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Why Waitering And Junior Sales Jobs Made John Woollam A Better Leader The CEO of Euphoria Telecom, a business with a projected turnover this year of R120-million, shares his leadership advice, life lessons and success mantra.

By Nadine von Moltke-Todd

You're reading Entrepreneur South Africa, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

John Woollam

Vital Stats

Player: John Woollam

Company: CEO of Euphoria Telecom

Visit: www.euphoria.co.za/

John Woollam is the CEO of Euphoria Telecom, an industry-leading cloud-based business telephony platform.

He has been in the communications industry for over 15 years,and has launched two successful cloud-based business phone system and cloud call centre platfoms, namely Fat Budgie and Fleek.

Related: Why Great Speakers Are Great Leaders

Entrepreneur chatted to him about the most impactful business advice he's received, lessons he's learnt and his advice on being more productive and successful in business.

Q. What is the most impactful business advice you've ever received?

Never stop building meaningful relationships, especially with people in your industry, regardless of whether or not they are competitors.

I view competition as healthy. Much of my growth, experience and learning has been attributed to having good realtionships with key people in my industry, even though we compete for business.

The reality is that competition will keep you innovative, good relationships will keep you grounded and collaboration will keep you focused.

Q. What is your number one productivity hack?

One of the best short courses I have done is a time management course. It really assisted me in my career.

Related: How to Become an Authentic Leader

Time managment seems obvious, but it's rarely practiced. A simple thing like completing the hardest or "worst' things at the beginning of your day is always the best way of getting in front of your work.

Living a diary-driven life helps with planning as well, but you have to stick to it.

Q. What have you learnt is the most successful way to inspire people within an organization?

Collaboration, culture and accountability style. Great teams respect each other and are all willing to help out when needed.

Our culture is key to our success, as it drives through to every part of our business and creates an incredible customer-centric approach, where we deliver on everything we do.

Related: The Leadership Lessons That Have Helped Bevan Ducasse Build a R100-Million Business

Finally, accountability empowers decision-making, creating natural initiative.

Q. How do you manage mistakes?

We encourage people to take ownership of their role and give them the space to make mistakes. Proactiveness is always encouraged, provided they have considered the potential outcome and most importantly, considered the people who are affected.

We trust our staff. They will make mistakes, but more importantly they wil learn from them.

Q. What is your favourite business mantra?

"Don't fall in love with your idea, fall in love with the problem you're solving." @steli

Q. What would you train your kids from a young age on when it comes to business lessons and why?

Learn about people, learn to adapt and become an authority in your industry.

Waitering and sales jobs taught me these key lessons. My first job was at around 16 years old was as a waiter, then I went into a sales role in a very competitive industry. Both jobs taught me a lot about people and more importantly myself.

Related: What Kind Of Leader Are You?

Waitering: You learn so much about people. It's hard work and you are often treated badly, regardless of how hard you try. You have to talk to people, you have to be presentable and you have to be prepared.

I began to understand behavior and identify ways to approach different customers – some were celebrating, some were commiserating, some just wanted to be left alone and eat.

I learnt how to talk to people, how to upsell customers, when to be serious and even when to joke.

The key indicator of success wasn't always in the tips I made, but also in my growth at devolping the skills required to better understand behaviour and adapt to situations.

Sales: My first sales job was at a leading computer store. I knew very little about computers. I knew a few software products, but essentially I was thrown into the deep end.

Related: How To Be A Great Leader When Leadership Doesn't Come Naturally To You

The brain is an incredible thing though. The thirst for knowledge, along with the emabrressement of not having the knowledge, catapults learning (if you let it).

Within one month I knew over 500 different software packages and what they were used for, I built my own PC from scratch and I was pretty handy at understanding the printer segment too.

Once you have the knowledge, you become an authority to a customer. This leads to trust, and it becomes your responsibility to guide them to make the right decisions.

The lesson I learnt was that knowledge is key, so you need to ensure you know as much as possible about the business you work for and the products you sell.

Related: Why Inspirational Leadership Alone Is Not Enough

Nadine von Moltke-Todd

Entrepreneur Staff

Editor-in-Chief: Entrepreneur.com South Africa

Nadine von Moltke-Todd is the Editor-in-Chief of Entrepreneur Media South Africa. She has interviewed over 400 entrepreneurs, senior executives, investors and subject matter experts over the course of a decade. She was the managing editor of the award-winning Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa from June 2010 until January 2019, its final print issue. Nadine’s expertise lies in curating insightful and unique business content and distilling it into actionable insights that business readers can implement in their own organisations.

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