In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king
Welcome to The One-Eyed Man with Mike Stopforth
It's a messy, complicated world out there. We need better solutions to the problems around us, and better leaders to them. No one person has it all figured out, but in a quest to discover a more impactful brand of leadership, I'm having conversations with people who have at least some part of it figured out, and specifically in the fields of business, entrepreneurship, impact and technology.
#052 How to capture the soul of a nation — Nick Dreyer
If you’re anything like me then many of your proudest moments as a South African are closely associated with sport. Whether it’s underdog victories or feats of individual brilliance that inspire us and give us hope, it’s hard to ignore how sport is inextricably woven into the fabric of the tapestry that tells the story of the proverbial new South Africa.
One such moment recently was seeing our athletes – their broad smiles hidden behind masks but not from their eyes - entering the stadium under our flag during the opening ceremony of the ill-fated Tokyo Olympics.
Perhaps it was my surprise that the event went ahead at all in the midst of multiple disruptions, or the fact that it came at a time when my national energy was at an all time low but the sight of our beautifully and eclectically dressed athletes reinvigorated me with all of those feelings that I’m almost certain are unique to the experience of being South African.
One of the most noticeable aspects of those outfits were the brightly soled Veldskoen shoes that each athlete wore. These weren’t just veldskoene with a small V, there were Veldskoen, with a big V, the now internationally famous footwear and lifestyle brand born out of SA, for the world, and inspired by the traditional footwear.
These comfortable, rawhide shoes, rumoured to date back to 17th century Dutch settlers who were in turn influenced by the traditional Khoisan footwear of the same period from the DNA of an incredible story of entrepreneurship. Now funded by notable international venture capitalists the likes of Mark Cuban, Veldskoen and their flip flop off-shoot, Plakkie, are a product, a brand, and a story we can all be very proud of.
Talk about doing something original with something traditional!
The 5th episode of our #originalbytradition series, brought to by The Glenlivet, is a conversation with Nick Dreyer, one of the co-founders of Veldskoen.
Easily one of my favourites so far, and I know you’ll feel the same.
#051 Unpacking Innovation in Media and Broadcasting — Relebogile Mabotja
My next guest in our Original By Tradition series brought to you The Glenlivet can only be described as superhuman.
Imagine running two successful production businesses, maintaining roles on various industry boards and panels as a lobbyist and commentator, public speaking, mentoring and training up and coming talent, producing and appearing in a wildly popular and impactful TV show, and raising a family, all in a normal work day.
Somehow, Relebogile Mabotja does this, and does it exceptionally. This series as you know is all about inspiring entrepreneurs who spend their time finding original and creative solutions to challenging problems and Relebogile embodies that more than most.
Having come from a very traditional broadcast and media background, she is constantly innovating and reinventing this tremendously exciting space with a fresh approach to content and engagement that we can all learn from.
We spoke about a broad range of topics, but I could easily have spent another hour or two tapping into her experience and wisdom. Again, I’m really grateful to the Glenlivet for making conversations just like this one possible, and look forward to your feedback on this one in particular. Enjoy!
#050 What's at the Heart of Cause-based Marketing? — Michael Baretta
"The only social responsibility of business is to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits. So long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say engages in open and free competition without deception, or fraud." - the words of famed economist Milton Friedman from his seminal essay on the topic of social responsibility and what businesses should be responsible for and prioritise their time on.
Now, 50 years old, that essay, and we've seen fluctuations in the understanding of businesses and its responsibility towards social impact over the years and certainly in the last couple of years, more and more prominence of big organisations and corporations putting purpose, putting causes at the centre of their focus, or at least pretending to do so. It's not always the case that it is really their number one priority.
But I'm really interested in this topic, of course, and I've covered it at length on this podcast in the past, and as part of our "Original by Tradition" series with The Glenlivet, which, of course, I'm glad you are participating in, and of course, want to hear your feedback on. I'm speaking to a really special guest today, Michael Baretta, who runs an agency called [dot]GOOD, South Africa's leading cause-based marketing, cause marketing and implementation agency.
[dot]GOOD’s focus really is on helping organisations not just discover their purpose, but communicate that purpose effectively to their audience, to their employees, to various stakeholders, to the population at large, and I really wanted to tap Michael's brain to understand how he helps typically complex corporates distil their intentions in the space, how they incorporate that into their traditional marketing efforts, and how they ensure that really authenticity is held at the core of these efforts, otherwise, they tend to fall flat.
Michael's got a great story, runs an incredible business an was very generous with his time. Enjoy!
#049 How to Build the World's Biggest Coffee Brand — Neo Moleko & Brad Symons
In this second episode in our #originalbytradition entrepreneurship series, brought to you by The Glenlivet, I talk to Neo Moleko and Brad Symons from Manaka Coffee.
What would make a couple of old school friends start a new coffee brand when the likes of Seattle, Vida and even Starbucks exist as competition already? Well, these two will tell you it’s a firm belief that African innovation and originality can bring something truly unique – something fresh - to even the most crowded industries.
The Manaka story really is one of hope and that’s my wish for you as you listen to the show today - a ray of optimism. A sense of possibility.
#048 Lessons learned launching a tech start-up in lockdown — Mike Sharman
I am thrilled to tell you that we're partnering with the Glenlivet to bring you a series of conversations with innovative entrepreneurs over the next 10 episodes.
The whiskey connoisseurs amongst you will know the Glenlivet as an award winning sought after collection of Speyside single malt Scotch whiskies, just like that collection, this series of conversations, we'll have a little something for everyone.
We're going to be talking to inventors creatives, financial wunderkinds, problem solvers and more, celebrating those who strive to find answers and solve problems, where others have given up even asking questions.
In our first episode, I talked to arguably South Africa's leading expert on branded content, an old friend and colleague in the digital marketing industry, Mike Sharman.
Mike is the CEO of marketing agencies Retroviral and Retroactive and more recently a co-founder with ex-Springbok rugby player Bryan Habana and Ben Karpinski of a company called Match Kit, an exciting tech startup that was recently included in a prestigious alpha code incubator program.
I talked to Mike about this, and other remarkable achievements. About his insatiable and infectious enthusiasm for creative work, and about the lessons he learned building these incredible businesses.
Before we get into the show, please remember to pay close attention and keep an eye on my social media. Toward the end of the series, we'll be giving away some incredible Glenlivet hampers to a few lucky listeners.
#047 Small business as the bedrock of economic growth — Lesley Waterkeyn and Dawn Nathan-Jones
Lesley Waterkeyn and Dawn Nathan-Jones (you may recognise Dawn as one of the investors from Shark Tank SA) have a vision for economic growth by inspiring and supporting entrepreneurs to start and grow successful and impactful small businesses.
They provide resources in the form of training, coaching and business tools through Over The Rainbow (www.overtherainbow.co.za), and we talk about their offerings and learnings in this discussion.
Great stories and insights on what it takes to lead
Mike is a superb storyteller and narrates his learnings of what it takes to be a leader today into insights that even I can understand. Always top quality guests and I look forward to each new release.