By Amanda Ellen Nicola Jojo
THERE are certain parameters that have been fortified by society when defining entrepreneurial success. One of the common reinforced conviction is; “Entrepreneurs are born not made.”
One of Zimbabwe’s finest media moguls, Trevor Ncube is a testimony that entrepreneurs are not marked from birth; they are people who made a series of good decisions in their businesses and lives.
In addition, certain schools of thoughts uphold that entrepreneurs are made from their childhoods, families as well as life circumstances, in some instances they are made from their past and present work experiences.
In an exclusive with The Entrepreneurial Magazine, Ncube revealed that circumstances beyond his control catalysed his entrepreneurial journey. By virtue of being a born again Christian, Ncube’s faith is a significant factor in his life and business choices.
“This is what God wants me to do and I believe media is the best space for me to live God’s purpose. I was headhunted by the owners of the Financial Gazette while I was a teaching assistant and doing my MPhil research at the University of Zimbabwe, Economic History Department.
“I hold no formal journalism training and I am dyslexic. After l was fired l was offered shares in the Zimbabwe Independent where l was the founding editor and this started my entrepreneurship journey. I acquired 100% control of the Zimbabwe Independent and the Standard in 2000 and became CEO,” Ncube said.
Ncube is the chairman of Alpha Media Holdings which has the Zimbabwe Independent, NewsDay, The Standard and Weekly Digest under its portfolio. He is also the host of an online show called In Conversation With Trevor whereby he sits down with high profile guests in a series of candid hard-hitting conversations.
“I got into journalism in November 1989 as a reporter at the Financial Gazette. I was soon appointed assistant editor. I was appointed editor of the Financial Gazette in 1991. I was fired from my job as editor in 1995 for being too critical of President Robert Mugabe,” he recalled.
The meteoric evolution of his media entity is mainly owed to organic growth and some acquisitions.
He stated that for one to become an indispensable entrepreneur there are certain non-negotiable elements that have to be incorporated from the foundation of the business.
“You must be passionate about your business idea and prepared to learn and innovate to succeed and stay ahead of the game. You must be prepared to fail as part of your growth,” Ncube said.
Ncube is a shrewd business man whose success is rooted in thinking long term, hard work, consistency, integrity, honesty, authenticity, discipline.
He has served at numerous boards including the Southern Africa Regional Poverty Network and World Association of Newspapers, World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Agenda Council on Informed Societies.
“Being on international boards has exposed me to international best practice and helped cultivate strategic networking and important relationships,” Ncube said.
His entrepreneurial expertise has earned him various accolades locally and beyond amongst them is being named as one of the most influential business people in Zimbabwe since 1980.
“My definition of success is living according to Gods will and purpose for me. The awards and accolades have affirmed me and made me realize that while we are working at what we do the world is watching and taking notice,” he remarked.
Since Ncube’s extensive business proficiency dates back to the 1980s era, there is evidently a generational gap. According to Ncube, the key to ensuring sustainable bridging of generational gaps in running a business is achievable through mentorship.
“For business to be relevant and impactful business must create room around the table for all generations particularly the young people. Mentorship and reverse mentorship are key in bridging the generational gap in the work place.
“I learn a lot from the independence, adventurous spirit and innovation of GenZ. Their understanding and use of technology tells me the future is digital,” he underscored.
Digitalisation has been impactful in various industries and various bodies of research indicate that, media industries have been transformed by several waves of digitalisation.
“I have fully embraced technology as an empowering tool to enhance my impact and productivity. Technology is at the heart of all we do at AMH and Heart & Soul Broadcasting Services,” he emphasised.
The fervent tycoon is of the view that operating a media house in Africa is difficult because the fundamental right to disseminate information is under constant attack.
He said: “Running a media company is never easy in Africa. This is because the state sees media as an enemy instead of a development partner.”
Since time immemorial, philanthropic efforts have been proven to be a vital force in business as it helps to build a sense of community and values.
Commenting on that Ncube said: “My way of giving back and paying it forward is mentoring young people who approach me for help and support.”
Being self-ware when it comes to skills and passions is crucial when it comes to running a business since it helps to build a team that complements an entrepreneur’s strengths and weaknesses. In regards to that, Ncube highlighted that he always surrounds himself with people who are far better than him and give them room to shine.
“If the team shines, we all win and I ensure that the team gets recognition. I encourage a culture of hard work, transparency, productivity and taking ownership through both my actions and my words. I model the culture I want to see among the people l work with,” he stated.
Even though he attained a lot as an innovator, education guru and a sought-after entrepreneur, Ncube is looking forward to what the future holds.
“I have been hugely blessed and my work has had a positive impact in Zimbabwe and the continent. I am excited about the future as l know that my best years are still ahead,” he expressed.
Entrepreneurs encounter a litany of errors and miscalculations, but it is their ability to learn from mistakes that significantly contributes to their accomplishments. In harmony with the assertion, Ncube pointed out that learning from his past mistakes have been part of his entrepreneurial success.
“There is nothing l would change about my past whether good or bad. My past has made me who I am. Some of my best teachers have been my most painful mistake. The scars from the mistakes remind me of the valuable lessons I learnt,” he remarked.
It is on the record that most entrepreneurs are usually caught up in the grind of around-the-clock work hence it can be easy to neglect work-life balance and get burned out.
In order to manage the stress and prevent burnout, Ncube engages in physical exercises every morning coupled with reading the Bible, pray and mediate.
“On weekends I watch sports, documentaries and do adult coloring. Evenings and weekends are for me and my family, “he said.
His perpetual relevance as an innovator, education guru and a sought-after entrepreneur has been owed to the love he have of his work.
“My work is my hobby and I am having a great time. There is nothing easy in life and business. It is the hard things that make us grow and become better at what we do,” he expressed.
Books have been known to encourage self-education and improvement, as such, Ncube is a testimony that behind reading, lies an ultra-successful entrepreneur.
“I suggest people go to #TrevorBookClub portals on the internet. Lots of book recommendations on these platforms from me and guests on my YouTube platform,” he advised.
He is married to Nyaradzo and has two children Keith and Maya. He draws inspiration from Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, Desmond Tutu and he identify their core values and work ethic.