Mr Nic Haralambous Founder of speaks!

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Nicholas Haralambous is the founder of the online fashion company,

Nic was the CEO and co-founder of Motribe, the mobile community platform, before the company was successfully acquired by the social network, Mxit in October, 2012. He also founded ForeFront Africa consulting firm before selling that business to Imperial Holdings.

He was selected as one of the 200 young South Africans to take to lunch by the Mail&Guardian, featured on GQ’s list of top 30 men in media and was also a finalist in the Men’s Health Best Men Awards. The company he co-founded, Motribe, was named by Forbes as one of the top 20 startups in Africa.

His career included roles at the Sunday Times, Financial Mail, 702, Mail & Guardian as well as Vodacom SA.



People like you and I have the innate ability to always make money.

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It was Craig Rodney who in passing conversation said, “People like you and I have the innate ability to always make money.”

Craig is a smart guy who says smart things for a living. He said that quote rather glibly, a week after I started my new business venture, but it has been floating in my *Cerebra-l cortex for the past month.

It may first seem a rather cocky statement to make, but Craig is right. Certain people will always make small fortunes, fortunes that are not necessarily in the billions of Rands but money that is way above average incomes and often enough to allow the individuals to retire debt free with a property or two, regular holidays and some healthy interest payments.

Perhaps you may think this is a case of trial and error and that most entrepreneurs lose their fortunes before making their retirement numbers. This may be true but there is something deeper at work, something that sets the successful apart from the mediocre. I believe that something is the ability to network.

Networking is a skill that can be taught. There are millions of pushy motivational speakers who claim to know  the key to successful networking in 5 easy steps. It’s the people who have a business and the natural talent to network which are the ones that outshine all the pseudo sales gurus. Let me define “natural networking talent” as an ability to integrate ones social skills with the needs of ones business, seamlessly, effortlessly and without expectation of a return.

Networkers I admire always offer up their contacts that can address my needs without expecting me to scratch their back too. They willingly share their information because they want to genuinely help and be supportive. These people are always on the top of my mind when someone I know may need their service.

Great networkers have cast their net far and wide thus giving them a broad spectrum of people they know and can refer to, when needed. They are approachable and always pro-active in introducing themselves to strangers. These people prefer networking face-to-face more than social media platforms as they thrive off personal contact and seeing people’s appreciation for genuine moments of friendship. Look at the successful people in your life and whom they are friends with – chances are they are successful people too.

I think it is basic Karma. Sharing is caring. What goes around comes around. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind.

Let’s hope that Craig was right about me.




*Sometimes I think I’m smart too.

Business : It’s not IN it’s ON.

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How much time are you spending working IN your business rather than ON your business?

Art installations in Paccar Hall, Foster School of Business

Over the past few years whilst helping small and medium sized businesses run smarter and more efficiently, trying to increase their cash flow positively and understand their margins, the same thing has cropped up over and over in every company: All the owners of these companies work long hours and are dedicated to making their venture a success, but lack doing one vital thing; working ON their business rather than IN it.


By this, I mean the owner runs the operation and is constantly fighting fires but never takes time to step out of his office environment and look at the business objectively analysing what he can do to improve where he is taking his business and how is going to get there.


In my opinion it is essential to take time out and re-evaluate what is happening from ‘inside’ the company at least every 90 days. With almost 90% of new businesses failing in the first 5 years, it is clear that the basics of understanding a business are lacking.


The obvious mistake most start-up business owners make is think that because they have the technical skills of making a product or delivering a service, they assume that he/she can make a success out of running an organisation that delivers this product or service. The technical work of a business and a business that does the technical work is vastly different.


Being “just” an entrepreneur is not enough. The entrepreneur needs to be a salesman, the product technician, the general manager, the accountant and the visionary leader. Without wearing all these hats in the beginning stages, the company will more than likely fail.


While working ON your business you should create a working manual that would in theory allow you to sell or franchise your business without you, the owner having to remain involved. This would then cover every aspect of your business, allowing the systems and procedures to make up for any skills lacking in the business and “fool-proofing” poor service and product delivery.


80% of your business is the same as every other business – why re-invent the wheel? Measure, improve and repeat your successes.


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Tel Aviv promenade

I recently spent three days in Tel Aviv, Israel, with a good friend of mine. It was a short, spur-of-the-moment, holiday trip combined with 3 days in Istanbul. I was last in Tel Aviv in 1994 when I was 19 years old. Israel was the first country I ever visited outside my home country, South Africa. I hated it.


I was never keen on going back to Israel and particularly Tel Aviv, as I just remember it being a dusty, dirty old city with run down buildings and possibly the worst architecture I had ever seen. I discovered that the style of architecture is now called “Brutalism” – a word that accurately describes the ugliness of the block-like buildings. Tel Aviv was a brutal place to see from the inexperienced eyes of a 19-year-old boy, who had only seen the best of South Africa during the dark apartheid years.


Nineteen years later and I arrived in a city that was going to be severely criticized by my jaded views and me. I was more than pleasantly surprised of what I found. Tel Aviv is a thriving multi-cultural city with an amazing beach and café culture. The buildings are mostly as I remember them, but having studied and experienced the world in greater detail since my last visit, I appreciated the intricate history of the Bauhaus movement and the move toward the Brutalistic era. I saw people, who are mostly middle class, enjoying a very pedestrian city filled with quaint streets, restaurants and multi-level retail spaces. The sea winds and the large trees that have been imported from Australia nearly 100 years ago cool the epic heat on the streets.


The public transport systems work efficiently but even more satisfying was renting a bicycle and cycling the streets with no fear or apparent danger. It’s a very livable city with a very non-religious feel, which again, surprised me.


The city had certainly changed a fortune in the gap between visits. Or had it?


I’m starting to think that the city today was actually very similar to what it is was twenty years ago. I’m starting to think that what has changed the most, was in fact, myself. Ones outlook on the environment will determine the experience they have and the level they enjoy it. My life has changed radically in the last twenty years and the cities I have visited, in many countries, have changed the way I saw Tel Aviv. It’s no longer a shit hole, but that’s because I was not looking at it in a comparative negative light.


We view our lives the way we want to see our lives. Looking at it from a positive and favourable standpoint makes all the difference. You can read this in any light you wish.