Tshepo Phakathi | Group CEO of Phakathi Holdings

At only 29 years of age and 12 years in formal business, Mr. Tshepo Phakathi is the Group CEO of Phakathi Holdings [a company with 8 subsidiaries and 2038 employees (Jan 2013). He is a quintessential workaholic obsessed with solving the problem of unemployment. He holds qualifications in Economics and Banking. He is a serial entrepreneur, economic Historian and a strategist.
Through his initiative KAELLO, he promotes entrepreneurship as a solution for unemployment and mentors thousands of young aspirant entrepreneurs.
He made it to the Mail and Guardian’s 200 Young South Africans List for 2012 and the Destiny Magazine’s Power of 40 in 2011.  He has written columns in City Press, Succeed Magazine, Business Brief and Financial Mail but now writes exclusively for his BLOG. He has done a lot more but, 200 words are just not enough. 

Tshepo-Phakathi_P3My Definition Of Success | As with most young people, I used to equate success to only the accumulation of money. After many years of doing that I’ve come to understand that, at best, money is a subset of success, a consequence of having achieved success and not necessarily success itself. For example, an inheritance may very well leave you with plenty of money, but this cannot be said to be success. In this sense, success is about achievement or self-actualization. So now success to me is about choosing a specific domain in which to apply myself and then doing so with the highest level of excellence in such a way that leaves a new standard and leads humanity to a higher level of achievement.

I Am Driven By | The possibility of full employment! I am driven by the voices in my head that tell me that all things are possible with diligence and persistent effort consistently over a sufficient period of time. These voices are remnants of experience and not mere delusions of a naïve young man. All my life I’ve obsessed over the possibility of a South Africa where all who live in it can find work of their liking to match their levels of education, skills and experience wherever they may be located in this vast land.

My Highlights | At our peak, our group companies employed more than 3 000 people. I am mostly proud that this is not autobiographical and that it is still an evolving story, hopefully with many more years of growth ahead.

The Difference Between Good And Great | Consistence and Persistence in diligence.

A Key Talent | I often tell people that I suffer from both OCD and ADHD (both self-diagnosed). The OCD side of me demands meticulous planning in strategy with every conceivable detail incorporated in our plans. I tend to spend a substantial amount of time worrying about the detail in our plans and the preciseness with which we can implement them. I subscribe to the view that if you fail to plan then you inadvertently plan to fail.
But then ADHD gives me a ridiculous amount of energy bandwidth. I often go on for days on end with little or no sleep while in project execution mode. I can manage projects in the same way that I complete Rubik’s Cube, with great focus and awareness of where the pieces of the puzzle move to as I navigate the complexities of business.
Put differently, I cannot appropriate all I’ve been able to do and achieve to one particular thing. However, the combination of careful planning underpinned by empirical evidence and a solid understanding of macroeconomics with speed and flexibility of execution have jointly lead to consistently good results over the years.

Tshepo-Phakathi_P2The Characteristics Of Success | I believe that fundamentally, things only get better when you get better. So I am always working on improving myself. Be it that I am working on my management, leadership or interpersonal skills. It is a little like getting a new and improved software application on your mobile device daily. In a few weeks, you are a couple of percentage points better and in a few years you’ll be on a completely new stratosphere of better.

Principles I Live By | You get out of it what you put into it! Our outcomes are a reflection of our inputs. If you are not happy with the harvest, you’d better find the guy that planted the crop – in the mirror.

Critical Skills I Develop | I am in the business of leading great teams to even greater success. So my job is to sell them on the possibility of becoming more. My most critical skills is that of selling; be it that I want to persuade a potential employee to join our group, a customer to take a larger order, a business owner to partner with us OR a militant group of employees not to down tools. It all often comes to the persuasiveness with which I am able to approach a situation. So my most critical skill is that of persuasion.

How I Use My Mind | I am a believer in the notion that success is more attitudinal than it is aptitudinal. No matter how smart you are, it is worth naught if you don’t have the necessary work ethic to bring your intelligence to fruition. Generally, when we are positive about life we tend to make decisions that reflect our optimism and this elevates our spirits and helps us focus on achieving desired results.

Lessons I Have Learnt | By far the most important lesson I’ve learnt is that the spring in your life will come and you will surely enjoy great harvest. By the same token, winter will also come, it may be long, it may be dark and it may be cold and difficult. We often don’t control what happens, we can only control our response to it. Learn to cope with Winter without making excuses and learn to reap in Spring with no apology.

Dealing With Doubt | I believe that emotions, such as fear and doubt are a window into our subconscious thoughts, which are a subset of our underlying beliefs. Therefore, when you are in doubt, there is often a significant misalignment between your beliefs and what it is that you are preparing to do. The antidote to this specific set of emotions is preparation. When you are well prepared, you will experience much less doubt or fear for unknown outcomes.

Performing At My Peak | Peak performance, for me, is about the physical as well as psychological condition. I find regular exercise to be a dependable way in which to keep in good shape and maintain high levels of energy when working. The rest of it is about motivation, which boils down to the level of pleasure you can derive from achieving the results you choose to pursue.

Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | I almost exclusive read biographies. Getting insights into the struggles that other well achieved individuals have had to endure through, keeps you humbled, patient, driven and optimistic.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I wake up every day working towards the same goal; finding lasting solutions for our country’s unemployment woes. Nothing could be nobler or more pleasurable, than the knowledge that some family will go to bed having had a full meal tonight because of a little effort on my part. That some kids go to decent schools and have a brighter future because their parent(s) earn a living through our efforts.

Tshepo-Phakathi_P1The Meaning Of Life | To live with purpose and leave behind a better world than one you found.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | You have control over your labour alone, never its fruits! – Russell Simmonds

Advice On Building Wealth | Life’s battles are won in inches and not miles. You gain a little ground and then hold on to that position before you later gain a little more ground.

On Inspiring Others | We work hard daily to build and keep our organisation’s culture very entrepreneurial. Our people know that there are always opportunities to move horizontally and vertically with our group companies. Also, we have spun some employee ideas into new divisions or whole businesses before and this environment of possibility keeps everyone on their toes.

I Am Inspired By | I am inspired mostly by purpose and not necessarily by people. When I think of what we (Phakathi Holdings) are trying to achieve in this world, it’s like there’s a furnace burning to light up my soul.

The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | My single objective is to inspire a generation of South Africans who believe in and diligently work towards full employment.