Truus photoI never thought I’d be a business woman.

All I ever wanted to be was a stay-at-home-Mum, a good wife and an exceptional homemaker. My dreams did not come true. My marriage failed. My children left the nest long before I was ready. I re-entered the workplace in my mid-thirties, starting at the bottom. Within a few years I was back in Marketing and Sales.

I got into sales two year after completing high school. Door-to-door sales. After 3 weeks of selling nothing, I hit the charts. I couldn’t believe it. A few months later, I moved to the UK. During a spell of unemployment, I considered enrolling with the Institute of Marketing for a Diploma. First, I wrote them a letter. I asked them if they would be teaching me to have a smooth mouth and a lying tongue, to cheat on my paperwork and falsify my reports. It seems stupid now, but it was a real concern. I grew up in Holland where hard work and honesty were matters of national pride. No one I knew doubted the importance of giving your best, going the extra mile and being above reproach. In my teens, my family immigrated to South Africa. Life was so much more relaxed here. Supervisors and business owners I encountered appeared to sit back and relax, expecting the work-force to do most of the hard work while they reaped the rewards. Something was not right. Service excellence was missing and it seemed as if hardly anyone took pride in their work.

The Institute of Marketing assured me that their programme was above reproach and I enrolled. Within a few months, the Institute placed me in my first marketing position. My sales manager was the person who developed the Diploma for the Institute and reinforced the principles. Before completing the Diploma, I fell pregnant and left the marketplace to fulfil my dream of being a full-time Mum.

Returning to sales and marketing after my divorce brought me face to face again with the same questions of integrity and honesty. Is it really necessary to lie to a client and tell him he will get what he wants, “on time, every time”, when you know your company cannot deliver? What are we as sales people willing to do for another account and a few meagre dollars? When will we side with the client and become their unofficial business partner, only doing them good and putting all the cards on the table?

As I was about to resign from a company that couldn’t deliver what I was expected to sell, they offered voluntary retrenchment packages. I took it and spend six month figuring out where I wanted to go next. I worked for another that allowed me to develop systems and processes that, although not perfect, made transparency possible. I have worked myself out of a job I loved because it was good for the company and enabled them to save the cost of a department. Then I moved into Quality. O boy! Now I had the tools to monitor and measure systems, processes and people. No more place to hide. But, the human element must not be forgotten. Could I really learn to care for the people, more than the success of the task? This is still my dilemma and greatest learning curve.

I am a Christian. I desire to have as my foundation the principles of the Word of God. This blog is about my personal development, my own leadership struggles and the questions I ask God about what His Kingdom will look like when His son Jesus Christ returns to earth to usher in the Millennium. I want to know what commerce will look like in His Kingdom. I want to find out if it is possible to pull on the future of that Kingdom and bring it into operation in the present.

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Truus Signature (no background)

Geertruida Legemaat, known as Truus

Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa

Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa