9 Business Lessons we can Learn from Dr Oliver Mtukudzi

9 Business Lessons we can Learn from Dr Oliver Mtukudzi

Oliver Mtukudzi, one of the greatest musicians to come out of Africa passed away on the 23rd of January 2019. As I write this, he is being buried in Madziva, his rural home.

Since the news of his death broke out, messages of condolence have been pouring in from all over the globe. A number of songs have already been produced as a tribute to this great son of Africa.

Oliver Mtukudzi on the cover of the Time Magazine March 2003
Tuku on the cover of the Time magazine

Oliver was a distinguished musician who was on top of his game for a number of decades.

He managed to produce over 60 albums and that’s an incredible achievement by any standards. Tuku also got many local and international awards as recognition of his great work.

He even graced the cover of the Time magazine in 2003!

I took some time to understand why Tuku was so outstanding in his career. My goal was to see if I could glean some insights that can help entrepreneurs today.

These are the lessons I uncovered. 

1. Self-education will make you a fortune

In one video interview which I attached below, Tuku said that he taught himself how to play the guitar at the age of 16. He bought a book titled ‘It’s easy to play a guitar’ and his musical journey started from there.

All the achievements that Tuku (as he is affectionately known) managed to accomplish were a result of a self-taught skill. Truly, the following quote aptly describes this case.

Formal education will make you a living; selfeducation will make you a fortune. – Jim Rohn

What is the core lesson here?

If you want to succeed in business you must have the hunger and drive to learn on your own. You must be willing to sacrifice and invest in your personal development by attending seminars, reading books, getting mentorship etc.

If you are not improving then you are getting behind and after formal education is done the only way to improve is through self-education.

Self-education has been very beneficial to me. I have taught myself stuff like digital marketing, web development, graphic design, content writing and copywriting. I’m earning my living through these skills and I am also doing something that I like in the process.

READ: How To Make Money Online by Doing Software Reviews

On the other hand, formal education could only land me a job that I hated. You can read more on how I made the transition from being an employee to being an entrepreneur in my story. 

Self-education is so important to me that every day I read self-development books for at least an hour. I also take free online courses every day so that I keep improving myself.

I can guarantee you that an investment in self-education will pay you back many times over, just like it did for Tuku who went on to amass great fortunes!

2. Helping others success will boost your own success

Tuku at Pakare Paye arts centre
Oliver Mtukudzi at Pakare Paye Arts Centre

Tuku built the Pakare Paye Arts Centre because he wanted to help young artists through arts and career development. He has also nurtured and collaborated with a lot of artists, both local and international, over the years.

Indeed, he was seen as a father figure in the arts industry in Zimbabwe. This giving back to others no doubt contributed to his success as well.

The lesson from Tuku here is that you should seek out ways to assist people around you wherever you can. This will help you build a network of people who will be ready to assist you. As a business person, you can help budding entrepreneurs through mentoring, for example. You can rest assured this will help your business grow.

3. Have a long term vision.

Have a long term vision like Oliver MtukudziTuku produced over 60 albums from 1977 till his death in 2019. His songs still sound good today and even unborn children will enjoy his music for generations to come. Why is his music evergreen? In the video interview below, Tuku says this is because he sought to produce music with a long-term view, rather than just produce periodic songs.

Yes, his music evolved with the passing time but he still maintained his long-term view.

This mindset will benefit you in business. Seek to create products and solutions with a long-term focus. Yes the world is changing fast and you will need to adapt to remain relevant, but you must maintain a long-term view.

This will help ensure that you do not look for half baked solutions to bring to the market. You will also have the patience to grow your brand over time as you will be focused on the future returns. Being short-sighted will lead to the demise of your business.

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4. A good name is a valuable brand

Because he had a long-term vision, Tuku’s name went on to become a household brand that opened other streams of income for him.

There was a time when clothing items with the label Tuku Music where on the market. These products no doubt contributed a sizeable fortune to Tuku.

The music icon spent years building up his name as a brand and he later on reaped the profits. He appeared in ads and was an ambassador for organisations such as the United Nations.

This was outside of his music career but he got paid because his name was now a recognisable brand.

tuku was a big brand

What’s the takeaway here?

Cultivating a strong personal brand will reward you handsomely. Seek to build a brand that represents honesty, reliability and professionalism. If you do that well you can end up getting speaking gigs, advertising endorsements etc.

A good brand also means that you are trustworthy and people like to buy from people they trust. If your brand is known for negative things then you will suffer the consequences.

5. Seek to leave a legacy

This is also linked to having a long-term view. Tuku has left behind a legacy that will span generations to come. His great-great-grandchildren will come to know of him and enjoy his works.

His family will continue reaping financial benefits from sales of his music and other royalties.

What a mark to leave on earth!

How can you create a long-lasting legacy that will outlive you?

READ: Going Freelance: Why Zimbabweans Must Look Online (and Offshore) for Work Opportunities

6. Set yourself apart

tuku differenriated himself from other artistsTuku created a genre of his own (Tuku Music) and this set him apart from other musicians. He chose not to walk in the well-trodden path, but rather, he went where there was no path and he created his own.

His ability to differentiate himself no doubt contributed to his outstanding success.

As an entrepreneur, you need to think of how you can set yourself apart from your competition. Find an edge that makes you unique in the market if you want extraordinary results.

 Going with the flow and blending in will only give you mediocre results. 

7. Think big!

Dr Oliver Mtukudzi was a big thinker!Dr Oliver Mtukudzi was a big thinker. He toured the world and collaborated with artists from all over the African continent. This helped grow his brand and impact. If he had only focused on Zimbabwe then he would have had limited success.

As you start or run your business, seek to compete with big players on the world stage. Even if you are providing a local service like a restaurant, seek to find out how similar establishments are being run in other parts of the world.

Thinking big will massively benefit your brand and business! Don’t box yourself!

READ: How to Launch a Fascinating Digital Marketing Career for FREE! 

8. Be humble!

Despite his massive success, Tuku remained very humble. One of the signs of his humility was the fact that he took plenty of selfies with people from all walks of life.  In the wake of his death, social media was full of people posting their selfies with him and comments on how approachable he was.

Another classic example of how humble he was is when he surprised a couple with a free performance on their wedding day which coincided with his birthday!

As you brand and business grows, remember to keep your feet on the ground. If you become big-headed you will set yourself up for failure.

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9. Seek Excellency all the time!

This is related to some of the points already mentioned above. Having a long-term vision and creating a valuable brand name means that you should carry out your duties with dedication and high levels of expectation.

Tuku embodied excellence. He always put on energetic performances whenever he performed. Even when he was doing one-man shows, he always left the audience scintillated and asking for more.

His albums, which he released consistently, were done with utmost care.

Tuku was also very professional. His shows were planned in advance and he showed up on time. This also helped grow and establish him as a reliable brand.

How can you practice excellence in your business? If you manage to do that over time you will definitely reap the benefits.


These are some of the lessons that I learnt from how Tuku conducted himself. I believe they need to be documented so that we can continue to learn from him.

How about you? What did you learn for Tuku? Did his music impact you in any way?

Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

#Dhuku4Tuku, #RipTuku, #TukuTribute

Below is the video I was referring to earlier in the post.

10 thoughts on “9 Business Lessons we can Learn from Dr Oliver Mtukudzi

    • Taylor says:

      Hi, Francis, thank you for your comment. I had to check on Google translate for the meaning lol. FOund out that means ‘Thank you, sir.’ I’m humbled to know that I have provided value to you.

  1. A.kwaramba says:

    Beautiful educative piece . Yes Tuku was an extraordinary embodiment of artist genius and he left a legacy huge successes and pitfalls we do well to examine, learn from and climb better and higher in our own areas of endevour .

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