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Nobody wants to do business with someone who doesn’t believe in themselves – Meet Mike Abel

Written by Editor




When it comes to advertising, Mike Abel is happy to play in the world of perception, but he also realises that “perception is reality” and when it comes to doing business in South Africa, Mike believes we need to be changing our perception of the challenges we are faced with. What we think of the world becomes our reality. As the Chief Executive Partner of M&C SAATCHI ABEL, one of South Africa’s most successful advertising agencies, Mike has had to develop a keen understanding of how products and services are perceived.

In the latest Business Unusual Podcast, Ralf Fletcher, Topco Media CEO, engages in conversation with Mike Abel about the Metaverse, NFT’s, art and why more people and businesses should be staying in South Africa.


Key takeaways to listen out for in this podcast:

  • No-one wants to do business with people who don’t believe in themselves
  • The enemy of your business is not your competitors
  • The real value of the Metaverse is not about the virtual side of it – the value lies in what it will be mean for reality
  • Reality becomes important when you’re trying to make a social impact
  • There’s a difference between leaving and being drawn to something
  • By staying in South Africa you’re giving yourself the opportunity to make a difference. You won’t get that in places that don’t have the challenges you’re trying to escape
  • You need to find a way to be more useful to your clients
  • It’s possible to create great work while creating an impact
  • The people working with the best people win
  • You need to be a business person who is in love with solutions
  • Lessons Mike learnt from Lord Saatchi:
  1. Have some audacity – be brave
  2. You need to be able to ‘separate the wheat from the chaff’
  3. Don’t tolerate the ordinary


Mike Abel is regarded as one of South Africa’s leading business, marketing and communications specialists. He has over 30 years’ experience in helping build the most successful advertising agencies, through being able to attract and retain the best possible talent, in order to build his client’s brands and businesses. He has worked both locally and internationally over many years developing best-practice thinking and fully integrated business models and solutions to enhance both his clients and agency business performance.

In 2010 Mike together with his close and trusted friends opened M&C SAATCHI ABEL. Within 5 years it was regarded as one of South Africa’s top communications companies. In record time it was awarded Financial Mail’s Adfocus Agency of the Year in 2015 & Large Agency of the Year in Nov 2019.

 In October 2020 his book “Willing & Abel : Lessons from a decade in crisis” was published, capturing key stories, lessons, learnings and milestones from ten years of establishing the M&C SAATCHI ABEL Group of Companies – and those defining moments and people who have influenced his career spanning 3 decades so far.

Mike offers a wealth of insights into South African business, the creative industry, and is one of the foremost minds in advertising.


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