Award-winning businessman Sylvester Chauke shares how his passion for marketing and communications started, as well as his success tips to young people.
Sylvester has had a very successful career in marketing and communications, having headed up these departments at Nandos and MTV Networks Africa before starting his own company, DNA Brand Architects. He took time from the launch of his book on November 14 to chat with KDanielles Media about his journey:
How were you able to identify, from your childhood, the kind of career you wanted to branch into?
I must say, like any other person I wanted to be different things, I wanted to be a teacher, a journalist, and anything I saw on TV that I felt was meant for me. As young people, we go through that where we are not sure what to study. But what I think has helped me was being more aware of the things I really liked, and that is my advice- do your homework in what you really love and what you know you are good at. I understand that our careers are based on circumstance, but finding your true calling in life is your biggest job.
Can you share specific incidences in your childhood that made you find your calling?
For me it was quite easy (you’ll find my journey in my book), when I was 12, I was called for an audition for a television commercial and I was selected as one of the dancers. I then went on a shoot and was fascinated by the set. A few weeks later, I saw the ad on TV and thought, wow there are people who did this kind of work? And I learned it was communications, marketing and advertising, and that’s how I found my calling.
In your book, Stand Against Bland, you focus a lot on standing out, and you mention that you stood out when you were young. For someone who feels different, in anything, they might feel awkward and somehow it might affect their self-esteem, so how can you advice someone to embrace what makes them stand out?
I must say, it’s difficult to ask a young person to embrace it when they are going through it. In my book, there’s a chapter called Coming in awkward because I was awkward and I was uncomfortable with myself outside of home. Outside, people said I was odd and it was an uncomfortable thing because I didn’t feel I belonged and I didn’t feel comfortable in my community. It was challenging then, but only now do I realise that my awkwardness was my gift and it’s what sets me apart. You have to face it and be patient.
What is your advice to young people who have potential but face hardship at work and deal with difficult bosses who inhibit their progress?
I do agree that finding a place or a career where you can be yourself and challenge yourself in that environment is key, but I also have to admit that I also worked under and in difficult environments, where they didn’t want me to shine because it was a threat to the boss. And as black people we go through that, where we cannot be smarter than our bosses or the department head, so we have to dampen our abilities to accommodate them. But from my experience, I can guarantee you that good work is the only thing that backs you up, so when your work can speak beyond your boss that’s when you win. So be excellent in what you do because people notice.
How do you define success?
To me, success is being able to meet the goals you set for yourself. It’s being able to live a life where I go to bed feeling happy, appreciative of myself, and valuable to the world, not because of my job necessarily but by who I am.
What are your success tips?
I would say we need you. The industry and the country needs us as black people to take our place. There aren’t enough black people in our industries. There aren’t enough big things we come together to make, we always do smaller things and that’s why we can’t see our names on buildings yet. If you feel you have something to offer to the world, do it because it needs you.
Get your copy of Chauke’s Stand Against Bland book, exclusive at leading book stores.
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