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The Anatomy of Scott Picken

Scott Picken is a serial entrepreneur. He started his first business at 19, and now runs four successful companies. He’s an international real estate analyst and investor facilitating a portfolio worth R1,8 billion. He’s the author of Property Going Global, a book endorsed by Clem Sunter, and here he shares his philosophy on wealth creation.

Tracy Lee Nicol

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Scott Picken

I had a nice life and went to private schools, but at 17 my dad got cancer and his new business went bankrupt.

When he passed he didn’t have R50 in the bank. It was a huge shock having to support myself financially and put myself through university.

As a result of my father’s business bankruptcy…

I saw the negative impact money problems had on my parents’ relationship.

Conversely, I had a generous and knowledgeable uncle who taught me about finance and invested in my first business. Though many would see the whole experience as negative, I was able to see the massive advantage in growing up quickly and becoming financially savvy. It comes down to a mindset.

Related: Anatomy of… Derek Thomas

By 22 I was in property development…

And by 24 I’d purchased property in London when others my age were saying ‘I’m too young to own property.’

My dad had instilled the belief in me that I could do anything. People block themselves because of fear of getting hurt when you should just do it and figure things out. My two year-old son was once running along a low wall.

A friend asked if I was going to tell him to stop because he might fall. I said no because if I only point out the negative and how he could get hurt, he will never try new things.

My belief in making a plan and figuring things out still plays out in the way I do business today.

I recently closed a property deal in the US for $16 million. They required $6 million equity from me that I didn’t have. I signed the deal anyway because I knew we would make a plan. I came back to South Africa, reached out to investors and we over-subscribed that deal, raising money on five continents. Seize opportunities and make it happen.

A principle I hold close is one from Zig Ziglar…

That you can have anything you want if you help others get what they want.

When I was working in London after university, I could’ve bought a house by myself, and buying the next one would take a long time. Instead, I got my friends to all pitch in and everyone won.

It’s how I run my businesses now too. I help others invest, and we all win. Similarly, I discovered a charity in the US called Lemonade Day (lemonadeday.org) that teaches kids entrepreneurial skills. I’ve bought the rights to it and am currently launching it in South Africa.

My book is based on a model that I was too embarrassed to show anyone because I feared it was too simple.

Clem Sunter gave a talk and I didn’t have a system to process the information with. I mapped out the most important things and came up with a four dimensional model. I used it and it worked.

A year later I plucked up the courage to show Clem and he said ‘You’ve got to share this!’ and he agreed to endorse it. The ultimate sophistication is in simplicity.

I’m a big advocate of coaching. The money I spend on personal development always brings exponential returns. In 2010, for example, I spent $50 000 to go to Las Vegas and Fiji for a course. I learnt skills and networked to the extent that I earned that money back in less than three months, and have experienced substantial growth since.

A defining moment in my entrepreneurial journey…

Was taking Roger Hamilton’s Wealth Dynamics test that categorises you into one of eight entrepreneurial types. It helped me figure out that I’m a creator like Richard Branson and creators need supporters, like Jack Welch. The minute I head hunted a supporter, I achieved goals in 18 months that I hadn’t achieved in nine years.

Related: Ashraf Garda’s Drive to Build a Better SA

Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.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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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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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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