“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
This quote by American businessman and author Jack Welch defines my business journey.
When I was starting out as Kaka Sungura, I remember that he was reckless in making decisions; failing was not an option.
I later rebranded as King Kaka. He, on the other hand, makes calculated risks; his failure now provides an opportunity to reconstruct and rebuild.
Let’s subject these two people, Kaka Sungura and King Kaka, to closer study.
Kaka Sungura, in one chapter of his life, thought of starting an empire. A music empire. You know how they say that the vision may shift gears along the way? But let no one fool you, life is a teacher.
Kaka Sungura was a designer, a musician, a strategist, a public relations practitioner, and many other things.
My mentor asked if being all these things was risky, and if it would result in my stretching myself too thin.
But at that point in my life, sharing wasn’t a word in my dictionary. Plus, I hadn’t seen the bigger picture. I had an idea but didn’t realise my vision was bigger than myself.
Kaka Sungura struggled with execution, and while there were some who congratulated him for being ahead of his time, there were those who laughed at his ideas.
As an entrepreneur, you have to know how to filter positive and negative energy. We all have melting points, and these points in one way or another affect how we progress.
Most of my friends laughed when I said I had a management company called Kaka Empire. Nearly 75 per cent of them discouraged me, and this almost got to me. But I was determined not to let other people’s words stop me. They didn’t understand my vision; only I knew where it was headed.
Building the dream
So I ignored them. The few up-and-coming tracks that Kaka Sungura released had Kaka Empire written all over them.
I surrounded myself with people who could see my vision and correct me in an encouraging manner.
At some point, I felt like I was going crazy with the work overload, so I looked for a couple of friends who believed in what I had shown them. I gave them ranks in my dream.
All I needed then was a strong vision, which set a strong foundation for this building called Kaka Empire.
What people don’t know is that back then, I wasn’t a good leader, and this is a very honest analysis coming from me.
I kept reading popular magazines like The Source and XXL, and I learnt all I could.
I was willing to learn because I wanted success so badly, and Kaka Empire had no choice but to work out. I also found out that the more time you put in one craft, the more you learn.
I got two of my long-term friends to come on board. I set up meetings with some artistes’ managers just so that I could learn the tricks of the trade given this business was not as vibrant as most branches of the music industry.
Here I was, 23 years old, and I went ahead and took a bigger risk and signed my first artiste, Femi One of the Tippy Toe fame.
But while all this was going on, I confess that I still wasn’t a good leader; I was young and willing to risk it all. As a businessman or businesswoman, though, you need to know your weaknesses and your strengths so that you know where to put in more energy.
That year I made headlines as the artiste who signed another artiste, and that encouraged me.
But I believe that in life, we learn as we progress. So I knew I needed to let people in to build this empire with me, which was one of my greatest fears.
How could I build something from nothing, and then all of a sudden just hand it over to ‘strangers’?
However, with time and plenty of consultation, I gained knowledge and realised that it was time to bank on partners.
Lead the orchestra
The Kaka Empire you see today was once the blurry vision of a bad leader who hadn’t defined what ‘Mr CEO’ meant.
I assembled a team and decided to share my vision, and later on, delegate certain duties. And in a year’s time, the company grew and obliterated earlier projections.
Now, if Kaka Sungura hadn’t gained confidence in a team, then it’s entirely likely that there would be no Kaka Empire today, or that I would still be in the same place I was when I signed Femi. Now her songs play on radio and in clubs, and Kaka Empire has grown to be a trusted management brand.
Kaka Sungura was growing himself; King Kaka is all about growing others. After all, a man who wants to lead the orchestra must first turn his back on the crowd.
The writer is an award-winning artiste and entrepreneur.