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Well more like Snow brown…(‘’,)

I gave myself a gift the end of 2019, the chance to explore my ideas for a living. This sounds crazy and yes, it was crazy!

I had a job with great people but deep down, I wanted more. I had this growing fear that I would eventually be absorbed into the furniture. To paint a picture, I felt like I would become Bootstrap Bill on the Dutchman. #PiratesoftheCaribbean

So a chance came along, Leave! And go build the dream. There was loads of adrenaline and excitement at the beginning with a few panicked moments in between. The beginning was hard…and it got so much harder when SA started to feel the Covid-19 impact. My idea of what life could be changed in a split second.

It was not safe for my nanny to help me with my toddler anymore so I became a full time mommy. I tried to minimise the noise levels for my husband who ran meetings in the next room. Mom work is the hardest work I have ever done so I figured, cool..I can achieve pretty much anything now after being able to do this. BUT after toddler work, the end of the day cannot come fast enough. I tried working on my business at night. I would draft blogs and social posts and cram as much reading as I could when my lil one slept. At so many points I thought that I should give in and apply for a job…but how on earth could I work during normal hours. A nursery school felt scary with the pandemic and we keep distance from our parents for their safety. But I just kept going…I could not accept just being a mommy for a year. I am not good at asking for help, but when I did, the results were epic! Virtual mentorship from people who may not have realised their role in my story. So as a thank you to them, I cast some light on who they are and what they’ve done for me. It’s important to help others, you could change the course of someone’s life! They may not always be able to tell you. But do it anyway… In no particular order, Thank you for your kindness!

7 life lessons from 7 cool people:)

  • Big things come from small starts: Abu Cassim – Founder of Jozi Angels. Apart from being a cool guy who gave me some parenting tips:), we wrote a few blogs together, he ‘overlooked’ my science background, Yipeee! And I learnt what business can be! I feel soooo small in the world of business but reading and learning with him, I realised the phenomenal ways that angel investors team up with entrepreneurs to shatter those glass ceilings. I would NEVER have bothered to understand these ideas while I was in a job. May you fund the next South African game changing SME Abu Cassim!
  • How to retire at 35: Prashant Bhaga. Oops! A little biased here because I have a major crush on this mentor. To call him a mentor is not really enough. He is with me daily! Supporting me and bringing me chocolate when I just want to give up:) But I am listing him here because I truly consider him as a mentor in terms of financial beliefs. You will not meet someone as stubborn or persistent as Prashant Bhaga (this works against me (sad face) when we argue, sometimes I win! (winky face). But he wants to retire soon and he will. Because he is crazy persistent and brave. He started investing in property and deeply understanding the stock market space. He shares his knowledge freely and he wants to live in a sustainable tiny home with lots of outdoor space for dogs and farming:) Internet might suck there (super sad face now). He helped get my finances in order, something I have never done – I use to swipe, just swipe…When you own a business, you DO NOT just swipe! Thank you for being married to me @Prashant Bhaga.
  • The right words are more valuable than gold: Barbara Burmen – We met early in my previous job. Barbara is an outstanding researcher and mom to two! When I left my job, she reached out with the kindest offers to help me find another job. She helped look through my CV and gave me a sterling recommendation on LinkedIn. She also said something that made me cry a little bit; she told me I could work at the UN. A place that looks for people like me! I definitely don’t feel worthy of the UN yet, but I am getting there. She gave me some belief when I just could not see that I had any value to give. #impostersyndrome – go watch the Michelle Obama’s talk about women and imposter syndrome, and no doubt men feel similarly. #EqualRightToFeelUnworthyAtTimes Kudos to Barbara for your overflowing kindness…
  • Many hands make the task light: Anina Mumm – Mum of 3, so a personal hero! I don’t know how she does it! And a kick-ass digital marketing business owner. Anina gave me career advice freely! She stood out to me because of her mindset! I entered her field of expertise, business wise. She suggested we partner up now and then. My hands were free when I started with few clients. She had twins on the way and needed help. We complemented each other! I look forward to working with her even more and I hope I can help another newbie the way she help me! Thank you!!!! Anina
  • Stand for something bigger than yourself! The Global Change Institute. I did a bit of work for the Global Change Institute at WITS. Reading and prepping their news got me thinking. I was so inspired by the urgency of adapted human behaviour to minimise the blow that will come with Climate change that I’m revising a concept note for a PhD study @WITS. Thank you for existing!
  • A happy person is infectious: Dr Nazeem Desai – I did some lightweight web design for JHB ocularist. I visited his practise and saw a person come alive. Dr Desai creates artificial eyes for people who have lost an eye or for little ones who were born without one. His work is no doubt heart warming but his passion is contagious. I worked with him when I didn’t feel particularly happy with my career choices. But after seeing him! I committed to finding whatever could light me up the same way:) Thank you for the joy you bring to people.
  • The power of maintaining meaningful bonds: Prof Namrita Lall. So we go way back…like 2010 vibes. I took a Medicinal Plant Science course for credit in my final year (as a break from Genetics, Why is Genetics so difficult? (Crying face) Turned out I loved it and took up postgrad studies with Prof Lall. I wanted to work on plant actives for skin products (my dream was to be a lab tech for developing cosmetics, pretty pretty! I thought I could create wow cosmetics and get a discount on them…I have such depth as a person (super sarcastic face). She supervised me through an MSc but also gave me loads of responsibilities. I managed a cell culture lab, which was really fulfilling and fun. I went on to work in #scicomm but always held my postgrad team close to my heart. Now, we have soooo much fun with her social posts! She is super supportive of her students; a few of which have started their own companies. She is also big on converting under explored plant actives into actives in health products. She has a knack for business too:) A high five to Prof Lall for supporting entrepreneurs!

So after year 1, what is my plan? Mmmmmmh! I am not totally sure. It involves building a portfolio, making great financial decisions, possibly becoming a student again and most importantly, being there for my daughter. In spite of how difficult 2020 was, I was able to be there for her first step, for her first word and her first hug which was pretty much the best moment of my life.

Whatever comes next, I will meet with more experience from all my 2020 lessons and mentors. I feel kinda warm inside when I realise thatI supported myself for a year, just with the skills I have. Learning to be ok with uncertainty is tough and jobs can bring certainty. They can make people feel a point though. Covid shed light on all our problems last year and continues to do that now. My point? I think people should up-skill themselves because the job space is not as certain as it use to be. And there is NO boundary to what you can learn! #coursera. Also, have a look around you. You’d be surprised by what the people around you have to offer. They could freely offer you some golden words to help you on a new path. All you have to do is ask…

Image by Smeetha Singh on Talenthouse