Jerome Touze is the Co-founder & Co-CEO of WAYN.com, the largest traveling social community with over 22 million members worldwide across 193 countries. Not only an Entrepreneur, he also sits on the boards and is an investor in numerous other tech-based businesses.
The Essence of WAYN | I think the beauty about this is that it’s not actually promoting the brand of South Africa in your face, like, “Come and visit South Africa because it’s an amazing destination.” It’s using the contest of social media as part of the usual experience, which is more relevant, something that users want to play with, and it’s all about that carrot, the thing that’s going to initially encourage users to want to engage with a brand.
Lessons I’ve Learnt | Never let someone tell you that your idea is crap! Excuse my French! But I think that’s the number one. It’s not how many ideas you have; it’s how many you make happen. So I really believe that, you know, if you really believe in something, don’t let your circle influence you. It’s good to have advice from friends and to gauge an appetite or a sentiment for whether this is a good idea. But you can have someone say, “Nah, this’ll never work” and it’ll work. It’s important to do some research, you know, an element of due diligence on what you’re trying to build. But ultimately if you are passionate about something you should go for it.
My Favourite Quote is… | this one from Abraham Lincoln, which is, “Everything comes to those who wait, but only those things left by those who hustle.” So yeah, things will come to you if you don’t do anything, but it will only be the leftovers from those who actually wake up in the morning very early and do the hard work!
On Letting Go | Surround yourself with a team that is clearly believing in what you’re doing. That they’re passionate about what you’re doing and they’re good at what you’re doing. Because you won’t be able to do everything. You’ll falter doing a hundred things at the same time whereas you should actually learn to, you know, empower your people to do it for you and give them a chance to shine. And so that’s sometimes the hardest thing to do when you’ve been used to doing everything yourself, to let go a bit.
Leading by Example | Leadership is something that we try to become better and better at every single day, but I believe in leading by example, which is passing your passion onto your people and if you want to have a work culture where people are working very hard but they’re also rewarded for it, then do it for the run front, don’t just hide behind it and expect people to do it because they won’t. They need to believe in your vision.
Principles I Live By | I really believe in meritocracy and hard work culture. That’s my school of thought but it doesn’t mean that I’m right; it’s just the way I do things: I believe in hard work. And, you know, there’s no magic formula. It doesn’t mean that if you work hard you’re going to be successful, because there are a lot of people who work bloody hard and sometimes it’s just through bad luck, bad timing, you know, there is that. But in our case it has been very much about you work really hard and hopefully you get the results.
Working for a Business Versus Owning One | I used to play the piano as a child, until the age of about 18, and I’m a big fan of classical music. I wish I had time to play the piano and to do two hours of practice every day. That’s impossible now; it’s like not even conceivable. But as I say, it’s a choice you make, you know? You either decide to work for a particular company, because you don’t want to have these responsibilities, there’s nothing wrong [with that]. They don’t have those responsibilities, they’re quite contented with the 9-5, they love their job and when it’s 6 o’clock that’s it – draw the line and go home and they kind of have plenty of time to do other things. If it’s your own company, you can’t think like that but it brings other benefits the others don’t have, so, you know, it’s a choice!
Resources I Use | I love The Economist. The read The Economist pretty much every day. I just have to take particular interest right now in what’s happening politically and economically, because I think these are fascinating times that we’re currently going through, not just for their impacts it can represent for our company but just generally for everybody in this world. But I wish I had more time. I initially took one week of holiday in Mauritius, which was about a month ago, and that was my first week in like literally 14-15 months. So, you know, I read a book but it was nothing too inspiring!
On Traveling | Cape Town is my base now, and I usually spend about two weeks in Cape Town. I’ve never been in Cape Town for more than about 2 ½ or 3 weeks in a row, because there’s always something and I always have to go somewhere else. So it’s exciting in a way but it’s very tiring in the other, because you can’t have that routine. Sometimes it’s nice to be able to have a routine, to be able to go to the gym every night or play tennis every morning if you can. But hey, you can’t have everything!