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Let me put this blog post into perspective for you. This is my 11th year out of school and I haven’t proactively done any physical exercise since, it’s a miracle that I’m not obese. I’m your typical ‘let it slide guy’ who wakes up just as he’s about to turn 30 and frantically starts to do exercise. As I’ve journeyed to the Nirvana of fitness I’ve realised just how similar running is to ‘running’ a business. Here are a few things I’ve thought about:

Running

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  1. You’re Never Too Unfit To Start

I guess the first point that should be made is about the start. The problem with most people is that they never start. They wish they’d started but always end up depressed that they never did. Start! Do it now. In fact if you’re at home reading this then go put on your shorts, T-shirt and running shoes. Go for a 5min run and come back to read the rest. You’re never too unfit to start. Start your business today, start planning, write down your first year’s goals. Get going. You don’t have to know everything in order to start.

  1. Running With Partners

I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog post but running with partners is much easier than running alone, why? Because we’re motivated by others. When we see others doing it we realise that we can too. Also there’s nothing like having someone there to urge you on when you feel sluggish on the uphill. In business it’s the same, having someone doing it alongside you, motivating you to carry on, is invaluable.

  1. Running Gear

If you’ve got the wrong running shoes, you’re eventually going to get hurt. Make sure that you have the right tools to run your business.

  1. Try Beat Your Best (Try And Do Better Than You Did Last Time)

The only way to progress and become better is to keep challenging yourself to be better than you were last time. I started running a 5km Parkrun in Lonehill. I started with a time of 33:55mins, I’m now down to 25:33mins. I kept trying to beat my previous time. When you run a business you need to keep trying to do things better than you did last time. That’s what creates value for your clients, it’s what makes you different.

  1. Book Races, Setting Milestones

Setting goals is vital. Aim for the stars and you’ll hit the moon. If you enter a race you’ll be motivated to keep going. If you set a goal for your business’ turnover by a certain date you’ll be motivated to achieve the goal. 3 months ago I ran 0km a month. This month I hit 100km total for the month.

  1. Perseverance (The Pain, The Hills)

Running is often painful. Most mornings when I wake up at 6am to go for a run I really don’t feel like it. Sometimes my legs hurt like hell. Hills often make me feel like walking. But this is where perseverance comes in. Perseverance builds character. Same with your business, there will be days when you just don’t feel like it, when it hurts to get out of bed. But those days can’t compare to the days when you run with the wind at your back. The victory is sweet and it will come! I’d like to add that walking is not a sign of weakness, it’s an indication that you know where your limits lie.

  1. It Takes Time

Building fitness takes time. Building a business takes time. Ask anyone, it just does.

  1. Discipline (Focus)

It boils down to discipline. The reason you probably started a business is because you think differently, you have your own way of doing it. That’s why discipline can sometimes be tough. But the discipline to keep going, to keep being excellent is what makes you the business owner, the race runner.

  1. Health

You can’t build fitness if you’re constantly ill. This is so important. You can’t run a business if you’re always ill. Look after yourself. it’s the biggest asset you have, your health! Give yourself an opportunity to recover if you’ve overdone it.

10. Enjoy The Scenery

I ran my first trail series race a month ago, I was working so hard to finish that I didn’t get a chance to enjoy my surroundings in the beautiful Magaliesberg. Work hard, but please do enjoy your surroundings, it should be part of why you do it. Take it in.

Here’s my last thought; if I can do it, so can you. You are good enough. Go do it!

If you’ve done one of those ‘green-yellow-blue-red’ personality tests you’ll know what I mean when I say I’m more of a ‘yellow’. I’m a social guy who finds no difficulty in meeting new people and having a chat to someone at the food table whom I’ve never met before. The fact that I’m writing this blog post proves the ‘yellow’ in me. Sales has always been associated with the ‘yellow’ personality, in this blog post I will demonstrate how it’s a function that requires all personalities and disciplines. This is by no means the gospel of sales, according to Jacques, these are simply things I’ve learnt so far in my business journey.

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1. Network (The Sociable Yellow)

This is probably the cornerstone of sales. The rock on which sales are built. If you don’t know people, then people can’t know about you. If you don’t network it doesn’t mean that you won’t ever sell, it just means that you’ll have to cold call all the time. Which is doable but very difficult. If you haven’t networked then it probably also means you’re not going to be a ‘natural’ at cold calling either. Always be ready to meet new people, at a wedding, at a party, in a bank queue, at a Rugby game, on the plane (don’t sit and read a book, have a chat) and at networking events (but I’ll get to this later).

2. Be Strategic (The Analytical Blue)

Yip, that’s the second point I’m going to make. Be strategic. Have a plan. Pinpoint which clients you want and then plot a network path that leads you to that client. “Who do I know that knows X that knows Y that knows the person in that business?” Physically draw a network map.

3. Communicate Effectively (The Sociable Yellow)

This is also extremely important. Believe it or not there are better ways of communicating interpersonally, over the phone and through written communication. Here are a few tips;

  • Interpersonally, speaking to someone face-to-face;
    • Don’t fold your arms, squarely face the person
    • Maintain eye contact, don’t look around the room whilst they’re talking
    • Listen to what they have to say, don’t interrupt
    • For heaven’s sake put your phone away
  • Over The Phone;
    • Speak clearly and slowly
    • Again, don’t interrupt
    • Use non committal language
  • Through written Communication; (this is important because written communication can so easily be misconstrued)
    • Use non committal language (some may disagree with me here, but I don’t like making people feel like they’re being forced) i.e;
      • Instead of ‘I’m going to set up a meeting next week’, say ‘Can I perhaps set up a meeting next week?’. Give them the option, people don’t like feeling like they’re being forced.
      • Instead of ‘When can I come through for a meeting to introduce you to our services?’, say ‘Are you available for an informal conversation about our services?’. Again this will make them feel less ‘locked in’.
    • Rather be more professional, but remain yourself.
      • Instead of ‘Hi X, please see attached a list of our services for your perusal’, say ‘Hi X, I’ve attached a list of our services for you to have a look at when it’s convenient for you’. Less robot like, but still professional

4. Be Memorable (The Sociable Yellow)

Remember, you’re not the only person that’s ever tried to get this prospect’s business. Think differently about your approach. Try something new, or do something small that will be memorable. It may be your website, your business card, your approach, your process, your manner etc. Be remarkable, but don’t be so off the wall that it scares the prospect away.

5. Know Your Stuff (The Analytical Blue)

Everyone’s heard of the elevator pitch, it’s good to have one. It isn’t however good to recite it like a poem in first grade. Rather know the answers to these questions (We for a business, I for a freelancer etc.);

  1. Who Are We?
  2. Why Are We Different?
  3. Why Are We Immediately Relevant?

6. Be Likeable (The Personable Green)

There are different types of salespeople. You get closers, consultants, transactional and relational etc. In my mind there’s only one type of salesperson. The likeable salesperson. Build relationship, be genuine, have integrity, never give anyone a reason not to trust you – for heaven’s sake be honest. “Is this going to cost a lot?”, “Yes it is, here’s why….”.

7. Sales is not about closing, it’s about keeping (The Sociable Yellow)

This is where it always goes wrong, and this is where the bullshitters get separated from the professionals. It’s one thing to close a deal, it’s another to keep that business for years to come. That’s a blog post for another day, but that’s why it’s so important to be transparent, if you’re not, the truth always comes out. There goes your reputation and future business.

8. Don’t Take It Personally (The Personable Green)

This is where I sometimes battle. Don’t take rejection personally, because you’re most definitely going to be rejected 10 times more than you’re going to be accepted. Not everyone is going to like you, and that’s OK.

9. Know How To Be Firm (The Confrontational Red)

Not every sales meeting is going to be a successful meeting, that’s fine. Sometimes you get taken for a ride. You get, in layman’s terms, ‘stuffed around’. Know how to discern these prospects and know when to be firm, stand up for yourself. Know when to confront and when to let it go. If you need to be firm then do it, but don’t burn bridges or ruin your reputation.

10. Be Yourself

Lastly, be yourself. Be sincere. People like people. Your clients will end up liking you for you. Bring your own personality into the conversation, talk about life, talk about the things you like and find out what your client likes. One of Harvard’s 6 principles of persuasion is ‘commonality’. You’re 100 times more likely to have success when approaching a prospect if you have something in common. For example, same sports team, same car, same school etc.

Many a pedagogical book has been written about sales. If you don’t believe me type ‘bookstore’ into Google maps and make a trip to your local bookstore. You’ll find a plethora of How-To books on sales. Although I’m convinced that this wisdom is very necessary, you’ll have to learn selling by trying. Selling is like a muscle. You need to exercise it often in order to become fit. The beauty is that when you’re fit, you’ll win!

 

 

South Africa never has a dull moment in it’s wonderful life of politics. This often means that it’s difficult to decide which circus act to vote for. I’ve spent many hours researching each party and have made the following summaries on their policies. This is will surely make it easier for you to decide;

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EFF: 

Take land, nationalise everything, tell foreigners to bugger off. Everyone will be economically emancipated. AKA Julius will have a nicer car and watch funded by the working class.

ANC:

Keep doing what we’ve always done. Say it in a different way. Use Mandela’s face on everything, even toilet paper. We’ll rule till Jesus comes. Change the million houses in 5 years plan into 5 houses in a million years plan. A better life for all* – AKA Pass go, collect 200million, keep Zuma out of jail free card.

*’All’ directly translated in 1st century Zulu actually means ‘Zuma’

DA:

Don’t tell anyone that our policies are exactly the same as the ANC’s. Make every election point about the ANC’s failings because we actually don’t have a plan. Show everyone how nice our traffic lights look in WP. Everyone will have better working traffic lights under the DA. AKA all the middle class whites said ‘WOOP’, all the working class folk said “all we want is houses and better wages, not traffic lights?”.

AGANG:

A_Gang: Directly translated from English is the scientific word for a ‘group of thugs’. We’re like a religion, we break away from the main group to form a ‘reformed’ group because we’re right and they’re wrong. AKA we’re a reformed group of thugs with a confused leader who’s only claim to fame is having children with Steve Biko.

COPE:

We’re still COPE’ing <- ‘See what we did there?’, but unfortunately smart advertising doesn’t win elections. AKA We’re not sure if we’ll COPE past May 7th.

FF+

What does the ‘+’ in our name actually stand for again? Is it the souped up version? Souped up Afrikaners! AKA Afrikaner holy huddle.

IFP:

We’ve had the same leader for 100 years. AKA Mangosuthu Buthelezi dictatorship.

ACDP:

STOP Abortion NOW! AKA we only have one point to stand for, for us to win surely will be a miracle!

The Rest:

Who cares, they’re too small. Like tiny Jack Russells that yap and irritate you and lose hair on your couch. It’s irritating.

But on a serious note, go vote! It’s your duty and human right as a citizen of this beautiful country!

*All of the above is supposed to be a joke, it’s meant in jest. No offence intended to anyone here.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of things that likeable people do. This is also not a list of things that I do. There are a few people who have made a massive impact in my life, I remember them constantly for how they affect me in a positive way. This is a list of things that those people do. They don’t necessarily do all of these, they may do 1 or 2 or some of these. No one’s perfect. As you read this a few of your favourite people will come to mind.

likeable

1. They Listen

This sounds like a cliché but I want to draw a line between listening and really listening. There are those that look as though they’re listening, but in actual fact they’re thinking about what to say next. Then there are those who really listen. They make eye contact, acknowledge your facial expressions and respond to what you’re saying. They’re genuinely interested and involved. Listening is something that you need to practice. It takes effort, that’s why so few people really do it.

 

2. They Say ‘Thank You’ With A Smile

I’m bad at this. I often say thanks but with a monotone vibe that says “I don’t really want to be here, can I go now?”. These people look you in the eye and say thanks with a smile. Imagine this scenario: you’re approaching a door with a stranger, you let them through the door before you. Number 1; They don’t look up, lift their hand and say “Thanks”. Number 2; They look you in the eye, smile and say “thank you”. It may seem small but it makes a big difference to how it makes you feel. The sad truth is it doesn’t take much effort to smile and say thanks.

 

3. They Message You Just To See How You’re Doing

We’re living in a world where ‘give and take’ dictates. We’re taught to get ahead in life by giving as little as possible and getting as much as possible in return. People who make the biggest impact are those who give without an agenda. They’ll message you purely because they’re interested to know how your day went. Not because they want to borrow your golf clubs.

 

4. They Don’t Allow Insignificant Things To Make Them Frown

I’m bad at this. I often let the little things change my mood. If my wife doesn’t put her cereal bowl in the dishwasher I frown. Is it really worth it? These people don’t let that happen, they smile and move on.

 

5. They Remember Names

Again, I’m bad at this. I know full-well that not everyone is a ‘name rememberer’ but it’s important to try. I met a guy once (see I can’t even remember his name) who I didn’t see again for 4 months or so. He greeted me by name and asked me how my business is going. I like him and remember him.

 

6. They Don’t Take Themselves Too Seriously

They know how to laugh at themselves and don’t easily get upset when the joke’s on them.

 

7. They Don’t Speak In An Overtly Negative Way

There are those who suck the life out of you with their constant negativity and there are those who build you up with their positivity. They’ll also complain about the bad service, but they’ll say it in such a nice way that the manager feels obliged to do something about it.

 

8. They’ll Help You Clean Up

… even when they’re a guest at your house.

 

9. When Everyone Else Is Too Busy, They’re Not

Everyone is around when things are going well, but when things are going bad? The really likeable people are still there, they’re your friend.

 

10. They Treat All People With Respect

There are those who you can tell from a mile off are absolute _______ <- fill word in here. However the likeable people treat everyone the same. They’ll ask the petrol attendant how his day’s going. They’ll take a flyer from the guy at the robot and say “Thanks”. They’ll greet the parking attendant. They’ll let someone in in front of them in traffic.

 

11. They Tell You The Truth, As It Is.

They know how to deal the hard blows without making you feel bad. They’re more interested in having you grow than having you live in a lie.

 

12. They’re Hospitable

You can rock up unannounced and they’ll be glad to see you. Even if they’re in the middle of Game Of Thrones, Season 3, “The Red Wedding”.

 

13. Likeable People Are Outwardly Focused

I’ve come to the conclusion that likeable people have these traits in common because they are aware of how they affect those around them. They live with the awareness that one small act can change a stranger, a colleague or a friend’s day.

 

 

On the 1st of February 2013 I started a business with Ruan Oosthuizen who has become one of my best friends. I had no idea how to run a business or what the business would eventually mature into, but a year and 1 month later I can say that I’ve learnt a few things. This is by no means a boasting session but rather my thoughts on the knowledge I’ve gained over the period of a year. Heaven knows, I still have a lot more to learn.

Jacques Du Bruyn

1. Care about tomorrow but don’t worry about it

I’ve always been a bit of a worrier, the reason why I didn’t start a business earlier. As I’ve grown up a little bit (still have a lot of growing up to do) I’ve learnt that worrying renders nothing but sleepless nights, and sleepless nights produce poor performance tomorrow. I’ve learnt to care about tomorrow, after all tomorrow is important, but there’s no use in worrying. Most of what you worry about never happens anyway.

2. Not everyone is going to like you

I’ve always cared a heck of a lot about what people think about me. I’m a people pleaser and hate knowing that I’ve let people down. The fact of the matter is you can’t please everyone. Not everyone is going to like you in this life. Life’s far too short to allow the fear of how people may or may not perceive you to hinder your journey. It’s obviously helpful to behave in a way that’s likeable, because hey if most people don’t like you, then there’s a problem. Be OK with not being liked by everyone. Don’t be malicious, but chase your dream knowing that for whatever reasons, you’re not going to be everyone’s favourite person. Chasing your dream sometimes means making unpopular decisions.

3. You are good enough

According to my academic performance at school I was average. I think I was always 1 or 2 percent above or below the grade average. In fact I scored a whopping 54% for Higher Grade maths in my final matric exam. Average! However here I am today writing a blog post about having started a business that’s doing rather well for only having been around for a year. I have learned that when you find your niche, you discover that you’re not just an average Joe. Don’t let anyone tell you that you’ll never amount to more than your academic achievements at school. You’re as good as the ‘hero’ in your office that everyone raves about.

4. Follow your gut

I’ve learnt that if it doesn’t sit well then there’s nothing you can do to make it do so. Listen to your gut, it’s one of the few things we have in this life that’s often accurate. Heaven knows that we’re often faced with tough decisions, your gut knows more than you think.

5. Work smart not hard

I think I’ve only pulled 2 or 3 15+ hour days in the past year. I’ve learned that working too many hours only burns you out and makes you less productive. You need sleep. Rather work smart, you’ll be better off for it. Spend time with family and friends, you need it. We live in a world where “I’m busy” qualifies you and earns you respect. I’d rather say “I’m healthy and successful”. It means cutting down on the things that slow you down and doing the things that make you more productive.

6. Give

Give more than you get. That’s the rule in every area of life.

7. Your attitude matters more than your skill

I’ve learnt that knowing stuff is good, but having a great attitude matters more. There’s nothing worse than trying to work with someone who’s as grumpy as hell. It’s tiring. I know this is cheesy but be the person you want to work with. Your attitude matters and sets the atmosphere in your business.

8. Take a step back

I tend to react emotionally sometimes – when you’re in the bottle, you can’t see the label. If you feel that a client or fellow employee or even family member has said something in a way that irritates you then rather take a step back. Don’t respond immediately. Go and have a coffee, then respond. There’s a difference between reacting and responding.

9. Give people the benefit of the doubt

I’ve often made assumptions that turned out to be incorrect. People aren’t as bad as you think they are. Yes, every now and again you come across some people who you’d rather not have around. First empower people to be their best, then re-evaluate.

10. Partner with people

I honestly don’t think we were made to go at it alone. We all have only so much we’re good at, we all need partners who possess the strengths we lack. The same holds true whether it’s a marriage partner, running partner, gym partner or business partner. I count myself blessed to have a partner like Ruan Oosthuizen. I’m quite aware of the fact that it’s unique to have a business partner that you can trust with your life and who is ultimately one of your best friends. Even if you’ve been previously burnt, open yourself up to trust others. Remember, people aren’t all bad.

 

 

One of my favourite things to do is venture into the middle of Joburg. This time round I took a walk up Main Street from Ghandi Square to the Magistrates Court. I then took a 50 story trip to the top of the Carlton Center. The photos below are the city through my eyes.

Standard Bank Building

Standard Bank Building

Rand Club

Rand Club

Braamfontein

Braamfontein and Northcliff Hill

The City and Magaliesburg

The City and Magaliesburg

City Press Building

City Press Building

Coca-Cola Building

Coca-Cola Building

Ellis Park Stadium

Ellis Park Stadium

Ghandi Square

Ghandi Square

Magaliesburg in the distance

Magaliesburg in the distance

Building in Joburg

Building in Joburg

Market Square- The Joburg Library and City Hall can be seen

Market Square- The Joburg Library and City Hall can be seen

Markhams Building

Markhams Building

Nelson Mandela bridge with Northcliff Hill

Nelson Mandela bridge with Northcliff Hill

Ponte Tower with City

Ponte Tower with City

Soccer City

Soccer City

Joburg buildings

Joburg buildings

Hillbrow tower with city

Hillbrow tower with city

Hillbrow Tower with the Magaliesburg in the distance

Hillbrow Tower with the Magaliesburg in the distance

Turfontien Race track

Turfontien Race track

Thanks to Between 10 and 5 blog for this. I can’t wait to get exploringImage

I’ve always loved second hand book stores. The smell of the books, the legacy that each of the books has left is tangible. Recently I discovered a treasure in johannesburg! The Collectors Treasury, an eight story building with over 1 million items on hand.

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This is no ordinary second hand book store, it’s the biggest in the southern hemisphere and has been running in it’s current address (244 Commissioner Street) for over 20 years now. When you arrive at a very unassuming building you’ll be greeted by a staircase that leads up to the first floor. The very first staircase is completely covered in books, a preview of what’s to come.

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Ask the owners for any book and they’ll gladly show you to the correct corner within the labyrinth of items.

My wife lost among the LP’s

There’s a very small lift, that can only fit three people max because it’s also stacked with books to the roof. Ask to be taken to the 6th floor and there you will find 500 000 LP’s.

Some of the oldest books I’ve ever seen. One of them from 1658 worth R40 000

I highly recommend visiting this treasure chest, but make sure you clear some time out of your day because you’re bound to spend more time there than what you had planned.

 

 

I’ve been wanting to do a Joburg walkabout for a while now. I finally booked some time out of a Saturday and did it! My friend Jay and I parked close to the Africa Museum and covered about 6km on foot. We climbed staircases, jumped down ledges and walked through alleys.

These are a few of my pics.

For anyone who’s interested we’re launching #PicJozi, a Jozi walkabout initiative where pro (DSLR) and amateur (instagramers) photographers can walk around Jozi in a group and take photos at leisure. It’s a great networking opportunity as well as discovering the city on foot with a bunch of like minded Jozi Lovers. Follow @PicJozi

As I venture deeper into Johannesburg’s CBD I’m discovering some really great places to eat and just hang out. In the last post I mentioned Velo Cafe in Braamfontein, a quaint little art/cafe on Juta street. If you carry on over Nelson Mandela bridge from there and turn left into Market street and cary on for about 8km you’ll reach the Maboneng Precinct. Canteen is in the Maboneng Precinct in ‘Arts on Main’.

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Canteen has a very simplistic unassuming appearance. Above it is a bar/dance floor with an olden day car roosting on the roof. They have a grand menu of cordials which are served in ‘Peanut butter’ type glass jars. Definitely worth a go.

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The menu has few enough dishes to choose from so that you don’t sit around all day trying to decide. I recommend the Beer battered Hake and Chips with curry sauce!

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Go and give it a bash.

Canteen  (Arts on Main) sits between the olive trees and art galleries. It’s open from Tuesday to Sunday during the day, and in the evenings from Thursday to Saturday. Call (011) 334 5947 or email: canteen.245@iafrica.com.