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Women Who Lead: Bonnie Cooper And Esna Colyn On Wearing The Mantle Of Leadership

Recently I had the privilege of speaking to two inspirational leaders who happen to be women. Here is what Bonnie Cooper and Esna Colyn shared on wearing the mantle of leadership.

Dirk Coetsee

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“It is the ultimate luxury to combine passion and contribution. It is also a very clear path to happiness.” – Sheryl Sandberg (COO of Facebook)

Arnold Schwarzenegger, in that very interesting and powerful German accent of his, gave a very thoughtful and inspiring answer to a female listeners’ question during a Tim Ferris Podcast. The essence of her question was about how a woman should go about the very challenging task of being a leader.

In this writing I will abbreviate and paraphrase his answer as it was a very long powerful lesson in politics, history and business – “Angela Merkel does not think about being a woman when leading Germany it is about the person and having strong leadership characteristics. I am sure that Catherine the great of Russia did not think of being a woman as she led her country, it is about the person.”

Related: Why Donna Rachelson Believes The Secret To Your Business Success Lies With Women

“The Terminators” answer lends more weight to the theory that leadership has very little if not nothing to do with gender, background, or position and much more to do with having a clear vision, inspiring others, and being an example that others want to follow. Leadership is about being passionate about what you do and leaving other leaders behind by adding value to them and serving them.

Recently I had the privilege of speaking to two inspirational leaders who happen to be women. Here is what Bonnie Cooper and Esna Colyn shared on wearing the mantle of leadership. 

“Leaders create energy”

Taking on the dual roles of being the Chief executive of BPD Advertising Agency and the Chief Marketing Officer of Roman’s Pizza requires a vast amount of energy, and Bonnie Cooper has bucket loads. Creating an energetic environment and an inspirational atmosphere is what true leaders do. She pointed out to me that high levels of enthusiasm and drive are critical factors when success is contemplated.

She asked me to emphasise that she has many flaws but immediately added that the very same flaws can open the door to opportunities when you admit them and put in the hard work to change. This positive attitude towards personal transformation can ignite inspiration in other team members who are willing to improve themselves.

Bonnie admitted to being an extreme introvert. Some see introversion as a detractor of performance especially within roles where public speaking, constant group engagement and corporate presentations are the rule and not the exception. She is however one of many examples of people who has obliterated this assumption. The determination in her eyes, the expansive body language and the confidence in her voice provides undisputable testimony to the fact that she has purposefully evolved her introversion into being an influential presence.

Leadership is about character, being the model of behaviour that you desire for your team to adopt. Bonnie is an inspiring example of how constant change and a focus on self- improvement can help others to leave their comfort zones behind to become leaders.

She strongly believes in empowerment and in part sees that as creating an environment where you as team member have no option but to venture outside of the self-imposed boundaries of your own comfort zone.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

“Respect is all that matters”

This statement is part of her e-mail signature and part of her belief system, and in having interacted with her I can honestly say, part of her actions. She will admit when she was wrong and show you the respect of a sincere apology.

Bonnie respects her team members by truly having an open-door policy and as a team member you are given the freedom to make mistakes, if you own them and fix them.

“A boss will blame and take credit, a leader will give credit and take the blame.”

The above quote alludes to the huge level of responsibility on a leaders’ shoulders and the high level of character that a leader must maintain to win and keep the trust of her team members. You can trust Bonnie to say what she thinks, to apologise when she is wrong, to roll up her sleeves shoulder to shoulder with her team when the hard work needs to be done and to give credit when and where it is due.

ESNA COLYN – CEO OF IMBALIE BEAUTY

esna-colyn

Question the status quo

A  leadership lesson that Esna has learnt is to understand her business by constantly questioning the status quo through the following questions:

  1. What are you passionate about?
  2. What is the economic engine that drives your business?
  3. What do you want to be the best in the world at?

Related: 10 Successful SA Women Entrepreneurs’ Top Advice On Balancing Work And Family

Key leadership principles

She highlights the importance of asking for help and to seek guidance as a leader and to never stop to read and learn.

Strong leaders entertain strong beliefs and Esnas’ belief system is applied in her business through the following key principles:

  • Work with and grow passionate people of great character and integrity.
  • Bring people into the organisation that are stronger than yourself.
  • Aspire to change the world and leave a legacy.

She does not hesitate to mention that to consistently apply the above principles are tough. The CEO of Imbalie believes that authenticity is the most effective vehicle of communication when it comes to motivating all key stakeholders around the purpose of the company.

Inspiration

Esna sees the late Nelson Mandela as an inspirational leader who’s example she looks up to. She is proudly South African and aspires to the changes that he facilitated in our country and in the world. Speaking of inspiration and aspiration the quote that Esna most resonates with comes from Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage, do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Imbalies’ theme for 2017 is “#LIFT OFF“ and she sees all franchisees as leaders and entrepreneurs whom in unison with the organisations’ leadership must make this theme a reality.

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Support for Women Entrepreneurs

A Great Time To Be A Woman In Business

South Africa’s growing band of female entrepreneurs have many lessons to teach us all.

Morné Stoltz

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South Africa’s growing band of female entrepreneurs have many lessons to teach us all. In our first article in this feature, Marine Louw showed us the power of passion.

In this article, Cresi Heslop offers living proof that opportunities are everywhere – if we can see them and are prepared to seize them. She is building a business by identifying opportunities as they open up and then working hard to exploit them.

“It’s all about using what you have and thinking a bit laterally,” Heslop says.

Heslop and her husband started a youth sports blog in order to provide a motivational platform for a new generation of South African sportsmen and – women. They saw the blog, Heslop Sports, as a labour of love, with no commercial intent. However, spending so much time among athletes did reveal a potential commercial idea: a towel specially designed with sports in mind and that South African athletes could use with pride, especially at international events.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

The result was a new business, Wonder Towel. Its flagship product is a microfibre towel designed to look like the South African flag, supplemented with a range of other microfibre products.

“Microfibre is environment-friendly because it’s so absorbent – it dries easily and stays fresh longer, and it takes less water to wash,” she says. “It’s also super light, thus great for travelling.”

Since then, the business has grown, selling primarily to the travel, beauty, baby and household markets, as well as the sports industry. Much of the selling is done via her online store and agents in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria – as well as the e-commerce platforms. She singles out Takealot.com which, she says, does a great job in helping small businesses put themselves on the map.

She’s also just signed up a new distributor who is targeting independent schools, and schools with big water-sports teams.

Mentorship provided Heslop with welcomed inspiration and stability. She has built a solid relationship with a businesswoman who she respects enormously, Hendrien Kruger, the head of Inoar SA, which distributes a range of imported Brazilian hair products.

“We met seven years ago and I can turn to her at any point for sensible advice or just a good chat over a cuppa,” she says. “You should find some worthy people who inspire you in your field. They could even be people that you admire from a distance or whose books and lectures have become part of your way of seeing things.”

Because mentorship can play such a positive role, it’s vital that women offer themselves as mentors. Many successful women don’t realise how great an influence they could have on the next generation, starting what she calls a “cycle of future goodness”.

We’ve always heard about the power of the old boys’ club, and how it gives men a head start in business, but says Heslop, networks seem to be opening up.

“Female small-business owners are still in a bit of minority in South Africa, I believe however we are in a wonderful season of change at present,” she says.

Related: How Women Entrepreneurs Can Change the SA Business Landscape

“I recently had dealings with one of South Africa’s oldest and most established suppliers in a particular market sector, and I found them both welcoming and nurturing to an industry newcomer – something for which I am very grateful.”

Of course, entrepreneurs must also learn how to cope with challenges all the time. Heslop says that she keeps strong by sticking to a set of habits and actions. Her religious faith is an important mainstay and she daily affirms her commitment to making a difference, to being alert for hidden opportunities, and to spreading love and respect always.

“At the end of the day it will all boil down to confidence, belief in ourselves, joyous passion and delivering extremely high quality of products and services that will command respect and ensure us our rightful place in our beautiful nation’s economy,” she concludes.

MiWay is an Authorised Financial Services Provider (Licence no: 33970).

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Celebrating Women In The Signage And Printing Industry

The event will take place from 13-15 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.

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Women are increasingly making their mark on the traditionally male-dominated signage and printing industry. For those who want to enter this industry, or want to grow their businesses, the Sign Africa and FESPA Africa expo, co-located with Africa Print and Africa LED, offers many opportunities for entrepreneurs. The event will take place from 13-15 September at Gallagher Convention Centre.

Diane Jacobson, Managing Director at Ellis Lehman Signs, has been in the industry for 25 years, and enjoys being in a career that is dynamic, creative and interesting. ‘No two jobs are identical, and because it is an industry that serves a variety of businesses, it offers exposure to many types of people and companies,’ she said.

Related: Ideas To Start Your Own Business In Signage And Printing

‘I’ve worked with fantastic people and managed very interesting projects, from manufacturing plants to religious institutions, to petrochemical companies to retailers and sports events. I have met wonderful people over the years and have had the opportunity to travel to interesting places. It is an industry that has allowed me to grow my business skills in a creative space.’

Sign Africa candidates

Lehman’s key to success is understanding and servicing the needs of customers. ‘They are the lifeblood of all business. There is so much poor service out there, so doing things better and paying attention to detail and the final finished item sets anyone apart,’ she said.

Printing SA, the official trade federation representing printing, packaging and associated businesses in the industry, has a number of projects to empower women. The organisation runs a screen printing programme, which most recently trained 10 unemployed women from Cottonlands. The programme includes three elements: the theory of screen printing, practical application, and basic business skills that would assist in growing a small business.

A success story from the programme is Eunice Ngwenya, Managing Director of Eunique Printing, who completed Printing SA’s very first screen printing pilot course during 2014. Printing SA recommended Ngwenya to Konica Minolta South Africa.

Eunique Printing, which operates from Konica Minolta South Africa’s Johannesburg campus, has been in business for almost a year, employs three people and prints books, magazines, business cards, calendars, receipt books, brochures, invitations, photographs, as well as offering ring binding and glue binding services.

Ngwenya has always been interested in printing, and had done silk screening on plastic for 25 years. She is glad that she applied for the Printing SA training as it has led her to where she is today. ‘I’ve learnt so much from Printing SA, I wouldn’t be where I am without them, and with the help of Konica Minolta South Africa, I see myself going very far,’ she said.

Related: Celebrating The Multi-Faceted Woman

Sonja Groenewald is CEO of Colourtech Design & Print CEO, which has operated for 26 years. Its main focus is the publishing and education markets. The business has a unique set up as in addition to printing, there is also an in-house dispatch and deliveries division, which helps service 350,000 students.

Being in the printing industry, you’d think technology would be Colourtech’s most important asset, but it’s not. ‘Our staff are our most valuable resource – we consider each and every one of our employees as part of our family,’ said Groenewald.

They are integral to the business’ success. ‘I’ve always told my employees to treat each customer like royalty – whether a client is just popping in for a small pack of business cards, or taking on a major order. Good service is crucial.’


For more information about the Sign Africa, FESPA Africa, Africa Print and Africa LED expo’s, and to pre-register online, please visit: www.signafricaexpo.com/entrepreneur

 

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Celebrating The Multi-Faceted Woman

Fedhealth celebrates #WonderWomen this August for the multiple roles they take on and excel in.

Fedhealth

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Fedhealth celebrates #WonderWomen this August for the multiple roles they take on and excel in. Whether you’re the CEO of a multinational company, the CEO of your home, or managing both, we’ve got plans to cover you every step of the journey — so you can focus on what you do best.

In celebration of Women’s Month, Fedhealth celebrates the strong women in our lives, and the various roles they fulfil with commitment and enthusiasm.

From mothers to caretakers to business owners and mentors, “Sisters are doing it for themselves.” And, since women are the backbone of so many families and communities, women’s health deserves to be cherished, during pregnancy, the childbearing years, and beyond.

Related: Why Donna Rachelson Believes The Secret To Your Business Success Lies With Women

Fedhealth’s family focus recognises the maternal role and how important women are in the family decision-making process. Fedhealth will take care of your family and your children through family-focused plans like Maxima Basis.

Fedhealth’s role in each stage of a Woman’s health

When you are young and single, Fedhealth looks after you by providing the contraceptive benefit

Oral contraception, contraceptive patches and certain contraceptive injections, as well as IUDs, are covered from Risk on Maxima Plus, Maxima Exec, Maxima Standard, Maxima StandardElect and Maxima Basis.

When obtained at a pharmacy, GP or a gynaecologist, the cost will automatically be covered by the Scheme and funded from the Major Medical Benefit.

When you are ready to start a family, Fedhealth has amazing maternity benefits

The experience of becoming a parent is priceless, but sooner or later you’re going to run into the expenses involved with a pregnancy.

The actual cost of pregnancy and childbirth can be steep, especially if you don’t have medical aid. The price tag of a healthy pregnancy can really add up, starting with prenatal care to ensure a healthy baby and a healthy delivery.

You’ll need to visit your gynaecologist throughout your pregnancy. If you have medical aid, prenatal visits and diagnostic tests such as ultrasounds, will be covered. They are generally considered as ‘preventative’ care.

An ultrasound could cost anything between R600 to R800 upwards, while delivery could cost up to R13 000 at a private facility. Every day, scores of women in South Africa scramble to find a medical aid that will cover their pregnancy and childbirth.

Maxima Basis is an excellent medical aid option to consider if you’re thinking of starting a family in the future.

Related: Funding And Financial Assistance For SA Women Entrepreneurs

At the later stages of your health, Fedhealth provides screening benefits

Yes, fifty being the new thirty would be particularly true for those who can afford good health care or have access to good health care.

Because of this, people are staying healthier for longer, and lives are starting later due to longer education times and difficulty finding jobs. People are settling down into careers in their mid to late twenties instead of earlier, making traditionally older ages, like 50, feel younger.

Women should have a general check-up every year, especially as you get older (even if you don’t feel like it yet). Have you scheduled yours?

Protect yourself against some of life’s nastier surprises by learning more about the most commonly misdiagnosed women’s illnesses:

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: When tasks such as getting ready for work, which usually require an hour take several hours, you may want to look into why. CFS affects women in their 40s and 50s. Women are four times more likely to suffer from this disease than men.

Multiple Sclerosis: Women are three times more likely to be diagnosed with MS, and it generally appears between ages 20 and 40. Having a mother with MS can be the strongest risk factor. Blurred or double vision, fatigue, tingling, dizziness, lack of coordination and tremors are symptoms to look out for.

wonder-women

Fedhealth has a strong social presence and, through the use of its blog, Fedhealth’s team will produce great articles along the #WonderWomen theme, such as women in the workplace, breastfeeding in your lunch hour and celebrating being single. To follow the blog, go to www.fedhealth.co.za/healthy-living-tips/

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