Miti Ampoma joins us to explain why, seven years after she published her book The Innovative Communicator: Putting the soul back into business communication, the need for us to find our soul is greater than ever.
What do you currently do?
I’m the founder and director of Miticom, a communications training company. We help global business leaders, managers and next-generation leaders develop advanced communication and influence skills.
We work with both native and non-native English-speakers to help them gain a competitive advantage in international business. We show people how you can use the power of positive communication to generate lasting success with integrity and humanity. We call this Innovative Communication and it’s the foundation of our work to put people back at the heart of every business.
Our vision is to create a world full of game-changing communicators who lead financially and ethically successful businesses. And who’ll go on to lead a movement that will put the soul back into business communication.
What was the inspiration behind your business?
I spent nearly 20 years working as a consultant on global change communications programmes. I saw first-hand how the growth of technology has led executive boards and HR departments to completely shift their priorities away from people. This focus on process and technology is having a significant impact on both employees and customers.
These days people feel more like resources than valued human beings. This dependence on technology is causing us to hide behind our screens and avoid the positive face-to-face conversations that create authentic relationships. The kind of relationships every successful business depends on.
I realised the soul has been stripped out of the way the business world communicates and it desperately needs putting back. I want to help do that.
Too many business leaders class communication as a soft skill. But there’s nothing soft about the ability to communicate in a way that inspires others, leads change, develops consensus, creates and maintains valuable connections and that, as a result of all this, drives consistent and sustainable improvements in performance, productivity and profits.
The tick-box exercises packaged as communication training don’t cut the mustard any more. We designed our training to fill this void.
Who do you admire?
I admire people who break the mould and have the vision and courage to do things differently. I love co-founder of Alibaba Jack Ma’s focus on education and young people. I completely agree when he says we should no longer teach a knowledge-based curriculum but instead should help our children develop skills and qualities that are innately human.
I am also a huge fan of South African entrepreneur Sibongile Sambo. The courage and determination she showed when setting up her company, SRS Aviation, is truly awe-inspiring. Instead of giving up her dream of flying after failing to meet the minimum height requirements for a flight attendant job, she is today founder and MD of the first female-owned aviation company in South Africa – and very successful it is too.
And I can’t let this opportunity pass without recognising the vision and strength of Oprah Winfrey. Oprah founded Harpo Productions in the late 80’s and is now making waves as the creator of the Oprah Winfrey Network. She has earned the currency of trust – something that is desperately lacking in business today. When Oprah speaks, we listen.
Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently?
I would have split my efforts more equally between finding the right specialists to support me and doing it all myself. Business is a team effort and things really started taking off when I built my team around me.
I would have learned all the different aspects of my business much earlier on and not just concentrated on the things I like! Get to know your business inside out and then you’ll know how to build the best team for you.
And while this is easy to say with hindsight, I would not let anyone else nanny my business. There is a reason why you’re the founder of your business and you must have faith in your own ideas and vision.
What defines your way of doing business?
A relentless focus on people, integrity and humanity. Everything we teach defines our own business too. We’re driven by how the power of positive communication can create businesses that are both a financial and an ethical success.
We’re ambitious too. We want to be the global brand of choice for communication skills training. So we’re thinking big and have expansion plans including training others to do what we do. We’ve had a lot of international interest lately, in particular from the Middle East. We’re excited about this new interest as we tailor all our courses to meet specific need and, for example, have Innovative Communication programmes for women, Asia and next-generation leaders.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Do what drives you and burns brightly in your soul. It will keep you going. Be prepared to work hard because you’ll need to at the start. Listen to both your clients and your colleagues – you’ll learn a lot from them all. Play the long game – you’re very unlikely to be an overnight success. And finally, focus on the rewards. They’re many, so much more than simply the profit you make at the end of the day.