Meetings are like chameloens!

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We all are on the drill, get to your desk, switch on your technology and await instructions on your workday as the emails roll in.  Wait for it… wait for it…. and there is the knock on the door and you are summoned to your first meeting for the day.

As you enter the board room, you do a double check to see if you tagged along everything you need to make your spot relevant.  Laptop: check, Phone: check, a positive attitude…. hmmmmm and there it sometimes fall short on the tick list.

Why are we so allergic to meetings?  Yes, some meetings require all the above mentioned, but then there are meetings where you need to break the mould of the corporate tradition and start asking:  Why do we have to have meetings in a boardroom?  Some of my best meetings are being conducted in the hallway on our floor, the kitchen while brewing a cup of coffee for the team or taking a walk outside the office.

Energy are being ignited when we change the setting, rhythm and format of meetings.  One of my interns in the past suffered from Narcolepsy (uncontrollably falling asleep) and that was an amazing trigger to me on how I should conduct meetings.  Here is my list of triggers you should watch out for and make meetings worth while:

  1.  Check your teams non-verbals

You see, my narcoleptic intern helped me to monitor the speed, relevance and format of the meeting.  That moment when her eyes started to droop I know the meeting need to either speed up, or take a break.  This wasn’t just because of her, but we loose and draw energy from people in poor conducted meetings.

2.  The end result

Clearly stipulate with your members what the end result of your meeting will be.  What goal would you like to reach?  Stick to the theme of the meeting and when the meeting get side tracked, refocus the team.  It will only be natural that the discussion will grow into smaller points of discussion, but keep the conversations relevant and in some cases it’s fine to start sub-committees to meet in their own time to sort out the nitty gritty and rather report back to the main meeting.

3.  Time

Keep to the time!  There is NOTHING as irritating as being late or keeping the meeting going beyond the said times.  Everyone is on a schedule and that should be respected.  Should important points arise, either note them down in your minutes, or have a sub-discussion to give feedback.  If that’s not an option, agree with your meeting that you will go over ‘x’ amount of minutes and stick to that.

4.  Minutes

Keep minutes and always reflect with your ‘minute-taker’ that the right content is minuted and formulated correctly.  Many meetings had minutes, but it was so vague and meaningless that it served no purpose at all.  Constantly reflect the decisions and make sure the ‘minute-taker’ jot that down.

5.  Space

Choose your space for meetings.  One on one are usually done off site central to both parties or closer to your clients, but for internal meetings, why not chuck the formal setting all together and rather opt for an informal space away from disruption.

6.  Temperature

In some cases meetings might develop in tension between members and it’s of vital importance to acknowledge everyone on their views and to remember that it’s not a popularity contest, this is about getting work done.  In some point in time, conflict will arise and it’s critical that the focus should always be on the issue at hand and not the person.

7.  Creative

Have fun in meetings.  If someone made an exceptional contribution, why not commend them for it a give them a candle and call them the ‘bright spark’ of the committee.  When we laugh and have fun, our brains heighten the production of Serotonin and Dopamine which ends in a ‘feel good’ experience.  It lies with you as the chairperson to make sure everyone leaves feeling productive, accomplished and good as far as you can.

THEN….

Remember to have good coffee (ok, it’s not the pre-requisite for a good meeting, this is just my addiction speaking).  Bottomline, meetings cannot be conducted in the same format, space and rhythm for each of your audiences.  They need to be different, they need to be creative when it’s a creative crowd, they need to be straight to the point when you have focussed people that are always in a rush.  Keep your finger on the pulse of your group and make the effort to acknowledge each member and their contribution to the table.

Have a good meeting today!

 

What to do in Pretoria!

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Just like most metro areas in our country, Pretoria has it’s own subculture.  Yes, to some it’s a subculture of Rugby, Braaivleis (bbq) and purple Jacaranda tree admirers.  That is the assumption.  Actually, the capital city offers amazing sights, sounds and tastes.  If you were a tourist coming to Pretoria and I were to take you around, this would be my top 10 things I would like to show you:

  1.  Eats & coffee!

Depending on the time of the month, day and maybe the weather, Pretoria offer so many places to have breakfast, lunch and dinner and have an experience of note.  The only thing I feel Pretoria is missing though, is a decent Mexican restaurant.  My suggestions to you….

Breakfasts:  +27Cafe in Hatfield, Grounded in Rietfontein, Oppiplaas in Villieria & 23 On Hazelwood in Waterkloof.

Lunch:  Huckleberry’s in Magnolia Dell, Cafe Bree in Groenkloof, Brewers BBQ in Rietfontein, Respek and Kaaskoek in Waverley, Tashas in Brooklyn.

Dinner:  Ritrovo in Waterkloof, Harissas Bistro in Waterkloof, Culture Club in Waterkloof & Toni’s Pizza in Rietfontein, La Pentola in Riviera.

2.  Markets!

Weekend markets in Pretoria is definitely something to explore as you can catch a bargain and meet some awesome people.  My suggestions to you….

Boeremark:  On every Saturday from early until around 10:00-ish.  They sell mostly food, crafts and fruit and vegetables.

Hazelwood:  Every Saturday in Menlopark next to the Greenlyn Centre and it’s a foodie heaven!  You can get anything from Roosterkoek (roasted dough bread), Pizza cones, Tacos, chillies, artisan breads, cheeses, pestos…… you get the picture.

Market at the Sheds:  Every Saturday in the city centre and African urban market offers you  live music, food, clothes and much more.  Unlike the other two markets, here you have to pay an admission fee of R30pp.  Well worth the trip and the fee.

3.  Historic sites

History is synonymous with the capital and rich in culture.  Some of the trips that are worthwhile making will be visiting….

Mandela Stature & Union Buildings, don’t forget to take a panorama shot with the city as backdrop.

The Voortrekker Monument is situated on a hill just outside the city and do have a restaurant available as well.

Melrose House in Burgerspark is beautiful and if history is your thing, go visit this lovely historical site.

Willem Prinsloo Museum, situated on the N4 outside Pretoria towards Bronkhorstspruit, this site offers you a taste of the old Afrikaans/Boer living.  You might be so lucky to make your own candles there if your timing is right.

Paul Kruger at Church Square in the CBD of Pretoria.  One of those boxes you should tick while you are in the vicinity.

4.  Walk!

Most ‘touristy’ places are based outside the city.  Here we would encourage you to take a walk around the city centre and explore the great architecture and experience the buzz of people, the tastes of street food (if you are brave enough).  Be wise to take a walk during day time and be safe.  A good start will be to visit Paul kruger Statue and make your way to the Market at the Sheds.  A good 4km walk (wors case scenario).  Get coffee at Tribecca or Urban Eatery while you are here!

5.  Take a day trip!

Why not take a day trip out to Hartebeespoort dam (about 40kms) and do some curio shopping, restaurant hopping and see the Dam.  Visit Tant Malies while there, visit Chameleon village and Van Gaalens Cheesefarm.

Catch the Gautrain to Rosebank.  About R100 return and walk around at the Mall and hop off at Sandton station on your way back and visit Nelson Mandela Square and perhaps a visit to Hard Rock Cafe?

Cullinan is about 60kms to the east of Pretoria and is both a historical visit due to the old diamond mines, but also have a rustic atmosphere and street, with great restaurants, shops and lots to enjoy.  You might strike a bargain somewhere.

6.  The National Zoo!

Why not spend a day at the National Zoo here in Pretoria.  It’s an awesome fun outing for young and old and will occupy you a whole day.  Be sure to dress comfortably.

7.  Botanical Gardens!

When visiting a new city, we sometimes rush the living daylights in our routine to check all our visiting boxes.  Be brave and add this one to the list as well and pack your picnic basket and go and relax and wander along the beautiful gardens.  Cost is about R26,00 entry per person.

8.  Rugby fanatic?

Visit Loftus and check to see if you can attend a Rugby match.  While you are there, go grab a cold one at Trademarx the neighbouring waterhole.

9.  Feeling sporty?

Why not grab a mountain bike and go cycle around the Groenkloof Nature Reserve.  Just make sure to go in groups as it is advisable for saftey reasons to not go at it alone.  They do offer guided tours of the reserve as well, be sure to ask them about it.

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10.  Purpleness-ness!

Lastly, if you would like to experience Pretoria in all it’s purple splendour, plan your visit towards the month of October and admire the purple Jacaranda blanket we are blessed with each year.  The belief is, should a Jacaranda blossom fall on you, you will have good luck!  So be prepared to stand as long as it takes, please do not try and shake the trees though!

Other things to consider!

 

Pretoria offers the city bus service that is semi-reliable.  The new Are Yeng bus service (purple) operates between Hatfield and the city centre.  The Gautrain bus system also works well and can be used in conjunction with your train journey.

Now there you have it…. it’s not a lot, but these are great experiences, just depends on the mood your in, the mood of your budget and off course, the mood of mother nature!

Have a ball!

New Year’s Resolutions… should we?

Enjoying that sip of sparkly and bumping glasses to ring in the new year is all fun and games, but then comes ‘that’ topic of discussion.  New years resolutions.  Why do we do it?  I was a bit intrigued by the origin of this and subsequently did some digging.

According to the most reliable and verified source Wikipedia (yeah right) “In religious origins;  the Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.”

Ok, so is this more about personal accountability rather than a re-evaluation?  Speaking to my colleagues and friends most of them decided to either stop smoking, loosing weight, finding their prince/princess charming and so I can go on.  Some just said they aren’t making any since they can’t keep them.

Who are we fooling? Or are we using this opportunity to tell others to help keep us to what we promised we are going to do in the new year?  Ultimately, mine is to get rid of the bulk of myself that shouldn’t be there, get fit and do at least one thing my 60 year old self (when I reach that age) would thank me for.

Making the resolution is the easy part, keeping to it, that is the bummer.  Surely it will take hard work, lots of time and in some cases money, but keeping at it and persevering is the most important part here.  Bottom line; we have to ask: Who are we making these resolutions for? Ourselves and no…. one…… else!!!  So let’s not ‘murder’ ourselves into oblivion to loose that extra kilogram, but let’s rather unpack that fantasy of visiting Babsfontein or some obscure place who’s name you cannot pronounce.  Do things that you normally wouldn’t.  Learn to crochet, or how about a new language or learn how to make a good Fillet Mignon to perfection.

When making new year’s resolutions why not chuck the idea of looking ‘into’ ourselves, but rather outside of ourselves and start that new journey.  Happy new year to you reading this and go ahead and make that resolution……. but make it a bloody good one!