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Lessons Learnt

Ogilvy: Julian Ribeiro

Ogilvy MD, Julian Ribeiro, talks to Entrepreneur about liberation, hunger, staying focused – and what he admires most about entrepreneurs.

Juliet Pitman



Julien Ribeiro of Ogilvy

What were your goals when you took up the position of MD at Ogilvy Johannesburg in 2006?

Initially my goal was to listen and try to understand what it is that has made Ogilvy the company it is today, so that we could bring added focus to that. What emerged is that Ogilvy is about more than just advertising; it’s about liberating brands to make a real impact on a company’s bottom line. Coupled with that is the fact that the company liberates talent in its people. All of this existed before I arrived, but my goal has been to institutionalise the liberation of brand and talent so that it’s central to the way we think about our culture here.

What are you most proud of having achieved?

Seeing the fruits of this institutionalisation, and watching both brands and Ogilvy people grow, develop and achieve success.
I’m also very proud of one campaign in particular that the company worked on for Channel O, called “Young, Gifted and Black”. It won a Grand Prix at the Loeries but what was more gratifying was seeing the way it captured the spirit of young people in South Africa and Africa. And it was incredibly rewarding to see the young, black and gifted talent from Ogilvy going up there to collect the award.

What is one of the more difficult experiences you’ve had in your career?

Working in the UK as worldwide account director for Sony PlayStation and being confronted with some nasty politics. It reinforced my belief that politics is awful and destructive, but also reminded me about the importance of continuing to believe in yourself.

What do you think is the mark of a good leader?

Humility and valuing the importance of building a great team. Energy and passion is also incredibly important – you have to be a believer in what you’re doing in order to lead other people.

What do you admire most about entrepreneurs?

Everything! They epitomise some of the things I admire most in great leaders, namely their unwavering belief in what they are doing and the path they are walking. I admire their bravery and incredible staying power in the face of adversity. And then of course, their hard work – they have to get involved in every single facet of the business.

2009 was a tough year for many. How is 2010 panning out?

It was a tough year but it was also a great year – we ended up winning the Adfocus Agency of the Year and were both lucky and successful in signing on great new business. Now that we’re into 2010, I feel incredibly upbeat about the year ahead, particularly about the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the work we are doing both on the World Cup, and for other clients who are gearing up for the event and the visitors it is going to bring to the country. However, I’m aware that this is no time to rest on our laurels. Hard work lies ahead!

What’s your personal motto or mantra?

Stay hungry, stay humble, stay focused.

Juliet Pitman is a features writer at Entrepreneur Magazine.

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.”

Related: 8 Valuable And Inspirational Web Series You Should Check Out

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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