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Sorbet’s Ian Fuhr: Servant Leadership Personified

Ian Fuhr the founder of Sorbet and serial entrepreneur is the embodiment of servant leadership.

Dirk Coetsee

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“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy.”

-Rabindranath Tagore

Ian Fuhr the founder of Sorbet and serial entrepreneur is the embodiment of servant leadership. Sorbets’ unique culture, their sustained and growing success in a very competitive market, and their very low staff turn-over compared to industry standards provide the proof that the consistent application of the principle of servant leadership is a powerful catalyst for success.

Language cues can often give marginal insight into the complexity that is organisational culture: Sorbet staff are referred to as citizens (not as staff) and clients are called guests (not clients).

“Leaders and managers are generally under the impression that they must motivate. That is impossible. Leaders and managers can only inspire people to motivate themselves.”

Related: 5 Business Lessons From Sorbet’s Ian Fuhr

To remain true to the culture the Sorbet leadership are often reminded to ask themselves what the purpose is of what they are doing. Ian firmly believes that our higher purpose on this planet is to give. He quickly points out that you might feel betrayed when on occasions people that you have given to treat you badly and act disrespectfully, yet he constantly encourages the Sorbet “citizens” to keep extending their arms in the act of giving and find joy in service to others.

Truly being a giver attracts “givers” to you. There are over 300 000 “guests” on the Sorbet loyalty program that reciprocate the servant leadership mindset of the “Sorbet citizens”.

Within this established and rich culture when you focus on taking instead of giving you are referred to as an “I specialist”.

Ian-Fuhr_Successful-franchisor

“Train people so well that they can leave you. Treat them so well that they don’t.” – Richard Branson.

“Barber Cheeze” a citizen working at Sorbet Man Menlyn Maine facing the very challenging task of trimming my beard could tell me who Ian Fuhr was and how he was inspired by him. He could also relay to me with great enthusiasm what his personal future vision was and how he aims to improve his skills to be able to grow in the organisation and make his future plans a reality.

At the same time, he managed to pay special attention to me as his “guest” and provided a service that I have never experienced at any other barber shop. Barber Cheeze like all citizens went through Ians’ induction training which has nothing to do with technical skills training but all to do with culture, service to others, and the “Sorbet way”. Even the technical skills training is underpinned by the Sorbet servant leadership values.

Related: How Ian Fuhr Built Sorbet – The Beautiful Business Empire

I want to personally thank Barber Cheeze for making my research and preparation for this interview a very pleasant experience. He provides at least partial proof that the Sorbet culture exists not only in words but in action. He provides proof that the Sorbet training program makes the citizens better givers and that Ian inspires them to do things that they never thought they were capable of. Over two and a half thousand citizens have gone through Ian’s’ induction training.

Ian’s’ own words – “I will continue doing the induction training until I drop” – reflects his commitment to help facilitate the creation of more and more servant leaders that will sustain this wonderful culture.

“The harder you work the harder it is to surrender” – Vince Lombardi

Related: 6 Of The Most Profitable Small Businesses In South Africa

Ian works tirelessly to expand the Sorbet brand and its culture. This industry leading brand has recently opened four stores in London, England and aim to expand on its service offering even further soon.

Leaders give new perspective, leaders create energy. I left Sorbets’ head office feeling energised and in a contemplative mood, reflecting on giving, culture, leadership, and above all being a servant.

Dirk Coetsee is an international Peak Performance Business and Master NLP coach. He is an entrepreneur and founder of DCGlobal business and life coaching. DCglobals’ purpose is to multiply the performance and growth of businesses and individuals. Contact Dirk directly at: dirk@dirkcoetseeglobal.com

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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