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Primi Piatti: How Francesco Zanasi & Peter Castle Built Their Restaurant Chain

Success in the food industry is not easily won but Francesco Zanasi and Peter Castle, co-founders of Primi Piatti, have cooked up a profitable recipe of passion and energy.

Juliet Pitman

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Francesco Zanasi & Peter Castle of Primi Piatti

Peter Castle was never looking to own a restaurant empire. But then neither was Francesco Zanasi. Which makes the story of how the two entrepreneurs got together to form Primi Piatti (today a 30 store empire) an interesting one. Castle, a quantity surveyor by training, came to the food industry quite by accident. “I was busy building a small retail centre in Tyger Valley and Spur Steak Ranches were going to put a Panarotti’s and a Hard Rock Café franchise in it. But when it came to it, things didn’t work out with the two prospective franchisees they’d been talking to. So there I was with a building that had been purpose-built for these two restaurants, and no tenants. I decided the only way to make sense of the development was to become a franchisee myself,” he relates. In his extremely limited spare time, Castle did the Spur training course during the evenings. “Here I was – 35 years old and this was not what I had planned to be doing. I was trying to run a full-time development business during the day and do this course at night, but I went through with it,” he says.

 

The restaurants opened their doors in 1990 but, as Castle relates, neither of them worked. “I always say I got together with Francesco because of my business failures – and those were two of them. But I guess I didn’t learn my lesson because I continued in the restaurant trade, opening a Spur in the Waterfront.” He secured a lease at the Waterfront extension and a franchise agreement with Spur for a Hard Rock Café. “And then one of the best deals of my life landed in my lap. The Americans who own the Hard Rock Café brand in the US wanted the Waterfront store and they paid me $2 million to hand back the franchise agreement and cede the lease to them,” he recalls. If Castle thought his restaurant fortunes had changed, he was about to be proved wrong. Cash-flush and with his Waterfront Spur doing well, he sunk his capital into a Waterfront version of London’s prestigious Sloane Street Joseph Ltd clothing store and affiliated Joe’s Café. “We took a bath!” he laughs, “Neither the clothing store nor the restaurant worked. My partners and I lost about R5,5 million in that store over three years.”

 

You’d think that by this stage, a man who’d never wanted to be in restaurants in the first place would have been put off them for life. But, asked why he didn’t throw in his apron, Castle is characteristically philosophical, “I knew the industry backwards by then – I certainly knew how to lose money in it! And remember that I came from the property development industry where no one ever wants to pay you and if the market turns bad, you just sit. The restaurant trade is a cash business where you don’t have to carry debtors. Even with failed restaurants, I was always attracted by the positive cash flow.” One day as Castle was pondering the sad state of his fortunes, the idea for Primi was born. “I was eating lunch in a place called Nino in Greenmarket Square. It was run by this maverick old Italian guy called Nino Zanasi and his two sons, Christian and Francesco and let me tell you, this place was the buzz.
It was an institution in Cape Town – if you wanted good food, that’s where you went. It was the kind of place where people didn’t mind queueing. The energy and the vibe were intoxicating – it was a unique dining experience,” he recalls. “At Primi we have a concept called Urban Energy and that describes exactly what these guys were about – from father and sons to the waiters, everyone was passionate about that restaurant.” Castle’s idea was for the Zanasis to help him create a new restaurant on the site of his failed Joe’s Café Waterfront shop. But the Zanasis had other ideas. “I approached Francesco and he just batted me for a six,” he laughs. “Old man Nino ran the floor with Francesco in the kitchen and Christian at the bar – they had a thriving family business over which they had total control. Why fix something that’s not broken, right? So they had no intention of helping me to open a restaurant,” he explains.

 

 

Castle was nothing if not persistent, however, and for a year tried to convince Francesco to join him. “During that year, they were approached by investors to open a Nino in Kuwait City which Francesco managed there for six months, and they took over a restaurant in Camp’s Bay.” With those forays into ‘expansion’ Francesco finally agreed to Castle’s offer. “I told them to come and look at the business and that I’d change anything they wanted and they could have 50% of the profits,” he says.

So Primi Piatti opened its doors in the Waterfront in August 1999 and made a fortune. “Joe’s Café never did more than R200 000 a month. In the first ten days that our new restaurant was open, we did R250 000, and R800 000 in the first month,” says Castle. The reason for the success? “The Zanasi family following. Simple,” he answers. “The buzz in Cape Town was that the Zanasis had opened in the Waterfront.” In fact, for the first six months, the public referred to Primi as Nino at the Waterfront. “It was a year before I heard the name Primi being used,” he says.

 

With the success of the Waterfront store, Castle set his sites on expansion. “I just knew we were onto something big.” But, as anyone who has tried to set up a restaurant franchise and failed will tell you, running a tightly-controlled family operation is very different from running an extended restaurant empire. The essence of the Zanasis’ success lay in their personal and passionate attention to service and the quality of the food, and Castle was warned by colleagues in the restaurant trade to leave well alone and not try to replicate the success of the Waterfront Primi store. “They said it couldn’t be done,” he says. And yet, that’s precisely what Castle and Zanasi have managed to achieve. How? Castle explains:  “I remember in the early days when we spoke about expanding, Nino always used to say to me: ‘Yes Peter, but what about the food?’ and it’s something I’ve never forgotten. Never forget the quality – the food has to be outstanding. That’s a given and it’s something we’ve never deviated from.”

 

But there was something else as well. “At the end of the day, you can probably make a Napolitano sauce as well as we can, so it can’t only be about the food. Back in the days of the Greenmarket Square store, the thing that the Zanasis had that attracted people was passion. Passion that led to a level of customer-centricity that had people lining up outside. And that’s what we needed to capture and keep,” he says. Today, if you walk into any Primi Piatti, one of the first things you’ll notice is the iconic orange overalls worn by the waiters with the words “Work is Love made Visible” emblazoned on the back. It’s a principle Castle says is absolutely central to the company’s success. But passion, unlike Napolitano sauce, is not easy to bottle. Castle and Zanasi know this better than anyone. “The biggest challenge, back then and still today, is the human one. To find passionate people, train them properly and keep them motivated,” says Castle. And motivation, he says, comes not purely from money, but from the ability to grow and develop. So Primi has focused on two things – stringent, comprehensive, fanatical training and developing people from the inside.

 

“In the early days we had a training barracks. Anyone who wanted to work at Primi Piatti, from a waiter or chef to a franchisee, had to go and live there while undergoing training. The only separation was between men and women so you literally lived with the people you were going to work with. It was like an army camp – in fact, that’s where the chevrons on the waiter’s overalls come from – it was like a ranking system,” Castle explains. The barracks itself may be a thing of the past but the training programme is no less rigorous; it takes between six to 12 months to train operators and staff before opening a new Primi store. “To operate and run a restaurant successfully you need to have empathy. And empathy only comes from knowing how to do everything that everyone else in the restaurant has to do. So our operators have to be the best at everything – the best waiter, the best griller, the best barman,” explains Castle.

 

Finding the right operators is an ongoing challenge, as Castle explains, “We need people who are aligned with our belief system but once a restaurant brand is perceived to be successful, you get inundated by people with money who want to invest in it. In this industry there is no easy way to make money – there are no short cuts. You can’t sit on the sidelines and expect to be successful. The operational intensity is very high and you can’t just have managers and investors – you have to have owner-operators.” Finding people with the right mix is a tough job, which is perhaps why Primi has focused so much on internal development. “We don’t actually care what skills or experience people have. What we’re looking for is passion – for people and food and the Primi way of doing things. You can train people to do tasks but you can’t train them to be passionate. So taking people from the inside who have the right attitude and giving them the potential to grow and develop and improve has really worked well for us. We have people here who started in the scullery and are now general managers of stores.”

 

But while he concedes that it’s not the easiest or fastest approach, it’s certainly the most effective. This is why development is so close to the heart of the company. “Sixty percent of our stores are operated by people from historically disadvantaged backgrounds – but this hasn’t really been by design. It’s because we’ve taken people from the inside and given them opportunities.” A search for new opportunities is what compelled the birth of Primi and it’s what continues to drive the growth of the brand. The company has diversified into hotels and currently owns and operates three. “Hotels are something I’ve been involved in over the years and it made sense to link the two in the way we have. We cross sell between the hotels and the restaurants,” says Castle.

 

Other exciting developments in the pipeline include the launch of Primi Caffé and Primi Espress, which will diversify the business into the European coffee bar and fast-food take-out markets. All existing Primi restaurants serve take-aways but the company wanted to have a specifically-focused outlet to avoid having to ‘serve two masters’ in the restaurant. Primi Espress stores will be suited to residential nodes, food courts, high streets and the like, with a lower capital outlay and a higher return on equity. “Everything we do is about redefining the restaurant experience and we want to continue to push boundaries.” The company recently won the international MAPIC Award for Retail Regeneration for its sustainability-driven store at the Lifestyle Garden Centre in Randburg as well as the Spectrum Award – Celebration of Retail Excellence from the South African Council of Shopping Centres. Castle concludes, “You need to continually be innovating and looking to the future. This means pulling through young blood in the company that will infuse new energy into the brand.”

 

Finding the right franchisees

Finding the right franchisees is a challenge with which Primi’s franchise director, Hitesh Patel, is intimately familiar. He explains: “Screening franchisees is probably the single most important thing to do at the outset. That rests with the directors of Primi. The prospective franchisee meets with Peter and me initially and then gets to meet with Francesco and Gavin Burnard, our operations directors. We make every effort to be upfront and realistic about owning a Primi. We do not create a false illusion. Key to franchising is what is known as the disclosure document, where you disclose every single piece of information that would be relevant to a prospective franchisee. We also insist that they spend time in the restaurant with Gavin or Francesco in order to experience it first hand. We do not make use of psychometric tests as we find that they are too subjective. If after all of this, the franchisee wants to proceed, we begin the training process and site selection suitable to the specific franchisee.”

There are a range of mistakes to avoid. Of these, he lists the following as the most common:

1. Insufficient support from the franchisor with regard to training, regular menu updates, area management support, brand awareness, point of sale database support, purchasing power and negotiating with suppliers

2. The concept that is being franchised has to have critical mass, be unique and identifiable and must have good food first and foremost, which often is not the case.

3. Many restaurants try to grow their brand by opening stores too quickly, without bedding down the foundation and getting it right first; 

4. The franchisor gets franchisees to sign rental deals that are onerous and unaffordable, placing undue pressure on the franchisee;

5. Businesses are over-capitalised, again placing undue pressure on the franchisee and ultimately the brand.

 

Adapting models for greater efficiency

Franchising and growth bring other challenges as well, as Primi’s franchise director Hitesh Patel explains: “A challenge that we continually face is the signing of good rental deals with landlords. Interest rates have risen, building costs are higher than ever before and land is at a premium, which ultimately results in excessive rentals being charged. This places a burden on the franchisee’s business, particularly at the outset when they are redeeming high debt. Coupled with this are the excessive labour costs associated with running a restaurant. In order to address these problems, we have opted for smaller premises, more efficient kitchens, multi skilled staff and an intensive training programme. It makes more sense to turn tables faster than to have half the restaurant empty for most of the day. We have also been successful in negotiating with the IDC and various banks good finance packages that ease the pressure on the franchisee at the outset.”

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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Entrepreneur Profiles

Afritorch Digital An Overnight Success That Was Years In The Making

By any standard, local start-up AfriTorch Digital has seen phenomenal growth and traction. But, while the company’s success might seem quick and effortless, there is a lot of hard work behind it.

GG van Rooyen

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Vital stats

  • Players: Michel M. Katuta and Thabo Mphate
  • Company: Afritorch Digital
  • Established: 2017
  • Visit: afritorchdigital.com
  • About: Afritorch Digital assists research agencies in conducting market research through its in-depth knowledge of the African continent and its use of the latest digital technologies.

There is a saying that goes: It takes years to become an overnight success. While a company or individual might seem to enjoy sudden (and seemingly effortless) success, there is often more to the story. The results are usually public and well-publicised, but the years of hard work that came before go unnoticed.

Local start-up AfriTorch Digital is a great example of this. Since launching in May 2017, the business has seen excellent growth. “To be honest, we were very surprised by the level of success. Things progressed a lot quicker than we anticipated,” says co-founder Thabo Mphate.

 “All the goals we had hoped to reach in four or sixth months, we managed to hit in the first month. It was just amazing.”

Related: Edward Moshole Founder Of Chem-Fresh Started With R68 And Turned It Into A R25 Million Business

Preparing to launch

While AfriTorch Digital has certainly seen quick growth and success, it would be a mistake to assume that the same is true of the two founders. For them, the creation of AfriTorch was years in the making.

“The goal was always to start our own business,” says Thabo. “I think we’re both entrepreneurs at heart, and we saw an opportunity to create a unique kind of business that offered an innovative solution to clients, but we also realised the value of getting some experience first. Without the knowledge, experience, network and intimate understanding of the industry landscape, getting AfriTorch off the ground would have been incredibly difficult.”

Entrepreneurs tend to dislike working for other people. They want to forge their own path. However, as AfriTorch Digital’s case illustrates, spending time in the industry that you’d like to launch your business in is tremendously useful.

“Finding clients when we launched AfriTorch was relatively easy,” says company co-founder and CEO Michel Katuta. “One reason for this, I think, was that we were offering potential clients a great solution, but the other was that we had established a name for ourselves in the industry. People knew us. We had worked for respected companies, and we had done work for large clients. So, when we launched, we were able to provide a new start-up with credibility in the industry.”

The Lesson: Becoming an entrepreneur doesn’t always start with the launch of a company. Spending time in an established business, gaining experience and making contacts, can be invaluable. Very often, it’s the relationships you build during this time and the knowledge you accumulate that will help make your company a success.

Solving a problem

Everyone knows that launching a successful business means solving a burning problem, but what does that mean in practice? Aren’t all the burning problems already being addressed? And how do you attempt this without any money?

Thabo and Michel identified a small group of potential clients with a burning problem. Crucially, it was a problem that no one outside of the research field could have identified. Having spent years in the trenches, they saw a massive gap waiting to be filled.

Related: AutoTrader South Africa’s George Mienie Knows Disruptive Innovation Is More Than Shifting Gears

“A decade ago, researchers were still debating whether the future of the field was in the digital space. That debate is now over. Everyone agrees that online is the way to go. What once took months now takes days or hours, and the cost of research can be reduced by a factor of five,” says Michel.

“But researchers are not technology specialists. If made available, they are eager to adopt digital tools, but they aren’t eager to develop these tools themselves. That’s not their area of expertise.”

AfriTorch Digital stepped up to provide these tools. Katuta has a background in software engineering, so he could approach research problems with the eye of a tech specialist. Very soon, research agencies were lining up to make use of AfriTorch Digital’s services.

“We work with research agencies that conduct research on behalf of their clients. We provide the digital tools needed to conduct research online, and we provide the online communities. A big reason for our success is that we understand Africa. A lot of companies want to conduct research in Africa, but traditionally, this has been very hard. There was a lack of access and a lack of infrastructure that made research very hit-and-miss. Thanks to the continent’s adoption of mobile technology, it’s now much easier. If you have the technological know-how and an understanding of the environment, you can do amazing things,” says Michel.

The Lesson: Find a niche and own it. Research agencies might not have seemed like an obvious and lucrative market, but having spent time in the industry, the AfriTorch founders were able to identify clients who would be desperate for their offering. Spending time in an industry will help you see where the opportunities lie.


Take note

Before launching a business, get to know an industry from the inside out. This will give you an unparalleled view into gaps you can service.

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Jason English On Growing Prommac’s Turnover Tenfold And Being Mindful Of The ‘Oros Effect’

Rapid growth and expansion can lead to a dilution of the foundational principles that defined your company in its early days. Jason English of Prommac discusses how you can retain your company’s culture and vision while growing quickly.

GG van Rooyen

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Vital stats

  • Player: Jason English
  • Position: CEO
  • Company: Prommac
  • Associations: Young President’s Organisation (YPO)
  • Turnover: R300 million (R1 billion as a group)
  • Visit: prommac.com
  • About: Prommac is a construction services business specialising in commissioning, plant maintenance, plant shutdowns and capital projects. Jason English purchased the majority of the company late in 2012, and currently acts as its CEO. Under his leadership, the company has grown from a small business to an international operation.

Since Jason English purchased Prommac in 2012, the company has experienced phenomenal growth. At the time he took over as owner and CEO, it was a small operation that boasted a turnover below R50 million.

Today, Prommac is part of a diversified group of companies under the CG Holdings umbrella and alone has grown it’s turnover nearly ten fold since Jason English took over. As a group, CG Holdings, of which Jason is a founder, is generating in excess of R1 billion. How has Prommac managed such phenomenal growth? According to Jason, it’s all about company culture… and about protecting your glass of Oros.

Jason English

Related: 5 Top Lessons From LAWTrust To Prepare For Super-Charged Growth

“As your business grows, it suffers from something that I call the Oros Effect. Think of your small start-up as an undiluted glass of Oros. When you’re leading a small company, it really is a product of you. You know everything about the business and you make every decision. The systems, the processes, the culture — these are all a product of your actions and beliefs. As you grow, though, things start to change. With every new person added to the mix, you dilute that glass of Oros.

“That’s not to say that your employees are doing anything wrong, or that they are actively trying to damage the business, but the culture — which was once so clear — becomes hazy. The company loses that singular vision. As the owner, you’re forced to share ‘your Oros’ with an increasing number of people, and by pouring more and more of it into other glasses, it loses the distinctive flavour it once had. By the time you’re at the head of a large international company, you can easily be left with a glass that contains more water than Oros.

“Protecting and nurturing a company’s culture isn’t easy, but it’s worth the effort. Prommac has enjoyed excellent growth, and I ascribe a lot of that success to our company culture. Whenever we’ve spent real time and money on replenishing the Oros, we’ve seen the benefits of it directly afterwards.

“There have been times when we have made the tough decision to slow growth and focus on getting the culture right. Growth is great, of course, but it’s hard to get the culture right when new people are joining the company all the time and you’re scaling aggressively. So, we’ve slowed down at times, but we’ve almost always seen immediate benefits in terms of growth afterwards. We focus heavily on training that deals with things like the systems, processes and culture of the company. We’ve also created a culture and environment that you won’t necessarily associate with engineering and heavy industries. In fact, it has more in common with a Silicon Valley company like Google than your traditional engineering firm.

“Acquisitions can be particularly tricky when it comes to culture and vision. As mentioned, CG Holdings has acquired several companies over the last few years, and when it comes to acquisition, managing the culture is far trickier than it is with normal hiring. When you hire a new employee, you can educate them in the ways and culture of the business. When you acquire an entire company, you import not only a large number of new people, but also an existing organisation with its own culture and vision. Because of this, we’ve created a centralised hub that manages all training and other company activities pertaining to culture. We don’t allow the various companies to do their own thing. That helps to manage the culture as the company grows and expands, since it ensures that everyone’s on the same page.

“Systems and processes need to make sense. One of the key reasons that drove us to create a central platform for training is the belief that systems and processes need to make sense to employees. Everyone should understand the benefits of using a system. If they don’t understand a system or process, they will revert to what they did in the past, especially when you’re talking about an acquired company. You should expect employees to make use of the proper systems and processes, but they need to be properly trained in them first. A lot of companies have great systems, but they aren’t very good at actually implementing them, and the primary reason for this is a lack of training.

“Operations — getting the work done — is seen as the priority, and training is only done if and when a bit of extra time is available. We fell into that trap a year ago. We had enjoyed a lot of growth and momentum, so we didn’t slow down. Eventually, we could see that this huge push, and the consequent lack of focus on the core values of the business, were affecting operations. So, we had to put the hammer down and refocus on systems, processes and culture. Today Prommac is back at the top of it’s game having been awarded the prestigious Service Provider of the year for 2017 by Sasol for both their Secunda and Sasolburg chemical complexes.

Related: Establishing The Wheels Of Change In Business

“If you want to know about the state of your company’s culture, go outside the business. We realised that we needed to ‘pour more Oros into the company’ by asking clients. We use customer surveys to track our own performance and to make sure that the company is in a healthy state. It’s a great way to monitor your organisation, and there are trigger questions that can be asked, which will give you immediate insight into the state of the culture.

prommac

“It’s important, of course, to ask your employees about the state of the business and its culture as well, but you should also ask your customers. Your clients will quickly pick up if something is wrong. The fact of the matter is, internal things like culture can have a dramatic effect on the level of service offered to customers. That’s why it’s so important to spend time on these internal things — they have a direct impact on every aspect of the business.

“Remember that clients understand the value of training. There is always a tension between training and operational requirements, but don’t assume that your clients will automatically be annoyed because you’re sending employees on training. Be open and honest, explain to a client that an employee who regularly services the company will be going on training. Ultimately, the client benefits if you spend time and money on an employee that they regularly deal with.

“For the most part, they will understand and respect your decision. At times, there will be push back, both from clients and from your own managers, but you need to be firm. In the long term, training is win-win for everyone involved. Also, you don’t want a client to become overly dependent on a single employee from your company. What if that employee quits? Training offers a good opportunity to swop out employees, and to ensure that you have a group of individuals who can be assigned to a specific client. We rotate our people to make sure that no single person becomes a knowledge expert on a client’s facility, so when we need to pull someone out of the system for training, it’s not the end of the world.

“Managers will often be your biggest challenge when it comes to training. Early on, we hired a lot of young people we could train from scratch. As we grew and needed more expertise, we started hiring senior employees with experience. When it came to things like systems, processes and culture, we actually had far more issues with some of the senior people.

“Someone with significant experience approaches things with preconceived notions and beliefs, so it can be more difficult to get buy-in from them. Don’t assume that training is only for entry-level employees. You need to focus on your senior people and make sure that they see the value of what you are doing. It doesn’t matter how much Oros you add to the mix if managers keep diluting it.”

Exponential growth

When Jason English purchased Prommac late in 2012, the company had a turnover of less than R50 million. This has grown nearly ten fold in just under five years. How? By focusing on people, culture and training.

key-insights-from-jason-english

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Who’s Leading Your Business Billy Selekane Asks – You Or The Monkey On Your Back?

You’re either a change-maker, or someone who is influenced by the shifting conditions around you. The truly successful know how to determine their own destinies. Here’s how they do it.

Nadine Todd

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Vital stats

  • Player: Billy Selekane
  • Company: Billy Selekane and Associates
  • About: Billy Selekane is an author, internationally acclaimed inspirational keynote speaker, and a personal, team and organisational effectiveness specialist.
  • Visit: billyselekanespeaks.com

We live in a world of disruption. We live in a world where Airbnb’s valuation is $31 billion, but the Hilton’s market cap is $30 billion. Airbnb doesn’t own one square kilometre, and yet they’re worth more than the world’s biggest hotel chains with enormous assets. We live in a world where things have been turned upside down.

In this brave new world, you can either thrive, or fight to survive. As a leader in your organisation, the choices you make, the mental mind-space you occupy and how you engage with those around you, will determine your personal success, as well as that of your entire organisation.

“The business of business is people. You can’t just pay lip service to the idea that they are your most important asset. You need to live it. Leaders must be intelligent and honest. You can’t just push people to meet the numbers,” says Billy Selekane, personal and business mastery expert and international speaker.

The problem is that great leaders need to first find balance within, before they can successfully lead their organisations.

“Things can no longer be done the same way,” says Billy. “Success today is defined by people who are driven, are inspired by their own lives and goals, and have the power and capability to inspire others.” But before you can achieve any of this, you need to rid yourself of the monkey on your back.

Related: Billy Selekane

The monkey on your back

“If I continue doing what I’m doing, and thinking what I’m thinking, I’ll continue to have what I have,” says Billy. “That’s the definition of insanity. Are you doing things by default or design?”

Billy’s analogy is a simple one. It’s something we can all relate to, and it’s the single biggest thing stopping us from clearing our minds, focusing on the positive and achieving success. He calls it the monkey on our backs.

“Every one of us is born with an invisible monkey on their shoulder,” says Billy. “Your monkey is always with you. Sometimes they’re the one speaking, and you need to be careful of that.” What you need to be even more aware of than your own monkey though, is everyone else’s monkeys.

“Every interaction we have is an opportunity for what I call a monkey download. You have an argument with your spouse before work, and you end up getting into your car with not only your monkey, but theirs as well. Your irritation level has doubled thanks to the extra monkey. Now you get irritated with a pointsman, another driver or a taxi on your way to work. You’ve just added three monkeys.

“By the time you walk into the office, you’re bringing an entire village of monkeys with you. They’re clamouring, clattering, arguing with each other, and the noise is deafening. Not only does everyone get out of your way, but you can’t hear yourself think. And the more your mood drops, the more monkeys you download from the people around you. This is not the path to focus, achieving your goals or being happy. It’s certainly not the path to great leadership.

“Great leaders know how to keep all those monkeys out. They know how to control their moods, and regulate their own positivity. They understand that they are the architects of their own success.”

Getting out of the monkey business

To be a great leader — and personally successful and happy — you need to start by getting out of your own way, and as Billy calls it, ‘getting out of the monkey business.’ You need to not only shake your own monkey, but everyone else’s as well.

According to Billy, there are four simple areas you can begin focusing on today that will help you become the person (and leader) you want to be.

First, honesty is the foundation of everything else you should be doing. “Be clear and straight. Speak to people simply and honestly, but with respect. Connect with them, not through the head, but with the heart. Don’t play tricks.”

Related: 5 Top Lessons From LAWTrust To Prepare For Super-Charged Growth

Next, be authentic. All great leaders are authentic, and recognised as such. Aligned with this is integrity. “This is sadly out of stock, not only in South Africa, but the world,” says Billy.

“There is nothing as disturbing as a leader without integrity, and on a personal level, you won’t achieve emotional stability if you aren’t a person of integrity.”

Finally, you need to embrace love. “Wish your employees well. Wish your family, friends and connections well. When we are given love, and trusted to perform, we take that and pay it forward. In the case of business, this means your employees are giving the same love to customers, but if everyone showed a little more love, the world would be a better place. When people feel cared for, they show up with their hearts and wallets, and they pay it forward.

“Great leaders understand this. They don’t only focus on making themselves better, but adding to everyone around them. Remember this: In every business, there are no bad employees, just bad leaders. Employees are a reflection of that.”

If you want to build a better future, business or life, you need to start with yourself.


Do this

Stop letting negative thoughts and minor irritations derail you. You are the master of your moods and thoughts, so take personal responsibility for them.

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