Google

Google South Africa is once again hosting a Digital Skills for Africa and Women@ Google event as part of their ongoing celebration of women in Africa, education and entrepreneurs  – and they have invited you CHICAs to join them!

Alll participants will learn about the Women@ program, go on an office walk-about, receive training and a Digital Skills for Africa Google Certificate in fundamental digital marketing skills.

Date: Friday, 17 November 2017

Time: 9:00am – 2:30pm

Venue: Google South Africa, 35 Ballyclare Drive Bryanston, Ballyoaks Office Park, 3rd floor Golden Oak House.

Food will be served.

Please RSVP HERE 

Limited spaces available.

Entrepreneurship

So, we all know the end of the year comes with a lot of reflection, and the scurry to rush through all of the goals one had set for themselves, before the year is over.

I have been on a reflective journey, of late. It has not been in the sense of “what have I achieved?” but rather, asking myself: “what do I wish I had known beforehand?” These are some of the things I wish I had been told before jumping into the world of entrepreneurship…Corium

  1. Sleep As Much As You Can Now

Entrepreneurship is highly demanding, and as much as I may roll my eyes to the “we sleep, they grind” anecdotes, there’s a small sour note of truth in this. The start-up days are about sacrifice and devastatingly long hours. It sucks, but khethile khethile. There is often little personal or professional distance between an entrepreneur and their business, so you will need to be very hands-on and willing to put in crazy hours – you cannot leave it for the next person to sort out.

I’ve become the master of applying concealer for my incessant eye bags, and hiding all sorts of lethargy – by the way, the Elizabeth Arden Double Wear concealer is THE one! Those are the joys of long nights and crisis management. You will become a pro at your concealer game, and with adjustment you will learn how to work smarter and get more sleep.

Entrepreneurship

  1. Build a Constructive Network

I cannot stress this enough. Bold, underline, italicise, type in caps: BUILD A CONSTRUCTIVE NETWORK – this is A1. Nota bene. You need to build a strong and useful human, social network – we’re not talking friendship here, but networks. Relationship-building is very important for the budding entrepreneur. You want to be in a position where you have built a worthy “contacts list” – this is helpful for new opportunities, for crisis management and to just generally hinge off another person’s lessons, stories, expertise or skill. Get into the habit of meeting other entrepreneurs.

Adages don’t become adages for no reason, there is truth in the saying that you should surround yourself with lions; it is important to be surrounded by people who have either done it, are doing it or have a voice to add in the journey. You have elected the road less travelled. You need to be in a position where you can tap into the people around you whether you have a question, an opportunity or are feeling helpless. Starting a business venture can feel like walking through a giant maze, blindfolded – #RealTalk. The onus remains on you to speak up.

  1. Social Prioritisation

You’re going to lose a few years of your social cool-kid status, but that’s the opportunity cost of the path which you have chosen. Please accept this peacefully, and with a good heart, upfront. You have to lose a little to gain a lot more, down the line. Remember when you walked into your first Ecos 101 lecture, and you learned about insatiable wants and limited resources? Yes kiddo, law of opportunity cost is back to haunt you.

Learn to prioritise your social calendar and learn to say the BIG N-O. You cannot say yes to every invitation or calendar pop-up, and take it from someone who romances burnout frequently – you will not be able to do it all. Accept this. Prioritise your time, and allocate yourself efficiently and smartly. Seek balance because nobody wants to be around Boring Nancy who’s always working – that’s not it either. Come up with a personal rule for yourself about how you will allocate your time and it can be as simple as declaring Sundays “me days” where you do not work and it’s all about you and your bed. Get your zzzz’s girl.

Entrepreneurship

  1. Do What Echoes With You

Business is damn difficult, as it is without feeling that you need to follow the exact footprints of any successful entrepreneur. Follow a path which resonates with you. We are lucky to be in a time, where although still not enough, there is more access and opportunity than there ever has been before. Go for what resonates with you. I can sell you the handbook of what worked for me, how I did it and that still may not translate to a similar result, if what I have done does not resonate with you.

You’re gonna be working long hours, looking all crusty and tired, so make sure that you are doing it for the right reason. Get bitten by the “entrepreneurship bug” for a mix of passion and commercial reasoning”. You can do what everyone is doing, but I’m not sure you will be able to attain true self-actualisation. Get into business for the right reasons, be pure-hearted in your motivation and it will naturally push you to give your best and also attract opportunity to you. Yes, I believe in the Law of Attraction – just, don’t forget to complement it with action.

  1. Good Luck and have FUN FUN FUN

As tongue-in-cheek and a bit of a downer that this read may have been, those are just the losses. The gains and fulfilment which come with entrepreneurship make it worth it. The big and small triumphs, alike, deserve a pat of the back. You are doing amazing, sweetie. The journey is not all potholes and sharp curves, it is rewarding and fun. Go get your ching, Chica!

Please look out for more pieces from me on small-business related topics from me, based on my professional experience and my entrepreneurial journey.

By Vuyi

Black Leaders

We have to invest in black leadership. There is something powerful about this ordinary statement to me.

South Africa is incredibly complex in its history and present context partially the diversity narrative has deluded us. Those that push to advance the agenda of prioritising the needs of black people are often perceived to be doing so in the spirit of segregation; seeking to unwrap the wounds of our ugly past and are often discredited because they don’t stand for a “united nation”.  We have to learn to speak confidently against the notion that being intentional about the upliftment of black lives comes at the expense of the rainbow nation legacy. The reality of this is that there is no other way to invest in black leadership than to actively invest in black leadership and that takes intentionality and a specific focus on well…black people.

This investment begins with humanising the existing leaders. People are imperfect. It is the very nature of who we are and why we need each other. South Africa’s principle of Ubuntu “I am because we are” is a globally acclaimed phenomenon yet we are rapidly losing its essence as a nation. Leaders have to be held accountable for their conduct and face the consequences of their actions. Equally, they should not be expected to exempt themselves from lapses in judgement or the likelihood of simply making bad decisions. We need to encourage collective leadership by making the process of correcting our leaders rehabilitative instead of destructive. I have spoken to far too many incredible individuals who have rejected leadership because they are afraid of what may happen if they get it wrong or slip up.

Then we must reject the idea that celebrity and leadership are branches of the same tree. There is a difference between leaders and celebrities. The danger of modern leadership is the natural inclination to demote leaders to celebrity status. Our relationship with celebrity is frivolous at best. We tend to appreciate them when they suit us and turn against them when they so much as wear a t-shirt that we don’t agree with. This is not reflective of our relationship with leadership. Leadership is deliberative and consultative. When we make the real investment in leaders that look like us we will learn that the institution of leadership requires engagement and processes. We do not drag one another on public platforms for the sake of showmanship; we disciple and correct in the spirit of building a progressive agenda for all. I don’t believe that there is a lack of black representation in our public domain. We exist in most spaces. But I am starved for black leadership. Our rise to celebrity has fooled us into thinking we have assumed leadership but exposure does not equate to leadership. This is not to say that there is anything particularly wrong or right with celebrity, that is not my conversation to have, but we should never think that the amount of social media followers an individual acquires is a reflection of their contribution to actual change.

I’ve been particularly bothered by our societal obsession with the celebrity culture over the past few years. The most recent example of this has been the Vusi Thembekwayo & Sizwe Dhlomo twitter story. What a distraction. Here are two black men; both incredible in their respective fields and among the few public influencers who demonstrate true thought leadership (in my opinion). A misunderstanding on social media very quickly reduced them to celebrities who had a petty fight over some issue. The issue behind their spat wasn’t the topic of conversation, the heated exchange of words was.

The irony was the pertinence of the root issue; the idea of formalising the taxi industry in South Africa. An industry that almost exclusively affects people of colour. What an interesting conversation to have. We could have spoken about what such a regulation would look like? Exchange ideas on who we could entrust with that responsibility. We could have even discussed the mechanics of plagiarism. The conversation was on social media which has become the touch point of society and primary level of engagement however the story became “the twar of two celebrities”. What a wasted opportunity and shame on all of us. From this I learn that the inclination for us to monitor and relish in one another’s’ downfalls is cancerous and blinding.

Lastly (for this instalment of the conversation), we need to promote the spirit of team. The idea that there is limited space for black leadership must be assassinated and this must be done by the very people that reinforce it; us. Those that climb up the ladder need to stop kicking it down upon ascension because it does not advance us as a people. We need to invest in the content of our psychology such that we work as actively to build each other up as we do to pull each other down.

There are many things that need to happen-they can only happen if we do them. Let’s talk about how we’re going to go about doing this…

By Nozipho

Digital Skills

A couple of months ago, Google announced that they are planning to train 10 Million Africans in Digital Skills and as part of this initiative, there is also a Digital Skills programme for Women. Google Africa is hosting a workshop on 8 September for you CHICA entrepreneurs in Johannesburg and we’d like to invite 10 of you to attend.

The 4 hour workshop will provide you with all the fundamentals of digital marketing to help you give your business a digital presence online and it’s at no charge.

If you’d like to win one of the 10 spots CHICA is giving away – please Email Us! and don’t forget to include your name, your business name, email address and contact details.

Deadline: Monday, 28 August @ 12:00

We look forward to hearing from you 🙂

Women

MTN announces shortlisted candidates in prestigious MTN Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards

A few weeks ago MTN announced that nominations were open for the Women In ICT awards and since then hundreds of nominations were received. Members of the adjudication panel have now selected the top three entries in the respective categories.

The awards seek to accelerate women’s participation in the ICT sector by celebrating and rewarding women professionals who have made a significant contribution towards the growth and development of the sector. In doing so, this initiative also aims to enhance the industry’s employer value proposition by attracting and encouraging girl children and young aspirant female professionals to consider a profession in the industry.

MTN is hosting the awards in partnership with Kagiso Media’s Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio as well as ITWeb’s Brainstorm.

The top three shortlisted candidates in each category are as follows.

Leadership Recognition Award: recognises senior female executives in the ICT sector whose proven depth of experience in leading change, influencing business outcomes and leading teams has impacted positively on the organisations they lead. The shortlisted candidates in this category are:

  1. Carol Thomas
  2. Dr Madelise Grobler
  3. Mmamathe Makhekhe-Mokhuane

Innovator Recognition Award: recognises women who have introduced new methods, ideas, or products that are contributing in one way or the other to the delivery of a bold, new, digital world. The candidates are:

  1. Caroline Macharia
  2. Lindiwe Matlali
  3. Rene Pearson

SME Recognition Award: recognises wholly-owned, women-run enterprises that are viable businesses making inroads in the ICT sector. This is also extended to MTN employees who run their own enterprises on the side, using ICT to enable their businesses. The candidates are:

  1. Matau Ramapuputla
  2. Nomsa Makhanda
  3. Sivashni Moodley

Community Builder Recognition Award: recognises a woman who has made a considerable difference in her community through ICT, or use of an ICT tool to make a difference in the community. The candidates in this category are:

  1. Baratang Miya
  2. Gomolemo Motlhwai
  3. Martine Schaffer

Lifetime Achiever Recognition Award (Women Pioneer): recognises a woman who has longstanding success in the ICT industry, has demonstrated a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, and has continually stayed ahead of the curve. The shortlisted candidates in this category are:

  1. Baratang Miya
  2. Dr HF Swanepoel
  3. Felleng Sekha

Excellence in ICT Journalism Award: this category seeks to recognise a journalist who has contributed immensely to creating a better understanding of the ICT industry through her reporting. The candidates are:

  1. Loni Prinsloo
  2. Paula Gilbert
  3. Simnikiwe Mzekandaba

CEO’s Award: this award recognises an MTN employee who has made a difference within the organisation with the use of ICT and Technology. The shortlisted candidates are:

  1. Fatima Mayet
  2. Lerato Sebata
  3. Prudence Mokone

In addition to the categories listed above, a significant female ICT professional, whose contribution has helped to bridge the digital divide and facilitate access to telecommunication services, will be announced at the gala awards event later this month.

“We are delighted with the progress we have made in once again celebrating the excellence and distinction of women in the information and communications sector. The selection process was very challenging due to the high caliber of nominations received. As we continue to celebrate Women’s Month, and the strides that women have made in all spheres of life, it is humbling and gratifying that MTN, in partnership with Kagiso Media, also celebrates remarkable women who are making a mark in this technical and competitive industry.” Says Graham de Vries, Executive Corporate Services at MTN SA.

The winners will be announced at a gala event that will be hosted in Johannesburg on 31 August 2017.  Remember to follow the conversation on twitter: #MTNWIICT2017.

Samke Mhlongo

You know I often avoid the Search/Explore function on Instagram because it has a way of making me feel like my life is boring, dull. Heheh I’m sure people with self esteem find it inspiring.. but anyway, I managed to gather enough strength to explore and I came across Samke Mhlongo’s page. At first I was drawn to it because she travels a lot, looks amazing and take gorgeous pics too but as I scrolled through her page, I got to learn that she is super funny, an MBA Graduate, a Wealth Coach, founder and CEO of TNC Wealth Partners.

She also shares helpful information on her page about wealth creation and finances in general. For example, I loved, loved how she explained what unit trusts are, by making it relatable and funny.

So do check our her page on IG, there’s lots to find, but first.. here is Samke on Unit Trusts:

Samke Mhlongo

Dear Samke, What is a unit trust?

A unit trust is an investment option that allows you, to own a little bit of a lot of things. Huh?
Imagine you are hosting a dinner party for 6.
One guest wants a glass red wine (my friend @asandamaku), one guest wants a glass of white wine (my friend @drnandimd), two guests want juice (Don’t have such friends LOL), and 2 guests want a glass of champagne (Me and my fab friend @seth_shezi)

So, if you have a limited budget, it will be difficult to buy full bottles of the required drinks for your dinner party, when you could buy just a glass of many different drinks. Right?

Now, imagine many people had the same desire as you. To have a variety of drinks (diversified portfolio) but didn’t have the money upfront to buy the full bottles (i.e. invest in whole shares)

That’s exactly what unit trusts are. Someone (a fund manager) has put together a mix of drinks (a “mix of shares” is called a Fund, and they are held in a Trust) for people to invest in (buy units) by contributing what they can every month. Each R1 you invest, gets you a fraction (unit) of all the shares included in the fund, held in a trust (hence unit trust)

Why would you want to do this?

Well, investing R1 in 1 share is risky, what if the share price falls? Investing R1 in a unit trust is less risky, because your R1 is split across many shares, thus diversified, thus reducing your risk

See, easy peasy lemon squeezey (now I’m thirsty)

By @justsamkedotcom

 

 

Source: Instagram.com/justsamkedotcom

987 Women

One of my favorite features on Power FM must be the #987Woman feature they do every year around Women’s Day. It reminds me of that time Metro FM used to have celebrities hosting radio shows while we waited for them to announce the new line up, in April. Mmmh… come to think of that, do you think that’s why they ended up hiring the celebs as permanent hosts?

Anyway, that’s not what this is about. As I type this, I’m listening to the Public Protector, Busisiwe Mkhwebane interview Advocate Thuli Madonsela. I will admit that I first tuned in to see how they will related to each other given what we’ve heard and read about their “relationship” but it’s sounding civil so far. A little boring if you’re looking for drama (like I shamefully was *facepalm*) I guess that is to be expected because regardless of how they may really feel about each other, they remain professionals. And most importantly, adults!

I am really looking forward to Dr Makhosi Khoza’s Power Breakfast on Women’s Day. Especially because she’s on air right after the Motion of No Confidence, her show is going to be lit!

Power

Any particular show you enjoyed and/or are looking forward to?

Also, what did you think of the Busi & Thuli show?

 

MTN Women In ICT Awards

The MTN Women In ICT Awards are back for the second year in a row and this year they promise to not just celebrate CHICAs who are making strides in the information and communication technologies sector, but also to showcase the opportunities that exist and attract young aspirant female professionals to consider a profession in the industry.

MTN, in partnership with Kagiso Media and ITWeb’s Brainstorm are inviting nominations from and for eligible female professionals to be considered in the following categories:

  1. Leadership Recognition Award: recognises senior female executives in the ICT sector whose proven depth of experience in leading change, influencing business outcomes and leading teams has impacted positively on the organisations they lead.
  2. Innovator Recognition Award: recognises women who have introduced new methods, ideas, or products that are contributing in one way or the other to the delivery of a bold, new, digital world.
  3. SME Recognition Award: recognises wholly-owned, women-run enterprises that are viable businesses which are making inroads in the ICT sector, and will be extended to internal employees who also run businesses on the side, using ICT to enable their businesses.
  4. Graduate Award (High Schools): recognises a top ICT graduate from a high school who finished top of their class. The award is open to females who graduated in the immediate year preceding the awards ceremony.
  5. Graduate Award (Tertiary): recognises a top ICT graduate from a tertiary institution who finished top of their class. The award is open to females who graduated in the immediate year preceding the awards ceremony.
  6. Community Builder Recognition Award: recognises a woman who has made a considerable difference in her community through ICT, or use of an ICT tool to make a difference in the community.
  7. Lifetime Achiever Recognition Award (Women Pioneer): recognises a woman who has longstanding success in the ICT industry, has demonstrated a remarkable entrepreneurial spirit, and has continually stayed ahead of the curve.
  8. Excellence in ICT Journalism Award: this category seeks to recognise a journalist who has contributed immensely to creating a better understanding of the ICT industry through her reporting.
  9. CEO’s Award: this award recognises an MTN employee that has made a difference within the organisation with the use of ICT and Technology.
  10. Ministerial Recognition Award: this category gives the minister the opportunity to use their discretion to nominate a female ICT professional whose contribution has helped to bridge the digital divide and facilitate access to telecommunication services.

This year, the Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards has introduced a new category known as: The Public Choice Award. This category gives members of the public the opportunity to nominate an outstanding female professional in the ICT sector using an SMS platform. The dedicated SMS number will be unveiled in due course.

MTN Women In ICT Awards
Mapula Bodibe, MTN SA & Mark Harris, Kagiso Media

Mapula Bodibe, Executive for the Consumer Business Unit at MTN SA, says that despite the strides being made by women professionals in ICT, a lot still needs to be done to increase the levels of women participation in the sector.

“We are here today to launch the second edition of Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards. We dedicate this initiative to the millions of women out there who have, over the years, been the symbols of resilience, fortitude, hope and sustenance.

These women represent our mothers, sisters, friends and colleagues. It is these women that demonstrated an inner strength that is remarkable in the face of various types of adversity. Like a phoenix, they have, during times of great difficulty, managed to rise from the ashes and served as a source of inspiration to those around them.

The representation of and by women in the ICT is still negligible. Regardless of how bleak the statistics are, there are still pockets of remarkable women leaders in the ICT sector. I wish to appeal to these professionals to use their influence and positions to pave the way for other female professionals to thrive and prosper.

We need to dispose of the exclusivist: “I am the first woman to…” mindset. We have to re-awaken the nurturing spirit that women are renowned for – to mentor and coach female professionals who are still rising up the ranks,” says Bodibe.

Nominations for entries can be submitted at https://www.mtn.co.za/womeninict

If you know a phenomenal woman in the ICT sector, please log on to https://www.mtn.co.za/womeninict to nominate. The closing date is 04 August 2017. The awards will be held on 31 August 2017, in Johannesburg.

You can also follow the conversation on social media via the #MTNWIICT2017

Zoe Msutwana

It is true when they say dynamite comes in small packages. I first met the beautiful, young Zoe Msutwana while I was studying at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. She was doing Information Technology at the time. Fast forward to 2017, Zoe is a Senior PR Account Director at VIVIDLUXURY, Founding Editor and CEO at GuideToCeleb.com. Oh, did I mention that she is also a Style Maverick and Pop Culture Expert, you must check her instagram account.

We had a chat to her about her career moves and what keeps her going.

Zoe Msutwana

Theo Tshanga: Please tell us about your childhood, what type of a child were you growing up?

Zoe Msutwana: I was a very fragile and spoilt child, thanks to my grandparents. I was born in a small town in the Eastern Cape called Centane, where I spent the first 8 years of my life before moving to Port Elizabeth, where my mom worked as a nursing sister.  Adjusting from a village to a big city was a huge challenge. I didn’t really struggle with making friends but I think I faced some challenges when it came to adjusting to the standard of education. For the first time in my life, I was exposed to quality education and I had to push myself to keep up to being taught in English for example and I guess that helped me become the super diligent student I was throughout my schooling life.

Theo: I understand that after matric, you went and studied IT. What made you choose IT?

Zoe: After completing my matric, I went on to study Information Technology, majoring in Software Development at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. When I was in Grade 11, I was 14 and just coming into my own, I caught the Fashion & Beauty bug. The following year, I sketched and designed my matric dance dress. Naturally, after matric, I knew I wanted to do something in either sector. My dad, who is a Professor and a huge advocate for education shut me down because I needed to study “something substantial”. IT was the next best thing.

Theo: Did you end up enjoying IT? 

Zoe: I’d be lying if I said IT was something I enjoyed. I hated everything about it. Something you need to know about me is that I don’t work hard, I work smart, and I felt like IT required me to work hard. I found programming to be particularly challenging, as it requires effort and passion, because the best programmers become great because of the amount of time they spend exploring code. I spent most of my time at the computer labs creating moodboards of Rihanna’s style, stalking Paris Hilton’s paparazzi sightings.

Theo: And That was the reason you changed from IT to PR?

Zoe: The biggest takeout from me studying IT was that it exposed me to the idea of passion and how much I didn’t want to ever find myself doing something I didn’t love. I’ve always wanted to be in the fashion and beauty space, but as I grew older, I learned that I could still play a part in the industry, without really making clothes or becoming a make-up artist. I decided to pursue a career in PR by enrolling for a Public Relations Management qualification at UNISA, while doing an Internship at a JHB-based PR agency. PR has proven to be the perfect tool to exercise my knowledge and skills in a space I love so much, enabling me to work with some of the biggest names in SA fashion and with beauty giants such as Revlon and Rimmel London.

Theo: Tell us what you love the most about your PR career?

Zoe: I absolutely love that it has exposed me to some of the brands I love the most. I’ve been fortunate enough to work on and represent brands that are authentically “Zoe” and fit my personality, which makes it a lot easier to be excellent in your job. I also love the fact that the PR industry is constantly evolving, hugely influenced by the media trends we see today. The way I think as a PR professional today is very different to how I used to approach PR solutions five years ago. Back then, a strategy that would result in a DPS for a brand was a win, nowadays, clients value digital presence and engagement more, meaning my creativity has be in line with what brands value now and in the next few years.

Theo: What brands did you oversee/managed thus far?

Zoe: In 2011, I joined At Vogue Communications as an Intern, working on the NBCUniversal account, which houses brands such as E! Entertainment, The Style Network, KidsCo, Universal and Studio Universal on the DStv platform. I was later promoted to PR Assistant then Account Manager on the same brands, overseeing Press Junkets for Kim Kardashian, George Kotsiopolis and local launches for Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Fashion Police, Tia & Tamera. The most memorable campaign I did being the Brand Evolution for E! Entertainment in 2012. Sylvester Chauke later poached me to join and head up the PR division of his DNA Brand Architects consultancy in 2013. At DNA, I managed the Brutal Fruit, Vodacom, Rimmel London & SAFW brands, while acting as PR Manager to the Bonang Matheba brand for three years.

Zoe Msutwana

Theo: In January 2016, you took a leap of faith and decided to go into business by starting a company called Mode Brand Studio, talk us through that?

Zoe: Starting Mode Brand Studio took me on one of the wildest rides in this journey called life. I had always imagined that at age 30, I would be this high-flying exec, moving into my husband’s Bryanston mansion. At 28. I was single with no hope of ever getting married lol. I started imagining a life where, perhaps, I would be living in that Bryanston on my own. I knew that continuing the way things were would not make it possible for me to achieve that goal. Together with a friend, we decided to start our own PR agency, which would specialize in strategic concepts that connect brands to the young and cool market. In our first year, we were fortunate enough to work with the likes of Boity Thulo, Sarah Langa-Heaton, Ayanda Thabethe, Nape Phasha, Luthando “Lootlove” Shosha, Candi & Co, while acting as the first local PR agency for Lucozade SA.

Theo: What challenges have  you experienced as a young, black female entrepreneur in the industry?

Zoe: I could write about the challenges we faced in our first year. What kept me going was the fact that the opportunities were there. So many reputable brands gave us a chance as a young agency and I will forever be grateful for that. I got to learn very quickly that the system favours those with solid backgrounds, not so much the girl with a dream and a family that can’t necessarily give her that start-up/working capital. What also proved to be a huge challenge were the clients that would not honour their own payment terms and threaten to fire you when you chase up on outstanding invoices.

Theo: Hectic. Talk us through your exciting moments as an entrepreneur?

Zoe: There were so many! That first client sign off means so much more, knowing it was all “you”, no boss, just you and your beautiful mind. My confidence grew tremendously when it comes to my capabilities as a leader. People were saying yes and wanting to work with us because of our credentials as PR professionals. That was very exciting for me, very re-affirming too. Becoming an entrepreneur was the best thing I could have done for my personal growth. It forced me to become responsible with money, to be responsible for the work I was putting out there. I got to know myself a lot better, and it highlighted some of my hidden strengths. Being an entrepreneur requires bravery, that bravery made it easy for me to tap into my other interests and pursue them alongside Mode. The journey also taught me that being the “Independent woman” is overrated and dangerous. I learnt that it is ok to seek out help, and this has brought me closer to God, to my parents, and the rest of my family.

Theo: I believe you have recently received an offer you couldn’t resist. You are now a Director in Cape Town at VIVIDLUXURY, Africa’s premier luxury brand agency, tell us about that?

Zoe: I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great brands, but I had never managed a luxury brand before. This was a skill I felt I needed to acquire, particularly because of the Guide To Celebrity brand I am building and the direction I wanted to ultimately take moving forward. Oprah once said, “God can dream a bigger dream for me, for you, than you could ever dream for yourself.” I believe this is what happened in my instance. Joining VIVIDLUXURY and moving to Cape Town has been both a blessing and an adventure of a lifetime. However, God imparted the spirit of entrepreneurship in me, and it has done nothing but evolve me into a better woman, daughter, sister, friend and last but certainly not least, the best employee any employer could ever ask for. I view myself as a multifaceted businesswoman, with interests in PR, Publishing, Fashion & Beauty. For now, my focus is PR and Publishing.

Theo: You are also the Founding Editor and CEO for Guide To Celebrity, what is this about?

Zoe: Working in the PR industry has exposed me to a lot of behind-the-scenes action when it comes to this world, from how much brands would pay celebrities for endorsements, appearances, shoots, TVCs, bookings etc. Managing some of the biggest names in SA Entertainment taught me about the effort and investment it takes for celebrities to appeal to brands. I started Guide To Celebrity because I identified a gap in the market, no one in SA was reporting about celebrities and brands the way I do. Guide To Celebrity is positioned as an all access pass to the “Business of Celebrity”, whose mandate is to inform, educate and highlight the behind-the-scenes action of celebrity brand alignments, from the most iconic and lucrative endorsements, to the most forgettable and not so successful partnerships of our time. So if you’re a fan of pop culture just like myself and have a keen interest in understanding Celebrity Branding, PR and Marketing Campaigns, then www.guidetoceleb.com is just for you.

zoe Msutwana

Theo: Where do you want to take Guide to Celebrity?

Zoe: GTC has recently celebrated a few milestones, including turning 1 in June. I’ve also enlisted some of the most brilliant women and even bigger fans of pop culture to join the team. That is an indication of growth, because it means the platform is bigger than me. Last week, we also celebrated the reveal of the site rebrand, which I’m really excited about. I’m also looking into line extensions that include Books, Video Content and a YouTube channel for the Guide To Celebrity brand.

Theo: Anyone who knows you or follows you on social media knows that you are a POP CULTURE expert, what drew you to pop culture?

Zoe: I’ve always had a keen interest in the world of celebrity, not so much their personal lives, but how much money they were making and how they were making it. A lot of people don’t seem to understand why I love the Kardashian family so much, they know how to make money, it’s that simple. It doesn’t hurt that they are drop-dead-gorgeous and they continue to be about family, love and their wallets.

Theo: You are truly an epitome of beauty and brains. Let’s talk about your style, who is your style inspiration?

Zoe: Right now, it would have to be Zendaya Coleman. I love that her style is very chic, simple and effortless. I never want to come across as trying too hard.

Theo: Can you advise us on the items that women should invest in this season?

Zoe: Since we’re still in winter, it would have to be a killer pair of thigh high boots, a statement coat and I’m loving designer stockings, which I pair with skirts and dresses.

Theo: If you had an opportunity to start your career journey over again, what would you do differently?

Zoe: Hmmm…maybe waiting until I had all the necessary resources before going into entrepreneurship on a full time basis. In the same breath, nothing about my career journey has gone “according to plan” and I’ve come to accept that perhaps, things have been going according to God’s plan. All the denials, detours, failures and all the lessons build character. I am the woman I am today because of my journey, and I absolutely love the woman I am today, so I wouldn’t change anything.

Theo: What drives you?

Zoe: One of my favourite quotes is “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I always knew the woman I wanted to be” by Diane Von Fusternburg. The quote represents everything my life is about. Knowing that each step I take is getting me close to the woman of my dreams keeps me going.

Theo: You’ve done a lot in your career, what’s next for you?

Zoe: There is still so much I haven’t done! I think this move into luxury brands is the first move. I also have a few goals I haven’t met yet and so many dreams to fulfill. God is in charge from here onwards; I trust Him with my dreams, so I’ll just be following his lead.

Theo: Thank you for your time Zoe.

Ends.

By Theo

small voice

I was pregnant when I stopped working at Zara because I thought I had found a nice job in the industry that I have always wanted to be in. The little voice inside me told me not to, especially since I was climbing up the ladder there and thriving. The place was growing on me (funny enough I miss it at times), I don’t know whether it is the people I met along the way or the rush of the busyness or environment or maybe a bit of everything. Something said “don’t leave” but because I was tired and felt stuck and frustrated and wanted to push things my way, I badly wanted to shape and mould my own future looking at the clock thinking “time is not on my side”. I don’t know why I was thinking of that cause I was only 23. We hardly ever listen to our instincts (gut feeling if you may) yet they are our best of friends. 9/10 times when something unpleasant happens or when one makes a bad move, there had been that little voice advising them not to.

I moved to this new job and loved what I did there. Writing articles, brainstorming sessions, interviewing, the works. The fact that it was a Christian online publication was a huge plus for me as I thought it was going to help me grow as a Christian. It was owned by a foreign national, the offices were in Rivonia, and the publication that we were running seemed legit, getting more tickets to attend events, getting more recognition within the Christian circle, etc so I relaxed.

Alarm #1, My fellow colleagues were all young people fresh from varsity looking for experience so none of us had any in this industry and the few that did have experience were interns or had junior positions in their previous workplaces. The only older “experienced” people were the owner (we’ll call him pastor 1) and his second in command (pastor 2). When I heard of the salaries and the fact that nobody was experienced I understood why this company only had young women. When you are fresh from varsity and looking for experience you don’t choose, you dive in whatever is offered to you. You don’t even think of thehttp://chica.co.za/wp-admin/options-general.php?page=sharing&action=request&service=facebook&kr_nonce=c045df8baf&refresh=1&for=publicize&nonce=6f7950dd1a salary and if you do think about it, you don’t really care if it’s next to nothing because you understand you are not experienced and that is exactly what you are looking for. You go all out at your job and are happy. So my conclusion: cheap labour.

Alarm #2:  The person running this publication claimed to be a pastor but the dodgy behaviour I exhibited wasn’t that of a pastor. Owing drivers’ money, dodging them, going as far as pretending to not be in the office, not paying the workers, if not only paying half their salaries and when confronted he got aggressive, not paying Telkom therefore making it difficult for us to do our jobs. I realized all of this within the first week and I knew that it was a dead beat company and knew that I could go back to my old job. I knew it in my heart that they would take me back, not to be cocky but I knew my work, I knew I had tons to offer. I was a hard worker who knew how to do the job effectively plus it had been only a week and I had not even given them notice (which would have given them a chance to scout for a replacement). But my pride would not let me ask for my old job back, now that’s a topic for another day. I soldiered on.

Small Voice

After two months of being there, the office was empty, this online publication was now run by Pastor 1, Pastor 2, some young lady who just wanted a letter from the company so that she could graduate and myself. Needless to say, I ended up unemployed because living in Joburg with a salary of zilch was proving to be difficult. There were lessons I learnt from the experience:

  1. Thoroughly research a company
  2. Involve God in your decision-making
  3. Trust your instincts (perhaps it is God’s calm, still voice)
  4. Have Faith in God and know He wants the best for you even when things are not making sense to you, His ways surpass our level of thinking, we can never truly grasp the way he thinks.

So I went back home, unemployed and pregnant. Those were dark days but my loved ones served as a strong support system and I told myself I had something more important to look forward to – welcoming my precious little gift. My glowing diamond in the dark.

While I was still pregnant I job-hunted like crazy, even after delivering I was job-hunting but it seemed like the universe was conspiring against me. It would only be at a much later stage that I would have this revelation that it wasn’t the universe conspiring against me but rather things working out for my good (Romans 8:28), the Bible does not say that all things will be good but rather all things will work out for my good. Many a times we expect things to be easy, we expect them to make sense but it doesn’t so we frustrate ourselves trying to understand the mind of God because we don’t want to be kept in the dark.

When my daughter was four months I applied for a writing position in a leading South African news station. A week later I applied for an ENG camera operator position at the same station. Six months later I got the Camera Operator post, I was extremely happy, still am. I still wonder why God chose to give me the latter as opposed to the first position I applied for as that is where my passion lies but I have grown and I have crazy faith and know that all is working out for my good and because of that, I am happy and do what I do to the best of my ability.

It has been 11 months now and I have no doubt in my mind that this is only the beginning for me, my dreams are so big that they scare me but I have CRAZY FAITH and I will listen to the calm still voice as it directs me towards my purpose in life.

 

Nolwandle

Guest Writer