Connect with us

Lessons Learnt

DigiCash Believes To Have The Best And Brightest Employees You Need To Create A Great Place To Work

It’s important to hire the right people, but your responsibility doesn’t end there. Even excellent employees require support.

Monique Verduyn




Vital Stats

  • Player: Paul Brown
  • Company: DigiCash
  • Established: 2011
  • Contact: +27 (0)21 552 2005
  • Visit:

“A great place for great people to do great work.” That’s what Marilyn Carlson, former CEO of American hotel and travel group Carlson Companies, believed high-performing companies should strive to create.

It’s an approach championed by Paul Brown, CEO of DigiCash, a Cape Town-based payment solutions company that processes more than R800 million in payments and collections every month.

A-players like to play with A-players

Employee commitment must be endemic to the culture of your business, says Brown. That is why he aims to employ people who are prepared to give 100% to the business. As an entrepreneur who has been involved in several businesses over more than two decades, he knows what he’s talking about.

Related: 8 Pertinent Lessons Bos Tea Learnt That You Should Ponder

Brown says that in his experience, there are three types of employees. “First, there are those who take what they can get, but aren’t fundamentally interested in the work, and are therefore not truly engaged. Then there are those who do a reasonable job.

“Given the right direction and support, they can most often be turned into higher value employees. But the type of people I get out of bed for every morning are the A-players — the ones who add immense value to the business.”

But A-players are hard to find and in high demand, even in a down market. Fortunately, A-players, says Brown, are happiest when they are working with other A-players. The advantage of that is when you have an environment peopled largely by those who have the talent, skills and drive to make a company successful, you begin to attract like-minded individuals.

Great people want to work with great people.

“The challenge is to ensure that you create the right type of workplace for them,” adds Brown. “A-players become discouraged and unhappy when they feel as if they don’t get the needed support, or if they don’t agree with the culture of the company. Maintaining high employee quality and high work performance standards requires that you create an environment that truly fosters growth and improvement.”

How do you find people who will add real value to your company?

“We use a recruitment company that understands what we are looking for and with whom we’ve built a good relationship. Every CV is studied carefully to find out what a prospective employee is actually looking for.

“Say, for instance, that someone jumps regularly from job to job,” says Brown. “You have to consider why that is. Has the person been unsatisfied in previous jobs because he or she did not find it fulfilling, or were they always on the lookout for a more senior position that pays more? Someone just looking to move up the ranks is better suited to a corporate environment.

“If you want to change the world, employ someone who shares that view and will find it fulfilling. The aim for any business should be to try and offer employees both great career prospects and meaningful work, but that’s obviously not always possible for every business. It could take a while for a new operation to get up and running, so everyone needs to be on the same page.”

Related: Fighting With Employees? You’re Promoting The Wrong People!

Poor performers are bad for business

He cautions, however, that he makes mistakes sometimes. “If I hire someone I believe is an A-player and they are not, it’s up to me to try to remedy the situation and assess their true potential. It’s my sincere belief that most people have the potential to be successful in life. I will make every effort to up their performance through training and counselling. You can’t start off by blaming an employee if the level of work isn’t what you expected. You need to study the situation carefully. Be open to the fact that the issue might be systemic.”

The reality, however, is that there are those who simply won’t be a good fit.

“If you’ve tried everything you can think of to help the employee and nothing has worked, you can’t be seduced into thinking you can ‘fix’ them. You might even really like them, but sometimes letting an employee go is the only option. It’s always a last resort, but sometimes it needs to be done. It’s important to create a cohesive environment where everyone is on the same page.”

Remember this

Most employees have the potential to be A-players, but culture fit is incredibly important. Employees obviously need the right support, but they also need a fundamental interest in what the company is doing. People become great when they enjoy what they do.

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+.

Lessons Learnt

Richard Branson’s ABCs Of Business

Throughout the year, the Virgin co-founder shared what he thinks are the essential elements to success.



Prev1 of 5


If there’s one thing Richard Branson knows, it’s how to run a successful business.

Throughout last year, the Virgin founder shared what he thinks are the keys ingredients to building a successful company with each letter of the alphabet, which he slowly revealed through the 365 days.

From A for attitude to N for naivety to Z for ZZZ, check out Branson’s ABCs of success.

Prev1 of 5

Continue Reading

Lessons Learnt

How Reflexively Apologising For Everything All The Time Undermines Your Career

How can you inspire confidence if you are constantly saying you’re sorry for doing your job?




I’m one of those weird people who gets excited about performance reviews. I like getting feedback and understanding how I can improve. A few years ago, I sat down for my first annual review as the director of communications for the Florida secretary of state, under the governor of Florida.

I had a great relationship with my chief of staff, but I had taken on a major challenge when I accepted the job a year prior. I didn’t really know what to expect.

Youth takes charge

I was 25 at the time, and everyone on my team was in their thirties and forties. I came from Washington, D.C., and was an outsider to my southern colleagues. I was asking a lot from people who had been used to very different expectations from their supervisor.

I sat down with my chief of staff who gave me some feedback about the challenges I had tackled.

She then paused and said to me, very directly,”But you have to stop apologising. You must stop saying sorry for doing your job.”

Related: 8 Valuable And Inspirational Web Series You Should Check Out

I didn’t know what to say. My reflex was to reply sheepishly, “Umm, I’m sorry?” But instead I immediately decided to be more cognisant of how often I said I was sorry. Years later, her words have stuck with me. I have what some may consider the classic female disease of apologising. When the New York Times addressed it, five of my friends and past coworkers sent it to me.

In it, writer Sloane Crosley got to the heart of the issue:

“To me, they sound like tiny acts of revolt, expressions of frustration or anger at having to ask for what should be automatic. They are employed when a situation is so clearly not our fault that we think the apology will serve as a prompt for the person who should be apologising.”

Topic of debate

I’ve talked at length with other women trying to figure out this fine balance. The Washington PostTime, and Cosmopolitan have all tackled this topic. Some say it’s OK to apologise; others criticise those who are criticising women who apologise. Clearly, I’m not alone in dealing with this issue. In fact, I’m constantly telling the people I manage that by apologising they give up a lot of their power.

Related: Want To Feel Empowered? Check Out These 17 Quotes From Successful Entrepreneurs And Leaders

Here’s the bottom line: Don’t apologise for doing your job.

If you’re following up with a coworker about something they said they’d get to you earlier, don’t say, “Sorry to bug you!” If you want to share your thoughts in a meeting, don’t start off by saying, “Sorry, I just want to add…” If you’re doing your job, you have absolutely nothing to apologise for.

That’s what I think. And I’m not even sorry about it.

This article was originally posted here on

Continue Reading

Lessons Learnt

10 Quotes On Following Your Dreams, Having Passion And Showing Hard Work From Tech Guru Michael Dell

If you’re in need of a little motivation, check out these quotes from Dell’s CEO, founder and chairman.



Prev1 of 11


There’s much to learn from one of the computer industry’s longest tenured CEOs and founders, Michael Dell. As an integral part of the computer revolution in the 1980s, Dell launched Dell Computer Corporation from his dorm room at the University of Texas. And it didn’t take Dell long before he’d launched one of the most successful computer companies. Indeed, by 1992 Dell was the youngest CEO of a fortune 500 company.

Dell’s success had been long foreshadowed. When he was 15, Dell showed great interest in technology, purchasing an early version of an Apple computer, only so he could take it apart and see how it was built. And once he got to college, Dell noticed a gap in the market for computers: There were no companies that were selling directly to consumers. So, he decided to cut out the middleman and began building and selling computers directly to his classmates. Before long, he dropped out of school officially to pursue Dell.

Fast forward to today. Dell is not only a tech genius and businessman, but a bestselling author, investor and philanthropist, with a networth of $24.7 billion. He continues his role as the CEO and chairman of Dell Technologies, making him one of the longest tenured CEOs in the computer industry.

So if you’re in need of some motivation or inspiration, take it from Dell.

Prev1 of 11

Continue Reading



Recent Posts

Follow Us

We respect your privacy. 
* indicates required.


FREE E-BOOK: How to Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Sign up now for Entrepreneur's Daily Newsletters to Download​​