Interview: The Exceptional Garth Mackenzie
I had the privilege of speaking to one of South Africa’s successful traders and entrepreneurs: Garth Mackenzie. He started his own company called Traders Corner and is the founder and editor of Summit TV’s Traders Corner program. He also writes a monthly column in the investors Monthly Magazine and a weekly column for the Financial Mail. Throughout this interview I felt myself being constantly inspired by Garth’s life and his story.
He invited the whole team to his home and what a spectacular home it was. Driving out to Garth Mackenzie’s home, on a farm estate just outside Fourways, I couldn’t help but feel as though I was embarking on something significant and life-changing. As the scenery changed from buildings, highways, cars to small meandering roads, trees, vast open spaces and silence I felt reminded of a home I too had left behind to pursue the big city.
Garth was born in Zimbabwe. His parents relocated to South Africa when he was still a small boy and so he calls Johannesburg home.
While he was in high school at Parktown Boys High, Garth recalls a story of when he and his father were on their way to a sports fixture against St John’s. Garth saw all the big houses in Houghton and asked his father, “What do the people who live in those houses do?” His father replied, in a very tongue-and-cheek manner, “They’re all probably stock-brokers.” Garth’s interest in the markets was peaked. When Garth’s father saw his son’s interest in the markets he brought home the newspaper every night.
They started a mock-portfolio of R100 000: they hand drew graphs and traded the fictional money. When Garth was 16, he opened his own stockbroking account and invested his savings from his holiday jobs. For the next 8 years Garth made no money, in fact, he calls it as a “complete disaster”. When he worked it out at the age of 22, Garth says that with all the money he had lost in the markets he could have bought a new VW Gti. “It was a hard pill to swallow” he says with a smile on his face, however it was a valuable lesson and an invaluable experience.
Fast Forward a decade or so later and Garth has an impressive resume. He has his own business and is a voice of the trading community to society at large. His dedication to imparting knowledge to South Africans about the realities of trading is impressive. That’s why he started Traders Corner. He feels that there are many unscrupulous people out there who are trying to sell trading as a get-rich-quick scheme and Garth says that it isn’t. In fact, it is important for people to spend “time in the market” to truly become experts. His dedication to society doesn’t end there. Garth started the show, Traders Corner on Summit TV where he teaches people by trading in real time with his own money and later gives the proceeds to charity.
As the interview continued, I couldn’t help but notice that Garth Mackenzie is a humble man who loves his family and the outdoors. He spoke about his grandmother’s farm in Zimbabwe, his brother and the joys of having sunlight inside the house during winter. He spoke about his 11month old son, how strong-willed he is and how they don’t get any sleep at night. The most important time in his day is doing the “night routine” with his son: bathing him, feeding him and trying to put him to sleep. Garth even painted the portraits in his son’s nursery. What was most profound for me was his spirit of gratitude. He said that he was fortunate that he could raise his son in such a good and healthy environment.