How did some of the world’s most powerful women manage to progress in their careers while also enjoying life outside of work? These are some of many questions I’ve been grappling with lately, thanks to a very exciting time in my life. Of-course as always, the universe brought me answers to my ever-looming questions, but not entirely in the way I anticipated.
During a recent trip, I had a brief conversation with a gentleman I met over a lovely buffet dinner (at one of the beautiful resorts in Thailand) on a cool summer night. The conversation was sparked by the flowers I wore in my hair, which Mr. Samuel (I later discovered his name) thought was rather peculiar. Women we courted in the 60’s and 70’s wore flowers in their hair, certainly not women in this day and age, he said.
The conversation quickly turned to business in Africa and lighting up people’s lives – he runs a successful lighting business and my name is the Persian symbol of bright light. We spoke of lifestyle choices and very pertinent life lessons. A joker at heart, Mr. Samuel told me about his zest for life. From world trips in 80 days, to interrupting an on-ship wedding on an international cruse liner. Reason? Just to ask the captain if curry was on the lunch menu, and if it wasn’t; could it be cooked!
Aboard this very same ship is also where Mr. Samuel and his wife met Edith Venter – one of South Africa’s most gracious businesswomen.
Ever since hearing about Edith’s poise and grace, I couldn’t stop thinking – what brought this incredible woman her invaluable wisdom, her wealth of experience and her great circle of influence?
And so I asked her.
This week, I had the honour of having high tea with Edith Venter – iconic South African socialite, A-list celebrity, businesswoman and philanthropist.
Ex-wife to a Billionaire but queen of her own palace, the inimitable Edith has traded in her social butterfly image and her obligations as an executive wife, for a high-tech lap-top and a career in event planning. From rubbing shoulders with the likes of Liz Hurley and Kim Kardashian to working with top brands like Louis Vuitton, Edith’s done it all.
During my visit, we chat entrepreneurship, divorce, friendships, marketing a business and embracing the limelight.
Here’s what I learned:
- A woman who knows her worth is an intimidating woman. If she has grace and style, even more so. This makes some people uncomfortable.
- Don’t engage their discomfort nor lose focus of your goals.
- Say no to negativity. Own who you are. Seek only to rise or move forward. Never backwards.
- Cultivate a positive attitude and visualize your dreams. Pen them down if you have to.
- Having long moved in South Africa’s highest social circles, counting local and international diplomats, industrial magnates and politicians among her many friends, Edith says you just can’t put a price on inner peace and contentment.
- Hold on to memories if they make you happy. Many of the items in Edith’s living space are either gifts from friends, family and loved ones, or pieces Edith has collected on her travels. Rubber ducks, wooden carvings and colourful teapots. A wonderful blend of textures and colours.
- Age gracefully. The older you get, the more you should become comfortable with yourself. Iconic women like Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren are true testaments to the notion that elegance, grace and substance – make for timeless beauty.
- Image is everything. A good image equals serious credibility. Your interaction with others will determine how people remember you and this highlights why image is everything.
- In business, networking is the lifeblood to growth and success. And the currency of networking is generosity. Be open: share advice, contacts, and ideas. It makes everyone stronger. Also, always bring ‘that unexpected element’ to clients.
- If you are excited to get up in the morning, regardless of your sore feet from the night before, then you are in the right business! Do what you love and you will be successful.
I have to say this though – for a successful woman of such caliber – Edith is incredibly humble. I mean she even refers to her blatant success as a comedy of errors
I’m definitely feeling inspired.