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Naadiya Moosajee’s Overriding Purpose Is Driven By Her Passion

Balancing multiple businesses and corporate roles takes focus, dedication and purposeful passion — but if you have the right attitude, it’s amazing how much you can achieve.

Nadine Todd

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Vital Stats

  • Player: Naadiya Moosajee
  • Claim to fame: World Economic Forum Global Shaper; Board Director for the International Youth Foundation
  • Organisation: WomEng, WomHub, Saray
  • Visit: womeng.org and www.saray.co.za

The best advice I’ve ever received was from my dad when I was in high school

He said that in life you should never choose what’s going to make you money. Passion is important. Whatever you do you’ll be doing daily, so it’s important that you love it, particularly because every job has good and bad points, even if it’s your dream job.

It was good advice, but that doesn’t mean I immediately knew what my passion was

I wasn’t unique in this. So few people know right off the bat what it is that they really love. I learnt that the best way to discover your passions is to do as much as possible. Get involved in projects, help out where you can, expose yourself to new things. Find who you are and what you love. This is particularly important and perhaps easiest when you are in your 20s, but it shouldn’t stop — ever. We keep changing and developing.

Related: What The Concept Phase Really Means To Alex Van Tonder

I was lucky to discover my passion in my third year at varisty

I was a woman studying civil engineering, which brought with it unique challenges. I wanted to help others like me, but also to show girls that they could enter a traditionally male dominated discipline, and so we founded SAWomEng.

By engaging both my mind and my heart, I realised that developing others is what drives me, whether it’s assisting young women in their career goals, creating a transport system that changes lives for the poor and disenfranchised, or developing talent, which I did as a consultant for niche management consultancy Pegasys, it all feeds into an overriding purpose for me.

Once you have purpose, it’s incredible what you can achieve and overcome

WomEng will soon be operating in four countries across the African continent. We have already empowered 10 000 girls through our GirlEng programme, and this success has cemented a joint venture with Unesco in which we aim to empower one million girls across ten countries in ten years on the African continent. It’s a huge goal, but one I’m confident we will reach.

We’ve also launched a for-profit arm, WomHub, which focuses on women across other industries

We were constantly approached by women in finance and investment banking, medicine and so on, all coming to us and asking if we could do a WomEng for them.

It’s been an amazing revelation: If something is important to you, and you do it with authenticity and passion, you will tap into those same values in others. It’s why we’ve had such huge support and demand for what we’re offering.

Of course, not everything can always go smoothly

WomEng and my time at Pegasys have been successes, but I’ve also had failures. For example, I’ve learnt that likes on Facebook don’t make a fashion start-up successful. Income, cash flow, customers — these count. I took a major financial knock, but it was at least all my own. Failures like that are hard. They shake your confidence.

It’s important to remember that if we only ever have good days we’ll never value or appreciate them. The bad days are necessary to make the good days shine. I recently had a girl come up to me totally randomly and say, ‘I’m studying engineering because of you.’ Those are the moments that make everything else worthwhile.

Related: 27four Investment Managers Aren’t Afraid Of The Big Boys

You can always make more money

At least the fashion start-up’s loss was mine alone. WomEng has an angel investor who has also invested in my latest venture, Saray, a Turkish restaurant that I’ve opened with my husband. We’ve developed an excellent working relationship based on trust and mutual respect, and failures haven’t detracted from that. He was very comfortable investing in the restaurant, because he understands my passions and how I approach everything I do.

Naadiya-Moosajee

Authentic relationships are essential to ultimate success

I’ve seen this in the business partners I work with, my angel investor and our clients. WomEng had a bad financial year last year. Engineering is taking strain; companies are closing and our customers are in trouble. We know that everything in life and business has an ebb and flow though, and so we know it will get better; what’s important is how we maintain our business relationships and connections until things improve.

If you have good working relationships and trust with your clients and suppliers, you can have honest discussions around how you can work together and support each other through tougher economic times. At the end of the day, it’s about human engagement, and an understanding that we’re all in this together.

Balancing so many different businesses and opportunities takes great partners

I run Saray with my husband, and WomEng with Hema Vallabh, a volunteer who joined SAWomEng a few years ago. We soon discovered how well we worked together, and partnered to co-found WomEng and WomHub. I’ve learnt that great partnerships work if you prop each other up.

We support and rely on each other. We’ve also reached the point where we are interchangeable. Either one of us can arrive at a client meeting. We’re in sync, we’ve outlined our goals and values so clearly that they’re second nature, and we trust each other. We never disagree.

We know what’s more important to each of us, and we defer situations and decisions to each other based on that. It’s a practical and pragmatic approach that has allowed us to make WomEng so successful while also focusing on other businesses and roles.

Related: 5 Truths Women Need To Grow A Successful Business

To manage my time, I colour code my diary

It sounds simple, but giving each company, my home, family time and forums their own colour means that at a glance I know who needs me when. This streamlining means I can give concentrated and focused time to each task, which allows me to get a lot more done each week. I spread myself out, so when I’m at Saray, or working on WomEng, or performing a board duty for Pegasys, I need to be completely present.

Build a team you can trust and delegate to. A sign of a good leader is that things get done when you aren’t there. We have an amazing team at WomEng. You need to have this. You can’t be everything in an organisation, especially as you grow and scale.

Remember this

Passion drives success. If you love what you do, you’ll find a way to make it work — even if you have some failures along the way.

Nadine Todd is the Managing Editor of Entrepreneur Magazine, the How-To guide for growing businesses. Find her on Google+.

Lessons Learnt

7 Pieces Of Wise Advice For Start-Up Entrepreneurs From Successful Business Owners

Launching a business is tough, but with perseverance, a willingness to learn from mistakes and a focus on the future, you can turn your dream into a reality. Seven top South Africa entrepreneurs share their hard-won start-up lessons.

Nadine Todd

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“What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you.” 

So you want to start a business? Seven successful entrepreneurs share their words of wisdom for start-up entrepreneurs

1. Offer advice and share your expertise freely

The more your clients are educated, the more empowered they will feel, and the more they will view you as a trusted advisor. I gave my clients material to help them develop the best labour policies and procedures. It didn’t make my service redundant — it built trust between us. — Arnoux Mare, Innovative Solutions Group, turnover R780 million

2. Stop planning and start doing

We all tend to complicate business with planning and processes. These shouldn’t be ignored, but you need to also just start — start your business, start that project, start walking the path you want to be on. — Gareth Leck, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million

Related: Watch List: 50 Top SA Small Businesses To Watch

3. Play your heart out and the money will follow

I learnt this valuable lesson when I was a student and busked at Greenmarket Square. You don’t stand with your hat, waiting for cash and then play — you play your heart out and the bills pile up in your hat. It’s the same in business. You can’t look at the bottom line first; it’s the other way around. — Pepe Marais, co-founder, Joe Public, turnover R700 million

4. Love learning lessons

What seems like an expensive lesson is actually the best thing that could have happened to you. I wasn’t paying attention to my partner or my books in our early days, and I didn’t realise the debt he was putting us into. We ended up owing R1 million. In hindsight, it was a cheap lesson to learn. Imagine if that happened today? The fallout would be much greater. We have 19 stores and nearly 100 staff members. It would hurt everyone, not just me. — Rodney Norman, founder, Chrome Supplements, turnover R100 million

5. Landing an investor starts with your story

A great story and data are the two golden rules of attracting an investor. You need both if you really want to access growth funding that will take your business to the next level. — Grant Rushmere, founder, Bos Ice Tea

Related: Watch List: 15 SA eCommerce Entrepreneurs Who Have Built Successful Online Businesses

6. Offer solutions

If you’re not solving a problem and creating value, don’t ship it — throw it away. That’s cheaper than selling a bad product. — Nadir Khamissa, co-founder, Hello Group

7. Small, clever decisions lead to big profits

One of the most important lessons any business owner can learn is that success on profit is nothing more than the accumulative sum of rand decisions. Lots of small, clever money decisions lead to big profits, and without the disciplines of frugality, money gets lost. It’s that simple. Question every single line item on a quote. Do we need it? Can we get it cheaper? This is what it’s about. — Vusi Thembekwayo, founder, Watermark

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Lessons Learnt

Here’s How Bosses From Hell Helped 6 Entrepreneurs Grow

From control freaks to being unco-operative, founders share what they learned from their worst boss.

Entrepreneur

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In business, sometimes the most valuable lessons come from the worst teachers. We asked six entrepreneurs: What’s the greatest thing you learned from a bad boss?

1. Bring everyone in

“A former boss was very hierarchical and discouraged collaboration. Everyone reported directly to her, and interdepartmental meetings were practically prohibited. It meant that only our boss had the full picture – we missed a lot of opportunity for alignment and cooperation. Today at our company, it’s a priority to hold regular team meetings and foster a strong culture of collaboration. It’s crucial that our team members weave collective sharing into the fabric of their day-to-day interactions.” – Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder and CEO, Indagare

2. Be vulnerable

“Don’t be afraid to show your emotions! I worked for a partner at McKinsey who was an incredible person but an awful manager because he kept his feelings bottled up. After a client presentation went awry, our team didn’t know where we stood with our manager. It was tense, awkward and demotivating. Showing vulnerability and letting others know when you’re genuinely upset can help everyone externalise their emotions, build trust and reassure employees that they aren’t alone. It sends a clearer message than stone-faced silence.” – Leo Wang, founder and CEO, Buffy

Related: 5 Factors That Make A Great Boss

3. Lend a hand

“I worked for someone who would never help out the junior staff with their work, even if he was finished with his own – he’d simply pack up and leave early. I now make an extra effort to ask my staff if they can use a hand when my own workload is light. It’s created a culture that feels more like a tight-knit team and less like a hierarchy.” – Adam Tichauer, founder and CEO, Camp No Counselors

4. Move as a group

“When I was a nurse manager, I had a boss with no experience in healthcare. She wanted to change our process for keeping patients from getting blood clots. I knew it was a mistake, but she insisted. Ultimately, the change failed. It taught me the importance of empowering staff to speak up. At Extend Fertility, we collect feedback from customers via surveys. Results are shared with our staff, and together we develop action plans to address negative experiences. It’s the employees who interact with patients on a daily basis who have the best solutions.” – Ilaina Edison, CEO, Extend Fertility

5. Trust your team

“I once worked for a woman who joined our team after I had been working there for a while. Every time I stood up, she’d ask me where I was going, whether it was to the bathroom or to the printer. She had a fear of not having control over my time and work. As a young adult, this behaviour really demoralised me, especially since I had excelled at the job for years prior. My leadership style is less neurotic. Once my team members have my trust, I’m pretty hands-off.” – Denise Lee, founder and CEO, Alala

Related: 5 Leadership Questions Every Boss Should Ask

6. Respect others’ time

“Early in my career, I had a project manager who’d wait until the very last minute to review work, then convey lots of new information and requests. This happened at the end of the day or, worse, after hours, when I was home. It was demoralising, inefficient and disrespectful. In my career, I’m conscious about reviewing work in a timely and complete way so my team can successfully incorporate my feedback without generating a last-minute crisis – or lingering resentment.” – Kirsten R. Murray, principal architect and owner, Olson Kundig 

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Lessons Learnt

11 Things Very Successful People Do That 99% Of People Don’t

Consistency is a big part of succeeding. The top 1% of performers in the world know this is the secret to their success.

John Rampton

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Becoming wealthy and leaving an impact on the world is not an easy feat. If it were, everyone would go around doing it. At that point, it would not be much of an accomplishment at all.

Rather, being extremely successful requires an extreme amount of work. Especially when there is nobody looking. The best people have developed habits that help them reach their goals. These routines are not necessarily challenging to form, but they take consistent effort over extended periods of time. Creating these tendencies in your own life will propel your success.

Here are 11 things, that 99% of people (myself included) do not do, but really should.

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