What lessons did you learn from your mom, and how have you applied that to your life as a business leader? We took time to reflect on that question recently, and realized that our moms have helped us in ways we had never really considered before.
Here are our team’s top “Lessons from Mom”!
When I was in my teens, the world economy took a dive and my mom had to rejoin the workforce after 25 years as a housewife and mother of five kids. She grew up in a family owned business, so I’m not sure she had ever even had a resume or applied for a job before. She had one year of college, studying journalism, before she had to return home and help out with the family store. With all that lack of experience going against her, she got out her typewriter (manual) and hammered out a resume, started a job search and landed a secretary job at the local hospital for one of the top administrators. She spent 10 years at the hospital, becoming an integral part of the administrative team, and at the same time made sure that there was a home-cooked meal on the table for the family at 6pm every night.
Like many entrepreneurs do, she did what it took to help provide for the family in her traditional roles of mom and wife, and then also as a breadwinner. I was so amazed and proud of her, and honestly don’t know how she did it. What I learned from her was to face my fears, never give up, to put yourself out there, and to never take no for an answer. I only wish I had told her how proud I was of her back then.
“There’s always room for one more” is probably the number one lesson I learned from my Mom. Mom has always believed that her mission in life is to feed people. At 93, she is still doing it. Her Italian heritage not only made her an excellent cook, it also gave her an abundance mindset. As a child it both amazed and irritated me that our family of six grew to 8 or 9 for a weeknight meal, or to 25 on Thanksgiving. Now, I realize that welcoming people into our family life is a special gift, and one that has a remarkable payback. I learned from an early age to accept people and to share. I learned to converse with people, and the value of listening to other opinions. I learned that being a good hostess was not about gourmet foods or fine china or perfection. It is about welcoming people with no expectations of them reciprocating. It’s about being relaxed and spending time with your guests, not fussing over things that are only important to you.
My style of entertaining is a bit more relaxed than Mom’s, but I hope it is as sincere. My freezer is not full of hors d’oeuvres ready to be popped in the oven, but there is always something I can serve, whether is it a quick pasta or a bag of chips. And I may ask you to help in the kitchen so we can converse while cooking together because I do believe, there is always room for one more!
My mom was really big on not giving up or quitting until you had given everything your all, and as an ignorant and goofy kid, I rarely gave everything my all because I didn’t realize how much I truly had to give. But as I grew up, I saw this lesson come into play more and more. The more I try, the more I succeed. But when I don’t succeed, I still learn what not to do. It’s the principle of Thomas Edison finding 999 ways to not make a lightbulb before he found the one way.
And something that really made this lesson hit home was that after she passed away, as we went through her library of business books, I came across The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. As I thumbed through the pages, the book creased open to reveal a faded yellow sticky note. On this note, in her handwriting, she had written the quote “You haven’t failed until you stop trying.” You better believe I framed that note and still think of it!
My mother’s advice always feels special, because as an immigrant I feel she has a different outlook than most we meet in our community. The three biggest lessons I learned tie into that.
- Stay Honest – If you are honest in everything you do, you never have anything to fear. It will keep you from abusing others and losing your sense of self.
- Stay Hungry – Her favorite thing to say was “Life is easy in America – the most motivated are the most successful.” She imparted that if I want something, I have to be willing to take it.
- Resilience – This one often came in the form of punishment – whenever I would start to give up or doubt myself or even start to complain about situations she would say “How about you go trade lives with someone who doesn’t have the opportunities you have, then see if you want to complain. Don’t be a baby!”
My mom worked for many years, first as a teacher and then in the IT industry. After she retired, she volunteered at two different hospitals, and then started writing mystery books in her 70’s. There are now 7 books in her mystery series, and she has almost finished the 8th!
She has taught me that it is never too late to find a new passion and to start something new!