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Dream a Little Dream of…

September 25th sees the world celebrating World Dream Day – a global initiative to support people in achieving their dreams. We believe that every person holds immeasurable potential, and that while we all work towards our individual goals, we are contributing to the betterment of our country – and world.

Here at MasterStart, we’ve been proudly making dreams come true since 2015.

A small team of passionate individuals started MasterStart with the dream of offering top-quality, executive online education to students across the globe. Five years later, we’ve created more and more jobs by growing our team to over 100 staff members.

Over time, we’ve built world-class courses in partnership with the University of Stellenbosch Business School, the University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science, and the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business.

At MasterStart, we make sure that nobody’s dreams get left behind as we assist you throughout your courses – that’s why our completion rate is over 80%. We have monthly course start dates to accommodate different schedules, and have dedicated course coordinators to support our students every step of the way.

Our student reach expands much further than our homebase in South Africa. After all, world-class courses attract worldwide learners. We’ve hosted students from over 43 countries. These hail from across Africa, the United States, Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and Asia.

Here’s what our students have to say about working with MasterStart on the journey to achieving their dreams:

“I now can say I have the basics to Supply Chain Management. I will surely recommend this course to people like me.”
– Xoliswa Beverly Kula

“The course content is in digestible chunks. It’s not too heavy, and at the same time, it teaches one to use time wisely.”
– Marufu Antony Chigaazira

“Very useful, especially with people whose main work is around projects. It is also useful as an empowerment to individuals for planning, implementing and monitoring personal projects”.
– James Mathokgwane

“Going through the course up to this point has really helped me to apply this knowledge in a more useful way. I, and most of my peers, have been applying some of the concepts learnt thus far on an ad hoc basis.”
– Brain Kasonka Mwansa

At MasterStart, we believe in the potential of individuals, and in fostering the growth of Africa’s next business leaders. With the right tools at hand, your dream job is all the more achievable.

This year, roughly 4,000 lives will have been changed by MasterStart. With the resources at hand, the flexibility to learn as you please, and the latest industry knowledge to sharpen your competitive edge, you can turn your dream job into your real job.

BRING YOUR DREAMS TO LIFE

5 Tips for Regrowth This Spring

Spring is officially here! But unlike previous years, this new season is different – there’s more to celebrate, more to appreciate. Just as the warmth and colour returns to our landscapes, so do we. This spring, we’re all emerging from hibernation as lockdown restrictions ease up and Covid-19 numbers steadily drop. With excitement and new beginnings in the air (along with a bit too much pollen!), we’re challenging you to try something new. You may be surprised at how much these small acts of courage and curiosity will transform your life.

5 PERKS OF LEARNING SOMETHING NEW

Meet New People
Trying something new can suddenly expose you to a hidden pocket of experiences and people you never had access to before. Of course, knowledge is power, but it’s also the key to doors you never knew existed! Meeting new people could bring about lifelong friendships, exciting job opportunities, and even a greater perspective of what you currently do.

Want to expand your personal AND professional networks? How about joining a world-class short course led by the best in the business.

VIEW MASTERSTART COURSES

Alleviate Boredom
The monotony of doing the same things over and over again can dull your mind. With nothing new or different introduced into your daily schedule, it’s no wonder you may feel like you’re in a bit of a slump. Learning a new skill or picking up an online course will help fight the boredom blues and keep you interested and energetic. You can look forward to those empty gaps in your day by spending that time efficiently and productively.

Keep Healthy
Learning doesn’t just make you smarter, it makes you healthier. Trying something new keeps your brain active and in constant training mode. Learning challenges you, and that critical and strategic thinking keeps your neural pathways firing! Lifelong learning has been proven to reduce your stress levels, improve your memory, and can even delay cognitive decline later in life. As Henry Ford famously said, “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

You Won’t Get Left Behind
By committing to becoming a lifelong learner, you won’t ever become irrelevant. Having a passion for new information and a knowledge of upcoming trends, means that you’re always one step ahead of the rest. While industries are constantly changing, you’ll be able to keep up. Possessing both a knowledge of what has been, and what is yet to come is a quality that is indispensable.

Satisfaction & Contentment
When society constantly screams, “More!”, “Higher!” and “Next!”, it’s difficult to feel content standing right where you are. Your confidence can take a knock, and the nasty, green plague of envy can slowly creep in. Learning something new can help you feel more satisfied with who you are and where you are. At first, you may not see much change happening around you… that’s because you’ll be the one who is changing, rapidly. And, when the growth begins within you, it will inevitably pollinate the world around you. As your mind, skills, talents, and achievements grow, you can’t help but feel oh-so-satisfied with who you’ve become.

By planting the seed of education and skill today, you can reap the rewards and benefits later: mentally, physically, and emotionally. It’s time to dust off the cobwebs, emerge from your comfort-zone, and start something new.

We have a host of world-class online courses to pick from that will expand your skills, grow your knowledge, and sharpen your competitive edge.

When was the last time YOU learnt something new?

Begin TODAY with MasterStart.

6 Tips for Effective Daily Online Negotiation

By Lisa Botes
GIBS Lecturer
Negotiation Skills Digital Programme

We are all called on to negotiate multiple times a day, in both our personal and our professional lives. In a work context, we negotiate with colleagues, bosses, suppliers, service providers, external stakeholders, customers, and anyone else with whom a joint decision needs to be reached.

Effective negotiation skills will always be a business necessity. If you have innovative and incredible ideas, you need negotiation skills to sell them to your colleagues. If you’re the most skilled member of your team, you need negotiation skills to convince others of your approach and rationale. Even if you have the authority to call the shots, you need negotiation skills to bring others along and get their whole-hearted commitment. Regardless of the situation and no matter at which level you work in your organisation, the ability to influence others and negotiate outcomes daily is one of the most important skills you can possess.

HARNESS YOUR POWER TODAY

The best negotiators know that there is not a one-size-fits-all approach, nor is there an ideal personality profile for a good negotiator. Successful negotiation is both an art and science – it is a merger of awareness (of self, organisational factors and others) and various interpersonal skills, such as communication and value creation. And, ultimately, effective negotiation is rooted in an approach and process that aims to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Jointly positive results ensure healthy working relationships which are critical for future interdependent success.

Negotiation is complex because people have differing interests, priorities, motivations, outlooks and objectives. In a work context, daily negotiations are impacted by things like organisational politics, culture, hierarchy and business structure. And, as a final complicating factor, you will often find yourself needing to negotiate online – especially in this age of the “new normal”.  The theory around online negotiation is, as yet, relatively unexplored. However, based on the theories of negotiation, negotiation best practice, my personal experience and anecdotal insights shared by my GIBS students, I’ve put together some tips for becoming an effective and successful daily online negotiator.

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION

As humans, we are wired and socially trained to read non-verbal cues. This is a critical component of expressing and interpreting messages correctly in any negotiation. It is estimated that a whopping 93% of our communication is non-verbal, in the form of body language and paralanguage. Body language, such as facial expressions, body movements, body placements and eye contact, makes up for 53% of the message we send. 40% of what we say is interpreted by our paralanguage, which includes the likes of voice quality, emotion, speaking rhythm, pitch, speed and stress points. That means a mere 7% of what we say is verbal! To account for this, it is best to have your video on and practise slightly emphasising positive body language and paralanguage.

FUN FACT: It is estimated that 37% of lies happen over the phone, where there is no paper trail and no ability to check body language against spoken words.

GET CAMERA-READY

BECOME PROFICIENT IN PARALANGUAGE

Paralanguage is about HOW something is said, rather than WHAT is being said. In an interesting study done at Tufts University in the United States, it was found that doctors with a harsh tone of voice and a fast speaking pace were sued for malpractice more often. This was attributed to the perception of their bedside manner, and had nothing to do with their medical competence. This study supports the point that your paralanguage has the potential to derail your negotiation without you even being aware of it. Due to bandwidth limitations, among other reasons, many people choose to not use video in their online engagements, relying purely on paralanguage to compliment the content of the discussion.

Implementing the following paralanguage tips will likely improve the outcome of your online negotiation, with or without video:

  • Vary Your Tone
  • A monotonous voice is not only boring, it also sends a message of low confidence. Changing up your tone according to what you are saying indicates authority and communicates a sense of control.
  • Hit the Right Notes
  • Intonation (the way your voice rises and falls as you speak) control is a fantastic communication skill. When you’re stressed, the pitch and tone of your voice goes up at the end of your sentences. To drop your tone at the end of your sentences you will need to loosen the muscles around your vocal cords. As an added benefit, you will be forcing yourself to relax in the process.
  • Get the Volume Right
  • If your volume is too loud and you’re seen to be shouting, or too soft and you seem to be whispering, you are indicating a lack of emotional control. Taking note of your volume is more difficult than you might think because you may sound just right to yourself. Ask a friend or colleague to have a video call with you so that you can figure out the perfect volume for a clear and confident delivery.
  • Turn Up the Exaggeration
  • Since emotions are difficult to interpret online, you should slightly exaggerate your body language and paralanguage in an online negotiation. Focus on emphasising positive emotions such as enthusiasm, confidence and optimism.
  • Steer Clear of Sarcasm and Irony
  • The key to effective communication is clarity. Sarcasm and irony can easily be misinterpreted, and both are unprofessional. Try to keep your correspondence warm and authentic at all times.

NAIL YOUR NEGOTIATION

WALK A TWO-WAY STREET

Workplace communication has become one of the most cited opportunities for personal and organisational improvement. Negotiation and communication are inextricably intertwined – it is not possible to negotiate without communication of some kind. As such, it stands to reason that effective communication contributes to effective negotiation.

Proficiency in writing and speaking does not correlate to being an effective communicator. Many people erroneously assume that once they have sent off the email or posted a memo, they have communicated. In fact, communication should be viewed as an interactive, two-way exchange of information and confirmation of all parties’ interpretation of the situation. And, to be effective as a sender or a receiver of messages, you must consistently take all parties’ viewpoints, interests and non-verbal cues into consideration as you shape and interpret the discussion. You should also take note of attitudes, skills, experience, or perceptions, and environmental factors such as sounds, sights and movement.

If your online negotiation is extensive, contentious or complicated, try breaking up into logical components that are scheduled at different times. Furthermore, try to keep the engagement short. This will give you and your negotiation counterpart time to reflect on and interpret the content. Follow each engagement with a written summary of your understanding to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Take care to ensure that this doesn’t cause frustrating delays, a break in momentum, or a loss of interest. And lastly, since unnecessary delays could be construed as time to conspire, it’s best to keep time between engagements short.

AVOID CROSS-CULTURAL ASSUMPTIONS

The difficulties of online negotiations can result in a higher tendency to make stereotypical assumptions. Harvard Law recommends these 3 tips to avoid cultural stereotyping:

  • Research Your Counterpart’s Background and Experience
  • This will give you an accurate picture of their level of expertise and will help you to focus on their professional offering, rather than their cultural background.
  • Create a Diverse Negotiation Team
  • Diversity is strength. By bringing together people of different backgrounds and lived experiences, you will be able to better navigate a diverse working environment and separate yourself from your cognitive biases. Plus, you can collaborate with your colleagues to set up a signal that indicates when you should call for a break so that they can give you some cultural insight that you may be unaware of.
  • Make Sure You Understand All Correspondence
  • If you aren’t certain of what is being said, reframe your questions or repeat what you think you heard and give your counterpart an opportunity to confirm or correct you.

GET TOP-NOTCH COMMUNICATION SKILLS

PRACTICE EFFECTIVE LISTENING

Effective listening and focused attention can be a challenge in any meeting, and an online platform makes it even harder. However, you can take steps to maximise your attention capacity by:

  • Setting yourself up in a quiet space where you’re less likely to be interrupted.
  • Locating yourself in a space where there are minimal visual distractions.
  • Using earphones to cut out as much surrounding noise as possible.
  • Turning off unnecessary notifications, such as those for email and social media.

You never want your counterparts to feel as if they are not being listened to. If you’re able to engage in a quiet environment with little background noise, you could agree to leave your microphones on during the discussion. This allows you to affirm and acknowledge your counterpart with the occasional “Yes, I see” and “Ah, okay” in a natural way that maintains momentum.

Once your counterpart has made a proposition, provide feedback on what you’ve heard and understood. This is especially important in an online setting and allows you to avoid misunderstanding and misinterpretation, while keeping all parties engaged.

ONLY REVERT TO WRITTEN NEGOTIATION AS A LAST RESORT

Due to the discomfort that many people experience with in-person and video negotiation, people may be tempted to simply negotiate over email or other written, electronic platforms. You should absolutely avoid this unless you have no alternative. E-negotiators have been found to be less satisfied, less likely to collaborate, and less willing to negotiate with their counterpart in future. If you do have to use email be aware of the down sides so that you can manage them.

  • Avoid humour, irony and sarcasm as these can easily be misconstrued over text.
  • Prepare for an extended negotiation process as it often takes longer to build trust in e-negotiations.
  • Counterparts in e-negotiation are perceived to have sinister or unsavoury motives more often than in face-to-face negotiations. This is because counterparts feel psychologically distant from one another and because, in written negotiations, the time delay between responses is often assumed as time to conspire. So, respond as quickly as possible and keep your communication as warm, open and clear as possible.

LEARN FROM LISA

10 WAYS TO OUTSHINE YOUR COMPETITION

The business world is getting more competitive by the day, and no one knows that better than Talent Acquisition professionals. These unsung heroes make it their mission to seek out the best in the business in order to give their organisation a competitive edge.

Of course, most of us are usually worried about being on the other side of the interview. And that’s got us thinking… how could WE simplify the lives of TA superstars around the world?

Well, by turning YOU into a candidate so exceptional that any recruiter would snatch you up in an instant, of course! Think of all the time that could be saved if the interview process was cut short as soon as you walked through the door – it would be a public service, really.

So, to help you help them, we’ve put together this quick guide for becoming a true diamond in the rough…

1. NETWORK, EVERYWHERE

Nowadays, one of the first things that a potential employer will do with your CV is use it to look you up online. Not only to check for problematic Facebook pictures, but also to see how you interact with your colleagues and peers in the digital world. Make an effort to create an active presence in online business circles, especially LinkedIn. Comment on posts congratulating your peers on their achievements, share quotes and articles that inspire you, ask friends to share references, and give them out liberally. Not only will it make you look well connected, but it will display enthusiasm and passion.

2. GO THE EXTRA MILE

The biggest mistake that you can make in today’s business world is only doing the bare minimum. Make a real effort to be the best that you can be, not only in your profession, but in your industry. Hand in work early, put forward new ideas, play an active role in problem solving, seek to understand the jobs of those with whom you work, and seek out as much training as you can. One of the best ways to prove that you are fiercely committed to your work is to enrol in an online course. Not only will you learn how to become better at what you do, but you will also have the certificate that proves your proficiency and drive.

Become certified with the best in the business by signing up for an online course form GIBS – the country’s leading business school!

VIEW OUR COURSES

3. EXTEND YOUR REACH

Philanthropy, community outreach and social justice is becoming increasingly important to corporations. Prove that you can set your employers apart by becoming involved with local outreach programmes or NGOs. Not only will you be able to include your volunteer work on your CV, you may also be exposed to new career opportunities or leadership roles! Furthermore, you will be doing your part for the world and enriching your personal development.

4. LOOK FOR THE GAPS

So often we focus on what our competitors are doing, rather than what they aren’t. Reach out to your personal contacts in the industry to find out what small thing they wish their employees were doing, and then do that. You may find that it’s something as simple as arriving 10 minutes earlier or asking more questions about their responsibilities. You don’t have to jump through hoops to stand out – just ask!

5. STRENGTHEN YOUR WEAKNESSES

We are all predispositioned to focus on growing our strengths, but it’s just as important to invest in improving upon your weaknesses. If your work is brilliant, but your pace is a bit slow, take a time management course. If you can talk about work all day, but struggle to entertain small talk, read some self-help books on building your social confidence. The best part is that when the inevitable “What are your weaknesses?” question comes along, you will be able to give your interviewer a solid answer and inform them that you are proactively working on it!

6. ASK QUESTIONS

Too often we shy away from asking the questions that we really want to because we’re concerned about coming off as unsure or a bother. However, being forthcoming with your queries and concerns will make your life a lot easier, and it will show a potential employer that you really want to understand what you are doing and why you are doing it.

7. DON’T BE AFRAID OF A NICHE

There is a lot of pressure to become a jack-of-all-trades nowadays, but there is still immense value in becoming an expert in a specialised field. Your expertise and experience will set you apart from your peers and better prepare you to face the challenges that you are sure to encounter in your new position. One of the best areas to explore is that of IT and digitalisation. Technology is becoming more and more crucial to business success and employers are on the lookout for people who can bring digital solutions to their organisations.

Become an authority on AI, FinTech, digital transformation, and more with our brand-new digital programmes!

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8. TREAT EVERYONE AS A RECRUITER

It’s common knowledge that interviewers will often ask front-desk personnel about the behaviour of a potential job candidate. Make sure that you are respectful and friendly to each and every person that you interact with on the day of your interview and in your correspondence. You never know who could seal the deal for you. Plus, you’ll find that your life will become a lot more colourful as you connect with people from all walks of life.

9. GO ANALOGUE

In our digital world, going back to basics can make a big impact. After your interview, send a physical thank you note with your business card and something to remind them of you and what you have to offer. Not only will your gesture be greatly appreciated, but you will ensure that you leave a lasting impression. Even if you don’t get the job, you will have built a connection that may serve you in the future.

10. PRACTICE AUTHENTICITY

This is undoubtedly what will make or break your career, and your life. The high-powered, intensely pressurised world of business can often leave us feeling as if we need to be anything but our own honest selves. However, authenticity and integrity, no matter the circumstances, will not only set you apart, but will set you up for success – especially when the time comes to make the difficult decisions.

Find the inspiration to stay true to yourself with Michael Brody-Waite’s TEDx Talk, “Great Leaders Do What Drug Addicts Do”.

Business may be tough – but you are tougher. Forge your own path to greatness and enjoy the success that only YOU can achieve.

“To be successful, you must be willing to do the things today others won’t do in order to have the things tomorrow others won’t have.” – Les Brown

LEARN FROM THE BEST