One cannot think of Black Excellence in South Africa without mentioning the name Sylvester Chauke. Taking a stand against bland at every turn and carving a path for the next generation and inspiring them whilst doing so; we pick the brain of a formidable leader that will be remembered in history as a man who has stood out, brilliantly and consistently, from the rest.
Moziak Magazine: Describe entrepreneurship in 5 words
Sylvester Chauke: A solution for a need.
MM: What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
SC: I saw an opportunity and aimed to fulfil it using my collection of skills and experience. I grew up under the mentorship of some incredible leaders who taught me never to fold my arms and wait for things to favour me. To make a difference, you have to roll up your sleeves and get to work. My venture allows me to infuse my “how” business can be done.
MM: What’s the biggest misconception people have about the work you do?
SC: That is so easy for me to get business because of the “brand” I have become. If only you could see the fighting, the holding on and the relentlessness we have to exude to claim our seat in this untransformed industry and a country that still is intimated by black excellence.
MM: Hardest lesson you’ve learnt on your journey thus far?
SC: Dishonest people, betrayal that comes with running a business and meeting some dodgy characters. It requires that you are in tune with who you are so that the ugly moments don’t derail you from your vision and where you are going. Some of my most painful moments are in this area but overcoming them is the sweetest accomplishment.
MM: Best memory as an entrepreneur?
SC: There has been so many! Charting a path and seeing people follow it. Making ideas and seeing them adopted and amplified across multiple brands, companies and people. Inspiring a new generation of young leaders who have gained valuable knowledge from me and have used it to advance themselves. Starting and building a business that vibrates so much further than where I thought. Working with some of the most exciting businesses and leaders who have shaped me to be who I am. Being able to elevate and support my family…. Waking up with a purpose and feeling like I am exactly where I should be.
MM: How are you innovating in your business?
SC: We simply look at how we do things and continually look at ways to better the experience or the output. Doing that allows us to see what works and what can work better. It does however require that you allocate time to look at your processes and ways of working. Also vital is an external view and constant feedback.
MM: A song that perfectly describes a day in your life?
SC: Jump by Madonna! “There’s only so much you can learn in one place, the more that you wait, the more time that you waste”
MM: What are you reading?
SC: Doing Time by the legendary Peter Vundla. This book is one that must be read by any leader in the ad industry in South Africa today. I was moved to tears by this book and left me so encouraged about what can be done and that I should never adjust my course to suit non-believers.
MM: The best business advice you have ever received?
SC: People. Product. Profit. In that order.
Your focus as a leader should be first and foremost, your people.
MM: What advice can you give to people who are new to business/entrepreneurship?
SC: Starting a business is the most exciting project you will ever embark on but also one of the hardest and painful experience. You will plough so much time into your venture, most won’t believe you will make it, others will steal from you, you will be backstabbed, you will carry massive amount of worry as you grow it. That said, in-between, you will find priceless moments and reflections that give you one of the greatest joys ever. So stand firm. Make sure you go into what you love and what aligns with your passion.