Interview
Courtesy of Mashudu Modau

INFLUENCED: Meet Mashudu Modau—the Podcaster that Entrepreneurs Revere

This young South African influencer and his podcast network Lutcha, are changing the entrepreneurship game.

OkayAfrica brings you the 2019 INFLUENCED Series. In the coming weeks, we'll be exploring the online communities being fostered by young South Africans who are doing more than just influencing. From make-up gurus and hair naturalistas to socially-conscious thought leaders, get ready to be influenced. Read the rest of the series here.

Mashudu Modau was born-and-raised in Soweto and is a young South African influencer who's using social media to help anyone who's interested in becoming an entrepreneur or establishing a start-up. Modau insists on staying in his own corner and simply focusing on the impact that he can have on his fellow South Africans. At just under 11 000 followers on Twitter, that's quite a number of people who're joining him in that same corner.

Modau founded a podcast network called Lutcha, a platform for African podcasters, comprising of five podcasts which speak to entrepreneurship, branding, marketing, mental health and fitness. The host of the MASHSTARTSUP podcast, Modau focuses specifically on entrepreneurs that have excelled and that are still starting out on their entrepreneurial journey as well.

Describing himself as an "eco-driven specialist, youth entrepreneur and part-doctor" he wears a number of titles but his passion and work center on the start-up space. Modau attributes his childhood curiosity to igniting the spark and eventual interest in business and when asked by MarkLives in a recent interview, whether he feels entrepreneurs are born or made, he said, "Entrepreneurs are made. In the fire. Literally. It's a process of constantly and consistently testing, learning, failing and starting over. Over and over again."

We caught up with him to talk about why he does what he does, the key lessons he's learnt from social media and what his bigger picture is.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.


How would you say social media has catapulted your brand or your podcast specifically?

I wouldn't exist without it. It's that simple. I don't see any other way in which I could get all my impact, get all the work that I do without social media. I started on Facebook, sharing as much as I could about incubators, about different resources you could use, about accelerators, all those different things and Facebook turned into Twitter, Twitter turned into Instagram, turned into a website, turned into a podcast which turned into a YouTube channel. It really does begin with social media and we constantly use social media to amplify our message and get it out there even more.

I don't think someone like me would survive in traditional media where the metrics for what makes you a good person to be on those platforms are very different to what the internet is. That's what the internet really is for me.

"The internet is the equalizer, you are in a fair market where you are open to compete with the best of the best, that's the biggest thing."

How would you describe the reception that you have had on social media?

It's very, very interesting. I think a lot of people are just grateful for the resources that I provide but they've always been there; they've always been public. I'm always just focused on making sure that people also stay focused. The one thing about entrepreneurship, is that the stuff that really matters looks really boring. My thing was, "Let's simplify this and make it something that people want to really engage with." Whether it's a Twitter thread on whatever sort of resource that is available or a podcast or video that people want to engage with.

In a recent radio interview, the guy who interviewed me called me a teacher. I didn't understand what that meant, then I looked at everything I've been doing and have done. In a way that is really what I'm doing, it's teaching but teaching in the millennial way, where you're really creating the resources that people can consume, the way they want to consume it as well.

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What would you say have been the challenges or even threats that social media has presented to you and your brand?

I think an interesting sort of challenge is possibly the lack of respect for copyright, there is no respect for originality and sometimes no respect for value. You can work on something that really, really has a lot of insight, a lot of learning and could really help people, but they won't pay attention because they don't feel like it was presented the way they wanted it—it wasn't "pretty".

The other element of it is a lot of people stealing content and literally just trying to copy and paste and become the new version of whatever I was doing. I've seen different things where people just copy and paste, whether it was podcasts or anything else really. As disheartening as it was, this is the world we live in now, so you just need to constantly and consistently compete.

Do you think that people underestimate the power of social media, even today?

Absolutely. I think a lot of brands and corporates don't understand how much more the platform can become for them. Also a lot of people are underestimating how bad they can be. There is a lot of good and a lot of bad and if you overestimate any one of them, you could really go in a bad direction. There are governments that need to be way more understanding of how powerful that platform can be for them and what they can rally do for them. I think we are only at the beginning of this and where it goes in the next five to ten years will possibly direct where humans sort of progress.

Using these platforms in the right way in order to encourage, debate or whatever, is a good thing and we need to constantly and consistently be conscious of how we use it to empower, educate and encourage people.

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People have referred to social media at times as a never-ending echo chamber. How do you get past all of the noise that social media can present at times?

Honestly, I'm not on social media for any other reason than to add value and that's the biggest thing. I honestly always think of myself as sitting in the corner and shouting out random things every now and then while everyone is having an argument in the middle of the room. So my thing is, while people are sort of arguing about this and that, my thing is, here's some information that could help.

Among the critics, the bullshit and the noise, it's really about offering value, offering resources, offering lessons, offering motivation, whatever it is. It's about giving of myself to really help things move forward and really doing that in my little corner. I think there are a lot more people joining that little corner that are going, "You know what? I don't want to just get into your life or I don't want to just meet you but I would like to change your life."

It's never been a game of, "Can I get this many followers so I can get this brand to look at me?" That's never been the game and it will never be the game. For me, the game is always positive value and positively impacting people's lives.

What would be some of your "pro tips" on influencing or thought leadership on social media?

Find your corner, find your voice and stick to it. I think the one thing that is really going away from social media is independent voices and also authenticity as well. I think the reality of what social media is pushes you toward pandering as a trend and constantly speaking about what's being spoken about. It's like I said with the analogy of standing in the corner while everyone is standing in the middle of the room, shouting at each other.

"So while everyone else is chasing likes and followers and retweets, my whole thing is that I'm going to offer value."

I think it's always about offering value and standing in your corner and being very true to the voice that you have, the voice that you've developed and the voice that you constantly want to shout out to the world.

Who are some of your favorite people who are in a similar space in terms of what you do?

I'd say one person is Karen Williams who runs The Throne. She is a brilliant person for the digital age and I think she is really building something that can be one of the most amazing, interesting companies for the future.

Another thing is obviously I love Yoco because its Yoco and one of the most interesting and remarkable startups to come out of South Africa and it's going to come out of Africa as one of the most interesting things that anyone's done. The impact of what they're doing is going to be so amplified.

I would also say Joe Human, who is a podcaster on our network. He focuses on branding and marketing but his whole thing is, "I want to speak, I want to try and add value and teach a lot of people." Also, Juanita Khumalo is amazing. She does wellness and health her focus is really just to help people live better lives.

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