December 2013

Sarah Gurney

A ballerina and part-time vet: Ten things you didn’t know about Sarah

So a couple weeks ago when it was my turn to do the Friday blog post, I decided to ask Liz some… thought-provoking questions. When her turn came to ask me some questions, she took, what I imagine to be, some pleasure in saying: “Why don’t you just answer the same questions? You know, for symmetry’s sake…”

As you will see, they were not as easy as I originally thought, these questions. No wonder she was complaining!

1.    What did you want to be when you grew up?

A ballerina and a part-time vet.

2.    What’s your favourite thing about living and working in Cape Town?

This city is so beautiful – even the highways are beautiful. I’ve lived here for just over a year and, still sometimes, at odd moments, I’ll look up and see the light catch the top of the mountain or the sea a ridiculous shade of blue, and be blown away that I live (and work) in a place this lovely.

3.    If your life was a movie, which actress would play you?

Mmmm Emily Blunt. I’ve been told I look something like her, and I like her vibe (for want of a better word). I think it’s the British thing. I always like to watch interviews with actors and actresses – they don’t often come off well. But she usually does. She’s less vapid than… others.

4.    If your life was a book, what would the title be?

I would like to say The Pursuit of Happiness but that has Will Smith written all over it. Um… Right now it might be something like These are the Days That Must Happen to You (with permission from Walt Whitman). But… overall? To The Best of My Ability (which may or may not be my primary school motto. Look, it’s late. These questions are hard. No wonder you were complaining).

5.    If you could have a super power, what would it be and why?

I’d like to be able to fly, but I suspect it might actually terrify me. Not a fan of heights. So I think I’d like to be able to teleport, so I could instantly visit someone I miss, no matter where in the world they are.

6.    What song best describes your work ethic?

Gah this is so hard, I wish I hadn’t asked you this question… I have been trying to think of something with a fast tempo and a “go, go, go” element to it, but I think I’m going to go with “Lost in My Mind” by The Head and the Heart. I tend to focus and tune everything out except the task I’m busy with. I am usually the last to know what’s going on in an office environment.

7.    What’s the best piece of life advice anyone has ever given you?

My uncle once said to me: “You never know what bee is biting someone else’s bum.” This is so true, at work and in your personal life. People have their own stuff going on – their own stresses to worry about. More often than not, if they take things out on you, it’s not you – it’s them. Or something else that’s “biting” them. Don’t take it personally. Not an easy thing to learn, but a very valuable one.

8.    Having worked with me for six months now, what is one thing that you think people should know about me but don’t?

You have a (surprising but impressive) knack for figuring out html coding and will often say things like: “Right, stand back, I’m entering the matrix,” or “Yip, I just hacked the mainframe.”

9.    You walk into a bar right now and order a drink. What is it?

Savannah Dry. With lemon. Or… maybe a glass of merlot. It’s always a toss-up.

10.  What advice would you give someone thinking about starting their own business?

If at all possible, find a business partner and do it together. It’s much less scary with two. And having someone to bounce ideas off is so important. But find someone you can trust. Find someone who you will be able to have difficult conversations with – because, trust me, there will always be difficult conversations. But, at the end of the day, if you can get through those conversations, be on the same page, and enjoy working together, you are winning. Also – there is nothing quite like the freedom of being your own boss and building something that is your own.

Sarah on her first day of school

So this is me on my first ever day of school. Luckily I’m still just as adept at hiding the fact that I’m nervous.

A thousand words: The rise of the visual social network

We’ve said it before – images and video are becoming increasingly important elements when it comes to social media and your online presence. People would much rather watch a quick video clip than read a whole page of text. And if they are going to read a page of text, they’ll be much more likely to do so if it’s peppered with interesting and appealing visuals.

Just look at the top three fastest growing apps in 2013: Vine, Flickr and Instagram – it’s all about the images and video. The online audience is hungry for visually-rich material, and it is the brands that deliver this on social media platforms that are winning followers and recognition.

A recent example from South Africa is the Soweto Gospel Choir and Woolworths’ heartfelt and beautiful tribute to Nelson Mandela – a video that left me with tears and lasting goosebumps.

The infographic below, created by @ManwthePlanigan, unpacks this shift to the visual in the online space, and provides brands with a few ideas to navigate this ever-changing landscape.

visual infographic

Hamba kahle, Tata. Go well.

It’s a strange thing, to feel so much love for someone you never met. Or to feel such grief on hearing that they have died.

But I do love Madiba. We all do. Because he loved South Africa – in the most remarkable way. The lessons he taught this country – and the world – still bowl me over. Nothing and no one make me prouder to be South African than Nelson Mandela.

I couldn’t sleep last night. I sat glued to Twitter, wishing I had a TV, listening to 5fm until the early hours of the morning as South Africans from all walks of life called in to share their collective sorrow. In a country that is so divided on so many issues, it feels bizarrely wonderful to be so united in our love for such a wonderful leader. A wonderful man.

Each new caller said something that touched me. A young, black lawyer who couldn’t get out of his car, he was so struck by the enormity of Madiba’s passing – the enormity of what he had fought for and what he has given us. A nightclub owner who stopped the music and announced the news to the club-goers, who all stood in silence, together. A white woman in a relationship with a coloured man who was so grateful for the freedoms we enjoy that were hard-fought, hard-won.

As the tributes pour in from around the world, the beautiful things that are said make me feel warm and lighter.

Mark Gevisser captures our nation’s feelings so beautifully in the Mail & Guardian: “The words ‘Nelson Mandela is dead’ feel strange in the mouth today, almost impossible to say, given the unique way he was both martyred and canonised during his lifetime. He embodies a paradox: on the one hand we love him for his humanity; on the other, he already passed long ago from the world of the flesh… In person, he was not notably affectionate, but his image beams a very particular sensation: you just look at him and you feel held, hugged.”

Goodbye, Tata. Thank you for all you have done for us – for South Africa and the world. I am honoured to call the same country home. It is a place I love fiercely. And so much of that is because of you.

Hamba kahle. Go well.

[Image source]

Five blog post topics when you’re stuck for ideas

In order to get your SEO right these days, you need to constantly develop authoritative and interesting content that people want to read and share.

The trouble is, it can be a bit exhausting to keep coming up with ideas for blog posts – particularly when other aspects of your work get busier and more demanding.

Here are five ideas for blog posts that are easily adaptable and have proven to be topics that lead to a *click*.

1)      Top lists
People love lists. Example: “Top five shirtless pictures of Ryan Gosling”. Aaaaand *click*. Luckily, this works for less, um, sexy topics too. Ten blogs to keep an eye on in 2014. Twenty great gift ideas for your in-laws. You get the idea.

2)      How to … in X days/weeks
Giving people a roadmap to reach a goal they’d like to achieve in a certain period of time is always going to be a popular topic for a blog post. How to get real-live abs in three weeks. I would read that.

3)      Interviews
You may have noticed a little while ago that I published an interview I did with Liz on our blog. Why? Well, I had no idea what to write about. So I decided to make her do the work instead give you all a bit of insight into the mind of my awesome business partner. Doing interviews is a useful way to get new content for your site, and to introduce some voices people in your industry would be interested in hearing.

4)      Any useful tools that you use?
People are always looking for tools that would help make their job easier. By using your own business as an example and telling people about the tools that you use, you’ll be helping people out and offering them the kind of useful info that will keep them coming back for more.

5)      Made any mistakes?
So, remember that time we deleted an entire website the day before we were supposed to show it to a client? Ja. That happened. And we wrote a blog post about it because we like to keep you entertained and we’re nice like that. Not everyone gets things right the first time (and if they do, they’d be advised to keep quiet about it around the rest of us). Sharing what you’ve learnt from your mistakes can be helpful to others in your industry – even if it’s just to let them know that you’re all in the same boat, a lot of the time.

ryan-gosling

Because you’re welcome.
Image source. Feature image source