Mosidi Seretlo helps marketing leaders to strategically navigate the rapidly evolving marketing landscape in a complex and dynamic world. After 24 years in corporate, she stepped down and launched Mosidi K Seretlo Brand & Marketing Agency. Now a passionate Executive Business Coach working with senior leaders across marketing and business, Mosidi helps senior level Marketers build marketing strategies and plans that deliver business results. She has worked with a number of companies across Financial Services, ICT, FMCG & Energy business as well as B2B and B2C brands. Mosidi has endless passion for marketing, loves solving problems and helping teams to win. Find out more about Mosidi and her work at mosidikseretlo.org
A power player in corporate and now running your own agency. Such transitions are known to be challenging. What has been much easier than you thought that has surprised you?
It was actually easier than I thought. I bought a computer, and a printer and made sure I had a phone and internet. I registered my business, got a different bank account, and a designer for a logo. It was the best feeling I had. I was also surprised by the flexibility and owning my own time. What would take me 3 days to finish in corporate was taking me shorter. There is also no red tape, no “brown nosing”. No politics, I create my own terms and I am happy. Financially I coped, even though the money was not the same. I started thinking about what I was buying and whether I needed it. I found that I was buying things because I could afford them, but with a new mindset I started noticing that buying things was not the way to make me happy.
You’ve openly shared your story of rejection in corporate and that many women reached out to you after that. What were some of the ways their rejections manifested and what kind of support do you think would help one – e.g. anticipate, escape, cope with such experiences?
My rejection was a blessing in disguise. I was in a horrible toxic culture and I stayed because I thought that it was my only choice. With that I gained 30kg, I was pre-diabetic, and the doctor told me I could have a heart attack if I did not leave. I thought quitting was a coward’s way out. My advice – plan your exit. When things start becoming unbearable, and you know it in your soul, get out. Save money to cover at least 2 years of expenses. Pay off your debts and do not use your pension money.
Figure out a way to cope – By the grace of God you’ll survive. My faith got even better; my spirituality increased. I suddenly found God (again), and I started being grateful for what I had rather than look back. Never live with regret, choose hope and lightness, always.
When you started in marketing, you wanted to solve business problems and have done so for over 20years. Why do you think as you say that marketing faces the challenge now of not being seen as a driver of value in business and what should the marketing community do about it?
A lot of marketers have lost respect from CEOs because they don’t know the business language; over and over again the campaigns are not adding value to business. I see senior marketing people who are very busy putting out fires and start doing the job of the junior teams, because they are unskilled. Marketers need to understand they create demand and bring growth for the business. In order to do so they need to balance both the art and science (Creativity + measurement) to produce results. They need to come out of their corner and start adding tangible value.
Big data, influencer marketing are huge trends – You don’t seem convinced of the value these are purported to bring. Where are they missing a trick?
I don’t have a problem with big data. It can help with unpacking issues from a big set of information. But what I have a challenge with is, with all this data and information available, how come brands and companies are not driving growth? I tell you it’s because data can partly help (science) but there is also the art (creativity) that needs to go with it. Big Data will not tell you how to do a creative campaign!
Influencer marketing works well for some brands, but I have a huge problem with how influencers are doing this to help their own cause and not the brand. I have seen influencers whom we had in my old beer days – and then you would see them in public drinking competitor brands. I never ever believe it. When you hear things like Kim Kardashian gets paid money to mention it in her tweet, I stop believing what the brand says. Some brands have done it well.
Organizations are craving Innovation and tend to use the word broadly. Innovation being inherent to marketing, you would know much about it. What would you say innovation as it pertains to business problem solving is and how can organizations get better at it?
I think we look at innovation as a big thing. Innovation may be a big bang in the market, but sometimes innovation could come about in small incremental ways. For instance, a pharmacy I use sent me an SMS to alert me about my prescriptions that were due. I clicked on the link, was taken through a very easy to use form, was informed that they would be ready for pick up on a certain day. Simple but it surprised and delighted me. I think when you surprise customers and delight them, frankly that is innovation. And that is when magic happens. Innovation is about embracing failure as well. Most organizations don’t like failure, and that is why they don’t innovate.
You’re passionate about driving projects that lead to solutions in developing markets. Where do you think Africa can compete best on the world stage considering competition is very much global now?
I am actually part of a programme called African Women Entrepreneurs Corporation (AWEC) and there are 200 African women entrepreneurs. I am in such awe of these women; they are doing amazing stuff. I believe that Africa’s solutions come from Africans, and women make up most of that. One thing that stops many is funding. But with technology I believe we can see more coming from here. I am also seeing post COVID and with many women who got retrenched, they are seeing opportunities here in local communities (e.g. farming, making clothing, hair products). I am not sure whether trends will take us back to globalization or being happy to do things for our own communities/ and the African continent.
Another passion of yours is coaching young marketers. With the increasingly ethics-starved cultures we are working in, what are the most important things you think they need to learn to thrive in a rather dynamic career in a fast-changing world?
I think having a strong ethical and moral ground is key; knowing your worth and what value you can bring, having a purpose and understanding your why- having a strong internal locus of control.
You’re loving spending more time with your daughter now that you run your own business and have the flexibility. What do you most hope she’ll see you as an example of and why?
I hope she sees mummy is here and is working to make a better life for me. She loves me dearly and she is here for the things that matter to me. I hope she sees that I put the family first. I watched a video the other day of a pastor asking – who is there looking after your family when you are busy chasing money? I want my daughter to know she matters; she is loved and her mummy is her biggest fan. I want to see her grow up to be the kind of BEING we need in this world. She actually told me I am her role model – I cried because I thought I was not cool enough. But it turns out she thinks I am such an amazing mum.
‘’Give yourself permission to live the big life”- Awesome mantra you have there. What is the biggest life Mosidi is working towards living 12 months from now?
Mosidi is living her life of faith, belief and gratitude. My ethos /purpose is I believe no matter who you are, everyone has a unique contribution to make in the world. I would love to continue to be a good mum to Amogelang and continue living this amazing life of peace, joy, happiness. I love travelling so definitely travel. I would love to write a book. I would love to help more start ups in Africa narrate their stories