BACKSTORY: Gidon Novick
We question Gidon Novick, co-founder of budget airline Lift
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
If you’re going to be working with them, make sure you like the people you’re doing the deal with.
What was your first job?
As a teenager, I worked at the Pro Shop golf store on weekends.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
I earned R13 a day, and then ended up spending it all at the golf store!
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
To explore lots of different things.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career?
No. I’ve loved what I’ve been involved in and the people I’ve met along the way. But I would love to spend much more time in the future solving social issues with a business mindset.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
The food system. I can’t bear the thought of people going to sleep hungry. Hunger should not exist — there is more than enough nutritious food for everyone, but our food system is broken. Our food rescue NPO, SA Harvest, is doing a great job here.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
We have eight dogs, and seven of them are rescues.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
When I was at business school in 1997, these nerdy guys from Amazon.com came to talk to us about their new online bookstore …
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt?
Just about everything is more difficult than it seems at first.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Probably patience, because mine is not great. A healthy dose of impatience helps get things done.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress him?
You are privileged and have great potential. Make a difference. Don’t stuff it up!
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
Ramaphosa is doing a great job in extremely tough circumstances. I’d spend less time and taxpayer money on airlines and more on building the largest potential job creator and foreign currency generator — tourism. SA can be a world-leading destination in a post-Covid world.
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