My greatest source of business inspiration is seeing powerful businesswomen crash through the glass ceiling. There are so many examples in South Africa — Wendy Luhabe, Cheryl Carolus, Mamphela Ramphele, Jane Raphaely. These are also all women who give back — I am always able to take something meaningful from their experience and their success.
The most helpful thing I’ve been told in business is that you’re not expected to know everything. As a twenty-something-year-old starting out in business I always believed I needed to be an expert in all areas — until someone said to me, “Amy, relax. No one expects you to know it all.”
That was such an enormous relief — knowing that I didn’t have to fake it. So now I surround myself with people who are smarter than me and experts in their area, and I relax about the fact that I don’t necessarily know everything about all aspects of business. But it was a learning curve to get there.
My overriding belief about business is that there’s no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs. Running a business takes hard work, long hours and an acceptance that things are going to be tough. It doesn’t matter who you are or how brilliant your business idea is. Success is hard-won for most entrepreneurs.
You’re Doing What Exactly? An Interview with Kyla Derrick
My pet business peeve is people who email everything. Pick up the phone or walk across the office and talk to someone! I can’t stand it when people use email as a default form of communication. I’m a face-to-face kind of person and believe that certain quick-win business decisions can be taken easily and immediately when people talk to each other. Email obviously has a place in business, but so does talking.
The truth about success
What most people don’t know about me is that, although I’ve been in business for more than 20 years, I still often feel like the smallest, the least experienced and the least knowledgeable. From the outside, the appearance of success can be deceptive, but not everyone who appears successful feels like they’ve ‘arrived’. I don’t necessarily think this is a bad thing — it keeps me humble and it keeps me striving to know more.
Ideas to reality
If I could improve one aspect of my business self it would be to implement more of my ideas. I have grand plans but I don’t always feel like I’m successful in putting all of them into action. Thomas Edison said, “I have far more respect for the person with a single idea who gets there than for the person with a thousand ideas who does nothing.” I strive to be the person who gets there.