This blog reflects on life at work at comments on the latest news that shapes my 9-5 working day in a Corporate Communications consultancy.

About Me

I am a born and bred South African who has always loved to read and write. As a child my mother used to read to me and my siblings, from classics like the “Lord of the Rings” but later also from her own stories. She would write children’s stories and then use us as her test audience, but I loved to hear what she had written long after my siblings had tired of it. So I grew up in an environment of reading and writing, which inspired my love of these things. I hope to write a great book some day, and have learnt first hand the determination and will that it takes. My love of English inspired me to continue my study of it at university. I majored in Law and English in a BA degree at UCT where I found that I took to English much more than law. I enjoyed learning about South Africa’s history and the development of our liberal Constitution, which increasingly made me committed to the hope this country has for the future. Ideally, I’d like to find myself in a job where I am able to write; that allows a good mix of time spent with people and being able to work on my own.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

News on Vincent Maher- M&G's web strategist....

And someone who's done a lot for making blogging a popular pastime in SA! Have a look at his blog/ his aggregator site- amatomu.

Vincent Maher has been nominated for the IT Personality of the Year 2007 Award. ITWeb has short-listed 10 nominees, and from these will select 5 finalists on Friday, 5 October. Maher is currently the strategist at the Mail & Guardian Online and has been a key figure in a number of local Web 2.0 developments. Earlier this year he built and established Amatomu, the first blog aggregating site in South Africa. Maher and Amatomu recently won the Highway Africa New Media Award in the corporate category at the Highway Africa Conference held in Grahamstown from 10 to 12 September. He has also been at the forefront of developments such as Amagama ( and Thought Leader (, amongst other things. Part of the final decision is decided by public voting, which can be done on the ITWeb site. To view the list of nominees and vote visit Maher’s blog can be read at

Saturday, 22 September 2007

Team work means all hands on deck

One of our research team members has been battling in the past few months or so as her mum has been very sick. This means that there are times when she can't be at work - often at short notice. Sometimes this means picking up some of her work.

I thought back to the video we watched, The Overcoming, of the cyclists who all pulled together to help their friend who had a sick mother, in our weekly meeting, when it was highlighted that an essential part of team work is supporting each other through difficult times.

My support allows my team member to have flexible time and attend to her extra responsibilities at home. It's important to be gracious about helping - it's sometimes tempting when there's a lot to do to not be so happy about picking up extra work: until I remember the stress and pressure my team member is under is far worse than my own.

Being professional at work

One of the things that was raised at our weekly meeting this week was our professionalism at work. The partners were discussing ways to raise the level of professionalism in the office - internally and externally - in order to safeguard our reputation.

I hadn't really thought about that before as I'd always thought of our office as being relaxed- but suddenly realised that I needed to be careful. It's difficult, though, to know what is appropriate behaviour and when something that is fun becomes unprofessional. It's one of those things that I think I will get more of a feel for when I've been working for a little while longer.

The partner mentioned several things we all can do in the office, including:
  • making sure all documents are spell checked
  • putting a Brunswick logo onto all external documents
  • using official Brunswick templates
  • working on our interaction with each other in the office - for example speaking to people if we have a problem rather than complaining behind their back

Some things I think I can do personally:

  • keep the office tidy. It's part of my job to tidy up the newspapers every day, but often they are left lying around. At the end of the day, it's often the last thing I feel like doing - but it's important.
  • dress well
  • be friendly to people but still maintain a level of formality
  • don't send an e mail when I could just as easily get up and ask

This is one of the ways our work environment is changing. When I mentioned this to Lesley as a possible topic for next year's WoW, she agreed that it's difficult ground to negotiate. When she first started work, people would all wear suits. Now Steve Jobs will give a major presentation in jeans and takkies.

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Inspirational thought for the day

My Mum's favourite saying that I thought I would share with everyone:

"The forest would be a very quiet place if only the best birds were singing."

So - everyone has something to contribute. Even if you are not particulalry talented, if its something that you enjoy, keep doing it. It takes many voices to make up the symphony that is a forest.

Monday, 10 September 2007

New appliances

I'm very chuffed with my new flat screen, computer, and very smart new keyboard at work.
We are all about to get new phones and we've just had a big office move. We're also moving to a faster internet service provider - all signs of a growing, improving business.

It's been a little disruptive over the past week as we've had workmen putting in new phone cables and this morning was chaotic as the move took place over the weekend - it took some time to get settled.
It's definitely worth the benefit in the long run though.

Creating a happy office

My rework of the motto: "Be the change you want to see in the world", is "Be the smileyness you want to see in your office".

When people are busy, it's easy for them to become stressed and irritable. But I'd like to try my best to create a pleasant working environment and always make the effort to smile, greet people and"lighten the load of the world" in general.

On the office 'treadmill', there's one thing after another to get done, and it's tempting to lose your way and get bogged down with tasks. During WOW we talked a lot about being excellent, creating relational capital, and having a work experience that amounts to more than just getting a string of tasks done. How do we make our working lives more memorable than a to do list, and try to live the FISH philosophy?

I have some ideas:
- make the effort to find out how people are - you can spend a lot of time in an office with someone but still never really get to know them
- keep your sense of humour
- see things in perspective (just because you have 5 things to do before the end of the day doesn't mean you can't stop to share a joke with a colleague)

Do members of the WOW group have other ideas, and do they encounter similar problems?

Tuesday, 04 September 2007

Things I learned today

You can never be too busy to say good morning to someone!

Sunday, 02 September 2007

Communication is the essence of great team work

One of the most important things I learned this week is the above - if you communicate well, most of the bumps experienced that are a natural part of working with a group of people will be ironed out. Things go wrong when people are not on the same page.

I've written about this before, but this week I had some more reminders to keep talking to those people in my team to avoid misunderstandings. And it helps with conflict too.