Who is Heather? Well now that’s quite a story. Putting down who you are on paper is quite hard. Those who know me well, will know what I do and how I give my all to every single thing that I do – but it’s hard to get that across to people who have never met me, without coming across as a hard arse.
Today I am a media personality, radio host and social media addict. Where do I come from? Now that is quite a long story.
I was born and raised in Cape Town, to the two most amazing middle class parents, who gave me a great upbringing, great, but not spoilt. I attended good schools, and did extra murals, but I wanted more than sitting around smoking and drinking as a teenager. By the age of 15 I was already working to bring in my income, and I say “my’ income, my parents did not believe in handing out things – if I wanted luxuries (magazines, the latest trends in clothing or CD’s – I had to work for it.)
I started doing chores around the house as soon as I was a teenager – it was only at around 16 that I realised I could monetise this – my time is worth something to someone else, be it their time, or a chance to do other things – and though I didn’t really have a clue then about business, I became a trader.
I traded my time to do ironing, baskets and baskets of ironing, R 10 was a lot in those days, and I worked for it. From around 16 I had my first part time job as a waitress, I took orders, served drinks and meals, cleared plates and worked until 1am, unblocked bathrooms, whatever it took to give me financial freedom. I made scrunchies really cool hair bands back in the 1990’and sold them at school to my fellow pupils.
By 18 I had three part time jobs between my studies – I baby sat, cleaned houses, and did pretty much anything that I could walk to after school, and be home by dark. As soon as I could drive and got my hands on a car I widened my scope to working at events that were hosted around Cape Town. I have cleaned bars, balanced glasses on a tray above my head in a packed night club, carried beer kegs from the back of the bar and lugged crates of plates until my back almost broke.
Why? Because I craved my independence – and money gave me independence. Freedom means not having to ask anyone for anything – being able to make my own choices – if I spent my week’s wages on clothes, or cigarettes and petrol for the car or a night out with my friends, I didn’t have to tell anyone why.
Then, I met a boy. He had a motorbike and long hair, he swept me off of my feet. Miss independent saw white dresses, and cooked dinners, and babies on her horizon, and do you know what? I gave it all up. I got married and became a housewife. The novelty wore off after about 6 months – I started looking for other avenues to make money – I painted and did crafts which I sold on local craft markets, I waitressed, looked after show houses on a Sunday for an estate agent, and did pretty much anything I could to earn an income as my marriage slowly fell apart around my ears.
At the age of 28 I was on my own again. I had to survive, I had no other choice, no one else to rely on.
I started at the bottom of the scale, as receptionist – 7 years out of the working game means you are well behind your peers on the market – but I worked hard, and worked my way in to an Events Management company – as a PA to one of the Directors. Salary increase and more responsibility – whoo hoo!
The events industry tested my mettle to the utmost, long hours, working every weekend – but I am not a quitter, and I worked my way up through the company, moving up to Conference Producer in three short years.
In 2010 a chance to move from Cape Town to Johannesburg presented itself, and I grabbed it with both hands – the City of Gold, right? This is where dreams come true – and looking back 6 years now, it is indeed just that.
I moved from working for my original company to working for an international motivational speaker, to opening my own events management company – a dream I had fostered for many years.
Being an entrepreneur is no joke – it sounds glamorous, the reality is that it is anything but. The benefits and drawbacks weigh each other out, looking at it now, I have learnt and grown so much in the 5 years I have been running my own company. Bad decisions made, people trusted that I shouldn’t have, amazing relationships made and grown, people that have seen the strength in me and have chosen to support and work with me – which has given me the proverbial leg up in the industry.
I am always about support and full on honesty – that fuels me. Make no mistake I am not an easy person to work for, or with, but I am honest and down the line to a fault – I call a spade a spade, and I speak openly about what I see.
Oddly enough most people don’t like this, they prefer not hear about the bad and only hear the good – I am the complete opposite – I tell my clients what’s going on every step of the way, challenges we are facing, when issues arise, and I strive for perfection, always.
My brand is me and the reverse. Be it the events management company, or me as a person, I am open and honest – possibly too much sometimes.
I love the clients I work with, and the people I forge good relationships with – for them I will traverse mountains – to me this is service, and to be honest is ultimately the crux of why we are on this earth as human beings. What’s the point if life is a façade – who are you connecting with, on an honest base level?
At the beginning of 2015 I realised that events management was something that paid the bills, as passionate as I thought I was about it – the industry wasn’t conducive to a healthy life style for me, a few health scares and warnings made me look at other opportunities to live my life.
I asked myself, Heather, what are you good at, what else can you do? I can write, and I can talk, oh boy can I talk. And so I set off on a path to change my life, and in doing so, create a lifestyle for myself that I would wake up to every morning leaping out of bed shouting YES!!!
I don’t know if I am even at the pinnacle of where I want to be – I don’t even know what that pinnacle would be – all I know is that freedom and friendships are part of it.
I am lucky enough (with some very hard work behind it) to be getting closer to living my dream, I have a podcast radio show once a week on a small radio station called Niche Radio, I guest present on Cliff Central, I speak to groups of teenagers about changing their lives, I write for magazines – and get paid to do it, and I get to dabble in the social media realm, which I love. Certain companies in South Africa have seen what I do, and have contacted me to do the same for them, and boy do I love a challenge.
I get to work from home, in my pajamas most days – I dictate my own hours, if an afternoon nap needs to be had I can do that, but I work until the work is done, regardless of the time on the clock.
If I never achieve the wealth in the forms of physical possessions that I aspired to in my youth, that’s okay – I am beyond wealthy in the life I lead, good friends, work that challenges me and forces me to grow beyond the boundaries I have set for myself, every day, and I love that.
The future? I don’t know what it holds, but I will continue to work as hard as I always have, to continue to live the life I do, make my own decisions, travel as much as possible, and be as free as I possibly can be.
Some call me brave, most call me mad, but ultimately I am just me, doing what I love – who can ask for more?
Web Site: http://www.heatherhook.com/