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Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market: Kgosientso Ramokgopa

Johannesburg Fresh Produce Market CEO and 2008 Boss of the Year, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, speaks to Juliet Pitman about leadership, vision and winning.

Juliet Pitman

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Kgosientso Ramokgopa of Fresh Produce Market in Johannesburg

You’vebeen named Boss of the Year 2008. What does this mean to you?
It’s incredibly gratifying, particularly becauseit’s an affirmation of my leadership style and a vote of confidence from mypeers, colleagues and staff. It’s also important to me because it highlights toother young people the possibility of achieving anything you set your mind to,provided you pursue your goals with passion, commitment and focus.

What,to your mind, are the qualities of a great leader in business?
Leadership is about articulating the vision and forging acommonly-shared view of the future, and then being able to communicate that insuch a way that people at all levels within your organisation can understandand internalise it. To do this, I think you need to be able to anticipate thefuture and formulate a vision of the company’s position in that future.

It’s also important to remember that yourcharacter becomes associated with an organisation, so if you are cold anddistant, that will play itself out in the company and the people you lead. Ifyou are approachable and fair, those characteristics will filter down to alllevels. Finally, I think it’s important to live by the values you subscribe to.This creates consistency because people know what to expect from you.

Howwould you describe your leadership style?
I stronglybelieve in the wealth of collective ideas and in the richness that is to befound in diversity, so I’d describe my leadership style as inclusive andcollaborative. Having said that however, once I have consulted with allrelevant parties, considered all factors and made a final decision, I stick toit with absolute commitment.

What is the most challenging aspect of yourjob? Making tough – but necessary – decisions. The unpopular decisions areoften the right ones and they need to be made. When I took over here thecompany was unprofitable and we needed to close down a number of operationsthat were bleeding the organisation. Doing so was necessary to the overallhealth of the company, but that didn’t make the decision easy or the choicepopular. Retrenchment is always the last option and it’s always a tough periodto get through.

Howdid you manage that difficult time?
I always try toremember that people are individuals, not statistics, and need to be treatedwith dignity and respect, no matter what their position in an organisation. Thetea lady might be low down in the business hierarchy, but at home she is amother, household manager and decision-maker. My mother was retrenched when wewere growing up and I’ve never forgotten how we struggled afterwards. I try tobear that in mind and balance it with the need to make choices that are rightfor the company.

Whatdo you enjoy the most?
The huge diversity in thepeople who work here. Getting to know them individually and interacting withthem.

Wasthere any person in particular who served as a role model or mentor to you? My mother – undoubtedly. She was a black woman from the rural areaswith no education, but she raised eight children and instilled in us a respectfor the value of education. From her I learned resilience, humility, collectiveresponsibility and the importance of respecting other people.

Whatare you most proud of having achieved? Turning theorganisation around and putting it on track to meet its objective of being thebiggest, and the best, fresh produce market in Africa. Achieving our goalsrests on having the right people in place to operationalise the vision and I’vebeen very lucky to be able to put together a team of people who are the best intheir field.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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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andrew-zimmern

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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elon-musk

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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