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Lessons Learnt

How the Founder of MadWorld Achieved Success with a Little Craziness

Adelaide Potgieter, founder of Mad World, has built up her R60 million business by looking at the world through a different lens, and always staying true to her vision.

Nadine Todd




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Vital Stats:

  • Player: Adelaide Potgieter
  • Company:  Mad World Group
  • Contact:
  • Turnover:  R60 million


Adelaide Potgieter is not a conformist. She started Mad Advertising (which has since become just one company in the Mad World Group) because she looked at an industry in dire need of energy and a different way of doing things. She wanted to shake things up.

For her, real wealth isn’t the money in her business or her bank account; it’s the fact that she did something about her irritation with a stagnant industry and started something that matters.

Today, what was once a one-woman-show is now a 50+ mad team of talented and passionate people who aren’t afraid to be themselves.

What is your version of success, and how has it evolved over the years?

I’ve always valued the small things. For me success is to be healthy, happy, and thankful. It’s taking simple pleasure in enjoying a meal.

Today that meal sometimes leans towards novel cuisine, but the spirit is the same. My motto is ‘TODAY’. I focus on trying to live each day fully, which is not as easy as you’d think. It takes constant reminders to live in the here and now.

I see success as focusing on harnessing your own personal talents and abilities, but also recognising and battling your weaknesses. For me that was learning patience, discipline, and concentration. It’s a work in progress, but one I never lose sight of.

Do you view yourself as a wealthy and successful individual?

I do if I’m contributing to the world around me. Wealth and success should constantly be evolving. The point should keep shifting.

My children used to love repeating the Buzz Lightyear quote ‘To infinity and beyond’, and this is how we should all view the world. What’s more important is our definition of what wealth and success are. Wealth in particular is always in flux.

You’ll never have enough, you’ll never be first, so concentrate instead on valuing what you have, and using it wisely. As our business grows, so we’re contributing to our industry, our clients and the economy. We’re building up our employees, and enriching their lives too.

We should be aiming to set benchmarks, be leaders, visionaries and pioneers, and then pushing beyond societal concerns to bigger and more human things like wisdom, love, mercy, and grace.

Have you managed to balance work with life?Adelaide-Potgieter-2

No. Balance is overrated. It’s defined in modern terms as having everything under control and compartmentalised. That’s rubbish. I follow a different philosophy: All in good time. I want to enjoy the varieties of experiences that cross my path.

I like to live, and if work feels like work, then I don’t live, no matter how well my pilates, yoga, gym, sun tanning or waxing sessions worked out.

Throw yourself into everything you do. Be crazy and passionate. And don’t forget to lose yourself sometimes – stop worrying about problems, issues, other peoples’ insecurities and power struggles. Just live. Embrace life.

If you could pin your success to one key characteristic, what would it be?

To be the light. If you walk into a room, light it up. When I walk into a room I make sure it feels like the curtains have suddenly been flung open.

This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – people either love having me around, or they hate it.

I made the decision a long time ago to be myself to the fullest  – I give, say, think, dream, jump and shout what I think needs to be communicated, and I follow the principle that you can take it or leave it, love it or hate it. I’m 100% myself, 100% of the time.

What thinking do you believe is limiting to entrepreneurs?

Doubt and fear. It’s natural to feel these emotions; we all do. If you really want to realise your full potential though, you need to push through them. Always remember that in business and life, the most valuable lessons are learnt when confronting fear and overcoming doubt.

What’s your growth mindset?

Keep creating ideas and thinking of new possibilities and opportunities. I make a point of always paying attention to what can be improved on or bettered around me. Don’t just think out of the box, think out of this world. And focus on other people – what will add value to their time and lives?

Something that has worked for me is plotting down a daily plan, and then throwing it away and just doing. It’s not about throwing all planning out of the window though.

Each night I reflect on the differences between the plan and my day, and how they were either better or worse, which then gives me focus for the following day.

I’ve learnt that by adding spontaneity and differences to routine and discipline, I’m more creative, and I can spend time thinking about the next big or small idea – those ideas that get me excited, and that I can see stirring and shaking things up.

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

Here’s What Jeff Bezos Prefers To Work-Life Balance And Why You Should Live By It

Work-life balance naively suggests working and non-working hours should be evenly apportioned.

John Boitnott



jeff bezos

Amazon is known for building a culture that values hard work. So much so that the organisation has received criticism from current and former employees for having to work on Thanksgiving, or even when ill.

When asked about Amazon’s work-life balance, Jeff Bezos remarked that he ascribed to the phrase “work-life harmony” instead.

Here’s how hard-charging businesspeople can maintain energy at home and at work without burning out by finding work-life harmony in place of work-life balance.

Measure work and home focus as a matter of energy instead of time

It isn’t about how many hours you spend at home or at work; it’s about the energy you bring to both parts of your life. If you enjoy working long hours, and that helps you to feel present while at home, then by all means continue.

This is a fundamental principle in Bezos’s theory of dividing one’s time between work and life. Because Bezos loves what he does, he finds energy from accomplishing his work in a manner that works well with his notoriously high standards.

As many can attest, our emotions bleed into all areas of our life. When you can gain energy from doing good work, it can help to propel you to be more successful in your life outside of work. Conversely, when things aren’t right at home, it can be difficult to find the energy to do your best work in the office. A central precept of work-life harmony is living such that both the professional and personal aspects of our life energise us to be our best at home and in the office.

This does not necessarily mean that we should spend our time in a balanced way, as the phrase “work-life balance” implies. Rather, we should spend our time in such a way that we are our best selves. In so doing, we will be better people on the whole.

Related: Jeff Bezos: 9 Remarkable Choices That Shaped The Richest Man In The World

Build a flexible work-life schedule

Just as different people will amass different levels of energy from work and life outside of work, different people will find they are most productive at different times of the day. The 9-5 work culture that has existed for decades is really shifting now. Most modern offices allow some form of flexible work, which means you have the ability to set your own hours to some degree.

Experiment with working at different times of the day to find the schedule the helps you to be most productive. In so doing, you’ll have more time to do your best work, and more energy to spend with loved ones as a result of increased productivity.

Know when to say “no”

We tend to think that taking on as many projects as possible is a sign of a good professional. But being busy is not the same as making an impact. To do your best work, you’ll need to prioritise projects that you know you can add value to.

Spinning your wheels is demoralising. Look for projects in which you can easily enter a “flow state” where hours melt away. This is the environment in which you are doing your best work, and are happy to be doing the work itself. It is in moments of flow that we often feel most productive, and even fulfilled. Therefore, it is after moments of flow that we tend to feel guilt-free about enjoying quality time with loved ones while unplugging from work.

Related: Jeff Bezos Reveals 3 Strategies for Amazon’s Success

Communicate commitments

If you’re approaching a time-consuming work project, communicate that to the important people in your life. Otherwise, they may think you are avoiding them due to a more insidious reason.

Providing those you love with a glimpse into your professional commitments can also help them to help you. If a good friend knows it will be difficult for you to communicate for a few weeks, they will know to pause conversations so as not to burden you with having to reply to texts or emails.

Similarly, a partner who knows that you are responsible for delivering an important project may be able to rearrange their schedule in order to better support you in the short term.

Conversely, if family commitments will prevent you from working at full capacity for a certain period of time, set the right expectations with colleagues. A good workplace is one that is flexible to the realities of employees’ personal lives. Managers who care about the well-being of their people are usually willing to help employees take care of personal commitments.

Adapting to a changing work life

Work no longer happens between the hours of 9 AM and 5 PM, Monday to Friday. Work happens Saturday mornings, and late Friday nights. It happens on vacation, and during graduations. The idea of work-life balance suggests that there should be an even split between working and non-working hours.

Related: Why It Pays To Be A Jerk Like Jeff Bezos

In reality, those who have undertaken ambitious careers should aim for work-life harmony, a lifestyle in which both aspects of life give you the energy to be your best self as frequently as possible.

This article was originally posted here on

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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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