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Justin de Nobrega on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and getting future-fit

“As a Gen Z-er, I plan to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by just learning new things, not being caught up in a bubble and always knowing that there’s so much more to learn.”


When COVID-19 disrupted everyone’s lives in 2020, the world was forced to adapt to new ways of doing things. Technology came in handy for businesses and individuals in maintaining some normalcy such as conducting business and connecting with friends and family. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, said: “We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”


While a lot of artists found themselves without an income as they couldn’t perform, it’s no secret that the pandemic birthed a generation of internet stars who range from comedians to dancers and singers. Digital content creators such as Khaby Lame and many others became A-class celebrities after people fell in love with their work on TikTok. South Africa wasn’t any different.


Justin de Nobrega, whose accolades include being the winner of SABC 1’s Dance Yo Dumo season 1, is one of these creatives whose careers were boosted by cyber connectivity – an aspect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). With dance studios closing down during the lockdown of 2020, he took to TikTok to showcase his moves on the popular video-sharing social media platform.

Justin, who has more than half a million followers and 5.6 million likes on TikTok, does what he loves for a living, and that’s dancing. “When I started posting on social media, there weren’t many white South Africans doing African dance styles,” Justin says, explaining what sets him apart from the millions of TikTok dancers and content creators. “I enjoyed dancing to amapiano, qgom and [Afrobeats], and that’s where I had an advantage, if I can put it that way. And people were really just enjoying that; I felt like I was someone to bridge that gap between cultures. So, I just continued to do so, and I felt like it was just making people happy.”


Justin has been able to monetise his work in a way he probably wouldn’t have been able to before TikTok. “I saw TikTok as a monetisable platform where I could do so, and I started posting all my videos and short clips of me just having fun dancing on TikTok and, before I knew it, there were millions of views and people were just subscribing, and started following me and keeping up. From there, I started getting collaborations with some big brands, and that’s when I started monetising,” he says.


As much as there’s a huge element of luck in becoming a viral sensation, there’s also a science behind it. As the adage goes, luck is when opportunity meets preparedness. “It’s always good to analyse what is up-and-coming, what is new, because there’s always something new to learn,” Justin explains. “As a Gen Z-er, I plan to thrive in the Fourth Industrial Revolution by just learning new things, not being caught up in a bubble and always knowing that there’s so much more to learn. Because I started off thinking that I’ve learnt everything and I know everything but, in actual fact, becoming a content creator, I had to learn how to work a camera, how to work the latest cellphone, how to edit my own content, push out my brand and just build my business.”

This innate culture of learning explains Justin’s desire to study further. “It can be anything from learning new business management skills to new editing software; it can be anything, just as long as it relates to what I do. Like I said, there’s so much more to learn,” he says.


It’s important to note that, just because someone is doing what they love for a living, it’s not all fun and games. Creating content takes practice, and the process can be taxing and time-consuming. And, because it involves money, it becomes a business, which brings with it all the challenges of a formal business. While some content creators end up wearing many hats, Justin believes in outsourcing some services. “Because I monetise my content,” he says, “I feel that it’s good to have a good financial partner to rely on, just so that I can focus on my creatives and not have to worry about admin. So, being a content creator, I feel like I am my own boss. I work at my own times; I don’t have a set nine-to-five office job.” 


There’s more to 4IR than being a content creator on TikTok and other cyber platforms. But the common thread tying everything together is the need to keep upskilling yourself and familiarising yourself with new technologies that emerge, to take the world by storm. That’s how Gen Z-ers like Justin and millions of others remain ahead of the curve.  

How to become a viral sensation

If you are planning to become a viral TikTok creator or content creator, here’s how Justin did it:

1. Analyse – find your niche

“TikTok came about, and I saw people busy posting on here and I decided, I’m gonna start watching, and I just started analysing it and I saw the trends. I saw hashtags that people were using, and I realised there were specific creators who actually had a niche, and they stuck to that niche. And people would follow you and keep up with what you do and what fits with you. So, for me, I started with amapiano, qgom and Afro. Afro actually was the first thing, and that became my niche. I continue to post more of those videos.”


2. Create the content

“Step one: learn and remember a viral dance move and try to see what’s trending. Step two: apply your knowledge and use a viral song along with a viral dance.”


3. Adjust

“Step three: Analyse the content produced by other creators. Step four: evaluate and compare your content’s performance. Step five: create and adjust your content according to your learnings. For example, stick to what has been working best and do less of what hasn’t been working.”

This article is part of a series of masterclasses, powered by Capitec. You can find them here.

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