Financial Mail - - BACKSTORY - CEO of Nando’s

What is the one in­vest­ment you wish you had made, or had made ear­lier?

I didn’t buy Google at Us$85/share at the time of its ini­tial pub­lic of­fer­ing. War­ren Buf­fett made the same de­ci­sion, though, so I’m in good com­pany.

What was your first job?

I was a man­age­ment trainee at Pick n Pay. It was there that I learnt the very di­rect cor­re­la­tion be­tween hard work and suc­cess.

How do you deal with stress? What are your top tips for han­dling stress? Ac­knowl­edg­ing that I’m feel­ing stressed has proven use­ful to me; de­nial is deadly. I try to find an ac­tiv­ity that forces me to fo­cus on some­thing else for at least 30 min­utes, like try­ing to master a chal­leng­ing piece of mu­sic or a tough work­out. The ipad is def­i­nitely a stress re­liever.

What’s the worst air­port you’ve been in? Tu­nis-carthage In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Tu­nisia — the worst loose scrum I’ve ever ex­pe­ri­enced, and I’ve played a lot of rugby.

Nom­i­nate your eighth won­der of the world.

My daugh­ter, Lore­lai. She amazes me all the time.

On what oc­ca­sion do you lie? When­ever I bring an­other gui­tar home. I’m ter­ri­fied that the day may ar­rive when my col­lec­tion is sold for what I told every­one I paid for it.

Which phrase or word do you most overuse? Ex­actly right.

What is your big­gest in­dul­gence?

I suf­fer from Gas (gear ac­qui­si­tion syn­drome) and strug­gle to leave mu­sic shops with­out some new piece of kit I be­lieve will mirac­u­lously turn me into Jimi Hen­drix.

What is your most trea­sured pos­ses­sion?

I have a 1967 VW Beetle that’s in a con­stant state of re­fine­ment. The best ther­apy in the world is to go for a drive for a cou­ple of hours with­out power steer­ing, air con­di­tion­ing, au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and so forth. It’s im­pos­si­ble not to smile after that.

What is your big­gest re­gret?

Not meet­ing Do­minique, my wife, a lot ear­lier in my life. She’s my per­fect part­ner in ev­ery way, and strong enough not to in­dulge my non­sense.

What’s the most in­ter­est­ing thing about you that peo­ple don’t know?

I was an art school dropout. I ap­pre­ci­ate the irony of my life, though, as I now work for the com­pany that owns the largest col­lec­tion of SA art in the world, and I’m con­stantly ex­posed to this beauty in our restau­rants and at our cen­tral kitchen.


What are you read­ing at the mo­ment? What’s the one book every­one should read be­fore they die? I’m read­ing by Yu­val Noah Harari. I think ev­ery African should read by Chinua Achebe and, if you’re in busi­ness, by Jim Collins.

Hu­mankind Apart Sapi­ens: A Brief His­tory of Good to Great Things Fall

Which his­tor­i­cal fig­ure do you most iden­tify with?

Leonardo da Vinci — not be­cause I think I’m a ge­nius, but sim­ply be­cause he’s so hard to de­fine. He had a sig­nif­i­cant ef­fect in di­verse fields, from the art world all the way to en­gi­neer­ing.

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