G-Force – Edition 1
Dear G Force Hub member,
This letter is the first of many and we hope to share inspiring stories, thoughts and interviews with enterprising go-getters and fearless go-givers. Happy reading!
Enter the portal to career and business success
On my journey as an entrepreneur, and then becoming a lecturer in the field of entrepreneurship, I have had so many encounters with young people who got stuck along their way. They waited for the right person to save them, the right amount of money to start a business, the right opportunity that might come along, and a right time to make a move. Too many of them believed that “one day is one day”. My question to them was always: “What if now is as good as it gets?”
My experience is that people who get stuck are often not ready for the challenges they face due to a lack of exposure and skills, thus they are unable to see the opportunities available to them. Due to the lack of exposure and skills, their truth seems to be that opportunities are scarce and out of reach. Traditionally, young people have been advised to get a good education to move forward. In the new world in which we live, education is the foundation that allows you to design your own future.
Through engagement and experiences, I have learned some valuable lessons on how people move forward. The first step is to admit that you are not a victim and learn from those who are action oriented and positive change makers. On the contrary, you need to acknowledge that you can be your own hero and that you, like everyone else in this world, are able to engage and master skills that move you forward. The second step is to learn how to be yourself, engage working people who you can learn form and in this way unlock the natural inner power to design a way forward. It is almost like entering hero mode, then entering your own portal to greatness and in doing so, you remind others that they can do this too. I dare young people who feel stuck to step into themselves and to use platforms like this one to seize the moment with others on a journey to greatness.
Whenever you feel stuck, remember the words of Milton Berle: “If opportunity does not knock, build a door”. So, engage with successful people and be careful who you allow to rent space in your mind.
A force to be reckoned with: Sandile Nkosi
Sandile Nkosi is a man with a plan, a warm smile and a lot of positive energy. This entrepreneurial-designer strikes those he meets as charismatic, free spirited and enthusiastic. He communicates, engages and is always reliable and helpful. Sandile is an alumnus form the University of Johannesburg (Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture) and graduated in 2006 with an honours degree in Graphic Design. He worked in the industry for some adverting agencies and he acquired considerable teaching experience in South Korea. After nearly a decade of working for others, he simply got stuck and mentions: “It wasn’t for me, I wasn’t fulfilled and it didn’t feel like a creative environment for me”. In an interview with Sandile, it was easy to see why his brilliant holistic mind and creative spirit needed an extreme challenge. These days, he views himself as a social entrepreneurial–designer who solves everyday problems through design.
Sandile started a business “Printsavy” a few years back, but decided to relaunch a new business with his business partner (also a UJ alumnus with an industrial design background) to pursue viable markets. Together, these two men have conceptualised and co-created their business: Protovate. Their unique offering is co-creating green customized products and furniture using sustainable timber.
In January 2017 Sandile received a Beeston award in a competition relating to green start-up SMME’s. He shares that this was a highlight for his career but also mentions how he used this competition, offered by a local incubation hub, to gain access to prestige clients such as Coca-Cola, BP and Development Bank SA. Other prominent clients that support Protovate include the Gordan Institute of Business Science (GIBS) and SAB. Nevertheless, this humble entrepreneur never says no to any potential client.
On balancing working in the business and on the business Sandile simply advises that one needs to be flexible, be a contributor to others and build networks that can support the business. He also emphasises the importance of trustworthy partners that in the event of too much work, “help the business make more sales.”
Sandile’s top tips for aspiring entrepreneurs are:
1. Join an incubation hub for business support. He emphasises the importance of mentorship in incubation hubs by saying: “you do not know how big the forest is until you have met someone who has been in the forest. You need someone who can help you map out the forest, and help you identify what to look out for”
2. Nurture the relationship with business partners. Be a partner that your partners can count on. Acknowledge that life will happen and that you are there to support each other. Communicate with these partners and ensure all are on the same page every six months.
3. Always look for the opportunity in every situation with a teachable attitude and remember that opportunities are often outside your comfort zone. He emphasises that no designer should just stick to his/her field of speciality but be bold and explore new avenues as well.
4. Keep your eye on the vision of the business as things change and one needs to ask yourself some challenging questions sometimes: “Are we doing this because we do this, or because there is a goal that we are trying to achieve?”
5. Keep your spirit up. “Keep doing the things you love and spend time with family and loved ones. Follow what keeps you interested; enjoy the highs to get through the lows”.
A final word of advice from Sandile on how he is able to stay motivated in his career seems to relate to his ability to be himself and appreciate the small things as much as the big things in life. In this regard Sandile shares:
“Be present (in the moment). We are not human doers. We are human beings. So, always take time to smell the roses!”
May the force be with you
The final word in this first edition goes to Prof. Federico Freschi (executive dean of the Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture, UJ) who embodies his message to all design students with a kind “dab”:
“You have in your heart, mind and hands the power to design the world you want to have, and want to leave behind. Use it wisely!”