Work Smarter: Margaret Hirsch’s Success Habits

Work Smarter: Margaret Hirsch’s Success Habits



Vital Stats

  • Company: Hirsch’s
  • Player: Margaret Hirsch, chief operational executive
  • Contact:


Margaret Hirsch, chief operational executive for home appliance retailer Hirsch’s, is living proof that you can start with nothing and work your way to the top of the ladder. But it takes application, hard work, and constantly striving for better.

“Some think it’s rude to admit I’m motivated by success and money. I don’t. I came from a background with very little and I’ve worked to get where I am today. It’s why I teach wealth generation to others. Success doesn’t come by itself.”

Here, Hirsch talks about five habits that you can apply to your own daily work to help climb the success ladder.

Habit 1: Daily brain cleanse

I get up at 4am every morning and meditate. It clears my mind and gets me ready for the day. If you meditate, you clear your mind of and allow space for new thoughts to come in.

If I have a problem, I think about it before going to bed and let my subconscious work on it while I’m asleep. When I wake up and meditate I often find the answer.

Habit 2: Plane time is study time

I’m currently studying through Unisa and use my flight time to study. I fly between Durban, Joburg, Cape Town and outside South Africa during the week and always take an evening flight. This gives me up to two hours of uninterrupted study time per flight.

Furthering your own education isn’t just a benefit to the company, but also serves as a role model for employees.

Habit 3: After-hours talk time

I meet with my suppliers after-hours. I’ll typically finish my day at 6pm and meet with suppliers from 8pm to 10pm

Meeting in-store during trading hours can be distracting for myself, my supplier and my staff. Suppliers can make or break you, so you need to maintain an excellent relationship with them. After-hours I’m able to give them my undivided attention and we’re able to talk shop.

Habit 4: Keeping on top of emails

The best advice I can give an executive is to invest in a digital voice recorder. I get over 1 000 emails a day so when I check email at 10pm in the evening, I record voice replies which then get uploaded to my PAs who type them up. It saves me hours of time. Same goes for meetings. Why worry if the minutes are being taken correctly by an attendee when you can have 100% accurately recorded files?

Habit 5: Keeping old ideas going for new reasons

Hirsch’s has been around since 1979. When the microwave came along and we started stocking it, no one knew how to use it, which affected sales. I learnt how to cook with a microwave and then started microwave cookery classes to promote the business. I believe it’s what took us from nobody to a major player.

In 1995 I closed the five cookery schools in Durban, but took to empowering entrepreneurs and women. I’ve found that husband-wife businesses where I’ve taught women the books are strong businesses. From young girls we’re taught to be sweet, nice and kind, but sometimes you’ve got to be tough and stand up for yourself or people will take advantage of you.

By empowering women, they can overcome challenges because they know and believe they’re good at what they do.


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+.