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Face head-on what you fear most

This article also appeared on Finweek on 28-Aug-2013

We all have fears and doubts. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t. However the big difference between successful and unsuccessful people is how we deal with and conquer those fears. As Oprah Winfrey said: “The thing you fear most has no power. Your fear of it is what has the power. Facing the truth really will set you free.” Continue reading

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If you work from home, get a dog

This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 6-June-2013 issue

If US stats are anything to go by, two out of three companies begin in a spare bedroom, garage, or possibly even a bathroom. In fact, that’s how companies as varied as Apple, Baskin-Robbins ice cream, Microsoft, Hallmark cards, the Lillian Vernon online gift catalogue and Purex laundry products got going. Thanks to the Internet, running a company from home is now more do-able and popular than ever before.

However, operating a home-based business also comes with its own unique challenges. How many times have I had a client on the phone when my kids started fighting, the neighbourhood tomcat began his piercing mating calls or there was the loud, unmistakeable jingle of the ice cream truck driving up and down our streets? What about the battle to keep work separate from family and personal life? And the loneliness of working from home can drive you crazy.

One solution to some of these issues: get a dog. Continue reading


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Cannibalise your business before someone else does

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This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 21-March 2013 issue

Prozac, a breakthrough treatment for depression, is one of the biggest-selling, most profitable medications of all time. Since its launch in 1988, Prozac accounted for US$ 21bn in sales and 34% of Eli Lilly’s revenues in that time. In essence Lilly was the house that Prozac built. However, the US patent for Prozac was coming up for expiry in 2001. Executives at Lilly knew that this would trigger such a huge loss of revenue that 2001 was known throughout the company as “Year X”. So how did Eli Lilly prepare for Year X? In South Africa in 1997, Eli Lilly introduced Lilly Fluoxetine, its own generic version of Prozac. But this would eat into sales of Prozac. Why would Eli Lilly conceivably do such a thing?

Inevitably, markets are cannibalised. As business leaders, we have a choice: we can either cannibalise our own business lines, or we can enable existing or new competitors to cannibalise it for us. With pricey Prozac coming off patent, it was inevitable that other pharmaceutical companies would jump in to claim their share of the very lucrative antidepressant market. Rather than let competitors grab its Prozac market share with generics, Lilly chose to bring out its own generic. The thinking was that Prozac users could be converted to the cheaper, chemically similar Lilly Fluoxetine, rather than to the competitor antidepressants, and this would prevent some of the Prozac fallout. It was a smart strategy and helped Lilly stay in the antidepressant game.

So why should you cannibalise your own business? And what can happen if you don’t? Continue reading


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Why best practice is bad practice

This is a guest post by Dr Gavin Symanowitz of FeedbackRocket.com. It originally appeared in Finweek Magazine (19 July 2012 issue).

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The cute blonde sitting at the bar had been casting furtive glances at us all night. Of course, it wasn’t for me or my mate Ted. It was for Pete. It was always for Pete. Pete was one of those really good-lucking guys who picked up girls effortlessly everywhere he went. It was no different this time. Pete sauntered up to her and whispered something in her ear. She giggled, flicked her hair back flirtatiously, and the two of them left the bar together.

One day, Ted decided he’d had enough of sitting alone at the bar, and asked Pete what his secret was. “What do you actually say to the girl when you go up to her?”

“I’ve got one pickup line that works every time” replied Pete.

Continue reading


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Lessons on Competitiveness from Birdfights

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This article also appeared in Finweek Magazine in their 19-July-2012 issue

What do birdfights, start-ups and David and Goliath have in common? At first glance, not much. However an example from nature shows the connection and how we can learn from this. Continue reading


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Can grooming talent to leave be good for business?

This is a guest post by Dr Gavin Symanowitz of FeedbackRocket.com. It originally appeared in Finweek Magazine (28 June 2012 issue).

ImageA colleague of mine related how he hired his personal assistant. In the job interview, he asked her why he should hire her. She replied simply, “Because I will make it my personal mission, every day, to make you shine”. What more could he ask for from a PA? So he hired her on the spot.

In my work, I come into daily contact with exceptional leaders and managers. I’m increasingly starting to notice a common trait among these managers. They adopt the same attitude as my colleague’s PA – but in reverse. These managers make it their personal mission, every day, to make their subordinates shine. They genuinely put the development of their subordinates above the short-term needs of the business. And, paradoxically, they are reaping the rewards. Continue reading