Then and now. A milestone in the journey that is GetSmarter.

Today we launched our new and improved website. #YesPlease!

The launch marks an important milestone in our journey. Three years ago, our marketing and IT competency comprised of a handful of people. We were young, ambitious, and full of potential. And we had just enough talent, at the time, to build a website that "did the job". Heck, I did the graphic design for the site!

Today, our marketing team consists of 35 people. Our Systems and Technology team consists of 10 people. We've been privileged to have incredibly talented individuals join our team. We now have specialist designers, specialist channel marketers, usability experts, front-end web specialists, back-end web specialists, web analysts, analytics specialists, infrastructure specialists, talented project managers, and incredible thought leaders in the disciplines of Technology and Marketing. And in contrast to three years ago, I had nothing to do with the development or launch of our new site. There are far more talented people than me doing this now.

Our new website signals a new era for GetSmarter - one built on the minds of our ever-expanding, incredibly talented team. I'm proud to be associated with this team, the team that will drive us towards our 10-year goal of having more impact than UNISA!

Onwards and upwards.

Here's our new site:

And here are two screenshots of "then", and "now".

Our 4-year old website
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It feels great when your product or service is affirmed

Every Friday our Course Coordination Team picks two posts from our students to share with the GetSmarter Team. This week features a student on the UCT Bookkeeping course touching on the convenience of a flexible online learning experience, and another student celebrating her assignment results for the UCT Business Writing course while in Paris! Comment from a student on the Bookkeeping course:

The GetSmarter process of educating, I feel, is one of the best and most convenient methods that I have come across during my time of seeking a suitable tertiary education institution. Unfortunately, people who have a full time job and a home to look after often cannot find the time to make evening classes and also many correspondence courses are on the other hand too laid back - usually resulting in a loss of interest because it's very easy to skip semesters. GetSmarter has offered me the perfect in-between solution and I look forward to participating in other courses in the near future!

Comment from a student on the Business Writing and Legal Documents course:

Thank you so much, Getsmarter team!! I'm already celebrating my assignment 9 result in Paris now!! Hope to get the final result soon but I believe through this journey, I did learn a lot and what I learned here will definitely help me write better business documents in the future! Good luck to everyone in the future too!!


Another Feel Good Friday

During my 6-minute talk at TEDxCapeTownED I described how our students often get frustrated at having their dedicated Course Coordinator follow up with them on their progress and only later realise the value of this sort of "nagging" in assisting them complete their work. Included in our internal "Feel Good Friday" mailer, I was stoked so see that a student on our Creative Writing course had this to say about Che, one of our rock star Course Coordinators:

Che is great. I bet he gets hundreds of emails every day and he answers EACH one diligently and patiently. I get frustrated with his constant reminders when I know i'm behind and then laugh at myself for getting angry with his pestering "I'm watching you" eyes, like the guy in the Amstel ad... Every time I get an SMS I hear him telling me: "I'm watching you." Well done on handling such a large group Che. Kudos to you.

Why we shut down for 3 weeks every year

2011 has been an incredibly busy year. I've enjoyed most of it, except for a brief period in May when I learnt some really hard business lessons - and in hindsight the learnings were hugely positive - so I feel like 2011 was a big year all round and actually, I enjoyed all of it. I got married; my brother Rob (who is also my business partner) got married; we moved offices; Rob took over from me as Managing Director of GetSmarter; I launched 3 new projects, one of which we were quick to cull, and the remaining two are hugely exciting; friends had babies; many friends got married; we hired and fired many people to optimise our team of 45 people; Keri and I flew to Buenos Aires at the last minute to watch Jack Johnson in April; we went to the Maldive on Honeymoon; and... there's more but I think that'll do.

About a week ago I realised how much I needed a holiday.

Fortunately, we shut down for 3 weeks over the festive season every year. And during these three weeks, I don't have to think about daily operations. If i'm not thinking about daily operations, I find I can truly relax. There's nothing in the back of my mind that gets me thinking, there are no ad-hoc meetings to attend, nada. And now I realise how I know that i'm truly relaxed - I sleep for longer than 7 hours. I slept for 11 HOURS a few nights ago. It was such an awesome feeling to wake up after such a solid sleep.

I need time every year where I unwind, slow my pace of living/doing and give myself time to operate differently. I'm loving it. And i'll be more productive for it in 2012.

We'll shut down for 3 weeks every year. Because we can and we should.