Know the WHY in WHAT you do

Last night, I was part of a group of female entrepreneurs who got together at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) to discuss the challenges women face as small business owners and how to overcome these successfully.

Paneled by Adriaan Bassoon, assistant editor at City Press, the discussion was led by Johanna Mukoki, MD and founder of Travel with Flair; Rehema Isa, founder and director at Fuse Project Management Consulting and Thando Baloyi, MD and founder of Lady T Protection Services – this was one of the very few seminars that I’ve found to be truly useful in a long time.

Named Winning Women, the seminar was the idea of 10 000 Women, an organization that aims to train and educate 10 000 women around the world to be successful businesswomen. 10 000 Women has partnered with GIBS to train and educate the women in business and City Press to spread the word.

Johanna Mukoki, on left, Adriaan Basson, Thando Baloyi and Rehema Isa

Johanna Mukoki, on left, Adriaan Basson, Thando Baloyi and Rehema Isa

There were a number of interesting issues raised on the night ranging from inequality of gender in the workplace, how to balance family and work life, how government can participate in important dialogues concerning female entrepreneurs and how to keep inspired in the vicious world of business.

The first issue raised that most women seem to face is that of male versus female in the workplace and I love how Rehema responded, saying for her it’s not about men and women, when it comes to business its about pitching against someone else and the quality of your work has a big role to play. I have to say I agreed with her completely – the “warfare” ideology that we’ve created between the sexes in the workplace can only be abolished if we stop looking at people as men or women at work and just look at them as people.

For Thando, being a woman in the male dominated security industry she found herself being undermined by clients, competitors and her staff.  And she dealt with this by having the right procedures and policies down on paper to help her in tricky situations.

One thing both Thando and Rehema agreed on was the importance of standing firm and not wavering on your principles.

Johanna says government has played a huge role in ensuring the visibility of women in business but Rehema added that Africa needs to create its own language when it comes to business. “We cannot keep using western systems to try solve African problems, we need a language that will speak to us as African businesswomen.”

Making a success of any business venture, man or woman, requires that you compete against yourself said Johanna. “I’ve always been straight A student and to this day I make sure I’m 100% present in everything I do. Ladies you need to know your craft 10 times more than the next person – make sure that you are deep.”

Johanna has recently joined forces Graça Machel to create New Faces New Voices, an initiative aimed at increasing the visibility and influence of African women in agriculture in the decision-making spheres.

In dealing with the issue of balancing family and work, all three ladies agreed that making time for yourself and your health first was very important. Ultimately if you are happy and healthy then your whole family will be as well.

“No matter where I travel to in the world, when I come home I’m a wife and a mom,” said Johanna while Rehema said “the weekends are for my family – all things are put on hold then.”

Johanna also said something that I found to be truly important on the night, which is “never conform. Be true to yourself and people WILL accept you and support you wherever you go.”

So what did I learn? There is no recipe when it comes to success, what’s worked for one person will definitely not be your journey. So many times we ask how to make it instead of trying and failing and standing up and trying again.

Setting goals is always important, defining what outcomes you want in life and never underestimating your mental space is vital. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable.

You have to dream big and also celebrate the small successes.

And the best lesson: always connect with people who will hold you accountable for your dreams.

Apply for the 10 000 Women programme at GIBS.

Me at 10 000 Women with GIBS

Me at 10 000 Women with GIBS

Back to Black

These are my absolute favourite #black looks for the week. I was never a fan of black but OMG do Nicole Richie and Taylor Momsen rock it.

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Nicole Richie rocks this black jumpsuit with lace panels and blue suede heels.

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Sexy…

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Look at the pink bag… #drooling