There’s a lot said about how to ‘get to the next level’ as a professional. Can you explain a little about how you initially broke through in your career to become Founding Director of your own company?
Getting to the next level of a career is something that can both be exciting and very daunting. It requires careful consideration; planning and execution. You must have a clear vision of what you want for your life then your professional career and how you progress it from one level to another is based on and guided by that. I have always been very clear that nobody owes me anything, that I had to really work hard and stay focused to push my career in the direction I wanted it to go.
There truly is no substitute for focused hard work. Building strong relationships across the board also enables you to have multiple sponsors for your career; something critical to progressing to the next level.
I had built up a lot of credibility before I left corporate to run my own company. All the above helped build a great foundation for a career as an entrepreneur and a successful businesswoman because when all is said and done; people buy from people; especially those that they know.
How has winning Veuve Clicquot ELLE Boss 2017 influenced your career path and personal life and would you encourage other women in business to enter?
This award has taken my personal brand to a level I only dreamed of. It fast-tracked so many things for me and so many opportunities have come about as a result. My business has also grown so rapidly since the award with no less than four offers to buy it from significant companies listed on the JSE. That is a great accolade for any entrepreneur; of course, I have not sold as yet.
The exposure that I have received through this platform has brought about overseas business partnerships, listed company board seats; radio shows and television showcases to name but a few. The philanthropic work that I also do has received a great showcase through these awards and I have become even more sought after for motivational talks and mentorships. Oh, did I also mention that I have been on a cover of a magazine?!
It has been such an amazing experience! I am so grateful; I really feel very privileged. I wanted to tell the next winner of the award what it is like; a mere few weeks into it. I am such a big ambassador of the awards because of what they have done for me. I absolutely encourage all deserving and qualifying women to enter. Nominate yourself or get nominated; just do it. Understand what is required and prepare for it but you simply cannot miss an opportunity like this.
As an entrepreneur, time is fleeting and there are no set working hours. How do you know when is enough and what advice would you give your younger self?
One of the biggest blessings in disguise was finding myself on the verge of burn out in my last corporate job. I have always been highly driven and constantly on the go. I always operated at high octane levels and was nothing short of a super woman. One day my body just refused to keep taking the abuse; I had to really stop and re-look my life. I had to decide what was important.
I started my own company and left corporate to run it so that I could be in charge of my own time and decide what to do with it.
In the initial stages of the business you pretty much do everything so time is very limited but I always set out to build a business that could run independently of me so that I could free up my time. I achieved that by employing the right people and putting the right processes and controls in place. I have developed great rhythm since I left corporate and my body screams when I have been over exerting myself.
I am also fortunate enough to have my three children who are my conscience. I can assure you they do not hold back. They demand what is theirs. I would definitely tell my younger self to distinguish between perfection and excellence. To me; excellence is about giving the best of your ability and accept that you cannot control everything. I now accept things I cannot change and it is so liberating.
What qualities do you believe are most important to be a leader? If these qualities did not come naturally, can you give any tips on how to cultivate them?
I am such a big believer in servant leadership. I always feel like I work for my staff; not the other way around. I care about their well-being and I put that above everything else. I cannot see it at any other way. It is a big responsibility to be a leader. You have the power the build or destroy people’s lives. You have to understand and appreciate that and hold the responsibility very dearly.
I choose to build people’s lives; at least help them to do that. I think that is a good way to start learning how to be a great leader.
Put the people first in everything you do. Understand that your success is directly correlated to their state of being. I cannot see how you can be successful as a leader if your people are miserable and feel undervalued. To be a great leader can be learned but it takes an enormous investment in self. The greatest leaders spend a lot of time doing inner work because what you carry inside shows up when you are a leader. The pressures of the job can bring about really ugly things and the same people you treasure and lead can turn on you and you have to be very mature in handling any eventuality.
What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organisations?
Women really were born to lead. We show this in the roles we play particularly within the family structures. We are wonderful at it. Sadly, we get to the boardroom and corporate roles and decide to be something else; something that we are not. We are nurturing and encouraging by our very nature. You must be comfortable within your own skin as a woman. Own your role in society and use the strengths innate in you to progress.
Women must understand that men are not their enemies. We are our own worst enemies.
I am not for one second suggesting that gender inequality does not exist, it does, badly so. We need to learn that you cannot win this war by opting out. You must go about it consciously and strategically. Build relationships with your male counterparts; respect them as you would your fellow species. Show compassion. Seek to support and build especially as a leader. You will soon have the following and the support you require to move up the ladder.
What advice can you offer women who are seeking to have their own business?
Have a very clear vision of the life you want to live and the kind of business you want to run. What is your claim to fame? What do people know you for? Why should they buy from you? What value do you bring? Every action you take from the moment you are convinced that you want to start your own business enables that dream. Your business idea must fit into your overall life vision. Plan it and execute. Go for it! It is truly the most liberating thing ever.
Build relationships and strong networks as a general rule because once in business they are your saving grace. Relationships are the business; no matter the product or service. Trust your gut. Not everyone will get your dream; that is why it is yours; stay true to it; but; flexible enough to course correct as and when required. Find someone you trust who has walked down the same road and share ideas with them; it does not have to be full time mentorship but someone you know you can always go to when you are stuck or just need to test an approach or idea.
What do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?
It is a fact of life that we were brought up in a patriarchal society that labels women as weak and too emotional to lead. Most of us grew up within cultures where a woman’s place was at home rearing children; if they worked; they had no voice; no power and no mandate. As a result; some women believe you cannot have it all. I have also seen that women tend to disqualify themselves from big opportunities because of fear of being judged to be too ambitious. These are all the societal and mental barriers that we have had to fight off and change. Gone are those days! We are raising a very different generation.
I believe that we can have it all. We do have it all. All of that boils down to your own outlook on life. What defines your all? The buckets may not all be full at the same time; decide which bucket should always be full. What is important to you? Make the sacrifice you need to without dimming your own light. I am a great leader; an awesome businesswoman; a fabulous wife and mother. I am also many other things. I am capable of it all and I do my best in each and every one of them. What you believe is what you will become.
What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women to come?
I am raising the next generation and I am always in awe of their spirit. We have beaten so many odds as this generation and pushed so many boundaries to prove we are worthy of our place under the sun. We have given them so many tools and resources as well as the confidence to be whatever they want to be and to never let anyone define them. I am very proud of what I am passing on to the next generation. Through their everyday reality; I show them that they can have it all. They can be a mom and have successful careers. They can explore the world uninhibited.
We are raising a very enlightened bunch of women and men. They are far more questioning and curious about the way things are. They are outspoken and very smart. The challenge I see is that we have only just started to shift perceptions about women but we are nowhere near utopia. It will be up to them to continue to challenge the norms of society and re-write a lot of the scripts that seek to demean and minimise women and their role in society. I am very proud though that I have done my best thus far to empower them; not just my own children but the many young women I mentor.
I am also raising a very conscious young man who observes the dynamic at home between mom and dad and sees both of them holding their own and running successful businesses whilst being there for them; loving and nurturing. I believe the future is in good hands; however; we must make sure that they have footprints that they can proudly follow in; not just for them but for many more generations to come.
Use The December Shutdown Period To Do Just That: Shut Down
by Greg Morris, CEO, Sebata Holdings
Most businesses – retail and entertainment excluded – resemble ghost towns during the first and last weeks of the year. Energy levels are low in December, and employees daydream about cocktails on the beach. Come January, it takes a few days to get back into the swing of things. Before we know it, South Africa takes another extended holiday in April.
We’re accused of having a “holiday culture” in South Africa. That’s a fair comment. We get 12 public holidays a year, which is more than most countries. And many people use their annual leave strategically in April and December to maximise their time off. As a result, we only really work for 10 months of the year, while other countries work for 11 months.
There’s no doubt that public holidays affect the economy. One extra public holiday in 2011 resulted in an estimated R7 billion loss in turnover. But there’s also a lot to be said for taking time off. And when we know the holidays are coming, we can prepare for them, so employees make the most of their downtime and start the new year on a strong footing.
Burnout is not good for business…
Productivity and motivation are like fuel tanks. While driving, the fuel dries up. At some point, we need to fill up, otherwise we’ll break down. People are the same; we can’t run on empty. Weekends are one thing, but in our culture of always-connected busyness, we don’t get a chance to recharge over weekends. That’s why we need the longer break in December.
A Pulse Institute study found that, when employees are not rested, they experience:
- 23% reduced concentration
- 18% reduced memory function
- 9% increased difficulty in performing tasks
Fatigue-related productivity losses amount to R26,000 per employee per year. Sleeplessness can also result in mistakes and increased absenteeism, accidents, or injury.
Well-rested employees, however, are happier and more creative, engaged, and productive. They get more done in less time than their sleep-deprived, low-energy colleagues.
… but if you’re going to burn the midnight oil…
Businesses often think of December as a slow period that will harm the bottom line. Yes, it can be disruptive and there will be financial impacts. But if you’re going to keep the doors open til the end, this is the perfect time for internal housekeeping. Even the most efficient and streamlined businesses can improve some internal projects or processes.
Allow teams to be inwardly focused during this time, so that you start the new year with less to worry about. Whether that’s planning for 2019, reflecting on what worked and what didn’t in 2018, cleaning up databases, servicing air cons and office machines, connecting with customers over coffee, updating your website, or creating new marketing campaigns, employees can achieve a lot when they’re not focused on the day-to-day grind.
Our best ideas come to us when we’re relaxed and not thinking about them. (If you’ve ever scrawled on the steamed-up shower door, you’ve experienced downtime creativity.)
Make the most of skeleton staff time in December. Host fun creativity sessions that have nothing to do with work. Pay for your people to complete short online courses that will give them skills and motivation boosts. When they do go on holiday, perhaps their new knowledge will result in a major ‘a-ha moment’ around the family braai.
My best advice for businesses that are shutting down in a few weeks is this: shut down. Since the business is not generating income, everything that’s left running – that one employee watching the phone that never rings; that one light left on – hurts the bottom line.
Encourage teams to disconnect. Don’t expect them to answer mails and don’t contact them about work while they’re on holiday – unless it’s an emergency. Block access to mails if you have to, Volkswagen style. Give your people time to think, reflect, and sleep.
When we respect employees’ time and give them freedom to work when they’re most productive, we develop motivated, positive workforces who are enthusiastic about achieving the business’s goals. They work harder to get the job done and, in our experience, actually finish projects ahead of deadline because they want to be able to switch off and go fishing.
Downtime is often seen as wasted time. We don’t take breaks, we eat lunch at our desks, and we work when we’re sick and should be at home. But working longer hours doesn’t mean that we’ll get more done. In fact, it can be enormously counter-productive.
Neuroscientist David Levitin cautions against the “false break”, when we feel guilty for taking time off and compulsively check emails. Napping, daydreaming, and “taking true vacations without work”, he says, is biologically restorative and essential for rebooting cognitive energy. So, if you’re going to shut down, do it properly. The same business challenges will be there when you get back. But you could solve some of them while you’re sleeping.
Seasonal SMEs: Don’t Spend Your Extra Cash All At Once
Save a portion of festive season profits for an emergency fund.
The festive season is a time when many seasonal small and medium enterprises (SMEs) reap the rewards of increased consumer spending, such as additional sales and accommodation bookings from the influx of holiday makers and festive season shoppers. This spike in earnings offers the ideal opportunity for these businesses to save some of the extra money that they make for an emergency fund.
This is according to Jeremy Lang, regional general manager at Business Partners Limited (BUSINESS/PARTNERS), who says that a major risk faced by many businesses is their vulnerability to an unexpected financially-draining mishap such as a big client loss, a lawsuit, or any accident that is not covered by insurance.
“Despite this, few SME owners have an emergency fund in place to deal with such unforeseen events,” he says.
“This is understandable since a growing business tends to require a lot of cash to move forward. Another likely reason for this is because most SME owners are more focused on the immediate practicalities of building their business, rather than on vague risk assessments and planning. By nature, entrepreneurs also tend to be chronically optimistic about the future good luck of their business,” adds Lang.
“However, considering South Africa’s underperforming economy and rising consumer price inflation, it is essential that all SME owners save for a rainy day. Those that have boosted seasonal business have an advantage and should capitalise on this by putting aside a portion of their seasonal profits,” he explains.
Related: 5 Small Business Money-Saving Myths
When saving towards an emergency fund, it is key to set a goal, Lang points out. “A good rule of thumb is to have three to six months’ worth of overheads set aside, but even just one month’s expenses are better than nothing.”
The next step is to decide what constitutes an emergency, he says. “If an emergency fund can be dipped into every time you want to avoid an awkward phone call to the landlord to say that the rent will be slightly late this month, it won’t last long. A true emergency is one that threatens the survival of the business.”
With this in mind, thinking through and writing down a list of possible emergencies that would justify the use of the fund is a good risk-assessment exercise for any business, suggests Lang.
Finally, some thought needs to be given to where an emergency fund should be kept, he says.
“Gambling with the money on the stock exchange defeats the purpose. A money-market account is a better option, but it may be worth considering an account where the funds aren’t too easily accessible, so there’s no temptation to dip into it on a whim. On the other hand, it should not be so inaccessible that you cannot access it fairly soon when an emergency does strike.”
As such, Lang recommends a set of notice deposit accounts with varying notice periods so that a limited amount can be accessed immediately, and some a little later, which allows for some interest to accrue while the money, hopefully, will not be used any time soon.
“However, ultimately the will on the part of the business owner to attain these savings is critically important. The cash demands in a business are so constant that any vague or half-hearted attempt to establish an emergency fund will fail. It will have to be a conscious and disciplined effort by the business owner,” Lang concludes.
Documentary Filmmaking As A Career Is On The Up In South Africa
The Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival will offer a free Filmmakers’ Masterclass this Wednesday, 5 December to boost several initiatives to position Cape Town as a key film destination and location.
Wavescape Filmmakers Masterclass
- Date: 5th December 2018
- Time: 6:00pm for 6:30pm
- Venue: Invest SA One Stop Shop, Western Cape
- Address: Cape Sun Corner, 46 St. George’s Mall, Cape Town
- Parking: Picbel Parkade, 58 Strand Street, Cape Town Centre (For own account)
The Masterclass, which is presented by Wesgro and aimed at aspiring filmmakers, producers, film students and those in the film industry, will focus on what it takes secure funding, produce and distribute a documentary film.
The documentary genre has seen a resurgence in popularity, owing in part to increased accessibility via the growth of Video On Demand platforms like Netflix, and an audience response to ‘Block-buster fatigue’ which has seen renewed interest in the documentary format and meaningful stories that reflect the nature and reality of our present lives.
The recent launch of F/LM Cape Town – a joint initiative between the City of Cape Town and the local film industry to promote the City’s amazing locations, diverse talent and world-class infrastructure – solidifies Cape Town as a world-class centre for filmmaking.
Besides its raw natural beauty, the city is rich in culture, diversity and heritage, which offers filmmakers an abundance of content. Curator of the Wavescape Masterclass Christopher Mason, who is co-director of Mason Brothers’ Films, said that you were halfway there if you had a good concept: “These days anyone with a unique idea, a DSLR camera and a laptop, and enough desire can be a filmmaker. The trick, of course, is understanding how to get your foot in the door in a very competitive industry.”
“What makes a good documentary and how does one become a good documentary filmmaker? How has the genre evolved and what are the possibilities for young South Africans interested in the genre? The Masterclass aims to give aspiring filmmakers the answers to these and other questions,” Mason said.
From developing a good idea into an award-winning film; to funding and distribution models; and case studies on the best this genre has to offer, this year’s masterclass aims to provide filmmakers with an immersive roadmap to success.
Steve Pike, co-founder of the Wavescape Surf and Ocean Festival said that the platform laid by F/LM Cape Town and initiatives such as the Wavescape Masterclass could help boost the already booming film industry, and thus reduce the 27.5% of South Africans who remain unemployed. The Wavescape festival, and in particular the Masterclass spoke directly to the F/LM initiative, Pike said.
“Cape Town has it all: Amazing scenery and epic locations for adventure sport. Our festival is a key platform to showcase Cape Town as the Adventure Capital of the World while also celebrating the wild ocean and raw beauty around us.”
The CEO of Wesgro, Tim Harris, said that in the 2017/18 financial year, Wesgro’s Film and Media Promotion Unit “managed to secure nine declarations to creating 2,499 full time equivalent jobs – this shows the potential for job creation in this sector”.
“There are many job opportunities in the film and media industry due to the breadth and depth of skills required across the value chain of this fourth industrial revolutionary industry,” he said, also highlighting massive potential for the cutting edge gaming industry.
Several top speakers will talk at the Masterclass, including Jolynn Minnaar, an acclaimed documentary director; Cliff Bestall, who made16th Man for ESPN 30 for 30 (produced by Morgan Freeman); Karen Slater, a Director / DOP in Sisters of the Wilderness that is eligible for an Oscar; Khalid Shamis, editor of Strike A Rock; Liezel Vermeulen, producer and film finance expert; Izzette Mostert from the Documentary Filmmakers Association; and Monica Rorvik, Head of Wesgro Film and Media Promotion Unit.
Parking at Picbel Parkade, 58 Strand Street, Cape Town (For own account), refreshments will be served.
Please visit http://www.wavescapefestival.com/wesgro-blue-ocean-master-class/ for more information.
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