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.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Thought for the day

“Brand is what people say about you when you’re
out of the room.” Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO, Amazon

Monday, 16 February 2009

Excelling at your job

Amidst all the unemployment statistics, a Finweek piece today gives valuable tips on how to keep your job. Although has an edge of cynicism and when I'm reading it, makes me feel like I should walk on a tightrope around the office, it gives some valuable reminders on how to excel at my job: sometimes I forget this in the quest just to survive the day to day.

UNLESS YOU HAVE A JOB where your output is clearly measurable, you may wish to consider the guidance provided below. It would appear such measures - as ludicrous as some may seem - have been proved to work over the years. Donna Rosato, of Money Magazine suggests the following:
"It all starts with profiling. Does your boss's boss know who you are and what you do? If he doesn't, you may well be in trouble. It's no good if your immediate line manager or supervisor alone knows you're good. You have to make sure that at the uppermost echelons of the organisation the right people know your name (and game).
"Stephen Viscusi, author of Bulletproof your job: four simple strategies to ride out the tough times and come out on top at work, warns that 'the invisible guy is the first to go'.
"How do you raise your profile? Suggestions in Viscusi's book include: "face" time (arriving at the office a few minutes before everyone else and leaving a few minutes later) and making yourself noticed. You do that by making convincing statements and asking appropriate questions at meetings and other public arenas. Dressing more professionally. How about volunteering for those assignments nobody else wants?
"Then there's the question of money. You have to be making money. If you're not - and you happen to fall on the support side of the business - you need to be seen to be adding to the bottom line. Companies tend to cut jobs in support areas first. You need to be seen to be sharing leads or ideas to generate revenue.
"You need to network and you need to ensure you network with the right people: align yourself with those perceived to be top performers - those who have the boss's favour. Be careful about backing the wrong horse, because when his race is done, yours may very well be too. On the other hand, hanging out with the top performers may just leave you looking good, even if it's just by association. Some gurus don't agree: we'll leave it to you to decide the best course to follow."
Chris Kalaboukis, CEO of Advice Trader, a leading expert advice marketplace, suggests now's the time to be politically neutral. "If you ally yourself too closely with your boss, you could be in trouble if he goes. Be very aware of what's going on - but don't ally yourself with anyone," says Kalaboukis.
Most importantly, don't complain. Nobody likes people who complain all the time, especially when times are strained and profits are down. Rather be seen to be the one coming up with new, creative, cost-cutting ideas.
Kalaboukis agrees: "That's a sure job buster. Management is strung tight: stress is at an all-time high. Money is barely trickling in, if at all. Now isn't the time to complain. Bottle it all up and never say a single word to anyone at work - or anyone who knows anyone at work - no matter how unfair or wrong things are."
He cites the importance of wearing a mask when at work. "Smile, be happy and never give anyone a reason to ask: "What's wrong?' That, my friend, is the beginning of the end. You may as well get your resumé out."
You need to be seen to be going beyond the realms of responsibility for which you were hired and to position yourself as a "team player". The reality is employees worldwide are being expected to do more with less. You can choose to embrace it or complain about it: either way, you can't change the outcome - which is that you have to work harder. If you embrace it, you're more likely to remain on the team when the short straws are drawn.
However, Kalaboukis warns: "If you excel at your job you'll get noticed. Your co-workers will notice you're doing well and start talking to the boss about it. They'll gang up on you and try to take you down. Excellence makes you different and 'difference' is a negative. Don't be different - but don't let yourself slack off in any way either."
Last, but certainly, not least - be on time.

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Quote of the Week

"The financial crisis that grew into an economic crisis is now becoming an employment crisis, and in the coming months, for some it will be a human crisis. Far from being insulated... developing countries are feeling the effects - and Africa is no exception"


Interest rates in numbers

With Interest rates and the budget all over the news lately, this FM article provides a quick snapshot.

100 basis points, or 1%, was the SA Reserve Bank's interest rate cut last week, making the prime lending rate 10,5%. This will provide relief to cash-strapped consumers.

2003 was the last time the bank made this big a rate adjustment. Bank governor Tito Mboweni had, uncharacteristically, said he had favoured a 2% cut.

10,3% was SA's consumer inflation in December 2008. Declining inflation and consumer confidence gave the bank reason to cut.

0,2% was Q3 economic growth rate in SA, its slowest in a decade. Mining, retail and manufacturing experienced negative growth.

1% is the interest rate in the UK, the lowest in the 300-year history of its central bank. The UK has consistently decreased its interest rates from 5% in October last year, in a bid to drag its economy out of a recession.

0%-0,25% is the interest rate in the US. It is down from 4,75% in September 2007.

0,1% is Japan's interest rate. 2% is what Europe opted to leave its interest rate at, this month. It has suggested it may

Thursday, 05 February 2009

Thought for the day

Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.
~Author Unknown

More on unemployement

Two Finanicial Mail pieces this week look at unemployement and the credit crisis. The figures coming through in the news have been a wake up call, especially the estimate that 18 - 30million could lose their jobs in the duration of the crisis. Amidst these sobering figures, unemployment becomes a political issue as South Africa approaches an election in a few months time, and political parties aim to make promises around job creation. There is likely to be intense public scrutiny of top leadership's salaries, as there staff is laid off in the thousands. All factors to watch over the next few months, and which are likely to become issues in my job, the business of communicating.

Global jobs in numbers
By Razina Munshi

18m-30m people could lose their jobs due to the global credit crisis, says the International Labour Organisation's (ILO) annual global employment trends report released last week.

51m or 7,1% globally would be affected if world economic conditions continue to deteriorate. Based on November 2008 forecasts, an unemployment rate of 6,1% was expected. The ILO measured unemployment by those without a job, but looking for one.

3bn people worldwide were employed in 2008 - up about 1,3% over 2007. This is lower than the annual average growth rate of 1,6% during the past 10 years.

7,9% is the registered unemployment rate in sub-Saharan Africa. North Africa, with an unemployment rate of 10,3%, is the highest in the world.

5% economic growth is forecast for sub-Saharan Africa in 2009. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) says the region is in a less precarious position than the rest of the world because of its limited linkages with the global financial system.

0,5% The IMF's (adjusted) expectation of global economic growth in 2009 - down from 2,2% in November.

1,4bn people in developing countries are living in extreme poverty. 2,6bn consume less than US$2/day at 2005 prices.

200m more workers, mostly in developing economies, could be pushed into extreme poverty, if conditions persist.

Source: ILO and IMF

Jamie Carr

Those who struggled hard but failed to shed a tear in sympathy with the former big swingers of Lehman Brothers may now find it easier to get the water works flowing as the recession bites all across the real economy. Now it's not just the financial casino clowns who are heading for the elevators with the cardboard box of doom, and it's impossible to open a newspaper without reading of 10 000 jobs lost here, 5 000 there. Corporates are responding to an unprecedented drop-off in demand by cutting fast and cutting deep, and this in itself will drive demand ever lower.

SA has already suffered some cuts, but there could be many thousands more before the year is out. While political parties are putting the finishing touches to their job creation rhetoric in preparation for the election, the reality is going to be heading in exactly the opposite direction, and this may add spice to what is already a fiery political mix.

What government should be doing is racing to create the most enabling environment possible so business can bounce back as soon as possible, but sadly the compulsion to interfere may be too strong for our glorious leaders to resist.