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This Is What Ran Neu-Ner Thinks Of Your Motivational Quotes

The Creative Counsel co-founder says hard work, not talk, is the key to success


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As Ran Neu-Ner explains it, the secret to succeeding as an entrepreneur is no secret at all - it comes down to actually doing the work. 

"When I was young I had a dream that I'd build and sell a big business. And before I was 40 years old, I sold my business in the biggest media and marketing transaction ever to take place on the continent to the Publicis Groupe," he says. 

Neu-Ner is the co-founder of The Creative Counsel (TCC), an activations company which was reportedly acquired in a deal worth upwards of a billion rand. He is also a venture capitalist, investing in young entrepreneurs in the marketing industry.

He was speaking to fellow entrepreneurs at a Suits & Sneakers event. The TEDx-style talk series was founded by Mark Sham. The event has featured speakers like speaker and trend specialist, John Sanei, radio personality, Gareth Cliff and motivational speaker and businessman Vusi Thembekwayo.

Neu-Ner spoke about the importance of emphasizing hard work when talking about entrepreneurship, and the need to kill the fallacy that entrepreneurship is about talk. 

"I'm not here to give you guys fancy quotes you can post on your Facebook walls to inspire your friends that need motivation. I’m here for a very simple reason. I’m just like you guys. I’ve been on the most incredible journey you could ever imagine and I want as many people to go through the same journey and have the same fun that I’ve had. And hopefully to have more success than I’ve had with less hurdles along the way," he says.

Here are Neu-Ner's 5 ways that you too can walk the walk.

Lesson 1: Take The Leap And Commit
"You can't be an entrepreneur and work in a full-time job. That's what you call a 'closet entrepreneur'. My first lesson is you've got to come out of the closet. The reality is that life is structured to give you more responsibilities as you grow older. So when you're 18 it's very easy to start a business. When you're 40 and you've got three kids, it becomes a little bit more difficult to take the risk. What people don't actually understand is that the ability to take risk is the best currency in the world. It's more valuable than cattle."

Lesson 2: Look Failure In The Eye And Do It Anyway 
"I believe we should celebrate failure. You've got to fail four or five times if you are going to keep doing things differently. If you do things the same you're not going to fail, but you're not going to innovate and you're not going to change the world. In South Africa we have a culture, and our culture is that if you fail, you're shunned. In fact, if I see two people with the same qualifications and the same business idea; one's failed and one hasn't; I'm going to back the guy that failed every single time. If I hadn't gone insolvent, if I hadn't failed, there's no way that I'd be here today."

Lesson 3: Gain All The Experience You Can - That Will Be Your Wealth
"Character is all the experiences that we go through, particularly during hard times. Most people believe that it's about how much wealth you have and how quickly you can make it. That's wrong. Every entrepreneur will tell you that it's [a series of ups and downs everyday]. And then sometime along the way it actually turns. And I call that 'the point of desperation' because I think that people who are desperate are the best people to back.

"What is important is not how much wealth you have but all the experiences you've gotten along the way. I call that your true wealth."

Lesson 4: Have Grit, It Will Get You Through The Rough Patches
"When I started Creative Counsel, I approached a gentleman called Alex Morrainey and said 'Alex, I need R100 000 to start a business called The Creative Counsel'. He wouldn't give it to me. Had he given me R100 000, he would have made R750 million. He didn't believe in me. The truth is I never believed in myself. Because when you start a business you always think small, you never believe that you're going to run an empire. And so you make bad decisions.

Let me give you one example. I was faced with the decision [as to] whether I should hire a financial director (FD). There were two FDs, one of them was earning R70 000 a month and the other was earning R100 000 a month. Which one did I hire? I hired the R70 000 a month recruit. I made a great decision. I saved R30 000, times 12 that's R360 000. And the FD worked for three years. I saved the business a million rand. But what did it cost me? Five years later we ran a forensic audit into our books and we found out that there was R35 million that was unaccounted for. I wish that the experience had [only] cost me R35 million. It cost me a hell of a lot more in stuff that I don't know about."

Lesson 5: Enjoy The Ride
"If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you've made a decision to get on a rollercoaster, which means you've got to enjoy the downs as much as you enjoy the ups. Yes, you've seen me on the covers of magazines, you've seen me on TV and you think 'Wow this guy is on the top of the mountain'. Let me tell you that it took me a long time to climb this mountain with a lot of problems along the way. And tomorrow morning when I get to work I'm going to be climbing a new mountain."

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