Zizipho Ndevu is a podcaster and TV presenter based in South Africa. On her podcast, Hey Ziz Podcast, Zizipho discusses a number of crucial topics, including mental health and pursuing purpose. Previously, Zizipho was a TV presenter at Joburg Today. She interviewed a range of guests from government officials to local and internationally acclaimed celebrities. Zizipho was brought up by her dedicated mother, who worked hard to make sure that she could have a chance to succeed. Her mother worked as a housekeeper to earn a living and support Zizipho’s study material. Experiencing adversity, Zizipho aspires to raise awareness of people on mental health and well-being.
[Below is the interview transcript which is edited for clarity]
Q: Hello. How are you?
Zizipho: I’m doing good. Thank you.
Q: You have been traveling around South Africa lately?
Zizipho: Actually, I went to Durban, which is one of our coastal cities. It was good to just be by the beach and see the ocean. That’s always refreshing.
Q: Wonderful! How is the current COVID-19 situation there?
Zizipho: It’s been quite interesting. The economy is now open. A lot of businesses have opened up, and tourism has also picked up quite significantly, which is why we were able to travel. But it’s been interesting, and I think the economy has taken quite a hit. A lot of people have lost their jobs due to COVID. I think it’s been a very difficult time for the country. I think it’s been a very difficult time for a lot of people on a personal level. I’m just happy to see that things are starting to open. Businesses are starting to open and function. Hopefully, the economy can start to recover.
Q: It is wonderful to hear that the situation is getting better. Now, I like to ask you about your podcast, Hey Ziz Podcast. When did you start it?
Zizipho: I started my podcast in early 2020; I think it was probably late January or early February. I wanted to start it for a very long time. I kind of stalled and delayed on it for different reasons. Eventually, around February or so, I just decided to do it.
Q: Why did you decide to start a podcast in early 2020?
Zizipho: Well, I think I wanted to do it for a very long time. I knew that I had a message of hope that I wanted to communicate to my community, and I guess to the world. But I wasn’t sure how to do it or what platform to do it on. I have a background in TV presenting and TV producing. I’m quite comfortable in front of the camera. I initially thought that I want to do some stuff on YouTube and a few video content on Instagram. But then I realized that a lot of that video content requires appearance. I wanted just to have a conversation. I didn’t want to be bogged down by lighting and makeup and hair and coats. I just wanted to get down to business and have conversations that would hopefully inspire people to change their lives. So, I think about it for a long time. The hesitation was just around finding the right format and the right platform.
When I first started to listen to quite a few podcasts myself, I realized that I could do this. Let’s say what’s required was unknown to me at the time. I had to get gear. I had to familiarize myself with audio content, which is something that was a whole other challenge on its own. After a few months into the podcast, I developed some comfort and some familiarity with different techniques. I eventually developed some comfort in that platform and in producing content for people to listen to.
Q: What type of content that you produce for your podcast?
Zizipho: I am inspired by my childhood and obsessed with creating something that I had never seen from the very beginning. For me, it was creating a life that my parents hadn’t seen and that my siblings hadn’t seen. I was always obsessed with creating a life that was more than what I had. Being raised in South Africa, my late mother didn’t have a lot of money. I think, coming from poverty, I wanted to change my mindset. I wanted to change my thinking. I wanted to create something sustainable and can even be passed on to future generations. I want to do something impactful with my life. At a young age, I realized that to build something that you’ve never been and do something you’ve never done, you have to familiarize yourself with content. That is positive content that shifts your mindset and content that inspires you to think differently.
From the beginning, I’ve always been obsessed with how we think, how we perceive ourselves, and how we perceive life in general. I wanted to create a platform where we could have transformative conversations about life, identity, and purpose. I want to have conversations that centralized the idea that if you live an intentional life and live a life with some sort of determination, that’s a life for a purpose. I wanted to create a platform where I could have conversations with different people worldwide, talking about different things. Every conversation should inspire a person to be presented in their existence and to pursue a purpose.
Q: How do you create content that inspires other people. And when you create the content, what comes to your mind?
Zizipho: Well, often when I create the content, sometimes it’s about things that I see happening around me in my community. I know that COVID-19 has been a very difficult time for all of us as a collective community. It’s been difficult for all of us. It’s impacted us in different ways, you know, depending on which country in which city you in. One of the most challenging battles that we would be having during COVID-19 is our mental health, making sure that we all remain mentally healthy and sane during a very difficult time. Over the course of this year, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to nutritionists, wellness specialists, and troponin year’s social activists, and people that have gone out of their way to talk about mental health, to talk about wellness, and to bring those conversations to my platform.
No matter what country you’re in, you’ll share a conversation that inspires you every Tuesday on the Hey Ziz Podcast. It makes you aware of the importance of your wellness that reaffirms the power of your existence. I think during these very stressful times, a lot of people have been isolated. In isolation, a lot of people are former depression, and sad. I want to make sure that the platform was used to make sure that people don’t feel alone, people don’t feel neglected, and people ultimately don’t lose hope.
Q: Throughout the process of creating content, what is the most challenging part for you?
Zizipho: One of the issues that I had was developing the confidence to put my message out there in the world. It’s one thing if you have random thoughts that you can journal down. But what you write in your diary is entirely different when you want to take those thoughts to the public. I had to develop the confidence that I do have something that I want to give to the world. I do have something that I want to ship to the world. I believe that there’s value in that. I had to develop the confidence to just release it in. I think one of the hardest things is just to start. I think that was my main challenge. I had to address my insecurities. I had to address my nerves and my concern. I believe that it can never be significant if you don’t start. I had just to create it. As soon as I’ve just started, it became a lot easier with time to maintain that momentum.
Q: Do you tell your parents that you are running a podcast?
Zizipho: Well, actually, I so my mom passed away a few years ago. But I have shared it with my siblings. They are very supportive, and they are very proud of me. My sister does my marketing to shout out and to pin my podcast. I think my family and friends are very supportive of my craft and passions. I think it’s important to surround yourself with people that respect what you’re trying to do. Whether it’s a business or a career, whether it’s an injury, or whatever it is that you’re trying to run, whatever organization or initiative you’re trying to start, it’s essential to surround yourself with people who see value in you and receive value in what you’re trying to accomplish.
Q: It is a really important message that you need to surround yourself with the people who support you. But in some cases, it is really difficult to find the people who cheer on your success and stay with you when you face challenges. So what are your tips to get the right people?
Zizipho: I think it’s two things. First, make sure that you believe in yourself and make sure that you surround yourself with people who believe in you. If you don’t believe in yourself, it doesn’t matter to have 100 people around you who believe in you; you won’t be able to do stuff. You won’t be able to make an impact. You won’t be able to be successful. Your belief must start with who you are, and what you’re trying to contribute, and what change you’re trying to make. For that, my biggest tip is reading books. I’m obsessed with books. I love reading books. And I love reading content that affirms what I’m trying to accomplish. In this world, there’s so much content out there.
There’s so much content, and a lot of that content is not positive content. Often, a lot of content makes the person feel more insecure, more inadequate and makes the person feel small. My biggest tip in learning how to believe in yourself and learn how to develop self-confidence is to read positive content that affirms your value.
The way that you understand yourself will impact the way that you relate to people around you. I believe you want to be around happy people. You want to be around joyful people. In order to attract people like that, you have to be a person that’s like that. You first have to be joyful; you have to be positive; you have to be happy; you have to be the kind of person other people want to be around. Sometimes, that just requires you investing in yourself, getting to know yourself, reading books, watching content that reaffirms your value, rather than dwelling in harmful content, which makes you feel less than.
Q: So now I’d like to go back to your podcast. When you started your podcast, do you have a team to work together with? How did you start it?
Zizipho: I started on my own. Initially, I thought I wanted to focus on things that were happening in the world. I thought I would try and find a cohost. Then, I realized that wasn’t authentic to the message that I was trying to communicate into the world. I wanted to make sure I didn’t dilute that message by having a cohost. If you’re not having a cohost, when you do something where you do not have a partner or co-founder, it’s kind of all on you. I found that, in the beginning, I put a lot of pressure on myself to create a perfect product. I think in time, the more I’ve learned to trust my voice and what I’m trying to do in the world, the easier it has become. For example, I’ve done so many different episodes. I’ve done episodes on creating a new mindset or how to create meaningful balance during COVID-19. For all the topics that I talk about, I want to make sure that they positively impact people’s lives.
Every single episode is released on a Tuesday. I call that Tuesday chooses yourself. One thing you can do every Tuesday that centralizes your health, well-being, and progression. It can be reading a book. It can be going for a walk. It can be going to therapy. It can be all different kinds of things, eating a healthy meal and drinking water. Every episode is intended to communicate that message that you are important and need time, care, love, and affection. You need to show yourself that love and affection. It’s effortless for us to display other people’s love and affection, support, patience. But, sometimes it’s a bit trickier with ourselves. The whole idea with every single episode is to make sure that at least on a Tuesday, if not any other day, you’re able to do something that centralizes your health and your well-being.
Q: Do you remember, what was the first reaction when you listened to your first episode?
Zizipho: Oh, my God, I cringe. I had so many different mixed emotions. I contacted a few friends of mine, and I asked them to listen. I was quite insecure after the first one because you never know how the first one is going to go. I think in time you will get better. When I listened to the first one, I was so nervous. I was also really relieved. I was happy that I just put something out there. I was receiving a lot of support from people that found great value in that episode. That episode was about how to create a new perspective. It was a bit of a difficult topic, but it’s something that I wanted to talk about. I find that we often get into situations where we feel stuck in life, and we think that we are so overwhelmed by what we currently are facing and that we just can’t see a way out. I wanted that episode to talk about how we can gain a new perspective and use what we already have to put ourselves in a better position. So it was quite well received. And it was quite a relief. Once I did the first one, it felt like I had finally listened to that inner voice that said stop the podcast, just thoughts. It was a great feeling.
Q: Through talking to people, I learned at their surroundings and their family shaped who they are and how they implement the project or pursue their career. In your case, I’m wondering how your community and your family shape who you are and how you run your podcast?
Zizipho: Yeah. I think you correct. You can’t get to know somebody without knowing where they from or their context. I was born in South Africa. I was born in a region called the Eastern Cape. It’s one of our provinces. Within that province, I was born in a small village. It’s very underdeveloped. I wasn’t born into any kind of wealth.
My late mother cleaned houses for a living. She didn’t have a lot of money. My mom brought me to Johannesburg, one of our main business hubs, when I was four years old. She brought me to the city because she wanted me to succeed. The way that I was living at the time in a village just wasn’t right. She took the very little money that she had to me to the city. When she bought me into the city, there wasn’t much of a plan. She was just so desperate to see me succeed. I think, even without a plan, she just needed me to be okay. She just needed me to have a chance. She bought me to Johannesburg when I was four years old. She didn’t even have money to send me to school.
I started school. I was supposed to start nursery school. I was supposed to start with the other kids. When I eventually started school, it was a bit of a catch up because my age was appropriate for third grade. There was a lot of development that I had to do very quickly, such as how to read, how to count, how to write, and how to do all of these things. She brought me to the city, and she wanted me to succeed. And I think the way that that has shaped me has been so incredible. It has always been to me that my mom had so much courage to come to this city. Like most big cities in the world, it has its dark side. It has its crazy side. She brought me to the city just with the hope that I would make something off my life. I think that takes a lot of faith.
One thing that has always grounded me is that it doesn’t matter how you start because when my mom brought me to the city, she had nothing. When I look at how far I’ve come in my life, I realized how tenacious she was, how ambitious she was, and how much grit she had. When I look at my life, I can see that her faith manifested. It was worth it. That has always inspired me to start with little money, start with little influence, start with a bit of audience, but never despise the days of humble beginnings. Just because it starts small, it doesn’t mean it’s going to end small. That always carries me through my career and my studies. It’s carried me through everything that I never undermined how I start. It also helped me with the relationships that I have with people that I meet along the way, whether it’s colleagues or whether it’s the people that I mentor or the people who come to me for different reasons. I never undermine a person based on where they start because I know that when a person starts is not where they end. I try to give people as much respect as possible, regardless of where they are.
Q: Experiencing this hardship, how your mom’s experience and sacrifice impact you as a young woman?
Zizipho: Yeah. Well, she did that for a living. It was hard. I think it’s important that you never embarrass or be ashamed of where you come from because you all come from different stories, no matter what background you come from. I think it’s important that we respect our roots.
I think a lot of the parts were a bursary. We were getting subsidies and trying to make it work. I think one of the main things with my mom is she always believed in my dreams. I can tell you the craziest dream, and she would still be the first person that would say, you can do it. No matter how much we didn’t have, we always had great faith who still had great ambition. That did shape a lot of my life and a lot of the things that I’ve managed to accomplish. I’m not yet where I want to be. But I think that shaped me tremendously, creating a vision for your life and having the grit and the determination to vision through, even when you encounter obstacles.
Q: Have you sad about dropping out of school, or stop doing what you like, because of this hardship? Because I have experienced it myself. I wanted to quit school when I was a teenager when I was in high school.
Zizipho: Yeah, of course, we all could get those moments where we are tempted to give up because it’s just too difficult. The journey just seems too long. It doesn’t seem like you are going to make it. I think, in those moments where I did feel like that, I’ve always been anchored by the reason why I started. No matter what challenge you’re going through right now, remember why you started in the first place. If you can remember why you started, I often find that the challenge will never be greater than why you started. No matter what you start in life, whether it’s a degree, a business, or an NGO, you need to have good reasons for why you start. In the face of adversity and challenges, you need to bring those reasons up again to reinvigorate you to fill you up and recharge you to get back out there and continue on the journey you have laid out for yourself. I think the point being is always to remember why you started.
Q: That’s wonderful. I have my last questions. Do you have any messages for young women?
Zizipho: Well, I’ll say the first thing is that it’s nothing can ever be accomplished if you’re not present. No matter what you want to do, it’s important that you practice being present. What I mean by being present is essentially being available for the task at hand. If you are tutoring young girls, math or English, be 100% available for that student in that hour. If you’re studying and studying for 45 minutes, be 100% available for the knowledge in that 45 minutes.
Success takes a lifetime to build. It doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes it can be quite overwhelming along the way because you don’t know how you will be successful. Instead of stressing about the macro vision, instead of facing this big, bold dream, the only thing you have control over is this moment right now. Trying to be available and president at this moment right now, you don’t need a lot to start; you just need to start, so whatever point you’re starting at. Be 100% available at that moment. Sometimes we stumble across our purpose just because we were not present. I think for everybody out there, creating your purpose, releasing your purpose, creating greatness in your life starts with you being present in every single moment.
Q: Zizipho, thank you so much for joining me today.
Zizipho: Thank you. This is so great. I loved this interview. It is really good to chat with you.
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