Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 154


PART 154

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. March 2010

An interesting thing happened to me this week – actually an interesting couple of things happened to me this week, one of which (and it is the one that is pertinent to this discussion) is quite a story.

About 3 or 4 years ago now I was privileged to meet Dr Saskia De Klerk from the University of Potchefstroom. Saskia was the guest speaker at a Women In Finance, Hot Tables dinner ( and she was doing this whole thing on Networking for women. I took part in a questionnaire that she gave out as she was doing a paper on the subject. Over the years Saskia and I have kept in touch from time to time and about 18 months to 2 years ago, she asked me if I would allow myself to be interviewed by one of her students who was doing her PhD (I think) on Networking. Of course I agreed and we met for coffee and a very long chat about Networking, which as most have you have discovered, is my favourite topic.

The student (lets call her Jane) promised to let me have a copy of the paper once it was written and I left feeling great and that I had done my good deed for the day.

Time went by and I forgot all about this and carried on with life, not even giving it another thought – until earlier this week when I got an e-mail from Jane. “What a lovely surprise” I thought and it really made my day when I read the mail telling me that she had passed with a distinction and thanking me for participating and also confirming that she would send me a copy of the paper soon.

Now here comes the great bit . . Jane is now a lecturer at the University of Johannesburg and she is lecturing on Marketing Development and she has asked me to come and do a presentation to her students on Networking and how to use Networking as an effective Marketing tool – how cool is that! A whole bunch of youngsters, many of who will become entrepreneurs and small business owners, in their own right. New people who I will now have met and have contact with and who will form part of my database.

A whole bunch of youngsters who will have friends, family and colleagues who I can ‘tap’ into and who I can now start doing business with or through.

Man, this whole Networking thing has such incredible possibilities and it gives such incredible rewards – all because I work it and use it effectively!

The date and time is booked and I am ready to go, so, where’s that presentation . . . .

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

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - An Abundance of Resources

BUSINESS TIPS – An Abundance of Resources

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

Dr Renate Volpe, in her Leadership Insights nuggets says “Interdependence requires a shift in perception from a belief in the scarceness of resources, to the knowledge of an abundance of them.”

Wow! What a profound statement and how absolutely true. I think that on some level, as we grow into adults we begin to be ruled by our fears. That’s just crazy – much like the ‘tail wagging the dog’! Think about it for a moment – as children, we did not worry where our next meal was coming from or whether there were clean clothes to wear (or any clothes for that matter), we trusted that meals would arrive as would clothes and other necessities. As we grew up though, we started the whole ‘fear’ cycle. We became afraid of things on many levels, where the money would come from to buy the dance lessons or the new dress that we absolutely have to have or even fear of how our peers saw and what they thought of us.

So we get past the raging hormones of our teenage years, which always add to the conflict and as young adults we enter the Corporate world (well the majority of us do) and here the fear really sets in – we’re scared of what our colleagues may think of us, or that they will get the promotion before we do. We form, what we think are strategic alliances (much like the ones on the current Survivor series) and they generally fall down as none of us have been quite as honest and as up front and as ‘transparent’ as we should have been. We grapple and grope our way to the top, stepping on toes and even heads of people as we strive to get ahead, because ‘well there’s only one position available and I want it!’

Hopefully somewhere along the line we have an Oprah “Ah Ha” moment and our mindset changes and we see that actually, there is not only ‘one’ position available but as many positions and opportunities as we are willing to see, available.

Even for those of us in our own businesses, the opportunities and abundance is there for the taking, all we have to do is actually see them and then do something about them.

Remember though, that without the ‘action’ there is nothing. It doesn’t matter how many opportunities come your way, if you don’t do anything about them then that is all that they remain – an opportunity.

So open your eyes and look around you – if you are really ‘looking’ and really ‘seeing’, you will be amazed at what is available.

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

Monday, March 29, 2010

MOTIVATION - Creating New Plans

MOTIVATION – Creating New Plans

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2010

The great Napoleon Hill writes ‘The majority of man meet with failure because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail.”

There it is – that word persistence! It’s the one thing that I am convinced that we are all born with. Without it none of us would have learnt how to sit up and crawl, to walk and to run. None of us would be where we are now. None of us would have achieved what we have and certainly none of us would be the people that ultimately we have become.

Sadly, like learning to fear, where we were once ‘fearless’ as children, many of us see, to have lost our ‘persistence’ along the way too.

Sadly, like those of us who literally ‘live in fear,’ those who have lost their ‘persistence’ will not stick around long enough to make anything work, or even long enough to enjoy the fruits of their own endeavors and actually, truth be told, they will set themselves up for their own failures and downfall.

Although we all fail on a daily basis, the measure of the man (or the woman for that matter) is in how we deal with that failure and how we get back up onto our feet. Without persistence the tendency would be to just lie there, perhaps crawl into a little ball and hope that the world will just swallow us up.

So for me the plan is to lose the fear and to lose the lack of persistence and to ensure that every time that I fall down or fail, that I will get up and try again. Try in a different way to see if that will bring success, but very definitely to get up and try again.

What will you do?

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

Friday, March 26, 2010

HR - Maintain Control of Your Staff - Part 1


Maintain Control of your Staff – Part 1

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

One of the biggest mistakes that small business owners make when they employ staff is to make them part of their extended families. Do that and you have lost control from the get go.

Maintaining control of your staff is critical to ensuring that everyone works well together, in the same direction and working towards a common goal. Most importantly, it will ensure that everyone is working to maintain the highest quality of service and/or quality control.

It stands to reason then that a ‘close eye’ needs to be kept on the staff to ensure that they meet their quota’s and that they maintain a high standard of quality work ethic.

Often consistent and poor conduct or lack of compliance to laid down procedures is a direct reflection of poor management. Usually it means that management lack the relevant skill or that they are unwilling to manage or control staff effectively.

This will often result in issues such as (but not limited to):

• Staff spending hours talking to friends on the phone (irrespective of whether they use the office phone or their personal cellular phones). Time spent in frivolous chatter is actually ‘theft’ of Company time. It cuts into that particular staff members’ productivity time and if there are other employees in the vicinity, it disrupts them as well. In essence it costs the company in time, productivity and in all probability – quality.
• Quality of work. Most often, the first thing that goes when the staff are not effectively managed is the quality of their work. It’s pretty much a case of ‘well if no-body is taking any notice of what I am doing, I don’t need to take care of what I am doing.”
• Another issue that constantly arises when the staff are not managed correctly and efficiently is another ‘theft’ of time. It’s when the employees perform their personal and private chores during office hours. I recently came across a situation where a client’s employee was fixing printers on the side. The client’s printer broke down and despite the fact that one of the employees duties was to maintain the electronic equipment and despite the fact that he repaired the printer during office hours, this employee actually presented his employer with an invoice for repairing the printer – quite a cheek I am sure you would agree.

Next week we will have a look at some more examples of what employees get up to when they are not effectively managed.

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

Thursday, March 25, 2010

BLOGGING TIPS - The What to Do


By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

Ok, so here we are. You know why you need to blog and then what . . . ? What on earth are you going to write about? Let’s just face it, many of us have no clue how to write effectively, let alone what to write about. I know that when I started out, I would often just sit in front of a blank screen and wait – wait for an idea, wait for inspiration – just wait. It took a while for me to ‘get it’, but with practice it happens a lot faster now and it is a lot easier.

I have collected stacks of material over the last few years and still diligently do. I read an article that perhaps will spark something in me or light a fire under my rear end – that’s usually what happens. I have an opinion or it sparks an entirely different idea. I usually sit with the article in front of me, read it through, think about what the impact that that particular article has/might have/ should have on my life and then a thread starts to form in my mind. In the beginning the only way that I could describe what happens in my mind is that it starts off as a little leaf blowing around in the breeze. The breeze becomes a twister and the little leaf becomes a vast quantity of leaves all going round and round in my mind until I have to ‘get it out’ (by writing it down) and so quell the storm. In the beginning this could take days – with a lot of practice, nowadays once I have read through the article it takes me about 15 minutes to write the article – amazing thing that – practice.

Don’t commit yourself to more than you can manage in the beginning. Even if it means that you write only one article a month or one every two weeks, don’t stress it. I started off with my Networking Tips on a Wednesday, months later I increased that to include the HR tip on a Friday. Again, months later I started my Monday Motivation (although it’s usually presented in the form of a challenge) and then the Thursdays (or perhaps it was the Tuesday’s – I forget which now) articles and opportunities presented themselves and it has been just over a year now that I am submitting 5 new articles a week. Don’t get me wrong, there are days when it is incredibly hard to write and to get what I am trying to say in some sort of articulate way. Other days my fingers fly across the keyboard, barely able to keep up with my thoughts.

I do try and write the articles in advance, so that if there is some sort of problem or if I have an early morning meeting that I do have an article ready for posting. It’s not always possible though and then I find myself under pressure – not pleasant at all. So try and not get yourself into a situation where you are running against a clock. Apart from my commitment to my own blog of an article a day, I also have other writing commitments – I have a monthly article in the Business Report (the topic is usually chosen for me) and a bi-monthly column in the Business Women’s magazine and this month (the magazine is at the printers as this is being written) it features a behind the scenes look at our local Celebrity Survivor (Santa Carolina) as well as an exclusive article on GiGi who was one of the participants. These articles obviously take a lot more time as they involve a lot more research and also have me ‘interviewing’ people – but they are great fun to do.

What I have come to realize though is that I do love to write, it has become a passion and my only regret is that I discovered it very late in my 40’s. Can you imagine the number of articles that I could have written had I started in my 20’s or even 30’s? I love the ‘finding’ out about things that I write. I love that I am making a difference, not only in my life but also in the lives of others. I love how the words on the pages transform themselves into pictures in my mind.

Next week we will have a look at some tips when you are writing.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 153


PART 153

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. March 2010

One of the things that I always tell people when I Network, is that they need to treat people in the same manner that they themselves would like to be treated – it’s common courtesy and I promise you it will go a long way towards building good relationships. Actually if the truth be told, it is essential to treat all relationships like this, not just your Networking relationships – so that means your referral sources (usually to be found when Networking), your prospective clients, your current clients, your suppliers (who knows – one day they may very well become your clients too) your partners and so on.

We all have our own way of doing things and we all have our own personalities and as much as we would like people to understand how and why we do the things in the way that we do them, so too should we try and understand why people do things the way that they do them. Remember though that you are the one looking for the referral, so you are the one that has to make the most compromise and bend over backwards the furtherest.

Try and find out as much as you can about your prospect as you can. The internet is a great place to find as much information as there is available. Knowing the likes and dislikes of your prospect will mean that you are in a far better position to answer questions and give the requested information, without alienating anyone.

The secret of turning a referral prospect into a current client is to find, develop and use all the tools that you can. It may be as simple as finding the right venue for your first meeting to how you present yourself in your personal capacity and how professional you are in your work space.

Getting yourself connected to some local Networking groups such as (but not limited to) Women In Finance ( or Inner Circle ( or even the local chambers, and making sure that you attend the various functions, workshops and Networking events will ensure that you have a constant supply of referrals and also prospects.

Remember that you don’t have to just Network with like minded people, but that there area number of diverse people out there that could possibly surprise you with who they are connected to.

Above all, have fun!

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

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - It's a Sign of the Times

BUSINESS TIPS – It’s a Sign of the Times

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

As Business Owners and Entrepreneurs, we all need to look for new opportunities – if the recent ‘so called’ recession did not teach you this and if you are still in business, then I am really surprised. We all need to find the ‘edge’ over our competitors. We all need to do things differently. We all need to ‘think out of the box’ (well those who still live in a box need to – that’s for sure). We all need to look at doing things differently or finding new ways in which to ‘work it’.

I have, for several years now been using my blog as a marketing tool and quite honestly it has worked fantastically for me. Early last year I started using Twitter – just playing around with it, ‘tweeting’ and having fun – it was, quite frankly addictive! I had to limit the amount of time that I sat playing on it. It opened up a huge new world for me. I found interesting articles that I would never have even dreamed of ‘googling’ for and it put me in touch with people that I would never have ordinarily met. It actually made me look at life in an altogether different way – a great way. Slowly, but surely I have started building relationships with these people – virtual relationships. Will I even meet them in person, who knows! What I do know though is that there are some of them that I follow religiously because I enjoy the type of information that they hook me into. I like the way that they think and I also like the way that they share.

I have also been on facebook for a number of years now – I never looked at it other than in an absolutely ‘social’ type of way and it has been great to catch up with friends, all over the world that I had lost contact with. What’s also great is that thanks to my web designer Meryl Rosenberg of Pixel Magic, I now also have my own ‘page’ on Facebook, which means that I can set up events, such as my workshops and as a result of that I now also have connected with other people all over the world. Complete strangers, that I interact with on a daily basis.

Now here’s the thing, I have started using both Twitter and Facebook to link tomy website and thereby to my blog articles and the response has been absolutely fantastic. On Twitter, the number of people who want to follow me has increased quite dramatically – clearly there are people out there that want to read/hear what I have to say. The number of hits to my website has increased, more than tripling and in the space of 5 months I have had more visitors to my website than I have had from the day that the website was launched to the end of September last year. How absolutely cool is that?

The average time spent, by visitors, at the moment is around 5 ½ minutes and I am told that that is really good and it is because my website is so ‘content rich’. Apart from that, I got my first ‘twitter’ client in January and that makes the whole deal the sweeter!

Will I stop using traditional methods of Networking – not at all, but what it does do is show me that ‘new’ is not always bad and even if I don’t really understand the technical aspects of what it is that I am doing, I need to move with the times.

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

Monday, March 22, 2010

HR - To Steal or Not To Steal

Caught up at last - here's Friday's article


To Steal or Not To Steal

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

When you catch an employee stealing, your initial ‘knee jerk’ reaction is one of ‘get them out of my sight and out of my company (preferably before I do them grievous bodily harm).’ Step away from the employee – no, seriously – step away from the situation it is full of emotion and that emotion will induce you to do something that you will regret.

Gone are the days when you could just dismiss an employee for stealing. Gone are the days when you could just tell an employee to pack up and go – the rules are in place and if you don’t follow them, you will be the one paying the consequences for their misguided youth.

Here’s the deal:

Theft is considered a ‘misconduct’. The Code of Good Practice states “Dismissal imposed several requirements on an employer who is considering dismissing an employee for misconduct.”

“Three of these requirements are:
1. The employer should first consider factors such as the employee’s length of service and disciplinary record;
2. The misconduct must be of such a grave nature that it makes a continued employment relationship intolerable and
3. An employee should be dismissed only if that have been found guilty of gross misconduct.”

So what is considered as ‘gross misconduct’? Some of these are (but not limited to):
• deliberate (wilful) damage to the employer’s property
• deliberately (wilfully) endangering the safety of others
• Physical assault on the employer, a fellow employee or a client/supplier
• Gross insubordination (so they can steal from you but they can’t give you the finger)
• Gross dishonesty.

In the old days, stealing from your employer meant that you were dishonest and that dishonesty meant that your employer could no longer ‘trust’ you and meant that your continued employment would be intolerable for the employer – well those were the ‘old’ days. Things have now changed – again.

You see, the law says it has to be ‘gross dishonesty’ and therefore not all dishonesty. Therefore this means that not all ‘theft’ can be considered as ‘gross dishonesty’.

My take on this is that if my employee lies to me, I cannot trust them. If they steal from me, I cannot trust them and quite frankly if I cannot trust them then I don’t want them to be working in my company let alone anywhere near my space. The law of course, sees this in a different light.

Remember that mitigating circumstances have to be taken into account – those are things like number of years that the employee has been employed by the company and whether or not they have a clean disciplinary record or not.

The employer also has to prove that continued employment of the employee will make the employment relationship intolerable. This proof would have to show that the relationship was not merely damaged but actually destroyed.

Note to self – outsource everything that you can!

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

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Getting there slowly - here's Thursday's article


By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

It was a request from a friend who lives far away – the ‘how to’ of blogging that is!

I must say, both the question and the request took me somewhat by surprise.

You see, although I am a technophobe who literally has no clue on how to actually set up a blog (mine was set up by a friend – a mentee actually), the value and content of a blog was not in question from the day that I heard about blogging. It is an extremely simple concept and quite honestly I am confused by how complicated some people have made it out to be.

Simply put, it is an electronic journal that you can share with the world or not. It can be locked up and accessible to specific groups of people (like a family who has been scattered to the four corners of the world) or even used as a means to share information with say senior managers in an international company, or you can leave it as an open forum and share the information with anyone.

Quite honestly, it is, in my opinion, one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to not only market yourself, but also provide “Joe Public” with information that they may need but not know where to go in order to obtain it or avail themselves of it.

In my opinion there is no a single solitary business on the face of the planet that would not benefit from having a blog and those that use the opportunity (note to self – get the ads up and running) properly and effectively, would also actually have an opportunity to make a lot of money whilst also actually making a profound difference in the lives of others

Each one of us, who run a Business, has something to ‘give’. The more we tell people about what we do, the more they understand and the more they understand the more they become interested, the quicker we will ‘pop into’ their minds when they need our particular product or service.

Think about it for a moment – you may know of say 5 different bookkeepers. They are all equally as good as each other, they all have excellent references. One of the bookkeepers starts writing a blog that actually explains the different terms that bookkeepers/accountants use in a way that you understand and suddenly you start understanding the terminology. Your bookkeeper decides to immigrate and suddenly you need to engage the services of a ‘new’ bookkeeper. Which one would you choose. I know that for me, it would be the one who has been blogging because, even though I haven’t physically engaged with them I have on some level engaged when I read the blogs. There is now a connection with one bookkeeper that I do not have with the others.

We are all experts in what we do or sell and sharing some of our knowledge and expertise as ‘tips’ will do more for our business than any expensive marketing campaign. I actually find that doing the research for some of the articles that I write means that my knowledge is expanded too and that is always a bonus.

So – sharpen your pencils and start jotting down ideas on some of the things that you may want to write about or have an opinion on or even if you just want to write for fun – let’s explore the opportunity and see what we can come up with.

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

The Power of Networking - Part 152

Still catching up - Here's Wednesday's article


PART 152

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. March 2010

Networking for Entrepreneurs is vital and knowing how to network effectively is an essential skill that all Entrepreneurs and Business people should ensure that they get.

It is extremely important that as an Entrepreneur, you understand the basics. Networking essentially is about building and maintaining relationships. So many people that I have encountered along the way seem to be under the impression that Networking is about selling their product and/or service. The reality of course, is that very few people go to a Networking event to ‘buy’. The reality is that if everybody goes to a Networking event to ‘sell’ – there will be very little selling (or buying for that matter) happening. The reality is that if there is no buying or selling going on – there should be a whole lot of relationship building going on – I mean what else is happening?

Relationship building is essential for and to any business owner. It strengthens ties between individuals, it builds trust and once trust is established, referrals are made and the ‘loop tape’ starts to play!

One hand washes the other and before you know it, other ‘players’ enter the arena and the circle of influence grows, ever wider, ever bigger, until like myself, all or most of your business comes out of the Networking environment.

Be warned though, it’s a hungry beast and to be effective, it needs to be fed on a regular basis. Relationships need time to grow and to maintain them also takes time. So even in the times of plenty, it is really important to Network constantly, to interact with your circle of influence and to maintain your relationships!

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

Friday, March 19, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - Unhealthy Politics

Sorry Folks - It's been a bit of a week! Here's Tuesday's article

BUSINESS TIPS – Unhealthy Politics

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

Dr Renate Volpe, in her Political Intelligence (PQ) Nuggets says “Unhealthy Politics: Reduce Performance, Stifle innovation and learning, Increase labour turnover, Decrease motivation, Distort communication, Decrease morale and Undermine effective decision making.”

One of the first things that I learnt when I joined the Corporate world was that there was politics. Politics from the top to the bottom. Within the directors of the company – one siding against the other, within senior management – directors playing one manager against the other, middle management – staff playing one supervisor against the other and even right at the bottom of the food chain where employees vie for attention. Everyone grappling for what they perceive as a ‘piece of the pie’! Crazy, scary stuff!

Often the staff, in a particular department would stop working, not because they were on strike, and not because they didn’t have anything to do, but usually because they were watching the managers as they ‘strutted’ their stuff in front of their superiors. They watched the ‘posing’ and brownie point posturing. The body language insults and often even the verbal challenges that their managers made to each other as they ‘threw down the gauntlet’ in an effort to get noticed, by what they perceived, were the people who held their careers in the palms of their hands.

I watched, as many of the Managers struggled with keeping their thoughts to themselves, at meetings where we brainstormed for ideas for special projects. Their eyes telling the story of how much they wanted to join in but didn’t for fear that their ‘chosen’ guru or the person that they thought that they had formed an alliance with, might think less of them or who had already put an idea forward.

I watched as a steady stream of talented, skilled individuals headed for the door and left the company. People who should have been nurtured and who really could have made an enormous difference in the company but who would rather leave than take on the office politics.

What I also learnt though was that it was possible to separate myself from the political animals around the office water-cooler. I made sure that I did not participate and thankfully due to the nature of my position I was able to keep my distance when the ‘ugly’ side of politics raised it’s nasty head.

So, if you are going to allow the political animal into your working environment (and it’s not always a bad idea) make sure that it is of the good kind and that you keep it healthy and working for the good of the company.

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

Monday, March 15, 2010

MOTIVATION - A Tough Challenge

MOTIVATION – A Tough Challenge

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2010

Arland Gilbert says “When we accept tough jobs as a challenge and wade into them with joy and enthusiasm, miracles happen.”

My workshops are growing with momentum. More and more people are attending – more and more people are ‘getting it’ and more and more people are understanding what they need to do. Some of the people who attend are thinking about starting out on their own, some have just started and ironically many have been in business for many years. They all still keep coming and they all still keep sending their friends, family and colleagues.

Going out on your own is tough – it’s one of the hardest things that you will ever do and yet it is one of the most rewarding things that you will ever accomplish! I know – I did it and one of the miracles that I experienced is the fact that I am a statistic – a great one. This year marks my 7th year in business and I can see how I’ve grown, not only as a small business owner but as an individual too. With each step that I have taken, my confidence has grown. With each obstacle that I have overcome, my self esteem has improved. With each new client that I have won and/or retained my focus and resolve has strengthened and I know that I am in it for the long haul and believe me there is nothing that I would rather do.

Each time I stand in front of the delegates and I say “make sure that this is what you want to be doing, be sure about the fact that you are ‘in love’ with what you are doing, because your hours will be very long, you will work weekends and public holidays and it may be a long time before you take a holiday again and if you are not in love or passionate about what you are doing, you will begin to resent it.” Make no mistake – I mean every single word of what I am saying and your passion for your product and/or service is what will get you through the day. Your passion for your product and/or service will often mean the difference between putting one foot in front of the other and falling over and staying there. Your passion for your product and/or service will often be the reason why you get up in the morning and start again.

Many of the delegates look at me as though I have lost the plot, but I know – you see, I have been there. I have taken that long, often very lonely walk, into starting a business. I have been so weary, bone tired and exhausted that I have felt as though I am running on the memory of what ‘fumes’ smell like as apposed to merely on empty, yet I have continued to put one foot in front of the other because of my belief in my product and the service that I render. I am more passionate about what I do today, than I was 30 years ago when I started doing it and although many of those years were spent working for others in a corporate environment, I was still doing what I love – my product and my service are still fundamentally the same. My belief in what I am doing is the same (if not greater) and certainly my passion is greater!

Yip, I’m pretty sure about that – I love what I do – and as challenging as it may get from time to time – there is nothing out there that I would rather be doing.

I see it every day! I see the miracles of new businesses starting, with passionate people! I see those new businesses growing and succeeding every day, I see people in love with life and brimming with joy at the possibilities of who and what they can become – what do you see?

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

Friday, March 12, 2010

HR - Safety Laws & The SMME


Safety Laws & the SMME

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

The Occupational Health & Safety Act (OHSA) applies to everyone – irrespective of whether you have 1 employee or you have 100 000 employees – it applies to everyone.

Right, now that I have that out of the way, less unpack it and see exactly what that means.

Most small business owners/entrepreneurs that I know, seem to think that the Act only applies to large corporations – please understand that it doesn’t – the Act requires that an ‘employer’ must ensure that the workplace is free of ‘hazardous ergonomics and substances, micro-organisms etc, which may cause injury or disease’.

The purpose of the Act is to establish a minimum set of standards and/or requirements of occupational health and safety within the workplace and/or working environment.

Actually, if the truth be told all companies should have a health policy, which needs to be applicable to all of their employees and workplaces. Actually it needs to be for persons other than their employees too – so it would need to be applicable to clients or service providers and others who would be ‘visiting’ their premises for whatever reason.

Where SMME’s go wrong is that they compare their small workplace to that of a mine or a large manufacturing plant and/or factory and then they don’t see their workplace as a potentially dangerous working environment. Truth be told, all employees have a constitutional right to work in a safe environment, so employers need to do whatever they can to prevent injury to their staff and it is also advisable for them to have someone trained to deal with emergencies.

The staff member also has an obligation not to put themselves at risk. For example if they work say on site in a construction company, as much as the employer is required to supply the employee with protective clothing, such as a hard hat or steel capped boots and gloves, the employee is obliged to wear such clothing and/or cooperate with the employers requests on the matter. Failure to do that would actually constitute ‘negligence’ on the part of the employee and the employee can be disciplined and/or actually dismissed on these charges.

Be warned, inspectors from the Department of Labour regularly inspect companies – large and small and they will also investigate any incident where someone is injured or any complaint that may have been made and if the SMME has not complied they will be in for penalties, just the same as any large corporation.

Remember too, that it is the responsibility of the company to report any injury that has occurred in the workplace to the Department of Labour within 7 days of the incident occurring. This does not just apply to incidents where someone has lost a limb but also incidents arising when someone slips or trips or is exposed to chemicals or falls from a height or where someone has a sprain or strain or sustains a burn or even noise damage etc.

If you, as an SMME or entrepreneur, are not sure of what needs to be done be sure to get some help. But get yourselves a ‘health policy’ and get yourself informed – someone’s life may well depend upon it.

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

Thursday, March 11, 2010

EARLY WARNING - Hi-jackers & Number Plates


Hi Jacking – Number plates

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting March 2010.

Whilst I understand that writing these Early Warning articles is a good thing to hopefully prevent someone from getting hurt/scammed/conned etc., I must confess that I actually hate writing them. It feels like such a negative issue in a world where I am trying to create positive affirmations.

I have received this communication in an e-mail from an Insurance Broker.

“There is a new number plate hi-jacking trend brewing around. These hi- jackers will stalk you to a parking lot or mall, after parking your vehicle, they remove your number plate and wait for you to drive off.

They then follow you and overtake you displaying your number plate at their window as if you had lost it and want to give it back to you.

Shocked that your number plate has fallen off your car, you bring your vehicle to a halt to get it from them.

This is all they want you to do and by the time you realize what has happened it is too late, your cars was hi-jacked or could have been raped/killed.

Please don’t stop for anything, a number plate is valueless compared to your life.

Think about what is happening before you react to it.

Criminals are clever and cunning but are ruthless in getting what they want . . . “

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

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 151


PART 151

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. March 2010

Everybody is looking for the ‘good deal’, the great saving, the best discount! Not only in our personal lives, but also in our business lives, stretching the Rand as far as we can has become a way of life.

Yet somehow, there are so many of us who don’t understand the value and cost saving that we have when we Network. Let’s have a look at a ‘cost on cost’ type of situation.

Let’s suspend belief for a moment and say that I don’t Network at all, but rather do ‘cold calling’ – my looking for prospects would look something like this:

I would have to telephonically contact all my prospects either off a data base (ok let’s cut costs completely and say that I contact my prospects from the telephone directory). So each and every hour, I would need to contact say between 15 and 20 people. So in an 8 hour day that would mean between120 and 160 people. Of these, I would manage to get appointments with say 5% so that would be between 6 and 8 people. So now I have spent an entire day, which at my current hourly rate is R4 400 (never mind the cost of the telephone calls) and I have set up appointments with between 6 and 8 people who may or may not be interested in doing business with me. None of them have met me, there has not been any ‘engagement’ between us and I would usually have to meet them at their offices which would mean travelling time of say 30 minutes either way and then the hour for the meeting. So my 6 to 8 meetings then become 12 to 16 hours at a further cost of R6 600 and R8 800 (never mind the petrol). Add that onto the previous figure and the cost per meeting each person becomes R1 833.33 and R1650.00, never mind the cost of the phone call and the petrol and at this point you still don’t know if you are going to get any business out of it.

One of the Networking events that I have great success with is Women In Finance who have a monthly Hot Tables event (and believe me that this is not the only Networking that I do). In any event, the cost of the 3 course dinner is R250.00 and it takes from starter to end of pud in the region of say 4 hours (at my rate is another R2200.00 and remember I have had a 3 course meal as well which now totals R2450.00). At each course I meet and engage with 9 different people, who give me their business cards, who have an idea of what it is that I do and who are like minded and keen to do business, that’s in total 27 people (in the space of four hours) and let’s (to keep the figures rounded) say I meet an additional 3 people during the breaks between courses when everybody Networks with everybody else. So now I have met with 30 people over a period of 4 hours at a cost of R2 450.00. The following day I get out the cards that I got the night before and I contact all 30 people (another 2 hours at R1 100.00) and arrange to meet at a convenient coffee shop somewhere between the two of us. So far I have spent R3 550.00) and I have 30 appointments. My travelling time is now 15 minutes each way and because I have set it up at a coffee shop between us I can now schedule 8 meetings, back to back, at the same venue. So now my 8 meetings becomes R4 400.00 plus the R3 550.00 = R7 950.00 = R993.75 per person and this includes a 3 course meal or for the entire 30 people = R16 600.00 plus the R3 550.00 = R20 050.00 = RR668.33 per person, which is a whole lot better than R1 650.00 per person). The other difference of course is that it is no longer a ‘cold call’ but rather a ‘warm call’ and because the prospect has given me a card and because we have met at a Networking event, we both understand why it is that we are there and we get on with the business of business. Those 30 meetings usually are converted into 15 sales, if not with the person themselves, then certainly from referrals.

The most important thing though is that right from the very beginning I have started building a relationship with the individual who potentially has the ability to keep me in work for months (if not years) through their own data bases.

It makes you think . . . .

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

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - Creating A Successful Team - Part 3

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 3

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

Following on from last week, here are the last few tips on how to get the best out of your team.

I know that as children we are taught to ‘share and share alike’. Be it food, or clothing, or toys – whatever, we are taught to share. Sadly, many of us lose this quality as we grow older. We become fearful that if we share we will lose it all. We become fearful that someone will ‘steal’ it from us so we hide it from view. We tell no one, we share it with no-one or we play the cards ‘close to our chests’ so that no-one can have a ‘look see’ for fear that it will be gone. No-where is this truer than in the work place and no-where is it more important for us to share, especially information, than in the work place. No matter what the information is, or whether we think it is important or not, it should be shared, it may very well be important to the work that someone else in the team is doing. Not only will knowing the information that you have, be valuable to them, but it may also add intrinsic value to their task and therefore make them more effective in terms of their performance. Sharing the information will also show them that you trust them and again, this creates an environment that is motivated and strong.

Having regular meetings to ‘brainstorm’ is also of vital importance. These meetings should be positive and staff should be able to feel that they can raise issues such as problems that may arise from time to time, without them being attacked for doing the wrong thing. There should be no ‘recrimination’ at this type of meeting, as it should be seen as an opportunity for everybody in the team to look for a solution to the problem. Often we are ‘too close to the wood to see the trees’ and having an outside point of view may be all that is required to find a solution to the table. Creating a ‘safe’ environment for people to share, not only their accomplishments but also to seek assistance for their challenges will go a long way to creating a strong and efficient team who will always be successful in any project.

It’s about creating and providing your team with the right conditions for them to work in. It’s about giving them the correct tools with which to perform their tasks. It’s about trusting them and guiding them and working with them.

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

Monday, March 08, 2010

MOTIVATION - The Smallest Decision

MOTIVATION – The Smallest Decision – The Biggest Change

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2010

Kerri Russell says “Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.”

Much has happened in the last week that not only echo these words but also highlights them and I must admit that I sat in front of a blank screen for quite a while, waiting for inspiration to show itself. Not that I have ever suffered from writers block, you understand, but purely from a place of finding the right words.

We make hundreds and thousands of decisions each day – some of them are conscious and many are not. Some have little or even no consequence (that we are consciously aware of – but remember every action has a consequence) others carry profound consequences.

Think about if for a moment – how many times have we taken the wrong fork in the road and ended up lost or going in the wrong direction? How many times have we second guessed ourselves only to find ourselves in a place that we really didn’t want to be or even need to be. Those are the negatives and as negative as they seem to be, they are a reality and we need to be aware of them and aware of how we deal and engage with them.

I want to however, deal with the positives.

I have often had the pleasure of a chance encounter with someone, who has then turned out to be ‘exactly what the doctor ordered’. It is said that the Universe or God (whomever you perceive him to be) sends exactly the people that you need in your life at exactly the right time that you need them and I certainly find this to be true in my life. I have often made a last minute decision to go or be somewhere and then met someone who has had a profound effect upon my life. I have often, as an afterthought said or done something, that has led to greater things or even a greater understanding of who I am and what my life’s purpose is.

Many of the articles that I write here, under the banner of “Motivation” have been written to challenge you the reader, but believe me most of them have challenged me, many have taunted me until I got it right or made the decision or changed my mindset. The fact that I am writing at all was because of the ‘smallest decision’ and look at the profound affect it has had on my life.

Each day, as I sit down to write the article, especially the “Motivation” articles, I often find myself excited, nervous and above all eager to find out what it is that I will write – what the words will mean in my life and how I will choose to react to them. I find myself smiling at my recognition of the truth as I read the words that I am writing. I find myself kicking my own rear end, as I take up the challenge that I have just laid down for you to do and I find myself wanting to know more, to understand more and to be all that I can be.

Who would have thought that Vanessa’s (my mentor and friend) statement that I should be writing would one day turn into this? Who would have thought that a little decision to write, to commit my thoughts and opinions to paper, would result in international ratings and rankings and recognition.

Who would have thought it . . . . . certainly not me!

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

Friday, March 05, 2010

HR - Are Employers Protected


Are Employers Protected

By Nikki Viljoen of Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

To say that several of my clients have been seriously challenged by some of their employees over the last couple of months would be nothing short of a huge lie! It’s almost like all the employee misfits of society got together and decided to cause as much chaos in the workplace as they could. Great business for me, but seriously challenging for my clients. One of the questions raised by most of the clients affected is “Are Employees protected or is it all for the employee?”

Well here are some facts:

• Section 9 (1) of the Bill of Rights contained in the constitution of South Africa says “Everyone is equal before the law and has the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.”
• Section 9 (2) of the Bill of Rights contained in the constitution of South Africa says “Equality includes the full and equal enjoyment of all rights and freedoms.”
• Section 23 (1) of the constitution says “everyone has the right to fair labour practice.”

Here’s the thing though – what does the constitution mean by “everybody” and how “equal” is everyone? Our perception is that there are some that are more ‘equal’ than others.

Well in my opinion (and remember I am not a legal person) this should mean that employers should have the same rights to fair labour practices as employees and that they should also be entitled to take their employees to CCMA, and sue them for breaching their rights.

Unfortunately, it appears that my opinion does not count as there was a case where the Labour Court said that the CMMA did not have to hear a case where an employer brought charges against an employee for ‘unfair treatment’. In fact the court said “It is not thought that employers need any protection against unfair resignations by employees. The majority of workers in this country are still un-unionised and remain extremely vulnerable.” And “ in my view the employer remains very economically strong compared to an individual worker and the fact that this protection is afforded the employee but no similar protection is afforded the employer does not come anywhere near to diminishing the power that the employer has.”

Clearly the courts are not prepared to uphold the constitution for all – it only applies to some and furthermore clearly, not everyone is equal!

Sadly there are small companies all over this country, that are closing down due to the economic challenges they face and these are made worse by problem employees who are out to make a quick buck and who have no scruples about who their actions affect.

So how do employees protect themselves, well for me, as usual, it is about implementing systems. Policies and procedures are a basic requirement of any business and even as a ‘one person show’, I have them implemented in my business. I have checklists on the ‘when things must be done’ type of issues as well as checklists on the ‘how things must be done’ type issues. In the chaos and speed that we currently run around in, it is easy to ‘miss’ a step in whatever it is that I am doing and believe me, that ‘missed’ step is going to have a consequence (and one that usually hits me in the pocket/wallet area).

The majority of my clients who were ‘challenged’ by their employees over the last couple of months, did not have the relevant policies and procedures in place and the consequences and those that did had not implemented them or enforced them and therein lay their greatest problem.

As I’ve said before, and will no doubt say many times again – policies and procedures should be implemented in every business – they protect us from our own stupidity! Having those policies and procedures on hand and not implementing them . . . . well enough said on that!

Understand though, that any ‘self protection’ mechanism that you indulge yourself in, will have to comply with the Labour Laws as ‘equal’ or not, ‘fair’ or not – the workers rights cannot be tampered with.

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

Thursday, March 04, 2010

MARKETING - Personal Branding - Changing Your Mind Set


Personal Branding – Changing Your Mind Set

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting March 2010.

Like most things in life, there is branding and Branding and then there is BRANDING!

There is branding that belongs to a product such as Coca-Cola or Nissan and then there is personal branding that belongs to an individual, like GiGi (and the rest of the celebs) that we are currently viewing on Survivor or Edith Venter, our well known South African socialite. Then of course there are those who not only have a personal brand but also a business brand. Here GiGi carries dual branding because of her business, the club called Lollipop Lounge, which is situated in Randburg.

Just like businesses change and rebrand themselves, and the two that popped into my mind almost immediately, are Pick ‘n Pay and Castle Larger (neither of them have been in the very recent past, but they have both been rebranded at some point). Both companies changed their branding, their logo’s, their look and with it upgraded their image to something similar but also quite different to what it was before. The new look seemed more modern but make no mistake, it cost them millions!

So cost aside, why would an individual ‘re-brand’ themselves – I mean at the end of the day, you are still ‘you’ – or are you?

Some individuals need to change their brands because they have moved on from what they used to do or because they were associated with another brand and the relationship has gone sour or a marriage that has not survived, whatever the reason, understand it is going to be a long, painful and probably very costly exercise.

Here’s the thing –when you started out branding yourself, you did it one step at a time, one person at a time. You did an incredible job of letting the world know who you are and what it is that you do. You told everyone who would listen (and even some who didn’t) all about your passion. You got yourself interviewed on TV and radio and wrote articles that were published in magazines and newspapers. You got yourself photographed with as many famous people as you could get close to. You wrote blogs and had an opinion on every subject under the sun. You interacted on Facebook and told the world about your accomplishments and you ‘Twittered and Tweeted’. Friends, family and colleagues were carefully instructed on what to say about what it is that you do and anyone who got your title wrong or made the slightest mistake about what you do, were gently corrected.

You created an all powerful brand . . . that is you.

Now, due to whatever circumstance that has occurred in your life, that brand has to change – but remember, for years you have been telling the world that you are . . well “You” and now you want to tell them that you are no longer the ‘old you’, but a ‘new, improved you’. Remember though, that people (no matter how ‘open minded’ they say they are) are basically creatures of habit and just because you have had a mind set change or undergone a personality change, their perception of you will in all probability, remain with the ‘old you’. So don’t be expecting them to change their mindset or perception over night.

Make sure that you understand the process that you are about to undertake when rebranding yourself – it’s not a ‘quick fix’ kind of process, but rather one that is very long term and just like you branded yourself the first time, one step at a time, one person at a time – so to will the journey be for rebranding yourself (although in truth it will probably be a little faster, since at the end of the day – you are still . . . well ‘You’).

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

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Power of Networking - Part 150


PART 150

By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC. March 2010

I’ve just read an article on Networking that says (and unfortunately I can’t see who it was written by) “For job seekers, networking is considered THE most important activity.”

In fact, in my opinion, every aspect of our lives is governed by networking of one sort or another and if we don’t work our networks properly or effectively, the bottom line is that we will not work effectively or optimally. Quite a reality check, I’m sure you will agree.

Most of us use our networks to expand our business contacts or to get more work in. On a personal level, I use my network for every aspect of my life. I listen to the stories of ordinary people, both in their personal lives and in their businesses, which often add value to the articles I write. I ‘remember’ what/who people are looking for and match them to people that need those things/services in their lives. When I look for opportunities, I not only look for myself but also for the people in my Network

Whatever we need from our Networks, there are always a few ground rules or tips that apply across the board. I know that I have covered them many times before, but from experience I know that often we don’t ‘hear’ things the first time that they are said. So here they are again.

When you attend a Networking meeting or event, be confident in your own ability, even if you’re not confident about yourself or have self esteem issues or even if you are shy, you have to come across as confident and that you know what you are doing.

You need to be able to market yourself and your product/service. This means of course that you need to prepare ahead of the Networking meeting/event. You need to have an ‘elevator’ speech ready and practiced and your elevator speech should not be longer than 30 seconds. It should be short, concise and of course contain the correct information. Remember that you are not the only person who is going to talk and that you also need to listen, in fact you need to understand that you will be doing a lot of listening.

No-one likes someone who only takes and never gives anything back and this is also true of Networking and Networks. In fact my motto is ‘give in order to receive’. The more that you give to your Network, the more your Network will give back to you. That doesn’t mean that you should be working for nothing though – we all need to make a living, but what it does mean is that you need to give referrals or hook people up. You can also assist those who you can see have no idea how to Network. Share your experiences and help them get started.

It doesn’t matter if you attend 1000 Networking meetings or events, if you do not follow up, very little will happen. I hesitate to say ‘nothing’ will happen because sometimes things happen despite what we don’t do. You need to engage with people, you need to communicate. If you don’t, getting contact information may prove to be more difficult for you.

So . . take a big breath, square your shoulders, put a big smile on your face and get yourself off to a Networking meeting.

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

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

BUSINESS TIPS - Creating A Successful Team - Part 2

BUSINESS TIPS – Creating a Successful Team – Part 2

By Nikki Viljoen – Viljoen Consulting CC March 2010

Following on from last week, here are some more tips on how to get the best out of your team.

My ‘baby’ brother is a Senior International Partner at Deloittes in Australia and I am immensely proud of him. We chat often and as I tell him of what is happening in my life and what I am achieving and he always says “Well done Nikki!” The first time he said it I was amused – I mean, here I am – his ‘big’ sister and he is the one that is praising me (not that I never praised him or congratulated him, you understand). It did make me feel good though (and it still does). I guess that we, as the human beings, still always need to be acknowledged in some way or another. Even though your staff are members of a team, remember that they still remain individuals and as individuals they still need to be encouraged.

When a member of your team does something correctly or their job performance is good, give them recognition. This tells them (and all their colleagues) that you are aware of what is going on and that you have noticed that they are doing well. Congratulations and praise should be given as soon as possible and if you have motivated them with promises of a reward, be sure to give that reward as soon as they have achieved the objective. Holding onto a reward that should have been given in the hopes that it will spur them onto achieving more objectives will not work and in all probability will have a negative effect. So don’t do it.

As someone who prefers to work alone, one of my biggest challenges is to delegate. Think about it for a moment though – you have a team, more importantly, you are part of a team. Each member of the team (including you) has specific tasks that they need to perform. If you were able to do the project all by yourself, you would not need the team – therefore you have to ‘give up’ a lot of the tasks that you would normally perform to the various team members that those tasks fall under. They are no longer your tasks. Giving up those tasks will also free up time for you to do the important tasks that fall under your particular portfolio – so if it’s not on your portfolio, then its not your task – give it to someone else or hand it over to the person that it belongs to. Delegating things successfully will show your staff that you trust them to do their work (and any other tasks that you give them) properly. It will give them confidence in their abilities and will generally assist with motivating them as well.

Just like any successful democracy, the whole team should be involved in the decision making. Yes, you are ultimately responsible for the outcomes and the deliverables and everything else that goes with that, but you need the ‘buy in’ of the team and that will never happen if they are not part of the decision making. Remember they are the ones that have to do the physical work and if they are just ‘told’ what to do, without understanding the ‘why’ the consequences they will that they become disgruntled.

Next week we will look at the final few tips on Creating a Successful team.

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

Monday, March 01, 2010



By Nikki Viljoen of N Viljoen Consulting CC – March 2010

Dr Joyce Brothers says “An individual’s self concept is the core of his personality. It affects every aspect of human behaviour, the ability to learn, the capacity to grow and change. A strong positive self image is the best possible preparation for success in life.”

This just reminds me how many thousands, in fact millions of people throughout the world there are, who live with little or no self esteem. It reminds me of the damage that parents have inflicted on their children or that teachers have inflicted on their students or employers on their employees. Even more sad, I see on a daily basis how we, as individuals, not only drive self esteem from the lives of our colleagues and friends but also from our own hearts.

A few years ago I employed a young lady who I put through a bookkeeping and later on an accounting course. Although extremely bright and intelligent she had not completed matric due to circumstances beyond her control. Having left school a number of years before I met her, I was pleased at her agreement to ‘go back to studying’ and very proud of the commitment she had made. I was so excited about this undertaking that I told everyone who would listen.

She was devastated and insulted! Her take on this was that she had to ‘go back to school’ because she was ‘stupid’.

Sadly there are many similar stories such as this one and I was recently reminded of this just last week.

A friend of mine had entered a dance competition. She was nervous and excited as she watched some of the other contestants dance. Her turn came and she executed all her dance moves with elegance, passion and precision. Chatting to her later, while we watched some more of the contestants, she was again extremely nervous and very critical of her performance. I pointed out to her that the lady who was dancing at the time was ‘out of sync’ with the music, her music in fact, did not match or compliment her costume and her movements were not fluid but stiff and unyielding. My friend turned to me, the pain evident in her eyes and said something along the lines of “I don’t see myself the same way that you see me. I don’t see myself the way anybody else sees me!”

Here is an intelligent, beautiful woman, with her whole life before her and the world at her feet, who does not see her talent or her potential, who does not see her ‘worth’. My heart went out to her and I was suddenly angered at the person or persons who had caused this pain and damage to her. Her perception was one of that she was not worthy, that she was not good enough and this had created her reality.

The true reality is that she will, in all probability win the competition – she’s that good! The true reality is that she is incredibly talented and her potential is huge and she is limited only by her own perception.

The lesson here today is that we, as individuals need to be positive, not only in our own lives but also in the lives of the people whose lives we touch. We need to encourage and uplift the people around us.

In essence we need to let them look at themselves through our eyes.

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