Noloyiso Mtembu: On Running, Running A Business And Crossing The Finish Line

Kanyisile Brukwe, 16 December 2020
Photo Credit: Leon Lestrade (Independent Media)

Noloyiso Mtembu’s friends call her ‘Babes we seconds’ because she finished her first Comrades Marathon just a few seconds before the 12-hour cut off. She didn’t give up, though – and that same spirit led her to found her own successful consulting business. 

Noloyiso Mtembu may be an established writer, philanthropist and the Managing Director of NM Media Consulting – but to her friends, she’ll always be ‘Babes we seconds’…because her Comrades finishing time was 11:59:37, a few seconds before the 12-hour cut off. 

“That was cutting it too close but I was not going to give up,” she laughs.  

That same determination leads her to strive to achieve in her consulting career. Always asking herself whether she has given all she could? “If the answer is yes, I’m happy. If not, I keep trying,” she says. 

Mtembu has been running long distances as a social runner for seven years now – a running friend inspired her to try, and before long, she was hooked. She participated in the Comrades Marathon in 2017 and was proud to have finished.

“Another highlight was running and finishing Phukethon in Phuket, Thailand in November 2019,” she recalls. “Starting a race at 3 am because of hot and humid conditions was a first; but I thoroughly enjoyed the torture.” 

Born and bred in a small town called Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape, Mtembu studied journalism at Technikon Natal in Durban, now called Durban University of Technology and started practicing through her internship in Pretoria in 2001. Her career has been a mix of journalism, communications, fundraising and more – but her lifelong dream had always been to start her own business, and in 2018 she finally took the plunge. 

“I was fortunate in that I had worked in other environments before, besides journalism – and these varied experiences sort of prepared me to start a communications entity,” she says. 

NM Media Consulting is a digital communications solutions company offering services to non-profits and businesses, it not only helps businesses communicate effectively for better sales, but also helps non-profits to communicate their objectives to attract funding. 

She has always believed in communication, giving back and speaking out against injustices, three values that would lead the path to her multiple careers. 

“I believe communication is at the centre of our existence. As individuals, as professionals, in business, in relationships – we need to communicate effectively. I’m excited by the small contribution I make when I help a business or organization communicate better.”

Sport, Success And The Power Of Patience

The growth of her business and the impact it has had on others, is something Mtembu is very proud of. 

“Everyone else is a go-getter. I choose to be a go-giver. I learnt this from the book The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann. To give more than I get paid. A job well done is when a client feels they have paid far less than the value they received from my services. This has nothing to do with not knowing my worth, but striving to give value over and above what is expected.” 

Mtembu had planned to do the Comrades Marathon again this year – but COVID-19 had other plans. But lockdown or not, she’s still finding time to keep fit – body and mind alike. 

“I practice yoga and pilates; I also run, hike and swim. To relax, I grow flowers and herbs in my backyard. On a random weekend I would be found outdoors – in the warmer months, at least. In the colder months, you can find me inside, with a good book and tea.”

Her involvement in sport has had a positive impact in her personal and professional life and has taught her lessons of endurance and patience, and an understanding that, like all good things, fitness does not happen overnight, it takes time. Business success follows the same principle: it takes time.

“When you’re feeling discomfort or discouragement, and it feels like the race will never end, just keep a cool head and carry on,” she advises. “It will end in joy when you cross the finish line.”

She says that she has not achieved her highest point yet, but she strives to be the best she can be, every day. Moreso, she is proud of the fact that she has allowed herself to dream and living it makes up for the ups and downs of owning a business.