DJ Sbu: I am worth R1 billion

2014-03-02 14:00

Entertainment impresario and entrepreneur DJ Sbu today launches his bestselling book at Max’s Lifestyle in Umlazi amid the festivities of the Metro FM Music Awards. Lesley Mofokeng,Charl Blignaut and Percy Mabandu quiz him about his life choices and get some amazing confessions.

How did you end up as an author?

It’s not a space I have played in before, but one I have always wanted to get into. This is a leadership book from our company, Leadership 2020, which I started last year with Nicholas Regisford and partnered with Marlon Smith?–?who is based in the US?–?and Disebo Makatsa, an MBA graduate who works for one of Shanduka’s mines.

We came up with a model where we make money out of doing good while we promote leadership, entrepreneurship and education.

All our events have been sold out over the past year and we are blessed to have also got a mention from Oprah [Winfrey] when she was on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. She bigged us up for the Leadership 2020 seminar we had and where [her partner] Stedman Graham was one of the speakers.

Who is buying the book?

I’ve spread myself out in my career. It involves TV, radio, entrepreneurship, music producing, deejaying and now another cap as a speaker. All these have afforded me an opportunity to appeal to different markets. I’m targeting everyone from school and varsity, to entrepreneurs and people on boards of companies.

How do you convince nontraditional book readers to buy?

The book is sold at R200 and it’s selling like crazy. I am there in townships and I see what people spend their money on. I see how many cases of alcohol they buy and how much the sneakers they are wearing are worth, so they do have R200 to spend on a book. It’s not like music. It won’t be out of fashion in three to six months.

The brand of DJ Sbu helps too...

Not just because of the name. They want to know my story. What are the mistakes I’ve made? What happened with Brown Dash and Ntando? Did I owe tax? Yes, I did. Did I make money when I was 22 buying all these sports cars? Was I dumb? Yes, I was dumb. It did happen. I lost a lot of money and I owed tax, and this is how I fixed it. I share my story and people want to hear it.

Why do you think a book is the best platform and not a popular format like a reality show?

Part of the vision of my education foundation is to get young people to fall in love with reading. It’s not easy to sell a book in the black market. I am really honoured that I am number one on book charts and not music charts. It means there is an appetite.

And the party moves to Durban this weekend...

Yes, I am launching the book in Durban at Max’s Lifestyle today. I am going to have no fewer than 5?000 people there because my approach is not talking and talking. I am mixing it with music, which is what people love. You have to blend with what people love. You can’t just expect people to change their lifestyles.

How difficult was it to move from DJ Sbu the entertainer to becoming an entrepreneur?

I’ve been blessed, I’ve made mistakes, I’ve made money, I’ve lost money, but I’ve never been in a comfort zone. I’ve always challenged myself to do the next thing.

What strategy are you using to sell it?

We have created a hype and unconventional ways of selling this book. I have a team of 10 people in each province and we sell in the streets, shebeens and taverns. I’m a workaholic. When guys are chilling with their girlfriends, I am out there working. When others are sleeping, I am working on proposals. It’s that work ethic that I try to impart to the rest of my team.

Do you out yourself as Mzekezeke in your book?

What’s interesting about Mzekezeke is that it has been about what he came to represent, which is kids who felt inferior because they didn’t go to Model C schools. I am not Mzekezeke. I’ve never been.

Did you have to sleep with the president to get him to do your introduction?

I’ve been working with the office of the president and the departments of social development and education. To get the foreword was difficult. It took me four months because the president doesn’t do that. But I wanted the man at the top to endorse my book. For me, it was also to prove to my audience that nothing is impossible.

Initially, I wanted one from Patrice Motsepe, but he was sceptical and said he could get Cyril Ramaphosa or Bill Gates to write for me. But I thought it was too far- fetched and people would not believe it, so I needed to go to the highest office in the land. My aim is to get the book on to the high school curriculum.

How do you make money while doing good?

I have been working with communities for eight years with my nonprofit organisation. When you keep giving and giving, you eventually run out. I know a lot of mamas in the township who look after orphans and a lot of them can’t keep going because they rely on hand-outs. We need a model that makes money while doing good.

A lot of South Africans are not exposed to the culture of social entrepreneurship. I love giving. I love young people. I needed to run a business that while we’re helping out, it generates money, so it’s self-sustainable.

What’s your take on the culture of entitlement?

I think the ANC got it wrong in the first place and I understand we had just come out of the unfair system of apartheid, but the elections campaign was “free jobs”, “free houses”, “free that”.

When you start preaching that to people, they absorb it and everything that doesn’t happen, we blame the government. Instead of blaming government, people need to come up with solutions. I never had a tender in my life, or a hand-out. I have always worked hard to get something done.

What is your education?

I went to township schools, boarding, got to Technikon Northern Transvaal, failed there and went to Technikon Witwatersrand, also failed there, found a door-to-door sales job. I sold in the streets and learnt these skills there.

I sold everything, including stolen cellphones that I’d buy in the township at a cheaper price, then come on campus and sell them. It was bad. It was wrong. I could have got myself thrown into prison. I stopped. I earned a bit of money to get back to school and finish my engineering studies, and worked for Telkom.

What has life taught you?

Humble yourself. I have been able to create and maintain relationships through people telling me to preserve my humility and respect others.

How’s your fiancée since you silenced her?

I think it’s a beautiful space I am in. I have a four- month-old daughter. Her name is Waratwa. She is the love of my life and the reason I want to work harder and grow in business. I haven’t silenced any fiancée.

What’s your net worth?

We will hire an auditing firm to ascertain that. But looking at my work in radio, TV, speaking circuit, albums sold, artists I produced, my following on social media, I believe the DJ Sbu brand is worth not less than R1?billion.

Are you a millionaire?

Yes I am.

How to make a Million - the gospel according to DJ Sbu

1. Work ethic - a lot of hardwork that goes with a lot of prayer

2. No shortcuts. If you believe in short cuts you will get cut short. A lot of young people love short cuts. You gotta be able to walk the journey. Invest in your journey.

3. Humility - being humble allows you to create relationships and to grow them.

4. Serving and giving and living a life of purpose.

5. You can never do it alone, get a mentor.

6. Get out there and use social media for serving or making money out of it. Use the tool to hustle. You can make a million out of this. We sold 11 000 copies with this book, it’s over a million. Social media can make you money. Be innovative.

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