This year’s WineLand/Adams & Adams Seminar provided plenty of food for thought and inspiration.
Andy Rice, brand strategist
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do!”
Our first speaker packed a hard-hitting message about the barriers to and enablers of excellence during his short time on the podium.
Andy shatters the prevailing perception that South Africa is a perennial underperformer on the global stage. He mentions some examples where South Africa has risen to the very top in the highly competitive advertising industry. The Jupiter Drawing Room is one of the Top 5 advertising agencies in the world, setting global standards for the ad industry through well-known ads for Fresca and Nike. The global head of Coca Cola described the Fresca ad as one of the most exciting campaigns produced anywhere in the world that year. Then there’s TWA Hunt Lascaris with its world-class BMW ads.
Andy’s point is well made: South Africa has scaled the mountain of excellence before. We clearly have the capability, talent and vision to be global players. So what’s gone wrong?
Besides having short memories, Andy says South Africans need to find their nerve again. He believes leadership excellence boils down to two vital qualities: creativity and courage.
Myths that hamper creativity
While transitioning to global acceptance, South Africa has acquired a few bad habits and adopted misconceptions that are detrimental to a culture of creativity and courage. These include:
1 Big ideas require big money when in fact there’s no linear relationship between the power of an idea and its cost. To create an environment in which creativity can flourish, the industry needs more incentives, motivation and strategic partnerships.
2 You need huge budgets to convey an effective message. Andy, who has judged in the creative effectiveness category at the Cannes Lions Awards, quickly dispels this notion. A Brazilian ad about a billionaire wanting to bury his Bentley reached 172 million people on a budget of only $6 000 and changed the national narrative on organ donation.
3 Big data has all the answers. The deceptive allure of big data and the sheer amount of available data are making us lazy by promising definitive answers to brand communication. Unfortunately this need for solid proof and clear answers undermines the kind of qualitative judgments that are necessary for creative solutions. Technology is a means rather than an end.
4 The more information, the better. Too many marketers suffer from the disease of infobesity and use research like a drunk uses a lamppost – for support rather than illumination, Andy says. We’ve become gluttons for information but have to learn to identify true quality amidst quantity. For this we need a new kind of person, a “mathemagician”, who can find the magic rather than the logic behind the data. When we find the magic, we’ll regain our creativity and get back to where we should be.
Andy says the advertising world – an industry dependent on creative ideas – is a bellwether for the real world, and in this case it reveals the dangers of playing it safe. It requires courage to seek reconciliation, push the envelope and rewrite the rules. Leaders are entrepreneurs who know the time for action is now and risk life and reputation to make a lasting difference.
Piet Naudé, director: University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB-ED)
“Hope means having the imagination to view the world differently and the courage to change it.”
At a time when business confidence is as low and dry as the Western Cape’s dams, it’s necessary to revive the idea of hope. Piet Naudé entertained delegates with a handy guide to hope, conveniently summarised under the acronym HOPE.
1 Hold onto your vision
Taking a leaf from Andy’s book, Piet says data provides at best a partial picture. Hope doesn’t arise from careful analyses of the business environment or through attempts to reduce uncertainty. It springs from a clear vision of the future regardless of the present. Hopelessness shuts down the future, while hope affirms it. Piet offered revealing quotes by leaders who clung to hope against the odds:
- Martin Luther King, who looked beyond his oppressive reality and declared, “I have a dream.”
- Nelson Mandela, who in his fight against oppression, stated, “I have an ideal.”
- Herman Mashaba (Black Like Me), who, when his factory and everything inside it burnt down, said,
“I will not allow my dream to be burnt down.”
- Jannie Mouton (PSG), who after being fired by his partners, built a successful business worth millions and said, “I have to turn my head towards the future.”
2 Open your mind to opportunities
Hopelessness saps your energy and drains initiative. Piet uses the example of an optical illusion. The shape you see depends on whether you prioritise the foreground or the background. The switch in perception can be instant, but the effects of our perceptions can become deeply ingrained and persist in our language. One example is the geocentric view, which held that the sun revolves around the earth but was overturned by Copernicus when he changed our understanding of the solar system. Yet the old view is still evident when we talk about the “rising” and “setting” of the sun.
3 Participate in civil society
People without hope pull back in an “inward migration” and become passive citizens unable to affect the status quo. Democracy allows everyone to take part and use their voice to effect change. Just one person at the right time and place can shift the perception of a whole community.
4 Energise others
Who you surround yourself with is important. Hopeless people spread self-fulfilling negativity, while hopeful people thrive on and spread positivity. Surrounding yourself with positive people means you’ll be energised and able to energise others.
Tebogo Mogashoa, entrepreneur and investor Tebogo Mogashoa, entrepreneur and investor
“We’re a pride, not a pack.”
Tebogo gave a new spin to the theme for this year’s seminar, Leader of the pack, by relating it to author and animal behaviourist Ian Thomas’ book, The Power of the Pride. It describes how each individual lion is powerful in its own right, but the pride is a group that knows its strengths and weaknesses to match the abilities of each member with its goals.
This book reminded Tebogo of something his grandfather once said, “A man, like any animal, will be known by the tracks he leaves behind.”
Since a pride is the sum of the strengths of every individual, the challenge is to articulate a vision that brings an organisation together rather than pulls it apart.
Tebogo gives an example of how innovation is a strong collaborative force that ties a group together in meaningful ways.
He mentions how a group of off-road cycling enthusiasts grew frustrated with fragile road bikes and decided to build a bicycle using motorcycle parts that could withstand harsh terrains. These became the first mountain bikes, which today account for 65% of all bike sales in America. Their collaboration, catalysed by necessity, had a lasting impact.
Another example is a success story from nakedwines.com, where wine drinkers from across the world (referred to as “angels”) pledge money for exclusive wines, which makes their production feasible. This collaborative platform was used to sponsor the work of Carmen Stevens, the first black woman to graduate in winemaking in South Africa. In just eight hours, angels pledged £120 000, which allowed Carmen to start making her own wines. Such collaborative platforms are powerful ways to bring people together around a compelling story.
Every revolution needs a spark and we need to ignite that spark with a clear vision of the future.
For Graham Beck, that spark was a particularly impressive Sauvignon Blanc. It led him to the Swartland, where he bought the vineyard that produced it. Today it is known as home of winemaker Eben Sadie, one of the Swartland Independent Producers (SIP). They are a group of producers who came together with a common purpose, which they describe as the Swartland revolution.
Tebogo’s message is that strategic alliances are needed to drive the wine industry forward. We need to look beyond a pack mentality of fighting over the same carcass and build on the collective spirit of the wine industry consisting of many strong members.
It’s all about relationships, Tebogo says. Meeting over a great glass of wine can spark the discovery of mutual interests and mark the beginning of a rewarding partnership. Echoing Piet Naudé, Tebogo advises that you choose partners who share your energy. South African winemakers share enough spirit to build a robust industry unified by its appreciation of fine wines and quest for long-lasting excellence.
“If one glass changed the Swartland, imagine what all our glasses of wine can do together,” he says.