Connect with us

Lessons Learnt

A Man For All Seasons

Ryk Neethling, marketing director Val de Vie Wine & Polo Estate, talks about his transition from Olympic sport to business.

Juliet Pitman




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.

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.

[box style=”grey map rounded shadow”]

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


Continue Reading
Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Lessons Learnt

Give Your Business The Best Chance Of Success

For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.

Gil Sperling




In my capacity as a business owner and venture capitalist, one of the questions I get asked most often by entrepreneurs is, “how do I ensure my business succeeds?” While there’s no straightforward answer, there are important elements that I believe every entrepreneur must consider to ensure the greatest probability of success.

Firstly, no business will succeed if it doesn’t solve a unique pain point or problem for modern consumers or businesses. However, even if a business is able to carve out that niche, there’s no guarantee that growth will follow. For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.

North Star metric

This principle of having a clear business vision guides all my decisions. Whenever I need to validate a choice or a change in strategic direction, or if I’m trying to determine what to focus on, I always refer back to my vision. If the two are incongruent, then I know I need to change tack.

Elon Musk is a great example of a successful entrepreneur who is guided by his grand vision. Everything he does, from Tesla to SpaceX, pertains to sustainability, both for the planet and the human race. It might be hard to make the connection when you consider his various businesses out of context, but everything he creates fits into a broader ecosystem that in some way moves the needle towards his ultimate objective. Developing Tesla cars that run on renewable energy is but a small, short-term plan that feeds into his grand vision, yet it’s also been the catalyst for the evolution of the motoring industry.

Related: The Popimedia (Mega) Success Story

Be clear, concise

In the same way, every decision an entrepreneur makes should in some way take them a step closer to realising their vision. In this regard, it is also vital that your vision is crystal clear – a murky or undefined vision will divert you off your path to success.

That’s because you’ll tend to focus on the wrong things, especially when scaling rapidly, or when running bigger organisations, because there are many tasks to complete every day. A lack of clarity also leads to poor decision-making, or, worse, decision paralysis, and that’s business suicide – I’d rather make a bad decision than no decision at all, because it prompts action. However, with a clear vision, more often than not, those decisions will be correct.

Defining your vision

So, how do you know if your vision is clear and, more importantly, relevant and consequential? The way I stress test my vision is to evaluate it every day against the decisions I take, and the direction of the business. This daily process helps to sharpen my decisions over time.

The other step is to remain open-minded enough to accept and acknowledge criticism, and take on board advice from trusted confidants and impartial experts. This is important, because you need to craft your vision based on as much information as possible, including valid criticism.

Ultimately, though, your vision for the business should align with your purpose. Forget about money and turnover as points of departure when defining your vision. These are merely metrics that can determine the strength and effectiveness of your business strategy.

For each of my several business interests, be it VC funding or ad-tech innovation, I have different visions. Each are meaningful to me, but in every instance, I don’t wake up every day with the sole ambition of making money.

While I need to make money to grow these businesses, or build something new, having purpose and vision are the ways I pull through those inevitable challenging situations. Having your vision front of mind in everything you do helps you make better decisions, and makes the hardships easier to endure. It helps you see through the turmoil, because you know where the process will lead, and you always know where the ultimate objective lies.

Read next: A Comprehensive List Of Angel Investors That Fund South African Start-Ups

Continue Reading

Lessons Learnt

Jimmy Choo’s Co-Founder Explains Why There Are No Small Jobs

Tamara Mellon shares the strategy that has helped her find new opportunities throughout her career.

Nina Zipkin




The co-founder of Jimmy Choo, Tamara Mellon, believes that you can find inspiration and opportunity anywhere. All it takes is determination to keep going and a keen eye for observation.

Mellon began her career in the early 1990s working as an accessories editor for British Vogue. Always on the hunt for up-and-coming designers, she came across Jimmy Choo, a cobbler working in London’s East End.

She would commission him to create shoes for fashion shoots. They were so well received by readers that the pair realised they could expand beyond one-of-kind pieces for the pages of the magazine.

This article was originally posted here on

Continue Reading

Lessons Learnt

6 Habits Long-Time Millionaires Rely On To Stay Rich

It’s a simple fact: Most millionaires have different habits than the average person. However, these habits are far from inaccessible; they improve one’s odds of finding success but can be adopted by just about anyone with a bit of concerted effort.

Timothy Sykes



Prev1 of 7


To take that idea one step further, once someone has become successful, how do they stay successful? Here, I’d like to take a slightly longer-sighted look at the habits of millionaires, focusing not just on the habits that make them successful but the ones that help them stay successful over time. By cultivating these habits in your own life, you’ll be investing in your own sustained success over time.

Here are six habits of long-time millionaires:

Prev1 of 7

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.