Gore said that innovation, which used to be considered a ‘nice to have’ by business, is now understood to be fundamental and is a key differentiator to success. The Discovery Group, which now has 5,5 million customers globally and has spread from South Africa into the United States, United Kingdom and China, was based on such innovative ideas, such as Vitality, which uses the concept of saving up points in a ‘health bank’ to promote wellness.
The use of incentives, Gore said, motivates people to change and behavioural change with incentives can be instant: “The beauty of innovation is that you start with the end in mind. People respond to incentives. And wellness and incentives are a universal concept.”
“Looking at the world through our customer’s eyes means that we are not defined by the industry we are in, but by the problems customers need to be solved. Innovation permeates everything and cannot be underestimated,” he said.
Other attributes of success Gore said he has found to have remained constant during his time in business are:
• Positivity and optimism – Success is attitudinal, not behavioural. Gore maintained that positivity makes you more rational, as it allows you to choose your scenario and work towards it: “When you are negative, you play to your fears,” he said.
• Set dreams and goals – “We are constantly told to set goals, not dreams, to always be more rational and realistic, but the real art is the ability to dream,” Gore said. He explained that Discovery was built on a dream and a vision, not merely a goal of earning return on capital. “At the highest level the core vision of making people healthier cuts across what is today a hugely complicated organisation,” he said.
• A sense of urgency – Successful people know that time is short. “You have to do something today, or nothing will happen,” he added.
• Never stop learning – “Your true potential is not as limited as you think it is,” Gore said. He added that it is important not to be arrogant and think that you have ever reached the pinnacle of your learning.
• Persistency – You can work harder.
• Integrity and honesty – Sustainable success requires integrity and honesty, Gore explained: “If you are a leader in business, people have to believe in you or they won’t follow you.”
Gore conceded that he has a reputation for a passionate and focused leadership style and said that he is at his best when he focuses on positivity, vision and encouragement but also on pushing people hard. “I am not a great believer in balance. If you have balance, you may be happy, but you won’t be successful. If you want success, you have to work hard. The pursuit of happiness is different to the pursuit of success.”