Business Leadership: Leading A Culturally Diverse Business Team

As I witnessed the rain dancing against the window panes of the Mega mall in Midvalley, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia I started reflecting on how to lead a culturally diverse business team.

Thousands of Malay, Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans passed me in the hallways of this gargantuan construction and the Dalai Lamas’ wise words reminded me that at the core of it all, irrespective of what your nationality is or what your belief system is, in general:

“We all want to experience joy and avoid suffering”

A key question that every team leader should carefully consider is how do we collectively experience joy and manage and/or avoid suffering as a business and as a team?

How can we as a diverse team be united in the joys of experiencing an expanding and successful business with a wonderful and constructive culture and avoid the suffering of a failing business and the negative experience of a toxic culture?  These are of course ‘loaded’ questions because inherent within these questions are the birthing of other key challenges –

How can we as Leaders create a relatively stable and inspirational environment from within which it is easier for each individual to unlock their vast potential when vast differences in upbringing, schooling, world views, and religious beliefs exists within one team. Especially when considering the ever changing and evolving business environment within which we operate?

Fulfilling the role of a Business Leadership coach, trainer, or life coach as the situation demanded over several years I have coached, Lead, or trained Pilipino, Chinese, Malay, African, and European people. A very key learning from my experiences is that a “cross cultural and shared understanding” can be created that transcends any spoken language or any national culture.

This common language and culture has many elements but for the purpose of this article I will focus on the three key aspects:

Have a united and focused purpose

When a united and focussed purpose exists for the business team that they collectively place higher than themselves the barriers of differences in upbringing, schooling, and world views can dissolve within their shared purpose. As business leaders we cannot refer to purpose too much, even more importantly that that, we must be living, walking and talking examples of the businesses’ purpose.

To simplify the concept of purpose it can be said that purpose is the highest intent for, or the very good reason why we do what we do. That reason is or should be even more important than ourselves. When we really love what we do and sincerely so our performance is likely to be very good, on the other hand if we totally dislike the line of business that we are in or totally despise our role within an entrepreneurial venture we are likely not going to unleash our unlimited potential.

It could be argued that the sole purpose for having a business is to make a profit. Through this article I argue that that is not a strong enough reason to sustain you and make you thrive even through difficult times. The strange thing is that when you truly live your purpose with all your might and tirelessly inspire your team to do the same the money comes anyway…

 Servant heart and attitude

Rabindranath Tagore famously said:

“I dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold service was joy.”

A servant heart is universal and transcends cultural difference, a sincere and giving smile is a beautiful language of its own that needs no translation. If that ‘servant heart and smile’ is underpinned by well-developed people and technical skills it multiplies into a potent combination of character, experience, and wisdom that has great influential power within any culture.

Whether it is through the use of interpreters, and even if it takes great patience, even when a lot of mistakes are made, persevere until everyone in the team understands that servant leadership is the key to winning the minds and hearts of others.

When all in the team becomes aware that we were only ever meant to master ourselves and thereby become better servants to all, this heightened awareness can unlock the unlimited potential within individuals in the team.

Respect for people and their worldviews

My favourite poet Rumi said:

‘The wound is where the light seeps in’

Respect all as we could not understand each individuals’ pain and hardships unless we went through it ourselves. Have compassion for all as we, in general expect compassion when we go through hardships. We can only imagine what sets of beliefs we would entertain where we to grow up in a completely different culture.

My endless curiosity and determination to learn has served me well as a coach for when your interest in others is sincere they tend to ‘open up’ to you and share and thereby you fasttrack your own learning and gain insights into your co-team members worldviews which in turn greatly enhances the team dynamics.

Be authentic and acknowledge your vulnerabilities, ‘wounds’ and shortcomings and be proud of your strengths for then your team members will help you to overcome your weaknesses and learn from your strengths.

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Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

Find Your Why and Tell Your Story: Lessons for Budding Entrepreneurs From Gerard Adams

Gerard Adams exited from Elite Daily in 2015, hosts the show Leaders Create Leaders and offers wisdom and insight as the Millennial Mentor on Instagram. In short, he knows a ton about entrepreneurship and leadership, and is on a mission to share this information with the world. This desire is what led Gerard to launch Fownders, a learning platform built for entrepreneurs who want to develop the skills needed to align their purpose towards a prosperous career and lifestyle.

Read on for three key takeaways Gerard wants all entrepreneurs to learn and incorporate into their journey.

Find your why.

After his exit from EliteDaily in 2015, Gerard sought a new purpose and passion in his life. At a Tony Robbins event the phrase, “success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure,” seized upon him. As a young entrepreneur he had been greatly inspired by a visit to Silicon Valley, and blown away by all of the advice and mentorship he found in the community.

A native of New Jersey, Gerard decided to bring the idea of educating entrepreneurs back home — and Fownders was born. For Gerard, cultivating emotional intelligence and focusing on core values is the first key step to becoming a successful entrepreneur.

“You need to align personal values, purpose and what drives you – your why. Really focus on that personal growth and mindset. Focus on internal before you build something external.”

By beginning your entrepreneurial journey with a focus on personal mission, the rocky road of development will ultimately be more fulfilling, more satisfying, and easier to navigate, with a strong why at the forefront of your mind.

Idea isn’t enough.

You’ve heard it before at Propelify. Everyone has ideas. Only entrepreneurs build and monetize those ideas.

“A lot of people want to become entrepreneurs. And a lot of people have ideas. But how to actually take action, to execute that idea, to learn strategies and tactics, and then turn that idea into something profitable? That’s real entrepreneurship,” Gerard says.

Fownders is focused on helping budding entrepreneurs chart a path to success before they even begin. By using the lessons his previous mentors have already learned, Gerard wants Fownders to help idea generators become innovators and turn their ideas into reality.

“Being of service, offering something of real value – that’s the lesson entrepreneurs need to learn along the way,” Gerard says.

The next great idea you have, begin with the end in mind — the monetizaion — so you can craft a series of steps that will lead to success.

Personal branding is storytelling

“One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned is to understand how you tell your story. To not only understand how you see yourself but to see how the world sees you,” Gerard says.

By learning to craft and cultivate a personal brand that tells the story you want to tell, you will entice collaborators and customers to your product and business, in a natural way.

Interested in tweaking your own brand or image? Answer these four questions to start the process: What is unique about you or your product? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What can you share that’s of value? What space or platform will be best for you to share your story?

Your brand is your story. Think about what story you want to tell as you make your vision a reality.

Cephas Nshimyumuremyi- From Chemistry Teacher to Award Winning Entrepreneur.

“Don’t think that you need a lot of capital. Start with little, but use the knowledge and the environment that you already have.”

Cephas Nshimyumuremyi understands that the effective leader is not the one that spends time telling his followers what to do, but the one that shows them exactly what to do, and how do it.

With just ten dollars, the Rwandan chemistry teacher launched his business few years ago. He knew what challenges awaited him, but he went on anyway, determined to succeed.

Cephas reckons that his business idea came from trying to teach his students how the science they were learning in class could be applied in practical ways: “I teach chemistry so I showed my students how you can test a plant, and know the capacity of that plant to kill bacteria,” he says in an interview with CNN.

His company, Uburanga Products, makes herbal smearing jelly and soap from local medicinal plants that protect the skin from the bacteria that cause skin diseases, living the skin silky and smooth.

Today, the business he founded with his teachers mite has become a thriving venture worth more than $30,000 and employs 12 workers.

“In the 7 months I have been working on this project, I have capital of about Rwf5 Million in Additional to Rwf10 Million I got as a credit from Umwalimu Savings and Credit Cooperative I used to buy the place I operate in.”

And that’s not all; the business now produces about four different products on the market including Uburanga Herbal Jelly, Uburanga Herbal Soap, Uburanga Vaseline and Uburanga Glycerin.

Cephas, a graduate of education from the Kigali Institute of Education (KIE) decided to take the bold step in business when he realized that his salary as a teacher was not enough to sustain him.

“I have a salary of Rwf90, 000 which is too little for my needs, as a professional teacher I decided to make use of the lessons I learnt in sciences and use plants to make jelly that is desirable to all.” He tells Itezimbere magazine.

The young entrepreneur resides in the Muhoza sector, Musanze District in Rwanda and  works as a teacher in Kabaya Secondary School.

He is also the winner of the 2014 Educat — GT Bank Entrepreneurship Award for local businesses. For Cephas, the future is very bright as he hopes to break new grounds. His goal is to produce 12 more products in the next three years and to make Rwf45million profit.

Cephas encourages his fellow teachers to learn how to make the most of their knowledge and their little salaries. That way, students will be encouraged not only to enjoy their lessons, but to apply them consistently.

And to young entrepreneurs he says; “look at the resources you have nearby and make something out of them.”

Source: Konnect Africa

Fry’s: You don’t become something big by winging it

“There’s a process for how you walk into my factory – and if you walk in the wrong way, I’m going to [figuratively] klap you for it, because that system is there for a reason. It has its foundation in the mistakes that we’ve made and the solutions we’ve found to challenges.” – Wally Fry

Wally & Debbie Fry, founders of vegetarian food company Fry’s Family, that went from missing meat and a home kitchen to shipping over 6 000 tonnes (or 27 vegan products) to 20 countries every year.

Wally Fry never intended on becoming an entrepreneur. He’d given up meat and missed it, so he tinkered in his kitchen to create a convincing meat alternative for him and his family. Having started the company running absolutely every function from manufacturing, to finance, to marketing himself, he knew that systems and processes were the only way the business would be able to scale and free up his time to focus on strategy and growing the business. He gave up control of each function incrementally, and only once he was happy he’d put in the right person with the right skills and training to run things the way he believed they should be run. It’s being this kind of stickler for detail, system and process that has seen the brand gain all the right food health and safety stamps, and accreditations as it’s grown that has allowed the products to find their way into the fridges of major South African retailers, and international markets.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine 

Ocean Basket was launched with R800 and a dream

“We convinced all of our suppliers to let us pay them with post-dated cheques, and then we worked like hell to make enough money that month to ensure they didn’t bounce.”

Fats Lazarides founded Ocean Basket in 1995 with R800. Today the nation-wide brand has system-wide sales of over R1 billion.

Ocean Basket was launched from a 118 m2 store in Menlyn Park with some crazy restrictions, because the centre management had assured their current clients there would be no more restaurants in the centre. They could only serve five proteins and two starches. They weren’t allowed to serve salads, desserts or coffee, and only one red and one white wine by the glass. Doors had to be closed by 7pm.

For every restriction, Fats Lazarides found an advantage. “We focused on the lunch-time trade. Meals were cooked and served quickly. Bar stools set up against the wall saved space and let single shoppers eat without feeling lonely.” Soon, families would deliberately eat an early dinner before the store closed. “An entire family of four could eat for R60 because we let them bring their own salads, wine and even desserts.”

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine

How to make your business attractive to investors

Here are my top tips on how to nurture your growth potential and become investment-worthy.

1. Have a clear goal

Prospective investors want to know what your start-up is going to bring to the world. This may sound lofty, but you need a big, blue-sky mission statement that can be summed up in a couple of sentences.

Ask yourself: why does my business exist? It’s crucial that your start-up has a purpose and that you can communicate it clearly to potential investors.

2. Maintain laser focus

Your start-up’s success depends on so much more than your big idea. Time and money are critical resources – both of which will be in short supply. You need to be extremely disciplined about how every second and every penny is spent.

Build a ruthless priority list. Push any task, project or idea that doesn’t help you solve your biggest problem – staying relevant to customers – down to the bottom. Investors are impressed by hungry entrepreneurs who are on the ball.

3. Launch fast, start small, scale slowly

Don’t drag your feet and delay launching until your product is perfect. It never will be. The truth is, your start-up is worth much more in practice than it is in theory.

Also, don’t try and be everything for everyone from the outset. Define a small market, get it onto the market sooner rather than later, test it, collect feedback in real time, tweak and grow slowly.

With a niche audience, it’s much easier to build your business model, adjust your offer and deliver a personalised service. This will enable you to build a data-driven picture of progress and growth – one that will attract interested investors to your door.

A small, loyal customer base is also harder to lose to the competition – and can act as a valuable marketing tool, winning new business through word-of-mouth.

4. Don’t fall in love with your product

Your start-up’s success depends on your customers – not just your brilliant business idea. Always put your end users, not your product, first.

To attract the right investment, you need to show that you know your market and your customers thoroughly. What are their preferences, pain points, and buying patterns? How much would they pay for a product like yours? Armed with this information, you can tailor a specific solution for them.

Lose sight of your customers and you’re faced with one very likely outcome: no users and no business.

5. Keep pushing forward

You can’t stop working on your business once it’s launched. It needs your help now more than ever. Keep testing and refining your offer. Look for other ways to grow, and investigate other markets or customer segments you can target.

Don’t sit on your laurels for one second. How can you keep challenging the status quo and expand your offer to serve under-developed markets? This will keep you competitive – and worth investing in.

6. Have a good team behind you

An investment-worthy business is one that attracts – and retains – the right employees. Investors are assessing you and your team, not just your product and business model. They are looking for a start-up run by people they can build a rapport with. It doesn’t inspire confidence if you hire the wrong people, or try to manage everything on your own.

7. Choose investors carefully

As much as an investor is assessing you, you need to assess them in return. It’s very easy to get excited by a potential deal, but before you sign, make sure you know who you’re partnering with. A successful partnership really does take two – so if they’re not a good fit, your business will suffer.

Becoming an investment-worthy business is crucial to your start-up’s success. The seven steps above can help you attract the right investment – rather than just any investment – and secure your future.

Source: Startup Africa

Entrepreneurs: Resolve Not to Resolve This New Year

It’s that time of year again. The time for people to set expectations and goals to better themselves — or their businesses. Some squirm in their seat when hearing those three words, “New Year’s resolutions.” Oftentimes those resolutions don’t even see the end of the year. In fact, New Year’s resolutions have a failure rate of around 90 percent, according to various studies. The problem? Setting unrealistic goals.

For small-business owners, 57 percent set annual goals for their businesses, while the remaining 43 percent hold back, according to a recent survey of 217 small businesses from The UPS Store. The main reasons for not setting yearly resolutions include business and market unpredictability, not seeing a need in setting goals, owning a seasonal business or having the mindset that the business is too small for goals. However, setting yearly goals is beneficial for every business. And turning those goals into achievements doesn’t have to be painful. Follow these helpful hints to make your 2018 business goals a success.

Avoid lofty goals.

One thing that will end your resolution quicker than it started is being unrealistic. Set a series of short-term goals that make a long-term impact. Increasing sales and acquiring more customers are among the most popular business goals of 2018 from small-business owners. Many times, people set goals that are unrealistic for their situation. Set yourself up for success by knowing or making a more realistic guess of what will work for your business.

Make it measurable.

Make quarterly or monthly plans to work your way toward your ultimate goal. According to The UPS Store’s survey, 44 percent of respondents check their progress monthly to keep on track. Track your progress and keep records to hold yourself accountable. Having tangible evidence that you’re getting closer to your goal will keep your mind at ease and focused.

Knock down the hurdles.

Sometimes you are your own worst enemy. Did you slip up? Take note of it and move on. Fight the negativity and doubt, and remember why you made the resolution in the first place. Keeping your end result top of mind will keep you motivated to ultimately make it happen, no matter the obstacle.

Plan ahead.

Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean that your goals will be accomplished immediately. Not only should you plan what to do to reach your ultimate goal, but you should also plan for roadblocks. Sometimes life can get in the way — planning for setbacks before they happen will make the coping and rerouting process more seamless.

Revisit your passion.

What did you envision when you started with just an idea? What made you or motivated you to start your business to begin with? Revisit those roots. Visualizing what you imagined your business to be before it all began can reignite your passion to achieve the goals that will help drive your business forward.

Source: Entrepreneur

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