Ordinary people doing extraordinary things. That’s my business!

The end of year rush has started … Projects need to be completed. Budgets need to be spent. Exams start soon. That feeling of burnout can feel quite overwhelming.

So…I thought it might be worth taking your mind off things & sharing some great initiatives from a few of Conversation Station’s (that’s my business) clients.

Francis and Terry Rogan Physiotherapists

These two physiotherapists have bought a whole bunch of Secret Santa Shoebox names and opened it up to their clients to support. Simply “Pick a name, fill a box or two, drop it off, we will do the rest.” Physiotherapists with heart.

Just a few months ago, Francis was also part of the Sunflower Fund Everest Challenge, running up & down the Westcliff steps to raise funds for stem cell donation. Go check Francis in action!

I see passion in the work they do but love how they make time for others.
Francis and Terry Rogan FB cover

Educo Solutions

FREE, yes you heard right, education to South African youth in Soweto and Alex. Be between 18 & 28 years old, unemployed and come along to learn SETA-accredited computer and business skills. For more information and qualifying criteria, go here.

With SA’s dire unemployment figures, this is a lifeline for someone out there. Please help to spread the word!

Educo family

Brenda Taylor (aka CocoJade Distillery)

Brenda is collecting clothes, food, bedding and pretty much anything for a family close to her after their house burnt down in Lawley near Orange Farm. As she puts it, if your house burns down, you need everything! For Vongani, Phumzile and Siya, their end of year stress is very real after losing everything they owned. Let that sink in. If you’d like to donate, message me and will put you in touch with Brenda.

In choosing clients to work with, it’s usually the proof of their actions which tells me more about their values than any business plan they develop. You will want to support this amazing entrepreneur in future. Watch this space. *Not only because of gin.*

WIBT & PDA International Africa

In partnership with NICOSA & Khensani’s Collection, the team from Women In Business Today (WIBT) & PDA International Africa ran a series of workshops with high school kids in Diepsloot to teach them about navigating life beyond school. They played a board based simulation game which taught them to understand the career options available to them.

An incredibly enriching and empowering initiative! Thank you Matthew and Wade.

W5

School Aid SA

So most of you know that I grew up as an avid reader and even went on to study Library Science after high school. So refurbishing libraries across schools in South Africa is quite close to my heart. Imagination is one of the strongest tools to escape the evils of this world.

“I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book.” ― J.K. Rowling

Check out (& please follow their Facebook page & Instagram account) for amazing stories across SA. Here’s a little video I made to pull at those heart strings!

There’s a lot more going on but sometimes instead of listening to the negativity going on around me, I remember that a few people in my circle are doing extraordinary things.

It’s the small things that make a big difference.

Bravery. Ticking the box.

Bravery. It’s not a word that I’ve ever associated myself with. I’ve never done anything big enough to be in that category. Until last year, that is.

I was filling out a survey recently where I was asked to tick as many words I associated with. The word bravery jumped out at me and made me think. Actually, you know what? I think I have been brave. In fact, I know I have!

After 17 years, I walked away from the comfort and (false sense of) security of a job in the corporate world to start my own business. With hundreds of similar agencies popping up and offering the same services, in a struggling economy, with no guarantees, I decided to give it a go.

The first few weeks were hugely disruptive. It was year-end when I started my business (is there ever a right time?).  Most people were exhausted and counting down to December holidays. People would agree to meet with me but wanted to kick off only in 2019. Made sense.

So as I also started to relax, to clear my head and take a break into the festive season, there have been days (many of them) when I have felt incredibly guilty. Guilty for feeling such a massive sigh of relief. Guilty for allowing the anxiety to disappear. Guilty for reading or sleeping or walking Emma. Guilty for finally being happy.

No one tells you when you start a business that there is so much admin to sort out! What’s kept me busy?

  • Sorting out admin such as registering my company with CIPRO, opening up bank accounts, finding a bookkeeper.
  • Sourcing an accounting package so that I can invoice clients. It took me 4 hours to send my first invoice via Quickbooks. I am so thrilled my bookkeeper is back from holiday.
  • Coming up with my own branding and mapping out my business’ marketing plan.
  • Developing a content strategy for Conversation Station.
  • Meeting with prospective clients which I realize is tough. In between cappuccinos and chai lattes, there is a lot more education and convincing that needs to be done to get them on board.
  • Writing up proposals but knowing my audience does not expect the Rolls Royce version that I am used to after my years in corporate.
  • Buying office furniture, stationery, a printer. Office National in Cramerview Bryanston is a gem folks!

Heading into 2019 and I’m ready.

Do you like my office? Man, I’m proud of it. Thanks KK for hanging up the whiteboard (behind my desk) and your patience with me trying to find the perfect couch, which I promise is not for afternoon naps. It’s for thinking time. *grin*

office study

My office. I actually love it. Notice the medal hanger with all our running medals up behind me. Inspiration.

It hasn’t been easy and there’s a long journey ahead, I know. But I feel brave. Braver than I’ve ever felt for a long time. I’m confident in my abilities and I know I’ve got something different to offer. More importantly, I love what I do and I can make a difference.

For now, I have the luxury of time on my hands. Time to think. Time to relax. Time to sort out stuff. Time to regain a bit of the confidence I lost towards the end of last year. Time to love “me” again. Time to re-invent and find myself.

Working from home and not sitting in traffic also means I have more time to run. And this is usually where my best thinking is done.

For more info on my new business, check out www.conversationstation.co.za. Let me know what you think!

My blog has been silent and yet I have so much to share!

My blog has been pretty quiet lately. It’s not that I have nothing to share. Quite the opposite in fact! I’ve been busy. Very busy!

Here’s what’s been happening:

  • We bought a small business. What an eye opener this has been! It’s taken us ages to sort things out. From bank accounts, merchant accounts, web development, ordering stock, waiting for the stock to arrive. It’s been such a learning experience, full of ups and downs. We wanted to wait until we were ready to start telling everyone and sharing our news, but that seems to be taking forever! So here it is: We’re officially the distributors for CW-X in Southern Africa! *Squeal*
  • Running your own social media content plan for your own business takes time! Most weekends and weekday evenings, I’m sitting down writing posts and creating content. The Instagram account is live (go check it out!) but we’re reluctant to get going on Facebook until our website is ready & people can purchase stock. Want to help me? If you do wear CW-X and have any photos showing the running kit, please can you share those with me. I’d much rather show real athletes (that’s you!) than posed models in the kit.

    This is us both in our CW-X clothes at Parkrun. We might need to work on our posing. LOL

  • Like almost 90% of Jo’burgers, I got bronchitis and was out of action. It took forever to heal, two visits to the Doc, daily nebulizing, lots of sleep (read: Allergex). Then out of the blue, I get shingles. On my face! WTH? 3 weeks of misery has taught me two lessons. One: listen to my body. Read bullet point number one. It’s been a stressful time! Lesson number two: when you can’t run, your body had no way of de-stressing. You get even more niggly. I acknowledge the huge role running does play in my life & will try not complain about my running again.
  • I have been on a mission to help an after care centre in Kliptown called Izanokhanyo Community Based Project get SnapScan so that donations can be easier as well as kickstart their social media so that we can start telling their story. Let me tell you, it’s made me incredibly happy inside to help. It’s early days but here’s holding thumbs I can help make a difference! I’d love your help! I’ll let you know how soon!

    Helen, who runs Izanokhanyo without a salary, handing out sweet to the kids.

  • I’ve been successful in my application to be part of a pilot project kicking off at work. All new. Unknown. Virgin territory. Exciting as hell but I’m also nervous. But after climbing in & assisting with some of the project management for the last couple of weeks, I’ve proven to myself that I am capable of learning & trying something new. Doing this nowadays at work needs to be the norm.
  • My Dad’s partner Rina passed away too. It’s funny how you think you have time and you discuss illness and old age and plans on what to do if this happens and if that happens. But when things do happen, no one is quite prepared. Everyone grieves differently. Each person says goodbye in their own way. I’m glad we’re spending more time with my Dad. I wish my parents stayed closer.

Everything I’ve mentioned above happens for a reason and at the right time. The delays in getting our business up and running gave me more time to spend with my Dad. Getting sick slowed me down and forced me to rest and take stock of what mattered. What mattered was helping Izanokhanyo in my spare time and not using that time for reading work emails. And yet I was rewarded by getting the job at work.

I’m going to make more time to blog too. This one was long. If you made it to here, the key take out is that I’m fine, I’m excited and yes… I’m still running! We’ve got Run-The-Berg (or in my case with limited training Walk-The-Berg) coming up, Kaapsehoop and Otter.

Can’t wait for that purple carpet to line the streets!

By the way, the jacarandas are starting to bloom. It’s the most beautiful time to be outdoors! Go for that run!

Look ahead and start again

I received some feedback recently at work which has been really difficult to acknowledge. The feedback was harsh. Inside I was crushed.

I’ve taken a few days to try & understand the situation and see how I could do things differently. And as always, I turned to my blog. I was reading some older posts when I started to recognize some of the comments that people had fed back about me reflected in some of the posts I had written about myself and my running.

When it comes to my running, I am unforgiving when I fail; I am highly critical about myself; I am hard on myself; I only see faults, never anything good…

Oh my word. Yup! I am that person.

I’ve often said that the corporate world is not for sissies. It’s especially tough when there are so many goals to achieve, so many deadlines and expectations to fulfill. Being an A-type personality doesn’t help. Through all the chaos, my only sense of security was to increase control of the work, micro manage, be over-critical and not open to failure. It’s all there, I can see it now.

The same way that I need to sometimes go back to simply enjoying my running, needs to be the same way I approach this situation. I need to step back and understand where it’s going wrong. It needs a fresh new start and perhaps focus on the positives and the successes.

The same day I received the feedback at work was the same day I made the decision to start on a clean slate with my running. New beginnings. New running goals. New start.

Everything in life can be fixed. It’s not the end of the world, right? It’s quite a relief to be given the chance to start again.

Thank goodness for waterproof mascara.