Are you one of the true captains of society?

By Guest Blogger Martin Snoek

Captain's Fury
Captain’s Fury (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To be acknowledged as a captain of industry or commerce, or for that matter any sector of society or the business community, is in today’s environment a remarkable achievement.

We read about the achievements of many men and women, meet them in our day-to-day activities in business, on the sports fields, in social life, or hear them speak on radio or television. They have a presence in all walks of life and we take special note of those who not only excel in business and society in general, but also who take their ambassadorial behaviour to the frontlines of benevolence work.

Many captains stand tall in both the public and private sectors, but we also have those who go into hiding once the winds tear through their sails. I am sure you have met or heard of many such characters. Unfortunately, the condition of our society allows for self-appointed or mock-appointed ‘captains’ to abandon ship and retire ‘gracefully’ with healthy bank accounts. Continue reading “Are you one of the true captains of society?”

How well are you motivating employees in your small business?

CBPENCILSKETCH LIGHT BULB webI had a nightmare the other night. An old boss had crept into my dream world. The sight of his face almost 25 years later still filled me with revulsion.

This “boss” was a first-time manager, inexperienced, lacking empathy and possessing an ego as tall as the building within which we worked at the time. He had called me out for something I had done wrong, some mistake I’ve made, but did it in such a way to make me feel inadequate and that I didn’t matter.

I’ve forgiven him long ago but the mere mental image of him stirs up old memories of someone who lacked skills and experience in dealing with people. He tried to make up for it later with a lunch between the two of us but it never made up for his bad behaviour. Continue reading “How well are you motivating employees in your small business?”

Is your management style repelling employees from your business?

World Youth Day 2008 Concert (#458)
World Youth Day Concert (#458) (Photo credit: Christopher Chan)

In this economy when the pressure is on and you as the business owner expect your employees to perform, you may overreach and repel employees from staying in your business.

It takes a lot of thought to bring new employees into your business in the first place. You need to find out about their knowledge, skills, attitudes and attributes that fit with the core competencies of your entrepreneurial venture. All this time and money is wasted if you don’t treat your employees well. Continue reading “Is your management style repelling employees from your business?”

How to destroy creative capital

Business in London
Business in London (Photo credit: Stuck in Customs)

I was reading an expose in an entertainment magazine how an executive producer has been responsible for a long-standing TV soapy going from 1,653,000 to 569,000 viewers in one year.

The executive producer is still in her job. Long-standing fans complain about the pathetic storylines. The executive producer doesn’t even seem to be involved in the early stages of production as she should be. Top actors are leaving the show. The show has gone from winner to loser.

There are a lot of questions to ask about such a dismal failure. Where does one start? Why have things gone so bad? Continue reading “How to destroy creative capital”

Can a burger joint be innovative?

burger & fries
Burger & fries (Photo credit: Robert S. Donovan)

The other evening I went to buy supper at a new burger joint that’s been introduced into the local market. The queue was amazingly long. This is after the burger place has been on the market for a few weeks. The most amazing thing is the demand for this product probably because it’s new to the market.

It makes you think about these big burger operations and what their innovation is really all about. They’ve been able to create a manufacturing and assembly operation in your neighbourhood and roll it out to anywhere in the world. The branding, hype and advertising makes it all seem so desirable. The innovation is really in the business model which produces high revenue from relatively small real estate space. Continue reading “Can a burger joint be innovative?”

What leadership lessons does Pope Francis offer small business owners?

Pope Francis at the Varginha shantytown, part of a slum area of northern Rio so violent it's known as the Gaza Strip. He has been dubbed the "slum pope" for his work with the poor.
Pope Francis at the Varginha shantytown, part of a slum area of northern Rio so violent it’s known as the Gaza Strip. He has been dubbed the “slum pope” for his work with the poor.

One evening at a coastal town I went to a fast-food pizza shop to buy my daughter a pizza. I was surprised at that time of the night – around 10 o’clock – to find a manager in the store working on the store’s human resources systems. I was impressed by this leadership and curious to find out more.

The manager at the store was one of five managers who look after different parts of the business of a chain consisting of six franchise pizza outlets in Cape Town. The owner is himself a top human resources practitioner and it was interesting to see how even without him present how much emphasis is placed on the human resources side of the business. Continue reading “What leadership lessons does Pope Francis offer small business owners?”

Leadership and innovation in your start-up

English: Weather Report performing in 1980
Weather Report performing (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s okay if you are a solopreneur and only need to lead one person – yourself. Whether you like it or not, when you take on even one employee you will need to be deliberate about your leadership style or approach because it will affect the climate in your start-up as well as its performance.

What exactly is leadership? Management is about managing people and resources – maintaining the status quo. Leadership is different because a leader brings about change. Almost by definition the start-up needs to be innovative so it’s not going to succeed on management alone.

Continue reading “Leadership and innovation in your start-up”

What makes you happy?

Happiness (Photo credit: baejaar)

My daughter suggested that I talk about happiness. I’m not sure if she was sending me a message or just mentioned it innocently.

Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be, Abraham Lincoln once said. But can you make yourself happy? Some people always looking back at the negatives in their life and just can’t get over their traumas. Others are looking for that ideal state three years, five years, ten years from now. Continue reading “What makes you happy?”

Birdland, Take Five, Son of Mr Green Genes: Jazz lessons on improvisation for business

weather-report_heavy-weatherThursday evening I attended an awards function interspersed with the sounds of a jazz trio, the double bassist plucking notes that still reverberated in my head this morning.

A jazz band these days adds a touch of sophistication to an event. It’s not in-your-face music but rather brought out at the right times when the audience needs to be surprised, delighted… energised.

I am not the world’s great expert on jazz but I grew up with a jazz musician. My father was a double bass player in the 60s, playing in Johannesburg and Cape Town, while making his living as a journalist. Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Louis Armstrong and others filled our house in Kalk Bay with jazz sounds from a Yamaha record player. My father cut his own jazz record which I heard once and wished I still had a copy. Continue reading “Birdland, Take Five, Son of Mr Green Genes: Jazz lessons on improvisation for business”

This SOB boss taught the wrong way to be tough

Hondelipbaai (Photo credit:

Before sunrise the wind was blowing so strong that I knew we couldn’t take our diving vessel up the coast to dive for diamonds.

I didn’t bother to get up. I had grown up in False Bay and when the wind blew this hard we wouldn’t risk going out fishing on our ski boat.

Here on the isolated West Coast the Atlantic Ocean would smash tons of water against the shore when the sea was big and dangerous.

I heard knocking on my door. It was my fellow diver who announced that we were going to sea. I had better get up and come down to the jetty in a hurry. I told him this was crazy and that I’d tell this to our boss. His face told me that I was looking for trouble. Continue reading “This SOB boss taught the wrong way to be tough”