BACKSTORY: Everlytic’s JD Engelbrecht
We question JD Engelbrecht, MD of Everlytic, on his top tip for doing a deal, the one thing he’d fix in SA and what he wishes he’d known earlier
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
If you can’t be the most intelligent person there, at least be the most prepared.
What was your first job?
I was a corporate journalist at a small agency in Klerksdorp, and I worked on a very large agri account.
How much was your first pay cheque and how did you spend it?
R6,500 per month. I remember negotiating (I was pretty bad at it then so it was more begging, to be honest) for R500 per month extra so I could afford medical aid. I spent it on the essentials and tried to save as much as I could for the future and for travel.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Professionally: ensure you are valuable to someone. Know your worth and ask for what you want. Personally: you need more balance; don’t forget to breathe.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
To have everyone spend taxpayer and shareholder money as if it were their own.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
My mother once picked up a tattoo gun and gave me an ugly heart tattoo on my leg (with my consent, of course). It looks like a child’s drawing but it is my favourite of the six (and counting) I have. I have provincial colours in Tang Soo Do (a Korean martial art) and I once punched through 10 cement tiles in front of a crowd.
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
Working hard is overrated, provided you work intelligently. The most underrated virtue is kindness. Also, our egos stop us from acknowledging our own luck.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self that would impress them?
At 34 I’m hardly a senior citizen, however, if I could go back to my teenage self, I’d reassure them that there is a route to success for kind, hard-working, socially awkward people like us.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
Could we not rather talk about something simpler, like brokering world peace or creating perpetual clean energy? We must create new industry and jobs — this is where investment needs to go. We need to encourage private-public collaboration from a transparent, ethical policy platform devoid of self-interested politics. We need to show the private sector and foreign investment corps that we are open for business. To do that, we need to foster trust through rationality and consistency.
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