Vusi Thembakwayo can talk. Forget “gift of the gab”, this guy’s deep, resonant voice and slick delivery (devoid of the stuttering and painful thought-pauses the rest of us grapple with) of his own surname, Thembakwayo, makes him a world champion professional speaker. Seriously – he won the title in Australia when he was just 17. After his father died, Vusi and his four siblings were raised by a single mother. The middle child, he jokes that his confidence at public speaking might be a sign of over-compensation.

“Confidence is something you’ve got to develop. My mother was a cleaner at a company. Having confidence was something we developed. Our parents raised us to have a good sense of self esteem.”

Hear him speak and it’s clear he’s not short on that quality. Off the back of his plaudits for public speaking, Thembakwayo, 28, has gone on to run professional speaking bootcamps for individuals and companies. But talk is cheap if you can’t back it up. In conjunction with Motiv 8 ( the company he co-owns, Vusi and his three partners (a chartered accountant, an MBA and an entrepreneur) have consulted to companies in 17 countries in the last year – in industries ranging from retail to oil and financial services – on issues of strategy, leadership and change.

For Thembakwayo, partnerships have been key to Motiv 8’s success. But while they’ve worked for him, he urges caution before forming any yourself.

#BestAdvice: Hire the right people
My advice is if you can do it on your own, then do it. Then you can hire the skills and bring them into the business when you need them. Do that before you look for partners. Partnerships are like marriages, you’ve got to ensure you have partners whose value systems are consistent with yours so when tough times come around you’re not going to have issues about how you conduct yourselves. Ask questions like: What are their long–term goals? What are their lifestyles like? What car does he drive? How many credit cards does he own? These things will tell you a lot about the guy and how he’ll react in stressful situations. For me it’s important to have a partner who takes a long-term view, is aggressive in wanting to grow the business, but conservative in terms of how he lives his own life. I am fortunate enough to have great partners, but it doesn’t happen for everybody.

*By Tudor Caradoc-Davies