With a wealth of knowledge from years spent in the IT sector, Keith Jones founded Start With 7 (SW7) to fulfill his passion to grow startup technology businesses in Africa. Recognising the dynamic changes facing this industry, Keith rolls up his sleeves to share his considerable experience through mentoring and gives us now an insight into how his optimistic mind tackles the day to day:
My Definition Of Success | I don’t think my idea of success has changed over the years, it is the luxury of choice. Success means being able to make the right decisions for the right reasons. What you do with the choices may change over time, but success is still defined by having choices.
I Am Driven By | So much to do and so little time! We are living in the most exciting time, the changes we are seeing are driving massive opportunities, it’s a fun time to be around.
My Highlights | My highlight is my family. I have been blessed with a very supportive partner, who is the co-founder of the business, and three great kids, who are becoming more and more fun. My earlier years were defined by travel, living in different countries, buying a boat and sailing from Europe, around South America to Cape Town, riding my motorbike up to Cairo. Business adventures include starting a technology business and listing it in London. The adventure has always been more important than anything else.
The Difference Between Good And Great | People who are great at what they do have found their passion and have created the time to focus on it. When your passion is aligned to what you do, and it is all you do, anything is possible. If you are not focused on one thing, and not doing what you are passionate about, it’s hard to be heard, it’s a busy world and crowded market.
My Key Talents | I think the single most important talent, after you have set your goals, is the ability to create options. Doing anything of substance is, by definition, hard. If it’s hard, you are going to encounter obstacles. The most important thing is to never stop questioning yourself and testing your ideas, what you know and what you think you know by asking “Surely there a better way to do this?” and “Why do we do it this way?” How can i make sure I get to my goal, in spite of all of the challenges and setbacks. Having options keeps you moving forward, momentum is everything. Thinking the right way is an acquirable skill, the more you practise, the better you get.
Actions And Habits That Have Lead To My Success | Keep developing your people skills and always look after your personal brand , it’s all you have. Whatever people skills you have, they can be better.
Principles, Values and Ideologies I Live By | Try to leave every situation better than you found it.
How I Use My Mind | The world is changing and all the old rules don’t apply. We are all constrained by our past and how we think things work. If you keep challenging yourself, you keep learning and keep an open mind. If you are not uncomfortable, and not a little bit out of control, then you are not moving fast enough. If you are not moving, you are not learning.
Lessons I Have Learnt | There are lots of lessons, and there is one. They are all the same. Look after yourself and the people important to you first, and most of the other things are not that important.
If you are in a good space, psychologically and physically, you make good decisions. Making good decisions is about doing things for the right reasons.
My Critical skills | Whatever you think your listening skills are like, they are not good enough. Mine are still a work in progress, my wife is helping me a lot here. People work with people, and if they have a voice, you have a friend.
Dealing With Doubt | If you are pushing yourself, you are going to have moments of doubt. It’s important, that when you do, you take control, accept the fact that the worst thing that could happen is probably not that bad, and then create options. If you are passive, you aren’t empowered, if you are active, you can fix anything.
Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | Meeting lots of people and reading lots of books. Social media is not healthy. Working with entrepreneurs is the most inspiring thing in the world. I am a prolific reader, but there is no better learning platform than spending time with people that have done interesting things.
Performing At My Peak | Balance is a myth. Take the moments you can, experiences are valuable, possessions are not.
My Dreams And Ambitions | Africa is on the threshold of the largest transformation in it’s history which will be enabled by technology. You could not ask for a more exciting time to be here. We want to play a key role in driving this continent and market by helping launch and scale as many technology businesses as we can.
The Best Business Advice I’ve Received | Be nice, every market is small.
Advice On Building Wealth | Working hard and working smart are very different. You have to work hard to create the opportunity to be able to work smart. Once you have found an opportunity that allows you to work smart, where your efforts will yield a significant return, you then have to work twice as hard.
I Am Inspired By | We work with entrepreneurs daily, they inspire us and being part of a developing community of people trying to do amazing things is all the inspiration we need. We are part of a movement, and it’s very exciting.
On Motivating Others | People have an amazing capacity and appetite to help and want to be part of interesting projects. If you are doing something interesting and are passionate, you will find great people to work with. We have worked with over one hundred Mentors in the last three years and their capacity to support and engage with people is always invigorating.
Performing at Your Peak | You can’t always be at your peak, we all work in cycles. It’s important that you learn what your drivers are and understand what your cycles are, what triggers them and how to manage the slow times and amplify the high energy cycles.
The Legacy I Would Like to Leave | We would like to play a pivotal role in transforming the entrepreneurial landscape in Africa. We have so much untapped talent in the region, it is a privilege to be working in the space, and there is so much that can be done. We have a couple of very exciting things coming, watch this space!