Ross Douglas

Ross Douglas started Artlogic with a project that took celebrated South African artist William Kentridge’s animated art films, put them to 35mm and projected them with live music. The event was a major success with performances taking place in Central Park New York amongst other international venues. Artlogic quickly became the first company in South Africa to focus on corporate sponsorship to produce major art events including a Kentridge Opera and the first art fair in Africa.

Ross-Douglas_P2My Definition of Success | Success to me means doing what you want to do with your 8 working hours a day.  I used to think success was how much money you earned, but I have met enough well paid unhappy people to realise that your time is very precious so spend it doing what you enjoy.

I Am Driven By | I like new concepts, working with people and new challenges.  I also really like building an event or business that is sustainable so after a few years of hard work initiating the project it gets its own momentum and you can then focus on tweaking and building it.

The Difference Between Good And Great | I think a lot of this is luck and timing.  If you are at the right place at the right time you have the opportunity to get really great at what you do as it all takes practice.  (Malcolm Gladwell has written about it in the 10 000 hour rule)  for example when I met the English film maker, John Boorman he explained to me that he started his career when BBC started television broadcast and he was making an hour of television a week for them shot on film.  After ten years with them he had made more than 500 hours of television while getting paid – something that would never happen today.

A Key Talent | As an entrepreneur you need to make something out of nothing.  It’s easy to cook a good meal with a recipe and all the ingredient lined up on the counter but what can you do without the recipe and only half the ingredients?  I have always been good at coming up with a plan or solution to make things work.  My advice is not to wait till you have the recipe and all the ingredients – see what you can do with less.

Principles I Live By | I always find it very amusing reading the principles people state that they live their lives by as when our circumstances change so do our principles (look what happens to liberation fighters when they come to power). I think there are very few principled people in the world and human beings are flexible, pragmatic animals and not very principled ones.  The most densely populated place in the world is Monaco, yet few people live there for the obvious reason it’s a tax exile for the very rich.  I live my life by the simple principle of doing what interests me.  For the moment this is making events in cities that connect creative communities with buyers.  I have now become interested in an event that will contribute to making city commuting less polluting and more efficient.

Ross-Douglas_P3Critical Skills I Develop | Ability to read and learn about a new field, do simple collaborative deals with people you need to work with and the ability to sell a concept to partners and sponsors.

Lessons I Have Learnt | The most important lesson I have learnt is “to get points on the board” as early as possible.  Too many entrepreneurs are trying to land the big deal and spend far too much time networking and selling.  If you can deliver your product or service, however small you are in business and can grow.  If you are looking for investment it is so much easier if you have gone beyond the concept stage.

Dealing With Doubt | Like most entrepreneurs you need to sell and you will get no thanks very often.  You have to believe in what you are trying to sell and you must need the money.  There is nothing like having your back against the wall to push that little bit harder in the morning.  However, I think a lot of selling is about the ability to listen and not just talk.  Try find out as much about their business and their needs and tailor your pitch to fit. I, like all of us, hate rejection and have had a lot of it.  What you need to do is move on to find someone who says yes and then build that relationship.  My business has been built on corporate sponsorship and I have kept all my sponsors as I really value what they have done for my business and events and make sure I give my side of the deal.

Performing At My Peak | I don’t, you can’t always perform at your peak.  It’s not about always being on form but it’s about being on form at those crucial moments that really count.

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I want to build an international business so I have moved to Europe to start international events.  My goal is to build a couple of major international fairs – ambitious but a worthy challenge.

The Meaning Of Life | There is no meaning.  We are a ridiculously successful species that has doubled and doubled its numbers at the expense of nearly every other species on earth. I think the challenge we all face is how to make our lives meaningful.  Life has meaning if you can nurture, contribute or build.  Old people who have a garden to tender live longer than those that don’t.

The Best Advice I’ve Received | I was working as a guide in the Okavango and after dinner got very drunk with one of the wealthy guests who had graduated from Oxford then Harvard and was making a fortune in London.  After a bottle of Scotch he kept saying that the only thing he wanted to teach his kids was “that there is nothing as a free lunch”.  In my late 20’s I had no idea what he meant and why at 3am this was so important.  Twenty years later I know it to be true – people will help you along the way and you will owe them.  It’s not good or bad it’s the way the world works

Advice On Building Wealth | I would advise them to read Thomas Picketty’s “Global Capital” which describes in detail, thanks to massive research, how wealth in the world works.  Unfortunately if you don’t come from money or have not married it your chances are incredibly slim.   So, my advice would be to change your ambitions to something that is more achievable so that you are not disappointed if you don’t achieve this single objective. On a practical note, never buy anything new that goes down in value like cars, watches, furniture etc.  Invest in property with friends who have better balance sheets so that you can get good rates from banks and don’t consume for status even though this is sometimes very hard.

Ross-Douglas_P1On Inspiring Others | You don’t.  Great people walk this earth once in a while. Ordinary people like me find other ordinary people and we try to “great” things in our short lives. Stop looking for great and figure out how to get the most out of everyday people. In my experience, people want to do interesting work and be rewarded for it.

I Am Inspired By | I don’t have specific role models and think it very dangerous to have a role model like Richard Branson as he is media creation like George Clooney.  I learn little bits from many different people and cobble them together in coming up with a narrative or guide.

The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I think legacies are the values and things you leave to your family and not society.  There will be many clever, younger and more innovative people who will do what I have done better so why try and leave my legacy? The legacy of “great men” can be stifling and I am not surprised that Rhodes has been removed from his pride of place.


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