Coach your clients at Better

Better is a warm and quirky creative co-working space at 91 Oxford Road in Saxonwold, Johannesburg

You want to meet your clients in a quiet, comfortable and neutral space. Coffee shops are noisy and distracting, your home is your private space and renting an office is pricey.

Better offers you a cosy, nurturing environment, safe parking and is conveniently located along Oxford Road between Rosebank and Killarney. We have a quiet, private meeting room for sessions, but also a beautiful garden and veranda space.

Normally our meeting room costs R150 per hour. We have put together these discount packages especially for coaches, to make it affordable.

  • 10 sessions for R750 (R75 per hour)
  • 20 sessions for R1200 (R60 per hour)
  • 30 sessions for R1350 (R45 per hour)

Your package gets you and your client entrance into Better and the exclusive use of our small meeting room for pre-booked one-hour sessions. (Please book 24 hours in advance so we can confirm that the room will be free.) Your package also allows you to hang out at Better between appointments and enjoy our free refreshments and WiFi.

Better is a homely, welcoming, safe space, ideal for coaching

View the space and buy a package

Contact Candy on 011 327 6098 or create@better.joburg

 

So you want to be a Doctor?

PhD preparation workshop

You are thinking about getting a PhD, but you are not sure about what is expected, how to go about it and whether it’s worth it. This workshop will help you to decide, and to prepare an application for PhD studies.

Many people want to get a PhD, to wear the red gown and to earn the right to be called Doctor. But it’s not an easy process. Doctoral education takes three to six years so it’s a big commitment. Many start, but few complete.

This workshop will help you to …

  • Decide if a PhD really is for you
  • Understand what a PhD is and is not
  • Choose a PhD program
  • Find a supervisor and persuade them to supervise you
  • Choose a research topic
  • Prepare your application
  • Prepare a research proposal
  • Increase your chances of acceptance into a program
  • Plan for your life as a PhD candidate

This workshop is a great way to start you PhD studies and make sure you succeed.

Who is it for?

All kinds of people do PhDs. This workshop is for you if…

  • You are employed at a university and are under pressure to get a PhD
  • You want to get into an academic career and need to improve your qualifications
  • You are employed outside of academia and want a PhD to differentiate yourself
  • You are retired and now have time to explore an area of knowledge in depth
  • You want to reflect on and consolidate your experience and knowledge in a field
  • You have a long-standing personal dream of being a doctor
  • You have applied for a PhD before and been rejected
  • You don’t have friends and family with PhDs to advise and guide you

How does it work?

The workshop takes place over two days. You must attend both days. It is held at Better, 91 Oxford Road, Saxonwold in Johannesburg. We can recommend accommodation nearby for people travelling to Johannesburg (not included in the fee).

The first day of the workshop will be spent learning about the PhD, how doctoral education works and analysing your reasons for wanting to do a PhD. We discuss how to choose a program and supervisor and go through a detailed process for deciding on a research topic. The day is very hands-on and we will have plenty of time to talk about your specific circumstances. We work through exercises examining what the information we share means to you.

At the end of the first day you will be set homework to do that evening, collecting information for and preparing your application. On the second day we will review your application and discuss how to strengthen it. Then we will spend time writing your proposal, discussing your proposal and improving it. This process also gives you a taste of what PhD study is like. We end the workshop by discussing how you are going to adjust your life to accommodate a PhD.

You get…

  • Two days with an expert on doctoral education answering your questions
  • Detailed information about what to expect from doctoral education
  • A checklist of questions to ask when choosing a program and supervisor
  • A detailed procedure for approaching a supervisor
  • A template for preparing a short proposal for your application
  • Insight into how to find and use academic literature to guide your choice of topic
  • A taste of what academic research and PhD learning is like
  • A personal review of your CV and academic transcript to identify strengths and weaknesses
  • A worksheet that helps you plan your life as a PhD candidate

About Judy Backhouse

Judy Backhouse wrote her PhD on Doctoral Education in South Africa, graduating in 2009 from Wits University. She has run workshops for postgraduate students and academic staff on academic writing. She has also run workshops for postgraduate supervisors at Wits University and at the University of Venda. She has worked as the convenor of a PhD program, including screening and interviewing PhD applicants. This course is a result of seeing a lot of bad applications and wanting to help applicants to improve their chances in applying.

You can learn more about Judy at:

Participants in some of Judy’s workshops have said:

“Judy has an amazing ability to create a safe space. Academic writing can feel so scary, and yet she made me feel that I could do it and that I didn’t have to be afraid of asking stupid questions.”

“This workshop gave me so much direction and clarity. I now know what I need to do next.”

Details

Dates:           Friday 6th and Saturday 7th October 2017
Times:          8:30am to 4:30pm
Venue:         Better, 91 Oxford Road, Saxonwold (entrance off Englewold Road)
Cost:              R3850
Booking:      Contact Candy on 011 327 6098 or create@better.joburg

Book and pay by Monday 2nd October to secure your place. (EFT details)

Contact us

Seven ways to bring more structure into your freelance life

Freelancing is about freedom – the freedom to choose what you do when, to sleep in one morning and get up early the next, to refuse one job and accept the next. But once you have experienced it, you will know that too much freedom can be an obstacle to productive and successful freelancing. It’s too easy for freedom to deteriorate into long sleep-ins, series-watching, eating, or just excessively tidy cupboards. It doesn’t take long to work out that some structure is useful.

Without the need to clock in at 8am, without a boss hanging over you telling you what to do next, how do you add structure to your life? And how do you do it in a way that feels better than the strictures of corporate life? Here are some ideas.

Start with a schedule. Get hold of a diary (electronic or paper), or a whiteboard, or even a blank notebook, and get in the habit of scheduling your time. Put appointments in it. Refer to it regularly. Work out a system that works for you. I keep an electronic diary (in Google calendar) because I can see it on my phone and add appointments wherever I am. But I also draw and decorate a schedule for each week on Sunday evening and use the time to plan my week. I like a visual reference and I use colour for different kinds of tasks. This shows me when my week is out of balance. Work out a system that works for you.

Take regular exercise. As a freelancer your health and state of mind are really important to your business. Exercise is good for both. Starting the day with a run or some yoga is a great way to establish a routine. If you need some encouragement, arrange to walk with a friend each evening. If self-motivation is lacking, sign up for a regular class. Having shelled out the money you may be more likely to go. The nice thing about being a freelancer is that you can attend a 10 am class, and not fight the traffic at 5 pm. Exercise will make you feel good about yourself and that is an important starting point for succeeding in freelance work.

Set aside your best time for production activities. Work out when you function best. Are you an early-bird, churning out copy at 4 am, or do you work better after a good breakfast? Block out three or four hours during that time to do your productive work – that is the stuff you get paid to do. During that time close down your email and social network tabs. Put your phone on silent, in another room. Create space to focus so that you can do your best work; after all your business depends on the quality of what you produce. Being fully focussed on a task also brings a sense of mastery, making work a pleasure.

Vary your surroundings. Working in one place can become monotonous, especially if that place is also where you live. You can try moving between the study and the garden, but actually leaving your home means having to shower and get dressed. Just picking out an outfit to wear can wake your brain up and get different neurons firing. You might be able to work at a client’s site one day a week or find a co-work space that you feel comfortable in. Having to go to work on a Monday demarcates the start of the week and helps to shake the lethargy of the weekend. Experiment with what works for you. You may find some work is easier to do in a different location, while some work is best done at home. I like to paint in my home studio but doing admin is more cheerful at Better.

Meet people regularly. Freelancing works for people who enjoy their own company, but if you are spending all your time inside your own head you are missing out on ideas and perspectives that could enrich your work. You need to have regular contact with other people. Think about the kinds of people who will support your freelance business. If you can find a group of people doing similar work to yours, try to meet at least once a month. These kinds of networks are great for sharing ideas about how you price your work, how to deal with client issues and to swap work when you get a deluge or a drought. You also need to keep contact with clients and prospective clients, so think about events where your best clients gather regularly and how you can get involved. Come along to the freelancer’s social at Better on the first Friday of every month.

Stick to regular admin time. When you create your weekly schedule build in a few hours for administrative tasks. Keeping financial records or completing your tax return is not the most fun part of freelancing, so you are likely to put it off and end up disorganised. Set aside time at the end of the week, or first thing on Monday morning to clear your work-related emails, invoice clients, follow up on outstanding payments, pay your bills and update your financial records. If you do this regularly the work will stay manageable. Keeping an admin to do list and clearing it weekly will also free you from that distracting little voice in your head reminding you of the outstanding tasks.

Take a day of rest. It’s hard to shut down, especially if you are trying to build your client base and the money is tight. You may find yourself working through weekends (what day is it?) just to get the next job done. While the attitude is positive, it’s not a good strategy. Freelancing is a marathon, not a sprint and your freelance business depends on you: your health and your state of mind. So taking a break is really important for your long-term success. Schedule one day a week to do something far removed from work: sleep, read a book, visit family, do pottery, bake, watch sport; just make sure that it is downtime.

As a freelancer you get to craft the life that works for you. What do you do? What works? Share your comments below.

Display your art at Better

Looking for a place that will display your art? If you don’t have galleries beating down your door, its pretty tough. But Better might just be the place for you.

Better is a cowork space that hosts regular events. We are centrally located in Saxonwold in Johannesburg in an old house with a large garden. We have wall space, a flow of people, and parking; you have art. Let’s talk.

We offer three-month contracts to display up to three pieces of work. You get to advertise your price and contact details next to each work. We will also display your bio and business card and make them available to anyone interested in your art. If we make a direct sale, we get 15% commission. You will need to pay for packaging and shipping (if necessary) and insurance (if you want it).

Better is not a gallery, so we can’t promise gallery-like conditions. We do have white walls and reasonable lighting. It’s better in some places than in others. We will choose where to hang the works and try to be fair to everyone. So you may get one piece in a prime position and another in a less ideal position.

We are happy to display a wide range of genres, but we do want to see the work first. Better is a cowork environment and the vibe is light and happy so nothing too dark, violent or otherwise disturbing to the people who work here. We don’t have space for very large works or anything that requires complex installation or lighting.

Are you keen?

Fill in your details below and we will get back to you.

Name

Cell

E-mail

Where can we see your art?

Website

Instagram

Facebook

Anything you want to ask?

You can also mail us at create@better.joburg or call 011 327 6098.

Sewing lessons at Better

Itching to get creative? Wanting a totally original wardrobe? Trying to express yourself? Join the warm and wonderful women at Better for sewing lessons. (Men are welcome too!)

Come and learn

  • to use a basic sewing machine
  • different stitches and what they are for
  • sewing seams
  • making cushions, table cloths, aprons etc.
  • choosing a dressmaking pattern
  • to choose fabric and work out how much to buy
  • to use a dressmaking pattern from cut-out to made up
  • inserting a zipper
  • making buttonholes
  • and lots more…

Learn at your own pace with lots of guidance. We have ideas for easy projects for you to start with, before you move on to more complex ones. Choose what you want to make and take your time learning each step. Get help in choosing fabric and patterns and guidance on how difficult a particular pattern will be.

Better has two sewing machines and the tools you will need. We also provide practice fabric; you buy the fabric for any special projects once you start to get really creative.

Stephanie Buys is an experienced dressmaker and owns her own soft furnishings business, Certain Curtains. She will demonstrate techniques and be on hand to guide you through each step.

Enjoy the company of wonderful people and free tea and coffee while you work.

 

When: Every Tuesday morning 10am to 1pm in the Better studio (starts 20 June)

How much: R250 per lesson (R150 for members of Better). Pay cash or credit card at the door or make an EFT payment before you come.

Booking essential, so that we can plan effectively. Call 011 327 6098 or email create@better.joburg.

Better is a place for grown-ups to play. You must be 18 or older.

A Foot Out The Door

Freelancing (or self-employment) has shown you a freer, happier way to live, and it challenges and delights you every day.

You balance client communication and productive work time like a monk. You weave around packs of deadlines like Neo. You laugh at corporate euphemism. You’ve spent whole months alone, submerged in a massive project, and whole weeks glued to your favourite series.

You live on your terms, wear slippers whenever you like, take unplanned mini-holidays when things get too hectic, and prioritize your life in a way that makes sense to you.

The path you’ve chosen is incredibly empowering, but it can also be profoundly lonely.

It doesn’t have to be.

Freelancers know what freelancing is like. The self-employed understand the highs and lows of being self-employed. We’re like you.

Join us for A Foot Out The Door, our monthly freelancer social, and share series recommendations, tales of hellish clients, tips on getting out of bed before 11am, useful contacts, and wine. Lots of wine.

A Foot Out The Door is a monthly gathering organized and hosted by Better, a co-working space for freelancers. It happens on the first Friday of each month. R50 or a Better membership gets you in – the drinks and snacks are on us. 4pm – 7pm.

Choose a co-working space that works for you

Joining the co-working trend requires some choices. If you are ready to try it, here are some steps to take to find the space that you can call home (or work, if you must).

First spend some time thinking about what you want from your co-work space.

You will probably want a range of facilities and services including a place to work – most basically a desk, chair and internet connection. Depending on your kind of work, you might need a space to host meetings, or a place to make phone calls. You might also want someone to source a courier for you or help you install some software. Thinking beyond these more practical needs, you might be looking for a great experience, opportunities to grow and contribute, or even to find your tribe: a community of like-minded people for company or to stimulate and challenge you.

I’ve been trying to break these elements down, and here is my list of the things you might want to consider when choosing a co-working space. They are broken into three categories: Practicalities, Intangibles, and Costs. I also discuss the practicalities of going out and joining a co-work space at the end.

Practicalities

So here are some of the practical aspects that you should consider…

Location. You will want to find a space that is easy to get to, taking traffic patterns into account. If you are going to get up and go to a co-work space it needs to be almost as convenient as working from home, or the lure of staying in your pyjamas might be too hard to resist. If you freelance because you can’t face the traffic, see if you can walk, cycle or take public transport. If you have a morning or afternoon school-run, look for something along the route.

Workspaces. Most importantly, look at where you will actually work. Is there a choice of furniture and spaces so that you can find one that works for you? Sit down. Are the tables a good height? Is the chair comfy? Are there meeting spaces? Have a good look through all the rooms and consider where you would feel comfortable.

Wi-Fi and power. Who can work without Wi-Fi and access to power? Check for the location of power points. Are there enough? Are they conveniently situated? Sign on and test out the Wi-Fi. Is it easy to get connected? How fast is it?

Light and air. Then consider the ambient elements. Is the space warm or cool enough? Is there a fresh breeze or are the rooms stuffy? What is the lighting like? Is there glare? Will the room be light even on a dark day?

Noise. Wherever you work you have some control over noise levels – just take a good set of headphones along. But do consider the amount of noise you are comfortable with. Do you like to work with a buzz around you or do you need silence to concentrate? Noisy coffee grinder? Traffic? Music?

Refreshments. What refreshments are offered? Do they suit you? What options are there for lunch? Is it near enough to restaurants or take-away options?

Opening hours. Make sure that the opening hours suit your preferred working patterns. Check whether the space is open over weekend and public holidays, if that is something you need.

Additional services. Other things you might want at your workplace are lockers to keep your stuff in. Even if you don’t plan to leave things overnight, it might be convenient to lock up your laptop while you have lunch. Is there a printer?

Parking and transport options. Where will you park your car? Is it safe? You will probably pay extra for off-street parking, so you might want to ask if there are alternatives, like a bus or train route nearby.

Space allocation. Do people have their own working space which they expect to use every day, or is it more relaxed? Will you need to book a space in advance? Will you need to book a meeting room?

Intangibles

After the practicalities, or maybe before, you will want to consider the intangible aspects of your co-working space. Intangibles can have the greater effect on your experience of the place and the extent to which you are relaxed and happy working there.

Some things to consider are…

Décor and design. A co-work space gives you the opportunity to work in a cool or creative environment. Find one you like. Does the décor appeal to you? Do you feel comfortable in the space? Will your clients feel comfortable in this space? Does this space reflect the kind of work you do? Does it match the brand image you are trying to project?

People. One of the benefits of co-working is that you get to meet people. In choosing a co-work space, think about the kind of people you want to meet. Are you looking for a party crowd, or a thoughtful bunch? Who uses this space? Are they the kind of people you want to spend time with?

Networks. Meeting people is partly about good company, but it can also be about networking opportunities. It might benefit your business to meet others who do similar work, or people offering products or services that you could use. Your next client, or supplier, could be sitting at the next table. Also look at what events are on offer. Are these the kinds of events that suit you and the work you do?

Diversity. Think about your need for diversity. Do you want to meet people like you or do you want to rub up against different ideas and ways of thinking? Are you looking for a place to meet people who are like you, so that you can fit in, or do you want to trip over new views?

Opportunities to learn and grow. As a freelancer you are responsible for your career growth. Some spaces offer training sessions and workshops, and if these are targeted to the kind of work you do, it could be a good space to keep learning and growing.

Opportunities to contribute. Being able to contribute to a community can be satisfying. If this is something that matters to you, you might want to consider what opportunities there are to contribute. Is this a place that you can play a part in shaping? Can you run workshops, facilitate interactions or plan events? Ask about the ways in which you can get involved.

Vibe. Then there is the indefinable “vibe” that you get in a place. Is it professional and office-like? Is it cosy and homely? Is it fun and frivolous or more serious? Find a space that suits you and your kind of work.

Costs

When thinking about the cost, there are quite a few aspects to consider…

Basic cost of access. Like cellphone packages, evaluating the real costs of membership at a co-work space can be difficult. A good place to start is with the cost of access for a day. Co-work spaces in Johannesburg charge between R100 and R300 for a day.

Structure of packages. Packages vary from monthly access with limits on the number of days to bundles of days that you can use as you please. Look carefully at the conditions and ask if you are unsure. Match your choice to how you will work. Do you want a place to go to every day, or will you work two or three days a week? How much flexibility do you need?

Bundled perks. Packages often come with bundled perks. Have a look through the perks that you value and see which package includes most of those.

Contracts. Some venues offer discounts for taking longer contracts, while others operate from month to month. Decide whether you are ready to commit to long-term use of the venue before opting for a contract. You may want to start with one month until you are sure you have found your place. You may prefer not to be tied to contracts.

Are refreshments included? Is the coffee and tea included in your entrance fee or does it cost extra? If you are paying extra, check that the prices are reasonable. You don’t want to have to pay high prices for the convenience of having coffee at your desk.

The cost of a guest. If you need to bring a guest along or a group of clients for a meeting, will you have to pay extra? That could add up. Read the details on guest pricing.

Cost of other services. Even if you choose a lower-level package with fewer perks, you will usually be able to buy the extra services offered. Check the prices for those. Occasionally paying to have data captured, or some typing done for you, might be a life-saver in a busy week.

Ask for options. If you can’t find a package that works for you, do ask about alternatives. Most co-working spaces are flexible and, as long as you are not expecting everything for free, will try and find a way to accommodate you.

Getting in and getting acquainted

Most co-work spaces will gladly show you around if you just drop in. Call and make an appointment if you want the undivided attention of a host to explain the facilities and options.

Most places will offer you a chance to “try before you buy” in the form of your first day free or discounted. Make use of this. Pick a day when you will go to the space as if you were working there. Take along a project you are busy with and spend a good few hours finding out what it’s like to actually work in the space. You need that long to assess the comfort of the chairs, the ambiance, the Wi-Fi and to get to know some of the people. Do go and grab coffee when others are doing that, so that you can introduce yourself and ask about their experiences.

If the venue has some kind of informal social or meet-and-greet event, go along and use the opportunity to find out what kind of people inhabit the place. Mingle. Ask people what they do, how long they have been using the space and what they like about it. Take a friend if you are shy. At the very least, have fun investigating the different co-work spaces until you find what suits you best.

What do you think? What have I left out? How do you choose?

 

Making a creative space in a practical life with Gail Schimmel

The question that I am most often asked is how I manage to make space to be a writer when I have a day-career as a lawyer and am a hands-on mom.

The answer lies in a new way of thinking about our lives – gone are the days of each person only being allowed one job or role. The new catch phrase is “portfolio living” and the idea is that each of us has several portfolios. Gone are the days when we have to choose one expertise – there is nothing to stop one person being an expert in two, often unrelated, things.

Many people experience extraordinary frustration because they want to be more creative, but they can’t figure out how to make a creative space in their practical lives. They know that they don’t want to throw up their careers and become a starving artist, so they give up on their creativity all together.

Join me for a fun morning where we explore how to make a creative space in your practical life – and what your creative space might be. Interactive, creative and lots of fun.

 

Gail Schimmel is the author of three novels – Marriage Vows (2008), Whatever Happened to the Cowley Twins (2013) and The Park (2017). She has also written a children’s book (Claude & Millie, writing as Gail van Onselen) and a text book on advertising law. Gail’s short story was runner up in the 2016 Short Sharp Stories award. She runs her own consultancy as a lawyer specialising in advertising law. Gail lives in Johannesburg with her husband and two children.

 

Date: Weekday morning, 9:30 to 12:30 am, enquire for the next dates

Cost: R550, including refreshments and all materials (R450 for members of Better). EFT details

The workshop is limited to twelve participants for maximum impact

Booking essential! Contact Patience on 011 327 6098 or patience@better.joburg.

How to get published, a conversation with Marion Scher

 

All Better writers and aspirant writers are invited for a conversation with Marion Scher about how to get published.

Marion Scher is a top freelance journalist and author with over 28 years of experience in radio, television and print media. Author of two books, Business Manners in South Africa (Francolin) and Surviving the SA Media (Knowledge Resources), with another, ‘Conquering Communications’ coming out, she also ghost writes other people’s stories.

She will be sharing her experience and knowledge in an informal conversation at Better. This is your chance to ask all your questions and get useful tips for finally getting your manuscript out there.

Tea and cake will be served.

  • Who: Writers who want to know more about getting published
  • When: Monday the 20th March, 10:00am to 12:00 noon
  • Cost: R150 (free for members of Better)

 

Planning your freelance career

There is a lot to like about freelance work: being your own boss, control of your time, chosing your customers. But making the transition to freelance work is difficult and scary.

If you have been thinking about it, or have made some steps towards freelance work, but are not sure whether to commit fully, here is an opportunity for you to think it through.

The course is very hands-on, working through exercises. We work with small groups so that there is time to listen to each person’s story and discuss specific strategies and solutions for you.

 

The workshop runs over three evenings, discussing:

Session 1: Where are you now?

In this first session we assess where you are, your skills, opportunities and challenges and why you want to freelance. We also look at the kind of person you are and how suited you might be to a freelance life.

Session 2: Where you want to be?

In our second session we get creative, and you imagine your perfect freelance life. How much time will go into work? How much money do you want to make? What will your working day look like? We also take a sober look at what might be feasible in the next year or so.

Session 3: How will you get there?

In our final session we discuss strategies for making the transition. What needs to be in place before you can make the move? Whose buy-in do you need? We look at strategies that have worked for other freelancers and discuss what might work for you. Then you craft a plan and map out the steps you need to take.

 

Does it help?

Donna Chiang had this to say after attending:

“Please could you pass on my thanks to Judy and Andrew for hosting such a wonderful workshop? I really enjoyed it and felt that I could propel myself in a practical and inspired manner towards the things that I enjoy doing. And make an income doing so.

We spoke about things that were so relevant to me and they gave such practical tips to apply in my current situation and things to think about when I’m eventually where I am where I want to be. The 3 days spread over the 3 weeks, helped solidify my learnings.”

 

Judy has a background in business strategy as well as experience of freelance work and Andrew is a long-time freelancer. This workshop shares what they have learned and the resources they have collected in their freelance journeys.

  • Who: Those contemplating freelance work or in the process of making the transition
  • Cost: To attend all three evenings R400 (R300 for members of Better)
    or to attend one evening R150 (R120 for members of Better).
  • Time: 6.00pm to 7.30pm,
  • Dates: Tuesday 1st, 8th and 15th August

Maximum 6 places. Booking and prepayment essential. E-mail Candy at  patience@better.joburg or call 011 327 6098.

Find our EFT details here.