Whoever gave you confidence,
you owe them a lot

By Emma Donovan

Posted on 20th March 2019

Reading time: 3 minutes

I’ll never forget my first week of work – despite having a degree from UCT and a year travelling the world under my belt, I had no idea what the real world had in store for me, and it was daunting.

I was lucky enough to be surrounded by people I admired and learnt from every day – with special mention going to Catherine Lückhoff, Janine Langheim, Vanessa Clark and Chris Botha. Each one of them gave me confidence in my ability and encouraged me to pursue my ambition.


Next up, Dom and I established Yellow Door in 2014 and developed a sound business partnership based on mutual respect and appreciation. The strength of this relationship continues to give me the confidence I need to perform my role to the best of my ability.


As part of our approach to develop both Yellow Door and our leadership skills, we get regular input from a number of mentors. Murray Kilgour has been our leadership coach and right-hand man for three years and counting; both our dads (and mums) back us 100% and more recently we’ve started tapping in to the brilliant minds and experience of Flick co-owner Garth Jemmet, eSET CEO Carey van Vlaanderen and Derrick Cape Town creative director and founder Livio Tronchin. 


Dom and I now have the opportunity to pay this gift of confidence forward and develop skills within our team, and also give advice to a couple of bright young entrepreneurs just starting out. I find it incredibly rewarding to share my knowledge and life experience, especially as I continue to learn along the way too.  


Two lovely examples are from Lindsay LLewellyn, who recently did a short internship with us: ‘Emma, thank you for spoiling me with lunch on my last day, for giving me both professional advice and life advice. Thank you for making me feel appreciated.’


And Harry Danckwerts from Moto Health, ‘Thank you so much for meeting up with me and all of the advice. I am really grateful for your time and experience! I have been looking at what we discussed and trying implement as much of it as possible into my business plan!’


So this is a really just a roundabout way to say get out there, approach someone you admire and ask them to mentor you – whether it’s formally or just a chat over lunch once a quarter; and then when you’re ready, start to pay it forward. You don’t need to be an expert to share what you know so far, and it’s amazing how much confidence you can give someone just by believing in them and helping them to realise their dream, one step at a time.

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