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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+.

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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