Vusi Thembekwayo (Highlights – Video and Text), plus Transcript

Summary highlights are in the text boxes below, while a full transcript of the interview is below that for anyone who needs that.
Please note that the Summary Tips and Transcripts are done verbatim and will have many grammar and some spelling errors. We are not yet resourced to fully edit each interview, so ask that you read this with the focus on the incredible wisdom being shared instead.

Wisdom

- You need to be very careful of what you’re saying to yourself and the stuff you’re putting in your head.
- On how do you build that positive mind set, I really focus on the successes I’ve had and then go about creating small little successes. So that’s what I do. I’ll never go after the big fish. The thing about the big fish is that it’s just too big. But I always start with the small fish and conquering the small stages and the small platforms. And as you conquer those platforms and those stages, your confidence grows. And, uh, as the old idiom would have it, success breeds success. So, if you’re successful, and you’re becoming even more successful, you get into the habit of success, and that really helps build up your confidence.
- I think what kills a lot of people, is a lot of people try to make this huge massive leap, because we live in a time and age where people are looking for a massive difference in their lives. Some big [inaudible] is going to come and save you, some grand idea is gonna come and make you a billionaire. The reality is that in the balance of probability those do exist. We live in a time today where the only way you can actually become that successful is if you understand that you need to focus on building and doing the small little things. So do the small things first and do the small things well. It’s the same that you find in business. It’s exactly the same principle.
- My view is that you and I can’t afford to lower our standards, just so we can accommodate everybody. And we seem to be doing more and more of that in our country. Seem to be doing more and more of, well, let’s lower the standard so that people can play as opposed to saying, how do we invest so that we can bring more people up to our level. And so, when we, you know, even in our project around public speaking business, it’s really about bringing people up to the level they can be at, you know.
- I will never forget the lady who taught me public speaking for many years, used to use an analogy. She used to say, if you, if you took a potato and you’re a potato farmer. It doesn’t matter how much water you’d water that potato with on a given day. It doesn’t matter how much it rains on a given day. The potato’s rate of growth is fixed. And so too with developing a skill and a craft. Your rate of growth is fixed. It doesn’t matter how much you, how much you try and work at it, or how much you try and short-change the process, you can’t do it. The best way you can do it is to commit yourself to the learning process, and to go through that learning process.
- So I always encourage people, never, ever try to short-change the suffering. Never, ever try to walk away from the difficult times, the difficult moments, coz those are the times that will build you and prepare you for what’s to come.
- , Entrepreneurs need to focus their time on vetting character. Uhm, because, and any venturing capitalist will tell you this, you never find, you never find the horse. You find the jockey. It’s never about the business; it’s about the guy driving the business. And so even if you’re going to go into a partnership with people, it’s very seldom about the business you’re pursuing. It’s more often about the person whom you are going into the partnership with, right?
- That’s really what separates winners from losers and I’m sure you have your stories to how you can attest to that. The guys who… have made it, and continue to make it understand the fundamental law that if you want to make it you have to go through the tough times. And that if you bail during the tough times, you do nothing but short-change yourself. And so, for me, it was an incredible experience. It was an incredibly character building experience. And it was an experience that even to this day; I try and use to remind myself about what is important and how we run our businesses. It’s important to be conservative. It’s important to run your business with a manner of integrity, but it’s more important to manage and measure the people with whom you work and, and do, you know, what we call character PNL, as opposed to numbers PNL. I’ll bank anything on good character. Uh, uhm, uh versus, uhm, I’ll put my money any day on the jockey, uh, very seldom on the horse.
- I would’ve said to a younger version of Vusi is, when it comes, take it. Don’t wait, don’t ask questions, don’t hesitate, don’t think, don’t rethink, take it. The time is now, don’t, don’t be too academic about it, just do it. Take it, and live your life. Uh, I also would’ve said to him, and don’t try to be the person that you imagined that you were supposed to be. Be the person you are. You know, and I think that is such a powerful thing.
- Don’t rethink what your purpose is. Don’t rethink your talent. Just do it. Live it, become it, and do it.
- A lot of people ask me the question; so, how do I know what is my purpose in life? My answer to that is always this; that which you can do best with the least amount of effort, that’s what you ought to be doing. And, and it sounds so simple, but so many people haven’t actually thought around what it is that they do best. What are you the most talented at. And, you find so many people waste their talents because they pursue what was the popular to do.

Inspiration

- My life mission is very simple. I wanna be to public speaking what Steve Jobs was to Apple. What Mohamed Ali was to boxing, what Michael Jordan was to basketball. I wanna be the greatest there ever was. That’s what I wanna be. And, and that’s, that’s the legacy I’d like to leave behind.
- I’d like to think I do just three things really, really well. One of them is I, I’m very good at putting myself in tight spots and what really separates that winners from the losers, is winners know how to get into the difficult spots, and use those difficult times to build their character and to acquire new knowledge.
- The second thing is, I never say no. I never ever say no. So that’s, you were saying earlier at 25, at 24 I was a director of a multi-national. It’s coz when those opportunities came up, I never said no and I never doubted my own abilities. I always moved from the premise that I am the best person for whatever the job is. And then I let time prove me wrong. I let experience prove me wrong. I let me inability to perform prove me wrong. But, I never moved from the premise that, actually, I’m not ready.
- And then there’s a third thing I’d like to think I do, and that is I network really, really well. When I meet people, my task, every single time I meet a person in any social space, if you and I are involved in a conversation, I make you feel like you’re the only person in the room at that moment. I’m not focussed on anybody else, I don’t talk to anybody else, I don’t focus on my phone. I try to engage in the discussion, and it’s all about you and I in that moment, at that point in time. And what that does is, it really creates an understanding of the other person to you, that you matter to person even though we’ve only just met.
- And it’s a combination of those things that really propels one forward: never say no, always being able to test yourself, and always know that you’re networking [broken connection sound] influential people and that those people will take you forward and they’ll put you in a space where you’ll, where you’ll grow as an individual.
- I remember, I got shattered one day on the lead up to the finals of the competition one of the, one of the organisers, one of the ladies that was working for competition, organising this thing came to me and said I need to realise that I am in the most difficult heat in that competition and that I am also the person least likely to make it through to the finals. You know? And uh, and I’ll never forget it I mean, it was a complete character changing time coz you, you know I sort of, sort of, went into, went into my, into myself for a while, went into my own skin. Became a bit of a recluse. And then I’d remembered what I had been through to get there and I think that’s what’s important for people to understand is, no person’s struggle is ever more significant than yours, no person’s struggle has ever more meaning than yours, no person’s struggle has ever more meaning than yours, no person’s struggle has more credibility than yours. Struggle is struggle. And it’s the context around the struggle that is important. So, if you, if you and I, Jason, come from different life paths and we get to a point where we’re competing, really the only differentiator between you and I is the extent to which I believe my struggle has prepared me for that battle. That’s it. And if I win that and I move on to the next one, it’s understanding that the battle I had with Jason prepared me for that next struggle too, and that that next struggle is what’s building my character. So, when she said that I may not go on, I’m not go on, I’m not gonna lie, I was a bit of a recluse for the rest of the day. Went into my hotel, sat back watching tv and thought, you know, maybe I should just give up and fly back home now. [inaudible] in the morning, and I, and I just remembered to myself that actually I’m the guy. I’m the guy that can break the record, I’m the guy that can be the new guy to do this. I’m the guy that can set a completely new record for our continent and I’m the person who’s able to compete at that level, and I’m going to be that guy. And, uhm, I had a complete change in attitude. And all that really did was, it strengthened my resolve. So I competed twice as hard. I prepared twice as hard. I worked twice as hard. I, I was sharper, smarter, I was more aware. I just became twice more aggressive because she said that to me. And that’s how I ended up winning that competition.
- We have yet to come to that moment that lets us know that the class of 76fought for this. You and I are fighting for this. We, we have yet to define what that is. And, and I’m talking in a completely apolitical sense, in a sense that says that as a generation we want to achieve this, this is what we want to leave behind. Alright, so that’s the first. The second is, I also think we live in a country that is incredibly staid with tradition, incredibly staid with tradition. And so even if you look at the people in authority, the people who run our country; all incredibly staid with tradition. And my feeling is that our job, yours and mine, as people, is to question that. Because that more, that what young people do. Young people create discomfort. We question. We question authority, we question thinking, we question tradition, we question relevance. That’s what we need to do. We need to question and question it constructively, but question it nonetheless. Uhm, lest we don’t do that we’ll never advance our people forward. And so, when I talk about our generation being manufacturers of discomfort, what it is that I’m saying is not we should go out and seek to be controversial, but rather, that we need to ask the questions that the older generation is not willing to ask, purely because they’ve accepted the status quo. In other words, we need to force us as a people to rethink our thinking. We need to force us as a country to rethink our thinking. Force us as a generation to rethink our thinking. To say, what is the legacy that we as a generation want to leave behind? There are Mandelas of our, of their generation that left us a free country. That’s their legacy. What’s yours and my legacy? Surely it can’t be that we’re chasing tenders. It can’t be that. What’s the legacy gonna be? And we need ask that of the generation.
- My father used to say to me everything you need to achieve all your wildest dreams you already have.
- Everything I need to achieve, everything I’ve ever wanted to achieve, I already have. However, I do try to use, as the philosophers will call it, the test of ventilation. So, I have, I have a number of people, some incredibly highly achieved individuals, some were just ordinary middle managers in businesses. And, for different reasons I consult them and I talk to them to get their understanding around some of the business decisions that I’m faced with. I don’t’ do it with every single decision, in fact, I do it with very few decisions. But, I do it when I feel that we are on matter that needs their attention and where somebody can bounce off a couple of ideas.
- My entire perspective is that me job is just to create a mind-set of possibility. That’s really what, really what I’d like my life would equate to. People would look back and go, if that guy can do this, then I too can. Coz I think that’s more empowering than anything, it’s more empowering than setting up any business of any size. It’s leaving people with a mind-set that says you can be the rebel-rouser in your industry. You can be the trouble maker. You can be the manufacturer of this craft and you can forces people to rethink things. And you don’t need to be special. Oh, the fact that you exist; you’re already special enough. And, uhm, and it’s possible for you to do whatever you want.
- And the question I always, I always encourage any, any young person especially to ask themselves is… in the next five years, what do you want people to say about you that they wouldn’t have said about you now? And uhm, and it sounds in and of itself as a good question and an easy question to answer at surface, but it’s really about asking the question around, why do you want people to say that? Ask yourself, why must they say that? What impact would you have made for society for them to say that? And how would that impact outlive you? Because our challenge is, how do we do things that outlive us, that’s really the challenge, uh, you know. You and I could do something today and we’d make a couple of bucks from it, but how do we do something that will completely outlive us? So that once you and I have moved on, we can become the Martin Luther Kings of our generation, where people are quoting these incredible things we’ve said because we’ve did things that outlived us.
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Know How

- In every single craft, it has very technical aspects to it. But you can only master those technical aspects when you dedicate your time to doing the same thing over and over again. It’s just, there’s some things only repetition can teach you. It’s kinda like, if you’re a sales person and your job is to close deals over the phone, you’re only going to get better at it if you get on the phone more often. You’re not going to get better by reading a book or watching a movie about doing it. You get better at it by practising the craft. So over that two year span, I really began, I mean I remember on my, when I was, when I was 16, that year, I competed in something like 90. You know, some of them were competitions I had no business being in but I went to each and every single one of them because I wanted to really master my craft. I wanted to be the best there was. And at every single competition I had a little yellow notepad and I’d write down little notes about how the thing went. So the reflection was always important. And I’d go on to this next talk and I’d then open up my three notes from the last one and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again. And mastering the craft is just such an important thing of whatever skill it is you’re in. Master of your craft. And you can only master your craft by putting in the time, and by going through the repetition, the monotonous repetition of the stuff you need to do.
- Always remember that there is a humanness about you that attracts people to you. Very few people are attracted by technique. That’s why you’ll get very few people who will romanticise about being good debaters, because debaters are trained how to be technically sound. Public speakers are trained on how to be emotively sound. We’re trained on how to move your emotions. Barack Obama got up and said, “Yes we can”, he didn’t debate, it wasn’t a technical debate. It was an emotive call to action to say, yes… yes we can. So, you know, to answer your question more directly, what I would say to people is; have a style about yourself and be clear about what your style is. So, are you a fairly jocular person, are you a serious person, uhm, and, and, more importantly understand what the message is that you’re trying to communicate to people, because your style communicate that message.
- There’s a couple of things that I do to hype myself up before I speak. One of them is an album that I play, that I listen to. Uhm, uh, it’s a Biggie Smalls song. Uhm, uh, because I’m a bit of a hip hop guy, and uh, in the song he really talks about making it. It’s called Juicy. And in the song he talks about making it. About the journey he has had to travel. He says something like, birthdays were the worst days, now we’re sipping champagne on a Thursday, right. So he really talks about making it. And that’s one of the things I do. The other thing I do is I always look within, just before that moment when I get up on that stage. I shut down, I close my eyes and I always just look within. And you’d remember this. Before I get up on stage, the Rocky theme song plays, and there’s a reason why that theme song plays, it’s coz it psyches me up. So, you know, before I get up on that’s really to psyche me up. So let my audience know that I’m coming in, but it’s also to psyche me up to say, okay, this is the moment, this is the time, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. I also do this thing, I mean, my approach to my craft is that I treat my every single speaking event as my last, as if it was my last and my swan song. If a movie was made about Vusi, that’s the final shot. That’s the closing shot. That’s when Carlito rode away on his horse. For me, that’s how I treat it. You know, that’s when Scarface got up, pulls out his gun and said “say hello to my little friend”. For me, always, right at that moment when I’m delivering that speech, I treat it as if it was the final moment, the final [inaudible] to the ensemble, you know, the swan song, you know, the orchestra is about to close, the show’s finished, the curtain call is after this coming after this. That’s how I treat it when I go into it amount of intensity I deliver. Very difficult to do, I must say. Difficult to do, if you do it like I do now, three, four five gigs a day, very difficult to do. But, that’s the, that’s the nature of being a professional.
- I can’t deliver something passionately unless it’s something I’m passionate about. That’s just how I work. But, once that’s in place, I have a presentation evangelist who designs my presentation, a research person who does all my research. I get the strategic direction about where I want the talk to go, what the content I want to communicate is, and, and the team then really goes to work on, on creating that, that experience so that one comes across looking like a rock star. That’s the challenge. I never do a presentation unless I practice it three times prior. Even though I delivered it the night before, because, I try to keep the experiences as fresh as possible, as new as possible, so I’m always adding new content to the presentation and taking old content off. But, from a, you know, the first time you deliver that presentation, how many times do you need to have rehearsed it? I’d say safely, about 25 times. I’d say that if you haven’t gone through it 25 times it’s not audience ready, it’s not market ready.
- . I’ve found that the most effective way to do it, is to get yourself free gigs. A lot of people don’t, get yourself free gigs. If you belong to a church; churches are always looking for people to come and speak. Go and speak at your church. Deliver it at your church, deliver it at a youth conference, deliver it everywhere you can for free; get it stage ready. And get yourself ready to deliver the content on the stage, so that by the time you start getting paid for it, you’re able to deliver good quality work.
- The most effective tool to retain top talent is to give people buy-in. And let people know that they are a part of the vision and dream of what you’re trying to drive. So, I’m not your boss. You and I are going to work together. You’re gonna take an equity in this, in this business. And, and you need to measure it.
- I’m a family man, I’ve got two kids. So, that part of my life is really important to me. And so, you know, one of the things I do is I try to make sure you come into the office at a reasonable hour, but, uhm, I never leave home without having seen my son and daughter. That’s really important to me. Coz what it allows me to do is to come into the office freely and work. But, more importantly, I can work until as late as I want because I know I’ve taken that part of, that’s the most important part, I’ve done that. And, and really in coming into the office, what’s more important around the habit we’re trying to develop in the business is creating systems that will run the business so that we’re better able to manage those systems. Uh, and a key and critical part of that is bringing in people who will allow you to develop those systems. So, I spend more time thinking around what we ought to be doing and how we ought to be doing it, than I spend time thinking what we are doing.
- I try to spend more time working on my business, than working in my business. I employ people to work in my business. My job is to work on my business. That’s why I try to spend as much time as a can networking, meeting people on stage, uhm, uh, you know, because what that allows you to do is it allows you to work on your business. And form that community and an ecosystem that will support your business, whilst the people in your business do the day-to-day operations on running your business.
- I’ve always lived my life around the principle of what I call the three Ds. And I think I would have saved myself a lot of heartache if I had understood that principle before, and it’s simply this; Decide, design and do. So, whatever it is that you wanna be doing in your life, make a decision that you wanna do it. Design your life in a way in a way that allows you to pursue the things you want to pursue. So if you wanna go out, you wanna achieve all these great things, how do you design your life in such a way that it allows you to do that. Do what it is you’re good at. That stuff that you’re best at with the least amount of effort. Do that stuff, because that is how you’re going to propel yourself forward. And then the final D is Do. Do it. So don’t wait, don’t loiter, don’t ask questions, don’t read, just do it. Get into it, do it, achieve it, and move on.
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Interesting to Know

- I went back to the teacher, and I said to her, look, I clearly mock-up of this, but if you give me a chance, I’ll, I’ll promise to work at it. And I worked at it. I competed in every single competition she put me in. I was terrible at first, I got nailed in every single competition, but you know, it’s the nature of competition, the more you do it, the better you get. And two years later I went on to one of the African championships for public speaking.
- We now run a business which we call the Speaker’s Bootcamp, where we go around training people on public speaking.
- We’re just doing things differently, but also, at a far higher level. That’s why people will walk into the bootcamp, walk out of it, and, and uh, a week later, send me an email saying, all I can say is; wow. Coz, we, you know, force people to completely rethink their thinking whilst developing this craft of public speaking.
-. I’m taking a lot of personal pain, building some of those businesses out of my own personal money that I pump into the businesses to make sure they work and operate, and they able to sustain themselves. And, the only way we’re doing that, and the reason we’re doing that is so that we, we’re future ready. Very important to be future ready. So, I really talk to and try to surround myself with people who are future thinkers. Who understand where I want to go.
- I read a hell of a lot. I subscribe to Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal, and uh, Pulse and Inc. 500 and every single day i read for at least an hour. And sometimes I’ll read content that is completely irrelevant, but more often than not, I’ll read content that makes me go, wow! And, I’m convinced that now more than ever, you and I have an amazing opportunity to start small businesses because of this incredible phenomenon called cloud computing. Cloud computing had taken resources that, previously, big businesses had, and has made them available to you and I. Now you and I can buy a, uh, a sales system that’s going to manage your entire sales force for R30 or R36 in the month, and that’s just phenomenal, you know.
- There’s a book… I mean, I, I, we call it the bible in our business. If you ain’t read this book, you can’t work in my business. I’ve got boxes of them, which I bought when, uh, when I first read the book. It’s written by three entrepreneurs who are based in the United States. And these guys saw to their business. There were six of them at the time. And they grew it to a R400 million business. And they never increased their head count. Six guys went from zero turnover to R400 million in five years, and they never increased their head count and they wrote a book called “Rework”. Yeah, man that book for me is like the business. I mean, if you are an entrepreneur and you haven’t read that book, you don’t know what you’re doing. It just, it challenges your entire thinking.
- I think, I think the only thing I’m obsessive over, and don’t judge, is I love wine gums man. Uhm, don’t put wine gums anywhere around me. I’m the guy that will wine gum your whole office out. If I come in to your office at the reception area, and there’re wine gums at reception, we’re meeting at reception, we’re not going into the board room. I’m, I’m that guy.
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The Highlights of my Video Interview with Vusi

The Full Transcript of my interview with Vusi
I met you, when was it, maybe two years ago, a year-and-a-half ago, uhm, and the first thing that I picked up from you was your energy, and your aura, and your, your, incredible disposition that people kind of gravitate towards. Uhm, and this incredible belief and self-confidence. And I thought you were kind of in your mid-30s, uhm, just because of that kind of maturity. And then I found out, though, how old are you actually, Vusi?
V: 27 now
J: 27, blown my mind, because for our audience out there listening, Vusi, at the age of 17, was ranked as the best speaker in Africa. Currently, the third best in the world, speaks in 17 countries, three hundred and fifty thousand a year. You were the director of multi-national turning over R17 Billion a year at the age of 24. Uhm, you’re an entrepreneur, were rated as entrepreneur of the year finalist, emerging entrepreneur. Uhm, but this is what I love, what, is what people say about you: Rock star of speakers, by John Howard. Michael Mol said, “Speaking after Vusi is like kissing a Queen; it’s a great honour but no one wants to do it. Bob Geldof said that you’re a fucking great speaker. Thabo Mbeki said that we need, South Africa needs to produce more Vusis, and the one that really blew me away was Nelson Mandela saying that, uh, that you are the epitomy of the South Africa which we fought for.
V: Yes,
J: If I had that, I would kinda just sit back and go, cool, I’ve done it (laughs)
V: (laughs) You’ll be surprised, that’s like the leg up to say, now getting it started
Show both screens so audience can see me as well when speaking.
J: Yeah, now get started. Make it happen.
V: Haha
J: Uhm, but you’ve, you’ve obviously gone through an interesting journey. And uhm, I was, I was, in my research that I was doing about you, I heard you telling the story about how you sold one of your companies and going through a tough time and at one stage, you couldn’t afford to pay your bills. You were sleeping in the offices.
V: Yeah.
J: Yes, so, and, and, and, what was quite interesting is what you were saying is that you didn’t want your staff to know, you didn’t want them to know and you took it all on yourself. Can you take me, take me through, and give me, give us, kind of a background, uhm, we’ll get to your businesses now, but kind of, how does a kid go from being just a normal kid, and I’m sure you weren’t normal, but, to being the best speaker in the world, uhm, at the age of 17. What was that journey? How did it come about? What got you into it?
V: So, I uhm, I started public speaking in school Jason. I, uh, I had a big mouth in class. And, I had a teacher who said to me, I must use my big mouth with something constructive. So she dared me to enter this public speaking competition in school where [sound interrupted], and uhm, and uh, and I got completely nailed. Coz, I was, uh, 15 at the time. Grade 7, uh, Grade 9, now standard 7 or whatever, and I didn’t prepare my speech and I went up and spoke about a movie I had watched the night before; Mel Gibson’s “What Women Want”. It was an absolute disaster man, coz, uhm, 3 minutes into what was supposed to be my 5 minutes speech, they booed me off the stage, and girls were like, get this guy off the stage man, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. So, that was my first time of the stage, and uh, and true to my nature, if you give me anything and tell me I can’t do it, all it will do is spur me on further to do it. That’s just how I work.
J: Yeah
V: Uhm, you know, so even, even around the business we run today and operate, there are generally markets for people [05:37 inaudible] for us to be successful and with business success. [5:41- inaudible] So that’s how I got into it, and I went back to the teacher, and I said to her, look, I clearly mock-up of this, but if you give me a chance, I’ll, I’ll promise to work at it. And I worked at it. I competed in every single competition she put me in. I was terrible at first, I got nailed in every single competition, but you know, it’s the nature of competition, the more you do it, the better you get. And two years later I went on to one of the African championships for public speaking.
J: Ja, that’s incredible. And, what were, what were the obvious mistakes that you were making, and things that you learnt during that process, that kind of, that two year induction of heavy competing, and what were the changes that you made that made the difference?
V: Yeah, you know what’s, you know what’s interesting is that when you, when you, in any, in any craft, in every single craft, it has very technical aspects to it. But you can only master those technical aspects when you dedicate your time to doing the same thing over and over again. It’s just, there’s some things only repetition can teach you. It’s kinda like, if you’re a sales person and your job is to close deals over the phone, you’re only going to get better at it if you get on the phone more often. You’re not going to get better by reading a book or watching a movie about doing it. You get better at it by practising the craft. So over that two year span, I really began, I mean I remember on my, when I was, when I was 16, that year, I competed in like, uh, something like 90[19]. You know, some of them were competitions I had no business being in but I went to each and every single one of them because I wanted to really master my craft. I wanted to be the best there was. And, uhm, and at every single competition I had a little yellow notepad and I’d write down [inaudible] little notes about how the thing went. So the reflection was always important. And, [blank sound] and I’d go on to this next talk and I’d then open up my three notes from the last one and make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again. And mastering the craft is just such an important thing of whatever skill it is you’re in. Master of your craft. And you can only master your craft by putting in the time, and by going through the repetition, the monotonous repetition of the stuff you need to do.
J: Okay, fantastic, and, and, uh, uh, I’ve done a few red-marking blab notes of Gladwell’s outliers, where they talk about ten thousand hours, uhm, have your read that book?
V: I haven’t.I’ve heard about it, heard about it, and I heard about the ten thousand hour period and I think he’s spot-on, he’s absolutely spot-on.
J: Okay, Vusi, for some reason, there’s caused a delay, so I just wanna give it a second and uh, then we can start again, uhm, I’ll just edit this bit out, uhm,
V: I think what we should do is let’s, uh, let’s disconnect.
J: Yeah okay cool.
V: Okay, cool.

V: Yeah, I’m cool. Is that better, this is me. You know, I’d like to think I do just three things really, really well. One of them is I, I’m very good at putting myself in tight spots, and it’s a, it’s a, you know, if I may be completely frank, it’s a b with an itch sometimes coz you put yourself in spots that you’re not sure you can get out of. But, what I mean by putting yourself in tight spots, is that even in whatever craft or whatever business you’re in, or whatever environment you’re in, it really is about testing yourselves, so, the natural human predisposition is to do the stuff you’re comfortable doing, coz that’s the stuff you’re comfortable doing. And all through our lives we are socialised and taught that you must do the things you’re comfortable doing, so if you grew up at school, and you were good with mathematics, people said focus on your mathematics and be good at mathematics spot-on wrong. You should focus on your mathematics. But, as you go on to adulthood and you develop in any particular sphere what you begin to realise, what really separates that winners from the losers, is winners know how to get into the difficult spots, and use those difficult times to build their character and to acquire new knowledge. So that’s really all I do, that’s the first. The second thing is, I never say no. I never ever say no. So that’s, you were saying earlier at 25, at 24 I was a director of a multi-national. It’s coz when those opportunities came up, I never said no and I never doubted my own abilities. I always moved from the premise that I am the best person for whatever the job is. And then I let time prove me wrong. I let experience prove me wrong. I let me inability to perform prove me wrong. But, I never moved from the premise that, actually, I’m not ready. Uhm, and I think too many people do that. We always start off on a negative premise. And the premise is always I’m not prepared enough, I’m not ready. You’ll never be prepared enough, you’ll never be ready. You’ll never have all the knowledge you need to do all the things you want to do. You’ll never have all the money you want to start the businesses you want to start. You’ll, you’ll just never have it. But, you need to move from the premise that time is never better than now, and you need to actually, you know, the, the titanium B. A. Double L. S to get in and absolutely do it. So, so, those are the two things. And then there’s a third thing I’d like to think I do, and that is I network really, really well. When I need people, my task, every single time I need a person in any social space, if you and I are involved in a conversation, and Jason, you would remember this, I make you feel like you’re the only person in the room at that moment. I’m not focussed on anybody else, I don’t talk to anybody else, I don’t focus on my phone. I try to engage in the discussion, and it’s all about you and I in that moment, at that point in time. And what that does is, it really creates an understanding of the other person to you, that you matter to person even though we’ve only just met. And it’s a combination of those things that really propels one forward: never say no, always being able to test yourself, and always know that you’re networking [broken connection sound] influential people and that those people will take you forward and they’ll put you in a space where you’ll, where you’ll grow as an individual.
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V: Yeah, yeah, you know the tough with that, Jason, is, uhm, and let me take you back, you remember when you were back in school, right? And you’d write a test in mathematics in grade 9and you, you’d write about the theorem of Pythagoras, you remember Pythagoras? And, uh, inevitably, [sound distorted] everyone in the class would fail the test, and often if you went to those people after they had submitted the test script, but before they had received their marks, they would have just told you that they passed. And so, if you asked them why did they fail, the answer is actually very simple. It’s because the human brain [distorted sound] from wrong. People don’t understand that the things you say to yourself, in your brain will always, always be wrong, [inaudible]. And so, you need to be very careful of what you’re saying to yourself and the stuff you’re putting in your head. But, more to be direct about answering your question, on how do you build that positive mind set, uhm, my, my [broken connection] is to really focus on the successes I’ve had and then go about creating small little successes. So that’s what I do. I’ll never go after the big fish. The thing about the big fish is that it’s just too big. But I always start with the small fish and conquering the small stages and the small platforms. And as you conquer those platforms and those stages, your confidence grows. And, uh, as the old idiom would have it, success breeds success. So, if you’re successful, and you’re becoming even more successful, you get into the habit of success, and that really helps build up your confidence. So, I think what kills a lot of people Jason, is a lot of people try to make this huge massive leap, because we live in a time and age where people are looking for a massive difference in their lives. Some big [inaudible] is going to come and save you, some grand idea is gonna come and make you a billionaire like [inaudible]. The reality is that in the balance of probability those do exist. We live in a time today where the only way you can actually become that successful is if you understand that you need to focus on building and doing the small little things. So do the small things first and do the small things well. It’s the same that you find in business. It’s exactly the same principle. You know, I remember when I took over this particular division is this multi-national we spoke about it was in tatters. And, uhm, I remember the board asking me how are you going to change this thing, and I said, I’m just going to focus on the small things. We’re gonna go after the small little customers we’ve lost. We’re gonna convince them to come into the books with us, because what happens when you do that is that you develop confidence in yourself and your peers, and all of a sudden you can start going after the big fishes because you believe you have the offering to get those people back in the business. It’s all about developing a habit of winning, but it’s about creating small successes.
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V: Yeah, I tell you one that probably comes most vividly back into my mind is, uhm, you know when I was 17 I got the opportunity to compete in an international public speaking competition. And, it was an opportunity, it was an invitation I couldn’t have turned it down, but I thought I’d do it. And, uh, that wasn’t really the tough part. The tough part arrived at, uh, in London, at Dartmouth. And I met the rest of the guys I was competing with. But, I realised really quickly that I was way, way in over my head. You know, I met a guy who was 17 and had a Masters in uh, in International Business Law. I met another young lady who was 17 and had her Honours in Psychology. I met some, some of the most incredible people, young people, but proper game-changers, shape-shifters. People who are, you know, who are just way ahead of their time from an intellect point of view, from a contribution to society point of view, and here is this kid from Benoni thinking he can compete with these people, right? And, uh, I remember, I got shattered one day on the lead up to the finals of the competition one of the, one of the organisers, one of the ladies that was working for competition, organising this thing came to me and said I need to realise that I am in the most difficult heat in that competition and that I am also the person least likely to make it through to the finals. You know? And uh, and I’ll never forget it I mean, it was a complete character changing time coz you, you know I sort of, sort of, went into, went into my, into myself for a while, went into my own skin. Became a bit of a recluse. And then I’d remembered what I had been through to get there and I think that’s what’s important for people to understand is, no person’s struggle is ever more significant than yours, no person’s struggle has ever more meaning than yours, no person’s struggle has ever more meaning than yours, no person’s struggle has more credibility than yours. Struggle is struggle. And it’s the context around the struggle that is important. So, if you, if you and I, Jason, come from different life paths and we get to a point where we’re competing, really the only differentiator between you and I is the extent to which I believe my struggle has prepared me for that battle. That’s it. And if I win that and I move on to the next one, it’s understanding that the battle I had with Jason prepared me for that next struggle too, and that that next struggle is what’s building my character. So, when she said that I may not go on, I’m not go on, I’m not gonna lie, I was a bit of a recluse for the rest of the day. Went into my hotel, sat back watching tv and thought, you know, maybe I should just give up and fly back home now. [inaudible] in the morning, and I, and I just remembered to myself that actually I’m the guy. I’m the guy that can break the record, I’m the guy that can be the new guy to do this. I’m the guy that can set a completely new record for our continent and I’m the person who’s able to compete at that level, and I’m going to be that guy. And, uhm, I had a complete change in attitude. And all that really did was, it strengthened my resolve. So I competed twice as hard. I prepared twice as hard. I worked twice as hard. I, I was sharper, smarter, I was more aware. I just became twice more aggressive because she said that to me. And that’s how I ended up winning that competition.
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V: Yeah. Yeah. (laughs). So, uhm, you know, more direct to your question. It really was a combination of those, but, remember when we spoke earlier, I spoke about repetition, and important it is to do the same thing over and over and over again, the reason it’s important to always get your technical skill right, is because at the time when you need to deliver, the last thing you need to be focussing on [sounds like; “your technique and style”]. What you need to be focussing on is, is connecting with the audience. And the only way really to do that, is you are sure, leading up to that, your technique is absolutely spot-on. So, so, how I did it, was I worked twice as hard to become twice as better technically, so that on the day when it came and I had to deliver, the last thing on my mind was whether my technique was good. For me it was a given that my technique was good. What was going to make me different was my ability to connect with the audience. Move them emotionally, and convince them that my argument was the better argument of all the other speakers competing.
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V: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It’s fine. Yeah, so, and you would know Jason, We now run a business which we call the Speaker’s Bootcamp, where we go around training people on public speaking, because it is really that important. But I think, I think, I think, you know, the most important thing you can ever do in developing at any level, whether it is at a boardroom level or you’re presenting in front of your executives, or you’re speaking in front of thousands of people. Always remember that there is a humanness about you that attracts people to you. Very few people are attracted by technique. That’s why you’ll get very few people who will romanticise about being good debaters, because debaters are trained how to be technically sound. Public speakers are trained on how to be emotively sound. We’re trained on how to move your emotions. Barack Obama got up and said, “Yes we can”, he didn’t debate, it wasn’t a technical debate. It was an emotive call to action to say, yes… yes we can. So, you know, to answer your question more directly, what I would say to people is; have a style about yourself and be clear about what your style is. So, are you a fairly jocular person, are you a serious person, uhm, and, and, more importantly understand what the message is that you’re trying to communicate to people, because your style communicate that message. So, if I’m presenting, as I often do, to a group of executives trying to list their business, in a boardroom, there’s only twelve of them, my style is going to be very different to if I’m presenting to a group of entrepreneurs at the Durban ICC and there’s 600 of them. Because the audience is different. So it’s all about understanding, one, the audience, and understanding your style and use your style to fit the audience. And you can have a funny style, you can have an authoritative style, you can have a jocular style, you can have an incredibly emotive style, you can have an informative style, but what’s important is to understand what is true to you, what nature really works for Jason. So, you know, Jason is a marketing guru, his style might be a style, one of informal, but it might also be a style of the incredible use of humour. So, when he gets up and he delivers, you gonna be sure that people are going to walk out and ask, was that guy a speaker or was he a comedienne. Coz he was absolutely phenomenal. He used humour a lot. But, if Jason was running an investment bank, that might not be the approach Jason needs to take. He might need to take the more technical, technocratic, authoritative approach, which is the approach that work for that audience, because people wanting to give your money to invest in your job don’t wanna hear your jokes. They wanna hear whether or not, technically, you have the ability to deliver the job.
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V: (laughs) I, uh, I, uh, uhm, let me see, let me see if my true [inaudible] still applies, right? So, uhm, there’s a couple of things right. One of them is an album that I play, that I listen to. Uhm, uh, it’s a Biggie Smalls song. Uhm, uh, because I’m a bit of a hip hop guy, and uh, in the song he really talks about making it. It’s called Juicy. And in the song he talks about making it. About the journey he has had to travel. He says something like, birthdays were the worst days, now we’re sipping champagne on a Thursday, right. So he really talks about making it. And that’s one of the things I do. The other thing I do is I always look within, just before that moment when I get up on that stage. I shut down, I close my eyes and I always just look within. And you’d remember this. Before I get up on stage, the Rocky theme song plays, and there’s a reason why that theme song plays, it’s coz it psyches me up. So, you know, before I get up on [inaudible disconnection] [makes the theme song noise] that’s really to psyche me up. So let my audience know that I’m coming in, but it’s also to psyche me up to say, okay, this is the moment, this is the time, this is the moment you’ve been waiting for. I also do this thing, I mean, my approach to my craft is that I treat my every single speaking event as my last, as if it was my last and my swan song. If a movie was made about Vusi, that’s the final shot. That’s the closing shot. That’s when Carlito rode away on his horse. For me, that’s how I treat it. You know, that’s when Scarface got up, pulls out his gun and said [impersonates voice] “say hello to my little friend”. For me, always, right at that moment when I’m delivering that speech, I treat it as if it was the final moment, the final [inaudible] to the ensemble, you know, the swan song, you know, the orchestra is about to close, the show’s finished, the curtain call is after this coming after this. That’s how I treat it when I go into it amount of intensity I deliver. Very difficult to do, I must say. Difficult to do, if you do it like I do now, three, four five gigs a day, very difficult to do. But, that’s the, that’s the nature of being a professional.
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V: (laughs) Was my answer consistent with last time, by the way? Ah, very good, very good. [disconnected sound] (laughs) (Phone rings). Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. (laughs). Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. So, you know I, uhm, I think [inaudible] Jason, is that I’ve noticed more and more, the more young people I’ve interacted with, that fewer and fewer young people just have their priorities straight. And, I tell you what I mean. I would go to a workshop where young people are being trained in entrepreneurship or on, uh, on sales, or marketing or whatever. And you arrive at the workshop and you’re lucky if there’s 90 people in there. And, on Friday night, the cost, well, the reason we get told is that they don’t have the money to go to these things. Friday night, they go to the club, which charges twice as much, and you arrive, and there’s more and more of these young people that don’t have the money to do that thing. And so, I really start thinking to myself; what kind of generation are we brewing, because you and I, let’s be completely honest, our generation is yet to define what is to be, you know, sort of the Zeitgeist of our time. We have yet to come to that moment that lets us know that the class of 76fought for this. You and I are fighting for this. We, we have yet to define what that is. And, and I’m talking in a completely apolitical sense, in a sense that says that as a generation we want to achieve this, this is what we want to leave behind. Alright, so that’s the first. The second is, I also think we live in a country that is incredibly staid with tradition, incredibly staid with tradition. And so even if you look at the people in authority, the people who run our country; all incredibly staid with tradition. And my feeling is that our job, yours and mine, as people, is to question that. Because that more, that what young people do. Young people create discomfort. We question. We question authority, we question thinking, we question tradition, we question relevance. That’s what we need to do. We need to question and question it constructively, but question it nonetheless. Uhm, lest we don’t do that we’ll never advance our people forward. And so, when I talk about our generation being manufacturers of discomfort, what it is that I’m saying is not we should go out and seek to be controversial, but rather, that we need to ask the questions that the older generation is not willing to ask, purely because they’ve accepted the status quo. In other words, we need to force us as a people to rethink our thinking. We need to force us as a country to rethink our thinking. Force us as a generation to rethink our thinking. To say, what is the legacy that we as a generation want to leave behind? There are Mandelas of our, of their generation that left us a free country. That’s their legacy. What’s yours and my legacy? Surely it can’t be that we’re chasing tenders. It can’t be that. What’s the legacy gonna be? And we need ask that of the generation.
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V: Sorry, can you say that again?
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V: Yeah. Yeah, all it is Jason, just to be honest with you, I’m an enterpriser and I’m an entrepreneur, speaker, blah, blah, blah. But my, my life mission is very simple. I wanna be to public speaking what Steve Jobs was to Apple. What Mohamed Ali was to boxing, what Michael Jordan was to basketball. I wanna be the greatest there ever was. That’s what I wanna be. And, and that’s, that’s the legacy I’d like to leave behind. And the reason that is powerful for me is one, because it’s, it’s uh, something, it’s a space that is unclaimed yet. But, two, it’s a space very few African people are playing in. When I’m talking of African, I’m not talking skin colour, I’m talking from our continent. It’s very few, it’s a space that few of us have dared to go in to claim and say that we are masters of this craft of public speaking. And I want to be the guy who lets people know that it’s possible.
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V: Ja. Say that again? Yes, yes. No, so last year was the second year that we did it. And, uh, and we had phenomenal time hey Jason, I mean, we have grown from strength to strength on the first year we did it, we had uhm, some incredibly well known people, we had, uh, record-holders in sports, you know, athletics to boxing, and, and, and, some celebrities. We had young people from around the country come and jol with us. And we had a phenomenal time in the first year. And on the second year, really, what we sought to do was to elevate. And to elevate ten notches. And we elevated 15 notches on the second year. It was phenomenal. And so really, what it’s done is it’s put a lot of pressure on us from this year’s perspective to say, uh, okay, what are we… what are we going to do now that’s really gonna take us to, to, to you know, to the moon. Uhm, and you know I’m a, I’m a bit of a stickler for quality of work, you know? So I’m a painful guy to work with because I’m all about the quality of work and the detail. And I’ve adjudicated in a number of public speaking competitions which, dare I say, after I adjudicate one I’m never called back to adjudicate because, my, my criteria is so high. So I’ll walk into a national level public speaking competition, and it’s like the national finals. And I’ll walk in and I’ll score people on average on 40% and the convenors go, “but you can’t score all of them, it’s the finals”, but I’m going “if they’re crap, they’re crap”, you know, so. Coz my view is that you and I can’t afford to lower our standards, just so we can accommodate everybody. And we seem to be doing more and more of that in our country. Seem to be doing more and more of, well, let’s lower the standard so that people can play as opposed to saying, how do we invest so that we can bring more people up to our level. And so, when we, you know, even in our project around public speaking business, it’s really about bringing people up to the level they can be at, you know. And so, I’m often asked, who do we compete with in this space? And the reality is nobody. We compete with nobody because our methodology is different, the work we do is different, our technical ability to deliver that work is different, the credibility we have as an organisation is different, so nobody, frankly, can compete at our level. Uhm, we, we’re just doing things differently, but also, at a far higher level. That’s why people will walk into the bootcamp, walk out of it, and, and uh, a week later, send me an email saying, all I can say is; wow. Coz, we, you know, force people to completely rethink their thinking whilst developing this craft of public speaking.
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V: Yes, yeah, yeah, so we, we got a, we’ve got a couple of dates coming up, we, for the first time this year, we’re going to Cape Town and Durban. I’m so excited, I can’t wait, you know. And that’s, uh, that’s another lesson I learnt in business is, you need to make sure the business case is sound before you start going all over the place, right? Coz you and I, as entrepreneurs, we’re like great, big thinkers. So we’re like, oh yeah, I’ve got a business, let’s go! Cape Town, Durban, now, now. Then you get there and people are like; ah, what they talking about? Why, why public speaking? We don’t know you. So, we really took our time in developing the business to make sure that it had, uh, credibility in the market and that people knew all about it. Uhm, so to answer your question, when is it? On the 30th of June we doing Joburg, at the Michelangelo. Uh, really, really excited about that. Uhm, we got a room of 80 people coming in. It’s about 90% fully subscribed already. So, I think, there’s about, uh, 8 or 9 more seats left, uh, which is really, really exciting. Uhm, And then we’ve got a couple of dates coming up, which, uhm, I know we’ve got 27th of July coming up. We doing Durban 27th of July. And then on the last week, on the Saturday- the date escapes me- of August, we doing Cape Town. And then, and then, uh, if, if we’re successful, we’ll probably come back for a second round. So, you know, what we’ve received, we’ve received a lot of interest. People saying I wanna come and I wanna be a part of it. But I’ve come to learn that as a businessman, that interest and booking are two different things. So, we gotta go in we gotta make sure there’s a market, we gotta make sure that people want it, we gotta make sure that people are willing to pay what we are charging to get the product. And then we gotta make sure that the market is large enough for our [no sound]. So it’s a, it’s a, it’s a full two day, I, I, uh, I’m, uh, and this is what I need to make clear about the Speaker’s Boot Camp. All I am is a convenor. So you are by no means going to come to a boot camp where all that happens is, you listen to Vusi and his hogwash about public speaking. All I do is I convene some of the most forward-thinking minds around the different aspects of public speaking. So, uhm, a guy who’s probably the best presentation, uh, creator in this country, his name is Joe. He’s gonna be talking about how to do, how to create, as he calls it, kick-ass presentations. So, whether or not you’re delivering to a room of a thousand people, or you’re speaking to four people in a executive; you can deliver a presentation and people will go, wooow. How do you do that? I’ve got a guy called Timothy Maurice Webster, who’s an authority on personal branding. And he’s gonna talk around personal branding. I’ve got Eusebius McKaiser who’s an authority on debate, I mean, he’s a political analyst, he’s all over the news, he’s a well-known fellow, he’s a world champion debater. We’re in discussions with Eusebius to see if we can bring him in to the boot camp, uh, to teach people argument presentation. And why that’s important is, if I’m sitting with Jason in the boardroom and we’re having a discussion or an argument, how do I structure myself in a manner that I can defend the presentation I’ve just given, defend the per- the perspective I’ve just given. And I argue it intelligently. And then you’ve got [broken audio; sounds like “Vusi”], the broader picture. The public speaking guy, right. So, so you know, Speaker’s Boot camp is convened by, as I’d like to put it, some of the most forward-thinking guys. And, and the reason we do it that way, so, so it has a life of its own. It has a texture of its own. But, also, it makes an incredibly rich experience for the people that are attending it. Coz you’re attending it and you’re hearing from people in different spaces giving you all this amazing knowledge, and people literally walk out of their with their head’s swamped. So, as a sales person, I have to tell you that coz the price is not cheap, you know, so, you know. It’s R1500 a person to come. That’s including VAT, and it includes all your meals. And, uh, as I say, it’s over a two day period, so we’re really excited about it.
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V: Yeah. So, let me tell you why, you know, very quickly, you know. I think one of the challenges you and I face as entrepreneurs, Jason, is, how do we create products that are self-sustainable in the market, but that allow you and I to make a profit? That’s really the challenge we face. In a competitive market, how do you do that? But, also, you and I can’t run away from the f- we can’t run away from the fact of the- of the, uh, social c-[break in sound], context of the times we live in are such, that many of the young people, and many of the people who need to come to our courses, just can’t afford to pay ten grand for two days. That’s what they’re earning on a monthly basis. So when we structured it, we said we need to come in at a cost that allows everybody to come in, you know. So two, three months’ worth of savings if you’re a low earner, or if you’re a middle-age kind of earner, uh, you can afford to pay it off the back. You, you can come in and you can pay the fee. And, you don’t get, you don’t, uh, you don’t get burnt by the fee and you still get the knowledge and the context. You know, so really, we play at the mass economies of scale type of business, where it’s really about putting through as many people as possible through the programme and imparting the skills, as opposed to making as much margin as possible per person.
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V: Well, I, I, uhm, I think perhaps the tough part when you, when you’re wanting to be a speaker [break in sound] the topic that is gonna sell you, right? And, uhm, and, and I found that you can do one of two things. You can either talk about something that is authentic to yourself and convince people that it’s a topic that they want to hear about. So, for instance, Jason, who talks on word-of-mouth marketing and how the world of word-of-mouth marketing moves and has changed marketing as a landscape, that’s something you’re passionate about it’s also a new thinking that people really want to hear. That’s the first approach. The second approach is to listen very carefully to what happens in the corridors of business and what are the issues that are plaguing business and to authentically structure a presentation that will address those issues. So that’s, I, I generally like to take the first approach because I can’t deliver something passionately unless it’s something I’m passionate about. That’s just how I work. But, once that’s in place, I have a presentation evangelist who designs my presentation, a research person who does all my research. I get the strategic direction about where I want the talk to go, what the content I want to communicate is, and, and the team then really goes to work on, on creating that, that experience so that one comes across looking like a rock star. That’s the challenge. I never do a presentation unless I practice it three times prior, so, even if, and lemme, lemme, lemme just qualify that. Even if you look at my black sheep presentation which I have been delivering for now, the past four, wow, I’m lying, six years, If I haven’t run through it three times, I don’t deliver it. So even that night you and I met, and you saw me speaking, before I got to the venue, I had rehearsed it three times. Yeah, rehearsed it three times. The entire presentation. Even though I delivered it the night before, because, I try to keep the experiences as fresh as possible, as new as possible, so I’m always adding new content to the presentation and taking old content off. But, from a, you know, the first time you deliver that presentation, how many times do you need to have rehearsed it? I’d say safely, about 25 times. I’d say that if you haven’t gone through it 25 times it’s not audience ready, it’s not market ready. And when I say go through it and then “uhm”, and then “uh”, and then, you know, sort of. You need to go through it as if you’re delivering a presentation to a group of people properly, 25 times. And once you’ve done that, then it’s ready. I’ve found that the most effective way to do it, is to get yourself free gigs. A lot of people don’t, get yourself free gigs. If you belong to a church; churches are always looking for people to come and speak. Go and speak at your church. Deliver it at your church, deliver it at a youth conference, deliver it everywhere you can for free; get it stage ready. And get yourself ready to deliver the content on the stage, so that by the time you start getting paid for it, you’re able to deliver good quality work.
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V: Yeah. Yeah, look, I mean, so, I tell you, I mean, on to your point, on to your point. Yeah. On to your point, I mean, you’re talking about this now, but I could look at, you know, I could like, now, Jason, now while this guy has started a word-to-mouth- a word-of-mouth marketing company, he’s literally created an industry in this country. You know, it existed, but in drips and drabs before you guys did it in a more structured way. So you’re mavericks in the industry, you’ve done… and I can guarantee you what’s going to happen is, any time you innovate, you create a space for imitators. All you’ve done is you’ve invited people who are gonna start imitating the work you’re doing. But, I’ve always said that genius of an individual is doing a job so well, you convince other people that it’s easier to do. Until they start doing, and they start going, you know, actually, ahhh no, it’s not so easy comrade. Let’s go get the tender, it’s easier to get the tender, you know. So, uhm, so, you know, it’s cool, you know. And, and it’s cool that people look at it and go, ja, we can be, I can be a Vusi as well, coz in our boot camp we want them to believe that they can be a Vusi as well, coz we can create more Vusis. But, but certainly they need to also understand that there’s a process you need to go through. You know, I’ll, I will never forget the lady who taught me public speaking for many years, used to use an analogy. She used to say, if you, if you took a potato and you’re a potato farmer. It doesn’t matter how much water you’d water that potato with on a given day. It doesn’t matter how much it rains on a given day. The potato’s rate of growth is fixed. And so too with developing a skill and a craft. Your rate of growth is fixed. It doesn’t matter how much you, how much you try and work at it, or how much you try and short-change the process, you can’t do it. The best way you can do it is to commit yourself to the learning process, and to go through that learning process. Your business partner told me that phenomenal story of how, when you guys started, you only earned R24 000 that year, amongst the both of you. So I started doing the numbers and I thought that, that’s twelve grand per person. It’s a grand a month, you know. That’s not a lot of money to live on, you know. You and I kind of spend that on cappuccinos on a Friday now, right? But, you had to go through that process and you cannot short-change going through that process, coz it’s that stuff that prepares you for the greater stuff, for the bigger things, for the bigger dreams. If you achieve those dreams you can always contextualise them because you have been through the suffering. So I always encourage people, never, ever try to short-change the suffering. Never, ever try to walk away from the difficult times, the difficult moments, coz those are the times that will build you and prepare you for what’s to come.
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V: So, uh, I, uh, I’ve always been an enterprising individual, and I was 21, 22 and I had a little lady who was running a, a, a business, and I was doing my own thing on the side. And we decided we’d go into a partnership. And as the case with many novice entrepreneurs, the partnership was great in speech and in language, but it was never put down on a piece of paper. Nobody’s [broken sound] etcetera, uh, you know. And also, you don’t do what we call, you know, character vetting. You know, entrepreneurs need to focus their time on vetting character. Uhm, because, and any venturing capitalist will tell you this, you never find, you never find the horse. You find the jockey. It’s never about the business; it’s about the guy driving the business. And so even if you’re going to go into a partnership with people, it’s very seldom about the business you’re pursuing. It’s more often about the person whom you are going into the partnership with, right? So, anyway, to answer your story, I got into a partnership with this lady a few months later. She basically made off with the funds. We made a couple of money from clients [broken transmission] said to me they hadn’t been paid, and [broken transmission] and, uh, uh, I, I took the little change I had left and I put it into bringing the business back into its current position, you know, so we could work and operate. But, it was tough. For the next four or five months we didn’t earn enough money to cover overheads, and, uh, and, uh, I, I had to make some tough calls. Did I, do I pay my staff or, you know, do I pay myself a salary, you know? It was some tough calls. Do I pay office rent or do I pay Vusi a salary? Uh, coz, you know, the resources, times were tough, so forget paying SARS, it’s about, do you survive now? Don’t tell SARS this, by the way. It’s the private discussions. Anyway, so, the situation went on for a few months. And, as is the nature of, if you don’t pay the bank, the bank starts coming back, and they do this incredible concept I learnt called repossession. And the first time I heard that word, it blew away, coz I was like, so if you [does an accent] repossess, it means I never possessed in the first place, you just borrowed me. It was amazing. Coz, you know, we buy stuff from the bank for credit, and then we take it for granted that we own the stuff, but actually, you don’t, you know. And, uhm, and then they start sending these big guys after you who weren’t there when you went and got the loan, coz when you went and got the loan, there was a branch manager and he gave you tea with tennis biscuits, and he asked if you wanted some more sugar with that. Now when they want to take it back, they send some mean looking 6 foot 10 guy and you just don’t know how to handle the situation. So, they guys came by and they wanted to repossess the car, and I had some very difficult decisions to make, Jason, I’ll be completely honest with you. I’m not proud of this time but, but it’s fact and I don’t lie about it; I tell the truth. And, and, uh, you know, I, I knew that I was running a business and being more than [broken audio] see clients essential to my ability to running that business. I couldn’t run that business any other way. So, I, uhm, I took the decision, I was living with my mother at the time, I, I, as I would like to put it, I eloped, uh. But, with jurisprudence. So I told my mother I wasn’t gonna be home for the next few months, and I took my wardrobe, because they were coming to my mother’s home, looking for me. Wanting to repossess the car. And, uhm, I took, uh, I took some wardrobe, and I went and I lived in my office. And to this day, the staff I was employing at the time didn’t know this. I lived in my office, in the basement parking. I used to park in the basement. I used to go down to the basement around eleven o clock every night. It was in the dead of Winter of 2007. Freezing. And it was in the dead of Winter, and, uh, no, 2006. And I parked downstairs and I’d just sit there. And, uh, through the night, uh, hopefully, you know, by then, uh, then my girlfriend, my wife would scramble together some resources to get me something to eat. So I’d had something to eat before I went to bed. And I switched on the car for an hour stretch at a time. I’d have the heater on. I’d sleep for two hours with the heater off, and then I’d switch it on again for an hour. And that’s just how the cycle went. And this carried on for a few months. And I used to wake up every morning at four-thirty, go upstairs to the office, wash, and, uh, the work day would continue. So, the staff never knew, coz I was all about never making your suffering other people’s suffering. It’s your suffering. They never knew. They got their salaries on time. I made sure we paid rent. I made sure the business was able to operate, and I made sure that once the business was able to operate and generate enough cash, I was able to pay my, my own personal obligations. And, uhm, and uh, you know, I also say to people, the, the, what really separates winners from losers is not whether or not you, you are able to start, it’s whether or not when it gets going, you are able to keep going. That’s really what separates winners from losers and I’m sure you have your stories to how you can attest to that. The guys who… have made it, and continue to make it understand the fundamental law that if you want to make it you have to go through the tough times. And that if you bail during the tough times, you do nothing but short-change yourself. And so, for me, it was an incredible experience. It was an incredibly character building experience. And it was an experience that even to this day; I try and use to remind myself about what is important and how we run our businesses. It’s important to be conservative. It’s important to run your business with a manner of integrity, but it’s more important to manage and measure the people with whom you work and, and do, you know, what we call character PNL, as opposed to numbers PNL. I’ll bank anything on good character. Uh, uhm, uh versus, uhm, I’ll put my money any day on the jockey, uh, very seldom on the horse.
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V: So, you we, we uh, and you would understand this, uh, we live in an age that is incredibly materialistic. And, uh, and one of the things one always looks to is the extent to which that person is grounded and centred around their thinking, and the extent to which that person is realistic, right? So you know, even if you look at, I’ll give you an example. If you look at our boot camp business, uhm, that business is only able to sustain certain cost structures because of the nature of that business. And I’m a conservative business person, so I’m not going to bring in cost structures that are far beyond that. So we, we recruit people. Bring them into the business in what we call the purpose for future. I’ll recruit you were you on where we want to go, and I want you to be a part of that dream, versus what you can earn now. So, on a MPV basis you’d be wealthier, but you know, if you went and got a job elsewhere in corporate, I guarantee you could earn three times, four times as much what you going to earn working for Vusi. So, you know, one of the things I look for is people who are grounded and centred in their thinking. That’s really important for me. People who understand how the real world works. How, how our businesses work. How, uh, economies work. How you build those things. That’s the first. The second is I think it’s really important to surround yourself with people who are at, at, at the possibility. Are always looking at what’s positive and what can be done, versus, coz this is a tough one. You know, we, unfortunately, Jason, live in a country where if people are unhappy about something, they march. And they strike. And so, what we’ve done is we’ve created a mind-set of people who know how to demonstrate their unhappiness. But, we haven’t created a mind-set of people who know how to sit down and think about their unhappiness, and have a constructive discussion address it. That’s why when a painting is painted around our president, people take to going and destroying it rather than saying, can we just sit down with the artist and have him explain to us what he was thinking when he created this work of art. And you probably would find that the artist would be willing to engage. Anyway, I digressed, but the point is this. That, you know, even in engaging with the people, I really look for people who are, who are centred around the ability to be realistic and to think clearly about what needs to be done. But, also to have integrity around what we want to do and they have realistic expectations about what the business can afford, you know. So if you walk into my business, and six months later you wanna be driving a brand new M3, you’re not in the right space. You’re not gonna get that. But I can assure you if you walk into this business, and five years later you want to be an individual who that is incredibly wealthy and has a high net worth, you’re probably in the right space, coz we’re building our businesses for future, and that’s just how we’re working. I’m taking a lot of personal pain, building some of those businesses out of my own personal money that I pump into the businesses to make sure they work and operate, and they able to sustain themselves. And, the only way we’re doing that, and the reason we’re doing that is so that we, we’re future ready. Very important to be future ready. So, I really talk to and try to surround myself with people who are future thinkers. Who understand where I want to go.
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V: Definitely the latter. You know, I think, you know when we started this discussion, you and I had a frank chat about how it’s really, really hard to sustain top talent in a small business. And, I found the most effective tool to do that is give people buy-in. And let people know that they are a part of the vision and dream of what you’re trying to drive. So, I’m not your boss. You and I are going to work together. You’re gonna take an equity in this, in this business. And, and you need to measure it. So you need to be careful on how you do it. So my guy’s got an equity, but never voting rights. Until they, until we believe they’re ready to get into that stage of the business. So, coz otherwise, it makes decision-making for the future really, really difficult. So, give him a profit share, you give him, you give him, you give him equity in the business, and they understand that as they build, a part of that, the only way really, that people build their net worth is by building an asset base. You can’t build a net worth by earning high money. Coz what happens when you earn high money is you have high consumption as well, so you spend it as you earn it. But if you build an asset, an end of itself is generating cash, and then as a system, will generate more and more cash, then you’re really building your net worth and that’s what I try to get my guys to understand. And, I’m very excited about it, I mean, we have guys in my office who were top executives where they came from, Jason, top, top, executives. I still can’t believe they’re this office. But, they’re here because they understand where we want to go, and they under- they’re a part of that dream and a part of that vision.
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V: That’s, that’s, that is the tough part. And that is, that is the part with… about which we are still grappling, you know? I’m, I’m sure that the system works. But, what the difficulty is that you need to treat it differently per person. And because people put in different levels of effort. They’re willing to take different levels of exposure. And, and then also consider this, so you give somebody a, uh, you know, 15% equities in your business, and uh, you know, you register them with CIPRO, and they’re now part of your business as a director or whatever. And what happens in six months’ time when that business is running dry of cash, and you need to recapitalise… So how do you structure those transactions? And those are, you know, even in a small business, those are the issues you need to think through with great detail, because if you don’t do it and you simply treat it as a shareholder’s loan, at the end of the year the person says, now I’ve generated R2miilion in profit in the years, but, remember I put in R1,5 million as a loan, which you first need to pay back before you can take you’re 20%. Then it, it serves more, it serves more harm that it does good. It’s really, really important that when you structure it, you think through those issues clearly. That if we [broken sound] through capitalisation programme; if I need to take any more exposure [lost transmission] I’m gonna treat it, and this is how it’s gonna work going forward, so everybody is clear. We don’t have the perfect formula around it, what we’re convinced of is that that’s a better way to remunerate in a, in a small business, than simply to get people a pay slip with a, a UIF number and a PAYE number.
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V: Yeah, yeah. Well, well, I’ll tell you what; when, when, not if, when we’ve discovered it I’ll send you a mail, and I’ll copy an excel spread sheet, how does that sound? (laughs) Yeah (laughs), well that’s it, that’s it (laughs) that’s it, that’s it, I like that.
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V: So, there, there’s really two. The first is, you know, I’m a, I’m a family man, I’ve got two kids. So, that part of my life is really important to me. And so, you know, one of the things I do is I try to make sure you come into the office at a reasonable hour, but, uhm, I never leave home without having seen my son and daughter. That’s really important to me. Coz what it allows me to do is to come into the office freely and work. But, more importantly, I can work until as late as I want because I know I’ve taken that part of, that’s the most important part, I’ve done that. And, and really in coming into the office, what’s more important around the habit we’re trying to develop in the business is creating systems that will run the business so that we’re better able to manage those systems. Uh, and a key and critical part of that is bringing in people who will allow you to develop those systems. So, I spend more time thinking around what we ought to be doing and how we ought to be doing it, than I spend time thinking what we are doing. Uhm, and I think for me, that’s, that’s, that’s what you talk about; the differentiator. We, if you look at successful entrepreneurs versus those who are, who get by; those who get by generally try to focus on the current. It’s really all about now and the current. I try to bring people into the organisation who are good at the current. Ja, uh, I have a guy in my office who is a, who is an exceptional operator. He does what he does. He’s a great sales person. He’s an exceptional operator. That’s his craft, that’s what he does. And he’s really good at focussing on “current”. Making sure “current” is met. And my job then really is to say, well where are we going, and how do I make sure that, as a business, we get to where we’re going. We’re busy implementing a new IT system that’s going to run the entire back-end of our system of our business. And you can only start thinking like that, is if you’re thinking future and not now, you know. So, from a habits point of view it’s really around developing habits that allow me to think forward. That’s the, that’s the first. Second thing I [broken audio] is I read a hell of a lot. I subscribe to Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal, and uh, Pulse and Inc. 500 and every single day i read for at least an hour. And sometimes I’ll read content that is completely irrelevant, but more often than not, I’ll read content that makes me go, wow! And, I’m convinced that now more than ever, you and I have an amazing opportunity to start small businesses because of this incredible phenomenon called cloud computing. Cloud computing had taken resources that, previously, big businesses had, and has made them available to you and I. Now you and I can buy a, uh, a sales system that’s going to manage your entire sales force for R30 or R36 in the month, and that’s just phenomenal, you know. So, ten years ago, five years ago that was completely unheard of. Now you can buy cloud computing software that gonna run your IT and your, and your, and your accounting system backend. And, uh, and so one is able to explore those solutions, and look around and look at what other entrepreneurs are doing, and position the business, really because I have the time to do it. Uhm, you know, my penultimate philosophy, Jason, and I think if people listen to this, hear nothing else about my business ethic, it’s, it’s this: I try to spend more time working on my business, than working in my business. I employ people to work in my business. My job is to work on my business. That’s why I try to spend as much time as a can networking, meeting people on stage, uhm, uh, you know, because what that allows you to do is it allows you to work on your business. And form that community and an ecosystem that will support your business, whilst the people in your business do the day-to-day operations on running your business.
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V: Uhm, it’s more, it’s more, you know, my own thinking and my own gut [no audio] my father used to say to me, and, and, uh, I’ve grown up with this philosophy. My father used to say to me everything you need to achieve all your wildest dreams you already have. So you remember when we started I spoke about moving from the premise that I possess everything I need to get where I’m going and to achieve in all my current challenges; it’s really centred around that mind-set. And, and it’s an ethos I live by. Everything I need to achieve, everything I’ve ever wanted to achieve, I already have. However, I do try to use, as the philosophers will call it, the test of ventilation. So, I have, I have a number of people, some incredibly highly achieved individuals, some were just ordinary middle managers in businesses. And, for different reasons I consult them and I talk to them to get their understanding around some of the business decisions that I’m faced with. I don’t’ do it with every single decision, in fact, I do it with very few decisions. But, I do it when I feel that we are on matter that needs their attention and where somebody can bounce off a couple of ideas. So, you know, I might talk to the guy that does our numbers or our auditor around how do we structure our balance’s so that we’re better able to run as a business. How do, how do I free up cash in my business. Those, those kind of things. I might be having those discussions, so, you know, so, so we busy, I’ll give you an example. We’re busy at the moment in our food business, getting all of our suppliers to give us credit terms. And, because we’re a small business, a small, new business; incredibly difficult thing to do to say to people, give us credit terms, because they’ll be all, but you, you only have two/three years of, of financials. We need a bigger record than that. And I’m going, no, no, no, you’ll give us the business, uhm. And, uhm, and that came about when we sat with, when I sat with the guy who does my numbers, and he said a part of the challenge your facing in that business is you’re giving your customers 7-day credit terms but you’re paying you suppliers in cash. So, you know, you, you’re, you’re, you’re, so at any point in time you’re 7 days out of pocket if you’re lucky. So, and, and, and that type of stuff I’m only able to do because I’m able to consult with other people who are able to go, actually you need to rethink the capital structure of your business, you need to rethink your workflow, and your, and your cash flow processes, and how you are managing you cash flow in your business. And it’s a lot of different aspects. I have a guy who does the same for my marketing around the business. Completely rethinking how we’re marketing ourselves as a business and how we’re gonna take ourselves to the next 10 years marketing ourselves as a business. So, we’ve got some incredible platforms coming up. We’re going to start inviting people to our offices, and, and this is all sorts of things coming up that we’re thinking around now that are taking us into that future. But, I’m able to do that because I, I’ve used this test of ventilation. I talk to people who are moving in different spaces, different industries, who give me new ideas and I come into the business and go guys (knocks on surface), this is what we need to be doing. We get excited, we chase it. They work in it, and I move on and I work on it.
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V: I do, I do read a lot of books. I mean, I’m also one of the people, I get bored very quickly. So, so if I read a book, I have to read, I, I, I at any time I’m reading three books at a time, you know, coz I’d read a few chapters of this, and I’ll read a few chapters of that, put it away and I’ll read the next thing. Uhm, and they, and they’re in multiple disciplines. but I, I, I, I’m resolute on this, I, I don’t really spend four or five hours reading in a day. That’s not how I’m built. I’d rather spend that time chasing deals that’s what id o. So I just try to commit myself that every single day, I’ll do an hour. I’ll sit down, I’ll pick something up, and I’ll read. And it’s an amazing discipline because what, what it’s done is it’s forced me to read really, really quickly. So even if I’m going through the Wall Street Journal, I don’t waste time reading nonsense that’s irrelevant to me. I pick up the articles that I wanna read. See what’s happening in the rest of the world. Cool, tweet it if I like it. Print it and put it away in some knowledge base if I like it. Move on, next thing, next thing, next thing, coz I only have an hour to do it. But, it’s amazing, because that hour, is, you know, in a, a, in an hour you’re talking 31 hours in a, in a month. It’s a lot of time. It’s more than a day’s worth of reading that you’ve done, and in a year, it adds up. And, uh, and you begin to build, just your general knowledge, but also your, your general skills base on what you understand in the issues that you face every single day.
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V: There’s a book… I mean, I, I, we call it the bible in our business. If you ain’t read this book, you can’t work in my business. I’ve got boxes of them, which I bought when, uh, when I first read the book. It’s written by three entrepreneurs who are based in the United States. And these guys saw to their business. There were six of them at the time. And they grew it to a R400 million business. And, Jason, they never increased their head count. Six guys went from zero turnover to R400 million in five years, and they never increased their head count and they wrote a book called “Rework”. Yeah, man that book for me is like the business. I mean, if you are an entrepreneur and you haven’t read that book, you don’t know what you’re doing. It just, it challenges your entire thinking. We call it the bible because [broken audio] and I’ll tell you why. So a lot of people will come into our business coming from a big business or corporate setup, where, you know, at a corporate setup, there’s reception, there’s admin, there’s HR, there’s sales, there’s accounts. And even within that accounts there’s debtors, you know, there’s debtors, creditors. They don’t have those structures in a small business. In a small business, you’re gonna be running with several of those functions at a point in time. And I got sick and tired of trying to explain to people why that was, until I read the book, I’m like, these guys get it. And I just started giving it to all my staff. And they, and they began to understood what we were trying to build. I mean, the guys have a chapter in the book called, uhm, uh, Delegators are Dead Weight. Just, phenomenal. And, and it’s about getting people to understand that no business, especially no small business can afford to have anybody with a title called “Manager”. Coz, if you’re managing, we don’t need you, we don’t need people to manage. We need people to do, right. So, delegate is a dead weight. And it’s all in that book. So for me, that would be unreservedly my recommendation to, to any entrepreneur out there. Get yourself a copy of “Rework”. It’s a quick read, the chapters are two/three pages long. And, and you can get through it in one day. But, it is absolutely phenomenal as a read.
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V: Aw man! Tell him, tell him, tell him, like, I’m his biggest fan. Tell him, uh, if I was a girl I’d be a groupie, and tell him he’s my guy, like, tell him. Tell him we, say he and I need to have a coffee. Tell him I say [no sound]. There’s uhm… you, you may have actually, uhm, worked with him already. Andile Khumalo, he’s uh, he’s the CFO at [inaudible]. Ah, there you go, there you go, so you pipped me to the post. I, I mean, he for me is, I mean, they’re working in an incredibly difficult s… [no sound] in financing some of the transactions that they’re getting into, and there’s never been a more difficult time for any uh, for any, uh, firm or consortium to raise money, and he’s, he’s, I would definitely recommend him as the guy, uhm, I would also recommend, by the way… and I’d recommend him even more than I’d recommend Andile. Job. The guy who does our presentation, he runs his own marketing business. Absolutely phenomenal, and I’d be more than happy to give you his details. Absolutely phenomenal guy. He has, he’s the one who got me to read Rework. And, about 50% of the things I read are influenced by him. And he’ll go, dude, you’ve gotta read this, gotta read this, and, uh, he’s just one of those… he has wealth of knowledge, he has a depth of understanding around the issues that we’re facing, and uh, I’d recommend him unreservedly.
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V: So, uh, you mean, you mean for Job? Uh, for Andile, the question you really need to ask him, is when is he gonna stop making money for himself, and create a venture capitalist fund so that he can start funding other young entrepreneurs. That’s the question, and I’m being dead, I’m being dead serious about this. Because right now he’s working very much in the space where they’re raising capital to buy into established businesses, uhm, and they leverage those businesses etc. and they sit on their board, blah, blah, blah, you know the structure. So, uhm, and for me, I think his skills base would really work really well in some sort of a venture capitalist that allows young entrepreneurs all over the country to, to burgeon and to work. So, ask him that business for, ask him that question for me. And then ask Jobe, if you would, why is he here is South Africa? He must go back to America. We’ve got an unemployment problem. We don’t need him here. No, but on a, on a, on a serious tip, I think the one question I would really like you to ask Job, uhm, is when is he gonna, uh, start his music distribution business? He’s got a model around music distribution business, although, I don’t have permission to, you know, to expand on, but if he, if he really takes on that business, it will change the entire landscape of how music is currently being distributed around the entire continent. And he has an intimate understanding of that industry because he works within it. So… so just ask him that for me? Ask him, you know, Vusi says, when are you finally going to get off your horse, and, uh, and do this thing. Ja.
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V: Wow! How are you getting all these people though? I need to know the people you know. (laughs). My man, I like it, I like it. [no sound] You mean like, a little idiosyncrasy? Uhm, that’s a tough one, I uh, I don’t know if I do. I, uhm, I think, I think the only thing I’m obsessive over, and don’t judge, is I love wine gums man. Uhm, don’t put wine gums anywhere around me. I’m the guy that will wine gum your whole office out. If I come in to your office at the reception area, and there’re wine gums at reception, we’re meeting at reception, we’re not going into the board room. I’m, I’m that guy. So that’s uhm, ja, that’s uh, ja that’s definitely my thing. [no sound] You see that’s my kind of girl. She’s, that’s, that’s, I mean, I, I just think there’s only one sweet, and it’s wine gums, everything else is just traffic. (laughs)
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V: Wow, that’s a tough one. And, uhm… you know if I can be completely honest without being flippant, I haven’t figured that one out yet. I think, uhm… yeah, you know my, my, my entire, my entire perspective is that your, now, job is just to create a mind-set of possibility. So even this, what you’re doing right now is all about creating a mind-set of possibility, because you’re gonna have it, you’re gonna communicate it to more people, they’re gonna hear our stories, they’re gonna go, wow, it’s amazing, it’s possible, let me try. That’s really what, really what I’d like my life would equate to. People would look back and go, if that guy can do this, then I too can. Coz I think that’s more empowering than anything, it’s more empowering than setting up any business of any size. It’s leaving people with a mind-set that says you can be the rebel-rouser in your industry. You can be the trouble maker. You can be the manufacturer of this craft and you can forces people to rethink things. And you don’t need to be special. Oh, the fact that you exist; you’re already special enough. And, uhm, and it’s possible for you to do whatever you want.
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V: An 18…? An 18 year old version of me. Uhm, I would’ve said to him… I honestly would have said to him… uhm… Seize the day. That’s what I would’ve said to him. I had, uh, I had, uh, a lot of people don’t know this. I had a couple of phenomenal opportunities when I was around 19/20 as a speaker and, uhm, and I, and I didn’t seize that. They were there, I used them for what they were there and I just moved on. I didn’t have the intellectual maturity of time to understand what they meant for me as a position and platform. As a result of that, some years later I had to work really, really hard to bring myself back into the common floor, and to get myself back into the industry and to get myself well known again and working again. And so what I would’ve said to a younger version of Vusi is, when it comes, take it. Don’t wait, don’t ask questions, don’t hesitate, don’t think, don’t rethink, take it. The time is now, don’t, don’t be too academic about it, just do it. Take it, and live your life. Uh, I also would’ve said to him, and don’t try to be the person that you imagined that you were supposed to be. Be the person you are. You know, and I think that is such a powerful thing. Where you and I live in a world today, you know, as young people, we’re convinced about what is the cool thing to be, right? So, young people go to school, get an education and more and more of this is happening. They qualify as a CA, and then three years into his career they realise, you know, actually, I don’t want to be a CA, you know. And if you speak to the guy you would’ve realised far sooner in his academic studies that he wanted to do something different. But, he went along a path of what was expected of him versus what he was born and meant to be. And you serve a greater purpose to the world when you do what you were born and meant to be than when you do what you, what you think is the cool and hip thing to do. That’s what I would’ve said to Vusi. I would’ve said to him, don’t rethink what you’re doing. Don’t rethink what your purpose is. Don’t rethink your talent. Just do it. Live it, become it, and do it.
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V: Ja. So, I think the, you know, a lot of people ask me the question; so, how do I know what is my purpose in life? My answer to that is always this; that, uhm that which you can do best with the least amount of effort, that’s what you ought to be doing. And, and it sounds so simple, but so many people haven’t actually thought around what it is that they do best. What are you the most talented at. And, uhm, and you find so many people waste their talents because they pursue what was the popular to do. So you find somebody who grows up, and incredible soccer player, and when he gets to university, realises that it’s either soccer or becoming an accountant, and goes the accountant route. And, and that’s okay. That’s cool, except I think that you don’t serve society because we never get to see the true genius of you. You know, God gave you this incredible ability and your job was to live it out. It was to manifest it. It was to show us your genius through manifestation, through action and through realisation. And a lot of people don’t go down that route. So I would say to anybody, that which you do best with the least amount of effort, you have an obligation, a moral duty to do. Even if you do it as a part-time, but you have a moral obligation and a duty to do it, because it was clearly something that was, that was endued within you so that you can go out and do it. Uhm, and I think, you know, I think people just need to use that, in my sense as a litmus test. But I think, you know, you asked about what question to ask. And the question I always, I always encourage any, any young person especially to ask themselves is… in the next five years, what do you want people to say about you that they wouldn’t have said about you now? And uhm, and it sounds in and of itself as a good question and an easy question to answer at surface, but it’s really about asking the question around, why do you want people to say that? So, if you want in the next five years, for people to say, you know, Jason Stewart is a maverick. He’s a forward thinker. He understands the game etcetera, etcetera. Ask yourself, why must they say that? What impact would you have made for society for them to say that? And how would that impact outlive you? Because our challenge is, how do we do things that outlive us, that’s really the challenge, uh, you know. You and I could do something today and we’d make a couple of bucks from it, but how do we do something that will completely outlive us? So that once you and I have moved on, we can become the Martin Luther Kings of our generation, where people are quoting these incredible things we’ve said because we’ve did things that outlived us.
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V: Yeah, yeah, absolutely, absolutely, ja. (laughs). [inaudible] with the gypsies (laughs). Uhm, look you know, in, in, in ten years’ time uhm, Vusi is, uh, definitely still a speaker, uhm, but I think but I think it’s [broken transmission] yeah, in ten years’ time I wanna be, I wanna be a speaker at uhm, at uhm, at uh, I wanna be a speaker come Malcolm Gladwell proportions. Meaning I wanna be a speaker at that uh, at the level where uhm, characters of commerce are engaging with you around your thinking. I really wanna be positioned as a though-leader around some of the things I am passionate about. That is the first. Then the second is that in ten years’ time I would really like that each of the businesses we’re spending so much time, putting time and money into are self-sustainable. They, they, they’re must be incredibly wealthy… naturally. But more important, that those businesses have made a social impact. So, you know, we [broken transmission] in our organisation and in our thinking and that is that we don’t do, we don’t get into any businesses for the profit motive. We get into businesses that are socially cogent. And if the business is socially cogent, if it, if it is cognisant of a time, of a society and of the needs of that society, it, by implication, will make money. Because people will need [break in transmission] around how you structure that business so it delivers good work. Uhm, at uh, at affordable rates to people. Uhm, so, you know, in ten years’ time, definitely hoping that those businesses are successful. But more important, hey Jason, look in 10 years’ time, I’m in France. I’m in the villa somewhere, and, uh, and I’m going skiing man. That’s me. I’m going skiing. I’ve got a Bugatti Veyron parked somewhere, and uh, and uh, that’s me, you know. It sounds, it sounds, uh, it sounds awfully, uh, ostentatious of me, I know. But I don’t think we ought to deny ourselves of our materiality as human beings. You know, it’s cool, it’s cool to smile and say, I’d like to have that, you know.
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V: Great. You know, the last thing I’d say I’d like is a, uhm… I’ve always lived my life around the principle of what I call the three Ds. And I think I would have saved myself a lot of heartache if I had understood that principle before, and it’s simply this; Decide, design and do. So, whatever it is that you wanna be doing in your life, make a decision that you wanna do it. But, more importantly, make a decision that you’re going to stick with the first decision. So many people make a decision, and they don’t mentally prepare themselves for the implications of that decision. So, it’s really important that when you decide that you want to pursue a certain life path that you also make the decision that no matter what happens I’m not gonna change my mind. I’m gonna pursue this, I’m gonna see it to the end. That’s the first. Second is design. So design your life in a way in a way that allows you to pursue the things you want to pursue. So if you wanna go out, you wanna achieve all these great things, how do you design your life in such a way that it allows you to do that. So, for me, it was around bringing a group of people in. So, there are no other speakers in this country, certainly none that I know of, and I know the best guys in the business, who have the model that I have; who have a researcher in their business, who have a presentation evangelist in their business. Nobody has that. And the reason I have that is because I’ve designed my life so that I can sit here with Jason and focus fully and completely, knowing that in two hours’ time I’m doing a presentation to a group of investment bankers in Nedbank Capital, but that I’m fully prepared because I’ve got a group of people whose job it is just to make sure that I’m fully prepared for that. So, design your life so that you’re allowed to be the person you imagined to be. And don’t spend too much time trying to do everything. We have the sin of trying to do everything. We don’t need to do everything. Bring in people around you who will do the other things. Do what it is you’re good at. That stuff that you’re best at with the least amount of effort. Do that stuff, because that is how you’re going to propel yourself forward. And then the final D is Do. Do it. So don’t wait, don’t loiter, don’t ask questions, don’t read, just do it. Get into it, do it, achieve it, and move on.
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V: Thanks [broken transmission] thanks, and thank you so much for having me Jason, uh, I can’t thank you enough, thanks buddy. How did you get the…?! No, no, no, how did you get these people, I wanna know now, how did you do this?
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V: Wow! No, no, no, that’s… I mean, uh, just tell him I admire his work, and I think, I think he’s phenomenal. And I’m cool with that. Thank you man, take it easy. Cheers, cheers.

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