Guest Post: My travel, my truth (tips for traveling with and without friends)

Travel
Photo by STIL on Unsplash

I have been privileged enough to travel overseas twice on someone else’s budget. My first overseas trip was to the USA in 2014 and my second trip took me all the way to Portugal in Europe.

On my first trip, I had 9 other companions and we were all friends so there was no doubt that it was going to be fun. All of us were heavily involved and committed to making the process perfect. Upon arrival, we were mandated to be in Boston for 4 days for a Young Leader’s Summit, but hey! We were finally in ‘Merica and we absolutely could not let this opportunity pass us by without some kind of exploration.

We had a grand ol’ time in Boston but as fate and “the spirit of YOLO” would have it, we made a pit stop in NEW YORK, (yes NEW YORK CITY the big apple) and boy was it magical!

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Trip to ‘Merica with my friends

TRAVELLING WITH FRIENDS

There is something special in travelling with friends. A dynamic you can’t really attain when you travel with family or work acquaintances. Here are some of the elements I found most enjoyable when travelling with people who are your friends:

  • Flexible itinerary– having the freedom to change the itinerary depending on how everyone feels that day with no hard feelings.
  • Prior planning– we knew how much it would cost if we were to go to every tourist attraction in NY and Boston.
  • Work hard play harder– we made time for work and time for fun. We also made time for people to rest when they needed to.
  • Friends bring familiarity and some sort of security– traveling to a different country can be overwhelming but having people you can call “friends” brings a sense of calmness and adventure.
  • Shared interests– Prior conversations around the trip ensured that expectations were laid out. We all knew what each of us wanted out of the experience and it was so comforting when the boys made time for the girls to do some shopping ☺
  • Picture perfect– We all wanted to share every moment so we became each other’s professional photographers.

I do not believe that these benefits would have been as prominent had I travelled with individuals with whom I did not share a common interest. So this trip really set the bar high in terms of how I would like to experience traveling in the future.

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Musings in Portugal

My second travelling experience was pretty interesting… I had an opportunity to travel again, but this time it was to Europe for a work conference.  I was tasked with hosting 4 delegates who would also be attending the same conference I was going to and had little to no time to plan my itinerary. So here I was with 4 complete strangers and a colleague in Portugal. FUN. To make matters worse, unlike with the USA trip, I didn’t know much about Portugal except that Cristiano Ronaldo, the famous football star was born there. Despite all of this the extrovert in me remained optimistic and hoped for the experience to turn into another perfect opportunity to make lifelong friends (Boy could I have been more wrong…. haha).

TRAVELLING WITH ACQUAINTANCES

The city was beautiful and there was so much to do and explore but because the sense of “shared interest” and of familiarity which I spoke about earlier was kinda missing, the trip was a complete dud. Looking back on my experience I would say there are definitely some key learnings and take outs. It is possible to have fun travelling with acquaintances and here is what you can look out for in order to ensure the greatest time:

  • Preparation is KING– but also leave some room for spontaneity. Have a plan in place but also allow yourself to be moved by adventure. The last thing you want to experience when traveling is the monster called frustration.
  • Understand the most optimal means of transportation in your destination AND ENSURE YOU ARE ALL ON THE SAME PAGE ABOUT THE DECISION- you know why? So you avoid that thing again, frustration :).
  • Have a budget and communicate this with others around you so you all can participate in things that will leave you breathless ☺.
  • Pre travel drinks– If you will be traveling with people who are not your friends, make some time for a quick hangout over drinks so you get familiar and understand expectations.
  • Have fun– try to make the most out of any situation; after all you’re stuck together in that country, truly be open-minded.

Traveling is priceless it enables you to take a pause from your normal life and experience how other people live. The benefit truly outweighs the cost. After all, “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” So it’s okay to go beyond how you regulate your life on a daily basis but travel with people who will make the experience unforgettable.

Girl traveling

                                                                                           Guest Post Author: Faith Tembe

Faith Tembe is a vibrant young professional with a passion for purpose driven work.

She holds an honours degree in Industrial Psychology and currently doing a Masters of Management in Entrepreneurship and New Venture Creation.

She draws her experience from the corporate environment with specific focus on Innovation and Transformation management.

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The future of work from a millennial’s perspective

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Photo by Martin Shreder on Unsplash

It’s no doubt that organizations have started considering and taking shape in order to be future fit. Some organizations could be progressing more rapidly that others due to a geographical influence but what matters is that the pivot in business complements the environment these organizations are working in.

Earlier this year I had the privilege of sitting in on one of South Africa’s most renowned business trends expert and from this engagement I was exposed to quite a few insights around where are businesses going which I would like to share with you.

Business disruption is occurring across all industries.

PART 1

We are moving to an age where organisations are obsessed with company culture:

  • Being collaborative and not silo-driven, employers will hire employees who basically push beyond boundaries. We will begin to see a rise in people who are driven by achieving a greater purpose rather than a monomaniacal focus on profits.

Death of the legacy companies!!! Agile companies have a lifespan of 15 years and not because they exit the business lifecycle at the end of the 15 years but because they pivot frequently. (Because this is the future of the business and business- owner mind-set corporates will be serving/ servicing, the big question here is “what steps do corporates in South Africa need to take in order to become relevant for their future client?”

Collapse of the value chain. The space between the product and customer is getting narrower (E.g. Beyoncé and Tidal). Business owners are cutting the middle man and the need to quantify value for money/services rendered increases

The lengthening Omni-channel. It is becoming crucial for corporates to find out where customer are experiencing their brand and whether all the channels are “saying the same” thing.

Digitization pawns, the essential business pivot (Biggest disruptions globally being seen in the automotive industry: ride sharing and driverless cars, and healthcare: Augmented Reality learning techniques)

Mechanization, robotics and the erosion of jobs (Google: Relay Robot).

PART 2

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Photo by 胡 卓亨 on Unsplash

So in the midst of the tech hurricane, what’s going to happen to our jobs?

Critical thinking, leadership, communication and problem solving ability is key!!! The ability to display the skill of Lateral Thinking in a role will be crucial. Punt this and evolve in this.

New economies enabling new industries. People find themselves in industries they would have never imagined because of this new need of different thinking. (E.g. the partnership between the digital music guy who was hired by LVMH to help build them an ecommerce website….)

The on demand economy/ The sharing economy (Hyatt pairing with Airbnb to create “unhotel” experiences)/ The gig economy (This is forcing companies to rethink labour laws!!!).

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Photo by Baim Hanif on Unsplash

The need for unconventional thinking will force educational institutions to ready students in a different way for the workplace.

Effect on education: The need for education disruption

  • What is your degree worth because there really isn’t any scarcity?
  • Already in EY UK no degrees are needed for employment

The biggest challenge and commodity will be the skills gap: critical thinking, problem solving, communication, leadership and ownership will be highly valued

So how do we bridge the gap?

What’s wrong with the way we learn? The education system isn’t geared for the knowledge economy….

Vocational training schools need to get mixed in with high tech. (No degree, actual training using holograms for surgeons (Google: HoloLens))

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

The future of work

It’s no longer linear. There are a lot of stop- starts and career changes

Hybrid skills will be needed

Organisations will hire for attitude, and retrain for skills (this will fix the millennial churn)

Nomadic work swarms. You don’t have to watch an employee working to know that they are getting work done. (reskill yourself to do what you want to do, get your work life flexibility by doing what pays the bills while leaving time for passion projects)

Remote flexi-working options and productivity impact

The impact of the female century will see an increases profitability in companies

Millennials see mentors as people they can take advice from and give advice to.

Jobs of the future- what will they look like?

Things related to drones, coding, virtual reality, UX (We will see skill and career combos that have never existed before such as Life Coaches with an IT background etc.)

Rwanda; the South Korea of the technology realm… delivering blood samples to hard to reach hospitals via drone technology

Ultimately, organizations and their staff must understand the movements of their industries in order to stay relevant in their environment and careers respectively. Nothing can be taken for granted anymore.

I am especially excited though to see how resourceful individuals will become with their toolkit of skills and how they will couple what they know in order to excel in the digital age where their customers are just as, if not more aware of what they need, how they want it and what their service providers must do in order to ensure excellent delivery in a radical and client- centric way.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: A GAME OF THRONES!!!

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Before the year ends, in true festive spirit, I thought it would be great to end off the year by giving away a BRAND NEW COPY of A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin!

Game of Thrones (or more fondly known as GoT) is one of my obsessions that I binge on just as passionately as I binge read. I have re-watched every season from the start each time a new season was released (psyco much?) but true fans will understand haha.

A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin is a book that comes highly recommended for GoT fans and for readers who appreciate the detail that comes with traditional writing. I am so stoked to give a copy of the very first book ever written in the Song of Ice and Fire book series to a fellow avid fan who is just as obsessed and here is how you can stand to win it:

To enter the competition, like this post and subscribe to the blog (FemaleMillennialMusings) then proceed to correctly answer ALL 3 questions below and email them to me (tshegomalebo@gmail.com) by the 4th of January 2018 (next week Thursday), the winner will be announced on Sunday, the 7th of January (participants must reside in South Africa and I will personally deliver/ courier the book to you).

  1. Who is the true heir to the Iron Throne after Robert Baratheon dies?
  2. Who was the king’s hand before Ned Stark?
  3. What is House Lannister’s official motto?

Good luck!

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW: BARE (GET THIS BOOK NOW!)

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I hardly ever listen to the radio when I drive (long story) but as fate would have it yesterday afternoon, I was tuned into Metro FM along with a myriad of other fellow South African’s who were curious to hear about and understand Jackie Phamotse’s rendition of the underbelly of South Africa’s 1% and their very interesting lifestyle in her latest book titled “BARE”. I found myself being so engrossed by her story and strength to actually speak out and tell her story and the stories of the women around her who had been sucked into this elite yet damaging lifestyle and social circle.

As soon as the interview ended I was on the phone with Exclusive Books, doing everything I possibly could to source a copy of her book. Curiosity had gotten the better of me, so I bought it, then read it today and here are my thoughts, very briefly.

Firstly I must note that I think the way Jackie decided to structure the story worked well. It allows the reader to literally sink into the book. The book was written in chronological order and is based on a story about a girl named Treasure Mohapi. The story takes the reader through Treasure’s upbringing (which is sadly a very relatable story for any South African child) and the author highlights elements that build up to when she ends up in Johannesburg  as a blessee and ultimately leading to her spiritual demise.

As a character, one can see how the author has woven personal and borrowed experiences to deliver the message and I think because of this, it is a great storyline and lives up to the purpose. I do believe she will continue to make a killing off the book sales however I do believe that it was not personal enough. At some points it almost read like a story and yes, maybe the experience was too graphic to share directly, but I think it would have left readers gasping more had it been written in the form of a memoir because what she exposes us too is REAL. This is not a story, its a reality and if the aim is to drive awareness around this life and the repercussions, give it to the reader straight. It isn’t a fairytale and I think some parts/ events of the book could have been glamorized which is extremely dangerous as it is potentially misleading.

I must say though, in hindsight maybe reading BARE could have made me think  a bit differently about materialistic possessions, its somewhat of a “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” for the Johannesburg female yuppie. It makes one see how having a purpose and knowing your “why” is so important because the value of life can get quite meaningless when everything you can possibly desire becomes attainable to you.

So in closing:

Highlights: The Hockey Club story of course! (See the two pages I posted on my Insta stories last night)

Lowlights: The progression to the blessee storyline was too dragged out, if you want to save yourself time, read from when Treasure got to matric (which is inevitably in the middle of the book- I KNOW….ghaad)

Would I recommend this book: DEFINITO

If you have managed to get a copy of this book, please like the post and share your views! lets get this convo flowing peeps 🙂

Top 8 things millennials expect from banks in the future

Image Source: Businesstech.co.za
Image Source: Businesstech.co.za

So as promised, this is basically the second part from the post published last week around millennial Musings on banking, click here for a quick refresh on what went down last week.

This week though, the focus is on the thoughts of those millennials who consciously mused about banks of the future and what their present expectations were of the future state of banking.

As a very proud member of the financial institutions community, like any other committed individual, I really want to see traditional banks evolving and fulfilling their purpose in a way that makes their customers happy because customers are the heart of their business and a part of me also believes that this can be achieved by big corporates if given enough focus and deliberate action.

In order to ensure that everything from the feedback received is captured, the points will be themed, grouped and listed.

  • Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see. Basically, this famous quote by world renowned boxer Muhammad Ali sums up the primary and greatest reason why traditional banks are in danger and how they can overcome this danger. I’m not a boxing guru but I definitely this this analogy will help portray the message. Good boxers are like Fintechs, they have the finesse, speed and stamina to win the battle, but the big 4 giants have something these Fintechs don’t which is technique, experience and endurance. Now when we couple these 6 traits, that makes for a great boxer/ a great bank. So what do millennials want? The safety and stability of the old (minus the red tape and bureaucracy) but the agility and finesse of the new.
  • The future is now. This is a concept the older generations like referring to as “instant gratification”. It is a concept laden with negative connotations that relate to regret from poorly thought out decisions but this doesn’t have to be viewed that way. Let’s take the process of getting a credit card for example (even a cheque card). The reasons for why customers have to sit through hours of paperwork and credit checks only to be told in the end that their card will be hand delivered to them at the earliest of their convenience just will not fly in the future. When a customer, a millennial customer is approaching a service provider for something, they usually want end to end fulfillment there and then or else what is the actual point? Yes we could say that people must plan better for their life events so they aren’t disappointed by the wait, but what if, you as a service provider could make the future happen now for your customers by tweaking a few processes, researching the demand for credit so that branches are adequately stocked up for the demand as and when it comes? What if you were so proactive that a week before Black Friday you’re signing up customers for in-store credit cards so that they have been delivered to be used on the day? Being more proactive about knowing the customer in this case is directly attributable to sales. Customer is happy, income statements are happy, it’s a win- win you see?
  • Robotics!!!! millennials have expressed that they trust and prefer to engage and interact with technology to solve their needs than a human being. It’s much cheaper as they use data as opposed to airtime where they’re redirected to a call centre that makes them wait for 20 minutes before telling them “sorry Ma’am I don’t have the mandate to assist you with that request.” The cool thing about robotics is that it reduces headcount costs (but it does cause unemployment if not introduced and socialized correctly) on the upside thought, employees are freed up to do more meaningful and complex tasks that require actual thinking because the self service capability is actually of service, end to end.
  • Which leads me to my next point, adequately equipped/skilled online assistance… if we are to go digital, we must do so excellently. Because millennials have no desire to go to the branch, the branch must therefore be designed into a space that they want to engage in, which in this case is online. The ability to offer advice and assistance online will make all the difference from a customer service perspective.
  • However if the branch must exist, it must do so unobtrusively, in a way that allows for co- creation and advancing the economy. This way the bank achieves two things: it plays a role in fulfilling consumer aspirations and it also contributes in giving back to the community- which is very big with millennials. Purpose driven action/work.
  • Farewell NIR (Non- Interest Revenue), RIP ATMS. Millennials (and digital developments) will essentially kill this line item as business moves to and creates digital alternatives to access and transfer funds as opposed to sourcing it from a traditional ATM.
  • Staying ahead of cybercrime. With the new and fantastic era of digital banking, millennials are also cautious of cybercrime as this is one of the elements that come with the downside of digital. Their only plea with this is for banks to be proactive and engaged in the protection they offer of their assets. They want banks to be a safe and untouchable place.
  • IN-TER-GRA-TION. As mentioned in my previous post, financial institutions have a myriad of data and information on clients. More than enough to do really small but really meaningful, kickass stuff. Millennials really think it’s lame that engagements and the identification of current and future product needs are still so “banky ” and impersonal. Banks can do a whole lot more to prove they understand their clients and show up as life and business partners. Banks need to understand client lifestyles and aspirations and meet those with their data. There must be collaboration with external corporates and an ecosystem built to fulfill these needs and make it a seamless experience to attain what matters to them, irrespective of whether it’s bank-related or not.

Okay peeps so that’s the list! It was quite an eye opener for me and I learnt a few things from engaging with my amazing research sample group. I hope this perspective not only sheds some light but assists in some strategic implementations of how financial institutions cater for (not just millennials) but in actual fact, their future clientele.

If there are any other topics you’d like for me to explore and write about, please leave a comment.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the read!

Millennial musings on banking

The long and the short of this topic is that when millennials think about things that keep them up at night, the future of banking is not at the top of their list.

We cannot disregard the strides financial institutions have made (and continue to make) in order to cater for a younger and more tech-savvy target audience however, one can question whether these changes are drastic or fast enough.

Having interviewed a group of South African millennials (between the ages of 17 and 38) on this topic, two themes emerged which I did not expect and will elaborate on below.

Category A

This category consists of individuals who worked in industries other than financial institutions.

At first, the individuals within this category could not at first contextualize the question and after giving it some thought, did not think banking would revolutionize beyond digital and did not perceive it as an integral part in their future to drive anything forward so their emotions were neither here nor there.

This finding though beckons a deeper question I think, which is, “are banks marketing the right way to millennials?” Because remember, millennials are not just a group of hippie youngsters who like skateboarding and hanging out with their friends while they listen to music and eat ice cream. Another untapped audience within this category are those young people starting Fintechs and NGO’s, or Social Entrepreneurs really making a difference within their communities and making it onto the Forbes list under 30. They have substance. They have goals and plans and at this very moment, they view banks as a bureaucratic and archaic nightmare that sometimes helps, but most times hinders productivity/ success.

I think a giant leap in the right direction would be to sort out data and understand their clients better with what they already have (which is a lot) so as to lend more intuitively when it matters.

Category B

This category consists of individuals who who worked for a financial institution and maybe they are tainted because they are positioned right in the thick of the action so they do see what’s working well and what isn’t, or maybe, I just extended a bone for them to pick.

So this group of millennials were very vocal around their expectations of what role banks should play in society now and in the future. They understood how much data banks collect and how much they should know their clients yet do not and this shows in the cosnstsnt repetition in the processes the bank takes them and their staff through, when the information can just be pooled to one central system and funneled to where it needs to go in order to fulfill the client need.

Another quick gripe linked to manual requests is digitization- which is a primary focus for a top 4 banks yet the question I have around this is “are banks digitizing because it’s the new thing that must be done or is it being done with purpose- to actually improve lives?”

I think I’ll wrap this post up here for now. All comments I received offline were incredibly insightful, and some of the insights I want to share would be expressed better in a secondary post which will focus purely on thoughts and opinions aimed at financial institutions in order to help them to implement changes that will impact the future of banking which I will publish soon!

5 things Americanah taught me about being African

When one gets their wisdom teeth removed, very many things can happen, one of these things, naturally as a bookworm, is having time to read. In between the moments of fatigue and pain I devoured the last few pages I had been savoring of Americanah and finally today I read the final page of an incredible journey found in a book.

As you may have read in my previous blog post (Americanah: My thoughts so far), I was initially apprehensive about reading African literature, but Chimamanda writes in such an incredible way that allows for “cop- outs” as I have alluded to before. She leaves the reader feeling included, catered for and understood in their thought process throughout the journey of reading the book irrespective of the readers background.

Having now completed Americanah, and excitingly attracted some African bloggers to my post, I can certainly say for sure that this experience has taught me the following:

1. Africa as big and diverse as it is, shares a common thread of understanding amongst its people. We all share similar perspectives of what struggle, hope, triumph and success look like.

2. Show me an African who doesn’t like America or London and I will prove to your that person is not from Africa. There’s just something about these places man haha!

3. Interracial relationships… as diverse as the world has now become, society is still very backwards. I have so much to add to this section but for now I will just say this- Chimamanda laid it down in this book! I have never felt like anyone truly understood this dynamic as much as she did when she wrote about it in the Curt chapters. I felt like I was having a DMC with a bff who finally GETS IT.

4. Blesser/blessee life is everywhere and it’s universal. It’s not a black thing.

5. African stories and story writers are out of this world. It doesn’t matter which country you’re from in Africa, we all share similar narratives. There is no better place to gain inspiration from than from an African context. There is just something that hit home when I read this book, a feeling of reading something familiar, as much as it was fictional and influenced by a Nigerian context. I truly felt at home between its modern threads as a South African.

Americanah has been such a joy. One of the realest and most relatable books I’ve read this year. It felt more like a DMC session with a good friend than it felt like reading. At the same time that I was going through this journey with Ifemelu, I felt my own mind and soul detoxing and releasing all these memories and questions I had bottled and buried far within my soul.

Final Verdict: What a joy! I cannot wait to add another one of these gems in my collection!

*If you have any recommendations for female African authors I should look out for and the titles of their books, please swing them my way in the comments section!