How to be human and then some …


With Human Rights Day coming up this month (21 March), we thought we would throw out some ideas on how you can be a bit more human.


We are being a little tongue-in-cheek, we admit, but we do forget sometimes.  We forget not only that we are human, but that others are too.  We forget how to treat others.  So, a little reminding is always in order.


Human Rights Day came about in 1994 after Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as President.  We are reminded on this day, of the tragic massacre in Sharpeville, where a crowd gathered to protest against the Africans having to carry a pass book and produce said pass book on request.


Human Rights Day is all about allowing humans to be an individual, to not have to prove that they are what they are, to move around freely and to be able to live a life with dignity.


So, how can we assist in helping others live their lives without having to worry about what others say, think and do?


It is a tough call but if we keep it simple the world will surely be a better place to live in. goes into slightly too much weird detail on how to be human.  Have a read – it’s a real laugh.  We won’t be so obvious about it though.  We want to rather focus on the other person and not ourselves for this particular exercise.


Treat others as you would like to be treated

It is cliché, we know.  But, it is the one thing that makes absolute sense.  Unless you are into some odd ritualistic lifestyle where you enjoy being treated like rubbish, you do want to be handled in a kind and generous manner.

Before you speak, repeat whatever you are about to say to yourself in your head.  Does it sound kind?  Does it sound helpful?  Would you want to be spoken to in that way?


Be yourself

Unless you are not a nice person and don’t even realise it.  Then, we are a little stuck on helping you out here.  A study completed following the Loebner Prize competition in 2009 showed that in order to recognise whether certain text was either written by humans or by a computer, one had to see the personal quirkiness in it.  Being yourself you may think is an easy feat.  After all, who better to fulfil the role of being yourself, than yourself?  Well, yes and no.  The study showed that because of the age of machinery, the age of perfection and the age of instant gratification, we end up trying to be someone else.


Get Face to Face

Ditch the email.  Ditch the WhatsApp.  Ditch the voice message.  Get face to face with someone.  There is a time and place for technology, no doubt.  But, actually having a one to one with someone and hearing and watching the words leave their mouth, is priceless.


Build Relationships

There is something to be said for a quality and strong relationship.  With all the divorces, friend breakups, company splits and liquidations going on, we lose sight of the value of relationships.

We are not an island; therefore, we should not be going it alone.


When it comes to business, building firm and fast relationships will prove their weight in gold down the line.  Actually, getting to know someone without all the pomp and grace will mean something in the end.


“People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But, people will never forget how you made them feel”

Maya Angelou – American Author, actress, screenwriter, dancer, and a civil rights activist

Think of your Accomplishments Differently

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Most people view an accomplishment as either a degree or a great hike up a great mountain, but few realise that an accomplishment means something different to different people.


Learning to think about your accomplishments differently will help you gain confidence and influence your future more productively.


In the process of an interview, a question like, “What is your greatest accomplishment?” can set anyone stuttering and stumbling over their words.  Interviewers class this type of question as a ‘behavioural interview question’ and most times is asked to get a better insight into someone’s psyche.  It’s a hot-button question.  Do they like talking about themselves?  Are they confident in what they have achieved so far?  What do they view success as?


The first and very important thing to remember whenever you are asked that question or something similar, is that your confidence in yourself must shine through, no matter the answer.


Your levels of accomplishment are very different to someone else’s.  The only common denominator would be how you view and express those accomplishments.


If you sit there, shyly look away and mumble out what you have achieved, even if it was qualifying as a Certificate CA, the person listening will most likely feel like you haven’t achieved much.


Delivery is everything.


The type of delivery you give can also be seen through the words you write and not only those that you speak.


From your online profile to the 30 second elevator speech you give at the next network meeting, your delivery needs to speak volumes.


Here are a few tips on how you can start thinking about your accomplishments differently and start making people aware:


Make the List

No matter how small or big you consider the achievement to be, write it down.  It could be that you managed to conceive a child to passing your drivers.  It could be clocking the 100th referral receipt at your network to hitting the R1 million mark in your investment.  They are all accomplishments. They are tasks or projects you set for yourself where you managed to reach a certain accolade.  Write them all down – they all count.


Read them out loud

As a general rule, most of us humans are not great with bragging about our achievements.  We don’t particularly like it when someone else goes on about what they have done and what they have mastered.  But, starting with reading your accomplishments out loud to yourself is a good way to feel more confident.  It is also in how you say it.  Always keep your tone conversational, but not too much matter-of-fact either.  A quiet informative, yet engaging tone is great. Remember, most times someone has asked you the question around your accomplishments and so you must answer – they are expecting you to answer.


Feel proud – be proud

When you feel proud about what you have achieved it will shine through in your face and words.  And, there is no harm in that.  It may even sound good if you start off with,  “I feel very proud in myself for …”. Or “It has been a great feeling knowing that I managed to …”. People will respond better to that kind of intro to your accomplishments.  You are stating a fact, but also showing some humility.


Testimonial It

If you still really struggle with just stating the facts about what you have achieved, put it forward in the form of a testimonial.  Stating what someone else said about you is a softer approach and then takes the heat away from you.  You will need to of course, ask your clients, colleagues and anyone who was involved to write up a testimonial.  You don’t need to read it out – that would be a bit nerdish – unless you are presenting.  Just keep it in your head for that right moment.  You could start out by saying, “Well, if my closest client could be here, he would tell you that I …” or “My college professor always used to say this about me …”



Again, accomplishments mean something different to different people and you need to be proud of your accomplishments, no matter what they are.


7 Reasons Why You Need Testimonials

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As a professional you strive to please your clients and leave them with a good impression.  And most of the time, you do just that.

You know you did a good job.

They know you did a good job.

But, no one else knows you did a good job.


Asking for testimonials from your clients after a job well done is one way of letting the world know, and of course, new potential clients, that your work is excellent.

Nothing has more power than word of mouth, and a testimonial is essentially the words from your client’s mouth.

Yes, you should be delivering excellent work all the time but reminding the public that you really do, can benefit you more than an advertising campaign.

A testimonial is essentially a “humblebrag”, whereby you would reciprocate the testimonial with a “This is just what we do.  All in a day’s work … etc., etc.”


Here are 7 more reasons why you need testimonials.

  1. Advertising for Referrals

When someone is looking to refer you to another, or you are being stalked out on LinkedIn, those testimonials will speak volumes.  They are your advertising bill board.  Those words are worth their weight in gold, and boy are they heavy!  The fact that the person has taken the time to put their heartfelt gratitude and happiness over your service offering into written words, is enough for most people to make contact with you.

  1. Shows your client loyalty

When you receive a testimonial, what do you do with it?  The idea behind a testimonial is to display it, show it off to the world and let others know what great work you did.  If you are sticking it into a file somewhere to show off to your grandchildren, then you have wasted good paper and a chance to sell yourself.

When you post your testimonials on your website, you show the client who gave it that you appreciate their words.  And, won’t that client want to keep doing business with you?  Of course they will!  Remember to always ask their permission before publishing their words.

  1. Learn from the feedback

Sometimes, unbeknownst to you, the testimonial you receive may not be 100% positive.  This would be a good time to review where there was an issue.  It may not have been directly with you, but perhaps with your staff or a process that went wrong.

This is the time to refocus and regroup.  Discuss how you can ensure that never happens again.  And, when you receive a vastly different and more positive testimonial from that same client later on, you will have realised the benefit of learning from a not so good testimonial.

  1. Optimise on the SEO possibilities

By publishing the testimonial and the story behind it as a blog on your website, you can optimise the SEO benefits through it.  Keep the words of the testimonial the same but create and develop the story around the job through a blog.  With the right words and structure, you can boost your chances of leads through to your website.

  1. Pimping the testimonial adds credibility

Publicising your testimonials via social media platforms and your website is great!  What is even better is if the writer of the testimonial publishes it.  Ask them nicely if they would write the testimonial direct to your LinkedIn profile and your Facebook page.  They can tag you in or you could re-share that post to your newsfeed.


Powerful stuff, these testimonials!

Remember to ask for testimonials after each completed job or sale.  You will be surprised at how many people are quite taken aback and very happy to give you a testimonial.

5 Reasons Why You Should Read More


In the days gone by of no television, no internet, no Facebook and no messaging systems, we definitely read more.  We were a more active nation as well but reading a book was by far the most go-to pastime, when not out working.

Reading has so many benefits and not only for those just learning the art.  Adults should be reading more.  It is very easy to flick the television on or boot up the tablet and binge watch your favourite Showmax series.  But, how about flicking open a crispy paged book and binge reading the entire publication?


Not only for the complete relaxation and total immersion aspect of reading, here are a few other reasons to read more.

Helps you write better

Many a professional writer will tell you that the best way to increase one’s ability as a writer is to read.  Reading helps you structure sentences better, be aware of better grammar and use your punctuation in the correct manner.

No matter your vocation, you have to write or type something somewhere, in some format.  Most times, it’s an email.  All of us can confess to sending out an email and realising after the fact, that the structure, manner and language was mostly embarrassing.  Being able to communicate effectively and clearly through writing can most definitely put you in a better light with your fellow colleagues and clients.


Helps you with words

Have you ever sat, fingers hovering above the keys, or been in mid-sentence with someone, suddenly realising you are at a loss for words?  And not in the way where you are in shock, more along the lines that you just cannot think of the right words for what you are thinking.

Reading can assist you with your vocabulary.  You will be surprised at how many more words you will learn through reading.  You may not even be aware that your brain is storing new words, but when that moment comes and you burst out a phrase or word that you have never used before, you will be probably as gobsmacked as the receiver.

English is not an easy language, by reading you can increase your management of words, speak better and feel more confident.


Helps with your general knowledge

A person that can engage with a wide variety of people over a wide variety of interests will increase their connections, both personally and professionally.

There is always that moment, right before you get into the nitty gritty of business, where you have a conversation around personal matters.  It’s part of the sales process, and essentially the human side to connecting with people.  Yes, you may be there to close a deal or perhaps to sell your services, but building credibility and more importantly, building trust with that person will come through on the personal side.

By reading a myriad of books in different genres and across many varied topics, you will be able to slip neatly into any conversation.  While you may not be an expert in many of the topics, you can at least add your opinion, and of course draw from what you have read on the topic.


Helps with your analytical prowess

We all need to apply ourselves in such a manner as to analyse a situation.  It may be a project you are working on, a math problem or simply a mystery within a personal realm.

Analysing something doesn’t come naturally to many and is a real skill.  By reading, you can enhance and nurture this skill.  Think about the plot of a good novel.  Who did it?  Why did they do it?  When will they do it?  This kind of analysing helps us in everyday life too.  We learn to think laterally and out of the box.

This is called critical thinking and many companies, whether hiring you for a permanent position or for outsourcing services, will look to see whether you are capable of thinking in a critical manner.


Helps lower your stress levels

Escapism is a way to reduce stress levels and what better way to do that than through a good story.  As a child, our parents would tell us stories where we could imagine ourselves as the protagonist, getting up to all sorts of wonderful and magical things.

A good novel or any well-written book allows us to escape from everyday life and disappear for a few moments.  This helps with stress levels and the experts say that one can reduce stress by up to almost 70% by regular reading.


On that ending note … what are you going to read today?

Networking in the Holidays

holiday dark wood

It seems like an alien concept – networking in the holidays.


Holidays are for relaxing, kicking back and forgetting about all those niceties and that salesy jargon.  For sure, but it is also a time when people are feeling sentimental and you guessed it, a wee bit chilled.


Not to play on the emotions and feelings that come with this festive period, but it is nice to just connect with others on a more relaxed level but still keep the business doors open.


There are rules to networking in the holidays though so take a load off right now and prepare yourself for productive, yet somewhat toned-down networking sessions.


  1. Connect with the purpose of really finding out how that person is doing, how their year went and what they are going to be up to in the new year. There is no reason to always talk about business but invariably, the topic will come up.


  1. Gifts are a great way of saying thanking you and showing that you appreciate their business during the year. If you happen upon a new connection, have some small tokens ready to hand out and leave it at that.  They will remember you more for that gesture than for your sales pitch you are tempted to rain down on them.


  1. Further to gifting is offering discounts, or new year opening specials. This gives them something to think about and indirectly a little planning will go on in their heads, whilst they take a mouthful of trifle.  You can post these on social media platforms along with other inspirational and educational posts.  Stick in a playful, “Reply with Happy New Year and you will receive x% discount” as a way of engaging.


  1. Festive get-togethers are great for networking and again on a more social and relaxed platform. Take advantage of the office function, that impromptu neighbour braai or an invite from a client for a quick last end-of-year drink.  You don’t need to be all ballsy and in their face.  Just chill and let the conversation flow.  Less is always more in these situations.


  1. Host your own holiday party, and make it quite clear that it’s not a business party. Sometimes all people want to do is get to know you better so give them a venue, like your house, put some snacks together and a few drinks.  Networking doesn’t have to be handing over a business card and talking about the ins and outs of your fiscal year.


  1. Listen more than you talk. It should be the rule of all connecting moments.  We tend to just talk too much, most of the time.  This doesn’t mean you mustn’t say anything.  Ensure the conversation is a tennis game, back and forth.  You give a little, they give a little. And, keep the topics to general, non-business areas, unless of course, they bring up business, then still keep it to a soft approach.


This is the time of the year to reflect so it’s always a good topic to bring up.  You never know.  You may just find a kindred soul who has had a similar year to you, and with whom you may not do business but who you may find a helpful muse in.

Pay Attention to your Sales Cycle

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I sit and stare at a list of about 100 names, many gathered over the year from short introductions, others from networks, and a few from referrals.

I contemplate why I haven’t closed all of these connections.  Most were very clear sales, yet alas, I may have only sold to a handful.

I can hear all the sales gurus reverberating around in my head at once and I realise that they are all telling me the same thing, so I listen closely to the nitter natter.

Pay attention to your sales cycle!

Of course!

Silly me!  The sales cycle!

“What?!” I hear you screaming at me.  “What sales cycle?  People buy when they want to buy. I have no control over this.”

Now, all the sales gurus have fallen down and are clutching their necks, gasping for that proverbial air that you have just cut short.

The sales cycle is the one way to gauge just how you should be approaching people, and it differs from industry to industry, service to service, product to product, and organisation to organisation.

Working out just what your niche sales cycle looks like, and then following the predictable pattern is what will turn those 100 names from just pretty letters on a page, to real sales.

As mentioned, a sales cycle will look different for each, but there are some common elements which can help you in creating your own sales cycle.

  1. Prospecting

That list is pretty much the start of this step, however the list is only as good as how much you understand each person on that list.  Not all will buy from you, and it is in the research that you endeavour to do on each name that will result in whether you stare aimlessly at that list or actively mine it with purpose.  Then, once you have determined whether there is a possible sale in that person or company, work out how to approach them.

  1. Initiate Contact

There are various ways to approach people and companies.  If the name you received was a referral, speak to the referee and gather intel as to what would be the best first contact.  Some people respond better to a phone call.  Others prefer an email.  Know more about that contact before jumping in with both guns blazing.

  1. Identify Needs

This takes us to what you will talk about when you do make that initial contact whether it be a call, an email or a message (the latter isn’t recommended as a first contact, unless you cannot reach them on the former options).  Generally, an informative approach is best.  Give them something to think about and if you have done your homework properly before, you will have an inkling of what it is they may need from you.  Find an issue or problem that this person or their business may most likely come across.  You need to be the solution.  Once you have identified a need, make sure you have the right answers for the many questions that will surely follow.

  1. Present your solution

Note that I didn’t say ‘offer’.  You need to be the solution and believe me, everyone has something that needs solving.  Be so prepared that your solution looks like it was tailor-made for them.  There is nothing more appealing and impressive than someone presenting a solution to 1) a problem you weren’t aware you had, and 2) a solution that fits you or your company to the T.

  1. Be prepared for the objections

Just like Will Smith from the iconic movie “In Pursuit of Happiness” sat and fielded answers to all the objections he was thrown, make sure you have a list of possible answers with you.  Even write them down.  The ABC of all sales manuals will tell you to think of all possible objections and have a full-proof answer to each.  Sure, not everyone will convert into a sale but knowing that you were super prepared will make you at least feel better about the entire process.

  1. Close the Sale

This is the part where you need to “ASK FOR THE BUSINESS”.  Very often, this is where most sales people get stuck. They have done all that hard work to get to this point and they just don’t ask. I do remember being a fresh, young sales rep and sitting with my manager at a client’s desk. I followed the sales cycle to the dotted i, and when it came to that crunch moment where you just don’t say a word, and the client doesn’t say a word… and you just sit in silence. Well, I sat and he sat… and eventually he pushed the pen and paper away, telling me that he liked my product and thanks for coming in.  Not once did I ask him if he was keen on buying.  My manager just shook his head and asked me, “Why didn’t you ask for the business?”

Ask for the business!

  1. Follow up

I almost want to say that this is even more important that the previous stage because who wants just one sale, right?  You want repeat sales.  You want retainer type business that yes, keeps you on your toes, but also keeps your doors open.  Follow up after a sale and ensure your client is happy.  If they are not, make a plan to get them happy.  And don’t leave it there either.  Keep a regular follow up routine with all your clients.  You may have finished off the job, all is fine and well, but going back to touch base, check in and just remind them that you are still around is vital to sustainable business.

Apply the 80/20 rule here, in that you will always get 80% of your business from 20% of your clients and further to that, you will get 80% of your business from recurring clients.

Newsletters, emails, social media posts and regular calls (without being a pain) can just keep those clients in the know about what you do and what you are up to.

You will be surprised at how quickly a past client can forget what it is you do and oddly even what they bought from you.  Keep reminding them and you will keep that client for life.  (that is if you gave them good service to begin with)

So as you can see, paying attention to your sales cycle is a vital part of keeping your business afloat and more so, keeping your business buzzing and pumping.

Make sure your follow up provides value

It’s a great feeling when you receive a referral.  You feel a sense of validation, that you are worthy, and that someone was confident enough in your skills to recommend you.

But, alas, you just don’t seem to be converting the referrals into sales.  You do the check.

Phoning the lead within 24 hours – check!
Follow up with an email – check!
Wait a week and follow up once more – check!

Still no bites!

You ponder for days on what could be wrong.  Are the referrals just weak?  Does the referee just not understand what it is you actually do?  Is it that you are charging too much?

It could be all of those, but most times, it is because you are not providing value in the follow up.

The follow up, once initial contact has been made, is a key part of conversion.  At the time of first contact, the prospect may not have been ready for you and your wonderful product or service.  Hence, why a follow up is necessary.

But, often times, many treat the follow up as a “Hey, remember me. Just following up.  No, not now?  Oh, okay, no problem. When you are ready.”

Well, you just blew your chance of adding value and probably sealing a deal. What went wrong there?  Plenty!

Here are a few tips on how you can add value to your follow up calls or emails:

  1. Special Offers

Add in a dangling carrot.  Who doesn’t like specials, right?  Sure, remind the client that you spoke to them a week or so ago, and you are indeed following up to check whether they are ready to chat.  But, by slipping in a special offer, related to what they are interested in, if you can, will leave a sweet taste in their mouth.  Who knows, from there you may even lead them to buying into something more than they initially had a need for.

  1. Deadline Reminders

Often times, the prospect needs something by a certain deadline, but when you phoned the first time, they were far away from that deadline.  Be savvy the second-time round, and keep a note and a reminder of that deadline.  That way, you can use the reminder of the deadline as a reason to be phoning.  They will surely be impressed that you remembered.

  1. Know your client

Stalking is good for a few things, promise! So, check out the prospect on social media – LinkedIn – Facebook – Twitter – Instagram – etc.

If you see that something happened that is noteworthy, then mention it.  Keep it professional, mind you.  So, LinkedIn may be the place to go, as the posts are generally all business related, i.e. A business promotion, a new job, an anniversary of a job, and such.  Avoid the, “Oh, I see your granny turned 80, congrats!”

  1. Solve a problem

There is always a problem to be solved.  Find out what it is right from the front, and keep that in mind.  If you can solve their problem before someone else can, then you’re sure to be in like Flynn.

  1. Be personal

Don’t be fake!  Be you!  Let your personality shine though, especially when emailing. Emails can become rather stoic and too drab, leaving most with a bored “yawn” feeling.  So, be sure to engage your potential new client, and let them see you are a real person, not just a salesman wanting a sale.

  1. Free Stuff

Much like special offers, everyone loves free stuff!  So, if you can, think about what you can offer as a teaser.  Be smart about it.  You don’t want to be giving away the exact solution to their problem.  You want to just hand over a little candy, something to entice and delight.  People generally deal with generous people.

  1. Share tips

Without throwing the Google handbook at them, give them a few freebie tips.  You are the master at what you do, so impart your knowledge.  Givers Gain, remember!  We are not proposing that you give away all your trade secrets, no, just use your initiative and find out what little issues they may have.  Providing a solution or at least giving them some advice, will leave the potential new client with a feeling of satisfaction. And, satisfied is what you want them to be at the end of the day. Satisfied with you and your service.


Further, there is one thing you must not do, and that is to appear desperate.  Desperate people scare referrals away.  Yes, you need the business.  Yes, you want the sale, but showing that you need it, is a sure-fire way of making them run for the hills.


Confidence, not arrogance, and a warm “bedside” manner, is key to bringing people into your fold.  It may not happen today. It may not even happen in a few month’s time, but if you performed your initial contact, and your follow up, with grace and professionalism, you will find they will remember you when they need your service or product.

What Goes Online – Stays Online

There’s that urban saying that everyone likes to use when they have a night of debauchery or they go away for a naughty weekend – “What happens in xxx, stays in xxx”

Well, if only that were the case when it comes to online posts.  If you haven’t figured out by now, what goes online, stays online.  Sure, you can delete a post, most times, but by the time you do, it has generally been seen by at least a few hundred people, and if they shared it, well then another couple of hundred become privy to it too.

When it comes to business posting, no matter whether it is on LinkedIn, Facebook, or a blog you have linked to your website, it is even more paramount that you be very sure of what you are posting.

Just recently, a certain political leader posted something on Twitter that landed her in hot water.  While she may be quite the public figure, it only takes a few seconds to tarnish your name and reputation.

Here are a few tips to make sure you think twice, make that five times, before willy-nilly posting on social media and other public platforms.

  1. Everyone is Online

Don’t kid yourself that certain people aren’t online. Don’t think that the company CEO who just interviewed you isn’t checking out what you’re doing and saying on Facebook.  A sure-fire way to get into the real person you are about to hire is to see what they post on social media.  On the flipside, much can be read into what you don’t post. And by that I mean if you don’t mention family at all, never say a good word about anyone or anything, chances are you are not a very nice person.  And, contrary to what that CEO may say, he is as concerned about your ethics as he is about your credentials.  Keep it clean, people!

  1. Comments Count

Just like your mother told you when you were younger, “Don’t burn any bridges – you never know when you may need that person.”  And, in addition, if you intend to comment on a post, make sure you mean what you say, and more importantly, how it will affect the person it is directed at.  Remember, that anyone else that decides to view the comments or has previously commented on that post, will see your comment too. Be nice!

  1. An Image Speaks a Thousand Words

Social media is greatly about the visual effect, and images make great advertising.  We are very visual creatures.  So, if you decide to post that selfie of you and the company secretary tipping wine glasses (albeit to celebrate the closing of a deal) be aware that many may construe the image differently to what you intended.

  1. Positive is Power

If you aren’t going to say anything nice, then rather don’t say it at all.  Just like what you say verbally can make a difference to how you are perceived and received, so can what you post.  Keep it positive!

  1. Your Opinion means nothing

Yes, social media posts are full of opinions, but therein lays the problem.  If your opinion was wanted, then someone would have asked you for it.  And, even then, if you see a brightly lit up pink post asking you how you feel about religion, ignore it.  Unless you intend to start up a new church or even if you feel very strongly about your faith, it is best to keep that off of social media.  We are not saying that believing in something is wrong, but for the purposes of business, it is best to steer clear from the trio, being religion, politics and sex.

  1. Ask yourself these questions before posting

Is it true?

Is it kind?

Is it necessary?

If you post doesn’t cover all three of these, then don’t post it.


Are you a survivor?

With cancer month upon us, we thought we would ask the question – are you a survivor?

Surviving, to you, could mean that you managed to get through the day without a cigarette.  For some, it may mean living on a deserted island, with nothing but your trusty Leatherman and the shirt on your back. For others, the fact that their tests came up negative, is a sure sign that they have survived.  In the business world, surviving can be paying your accounts, and seeing that you have enough to eat for the rest of the month.

It is a tough world out there, and no matter what world you live in, or what struggles you are faced with, surviving is a unique and subjective experience.

Many will ask whether surviving can be rated according to the level of injury, and is surviving really all about sustaining an injury?  Should we be looking at life as a series of events that we have to get through, that we have to survive?  Has it really come down to that we are not really enjoying life, but struggling through it?

Some feel that they had no control over the circumstances that assailed them, others realise they could have avoided it by making different choices.  No matter really, it all comes down to whether you can survive or not.

And, the short and long of it is, in my humble opinion, is that we all are survivors.  For the few out there that just decide to give up on whatever they feel they cannot continue with, they too were survivors up to that point.

From the moment we are pushed into the stark and glaring light of this world, to the moment that we close our eyes, and take our last breath, we are fighting to survive.

In short, if you follow a few simple rules, you will find surviving, if that is what you want to name it, much easier.

Balance it

We are told to try to live a balanced life, one that creates harmony between work and personal.  Easier said than done, but not impossible.  I call it the ginger moment.  Ginger, when eaten with sushi, is the pallet cleanser, so be sure to find your personal form of ginger, to bridge that gap between work and pleasure, a reboot if you will.

Don’t burn bridges

You never know when you may need that person – an old adage, but oh, so true.  Treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Simple!

Be humble

There is no harm in being confident in who you are and what you do, but arrogance is appalling.  Maintain a humble approach to life and those around you.  It will be much appreciated, promise!

Listen more, and speak less

Yes, we have two ears and mouth, and justly so.  Use them in that capacity, always.

Don’t gossip

To avoid rumours starting, which generally are never accurate, just don’t gossip.  Keep your thoughts to yourself, or if you really must say it out loud, find someone who you know will never repeat it.

Be kind

Such a simple activity, but many struggle to be kind.  As children, we are told often to be nice, play nice, and treat others well.  This instruction should be drilled into us adults as well, on a daily basis.  Just be kind, and the world will be kind to you.  True story!

Work hard

There is nothing that brings about success and results like hard work.  How you go about this hard work is up to you, but it is a requirement.  That guy on the yacht didn’t get there, most times, by sitting on his butt and doing nothing.  That lady that has retired to Tuscany and now lives off the land, didn’t rub a magic lamp and wish for it.

Hard work, people!  Never fails!

Leadership Skills – can they be learnt?

Are you a leader?

You may answer a sure ‘yes’ because you are already in a leadership role, but not everyone was born to be a leader.

The skill set is not for the faint hearted, and many believe that one cannot be taught to be a leader.  However, some are pushed into the position by circumstance, a boss, or by default.  Others choose to taken on the role, believing they are leaders, but many soon realise it is not as easy as they thought.

Leading people, getting them to do as you say, and producing results from your delegation and instructions, can be the hardest job you will ever take on in your life.

Now, we are not trying to throw a negative angle on leadership, no, we are merely pointing out to those that are currently in this role, or those who are contemplating taking this on, that they need to be aware of a few important areas around leadership.  These areas, if focused on, will assist you and enhance your leadership skills.

There are many books written, many articles publicized, and many a public speaker who has preached on the subject of leadership.  And for good reason, as mentioned above.  So, we have gathered a few significant pointers from all over the globe, and summarised them for you.

We firmly believe that there are natural born leaders, but that is not to say that a person cannot learn the fine art of leading.

Here are a few aspects of a great leader:

  1. Is a great communicator

On all levels, mind you.  Whether it be face-to-face, via email, a telephone or Skype call, his monthly blog, or a simple SMS, a great leader gets his message and meaning across in a powerful and precise manner.  You can tell when someone has the strength of leadership just through the way they command a conversation.  And, we don’t mean that they take over the conversation or correspondence method.  We mean that they steer the conversation in the direction that is both meaningful and productive.

  1. Motivates and Inspires

A great leader will always look for ways to motivate his followers and even his peers, friends and family.  He or she would act in such a manner that they would be an inspiration to those around them.  The old adage that goes around that one must lead by example, couldn’t be truer for a really impactful leader.

  1. Always connecting with people

Relationships are vital to a leader, and even more so, creating and cultivating good relationships.  Without solid relationships, a leader cannot lead.  Trust and integrity come into this aspect, and is the reason why it features as number 4 on our list.

  1. Is honest and has integrity

We are not painting a picture of a perfect person, and we are not saying leaders are perfect in every way.  You may think so after reading these few pointers, but if we took all else away, and left just the factors of honesty and integrity, you would still have a great leader.  Living an honest life and always trying to act with integrity, is something we all should strive for, but as a leader of people, these two values are vital.  How can your employees think about following you if they cannot trust what you say and do?

  1. Tries to empower others

A leader does a lot for himself, but he is also a stickler on empowering others to do.  He or she believes that if you give a fish to a person, they will eat for a day, but if you give them a fishing rod, they will eat for a lifetime.  Teaching others is paramount to a leadership role.  Show, do, and then teach.

  1. Has a plan

Leaders always have goals in mind, for themselves, and for others.  Their goals may be short term or long term, but they will always have a strategy to go with those goals.  A great leader will never let you tell them about your goal and leave it at that.  They will ask how you plan to get there.  They will ask you if you have mapped out a road to reach that goal.  Another cliché’d quote, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”

  1. Has a positive attitude

Sure, things go wrong, and we all get down, as do leaders.  But, it is their attitude to life that matters the most.  And, that can be said of all vocations and positions, but even more so for a leader.  He or she must always present a positive sentiment to their followers, even when the going is pretty tough, and the future is looking bleak.  A positive attitude can get you out of any mess – just try it!

  1. Is creative

This one may have you baffled, but one has to turn on the creative juices in this day and age.  Thinking laterally, is a term bantered about, as is “think outside of the box”.  Creative Thinkers are a novelty, but an essential part of every business, and every lifestyle.  One doesn’t have to be an artist to be a creative thinker.  One just has to be able to see the possibilities that could be from an adverse situation.  Problem solving is part of being a leader, but the smart part of this is putting it back to your employees, asking them what they think can be done, probing, prodding and feeling out just what would be another way round the problem.  By asking the right questions, a leader can get their staff to come up with the most creative answers and solutions.  Leaders are both creative and critical thinkers.

  1. Always asks for help

A leader isn’t a magician.  He does not know the answer to everything.  A great leader will know when to asks for help.  He or she will reach out to the professionals and the people in the know, when they are confronted with a dilemma they cannot solve.  They know that there is no weakness in asking for assistance.