Learn to make the hard choices in life (Part 1) – Inspirational Success Story by Dr. Strive Masiyiwa Founder Econet Group

Learn to make the hard choices in life (Part 1)


As entrepreneurs, the decisions we make define who we are and whether we (and our businesses) will prosper. Important decisions that we choose NOT to make determine our futures even more! Beware if you hear a struggling business owner or manager say, “This time it will be different!” clinging fondly to a #product#process or #people that must change to grow… Either you make hard choices, or hard choices will happen TO you. That’s just the way it is.

Over the years, time-tested #processes (“models”) have been developed to help people make the right decisions. In this new series, I am going to mention a few of them (it will be up to you to do your own research to look deeper) as well as some of the #processes I went through in making some decisions in my own life.

Let’s get started.

When I decided to return to Africa after studying and then working briefly in the UK, I was still a bachelor. I had a good life, and could have gone on to build a great career there, working in an industry that would soon dominate the world, computer engineering.

Living in Cambridge, England, I was also in a great city with a fine university. Each day I interacted with some of the smartest people on the planet. I had an idea to return home one day, and spoke about it in coffee bars and pubs with African friends, but I cannot say I was deeply serious about it.

A letter from my sister who had just returned to Zimbabwe from Zambia, as well as a chance encounter with a Zimbabwean physics professor, changed all that in a matter of weeks. Initially, my biggest concern was giving up my career trajectory in an exciting new field.

Zimbabwe back then was hopelessly behind from a technological perspective. I would literally have to walk away from my world of microcomputers, and try and fit myself in somehow. I made the call, and decided to do the nearest thing possible. The job I accepted was based on a minor subject I had pursued at university. I did my best with energy and gusto with no regrets or complaints.

What I wanted to share with you today, however, was another big decision for me at the time. In my little UK apartment, I cherished two things: I had probably the most advanced stereo system you could imagine. Being an engineer, I had put it together with extraordinary passion and skill. People used to come and see this thing! It came along with a beautiful music collection of the most contemporary artists of my day.

I also had a “color TV.” I know some of you are probably laughing right now, but at the time having a color TV was like owning a Tesla electric car!

I was a really cool guy to hang out with, and I could also party!

Once I decided that I was going back to a country I had not been to since I was six years old, I moved quickly. I sold the music system and the color TV. I then drew up a list of books which I thought I may not easily find once I was back in Africa. Remember there was no Amazon or Internet in those days.

I put all my money into books, even selling collections of boots (back then I wore cowboy boots!) and I had an Afro!

I packed all my books in a huge wooden crate, put them on a ship and headed home with just a backpack, and a few pairs of jeans. My uncle who accompanied me to collect my crate was astounded at this “reckless young man who came home with nothing but books!”

Which strategic thinking matrix, model, rule, or type of analysis (if any) do you think I used in this decision #process? Which ones do you use?

Many, many years ago when my business was still small but flourishing, a friend of mine who was a successful CEO of a bank imported a brand new model of an E-Class Mercedes Benz. It was unbelievably beautiful; I just had to have one!
I ordered one directly from Germany, and carefully selected every aspect of it. This was to be my statement to all my peers!
#It was the ultimate status symbol.

This was right at the beginning of our legal battles in Zimbabwe. I needed to hire an international legal advisor, who could undertake a detailed analysis of the telecoms regulations, to see if there was an opening for me to challenge it in court. This type of expertise was not available locally.
The money the expert quoted me for the work was almost the same as what I had saved for my new car!

No hesitation!

To this day I have never owned a Mercedes Benz, but I did buy one years later [when I could afford it] as a gift to my Pastor and his family.

#Be wise, don’t go for status!

Let’s talk. Tell us about the hard choices you have made in life.

To be continued. . .

Strive Masiyiwa is a London-based Zimbabwean businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the founder and executive chairman of diversified international Telecommunications, Media and Technology group Econet Wireless and Econet Media.


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