Author of 'It takes a Tsunami' | Founder of Inospace | LIFT Airlines | Lisa

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Rael Levitt has been the Golden Boy of the Auctioneering industry in South Africa, but this all changed at the fateful Quin Rock Auction on 10 December 2011.  An entire legacy falling to pieces.

But this is not where the story ends.

A couple of marathons, two International Masters’ Degrees and just over a decade later Rael has managed to reinvent himself.  And don’t forget the best seller autobiography It Takes a Tsunami! Bigger & better.  In fact, he has aced the reinvention so well, that we should award the Platinum Trophy to Rael!

The dramas he faced shaped him for bigger and better journeys ahead.  And in between he learned how to navigate the 20th floor.  Or so it seems.

If you are in need of some serious inspiration, this is an episode that you have to listen from beginning to end.  In the car, at the gym or in your tekkies on the road.

This episode is sponsored by AddShine Corporate Gifts & Clothing. It’s all about helping your team to shine spectacularly!


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Episode Transcript

It’s when you go home at night and you think your life is a disaster and you’re on the floor and you’re gasping for air, it is at that moment when you maybe start applying your mind and learn a real hard lesson.

Welcome to another edition of Expedition Business, where we talk to inspiring South African entrepreneurs about the highs and lows of their business journey, and how on earth they manage to keep the flame of business adventure burning. ‘Cause, facing your day with a smile is sometimes the toughest thing you have to do. My name is Christél Rosslee-Venter, your host and the one privileged enough to be talking

to Rael Levitt, author of ‘It Takes a Tsunami’. But before I introduce Rael to you, I would like to remind you to please subscribe, like, comment and share this podcast with as many of your friends and family as possible. Without your help, we cannot continue to share the amazing stories of our South African entrepreneurs. But back to why we are here today.

Rael Levitt founded InoSpace in 2017, an owner and manager of service logistics parks. The company began with one industrial park in Epping Cape Town, and under Rael’s leadership, InoSpace grew its assets in South Africa and the UK to over R3 billion. He is also the founding shareholder of Lift Airline, launched in December 2020.

But before all of that, Rael was the golden boy of the auctioneering industry, which ended with an overwhelming media frenzy after allegations at the Quinn Rock Auction in December 2011.

Rael, welcome to Expedition Business!

Christél: It is, as I said, an amazing privilege. We know you are extremely busy, so thank you so much. I have a confession to make. I absolutely love autobiographies and one that solidly grabbed my attention is the one ‘It takes a Tsunami’. Have you ever heard of that book?

So how does it feel to see your book on the top 10 list?

Rael: I recently read a book about Gandhi. It’s like sitting and having coffee with Gandhi. And so I’ve always really, really enjoyed memoirs and I get so inspired by them and I sort of really like to learn great lessons and when you hear it directly from the person and whether the story is great or the story is not great. I remember one of the first books I ever read was about the late Anton Rupert and it totally inspired me what he did in his business.

So, I’d always actually wanted to write a memoir. Then I had a tsunami, both a literal one and a metaphorical one in my life. And so in COVID, I decided to not only be a lover of autobiographies but actually to write my own one. And I took inspiration from various other authors whose style I liked. And one of them was the Shoe Dog, Phil Knight, who started Nike. I always liked the way he wrote. And many others.

The founder Howard Schultz of Starbucks. So, when you read the text, you see it has a certain tone, but I’ve looked at other people’s autobiographies. It was a really exciting project, and it was a game-changer for me because it was more than just an autobiography. It was telling the story of what had happened in sort of both tsunamis. And the second one, which was the business of the commercial tsunami, a lot of people have never heard

from me about the subject because I kept quiet for so many years. So yeah, it was a great exercise and I really enjoyed it.
I did the audio version which is that of an audiobook which I actually narrated myself.
Christél: I believe it was a lot of fun when you did the audio version. When was that?
Rael: So the book came out in December of 2022. I mean it’s amazing how quickly time goes.

We are already halfway through 2024. So, it came out in sort of late December. And then the audio that so the recommendations get the physical one out and the audio one would follow. So that December, sort of over Christmas and then last year, it came out. That was a hell of a thing. And today there’s like AI apparently, I haven’t seen it actually. There’s AI where you read a section and it can read the whole book for you. But I did like the long draring version sitting in a booth in the middle of like

Christmas holidays and going in every day and talking through. Reading a book takes a very long time. And then I did the whole thing. And then I went back, and I listened to it and I sounded so boring. I was like, no way. I’ve never been an audio listener, but I became an audio listener and the one book which I like the content was Prince Harry’s book called Spare. I like the way the British accent.

So, I then redid it to sound more enthusiastic. It came out last year in March. But it is quite daunting listening back to your audio.

Christél: And I suppose you’ve been an auctioneer for a very long time where the bulk of what you do is talking, but it’s a different type of talking.

Rael:  It was. It was certainly because it was a monologue. I mean, that’s what it is. I wasn’t talking to somebody. But…

sort of hearing my voice, I’d always heard my voice amplified in speakers and things like that. So a lot of people thought that didn’t sound like me, but that part wasn’t, it was just the length of it.

Christél: I can imagine. But Rael, would you recommend other entrepreneurs to write their memoirs as well?

Rael: So I’ve always found an interesting thing in South Africa that

not that many businesspeople write memoirs. And if you look at the United States, it’s very common for people to write autobiographies and memoirs. And in South Africa, it’s like, if you walk into Exclusive Books, you don’t see the story of Adrian Gore or Stephen Koseff. And I think that those people have huge lessons to impart. And it may well be a South African thing with POPI and they don’t want to be noticed, whether you are a senior leader or you really just have a story to tell, which I did.

I think it is such a great lesson and something to leave behind. And, you know, interesting the other day, I was at friends of mine, and they had the story of the founder of Foschini in South Africa, which has been an international success story. And he had also started Lewis Furnishes, a double accolade. And what he had done was quite interesting. He had written his autobiography, but only for his family and friends. And I thought that was actually quite an awesome thing to do. And today it’s actually not that difficult to publish. So, you can self-publish.

You don’t even actually have to do a physical book if you want to. So, I would highly recommend that entrepreneurs do that and tell their story and let other people learn. And of course, their family and generations to come. Once it’s done, it’s done, and it’s recorded. And you know, we don’t want only Facebook as our sort of message to the world, or our Instagram shots. So, I do think it’s a great thing to do.
Christél: But I think unlike Facebook and Instagram, physically writing your memoirs forces you to go and

dig deep into your thoughts and your whole why you are in business, why you are on earth.
Rael: I mean, truth be told, my autobiography really tells the story of a rise and a fall of good times and bad times and recovery. And honestly, even the other day I was having a real like k@k day and I was like, you know, we all have those days. And then I was sitting at home thinking I’m having a terrible day.

Do you want to be here? And were doing this wrong, I’d rather be on an island and becoming a surfer instead of like dealing with people and systems and environments. And I actually even looked, found myself looking at my own memoir again to remind myself actually, you know, what did you do in that situation? It’s like strange sort of being out of your own experience and going, actually, you know what? What I’m facing today isn’t as bad as what I had faced 10 years ago or in my past. It’s just another day.

Christél: Absolutely, but just getting back to your memoir as far as I know you’ve sold close to just over 20,000 copies at this point in time. Do you think that it would have been so insanely popular if you didn’t experience the drama and all the media frenzy and everything that has happened at Quinn Rock on the 10th of December 2011?

Rael: Yes. So, I mean, so suppose it’s 20,000 in total that was including audio and on Amazon. And funny enough, I picked up an audience which I never thought I would people who like attending auctions in the UK. So, I suddenly started noticing that on Amazon and Audible, they were selling in the and in the state section. So, but you know, the majority was the Africa. I mean, the truth is the story had like a bit of a scandal element had had like so the answer is

when I wrote the book, one of the publishers asked me, tell me why you write doing this for starters, and who’s your audience? So, I actually think about it a lot. I said, OK, my audience is basically going to be, let’s call it three audiences. The first audience are really those who want to know what happened. Because it was a great media story, and it’s a long time ago now, 2011. But it was a great media story. And there are a lot of people who are around the time and say, you know what, I want to hear about this.

And so there was that element to it. And I certainly think that drove like a lot of sales. Remember like the, you know, 2011 is a long time ago. So, I mean, obviously you too young to remember 2011, but to me it felt like yesterday. And-
Christél: Oh, you’re such a charmer!
Rael: But the fact is that, you know, you’ve got a whole range of young entrepreneurs today. If you, you’re 25 years old today, 2011 was, you know, it’s 12 years ago, they were in high school.

And even if they’re 30 today, they’re still in high school. So, to hear the story, but I mean, they were more interested in the entrepreneurialism and realizing actually, you know, life does have a series of ups and downs and waves and good times and bad times. And I started very young in business. I wanted that market to read it as well. And then, you know, my third market was people who I’ve worked with over the years, run big businesses and to show them an interesting story.

And it’s quite interesting. I was in the States last year and I went to conference and I took my book with him. I love the America. Oh, you know, it’s so great because a book is like a big business card. And it is actually. So, you know, I was recently, we kind of put together a deal in Europe and I took the, you know, somebody wanted to know about these. I was like, here’s the book and you can read the whole story. You know, it’s just a very long CV which you can read. So those are the three sort of markets that I looked at. But to answer your question, yes, I mean, the.

the drama of what happened at Quinn Rock in 2011. A lot of people wanted to read that story and that was the part I had to be the most careful about because firstly, I didn’t want my whole life to come down to that, to that event. And I think that what happens to a lot of people is that whether it’s good events or bad events, often we bring our lives into like one moment, but yet there were many moments.

in the journey. And so I didn’t want, and in fact, even in the book, I only got to the Quinn Rock part sort of two thirds in. And I think a lot of people are just like I quickly want page through and get to like, ‘waar’s die skandaal and skinder’, but that certainly fueled it. But I mean, to me, there was like an interesting story, which I wanted to tell as well, which was, you know, trying to be neutral about it. I think it is an interesting story.
Christél: You mentioned in the book and in a lot of interviews recently, you’ve mentioned that

one of the big takeaways that you get from everything that has happened at Quinn Rock, or not at Quinn Rock, but after Quinn Rock, has taught you so many valuable lessons in life and that you wouldn’t be where you are if you didn’t get to learn those lessons. Do you think it’s possible to somehow avoid the drama, to learn the lessons without having to go through all the massive dramas?

Rael: Well, I mean, look, I mean, at the end of the day, you know, one person’s drama is another person’s day at the office or the day at the beach. So how we perceive drama is always different. And I’m conscious of that because at the end of the day, if you think about it, you know, for example, people are going to deal with things in their lives. And it is, you know, unfortunately, life. We always think our lives are going to be as we planned and in a career and we write it all out. And it’s going to be that way. But, you know, things happen. And so.

you know, we do have dramas. So like COVID was a drama, which all of us experienced. Who saw that coming? And unfortunately, we’re gonna have people who are obviously gonna have accidents and then pass away and things are gonna happen. And life is gonna be a series of drama. So for me, and again, determine what you call a drama, but the fact is that, you know, some people do have very easy, smooth sailing lives and nothing dramatic happens. I mean, that’s great to me. You’re lucky that has happened.

But I think one thing I sort of always believed in and certainly came out in the book and it emphasized what happened to me is that the negative things that happen to you are actually become your greatest lessons. And often I think when things go well and, you know, we are high-fiving and we are successful, we don’t really learn. That’s when you go home at night and you think your life is a total disaster and you’re on the floor and you’re gasping for air. It is at that moment when you really start.

applying your mind and learn a real hard lesson. And so, you know, and one of the books I’ve read recently, listened to recently was The Obstacle is the Way. So often, you know, and that’s my story, is that it’s the difficult times actually bring out actually the best in people, which is great for a South African audience because, you know, my God, I mean, we live in a country where like it’s always gonna be drama. We just need to open up a news app and see it. So, but the fact is that that does create something. And…

It can bring out the worst in people, but generally it brings out the best in people. So, I do believe that actually when we see bad things happen and we call it a drama, what we can do is not no one wants those times, but certainly to accept those and say, okay, what is the lesson in this?
Christél: I just want to quickly stand still at Quinn Rock before we move away, because there’s so much more in your life than just Quinn Rock.

But at the time when everything broke, you were the golden boy of the auctioneering industry. You’ve revolutionized the industry with, I think, 300 people that you employed, and with a turnover of around R5 billion. When you see everything literally vanishing before your eyes, do you not feel a…

point where you just want to stand at the top of a building 20 floors high and just fall down?
Rael: Yes. So, the answer is yes. I went through those sort of dark moments where I literally to me, to me, anyone, you know, you or me or most people, I mean, where we see hope, we see light. So if we see that there’s a way that things will come up and we see, but there was a time where

I just, I couldn’t believe it. I was so exasperated, and I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t see the light. And many people get into a state of depression with that. I then went and I actually went on medication because I didn’t really want to go to the top of the building and jump off, but I mean, it is not something that I didn’t contemplate. And I went through very dark moments and not seeing actually where the light could be. And then I decided, which I write about in the book, I decided after a while, okay, the only one thing, I can’t change then what has happened.

I certainly can’t change. Do I have regrets on my behavior and what happened? Absolutely. Do I? But I have a sister, a psychologist, I come from a family of therapists and my sister always reminds me, she says, look, you can go back into the past and wonder and your mind can ruminate, which is what I used to do. I used to ruminate and say, I did this wrong and I did this wrong and I did this wrong and I did this wrong. And then I also did the other form of rumination was, this person did something wrong to me and that person did something wrong to me. And that’s worse.

because now I’m blaming other people. And then one day I literally, I sat and I just said, okay, hold on a second, the only way I’m gonna reframe this and not want to go to the top of the building is to actually come up with a plan. And the plan may be so out there, I mean, because I’m gonna, you know, I’m sort of off to Quinn Rock. And, you know, if your listeners don’t know what had happened in Quinn Rock was in essence, my reputation had been destroyed and the company I voluntarily closed.

So what happened was that I sort of lost the business, but I also lost my identity because I’ve been doing it for so long, from when I was 20 years. And for me, it was those two things added to the fact that it just went on for years and years, the negative media. So I would have never have believed in my wildest dreams at that point that I would be the CEO of a company, which today is just that Inospace, it’s a three billion-round company, that that would have been possible.

And by the way, if I ask people, they say, are you crazy? And even my good friends and my kind say, don’t worry about even going back into business. Go sit on a beach and go chill out and go and run around the coffee shops of Cape Town and be a consultant, but don’t go back into business. That would be stupid. So the fact is that I certainly came up with a plan and I’m a huge believer in achieving goals. And it took a long time, but I don’t want to make up a quick story.

It took years actually for me to sort of get back on my feet and develop the courage to go out and talk about it. And just to like act. Well I think it’s a reality with I think almost every entrepreneur out there. There do come a time when things do seem very dark and you don’t see lights. And but people tend not to talk about it.

They only talk about the nice things and all the successes. Correct. I mean, it’s funny enough, again, it’s the one thing that the Americans always love talking about. It’s like, you know, the story of the sort of rise and fall and rise again. And I don’t, you know, I mean, I’ve said it in a political conversation, but the thing I always sort of like Donald Trump is always like, part of me bankrupt and then he was out and then he’s back in. And I think that that’s like, it’s much more than an American thing where they actually

They actually sort of like people who have had failure. And if you look at many of the stories of like people who have had failure and they absorb it. In South Africa we tend to be more or less English in culture. It’s like, oh no, don’t talk about the bad stuff. So we talk about the successes. But I mean the truth is that the great successes come from the people who have had great failures. I mean it’s like, now I love the, I mean many people do the Steve Jobs story where he gets thrown out of his own business.

So after I had the same PSG, I had to write a book, and then they fired me. So, and there are many in South Africa, Raymond Ackerman, the late Raymond Ackerman, things that we can pay today, but Raymond Ackerman was working at Checkers where he was fired, and he had to start a business. So the truth is there are many, many examples where actually those difficulties do produce great and stunning results. And I think the big…

message is it doesn’t have to end up like Marcus Huster that he had to take his life. Yeah, you know, of course it doesn’t. And it was, I mean, by the way, that story of Marcus Huster always like, you know, I don’t know Marcus Huster from A Bottle of Soaps. I’ve never met him, despite being in Sterling Bosch on the day of that auction. But I don’t know. But that’s a sad story, actually, that it ended that way, because it’s, I mean, you know, and of course, I mean, it’s sad and there’s

and pensioners and people lost money and the allegations of fraud, whether they’re hyperbolic or not, but there is a sad story, but there is also a story there of a person who did do miraculous things and maybe got lost along the road, and I’m not sitting there trying to cover for what was used to, or negate anything he may or may not have done, but the fact is that it doesn’t necessarily only have to end up that way. And also what happens, people also think in terms of age, because it’s so funny, when you talk to 30-year-olds, they all think…

Well, you know, if I don’t sort out my career by the time I’m 40, I’m like done. I often hear that, you know, the people in their 40s, oh no, you know, I’ve only got 10 more years because by the time I’m 50, I’m going to be like an otter. And then people in their 50s go. So but the fact is, there’s so many. I mean, there really are great stories. One of my greatest memoirs coming back to that was is actually the move called The Founder, The Founder.

not the McDonald’s brothers, but he had founded the McDonald’s journey. He really only discovered McDonald’s when he was in his mid-50s. And so the fact is, a dozen of people have many opportunities. And of course, we live in a world today, if you’re 18, you can become a president. So there’s plenty of time for people to come back and reinvent themselves. Absolutely, absolutely. Just quickly, what makes you still get up in the morning? What motivates you with?

in a space that is, as far as I know, now five times bigger than what Auction Alliance was. What motivates you to get up and keep on working, keep on developing? Well, probably the fear of boredom probably motivates you. But, you know, sorry for that, I’m joking. But the fact is that I’m not great like, and I spoke about it, no, I’m a great like founder, like starting new things.

I like being disruptive and innovative and in many ways often I think a lot of entrepreneurs are actually frustrated artists or because you’re creating something and so I’m using art as a sort of very general term, I don’t mean creative, but to me it’s like that something that starts in your mind as far as the conversation in your mind is that you can create and so for me that’s what drives and when I’m having like a bad day it’s like you know let’s just get out there and carry on and

and create the ultimate outcome. I mean, I think I am quite positive by nature. So I always believe in there’s gonna be a happy outcome and that does drive me and it’s like adding value. So at the end of the day, we get deeply philosophical. To me, business is the ability and that’s why I use that sort of concept of art or creating. But as an entrepreneur, you can create disruptive things that can positively affect small group of people or a large group of people or it can affect.

can positively affect impact in industry. And with that comes responsibility. And so, you know, there are days, I mean, I haven’t been on it to this week, as I’ve had this thing happen and that thing happened, and I was upset we lost a transaction, and one of the businesses I’m involved in, it hasn’t gone that well. And then I go, but you know what? You actually have a responsibility to the people around you, but to yourself, to just like, you know, at the end of the day, saying, you know, the only thing I can…

do is just go curl up into a little ball and fight another day. And so I sort of, that drives me just to get up and and to do it and to see that there is a successful and happy outcome. And in terms of challenges, you’ve learned so many lessons in all the years that you’ve been in business, which is I think now about 30 years that you’ve been in business. Yes. So do you still have moments where

you’ve got challenges that you think is way too much for you, way too big. You just again want to pull up. Yes. I mean, I, you know, like I was a friend of mine said to me the other day, it’s like, why do you do that to yourself? It’s like, um, why don’t you just like, okay, just why don’t you just like chill out and, um, you know, cause he, Emily’s wife went overseas recently and they took like a bit of sabbatical and they’re going like, I like Luton. That is really awesome.

to do, you know, I think it is something that I would like to do. So the question of sort of like the drive and constantly trying to do something. Yeah, I do think it’s something that you can look at and say, you know, why, why are you constantly, why am I constantly doing that? And for me, as long as like I sort of, I’m enjoying it and I like it, I do that drive in terms of the lessons that I’ve learned over the period. And of course, like

I certainly don’t want to say that everybody has lessons, and enormous lessons. Often we think our lessons aren’t as exciting as the lesson of somebody who’s more well known. But the fact that there’s so many huge lessons that we learn, and the irony is that, and I remember when I, so between Inner Space and Auction Alliance, actually I had like quite a long period of doing not much. And I personally didn’t like it, but I just didn’t, I used to wake up in the morning and I felt that I had no purpose.

And I’ve tried various things. I’ve tried to get involved in like a charity. I sat on a board and, you know, I don’t want to say that I’m like everybody because people do find enormous purpose in raising families and doing various other endeavors and enjoying themselves. For me, like I could only sit at so many beaches and I could only have coffee in so many coffee shops and I could only spend so much time with my family. I needed some form of purpose and business does give me that. It doesn’t, you know, that other things could be doing as well, but.

The irony was I went to go and study and I went back to university, which was really weird. I’ve been a CEO since I was 20. I was in my early 40s and I went back with a backpack on my shoulder and I went and I became a student of that. So I did an MBA, that was actually an executive MBA, so I wasn’t around 18 years old in California and I went to study in Singapore. But when I was there, I would keep this book next to me in all these lectures and I’d go…

These are the mistakes I’ve made and these are the lessons I’ve learned and this is what I will not repeat. But what happens is, and somebody warned me, they said that the irony is you probably won’t repeat the mistakes that you’ve made in the past, but you’re just going to make new ones that you haven’t thought of yet. And that is what has happened. So you can’t and we all have to watch ourselves because we get into repeat behavior. But the lessons are constant and I still to this day like to keep a little journal and I write down.

what are the lessons and what did I get wrong and what did I get right and the mistakes? And I’m like, and again, because I’ve come from this concept of like, the negative things which happened to us can be the positive things. I sort of beat myself up on when we make, I make mistakes and we went wrong here and we didn’t go right there. And I like to do that. Not because I’m, you know, depressive and need to be on medication. It’s a fact that I say like, that’s where in the lessons lie. Just a quick question. Speaking of studying at

the age that you did, do you think you got more value from your studies than when you would have done it in your 20s, before you had all the physical experience? I mean, there’s no question about it. I mean, when I was in, when I was at UCT in my, in my early 20s, I was, you know, I was rocked up on campus when I was 19. I mean, I knew like nothing of nothing. And so in fact, all I really wanted to do while I was at university then was just get out of university. So.

I mean, there’s no question about that adult education. And again, when you’re doing something that you want to do. So, you know, often when you’re 18 or 19, you’re not quite sure what you want to do and somebody tells you to do this. And, you know, in my era, it was a little less choices. There’s more choices, but there was a little less choices. So, I mean, studying as an adult is just completely different. And in fact, I actually did much better. I mean, I couldn’t have come rushing over to my parents to say I had good marks or good grades. But I didn’t have that impetus or my father saying, I’m not paying for your university fees because you’re messing around.

But the fact is that as an adult, you learn much more, and you come in with so much more experience. And yeah, I really do think adult education is such a great thing. And I think people should be carrying on studying and studying whether it’s formally or informally constantly. Absolutely, absolutely. I can just, while you’re talking, I’m thinking about my three children that’s at university at the moment. I should tell them they should stop studying. They should go and have a breakfast.

You go to campus tomorrow morning instead of all the guard line, wherever they do it, instead of them. Absolutely. Well, what would be your fun and exciting ways to relax and rejuvenate your soul? So, yeah, I mean, I suppose probably not to dissimilar people. I mean, the first thing what I like to do, which I never did in my early years, was exercise. So I think exercise is such a great thing.

Even in that book, I talk about running, because I’ve never run until I was the age of… I thought I couldn’t run, because we all tell ourselves stories. I was like, no, I’m a fat little boy from Cape Town, and I can’t actually really run. And then I suddenly one day I just found myself running and I landed up doing a marathon. So actually, there is a bit of a theme in the book about how running became an important thing for me to do, including…

doing marathons actually. So exercise for me is a great, because it’s not only, is it can be fun, but also I think it’s very good for your serotonin. And I literally try to go, I mean this morning, I was in the gym at six o’clock, and yesterday and the day before, so I do find that fun. In terms of switching off completely, I do like to read, and I find that when I’m very busy at work, I don’t know, many people are like this, but I find that actually my mind, I can’t actually fully concentrate when I’m doing that. So I like to go on.

I like to travel a lot. So some of it’s for business, but I like to just sit on a beach and really like chill out. I do like being in nature, like many people. I believe in active social life. I like hanging out with friends and family and with my family. And I like more than anything, hanging out with my dog because she listens to all my stories and always seems to like me for the answer, no matter where it is. And so those are the things that I enjoy doing.

said hanging out with your family, what would you guys do? Well, I mean, we’re quite a close family. So we get together quite often and we have a lot of like family meals and we do things together and we actually travel together and that would also be extended family. And so you know, those are the things we like to do and it’s like keeping in touch with families important. So we even have a sister lives in America and her family and so we try and see to that we get together we actually haven’t actually been together for a while and talk about her kids.

But just to see that we get together, because I think those things are important and they ground on. And to keep you sane. But I want to get back to your running. What is your big marathons that you have taken part in? What do you still want to do? Yeah, so I’m in the one, I mean, there’s interest in talking about the marathons. So what happens, I’ve started sort of running in my 30s and I’d run 10 Ks here and I’d run up to 10 Ks there.

I liked running on a treadmill at the gym. And then what had actually happened is in the midst of the auction alliance and the scandal and disaster, what had happened was I really went very pear-shaped at one stage. And I really thought, oh, am I gonna be like the future, like the great criminals? Am I gonna be, this was before Marcus, he was just a star, but I was, so I got up and I went to go see an advocate in Cape Town. And he was like, look,

this whole story has been overblown and so exaggerated. And he said, so, because I’ve actually brought a port application at that stage. And he said, so he was quite an eccentric advocate, he said, what do you like to do? So I said, well, you know, I like to auction. So then he said, well, I’m not going to do that. And he thought that was quite bad. He said, so he said, what else? I said, well, you know, I like running. He said, oh, I’ve got the answer. To keep your mind off all of this, go run a marathon. And I was like, are you mad? I can only run 10k.

And so he said, well, what are the big marathons of the world? So I said, well, I don’t know. I’ve never looked at it as, you know, heard of the New York Marathon. And so he said, okay, that’s it. That’s your strategy. Go run the New York Marathon. And so I actually decided to do that. It became one of my goals actually was to go run the New York Marathon, which I did, which was probably the greatest, like, yeah, one of the great moments of my life to do that New York Marathon. I mean, it was so great. And it became very emotional for me. I mean, I literally, I think I cried the last 10 kilometers.

Maybe half out of pain and half out of that I actually was achieving something. But for me, it was more than just a physical achievement. It was the fact that actually I sort of like overcome all the issues. And it was actually that moment when I not long after I started Inner Space because then I did that. I later did the London Marathon as well, which I enjoyed. And then I got into this thing of doing that, you know, they call it the Big Five Marathons around the world.

So I’ve done lots of half marathons here in South Africa. I did the, I actually did twice the Jerusalem marathon, which is very hilly. I was, but the ones I’d like to do is still Berlin and Tokyo and Chicago. Those are the three I’d like to get to. And do you ever get to do trail running? You stay in Cape Town with all those amazing trails. Yeah, I mean, I know, yes, I don’t really, because I-

Some reason I prefer, I mean, I live on the beachfront and I’m in Cape Town, it’s quite amazing because if you get in like a pocket on the Atlantic Seaboard, you can literally run 20 k’s without crossing a road. So I sort of live there and I probably more hike in the mountains, I don’t really do trail running. I always think I’m a bit unfit to know, because it’s much more difficult, right, than road, I don’t know, so I haven’t really done trail, but I probably should actually. So maybe I’m gonna write it down on my goal list to do some trail. I do know that.

Christél: There’s some most amazing amazing trails around you and yeah you can literally just where you live just go up and Everywhere as you know these entrances to start the trails and yeah, maybe you can tackle UTCT one of these days That would be really really cool to see you there
Christél: Well, if you could be 20 years old again

And I’m sure you’ve had this question many, many, many times. You started working as a CEO already of your first company at 20. But if you could be 20 years old again, what would you change?
Rael: Probably everything. But the fact is that I and again, you know, as we go through life, we’re going to answer that question different times. Most people when they start getting into like.

quite there yet, but they closed the sixes. You know, what I do is 20, I would realize that life is short and have more fun, but I didn’t, and I don’t regret it. So at 20, I was like working, everybody was having fun. I was working hard. So I probably think one of the things I would do differently or relook at is like, I probably analyze a little bit more and act a bit less because you know, I’m very action-oriented. So I just go out and I do things. I think it’s got an advantage, but sometimes you just do need to sit back and think and analyze. I probably would have found

mentors but younger because I only really was only actually my mate that he’s really sort of understanding the power of having somebody who was who could mentor me and somebody who I respected and I enjoyed. So I’d certainly be looking out for those sort of mentors before. I mean, I would also when I was in my early, when I was in my 20s. And I was always very worried about people would think of me because I wasn’t in a game that did drive me.

to an extent, but I think that those things suck up so much energy and in the end, actually, it’s probably one of the great lessons in my optional arts. So like, you know, don’t be that concerned because actually people don’t really care about, you don’t really care about what’s going on in their environment. So certainly, you know, that could be a great, a great lesson for me. And then it would be just to just again, to just sit back and think, you know, what if I’m doing, is it right? Is there a better way? Should I be doing

something completely differently and to be more introspective and just like doing things blindly. Okay, so quite a lot of things that you would want to change. What would you keep the same? Well, I think that curiosity, I’ve always been very curious. I would certainly keep the curiosity. I think today it’s actually easier to be curious because there’s so many channels that you can have. I mean, you could just literally spend your day on your TikTok or Instagram or Facebook.

can’t learn about new things. So I’ve always been like that I wouldn’t change about learning. I like and again, learning doesn’t have to be formal. Learning is literally every day becomes I’m about it. Shortly, I’m doing like an internal we call it a town hall and in this space and there’s I was like, there’s a book I was reading called it’s a book about CEOs. And we just got to my desk, you know, it’s just recently got

And I was like, and I’m like learning and I’m going, wow, I love this, I’m cutting out snippets and I wanted to share it with people. So constantly that curiosity, I think I wouldn’t like to stop. And I think that’s an important and that’s sort of, you know, that that’s sort of positive, you know, more is not the way up and fight out there. I would keep that for sure. Well, that is so positive to hear. You’ve mentioned books that you

read before and that you’re still reading, what would be, and I know it’s very very very difficult, but your number one book that you can recommend to entrepreneurs out there? So I’m in the one book which really had an impact on me many many years ago that helped me actually in the actual business was the book by John Collins called Good to Great. And I still refer to it. In fact, in our own company, I gave it to my…

CIO to read. He’s 32, but did come out a few years ago. There’s been subsequent books by John Collins, but Good to Great basically is a great guide to how to run a business. And I really love that book. I still, I’m even sitting on my bookshelf behind it probably is there to this day. I often even reread it and that’s really what

And he starts off basically saying that good is the enemy of great and goes to a very practical way of how to run a business. So it’s a huge impact to me that Good to Great book. Okay. I see there’s a couple of copies of your book. It takes a tsunami on the bookshelf. Well, those are the ones that weren’t sold at Exclusive when we got off the best of the list. Okay.
Christél: And your number one quote to inspire entrepreneurs.

Oh, I’ve got so many, I mean, I love quotes. And, but often my quotes are most really about sort of like, about tenacity and about sort of like, you know, tenacity is a breakfast of champions. It’s those sort of quotes, which I like. And I mean, I really do love, I love all the different quotes. And, you know, one which Percy Reserva did was like Steve Jobs’ quote, I might not get it right, but there’s one quote that was like, you know,

And he spoke about it in the context of when he fails at Apple and they fire him. He says, you know, the one thing is that when I failed and I sort of fell out of being a CEO, it gave me the freedom to be a startup again, it gave me the freedom to be like new again. And I would love that quote because it basically is saying that when bad things happen, it’s like it actually takes off the shackles of all your past experiences and it gives you the ability to be a beginner again.

And I really do love that quote and it resonates with me. It almost reminds me of the saying that each day is a new day. Yeah, absolutely. The reality is… I mean, South Africans and Afrikaans, there’s always like more, there’s not a dot. It’s the end of the day. It’s in Afrikaans, it means tomorrow is another day. So the fact is that, you know, I have like, in fact, I used to have it at work on the fridge. It’s like…

You know, I have to have the strength to know that today may be tough, difficult, but the real power is to know that I can start afresh again tomorrow morning. And I think also the reality that everyone stuffs up at some point in time. Nobody gets it perfect, ever. And if they don’t, they can create an Instagram story and it looks like they’ve got it perfect, so we’ve always got social media to pretend that life is just absolutely fantastic.

life is not perfect at all. And I think that’s probably also why I love reading about other people that’s had mishaps, because it just makes me feel so much better. It’s okay to make a mistake here or there. I mean, look, if you’re not a troper in here particularly, you’re making many, many decisions. And the fact is if you’re getting a hundred decisions, I mean, like literally you’re getting 50% of the decisions right, you’re lucky. But…

If you’re an entrepreneur and making a hundred decisions, you’re going to get things wrong. And in fact, you should be getting things wrong. And so, yes, you are going to get things wrong and you are going to make mistakes. Not everything is going to be perfect. Absolutely. Terrell, your metaphorical mountains. If you do get your trail shoes on metaphorically and you go for those massive

Mountains, which summits do you still want to reach within the next three to five years? So for me, I mean, there are a couple. I mean, the one is something which I’ve never thought of writing. I’m really trying again at the moment. And that’s just to get like, I really want to do, create a technology business and we have started one actually. So I just, because I think that that’s required different skill sets to get tech right. I do, I’m huge because I, because I like innovation.

I think technology is such an amazing thing and the AI that’s coming out now, but to actually to create a business around that would be a huge summit for me to achieve. And then like it is so, and this, you know, could go along with that. But the other summit for me is to be able to do something outside of South Africa. Now, you know, maybe we’ll have to go to South Africa because of the countries that said, but for me it’s like.

In many ways, for me, I have achieved in the South African context of building something exciting, and always ask myself the question, would it be possible for me to do that somewhere else? So that’s a huge summit for me to achieve. I, you know, maybe the technology does it somewhere else, because technology is a bit borderless, or it can be borderless. So those are two things which I’d really like to be able to tick the box on and say, wow, I got this one right. And then we can go back and sit on that beach.

Any specific technology that you are looking at? Well, I mean, what we did is in the space, we’ve actually built property technology. I’ve been in property, in fact, it’s been property my entire life. The auction business was in real estate. So it is in the in prop tech, what they call prop tech. And I think that’s a it is a rapidly expanding space because we all need we’re going to be in some sort of physical environment.

our running shoes or trail running shoes today, we need to go to shopping center, but it would certainly go through a warehouse. So real estate is a critical part of life and there’s one that is a pool that we can just keep standing up in a public square. But the fact is technology and real estate is something which I really am focused on and it’s something which I enjoy and something which I believe is actually gonna be growing. If we can just summarize your…

biggest lessons that you can give budding entrepreneurs to go forward? Yeah. And I think, listen, we’ve spoken a lot about it, but the, you know, I mean, there’s several lessons, but the first one is, I mean, I’ve got so many lessons where we start, but you know, the first one is as an entrepreneur is that you do need to try, try, try again. And failure is the lesson which we’ve spoken about at length now, but it’s certainly, certainly not.

the end. In fact, it often is just the beginning. And failure doesn’t mean the entire business fails. It just means you failed in a project or you failed in something that you did. But it’s certainly to have a tenacity to continue. So that’s the first thing. The second one, and I’m sort of listing them in my mind, but the second one is to surround yourself with the right people. I think that’s absolutely critical. And by the way, you are going to tell your kids to do the same thing, but you’re right. And it’s just and again in business. So you and

if you’re right, people are inspirational and you become inspirational. So do surround yourself with the right people and you know make those sort of like those difficult calls internally when when you are there. I think another great lesson is to map things out and to plan to really plan with the end goal in mind whatever that end goal may be and that may change but to really actually create like a to create a goal.

of where you want to be to create a strategy, and then to spend a lot more time on your strategy than what you think you need to. So, because often we develop a business strategy, we convince ourselves of the strategy, we fall in love with our own strategy, and we don’t bounce it off the right people. So, getting a mentor would also be a great lesson for people. And again, a mentor, people say, oh, my mentor has to be Steve Jobs, or it has to be Elon Musk, but it doesn’t have to be.

There are many people you can take that even business advice from on business people just because they’re practical. And so it’s like finding those people to take that sort of practical advice from. And again, often being a leader can be quite lonely because you always expect to have the answers. So it’s really to actually to have that humility to say, actually, I don’t always have the answers. And then to need to be authentic, just to say, tell people I don’t have the answers. Oh, I did mess up here. People like that actually. It’s been one of my great revelations. It’s like…

when you always pretend that everything is fine and you’re living to that Instagram world, where it’s just all perfect and your abs are great and you look beautiful because you spend three days trying to get the perfect photo, people actually don’t like that because they think that it’s not genuine. What they do like is actually to know that we all have frailties and we all mess up and we all have insecurities and we all go home at night thinking it’s like we’ve had a terrible day. So to be authentic, when you are authentic, I get people authentic back and people actually

Yeah, it reminds me of a whole neuro-linguistic programming concept that if you admit that you’ve got mistakes, people relate to you so much better than if you try and emulate this perfect world. Absolutely. And correct. And of course, I think you only learn that a little bit when you’re older. When you’re younger, you’re trying to create this sort of like… And again, I mean, the world we’re living in now, which is very visual and very…

I mean, one dimensional and in many ways not real because it’s, I mean, you think about it, all these social media platforms that we all look to and, you know, kids are, you know, they may be more tick tock than you may be more Facebook or Instagram, but all these things at the end of the day, they vary, they are just marketing tools. And people realize that if that’s a marketing tool, and if you want to market, like first question is, why are you marketing? Do you need to market yourself? Is that what you’re doing? And then, and secondly, is don’t forget, everybody else is marketing.

So I don’t believe that everybody’s lives are so beautiful because their marketing channel is good. All marketing is good. You never find anybody saying that they’re negative marketing. It was gonna be positive marketing. Absolutely. One lesson that you’ve just reminded me of today is that age should be celebrated. The…

The older you are, the wiser you are, and the more knowledge you have, the more people should look up to you, as opposed to a 50 year old or a 40 year old. Yes, I mean, you know, I like saying that, 1950s, I can say that, I need to say that. But the fact is that, you know, the world also changed a bit because of technologies, because all the very successful business people at many…

Let’s say youngsters would aspire to, were Mark Zuckerberg who made a success at 25 and the long muscles in a flying higher at 30 and so on and so forth. So, you know, it wasn’t always like that. In my old days, it was actually older people who’d been around. But I mean, there is nothing you can’t take away experience. I mean, and not like, you know, I have a brother in technology, he was telling me the other day, he only likes to hire people, like my brother’s not listening, he only wants to hire people straight at university. He doesn’t even want, because he thinks that people who are,

already 25 are actually getting a bit stalled in the world of technology, where he’s from, which that may be, by the way, the case in terms of fresh ideas and about AI and things that, you know, that we didn’t learn at that stage. But the fact is nothing is better than actually having the experience of life and people and failure and success. And that experience has to be celebrated and has to be drawn upon. And so, I often even say to people, talk to you grandparents.

They’re the ones who’ve got the real-life experience and know the ups and downs.

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