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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

7 Pieces Of Wise Advice For Start-Up Entrepreneurs From Successful Business Owners

Launching a business is tough, but with perseverance, a willingness to learn from mistakes and a focus on the future, you can turn your dream into a reality. Seven top South Africa entrepreneurs share their hard-won start-up lessons.

Nadine Todd




“What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you.” 

So you want to start a business? Seven successful entrepreneurs share their words of wisdom for start-up entrepreneurs

1. Offer advice and share your expertise freely

The more your clients are educated, the more empowered they will feel, and the more they will view you as a trusted advisor. I gave my clients material to help them develop the best labour policies and procedures. It didn’t make my service redundant — it built trust between us. — Arnoux Mare, Innovative Solutions Group, turnover R780 million

2. Stop planning and start doing

We all tend to complicate business with planning and processes. These shouldn’t be ignored, but you need to also just start — start your business, start that project, start walking the path you want to be on. — Gareth Leck, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

3. Play your heart out and the money will follow

I learnt this valuable lesson when I was a student and busked at Greenmarket Square. You don’t stand with your hat, waiting for cash and then play — you play your heart out and the bills pile up in your hat. It’s the same in business. You can’t look at the bottom line first; it’s the other way around. — Pepe Marais, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million

4. Love learning lessons

What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you. I wasn’t paying attention to my partner or my books in our early days, and I didn’t realise the debt he was putting us into. We ended up owing R1 million. In hindsight, it was a cheap lesson to learn. Imagine if that happened today? The fallout would be much greater. We have 19 stores and nearly 100 staff members. It would hurt everyone, not just me. — Rodney Norman, founder, Chrome Supplements, turnover R100 million

5. Landing an investor starts with your story

A great story and data are the two golden rules of attracting an investor. You need both if you really want to access growth funding that will take your business to the next level. — Grant Rushmere, founder, Bos Ice Tea

Related: Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses

6. Offer solutions

If you’re not solving a problem and creating value, don’t ship it — throw it away. That’s cheaper than selling a bad product. — Nadir Khamissa, co-founder, Hello Group

7. Small, clever decisions lead to big profits

One of the most important lessons any business owner can learn is that success on profit is nothing more than the accumulative sum of rand decisions. Lots of small, clever money decisions lead to big profits, and without the disciplines of frugality, money gets lost. It’s that simple. Question every single line item on a quote. Do we need it? Can we get it cheaper? This is what it’s about. — Vusi Thembekwayo, founder, Watermark

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Lessons Learnt

Here’s How Bosses From Hell Helped 6 Entrepreneurs Grow

From control freaks to being unco-operative, founders share what they learned from their worst boss.





In business, sometimes the most valuable lessons come from the worst teachers. We asked six entrepreneurs: What’s the greatest thing you learned from a bad boss?

1. Bring everyone in

“A former boss was very hierarchical and discouraged collaboration. Everyone reported directly to her, and interdepartmental meetings were practically prohibited. It meant that only our boss had the full picture – we missed a lot of opportunity for alignment and cooperation. Today at our company, it’s a priority to hold regular team meetings and foster a strong culture of collaboration. It’s crucial that our team members weave collective sharing into the fabric of their day-to-day interactions.” – Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder and CEO, Indagare

2. Be vulnerable

“Don’t be afraid to show your emotions! I worked for a partner at McKinsey who was an incredible person but an awful manager because he kept his feelings bottled up. After a client presentation went awry, our team didn’t know where we stood with our manager. It was tense, awkward and demotivating. Showing vulnerability and letting others know when you’re genuinely upset can help everyone externalise their emotions, build trust and reassure employees that they aren’t alone. It sends a clearer message than stone-faced silence.” – Leo Wang, founder and CEO, Buffy

Related: 5 Factors That Make A Great Boss

3. Lend a hand

“I worked for someone who would never help out the junior staff with their work, even if he was finished with his own – he’d simply pack up and leave early. I now make an extra effort to ask my staff if they can use a hand when my own workload is light. It’s created a culture that feels more like a tight-knit team and less like a hierarchy.” – Adam Tichauer, founder and CEO, Camp No Counselors

4. Move as a group

“When I was a nurse manager, I had a boss with no experience in healthcare. She wanted to change our process for keeping patients from getting blood clots. I knew it was a mistake, but she insisted. Ultimately, the change failed. It taught me the importance of empowering staff to speak up. At Extend Fertility, we collect feedback from customers via surveys. Results are shared with our staff, and together we develop action plans to address negative experiences. It’s the employees who interact with patients on a daily basis who have the best solutions.” – Ilaina Edison, CEO, Extend Fertility

5. Trust your team

“I once worked for a woman who joined our team after I had been working there for a while. Every time I stood up, she’d ask me where I was going, whether it was to the bathroom or to the printer. She had a fear of not having control over my time and work. As a young adult, this behaviour really demoralised me, especially since I had excelled at the job for years prior. My leadership style is less neurotic. Once my team members have my trust, I’m pretty hands-off.” – Denise Lee, founder and CEO, Alala

Related: 5 Leadership Questions Every Boss Should Ask

6. Respect others’ time

“Early in my career, I had a project manager who’d wait until the very last minute to review work, then convey lots of new information and requests. This happened at the end of the day or, worse, after hours, when I was home. It was demoralising, inefficient and disrespectful. In my career, I’m conscious about reviewing work in a timely and complete way so my team can successfully incorporate my feedback without generating a last-minute crisis – or lingering resentment.” – Kirsten R. Murray, principal architect and owner, Olson Kundig 

This article was originally posted here on

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Lessons Learnt

11 Things Very Successful People Do That 99% Of People Don’t

Consistency is a big part of succeeding. The top 1% of performers in the world know this is the secret to their success.

John Rampton



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Becoming wealthy and leaving an impact on the world is not an easy feat. If it were, everyone would go around doing it. At that point, it would not be much of an accomplishment at all.

Rather, being extremely successful requires an extreme amount of work. Especially when there is nobody looking. The best people have developed habits that help them reach their goals. These routines are not necessarily challenging to form, but they take consistent effort over extended periods of time. Creating these tendencies in your own life will propel your success.

Here are 11 things, that 99% of people (myself included) do not do, but really should.

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