Friday, February 20, 2009

5 Business Tips From Some Of The Women I've Interviewed Over The Years

One of these days I'm going to write a blog post about why you should use evergreen articles to market your business ( that is, articles that do not lose relevance over time.) I'll also write an article about how to reuse the articles/blog posts that you have previously published, highlighting fresh insights for your readers.

But for now, I'm going to share some tips that I have gathered from a number of successful women over the years. Some of the interviews as much as 15 years ago, but I kept my notes and the articles that were published.

Many of the people have moved on to even greater success, but their words of wisdom remain relevant years afterwards. Here are some of success the tips they shared with me:

1. It’s okay to dream

“It’s okay to dream big,” says Stephany Ogbonmwan. Ogbonmwan was a regional (sub-Saharan) sales manager for Motorola when I interviewed her for a profile published in Brainstorm, an ICT strategy monthly magazine. "Hold on to a dream and fight for it against all odds," she said.

2. Invest in yourself

Invest in yourself, says Maria Ramos, ABSA's new CEO. Interviewed in the late 90's, while she was still with National Treasury. She gave me the following tips:

  • Make sure you get a good education regardless of your initial circumstances.
  • Work, get scholarships, get loans or whatever it takes to get that education.
3. Adapt and grow

Look for opportunities to grow, said Zandile Nzalo, award-winning business women and founder of Zanenza Communications, multi-million rand South African Communications Company. Nzalo was still a presenter for Bop TV in the early 90s when I interviewed her for a profile published on Tribute magazine.

She said:“I don’t want to wake up one day and find out that the audiences have stopped listening, that’s I’ve become dry and boring,” she said.

Nzalo also said:

  • Keep up with new developments in your industry.
  • Learn to absorb a lot of information in a short space of time and retain it.
  • Constantly look for ways new information can benefit and your business.
4. Don’t be intimidated by challenges

Ramos also recommended we not let ourselves be intimidated by challenges. She said:

  • Choose your battles – don’t waste your time fighting battles that you cannot win. Once you know what you need to do to win the war, ignore the peripherals and just do it.
  • Be calm when there is a crisis. Don’t panic when there is a problem. Take a step back and ask yourself what you need to do to take care of it. Then do it.
  • Don’t give up – if you fail, try again until you get the results you’re looking for.

5. Never give up

My favorite piece of advice comes from a letter to the editor of “Move” a South African women’s magazine.

One of the readers wrote: “A cheetah misses its prey nine out of ten times, but the thought of becoming a vegetarian never crosses its mind. Be like a cheetah – don’t give up.”

I don’t know if it’s true that a cheetah has to be that persistent to find its meal, but I like the analogy very much.

Whatever your dreams are, fight for them against all odds. Don’t ever give up.

Damaria Senne is a freelance writer based in Johannesburg. Read some of her articles at and


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