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

woman shopping.jpg

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.



Why Your PA is so essential to your business

You know that feeling?  The one where you miss something only when it’s gone?


Well, finding yourself with a telephone to your one ear, a cell phone to the other, your jam-packed calendar in front of you, and a pile of papers to your left about to topple over, and you will get that feeling sweeping through your body in no time.


Much like we rely on our smart phones nowadays, when it’s gone, we feel quite lost and panicked.


Take a moment to consider all that your PA or secretary does for you.  You may not even realise the extent of her duties.  Those instructions you blurt out at odd times of the day to her are just a drop in the ocean as to what she is really taking on.


Your Personal Assistant is so essential to your business, and we are going to remind you just how much.


  1. They know how to balance all their tasks and can ensure, that by the end of the day, all is complete and in order
  2. They have an uncanny ability to know just what you are about to say and often have already attended to the issue before you instruct it (think of Donna from Suits … minus the witty remarks of course)
  3. They are very good at screening your calls and eliminating time wasters who call in at all odd moments in the day
  4. They see things clearly when you don’t – think about how many times your PA has pointed out a gross error in an email you were about to send, or possibly even when your shirt is sticking out of your zipper … mmm … or for the lady bosses, that time your skirt got stuck in your panties …
  5. They let you get down to the business of doing business, taking the flack off when the going really gets tough
  6. Your PA will ensure you stay on track with appointments, from your dentist to that very important meeting with a new potential client
  7. They are great at picking up those little tasks, such as scheduling your flights, your accommodation, buying that gift last minute, that you forgot to buy for your mother, and even your dry cleaning
  8. Where you are lacking, she excels. Often times, your assistant fills in the gaps where you suck (to put it plainly).  She can make you look good by covering the small areas you cannot
  9. She or he is the face of your business, and often the first person people see on entering your office. Their engaging manner can be a great selling point for your business
  10. You can get to other important aspects of your life, such as exercise, your family, and other personal activities that are essential to leading a balanced life


With Secretaries day looming up on the 7th of September, consider showing your appreciation for your right hand lady or man.

Multi-Tasking – and why you shouldn’t do it

We would all like to think that we can multi-task, especially women, but is it really a good idea to juggle a few activities at once?  Are we really doing justice to any one of them?  Is there merit in focusing on one thing at a time?  Weren’t we told to do just that as a child? Focus.

For a brief moment, we will explore, which a huge bag of salt, why multi-tasking isn’t such a great idea, and how you can get just as much done without pretending that you are a clown with a couple of balls.

  1. Causes brain damage

This one was a little scary.  A test performed on a few folk in the UK, revealed that when taking part in multi tasks, such as texting and watching television, their MRI’s scans showed a definite decrease in brain density in the area responsible for emotion and cognitive control, as well as the empathy area.  So, don’t send that emotive, as its damaging your ability to express emotion.  (go figure!)

  1. Lowers your IQ level

Some smart fellows researched and found out that doing two or more activities at the same time lowers your IQ levels by as much as 15 points.  They even went as far as stating that your brain power was equivalent to that of a person smoking marijuana.  This makes one think twice about sending that email whilst chewing on an apple and checking Facebook.

  1. It slows you down

While the idea behind multi-tasking is to speed things up and get more done, the fact that you are not completely focused on any of the activities, actually renders you slower at all of them.  A test was conducted where candidates were split into groups.  A few were asked to take part in two or three tasks at once, whilst the others asked to complete the tasks one at a time.  The latter group finished first.

  1. You are prone to making mistakes more often

There is merit in focusing and focusing means giving attention to that one specific thing completely.  We all know that we can do things better if we pay more attention to it.  Even switching between very different tasks can cause you to lower your productivity level by 40%.  It is best, then, to complete one type of task, such as emailing, first, then move on to the next task, like speaking to a colleague about an important project.

  1. Stress levels are raised

There are many people that are just better at handling multiple tasks, but the general population will find it very stressful to know they have to tackle a few items on their to-do list at once.  Breaking it down into sections and giving yourself a time period to complete each one is better than trying to get them all done within, say an hour.  And, it is not the tasks themselves that are stressful, but rather the consequences in not finishing them.

  1. Memory issues

If someone is talking to you and you are looking at the rugby playing out on the television above their head, there is a chance that you will not remember all that they have told you.  That is, not only rude, but a waste of yours and their time.  It would be best, even if received with a “humph”, to ask them to hold their conversation for a minute whilst you check out the game.  Now, we are not saying this is PC, so don’t hold us to it if the person, say your girlfriend, gets all het up.

  1. You can put on weight

That sounds like an odd issue, right?  But, if you pair eating with another activity, you are more than likely to overeat, not realising that you are full.  Your brain will be trying to focus on the cell phone you have in your hand, rather than your digestive system.  It really takes only about 10 minutes to eat a standard sized meal, so give your brain a break and eat with no distractions.  The work will be there when you are done.

  1. Your creativity will be lacking

It makes sense, when creating something, to focus on it.  The one side of the brain that produces those creative juices, may not gel well with the side that is trying to work out what someone is saying to you.  You will find, that focusing on the project at hand, without a voice in your ear, or a television blasting behind you, will help you produce more creative work.


So, now that we have given you the low down on multi-tasking, please put turn the television off so you can read this again properly.

The Importance of both Traditions and Innovation in building organisational culture

Webster’s dictionary defines culture, as it pertains to business, as: The set of shared attitudes, values, goals and practices that characterises an institution or organisation.

There are many elements that go into building a successful organisational culture.  Each successful organisation has different factors that contribute to making its culture successful.  Typically, among these factors, both tradition and innovation play an important role. Traditions help to make a company distinctively who it is, and are instrumental in demonstrating to both employees and the world where it comes from. Without traditions an organisation pays only lip service to culture, and strong traditions that are applied throughout an organisation are one of the best ways to maintain a healthy organisational culture.

Often tradition is depicted as the enemy of innovation and vice versa. However, Ivan Misner, Founder of Business Network International (BNI) has this to say, “These values may at first seem counterintuitive but as the Apple example proves, it is the secret to success for contemporary businesses. Our traditions lay the foundation to who we are by showing where we came from. However, we must always be leading with innovation to stay current. This means that new advancements in technology and thinking must be absorbed into our process. Don’t lose touch with new changes in business and don’t be afraid to try new things at BNI.”

One way in which tradition and innovation are complementary organisational values may be as a result of innovation being a conscious facet of a company’s traditions. When tradition and innovation are at loggerheads within an established organisation, one way to combat any resistance to innovation, or change, is to backtrack to the origins of the organisation. It may be extremely beneficial to reconnect with the breakthrough innovations that in live in the history of the organisation and to share this tradition of innovation with employees and stakeholders.


If you wish to build innovation as a tradition within your organisational culture it is important to clearly define what innovation means for your company. Having a defined strategy with regard to innovation throughout your organisation puts paid to pursuing innovation for innovation’s sake. It may well also save wasted time and investment, preventing the desire to innovate from being a fruitless pursuit; particularly in the event that the goals for innovation within different departments within an organisation are contrary to one another.


Another practical way in which tradition and innovation hold hands is illustrated in an article in The Economist entitled Second wind, which discusses how some traditional businesses are thriving in an age of disruptive innovation. The article states … the more that disruptive innovations like the internet boost the overall productivity of the economy, the more room there will be for old-fashioned industries that focus on quality rather than quantity and heritage rather than novelty. Sometimes the best way forward is backwards.

I am Woman – Hear me Roar

Us women, we must be special.  After all, we had a public holiday created in our honour.  I don’t see no Men’s Day, do you?  Ha!  No, really, all bra-slinging put to one side, woman are pretty special and I won’t cover the obvious differences between men and women, but rather that we are a diverse and dynamic gender.

But, do you know why there is a public holiday allocated to celebrating women in South Africa?  It has been watered down a bit over the years, and most, if asked, have no clue why it began.

History Lesson

So, here is a little history lesson.  Back in 1956, the FSAW (The Federation of South African Women) wanted to make a statement, as they were unhappy with a few sections of the Urban Areas Act.  The government was insisting that all African women had to carry a pass on their persons always.  The reason?  Very simply, the government wanted to differentiate coloured women from African women, stating that coloured women were to be employed first when a choice was given.  They were so strict that any foreign African women had to be removed from the urban area.  Their reasoning in implementing these passes was born from finding control over the influx of foreigners into the land.

As you can imagine, the women took great offence to this, stating that they were not slaves, and passes made them so.  They rebelled, but with no positive results.  So, the ANC commissioned a few ladies (which ended up being almost 20000) to put together a march.  This civil and peaceful march took place on the 9th of August, 1956 in Pretoria, and was deemed a great success, ending with a full hour’s silence outside the Union Buildings.  It has gone down in history as one of the largest attended peaceful marches to date.

Today, there are no passes issued for African women or otherwise, so we celebrate this fact every year on the 9th of August.

The age-old fight of women vs. men goes back many more years before this standing, but, this day is not about that feud.  It is about segregation, and that no one, man or woman, should be penalised for being different, or at least different in the eyes of some.

It should be clear, that while the original issues are not so prevalent today, there are still significant problems that women face today.  From workplace sexual harassment, various parenting issues, pay variances to men, and domestic violence cases.

While many of these don’t affect you, you may know of someone who has or who does experience one of them on an ongoing basis.  The 9th of August is there for you, not to sit back and take a day off, but to get involved, and protest any or all of these issues.

What has changed since 1956?

It is important to take note of what actually has made progress over the years because of that march and this day.  Let us take the percentage of women representation in parliament firstly.  The official public holiday of Women’s Day commenced in 1994, and since then the percentage has raised from barely 3% to almost 50%.  That is a significant rise.

In terms of equality in the workplace and at home, there have been many great leaps and bounds on that front.  Just the fact that there are more organisations supporting violence against women and children, shows us that there is a very real awareness out there.

How can I get involved on Women’s Day?

There are many ways you can show your respect and support for the day, and we have a few ideas for you:

  1. As a business owner, you could host a breakfast with all your female clients, and ask them to donate to a worthy womanly, such as violence against women and children, or any of the other issues mentioned
  2. There are many events that run on this day, from breakfasts to evening do’s, and even visiting under privileged sites and mothers in hospital.
  3. Think about putting together little packages and dropping these off at an old age home or hospice. The ladies will love you for it.
  4. Give your domestic cleaner the day off, if you didn’t plan to, and even get her to the spa for a lovely treatment
  5. If you have female staff, send them for a mani or pedi, showing them that you appreciate their worth as a woman

The sky is really the limit when it comes to ideas on how to celebrate Women’s Day.  Use your imagination and if you are really too busy to get out to an organised event, just pay it forward with a kind gesture of some sort.  Even your time spent with another woman is worth tons.

I am Woman – Hear me Roar!!