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Lessons Learnt

Mark Pilgrim On Authenticity In Business

Mark Pilgrim is a South African household name who still refers to himself as trailer trash, having grown up in trailer parks in the UK. He’s also the living embodiment of authenticity and brand consistency.

Nadine Todd




The quiet, nerdy one

I’ve never been loud and boisterous, but I’ve found that quiet confidence works for me. Because I know who I am and what I stand for, I don’t need to make a noise.

Trust is built on consistency, and this is another important side of having confidence in yourself and in what you’re trying to achieve. I treat my diary like my bible.

I’m careful about how much I squeeze into each day and week, because I never want to let a client down whom I’ve made a commitment to. I’d rather say no than be unreliable.

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It means everyone always knows what they’re going to get with me, and I carry this through to everything I do.

I won’t support a charity or initiative I don’t believe in, and I won’t become a brand ambassador for a product I don’t use.

If I am a brand ambassador, I won’t agree to a set number of tweets or mentions per week either – it needs to come naturally.

I’m a very active social media user, and I like talking about the products I use and giving credit where it’s due – but I believe in authenticity, or it’s of no value to my followers.

In this day and age, if you’re not authentic, people will soon see through you. You can make mistakes, just be true to who you are.

Reliability breeds repeat business

I’ve often seen MCs and entertainers cancel a job because a better paying opportunity has come up. It’s a short-sighted way of doing business.

The client who you cancelled on might have grown to become a long-term client that would ultimately give you consistent work.

I also believe it’s important to honour agreements – word travels fast across industries, and if you’re unreliable, no matter how good you are, you won’t be anyone’s first choice when their product, brand or event is on the line. Reliability gets you booked twice.

It’s not enough to be an entertainer; you need to treat your brand like a business. I’ve got a lot of different interests. I’m a radio DJ on Hot FM, an MC, I do television work, voice-overs, I’m a motivational speaker and I’ve invested in a number of businesses.

I’m also a brand ambassador and I’m involved in pro bono work for the charities I support. Each of these facets is built on the same brand though: Me.

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What’s important is that clients, listeners and the general public know exactly what they’re getting with me, because of brand consistency across all of these platforms.

I studied industrial psychology and was a market researcher for ten years before I decided to follow my passion for radio.

This has given me a good foundation in business acumen and marketing though, and so today, with everything I’m involved in, I understand the objectives of the various clients and brands I work with.

The age of ’emotainment’

We’re living in the age of ‘emotainment’. This was something we coined during Big Brother.

People are most entertained, and will respond to the information you’re sharing with them, if it evokes an emotion.

I’ve built my motivational talks around my own experiences of having lived through a heart attack and cancer because that’s what’s real to me.

If you can take your audience and customers on an emotional journey, you’ll touch them. My talks started out as informal invites, speaking about my experiences.

Today it’s a lot more formal than that, and my book, Beyond the Baldness is being released in November, but the principles remain the same.

Know your value

Whatever you’re selling, whether it’s your time, IP or an actual product, make sure you know exactly what value you’re bringing to the table before you approach clients.

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I follow this guideline with everything I do. No matter how good you are at something, there is someone else that can do it just as well, if not even better, so always give your clients your very best and prove your worth to them.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. 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.



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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.

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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.”

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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

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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.



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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.

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