GG Alcock: Author & Businessman


GG, and his brother Khonya, are the sons of Neil Alcock and Creina Alcock, who still lives in the Msinga Valley, continuing GG’s father’s work among the Zulu people.
GG and his brother were home-schooled, under an acacia tree, by their mother until the beginning of standard six when the Department of Education forced them to go to “real school”.  He completed his schooling at a local government boarding school in Greytown, hating every minute of it.  Following school he completed his two years military service, where he challenged township duty and faced the inevitable consequences.
After army GG worked for a number of anti-apartheid activist organisations on legal challenges to the Land Act (where black people were dispossessed of their land). During this time he grew a fairly high political profile in the media and government circles of KwaZulu-Natal.
With the changes brought about by the unbanning of the ANC, GG moved into business and is currently the CEO of Minanawe Marketing (a very successful agency focussed on marketing to the mass market, rooted in consumer understanding).
GG is very happily married, and has two very beautiful blonde daughters who he will be expecting lots of lobola for one of these days, and lives in Joburg.  


My Definition Of Success | Success has been about financial freedom in particular to be able to more easily achieve a work life balance, being able to travel, to go on adventures on my motorbike with my wife through Africa.  Success should be about improving the quality of your life not the size of your bank balance, and I have been able to do this.

My Highlights | I grew up in a mud hut in a Zulu village with no running water, electricity or modern conveniences. My family was very poor and we grew up with very little. My mother taught us at home at a rock table under an acacia tree and I never managed to do any tertiary education due, in a large part, to our economic situation.  I however, have become a successful businessman and marketer and this makes me look back at the long hard path to this point with a good measure of pride.

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Writing my book Third World Child has been a highlight because it illuminates the plight and struggles of a rural tribal community who otherwise are anonymous.  It also reveals an invisible part of South Africa and our history which should be visible and appreciated.

The Difference Between Good And Great | Passion and optimism.

A Key Talent | My work is in the consumer marketing sector and in this it is critical to understand how consumers behave and how it is changing.   Research does not help in understanding this because in essence research is retrospective and assumes people will do what they always did.

To overcome this we spend time in consumer environments on a regular basis in what we call immersions.  In these immersions we place ourselves in the shoes of the consumer and are able to view how and why they do things, but importantly often we see trends starting and are able to anticipate and action marketing efforts to fit these trends.

Over the years, we enforced this form of consumer research in our whole team and are recognized as the most informed and in touch organization in the mass market.

No matter what the market you are in, find or develop a tool to stay in touch with your consumer and be the first to recognize and capitalize on a new trend.


The Characteristics Of Success |Growing up in a rural Zulu community gave me a unique insight into African culture and behaviour, and coupled with a fluency in Zulu this has enabled me to intimately understand and interact with informal mass market communities.  In a market which is relatively unknown and misunderstood yet critical to South African business a cultural understanding has been invaluable.

Principles I Live By | Family, there is no such thing as quality time, spend lots of family time, be there for you children, share adventures and experiences with them.

Create employment, opportunity and recognize potential particularly among people who have had no chance of a high quality education.  Creating employment is one of the most valuable things to give people.

Passion for life and work and an optimism and belief in my country and my people.

Performing At My Peak | By ensuring I fulfill my non work passion, which in my case is off-road motorcycle riding.  When I go to work after a weekend or other break I have rested my mind completely by being in a complete different environment and am revitalized to tackle work.

Resources I Use To Stay Inspired | TED talks are an amazing weekly resource not only for a direct benefit to my area of work but in showcasing different thinking and innovation.

Read, read, read – I read extensively and only non-fiction unless on holiday.

I subscribe to précised industry electronic newsletters which allow a quick snapshot of what’s going on.


The Best Advice I’ve Received |“Ensure that your past is at peace and the future will take care of itself.” Nxongo, a Mtembu chief, in explaining why in Africa ancestors must be appeased and why it is important to resolve issues from our recent history to ensure success in the future.

When the pace of change outside your business exceeds the pace of change inside your business your business will die!

Advice On Building Wealth | You will either have time or money, try and either use your time well while you have no money or money well to get the time to use your money.

Own your business or structure your remuneration in such a way that the more you achieve the more you can earn.

Find a niche where there is instability or uncertainty, for example electricity in SA, or the informal mass market, and supply an offering and service which resolves this uncertainty or instability. There tends to be higher returns and lower competition in these sectors.

On Inspiring Others | I believe that in the township and low income sectors of SA there are people with great unrealized potential.  It is more important for me to recruit potential rather than qualification and then make these individuals realise this potential through training and support.  Creating this opportunity to people inspires loyalty and excellence.



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