It’s a great privilege for me to be featured in the December 2011 issue of the Oprah Magazine.
As with most of these, due to space constraints and other issues the editors are unable to publish the full interview. I thought it would be a good idea to publish the full interview as context to what was published in the print magazine. So here it is.
Please share a little about your background.
I’m the youngest of three children. I started my career as a Network Administrator for a large IT company. I then moved onto one of my passions, which is being creative – I became a Graphic Designer for an advertising company, but soon discovered that I had an entrepreneurial spirit which led me to starting my own business in coaching & training which later evolved into co-founding Social Media IQ.
How and why did you start Social Media IQ?
My partner and I co-founded Social Media IQ in 2008, it was the natural evolution of our coaching business. We were working virtually with coaches and clients all over South Africa and had to use modern communication tools to stay connected and run our business successfully. Social Media IQ is a leading edge new media consultancy and training company that teaches business owners and entrepreneurs to use social media as part of their daily communication. We believe that the more connected we are as humans the better for the whole planet, and for the first time this is possible through the power of social media. Our intention and desire is to help and empower people to become connected so that they can spread their powerful message, whatever that may be, and in turn grow their business and personal brand!
Please describe a “day in the life” of Lisa – outline your key responsibilities.
With us it’s all hands on deck – there’s never a dull moment
- Planning and coordinating social media project flow and time lines
- Briefing and leading development team on design and functionality of digital/online spaces, evaluating the end product and proving feedback
- Planning, coordinating and designing of creative elements on social media strategy projects including corporate identities, websites and social media profiles
- Facilitating the implementation of social media strategies
- Research and analysis of client’s target audience
- Training and leading client’s team on the usage of digital spaces e.g. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Custom Designed Social Networks
- Community building best practices and online engagement
What is your motto/ guiding principle in the workplace?
Under promise and over deliver.
How many people are in your team/ report to you?
Social Media IQ is owned by my partner and I; however we have teams that we collaborate with to provide our clients with the solutions they need. This makes us really agile.
What do you LOVE about your job?
I love the creative part of what we do, every project that we work on is unique – a different industry, product or service, which makes each project an exciting challenge. We have to come up with creative and strategic ideas on how to help the client integrate social media into their daily business. I also love the fact that I work for myself which allows me to be in control of my career and the decisions I make.
What’s not to love?
Because of the fact that this is an “always-on” industry, it’s sometimes hard to keep a balance. Work can always go with me which makes it difficult to switch off.
Please share one of your biggest accomplishments since starting Social Media IQ.
There are so many but let me share the current project that we are busy with. We’ve developed a social media strategy for a large commercial property developer/landlord, The Success Academy Properties, in Pretoria and we’re currently busy with the implementation phase, connecting 100 businesses in their office parks.
What are your strengths (i.e. great time management) and your weaknesses (hate admin) and how do you balance them?
Strengths: Persistent, consistent, dedicated, creative, extremely detailed and I go the extra mile.
Weaknesses: I’m a Perfectionist with a capital P! I strive to do everything perfectly – from looking after myself, my household, my business and my relationships. But I’ve learnt that perfection is a serious burden to carry as you are never satisfied – even if your work is brilliant. I have to prepare thoroughly for meetings, trainings etc, so going with the flow or adapting to a new plan is not always easy. That’s where my partner fills in, as he can adapt quickly and easily to any situation, which makes us a great team!
Who or what motivates you to succeed?
Interestingly the woman who motivates me most is Oprah, a woman who through adversity & personal difficulty built an empire which now greatly assists other people to reach their dreams. What she has accomplished has always been an inspiration to me; to become more, grow, and achieve as much as I can.
I’m a creative spirit and creativity can’t be switched off – it’s there all the time. Creativity wants to be expressed and this drives me every day to do more and be more! I focus on how I can become a better person one day at a time – just being slightly better than yesterday.
What types of challenges do you face?
Keeping a balanced life is the biggest challenge, yes I love running my own business, it’s fantastic to be your own boss and to be flexible enough to plan your days oppose to having to fit into someone else’s plan. But having said this, running your own business is not always easy. I don’t work normal hours, a typical day will start at 5am and end at 8/9pm, and most weekends are spent working. Running your own business requires serious commitment and dedication. That’s why being passionate about what you do is key, because then it often doesn’t feel like work – it feeds your soul and makes you happy!
Tragedy struck me in a big way, as I lost my sister, mother & then my father in the space of 5 years. At first this was very difficult for me to understand and accept, but as time passed it got me to ask the big questions in life: Why are we here? What is our purpose? And how do we live a fulfilled life? The answers to these questions have put me on a spiritual path which I’m so grateful for and have made me realize that each and every one of us have a role to play in the bigger plan. Our contributions, no matter how small or big, make a difference to the whole.
Which practical skills do you employ on a daily basis?
I try to live in day-tight compartments. You only have to focus on living healthy today, being active today, being a great parent today, a loving partner today, a leading business woman today, giving back today and being happy today. You don’t have to worry about tomorrow. When you do this you will feel the weight lift from your shoulders – because anyone can do these things for just one day!
One of Oprah’s guiding principles is “Find Your Balance”. How do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?
Meditation in the morning is important to centre myself and to create an intention of how I would like my day to unfold. Exercise is also key in keeping my energy levels high and my body healthy, I don’t always get this right when we’re busy with large projects, but I try to exercise at least 5 x per week.
One day a week I switch off from the “always on, always connected world” and do something different, like having lunch at a great restaurant with my partner, a picnic in nature, reading a book outside, seeing a movie or having a relaxing treatment at a spa. I’m an animal and nature lover so to get away from it all I connect to the stillness and peace that nature offers or simply listen to the purring of my cats when I stroke them.
What are the most important social media platforms for a person in business? Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
The social media tools that you use are dependent firstly on what your objectives are as a business, and secondly which social media tools the audience that you are trying to reach are using. We see so many businesses making the mistake of putting tools before strategy so for example they may open up a Twitter account when their audience is on Facebook. So just to emphasise the tools you use are completely dependent on where your community is.
However having said this it’s important for individuals to be active on social networks in their private capacity so that they can understand and learn the new skill set required to operate in this rapidly evolving field and become digital natives themselves. For that I recommend joining a network where most of your friends or business associates are, so if they’re on Facebook for example be active there.
Please share tips on how each of these can help our readers to further their careers and grow their personal brand or business.
One of the most important things that you can do, is to tune into conversations that are happening on the social web especially around your niche and your interests. This way you can quickly learn how social media is being used by thought leaders in your field.
- Create a Twitter account and follow some industry specific lists. It’s a fantastic listening tool. You can find some great lists on Listorious. Search and follow hashtags to keep up to date with the latest news on a specific topic. (You can even use this for something as practical as traffic updates, I’ve created a list (saved search) for #JHBtraffic and #PTAtraffic so whenever I have to leave the office I check this list to get an update on the traffic.)
- To learn the skills of how to engage online Facebook and Google’s latest communication platform, Google+ are great platforms for you to learn how to speak digital, create a profile and connect with friends and colleagues there. For example on both these platforms you can create private groups/circles to group different people together, this way you can communicate with each group independently i.e you can communicate freely on a personal level with friends and family and more strategically with your business associates.
- Learn how to use your mobile device to stay connected, the biggest concern that people have with social media is: where do I find the time in my already busy day? When you can access everything from your mobile then you are able to respond in between, while waiting in a queue, or sitting in the boardroom waiting for your colleagues to arrive.
- Use a social dashboard like Hootsuite to aggregate all your social media streams into one place and post to different networks from the dashboard – great tool for time management by not having to visit several different social network platforms to keep up. I use Hootsuite to organise all the different streams that I follow, from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn, I also follow different industry specific lists from here and I keep an eye on our client’s profiles. You can download the desktop application for your computer, use the web version (which I prefer) and a mobile app (I use Hootsuite’s mobile app on my iPhone – great to stay connected while I’m out of the office)
- Use your real name and a real profile picture on your social networking profiles, people do business with people and not with fake profiles, cartoon characters or company logos. Be real, be human and you will go very far in building your personal brand!
Social media is a lot more complex than having a profile on a popular network, there is much more involved in having a well integrated social media presence for your business! Why not find out how to develop a social media strategy for your business by reading these posts we have done on the subject:
Lisa Breedt, co-founder of Social Media IQ, is a social media consultant & trainer and a certified coach who helps individuals discover the power of being connected to others who can help them grow as people and take their businesses to the next level.