Quick-fire Q&A with Desikan Naidoo

Describe your leadership style
I don’t think I have a particular style, as such, but what is important to me is to be able to understand and empathise with people, as individuals. I am a human being. I feel. So to try and understand people is the most important thing to me as a leader.

Your top tip to beat procrastination?
Just get up and do it! The only time I might procrastinate is if my gut is trying to tell me something about an issue. Nine times out of ten one knows the answer, but if there’s a nagging doubt and I don’t know what to do, I will seek advice. I also don’t like emailing internally – if there’s something I need to say, I will get up and walk to that person and meet them face-to-face. I am a spontaneous person – so I’m not about planning or list-making , I just get up and do things.

Favourite getaway destination?
I have been fortunate enough to have travelled the world, but without a doubt, my favourite destination is Thailand. I have visited it many times, and feel that God has His hand there. People are not only friendly, they connect with you on a deeper level. It is my spiritual home.

Who or what inspires you?
Three people inspire me:

Jack Ma (former executive chairman of Alibaba) for his sheer self-belief. For Ma, nothing is impossible. In a world of uncertainty, you can decide what or who you want to be. I love that he applied 10 times to attend Harvard and was rejected 10 times! That persistence is inspiring to me.

My daughter, Nikaiya (6). She also believes that nothing is impossible. She is young enough to let her imagination run wild. She questions things that we take for granted. She is our miracle child, and she has taught me to unlearn things and see them through the wonderful, uncomplicated eyes of a child.

My wife, Lushanta. My best friend and life partner, my legal advisor, my confidante! She balances me, sees value in me and encourages me to celebrate successes. She has a truly big, generous heart.

Your one wish for South Africa?
I have so many wishes, but most of all I wish for South Africa calm. We live in such a volatile and complex world, and there are some things that we simply can’t control. I wish South Africans could be calmer, and more accepting of each other.

If you could have any 3 people over for dinner, who wold they be and what would you serve?
I would invite Donald Trump, Nelson Mandela and Jack Ma.

Donald Trump because I want to ask him this: “Do you realise that you could have such a positive influence on the world by bringing calm, instead your anger and impatience is derailing the already precarious state of the world?”

Nelson Mandela: To ask him how he managed to come out of all those years on Robben Island so humbled.

Jack Ma, to ask him how he managed to defy the odds to become so successful, without ever being aggressive.

I would serve them my wonderful, hot Indian fish curry – with pap.

What five pieces of advice would you give to aspiring young business starters?
• It’s not all about you. You need to consider what you can do for other people and create a legacy. If you are self-centred you forget about your purpose.
• Innovate: take something and make it simpler.
• Be creative.
• Go back to being a child. Play! Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, you will figure it out.
• Apply a rational mind: you will not get rich overnight, but if you change lives you will be successful.

What is the one thing most people don’t know about you?
I don’t like spicy food! And, I’m scared of dogs.

What would you do with an extra hour in your day?
I would play with my daughter.