This post is especially for those I "lost" along the way in the last few years. No excuses, but here is a little of what was going on.
When I started Tools of Greatness in 2007, I had no idea it would be such an eventful and challenging journey. I honestly thought I would be making money and building an empire within 3 months. It took about 3 years to get on my feet and feel as if I was making good progress. 2011 and 2012 saw steady growth in the company and some lovely projects.
Everything changed at the end of 2012, when my wonderful Dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Altzheimer’s. The last 9 months of his life were really wonderful in many ways, although it was very hard watching him struggle. The little ways in which we said goodbye to each other in that time will remain with me forever and I trust that any successes which I achieve will be a tribute to all that he and my Mom taught me.
My Dad’s illness radically changed my life. Up until that time I had been building a collaborator network, a stunning website, a growing customer base and lots of future ambitions which I hoped to share with others. Overnight, I had to step in to take care of my Dad’s small stationery company. The first 9 months were a blur of plane trips to a client in Cape Town, visits to his home, followed by a care facility and the wonderful Milpark Hospital, whose staff were simply amazing, changing computer accounting systems, paying hundreds of supplier statements, sleepless nights worrying about the financial state of the business, his will and his other financial responsibilities, attempts to maintain contact with my own client base and his 200 customers and in the midst of it all, trying to look after my own health and be a great wife and mother. I am so grateful for all the support I had from my family and friends. I neglected so many people in this season.
Between January 2013 and September 2016, I ran both businesses – poorly! In retrospect, I should have sold Dad’s business right in the beginning. However, I was totally committed to ensuring that his wonderful, loyal staff kept their jobs and truthfully I was clinging on to the daily connection to my father. By February 2016 I knew it was time to let it go to enable me to refocus on my own business. It took 7 more months before the sale agreement was finally in place, during which time I agonised over the possibility of losing it all. I had not inherited a financially strong business and my time constraints were not helping. Although I knew how to make it successful I did not have the time. The fact that the business survived was nothing short of a miracle. In the end I gave the entire proceeds of the sale to the company to ensure its sustainability and the security of the staff – Ben, Eric, David and Richard – you are rock stars and Wayne – thank you!!!!!
It was an immense relief to hand over control of Dad’s business and to finally be able to focus on Engagement Dynamics, the organisational and leadership development consulting business which had evolved from Tools of Greatness. It took from September 2016 to January 2018 to find my footing again, during which time I also finally commenced postgrad studies. My masters dissertation is focused on the formalisation of my Dynamic Engagement Framework and I am really excited that clients and colleagues are finding it to be a very useful Sense-making framework.
One of my regrets is that in the last 5 years I dropped some balls and made some promises which I did not fulfil. Not too many, but enough for it to bother me. If you were impacted by this – please let me know so I can make good!
I am excited about the next phase of my journey. I am still involved in 2 businesses. I am a co-founder of NEOXSO, a business focused on the transcendent digital world that is unfolding in organisations. This time there is synergy between the businesses and I am confident that both can grow alongside each other. The new Engagement Dynamics website and the digital marketing partnership I have with Storm Thomas of Social Storm, is now a very positive reflection of who I am, the business I am creating and the
wonderful network of people who are coming along for the ride.
But, this is not all about me. Business is a means to an end. Although I love what I do and love seeing peoples' lives change through the work, the purpose has increasingly become finding ways to shift the fortunes of Africa through fostering an educated cohort of amazing world-changers.
One constant over the last 6 or 7 years has been my privileged position as a board member of Cotlands, an 80 year old organisation that has an amazing sustainable model to revolutionise early childhood education in Africa to ensure that our most vulnerable children go to school ready for formal learning. I remain committed to practically supporting and encouraging their efforts.
More recently I have been fundraising to help a student, who was 1% away from getting 7 distinctions in her matric exams, get into university. This has been a very emotional journey in which I have become very conscious of the plight of what I call stateless children - those brought to South Africa by their parents who end up without legal identity, living in poverty, with no access to funding despite their sterling educational efforts. Sagel has inspired me to do more to help more young leaders of her calibre. Thank you to my organisational development community and my amazing family for your help and support in my collection efforts! Let's keep making the world a better place.