By Inside Biz
Q: Thank you for taking the time to have this chat with us, Kerry. Please introduce yourself to our readers. Who is Kerry James?
A: I am a passionate individual with a drive to make a difference and contribute to the well-being of our world. I am a Mum, a life partner, and an entrepreneur, with a desire to contribute to a world that is relationship and people-centric, where we all live more consciously and make choices that build and support each other, our communities, and our environment.
Q: You are the Managing Director of Tsandza Weaving. Please tell us the story behind Tsandza Weaving and what the business does?
A: First established in 1979, Tsandza is a social enterprise producing hand-woven home décor and fashion accessories using natural fibres of bamboo and mohair. A founding member of Eswatini Fair Trade, Tsandza’s aim is to facilitate the upliftment of rural women with little or no formal education living in Eswatini, through skills development and an income source, whilst providing consumers with ethically produced, more sustainable options than the mass-produced products overwhelming our planet.
Q: We are aware that you are passionate about social entrepreneurship, in particular initiatives that assist women and communities to develop. Where does this come from and why is it so important to you?
A: There is plenty of evidence-based research to illustrate how important women’s economic participation is to achieve greater security and stability around the world. When women are empowered economically, they invest in their families and communities, spurring economic growth and creating more stable societies.
From a more personal perspective, my drivers are many. Some include my own journey as a woman learning where and how I fit in the world, working in often male-dominated environments, and learning to identify my strengths and value, as a woman, in these environments. Arriving in Africa in 2008, doing volunteer work in community projects with women and their children to experience first-hand their incredible resilience and tenacity. Knowing that I wanted to do work that could positively contribute to the lives of others.
Then stumbling upon the weavers of Tsandza (known then as Rosecraft Weaving) and was astounded by the skills of the women, and the incredibly beautiful products they were making, all by hand. My very first thought at that time was “the world needs to see these products and these women need to be acknowledged for their incredible work”. So began my journey working in the artisan producer industry! And finally, as a mother, I want to inspire my own daughter to chase her dreams, to have self-confidence, and feel empowered to know that she can achieve anything she puts her mind to.
Q: Ok, so let’s get to the meaty part of our interview. In addition to being a social entrepreneur, you are also a leadership trainer and business coach. Please elaborate for us on what you do as a business coach.
A: Put simply, I guide people in pursuit of their goals. This could be helping to develop leadership skills, being able to better influence and negotiate, explore business strategies, or improve their mindset. It all depends on what the person hiring me wants out of the relationship.
Most importantly, coaching is about growth. More specifically, the coaching and training I facilitate is based on mindset and behavioral science methodologies that develop greater self-awareness and flexibility, advanced communication strategies, and more relationship-focused approaches to help individuals and organizations reach their goals.
My particular strength is my ability to draw on my 20-plus years of work experience, combined with my study in human behaviour, to bring real-world perspectives that challenge and facilitate individuals and organizations to identify barriers, build on strengths, and open minds to new insights and strategies to drive results. My aim always is to create meaningful experiences that fuel and ignite the desire of each and every person and organization I work with to achieve the success they desire.
Q: Tell us about your journey as a coach. How did it all begin?
A: My journey to becoming a coach is an accumulation of many years of work across varying roles in sales and leadership, both working for others and in my own businesses. It began with a curiosity to learn more about what I did in those roles that created success, and what I did that limited the results I achieved. This led me to study models of human behaviour that gave me a lot of “aha” moments, and greater self-confidence, and ultimately fueled my desire to want to share this, along with the years of hands-on, practical experience I had gained, to work with others.
Q: Why do people come to you? What prompts them to call?
A: There are lots of reasons. Some typical ones are when what they’re doing isn’t achieving the results they are seeking. Whether running our own business or working in a business, there are times when we feel like we are being pulled in multiple directions, especially when performance is lacking. It can be tough to know sometimes how to address challenges and to identify what we could be doing to achieve different results.
Fundamentally, this is when people seek outside assistance through coaching and training to gain insights, and to develop further skills and strategies to achieve greater success. Another is when organizations are undergoing change and are seeking assistance to help their people with this transition to be better equipped to adapt. In organizations that recognize the value of their people, coaching and training are fundamental in assisting with personal and professional development because they know this increases motivation, improves retention, and drives higher-performing workplaces.
Q: Coaching is fundamentally about attitude, behaviour, change, and refinement. How challenging is it to help modify significant facets of your clients’ lives?
A: Yes, coaching is based on a tool kit of specific techniques for building trust, goal setting, solving problems, challenging limiting beliefs and behaviours, and numerous communication models.
The key to coaching and overcoming challenges is building rapport and trust with the client, gaining their permission to be assisted, developing the intuition of knowing what technique to apply when, and being able to gently but firmly encourage clients to continue on their journey and move forward without pushing them away.
Q: How do you harness leadership, is it really something that can be coached, or is it a trait we are either born with or without?
A: Absolutely, leadership can be learned and developed. It starts with the motivation to want to succeed, the willingness to grow and learn, and most importantly to then apply those learnings. It’s about identifying strengths to build on, and lesser strengths to further develop, and adopting the beliefs and behaviours that empower us to be the best versions of ourselves. A fundamental belief is that we all have the resources we need to succeed.
Q: What kind of results do people and organizations get from your coaching and training?
A: Rather than using my words here, I think hearing what others have experienced will give greater insight to readers considering coaching and training with me. Here is some of the feedback I received over the years.
“I found the experience of coaching with Kerry life-changing. The models I have learned have positively influenced not only my career path but in gaining a balanced work-life mix. I developed greater communication skills and levels of self-belief.”
“On a personal note, I have found your training to be amazing. It has been unlike any other training I have received and has made a huge difference to my behaviour at work and also in my personal life. As a team, we have set up more meetings by having a purpose to our calls, and our questioning is more intelligent and precise”.
“Kerry has been able to deliver the structure, information, and insight to enable me to shift my own performance up to a new level, in tangible and intangible measures. She was able to listen and understand the context I was working in, as well as support me in materially defining the way that I preferred to move forward.”
Q: What do you think are the most important skill sets that entrepreneurs need to possess in order to be successful?
A: Being flexible and willing to consider new possibilities and perspectives makes it much easier to overcome the challenges that arise. Find a mentor, and develop a network of other like-minded people. Of all the management and business tools I have come across, the one that has been the most influential for me is to make everything about the quality of relationships we build.
Share experiences, and develop trust and personal connection. I think this is even more integral as it is easy in a world that is becoming more digitized, to fall back into being very transactional. A relationship-oriented approach encourages communication and allows for collaboration and more human connection. The key “skill” in this, is the quality of our communication.
Q: What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in business?
A: There is no such thing as failure. Every occurrence is an opportunity to learn and grow. Set goals. They help you stay focused and determine what actions you take from one day to the next. Celebrate the wins, no matter how small. Keep going back to the “why”. What was the motivation for a particular goal? If what I’ve done hasn’t been achieved yet, what else could I do that could achieve a different result? It may sound like a cliché, but self-care though is so important. I can’t give my best if I’m not at my best.
IB: Kerry thank you for your time and please share how people can get in touch with you.
K: You are most welcome. I can be reached at my email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at +268 76813595 to arrange a consultation.