BACKSTORY: Tinashe Ruzane
We question Tinashe Ruzane, CEO and co-founder of FlexClub
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Pay more attention to understanding what problem your counterpart is looking to solve. Investing more in listening has consistently served me better than doing the hard sell.
What was your first job?
As a university student I worked in retail selling golf clubs and camping equipment at a big chain store on weekends.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
It was a measly R300 per weekend, which went towards easing my mother’s burden of funding my weekly fuel costs while I was a student.
What is the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
Early on in your career, focus on opportunities to maximise your learning and sharpen your talents, even if at the expense of short-term financial gains.
If you could fix only one thing in SA, what would it be?
There are many interdependencies in the challenges SA faces, but if those with the skills to solve these problems can’t feel safe, our likelihood of solving our biggest problems is reduced. I would work to eliminate the personal safety risks of living in SA driven by violent crime. Attracting and retaining top talent continues to be one of the best ways to improve performance, in cities, companies or even sports teams.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
As a teenager, I’d spend weeks creating and experimenting with 16-bar music loops. I’m constantly searching for new patterns in the world around me that help me understand it a little better.
What’s the worst investment mistake you’ve made?
I tried to chase "easy money". I remember my failed experiment with multilevel marketing, selling meal supplements as a side hustle while studying.
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve learnt?
That time is the most precious resource on earth.
What is something you would tell your younger self that would impress them?
I think my younger self would be blown away if I told him that he’d go from his humble beginnings on the outskirts of Pretoria to create a business that served customers in SA and Mexico, backed by investors across the US, Africa, Europe, Latin America and Asia.
If you were President Cyril Ramaphosa, what would you change, or do, tomorrow?
I’d increase accountability to the public by committing to have leaders at all levels report more regularly to them on the progress of their metrics, challenges and initiatives. If executives of listed entities are expected to have quarterly calls to report back to shareholders, I can’t see why a similar framework wouldn’t apply in the public sector. Citizens are both shareholders and customers of the country.
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