- Player: Dawn Nathan-Jones
- Previous: CEO of Imperial Car Rental Division
- Currently: Shark on M-Net’s Shark Tank
Anyone can become a great leader
I firmly believe this to be true. This doesn’t mean we all start out as great leaders though. You have to put up your hand and find great mentors. It’s not nearly as hard as you think to find a mentor.
People are honoured when you go to them. It doesn’t need to be someone from your industry either. If you don’t want a mentor, start working with a coach. I’m extremely pro coaching.
You can clearly distinguish between leaders who were coached and those who weren’t.
Exceptional leaders are on a personal and professional growth journey
Strong, effective leadership takes emotional intelligence. Many leaders are not in touch with their own emotions, which directly impacts the fact that they don’t recognise if they aren’t the best leaders.
If your EQ is low, you’ll believe you’re doing a great job, even if you’re alienating your employees and management team. This isn’t sustainable.
Everything in business must be sustainable, including its leadership — and that takes both personal and professional growth. By opening yourself up to development you can grow your EQ.
What got us here won’t necessarily be our success tomorrow
As a leader, it’s incredibly important to challenge yourself. You need to keep yourself relevant, and stay in touch with everything that’s happening around you, both locally and abroad. It’s never been easier to do this than today.
Three decades ago we had to fly overseas at great expense to see what was happening in other markets. Today you can access better information at the tap of a screen. Everything is accessible to you and there are no excuses to not be the best you can be.
Embrace change — it usually brings something amazing.
Entrepreneurs are nimble and can often be all over the place, so you need to take the time to sit down and focus as well. Learn as much as possible. There are so many forums and platforms available to business leaders today.
If you think you know it all, you’ll never grow. It’s also never too late to learn more. I went to business school much later in life.
I already had a successful career and leadership role, but I knew I had room for growth, and I wanted to learn more. Always be learning, developing and growing.
You need to change, even when you’re successful
Change direction to grow. This can be within your organisation, or, as in my case, outside of it. I left the corporate world in 2015 because it was time to refocus and determine what I wanted to do next. You can get caught up in leadership, board meetings, sustainability, empowerment… There is always so much happening in business that it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.
Take a breath, step back and refocus. This doesn’t mean change everything, but learn to pause and evaluate where you are, and what needs to be changed or adjusted.
Learn to pull yourself back
What business are we in, and what’s important? How can we take this to our people? If you aren’t asking yourself these three questions regularly, you’re going to miss changes and disruptions heading your way, and lose touch with your employees and customers.
Execution is so important
This is where failure comes from, but that’s all part of the journey. If you’re too scared to execute for fear of failure then you’re failing anyway. Instead, take the chance, maybe fail, but then learn from your failures. Keep trying different things.
You will make mistakes; I’ve made a fool of myself, especially going back and seeing what I did naively. But if you’re passionate and authentic, people will forgive you.
You need to find the time to focus on what you’re good at, and then step back and evaluate your decisions and learn from them. That’s how you grow, and how your organisation grows alongside you.
Business is about the head, the heart and the hands
This has been my mantra throughout my corporate career and is particularly important as I begin my entrepreneurial journey. I also saw it again and again in Shark Tank. So many entrepreneurs believe that passion is enough.
It’s important, but you need skill too — the skill to pitch your business, whether it’s to investors, customers or employees, and the skill to run your business. Intelligence, EQ, action and execution work together.
Head, heart and hands. Vinny Lingham, one of my co-Sharks, says that vision without action is hallucination. I love that saying, because I think it sums it up perfectly.
Take the time to step back and look at the big picture. Where are you, where is the business, and where are you heading? You can’t grow unless you’re on a growth path.
Channeling The Fire Of Authenticity: Asia’s’ Top ‘YouTuber’, Joanna Soh
Joanna Soh’s introspective look into why her YouTube channel is not a ‘side project’ and how she makes a difference to her audience.
“The best project you will ever work on is you” – Joanna Soh
The scene was the rooftop of the Cascades Residency in Kota Damansara, Malaysia where the tranquillity of a high vantage point, the colourful deep blue of the pool, and the hypnotic sound of a waterfall created a suitable ambience to interview Asia’s’ top ‘YouTuber’, Joanna Soh.
I only interview entrepreneurs and leaders with a sense of purpose and a deep love for what they do. Joanna Soh is no exception, her smile carries the fire of authenticity, tenacity, caring, and vulnerability. This fire has most definitely spread as Joanna is Asia’s’ top ‘YouTuber’ with well over 1 Million followers and she openly shared her fears and struggles, that in itself is a valuable lesson to all entrepreneurs. Within the willingness to admit to your fears and weaknesses lies great strength and it is an understatement to exclaim that Joanna is a strong woman.
She is driven by the purpose of adding value and making a difference to her audience and is uplifted by the feedback of her fans for they mean so much to her. As I saw a childlike sense of awe and gratitude in her eyes when she spoke about her achievements I was reminded of the master poet Rumi’s’ advice to us all:
“Sell your cleverness and purchase awe”.
Stop making everything so complicated and stop taking yourself so seriously are only some of the basic lessons that Joanna’s’ entrepreneurial journey has taught her. She acknowledges that the ‘road less travelled’ of entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey and reminds the reader that when she started she also had no audience and had to build her brand. That is the reason why having a strong purpose is so valuable as it ensures longevity and makes it hard to give up on your entrepreneurial dreams.
Related: Make Money from YouTube Videos
Starting out Joanna stumbled upon a YouTube article that revealed that there was only one other Asian girl that was sharing fitness related content and took the gap with great agility. Her behaviour reminded me of Julius Caesars’’ famous words:
“I came, I saw, and I conquered.”
Joanna used and still uses basic discipline as a focal point for her brands’ growth. From the start she was disciplined enough to not treat her YouTube channel as a ‘side project’ but instead ensured that she at least worked eight hours a day on her project and meticulously researched all the technicalities of building and scaling her now famous brand.
This influential leader taught the author that there is a science behind building a strong following on YouTube. Every videos’ title is very important and whom you tag is also a priority. All these seemingly small details and mechanisms create compound interest over time when you build your brand on YouTube.
Joanna understands the importance of business metrics and daily tracks the amount of subscribers she has. At this juncture I would like to point out that Joanna’s’ followers grow by thirty thousand per month on average!
Although her background working as a TV producer in England has helped in creating a foundation for her it is most definitely not the only contributing and critical factor to her success. This YouTube stars’ relentless purpose of adding value to her followers has driven her to create ‘evergreen content’ that will still be relevant in five years’ time.
Lean in a little closer
I hope that the reader now ‘leans in’ and carefully listen to this YouTube icons’ advice, and more importantly apply the learnings contained therein:
‘Do not start a channel with the mind-set of getting rich nor famous quickly. Rather start with a clear and defined purpose – Why are you doing it, and what is really going to drive you?
Do not just upload a lot of content and then stop
Consistency is critical so therefore upload according to a pre-set schedule carefully keeping your target audience in mind. Do not limit yourself even in choice of platform, just put yourself out there. Simplicity is very important and therefore leave your audience with very easy to understand tips and practical solutions.
Discipline is a key value
Whether you are tired or not and even when you are not getting early traction still keep on doing it and be patient enough to receive your reward later. Build discipline over time and always remind yourself that helping people and adding value to them will always make you feel more grounded and centred.
Understand your audience and they will keep growing with you. Know who your audience is and work towards that strength. I know for example that eighty percent of my audience is female and continuously track the demographics of my audience. Slowly but surely take on branded sponsors whose vision and activities align with yours.
Carefully select who you follow online and feed off that persons’ energy
Do not confuse yourself and your purpose by following too many people from different industries.’
We concluded the interview and I felt inspired not only by her success but mainly by her tenacity and fierceness as a leader combined with the willingness to share her vulnerabilities which ultimately makes her stronger and stronger.
Follow Joanna Soh and you will learn something valuable. I already am…
10 Inspirational Quotes From Successful Actress-Turned-Entrepreneur Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba isn’t just another Hollywood face — she’s also the founder of a billion-dollar business
While many only recognise Jessica Alba for her performances in Sin City or Fantastic Four, in the entrepreneurial world Alba’s name goes beyond her role as a Hollywood star.
Rising to fame as a young actress, Alba saw much success early on. However, it wasn’t until 2015, when Alba co-founded The Honest Company, that she became a prominent name in the business world. What originally began as a beauty line has since grown into a billion-dollar 500-plus-employee business that sells safe and healthy baby, personal care, cleaning products and more.
It’s safe to say Alba can teach you a thing or two about entrepreneurship and running a successful business.
To learn more, here are 10 inspirational quotes from the actress-turned-entrepreneur.
Dylan Kohlstädt Of Shift One Marketing Weighs In On Digital Marketing For Start-Ups
Digital marketing maverick Dylan Kohlstädt unpacks how start-ups can maximise their marketing spend, get noticed and reach customers through savvy and cost-effective digital campaigns.
- Player: Dylan Kohlstädt
- Company: Shift One Marketing
- Visit: www.shiftone.co.za
How can start-ups go about using social media, networking and word-of-mouth to grow their businesses?
You have to be active on social media, that’s a given, but the only way to cut through the content marketing clutter is to produce content that moves the needle, and the only way to do that is to really immerse yourself in your customer segments. Ideally, it’s video-based, and ideally, your customers are creating the content for you.
Social media is digital word-of-mouth — so if you’re doing it well, customers will become your sales reps, and refer friends to you. Make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you (usability testing), and for them to refer you.
Why is it easier to market your business than before?
Digital marketing is cheap, and you can set it up and manage it yourself. It also means that you can segment your markets like never before, and reach micro targeted segments with just a few rands. Facebook ads are super cheap, as long as you’re not chasing ‘likes’. You might actually get a few sales from them. Just remember, there’s a lot of rubbish you’ll have to trawl through first.
On the other hand, why is it also harder with such overcrowded markets?
Everyone has competitors, because all it takes is a website and a few bucks and you’ve got a business. Niching is critical. You have to understand your market. You have to be unique. You have to appeal to them, and their needs and emotions.
You have to understand their needs really well. Marketing plays a critical role in brand building — without the research involved in marketing your business, you might not understand your target audience well enough, and your product or service might not hit the mark as a result. Similarly, without a clear brand, you’re going to be lost in the sea of competitors out there.
How can start-ups access their beachhead markets through digital marketing campaigns?
It’s important to be very clear on who your customer is and what your niche is before embarking on a digital campaign. The more niche your market, and the more defined your product, the more success you’ll have and the cheaper your marketing becomes. I encourage start-ups to complete detailed market analysis covering:
- Who is your customer? Include market size, description, demographics.
- What need drives them? What is the gap?
- What are their emotions? What emotions cause them to make decisions and how can you appeal to these emotions, bearing in mind that emotions make people buy, while logic makes them think.
- Which product is right for them? Which product meets their needs?
- What is your message to them? How are you going to package all of what you know about them to create messaging that is compelling?
- What channels are they on? Where are you going to find them? This is critical as you need to target channels that they’re using, and not only the ones you’re comfortable with using.
- What content do they need? This will inform your content marketing strategies.
Related: Can Your Marketing Team Speak Data?
If you don’t do research, you make assumptions. The more time you spend on this process, the cheaper and more effective your marketing will be. It will also help you avoid one of the most common mistakes start-ups make when it comes to establishing who their target market is — you want to be niche, not broad.
Nearly all markets are accessible via digital marketing, and if they are not digital, then SMS and radio. The more information you have about your customers, and the more niched you are in segmenting them, the better your results.
How can a start-up figure out who their real target market is? Any tips?
There are many forms of research out there, but the ones I personally advocate are:
- Usability testing: Get six to 12 customers to use your website and products. This gives you endless insights into who they are and what drives them, as well as the correct wording to use throughout your communication with them.
- Dipstick research: We go to customers, wherever they are, and talk to them, find out who influences them, find out what drives them, find out their feeling about your product and your competitors.
- Content research: Once you’ve identified the voices in the community, reach out to them to get content, establish them as influencers to the community, and create content that is appealing to the market, because it comes from the market.
What should start-ups avoid doing?
Many companies avoid the channels they are not comfortable with. Many agencies produce content that appeals to the account management team, and not to customers. Don’t make big production TV ads or sign up an agency that just wants to win awards — rather create YouTube content that your customers will respond to.
Start-ups often think they need funding to launch. When is this not actually the case and why?
In a services industry, you can get away with bootstrapping. With tech companies, you’ll need to rely on sweat equity (which generally means partnering with a developer and giving them shares in the business) if you can’t afford to pay them. You might just get stuck with someone that isn’t that great at development, but at least they are working on your project for free.
If you do go the bootstrapping route, you need to keep your costs low. You definitely don’t want offices. Instead, run your small team through collaborative online platforms like Trello, Slack or Asana.
Don’t be in a hurry to get funding — it comes with a whole new set of trouble and it might kill your business. Instead, loan what you can from the 3Fs (friends, fools and family), or even a bank loan if you can get one. At least you retain ownership of the business.
Why is cash flow more important than funding in many cases?
Funding isn’t the panacea that start-ups think it is. There are many alternatives to finding an investor, including overdrafts and loans from friends. Cash flow is critical for the day-to-day running of your business. Funding might only pay out in a year’s time, based on performance, and in that time you might run out of cash.
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