Monday, April 24, 2017

Motivation - Pressing Limits

MOTIVATION – Pressing Limits

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC

Dr Joyce Brothers says “In each of us are places where we have never gone.  Only by pressing the limits do you ever find them.”

Good Grief!  It is said that as authors, wordsmiths and writers, we often write about what we most need to hear and quite honestly, this is never so true as it is right now.  You see for years and years I have lived in a very safe space in my personal life and right now I am pushing the boundaries and pressing for ‘no’ limits.  In some ways I am scared out of my wits and in another space it feels like I have shrugged off the velvet ropes that have kept me bound for so long. It is liberating and empowering and deliciously, enticingly scary.  It feels as though every nerve ending is straining at its roots to stretch itself to its fullest capacity in order to achieve its ultimate goal.

Quite honestly I cannot wait to see what happens next.
Quite honestly I am petrified at what could happen next.
Quite honestly I wonder why it has taken me so long to get to this point – I cannot believe that it was fear alone or perhaps I don’t want to believe that I could allow fear to hold me captive for so long.

The point is though, I feel alive!
The point is I am really excited!
The point is, I am the author of my own book, the director and star of my own movie.  The point is, that for the first time, in a very long while I am doing what is important for me.

The strange thing though is that I am always aware of me pushing the limits in my business capacity.  My friend Tess Elsen said at out monthly breakfast get together, that for years now, she has seen me work hard towards my goal, my focus has never waivered and my intention were very clear.  Sure there were months when I wondered what the hell I was doing.  Sure there were months when I did not know if there was enough money to put food on the table.  Sure there were months when I faltered and fell, but I got up and shook my fists at the Gods and at the Universe and more often than not, even at myself, but I persevered.  I knew that deep down in that place inside all of us that hears the truth, what it was that I wanted to achieve.  I knew that what I wanted to achieve is right for me and I also knew that I could achieve it. It is within my grasp!

So if I knew all of this in my business life, why did I not know it in my personal life?  Truth be told, how could I not know it in my personal life?  Quite simple really – I think that in our business lives, we write “Business Plans”, we compile “Mission Statements” and live our professional lives by a business “Code of Conduct” and our personal lives just get the scraps that are left.  The moments in time that are not focused on what we need to do in our professional capacity.  It’s like we put the business before anything else.

Here’s the thing though – by leaving the ‘personal me’ behind, I am making it all that more difficult to achieve the ‘professional me’!  Confusing as that may sound, Gemini or not, I am still one whole person and whichever side I neglect will have a pronounced affect on the other sides.  I need, as a whole person, to be balanced.

In order to achieve that, I have to push the personal boundaries in much the same way that I push the business boundaries.

I have to ensure that I find those places inside of myself that I have never gone to and get myself there.
I have to ensure that I am never in my ‘comfort’ zone for too long.
I have to ensure that I am focused on what it is that I want to achieve.
I have to be all that I can be, at work, at play and as me.
I have to ensure that I live my life, my whole life for me.

What about you – do you push your limits?

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Saturday, April 22, 2017

HR 101 - What to do when . . . There's a Discrepancy on the Job Description - Part 3

HR 101 - WHAT TO DO WHEN . . . . There’s a discrepancy on the Job Description - Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – N Viljoen Consulting CC - March 2008.

Please note that this pertains to South African Labour Relations and Best Practice requirements.

The question on the table is whether Mike was ‘reasonable’ in requesting George to drive ‘in convoy” as apposed to George driving his usual ‘Horse and Carriage’.

The CCMA Arbitrator said that in order to answer the question, which was “whether an employer may instruct an employee to perform tasks allegedly falling outside of his job description”, the answer would depend on:

a.                 what the terms and/or conditions of George’s contract is;
b.                what the nature of the task that George was asked to perform is;
c.                 the circumstances in which the instruction was given, and
d.                what Mike’s operational requirements are.

SATAWU, being the union that George belongs to, said that they had relied on the document (being the job description) which listed the duties and tasks of a “Horse and Carriage” drive.  Acting as a ‘convoy driver’ was not listed on the job description, therefore in their opinion George did not have to perform this task.

Mike stated that the Job Descriptions, with their list of duties etc, were actually complied during an excise where he was trying to grade a list of duties and the salaries that were most appropriate for those duties.  So each Job description that was compiled was mostly used as a gage and to determine appropriate wage rates rather than to constitute an extensive and comprehensive Job Description.

To prove the point,  SATAWU requested that Mike produce the minutes of the relevant meeting, where the task team or committee, who were setting the job grades, met.  Apart from that, the union did not call any witnesses or even disagree with the statement made by Mike.

The arbitrator agreed with Mike’s statement regarding the Job Descriptions, stating that the document (Job Description) did not have ‘contractual force’.

When all the documents were submitted, evidencing that the Job Descriptions were being used to rate wages, the arbitrator discovered that the “Horse & Carriage” drivers had, in the past been requested to perform ‘convoy’ related work and that they had in fact done so.

The Arbitrator found that “employees do not have a vested right to preserve their working obligations completely unchanged” from the moment that they are appointed.  You see as Businesses grow and expand, so to do the requirements that the Business needs for their employees to meet their obligations to their clients.

Mike had also presented his “Employee Handbook” which he had issued to all of his employees, George included.

The Arbitrator referred to this handbook, that stated “employees shall obey the legitimate instruction of the supervision of any employee in authority over them”.

The union argued that George had a right to lodge a grievance over what he perceived as a duty that was not his.

Again the Arbitrator referred to the handbook, which further stated that “should a grievance be felt with regard to the instruction, representation may be made to supervision or higher authority, but in the first instance the instruction shall be obeyed.”

Clearly Mike had all his ducks in a row and clearly neither George nor his union had followed laid down procedures.

Next week we will see how the story ends.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Thursday, April 20, 2017

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 4

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 4

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

How about taking your clients wants and needs into consideration and making the shopping experience that much more pleasurable for them?

I am not a natural shopper.  To be honest, I absolutely hate shopping.  For me wandering around the shops picking things up to put them down again because they are not quite right is a complete waste of time and only serves as an irritation.  So being able to locate exactly what was advertised in the right colour and in the right size without a huge fuss is always first prize.

So remove all the difficulties and ‘red tape’ for your clients.  If you’ve advertised it, make sure that you have sufficient stock.  Make sure it is visible and that your clients have easy access to it.  Putting it on the top shelf which means that I have to find a ladder to get to it is not a good idea and only means that I will walk out without making the purchase.

Make sure that you have sufficient staff to help the customers.  Making me wait for hours because you don’t have sufficient staff to process the sale, will result in no sale from me.  The frustration of waiting and endless queuing will make me walk out.

Don’t ask customers to complete pages and pages of questions.  I am very aware of identity fraud and I don’t like to give my personal details to all and sundry.

Don’t ask me to ‘come back later’ or ‘come back this afternoon’ or ‘come back next month’.  I don’t have the time or the inclination to go backwards and forwards to your shop/office.

Do ask me if I would like something else if you don’t have the exact item that I am looking for, but if I say ‘No Thank You’ don’t try and manipulate me into buying something that I don’t really want.  You will not only lose the sale, but the customer as well.

Don’t try and engage me in a conversation where you try and tell me your whole life story.  As much as you may feel that your story is very interesting/exciting/humorous (insert what you would like here), quite frankly, I am here to purchase something, nothing else and quite honestly, I am probably not interested at all.  I will walk out in the middle of your story – you will think I am rude and in all probability, I will never come back to your store/office to buy anything again – just in case you try and bore me to death again.

Don’t tell me about all of your difficult clients – I have often been told that I a difficult client!  I don’t see it like that at all.  As far as I am concerned, I am very easy going . . . as long as you give me exactly what it is that I want!  By telling me about your difficult clients, you are telling me that you do not meet the needs of your clients and/or their expectations and I will not want to ‘share’ their experience.

If I ask a question that you don’t know the answer to, don’t try and waffle your way through and give me useless, incorrect information.  Rather be honest and tell me that you ‘don’t know’.  Ask me if I would like to wait until you find out the answer or offer to call me with the relevant information as soon as you have found the answer.  Then actually call me!

Do always make sure that you are hygienic in your personal capacity.  If you have body odour, bad breath or dirty fingernails, I will walk out.

Remember that word of mouth is a very powerful medium and that negative or bad referrals travel faster and to more people than good ones.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Networking 101 - Deliver Your Pitch With Passion

Networking 101 – Deliver Your Pitch with Passion

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Craig Harrison says that the reason that Networking may not be working for you is because of the basic 9 mistakes that Networker’s make.  I will be going through these over the next few weeks and let’s see if this is what is holding you back.

The third mistake he says is “Monotonal Delivery.  If you can’t convey your qualifications, passion and employability in 30 seconds you may not get 30 minutes in an interview.  Use vocal variety, intonation and enthusiasm to speak confidentially about yourself.”

Sometimes my greatest challenge at a Networking function is staying focused.  So many times my mind has wandered and I find myself thinking about what my next appointment is and mentally reminding myself what has to be done before I leave for the appointment and what I have to remember to take with me and so on.  Once I realize what is happening, I have to drag my thoughts back to the moment and try and re-focus on what is happening on the day.

This is generally due to the person(s) who are speaking at the time – it often sounds like they are so bored with themselves and what they do.  It sounds like they would much rather be doing something else. It sounds like a well rehearsed speech that they have given several hundred times that day and quite frankly it sounds like they really feel that they shouldn’t have to be saying all of this again!

You’re passionate about what you do . .  right?  So let everyone know that!  Let the passion come out into your voice, into your body language.  Remind yourself before you get up to speak, what your objectives are and why you are there in the first place.  Make people excited for you, about you and with you.  This is after all your life, so put some life into it!

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Business Tips - You are Not Alone

BUSINESS TIPS – You Are Not Alone

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting

Starting your own business and keeping things on track and going in the right direction is probably one of the most daunting tasks.

You are everything to all people – your clients, your suppliers/service providers, your staff and even yourself.  Your accountability and responsibility increases dramatically and the pressure and stress that you put yourself under would be the same as asking someone to balance a fully grown elephant on the head of a pin.

There are instances where things go wrong and you haven’t made any kind of provision for them, simply because you actually had no clue that they even existed and there are other things that go wrong because – well actually you messed up.  The bottom line is that sometimes things go wrong.

These mounting issues, and the way that you react to them actually will shake you to the core of your being.  Your self confidence takes a leave of absence and you wonder if you should have yourself committed to the nearest institution because clearly you are not of sound mind and judgment, to actually think that you could run your own business and be successful at it!

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?  I promise you, you are not alone – we have all been there, to hell and back again.

Does this mean that you will no longer be passionate about your business – of course not!  What it does mean though is that you will start having to conduct some sort of reality check with yourself.

For me the easiest way is always to write things down.  So make lists of everything.  Things like ‘what you have accomplished’ and ‘what still needs to be done’.  How about ‘all the opportunities that you have uncovered’. Then of course, there are ‘issues’ or ‘things happening’ or ‘things that could happen’ in the business that could have a bad or negative effect on your business.  Decide which are avoidable and make a decision on how you are going  to avoid them.  Look at the ones that are unavoidable and decide how best to deal with those too.

Put together a plan of action and then give yourself target dates and/or times to complete the task.  Be realistic.

Once you have completed these lists and the ‘how to’ of what you can and can’t do, you will have a feeling of absolute empowerment.  You see working through issues in this manner shows you that you will be able to work through anything.

Keep you head, keep your cool, calm down and work through each issue – one at a time.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or or

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sales 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income - Part 3

SALES 101 - How to Increase Your Sales Income – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting.

What I am going to say now, may be offensive to some at first glance, but I promise to explain myself during the course of the article.

Take advantage of the failure of others!

Now that may sound really hard and even very mean, but think about it for a while.

Let’s step back for a moment.  We all understand that education equals knowledge.  I am equally sure that we have all heard about “knowledge is power”.  I would like to suggest however, that it is what we do with that knowledge that makes us powerful.

When we look at businesses to see why they have failed, specifically businesses that have been selling the same or similar products or services as ours, it should be so that we can learn from their mistakes and hopefully thereby avoid the same failure and not to ‘gloat’.

We need to look at what they were doing and where and how it went wrong and then we need to find ways to ensure that whatever they did to make it fall over – is not something that we do.

Questions like (but not limited to);
who was their target market
what was the quality of their product and/or services
what was the value of their product and/or service
what was the value add to their customers of their product and/or services
was their product and/or service unique and different to that of their competitors and if so how?

Remember, the more you fail on your market testing, the more you actually succeed in the long run.  So keep testing your market all the time.  Analyze the results and try to improve the value and the value-add to your target market all the time.  Even when you have a “winning formula”, you still need to continually move forward, change, morph and evolve.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 or

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Networking 101 - Highlight the Benefits of What You Do

Networking 101 – Highlight the Benefits of What You Do.

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC

Craig Harrison says that the reason that Networking may not be working for you is because of the basic 9 mistakes that Networker’s make.  I will be going through these over the next few weeks and let’s see if this is what is holding you back.

The second mistake he says is “Poor networker’s don’t emphasize the benefits, but the features of what they do.  Too many job seekers focus on the features of their work instead of the end results.  Employers buy benefits, solutions and outcomes.  Speak their language by focusing on what you can do for them, not how you do it.  Example: project managers help companies save time and money (two benefits/outcomes) through expertly managing projects and people (features).”

Wow!  This is powerful stuff!  I attended a networking meeting at the Palazzo Hotel in Fourways last night and thinking back now to all the folk who delivered their ‘speeches’ on who they are and what they do, I can honestly say that about 70% of them are making this mistake.  In fact a couple of them are so bad with their ‘speeches’ that I have no idea what it is that they do.  Very confusing to say the least.

Remember people cannot help you or refer you if they have no idea what you do.  Similarly you have to focus on what makes you different and stand out in the crowd.  Taking the above example of Project Managers – there are hundreds if not thousands of these people out there – by saying that you help companies save time and money you are already being different to the rest who will waffle on about what they do to manage the project.

So think carefully about what you say when you are trying to sell yourself or your product.  You have very little time to make your point or make an impression.

Nikki is an Internal Auditor and Business Administration Specialist who can be contacted on 083 702 8849 and