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I’ll lend you my friends!

Here is some business advice from 4 Phenomenal Women in Business, who happen to be my friends, in the form of a Q & A session. 

Article by: Elmarie Pretorius

Marilyn Monroe said, “A wise girl knows her limits, a smart girl knows that she has none.” Women juggle a household, family and friends and we manage to build a career, climb that corporate ladder, even become an entrepreneurial giant. The female species think differently, handle situations differently, do business differently and therefore lead differently.  It is safe to say that women are astounding beings. And I am so proud to be a woman. 

I like to associate myself with phenomenal women who, as they say… “get it”. Women who have so much to teach, so much to offer. Women with drive and who inspire me. I have a women-like-minded friend group who believe that we can empower women through our own experiences. They too believe that passing on their knowledge through mentoring, it will help future women leaders evolve to achieve their own dreams and goals. For this reason, I decided to “lend you 4 of my friends” to give some business advice in the form of a Q and A session. Maybe you might learn from such advice or maybe it will leave you not feeling alone. 

So, grab that cup of coffee and without further ado, let me do the introductions: 

Meet Debra Fritz, the remarkable, vibrant, and dynamic woman who despite her childhood made a conscious decision to be strong and successful both in her career and family life. She currently holds the position as General Manager at C&I Electrical. 

Then we have Amanda van Rhyn who has been with Penguin Random House for over 20 years. She worked her way up the corporate ladder and is now the National Marketing Manager who takes her team to new heights in the publishing industry. 

Yolandi Nortje holds the position as Managing Owner of Norco, a company that specialises in all HR related issues and has been in the human resources business for over 30 years. She is not only resourceful but also inspiring through showcasing her leadership qualities and her endurance.

And then last, but not the least, is Leonie Louw who has been a Human Resources Manager for more than 25 years.

Now that the formalities are out of the way, let’s dive right into the first question.

Q: What is the best business lesson you have ever learned?


Debra: “Change is good. Change is VERY good. When people adapt to change in a good way, a crisis is not that big of a deal. I even change my office layout every month or two just to keep things interesting. Another important thing I learned was that work will always be there, but when you love yourself and allow yourself some “me-time”, you will accomplish your career goals.”

Amanda: “I learned 4 valuable lessons I still live by today. 1. Admit when you’ve made a mistake and fix it if you can, if not – learn from it, and move on. 2. Never take things personally – it’s business, not high school. 3. Patience is everything and number 4 is to make peace with the fact that you can’t please everyone.”

Yolandi: “If someone has angered you, they have conquered you – never display your emotions straight away.  Think twice and act once. Simple advice but it has done wonders for me.”

Leonie: “To do ‘scenario planning’, i.e., anticipate various “what-ifs” situations and have a plan ready for each possible or expected event/outcome. This helped me to feel ready and to be prepared. When I do this, I feel in control, especially of tough situations, which in turn helped me to take better and quicker decisions.”

Q: What profound advice you have received in business?


Debra: “Stay humble and do not allow business to interfere with family life – keep your balance. My greatest regret in life was that I didn’t make enough time to go to my boys’ rugby matches. The work will always be there, but my boys grew up too fast and I only realized that later on.”

Amanda: “Always have a notebook to write things down, or you will forget! And start at the bottom and learn as much as you can. That way you will understand everything better, and you’ll be more empathetic when you have to manage it one day.”

Yolandi: “Advice I actually received from Elmarie – rather be sorry about something you did do than something you didn’t do.”  

Leonie: “The short and sweet answer: to differentiate between opportunities and temptations.”

Q: What were the most effective training initiatives or programs that you attended? 


Debra: “Training that meant the world to me was conflict resolution and leadership development. I learned that a leader finds an opportunity out of conflict.”

Amanda: “A copywriting workshop. I use what I’ve learned there every day when coming up with briefs for adverts or even just writing emails! And a publishing workshop – obviously! Digital marketing training also comes in very handy as digital plays such a big role in marketing these days and it changes constantly.”

Yolandi: “Project management and facilitation training has laid a solid foundation for the role that I am in today.  It taught me structure, discipline, control, and above all, perseverance.”

Leonie: “Anything facilitated by Elmarie Pretorius from The Mindspa Institute! She inspires people by sharing her wisdom and the lessons she learned from her own business successes. I also found training courses in, effective communications, human relations, and leadership development programmes beneficial as it helped me develop personally and I could integrate it into the workplace.” 

Q: How do you cope with work and being a mom? 


Debra: “Teach yourself and practice it. Enforce a balance in your daily activities. Be a 100% present in every situation. When you are at work, give a 100% but when you are at home, forget about work and give family life also a 100%. Train yourself to cross over to different situations.”

Yolandi: “This has probably been the most difficult part.  As women, we constantly feel guilty, even when we do enough.  I have taught myself to stop feeling guilty.  Through the years I have made a point of spending quality time with my children and to really be there, in the moment, when I am interacting with them – to give them my undivided attention. With them being grown-ups now, it obviously is a lot easier, but I still treasure the time that we do get to spend with each other and try to focus solely on them during that time. Communication with your children is the most important aspect.  Tell them how you feel and what your challenges are – they are a lot more understanding than we think.”

Q: Name one thing that can help other working moms


Debra: “Again create a balance between your personal family life and your business life. Make everyone around you feel important and loved and they will return the favour.”

Yolandi: “I can’t mention only 1 – sorry…but here are some tips. Number 1 ensure that you have a support structure in place, whether it means someone to cook a meal or to pick up the children. Secondly have a mentor/coach/friend that you trust completely and that you can soundboard with.  We all sometimes need a reality check! Then stop feeling guilty and do what you can.  Look after yourself in terms of “me-time” and make time to spend with your family.  And then lastly leave work at work and home at home.”

And that’s a wrap! I would like to thank my friends, for taking the time to assist me with this article. These women gave some real-life-experience advice and now it is up to you to absorb and live by it. How many times have you heard on the plane during the safety briefing: “When the oxygen mask drops, firstly secure on yourself, then assist others?” But no, we as women go around filling everyone else’s cup and hardly leave enough for ourselves. As businesswomen, mothers, and wives, we are used to thinking of everyone before ourselves and we give our power away too easily. We lose track of what is important and totally overthink most of the smaller nitty gritty things that don’t really matter. 

Soft skill coaching and the training of South African Women in business, is a topic and an area of specialty that I particularly take great interest in. We can admit that there exists some form of self-sabotage in every woman. Being able to identify these and work to avoid them can improve not only your professional life, but also your personal wellbeing.  Now it is up to you to keep your career on track and take control of your entire life to elevate your ability to outshine everyone else.