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Fin24 user Anesu Machaba writes:
OFTEN in life, we wait upon a rare opportunity for
recognition and more often than not, it never comes.
The uncommon gift women possess is our fighting spirit. Our
ability to preserve and traverse even the most difficult of circumstances is
legendary and yet somehow, when it comes to the business world we sometimes
lose that spark.
In law school I observed with delight at how my female peers
fought every case through moot court with zeal and conviction, and won! This
was the one place were the playing field was levelled; your God-given
abilities, discipline and preparation were all that you needed to make it
However, the reality of the corporate world is often less
simple to navigate.
When faced with the complexities of finding employment in a
foreign land, I chose to take the path less travelled. I started my own
Armed with every lesson from Og Mandino's scrolls in his
groundbreaking book The Greatest Salesman In The World, my dad's wise advice
from his vast experience in business and, to top it off, the all-important
street smarts, I set off.
I was upset after the first two rejections, endured the next
20 or so, then after that I just went numb.
I had no real choice so even after closing my first business
which failed to reach expectations, I was going to give it a second shot and it
was in persevering that I finally found the ray of sunshine in the midst of
The lessons I learnt were many; however, now I will share
only five of the most important ones.
The first lesson was in observing my successful peers, who
were mostly men; I learnt that they didn't possess anything else which I
couldn't possess. I just had to be confident about my own vision and to never
ever give up.
Sometimes we think that men are successful because of some
rare X factor. In the world of business, anyone can have the X factor. It's
when you accept and know yourself that find you already possess the treasures
the world yearns to discover.
The second lesson I learnt was the power of relationships.
Building enduring relationships is in my view part art, part science. However,
nothing is beyond reach.
In fact, I soon realised that women actually have somewhat
of an unfair advantage in this department and yet we don't always make use of
Our nurturing ability, that's the key.
We are emotional creatures and we care about how people feel
beyond the bottom line and that's what drives business.
When you show people that you really care about them, you
have their ear, and when you have their attention, you can close the deal.
Business is not composed of people in straitjackets, everyone has a soft spot.
Find that soft spot and you not only succeed in getting your
foot in the door, but you also sustain the relationship. Long-term
relationships are what sustains your business, so you have to be sincere.
The third lesson I learnt is that everyone's journey is
different. Don't be a copy, stay an original!
Many people start a business because other people are doing
well in that area, but what fun is there in that? Sometimes your journey will
take you away from what you studied, but nothing you've learnt is ever
If you believe in yourself, you will believe in the
importance of your journey and this resonates in a powerful way.
The fourth lesson I learnt is educate yourself.
Everyone likes to deal with competent people and most people
fail because they just don't know the facts.
If your journey takes
you into a field where you have no real formal training, then it's up to you to
equip yourself with the relevant information. Some sectors are more technical
than others, as I found finance and construction to be.
You might have to read a lot or take up a course or two to
gain credibility. Once you're negotiating contracts there's no turning back; if
you missed something for lack of knowledge then know for sure, it's going to
Having a mentor helps but soon you're going to have to get
in the trenches and draw from your own resources.
The fifth and final lesson I learnt is the importance of not
You really never know where your favour comes from.
Sometimes we seek out those with title or prestige, thinking they will be the
ones to guide us or open uncommon doors.
I never got to a CEO without being cordial with his
secretary, I never got a major opportunity through a member of the board. I
always identified the foot soldiers, the guards of the sacred throne and it was
them and not the top guys who gave me an ear and to whom I owe any little ounce
of success I've achieved thus far.
My journey has just begun, I don't profess to know all the
answers but this is the little wisdom I have garnered thus far, which has
helped in steering my path.
I hope it will inspire you, mighty woman of valour, in your
* Anesu is executive chairperson of Elah
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