CEO Memoir: Brand Integrity

Strive Masiyiwa
Dr. Strive Masiyiwa

Every day of your life you will have your integrity tested. Much of the time it is very small things that are almost unnoticeable, but at others, it will require every ounce of your integrity and courage. – Strive Masiyiwa

In today’s world of ‘get rich quick or die trying’, it is rare to find people or organizations with integrity, even among the very religious. Many would rather invest their God-given wisdom and ingenuity in pirating, plagiarizing or literally stealing other people’s hard work, than come up with their own unique concepts and make it a brand.

But inspite of the current Integrity ‘scarcity’, it is comforting to know that a few still uphold Integrity as a virtue and have it as part of their business hallmark. One of such rare men is a man I respect so much; a renowned serious minded African entrepreneur, with global impact and influence. His name? Dr. Strive Masiyiwa, Executive Chairman & Founder of the Econet Group.

No, I didn’t interview him, neither did he send a customized CEO Memoir for the blog… but he is a legendary CEO I follow on Facebook and recently when I read his post on “Brand Integrity Matters”, I couldn’t resist sharing it with y’all. So please seat back, read, learn and don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comment box.

Brand Integrity – Strive Masiyiwa

There’s a lot written about brands, and people much more qualified than I spend their careers studying and teaching about brands. You would do well to read and follow some of these experts.

One thing I’ve tried to instill is the importance of “brand integrity.” This is because, in the final analysis, a brand tends to take on the persona of its founders, and those who manage the business on a day-to-day basis. You must do your best, and try very hard, to instill in your brand a culture of integrity.

This is not easy, particularly as the business gets bigger, and you’ve moved away from the center of day-to-day action. In my 30 years running a business (I started in 1986), I’ve met and known some highly gifted entrepreneurs who looked ready to set the whole world ablaze, but after a few years, some of them failed spectacularly. Whenever I looked back on what had happened… more often than not, it was an issue of integrity.

The other day, someone brought me an article from an African Internet newspaper (I won’t mention the name because I don’t want to judge them, only to advise). The newspaper is run by young entrepreneurs who follow this platform. In the edition brought to my attention, they had an article in which they purported to have interviewed me, on the phone, whilst I was “in Denmark.” The interview was a total fabrication, and whilst I have heard that Denmark is a beautiful country, I’ve not yet had an opportunity to visit in my entire life.

This saddened me deeply because of the harm they did to themselves, and the integrity of their brand. A newspaper, even one on the Internet, is a business. It’s a business whose brand must be based on integrity, because people come to it to be informed about what’s happening. The moment you start writing stories out of your imagination, and print them as true, you’re on your way to practicing the ideology of Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s minister of propaganda).

Last week I also commented on the practice of setting up fake websites on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social websites, pretending to be someone else. In the beginning, it seems to be a bit of harmless fun. This is how most drug addicts began — a “little joint” became heroin…

It’s the same in entrepreneurship: The fake website can lead you to fake credit card identity, and fraud, and fake drugs that kill others… and maybe a very long prison sentence. It’s a slippery slope.

Africa has some of the most gifted musicians and actors in the world. Most of them go unrecognized, and live in poverty. They could be making millions, and standing on the world stage just like the most famous European and American artists. The problem is simple — “pirating” of their material, supported by some of their own fans who happily buy the fake products! This is blatant theft.

Every day of your life you will have your integrity tested. Much of the time it is very small things that are almost unnoticeable, but at others, it will require every ounce of your integrity and courage. Let’s do our best, every single day, to try and build brand integrity. We don’t need fake newspaper stories any more than we need fake drugs, fake credit cards, fake DVDs, and fake websites.

The original is always the best, and it has brand integrity.

The legend himself has spoken and all I can add is – understanding the importance and criticality of Brand Integrity will help us make better decisions that will not haunt us in the nearest future. .

Dr. Strive Masiyiwa is a London-based Zimbabwean businessman, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the founder and executive chairman of diversified international telecommunications group Econet Wireless.

Dr. Strive is internationally recognized for his leadership contributions in a number of areas outside of business including his crusading campaigns to stamp out corruption in Africa. He is a leading business voice, championing the establishment and promotion of the rule of law. Over the years Strive Masiyiwa has served on many international boards and foundations.

… And I hope you’ve learned a thing or more from his CEO Memoir.

I have learned a whole lot and made more informed decisions since January 2016, when I discovered and started following his verified Facebook page @Strive Masiyiwa. I strongly recommend that you follow him too (don’t worry you can thank me later #winks).

You can also follow Dr. Strive on Twitter @Strive Masiyiwa or learn more about him via his blog here.

Thank you for reading to the end. Wishing y’all an Integrity filled Midweek.

Much Love,



4 Replies to “CEO Memoir: Brand Integrity”

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