Mannie was a shareholder and director in a leading advertising agency for many years. After leaving South Africa, he acted as strategic consultant to a number of the Fortune Top 100 Companies in the fields of pharmaceuticals, hospitality, IT, automobile manufacture and casinos, amongst others. He consulted to a number of overseas governments and specialised in the development of emerging entrepreneurs. Mannie also guided a number of major South African companies into the international arena.
After returning to South Africa he used his skills in the creation of entrepreneurial businesses to pave the way for the entry of emerging entrepreneurs into the mainstream of the South African economy. He founded Gestalt to channel these successes into a broader base.
My Definition Of Success | When I was 22 I worked as salesman for a company that employed 3 other sales people. I was always the first person at office. I unlocked the office door. I was always the last person to leave. I locked the office doors after me. I brought in 80% of the sales revenue and the other 3 salesman brought in 20%. But we all earned equal salaries.
One Friday at meeting with the management I told them that as I brought in 80% of the sales revenue I wanted 80% of the salaries and commissions. There was shocked silence. The CEO told me he would think about it and get back to me.
On the Monday morning when I came to open the office I could not understand why my key didn’t fit the lock in the front door. The boss’s secretary arrived and told me the locks have been changed.
When I went to my office all my goodies had been packed in a cardboard box and this was on top of the desk with a letter from the boss firing me as of the past Friday afternoon.
I waited for the boss to come in – which he eventually did – but he did not want to talk to me. I learnt from his secretary that as I got on well with all the key clients he was very scared that if I left I would steal them.
So I started my own company when I was 22 and that is over 50 years ago.
By the way, three years after I was fired I made an offer to buy the previous company.
What is business success? We have a number of subsidiaries and we employ quite a lot of staff.
Today the Gestalt Group, of which I am chairman, is now entering its 18th year of operation. We operate in a number of countries. In my personal capacity, I enjoy my work; I pay my bills and look after my family. In a business capacity I try and make sure that all our staff also enjoy their work, that they can pay their bills and that they can look after their families. It is important to me that they can grow in the business; that they buy into and improve our vision for the future of Africa and that we stimulate their minds and their emotions to motivate improving the lives of the peoples of Africa.
I Am Driven By | Creating projects that reduce imports create local goods and service providers and change the way profits flow out of Africa so that they stay with communities. The success of such a project is mind shattering when you see how simple things can dramatically change the lives of people.
My Highlights | I never think in terms of highlights and what makes me proud. Seeing how my children care for my grandchildren and great grandchildren is probably the greatest delight of my life. In business terms, we deal with governments, with multinationals, with tribes, with communities and with individuals. Each contract we are given – whether small or large – is a highlight. It means that an independent third party has bought into our concepts and believes that we can deliver them. Fortunately, our record of success supports this.
The Characteristics Of Success | All important decisions must be unanimous. You must not make decisions because you own more shares than other people in any business. You must not make decisions because you have an overriding vote. You must be able to sell what you want to do to all your stakeholders so that you have one mindset and complete agreement on the way forward in any business process.
Principles I Live By | Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.