A call to kindness


By Louise Mitchell

Louise Mitchell of Take My Word is a Global Investment Pitch Coach and advisor to founders who are serious about getting funded

I treat myself so badly. Are you the same?

Every year, my business, Take My Word, experiences an end-of-year slow down. It’s the nature of the startup space that accelerators, incubators and investors recharge their batteries and rethink their strategies over the December/January holiday period. I know it’s not me because business starts picking up again when the holiday season is over. After all, we aren’t in the retail or wholesale trades that expect bumper sales during this time. And yet, every year when this slow-down starts, as I experience a reduction in requests and leads, I begin the process of lambasting myself. Intellectually, I know it’s not me. I understand that the industry is taking a break. Even so, it takes an emotional toll and I lay the blame for a reduced workload (really, a reasonable workload) firmly at my own feet.

I question my successes. I question my network reach. I question my impact. I question my business model. I question my pricing. In fact, I question every single aspect of my work, of my business and of myself and vow to start making changes before the New Year rears its scary head.

Are you like this? Do you also treat yourself badly? I sincerely hope not, because I’m pretty sure that you don’t deserve that sort of disrespect.

You are I are pedaling hard all year and we deserve a little rest. We also deserve to give ourselves some kindness and acknowledge the value we’ve added to our client base.

During 2022, I trained about 200 startup founders across the globe. I’ve launched a #pitchcompetitions page on LinkedIn. I’ve held a weekly Clubhouse room for founders from Africa and the Middle East to learn about pitching to VCs for investment. I’ve been interviewed and I’ve interviewed some incredible people. I have a cohort of startups that I’m taking into 2023. I’ve made my annual pro-bono contributions to the startup fraternity. More than all of this, I’ve been immensely proud of clients who have overcome innumerable challenges to launch their businesses, win competitions, bootstrap growth and get investment.

My biggest failure is that I haven’t yet changed the world! However, as I write this short piece, I know that I’m expecting too much of myself.

Change the world! Really?

I’m pretty sure that I’ve used my time constructively – most of the time –  in the ways that I love. I’ve help others take steps to change their worlds and that’s not a bad achievement.

I know that I need to take more time to reflect on the positive. Let me try.

I’m immensely grateful for the gift of time – for the time that I have had and the time that I still have. Without time, I wouldn’t be talking to you and this opportunity is a real gift.

I value every client; my clients are amazing – even those who stretch my capacity. In particular, it’s the challenging clients who force me to think critically and improve my work so that I can make an impact on them without undermining myself. The brilliant, grateful clients are always in the majority and I’m in awe of them and the trust they place in me. Every new client is a new reward.

I’m grateful for home – family, friends and community, including my greater work community. I suspect that if they knew how I lambaste myself every year end, they’d be encouraging and reassuring and tell that I AM changing the world, one entrepreneur at a time.

So, thank you to Ntsiki Mkhize and her publishing team. You’ve shown caring for others and an understanding of the entrepreneur’s needs. MentHer is making a difference and changing the world, one entrepreneur at a time. And you are too in small and big ways.


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