others will follow your lead. And if you’re burned out and tired, that energy will permeate everything. Owners need to make sure they shape their role, and their company, to make them fulfilled and excited. If you put yourself last, you’re hurting the entire organisation.”

6Be nice


It may be surprising to learn that Mark Cuban, owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and one of the investors on “Shark Tank,” is a nice and likeable guy. He’s known for going above and beyond for his fans and has said that being “nice” is a necessity in business. When your team likes and respects you, they’ll be more likely to rally behind you.

Related: Inspiration From 7 Legendary Business Titans

7Plan for fun

Speaking of “Shark Tank,” Cuban’s colleague Barbara Corcoran fosters a culture of fun. “I think drinking together, having fun, having days off doing stupid things, dressing in ridiculous costumes, whatever you mandate as a company culture, what happens is everyone really likes each other and you create a family.”

Corcoran also says that this can bring out the creative side of your employees.

8Constantly evolve


Bill Gates once said, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.”

Even after Microsoft became an industry leader and was earning billions of dollars in revenue, Gates wanted the company and his team to continue to evolve and diversify their products so that they would remain innovative and relevant, as opposed to being static.

9Mentor and give back to the community

“At the end of the day, we are all part of a community,” said Aneel Bhusri, co-founder and CEO of Workday. “Giving back at the Workday Foundation is just recognising that and being part of a broader community. We are just a small piece of the community.”

“We have been very fortunate and our growth and success is largely due to our community. The most exciting part about the Workday Foundation is that our employees actually drive where we give and they really drive the giving. Our employees get personally involved. It is fabulous when your hire the right people, with the right value system, and they want to give back and they push us to give back.”

10Leaders are lighthouses, not weathervanes

“Weathering changes at Primerica that often lead to uncertainty and chaos helped me develop a leadership philosophy steeped in being someone my teams can turn to for guidance, even during the most turbulent times,” says John Addison, CEO of Addison Leadership Group and leadership editor of Success magazine.

“Whether it was another leadership change or trying to save the company during [the recession], my people could say I would make the best decision for their future, and stand firm on that decision, even if it wasn’t popular with everyone.”

Addison added, “Being a weathervane twisting in the wind wasn’t going to instill the confidence they very much needed, so I had to learn to be a lighthouse: someone they knew would still be standing strong once the storm passed. Thankfully, [my] mentor, Primerica founder Art Williams, demonstrated being a lighthouse for many years, and I was able to follow his example.”

“Through my writing, speaking engagements and position as leadership editor for Success magazine, I am able to share my leadership message with a wider audience and play a role in shaping future generations of leaders. My hope through sharing my message is that one day we will have more leaders who are lighthouses and far fewer who are weathervanes.”

Related: Be A Business Leader. Not A Number Cruncher

11Create a family-friendly environment


Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made waves in November 2015 by announcing that he would be taking a two month paternity leave. Facebook, it turns out, is one of the leaders when it comes to offering competitive paternity leave.

“Studies show that when working parents take time to be with their newborns, outcomes are better for the children and families,” Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. “At Facebook we offer our US employees up to four months of paid maternity or paternity leave which they can take throughout the year.”

12Treat employees like royalty

“We treat our people like royalty. If you honour and serve the people who work for you, they will honour and serve you,” said Mary Kay Ash.

13Communicate effectively


Warren Buffett has said, “You’ve got to be able to communicate in life and it’s enormously important. Schools, to some extent, under emphasise that. If you can’t communicate and talk to other people and get across your ideas, you’re giving up your potential.”

14Be a man or woman of the people

Jim Sinegal, co-founder and former CEO of Costco, was beloved by his employees. Why? Because not only was his salary $350,000 a year, he was down in the trenches with his employees fighting for them to have higher wages. He had no frills office and everyone called him by his first name.

15Encourage employees to get more sleep


“Sleep plays a vital role in our decision making, emotional intelligence, cognitive function, and creativity – all of which are hugely relevant for both our overall health and our ability to be productive and effective,” Arianna Huffington told Forbes.

“Today, so many of us fall into this trap of sacrificing sleep in the name of productivity. But, ironically, our loss of sleep, despite the extra hours we put in at work, adds up to more than 11 days of lost productivity per year per worker, or about $2,280. This results in a total annual cost of sleep deprivation to the U.S. economy of more than $63 billion, in the form of absenteeism and presenteeism (when employees are present at work physically but not really mentally focused).”

Related: 10 Harsh Lessons That Will Make You More Successful

16Boost their self-esteem

“Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self esteem of their personnel,” said Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton. “If people believe in themselves it’s amazing what they can accomplish.”

17Be transparent


“I’ve come to learn there is a virtuous cycle to transparency and a very vicious cycle of obfuscation,” said Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn. When employees are curious and denied access to information, they become resentful and start digging. “That’s when executive management says, well, clearly we can’t trust our employees with this information. So, we’re going to have to buckle down and release even less information.”

Instead, treat employees “like adults” and be completely transparent.

18Stop talking and start listening

“Leaders who listen are able to create trustworthy relationships that are transparent and breed loyalty. You know the leaders who have their employees’ best interests at heart because they truly listen to them,” writes Glenn Llopis, founder of the Glenn Llopis Group.

“As a leader, it’s difficult to really know what your employees are thinking about, what’s troubling them or how to help them get out of a performance slump – unless you take the time listen to them.”

Llopis adds, “Listening goes well beyond being quiet and giving someone your full attention. It requires you to be aware of body language, facial expressions, mood, and natural behavioural tendencies. Listening should be a full-time job when you consider the uncertainty embedded in the workplace and the on-going changes taking place.”

19Write ‘thank-you’ notes

Harvey Mackay, founder of the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, says that, “The cost of praising someone is nil – but every psychological study shows the payoff is huge. Employees want to be seen as competent, hardworking members of the team. You want satisfied, motivated and productive staff members. What better motivator than thanking employees for their contributions to the company’s success?”

Make sure, however, that you’re sincere, specific, share publicly, and keep the praise on-going.

20They don’t tolerate poor performance

“Anyone running an organisation understands how important talent is,” says Duncan Maru from Possible. “But many early stage social enterprises are impatient, cut corners on hiring, or don’t transition people out quickly enough when things are not working. You need to be aggressive and brutally honest about your talent pool.”

21They hold themselves accountable


Accountability, according to Michael Hyatt, “means that you accept responsibility for the outcomes expected of you – both good and bad. You don’t blame others. And you don’t blame the external environment. There are always things you could have done – or still can do – to change the outcome.”

“Until you take responsibility, you are a victim. And being a victim is the exact opposite of being a leader.”

Hyatt adds, “Victims are passive. They are acted upon. Leaders are active. They take initiative to influence the outcome.”

22They challenge the status quo

“Internally, the impact of the status quo is a stagnant culture that pushes away top performers,” writes Matt Wagner, vice president of strategy at Client Focus.

“Your best employees are driven by the need to do something great. When they run into obstacles that don’t make any sense to them, they start thinking about greener pastures. Of course, the opposite is true of your bureaucrats and your go-along-to-get-along employees. They hope to milk the status quo for as long as possible. They hate change.”

23Have face-to-face discussions

“There’s a temptation in our networked age to think that ideas can be developed by e-mail and iChat,” Steve Jobs told author Walter Isaacson. “That’s crazy. Creativity comes from spontaneous meetings, from random discussions. You run into someone, you ask what they’re doing, you say ‘Wow,’ and soon you’re cooking up all sorts of ideas.”

24Celebrate accomplishments

Don’t be afraid to celebrate your accomplishments. Just celebrate those of others more, recommends Nina Vaca of the Pinnacle Group.

With my company, this means that we celebrate even the little accomplishments of others.

25They encourage continuous learning


“Learning is the minimum requirement for success in your field,” writes Brian Tracy. “Information and knowledge on everything is increasing every day. This means that your knowledge must also increase to keep up.”

The best leaders encourage their employees to read, attend workshops, and conferences so that they “can get ahead in every aspect of” their lives.

This article was originally posted here on

John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru and startup enthusiast. He is founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and has been one of the Top 10 Most Influential PPC Experts in the World for the past three years. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.


Entrepreneur Today

Top Inspiring Speakers Give Entrepreneurship Insights On World Speech Day

Pretoria, South Africa; March 2018 – World Speech Day South Africa will take place on the 15th of March 2018 from 10h00 to 14h00 at the Tuks Monate, University of Pretoria.





Our Stellar line up of speakers includes Keynote Speaker, Abdullah Verachia, as well as Guest Speakers Taddy Blecher, Kiara Nirghin and Natalie du Toit, and will feature Speakers from Crawford Preparatory Pretoria, the Wild Olive Society and the University of Pretoria Debate Society, under the theme of “Entrepreneurship”.

Abdullah Verachia serves as the CEO of The Strategists where he plays an active role in assisting companies and organisations craft competitive future strategies. He has significant expertise in strategy, competitiveness and sector trends and facilitates a number of high level strategy sessions and breakaways for companies and governments and also speaks globally in this area.

Having presented and consulted in over 60 cities globally, Abdullah has been recognised as a leading speaker, disruptor, strategist and thought leader on competitiveness and the interplay between strategy and disruptive innovation.

Speakers who are passionate about education

Dr Taddy Blecher is the CEO of the Community and Individual Development Association (C.I.D.A.) which founded the Maharishi Institute (MI).

MI facilitates university education, vocational training and employment for unemployed youth. Dr Blecher is passionate about the approach of Consciousness-Based Education, a system of education developing the full potential of every student.

This has led the Maharishi Institute to winning the first prize in a global competition to find the most innovative education initiative in the world. Through his work with C.I.D.A, over 17,250 unemployed South Africans have been educated, found employment and moved from poverty to the middle-class. Dr Blecher also co-founded the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship with Sir Richard Branson.

Speakers who are both trail blazers and award winners


Kiara Nirghin, the 2016 winner of the Google Science Fair and Community Impact Award for the Middle East and Africa was recently acclaimed one of the Times and The Guardians top 30 most influential teens in the world for her invention, ‘No More Thirsty Crops’.

She is currently a student ambassador for WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and was nominated as a student leader for 2017 as part of the Three Dot Dash initiative. She was a speaker at TEDxPretoria, Forbes Women’s events and been featured in various publications both in South Africa and worldwide.

Olympian and Paralympian, Natalie du Toit is a South African swimmer specialist open water swimmer and has also won five Paralympic championship titles at the Paralympic Games in 2004. She became the first amputee swimmer to qualify among abled-bodied swimmers for the 2008 Olympic Games held in Beijing.

Natalie has moved on from her inspiring sporting career to apply her skills and determination to the business world in the field of Reputation Management. She was the first person globally to carry a national flag in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Her goal is to inspire all South Africans to believe that anything is achievable, even against all odds.

Related: 15 Great TED Talks For Sparking Creativity (Infographic)

Thanks to the University of Pretoria, WSD South Africa is able to host an audience of 300 people this year. Our sponsors also include Akanni Office Furniture Manufacturers.

By supporting World Speech Day in developing this community of change-makers and action takers – the entrepreneurs, the dreamers, the thinkers, the doers, and thereby engaging with inspired citizens and providing a catalyst for inspiration and a platform for collaboration; our sponsors understand, value and work within a similar vision and approach.

World Speech Day South Africa


In 2017, WSD Southern Africa was launched. Under the theme of “Demonstrating the Art of Public Speaking’, 55 speakers including Youth, Professional Speakers, Toastmasters, Tedx Speakers as well as representatives from Government, Parastatals, Business and Not-for-Profits from several Southern African Countries graced the event.

Now known as WSD South Africa, the focus has shifted to intensifying efforts to increase the number of WSD events within South Africa. The theme of “Entrepreneurship” was selected on the premise that the Wild Olive Society is a Mastermind Group that Promotes Entrepreneurship. WSD South Africa’s vision is to increase the number of participating events to between 50 and 100 events throughout the country.

Related: 5 TEDTalks Every Entrepreneur Needs to Watch

With “Active Citizenship” as the 2019 theme, we will not only contribute to developing public speaking skills in young people but get to be a part of this massive global phenomenon. Moreover, this platform will also serve as an opportunity for South African citizens to share in a unified voice with the rest of the world, the different ways we endeavour to and succeed in moving forward to make our country an even better place for us as a nation.

WSD South Africa will serve to complement the other mediums that are already actively doing this by keeping the dialogue on “Active Citizenship” ongoing throughout the year and will present perhaps another opportunity to come together with a common purpose.

Click on this link for more information on participation in WSD South Africa 2019. Please like, share and follow WSD South Africa on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

World Speech Day

The 15th of March is World Speech Day (WSD); a day dedicated to celebrating speeches and speech making through live events all over the world. Founded by Mr Simon Gibson (who resides in the UK), World Speech Day is a Not-for-Profit Organisation; a global effort with local impact – helping local communities share ideas by bringing people together through nothing more than the simple power of speech.

President Kennedy once said: “the only reason to make a speech is to change the world.” World Speech Day is fashioned around a simple idea: “Change The World”. The global theme for WSD is “Thoughts for a Better World”.

WSD acts as a source for new thinking – releasing the “wisdom of crowds” – gathering ideas from the unexpected, usually unheard voices of Everyman. It is about tapping into the truly original and inspirational – and then amplifying and making these voices available. The event is aimed at demonstrating skills in public speaking to youth throughout the world with the purpose of teaching them to use their voices as instruments to make the world a better place.

WSD Speakers are encouraged to put forward their ideas on how to make the world a better place.

World Speech Day has been recognised by the US Senate declaring March 15 National Speech and Debate Education Day in the US. World Speech Day was launched in 2015, with the 2016 event including more than 300 events in 30 countries; increasing to more than 60 participating countries by 2017 and 100 in 2018.

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What Happens When Founders Are Fired

Replacements face a daunting task.

Jeff Hyman




When a founder steps down from the company following its acquisition – as David Karp recently did at microblogging site Tumblr – it creates an urgent need for a leader who can bridge two worlds: digital native and corporate. It’s a rare combination that, in my studies of “rock star” talent in high demand these days, won’t be easy to find: a leader who can guide the company forward and, equally important, prevent other key people from leaving.

Entrepreneurial-minded founders don’t enjoy spending their days in meetings, corporate presentations and strategy reviews. This talent tends to be action-driven and hard-headed and is likely to lose patience with playing the corporate game. (I know from personal experience, having left six months after my first company was acquired.)

Karp’s departure from Tumblr, which he founded when he was only 20, follows a well-established pattern. Harvard Business School research has shown that founder-CEOs are often replaced precisely because their companies are successful. While Tumblr’s data is closely guarded, its revenue is believed to be substantially in excess of $20 million.

Related: 4 Lessons From The Pivotal Group Founders On Growing And Disrupting All At Once

On a broader level, Karp’s decision to step down is part of the scope of leadership challenges that occur as entrepreneurial firms transition from one phase to the next. Founders who are so used to doing everything themselves – product creation, sales, pitching to investors, managing stakeholders – often need support in knowing how to navigate these transitions. That’s why they need “hugs and kicks,” as I call it: Tough love and guidance from board members and advisers who help them stay motivated and understand the reality of what they’re facing.

That might have changed things for another founder, John Schattner of Papa John’s, who recently stepped down from the CEO role, while continuing as chairman, after linking a sales slump at the company to NFL protests during the national anthem. The company later apologised for his comments.

Although it’s well-known that startups benefit from having a board (typically, outside investors will insist on this), many entrepreneurs delay bringing in advisers. When a startup is successful, there’s little incentive for the founder/CEO to undertake the time-consuming process of recruiting board members. Then there is the need to compensate board members in some capacity, which may mean giving away equity stakes, which founders tend to guard jealously.

Trusted advisers, though, can make all the difference. As a serial entrepreneur, I was fortunate at the age of 27 to have management consultant and bestselling author Patrick Lencioni as my executive coach – it was literally life-changing. Now as an adviser myself, one of my key points for entrepreneurs (and for employers, in general) is about finding the right talent – especially those who are stronger in areas where the founder and other key leaders are weak (for example, recruiting a strong No. 2 as a chief operating officer). I’ve found it’s much more efficient for leaders to focus on their strengths than to expend so much energy trying to shore up their weak areas.

While some companies such as Google and McKinsey are strong recruiters, most employers are “sloppy buyers” of talent. Some 50 percent of new hires don’t work out, a degree of inaccuracy that is inexcusable for anything in business. Compounding the challenge at digital/internet companies, it’s a seller’s market for talent today, particularly for highly in-demand specialties such as artificial intelligence. The most qualified “rock stars” can basically name where they want to go, what they want to do and how much they expect to earn.

Related: Listen And Learn: Why Podcasts Aren’t Just For Start-up Founders

When the talent market gets really tight – as it is now, the tightest we’ve seen since 1999 – employers often default to hiring someone who is deemed good enough, rather than operate with an open position while continuing to recruit the right person. The problem is that hiring a “warm body,” who is only a B- or C-player, undermines team performance. The existing rock stars will be the first to leave (and will find themselves in demand), because they want to be part of a winning team. It seems counterintuitive because maintaining a vacancy – holding out for a top performer – means the slack must be taken up by everyone else. But, the rock stars on the team will love it because they know their employer is being highly selective.

For entrepreneurial firms everywhere, the challenge is always building a pipeline of talent: Qualified candidates need to be developed ahead of time to succeed key players in leadership roles, as well as to manage functions such as sales and technology. No matter how many other “priorities” entrepreneurs have in growing their business, having the right talent must always be at the top of the list. Without the right talent, even leaders with the best ideas will be severely hamstrung in executing strategy.

This article was originally posted here on

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Leadership: The Principle Of Authenticity

Knowing whether you are an introvert, ambivert, or extrovert, what your likes and dislikes are just means that you are navigating the periphery of your existence.

Dirk Coetsee




‘Know thyself’ – Socrates

Immerse yourself in the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates’ words and for a moment consider that this famous scribe possibly assigned deeper meaning to the knowledge of self, than for example simply understanding your personality type. Knowing whether you are an introvert, ambivert, or extrovert, what your likes and dislikes are just means that you are navigating the periphery of your existence.

To get to a deeper understanding of yourself in terms of what your true infinite potential is and what your “deep driving desire” (purpose) is, is far more meaningful work and creates a deep level of wisdom in terms of the self and others.

“Whatsoever your deepest driving desire is, so shall your thoughts be, as your thoughts are so shall your deeds be, and your deeds shall echo in eternity”

Related: Mark Pilgrim On Authenticity In Business


As entrepreneurs we will do well to be reminded constantly that our businesses are extensions of ourselves and our teams. To do the work of self-development and the development of others on the deepest level possible is the key to developing and growing your business. First and foremost invest in your own development as an entrepreneur and person and in that of your team, for when business teams stagnate the business stagnates.

Be yourself. Be Authentic

Trying to be a Tony Robbins or a Richard Branson when you are simply not like them is futile effort. You are not here to be someone else you are here to be the best form of yourself as an entrepreneur and person. Wasting the energy to try to be someone else will, in time just leave you tired, unhappy and unfulfilled. To be authentically you, you must first find out who you truly are under the periphery of personality types, likes and dislikes.

Related: Podcasting Is The Most Authentic Form Of Advertising

Take the first step towards authenticity and honestly and deeply ponder the questions of:

What really gives me peace, or what will? What in life truly excites me and sustainably so? What do I sincerely have passion for and a deep love for? When I completely stop acting up to others expectations of me and be who I really am and do what I really want to do, what would that picture look like?

Being authentically grateful

To ensure that he lives a life of authentic gratitude a fellow coach, William Badenhorst regularly asks himself the following very meaningful question:

“What if I were to wake up tomorrow morning only with the things that I was grateful for the previous night?”

Sincerely reflecting on this question casts light on the level of gratitude that you live with. Develop authentic gratitude even for the trials and challenges on your entrepreneurial and leadership journey, for as the great Persian poet Rumi exclaimed:

“Through the wound, the light seeps in”

These beautiful poetic words alludes to the fact that there is always something positive to learn and take from even severe challenges, that is if one is willing to look deeper into the situation and be truly objective about it.

Related: Women Who Lead: Bonnie Cooper And Esna Colyn On Wearing The Mantle Of Leadership

Lets’ get practical

Within a high pressure and highly competitive (within the business team) environment wherein creating an image is important as opposed to acting according to character, authenticity suffers. When you as an entrepreneur and leader create a paradigm shift towards constant self-improvement within your business and hire and fire according to character (true self within the context of this writing) and not image (false self within the context of this).

  • By example make it ok to admit your fears, weaknesses and struggles. If you hide them they never surface and thus are never worked upon and improved. Firstly admit your fears to your team and also explain what you are doing about it and then create an environment where they would openly share theirs and what they are going to do about it.
  • Be authentically you, if you are an operations expert be that and focus on that do not try to create the image of being a marketing genius when you are not, just develop the skill of finding the right person in your team to handle the marketing.
  • Starting now go on a lifelong journey of constant learning. If you do not like to read, listen to podcasts, or go and learn directly from a mentor, alternatively there is a wealth of free information on the net.
  • Ask yourself earnestly: “Where has my excuses got me to?”. Stop entertaining your own excuses because they form self –inflicted stumbling blocks on your journey.
  • Let your voice of authenticity and your truth be heard within the business environment. Withholding the value of your ideas and insights is a disservice to the business.
  • Take action. A meeting is purely talk. Thinking is just that, thinking. Procrastination is the fertiliser that problems use to grow. Do!!! Think before you do yes, but just for as long as really, really necessary and then do! Empires are built by building it not by thinking about it and doing nothing.

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