The #WhatsYourNext by Standard Bank Business Breakfast series is worth attending if you’re looking for some fresh inspiration.
Themed #WhatsYourNext, the second leg of the Jacaranda FM Standard Bank Breakfast series took place on 18 August 2017 at Vodaworld Arena, Vodacom Boulevard in Midrand, Johannesburg. Keynote speakers Adv. Thuli Madonsela, John Smit, Miles Kubheka and Dawn Nathan-Jones captivated the audience with stories of their own successes and failures and their hopes for the country, as they shared authentic nuggets of wisdom that were unapologetically South African.
Business is about investing in hope
Madonsela, former Public Protector and academic, was named one of the Most Influential people by Time magazine. “Business is about investing in hope. You pursue a future you can’t see, that’s what dreams are made of,” she posited. “Sometimes a love of money and sometime a love of something more, a love of service to humanity. People are driven by a want to be significant to humanity and leave a footprint that will be there are they are gone.”
“We are living in the best of times,” she continued. “Excellent things are being invented that make life easier for us. If you look, you see South African brands everywhere. People complain about the lack of leadership in South Africa, but just look around this room, it is filled with strong leaders. South Africans are leading in all areas of life and technology, we were the first country to conduct a heart transplant; our excellent constitutional court has been recognised by Harvard.”
She added that in other ways we are also living in the worst of times and identified three things that, if changed, would change the world: social injustice, climate change and bad governance (including in politics).
Madonsela is currently at Harvard University creating a social justice tool. Her “Next” is a professorship at Stellenbosch University, where she will be conducting a human impact study.
Creating trust is fundamental
Smit spoke about good leadership, citing his role as former Springbok captain who led South Africa to World Cup victory in 2007 as an example. He believes that creating trust is fundamental to any organisation and explained how the Springboks took a vested interest in each other’s personal lives. “When we built that trust, our group started to engage in dialogue and not debate,” he said. On his role as CEO of Sharks Rugby, Smit said it was the best three years of his life and that he learnt a lot about leading a business.
The recipe to success
Author, public speaker, entrepreneur and owner of the restaurant Vuyos on Vilakazi Street in Soweto, Miles Khubeka unpacked 15 recipes for success with the impactful message “be fearless in pursuit of business success”. While his ‘Vuyo’ persona and boerie rolls went viral, his business journey wasn’t smooth sailing. He shared some failures: from his food stall at the Fourways market catching alight, to having no customers at the launch of first restaurant in Braamfontein to having students as customers who drank rather than ate their money to having to constantly tow his old ‘Kombi’ food trucks.
“Failure is a funny thing,” he said. “The more I failed, the more I realised it was propelling me to where I was going … Innovation really means that you make a plan to survive; ’n boer maak ’n plan, that’s what entrepreneurs must do to succeed. They must not procrastinate. Don’t postpone starting a business, just do it!”
Now a qualified chef, he runs a successful restaurant that specialises in authentic South African cuisine. Each time Kubheka hit a brick wall in his growth journey, someone assisted him in the next step-up. He shared a metaphor: “If you’re stuck by the side of the road no one will stop to help you, but if you get out and start pushing your own car, you will be surprised by the number of people who stop to help.” Kubheka’s “Next” is to launch his new food show.
Bears and sharks
Nathan-Jones, entrepreneur and former CEO of Europcar related the concept of Bears and Sharks to large corporations and entrepreneurs and described how she started her own business with three women and six cars in an oil shed, detailing her trials and tribulations during her 35-year career.
According to Nathan-Jones, it is in the worst economic times that the greatest innovations occur and she recounted how, as CEO of Imperial Car Rental, she had to re-invent and rebrand the business amid the global recession to become Europcar. She advised the audience to “never say no”, explaining how with only 200 luxury vehicles and busses in her fleet, she became the official logistics operator for the inauguration of Nelson Mandela. With grit and hard work, she catered to the 3000 demand.
Nathan-Jones said that there are three parts to life: learning, earning and returning. Her “Next” after was to invest in young, raw South African talent through Shark Tank SA, a show where hosts invest their personal funds in start-ups. Of the breakfast event, she said: “Initiatives like these are a great forum to network. It’s an opportunity to listen to the stories of people you hear about in the news, like Adv. Thuli Madonsela. At these events, you find out how authentic these people are.”
Source and images: Ogilvy PR