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Updated 24 Sep 2020

Teboho Mafodi believes you should never stop learning – Even if it’s self-taught

Teboho Mafodi started out with few learning opportunities. In fact, many of his early skills were self-taught. But that has only made him appreciate the value of education. 

GG van Rooyen, Entrepreneur, 03 January 2017  Share  0 comments  Print

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  • Player: Teboho Mafodi
  • Claim to fame: Television and radio personality, motivational speaker and serial entrepreneur.
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By almost any standard, Teboho Mafodi has ‘made it’. He is a television and radio personality, motivational speaker and serial entrepreneur. This is even more impressive if you consider the fact that he had few opportunities early in life.

Just getting by required immense effort, and any skills that he acquired were largely self-taught. For example, he taught himself the ins and outs of IT, which led to his first business.

But despite having pulled himself up by his bootstraps and relying more on street smarts than book smarts, he has a great love of learning. And he has no intention of ever stopping.

“I eventually want to be Dr Mafodi. Of that I’m sure,” he says. “I want to attain a doctorate.”

An obvious question presents itself, though: Why bother? Why keep studying if you have managed to attain success without it?

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For Mafodi, the answer is obvious: It’s about knowledge. Having had little access to formal educational structures early on, and then later pursuing high-level tertiary education, he has seen the value of knowledge and insight. Regardless of whether it is formal or informal, learning is crucial when it comes to growth and self-improvement.

Here’s his advice on how entrepreneurs should educate themselves.

Keep learning, even if there’s no one to teach you

When I started out in the IT industry, there was nowhere to gain the necessary skills. I didn’t have money or time for IT school, so I had to teach myself. This experience taught me the importance of taking responsibility for your own education. Thanks to the Internet, there’s so much information available, so there’s no excuse not to learn. Don’t wait for someone to teach you. Teach yourself.

A great mentor can change your life

Some of the most important lessons I ever learnt were from a mentor. In fact, a great mentor, Zibusiso Mkhwanazi, is largely responsible for me being where I am today. I encourage every young entrepreneur to try and find a good mentor.

The lessons you will learn will be invaluable. Why learn from your own mistakes when you could learn them from someone who has already walked the hard road?

Don’t worry (too much) about money

Teboho -Mafodi -South -African -motivational -speaker

So many people are only willing to do a specific job if the pay is good enough. Don’t just look at the money — look at the expertise and knowledge that you can gain. Every job, if approached correctly, is an opportunity to learn. Think long-term. Focus on gaining as many skills as you can.

Related: Personal branding: Don’t underestimate the power of your first impressions

Don’t dismiss the value of learning

In a lot of instances, a qualification is just a piece of paper. I knew a lot about IT, for example, but struggled to get a job because I didn’t have a formal qualification. However, I still encourage everyone to grab an opportunity to study with both hands.

There is something to be said for formal learning. So much of what I am applying in my businesses today came from studying entrepreneurship at university. Also, without a degree, you’ll hit a ceiling. Even when I was young, it was my dream to one day sit on the boards of international companies. That’s unlikely to happen without a qualification.

Pay it forward

I try to help those who work for me to grow and learn. I think every entrepreneur has an opportunity to make an impact on South African society by helping those who work for him or her.

This can mean enrolling them in courses, or coaching and mentoring them on a personal level. Either way, you can help that person move beyond their current constraints.

Take note

Education is important, even if you’re self-employed. A qualification is about more than a piece of paper — it’s about gaining knowledge that can be directly applied to business. 

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About the author

GG van Rooyen, Entrepreneur

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