‘Thrive was My Word of the Year’ – Anja van Beek #ShareYourYear

Updated on 10 December 2019

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What can you achieve in a year? To find out, we asked our thought leaders to share their 2019 highs and lows.  Anja van Beek, Agile Talent Strategist, Leadership Expert and Coach, says this year was about walking the talk.  

In the beginning of 2019, I chose “thrive” as my word for the year. When reflecting on the year I can say that “thriving” epitomise 2019 in more than one way.

My motto is: “Aspire to inspire and influence” and with this in mind, I would like to share the following wins:

– I have trained and certified more than 150 HR managers as Agile Talent professionals to understand the agile approach and mindset. The certification will allow these professionals to create future-fit practices and company cultures where employees can grow and thrive.

– Personal branding and PR have been a critical part of my business since its inception. To be published in many well-known business publications, and to be a regular guest on 702’s “World of Work” feature, is something I am very proud of. I enjoy my conversations with Eusebius McKaiser around work-related matters and sharing my expertise with the listeners as an HR and leadership expert.

– Also, the co-authoring of three books inspired me to write my own book which is a key project I am working on.

– I was invited to many speaker events to share my expertise around the future of work, personalisation and employee experiences. The cherry on top was being selected as a speaker for the largest, most comprehensive event for talent development professionals worldwide, ATD 2020 International Conference & EXPO in Denver, Colorado next year.

– Being selected as a finalist in the Margaret Hirsch Women in Business Achiever of the Year Award is recognition that lies close to my heart.

– But a highlight that stood out is the connections I made with my coaching clients. I clearly remember my days as an HR executive, the demands of an ever-changing environment, the increased uncertainty combined with economic pressure, the challenges to balance being a mom with being an ambitious professional. I believe my experience and exposure in my career offers an unique understanding and partnership as a coach. I enjoy the sessions to connect with them and support their growth and development.

Sadly, I must mention that corporates not keeping to payment terms was a huge wake-up call for me

Thrive, despite the challenges

The world of being an entrepreneur can be very lonely – by not being part of a bigger team is something that I miss daily. I joined other communities of practice and shared an office space with ex-colleagues who also started their own business to overcome this void.

Sadly, I must mention that corporates not keeping to payment terms was a huge wake-up call for me. They sometimes settle bills more than 100 days late; I had to learn to negotiate different terms, not to be intimidated and practice having candid discussions about future engagements.

Scenarios where I had to overcome disappointments was when a project ended due to my BBBEE status and an unsuccessful speaker application that was on my target list for the year. I had to walk the talk, practice reframing, and chose to look for the positive and remain curious in the face of disappointment. This is easier said than done. I had to remind myself that by sharing my story of how I overcome my disappointments might inspire others and even become part of their survival guide.

State of entrepreneurship 2019

I see many individuals starting their own businesses as a result of restructures, mergers and acquisitions. The gig economy is growing every year, many youngsters want more flexibility and choose not to stay in a permanent position in the corporate world too long.

From what I know now, I would urge others, who are hesitant and unsure, to take a leap of faith and start their own businesses in 2020. If you are truly committed to what you do, and understand the value you can bring to other businesses, it is certainly worth it.

Be intentional about personal growth – you will be stretched outside your comfort zone so embrace it and learn something new every day

Wish and advice for entrepreneurs 2020

My wish for 2020 is that entrepreneurs will remember to practice self-care and set boundaries in order to build resilience. May the people in your network be your “net worth” and continue to support your dream. Be courageous; don’t allow fear to get in your way, dream big and have the drive and discipline to thrive.

The first two years in your business are certainly challenging and you will question yourself daily on whatever you spend your time on, asking yourself ‘is worth it’, and if it will serve your business. Always remind yourself why you started your business, and may that be your daily drive and reminder.

Richard Branson said, “A good PR story is infinitely more effective than a front-page ad.” I recommend this approach as I don’t spend a lot of money on marketing, but PR has always been a strategic priority. It may not result in a direct lead, but potential clients will always do their research first. Be deliberate about doing PR and have a plan in place; if you are uncertain about where to start, consider investing in a credible PR consultant who lives your dream and shares your passion.

Be intentional about personal growth – you will be stretched outside of your comfort zone so embrace it and learn something new every day.

More importantly, don’t take yourself too seriously. Have fun and be real – about yourself and your business outcomes. People don’t buy goods and services, they buy connections, stories and magic.

About Anja van Beek

Anja is a Talent Strategist and Leadership Coach. Anja was one of the first to be authorised as an Agile People professional and facilitator. The ex-Sage HR Director now consults with leaders and HR teams on all people-related aspects with a specific focus on integrating agile principles and practices. She is a leadership coach and an expert in supporting teams to remain relevant and thrive in the future of work. She also works for various companies as a facilitator focusing on leadership development, mentoring and change management.

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