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Trust the data, and other lessons from the Bok win

There is much that mere mortals can learn from South Africa’s Rugby World Cup triumph, writes KATIE CHODOSH, content consultant at TopLine Comms and TopLine Film

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The Springboks’ almighty triumph at the 2019 Rugby World Cup has given everyone in South Africa a massive boost. The Boks’ world cup campaign wasn’t just successful – it was record-breaking and awe-inspiring, both on and off the pitch. 

Despite most of us having to go back to work on Monday, the excitement of becoming world champions has continued, giving us all time to reflect on the tournament. So, what can us mere mortals sitting at our desks Monday to Friday learn from coach Rassie Erasmus and the Bokke?

Trust the data

Throughout the tournament, the Springboks relied heavily on box kicking, set piece and defence, which was much maligned for being boring to watch. Ahead of the final, when asked what he made of the suggestions that the Boks were playing “boring” rugby at the tournament, Erasmus said that the team had “followed a certain route and played according to the stats, and the way the game is being refereed currently and what gives you good results in the short term and on the scoreboard”.

Yes, it might have been boring to watch, but we all know how it ended. The point here is that the team stuck to their guns and, crucially, used the data at hand. If you’ve got data to help make decisions, use it; it’ll help you defend your position and explain your reasoning.

Don’t dwell on your mistakes

You probably don’t need reminding that the Springboks started the tournament by losing to New Zealand 23-13 in their World Cup Pool B opener. But they didn’t let it get them down for too long. “That first defeat was a great lesson for us,” Erasmus said. “The whole week was terrible, the entire build-up, and that taught us a lot about how we should handle the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.”

Even world champions make mistakes. If you make mistakes at work (which, we all do) don’t ignore them – instead, debrief as a team after something’s gone wrong. Analyse it, figure it out and use the lessons learnt.

Get some perspective

Erasmus has said that, after the loss to the All Blacks, the team started talking about pressure. “In South Africa, pressure is not having a job. Pressure is one of your close relatives murdered. Because South Africa has a lot of problems, we started talking about how rugby shouldn’t be something that puts pressure on you. It should be something that creates hope…It is not our responsibility as players to create that hope, it is our privilege. The moment you see it that way, it becomes one hell of a privilege. That was the way we approached this whole World Cup campaign.” Sjoe. Gives you chills, doesn’t it?

We spend most of our time at work, so when it’s tough, it can feel like the most important thing in the world. Take a moment to put it into perspective – it’ll help you move on from it and see the lessons you’ve learnt.

Spread the load across your team

For the last four games in the tournament, Erasmus split the reserve bench – the so-called ’bomb squad’ – between six forwards and two backs, rather than the conventional five and three. In layman’s terms, the team spread the physical load across more people. This became evident in the scrums, and the amount of energy the team still had at the end of the 80-minute game.

While you might not be getting into too many scrums at work (one would hope) the point of spreading the heavy load across the team still stands. If you’re pitching for new business or generating ideas for a client, get everyone involved and spread the workload – even if only two will be doing the pitching or dealing with the client. It’ll lighten the load across the team and make everyone feel a part of it.

Remember the end-goal

According to The Guardian, as a young coach Erasmus noted: “It has been scientifically proven that at the end of a game more oxygen is being used to keep tired bodies moving than their brains thinking clearly. I believe that it is at this critical stage that a game is won and lost.”

This partly explains the logic behind the bomb squad lineup, but it also shows that Erasmus thinks about the end of the game right from the beginning. It can be easy to get caught up in the smaller tasks you need to do to reach your end goal, but you need to keep your overall objective in sight. At TopLine Comms, for PR campaigns, we always start with objectives (usually generating awareness or increasing leads), rather than pieces of coverage we need to get. It keeps us on track to hit those bigger goals.

Know your purpose

Erasmus has made clear all tournament his love for the game. He truly believes that rugby has the power to unite a nation – and he’s right. Ultimately, it’s much easier to do your job when you understand what you’re doing and why it makes a difference. It’s essential to have a purpose – if you don’t feel you have a purpose at work, try and figure it out. Speak to your superiors and try to map out the chain effect of what you do in your job. Once you truly believe that what you do is worthwhile, you’ll have much more interest in pursuing it.

Katie Chodosh is a Content Consultant at digital PR and SEO agency TopLine Comms and video production agency TopLine Film, based in Cape Town.

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Meet the accountant of the future

The accountant of the future will need a new set of skills, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, as he meets both the local users and the global creators of Xero accounting software

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Buchule and Sivenathi Sibaca get a highrise view of London. Pic by Arthur Goldstuck

Meet Buchule and Sivenathi Sibaca. They are not only partners in marriage, but also in a thriving accounting business. Buchule and Sivenathi are, respectively, chief executive officer and chief financial officer of SMTAX, which focuses on tax and accounting services for small businesses in the Western Cape, but includes the likes of Absa and Old Mutual among its clients. It employs 18 people and has 4,500 individual and business customers.

That’s not what makes the outfit remarkable. The startling feature of this business is that it has been structured to be a model accounting firm of the next decade. Even more remarkable is the fact that the couple both hail from rural areas where thoughts of the future tend to be about survival rather than blazing new trails.

Last week, they made their first trip out of the country, to attend Xerocon London 2019. This 2-day conference, hosted by the world’s fastest growing accounting software maker, Xero, attracted more than 3,000 delegates from the United Kingdom, Europe Middle East and Africa. A total of 57 Xero partners and users, mostly from accounting practices or suppliers to accountants, made the trek from South Africa.

“It was really about seeing how other accountants on other continents operate in terms of how they think and where their headspace is at,” Buchule told us during Xerocon. “Also, being our first time out of the country, it was to see the culture of other small businesses outside of South Africa. 

“London’s quite different in that regard, but it’s been a really a great learning curve, and we were pleasantly surprised to find elements that look like South Africa, where we can say, at least you’re doing something right. The banking environment is quite unique, as it’s been a really good learning curve in terms of where banking might go to in the future of South Africa if they follow the same trend.”

Buchule comes from the “dusty streets” of Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, while Sivenathi grew up on a farm in a deep rural area near Mthatha.

“I had no idea about technology or the rest of the world or how it could impact the economy in general,” she said. The two met at the University of Cape Town, where she was studying to be an actuary, and he completed a Masters degree in tax. She decided to put actuarial science behind her, however, when the opportunity arose to join Buchule’s business. But her skills helped transform the business.

Said Buchule: “When Sivenathi came on board we did the modeling of the business, and we said that in order to in order to automate the whole bookkeeping journey, we would need to turn closer and closer towards ‘x’, meaning fully automated bookkeeping. We looked at the journey of how long it will it take for us to get to time ‘x’. And then we said, OK, once we get there, what then?

“It was a big realization that when we do get to time ‘x’, the most important thing will be the human touch. That will be the differentiator. So we then spent our time developing that.”

Visit the next page to read more about the Xerocon 2019 event.

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Takealot reveals startling numbers for Black Friday

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Takealot has revealed startling numbers for expected bumper sales this holiday season, beginning next week, and peaking with Black Friday.

South Africa’s leading ecommerce group expects to ship at least one order every second, with roughly 10,000 boxes leaving their warehouses every hour, this shopping season. 

Black Friday was first introduced to South Africa by Takealot in 2012, and has since become an important day in South Africa’s annual retail calendar. It has been a record-breaker for both retailers in the Takealot Group: Takealot and Superbalist. Takealot’s Black Friday gross merchandise value (GMV) grew 125% from 2017 to 2018, with orders up 127%. Superbalist’s Black Friday GMV has grown on average around 50%. This year, CEO Kim Reid is anticipating the biggest Black Friday yet, a culmination of months of tech and operational business-wide focus to prepare for increased predicted traffic and shopper volumes.

ABSA bank estimates that two out of three South Africans participated in Black Friday sales in 2018. And FNB reports in 2018, Black Friday transaction volumes grew by 16% compared with 2017 and anticipates a 15% increase in transactions over the sales period in 2019. 

Successfully meeting this massive growth in orders has been a key focus for the Takealot Group. CEO Kim Reid says throughout the year they have been working to scale operations across multiple areas within the business. “After expanding our Johannesburg distribution centre (DC), our warehouse storage space now stands at 75 000m2. We house over 3.7 million items at any given time, and have opened 47 Takealot Pickup Points in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Gauteng, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Limpopo, Free State and Mpumalanga for order collections and returns, with more to open in the coming months.” 

Takealot Delivery Team delivers to more South African homes than any other courier company in the country. On a monthly basis, they carry out over 1.6-million deliveries,  with this number expected to increase to over 2-million during the shopping season. More than 4,500 drivers currently deliver for the Takealot Delivery Team; a number that is growing every month. The Takealot group anticipates they’ll travel over 4,000 000km from Black Friday until 24 December. “To put that in context, it is the equivalent of circumnavigating the globe over 100 times” says Reid.

Takealot.com’s Blue Dot Sale is a five day sale period which starts on Black Friday (29 November) and sees a range of new deals throughout the weekend as well as on Cyber Monday (2 December) and Takealot Tuesday (3 December), with up to 60% off thousands of items. For the first time, takealot.com will also be giving their shoppers early access to some of its Black Friday deals, starting on 24 November. Fresh new app-only deals will be added daily. 

The Superbalist Showdown will run from 29 November to 3 December, with up to 70% off more than 15 000+ items. Superbalist shoppers will also have early access to Black Friday deals on selected days throughout November, with Superbalist’s Black Friday Spoilers – 24 hours to shop deals that they say won’t be beaten on Black Friday. 

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