The Win-Win Mindset Of Miranda Isaakidis

The Win-Win Mindset Of Miranda Isaakidis


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Miranda Isaakidis has been involved in international trade for over 20 years as a strategic research specialist across a range of sectors.

In 2005, she co-founded her own company, Indulgence Spa Products, a wholesale distribution and manufacturing company specialising in the supply of high-end products for the spa and hospitality industry.

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She was recently appointed as the Johannesburg Chapter chair for The Women Presidents’ Organisation — an affiliation for connecting women who lead and own multi-million rand companies.

What is a driving philosophy that you carry into business every day?

My sister is a successful entrepreneur and shared invaluable advice with me: In business, you can wake up in the morning to the gloomiest of pictures, but to change that and be left with hope and energy you need to act with integrity, do your ground work, and find a solution to the problem. If you do this, things have a way of working out even if it’s not in a way you expect.

How does the philosophy of working with what you have apply to a staff issue?

I’ve learnt to accept that not everyone has the same ambition and desire as me to move up the ranks. This doesn’t mean they’re unproductive or not worth including in a team – you just need to work with what
you have.

I once had an assistant who possessed none of the skills required to perform her job. I complained to my manager and to my shock he told me that I was responsible for my assistant’s non-performance and needed to look at my management skills. I had no other option but to go back to the drawing board and assess my PA’s skill and how we could work around it.

Though she never learnt to spell check, format a document or do any of the research we required, I discovered that she had the most remarkable talent of getting me any appointment I wanted, which was far more useful in my position at the time.

So I polished up my word processing skills, did my own spell checks and went on to meet amazing people who enabled me to take my work to the next level – all because my PA had an unexpected set of skills.

From a personal perspective, what limitation have you learnt to work with?

When it came to time management and efficiency, for years I tried to fit into a more rigid model but I have a short attention span and work much better in quick, short bursts.

Consequently, I use the Pomodoro Technique which works on the principal of breaking down tasks into 25 minute segments. It’s a great way of breaking difficult or boring tasks into manageable ‘projects,’ it makes work a lot more fun and easy to do, and works with my attention span. On a deeper level, the book Play to Win by Larry Wilson has had a big influence on me. It supports the theory that there are two games to play in life:

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  1. Playing not to lose: Avoiding situations where we might lose, fail, or be emotionally hurt.
  2. Playing to win: Consciously choosing to go as far as you can with all that you have and learning from whatever happens.

As part of training, I was required to climb up really high poles and walk a tight rope. Seriously, I’m not designed for that kind of activity but I managed to do it and it’s an achievement that has stayed with me forever.

If I could physically do something so alien to me – then daily business challenges are surely also manageable. It also hones your focus by asking when you were born and when you think you’ll die.

A nasty thought at first, but when you draw a time line, plot where you are, and establish if you’re happy with the journey so far, you’re able to figure out what you want for the rest of time and work towards it. This exercise truly focused my mind and I make a conscious effort to enjoy life and focus on things that add value to my life, family and business.

How do you use what you have to motivate your staff?

While it’s important to celebrate accomplishments in business, do it within reason and realistically, so no elaborate parties or incentives when essentials like pension funds are lacking. But to instil pride and accountability, I make a point of taking manufacturing staff along for a customer delivery now and again.

It makes a huge difference when they see who our client is, where the products they make get sold, and makes the whole process more real – with the result that it’s easier to push quality.

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Tracy Lee Nicol
Tracy-Lee Nicol is an experienced business writer and magazine editor. She was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Rhodes university in 2010, and in the time since has honed her business acumen and writing skills profiling some of South Africa's most successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, franchisees and franchisors.Find her on Google+.