In April this year, my company reached its 4 year milestone. While I was trying to reflect on this achievement during the week of the anniversary, I received a surprise in my Inbox : an email from the chair of the Business Women’s Association in South Africa informing me that I had been nominated by my industry peers in their upcoming Regional Business Woman Of the Year Awards (RBWOYA) 2018. While this did come as a huge surprise, alongside that came anxiety and fear when I realised the amount of work that was needed in order to just accept the nomination. However, it wasn’t actually the volume of work that I needed to do that petrified me (I’m pretty used to pulling all-nighters when required so that wasn’t an issue), but more so questioning, “Am I worthy of this nomination?”, “Do I deserve to be there amongst other great nominees?” and also “Is it worth the effort if I don’t stand a chance of winning?” So I did what every (or most) other women would do, and I looked to many others to validate whether I was worthy enough to accept this nomination.
After much deliberation, and looking for a million reasons to not accept the nomination, I had a final chat (that was ultimately going to be the decider) with an industry peer who has been following my entrepreneurial journey from day 1. She said very bluntly to me : “Lynette, just stop doubting yourself, you are not a one dimensional entrepreneur, not only do you know how to execute , you also inspire and give so much to the digital community, so STOP with the negative thoughts, you would never had made it to the nomination stage if you were not worthy”. So that Friday evening at 7pm, I decided I was going to bite the bullet, pack my fears in a box, pull an all weekender and go for it. I submitted my nomination pack which consisted of a pitch deck and a ton of accompanying documentation on the Monday a few mins before cut off time (life in digital, that’s how we roll). I just pretended I was doing a tender that was going to be submitted at the 99th hour.
The words from the organisers of the awards was to “Enjoy the process” and surprisingly I did. Despite being under immense pressure to get the submission complete in a short space of time, I found the process quite reflective as it forced me to stop and revisit my entrepreneurial journey in all its successes, heartbreaks and failures. Also what I loved most is that this process focused me to look at myself holistically as a businesswoman, business owner, mother, daughter, mentor and industry leader and to finally place all the isolated pieces in the Lynette-puzzle together to finally form a picture . So often we are in execution mode that we never stop to evaluate or appreciate how we got to where we are, and this sort of exercise was good in that it made me pause and reflect. So when I handed in that submission pack, I was truly proud of myself (for the first time in my life) and not just proud of the output from efforts of working what was likely to have been 40 hrs crammed in those 2.5 days, but more so of my journey to date. I am the type of person who will go over and beyond for my clients, but when it comes to personal things, that usually takes a backseat – so for me this was a new experience. And I thought whatever happens, it doesn’t really matter as I gave it my all.
Two weeks later while leaving the gym, I decided to quickly check my emails to see if I needed to make any urgent calls , to which another shocker of an email came through that had the title “Congratulations, You are a RBWOYA 2018 Finalist”. I stood on the stairs at Virgin Active Claremont like one of these statue mimes for a few minutes, then immediately took screen grabs of the email and sent it to the people I had chatted to before I had accepted the nomination , just to check that I was actually reading the email correctly. Everyone’s immediate response was “WOW, Well done”. Then I read through the rest of the process details, which included presenting to a panel of 8 people about my business (which seemed to me like being a participant on Shark Tank, The Apprentice, or Idols without the singing) and of course the nerves and fear all came flooding back. However, as internally nerve wrecking as it was, I toughened up, and did it and actually enjoyed it. I shared my entrepreneurial journey with a panel of very accomplished judges, did some interviews on camera and allowed the awards committee to create a video case study by filming me in action (The reality star vibe didn’t quite come as naturally to me and I haven’t seen the final video yet but I just went with it) . This entire process took a lot of guts from me as this is my 3rd baby (I have 2 human kids), and I’m not used to exposing it to the world like this, but 4 years later I had to, and I guess it was about time as this is inevitably part of my growing process as an entrepreneur.
So in summary, as hard as it was and despite my fears , I am SO honoured, humbled and delighted to be a finalist in this year’s Regional Business Woman Of the Year Awards (RBWOYA) 2018. I am shortlisted amongst 17 amazing women across a variety of sectors and it’s absolutely fabulous to be given this platform where we can celebrate each other’s successes. As women especially, we don’t often get the right opportunity to network and certainly hardly ever get to celebrate our stories with likeminded women in our sectors, let alone across all sectors so I love what the BWA is doing to foster a sense of community amongst us.
For the first time ever, I am actually not concerned about whether I win or lose on the night. I am so proud to be representing my industry sector amongst these other worthy finalists. Each of the 17 finalists (you can find out who they are here) are so unique in their business offerings that I believe together we are definitely setting the bar by encouraging other women to follow. For me, that is a win on its own. We, as women need to see other women doing well and by celebrating each other’s successes, it allows us to get inspired and grow irrespective of our life circumstances and I hope more platforms follow suit of the BWA.