Lifestyle Makeover Feature on Destiny Man

A little over two and a half years ago I took on the challenge of changing my lifestyle, of getting healthier, fitter and more active – I had no idea that the journey would end up on Destiny Man. The February 2017 issue of the prestigious men’s magazine, in stores now, features some of the things I discovered along the way.

At the time of starting with my very short run – which felt like I had just done the Ironman – I had no idea that the path would lead to being more effective at work, to making new connections with people who would have never been on my radar under normal circumstances.

Leaps of Faith by Mongezi Mtati On: Destiny Man, Feb 2017

As it happens when you start on a new journey to change your life, there are always obstacles and rude awakenings. In my case, ice-cold damper in my deep slumber was a running app that was recommended by Phetheho Mosia whom I’m sure got a thrill from mild disappointment. The article talks to how I discovered that shortness of my Ironman run and walk, but it’s great that the awakening occurred when it did.

You’ll also discover how important it is to have key goals for your new lifestyle and somebody to crack the whip and in my case it’s the obstacle racing Peter Peele. He manages to push long past I’ve exhaled my last breath and only fire goes through my chest. So yes, I’m surrounded by legends who push me. I wouldn’t call them friends when huff, puff, limp, curse the day I met them and imagine the finish line.

Lindsay Grubb cracks the whip when I slack with the writing which has proven to be invaluable and boy is that absolutely helpful. Documenting some of these stories needs magician’s eye and she just may be the unmentioned secret inspector at the literature department at Hogwarts.

Thanks to Marco Caromba, Duncan and the Jozi X team for allowing us to use the park for the pictures and the adventure experience that you’ll see in the piece. They host some of the most challenging obstacle course races that will make you want to get fitter and they are also the friendliest bunch you’ll ever meet at these activities. Their BattleRush events introduced us to the adrenaline and the bug of obstacle course racing. Check them out here.

This past weekend marked the fastest – relatively uphill – half marathon (21.1km for the non runners) that I have taken on.

Please get a copy and share your thoughts.

Support your marketing and become a thought leader

With the economy being as it is, more companies cutting budget for communications and the saturated marketplace, how do you further differentiate yourself and support your marketing?

This is one of the questions I constantly grapple with and I shared my take in the January 2017 issue of Entrepreneur magazine. Please take a quick glance below, get yourself a copy before they run out and share your opinion.

Become a thought leader - by Mongezi Mtati

Become a thought leader – By Mongezi Mtati on Entrepreneur

 

Asics delivers a pair of Gel Nimbus 18 within 24 hours

After being in a bind and writing about Asics and Tekkie Town, where neither of them took the time to respond after I sent back a pair of running shoes. As it happens in these instances, I wrote about it and ranted a bit here, which was followed by the all-important and standard tweet.


Asics South Africa
Asics very quickly responded to the tweet where Dawid Visser took over the matter and owned it – with an apology. I appreciated how no one was badmouthing the other inside Asics, where resolving the issue was more important than who had not taken it upon themselves to act on an email and calls.

[Add crickets at Tekkie Town here]

The Asics sales manager, Craig also phoned to apologise on behalf of the brand and their management. They took it all seriously, especially the fact that it went public where most brands try to keep these matters private. It all seemed sincere, as though Craig and Dawid wanted to help and they did.

One of the expectations that I had, which very quickly changed, was that they would want to investigate with Tekkie Town and spend more time keeping me waiting. Instead, Dawid asked me about sizes [I’m a UK size 14 ;-)] and told me that the version I had bought was now out of stock and that he would send another one.

Asics Gel Nimbus 18

After talking to Dawid and sending him my humanly impossible running shoe size, they delivered a brand new pair of Asics Gel Nimbus 18 within 24 hours. It’s always great when a brand goes expectations and shows care where many others have disappointed their customers.

Thanks Asics. I’m taking this new pair for its first Soweto Marathon.

Asics and Tekkie Town – A world of pain and no response

Leading up to a 21km run in – April 2016, after much procrastination, I bought my umpteenth pair of Asics running shoes from Tekkie Town in Boksburg. It was the first time that I bought from Tekkie Town and they turned out to be reasonable in comparison to other Asics stockists. The next day, I took this shiny new fiery orange pair of Asics Gel Nimbus 16 for a half marathon and sustained injuries that took to me days to recover from.

Tekkie Town complaint

Asics complaint at Tekkie Town

Some runners would say brand new running shoes aren’t great for races, as though they should be broken in and taken for some runs first, which I attributed the nearly broken legs to. Truth be told, I never had that problem in a pair of Asics. Five runs later, the problem persisted and I phoned Asics to find out what the issue could have been. This was not getting any better, I would suffer for a day or two before getting back on the road because of injuries.

On 4 May 2016 – a lady by the name of Kiera Powell took my call at Asics and she assured me that she would take care of the issue and that the call would help to speed up the process. She further advised that I return the shoes to Tekkie Town because they needed to assess the quality of this new pair of Gel Nimbus 16. According to her, the quality of the cushioning can sometimes deteriorate if the shoes are stored for too long. She also advised that I send an email with my details and a picture of the shoes which will form part of their assessment, which I very quickly did.

Emails to Asics South Africa

Emails to Asics South Africa

Part of the assessment includes images that the store sends to the manufacturer where they ascertain whether there is damage or not. That said though, the stockist – Tekkie Town in this case – knew exactly how to take the images. I’m no expert at photography or running shoes and I trust their just judgement.
Running shoes
The next step was to take the shoes to Tekkie Town in Boksburg – limps and all – and these were received by a friendly store manager who advised that the Asics consultant would assess the shoes and make recommendations. Anton said he would call me in a week and that went the same way as the emails from Asics, but when I eventually got a hold of him about two weeks later – he was just about to dial my number. Just about. Had I just waited another five minutes, he would have called with feedback to say the Asics consultant saw the shoes and they would revert with feedback.

Asics running shoes

Kiera Powell, had still not received my email or the report from Tekkie Town – she probably still hadn’t until I sent a tweet to their account finding out if she works there. These things get stuck in the mail, calls aren’t answered at Asics and well……the internet loses stuff and all.

By now, the old pair I was replacing began causing more injuries with every run that was meant to help mitigate the situation and it was better to buy another pair than to wait for Asics and send them more emails. Instead of not training, I got a new pair about a month later because there other one is still held captive. The assumption is that they completely taken the shoes apart and they are giving it thorough inspection. In fact, Anton left Tekkie Town and the new manager took on the case, also promised to return my call and she hasn’t.

Part of the theory is that it may be the wrong type of pair that the Asics Nimbus model was not right, but in fact I used a similar model for over a year. The one that this pair was meant to replace was also a Nimbus and it was as dream to run in.

Asics and Tekkie Town, when you read this – if you ever get to – please ask your labs and scientists how close they to concluding this case, it has now been four months. You have already phased out some designs and brought new ones in.

At the time of writing this, now in August 2016, I sent to tweet to Asics South Africa whom I think alerted Kiera Powell of the problem and she called but the issue still

Community Manager Appreciation

Recent months have seen brands get their fair share of social media criticism, from Uzzi going viral because of xenophobic attacks in Alexandra, the ‘bestie’ post by Appletiser to KFC in Braamfontein, where community managers needed miracles to dowse the blaze. These are just a few of the instances that made it onto the radar.
Social media - mobile

On a normal day, social media community managers work their magic wands on Facebook, Google+, Twitter and the rest of the social web around brand reputations and fuming customers. My latest post on Marklives covers some insights from seasoned social media strategists who built some award-winning communities and campaigns. They all agree that trust and being more human – yes, even as brands – is what wins over brand-speak and policy.

They also maintain that the responsibility lies with both the brand the social media who represent them online.

Have a look at the post on Marklives here and get chocolate for that community manager on your way to the office.

Five startup lessons

Since everyone feels the need to offer entrepreneurial advice to startups, anywhere from motivational the odd motivational talk to how you should build, it’s hard to know what to take and what not to. The August 2015 issue of Entrepreneur magazine has a piece with some of the most timeless advice that I received from seasoned entrepreneurs. These continue to be relevant and some I wrestle with from time to time.

Have a look at the piece below and grab yourself of Entrepreneur:

Turn Critics Into Brand Evangelists

In recent news, a certain deep-fried chicken franchise went viral for the wrong reasons and if you followed the story, as I did for a while, you would have realised that the brand tried to engage. The unfortunate part was that as viral news stories go, the brand that’s a villain gets it the hardest.

I’m not saying I didn’t go to KFC a few times after the stories spread. You know. . . . . just to test at a few branches whether it was all true. How could I write about it if I didn’t test the chicken myself?

Meanwhile, there are brands whose communities grow, who are committed to adding one memorable customer story at a time. Brands like Rocomamas that I wrote about on Marklives. And yes, once again, I had to see whether any of what Brian Altriche, founder and chief operating officer of RocoMamas, told me was true. The hardest part was taking the stairs instead of elevators

The hardest part was taking the stairs instead of elevators and sitting out the next weigh-in later that week.

Read the piece I wrote on Marklives.com and find out how RocoMamas creates a street team of evangelists behind their burger shop and restaurant.

 

Five Things To Consider When Starting A Business

Sunday Live, a talk show on SABC 1 recently me to talk about some of the pains and joys of starting and running a business. The viewers started calling in later during the show, some with valid concerns and the rest seemed to think money was their ultimate challenge. There is no getting away from the need for capital when you start, but in most cases, plans tend to not reflect the realities of growing a fledgling business.

Most things that contribute to growth can be learned, let’s get into some of the things that you can consider if you want to build a new business:

1. Capital is the least of your problems

Take capital out of the business idea equation, have you got everything else that you need to build on your idea?

 “Huxley Don’t make excuses and Don’t talk about it. Do it.” ~ Melvyn Douglas

In his book Art Of The Start, former Apple chief evangelist, co-founder of Garage.com – a seed-stage and early-stage venture capital fund – and now the chief evangelist for Canva, Guy Kawasaki encourages startups to bootstrap. His advice, which I also lean towards, is that entrepreneurs should consider starting as a service business while they build their offering and test it in the real world.

Art Of The Start - Guy Kawasaki

The notion that capital makes a business is one of the killers of many great ideas that never get to see the light of day. Don’t fall into that trap.

2. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle

In the movie Horrible Bosses 2, the side-splitting team starts a business and, following a TV interview, they get their first client. The client also happens to be a billionaire who gets them started with a huge order. Up to this point, this is the story that most of us buy into when thinking of starting a business. Aside from the great idea that we bet on, it’s also the notion that slot machines will pay out sooner than the usual salary run.

There’s another side. A side that does not get mentioned a lot. This alternative is seeing entrepreneurship as a journey, one filled with successes and some false starts. Part of the fulfilment is in building the idea and the value that it creates in the marketplace, not just the money that is likely to come in boat-loads. That is not to be confused with going against making a decent living, which takes us to the next point.

Are you ready for the change lifestyle which includes working late nights and early mornings in the early stages?

3. Put the mask on yourself first

How often do you ignore flight attendants as they take passengers through the all too familiar ‘pre-flight safety demonstration’? They tell you about the mask that drops if the worst happens and they mention that you should put the mask on yourself first, then help others – not vice versa. While this happens, most people send their last few text messages or check the time.

I struggled with this when I first started, I wanted to take others along with me and help them without realising that there was a fun and equally challenging journey ahead. A journey that needs the business owner to make a mask from nothing and put it on themselves first.

 

4. Build on an idea that you believe in

This seems easy enough when thinking about it. Of course you believe in your idea, you wouldn’t be thinking of taking this course of action if that weren’t true, right?

Wrong.

The sense of belief should be closer to a form of madness. This is what converts others to your world-view and how you do things.

When the iPhone 1 was released, there were mostly Nokia phones and other companies that did not have touch-screens. They were well known. They owned the market. Most of us had one of their devices.

Over time, for most of the world’s population who now use iPhones and Android, these were adopted. We all wonder how we coped before and forget that we thought the iPhone was a fad. Now people wait for the next launch and delay their upgrade.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

As daunting as this may seem before you start, it’s something you cultivate as you build your idea. Before you begin collecting assets, no matter how small, check competitive business insurance quotes online as this will ensure that you have a sense of what you need to set aside to secure your assets in the foreseeable future.

5. Be prepared to ask for help

Building a new business without some of the resources that we are told we need is enough and it does not have to be. Find someone who has walked the path, someone who has built something meaningful in business, or an aspect thereof. Most people are willing to offer their insight and give guidance.Whenever it’s possible, find ways to collaborate which helps to strengthen your business offering and give you access to more clients and customers than you alone can find.

Helping Hand

There is a lot more this list and, at times, too much research can lead to never starting and building what the world needs. These are some of the things that I find to be true as I speak to many other people who have started and expanded their businesses over time.

What has been helpful for you? What took you from an idea to what you are working on today?

Build Your Business Idea at Lean Startup Machine in Johannesburg

If you’ve spent a few weeks (months or years) around the block working towards building an idea into a business, you might have also heard many business buzzwords. If not, don’t bother with them. It’s not the buzzword vocabulary that builds startups, it’s the work. Afterall, small business challenges don’t care for how much you speak of scalability or anything else that was used at a seminar this week.

Look below for most of the buzzwords that you might have heard before and ignore them as you read on. Deal? Go!

Lean Startup Machine Johannesburg

Business Entrepreneurial Buzzwords

 

The truth of the matter is that it’s nimble, lean businesses that start well and thrive for longer. In the spirit of steering clear of the flavour of this week’s jargon, the simpler you keep your offering and the quicker you test – the easier it becomes to prove your model and go to market. Or to fail fast and hit the ground running. These are some of the lean startup principles which gained massive traction following the release of Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup.

Since the book was published in 2011, the Lean Startup Machine built a community to put some of its principles through real-world testing and proof. Part of the iAfrikan team have joined forces with other local minds to bring those principles to Johannesburg. Now you can you can pitch your idea, test it in the real world, with real potential customers and collaborate with would-be team members.

You can also test new ideas for an existing business, or use these principles in your business to build a day-to-day lean startup culture. It focuses on what’s important now to test if the idea is viable and enables you to take it to market – with the least amount of unnecessary fuss in the process.

Companies Google, Facebook, Dropbox and other global organisations use the lean startup principles. It’s a way thinking and executing work in your business.

Does this sound like something you would want to learn and include into building your next idea?

Is it something you would like to cultivate as a way of thinking in both your life and business?
Lean Startup Machine, Johannesburg
If not, this is where you read on before sending this piece to that forward thinking friend. To you, forward-thinking friend, click here to register and share the love. Let’s say you know another two forward-thinking people and all three of you want to attend, you can use the promotional code ‘flashfree’ to get one free ticket.

What you are paying for

The Lean Startup Machine weekend is not a conference, it’s a whole weekend of both practical learning and testing some of the new concepts. It includes both keynote presentations and being matched with a team of people who either gravitate towards to your idea, or whose ideas appeal to you.

The team that implements the lean startup methodology the best stands to win an incubation deal.

You will:

–          Pitch your idea for feedback

–          Work on a high level plan test your idea

–          Go outside to speak to potential customers and find out if the idea would work.

–          Build webpage that would showcase the product, service or idea.

It will be an interesting weekend that promises to far surpass most (if not all) conferences you’ve been to.

Are you in? Register here: http://ctt.ec/fM8HF+

If you buy two tickets, you’ll get the third one free by using the promotional code ‘flashfree’.

Influence, Collaborate and Lead a Community: A TEDx talk

We are sold this idea that our story is not worth telling, that there is something more important than our personal accounts and experiences. When the TEDx Vanderbijlpark team called on me to share my story, that notion is precisely what dawned on me, that I haven’t lived or experienced enough to tell anyone about myself.

 

I know, I know, it could be flawed on many levels.

 

In this talk below, I share experiences of stories that changed me. Turning points that continue what the idea of self-organising and leading.

Thanks to Mpho Mojapelo, the rock-legend at Dungbeetle for designing my slides.