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Learning to Grow

The process of developing and growing a business is one of the most significant learning experiences you can engage in.

Greg Fisher

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Most people learn by doing, and sometimes failing, in the process of developing their business. These lessons are often costly. You can speed up the process of learning and avoid some mistakes if you are more intentional and strategic. Being a busy entrepreneur is no reason to stop learning and you will probably never be the business person you could be if you don’t push yourself to learn. The more you learn, the more successful you are likely to be. There are four simple things that an entrepreneur can do to foster their learning: reading, interacting, researching and experimenting.

1. Reading.

The more you read the more you will bed down the fundamentals of running a sustainable business and feed your mind with creative ways to grow it. The types of books you should read include: “how to” books sharing the fundamentals of business management and growth; entrepreneurial stories and biographies to provide inspiration and anecdotal learning; and macro economicand current affairs books, magazines and newspapers to keep abreast of major trends and economic events. If you just can’t find the time to read, experiment with audio books. These can be purchased and downloaded from the Internet onto an MP3 player so you can turn any car trip or exercise session into a learning experience.

2. Interacting.

The entrepreneurial journey can be a lonely one; many business people slave away all day without any meaningful interaction. It is for this reason that an entrepreneur should: strive to get into a network with fellow business owners in which they can share experiences, get advice and nurture a support base; and develop a relationship with a more experienced business person who will serve as a mentor. Being part of a network and having a mentor can serve as an excellent learning tool because you are forced to reflect on your experiences, share them and extract key insights. It is also valuable to leverage off the experiences and insights of others.

3. Researching.

The Internet has opened up a whole new world to entrepreneurs, making information readily available. Use the Web to uncover industry trends, competitor information, academic research and expert opinions. Recent developments on the Web mean that it is no longer just documents and text that are available as key learning resources; you can now download podcasts or watch videos via the Internet. There is a wealth of valuable information available if you just learn how to search effectively.

4. Experimenting.

The entrepreneurial journey is an opportunity to learn through experimentation and failure. Planned experiments can provide an entrepreneur with wonderful insights into their business, its customers and potential innovations within the business. The key is to limit the cost of failure. Being in control of your own business is an opportunity to experiment with a new sales approach, try a new combination of products or vary your work approach to see the effect it has on your overall business. One of these experiments may create the breakthrough you need to build competitive advantage.

Jonas Ridderstrale and Kjell Nordstrom (Funky Business) said it best: “We control the most critical resource of our times: our own brains. Power is transferred from the capital investors to the competence investors. The uneducated, humble, loyal employee is a thing of the past.” Power now belongs to the educated, insightful entrepreneur.

Greg Fisher, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Management & Entrepreneurship Department at the Kelley School of Business, Indiana University. He teaches courses on Strategy, Entrepreneurship, and Turnaround Management. He has a PhD in Strategy and Entrepreneurship from the Foster School of Business at the University of Washington in Seattle and an MBA from the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). He is also a visiting lecturer at GIBS.

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Think Global, Act Local: Business Education For Disruptors, Innovators And Entrepreneurs

As one of the largest and most prestigious business schools in Africa, JBS is focused on producing visionary leaders and managers who are geared for progress across the continent, but connected to the world at large.

JBS

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Disruption. Innovation. The fourth industrial revolution. These aren’t just platitudes at the Johannesburg Business School (JBS), they’re the bedrock of the various courses and programmes on offer.

“We are authentically African, as we believe there are huge opportunities in both South Africa and Africa at large, but we are also looking at the global landscape. We have an incredible opportunity to educate and mentor the future generation of Africa’s leaders and managers by providing them with the tools they need to be true innovators and disruptors,” says Professor Lyal White, Senior Director of the JBS at the University of Johannesburg.

“Day-to-day business in Africa requires leaders to focus on — and deliver — development with a direct impact on communities. The challenges we face present an opportunity. The fourth industrial revolution requires soft skills and humanism in leading and mentoring for competitive and progressive business performance. This is particularly relevant in Africa.”

Taking on a new era

The JBS believes it has an important role to play in future-proofing Africa and her leaders, and is building programmes and a professional teaching staff with this specific goal in mind.

“The scope of the fourth industrial revolution is far beyond its digital or information counterparts,” says Professor White.

“It’s a systemic transformation that impacts civil society, governance structures, human identity, economics and manufacturing, while integrating human beings and machines.

“The underlying technologies for this shift are artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, nanotechnology, biotechnology, the Internet of Things (IoT), Cloud computing, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing.”

JBS sees the humanities as playing a critical role in developing the creative and critical thinking that will be essential ingredients to success in Industry 4.0.

“UJ has the highest concentration of staff with PhDs in AI on our continent and we are more than ready to tackle this new era,” he says.

“At an unprecedented level, the global environment demands innovative business leaders with entrepreneurial spirit and government officials who can lead African businesses to succeed in Africa. With our focus on providing global management thought leadership and deep African insights, JBS prepares students for that role, giving them a critical edge for success.”

Related: The Art Of Storytelling: Johannesburg Business School Launches Its Executive Training Programmes

Depth and creativity

Given the opportunities and challenges presented by doing business on the continent, the JBS is developing and delivering bespoke programmes, designed with a keen focus on depth and creativity.

“We’re taking an alternative approach to the norm while ensuring we deliver on international standards,” says Professor White. “Africa needs world-class business education with a local flavour to develop the management competencies we need and to build excellence. This is the model and approach JBS has taken.

“Fortunately, we attract a great diversity of students who have the drive to succeed, confidence, a strong record of triumph and a burning desire to advance the evolution of business in our society,” he adds.

Bringing world-class education to Africa

“Our offering includes undergraduate diplomas and degrees, postgraduate degrees and programmes, and will soon include a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) degree. On the cards are also online programmes, blended learning and unique contact programmes with delegates from across the continent and partners from around the world.”

JBS as a disruptor in the executive education category has two goals: Designing programmes to match the demand of an emerging market, and reshaping existing programmes to meet the demand of customers as their needs evolve.

“As a late entrant to the business school market, JBS will be agile and adaptable in order to stay relevant and take advantage of the disrupted higher education environment by offering business skills for disruptors,” concludes Professor White.

“Conventional approaches and standard business acumen do not work. Preparing individuals and organisations for this context requires programmes with a difference, which is why we’re including an MBA with a difference in our offering going forward.”

Upcoming Executive education programmes and Masterclasses in 2019:

Programmes:

  • Project Management (26 – 27 Feb)

Become proficient at project management. An essential workplace skill that can boost the impact you have on any organisation.

  • Finance for Non-Financial Managers (4 – 8 Mar)

Expand your overview of financial performance from a commercial perspective across management functions.

  • Storytelling and Creativity (1 – 2 Apr)

The power of the narrative is becoming more recognised across leadership disciplines. Implementing creativity in storytelling will enhance your leadership presence.

  • Negotiation Skills (9 – 10 Apr)

Develop your negotiation skills to create more effective partnerships and better results for your organisation.

Master Classes: 

  • Implementing Strategy (1 Feb)

Delve into the core aspects of implementing strategic deliverables and cascading these across your teams.

  • Coaching and Mentoring Centre of Excellence: Session 1 (7 Feb)

Access a network of leaders and coaches to enhance your personal growth.

  • Marketing Series: Session 1 (13 Feb)

Leverage marketing tools and practices to enhance your clients’ experiences.

  • Generating Shared Value (21 Feb)

Implement practices focussed on business with the purpose to generate sustainable value for your organisation.

  • Innovation Series (12 Mar)

Learn about innovative success stories in the context of industry 4.0 and how to prepare and future-proof your organisation for this digital revolution.

  • HR Series: Session 1 (26 Mar)

The HR Series will address key issues facing HR practitioners with robust debate and suggestions to enhance this function.

For more information and to register please visit our website www.jbs.ac.za or Email us on ExecEd@jbs.ac.za

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English: The Language Of Oppression Or Opportunity?

We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are.

Wits Language School

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Having to communicate professionally in English sometimes strikes fear into the hearts of many South Africans irrespective of their gender, age or business field; the mere thought of presenting to a group of colleagues in English or submitting a report to your manager is daunting and nerve wracking. If you are one of the many, do not be embarrassed; you are in good company.

Despite South Africa’s recognition of 12 official languages and its embracing of multilingualism, English continues to be the dominant language within schools and workplaces and competence is considered a pathway to upward mobility and professional opportunities. While it is evident that one requires good English skills to excel academically and professionally, little attention has been paid to improving the English proficiency of South Africans. This may in part be because English is an official language and it is assumed that all South Africans can speak English well. However, the differences in the type of English one is exposed to and the difference between fluency and accuracy are overlooked.

South Africans are unique; we are multilingual, vibrant and dynamic individuals who utilise a wide variety of linguistic resources when we communicate. It is not odd to find us communicating in multiple languages at the same time; we code switch when we cannot remember the correct English word or when we want to express a thought accurately but cannot find an appropriate English word and we do it effortlessly and automatically. These skills set us apart as innovative language users as we mesh and blend languages in our common goal to communicate accurately.

Related: Knowing The Basics Is Not Good Enough Anymore

Unfortunately, these skills do not hold us in good stead in the workplace where standard and ‘proper’ English is required and suddenly we lose confidence and nerve. We become more conscious of how much we do not know and question what we do know. It is easy to feel overwhelmed and paralysed by fear when you have to communicate solely in English and are suddenly evaluated against monolingual, Western, middle class norms. Furthermore, it is easy to assume if we incorporate more complex words and use lengthy phrases as well as adopt an American or British accent, our English language skills will suddenly improve. This is a myth; do not believe it!

In order to communicate effectively and appropriately, one needs to be cognisant of the following factors:  the audience, the purpose of the message, the message itself, the grammatical accuracy of the message and the tone of the message. Simply put, one has to ensure that the meaning of the message is always concise and coherent and is phrased in a manner that can be easily understood by the reader or listener.  Secondly, one has to ensure that the grammatical accuracy of the message is maintained; editing and proofreading are essential in order to win the reader’s or listener’s confidence in what you are communicating.

Here at Wits Language School, we are passionate about improving the language skills of South African second language learners and our courses are especially designed to help you improve your English language skills. We offer a wide range of courses specifically aimed at professionals who want to enhance their professional English communication skills. Some of our most popular courses are:

Communicative Grammar Are you interested in improving your editing skills and English grammar knowledge?

Join our Communicative Grammar course.

English Speaking and Pronunciation Do you want to improve your pronunciation and gain more confidence speaking in English?

Join our English Speaking and Pronunciation course.

Business Writing Are you interested in improving your proposal or minutes writing skills?

Join our Business Writing Skills course

Presentation Skills Do you want to give presentations that are dynamic and interesting?

Join our Presentation Skills course.

Report Writing Do you want to write reports that are coherent and well organised?

Join our Report Writing course.

English for Critical Thinking in Business Are you interested in improving your critical thinking skills and becoming a strategic thinker?

Join our Critical Thinking in Business course.

 

Climb the ladder to success and apply today. Applications for 2019 are now open. Wits Language School, changing lives and opening doors.

Read next: Tips To Becoming Fluent

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“Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

Wits Language School

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The Internet is currently abuzz with advertisements for “free” online language courses and online education. While developments in technology have undoubtedly created opportunities for more people to access education, the question still remains as to whether it is actually possible to learn a language solely with the use of an online platform. Whilst there are numerous advantages to using online platforms, there are equally as many disadvantages.

Online platforms are limited in their capacity to support group discussions, as well as the engagement with language facilitators and tutors. Many platforms are also unable to cope with the thousands of students that try to join online discussions. Language learners benefit greatly from human interaction within a classroom. Mark Edmundson (2012), an English professor at the University of Virginia, argued that online education creates a “monologue and not a real dialogue” in the learning environment.

Classroom environments allow learners to express their opinions, participate in debates, and engage in face-to-face interaction with classmates and their instructor.

Related: “Free” Online Courses Versus Interactive Classroom Courses

Language facilitators are responsible for explaining material, answering questions and guiding learning based on students’ needs and language levels in real time. From an online perspective, this resource becomes diluted, as often there exists back and forth communication between the student and the facilitator over an extended period of time. Within a classroom environment, learners are immersed in the language and encouraged to speak. Learning takes place in a pro-active way with a balance of learner-facilitator interaction and group work. Language learners receive undivided attention from the facilitator, and the pace and content of the tuition is thus tailored to the learner accordingly.

Two of the benefits of online courses are that they offer flexibility and convenient accessibility; however, they also require a greater amount of self-discipline, reading and time-management skills. Online courses tend to make it easier to procrastinate and they create a sense of isolation. These elements are not conducive to successful language learning. Motivation levels are likely to decrease when using online platforms, as learners have no real external influences to help keep them motivated and inspired.

The quality and accreditation of online language courses is also a concern to most learners, as many online courses lack valid accreditation and certification. It is crucial to enrol in a course that provides legitimate information and that is accredited with a relevant board or organisation. A course that does not provide valid accreditation will serve no purpose or advantage to the learner.

Wits Language School was established in 1997 and forms part of the Faculty of Humanities at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Over the last 19 years, the school has built a reputation for providing high-quality language services and short learning programmes in a dynamic and international learning environment. Wits Language School endorses interactive teaching styles, uses up-to-date teaching methods, and employs experienced and highly qualified teachers who are mother-tongue speakers to assist all participants in their quest to learn a second language.

Online learning should be considered a supplement and extension, rather than a replacement, to traditional classroom learning.

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