Alan Knott-Craig Jnr talks about what is takes to change the world, putting family first and being like William Wallace

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Alans Blog: http://www.alanknottcraig.co.za
Follow Alan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/alanknottcraig (@alanknottcraig)
A great article to read by Alan: http://www.alanknottcraig.co.za/how-to-survive-the-vortex-of-destiny/
World of Avatar: www.worldofavatar.com

Inspiration

> We are on a rocket with a chance of landing on the moon. Whether we do, or we blow up along the way, at least we'll be among the stars.
> Men wanted for hazardous journey. Low wages, bitter cold, long hours of complete darkness, safe return doubtful, honour and recognition in event of success.
> Africans control time. Europeans are controlled by time. So who’s right? The guys who are controlled by time or the guys who control time?
- There’s this legend that the world will be lit from Africa and that the light will start in the South. It feels like this is the time and I know that I’ll kill myself if fifty years from now I didn’t try to be part of that wave, even if it didn’t happen.
> Love someone, do what you love, and be hated (for the right reasons).
> I think you have to believe…even if you don’t believe, you have to say “It’s going to make it”, then you start believing it will make it. And you will inside start believing your own bullshit. It starts with just believing. When your backs against the wall, when you have to do it, or you die, then you do it.
> Success gives you the belief going forward and then it becomes accumulative. That’s a great trick for getting through adversity

Wisdom

> The most important decision I’ve ever made in my life, was putting my family first, because everything flowed from there and became good.
> Advice to get through hard times - In four words: Harden the f#@k up. That’s what I had to do. I just stopped feeling sorry for myself. When you’re in that space and feeling down, just harden the f#@k up and the best way to do that is to have a look around and see how people are living. Look at all their stories.
> When it comes to failure, a good, good rule of thumb is… the people who matter, don’t care. The people who care, don’t matter. And I’ll always think about that because, a lot of the time I was worried about what other people think.
> Every single person I know over the age of 55 and who has made a lot of money, talk about how they wished they’d spent more time with their family.
> To be an entrepreneur, you have got to have hunger. Not this kind of, “I wanna be an entrepreneur coz I wanna be an entrepreneur”. People either have a fire or they don’t have a fire and if they don’t they find out very quickly because without the fire, just give up. It generally means people willing to take a risk without having that safety. And a lot of guys already got a job and they want to raise the capital before they of quit their job… I say, “when you’ve divorced your current boss, come and talk to me and I’ll decide if we get married. But, I’m not signing our marriage contract before get divorced”
> I’ve underestimated in the past the importance of experience in the industry. Unless you’ve got the ten thousand hours in that specific industry and understand the mechanics of the industry, you won’t know hot to change the rules.
> I think we have the critical mass needed to create globally scaled tech businesses, and I think we underestimate ourselves a little bit and without belief you’ll never get anywhere.
> The single most important thing that I get right nowadays and that I have to keep reminding myself of is that I’ve stopped thinking what’s in it for me. I always think about how I’m helping other people. Whether it’s my secretary, whether it’s my partner, whether it’s my shareholders, whether it’s a customer. When people know you don’t have an agenda for yourself and that you’re sincerely trying to think about how to help them achieve their ambitions and dreams, they reckon you’re top goods. That builds trust and loyalty, and when you’ve got that, then you can do anything.
> I also find just telling the truth is effective, and people aren’t used to the truth anymore. So, I am brutally honest. I share everything. The people who are running the world do not tell you the truth and they think the people don’t know they’re not being told the truth. To differentiate going forward leaders are those who have the guts to tell the truth, but, as Winston Churchill says, if you’re going to tell people the truth, you must make them laugh. Otherwise they will kill you.
> You need to have structure in life. So I walk from five in the morning until six in the evening, Monday to Saturday. And then after six I switch off. Most Saturdays I spend with my family. After six in the evenings and on Sundays I don’t look at my email, I don’t do any business calls, I don’t sms, nothing. That structure has created a lot of space for me to think. To spend time with my family also to get my mind out of the noise.
> It is not hard to be motivated when you love every minute of what you do. I do what I want to do and I am following a dream that I wanted to follow. There’s definitely some tough times and shit that keeps me awake at night, but for the most part, I find that as long as I stay true to the dream, and I keep my structure right, all is good.
> The one thing that everybody should be doing, is to be consuming information. There’s a lot of lessons out there. Verbally from mentors, or reading articles, reading books. You don’t have to make the mistakes other people have made and the only way you can do that is to consume information.
> Guy Kawasaki, wrote the Rules for Revolutionary and in it he says that “You should eat like a hummingbird, and poo like an elephant.” A hummingbird eats more than its body mass (so you must consume data), but it’s no good pooing like a hummingbird, you must poo like an elephant (you’ve got to share what you’re getting, you’ve got to be good at taking all of that info, condensing it, and then sharing it.
> I like blogging because it’s not intrusive. You’re not forcing people to read your frivolous thoughts. The people who do find it interesting and do get value out of it, value it. And it helps me as well, because when you write it forces you to simplify your thinking. I can explain that in a short post and you actually understood it.
> I just try to make sure that there’s nothing in my life that I can’t tell my kids about, whether it’s compromising my principles, or temptations to get into adult content online, or to say I worked in this type of business to that type of business.
> When I did my first business, my angel investor told me, “You can make a lot of money in life, but you only make one name. So never throw away your name for money.” It was all about reputation, reputation, reputation. And then I went through that whole Sunday Times thing and all of that. And then Branko (Daily Maverick), said to me, “Remember that people who matter don’t care, people who care don’t matter.” So I think that the perception that reputation is the most important thing in the world is a very dangerous thing. It is important, but it’s not the most important thing in the world. If you run your life and your business on what the crowd thinks, you are aiming for a life of mediocrity. Sometimes you’re going to piss people off, and sometimes they’re not going to like you.
> Be conscious what people think, but don’t worry what people think.
> If you’re not doing it for a reason other than money, you ain’t gonna do this shit. You can never go down a path of greatness if that is your drive because money is not enough of an incentive. You just become some mercenary. You’re not William Wallace.
> George Clooney acted in a movie called, ‘Men Who Stare at Goats’. They’re down in the prison and George Clooney grabs his friend who is freaking out. He slams him against the wall and says, “Hey, shut up. Listen. Life is like a river and it’s flowing towards a destination. Every time you swim against the current, it feels difficult. You must just go with the flow. We are in this prison, this is what’s meant to be, there’s nothing we can do about it. Just go with the flow.” That’s how I think about opportunity. I think about everything like that.

Know How

> We are trying to do something different. It doesn’t have to be the way people say it has to be. But it is not all about change. We do have a path, we have a dream and it feels like a path that’s worth chasing. World of Avatar is the man of the stage but MXit right now is my current avatar.
> We are going down a path that people have said, isn’t possible and that we have to compromise. We’re saying no. We think we can get there without having to compromise.
> You can’t do anything without connecting people. And MXit is a great tool for us to connect. Second thing is, we need to engage and that means we need to get more into games. The third thing is educate. So once you’ve got people connected, and once you’ve got their attention you can start helping them learn. Education is a pillar for us.
> The top of the pyramid doesn’t need any help, it’s, it’s the bottom of the pyramid does. That is where the opportunity lies and also the need.
> If I can say that we are not the biggest gaming company in the world ten years from now then we have failed.
> It’s like the church. If you build the church on fear, you have to keep the fear and the threat there forever, otherwise people will stop going to church because they’re not afraid anymore. To build a business on hope is a bit more tricky, But a bit more sustainable and certainly a lot more aspirational.
> MXit is really a diamond that’s covered in coal. As we scrape every layer, it gets better and better
> In many ways we have some massive advantages over Silicon Valley because we don’t have the damaged goods. When people get rich, it’s like a poison in the well. People’s motives change and that’s why people are moaning the death of Silicon Valley. People look at Facebook and say, oh, I can just get rich, but we don’t have that. We don’t have that precedent, which helps because when people are going into the system they’re not doing it because they think they’re going to make a billion dollars as some of them do. Most of them do it because of the dream. And people will do anything to achieve a dream.
> I wake up at five and go to work. I do my emails until 07:30, then my meetings start, and then I don’t sit down again until six o’ clock. All day long I’m walking. I started doing it just after we started and people relax when they walk and they think differently as well. And then I read about Steve Jobs doing that as well and I was like “ah now I look like a copycat”.
> I think ten years from now the big stuff will have come out of Africa. It won’t have come out of America. I don’t think it’s because we’re cleverer, I just think it’s because this is where the needs are. This is the last common denominator, if you solve the needs here in our context, with our challenges, rather than wait for everybody to get to the point where they get credit cards and broadband, you’ll take over the world. Whereas, living in America, it’s very difficult to imagine a world where data’s not free and everybody doesn’t have a smartphone and nobodies got a credit card.
- Payments is massive. It’s the key. Fundamentally the reason why I can make money out of this game in Africa or outside of developed markets is to have indirect revenue models, whether you sell the data to your customer, or whether you sell advertising, because there’s no direct billing mechanism. We also look at ecosystems of developers, so you can build almost a micro-entrepreneur model where guys can develop content in local markets and monetise it.
> I know I’m different from all the others. I got married when I was twenty five, I took a lot of distraction out of my life and I was very lucky to marry a very good person. It just changed the way I think about the world and then having kids also changed the way I think about the world. Kids rewire your brain. They make you think differently about the future, about anything, and it really taught me about my being selfish.
> The first step in a business is not raising the money. It’s quitting a job, because then your backs against the wall and you’ve got to figure it out. You’ve got to sell, or you’ve got to get rid of your house, or you have to ask people for money.
> You pick your long-term picture. You look at it, and then you look down. And you ignore every f#@king step between you and that picture except for the next step. And when you see the next step you look up again and around, still on the right track, and you look down and at the next step. And just like that, that mental exercise for me works. Because you realise that every step after the next step is a guess. And you’re worrying about it unnecessarily and it’s taking you away from the next step, which is, unless you get this one right, it doesn’t matter what the next step is.

Interesting to Know

> I would recommend reading Game of Thrones because it will just f#@king make your imagination go wild. You need to be creative and you’re not going to be creative reading non-fiction all your life. Read Bounce of the Ball, by Ronald Cohen. That was actually a very good business book. A good biography to read is Team of Rivals which is Abraham Lincoln’s story. It’s a brilliant book.
> Read History. Doesn’t matter what history. Local history, international history, any history. I find that the more history I read the better I understand the context of today. You have to know where you’re coming from if you know where we’re going. There’s a great book about Africa, you need to learn about Africa because we don’t really know what Africa is about. There was two great books, one was a book written by Richard Dowden called Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles, and the other one was by a guy called Ryszard Kapuscinski and it was the Shadow of the Sun. That was, far and away, the best book I’ve ever read on how Africa thinks and understanding what makes African community and society different from the world.

You know what to do – leave a comment below and tell us what you thought of the interview and topics discussed, or maybe you have questions you want answered – let us know and we will get back to you.

Alans Blog: http://www.alanknottcraig.co.za

Follow Alan on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/alanknottcraig (@alanknottcraig)

A great article to read by Alan: http://www.alanknottcraig.co.za/how-to-survive-the-vortex-of-destiny/

World of Avatar: www.worldofavatar.com


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