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Siya Mapoko Measures Success By 4 Simple (But Essential) Yardsticks

When Siya Mapoko’s first business was failing, he was desperate for advice. He turned to the JSE’s
top business titans to discover the secrets to success. What he learnt not only changed his business, but also influenced countless other SMEs over the years.

Nadine Todd

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Siya Mapoko

Vital Stats

  • Player: Siya Mapoko
  • Company: Mapoko Research International (MRI)
  • Launched: 2012, although Conversations with JSE AltX Entrepreneurs was published in 2008
  • Visit: siyamapoko.com

The best advice that I ever got was from Mark Lamberti, CEO of Imperial Holdings, in 2009. There were two parts to it.

Define your standards

First, he told me that when you do things, whether it’s for business, your personal life or your career, you need to define your standards upfront, and then don’t settle for anything less. In a business context, this goes beyond you to your hires. You hold them to those same standards, and they should hold you to those standards as well. It keeps you honest and it lays the foundation for the right culture in your business.

You should be able to measure your success daily

The second was around the concept of success. I asked Mark what success meant to him. He pointed out that it shouldn’t be an arbitrary point in the future, but something you measure daily. Get up, live your goals and ensure you’re moving in the right direction.

This still influences everything I do. If you measure how successful each day is, you’ll reach your goals without being daunted by the scale of them. Seven successful days and you have a successful week. 52 of those and you have a successful year. It’s really that simple.

Related: Meet The 40 Richest Self-Made Entrepreneurs On Earth

I measure success by four yardsticks, and each evening I ask myself these questions:

  1. Did I learn? I make it a goal to consciously learn something new every day. I keep a journal to record these lessons.
  2. Did I love? If I’m doing what I love, the time flies past. It’s also important to have clients who you love, and to love the people with whom you work.
  3. Did I serve? Our customers are our boss. We need to serve them in a way they’ve never been served before. They’ll pay us a lot of money if they are well served. I even consider this when I send something as small as an email. Did I make someone’s day better?
  4. Did I earn? Getting paid is the whole point of business, so it’s important to be earning. If you aren’t, you need to relook your time and priorities

I measure these four things every day

If the answer to each is positive, I don’t need to worry about the week or the year — I’m moving in the right direction.

I left Investec at the age of 25 because I wanted to start my own business. It turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.

I reached a point where I was desperate for advice. Advice is a funny thing. Some of the best lessons that have stayed with me have been advice given to me by other people. There is so much value in learning from those who have walked the path, but advice also needs to come at the right time.

Entrepreneurs can be so sold on their own ideas that anyone who says anything that sounds vaguely negative is ignored and discounted. It’s such a pity, because once you learn to use advice, it opens up a whole new world of possibilities.

I was desperate for advice when I wrote Conversations, but who could I ask? To me, the JSE is full of successful business titans — I just needed to figure out how to access them. I sold the idea of a book to the JSE. I would get the advice I was looking for, a product that other entrepreneurs would be interested in, and the JSE would get positive exposure in the corporate and SME communities. They agreed and gave me access to their database.

Interestingly, the advice I received led to a whole new business, first because I realised that I wanted to build my business around things I’ll still want to do in 30 to 40 years from now, and that wasn’t digital signage, which was what I had been doing, and second because I suddenly had this incredible resource that would bring in revenue while I thought of my next move.

Related: Entrepreneurial Powerhouse TBO Touch On How Success Is Built From Small Acts

Create your own positioning tool

I closed down the digital signage business and found jobs for all of my employees except for one, Andrew Chavhunduka. Andrew and I went into business publishing the book. It was to be our positioning tool.

I wanted to inspire entrepreneurs, and big corporates wanted to partner with me, especially banks that wanted to access and support the SME market. We started a roadshow. Our banking sponsor could draw crowds with my talk and the book, and then pitch their products to a captive audience.

It was clear that advice wasn’t only desperately needed by the SME community, but welcomed; at least by those intent on growing their businesses.

This has been the foundation of everything we’ve done since. I’ve written two additional books, The Best Advice I Ever Got and Damn Good Advice, and each has been a mix of my own insatiable desire for great advice and building products for our business.

Successful people are successful because of how they think

siya-mapoko-damn-good-advice

I’ve spoken to more than 200 CEOs and we’ve collected an incredible amount of qualitative data. We’ve learnt how successful people think and make decisions. We’ve used this to build a consultancy and develop software to help organisations grow.

Through the roadshow we built an SME database, and we pitched our services to them. We’re selective about who we work with though. You need to be serious about growth. In each workshop we only have space for 20 SMEs, so we need to make sure that they will put in the work. We’re there to help them evaluate the areas that are stalling their growth. The next 90 days are spent implementing those strategies.

At the end of that period, if they’ve seen measurable improvements, they can join our annual programme. It’s a very specific model. On the one hand, keeping it exclusive increases its value to our clients. On the other, we have to do our job, because they need to see a measurable return to sign up for the full year programme. It all goes back to the value of powerful advice from successful people, and understanding how business leaders and customers think.

Advice is only as valuable as you make it

You need to teach yourself to be open to advice; you need to listen. But you also need to test it. Not every piece of advice will work for you. Take what works, implement it, measure it, and then be prepared to adjust your strategies and assumptions.

Related: From School Teacher to Mining Mogul: Tim Tebeila

The things you thought you knew for sure are often not what you thought at all. Everything is a learning curve, and as our businesses grow, what they need shifts. As your business changes, you need to change. You need to be able to ask: Is this true for me? And then realise you may need to revisit the same point later.

Do this

Be open to advice. Actively seek it, question what works for you, and then implement it in your business.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

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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brightrock

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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