A respected brand and reputation authority, Thebe has been named one of the ‘100 Most Influential Africans’ by New African Magazine. He has been to over 50 countries across Africa and the world and worked on over 100 brands, gaining an incomparable perspective and experience on building brands and reputations in Africa.
My Definition Of Success | Growing up I used to think that success was defined by what I achieve relative to others. Now I know that success is a very individual experience. It’s about being clear, certain and content with the choices I make. It’s an internal happiness.
I Am Driven By | To matter, to be a pilot and not a passenger in the African renaissance, and to use all the talent that I have in everything that matters for me.
My Highlights | I’m privileged to be born an African in the African age – and to have had exposure that working and studying abroad provides, and to be in Africa in its definitive and coming of age period. That has prepared me for the many career opportunities and highlights I have had, including in my last corporate job leading the NIKE brand across Africa, growing the business by over 450% compound growth and to be the #1 brand. To replicate that success and reputation through my own Brand Leadership has been especially rewarding and affirming. I’m in awe when I look at some of the blue-chip institutional brands that we transformed such as UNISA and Transnet in South Africa and leading the ruling NDC political party in Ghana to a two-term victory. Establishing Brand Africa (to proactively inspire and influence the image, identity and competitiveness of Africa) and Public Sector Excellence (to inspire excellence in the public sector) initiatives reflects my believe that this generation has a chance and responsibility to do more than just chase profits but contribute to a better South Africa and a better Africa.
The Difference Between Good And Great | It is the impact, reach and sphere of influence of your work. Good people are often exceptionally competent in their function, while great people are the standard and the exception in their function and beyond. They define or redefine their world. Apple’s Steve Jobs, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Virgin’s Richard Branson. Jack Welch during his benchmark 20-year that led Fortune to describe him as ‘the CEO standard.’ Nelson Mandela. As someone once said, Mandela is a complete sentence. That’s greatness. It’s an earned reputation, not an installed position. It’s a legacy.
A Key Talent | Intuition, confidence, resilience and independence. Combining these traits with competence and diligence, has given me the internal fortitude to transcend any circumstance and challenges.
Find your passion and it will lead you to your purpose. There is neither shortcut nor a substitute for hard-work, learning and experience. In pursuing whatever route, you’ll meet a lot of naysayers and non-believers – your job is not to prove them wrong but to prove yourself right.
Principles I Live By | Know yourself, be clear about who you are and what stand for, be authentic and consistent. Be the same person at home, work or play. As Shakespeare said: To thine self be true.
Performing At My Peak | Travel, read, listen and learn. I live by what George Bernard Shaw once said: Success is a continuous goal of becoming, where the goal is always ahead and never behind. It gets me to wake up with a sense of purpose every day, energized and striving to be superior to my previous self.
The Best Advice I’ve Received | Covert preparation for over action. It’s an enduring advice and mantra I learned from a much older friend while I was a student in the US. He advised me to never ever speak about what I’m planning to do, but rather to work quietly and diligently toward my goals, and let my achievements speak for or announce themselves.
Advice On Building Wealth | If you pursue money, you’ll never have it. A true measure of success, as Henry Ford once said, is ability, skill and experience. Money is the result and reward of the pursuit of your passions and goals. Do good and you’ll do well.
I Am Inspired By | I don’t ‘model’ myself after anyone in particular. But in general I’m attuned to and am inspired by anyone who’s transcended their circumstances and created success beyond themselves. My attitude is more like Lauren Bacall: I try to be first rate version of myself rather than a second rate version of someone else. What I draw from others isn’t so much what and how they did anything, rather the attitude and principle they had in pursuing their goals. As such, my field of inspiration is wide rather than narrowed to a few – and ever growing because human beings never cease to astound or transcend new boundaries.
The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | That I used my God-given talent and craft to play an active role in the renaissance and brand of Africa – our world, and left it a little better than we found it. That I did just live but mattered. That those I leave behind will be better because I lived.
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