Business lessons from a three-year-old

Chamber Lunch 2014-03-20Simply Communicate is three!

What a privilege it has been to do what I love these past three years and to share my passion.

I have met some wonderful people, sat in a host of delightful coffee shops around KZN and drunk barrels of coffee. I have been privileged to journey with a variety of businesses and people doing extraordinary things. And I have made some very simple discoveries.

Everyone is on a journey.
Some journeys seem (from the outside at least) to be more bizarre, more dangerous, more exciting, more rewarding or more fun than others. Some seem more like a treadmill than a journey, more like treading grapes than sharing the wine.

But everyone’s journey is important to them. We can ignore them or help them, laugh at them or encourage them. But what we do will determine how they see us and remember us and talk about us.

I have been encouraged by the help and enthusiasm of so many people who owe me nothing yet have shared so much; people who have given me advice, shared their secrets, involved me in projects and generally made me feel that my journey was worth something. Thank you one and all.

What about your journey? Are you stuck on a hamster wheel or are you preparing for the next adventure. Look around you; start to dream; begin to ask questions. Ask yourself, what could possibly be next?

Help comes in unexpected packages
Someone told me that work would not come from the obvious places but from the least expected sources. One must, of course, assess one’s market and determine who the right people are to target and spend time and energy on them; but don’t ignore the ordinary or spurn the lowly. Never forget that the unexpected person, the person without influence, without authority and with no need for your services has a cousin or a friend or a spouse who might need what you have to offer.

If you only have time for the rich and powerful, you may discover that the rich and powerful leave decisions to their juniors – the ones you spurned on the way up the ladder.

Most decisions are emotional ones.
What nonsense is that? Would any businessman (and I emphasise ‘man’) ever admit to making emotional decisions? Probably not, but it is true nonetheless. Oh, we look at the data; of course we do. And the data informs our decision. But research continually shows that we prefer to do business with people we like – and that’s an emotional decision, the so-called ‘soft skills’ side of things.

Making people around you feel good, comfortable and safe, is an essential part of every business equation. Of course, every personality is different. Not everyone is a laugh-a-minute-clown, and not everyone wants a clown. We don’t have to change our personalities to make people feel good, comfortable and safe. We just have to focus attention on them rather than on ourselves. Learn to listen rather than to speak. Ask more questions, rather than talk about ourselves.

What people say about you is more important that what you say about yourself
Word-of-mouth advertising is critical for most of us, particularly in the consulting business. Pick n Pay’s social media team blundered recently. They attacked a customer’s initially light-hearted comments about its ‘Stikeez’ campaign and faced a storm of ridicule and protest. What you do today, how you interact with people around you – high and low, rich and poor – will determine what people say about you tomorrow. There is no shortcut. Media campaigns may help, but it is how we make people feel through ordinary daily conversations and interactions that will bring people back or send them next door.

Thank you for sharing my journey.

How am I doing? Got something to say about Simply Communicate? Why don’t you add a comment below?

Ian Webster

From Methodist minister to Customer Relations manager in a computer bureau to HR Manager in a newspaper printing and publishing company. Now focussing on training and developing people, people-management consulting and writing and editing.


  1. Ian Webster on 3 September 2015 at 6:24 pm

    Thanks Dave,
    Indeed. And it’s not something to be left to the sales team.

  2. Dave Riekert on 2 September 2015 at 8:11 am

    The most important core component of business (sales) is relationship building.

Have your say; join the discussion ....