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Knowing what you want – AstroTech breakfast - final for 2007

Liza van Wyk

“The people who suffer the most are those who don’t know what they want,” was a recent observation made in Grey’s Anatomy.

It’s a truth we experience over and over again running a training business. There are some people who want to do a course and upgrade their skills but they can at times lack direction, they know they need to develop themselves to advance to where they want to be in their careers but they don’t always quite know how to.
Which of course is a little like the lesson in the following story:
One day, a man came home and was greeted by his wife who was dressed in a very sexy nightie.

"Tie me up," she said provocatively, "and you can do anything you want."
And so he tied her up, and went to, the golf course.

The lesson in this story is, of course, that you have to be certain your strategy will achieve the goal that you desire.

This is the last breakfast gathering AstroTech will host for clients, staff and friends this year. Today I would like to reflect back on achievements and look forward to the future.
2007, was yet again an extraordinary year for AstroTech, we launched a sister company BizTech which is aimed at developing the skills of team leaders, supervisors, administrators and the valuable shadow figures of every executive; his or her personal assistant.
BizTech has been incredibly successful and has grown dramatically since its inception.
We go to great lengths to try and ensure that those attending our courses leave truly feeling that they have learnt what they came to learn and return to the workplace feeling inspired to apply their new found knowledge. One great new BizTech course that we introduced called Trouble Free Travel Planning for PAs is aimed at ensuring travel bookings are made seamlessly and without incident. This course has an excellent facilitator, Liesl Gini, who has a vested interest in ensuring that the course is a success. She once spent the night in a jail in Athens after a less than perfect PA booked her flight at different times to those for which she had secured the visa.
Another popular BizTech course which one of our facilitators has a particular interest in is Masterminding the Perfect Business Function or Event. This facilitator once consulted to a company that hosted staff from its German sister factory. In that instance, the person left in charge of caring for the German invitees sent them off to a bush lodge with a limitless bar tab and no events to keep them occupied. After one particularly hearty evening, they found one of the German visitors asleep the next morning under a tree in the middle of a game reserve, in which lion roamed. It is from the mistakes of others that we often learn our best lessons.
At AstroTech we have more than 60 courses and have seen remarkable success. We now regularly run courses in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban.
The most popular AstroTech courses for training this year were: Management for New Managers, Project Management for Non-Project Managers, Finance for Non-Financial Managers, and the High Performance PA. The High Performance PA course has rocketed ahead, as companies place a greater emphasis on improving the skills of support people. Skills trained in this 3-day programme include organisational skills, time management & communication skills.

I’d like to share with you some of AstroTech and BizTech’s achievements in the last year:
AstroTech was certified a Level 2 BBBEE provider
We have had intense media interest in our work this year including wide exposure on radio, we’ve been on stations such as SAFM, Jacaranda & Kaya, we’ve been in the papers such as the Sunday Times, the Star and the Beeld and an hour-long interview on TV on SABC Africa
AstroTech was a finalist in the Skills Portal awards, where training companies are recognized by delegates for their service excellence.
We also launched our new Corporate Identity. We hope you like the new designs as much as we do.

BizTech received Recorded Status from the Services Seta meaning attendees of BizTech courses can now claim their skills levy back.
We started radio advertising for both companies on Radio 702 in July – and here I must share a little tip for those of you, who like us, had not been in a recording studio before: Make sure that the mic’s are switched off before you comment, unfavourably, about the people doing your voice overs in the next studio!

Bookings for courses have been phenomenal and the amount of courses we present has risen accordingly. In one month this year AstroTech ran 35 courses. In late October we produced our first book, AstroTech’s Little Book of Big Business Secrets, each of you have a copy as a thank you for the special relationship we have developed with you. It is a pocket book of essential and practical business tips, everything from financial wisdom to ambition and customer care distilled from the experience of our facilitators, staff and international best practice.

One of the good things about working in these dynamic times, is the important relationships we develop with many remarkable people among our colleagues and clients. Life is all about networking and Christa Loots, one of our experienced facilitators, will elaborate more on that in her talk this morning.

It is has never been more true that it is not what you know, but who you know and in the globalised world, it is becoming more important.

Jabu Mabuza, the CEO of Tsogo Sun, which controls Southern Sun hotels, recently said: “I have learnt that profits are derived from relationships, and not from transactions.”
Reflecting on the past year, I believe that to be the best you can be, there must be total commitment, total immersion in the goal ahead. This requires absolute dedication. One of the greatest challenges in life is to extract the value from each minute, the meaning from each encounter and the lesson from each mistake.
We are fortunate to find great enjoyment and satisfaction in our jobs and the positive feedback we keep getting from clients.

As individuals and professional people we need to seize every opportunity, to turn our lives into something amazing. It means that we need to take time regularly, as the end of each year allows us too, to reflect, to give back and to plan how to turn our dreams into maps, with which we can chart our future.
As Marcel Marceau, the world renowned mime artist, said before his recent death:

"To mime the wind, one becomes a tempest. To mime a fish, you throw yourself into the sea."

I’d like to thank you all again for joining us this morning.

  • support in 2007
  • wish you well for the holiday season
  • look forward to working with you again in 2008

I’m now going to hand over to Christa Loots who is going enlighten us on the Art of Networking.