StartUp Tip #125: Make it hard to keep secrets

Secret document

Never lie, and you will win.


Because if your rule is to never lie, then you will stop yourself from doing the wrong thing.

If you avoid the wrong thing, you will do the right thing.

If you do the right thing, you win.

Former President Kgalema Motlanthe once said “don’t say in private that which you are not willing to repeat in public.”

You can use your willpower to avoid lying, or you can change your environment:

  1. Don’t use a password on your phone. A password makes it easy to have the wrong kind of correspondence.
  2. Live in a small town where there are no secrets because your business is everyone’s business.
  3. Avoid people that behave badly. You will be forced to cover for them and become an accomplice in the acts.
  4. Always have witnesses to important meetings. Don’t be sucked into a room alone, and into temptation.

An environment that makes it hard to keep secrets, will make it easier for you to never lie.

If you know you cannot lie, you will do the right thing.

Do the right thing and you will win.

Secrets are like a cancer in the soul. They eat away what is good and leave only destruction behind.

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StartUp Tip #124: Ideas that spread wins

Biko 2-1

Ideas are amazingly powerful things.

Yes sure, ideas on their own are not potent unless and until they are implemented.

Ideas are powerful because they allow us to see the world as it could be, rather than what it is.

But if you want to see how powerful ideas can be, look at the ideas that Steve Biko had:

  • The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed;
  • When you say ‘Black is beautiful’ you are saying, ‘Man you are okay as you are, begin to look upon yourself as a human being.
  • It becomes more necessary to see the truth as it is if you realise that the only vehicle for change are these people who have lost their personality. The first step therefore is to make the black man come to himself; to pump back life into his empty shell; to infuse him with pride and dignity, to remind him of his complicity in the crime of allowing himself to be misused and therefore letting evil reign supreme in the country of his birth.
  • Being black is not a matter of pigmentation – being black is a reflection of a mental attitude.
  • I’m going to be me as I am, and you can beat me or jail me or even kill me, but I’m not going to be what you want me to be. 
  • The basic tenet of black consciousness is that the black man must reject all value systems that seek to make him a foreigner in the country of his birth and reduce his basic human dignity.
  • Change the way people think and things will never be the same.
  • If one is free at heart, no man-made chains can bind one to servitude.
  • The great powers of the world may have done wonders in giving the world an industrial and military look but the great gift still has to come from Africa – giving the world a more human face.

These and his other ideas have a real influence well beyond the political field, in cultural organisations, in research organisations and in churches.

It is these ideas, thoughts, dreams and visions that Steve Biko paid the ultimate prize of death.

Steve Biko understood the power of ideas, and that he can actually be killed for them hence he said:

“It is better to die for an idea that will live, than to live for an idea that will die.”

He was killed for his ideas.

Ideas are not just words merely uttered, ideas have the potential to change the world.

We live in a century of idea diffusion. People who can spread ideas, regardless of what those ideas are, win.



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StartUp Tip #123: Be a rare breed



In the face of a world that can’t stop talking, are you that rare breed to hold her tongue, to think and do more than she talks?

That rare person who quietly discern things without being heavily emotional.

In the face of a world where everyone cuts corners, cheats, seek popularity, are you that rare breed who will go deep on issues, do more youfies than selfies, give credit to others, even when she knows she did the real hard work?

In a world where everyone wants to be popular, are you that rare breed who is obsessed about substance and doing work that matters than popularity?

In a world where people are obsessed about getting titles and positions, are you that rare breed who is a leader without a title, who is aware that titles don’t make leaders, but character, caring, humility, vision and resilience makes leaders.

In a world where everyone is competing against each other, are you that rare breed who possesses purity and beauty?

Being pure does not mean to be clean outside, but to also be clean from the germs of the mind, what we know as jealousy, anger, recklessness, selfishness. 

What tasks are you finishing that are rare, valuable, risky that few people complete?

What rare things is your business bringing to your community?

What rare quality are you bringing to the table?

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StartUp Tip #122: Entrepreneurs are not made in the classroom


You will not make money when you are always in the office or attending conferences all the time networking with people without converting those networks into sales.

Entrepreneurs are not made in incubators, or air-conditioned co-working spaces.

Entrepreneurs are not made in coffee-shop meetings.

Entrepreneurs are not made in the classroom.

You can have a PhD in entrepreneurship, but that doesn’t make you an entrepreneur, it makes you an academic maybe.

Entrepreneurship is a lot like athletics. You need to practice and train. Read books. Listen to podcasts. Look for role models/mentors.

But ultimately:

Entrepreneurs are made in the art of action.  

You have to run the race.

The classroom will give you important business tools, but it is the application that matters.

Entrepreneurs are made in the streets, in the race, in the trenches, prototyping, engaging, selling, taking risks, experiencing failure and picking yourself up.

and yes:

Entrepreneurs are made.

PS: By all means go to school, register for that business course, learn what you need to learn, it is important to know things to avoid in your entrepreneurship journey, but most importantly apply what you learned. The real prize goes to those who apply.

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StartUp Tip #121: The other kinds of laziness


There is the obvious sort of laziness, the laziness of not trying very hard, of avoiding strenuous tasks or heavy lifting, of getting others to do your work or not showing up for many hours each day.

We are quick to point fingers at others when we demonstrate this sort of laziness.

But there are other sorts of laziness, and they are far more damaging.

There is the laziness of racism and sexism, which permits us to write people off [or reward them] without doing the hard work of actually seeing them for who they are.

There is the laziness of thinking that just because someone is a celebrity or tv/radio/sport/politician star, therefore they are experts in all challenges of life.

There is the laziness of bureaucracy, which gives us the chance to avoid the people right in front of us, defaulting instead to rules and systems always saying “I’m just following the rules.”

And the laziness of rules of thumb, which means we won’t have to think very hard about the problem in front of us, and don’t have to accept responsibility for the choices we make.

Don’t forget the laziness of letting someone else tell us what to do, ceding the choice-making to anyone bold enough to announce what we are supposed to do next.

Or consider the simple laziness of not being willing to sit with uncertainty, dancing with fear, of the courage of holding on even when it’s easy to give up…

Emotional labor is very different from physical labor.

It is hard to measure emotional labour, for starters, and it is easier to avoid, but the consequences are significant.

When we find ourselves looking for a shortcut, an excuse or an easy way out, we are actually indulging in our laziness.

Next time when you tell someone that they are lazy, just check that you are not emotionally lazy.

The hard work involves embracing uncertainty, dancing with fear and taking responsibility before it is given to us.

It’s your turn.

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StartUp Tip #120: Touch it and make it better


The usual mantra is:

“Don’t touch it, you might break it.”

This is, of course, the opposite of:

“Touch it, you can make it better.”

What is the default in your business?

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StartUp Tip #119: “I didn’t do anything”


That is the first and best defense lesson every five year old learns.

If you don’t do anything, you don’t get in trouble.

I think somewhere along the way, this lesson flips.

“I didn’t do anything when I had the chance,” becomes a regret.

The lost opportunity, the hand not extended, the skill not learned, the empathy not shown, the work that matters not done…

Wouldn’t it be great if we knew what our regrets were when we still had time to do something about them?

Some lessons we need to unlearn while we still have time.

Build your startup to do work that matters while it still has a chance.

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StartUp Tip #118: The story of what and how


Small dreams work this way:

  • Figure out what is available; and
  • Then choose your favorite.

Important dreams are based on what needs to be done, and then… find your how.

It is always easier to order off the menu [what’s available and choose].

But is easier the goal?

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StartUp Tip #117: Courage to live your dreams


People are afraid to live their most creative lives. Fear has robbed many people of living their dreams.

I believe no amount of security is worth the suffering of a mediocre life chained to a routine that has killed your dreams.

Everyone has a dream, what is rare is the courage to follow it… even to the dark places where it may lead you.

Unfortunately a lot have traded their dreams for security and comfort and yet they are miserable.

In her book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, Elizabeth Gilbert lists some of the many ways in which you might be afraid to live a more creative life:

  1. You’re afraid you have no talent.
  2. You’re afraid you’ll be rejected or criticized or ridiculed or misunderstood or—worst of all—ignored.
  3. You’re afraid there’s no market for your creativity, and therefore no point in pursuing it.
  4. You’re afraid somebody else already did it better.
  5. You’re afraid everybody else already did it better.
  6. You’re afraid somebody will steal your ideas, so it’s safer to keep them hidden forever in the dark.
  7. You’re afraid you won’t be taken seriously.
  8. You’re afraid your work isn’t politically, emotionally, or artistically important enough to change anyone’s life.
  9. You’re afraid your dreams are embarrassing.
  10. You’re afraid that someday you’ll look back on your creative endeavors as having been a giant waste of time, effort, and money.
  11. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of discipline.
  12. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of work space, or financial freedom, or empty hours in which to focus on invention or exploration.
  13. You’re afraid you don’t have the right kind of training or degree.
  14. You’re afraid you’re too fat. (I don’t know what this has to do with creativity, exactly, but experience has taught me that most of us are afraid we’re too fat, so let’s just put that on the anxiety list, for good measure.)
  15. You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist.
  16. You’re afraid of upsetting your family with what you may reveal.
  17. You’re afraid of what your peers and coworkers will say if you express your personal truth aloud.
  18. You’re afraid of unleashing your innermost demons, and you really don’t want to encounter your innermost demons.
  19. You’re afraid your best work is behind you.
  20. You’re afraid you never had any best work to begin with.
  21. You’re afraid you neglected your creativity for so long that now you can never get it back.
  22. You’re afraid you’re too old to start.
  23. You’re afraid you’re too young to start.
  24. You’re afraid because something went well in your life once, so obviously nothing can ever go well again.
  25. You’re afraid because nothing has ever gone well in your life, so why bother trying
  26. You’re afraid of being a one-hit wonder.
  27. You’re afraid of being a no-hit wonder

All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.

It takes courage to live your dream. 


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StartUp Tip #116: Grit to great


The story we tell ourselves and the stories we tell our children matter far more than we imagine.

There is a huge difference between:

“You got an A because you are smart,” and

“You got an A because you studied hard.”


“I succeeded in getting what I wanted because I’m pretty,” and

“I succeeded in getting what I wanted because I worked hard to be in sync with the people I’m working with (charisma).”

Smart and pretty and lucky are relatively fixed states, mostly out of our control, and they let us off the hook, no longer responsible for our successes and certainly out of control of our failures.

On the other hand, hard work and persistence are ideas we can expand and invest in productively.

Greatness is sifted through the grind, therefore do not despise the hard work now for surely it will be worth it in the end.

There are no shortcuts to excellence.

Developing real expertise, figuring out really hard problems, it all takes time, longer than most people imagine, you have got to apply those skills and produce goods or services that are valuable to people.

Nobody wants to show you the hours and hours of becoming.

They would rather show the highlight of what they have become.

Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you are willing to stay loyal to it, it is doing what you love, but not just falling in love, staying in love.

Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening

Entrepreneurs are people who are willing to work 80 hours a week so that they don’t get to work 40 hours a week.

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