MBOMBELA – When Ms Sandra Jacobs and Mr Andy Lubbe started the Innibos Festival, it was still only a dream. “It is succesful now, after we have built it for 13 years,” she said.
The winner of the Bring Change Lowveld mentorship programme, Ms Phephsile Maseko recently had the opportunity to spend time with Jacobs. She shared her advice on fulfilling the many roles a woman has in life and in business with the mentee.
“Sometimes it is better not to know what difficulties you may encounter at the start,” Jacobs said. “Then you pursue your dream with everything in you.”
As the marketing manager for the country’s most popular arts festival, Jacobs knows what it takes to transform a dream into a success over many years.
“I love the arts,” she said. “But what really inspires me is creating something that didn’t exist before. Every year I try to find something to add to the festival that is unique to that year, something different.
“Our theme for 2016 is ‘Dream big’, so we will make a dream come true for each year of the festival’s existence.
“Is it not easy. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.”
This week Jacobs shares her 10 pearls of wisdom for a successful and happy life and career with Lowvelder readers.
1. Begin with the end in mind
“Fake it till you make it,” Jacobs said. “It is a joke, but it is also true in a sense. From the outset we said Innibos was going to be one of the biggest festivals in the country. We positioned ourselves accordingly and grew into ourselves.”
Don’t lie, she cautioned, but have a clear vision of where you want to go and push yourself in that direction relentlessly.
“Don’t ever think that your dreams are too big or not achievable. Every new product or invention that exists was once regarded as an impossible dream. We must not live small lives and think small thoughts. We are all destined for greatness.
“Make big plans and pursue your dreams with passion. With every obstacle you face and every decision you make, don’t lose sight of the dream.”
2. Time is a precious gift, so use it well
Jacobs said the day she realised that even the most powerful people only got 86 400 seconds deposited into their life accounts daily, just like everyone else, her perspective changed dramatically.
“In that sense every single person on earth is equally rich. Barack Obama and Joe Soap both get exactly the same amount of time every day.
“You cannot carry it over to the next day or save it to use it later. What you do not use wisely is lost forever. You can always get more money, but you can never get more time.
“Greatness is determined by how well you use this gift. It is the most precious thing we have. So ask yourself, in this minute, am I doing something I love? Is it in congruence with who I am? Sitting still to reflect can be using time wisely so you don’t lose sight of who you are.”
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff
Sometimes we are perfectionists, she said. However, making mistakes is inevitable. “The only people who never fall are those who never do anything,” Jacobs said.
“Falling is nothing. Not getting up after you have fallen is failure.”
Her advice is to ask yourself, when something goes really wrong, whether it would still matter in five years’ time? “If the answer is no, let it go immediately.
Don’t mull over mistakes too much. Learn from them. Welcome them as part of a learning process. Don’t let them shrink your self-worth.
“Mistakes can make you a stronger person, equipping you to go where you should be.”
4. People are more important than things
In pursuit of your dreams and goals, never forget the people who had helped you get there and never, ever trample on those below you. “The real value of person is how he treats someone who does not contribute to his life,” Jacobs said.
“The people who helped you along the way and those working for you, are really the most important ones in making you who you are.”
She added that being people orientated didn’t mean you should not be assertive and let people trample on you. Be steadfast in what you stand for, but remember that it is easy to degrade people below once you become successful and not give them the attention they deserve. Never do that.
5. Never stop learning
Jacobs said she gets heart palpitations whenever her grandson asks her to build a puzzle with him.
“I can’t build puzzles,” she laughs. And yet, each time she tries. “I try to learn something new every day, even if it is a small thing,” she said.
Stay abreast of developments in your field, or try something new. “If we do not challenge ourselves continuously, we tend to stagnate.”
6. Stay true to yourself
Never try to be a copy of someone you admire. You have been created to do and be exactly what you should be to fulfil your purpose in life. You might not be perfect, but you are unique.
“Your knowledge, personality and skills set, everything makes you specifically suited to pursue your specific purpose in life. Focus on being the best possible you.
“As you grow older you get a different perspective on yourself and see where your shortfalls are. To be successful, don’t focus on these. Put your energy into your strengths and don’t fuss about what you cannot do or be.
“If you spend all your time trying to perfect in something you are not good at, where will you find the time to do what you are good at?”
7. Believe in your product
“If you don’t believe in your product so strongly that you would defend it with your life, don’t expect someone else to do it,” Jacobs said.
If you need financing or a customer, how can they believe in your product if you don’t? “Unequivocally believing in what you do or produce is the number-one secret of successful marketing.”
8. Be a creative problem-solver
“Expect obstacles,” Jacobs said. “Nothing that is worthwhile comes easy. Look for unexpected solutions to existing problems.
“Be creative in how you approach your problems and difficulties. It creates uniqueness, which is very important.”
Everything is easier when you smile.
10. Balance all the balls
Discern what seems important and what is really important, Jacobs advised. She spoke about how a long time ago, when her son was in grade five, she went to one of his cricket matches. He was next to bat, and his best friend was at the crease.
“I was thinking, I need to get back to the office, and I thought can’t they just get his friend out so that I can see my son bat? Driving back to the office I realised my priorities were wrong.” Since that day she has made a concerted effort to ask herself: will this still be important in five years’ time?
“Spending time with your family is one of the things that will still matter in five years’ time,” she said.
“It is important to specifically make time for yourself and your family. When you are too busy with only work-related things you tend to lose focus. I sometimes still find this difficult, but living a balanced life is essential to being truly happy and successful.”
- Read what other mentors in the Bring Change Lowveld programme have to share: