AGAINST THE ODDS IN A NEW COUNTRY
These days Dwayne Alexander makes overcoming adversity look easy.
He is a director of two successful companies, Goals Inc. and Alexander Communications, writes a business blog for the New Zealand Herald called Inspired People and last year founded www.Livemygoals.com - the ‘social network for goalgetters.’
But it’s been far from plain sailing for Dwayne, as we find out how living his goals included going from salesman to CEO in just three years.
Dwayne you came to New Zealand from South Africa eight years ago – can you explain first hand what the experience was like for you as a “new Kiwi”.
DA: Well my entry into New Zealand was not as smooth as I originally anticipated. In fact it would be fair to say that like many other immigrants, I “hit the wall” shortly after arriving here.
Coming from a senior management role in banking, I was assured by my immigration consultant and, indeed by personnel agencies and potential employers alike that my skills were urgently needed in New Zealand.
And were they?
DA: Well let’s just say that I’m not sure it was my ability to do the job that was a problem! After arriving in New Zealand, I was short-listed, wait for it, seven times for senior roles, down to the last two candidates. The end result of all seven of these encounters (which almost always involved psychometrics, references and hop, skip and jumping) was that some lucky person landed the job that I wanted.
Do you think New Zealand employers were wrong not to give you a shot?
DA: No. I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have today without the adversity I faced earlier on. I looked at this from two different perspectives.
After making the final two seven times in a row it was sometimes tempting to think I just wasn’t worthy of the career of my dreams in New Zealand and that competition was too stiff, and that as an immigrant I would always be the last cab off the rank. I could easily have started to feel that people had it in for me and there was some plan to keep me down!
At the same time though I knew that everything we experience is for a reason, and that employers here are no different than any other country and just want the best talent at the minimum risk to themselves. At that time my capital was draining fast and my mental reserves were dangerously low but I knew the right opportunity would surface as long as I didn’t give up and persevered beyond my comfort zone, and kept thinking out of the square.
Thankfully I chose to go with the latter, and have ended up employing many Kiwi’s and immigrants in the management roles I’ve had since.
And how did you get that first break?
DA: After five months of near misses it actually came in the shape of a tough minded blond entrepreneur of Dutch heritage, called Helma Mitchell who had been in New Zealand for many years. We had one coffee and she hired me without even speaking to my referees!
And what were you hired to do?
DA: My first role in New Zealand was actually selling advertising on some of the best radio stations in New Zealand. The role paid a small base salary and the rest was up to me. Helma was both my lucky break and a mentor and she now runs a highly successful media placement company called MediaR.
How close were you to giving up at that stage?
DA: I never give up, but at the time this opportunity came up it was just as easy to go back to South Africa as it was to move forward in New Zealand. Obviously though I’m happy I chose the latter!
And how did you find selling in New Zealand?
DA: Well, sales is in my blood. I actually come from three generations of sales people. To me I had to make the most of that chance and I had already managed to win the Sales Person of the Year award in a previous media company. I then used that track record to become national sales manager of The Sunday Star-Times, and then proved myself enough to be offered a CEO in a sales focused business where the numbers counted every single day. The thing with selling is the numbers don’t lie.
So from selling radio advertising to CEO for apnfinda ltd. how long did that take you?
DA: Amazingly that all happened in the space of three years. From my last day in Radio to my first day as CEO.
So two years later you started Goals Inc. and launched Livemygoals.com. What were you thinking?!
DA: Well those early experiences in New Zealand taught me a lot about myself and how powerful we can be if we want to. It sort of inspired the conceptualization of Livemygoals which connects goalgetters to goalsetters by providing tools, techniques and interviews with people who are doing it, have done it or want to do it. I guess I’d proved to myself that anything is possible so why not? It also gives me a chance to be a “Helma” for others. I am helping people and companies achieve their goals through Goals Inc. which is my consulting company.
So have you got any advice for our readers, many of whom I’m sure will also be trying to get their first break as “new Kiwis”?
DA: My message to readers is that it is often darkest before the dawn and that your opportunity will appear, as long as you keep striving for it and never give up. If you are looking to step up in your career or just improve your performance -there is no magic formula, except to keep persevering and adapting your strategy as you go along.
• Have a mindset of ‘my breakthrough is just around the corner.’
• Ask as many experienced sales people, including managers and top sales producers as much advice as you possibly can – write it down – learnmodel- copy and paste their successful strategies.
• Get a mentor.
• Be a mentor.
• Take the back door to where you want to be – rather than breaking down the front door and doing damage.
• Take one more risk- whether you have come across the oceans, or from Nelson, Otago or Remuera, go a little further than you normally would.
• Decide on your purpose- link what you are doing with your purpose and persevere.
• Create some action, every single day, towards your bigger purpose in life.
• Remind yourself that you may have to work harder and smarter than everyone else
• Visualize already achieving what you want in fine detail.
• Pay it forward, become ‘a Helma’ to others.
You can find out more about Livemygoals by visiting www.livemygoals.com, and find out about Alexander Communications by visiting www.alexandercommunications.co.nz