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Five minutes with Paul Galatis

Published: 5 March 2010

Paul Galatis is a brand consultant and web entrepreneur. He is a partner in and heads up the marketing for www.yuppiechef.co.za, an online retailer of premium kitchen tools. A UCT Bachelor of Business Science Graduate, he has a South African Music Award to his name; project managed the launch of 20-over cricket in South Africa; and ran a small design and branding consultancy in the UK.

Five minutes with Paul Galatis
Paul Galatis is a brand consultant and web entrepreneur. He is a partner in and heads up the marketing for www.yuppiechef.co.za, an online retailer of premium kitchen tools. A UCT Bachelor of Business Science Graduate, he has a South African Music Award to his name; project managed the launch of 20-over cricket in South Africa; and ran a small design and branding consultancy in the UK for the past four years. But now he is over the moon to be back in South Africa. Passionate about customer service; user experience design; and all things web, he believes that the South African online space is very underdeveloped but has huge potential. Paul spends five minutes with Totally MAd and shares why being reasonable is important; his love of Mac; and starting out a sherbert empire at the age of six.

1. What was your first job/ where did you start?
My first job was packing sherbert into little paper pockets for my older brother when I was six. We ran a sherbert empire at our junior school. We made tasty concoctions of Nesquick and Enos. This venture kept us busy for three months. He was the boss and made a grand total of R24 and I, being the slave, made about R6.50. We were rich! By the age of eight, we were dabbling in the world of piracy (it was my brother's idea, again), selling our friends music compilation tapes. A few months and another massive R250 in earnings later, we put that idea to bed.

2. What made you want to build a career in your profession?
I was introduced to the world of design and branding when I was 16 on a school exchange to the UK and was fascinated by it. I was beginning to realise the impact that visuals; language; and story had on people's perceptions of everything. But I was also very keen to learn about business, so I signed up to do a Bachelor of Business Science at the University of Cape Town. At university, I designed bits and bobs for friends and small businesses, and in my third year, I set up a small design agency at UCT and took on my first employee.

3. Describe a day in your life at present.
If I haven't stayed awake until 03:00 or 04:00 in the morning finishing a piece of work that I just couldn't put down, I will usually get up at about 07.30 and make my way to work by 09:00. At the office, I will jump between various marketing; design; sales; and customer service projects we have running, while keeping an eye on what is going on online. I get all my news updates through Twitter, where I spend a lot of time keeping in touch with people I believe are on the cutting edge of their respective fields. Social tea is a big thing in the Yuppiechef offices, so that happens at least once a day with our whole team. I usually have at least a meeting or two in the afternoon with interesting people, discussing how we could work together or simply to share new ideas. Once the office has gone home, I will hang around for two or three hours working in the peace of the evenings... no email; no cell phones; and even Twitter quietens down.

4. How do you unwind behind the scenes? List your favourite song; movie; and book.
I hang out with friends; I love going to new restaurants; running; reading; or heading to the beach.

My favourite song is Crack the Shutters by Snow Patrol; favourite movie is Finding Nemo; and my favourite book is Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

5. Who would you most like to meet – dead or alive, and why?
I would invite Marilyn Monroe around to discuss her affairs with John and Bobby and to tell me who really did roast her chicken on her final day. That would empty the conspiracy theory pot a great deal.

6. What has been one of the most important lessons you have learnt?
I was at a small junior school in Natal called Cowan House where we had a headmaster called Jerry Wilkinson. He insisted that as a school, we had only one rule: be reasonable. That little piece of wisdom is the most important lesson I have ever learnt.

7. What is your secret indulgence and your three ‘can’t live without’ items?
I can't live without my Mac; my iPhone; or my Nikon D90.

8. Who do you think is getting it right in the industry?
I think Zappos.com in the US is getting it right with its focus on customer service, and Innocent Drinks (UK) is getting it right with branding. These two elements push through in everything these companies do, and transform the way their customers relate to them.

9. Which person in the industry do you think is making waves?
I don't think any one individual is standing head-and-shoulders above the rest at the moment. There are several people doing good things, but we have a long way to go to bring the South African e-commerce world up to speed with the UK and US markets.

10. Who is your alter ego?
Hmmm... I’ve never had a need for an alter ego.

11. What is your favourite perfume?
212 by Carolina Herrera.

12. Which car would best personify you, and why?
I don't see myself personified in any car, but the most impressively-designed car on the road at the moment must be the new Audi A5. I love it.

13. What is your favourite reality TV series?
I watch about eight hours of TV a year. Reality TV doesn't really make it up there into those eight hours.

14. Who is someone you truly look up to, and which qualities do you most admire about them?
I look up to Andrew Smith, my business partner and our MD. He is level-headed; strategic; reasonable; and methodical (all the things I am not), and above all, very wise.

15. What’s your stance on social media?
Social media is simply an evolution of the way we communicate. I don't believe it is a ‘new fandangled thing' that one is either part of or not. In the same way that people in 1994 said that cell phones were a ridiculous idea, as soon as enough people had them they became indispensable, and today, one could not operate without one. Social media is going the same way, only the nature of the communication means that the public's voice can be heard louder than ever before, adding immense potency to traditional word-of-mouth marketing.

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