Mike Laws is an expert in mobile communications and is currently the CEO of Imaginatrix, a company providing mobile marketing and advertising consulting services. He has worked with some of South Africa’s biggest brand names and was instrumental in the commercialisation of Vodacom’s “please call me” service. He strongly believes that mobile communications have the ability to change the way we experience our lives and has dedicated his career to exposing this belief to the world. We invite you to learn a little more about his endeavours to use mobile technology as a means of inspiring people:
About my Life Mission | It seems my life mission is to Evangelize mobile and its ability to enhance the human experience. The fact that there have been more people accessing the web via mobile than via desktop for some time now proves that mobile technology is moving very swiftly. As the services that can be provided through mobile evolve to become true life enablers, so too does mobile’s position in the world, and here on the African continent. Our cellular devices are always within arm’s reach for 80% of the population, and not much further than that for the rest. The mobile screen is Africa’s primary screen and it’s going to get even more instrumental in uplifting lives.
My Definition Of Success | A life of experiences well lived would be my definition of success. Every single person on the planet is unique and able to bring something to the whole of humanity that is unique to them. However, this is only discovered with exploration and experiencing all one can. Too many individuals lose their individuality by conforming to accepted norms, without questioning them. I firmly believe that mobile can help people to be successful by enabling them to experience more, while connecting to more people and enhancing their lives in turn.
I Am Driven By | I am driven by passion, and my motto is do it to the best of your ability or don’t do it at all. If you’re excited by what you do, then you’ll do it well. Take initiative and lead where you can, follow where you must.
My Highlights | I have been lucky enough to have been involved in multiple world firsts. I’ve been fortunate to have been at the right place at the right time when ground-breaking technology was just emerging. This has kept me on the bleeding edge of innovation throughout my career in the ICT industry. In 2000 and 2001 I was the project lead on several world first video streaming initiatives on the Internet. This included the live streaming of the well-known whales in Plettenberg Bay live to the rest of the web. This was followed by the Coelacanth streaming project in Sodwana, after a school of them was discovered living at 118M below the surface. In 2006 I joined Vodacom and was instrumental in the launch and commercialisation of their mobile advertising initiatives, including the successful Please Call Me service. This today generates over 60 million messages per day on the Vodacom network. In 2008 together with Vodacom, my team and I were awarded several Gold DMA assegai awards, including the Nkhosi Gold overall award for the best mobile campaign of the year. This had to do with ADME which was the first ever opt-in database on mobile where people were incentivised to receive advertising messages on their cellphones. ADME also went on to win several international Echo awards in 2009. From the middle of 2009 to December 2015 I was the COO and later CMO for Integrat (later rebranded as Intarget) and was instrumental in rolling out mobile advertising for MTN and Airtel Group across a combined African footprint of 33 countries, after which I set up Imaginatrix as an independent consulting firm to assist companies to commercialise mobile services and offerings from VAS to mobile advertising. The latest award I was involved in was the 2016 MMA Smarties awards, where I accepted Operator of the Year on behalf of Vodacom, in the role of acting Head of Sales for Vodacom Digital Advertising.
The Magic in me Originates From | A quiet place inside. I have learned to listen to my instincts, and to trust my gut feeling on everything in my life. At the same time in think it is important that we continue to learn every day and never close ourselves off to new experiences. These experiences are the great teachers in our lives. I have a simple philosophy of sticking to my word and delivering on promises that I make. There are many talkers out there, and I find that you can easily rise above the competition if you simply do as you say, and always follow through.
The Difference Between Good And Great | Experience for me is the difference between good and great. I have seen it all too often where people with excellent theoretical groundings fail in the practical implementation. This is because their lack of solid experience and on the ground knowledge means they battle to be truly effective and make a difference. Usually, their heart is also not in what they are doing, and they are pursuing a certain course for other, less passionate reasons.
A Key Talent | I think a key talent of mine is persuasion. I have come to understand the ability I have to communicate ideas to different types of people and I pride myself on my ability to distill ideas and concepts to wide audiences. I love getting people excited and I think I do it quite well. The trick is being able to understand what drives and motivates individuals and this usually boils down to understanding and solving a genuine problem for them.
Principles, Values and Ideologies I Live By | Listen more than you speak, and treat everyone with respect regardless of what corporate position they may hold. Understanding that the strength of any team of people is their individual abilities combined in a way that delivers results. Being open and straight forward in all my interactions is critical for me too, and I expect the same level of professionalism from everyone that I work with. Regardless of what position someone holds in a company, whether the CEO or the tea lady, I endeavor to treat all with an equal respect and understanding.
How I Use My Mind | Being in constant learning – and listening – mode has enabled me to learn from other people. I make a point of constantly keeping up with trends and innovations in our ever-changing industry. Having been in the industry as long as I have, gives me a unique insight which I share weekly by blogging and a lot of my blog articles are picked up by media and marketing industry news platforms which I love as this is true information exchange amongst my peers. At the same time, I also have a passion for writing and communicating, so I have several private blogs where I write and publish short stories, kids stories and poetry.
Lessons I Have Learnt | There are many and I continue to learn them daily. They’ll eventually span a lifetime and that will be a life well-lived for me.
Dealing With Doubt | Your worst enemy is self-doubt. I think this is a daily battle all entrepreneurs and corporate managers face. But it is definitely something that can be consciously controlled by having confidence in your own abilities.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | The people that inspire me most are industry leaders and entrepreneurs who have built their dreams from an original idea or concept. I enjoy learning about how they will continue to improve their products and ideas, solving real problems faced by ordinary people every day. A true entrepreneur is a problem solver at the end of the day, and I find that simple fact fascinating.
My Future Dreams And Ambitions | Living your dreams daily in simple little ways I think is the key, as is building on each previous day.
Advice On Building Wealth | Money is energy like anything in life, if you allow it to flow it will. But I don’t think money constitutes wealth at all. I think wealth is a personal concept, and everyone’s view on what wealth is different, although the majority of people do relate this to cash and possessions. This is not my view I think wealth is constituted of a lot more than just money. It is constituted of personal experiences that allow you to grow as an individual, and help you to be empathetic and understanding of the human condition, and what motivates and drives people.
I Am Inspired By | Everyday people stretching themselves in challenging circumstances.