www.colettesymanowitz.com

Perspectives on entrepreneurship, MBA-related issues, networking, personal branding, technology, investing, education and more…


Leave a comment

Running a school like it’s a business

Elandspark school pic

This article was published in the 09-October-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

As tech entrepreneurs, my husband and I are passionate about raising our two kids to be entrepreneurs. So we grab every opportunity we find to teach them about business. Sadly, however, the creators of South Africa’s school curricula don’t share our passion for entrepreneurship. Other than theoretical business subjects like Business Studies, Accounting, Consumer Studies, Economics, and Economic Management Studies, there is hardly any entrepreneurial training happening in most of South Africa’s schools. Elandspark School is a refreshing exception and a shining example of how to run a school like a business. Continue reading

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Great to gone to great again: bouncing back

lego-story-animatedThis article was published in the 2-October-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Markets change. To stay on top, you need to change with them. Economist Joseph Schumpeter spoke about the “perennial gale of creative destruction”, where technological transformation and visionary entrepreneurs give birth to new things that annihilate old things, only to see the next generation obliterate those new things. Some of the most well-known companies in history no longer appear on the Fortune 500 list, having tumbled from great to good to gone from the list—companies like Kodak, Chrysler and Warner Lambert. And, out of the 500 organisations that made it onto the first list in 1955, only 71 were still on the Fortune 500 list in 2008. However, the forces of creative destruction are not unavoidable: not every company must inevitably fall and die. After all, multinationals like Johnson & Johnson, GE and Procter & Gamble have been around for over a hundred years and their positions in the Fortune 500 have climbed. And companies like Lego and Xerox plummeted from their pinnacles, but then turned themselves around from the brink of destruction to become great once again. How did they do it? It comes down to innovation, getting back to basics, and continuously adapting to changing customer needs and changing markets. Continue reading


Leave a comment

Failing forward: How failing can help you succeed

persist-win

This article was published in the 18-September-2014 issue of Finweek Magazine

Back in 2008, GIBS asked a handful of MBA alumni who were internet entrepreneurs to share our biggest learnings. In all honesty, I don’t remember much about that night or what I talked about to that classroom of aspiring entrepreneurs. But the one thing I do remember as clearly as today, is the three words spoken by my classmate Justin Spratt, at the time running IS Labs. He said: “Launch, then iterate.” His sage advice came long before the global entrepreneurial Lean Start-up movement made this idea trendy. And I still swear by it to this day.

Justin explained “Launch, then iterate” along these lines: get your minimum working product out there fast, get customers using it as quickly as possible, and tweak and improve as you get their feedback. Don’t delay your launch for the day when your offering is perfect, because it will never be perfect, which means you will never launch. And that artificial goal you’re defining as perfection, may be something your customers won’t even want, let alone pay for. So don’t waste time or money building something that you haven’t yet tried out in a scaled-down form with your customers. Continue reading


2 Comments

6 Ways to raise our kids to be entrepreneurs

This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 20-Feb-2014 issue

flops-teen-entrep

Our generation, our parents’ generation and generations before that, were raised to go to school, get a grade 12, and get a degree in order to get a job. But the world has changed. Job security and certainty about tomorrow, no longer exist. We cannot depend on anyone else but ourselves for financial and career security. We as parents and our educational system should be training our kids to be entrepreneurs, so that they can create jobs instead of working in jobs for someone else. We should be teaching them to be resourceful, resilient and creative, so that they can create their own successful tomorrow and don’t depend on someone else for their future. Continue reading


7 Comments

Co-working space: The Common Room, open day 01-Sep-2013

Hi everybody

Thanks to everyone who responded to our post about a co-working space in Sandton, Johannesburg. We’ve found an incredible co-working space at The Common Room in Parkhurst, Johannesburg, and are partnering with them to open a Sandton, Johannesburg branch soon. Watch this space!

Here is more info about their Open Day session on Spring Day 01-Sep-2013:

“The Common Room is a communal co-working space in the heart of Parkhurst, designed with entrepreneurs, freelancers, startups and creatives in mind. We have a Sandton branch on its way.

On the Sunday the 1st of September, The Common Room will host an open day session for members, friends, family and folk who like free craft beer and gluhwein, good food to buy and some chilled music. Come through and have a look at what we have to offer.

RSVP here

The Common Room on Facebook

See you there!

All the best

Colette


1 Comment

The battle between Windows and Ford

This is too good not to share:

At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated:
“If Ford had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon.”

In response to Bill’s comments, Ford issued a press release stating:

If Ford had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics:

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash…twice a day.

2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn, would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation” warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask: “Are you sure?” before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off.

PS – Oh and here is another one that is doing the rounds:

When all else fails, you could call “customer service” in some foreign country and be instructed in some foreign language how to fix your car yourself!


Leave a comment

Should you pay people to quit?

This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 14-March 2013 issue

zappos_tony-Lisa was in a group of new recruits going through an intensive week of immersion training at a new employer, learning everything about its strategy, culture and processes. Frank, the training class leader, left the room, and long-standing employees Joe and Cheryl came in to discuss the new group’s progress and offer support. Or so Lisa thought.

Instead, Joe and Cheryl kicked off a candid conversation with the newbies about their future at the company. They asked: “Does it seem like the right fit for you? Is this genuinely where you think you want to be?’” Lisa was slightly confused as to where this was heading. Then Cheryl made a very surprising offer to the entire class: “If this isn’t the place for you, we want to let you know about an early resignation offer that you can take advantage of. We’ll pay you for the time you’ve already spent training, plus a bonus of $4,000, to quit and leave the company right now.”

Lisa could not believe what she was hearing. Were they paying her to quit? Do companies really do this? Continue reading