The Jacob Zuma administration has by many accounts been an absolute catastrophe for progress in South Africa (not unless you have been lucky enough to stay in the Saxonworld Sheebeen). It has been marred by scandal after scandal to the point of the general public of South Africa being almost de-sensitized to it all. And through it all Jacob Zuma has maintained a more-or-less consistent attitude of…
But there is always a silver lining even if you have to look incredibly, incredibly hard to find one and as an entrepreneur, there are definitive lessons that can be drawn from Jacob Zuma that I think are incredibly useful.
Lesson 1: ‘Formal’ education does not define your ability to achieve
Jacob Zuma never had the opportunity to obtain a ‘traditional’ education yet is arguably one of the most powerful, influential people in South Africa. In fact, he is the least formally educated president South Africa has had since democracy. Yet he, daily, has people who are far more educated than him need to seek his approval in order to proceed with their own programmes.
He is a prime example that the only thing that stops you from achieving the pinnacle of your defined industry is your own determination, grit, persistence, and guile (among a whole host of other attributes).
Lesson 2: Build a team that is unwaveringly committed to your cause
Jacob Zuma has survived many a scandal! One of the core reasons for this is the unwavering support he enjoys from within the ranks of the ANC (particularly the ruling elite). He has done this via the uncompromising support he receives from the core team around him and the influence they are able to bring to bear on a broader context in the ANC.
There are a few vital thoughts that are worth noting for any aspiring entrepreneur:
- Building commitment to your cause starts years before you receive the title or role you aspire to.
- You need to have a strong core of people that are unwavering in their support of you that are as influential as possible.
- Your cause needs to be one that is so tantalizingly inspiring that by the mere fact that you are the leader of said cause it immediately enhances your perceived value/ability. This is the important one as it allows people to forgive you any of your weaknesses (we all have some) because people are following you for the cause and not JUST following you.
Lesson 3: Play to your strengths and be unashamed of your weaknesses
Jacob Zuma is a master tactician. Anyone who claims otherwise or purports that Jacob is in anyway ‘stupid’ is in for a rude awakening (& has been over his tenure). He has some rare abilities that if you have them as an entrepreneur you will be well on your way to being awesome!
- Jacob Zuma never lied about being a Grade 4 dropout, in fact, he is quite proud of this achievement as he should be, every milestone in one’s life counts.
- Like The Great Houdini, Jacob Zuma has been able to escape scandal after scandal. This is where another great strength comes from – being able to turn adversity into a strength through dogged determination and world-class maneuvering is no small task.
- Time management. I have a beautiful wife and an amazing son and run a small company. Jacob has 6 wives (at least at my last count) and he is the head of an entire country, making decisions that affect millions
- The ability to laugh in the face of one’s mistakes or challenges.
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Now onto some weaknesses… The fact that President Zuma is unable to make the connection between State wastage/theft and the steady decline in support for the ANC under his watch is neither here nor there (& is in actual fact a problem that will continue even if JZ were to be removed from office). The biggest weakness applicable to entrepreneurs is – KNOW YOUR NUMBERS!
Lesson 4: Make people dream (& show them how)
While JZ’s methods can definitely (& should) be questioned he undoubtedly has allowed many an ordinary South African to dream. This is not the Martin Luther King Jr, “I have a dream” type dream but a more simplistic one. JZ, through just being unashamedly himself, allowed every ordinary South African to dream the dream of “surely I can make it too if JZ can”.
This is important for entrepreneurs, particularly if you are managing or growing a team because while believing in a cause is important it is even more important to make a person believe that they are the cause! That they are able to make a substantial impact to the shape and direction of their lives through believing in, being part of and potentially sacrificing for your cause.
And if you want to discuss things you are struggling with specifically feel free to hit me up on any of the social media (& other) channels I am on and if things are ‘really tough’ we offer expert advice to entrepreneurs/startups to take their great ideas and turn them into awesome businesses!
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