“I hated my job because I forgot my goal.”

What is the number one reason someone hates her job?

I feel the reason for hating your job is that you do not have a goal in mind. Hear me out…

A year after I got my diploma in journalism, I worked at a call centre and I hated it. One, my goal was to be a journalist, to go out and write stories. Two, I was sad that I wasn’t living my dream – being a journalist.

I didn’t really look for a job in the media industry, because while I was studying journalism, everybody in the industry (even my then lecturers) told me that I had to get my driver’s licence if I wanted a job as a journalist.

The reason for hating your job is that you do not have a goal in mind.

Imagine this: The news editor says someone has to immediately go report on an important event. Your job as a journalist is to grab your tools (car keys, notebook, pens, camera) and rush off to the story. If you don’t have a driver’s licence and there’s no driver or photographer around that you can go along with, you’re stuck at the office.

So, during that year of working in the call centre, my goal was to pass a driver’s test and get my licence. It was not easy.

goal job

I started freelance writing for a community newspaper on the Cape Flats as a side hustle. I would sometimes work during my lunch break, even go interview people. At night I would work on writing my story. I loved it.

The problem was that I started hating my call centre job. I became sad about the situation.

Anyway, at the end of that year (in 2010) I got my driver’s licence and I also got a full time job at the community newspaper that I did freelance work for. Obviously I was over the moon when this happened.

Recently, I was reminded during a master class with Lexi D’Angelo that goals are important. Yes, currently I am not happy with my financial situation. I am trying to find a side hustle so that I can make more money.

Why? Well, end of January came and I got my salary but realised I don’t even have money for groceries. So I have to change my situation.

I love my job as a journalist, but I don’t like that I’m not making enough money to sustain my family.

I realise now that my mind-set was not right when I was working at the call centre. I was sad about not living my dream, just like I am sad at the moment that I cannot buy the things I want.

While working at the call centre, for a short while I forgot the goal I had in mind. This is what made me sad.

However, when I have my goal in mind and I am working towards it, I remind myself that the situation I don’t like being in is only temporary.

When I have my goal in mind and I am working towards it, I remind myself that the situation I…

Lexi D’Angelo was one of the speakers for the online “Go for It” Summit, which was hosted by Hollie Tkac. This is one of the things D’Angelo said that stuck with me: “Your vision, your mission and your why is your driving force that’s going to keep you when things are not going hot.”

She asked: “What is you mission, and how are you going to carry out actions so that you can make your vision a reality? What is your WHY? Why are you doing this in the first place?”

Your vision and your why is your driving force that's going to keep you when things are not going…

I became a journalist, because I want to be an author of books someday. That’s why I am enjoying my job, because I get to write and share people’s stories.

Though I am not in a good financial situation, I realise that I cannot hate my job. Yes I was sad, but no longer. I am in this situation temporary.

I have a lot to be grateful for and I have a lot to give. Right now I am keeping my goal in mind and finding ways of how I can achieve it.

What do you think? What challenges have you overcome in the past and how did you do it?

Networking: surprising ways to connect with strangers

I don’t know if it’s just me but I like watching people.
For example I used to watch people at night clubs. A lot of them seem expectant, like they are expecting to meet someone that night.

I have been at that stage too. You expect someone to talk to you and make a connection. Heck, I even met some new people in the ladies’ bathroom while we check if we still look good. [If the bathroom looks very nice, you take some photo’s with your friends.]

I am not saying everyone going to a night club is expectant. Some just go there to dance and drink with friends.

The same thing goes for being at a business event. A lot of us go there to network and meet new people, possible clients. But are you one of those that are a bit shy and expectant that someone might talk to you first?


I have to talk to people, because I am a journalist. No matter how shy I am, I have to mingle because I might meet someone and find a new story for the publication I work for.

I wrote a story this week on the Pocket Reporter. It’s a new cellphone app designed to help cadet journalists of the community and grassroots level.

So basically, it helps you get information for the story you are working on. For example, the app gives you questions that you can fill in while working on the story. This way you will have efficient information for your story.

Are there apps that help you talk to someone for the first time? I don’t know.

I do know that approximately 28-million people read independent publications. This is according to the Association of Independent Publishers in South Africa. The organisation says their members print more than 7-million (7,000,340) copies publications like newspapers per month.

So this means A LOT of people in the country reads community and grassroots level newspaper.

I have worked at a newspaper as a journalist and I have realised that a lot of people want their stories to be told. A lot of people want to be listened to. A lot of people want to read others’ stories, especially if they can identify with the person in the story.

Newspapers or any other publication like a church or company newsletter being printed, shows us that there are stories to be told.

While being a journalist I always heard the term “everybody has a story to tell”.

So whether in a night club or a business event, you have a story to tell AND someone else has a story to share. Holler!


I often start my networking sessions at an event with a question that could come off as dumb. Like, “are you also an entrepreneur” I would ask the person next to me.

I saw Christopher Barrat’s video on Tedx Talks. He says (successful) networking can be placed in four categories: 1- Know. 2- Like. 3-Trust. 4-Buy.

In his talk, Barrat says you have to be interested before being interesting. That’s why the first two categories are important.

“It’s about how you make them feel [referring to the people you are networking to],” says Barrat.
“Be fascinated by them.”

If you are fascinated by them, chances are that they will start to like you. Once they like you, they will trust you.
Once the trust is there, this person (or people) will buy into you or [buy a product/ service] from you.

So whether you are a business-person or just someone who wants to meet new people, try expecting something different.

Instead of making it about, thinking “someone might talk to me tonight” – rather go and be the first one to talk, then try finding out someone else’s story.

Introduce yourself and get to know someone. Then follow Barrat’s steps.

To find out what else Barrat has to say on networking, watch this video:

Have you done any networking lately? How was it? Do you have any tips on meeting new people?

PS. I have been focusing on the theme “what I learn as a journalist” this week after joining Sam Posselt‘s #rsabizblogs Challenge. Sam is the co-founder of SA Biz Chat, a network that connects brands and bloggers/ small business owners. Today is Day 6 of the Challenge. Today’s theme of the challenge is “anything goes”.

Thank you Sam for the cool tips you send via email.

Success story: Radio journalist share his small victory

I am starting off the week with my “Small Successes” series. In this series, I ask people from various career fields to share the personal achievements they could air- fist pump to. What is a small victory you had this year?

Izak Du Plessis is the first one to share. He is a radio journalist and presenter at RSG in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. This radio station is part of the South African Broadcasting Corporation.

Du Plessis’ love for storytelling makes him passionate about his career. This Gautenger says he also enjoys meeting people and experiencing the extraordinary.


Du Plessis shared what his small achievement is, and also other little things about himself with us:

Where did you grow up & where are you living now?

I am currently living in Melville. My father was a magistrate who got transferred every three years. So, I grew up all over the country.

Why are you a radio journalist?

I love stories!

What does a day in the life of Izak look like?

I wake up at 5:00am. Rush to work just before 6:00 where I am part of the Monitor team, a current affairs program that takes place between 6:00 and 8:00 daily. After the program we prepare for Spektrum, which is a shorter format of Monitor in the afternoon between 13:00 and 14:00.



Have you won any awards for your job as a journalist?

Yes, in 2015 I received an Afrikaanse Taal en Kultuur Vereniging (the national Afrikaans language and culture association) Veertjie for a series I did on farm attacks.

This year I won the regional and national Vodcaom Journalist of the Year award for my stories on drought in the Bushveld, hijacked buildings in Hillbrow and a series on the Namaqualand.

What would you say are the small achievements you could celebrate this year?

I succeeded in being a good dad – according to my kids – in spite of being divorced. They visit me every weekend and during holidays.


Izak, what lessons have you learnt?

Don’t live your life according to the expectations of others.

Thank you Izak for your time. We enjoyed getting to know you!

If you want to share your small achievements with us, email melissajavan1@gmail.com.

Q&A: Reasons why I’m a writer and what am I writing about

Hello ladies and gentlemen,
The Blog Tag network on Facebook has a “Writing” theme this week. I thought, because I am a writer by profession (and it’s my passion), I’ll let you in on a few things about myself.

I would like to add that today I wrote about an interview I did with an interracial couple. Also, I am busy researching content marketing strategy, because I am preparing for an interview with an entrepreneur.

The Blog Tag asked some questions relating to their Writing theme and I answered. Check it out:

TBT: What is the first thing you remember writing?
MJ: I was probably 14 or 15 years old when I attended a writing workshop. My first story was a soapie type story that involved a girl looking for her father, her being in a relationship with a gangster who wanted her father dead. There was a love triangle in this story too.

At the time I watched a lot of soapies like “Days of Our Lives”.

TBT: What do you enjoy writing most?
MJ: I enjoy how the characters of a fictional story evolve, their growth and changes of scenes. In reality, I enjoy writing success stories of people, e.g. like small businesses doing well, or someone achieving something and getting an award or acknowledgement for it.

TBT: What is your favorite thing about writing?
MJ: It’s the before-part. Going out on a story and doing research or an interview. It’s also nice after I am done with a story, and I can get it published. Seeing my name in print is cool.

TBT: Who or what inspired you to start writing?
MJ: I enjoyed writing books as a child. My mother encouraged me to try out a journalism course.

TBT: Favorite piece of writing that you wrote?
MJ: There are so many – besides writing news stories as a journalist, I have written and published fiction short stories. I think I enjoyed the fiction stories, because I got to be creative and had fun as the characters developed themselves.

TBT: How often do you write?
MJ: Every single day for work. Personally, not much – which is bad, because I want to publish a book.

TBT: Do you want to get published?
MJ: Yes.

TBT: What are your writing goals?
MJ: This information I keep close to my heart.

TBT: What do you do when you experience writers block?
MJ: I just start writing down what I already have. Eventually I get in the groove.

TBT: Who is your favorite writer(s)?
MJ: Karen Kingsbury, Jodi Picoult, and blogger Melyssa Griffin.

TBT: If you had to go by a pen name what would it be and why?
MJ: I can’t reveal this, because someone might steal my pen name 🙂

TBT: Have you ever entered any writing contests?
MJ: No, but I have entered my fiction stories into magazines and a newspaper. Many people do that and only some are selected.

TBT: Have you had any formal training as a writer?
MJ: Yes, I have a national degree in journalism.

TBT: What is your favourite piece of writing?
MJ: Errrr. I don’t know what you mean with that question.

TBT: Do you have any tips for other writers?
MJ: Just start with it – just write. You’ll get better the more you do it. Plus read a lot.
Also, make use of the journalism’s 5W’s and H: who, what, where, why, when, and how.

Quick Fire:
Pen & Paper or Laptop — both

Pen name or Real Name — real name

Quiet Place to write or busy place with music — it does not matter. I can lose myself when I am writing.

Fiction or Non Fiction — both
Poetry or Stories — definitely stories

My Bucket List: The 3 Things I Already Have Ticked Off

Ever felt like time stood still?

I remember my colleagues and I joking one day about how it felt like two hours later the clock said that only 5 minutes passed.

On Thursday 10 November 2016 I had the opportunity to be host for the first time of a Twitter chat. IT WAS AWESOME!

It really felt like time stood still as I was busy chatting to the followers of SA Biz Chat.


In between scolding my husband for doing things like leaving the house to go to the shop five minutes after the #SABizChat started, I had the opportunity to engage with some bloggers and small business owners of this tribe.

Yes, Husband even had the audacity to ask me where is Princess’ bum cream as he was about to change her nappy. I had asked him for an hour off, because of this chat. Tsk, tsk, tsk 🙂


Anyways, the topic of the evening was “How to write like a journalist”.

I thought it would be cool to volunteer to be a host and suggest this topic. I am a journalist by profession.

Successful entrepreneurs and bloggers have a few things in common with journalists. I keep hearing “be consistent” when I hear entrepreneurs or bloggers give the key to success. This is what we share if we want to succeed at something.

Another thing is being persistent. Doing research and planning are the other things we have in common. So yes, we can learn from each other, even if we use what we learn in different ways.


Here are things we discussed during my topic:

  1. Who is your target market (reader)?
  2. Who or what are your sources?
  3. What and how do you pitch?
  4. Taking action: research, plan and do interviews or go out on your story
  5. What do you write & checking the facts


I have been thinking about how I should probably put up things like this on a Bucket List. Instead of drawing up a bucket list beforehand of things I would like to do, I am just going to make up my list as I go along and achieve small things.

The one thing I do not have ticked off yet is “Do a Live Stream Facebook Chat”.

I have realised that I have learned A LOT in my career, so I would like to share what I know. This is one of the reasons for the Twitter chat. Another thing I can tick off is giving a presentation about “writing as a journalist” to a small group of people. I did this at our blogger meet up on Saturday.

Why don’t I just do a proper bucket list like normal people do, you might ask. Well, I am a scaredy cat – not an adventurous person. So you won’t ever hear me saying that I will jump out of an airplane to do skydiving or jump off anything (bungy jump = no ways).

So thank you to everyone who participated in the #SABizChat on Thursday 10 November. I had a great time. To hear what some of you are busy with, is amazing. Thank you for sharing.


SA Biz Chat is a network run by Sam Posselt, Tiaan Geel, Chantal Bezuidenhout and Natasha Nathoo. The chat is hosted on Thursday evenings for an hour during 19:00 and 20:00. Every week a topic is discussed. Previous topics include HR 101.

Do you have a bucket list, and what is on it? Also, what would you consider a small achievement you accomplished this year?

3 Things I learned from entrepreneurs as a journalist

I married an entrepreneur. My parents are entrepreneurs. I want to be an entrepreneur [I’m in no hurry though].
Let me explain: my mother used to be a housewife. Eventually she found ways to get an extra income for our household. She used to go to factory shops and buy pantyhose and sell it. She used to drive children to school or pre-primary school too. Nowadays she is a caterer. She enjoys baking and cooking, creating dishes. Sometimes people she knows occasionally ask her to bake a birthday cake. My father helps my mother with her business.
Anyway, my husband is a music composer – runs his own business.
I have a full-time job in journalism. Currently I work for a company where I get to write positive news about South Africa. I get to write about people doing inspiring things.
Anyway, because I appreciate entrepreneurship so much I enjoy going to events where I get to meet small business owners and pick their brains a bit. Most times I get a story for work out of it.
I met a woman recently who said she quit her job in September last year. She was pregnant at the time and her emotions working overtime kind of pushed her to take the leap. She is now a small business owner. When I told her I want to have my own business some day too, she said: “Don’t worry about when it happens – you will know when the time is right.”
She also told me that she realised that whenever she was employed by a new job, her clients would follow her. How amazing is that? That people trust and love your hard work.
Let’s talk about hard work. This is apparently something entrepreneurs know how to do.
I have learned over the past few months how entrepreneurs are such a great species for our society. For instance, Mike Anderson of the National Small Business Chamber says entrepreneurs go from being zero to heroes …then back to zero and later a hero again. Back and forth.
And you know what? Most of the entrepreneurs who I have met, despite them failing so many times or if their businesses go through dips, they always seem in a positive mood. They smile. They talk passionate about how they do things. They want to teach you.
Great species I tell you.
Before I continue, let me share a quote with you: “There’s nothing wrong with staying small. You can do big things with a small team.” – Jason Fried, founder of 37signal.
Here’s another one (which is in line with entrepreneurs’ drive to not give up easily: “Ideas are easy. Implementation is hard.” – Guy Kawasaki, founder of AllTop.
Okay so what have I learned from entrepreneurs?
I went to the Women in Manufacturing Conference, and the MTN Digital Entrepreneur Masterclass in one week. Two different events in Johannesburg.

Partnerships, networking and getting new clients.

That’s basically in a nutshell what I learned entrepreneurs look for when they attend industry events. I normally attend events to learn as much as I can about certain things like how to advertise or tell your story on social media.
I also enjoy getting statistics or learning trends, especially when it comes to how businesspeople do it.
I go to these events as a journalist, and I enjoy listening to small business owners’ stories.
It is good to learn on how to improve certain things about your business, like your business’ social media profile. The main thing about going to an industry event is to meet new people and to make connections.
Rashmee Ragaven from the Department: Trade and Industry for example said that sometimes you meet someone who knows a person that you have been trying to connect with.
Another businessman told me he goes to these events to get new clients. It’s where you can do you elevator pitches and get contact details of a possible investor or mentor or partner. The same entrepreneur told me that one aspect of his company is partnering with bigger business and sell their products. This way he is also part of their database – he gets to meet new clients or those looking for someone in his expertise, will look onto that business’ database (and possibly find him).
I also learned that talking to entrepreneurs and investors that you learn to tell your story a better way. When networking, it’s good to say things out loud that you have on your mind. You ask questions and people help you to get an answer.
I hope you found this helpful. I wrote the above piece as part of the 7-Day Challenge of Sam Posselt. Sam is the co-founder of SA Biz Chat. Today is the second prompt [Day 2] which asks us bloggers to write about what we do.
Thank you for being part of my journey.

Advice on choosing a career – this is how I got into journalism

I never thought of journalism as a career before I enrolled to do the course at Cape Peninsula University of Technology.

In fact, before I decided to enrol for journalism I never watched much news. My brother and I used to love watching the 19:00 comedy show on Sabc1 on a weekly night. News did become my life the day I applied to do journalism.

Studying journalism was not something I considered. I wanted to do something in medicine, like radiography. I failed Natural Science in June 2005 when I was in matric. I needed good marks for that course – so when I failed I didn’t get a call back from the university’s radiology department.

During my matric year I decided with a couple of friends that I wanted to do a gap year. The plan was to take a gap year and au pair in the United States.

I went all out – I did a lot of babysitting and I worked for free at a local crèche (a day care centre for children) to make up the hours I needed. I think the programme asked that I must have about 100 to 200 hours of experience (babysitting children).

I got the necessary paperwork to do au pair – I even wrote a letter to my potential host-parents. Writing the letter was the most exciting thing I did. I must have realised then that I should consider a career that involved creative writing.

Anyway, during my gap year I worked as a waiter while trying to get my things in order to do au pair. I had to get my driver’s licence to complete the application to do au pair.

Long story short, things didn’t work out my way. I failed too many times at my driver’s tests. Eventually I made a decision to let go of the dream of becoming an au pair. How I came about that decision, is a story for another day.

After I made a decision not to do au pair, my parents advised me to go study something.

The thing about finishing matric and being an adult is that it is an exciting part of your life. You get to make decisions as an adult. Yet, I was not sure what I wanted to do with my life.

I always had a dream that I wanted to be a doctor; maybe a gynaecologist.

One day at a hospital – I was sick – I saw a man with his foot messed up. It was as if he just came in from an accident. His foot looked disgusting and bloody. I couldn’t see myself touching that man’s foot and then decided that I cannot be a doctor.

So radiology was the second dream. In my matric year I had taken everything on higher grade and I failed some of my subjects because it was too much to handle. Please note: during my school years I was always in the Top 10 or Top 20 learners at the school.

There was a lot going on in matric.

My mother suggested that I study journalism, because I apparently had always said I wanted to be an author. Journalism would be a way of telling stories and a steppingstone of me becoming an author.

I had a light bulb moment: what my mother said was true. I had even while working tried once a month to buy at least one magazine. I’d buy a different magazine each time, because after a while the one magazine’s content seemed “same old, same old”.

I had been enjoying reading and writing since I was a child. I even went to a free Writers Workshop in my teens and wrote my first soapie-story.

The day I enrolled for journalism I was told that the applications had already closed. This was in December 2006. The lady at the administration did however advise me to go see the head of department (HOD). I went to the journalism department and there the secretary of the HOD said the same thing: applications are closed.

God intervened; the secretary then told me she’ll take my application. She asked me however to call her every day [when the university opened again] to remind her about the application. The week my class mates went for orientation, I was sitting on my phone every day to call the secretary. I eventually was called to come in for an interview.

Out of hundreds who applied, I was one of 40 that were chosen for the course.

Why am I writing this post?

Well, the other day I spoke to someone about how many people especially entrepreneurs don’t know what their services should be. How do you decide what to study or what to sell or what service to give? Here’s my input:

  1. You should think about what your talents are. What are you good at? What do you enjoy doing?
  2. What are your qualities? How can you serve? Just because you are a good listener does not mean you should try being a social worker. Doctors are good listeners too – I think. Doctors have to listen to patients who moan about what is wrong with them. That information then helps the doctor make his diagnosis. I am a good listener – but I am a journalist who listens to other people’s stories. I also enjoyed working as a waiter and a call centre operator – it helps if you are a good listener in one of these jobs.
  3. Talk to people. Share your ideas out loud. You learn about yourself and from others if you share what’s on your mind.
  4. Sometimes you should just take the leap. For example, I am a shy person – someone who hardly ever talks, yet I am a journalist. AND I LOVE MY CAREER. I love learning new things. I love listening to people’s stories. Those are the things I get to experience in my career. I would not have known that I could love this job had I not taken a chance to enrol to study journalism.

I hope this was helpful. Thank you for reading!