BACKSTORY: Carol Bouwer
We question Carol Bouwer, CEO of Carol Bouwer Productions on her top tip for doing a deal, biggest regret and what she wishes she’d known earlier
What’s your one top tip for doing a deal?
Don’t try to negotiate; be honest from the onset about the real amount you can afford and be sincere. Nobody has time for endless back and forths.
What was your first job?
As a host on Teleschool, which was aired on the then prestigious TV1, now SABC3.
How much was your first pay cheque, and how did you spend it?
It was 1992 and I think the amount was R5,000 — which felt like a lottery win. I gave it to my mom, who inevitably used it to spoil me!
What was the one thing you wish somebody had told you when you were starting out?
That it was actually a business and I would still be at it more than 20 years later. I reckon my approach would have been different.
What are you reading at the moment?
Boardroom Dancing by the formidable Nolitha Fakude.
What is your biggest regret?
Having lived so long with regret! It stopped me from learning lessons as quickly as I needed.
How would you fix Eskom?
I would encourage it to incentivise some companies to work at night. I would also revisit pre-1994 agreements that allowed the wealthiest companies to pay the least while those making the least profits struggle to prop up the economy. I would also get behind a robust maintenance programme.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that people don’t know?
I can sing most West End musicals, and ill advised as it is, I tend to show that off!
What has been your worst purchase?
Nothing! Even useless things have value, your perspective determines it.
What is the one investment you wish you had made, or made earlier?
Art! Art! Art!
Is there such a thing as "enough money" and if so, how much is it?
What is the most overrated virtue?
Humility. It has robbed so many of opportunities! African women in particular are always too humble to sing their own praises and that often leads them to watch others take opportunities they truly deserved and would have executed with aplomb.
What is something you would go back and tell your younger self?
That you can be happy with very little.
Was there ever a point at which you wanted to trade it all in for a different career? And if so, what would that career be?
I desperately want to study law now but am intimidated by my age (45).
If you were president, what would you change, tomorrow?
I could not be president, I have only just discovered a sleep cycle that works! Anyhow, my first investment would be to prioritise children’s issues. Given that we have an estimated 19-million children I would say our young are our most urgent priority. I would be concerned about leading a nation where 63% of children live in poverty. I would prioritise social cohesion programmes that would engender patriotism and pride and ensure access to education for all.
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