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David Perel Of Obox On Living Life In The Fast Lane

For David Perel of Obox blancing passions and running a business isn’t easy, but that’s what entrepreneurship is all about — getting the best of all worlds.

Nicholas Haralambous

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Vital Stats

  • Player: David Perel
  • Company: Obox Themes
  • What they do: Brothers David and Marc Perel founded Obox after school in 2005. The business specialises in products built for WordPress. Obox products are used by over 100 000 people worldwide.
  • Established: 2005
  • Visit: oboxthemes.com

David Perel is one of my closest friends and someone I admire immensely, but a lot of the time I think he’s out of his mind. His average month doesn’t look like yours or mine. His measure of normal stretches way beyond what most of us manage to achieve or deal with in a decade, never mind a single month.

From week to week, David could be on a plane to Italy to race Lamborghinis or in Cape Town working on the business that he and his brother, Marc, have built over the past eight years. He could be overtaking a Ferrari at Monza and clipping the cars’ bumpers together, and then out with his girlfriend for a drink back in Cape Town the next night. It sounds glamorous but trust me, it rarely is.

Related: 6 Epic Quotes From Absa Cape Epic Founder Kevin Vermaak

Renaissance Man

Launching a single career is a challenge all on its own and for most people it’s a life-long endeavour. Yet there are some people who find themselves working on two dreams simultaneously. Thomas Edison created incredible inventions and built General Electric. There are parents who raise kids and still have it in them to build a business and play a round of golf over the weekend. Elon Musk has five children, is married and is the CEO of two billion-dollar businesses. Yes, he’s an exceptional case, but nevertheless, he exists.

David is striving to be one of these people. Hooked into a life of racing cars by his father, the bug bit David early on and hasn’t left him. Although he’s had periods in his life where racing had to take a back seat, he never really let the dream of racing professionally fade. Recently, his dream was revived when he was offered the chance to race Lamborghinis in Italy.

Being a professional racing driver is a strange career choice as far as careers go. Not because it’s dangerous (it is) or because it’s competitive (it is), but because it requires such intense investment in terms of time, physical commitment and capital. Each race can cost a couple of hundred thousand rand and a season can cost in the millions. That’s money that the driver needs to find to commit to the race. David trains constantly, eats with intent and not for enjoyment. It’s brutal all round.

Sacrifice

Large pursuits don’t come without sacrifice though. David has had his fill of sacrifices. Early in 2015 he crashed one of the cars he was racing, which set him back a few hundred thousand rand. That was just days after he had been recruited to race.

“Coping is not easy, you need to be able to switch focus very quickly and that focus needs to be intense. With more practice you get better at it. I feel like it was easier when I was younger. With racing you can experience extreme highs and extreme lows in a very short amount of time. It’s made me tougher when it comes to business, as things happen much slower in that world,” David told me when I asked how he manages the crazy entrepreneurial ups and downs.

It is quite something to watch from a distance. The intensity that David experiences over a racing weekend is immense. In his most recent trip he had massive break failure and his car spun off the track and caught fire. He was unharmed but I can’t imagine experiencing that and then hopping on a plane back to my desk job and dinner with my friends.

Balance is overrated

racing-car

If you’re looking for balance David is probably not the right person to help you figure out how to find it. Doing anything with vicious determination requires focus and when I asked David about his views on balance his response was straight forward, “You don’t need to worry about balance if you’re doing what you love.”

He followed that up by saying that “the only time you have to worry about balance is when you’re doing something you don’t enjoy. Then you need to balance that with something you do.”

Related: Podcast Series: How Thula Sindi Designed His Way to Success

Although loving what you do isn’t always enough. There are periods when he doesn’t see his friends because he’s travelling or training. He’s missed important events like anniversaries or birthdays because of a race, but that’s part of the fight and part of the grit required.

The people who surround David also have to make peace with his decisions, or move on. It’s difficult to understand the drive of a top athlete like David. They put everything at risk; families, friends, financial stability and any level of comfort so that they can have 20 minutes every two weeks in the seat of a car that goes 280km/h and might end up crashing into a wall.

As David put it, it’s not about balance if you love what you do; it’s about understanding what’s important to you and what you’re willing to give up to achieve greatness or die trying.

Nicholas Haralambous is the founder of the style company, Nicharry.com. He is an entrepreneur, speaker and writer who likes to tell the honest, brutal truth at every possible opportunity.

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

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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 Entrepreneur.com.

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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

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Vital Stats

  • Players: Sean Hanlon, Leopold Malan, Schalk Malan, Suzanne Stevens
  • Company: BrightRock
  • Est: 2011
  • Visit: www.brightrock.co.za

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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