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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+.

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Lessons Learnt

Give Your Business The Best Chance Of Success

For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.

Gil Sperling




In my capacity as a business owner and venture capitalist, one of the questions I get asked most often by entrepreneurs is, “how do I ensure my business succeeds?” While there’s no straightforward answer, there are important elements that I believe every entrepreneur must consider to ensure the greatest probability of success.

Firstly, no business will succeed if it doesn’t solve a unique pain point or problem for modern consumers or businesses. However, even if a business is able to carve out that niche, there’s no guarantee that growth will follow. For that to happen an entrepreneur must distil the business’s reason for being and then doggedly pursue that vision.

North Star metric

This principle of having a clear business vision guides all my decisions. Whenever I need to validate a choice or a change in strategic direction, or if I’m trying to determine what to focus on, I always refer back to my vision. If the two are incongruent, then I know I need to change tack.

Elon Musk is a great example of a successful entrepreneur who is guided by his grand vision. Everything he does, from Tesla to SpaceX, pertains to sustainability, both for the planet and the human race. It might be hard to make the connection when you consider his various businesses out of context, but everything he creates fits into a broader ecosystem that in some way moves the needle towards his ultimate objective. Developing Tesla cars that run on renewable energy is but a small, short-term plan that feeds into his grand vision, yet it’s also been the catalyst for the evolution of the motoring industry.

Related: The Popimedia (Mega) Success Story

Be clear, concise

In the same way, every decision an entrepreneur makes should in some way take them a step closer to realising their vision. In this regard, it is also vital that your vision is crystal clear – a murky or undefined vision will divert you off your path to success.

That’s because you’ll tend to focus on the wrong things, especially when scaling rapidly, or when running bigger organisations, because there are many tasks to complete every day. A lack of clarity also leads to poor decision-making, or, worse, decision paralysis, and that’s business suicide – I’d rather make a bad decision than no decision at all, because it prompts action. However, with a clear vision, more often than not, those decisions will be correct.

Defining your vision

So, how do you know if your vision is clear and, more importantly, relevant and consequential? The way I stress test my vision is to evaluate it every day against the decisions I take, and the direction of the business. This daily process helps to sharpen my decisions over time.

The other step is to remain open-minded enough to accept and acknowledge criticism, and take on board advice from trusted confidants and impartial experts. This is important, because you need to craft your vision based on as much information as possible, including valid criticism.

Ultimately, though, your vision for the business should align with your purpose. Forget about money and turnover as points of departure when defining your vision. These are merely metrics that can determine the strength and effectiveness of your business strategy.

For each of my several business interests, be it VC funding or ad-tech innovation, I have different visions. Each are meaningful to me, but in every instance, I don’t wake up every day with the sole ambition of making money.

While I need to make money to grow these businesses, or build something new, having purpose and vision are the ways I pull through those inevitable challenging situations. Having your vision front of mind in everything you do helps you make better decisions, and makes the hardships easier to endure. It helps you see through the turmoil, because you know where the process will lead, and you always know where the ultimate objective lies.

Read next: A Comprehensive List Of Angel Investors That Fund South African Start-Ups

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Lessons Learnt

Jimmy Choo’s Co-Founder Explains Why There Are No Small Jobs

Tamara Mellon shares the strategy that has helped her find new opportunities throughout her career.

Nina Zipkin




The co-founder of Jimmy Choo, Tamara Mellon, believes that you can find inspiration and opportunity anywhere. All it takes is determination to keep going and a keen eye for observation.

Mellon began her career in the early 1990s working as an accessories editor for British Vogue. Always on the hunt for up-and-coming designers, she came across Jimmy Choo, a cobbler working in London’s East End.

She would commission him to create shoes for fashion shoots. They were so well received by readers that the pair realised they could expand beyond one-of-kind pieces for the pages of the magazine.

This article was originally posted here on

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Lessons Learnt

6 Habits Long-Time Millionaires Rely On To Stay Rich

It’s a simple fact: Most millionaires have different habits than the average person. However, these habits are far from inaccessible; they improve one’s odds of finding success but can be adopted by just about anyone with a bit of concerted effort.

Timothy Sykes



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To take that idea one step further, once someone has become successful, how do they stay successful? Here, I’d like to take a slightly longer-sighted look at the habits of millionaires, focusing not just on the habits that make them successful but the ones that help them stay successful over time. By cultivating these habits in your own life, you’ll be investing in your own sustained success over time.

Here are six habits of long-time millionaires:

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