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Business Chamber board member one of SA’s most influential women


The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber is proud to announce that yet another of our valued board members has been recognized by the broader business community on a national scale. Jane Stevenson has been named a winner in the SME category of the eleventh annual South Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government awards, presented by CEO Communications.
The Most Influential Women in Business award recognizes the inspirational women achievers in business and government who are working for the benefit of South Africa and its future generations.


No fewer than 81 finalists in 28 industry sectors, ranging from Aerospace and Defense, to Welfare and Related Community Services, were selected from hundreds of nominees and judged by an independent judging panel consisting of various high-profile industry leaders to ensure a fair and unbiased selection of winners.


Stevenson is a long-standing member and supporter of this Chamber, and she became the first woman to hold an office-bearing position at the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber when she was elected its Deputy President in 2010. “I am thrilled and truly humbled,” says Stevenson. “I am passionate about making a difference in the little bit of world around me, and it is wonderful to see the ripple effect.”


Stevenson’s win in the SME category comes after a thorough judging of the high-calibre candidates. She attributes her win to her support network: “I owe huge thanks to the incredible people who support me – family, clients, friends and colleagues.”


The publication South Africa’s Most Influential Women in Business and Government, was initially launched by CEO Communications in 2000 as South Africa’s Business Women, to pay tribute to those women consistently making their mark. The awards are a credible identifier of women in business and government who are willing to put their influence to work for the benefit of South Africa’s economy.


“On behalf of the Business Chamber board and the Chamber team, we congratulate Stevenson on her outstanding achievement,” says Kevin Hustler, CEO of the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber. “We feel that the recognition she has received is most deserved, for her contribution not only to the Business Chamber itself, but to the community at large. We acknowledge and appreciate her talents and commitment to the Chamber, both as an office bearer and as a board member.”


I recently stumbled across this article ( and it was a good reminder of how we, as parents, are responsible for creating the leaders of tomorrow - they live in our homes today.   Ask yourself, what are you doing about it?

What Does Your Mommy Do?

I have never had one of those jobs they sing about on Sesame Street.

As with most of us, the roles I have assumed over the years are hard to explain.

But if you ask my kids what I do,  they have a short answer, “my mom is a leader.”

Probe further, and you’ll get more:

  • “She asks a lot of questions”
  • “She helps people figure things out”
  • “She teaches people stuff”
  • “She has a team”
  • “She tries to make work more fun”

They know because they live it.

Some would argue it’s because I have no work-life balance, and by some definitions, I suppose that’s true.

On the other hand…

My kids have learned about leadership by…

  • traveling with me
  • working booths at special events
  • sitting on my lap while I took on-line leadership trainings (they got the answers right)
  • watching me manage late night and weekend crises
  • overhearing countless calls
  • hearing me make tough choices
  • helping me host dinners for my team
  • seeing what makes me angry
  • watching how I handled stress (not always well)
  • sharing in my victories
  • processing the stories
  • partnering with me in volunteer work
Is this lifestyle for everyone, absolutely not.  Are there tradeoffs? You bet. Everyone’s goals, values and circumstances are different.  For me, letting them into my world and talking about why I do what I do, seems to help.

My experience has been that kids…

  • want to understand what you really do
  • are interested in how you make decisions
  • are capable of learning a great deal about leadership
  • can apply those skills in their own situations
  • want to talk about leadership
There is also more room for work-life integration than most people think.
Please share your stories and ideas.  How do you teach your kids about leadership?
See Also:
Free spirit (a link to some great resources shared by a reader)
Making Bring Your Child To Work Day Meaningful (tips for making the most of formal children at work programs)
The Most Powerful Thing Experienced Leaders Do (my interview with Dan Rockwell)

Curiosity may have killed the cat …. But has leadership killed curiosity?

Leadership is no longer a title that binds you to do what you have always done.  Today’s business environment requires us to push boundaries and break barriers.  This is relevant to staff, clients, processes, products / services and policies…etc.

We need to change the “norm” in order to stand out.  Product parity belongs to yesterday – uniqueness, differentiation, service and guts is what today’s business is about. 

Curiosity is a fine place to start because it:

  • Makes your mind active instead of passive
  • Makes your mind observant of new ideas
  • Adds excitement and energy 

So many companies are bound by processes and policies that were made in year dot!  Yet they have not asked “why do we do it that way?”   Many are so archaic that they are destructive to business.  But we fear change.  We live in the comfort zone.  We shy away in fear of it exposing us in some way.  But what if we embraced it – took on the challenge with our team – and raised the bar?

So here’s my challenge to you … become curious and talk to people:


  • Ask your clients + suppliers what they think.  Ask them what they believe you should do differently in order to have a more effective and efficient business. 
  • Look at the next generation who are the customers who will determine whether you will stay in business– what are their needs?  Are you aligning your business with them?
  • Ask your staff – how do they feel / what do they see?  They are the ones implementing things at ground level – you may be surprised at the outcome.


Too scared?  Worried in case they say something you don’t like?  Well, the truth is, whatever they are thinking, they are thinking anyway.  So rather be on top of your game and let them converse directly with you – than with the world out there. 

And here’s the trick – it needs to be conversational with the right person – not a questionnaire!  Above all, keep an open mind – you might just have fun along the way :)

In the words of Albert Einstein : “The important thing is not to stop questioning – never lose a holy curiosity”’ . 

Go on – become curious – I dare you!


mannersI recently facilitated a strategic workshop with a client and one of the focus areas for their business is going back to basics.

Now whilst that sounds simple – it’s probably one of the hardest things to get right.

We find ourselves so busy being busy … that seldom do we realise how off course we have gone.  More importantly, how the fundamentals of our business has shifted and / or sadly, sometimes disappeared.  Make no mistake, this has a huge impact on your company image and success.

Business etiquette is the reason customers come back to you … it should be part of every retention strategy – both for internal and external clients.

So let’s get down to the basics and look at a few tips on business etiquette:

  • Greet anyone and everyone sitting in your reception area – you never know who they are and the influence they have – plus – it’s simple manners! 
  • Finding problems is easy and any fool can do that.  Finding potential solutions is the fun part.  It’s about the cup being half full.  Share your ideas and initiate some of them (with permission if necessary).
  • Whilst we live and embrace a rainbow of cultures in our country, there are Western norms – be aware of these.
  • As we moan about the youth and their “lack of manners” we have to ask ourselves how well we do in this department!  Is your tone offensive / harsh?  Have you treated your colleague respectfully?  Did you say please / thank you?  Are you taking cell phone calls whilst having a discussion or lunch with a business associate?
  • Discretion is important.  Talking about the annoying customer to people outside your organisation is an absolute no-no.
  • Seek first to understand … then to be understood.  Or in plain English – LISTEN first, then speak.  It’s amazing how much confusion is created by too much talking / not enough listening.
  • Address conflict as situation-related rather than person-related. 
  • Apologise when you are wrong – after all, you are human
  • Catch people doing things right !  We all need recognition and acknowledgement for a job well done.
  • Be wary of falling into the trap of “I will when I get some respect from him!”.  Petulance is for the youth and is most unbecoming.

Ethics is a subject for another day.  However, sounds ethics, good morals and manners go a long way in creating a successful business.

In the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi– be the change you want to see in the world.

So go forth and conquer … and mind your manners – please!

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