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Albert Van Wyk Of Gazzaroo Gives Top Advice On How To Make Your First Million

Becoming financially free starts with a millionaire mindset. Albert van Wyk decided in his early teens that he wanted more from life, and he started working hard to achieve it.

Nadine Todd




Vital Stats

  • Player: Albert van Wyk
  • Claim to fame: Self-made millionaire by age 22, author of How To Become a Millionaire at 22.
  • Company: Gazzaroo (online media agency) and a part-time business consultant
  • Est: 2015
  • Visit:

Having a purpose and a vision are powerful tools. They give you direction, help you stay focused when things get tough, and keep you heading in the right direction, particularly when results are slow. They’re also the foundation of a millionaire mindset. Albert van Wyk shares the journey that’s helped him develop his millionaire mindset, and the tools that will help you get there too.

‘Aha’ moments

‘Aha’ moments don’t always happen in a blinding instant. Sometimes they’re the culmination of experiences.

I grew up in a lower-middle class household. My dad was a road technician who was determined to give us a university education — something he had never had — and he worked hard, long hours, including night shifts, to make it happen. Growing up he always looked stressed, over-worked and tired. I didn’t want to work that hard and still struggle.

Related: 5 Habits That Lead To Millionaire Business Success

When I was a kid, there was a bicycle I desperately wanted. My parents couldn’t afford to buy it for me. The next month, when the coolest kid in class arrived with that bicycle, it drove me to start thinking about what I could do to ensure a different future; one where I wasn’t limited by finances. I was already considering what it meant to be financially free.

Everywhere I went, this point was being driven home. Everyone around me at school spoke about the cool jobs and cars they wanted one day, and what their families would look like. All of those things were fine, but it was becoming very clear to me that I wanted more. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to make an impact. I wanted to do big things. And the reality is that bigger dreams need bigger funding.

Finding a purpose

albert-van-wyk-millionaireI didn’t have a plan yet, but I had a purpose, and I quickly realised that dreams don’t come true by themselves. You need a goal, and you have to work towards it. I wasn’t going to delay working towards mine just because I was still at school. I was capable of earning money, and that’s what I did. I set goals for myself, and worked to achieve them.

I wasn’t scared of working hard — I’d been brought up in a household that respected hard work — but I did need patience. I also knew that every little bit made a difference. In Grade 8 I mowed lawns, washed cars and even convinced my mom to pay me per room I cleaned in our house. My goal was to buy a guitar by the end of the year, and I achieved it earlier than planned. I then taught myself to play the guitar (I’d already learnt drums at our church), and opened a guitar school, teaching other kids to play.

I bought and sold second hand PlayStations, and saved everything I made. By the time I was in Grade 11, I had a few things on the side, and then my grandfather started complaining about the fact that his 1950s Studebaker Powerhawk was never driven — which is death for a car. I didn’t have my driver’s licence, but I had an idea. I convinced my dad to be our driver, and started renting it out for matric dances. I saved up and bought a Volvo 122S a few months later for R8 000, and my dad helped me fix it up. This got added to our business.

I knew that the secret to building wealth was to get started. I needed to be trading, learning about finances, and above all, saving. It’s easy to spend money. It’s much harder to put it away.

Focusing on the future

As I got older, I became more focused. What did I want to accomplish, how was I going to get there, and what finances did I need?

I knew I was going to varsity. That had always been the plan. No one om my father’s side of the family had been before my generation, and my brother and I both knew this was a non-negotiable. I completely understand the worth of a university degree but I also wanted to work towards my goal of financial freedom, so I made a deal with my dad.

Related: 7 Motivational Habits That Drive Millionaires

If I secured a merit bursary, could I use my college fund as a deposit on a property? He agreed. I needed to work harder than ever to achieve the marks I needed. I studied straight through the school holidays. Plus, although all my aptitude tests said I shouldn’t go into engineering (anything but engineering), that’s what I was determined to do.

My great grandfather dug roads, my grandfather drove earthmoving equipment, my dad was a road technician — I saw a family legacy of growth, and I needed to become an industrial engineer to see it through.

I got the bursary, and I graduated, but I had to work extremely hard to do it. Nothing came easily. I even had to find my own rules to follow because the theory didn’t always make sense to me. I could see how natural it was for many of my peers. For me, it was hard work.

But it was the right decision. I’d chosen industrial engineering because it was all about optimising and making a business more profitable and effective. The engineering elements weren’t always easy for me, but the business side made complete sense. Today, I can go into a business and see what’s ineffective in their processes. I learnt so many terms I can apply; it’s been invaluable to me as a business consultant.

Small steps, big rewards

Through different side businesses, driving the Volvo 122, and staying at home to save money, I paid off my first property by the time I was 22. It was my first paid-off asset, worth just over R1 million. I could have moved into my new house, but it was an asset that could now earn me passive income, which I could use to purchase a second property, so I stayed at home and that’s what I did.

I also started consulting, and started an online media company, Gazzaroo, with a friend from varisty. He had the idea, but wanted me to help him execute it. We focused on web design, social media and branding. I had taught myself PhotoShop in school to market the other businesses. We launched in 2015 with R1 500, and two years later we have seven employees and a decent turnover that is steadily growing. My friend wanted to return to engineering, so I bought most of his shares and now spearhead the company.

It’s an important and often over-looked element of wealth building — you need more than one stream of income. You need to put focus and attention into everything you do, but if you can generate multiple streams of income, you’re already building a stronger base.

albert-van-wyk-gazzarooWhat I’ve learnt

Small starts have big results

By the time I was in varisty I was studying, had a business and my first property. I’d chat to my peers and their eyes would widen. They’d always say they wished they’d started early as well, or that they’d known it was possible when they were youngsters. It’s always possible, and it’s never too late to start. You just need a goal, and you need to take the first steps — and stick with them. It’s not an overnight thing. It’s slow and steady.

Success is the result of discipline, perseverance and passion

You need all three. You can’t have discipline and no passion. When the going gets tough, you either drop out or stick it through, and often the difference between the person who gives up and the one who doesn’t is passion — how much do you love what you do, or care about the goal you’re striving to achieve? If you have the passion, you then need to develop a mindset that is disciplined and will persevere. Most results aren’t quick — you have to keep at it. That’s the secret.

Don’t start with goals — start with yourself

Before you’ve even formulated goals, you need to take a good, long look at yourself. You need to take responsibility for yourself. There’s always a legitimate reason to let yourself off the hook if you look for it. Don’t. Drop the hook. Take full responsibility for the success of your goals. Stop saying you can’t afford to do something because of the economy, your salary or the poor exchange rate. There’s always a reason not to do something, but if you really want it, you’ll find a way.

Related: 4 Ways To Become A Millionaire Even When You Start With Little

We can achieve anything we set our mind to, provided we’re willing to be disciplined and persevere to achieve our goals

Change your way of thinking and speaking. Don’t say ‘I can’t because…..’. Instead say, ‘How can I affect this?’ Once you take responsibility for something, and reframe the way you look at things, it kicks your brain into action and you will find a solution. Be proactive instead of a victim of circumstances.

Once you’ve got your mindset right, set your goals

This is where your plan comes in. People always want to reach for the stars. That’s great, you must have dreams and goals, but don’t choose a crazy dream you can’t execute without breaking it down into small, manageable bits. You need something that you can achieve today, this week, this month — otherwise you will keep postponing it. You end up letting yourself off the hook — ‘I can’t achieve it today anyway, so I may as well start tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow…’

Start with small goals to reach your bigger goals

For me, I want to be an international public speaker. That’s not going to happen tomorrow. So, what can I do now? I need to start with becoming a national public speaker. Even that’s not going to happen right now, it’s still too big. Okay, I need to be knowledgeable about the topic — that I can do today. I can read a blog, watch a YouTube video, secure a gig — my big goal is suddenly broken down into small, achievable, daily goals, and there’s no reason to postpone because I can do something today.

Create a sense of urgency, put the pressure on and take responsibility

That’s how you’ll get there. Put in the hours, and then celebrate the small wins and stick with it.

You need the mental tools to persevere so that you don’t get derailed

This is so important. Make your goals your phone and PC wallpaper. Stimulate yourself with positive inputs — find motivational posts that are specific to you, and surround yourself with people that can support you and invest in them — when you need them, they will be there. I have an amazing support system, but it goes both ways. They can support you and uplift you, and you need to do the same for them.

Related: 12 Millionaire Habits To Start Making Serious Money Soon And Build Wealth In A Hurry

You also need to give yourself reality checks

Pay attention so that you can recognise bad vibes creeping up on you. It happens to everyone, so develop the tools to recognise them and check yourself. Empower the people close to you to be able to tell you when you’re being negative. We have a saying at Gazzaroo: When things are bad, they will go better; when things are good, that’s great, but they might go wrong. Stay grounded so that you can handle the curveballs, but stay positive.

a-guidebook-for-building-wealthRead This

A Guidebook for Building Wealth

Fuelled by dreams and the destination, Albert van Wyk has written and self-published a collection of the tools he has developed in his quest to achieve financial freedom.

Available at all good bookstores and through Albert’s website,

Lessons Learnt

(Podcast) ‘Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern: ‘I’m Addicted To The Hustle’

How this week’s ‘How Success Happens’ guest overcame personal struggles and built an empire.

Dan Bova




I didn’t know what to expect when we scheduled an interview over breakfast with today’s guest Andrew Zimmern. As you may know, the chef, writer, restaurateur and TV personality made a name for himself traveling the world and eating some, well, bizarre foods on his hit travel/food show, Bizarre Foods.

Turns out our breakfast was pretty normal – we didn’t dig into a fresh plate of scrambled brains or anything – but the conversation was anything but typical.

Over the past couple of years, Zimmern has built a true empire around his name with books, TV shows, restaurants (including his new Twin Cities joint Lucky Cricket), and a production company, but as he very candidly told me, the road to success has not been easy. He has gone through a lot of personal pain on his journey, and he says it is a daily endeavour to keep himself moving on the right track.

As Zimmern explained, over the course of his life, he’s had problems with substance abuse, depression – even homelessness – and he was very open about sharing the lessons he’s learned along the way about coping and finding redemption. We also spoke about his dear friend, Anthony Bourdain, and about the struggles of feeling overwhelmed that most of us face.

Related: Gareth Cliff Shares His Tips For Starting Your Very Own Podcast

But don’t get me wrong, he’s really funny, too! There’s nothing “normal” about Andrew Zimmern. Hope you’ll enjoy our conversation, thanks for listening.

This article was originally posted here on

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Lessons Learnt

How BrightRock Is Disrupting The Insurance Industry With These 2 Pivotal Strategies

Developments in technology, and clear communication are positioning BrightRock to disrupt their industry and transform the consumer experience.

Monique Verduyn




Vital Stats

  • Players: Sean Hanlon, Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens
  • Company: BrightRock
  • Est: 2011
  • Visit:

BrightRock was started around a dining room table in 2011 by four people with years of industry experience and — importantly — a diverse set of complementary skills.  They wanted to make changes to an industry with an age-old methodology by allowing customers to co-create a solution that precisely meets their individual needs, and adjusts as those needs change. Today, BrightRock is the fastest-growing insurer in the intermediated individual life risk market. It also provides underwriting management services to funeral parlour businesses and, more recently, has entered the group risk insurance market, offering its needs-matched approach to employees.

The founders of BrightRock, established in 2011, knew the life insurance industry all too well, and they found its methodology wanting. “Traditional life insurance lumps all the individual’s needs into one policy,” says CEO Schalk Malan.

“It’s a methodology that has been around for centuries. We started afresh and looked at how we could design life insurance based on individual requirements. Our cover is designed to exactly match each specific financial need. Because there is no waste, it’s more cost efficient and sustainable. And if circumstances change and our customer needs more cover, it’s easy to get it because needs-matched design enables the policy to change in line with changing needs.”

1. Embracing digital technology to provide needs-matched insurance

Suzanne Stevens, marketing executive director at BrightRock, points out that this type of innovation achieves efficiency (cost savings) and effectiveness (higher returns). “By harnessing digital technology, we have made our operations more efficient, and aggressively lowered costs by up to 30% for our customers. Every rand they spend with us works harder for them. That’s the benefit of a solution designed around the customer.”

BrightRock’s founders took a similar approach. ‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Related: How BrightRock Is Rocking The (Industry) Boat In Only 5 Years Since Launch

Unlike clunky legacy systems, BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

2. Effective communication is critical

These disruptors have set themselves above the rest through one surprisingly simple tactic —  effective communication. They agree that it simply doesn’t matter how world-changing your product or service is if you don’t communicate it to the right audience at the right time. New companies that fail to communicate their remarkable new development will quickly be pushed aside by other disruptors. Without a clear communication strategy that reaches the audience in the industry you’re trying to disrupt, you’ll set yourself up for failure. A key question to ask when you are developing your communication strategy is simply whether people understand what you do.

“Because the premise for our product was fundamentally different from anything on the market, communication and clear messaging were critical to convincing our clients to put their trust in us,” says Schalk.

“It was especially important to educate insurance advisors so they would understand what we were doing, why we were doing it, and how it was better than the other options available. That was key to disrupting the individual life market.”

Currently, BrightRock employs 380 staff, has experienced 40% year-on-year growth, and has an annualised premium income of more than R1,3 billion. The company has recently entered the group risk environment with a similar offering that addresses many of the same shortcomings of traditional group risk products. “The inefficiencies of the structuring of group products has meant that, to remain competitive, insurers have cut the benefits offered to employees, undermining their sense of financial security. Change is needed, and we believe our needs-matched philosophy positions us to change the group risk market too.”

‘We ditched legacy thinking in favour of creating a product that is intuitive and easy to navigate. An enormous amount of time and effort went into writing and designing that system, and creating the optimal customer journey.”

Unlike clunky legacy systems, the BrightRock’s platform is modularised, and was built according to the agile principle of rapid delivery cycles. The result is a technology stack with longevity, that is also flexible enough to be tweaked when needed.

Related: BrightRock’s 5 Entrepreneurial Tips For Start-ups

This iterative, modular approach typically begins with defining the strategy and programme plan upfront, delivering a core capability fast so it can provide benefits immediately, and then continuously improving with regular, incremental capability improvements to achieve the objectives of the strategy. It’s an approach that fosters closer collaboration between stakeholders, improved transparency, earlier delivery, greater allowance for change and more focus on the business outcomes.

“The advantage of the technology available today is that you can plug things in and pull them out as required,” says Suzanne. “That’s one of the enablers of a truly disruptive mindset. To step away from accepted norms and find new solutions requires curiosity and creativity, as well as a lot of courage to go up against large incumbents in the market. There is always resistance to new technology, although we are fortunate in this country to have one of the most innovative insurance sectors in the world.”

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Lessons Learnt

The 9 Obsessions You Need To Have To Become A Self-Made Millionaire

Here’s how to stay focused on your millionaire goals.



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The ones who succeed weren’t handed a golden ticket; it wasn’t chance that helped them cultivate their fortune. To reach millionaire status, you must be driven to reach your dreams. You must be obsessed in order to be successful.

These are the nine obsessions that give every self-made millionaire an edge in creating success and wealth.

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