Marathon Series: How to surprise and delight your employees


Andrew: The interview you’re about to hear was recorded in South Africa, thanks to Toptal. Toptal is a place where, well, you know this, that you can go to Toptal when you want to hire the best developers. They pride themselves on creating a process that makes it hard for anyone but the best of the best developers to be in their network. Anyway, you know all that.
What you may not know is that they are a truly completely remote company. It feels like everywhere in the world that I go, I bump into somebody who works for Toptal remotely, and so one of the things that I’m especially proud of is that they, as a remote company, have sponsored Mixergy and enabled me to fly to South Africa and record this interview for you.
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Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy where I interview entrepreneurs about how they build their businesses. This year, I’m flying all over the world as part of my goal to run a marathon on every continent. I just finished my marathon in Africa. It was my hardest, the hottest, the most difficult on my body marathon. But it’s done. And as I travel the world, I’m also doing interviews with entrepreneurs to see how they built their businesses so that I can bring back what we learned from them to my audience of entrepreneurs.
Lesley, by the way, one of the problems I have with South African entrepreneurs is time zone really difficult. Right? So that’s a challenge for us. The other challenge is, the internet here is insanely maddening. I’m trying to even communicate with my kids remotely, I can’t. So this is partly why I want to travel and just sometimes you have to fly out and see people if you want to record an interview.
All right. The woman who you just heard laugh, that is Lesley Waterkeyn. She is the founder of CWDi. It is a strategic brand experience agency. They do the kind of communication that helps companies . . . I was going to say, put your best foot forward. I hate that. I hate clichés. Help people represent what their mission is, what they’re about, what they do to their customers and internally. Let me start up with internally. What’s that big bank that we talked about?
Lesley: FNB?
Andrew: FNB. I’ve seen them all over here in South Africa. It’s a French bank, isn’t it?
Lesley: No. I think they are . . . I think they are a South African bank.
Andrew: Oh, they are.
Lesley: They’ve just won the most innovative bank in South Africa.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: I don’t think they’re branch. And they’re one of the biggest banks in South Africa and they are doing a lot in the innovative space, and we do a lot of campaigns for them both internal and external.
Andrew: Oh, it is. It’s a South African bank. Okay.
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: And so you were telling me before we started how you help them communicate to their people.
Lesley: Absolutely.
Andrew: What did you put together for them?
Lesley: So we’ve done a whole lot of campaigns for them that specifically two years ago, we did a Tap into Summer campaign where we went to the garages around the petrol stations, I think you would call them petrol stations.
Andrew: Gas stations.
Lesley: Gas stations.
Andrew: Yes.
Lesley: I must get my wording right. And around the country, and people would come with their kids. And also one of the traditions in South Africa is some of these gas stations have food court, food halls, and people stop and so we really wanted to engage with the potential customers and we did like a spin and win campaign and people could then transfer to FNB, so they wanted to get more customers, but they also wanted to get people to spend more money on the cards so they could win what they call eBucks which are electronic bucks which is money and then spend that money with other of their partners.
Andrew: So the idea was someone would go get gas. And I noticed this. When I wanted a snack, if I wanted even to eat food or get coffee, I could get it at the gas stations here.
Lesley: Absolutely.
Andrew: Go figure, right?
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: So people go there to do more than just fill up their gas. You had people from FNB representatives hold contests to get new customers. Is that right?
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: And this was your idea.
Lesley: It was our idea.
Andrew: Your idea is say, “Look, people are already over there. Let’s bring them there.” And then if they’re already were users of FNB to tell them, “You know if you use your card more often, you can get these eBucks which you could then use to buy online.”
Lesley: Correct. Spend more to make more.
Andrew: So I went to an online store here and I saw that I could pay in credit cards as well. Great, of course. And then there were a bunch of different options, one of them was cash which, go figure, you can pay in cash for an online purchase. The other was eBucks. eBucks is only FNB?
Lesley: Absolutely.
Andrew: That’s their loyalty thing.
Lesley: That is their loyalty thing. Yes.
Andrew: Okay. So now all of this is external. You help them come up with this whole plan with this whole campaign to get more customers. Tell me something that you do internally to help them communicate with their employees.
Lesley: So, if they’re launching a new product or if they . . . So their call center is very much seen as probably, I mean, I don’t mean this in a horrible way, but kind of the bottom feeders of the industry, although it’s one of the biggest divisions. So how do we ensure that the people that are considered sort of the low level of employees.
Andrew: They’re not employee . . . Right. They’re not the valued employees they deal with all the BS that comes in with complaints.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: And their big call center. And so you want that . . . They want to see them as more of an asset to bring in more sales, but they can’t just say to them, “Guys, when there’s a problem sell, sell, sell.” They need to . . . Why can’t they? Why can’t they say, “Hey, you’re my employees, I need to sell. Just sell it”?
Lesley: Yeah.
Andrew: Why?
Lesley: Because they don’t feel valued.
Andrew: Oh, it’s because they won’t listen, they won’t feel valued.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: Is it also that they don’t know how to sell, what to sell, what the products are?
Lesley: No, I think there’s . . . So I believe that when a company trains their employees properly, they will get more value from them, they feel more valued and therefore they’re going to become more loyal. So we all know how much it costs to train new staff. So our goal is to then . . . And this staff has got a very high turnover in these call centers.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: Because let’s face it. Who wants to be in a call center for years and years? But we don’t want the churn of the staff to be quite so high. So how do we at least motivate them to stay on to feel motivated to feel valued so they become ambassadors for the company and they think that FNB is a cool place to work?
Andrew: So how does a communications company help them do that? What did you do?
Lesley: So we do . . . We’ve done breakfast runs for them, we’ve done campaign . . .
Andrew: Breakfast runs means you go and get breakfast for their employees and just say, “Hey, surprise, everyone. We’ve got you a nice breakfast”?
Lesley: Correct. Correct. Yes, surprise. Yes. So it’s all about that surprise and delight. And we do cool things that can win prizes where we can podcast the CEO in on a special day and really just say, “Look, we’re launching a new product. We want everybody to get behind it.” Each team has then got a target to hit for that specific month.
Andrew: And you help them with that.
Lesley: And we help them with that.
Andrew: I’m about to adjust your mic on you again.
Lesley: What are the posters that are hanging up in the office? What are the little bite-sized bits of information that we’re WhatsApping to them? What are the things that we’re doing on a continual basis?
Andrew: In WhatsApp telling people?
Lesley: Absolutely. So each team would have a group in a WhatsApp? So how do we keep them motivated? Tell them, “Yes, you guys are doing well. There’s like five more to go. Let’s push hard so that we can all reach our goals.”
Andrew: And they want someone who’s a professional communications company to come in and do this on their behalf.
Lesley: Absolutely. They’re a bank and they don’t want to . . . They want to focus on what they do best and they employ an outside company to help them do that.
Andrew: I told you I was trying to look you up online to see how you got started. The company name you told me was actually changed. It was Colourprint.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: You guys started doing what?
Lesley: Printing in color, kind of does what it says on the web.
Andrew: Just printing.
Lesley: Printing, yeah. So I was a sales manager for a color printing company. We sold high in color printers, but we’re going back to 18 years now.
Andrew: Actual hardware, printers that you . . . That’s what you started out selling.
Lesley: Correct. Correct.
Andrew: Okay. And then what’s the [inaudible 00:08:28] that you solved?
Lesley: They were expensive and big corporates needed to put them in a budget. So, in the beginning, they didn’t have the budget, but color printing, we all know that you retain information better if it’s in pictures and in color. So we really saw a gap in the market where we could print presentations, transparencies. I’m sure some of your audience won’t even know what a transparency is, but it’s something that you put on an overhead projector, probably something you won’t know either.
Andrew: It was a clear piece of plastic . . .
Lesley: Correct. Correct.
Andrew: . . . that you put it on top of and then they put it on the projector that projects it up on a screen.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: And they needed that printed. They’re big companies. You saw that they didn’t want to buy the hardware, they instead just needed the printed paper.
Lesley: Done urgently, yes.
Andrew: Done urgently, because that’s another problem, printing out fast and having a high-powered machine was too expensive or was expensive and required some maintenance. You said, “You know what? I’m going to buy one of these.” Was it one?
Lesley: Yes. At the time, first one was one.
Andrew: So I was going to buy one. And the same companies who I went back to when I sold physical printers I’m going to go to and say, “I’ve got a printer. Do you need me to print?”
Lesley: Exactly.
Andrew: Send me the file and I’ll print it.
Lesley: Exactly, 100%.
Andrew: And it was you going back to your original customers and selling them on this and service.
Lesley: Exactly. The big banks and the financial services companies who are doing presentations all the time . . .
Andrew: Same people.
Lesley: . . . they were . . . And they are still our clients today.
Andrew: And it wasn’t a conflict of interest that your past company didn’t say, “She’s stealing from us. Lesley is going . . . ” No.
Lesley: No. No, no, no, because we were actually helping them. And in fact, because those companies needed more and more printers, we would then, you know, refer them our previous business, so it was very much a collaboration. If they didn’t have a printer, they would refer to us and vice versa.
Andrew: Okay. And so you did this as a one-woman operation at first?
Lesley: I had a partner.
Andrew: Okay. Who was the partner?
Lesley: In the early days I had . . . Her name was [Janie 00:10:10].
Andrew: How did you connect with Jamie? Janie?
Lesley: Janie. So she and I used to work together in our previous company and then we said, “No, listen, we can do this on our own.” It’s bio-printer, so we took all our savings, luckily, I got divorced at the time, took my divorce settlement and invested it in a printer and off we went.
Andrew: Okay. Wow. And now everything was counting on you. There was no one else, there was just you on your own.
Lesley: No one else. So we had a saying between the two of us. My job was to get the work. Her job was to do it.
Andrew: To figure out how to print it out, to organize it, to . . .
Lesley: To deliver. So I sold, she delivered.
Andrew: Tell me one of the clever things you did to sell. Is there a sale that you’re especially proud of from back then?
Lesley: I think getting some of the big banks on board even back then, you know, we were very efficient. We could often it was a last because, you know, they needed to get the figures off the stock exchanges around the world and exactly what you were talking about earlier. From a time zone point of view, the stock exchanges around the world would close later than us. So sometimes the figures from globally would only come in late. So they would only be able to finish their PowerPoint presentations at about, you know, eight, nine o’clock. They would then send us the file and they were flying to Joburg the next morning, and then we would be able to print it and delivered to their house at two o’clock in the morning so that they could get on the red eye flight and go and present in Joburg.
Andrew: Wow-wee. And this was sometimes you personally getting in your car and driving if you needed to.
Lesley: One hundred percent. That’s what we did. Efficiency was one of our values.
Andrew: You say we, but was it you, Lesley, who was getting in your car sometimes and driving it out?
Lesley: We would share the load.
Andrew: If you needed to you literally get in your car, go drive out wherever you needed to go.
Lesley: Absolutely.
Andrew: And so you knocked on somebody’s home.
Lesley: Yes. They’re standing at the door.
Andrew: Say hi to the spouse, to the kids, good to see you.
Lesley: Yeah, exactly.
Andrew: Here’s your package.
Lesley: Here’s your package.
Andrew: Go put this on a projector.
Lesley: Good luck and off you go.
Andrew: Wow. And how would you get these customers? Give me the process back then.
Lesley: So because we actually knew some of them in the beginning. And I think, you know, you first go through your network of sort of friends, family, and fools, then you have to expand that.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: So we really . . . And the clients that we would sell to from our previous company we would then visit as well. And referrals. Referrals is also a massive part of our . . . even today and using it as a sales strategy because if people like you, they’re going to refer you to their friends.
Andrew: I get it, but is there any way to . . . Do you do anything to make sure that they refer, to ask for the referral?
Lesley: We would ask for the referral. We would also, at that time, we would know who the head offices were in Cape Town. So it’s not a massive market here, but we just made sure that we were hitting all the big banks and all the big insurance companies because they were the ones that were spending the money and doing the presentations. So that was our target market. So we were very focused in our approach, and we knew who we wanted to go for and then if our clients, existing clients, knew companies from their kind of the opposition, we would ask for the referrals.
Andrew: All right. And I’ll get in a minute to how you ended up going beyond just printing. So far we got an easy business that I understand. I want to know the transition. But first, Cape Town is where you started but you’re not from Cape Town.
Lesley: I’m not originally from Cape Town.
Andrew: Where did you grow up?
Lesley: I grew up in a place called East London which is pretty much a small town with small-town village about 11 hours from here. Very, at that time, small community kind of, you know, one main school, one girl’s school, one boy’s school, everybody kind of knew each other.
Andrew: That’s it.
Lesley: Yep, pretty much. I mean, look, there were other schools, but, I mean, you know, you kind of went to Clarendon or you’re going to Selborne, those were the main schools.
Andrew: I saw Clarendon. I saw that you went to Clarendon. I remember when I saw it, I went to their website to get a sense of what . . . There’s a Wikipedia entry on them so I got to read that. I went to their website, their website was down for some reason. So I couldn’t look you up, but I saw that it was a well-known school, not just there, but apparently in the country.
Lesley: So, no. Pretty much only in East London. That was the main girl . . .
Andrew: I thought it was like 11 . . . From what I understood they were like 11 well . . . Or maybe there were 11 schools that happened to have Wikipedia entries, 11 girl’s schools.
Lesley: Maybe.
Andrew: No. Okay. No, maybe this was the high school that you went to that I . . . I don’t know. Like, tons of research, but also I have to admit, a lot of it I just don’t fully understand because things are different here from . . .
Lesley: Absolutely.
Andrew: . . . where we grew up in the U.S. It was a beach community, though.
Lesley: Yeah. I mean, the little town is on a beach, so, you know, all our boyfriends were surfers and, you know, so it was very chilled, laid back community. And I’m one of four sisters, so, you know, we’re all . . . Yeah, it was a very safe environment and was an amazing place to grow up, I must say it. I think it gave me, you know, that sense of optimism and positivity that I think I’ve really taken into because, you know, nothing really bad happened when I was young and everything was, you know, pretty, pretty chilled. And so, yeah, I think that’s sort of instill that sense of positivity and optimism that I’ve carried through my life.
Andrew: What . . . Were you an entrepreneur? What were you like growing up?
Lesley: I think I always wanted to run my own business. I always, you know, challenge the status quo, challenged things with my teachers, challenged things even today in my business, you know. I wasn’t happy just running a print company. What could we do more? How could we expand this business? And even now wanting to go global. So I’ve always wanted to, you know, be more, do more, kind of my own saying to myself is be extraordinary. And, you know, be the best version of myself. And so I’m always kind of pushing myself to, you know, go further and do more. Never settle as it were.
Andrew: This was in the period of apartheid here?
Lesley: Mm-hmm.
Andrew: What can you tell me about what that was like?
Lesley: So horrible, really. But growing up in a small town we weren’t exposed to it that much. We knew that it was there and we knew it wasn’t right, but, you know, as far as being that age, you don’t really know what you can do about it.
Andrew: And pre-internet, so you’re not . . .
Lesley: Exactly.
Andrew: You’re not out there exploring what’s out.
Lesley: What possibilities.
Andrew: Yeah.
Lesley: So there are things in South Africa now which is called BEE, which is the Black Employment Empowerment. So, when that became a thing in South Africa, I have a black partner, I also have a Chinese partner. So I have a black partner now. And, you know, a lot of our clients are black and, you know, it’s just being . . .
Andrew: But that’s not what it was like nearly back then. This was not . . .
Lesley: No. Not at all. Very much white-owned businesses, white-owned big businesses, you know, you didn’t really, you know, have black friends back then, but I can very proudly say I have a lot of black friends and, you know, we really have done the transformation effectively.
Andrew: So you started this business doing printing. How did you end up going beyond printing?
Lesley: I think once again, you know, wanting to push the envelope and wanting to be more and do more. And when our clients were impressed with us and our services that we provided, they were like, “Well, if you can do this, can’t you help us with this?” So we ended up then, I remember specifically one client saying to us, “Well, if you guys are so efficient, you know, you give such a good quality service, we’re having a little cocktail party and I’m going to get my PA to contact you guys to help us arrange it.” And we would get their PowerPoint presentations and they would look horrible, we would say, “Well, maybe we can just help you with a design here.” So very soon after we launched sort of probably two and a half years, we expanded into design, and then we expanded into organizing functions, which is very much part of a sort of a marketing agency.
Andrew: Were you make money? And before that, was this a move . . . Was this a move to make money because you were struggling or was this just a natural evolution and why?
Lesley: Oh, no, no. Absolutely a natural.
Andrew: Just natural.
Lesley: Yeah.
Andrew: Customers were asking, you were frustrated by the lack of design, they were frustrated by lack of design and you said, “I’m going to hire a designer.” Am I right?
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: Okay. And so you hired a designer . . . By the way, we should get your phone and just stop the beeping.
Lesley: And just stop the beeping.
Andrew: This is your day to have meetings and calls, right?
Lesley: This is my . . . Monday is my meeting day.
Andrew: Meetings.
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: All day long Mondays meeting with who?
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: I’ll adjust your mic because of this. I do that every Thursday is my call day because otherwise, I go nuts with calls every minute. If there’s a call I need to take, I tell them let’s do Thursday. You do meetings all day Monday, drive around talk to people.
Lesley: So Monday meeting is very much internal. Catching up with my team. Sales meeting as we normally hold on a Monday, straight off our status meetings, so our plan for the week. Then round about . . . You’re lucky you just got . . . Right about this time I’ll sit with my Xcode team and just, you know, touch base with them. And then this afternoon will just be in a planning what marketing we’re going to do for the week. And so it’s very much a planning day for us.
Andrew: I know you’ve got to go. I thought you were done with the business because you handed off the CEO title. You said, “No, no, I’m still focused on growth.” And then you started telling me how you want to . . . Was it quadruple sales? Right?
Lesley: Yeah. We really believe that, you know, we have such a strong foundation now. It’s not going to . . . I believe our brand is strong in South Africa and I really, Africa is such an emerging continent rich with, you know, so much talent and so much opportunity. And I really want to, you know, expand our business onto the continent, onto Africa into Africa and beyond. And, you know, we do already have international clients, AB InBev is a client of ours. We actually ran a conference in New York earlier this year. We find conferences for SA tourism around the world as well. So I’m just wanting to have offices or little hubs, you know, in strategic places around the world so that from a time zone point of view that you were talking about earlier and just to have a presence in other countries.
Andrew: So, in the beginning, after your printing company said to you, “You’re doing such a good job here. Can you help us here some smaller . . . ” Or not smaller. “Here’s slightly different things that we think you could do.” You started taking them on. You hired a designer who I think is your first employee. Is that right?
Lesley: Correct. Correct. And then somebody to help us organize events and that happened to be my sister at the time. Yeah. She’d been in a shift and she was looking for a new opportunity as well. And so she became our event organizer at that time. So we went into design and sort of event organizing around about, you know, three to four years after we had launched.
Andrew: So what was the revenue at that point? How were you doing?
Lesley: So we’re doing . . . It took us probably . . . There’s a great statistic. Sixty-six percent of small businesses fail within the first two to three years. So you need that thousand days behind you. So we managed to sort of get through that. We had a little bit of money. As I said, I got divorced, so I had a little bit of money that sustained us for that first year. That first year was pretty tough, but we kind of changed that. Probably within two and a half to three years we really did start making money. We landed a big client which is still a client today, Allan Gray.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: And we landed them quite early on. And one of the things that the marketing manager said to us, we did a small little silly job for them in the beginning, she said, “Well, those who do good work deserve more work.” And they sort of giving us more and more and more work and today they’re still our second or third biggest client.
Andrew: Let’s go a little personal. You were just divorced, first year was difficult.
Lesley: I had a small baby.
Andrew: Small baby. How did you maintain your confidence with all that?
Lesley: As we say in EO, “Boldly go and back yourself.” And you really . . .
Andrew: EO was the entrepreneur organization that you’re a member of.
Lesley: Correct. That I’m a member of.
Andrew: Boldly go.
Lesley: Boldly go, back yourself. And that’s what I did. I really, really . . .
Andrew: You just said, “I believed in myself. I have to.”
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: What about the hours? Who was taking . . . You had someone help take care of the baby.
Lesley: My mother lived next door.
Andrew: Your mother helped.
Lesley: My mother helped, my sisters helped. I had a great support system. The one thing in South Africa, support is reasonably inexpensive and I had a great support system. So I was really able to focus on my business while, you know, I had help with my child.
Andrew: I feel like . . . I know this is a personal thing, but I feel like that’s incredibly important. We were raising our kids by ourselves and Olivia’s mom moved from Philly to San Francisco. It changed, not day to day life, she’s not watching the kids every day. It changed those sense of the emergencies. It changed the ability for me to just say, “I need a little bit of time right now. Can someone come and help?” Like, I was on . . . Where was I? I was in Estonia. My kids’ school called me up. There was a problem. He hits somebody. He couldn’t get up back home because they needed to go have a talk to him. We’re talking about kids who are five, three years old.
Lesley: Yeah.
Andrew: I called him his mom. She came, she helped. It was a huge, huge lifesaver in that situation and to have someone like that.
Lesley: Is amazing.
Andrew: Is it too personal to talk about your mom? I’m watching your eyes and I’m seeing something.
Lesley: No. No, it’s not. My mom has passed.
Andrew: Yeah.
Lesley: There is . . .
Andrew: You miss her as we’re talking about this.
Lesley: There are huge impact to the anniversary of her death in I think last week and we have a golf day in celebration of her life. She had a hole in one. And they have . . . And her friend still hold a golf day in her honor. So, yeah, no, it’s very sad.
Andrew: Did she believe in you? Was she . . .
Lesley: Oh, she was . . .
Andrew: Even through divorce she said, “I . . . ”
Lesley: Totally. No, totally. And my dad who also very sadly only three months ago passed away. But no, they were a massive support for me.
Andrew: They didn’t tell you, “Stick with your job. You just have a baby. What are you doing?”
Lesley: No, not at all.
Andrew: They didn’t.
Lesley: No, not at all.
Andrew: Why not?
Lesley: No. I think they knew that, you know, I think we can do both. But subsequent to that, which possibly might interest you or your audience is I wish I had twins and I had twins 10 years later. You must have had twins?
Andrew: No, I wished I had twins. Because double done the job.
Lesley: Oh, it’s just amazing.
Andrew: I mean, no. Not double up on the job. You get this . . . You get to work on two kids without doubling up on the effort.
Lesley: Exactly.
Andrew: Right?
Lesley: Exactly, 100%. It just takes a little bit longer. But at that time, my husband is now . . . My second husband who’s 10 years older than me, he quit his job because he said . . .
Andrew: Stay home with the kids.
Lesley: Yeah. And he stayed home with the kids and he’s been amazing.
Andrew: How did that go over with your friends?
Lesley: At first, I think he found it quite difficult, but . . . And I think, you know, he definitely did get . . . But I think . . . I still believe it takes a real man to do that and he was amazing and he stepped up . . .
Andrew: Quite difficult because what? What were people saying?
Lesley: Because I think, you know, like, why? What the hell? What are we going to talk about to you? And yet, I do believe he’s just a much better person for it as well and the children, he’s extremely close to his boys.
Andrew: So, as you were doing this, you were starting to build up your business, starting to do design work. You changed the name of your company at that point?
Lesley: To Colourworks, yes.
Andrew: Because?
Lesley: Because printing felt very limited to us and we were doing much more than that, so we then we changed from Colourprint to Colourworks where we kind of, you know, did the works and in terms of marketing.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: And yeah, that was really, really good for us. People started taking us a little bit more seriously in terms of the advertising and marketing space. And then we’ve hired a really creative guy, creative director. And that was kind of a turning point for us as well.
Andrew: Why?
Lesley: Because then we started winning much bigger campaigns, we started winning the trust of our clients to spend more money with us because they would give us much more creative work and much bigger work.
Andrew: Because you had a creative director.
Lesley: Because we now had a creative director.
Andrew: How did you get the creative director?
Lesley: We advertised.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: And we had a couple of, you know, applications and, yeah, and Jason came along and yeah, he was . . .
Andrew: What was Jason’s background?
Lesley: He had an MBA.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: And so he was very business and creative.
Andrew: But was he creative before? Was he creative director somewhere else?
Lesley: Yes, he was. He had actually worked overseas. He’d worked for McKinsey.
Andrew: Got it.
Lesley: So he was really bright. He had some . . .
Andrew: But McKinsey is not a creative agency.
Lesley: But he’d worked for them in the consulting department. So he had been consulting to some of their clients about branding and creativity.
Andrew: Oh, they do that?
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: I didn’t know McKinsey did that.
Lesley: So very much like the Forbes, Alexander Forbes in those days. I think they all have these consultancies that, you know, go out and do these big reports.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: And Jason had had a lot of international experience as well, so he came and worked with us.
Andrew: Got it. So now suddenly you’re getting better clients, but also you’re the one who’s getting better clients. How were you getting them? What were you doing at that time to get clients?
Lesley: So I think once I . . . So, when we were around about eight years old, I split up with my partner. She wanted different things to me. I wanted to really take this business further and we . . .
Andrew: You want to keep growing bigger.
Lesley: I want to . . . Exactly.
Andrew: And she wanted what?
Lesley: I think she wanted a lifestyle business.
Andrew: Let’s just leave it. Why do you want more? Like, why are you now? You’re no longer the CEO, you’ve got a company, you could take time off. You could say, “You know what? I’m going to close with this company, keep sending my money.” Right? What is dividends or whatever you want to call it? Why are you . . . What are you trying to prove?
Lesley: I think I just want my life to be meaningful and I want to leave a legacy. And I think it’s really about the . . .
Andrew: What’s the legacy you’re thinking about?
Lesley: So the one is definitely change the dial from failures of entrepreneurs. And really, being an entrepreneur is hard. You know, starting a business, running a business is hard. You need to really, as I say, you know, be the warrior of your own life.
Andrew: But what do you mean by a legacy? You mean, you want to leave this business to your kids or you want to leave this set of ideas of how to build a business and why it’s important to your kids.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: The second one.
Lesley: The second.
Andrew: You want the world to know, this is really hard, it’s worth doing, and the only reason you’re going to listen to me is if I build something good and I put in the hard work myself. That’s it.
Lesley: I think that’s around it, yes.
Andrew: And then if the world does that, if other businesses are created because you said it, why does it matter to you?
Lesley: I just think that we want the failure rate of small businesses to change. You know, 66% of small business, two out of every three businesses fail within their first two to three. If I could have an impact on that number that lets businesses fail and they believe in themselves, I believe that we will have a . . .
Andrew: Then you’ll feel good.
Lesley: Absolutely.
Andrew: Why? I’ll tell you why I care about this.
Lesley: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Andrew: Because I went to NYU. It’s known that the people who put money into NYU are entrepreneurs or real estate barons, right? The names on the buildings, on the school, it’s all like that. Stern School of Business is not made for an artist. It’s named for a guy who’s an entrepreneur. Loeb is where we went to . . . the building was called Loeb named after a real estate entrepreneur.
Lesley: Politicians won’t save the world, entrepreneurs will.
Andrew: Yeah. But you know what? When I went into school and I said to them, “I want to be an entrepreneur. I want to build it up,” they treated me like I was looking to rob the world. They had no support for me outside of that formal business classes and there was no compassion or caring and I said, “I need to find a way so that anyone who’s like me who has this passion is more supported and shown that this makes sense than NYU is willing to show to me.” That’s what it is. It’s me basically fighting an old battle still.
Lesley: Absolutely. And entrepreneurship . . .
Andrew: What is it for you? What does it come for you?
Lesley: So, I mean . . .
Andrew: What’s your old battle?
Lesley: I think that we need . . . In Africa, entrepreneurship isn’t sort of sexy. I think a lot of people operate from a position of fear. And so we want to change that. And we want to get people to . . .
Andrew: Yeah, but why do you care? Were you afraid and then this is your way of fighting that battle of fear with . . .
Lesley: No. No. I care because I do believe that entrepreneurs will save the world. And that’s one of the reasons . . .
Andrew: Literally.
Lesley: Literally. Absolutely.
Andrew: How are entrepreneurs going to save the world?
Lesley: Because if every small business employed one more person, it would alleviate unemployment worldwide. That’s how . . .
Andrew: Every existing small businesses each took on one more person.
Lesley: Correct. It would alleviate . . .
Andrew: I can’t fact check you now because we’re . . . Okay.
Lesley: Unemployment worldwide. That’s how many small businesses they are globally, but the problem is they’re failing. And that’s one of the reasons that we wrote the book. We want more small businesses to succeed so that . . .
Andrew: The book is called, “The Entrepreneur’s Playbook: From Rookie to Rainmaker in Seven Steps.” Who is we? You and Sandy . . .
Lesley: My sister.
Andrew: This is . . .
Lesley: Yes. My other sister. My eldest sister. Yes.
Andrew: You know what? I get it. I’m actually in Cape Town. Lady, your city is gorgeous. I’ve seen it online. Frankly, one of the reasons I knew it was gorgeous was Casey Neistat, a vlogger, was shooting video here and I go, “I had no idea Cape Town looks so good.” It’s gorgeous. I come over here, though. On the way to gorgeous, you see people who are sleeping outside, you see people who are not able to get a job, right? And so it’s not just that there . . . It’s not that everyone is a loafer who doesn’t want to do anything. There are a lot of people who do want to do, who do want to work. Apparently, that’s just me talking to the people here, I don’t do much more research than that, there isn’t the jobs to go around. And that creates a sense of frustration, it creates a sense of anger, it creates all kinds of things. And I’m with you. I was thinking entrepreneurs can save this. I don’t see a politician who couldn’t get us out of that.
Lesley: Exactly.
Andrew: Right? And so that’s what you’re thinking too?
Lesley: So keep calm and hire yourself.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: What are the opportunities that in your community that you can, then what are the opportunities that you can see, and then how can you create a business around that? And then how do you have the tools to ensure that you can be successful?
Andrew: We’re going to get into your business in a minute, but let me hear . . . What’s an entrepreneur that you’ve seen that does it well? I’m going to adjust this mic. Do you have an example while I adjust your mic? This is like . . . I’ve got to come up . . . You know what my next business is going to have to be? A better lavalier. Everyone is constantly making better microphones for podcasters. Lavalieres are still so fidgety that I have to cut you to adjust it.
Lesley: That’s okay.
Andrew: I appreciate it.
Lesley: It’s all good.
Andrew: But I always want the audience to understand. I was just listening to a podcast that was really interesting, but I kept hearing this noise in the background, I said, “Just, guys, take a moment away from the content to give me context for what’s going on.” And so I always want people to see and hear everything. So, what’s an entrepreneur who you’re seeing who’s actually seeing a problem and helping to be a savior for the world?
Lesley: Oh, my word, there are so many. Okay. So I was a judge in a competition in Johannesburg. And recycling is becoming a huge business as we know. I mean, that is something that . . . I was very fortunate when I went to New York in 2017 to run the marathon. I happened to be invited to the United Nations and really connect with them on the GEW on the global sustainability goals. And so we’ve seen a lot of new businesses starting, which are then created to help from a sustainability point of view, from an education point of view. So those are so many people that I’ve come into contact with that are really starting their businesses and focusing on the global goals so that they we can leave a better legacy for our children and for the planet. So very much environmental . . .
Andrew: There’s one entrepreneur I came here to meet, Aisha Pandor.
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: Do you know her?
Lesley: Yes, of course. SweepSouth.
Andrew: SweepSouth.
Lesley: Yes, I know her.
Andrew: I said, “Well, how is she helping to change the world?” Apparently, there are women here who want to be . . . She doesn’t call them maids. She actually has a different name and I’m going to find out what that is. And she said, “I’m going to make it easier for them to get paid to find work.” And so she’s someone who I can see is having a big impact.
Lesley: No, she will have a big impact. She’s lovely. I know. I do know her.
Andrew: Well-known over here. Do you know her?
Lesley: I do know her.
Andrew: You do know her.
Lesley: Yes. No, she’s great.
Andrew: Let’s talk about your sales process. I know that you’re pretty methodical about this. What was the first version of it? And then take me to what your sales process is now.
Lesley: Oh, wow. So that is such a great question because our first process was very much a shoot from the hip. So I think we need to . . .
Andrew: Just you picking up the phone making calls.
Lesley: Absolutely.
Andrew: Asking, “Who do you know? Who’s at this bank who will do well with insurance companies?” That kind of thing.
Lesley: Exactly. So getting referrals. So I think in the beginning, it’s very much about the hustle.
Andrew: Yes.
Lesley: So everything is the hustle because you’ve got to just get out there, make yourself known, just, you know, do what you can, do whatever it takes.
Andrew: And at the time it wasn’t to change the world to entrepreneurship, it was, “I need to make sure that I make money so that I could take care of my kids.
Lesley: One hundred percent.
Andrew: Okay. Got it.
Lesley: One hundred percent.
Andrew: And so when it started getting more formal, how did you organize it?
Lesley: So now we have a proper sales strategy. So our marketing and our sales strategy goes hand in hand.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: The marketing supports the sales strategy, so we have sort of buckets of . . . In the marketing it’s brand awareness or what do we do to create brand awareness.
Andrew: What do you do to create brand awareness for yourself?
Lesley: So we entered in a competition this year, the Loeries.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: So we were finalist in the Loeries. I was the finalist in the Standard Bank Woman of the Year award. So we enter awards. We write thought leadership pieces. My partner was just on the radio station last week about how can we use expos to raise the awareness of your brand. So various ways that we raise by PR, obviously, a very cheap and easy.
Andrew: What’s worked for you for PR? Events?
Lesley: 67 Logos. So 67 Logos is a campaign that we do.
Andrew: Yeah, tell me about that.
Lesley: It’s . . .
Andrew: On Mandela day?
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: What’s Mandela day?
Lesley: So Nelson Mandela, obviously, I think the whole world knows who Nelson Mandela is. And . . .
Andrew: Is it on his birthday?
Lesley: It’s on his birthday.
Andrew: On his birthday. And people celebrate it here.
Lesley: Absolutely.
Andrew: By doing what? No school?
Lesley: Lots of companies. There’s a campaign, a national campaign, you give 67 minutes back to your community. So you’re going to feed a community, you’re going to do something for 67 . . .
Andrew: What’s the 67 reference?
Lesley: I think it was 67 . . .
Andrew: I’m going to look it up.
Lesley: I should know this.
Andrew: But people will do . . . Oh, Nelson Mandela fought for social justice for 67 years.
Lesley: Sixty-seven years.
Andrew: Got it. I see.
Lesley: He fought for . . . Yes.
Andrew: So, if he fought for 67 years, then you should be willing to give 67 minutes on his birthday to a good cause.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: And you said, “Our thing is . . . ”
Lesley: So we . . . Three years ago we went to do our 67 minutes. We arrived at this poor little school in the township, we gave them soccer balls, we gave them coloring in books, we painted their nails. At the end of that day, the soccer balls were popped, the coloring in books were colored in, and we’d made absolutely no difference whatsoever.
Andrew: I get it.
Lesley: And it actually broke my heart and I was like, “We’re never going to do this again. If we’re going to do . . . ”
Andrew: You’re literally tearing up if you’re talking about this.
Lesley: No. I mean, I literally left there thinking, “We have done nothing. We actually just made it worse.”
Andrew: Yeah.
Lesley: So what . . . And then I went to my team and I said, “We need something that’s sustainable. We need something that can make a difference, can make an impact,” and we came up with 67 Logos. So now we design 67 logos for 67 small businesses that can’t afford to hire an agency because it costs too much money.
Andrew: What’s an example of a kind of company that you work with?
Lesley: In the 67 Logos?
Andrew: Yeah.
Lesley: Absolutely the grassroots . . .
Andrew: Like what?
Lesley: . . . entry level. Wow.
Andrew: A flower salesperson.
Lesley: Exactly.
Andrew: Someone who’s got a flower shop, they need a . . . What impact does it have if they have a better logo?
Lesley: They can . . . Because they could take it more seriously, they have the confidence then to reach out to a bigger market. So we want to instill a confidence in your business, a confidence in your brand that you have a professionally designed look and feel so people take you more seriously. And absolutely hand on heart, I know because I’ve done the research, that every single person that came to us two years ago, they’re still running their business, they’ve grown their business. I think 86% have grown their business, 90% have employed another person. So we really are making an impact, just because we give them the confidence.
Andrew: And employ another person is a metric that you really care about.
Lesley: We love that.
Andrew: So you go back to the 67 companies, you say, “How are you doing? Fill out this survey. Tell me.”
Lesley: Exactly. That’s exactly what we did. And then this year, we did it again. And then we track them and monitor them.
Andrew: Yeah.
Lesley: And we get them to then come and talk at our next event so that they can, a), showcase their business, get more clients because if we’re all supporting each other and helping grow each other, that’s how you then grow.
Andrew: Oh, so it’s more than just logos.
Lesley: It’s much more than just a logo.
Andrew: I feel like logos also might matter more here. Tell me if I’m wrong. I’ve only been here for a few days, but it seems like things like logos and a sense of propriety matter more here than they do in the U.S.
Lesley: So, you know, it’s easy to stand up, it’s hard to stand out. And we live in this crazy digitally, you know, platted world.
Andrew: Yes.
Lesley: So how can you have an emblem assemble or something that makes you stand out? And that’s really what it is for us, is creating something for the small businesses that will help them to stand out.
Andrew: So 67 Logos, I’m seeing actually here. I Google as people talk. So I see that people have actually been writing about this too, so it’s a campaign that obviously matters to you. I saw your eyes as you were talking, but it’s something that also helps raise your profile. So this is the type of stuff that you do. This is what . . . This is an aspect of marketing, right?
Lesley: A massive aspect of marketing.
Andrew: Customers don’t watch this and then talk to a sales . . . Actually, maybe they do. So, if someone sees this and says, “You know what? I like that this company does logos.” Did they come to you and ask for a logo and redesign of their brand?
Lesley: That is part of our marketing campaign. So, absolutely, they can see that we’ve giving back and doing that so people will come to us.
Andrew: Okay. But you’re not a logo company.
Lesley: No.
Andrew: You do way bigger part.
Lesley: No, no, no. Way bigger.
Andrew: That’s too small.
Lesley: No.
Andrew: This is . . .
Lesley: But we couldn’t do the whole communications plan because, obviously, you know, we’ve just got a certain amount of time, but we give them a start.
Andrew: But things like these, the awards that you win, all lead somebody to say, “I’m kind of interested in this company. What could they do for me?” Right?
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: And they come . . . So the next step is what? They come to your website.
Lesley: They come to our website, they see what we do. So, at the end of the day, we solve business challenges with creative solutions. So that’s our mission.
Andrew: Okay. And so . . . Got it. And you gave me a bunch of examples like business challenge is FNC. Is that the name of the bank?
Lesley: FNB.
Andrew: FNB, excuse me. They have this product, people don’t know about it, so they don’t use it and then they don’t get eBucks. If they know about it, they’re more likely to use it. How do we let them know about it and how do we let our people feel like they should be promoting this?
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: That’s now your problem to solve through communication.
Lesley: Communication, events, activations, conferences, whatever the case may be, whatever the business challenge is, we design a program, a process, a marketing tool to ensure that their message then gets communicated creatively to their market.
Andrew: Okay. All right. So now somebody comes to your site, and the next step is what? Is it that they read about you and then they come to your site or at that point do they do something else to reach out to you?
Lesley: So, hopefully, they reach out to us, our client service team and set up a meeting.
Andrew: What’s the typical way that someone contacts you? We’re talking about work that you charge what? A hundred thousand plus?
Lesley: It depends on what the project is. It really is . . .
Andrew: So, at the high end, what is it? And at the low end, what is it?
Lesley: Look, I mean, you could do an event for 8 million rand.
Andrew: Okay. Eight million rand is how much in dollars? Let me take a look.
Lesley: Eight million rand is about $0.5 million.
Andrew: Okay. Oh, for one event.
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: And it’s on you.
Lesley: Oh, yeah.
Andrew: And they pay you to do that?
Lesley: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: Absolutely. So that would be a big sort of corporate event.
Andrew: Okay. And on the low end what do they do?
Lesley: How much do they spend?
Andrew: Yeah, and what did they go?
Lesley: Okay. So, on the low end, let’s just say is a 1.5 million. Okay. So on the low end would be probably a dinner the night before for all their delegates. And let’s say there’s 100 delegates, there would be a very smart [inaudible 00:41:16] . . .
Andrew: For their event.
Lesley: For their event.
Andrew: Oh, but still, you’re organizing their event and then you’re also doing some . . .
Lesley: And then at dinner and something on the side as well. So we try . . . We wanted to create kind of a one-stop-shop as it were.
Andrew: But there’s nobody who’s coming in and spending the equivalent of $100,000 with you in a year. Is there?
Lesley: A million rand. 1.5 million rand in a year.
Andrew: Yeah. Is there a project that you guys do that’s at that level?
Lesley: So, we have what we call retainer clients.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: So people who pass monthly.
Andrew: Yeah, at 1.5 million rand. Yes.
Lesley: Yes. So people who pay us monthly to then just do all their communications and marketing throughout the year so they have a contract with us. Or if they just wanted to do like a one-off event, that’s the kind of . . .
Andrew: A hundred thousand dollar . . .
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: . . . 1.5 million rand.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: That’s a one-time event. That’s what you’re doing.
Lesley: Yes. Yes. That’s our sweet spot in terms of the eventing side of the business.
Andrew: That’s more typical than $0.5 million.
Lesley: Because we understand the marketing side, we can brand it, campaign it, communicate it and everything that we do will have this golden thread running through the whole event.
Andrew: I’m trying to see, like, what is somebody taking away from this experience. It seems like find the thing that’s really easy to do and don’t think of it as the end. So it’s okay if it’s as simple as, “I’m going to print for you.” Whatever that little thing is, if it’s an entry point into these bigger clients, do it well, even if it’s small, even if it’s not something that’s going to last forever because everyone eventually will have printers or not care about printing that much.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: But once you’re in their world, now you’ve got the relationships to see what other related problems can I solve?
Lesley: Exactly.
Andrew: And that’s what you did. Start out small with something that . . . You guys do no printing right now, right?
Lesley: We do do some printing. So, for our old clients, people still want . . .
Andrew: They still need things printed.
Lesley: They still need things printed. People still want . . . Some of the banks are insurance companies have still got older clients that want that piece of paper in my hand.
Andrew: Wow. Okay.
Lesley: So we still do printing, very much part of our DNA.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: But, you know, for events now it’s menus, it’s name cards, it’s name badges. So you run an event for . . .
Andrew: So you’re still printing those things out.
Lesley: [inaudible 00:43:14] printing all of those.
Andrew: You’re still own printers.
Lesley: We’re still own printers.
Andrew: You’re saying you’ve got a whole bunch of printers. I can go see them if I wanted to.
Lesley: Yes, you can. Absolutely. The [inaudible 00:43:19] in this room.
Andrew: Okay. And then . . . But the next step is important to just keep looking for those next higher value things that you could do for your clients.
Lesley: Exactly.
Andrew: What does it take to maintain clients beyond doing a good job? What else are you doing to maintain them?
Lesley: So I believe that trust is a business currency. So we’ve got to ensure that they continue to trust us that they continue to sort of . . . Because the more they trust us, the more they like us, the more they’re going to use us.
Andrew: How do you make sure they trust you?
Lesley: We just deliver a great service and . . .
Andrew: And how do you know that it’s great? How do you check in with people?
Lesley: Once a year myself and our current CEO now we’ll go into a survey face to face with our top 10 clients around the country.
Andrew: So you’ll call your top 10 clients. Oh, you’ll got meet them.
Lesley: Absolutely.
Andrew: You’ll sit at their office. And when you say survey is what? I have a list of questions I want to check in?
Lesley: Yes. Seven questions, absolutely, we ask them.
Andrew: What are the seven questions or what’s one of them?
Lesley: What would you like to see us doing other than what we’re currently doing? What were the successful projects that we ran for you this year and why? And why do you continue to use us and what is great about us? And then what can we change to make your experience better with us?
Andrew: And so you’re checking with the top clients that way, and then everyone else, how are you doing?
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: What are you doing with everyone else?
Lesley: The interview will be online.
Andrew: Online. And the form you send out to them.
Lesley: And a client service team would then go and check in with them.
Andrew: After they filled out this form.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: Someone checks in and says, “You asked if we could do this other thing. Did you know we do it?”
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: Got it. One of the problems with asking people what should I do is they tell you what you should do and then you can’t deliver it. What do you do when you can’t deliver?
Lesley: So the way that I’ve always expanded my business is kind of realistically. So the one thing that we all now focusing very, very strongly on is the digital aspect of our business. So a lot of our clients are now saying to us, “Look, we would love a digital element as part of this, you know, creative solution.” So that is something that, I mean, I’m personally very focused on. I believe that in this digital world that we live in that we would be remiss now not to add that into our . . .
Andrew: What do you mean by digital element? Like a website?
Lesley: So how do we know? So, for events, specifically, it’s very much apps for an event, it’s very much how do we add that digital element on voting into conferences? You don’t want to . . . People don’t want to have an experience where they’re being spoken to. They want to be engaged. So the three things that we do at an event now is make sure that there’s engagement, education, and some sort of inspiration.
Andrew: What do you mean by engagement?
Lesley: So we want them to feel part of the actual . . .
Andrew: How?
Lesley: By voting, by being able to talk directly to the speakers, by having breakout sessions where they actually feel part of the conversation. So we wanted them to feel part of the conversation.
Andrew: I was at an event recently Running Remote in Bali where they actually used . . . There was a URL that I went to, and then as soon as I did, no download, no nothing. It just said, “What’s the question that you asked, that you want to ask?” And then vote on all the other questions. And it was the first time that that system work and I loved it.
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: Because I could ask a question and actually see that my question if it was worthwhile go up there. And the things that people were asking were meaningful because it was voted on and there was nothing to download, no login, no nothing. It was really easy that way.
Lesley: Exactly.
Andrew: I see. So you’re saying you have to add that. But let’s talk about if someone asks for something that you can’t do. I find when I talk to my customers a lot of times they asked me for things that have nothing to do with me and it’s really hard to say, “I can’t do it.”
Lesley: No is an answer.
Andrew: No. So you just say, “No, we can’t do it. We have to stay focused on this.”
Lesley: Absolutely, because it’s . . . And this is a message to all the companies starting up. We have a saying that says no to kak. So say no to the things that just aren’t in your sweet spot.
Andrew: Say no to what?
Lesley: Say no to kak.
Andrew: To kak. What’s that?
Lesley: Rubbish.
Andrew: Oh, got it. Okay. So say no to kak.
Lesley: “Say No to Rubbish” is the name of my second book. Because you are robbing yourself of the opportunity, a) to do the things that you do do best and there’s nothing wrong with saying no, but you’re scared to say no in the early days, but that’s when you get unfocused and you can’t then deliver on the things that you’re really good at because you’re sort of taking your eye off the ball.
Andrew: Right. So they come back to you and they say, “I need you to build a website,” you say, “Actually, we’re not in the website building.”
Lesley: Yep.
Andrew: But I need if you’re designing. It’s hard for you to communicate to our designers. You say what?
Lesley: If you are willing to work through us, we will put a margin on it. And if you insist on dealing with us, we will send this out to a third party, but if you want us to control the process, we’re happy to do that, but we’re not going to be doing that ourselves.
Andrew: “We’re not doing it ourselves. It’s not our expertise.”
Lesley: It’s not our sweet spot. Absolutely.
Andrew: And we’re putting the margin on it . . .
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: . . . to be clear. Got it. All right. You told me before we started that you’ve got a six-step sales process. What is it?
Lesley: Four.
Andrew: Four. Okay.
Lesley: It’s a strategy, not so much a sales process. Four backup strategy as it work. So how do we get more clients? So we do that in three ways, a digital campaign. We often do a treat our current clients, we surprise and delight them whether it’s, you know, on their birthdays, on a special day, if we know that they specifically like rugby, or cricket, or, you know, something else, we will send them tickets to a game or do something that we know that they love.
Then we also ask for referrals. I think that is a big, big part of a sales process. I think any company should be asking for referrals. If you’ve done a good job, can you refer me to other people? I think that’s a massive important part.
And then the other thing that we do is we sometimes do desk drops, desk drops or gifts at the beginning of the year, or disc drops where there’s some sort of a message or something that is pertinent to, you know, what’s happening in the world or, you know, something fun and interesting that makes them sit up and think about us.
Andrew: Wait. What’s a desk drop?
Lesley: Something that lands on your desk that is . . .
Andrew: That people can see.
Lesley: . . . branded with a message.
Andrew: Do you an example of something that happened in the news that you guys did that for?
Lesley: So, if a movie comes out, this was going back a couple of years but it was such a hugely successful campaign at the time, “The Italian Job” came out, so we hired an Italian restaurant, we took something to the top clients, and then we invited them all to the movie premiere where we took over the whole movie . . .
Andrew: Got it.
Lesley: . . . and they all thought that it was . . . so organizing the event but for our clients so they could see our expertise.
Andrew: Got it.
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: What about what they love? How do you know what they love? Are you guys the type of people who keep track of it?
Lesley: We are.
Andrew: How?
Lesley: Absolutely.
Andrew: You do.
Lesley: Oh, absolutely. Part of my . . .
Andrew: So you say, “What are you going to be on work?”
Lesley: Part of our client service teams. And so one of our sayings is always curious. So we’re curious to get to know our clients not that because we always want to be friends with them, but we want to know a little bit more about them. So we asked them what their interests are. And I think when you’ve been building up that relationship through the years because most of our clients are long-term clients and we want that long-term strategy, so we really do get to know them . . .
Andrew: And you keep it in your CRM.
Lesley: Yes, absolutely. And we take them out to lunch and we, you know, take them out for coffees and we do find . . .
Andrew: But you’re disciplined about going back to your CRM and writing it down?
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: You are.
Lesley: Oh, absolutely. So there’s a spreadsheet where we know who’s . . .
Andrew: A spreadsheet. You’re not even using Salesforce.
Lesley: Oh, we are using Salesforce. I’m a little bit old school. Yes, we’re actually using Pipedrive.
Andrew: Okay. I love Pipedrive, yes.
Lesley: Yes. So we’re using . . .
Andrew: Not Salesforce but Pipedrive.
Lesley: Correct. So that is currently in our system.
Andrew: But you don’t have a field in Pipedrive that says “Interest”, do you?
Lesley: My client service director would know that.
Andrew: Oh, really. Okay.
Lesley: Not so much me.
Andrew: But you’re not at the place where you personally if I was a client and I told you I was running a marathon, you wouldn’t go back and type it in.
Lesley: I’m going to tell somebody to do that.
Andrew: Got it. And then it would in the system and they would know.
Lesley: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, they may know. Absolutely.
Andrew: Got it.
Lesley: One of our clients loves Liverpool.
Andrew: Yes.
Lesley: And we knew the Liverpool game was coming up that was [inaudible 00:51:11] the Champions League and we sent him a whole Liverpool kit. So he was absolutely delighted. So things like that, and that’s where we like to surprise our clients.
Andrew: Those are really nice touches actually. Those are really nice touches. I used to be very disciplined about it and I’m not anymore, but I should be. You get to know people . . . Because especially in interviews people tell me what they’re interested in. My problem is that there’s no follow-up with the guests. Like, I get to know you really well, we’ve hung out here for an hour, right, which is hard, and we’re never you see each other again, which is such a waste. I need to find out what the next step.
Lesley: There we go.
Andrew: All right. Do you want to go for a barbecue. No. What do you guys . . . You don’t call it barbecue. You call it . . .
Lesley: A braai.
Andrew: A braai.
Lesley: A braai, yes. That’s what we do when we’re watching rugby.
Andrew: All right. The book, “Entrepreneurs Playbook.” Why is there a rainbow on the cover of the book? What is this?
Lesley: So, if we called our, the name of the company that my sister and I started four years ago is called Over the Rainbow.
Andrew: This is not a company. It’s a nonprofit. You and your sister want to help create more entrepreneurs.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: And I saw it’s . . .
Lesley: Help them to be sustainable.
Andrew: And help them to . . . Not just is it to help them start?
Lesley: No. Well, no, they started but we want them to be sustainable and thrive in our economy and . . .
Andrew: Okay. And we’re talking about South Africa.
Lesley: Hopefully, we’re talking global. We want all entrepreneurs to survive and thrive in their various economies, but yes, South Africa . . .
Andrew: Yeah, I went to it. But the URL is dot . . . Why is South Africa .za? You don’t even need to look at this.
Lesley: It’s South Africa, SA, ZA.
Andrew: ZA, South Africa or because you guys do . . . How do you say south?
Lesley: No, you do say it with an S but I think the SA was taken, so we say ZA.
Andrew: Got it. So, SA. Literally, [the short form 00:52:55]. Okay. So, if someone has a business, we’re not talking about a mega-billion dollar business. They have a new business, new entrepreneur, they need help you give them help as . . . This is nonprofit, right? Or was it a for-profit?
Lesley: No, it’s differently for profit. I don’t believe nonprofit.
Andrew: Oh, it is.
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: You don’t. Why don’t you believe in nonprofit?
Lesley: Because people . . . I think people want to hand up not a handout.
Andrew: So then how do you make money from this? I’m looking . . .
Lesley: So we charge for our book and for our courses. So the book is actually a course. And we charge for our courses, we charge for our talks, we charge for our time, and we run this in a seven . . . And it’s actually online as well, so we’ve developed it as an online program with various training schools around the country, we’ve partnered and it’s . . . So there are three ways we make money through the talks that we give, through the training that we give and on online platforms that this exists on.
Andrew: Oh, where they pay monthly to be part of the platform.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: And you also offer branding and marketing to them?
Lesley: Small businesses through my CWDi through there. So we encourage them to come 67 Logos.
Andrew: Oh, got it. When they’re ready for it.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: I see. Okay.
Lesley: Correct. Correct. And mentorship, yes.
Andrew: Okay. And again, the rainbow means what? Why is this called Over the Rainbow?
Lesley: So three reasons. One, because we are the rainbow nation. It was Desmond Tutu who called us the rainbow nation.
Andrew: Because there are so many different ethnicities and skin colors.
Lesley: Because there are so many . . . Exactly. Exactly. And everybody knows the pot of gold is at the end of the rainbow.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: And when my mother died three weeks later on her birthday on a clear blue sky day, a rainbow appeared. So we also did it in her honor.
Andrew: You know what? One of the things that I’ve got to say to you is at least on the homepage here, it is lots of different ethnicities on the homepage.
Lesley: Yeah.
Andrew: I’ve been looking at a lot of home pages in preparation for coming over here. It’s not. It’s either geared towards one person or another. All right. So that’s . . . But the rainbow goes beyond that too. In the book, you use the rainbow as a way of taking people through the steps that they need to go through your playbook.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: What are the steps? What do we do?
Lesley: Okay. So red level. Okay. So I’m going to . . . Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet, all the colors of the rainbow I can say that fast now. So red is find your passion. Find your true north.
Andrew: Okay. And you’ve help them find their true north.
Lesley: So we teamed up with Janet Attwood and Chris . . . Chris Bray and Janet Attwood. That’s an American book they wrote “The Passion Test”.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: So my sister, Sandy, is now a passion test facilitator. That is a thing. So she wanted to find a formula to help people find . . .
Andrew: And she’s using their formula.
Lesley: Sandy is now a trainer and she’s using Janet’s formula.
Andrew: Why don’t we do this? The seven parts of the rainbow, the seven steps, let’s talk about you in relation to it. So your passion is what?
Lesley: My passion is helping entrepreneurs and marketing.
Andrew: That’s it.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: Okay. All right. What’s the next step?
Lesley: Orange is marketing and branding. So then you need to develop a logo, develop a brand and how you’re going to do that.
Andrew: You personally, what’s your . . . Do you have a brand for yourself? You do. I see you use the same photo everywhere. You have a consistent message, right?
Lesley: Yeah.
Andrew: Right?
Lesley: Pretty much.
Andrew: What else is it about your brand, your personal brand?
Lesley: So, yeah, I mean I think very much, you know, my saying is be extraordinary and, you know, be all you can be, be extraordinary. So I think that that’s kind of what I like to put out to everybody.
Andrew: Okay. There’s also, like, something that I don’t see online, but I definitely see in person. Hard-charging woman here. You’re the first person to lean deep into me in the conversation, right? Most people will lean back a little bit, feel a little uncomfortable. Yeah. Yeah, okay.
Lesley: So then yellow. Marketing and branding, building trust and credibility to your brand.
Andrew: Building trust. Okay.
Lesley: That’s orange. Yellow, sales. Take action. Back yourself. This is . . . I take action.
Andrew: You have personal sales goals?
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: And for you personally.
Lesley: For my business.
Andrew: For your business, but you personally don’t have sales numbers anymore that you need to hit.
Lesley: No.
Andrew: No. You just need to make sure everyone hits their sales numbers.
Lesley: Correct.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: I’m inspiring and motivating them to hit the numbers.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: I don’t personally have to go and do them. Yellow. Green is make money doing what you love. So that’s finance.
Andrew: Okay.
Lesley: Okay? So green is hot. Who is leadership? So how are you going to be a great leader and how are you going to then hire good people and what are the tools that you need for that?
Andrew: What’s your strength as a leader?
Lesley: I think inspiration and motivation. I do like to get the team behind me. I do like to . . .
Andrew: How do you do it?
Lesley: So vision led, values-driven. So making sure they’re living our vision and really . . .
Andrew: And so how do you communicate the vision? What’s your . . . Your weekly meetings?
Lesley: Yeah. At every meeting and every month-end and then the values [inaudible 00:57:32].
Andrew: And everyone knows what the mission is every time.
Lesley: Every single time and values as well.
Andrew: And the mission is what?
Lesley: Our vision is to be a global agency inspiring connections. Our mission is to solve business challenges with creative solutions.
Andrew: And everyone know. If I call the number on the bottom, they would all know the mission is to solve . . .
Lesley: They would all . . .
Andrew: Was it to solve . . .
Lesley: Yes. To solve business challenges with creative solutions in CWDi.
Andrew: Okay. Yes, I thought I had the tab open for it, but yeah, CWDI, that’s what people . . . If I call them, everyone would know that exactly.
Lesley: Everybody would know . . .
Andrew: Because you keep bringing it up in conversations.
Lesley: . . . we solve business challenges every single time.
Andrew: And why is it business challenges that you solve? Why did you say business challenges? I started the interview saying, you help businesses communicate, but you don’t like that.
Lesley: No. We solve business challenges with creative solutions.
Andrew: Why?
Lesley: Because everybody has a business challenge.
Andrew: And if they have a business challenge, you’re more likely to want a solution that’s new, more likely to pay. Right.
Lesley: Correct. Correct.
Andrew: Okay. All right. Keep going with the rainbow. So we just got to green.
Lesley: Green. Blue leadership. Indigo is your business plan. So, when you come on our course, you walk away with a three-year business plan.
Andrew: You have a three-year business plan for yourself? You do.
Lesley: Absolutely, 100%. I have a five-year business plan for myself.
Andrew: You do.
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: For the team, everyone knows where you guys are going to be.
Lesley: Everybody knows exactly what we do.
Andrew: So they know . . .
Lesley: We have a 10X strategy document one-pager. We also been on the Verne Harnish scaling-up process. So we know all of those. He’s the founder of EO.
Andrew: He’s the founder EO. One of my earlier interviewees on Mixergy.
Lesley: Exactly. He’s amazing.
Andrew: Do you also have personal goals for yourself that way? Do you sit down and journal what you want for each year?
Lesley: I do. I have a journal that I try and do every day. I’m not as good as I should be, but I go through stages of journaling all the time.
Andrew: It looks like you’re on one now because when I brought it up, you looked over there.
Lesley: It’s in my bag.
Andrew: It’s in your bag.
Lesley: It’s in my bag.
Andrew: But you sit down and journal your goals?
Lesley: Yes.
Andrew: You say, so at the beginning of this year, you said, “My goals were . . . ”
Lesley: A hundred percent.
Andrew: What were they?
Lesley: So I wanted to ensure that my merger was going to be a success. So the integration of the Johannesburg team with our team was very, very important to me to hit our numbers this year to hit our target, that was important to me, and then to instill a leadership quality and leadership training in our management team. So those were the three things that we wanted to do as part of our winning moves this year.
Andrew: Did you hit your numbers?
Lesley: So we’ve got five months to go. We’re on track. But we’ve just launched a campaign called “Yes, we can” based on the Barack Obama . . .
Andrew: For the team.
Lesley: . . . for the team. Everybody’s got a photo of themselves in that same style. I’ll even show you mine. So, yeah. So it’s really . . . So that is what I believe my job is to know the way, show the way, and go the way and hope that my team goes with me.
Andrew: Everything that you do has got like a process.
Lesley: Yeah.
Andrew: It’s not just, “I’m going to do it.” It’s know the way, show the way.
Lesley: Go to the way. So I think after 20 years of having your business, you know, you get to understand that when things are written down and when you have a strategic process for everything, life just becomes simpler.
Andrew: For everything.
Lesley: For everything.
Andrew: What’s a mundane thing that you have a system for that’s a three-step process that people know about?
Lesley: Everybody knows what they need to do . . .
Andrew: For everything.
Lesley: . . . for marketing, for sales, for . . . Everything that we do now is so much more . . . We know what’s worked, we know what hasn’t worked. And when it worked, we’ve written it down and said, “Okay, this is the process that we can apply.”
Andrew: Literally write it down.
Lesley: Write it down. Write it down. People who write down their goals in their systems and they have much more chance of . . .
Andrew: Doing it.
Lesley: . . . executing it and . . . Exactly. There was that Harvard review . . .
Andrew: You know what? I do that too, but I’m kind of off the wagon with it. Part of the things that I did was I was doing a bunch of interviews where people interviewed me and I realized this stinks because, and I said, “I’m going to actually have the three things that I need to make sure that I go over with each person who interviews me, because I’ve interviewed people. I know what it is.” Like, the first thing that’s important is, “What’s the first question?” It’s like, set me up with a good first question because if you lead me down some rabbit hole, we’re done. No one’s paying attention, right?
Little things like that. Go over with them before I start. Let them do a pre-interview with me without showing them that they’re doing a pre-interview. Obviously, I did that with you before we started today, right? Most interviewers are too nervous to say, “Can we spend five minutes to get to know each other? How about 15?” So I do that. There are a couple of things that I do. But I fell off the wagon. I need to get back on it, of making sure that when I discovered something, to write it down, to document it, and to repeat it in the future. And you do that all the time.
Lesley: Absolutely. Especially now that I’m a little bit older and wiser to see what hasn’t worked in the past and now I knowing what does work and just making sure that becomes a habit because then you can just kind of [inaudible 01:02:04].
Andrew: And you’re also good about saying, “Here’s the three simple steps that I could communicate to anyone on my team.”
Lesley: A hundred percent.
Andrew: That’s it.
Lesley: As simple as you can make it so that everybody understands that everybody knows that everybody can recite the goals, everybody can refer to that.
Andrew: Almost to the point where they say, “Oh, there goes Lesley again with the three things of . . . ” But at least they know the three things of whatever.
Lesley: Exactly. And with our values as well. I mean, we hire and fire pretty much on our values.
Andrew: Yeah.
Lesley: Vision led, values-driven. I mean, if you don’t live our values, then you’re . . .
Andrew: You’re out.
Lesley: . . . just not part of the team because you build a culture like that.
Andrew: Okay. And then the last color of the rainbow was . . . Did we go over?
Lesley: Violet. Okay. So indigo is a three-year business plan and violet is your pitch. So that’s the exciting part and I love that the most, where we actually train them to pitch to investors, to pitch their business to potential clients, and that if we’re doing this live in our training that we do, each entrepreneur that’s gone through the training now has to pitch their business to the whole class.
Andrew: Got it.
Lesley: And that’s always such fun. And then we help them refine the process. So it’s not about . . . So, when . . . Before they do their pitch we say, “This is not a . . . We’re not giving . . . We’re giving you feedback and feedback is a gift, so don’t take it as criticism.” So we make them feel comfortable, and then they can pitch their business to us.”
Andrew: How do you pitch your business now?
Lesley: I think because I’ve got so much experience it kind of comes from the heart and, you know, I mean, I’m passionate about all the businesses that I do and I try and ask a lot of the why questions first now to a client so that we can understand them first before we kind of go into . . .
Andrew: What we do.
Lesley: . . . into what we do. I really try and find out, you know, what are the pain points so that we can ensure that we’re delivering the right solution.
Andrew: The new company name now after the merger, it’s no longer Colourworks . . . No, it’s no longer Colourprint.
Lesley: Became Colourworks and now it’s . . .
Andrew: Colourworks.
Lesley: . . . and now it’s CWDi
Andrew: What does CWDi stand for?
Lesley: You don’t really want to know, do you?
Andrew: I do.
Lesley: Do you?
Andrew: I should know.
Lesley: Okay. So can I give me the official and then the unofficial one.
Andrew: Yeah, the unofficial.
Lesley: Your clients will love the unofficial.
Andrew: They’re going to love it.
Lesley: So the official one is we were Colourworks, so the CW, and our partners in Johannesburg with Designers Ink, so we became CWDi. We had an option of being clever or being logical. We chose logical and became CWDi. But because we’re 95% woman, the unofficial is Chicks With Dicks Incorporated.
Andrew: I’m glad you went there. I’m glad you went there. All right. Guys, go check out And now I know why ZA is ZA. And I’m imagining at some point it’s going to have to be Is .com available?
Lesley: Well, I don’t think so because I think that’s where we came across the . . .
Andrew: Let’s find out, CW . . . But look, .co is still available. Everyone is going .co. .com is old school. .co is the future.
Lesley: We’ve got . . . Oh, fabulous. Contemporary Web Design.
Andrew: Contemporary Web Designs is on Oh, but you know what? They’re not really doing much with their website. When’s the last time they updated it? It doesn’t even say.
Lesley: Maybe we need to go and buy from them. But I quite like I’m going to go register it when I get back. Thanks.
Andrew: .co is a really nice . . . Especially since isn’t what you have right now? And you guys here in South Africa, you do, right?
Lesley: Yeah.
Andrew: Yeah, .co.
Lesley: Here it is. Here it is.
Andrew: All right. Thank you so much for doing this interview.
Lesley: It’s an absolute pleasure. Thank you for having me.
Andrew: Thank you. Now that the interview is over, I want to thank once again my sponsor Toptal. If you’re looking to hire developers, go to the place that so many of my listeners have gone to and have been happy with, You’ll get 80 hours of Toptal developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours in addition to a no-risk trial period. But yeah, go use that URL because of that and stay because of the beautiful model they’ve got on that site. That’s,


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