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Are You Destined for Business Greatness?

If you start a business, odds are that your company will fail.

Monique Verduyn




Worldwide, the data shows that the majority of start-ups go out of business within five years, and two-thirds are no longer operating ten years after being formed. What is it that makes some entrepreneurs successful, while so many others fail?

Mark Holtshousen, currently regarded as one of the leading executive and transformational coaches in South Africa and based at Cycan, believes that only a small number of people lead truly meaningful lives, which is why so few are successful.

“Most people really aren’t living, they’re doing time. Lives that are meaningful and that really work don’t happen by mistake. We don’t default into them. A life that matters is earmarked by passion, purpose, and power. These things should not just punctuate our existence. Most people have become so used to being comfortably miserable that they get surprised when magic happens in their lives.”

Holtshousen’s use of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), the study of the interactions between psychological factors, the central nervous system, and immune function as modulated by the neuroendocrine system, has led him to work with people within a diagnostic framework created by Dr Ian Weinberg.

The framework consists of three triangles representing archetypes of behaviour: personal health potential, potential to experience enjoyment, and potential for healthy interaction with other archetypes.

When success becomes inevitable

When it comes to successful entrepreneurship, the Alpha archtype’s approach to life is key. Success is almost inevitable for them because they have identified what they do best with the least amount of effort. “This approach is in stark contrast to traditional CV-driven capabilities and competencies.

If you know what you do best and how you add value you’ll never feel threatened because you’re not competing for space – you own that space.”  Happily, people do have the ability to shift the way they think and become more self-aware: you’re  not condemned to be a Bravo archtype, while a Charlie archtype who becomes aware of their capabilities and competencies can transition into the other archetypes.

“Success comes to people who are highly self-aware. It’s that awareness that is key. It’s the essential first step toward maximising skills, improving judgement and identifying opportunities.”

An entrepreneur who sets out from a place of self-awareness utilises and leverages their natural passion. Yes, there do need to be critical context-specific events that take place to help get a business off the ground, but entrepreneurship is very often rooted in some kind of disaster or calamity, such as retrenchment or downsizing.

Many entrepreneurs are corporate refugees who leave the world of big business having become thoroughly disillusioned. But there are also those who are driven purely by the desire to do something different based on what they do well, and what comes easiest to them.

Why you need to cultivate awareness

Pointing to highly successful business founders like Richard Branson, who has no tertiary education, and university drop-outs Michael Dell and Mark Zuckerberg, Holtshousen says gift trumps expertise all the time.

“Entrepreneurs who discover their own talents at a young age do themselves a great favour because they short-cut the process to self-actualisation. In doing so, they manage to avoid the career trap that happens to many senior business leaders who find themselves on a trajectory dictated by the degree they chose to do in their late teens.

These people often have no idea where their gifts and competencies lie. Again, the key is to identify your natural talents – the things that are easy for you to do.

Great entrepreneurs have always been able to identify what they’re good at and to stick to it.” The lesson here is that if you have an entrepreneurial bent, identify your strengths and let your education be informed by that so that you leverage your inborn abilities.

Holtshousen says one of the simplest ways to develop true self-awareness is to listen to what people say about you. “In many instances, we don’t realise what we are naturally talented at because we do it without thinking.

These are unconscious competencies, which are really the most valuable if you want to tap into what will make you successful. It’s about being able to articulate and label what you might think of as simple common sense, but which actually defines for you the space that you alone own.”

All true entrepreneurs, he says, know what they’re unconsciously competent at and they’re able to access that early on in their lives. “It’s important to honour and respect your gifts. When you know what they are and you have named them, you can build a value proposition that you can take to market.”

Failure, on the other hand, often results from unawareness of those competencies. When you’re unable to label the uniqueness of the competencies you are taking to market, success will be difficult to achieve because you’ll be competing in a “me too” space, rather than a “me only” one.

“That is done by knowing what you excel at and building a business around that, rather than building a business first and then hoping that it resonates with who you are. That’s what made Steve Jobs such an icon. He was frustrated with the status quo and he understood how he was able to do things differently. He held this knowledge as sacred, he honoured it and built a business based on that, and not on a big idea.”

The three archetypes

The archetypes, Alpha, Bravo and Charlie, are partly drawn from a Y-axis that represents “passionate, purposeful energy input” while the X-axis represents the “spectrum of environment integrated in the participant’s subjective world view,” or how inclusive they are. Holtshousen says every individual has the potential for each archetype, but we have one archetype that is dominant in our lives, determining how we function.

1. The Bravo Archetype

Traits: Ambitious, aggressive, insensitive, judgemental, greedy

Drives: Need for recognition; fear of failure

This is an archetype obsessed with their own needs and driven ambitiously to achieve these needs. The first drive is essentially one of fear – fear of failing to achieve the objectives. The second drive is one characterised by the need for recognition and adoration.

This archetype has integrated only ‘own needs’. Therefore everything that lies outside of self-interest – the subjective world-view – is judged to be unimportant and of inferior value. This archetype is thus insensitive to all that lies outside of their interests.

“Most business leaders are Bravos,” says Holtshousen. “These are high-performing, highly ambitious, motivated people, but they tend to be driven by fear – fear of being ignored, fear of failure, fear of being deprived or losing. Their motivation tends to quite negative, which is alarming if you consider that Bravos populate the upper echelons of most companies.”

The Charlie Archetype

Traits: Unmotivated, poor self-esteem, poor self-image

Drives: Hypochondriac, diminishing others’ successes

Once again, ‘own needs’ is important. The difference between the Bravo and Charlie archetypes is that while the Bravo archetype has experienced success, the Charlie archetype has only experienced very limited success and gratification. The Charlie archetype therefore emerges from a heritage of futility.

This futility results from continued failure to experience success and gratification despite the repeated attempts in this regard. A point is reached where subjectively the Charlie archetype believes that no amount of energy input will result in any meaningful result. This mind state is termed hopeless-helpless and is associated with self-destructive chemistry.

Two noticeable drives of the Charlie archetype include hypochondria and the need to diminish the successes of others. The former reflects the need to be noticed and acknowledged while the latter results from a situation in which the Charlie archetype, having never really experienced success and gratification, finds it difficult to share an environment with successful individuals.

The Charlie archetype therefore sabotages the successes of others to lessen the pain of failure.

“Charlies are entrapped individuals who typically have low self-awareness and little belief in their capabilities. They’re often the result of a childhood lived with no rewards. This doesn’t mean that they’re not capable. Vincent van Gogh is a great example of a Charlie who was extremely talented, yet had no sense of his own resourcefulness.”

3. The Alpha archetype

Traits: Confident, self-sufficient, non-judgemental

Drives: Personal development, environmental development, enjoyment

This is the benchmark archetype. In this archetype we find a healthy purposeful energy input together with a very broad base reflecting an environmental integration well beyond ‘own needs’. In this way, the Alpha archetype reflects a significant surplus of resilience in terms of wellness and performance.

Their broad environmental appreciation rules out the development of insensitivity or judgmentalism which is found in the Bravo type. The Alpha type is driven by the need for personal development and fulfilment as well as enjoyment. There is very little fear of failure in this confident and self-assured individual.

“The Alpha is the ideal archetype. In society, it’s represented by people like Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. In business, great entrepreneurs and businesspeople like Mark Shuttleworth, Clem Sunter, and Michael Jordaan are representative.

This is the ideal space to occupy if you want to achieve maximum success in your life – that means living a life of self-actualisation that is driven by passion, purpose and power. An Alpha has achieved maximum fulfilment and is gratified, has fully integrated  social, recreational and work environments, and is not threatened by anyone.

It’s interesting to note that because Alphas are not fear-driven, companies tend to prefer employing Bravos. Alphas do, however, make the most successful entrepreneurs because they have the benefit of absolute freedom in their lives.

They understand their unique value proposition, and that frees them from the need to ever feel threatened. In today’s economic climate, that’s an enormous achievement.”

Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.



How To Make Speedy Decisions As A Leader

Whom of us has not been held prisoner by our own devices of procrastination and fear? Whom has not used delaying tactics purely to play for time only to learn the true practical meaning of Shakespeares words: “I wasted time and now time doth waste me”?

Dirk Coetsee




“Trusting one another, however can never mean trusting with the lip and mistrusting in the heart.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Self-trust is the first secret of success” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Whom of us has not been held prisoner by our own devices of procrastination and fear? Whom has not used delaying tactics purely to play for time only to learn the true practical meaning of Shakespeares words: “I wasted time and now time doth waste me”?

Rapid decision-making

Harvard research has identified amongst other key traits of the most successful CEOs’ of Fortune 500 companies the ability to make decisions quickly and act on them at a rapid speed albeit with the inherent acknowledgement that they might get it wrong forty percent of the time.

Related: 7 Strategies For Development As An Entrepreneur

Why is speedy decision making and a rapid pace of execution so critical? Top leaders know that making quick decisions combined with swift execution creates a much better chance of success as opposed to very slow and bureaucratic verdicts underpinned by little or no action.

When there is a high level of distrust amongst the stakeholders in any entrepreneurial venture literally everything slows down as negative arguments ensue and takes up an enormous amount of precious time. Forced action underpinned by distrust loses quality and speed and can potentially bring a business to its knees.

“The speed of trust” is therefore an extremely valuable principle that all Leaders should live by, that is if they wish to serve a higher purpose than themselves and others. Those Leaders whom have developed a high level of self-trust and have earned the trust of their team members have put themselves in the very advantageous position of being empowered to move towards their vision at a rapid pace through quickfire decisions positively multiplied by confident and competent execution.

“The speed of trust” does not mean that decisions are made without careful consideration and stakeholder input putting the level of quality of execution at imminent risk. It simply means that the decision-making process is quicker than most as mistrust does not cast unnecessary shadows of doubt over the intentions and ambitions of all the stakeholders.

A Leader or Leaders whom has fostered self-trust within themselves will not go through lengthy spells of procrastination that those whom lack self -awareness and suffer from severe self- doubt has to go through.

How do I execute at the speed of trust?

How do I practically bring the principle of the “speed of trust” to fruition within my business? Firstly, ensure that this critical principal is applied throughout all business processes which starts with hiring trustworthy people and by working those out of the business whom cannot be trusted.  Secondly, as  a Leader your actions and words echo throughout every aspect of the business therefore do what you say you are going to do. Admit to your mistakes and fix them.

Thirdly be authentic in your pursuit of the vision of your business. One of the possible ways to achieve that is by being a visible and living example of the business values that you advocate as a leader.

Related: Sales Leadership: The New Frontier

Lastly in order for you to be trusted as a leader you must first show trust in others. Trust others by giving them more responsibility and verbalise your high level of trust in your team members. Passionately speak about this principle and its positive fruits at every opportunity. Make the practical display of this principle by employees or any other stakeholders known to all stakeholders and be lavish with your praise when anyone is willing to earn the trust of other team members.

A very good example of this principle in action was embodied by the Supreme Russian commander, Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov whom never lost a battle and was respected by both his men and his enemies. He earned the trust of his men by being amongst them as often as he could, by sharing their hardships and by offering them the most authentic and quality military training known to man within that period of history.

Suvorov was a humble student of warfare and documented every detail of his learning experiences which included setbacks that he faced. He observed the morale of his men first hand and ensured that he inspired them not only through his inspiring speeches but by being a living example of discipline and bravery.

I will leave the reader with an important question to ponder, one that has echoed throughout history: Do you trust enough to be trusted?

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What Kind Of Leader Are You?

Your effectiveness in scaling your business starts with the kind of leader you are. Here’s how you can build yourself up into a leader others will follow.

Nicholas Haralambous




When you are in start-up mode it’s tough to take a step back and think about the kind of leader you are or want to be. Most of the time you’re fighting to keep your business alive, never mind think about how you lead.

This is especially challenging when it’s faster and more efficient to just step up and do things yourself. It’s easier for you to make the decisions, do the work, check the work, follow up on the work, etc. However, it’s this situation that prevents young companies from scaling to the next level.

Ask More Questions

I work really hard every day to be quieter. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I fail so dismally that I actually do more damage than good. You see, I like to talk. I like to hear other people talk and I like to bash around ideas until they become something bigger, something better and something that can move from idea into action.

Related: Your Leadership Journey Starts Now… And Go!

Coupled with liking to talk, I also like being right. Who doesn’t? Add onto these two things the fact that I like to read and research and then throw in a teeny bit of ego or pride and it’s a recipe for leadership disaster.

If I am the most well-read, loudest and most opinionated person in a meeting then all that happens is that I end up pitching an idea, getting everyone to agree with this idea and then assigning the work on the idea to become a reality. Basically, I am working with, for and amongst myself. It’s an echo chamber that leads to bad ideas surviving and an unhappy team leaving.

The Collective Is More Intelligent Than the Individual

As a leader and founder, you probably feel like you are the person with the best understanding of the problem you are trying to solve and the best person to solve the problem. This can lead to a dictatorial approach to leadership, team inclusion and problem solving. You have an idea, you tell your team and they do what you tell them.

If this is how you do it then I have to ask you a simple question: Why did you hire smart people? Just so you could tell them what to do? If that’s the case rather hire capable but cheap people, not the best.

Your best people are there to help you scale your business beyond your own thinking and time. There are a set amount of hours in the day. There are only so many emails you can answer in your day.

A good example in my business is customer support. We pride ourselves in our impeccable customer service online and offline. I can’t physically answer every question posed by customers but I can hire incredible colleagues, entrust them with my vision and views on our customers and then trust them to go out and use their good judgement.

Work With The Best

Here’s the kicker to being a good leader: You need to work with the best people.

This is not something I say as a passing statement. I want you to stop reading right now and think about the ten people you interact with at your company every day. Are they the best people you could be working with? If not, why not? How do you find the best people and bring them into your business? Go and do that.

Related: You’re The Boss, So Be The Boss

It’s important to work with the best for two very simple reasons.

Working with the best people pushes you to be better. If you are literally the smartest person in the room in every aspect of your business it means that you are surrounded by subpar players and you are not learning anything. The people around you are meant to educate you and push your business into places you didn’t even know were there.

Second, working with the best people attracts other incredible people. If you have a business full of average team members, can you guess what kind of people they pull towards your business? More average or less than average people. Why? Because average people don’t want to be surrounded by incredible people. If they are, they look worse and not better.

It’s incredibly difficult to be a good leader all of the time. In fact, it’s close to impossible. What you can do is try to be a leader who communicates, learns and grows with your team in an open manner.

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All The Business Wisdom You Need From 4 Famous Entrepreneurs

Combine the knowledge of the greatest entrepreneurs with your own hard earned lessons.

Brian Hamilton



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There’s a lot of deification of entrepreneur “personalities.” The truth is that a few entrepreneurs, in my opinion, are probably luckier than good. But, some of the praise and deification is warranted. There have been some fantastic business leaders in this country, and one can learn a ton from studying them. Below, I’ve compiled a list of the four entrepreneurs who have taught me the most over the years.

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