Lise Kuhle | Director at Eco Smart Group

Lise Kuhle founded Eco Smart in 2010, a business that manufactures commercially viable products such as recycling boxes, iPad covers, hotel slippers, conference and shopping bags, out of up-cycled waste materials. One of these products, a geyser blanket made from potato chip packets and billboards, was named the SAPRO Recycled Product of the Year and was featured on Talk Radio 702 as part of the Nedbank Business Accelerator Campaign as well as on Summit TV’s Big Small Business show. Lise Kuhle is also a feature writer for Ethical Living magazine and gives talks on recycling to businesses and schools.

My One Key Talent | I wouldn’t say it is a talent or strength but it certainly is a personality trait, and that is to be collaborative. I think the first step to being successful is realizing that you don’t know everything, and you are never going to know everything. Other peoples experience and skill sets are priceless and their perspectives and interpretations always add another, if not breakthrough, dimension to the concept at hand. Everything I do, I do with the input of a lot of different people. Your networks include your family and friends, clients, suppliers, staff members and people in the industry, make sure you have great relationships with all of them and that they respect and buy in to you. I am able to call on any of these people and say “this is what I am doing, this is what I am trying to achieve, this is how I am currently doing it, how do you think I can do this better?”

Oh and another thing, its also a very good trait to know when it’s time to give up on something and move on!

Lise Kuhle

Lessons I Have Learnt |

1. People are so much nicer if YOU are

2. Empathy makes YOU a better person

3. There are many ways to skin a cat… many.

My Definition Of Success | Success for me means being able to live my life exactly how I choose to live it. Business success for me means running a profitable, scalable, socially and environmentally conscious business…at the same time!

I Am Driven By | The opportunity to do something better, bigger, bolder or beautifully.

My Highlights | I find highlights, pride and humour most days in very simple things. I love the fact that my business premises (due to the nature of what I do) are in a 5km radius of 100+ informal settlements so I feel like I am getting my hands dirty and I love the fact that one day I could be showing a CEO how we do things and the next a Sangoma, just another day in Africa.

The Difference Between good And Great | I think that some level of passion is probably missing from people who are just ‘good’ at what they do or they have different priorities but I don’t think that that is necessarily a bad thing. People who are great at what they do see it as an extension of themselves but good jobs are done by good people too.  We need the good people doing good jobs just as much as we need the good people doing great jobs in this country.

Lise Kuhle

Principles I Live By | Treat people how you would like to be treated and make sure you do what needs to be done for you to sleep well at night, every night.

Inspiring Others | We have a fairly chilled working environment, we are one big family. The people that work with me are part self-motivated because I incentivise based on performance and part self motivated because they don’t want to let down the rest of the family! So the short answer is money and guilt!

People I Am Inspired By | Nelson Mandela is top of mind. He knew how to market himself, he knew how to work a room, he knew who he was and what he stood for, he knew when to budge and when not to. He was a businessman, an activist, a humanitarian and a poet with a wicked sense of humour.

The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I would like the people that I work with to be able to realise  their full potential and on a very basic level  be able to buy a decent house, in a decent a neighborhood, feel safe, be able to send their children to school, buy food, save for their retirement and not be a burden to the state. So basically to be able to live the American dream in Africa.