We question Mike Cathie, CEO of Nando’s.

What is the one investment you wish you had made, or had made earlier?

I didn’t buy Google at US$85/share at the time of its initial public offering. Warren Buffett made the same decision, though, so I’m in good company.

What was your first job?

I was a management trainee at Pick n Pay. It was there that I learnt the very direct correlation between hard work and success.

How do you deal with stress? What are your top tips for handling stress?

Acknowledging that I’m feeling stressed has proven useful to me; denial is deadly. I try to find an activity that forces me to focus on something else for at least 30 minutes, like trying to master a challenging piece of music or a tough workout. The iPad is definitely not a stress reliever.

What’s the worst airport you’ve been in?

Tunis-Carthage International Airport in Tunisia — the worst loose scrum I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve played a lot of rugby.

Nominate your eighth wonder of the world.

My daughter, Lorelai. She amazes me all the time.

On what occasion do you lie?

Whenever I bring another guitar home. I’m terrified that the day may arrive when my collection is sold for what I told everyone I paid for it.

Which phrase or word do you most overuse?

Exactly right.

What is your biggest indulgence?

I suffer from Gas (gear acquisition syndrome) and struggle to leave music shops without some new piece of kit I believe will miraculously turn me into Jimi Hendrix.

What is your most treasured possession?

I have a 1967 VW Beetle that’s in a constant state of refinement. The best therapy in the world is to go for a drive for a couple of hours without power steering, air conditioning, automatic transmission and so forth. It’s impossible not to smile after that.

What is your biggest regret?

Not meeting Dominique, my wife, a lot earlier in my life. She’s my perfect partner in every way, and strong enough not to indulge my nonsense.

What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?

I was an art school dropout. I appreciate the irony of my life, though, as I now work for the company that owns the largest collection of SA art in the world, and I’m constantly exposed to this beauty in our restaurants and at our central kitchen.

What are you reading at the moment? What’s the one book everyone should read before they die?

I’m reading Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari. I think every African should read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and, if you’re in business, Good to Great by Jim Collins.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

Leonardo da Vinci — not because I think I’m a genius, but simply because he’s so hard to define. He had a significant effect in diverse fields, from the art world all the way to engineering.

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