Digital key to success


It’s quite rare to come across a personality like Mike Saunders … a man who is able to use his frenetic energy and mischievous curiosity to process complexity and spell it out in useable lessons.

A love of technology and a heart for people have been the fuel behind Hillcrest husband and father Mike’s entrepreneurial journey. Widely respected as an expert in the digital field, he is a true believer that technology unlocks the future and is a fundamental driver of one’s success.

As an international keynote speaker, digital thought leader, author and CEO of one of South Africa’s premier digital marketing consultancies, Mike has driven the social media strategies for some of the biggest businesses in South Africa. He’s revolutionised global strategies, launched marketing technologies, been instrumental in a host of start-ups around the world and developed digital strategies that have driven sustainable growth for many.

Recognised as one of the top global digital marketing experts and influencers to follow, he has received multiple awards and accolades. The most recent nod to his success though, comes in written form as author of the opening chapter of the globally recognised business book Doers & Dreamers, where he joins a roster of 150 renowned figures as the only South African selected to bring his unique perspective to this international collection.

“In some of the toughest economic challenges we have ever faced, we need to find ways to make an impact now more than ever. We all have our part to play if we want our situation to change. For me, it was putting pen to paper with these incredible people and hopefully inspiring people to make a significant impact,” says Mike, when explaining the importance of this project. ”It’s an honour to be included in such a prestigious group of business leaders, and I hope this book goes a long way to inspiring people to chase their dreams and make an impact,” he adds.

And speaking of dreams and meaningful impacts, Mike says these are the foundations on which he built his business, Digitlab, 13 years ago.

“Digital and business just fit for me, so this became my mission – to build a company that focuses on the gap where people and technology meet and to help people navigate this space. My vision has always been to create a global impact business that chooses to do things differently and leads the industry in its approach. I gave up drumming in rock bands to pursue this dream. Maybe that’s why I still enjoy public speaking – once on stage, you always yearn to go back somehow.”

While his keynotes focus primarily on how people and businesses can succeed in a digital world, Mike’s crystal-clear leadership philosophy and unique ability to present complex topics effortlessly are, without a doubt, his secret sauce.

His ability to engage audiences in an interactive, personal and energising manner, by drawing on his life experiences and personal stories, has catapulted him across the globe where he has delivered presentations and had the privilege of working with some of the most prestigious organisations in the world.

“There is something special about being able to share your ideas on a platform, whether in spoken words or through music. I’ll always treasure the opportunity to share a platform and ideas with people. I count myself lucky to be a part of such a challenging, inspiring and fulfilling space where there is scope for continuous growth.”

When it comes to balancing the privilege of being a husband and father alongside a demanding career, Mike admits this is no easy feat. But, he says, his three young children – Zac, Benson and Maisy – are a massive driver for him. “I need to set an excellent example for them to live their lives by.”

Although he lacks no confidence on stage, Mike doesn’t consider himself outgoing, or even a social extrovert, given the nature of his work.

“Life is not all about work, said the workaholic, but family makes it all worth it. My family are my people. They need my remaining energy, but they also restore it. My wife, Stacey, is my rock. Always supportive and our biggest fan, she’s great at keeping me in check and helping me set aside time for the kids when I get too wrapped up in work. She’s why our family is so blessed, filled with love and happy.”

When it comes to personal growth and development, Mike likes a good inspirational quote. When he has no idea what to do next, he turns to Theodore Roosevelt’s quote on his vision board: Do what you can, with what you have, for those around you. When he wants to find the best solution for a way forward, he reminds himself of Leonardo Da Vinci’s words: Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication. And when he’s tired and demotivated, he recites Charles Spurgeon’s famous words: Rest time is not waste time.

“I’m inspired by growth, personal and business, and the moment I don’t quite know the next steps to take, I am energised and invigorated. I keep myself motivated by always looking for the next challenge or learning curve.”

Mike also says he tends to hit low patches when he repeats the same mistakes, and is easily bored when things seem too easy.

“I find myself out of these places by precisely mapping out our exit path, and actively building what I know to be a better solution. You feel 100 per cent more motivated when you plan to change your circumstance, even though your circumstance hasn’t changed yet. You must constantly challenge yourself to grow, find a better way, and build a solid action plan. Always be ready for the plans to change – they always do – just don’t let go of that vision.”

Details: [email protected]

Mike’s top tips

  • Always remember that technology should make people’s lives better. If it doesn’t, fix it.
  • Never pitch over the phone!
  • Be true to yourself. You are the only person you need to impress.
  • Love your work.
  • Be significant, not successful. Success extracts from the world, significance adds to it.




About the book

Dubbed a symphony of ideas and actionable insights, Doers & Dreamers features interviews and articles by founders and leaders in inspiring companies and organisations like Airbnb, Asana, Toms Shoes, Nvidia, Craigslist, Techstars, WordPress, Basecamp and others. Every article offers a unique perspective on achieving your goals. Whether through hands-on tools or personal stories, you’ll find the guidance and inspiration you need to succeed. JumpStory publishes Doers & Dreamers as an eBook and hard copy. All proceeds are donated to the Danish Red Cross. Details:


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A hamper of recognised business books

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