RMB Solutionist Thinking
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Solutionist Thinking: In Conversation with Rob Stokes

Solutionist Thinking with RMB is a thirteen-episode podcast series hosted by Bruce Whitfield focusing on the great South African minds who are thinking differently and going against the norm. In the twelfth episode, Whitfield interviews the Chairman of Red & Yellow Creative School of Business, Rob Stokes.

No plan, no vision – just a burning desire for an adventure. That’s what got Rob Stokes out from behind the waiters’ apron at the restaurant he was working at to start his own internet business, Quirk.

There’s no doubt that Rob wasn’t anything like the other kids at school, he was a ginger on a mission, a serial entrepreneur, if you like.

During his short time at school, he’d started 17 of his own businesses – whether they succeeded or not, for most, that’s 17 more than they’ve started in their entire adult lives.

So, what does the future of a bright boy like Rob look like? For a while, he was ahead of his time and found himself unemployable in tech, a field that South Africa just wasn’t grasping at the time.

Back then, it wasn’t about the destination, it was about the journey.

Rob Stokes, Chairman of Red & Yellow Creative School of Business

In 1999, he ventured into the tech world, selling his first computer to a close friend who came to work for him six months later, building websites at Quirk using the very same computer he had bought from Rob.

We were learning, we were having fun but, nothing happens until you sell something.

Rob Stokes, Chairman of Red & Yellow Creative School of Business

In an attempt to up their sales, Rob and his partners took a trip to Johannesburg, setting up 100 meetings over three weeks – no sales were made. The business wasn’t generating an income; Quirk was unable to cover themselves and, to pay their only employee at the time.

On the verge of closing the business, the company received a call from Keedo requesting a website – a project that saved Quirk from shutting down operations and, the business went on to grow exponentially.

You only feel the burden of responsibility when there’s other people involved.

Rob Stokes, Chairman of Red & Yellow Creative School of Business

Allergic to structure, Rob sold Quirk and shifted his interests to Red & Yellow Creative School of Business, the home to some of the best creative thinkers in the world. As the Chairman of the school, Rob is passionate about building up the business school of the future and, teaching up-and-coming business leaders to think creatively.

At the heart of it – the school is invested in driving change in South Africa by affording disadvantaged students the opportunity to develop critical thinking, creative solutions to business as well as the ability to make effective decisions that add value to their lives and, their communities.

The number one problem in the world today is that people are not well educated.

Rob Stokes, Chairman of Red & Yellow Creative School of Business

To address this need, the school has made a social promise by launching its Bursary Lottery and Bursary Braai – creative solutions that covers the costs of transportation, food and accommodation for 10% of its students.

Listen to Rob Stokes in conversation with Bruce Whitfield, as they discuss entrepreneurship, critical thinking and education in the full episode of Solutionist Thinking with RMB.


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