It’s a warm summer’s day in the capital, Pretoria. The view from my room is as creative as the brick layers craft allows. The view itself hasn’t changed but today my mind sees it differently. I see the bricks for what they really are, an idea! The very skyscrapers we see today were not collectively conceived and designed by one man, but by a plethora of individuals just like you and me. Yet we wonder what sets us apart from these flesh and bone creatures that guzzle and gobble the same food and oxygen we do. It begs the question as to why some of us are more successful than others? Where is the border and how do I get my passport stamped to enter this country of success?
Many of us simply just don’t know the answers or even the right questions to ask. We spend our days following a regiment that we may not even understand let alone comprehend its purpose. To what ends are we nomads to our minds and furthermore wanderers in our own pre-destined cause?
What if I told you that the answers we seek are actually out there? What if I told you that all we needed was a bit of guidance and the rest would become like clockwork? That’s the thing, you wouldn’t believe me. So let me show you!
Today I set out to meet a young businessman who owns and runs his own promotions company. A man that had to die to himself to become who he is today. I expected to find bells and whistles all around him to distinguish him from literally everyone else around us but no, I could barely tell the difference between him and the man in the restaurant booth next to him. We sat down and commenced with the introduction pleasantries. It was probably 30 seconds into the conversation when I started to realise what the bells and whistles really were. It was him, as a whole.
He noticed everything and seemingly knew everything too but didn’t simultaneously. A state of awe started creeping in so I did what I do best, I ordered some freshly squeezed orange juice. Composed and ready to learn, he leaned back, looked me straight in the eye and began to share his journey with me. A journey that had no map, no means to an end but like the word depicts, it was a journey and not a destination.
Being indecisive about his future beyond high school, he didn’t jump straight into the college or varsity route. He decided to take the year for himself. In this time he hopped from job to job to simply maintain his then current lifestyle. The turnaround point, even though he may not have seen it as that then, was when one of his friends offered him a job at a clothing store. Certainly not new to the work environment, he became a quick study of his marketing surroundings. Working diligently and tirelessly to hone in on his craft, he soon discovered that he was head and shoulders above his peers. Not only did he realise his potential, others saw it too. Climbing up the ladder to a managerial position at the very store was just the beginning. He left the store to pursue his interest in marketing and decided to enrol into a college where he would further expand his knowledge.
One thing I have noticed about the significance of tertiary education is the mind-set it stimulates. It is no longer as cut and dry as adding arbitrary numbers or reciting facts, it enhances an avenue of constant dialogue within oneself. They don’t teach you this because you’re too busy learning other things that are syllabus related, but if you take the time to digest your thoughts, the nutrients have one outcome, growth.
Now, back to the journey —after a heated confrontation with himself, derived from all the trials and tribulations that life slammed at him, unannounced, demanding attention like the ever growing hunger of a growling stomach, he decided that he would work for only one man, himself. Partnering up with the very friend that got him the clothing store job and five hundred rand, they ventured into the world of entrepreneurship.
Scraping clients here and there in their quest for financial independence, a hard reality was that the dribs and drabs of clientele they were miraculously procuring at the time would not be sufficient to sustain the business let alone themselves. To survive, they had to get part time jobs. He attempted to go back to his throne at the clothing store but everything had changed, new management, new this and new that, he no longer had his pedestal, let alone a place in his former castle. Time was no longer on their side and neither was money so from 6am to 12pm they worked at a local restaurant. From there they would go back to their shared apartment and brainstorm until their next bartending gig at 6pm to 12am and like any good shampoo bottle would tell you, “rinse and repeat”.
Let that sink in for a moment.
Every minute of every day was partitioned in a way to achieve the goal. The goal being his initial revelation, he would work for only one man, himself.
To achieve this he had to have a plan, and to have a plan in action, he had to get started! His whole life became pieces that were part and puzzle to obtaining THE GOAL!
Neglecting his social life was something the people around him found hard to understand. We tend to forget that time is the only absolute measure we are all forced to conform to, it is the one thing we trick ourselves into believing we have control over. Just like business, the relationships we have require the same currency, time. He went on to explain the toll it takes on the loved ones around you and the newly found language barrier of understanding through perspective.
I asked him what he had to give up for all of this and I naturally assumed things like his love of luxuries and so on and so forth but he sternly stopped me in my tracks and said, “EVERYTHING”, because as an entrepreneur, you have to press on. Burning his fingers on many different stoves but understanding that each failure was an answer, he adopted these answers and acted on them, learnt from them and soon enough, he was standing in a place he had constructed with his bare hands, moulded by his mind and earned through genuine blood, sweat and tears. All of this has now earned him his title, thee title, “Boss”. At the tender age of 30 years old he can look back at his work and draw inspiration for his future. You can never stop learning, never stop asking questions and never take the process for granted.
I’ll leave you with a quote from the man himself,
“Hard work kills no man”. So work now so that you can stop working when you want to.