Joburg, meet Nadia (if you don’t know her already). She is a well-known keynote speaker and specialises in communications and professional development training. One of Nadia’s more recent projects includes co-writing a great book called, OWN Your Space, with the founder of Beyond The Dress, Lori Milner.
1. OWN Your Space is so relevant to today’s ‘working woman’ – how did you and Lori come up with the idea for the book?
The idea of writing a book that could assist women at every level of their careers to skilfully navigate their careers began over a cup of coffee. We wanted it to be something that had the most potential to positively impact our audiences from Johannesburg to Atlanta.
After much brainstorming we decided to write about what women struggled with most, and that was projecting a real sense of self confidence, particularly when it came to navigating male dominated environments.
We not only share our own guidance and advice for achieving your potential, and coming across as the very best, most competent version of yourself. We have also interviewed some of the smartest, most successful women in business and shared their advice and guidance. Our goal was to create the quintessential guide for EVERY woman at every stage of their career. We wanted it to be, not only suggestions for what you SHOULD be doing, but also a how-to.
2. While all the sections in the book are important, which, if any, do you deem to be the most crucial for readers?
The ability to truly “own your space”, to come across with confidence, competence and polish, all starts with your attitude and the messages you send yourself. With this in mind, the first chapter, Own Your Head Space, is an absolutely crucial one. Realising your full potential, and coming across as the very best version of yourself is a combination of many factors, but it all starts with your mind-set.
3. What were yours and Lori’s thoughts behind including a chapter on Owning Your Virtual Space?
So much of the way we communicate is ‘virtually’, be it email, text, phone, social media etc. In coming across as your most professional, most competent self, an understanding of how you are coming across virtually is critical to your career success.
In this chapter, we look at everything from best email practices to what your LinkedIn profile says about you. Throughout the book we give you tips and techniques to enhance the overall way you are perceived.
4. Where did your passion for empowering woman come from? Was there perhaps a moment in your career that ignited that passion?
I remember coaching the Miss SA pageant finalists in 1994, the year that Basetsana Kumalo won. I had the pleasure of working with them on their “presence” and the overall way they came across on camera. It was then that I realised how coaching that focused on both mind-set and hard-core skills could be. The transformation was remarkable. Many of the pageant finalists have gone on to be successful businesswoman.
It was lovely to see another contestant Johanna Makgalemele (Mukoki) recently. She said the coaching I did with her over 20 years ago was foundational and contributed enormously to her success. It is feedback like this that continues to inspire me.
5. You’ve obviously had a very successful career – in that time, is there something in particular that has kept you going or kept you motivated?
There are two main things that keep me motivated: the first is being the mother of two young women – Alexa (25 ) and Julia (22), and I am driven by being the best possible role model for them. This entails being disciplined, overcoming disappointments with grace and constantly asking how can I be a better person.
I am also deeply motivated by the feedback I get after my presentations, workshops and coaching sessions. There is nothing more inspiring than when someone says, “As a result of your session, I got promoted” or “I used to be so nervous, but I completely nailed that presentation.”
6. Can you name one highlight/specific moment in your career that stands out from the rest?
There have been a few!
- I loved hosting the opening of the SOS Children’s Villages in Cape Town with [former] President Mandela.
- Interviewing Meryl Streep, Matt Damon , George Clooney and Anthony Hopkins.
- Speaking to Coca-Cola North America’s HR Department about ‘Unleashing the Power of Your Personal Presence’.
- Finally, doing a weekly segment on CNN, talking about everything from the World Cup to international reaction to Joan Rivers’ death.
7. Do you have any words of inspiration for woman who want to ‘own their space’?
- Remember, nobody views you with the microscopic lens you view yourself, so don’t be tortured by self-consciousness.
- Don’t compare yourself to other people.
- Be aware that everything you do and say, both verbally and non-verbally, both in persona and virtually, contributes to the overall way you are perceived.
- Develop a powerful “Positive Emotional Memory Database” – Chapter 1 of Own Your Space.
By Nicole Naidoo