Feeling Lonely?

It’s lonely at the top. A cliché perhaps, but the truth nevertheless. Senior managers, be they in the corporate sector or business owners, all experience a degree of isolation and it is in response to this that a world-wide industry has emerged and grown. That of executive coaching. What exactly does this offer, and who are the coaches?

Executive coaches provide senior managers with a friend – someone they can trust to provide support in the form of a sounding board, a clear perspective, fresh ideas or impartial advice.

In addition to providing this individual support system, there is also a growing international trend toward the use of coaching as a management development process. Individual managers have different needs in terms of level of input, and interpersonal or technical skills required. Recognition of this has highlighted the fact that in some cases, coaching, the equivalent of an individual tutor, offers significant advantages over group training. It is, however, important not to confuse coaching with teaching or lecturing. While a coach may assist with the development of skills, this is achieved by supporting the individual along a path of self-development. Any teaching that does take place is of a Socratic nature. Coaches give guidance as to how to go about learning, suggestions as to where to find information and frameworks to assist with the evaluation of information received. Coaching is about asking questions – not providing answers.

The coaching process will clearly differ from discipline to discipline and from need to need. Coaching processes in the financial area will differ from those in the inter-personal skills area. For example, the financial management coaching I provide to non-financial executives is made up of a two-stage process. The first takes the form of a structured one-on-one workshop during which a wide range of business and financial concepts are discussed. This is followed by extended personal consultations over time to support the individual as they apply the theories, skills and frameworks learned in the first stage to their personal managerial roles. This latter part of the coaching process allows for expansion into a far wider range of issues which impact on the managerial function.

As senior non-financial executives begin to play a more active role in financial management areas they often feel threatened or at risk – which is where the sounding board aspect of the coaching process comes into play. The confidentiality maintained throughout the coaching process is a major advantage. Participants at public workshops are often reluctant to ask company-specific questions, and even at in-company group training workshops many non-financial executives are reluctant to ask questions lest they appear ignorant.

Who are the coaches? Some coaches are appointed internally, and the mentorship role is, for example, an established corporate process. More often, however, external coaches are sought because managers feel more comfortable and are more likely to interact freely, knowing that their coach will not be involved in evaluating them at some later stage. The external coach is also often better placed to act as an impartial guide, bringing to the relationship an objective perspective that fosters trust.

It may well be lonely at the top, but there could be a coach at the other end of the line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My thoughts on Social Media

I am fairly new to Twitter and no Social Media expert. But then who can legitimately claim to be a SM expert, although many do? These are my thoughts based on my experiences over the past 18 months. During this time the number of followers I have has slowly grown to 3,571. Not a large following compared to some. I also starting blogging on 2 January this year.

My original intention in starting out on Twitter was to obtain business – and I have – but of a surprising kind. My ‘bread and butter’ work apart from lecturing at business schools has been to offer workshops on finance to groups of managers from companies – and I have received orders from people on Twitter to do this. The surprise was to be asked to take over the Social Media activities of two organisations – one of which operates internationally. I will also be writing blogs for the international organisation.

The best advice I received regarding Twitter was from a son when he said, “Twitter is what you want it to be”. This was in response to my constant complaints about what I regard as being inane tweets. You know, the ‘I’m at…’, ‘coffeeee’, ‘insomnia’ and so on. He always said, “Just unfollow” but my problem was that these tweeters did often post good stuff – so I’ve come to terms with that. Twitter is just what you want it to be.

After all:

San Antonio-based market-research firm Pear Analytics analyzed 2,000 tweets (originating from the US and in English) over a two-week period in August 2009 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM (CST) and separated them into six categories:[69]

  • Pointless babble – 40%
  • Conversational – 38%
  • Pass-along value – 9%
  • Self-promotion – 6%
  • Spam – 4%
  • News – 4%

Social networking researcher Danah Boyd responded to the Pear Analytics survey by arguing that what the Pear researchers labelled “pointless babble” is better characterized as “social grooming” and/or “peripheral awareness” (which she explains as persons “want[ing] to know what the people around them are thinking and doing and feeling, even when co-presence isn’t viable”).[70]

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitter

I feel that I have made friends on Twitter. Some people scoff at that but they forget that years ago there was a thing called ‘pen pals’. Twitter has the advantage of immediacy.

I would caution against how useful the “tweets are my own” or similar are – if you drop a bomb and your employers name and your position are mentioned in your bio it could be a career limiting or ending thing – let’s not forget the model who tweeted in anger and lost a lot. People in recruitment tell me they routinely peruse the social media. While your Facebook pages may be private Twitter is not – unless you restrict access which most of us do not.

I do try to vary my tweets regarding the topic being addressed. I try and keep ‘retweeting’ to a minimum, after all those who follow me are probably also following the same news sources so why clutter their TL. I also try not to be a ‘link tweeter’ unless I find something which I think people may find interesting.

I’m privileged to have some friends on Twitter who I can ask for opinions – Google doesn’t have all the answers. I value that.

Twitter Debates. I am easing out of these. Particularly, those regarding business, politics and economics – my favourite topics. Inevitably, there are people reciting political slogans and rhetoric to which they have been subjected to by politicians. When asked for specifics to back their statements they are unable to respond. And sometimes they get abusive.

Once in a polite conversation about people whose bios state their organisations name and their position tweeting non-business matters and frankly rubbish someone who had not been part of the conversation waded in and told me, “Rubbish! Look at the research.” I asked for references to the research and these were not forthcoming. I asked again after a month and was ‘blocked’.

 

But all in all I enjoy Twitter. I’ve had some great conversations for which I thank you all.

I think that the various Social Media platforms are becoming an essential part of any business’ marketing messages. Sadly many businesses use these platforms as an extension of their call-centres with very little interaction taking place and very little useful content being provided – although there are exceptions to this.

The Social Media technology available is amazing and has great potential for reaching out to clients – existing and potential. However, the technology on its own is not sufficient – the provision of informative, educational and, above all, interesting content will be vital to success.

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I can be contacted on:

•           Twitter – @Mel_BrooksSA

•           LinkedIn

•           e-mail – mba@melbrooks.co.za

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New Managers: the challenge

Newly promoted to a manager’s position? That’s all well and good but what exactly does a manager actually do? Many new managers have little or no insight into what exactly is required of them.

Who are ‘new’ managers? For one thing, they are not necessarily only junior managers – they could come from a wide range of backgrounds including experienced technical specialists from areas such as IT, HR or production, engineering, sales or marketing.

Individuals experienced in their own fields who now have to assume the role of being a ‘manager’. Until appointed their power base has been their particular expertise. Now they have the position, but generally feel powerless, especially when they realise that their new title cuts no ice with the troops. They find themselves coping with day-to-day issues – sorting out petty squabbles, dealing with ego problems and company politics – most of which leave them feeling helpless. Surely this is not what managing is about? Where is the planning, organising and controlling? The only controlling they seem to do is of their tempers and their bosses are not much help. Their bosses are dealing with enough problems of their own.

The Harvard Business Review republished one of its ‘HBR Classic’ articles titled “The Managers Job: Folklore and Fact” by Henry Mintzberg. In it he writes, “If you ask managers what they do, they will most likely tell you that they plan, organise and control.

Then watch what they do. Don’t be surprised if you can’t relate what you see to these words.”

In his article Mintzberg outlines myths (or folklore) about managerial work:

Folklore: The manager is a reflective, systematic planner
Fact: Study after study has shown that managers work at an unrelenting pace, that their activities are characterised by brevity, variety and discontinuity, and that they are strongly related to action and dislike reflective activities.

Folklore: The effective manager has no regular duties to perform.

Fact: Managerial work involves a number of regular duties.”

So managers’ jobs are fast moving and action packed. However, between the action they face routine demands such as delivering reports, carrying out staff performance evaluations and attending meetings that are mostly not directly productive for them.

What to do then? A manager’s first focus should be on their people and what is required is that most important of all management skills: active listening. This listening should take place during informal one-on-one and small group discussions – call a meeting and people are immediately on their guard. In this way managers learn from the wisdom of their staff. If people are heard and, more importantly, feel that their views are valued, they respond positively.

Another key skill for managers is that of making it clear that they accept responsibility for all mistakes made by their people. Instant feedback regarding disasters and near disasters should be encouraged by adopting a problem solving ‘let’s learn from our mistakes’ style. Staff who understand that this is how a manager operates will be less inclined to hide mistakes, a source of much embarrassment when the boss is the last to hear about them. Every manager needs to actively build a cooperative team. Remember that the title means nothing.  The respect must be earned through leading by example.

Few people enter business as managers. As mentioned, managers are typically promoted out of a specialist area. After settling the team, the new manager’s next task is to acquaint themselves with specialist areas other than their own – in other areas such as HR, Marketing and Finance. This can be achieved by reading books and professional publications or through informal discussions about problems with other managers. More formal training for the new manager in the form of workshops and development programmes will also provide a sound foundation in these areas.

Naturally the demands placed on new managers can lead to stress. However, the manager that is feeling stressed is probably not working hard enough. The new manager should remember! Neither fatigue nor stress is caused by hard work. Think back to a time when you last worked like hell – and achieved something. Did you feel stressed? More likely, you felt physically tired, or even exhausted at the end of the day or week, but after a good night’s sleep you were ready to go again. Hardly the same stress that now wears you down day after day. I say you’re probably not working hard enough, because the stress that you’re experiencing is caused by anxiety rather than hard work. It flows from the uncertainty of not knowing what the hell is going on, or where in hell you’re going. Do not confuse long hours with working hard. In some companies there seems to be a culture of ‘long hours’. Performance should be measured in terms of outputs – what you actually achieve, rather than illogically keeping tabs on input i.e. hours.

And now to another management misconception. Being in the know does not mean being well connected to the grapevine. In fact, the quality of information that flows down the grapevine is generally poor. It raises more questions than answers and is probably a significant contributor to your anxiety-induced stress. What you need is quality information about the company that you work for and the industry of which it is a part.

And you need to work hard at getting it. For example, can you answer the following?

  • Name the customers that contribute 50 percent of your company’s profits?
  • Which companies in your industry together have 80 percent of the market? Are they expanding or contracting their operations?
  • What technological developments are taking place in the field in which your company’s product competes? Remember how the fax replaced the telex and that faxes are now seldom used.
  • What is changing in the nature of the work that you, and your team do? If you have reps on the road, can your clients effectively be serviced by a telesales operation? Are there changes in technology that will enable your team’s work to be done by less skilled (lower paid) people, or will your company need fewer people at your level – and can you ensure that you are the one that is kept on to grow? Don’t resist change – thrive on it.
  • What would it cost your company to get an outsider such as a consultant or sub-contractor to do what you do? What do you cost your company?

The point of all this is that as a manager, you need to regard yourself, and your team as a business within a business. Your employer owes you nothing more than a cheque – if you provide value. As a good ‘business’ you need to provide outstanding service and value for money. And to achieve this you need knowledge. Establish exactly what it is your department needs to deliver, rather than just doing time. Finding this information may be hard work, but it will reduce your anxiety / stress. You also need to look at the total environment in which your employer operates. Being in the know will allow you to plan ahead, to stay on top of things. Changes can provide opportunities if you’re ready for them.

Get tired by working hard at the right things. This is the stuff good managers are made of!

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I can be contacted on:

 

•           Twitter – @Mel_BrooksSA & please follow @HenleyAfrica – Henley Business School

•           LinkedIn

•           e-mail – mba@melbrooks.co.za

 

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Technology cannot replace people

Digital nervous breakdown

“Dear Company who uses machines to call me and “talk” to me. I hate you, and will never support you, no matter what you offer.” A tweet by Christo de Beer today.

You call your bank or insurance company or any large organisation. You want to talk to a real person – but first you have to go through multiple menu choices. Frustration.

You look up a company on the web. Its contact details consist of a form email you have to use. You have to type in some strange looking letters and numbers to convince them you’re a real person. Sometimes a number of attempts are needed. You receive no response. More frustration.

Yet many companies believe they have joined the ‘digital revolution’. Have they?

Social Media is now considered the way to go but many companies use it as an extension of their call centres – the very things that people have come to loathe. That’s not very social.

The problem with Bill Gates’  “digital nervous system” analogy, is that it invokes the concept of a nervous breakdown. When the ‘Dotcom’ bubble deflated it became wise to reflect on a few marketing basics. Many businesses did. Many did not – and failed.

Whilst it is appreciated that the e-commerce/dotcom phenomenon has developed at a rapid pace globally, we must be controlled enough not to continue to become caught up in the hype and hysteria that tends to surround it. Before leaping on line, keep the 4 P’s in mind (price, product, place and promotion), but add another 3: patience, preparation and people – and not just techies but people who can provide good content and interact at an intelligent level.

South Africa seems to be obsessed with being part of the global technological village regardless of the pitfalls of not doing its homework first. It is estimated that less than 16% (South Africa 21% of the population in 2011) of the total Internet users of the world are in Africa, and bearing in mind that predicted volumes of internet business have not really materialised, we need to understand why.

It should be obvious that the necessary infrastructures to set up the technology does not exist, in the main, on our continent. In South Africa alone telecommunication facilities are inadequate and expensive; power supplies are often non-existent or interrupted; and our weather extremes can cause major disruptions to these facilities where they do exist.

Many South Africans have become disillusioned with recreational internet use partly because of telephone & data costs, and the often extremely slow download times. They have also been relatively slow to embrace the use of tools such as online banking. They seem to be wary about fraud and security, and reasonably so with the IT industry still not having managed to guarantee security issues.  Recent unauthorised transfers from bank accounts also highlight the people problem. Systems may seem foolproof but people can be ingenious in subverting the best systems.

We have a culture of poor service in this country, and unfortunately this is often carried over to the IT industry. Our obsession to provide mainstream technology and e-com, regardless, is often at the cost of customer service. Most IT start-ups are unlikely to succeed because of opportunists who ignore traditional business principles, hoping to exploit the market and make a quick profit. In-depth strategic analysis and market research are ignored because of the urge to get online before the competition.

New users of many e.com facilities are becoming disenchanted with customer service, expecting order errors to be a thing of the past, and supply to be efficient – but often this is not the case. Techno-use may be fun, but once the novelty has worn off, service is what customers want above all, and once the customer has been let down, they are not likely to give the provider a second chance. Even established brands must acknowledge that the all-important customer loyalty and satisfaction will not prevail if service does not come up to expectations. The customer may be enticed by brand familiarity, but the quality of the product and its cost will still be paramount.

It is sobering to realise that the gentleman who stands at a northern Johannesburg intersection carrying a sign which reads: “WWW.GIVEACOIN.COM” is making more money than some local dotcoms at the moment! We know that virtual companies are different from bricks and mortar, but they both have one specific thing in common, and that is a need for a profit margin.

It has also been noted that there has been a steady rise in prices of more expensive electronic goods and services. This may mean that they are seriously worried about realising profit margins, and that they have miscalculated their market. Analysts are growing wary on this one, so potential local start-ups had better be very circumspect.

The most likely successes in the e-commerce scenario will be in business to business supply chains and service enablers. UK-based retailer, Tesco, showed how this can be done well. Having recognised that product and price alone were no longer enough to compete, and that keeping an established customer is easier than acquiring a new one, they re-evaluated their business practices, particularly their supply chain. They centralised control for ordering goods, and set up electronic data interchange systems with most of their suppliers. The result was that between 1983 and 1996, they reduced their stockholding levels from 4-5weeks to 2.5 weeks; and distribution went from 76million to 813million cases annually. As a result, Tesco was able to concentrate on low pricing and improving relationships with their customers offering loyalty and reward programmes. More importantly the reduction in Tesco’s holding costs would have made a significant contribution to their profits.

There are South African companies that have set up successful business to business nets, often targeting unexciting but necessary products, and following sensible strategies. These can expose a larger portion of smaller companies to the market place with obvious benefits to all. Established businesses who already have experienced management skills, infrastructure and most importantly, historical relationships with suppliers and customers, should continue to invest in e-commerce systems, but with sensible planning and strategies. Remember that it is a tool to enable efficiency, not a replacement for people or the application of good marketing principles.

Keep in mind also that there is a global shortage of IT skills. South Africa is going to have invest in training in a big way if it hopes to be able to compete effectively, as many e-businesses fail because people choose the wrong technology that does not fit their visions. Now is the time for SA businesses to be proactive about something that is inevitable, and which could be hugely profitable for this country if thoroughly prepared for.

Launching into the technoworld can involve high start-up costs, and if the homework has not been insightful enough, there will be no benefits. The health industry in South Africa is an example of this. The theory that the huge costs necessary to set up would be offset by a decrease in claims’ costs has not happened. The system may be technically good, but it is not keeping up with claims. Has the initial investment been worthwhile, or will it be necessary to add further costs to re-invent processes?

There is no doubt that the IT route can be of great value when approached correctly. If more people realise that online banking can be carried out 24 hours a day without leaving one’s chair that is of great value to banks. Dotcom companies that research and strategise fully before jumping on the bandwagon could very well become successful – these are the basic rules of setting up any business venture. However, there are executives in over 20 countries, who spend their nights worrying about the effects of the net communications’ revolution; in a poll 44% said the Internet was their preferred method of communication, but that begs the question, why is it not the preferred method of the other 56%?

 

The use Social Media platforms can provide an excellent platform for interaction with both existing and potential clients – but basic marketing principles cannot be ignored.

 

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I can be contacted on:

•           Twitter – @Mel_BrooksSA

•           LinkedIn

•           e-mail – mba@melbrooks.co.za

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Project Management: an opportunity for senior managers

Project management literature usually emphasises the difference between ‘project’ management and routine management. Anderson et al (Goal Directed Project Management 1991) refer to ‘steady state’ i.e. the operating function, the ‘headquarters function’ i.e. organisational function, and maintain that the management of the steady state is relatively easy compared to that of the project. Project management includes the management of the change of that is caused by a project. The management of change is a more complex assignment than the routine work of management in an organisation.

Where is the opportunity for senior managers? I would say that there is a band which exists in management structures which contains managers that should only be project managers. This band of managers would be senior to the middle management level which is unavoidably engaged in routine management functions and junior to the most senior managers who are (guess what?) also unavoidably engaged in routine management functions. The band in management structures I refer to (let’s call it the Project Management Band – PMB) has at its disposal certain key elements:

  •  strong networks within the organization,
  •  deep knowledge of the organisation history and structure,
  •  knowledge of the human, financial and other resources available,
  • status (hopefully leadership strengths) within the organisation.

Naturally these elements should be complemented by an innate confidence which will enable them to accept and then lead the change that the successful completion of the project entails.

It may be a cynical view but further reasons for the bands above and below the PMB not being suitable as project managers within an organisation is a lack of qualities mentioned as existing in the PMB. Senior management has, or should have, as part of their routine functions a major external interface role which is extremely time consuming and detracts from internal issues. Furthermore while not questioning their leadership abilities they are usually remote from the troops and their presence in a project management role would probably be detrimental because of the potential ‘intimidation factor’. While they may posses good internal networks these are more likely to be based on patronage and power rather than the cooperation and reciprocation on which networks at lower levels may be based – particularly in the PM band.

The managers below the PM band will as a group generally lack the networks, knowledge of resources (and more particularly resource constraints), and experience in leadership. They are also in a project management role more likely to be subject to, and confined by, the bureaucratic rules which may unnecessarily restrict or impede the successful outcomes of projects which are aimed at implementing change be it technical or cultural. The managers in the PMB have usually been around a while – in business if not in the organisation itself – and should possess the ‘street smarts’ that will enable them to ‘work the system’ in order to expedite project completion in the face of any organisational inertia.

In some quarters the ‘project’ is seen as good experience for up and coming junior managers. “Here’s an opportunity to, ‘prove yourself’, ‘make a name for yourself’, ‘get good experience’. This may be a good strategy for the ‘sink or swim’ method of educating/developing people. But what are the potential costs – of failure – to the individual being given the ‘opportunity’, the members of the project team and the organisation as a whole? This ‘opportunity’ process has also been used by some more senior managers to neutralise potential junior threats by setting them up to fail.

Given the problem areas mentioned above with the use of upper echelon and the lower levels of management those managers in the PM band clearly have the desired qualities to play a leadership role in change both in technical and cultural area within an organisation. The senior managers in this band should therefore seize opportunities to manage (on a hands-on basis) projects. After all, 80% of them will probably need to leave their organisations prior to normal retirement age. And what better way to build a marketable skill than to have managed successful projects rather than having managed routine processes and the same old strategy development and planning processes year after year.

More junior managers still need to be educated in project management to enable them to better understand their roles as members of project management teams – so enhancing the experience for them – and preparing them to lead their own projects in the future when they progress to the PM band. Needless to say the PM band managers should seriously set about acquiring project management skills that are current and relevant to SA today.

Projects need to be managed professionally and not flown by the seat of the pants.

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I can be contacted on:

•           Twitter – @Mel_BrooksSA

•           LinkedIn

•           E-mail – mba@melbrooks.co.za

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Need a bank loan? Here’s how to increase your chances of getting one

When it comes to lending money, banks aren’t there to give a helping hand. They are there to do business. This fact seems to escape most people who, at on time or another have a request for a loan or overdraft facility refused. When faced with rejection by a bank, most people react emotionally rather than looking for the business reasons behind the decision. Banks make their profits from the interest that they charge on loans. Banks, in fact, have to lend money to stay in business. But they have to lend to those who are likely to repay it.

How can we help banks lend us money if we need it?

  •  Ask for the right product. Banks call the different types of loan that they offer “products”. Showing a familiarity with how banks work will go some way to building confidence in you on the part of the bank. Don’t ask for an overdraft facility if you need the money to buy a car or equipment. Generally speaking, the bank will want to offer you a loan with a term that corresponds with the life of the asset. That’s why you get to pay your car off over 3-4 years and your house over 20 years.
  • Many people prefer overdrafts to term loans because there seems to be less hassle involved. Once you have convinced your bank to give you an overdraft, there is very little paperwork involved. With term loans, there are agreements to sign with pages of legal jargon in fine print. What  you need to remember as long as you pay off your term loan in terms of the agreement, the bank can’t ask you for the money back before it is due. Banks can ask that an overdraft be repaid within 24 hours if they feel that your risk profile has altered and you are now a bad risk.
  •  All of us have a “risk profile”. What is it based on? Your credit record. If you have a history of not paying accounts, the bank will establish this during their investigation of your loan application. Such a history will suggest to them that you are unable to manage credit extended to you. First time borrowers have a particular problem as they may not be able to supply trade references for the bank to check. “I always pay cash and have money in my savings account, and now I can’t get alone when I need one, yet old Joe, who has accounts all over town, is able to get more and more credit”. Unless old Joe is digging a hole for himself, it may well be that he is able to manage credit by buying wisely and always budgeting for his repayments. This makes him a valued client.
  •  Your income. Before you visit the bank, you should have an idea of what  the monthly repayment will be for the loan. You should also have compiled a list showing your monthly income and expenditure, including the new loan repayment. This will demonstrate that you can make the necessary payments. Bankers refer to this as being able to ‘service the debt”.
  •  Your assets. Bankers like to feel that, if you are unable to meet your obligation to them, they will be able to sell something you own in order to get their money back. They call this “taking collateral”. Your assets therefore form an important part of your risk profile.

It is always important to remember that you are dealing with a person at a bank, and not a monolithic institute. So you must establish a relationship in which that person knows who he is dealing with and can put a face to your name. In addition to the face, he should know about your job, your prospects and your overall financial situation.

A good strategy is to establish the relationship before you need a loan. After all, would you lend money to a stranger?

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I can be contacted on:

•           Twitter – @Mel_BrooksSA

•           LinkedIn

•           e-mail – mba@melbrooks.co.za

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The Mel Brooks Sleep-Loss Factor

Don’t lose any sleep at night

Invest R60 000 and make R950 000 in your first year. Allow us to manage your money and it will grow by 185 percent within two years! You’ve seen this kind of offer and may well have had your curiosity aroused.  Many have answered the call. Regrettably, the most they got from this type of scheme was an expensive lesson in the principles of risk vs. return. In less than two hours spent over a few ales the other evening, I heard of three people who had lost all of their savings, one having to sell his house to clear his debts.

So here are a few precautionary measures to prevent someone from legally parting you from what you already have. These are simple guidelines based on “the Mel Brooks Sleep Loss Factor.” When you hand over your money to someone who is going to do great things for you, you need to be sure that it is not going to be detrimental to your health – both financial and physical. And sleep deprivation is hazardous to your health; ask any of the thousands who “invested” in Masterbond and many similar schemes.

This is how you calculate the Sleep Loss Factor for any “wonder” offer: suppose you have some money, earning interest in a bank or money market account. You come across an offer of a significantly higher rate of interest, either in an advertisement or through the efforts of an “investment advisor” at your office or sports club, who tells you about a good deal that he might be able to get you into.

At this stage you apply my system. Take the best interest rate offered by the three largest commercial banks and for every one per cent above the bank rate being offered that the “deal” offers deduct one hour’s sleep. If the big banks are currently offering 10 percent and someone offers you 14 percent, deduct four hours sleep. The reasoning for the above is simple. Banks “borrow” money from you, the depositor, and pay you a certain interest rate. They then lend it to someone else at a higher rate of interest. They make their profits from the difference between the two rates. So you need to establish how this special “deal” manages to offer much higher interest rates. Find out to whom they are lending your money, and will they get it back? Higher returns cost higher risk – and sleepless nights.

Now for the so called “Golden Opportunity” With so many people in the corporate sector being retrenched and employment prospects so poor at present, many are being preyed on by operators offering mind-blowing business opportunities. If you’re tempted by one, here’s some advice. If, when you call in response to the advertisement, they refuse to give you any information over the telephone and insist that you come to see them or attend a presentation seminar, put the phone down and get back to polishing your CV.

Any reputable franchise operation or business offer will give you all the information you need over the phone. They do this because they want to screen you before you go in and waste their time and yours.

No doubt you will have heard of the ones that are legitimate business offers and know their products. I’ve no doubt that someone will comment on this blog with details of the R17 000 (or whatever) that they invested in some dealership/franchise which has enabled them to earn R100 000 per month. But I can match every one of those stories with ten about garages full of cleaning chemicals or cosmetics or motivational courses.

Yes, some people do get rich quickly, but there are also surer ways of getting there. Sleep Well!

 

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I can be contacted on:

•           Twitter – @Mel_BrooksSA

•           LinkedIn

•           e-mail – mba@melbrooks.co.za

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